The Intrigues of The Plateau, Chapter 23-24

More suppressors are shut down. Derry intervenes to rescue a fae girl from the cult of the new gods.

Chapter 23

The Palen Estate.

The truck arrived, the crew unloaded the screen, some steel anchors and bags of cement. A quick search with the scanner found the suppressor, the screen was placed around it, the anchors set and the anchors cemented into the ground. Terry turned to his team and said, “That is three.”

The Base.

Arafiel was talking to Ameris about a possible alternative strategy for looking for the tablet when the chief technician came into the room and said, “Milords, we have a problem.”

“What is it?”

“Three of the suppressors are down.”

“Where?”

“The empty lands, the farm outside Zirgoccol and the Scourged estates.”

 “Do you know why?”

“The first two went down almost at the same time. I tried to have a team Jump out and see what had happened and it was denied. The third suppressor went down this morning on the Scourged estate, three days after the first two.”

“How did they shut down?”

“All three devises behaved as if they were suddenly inside something, tried to compensate, overheated and shut down. Attempts to restart from here lead to the overheating and shutdown again. Since I don’t know what I’m dealing with, my people and I can’t adjust. In a bit of good news, we have control of the Projector mirror for the moment. I haven’t tried to fire the large Projector as yet, as Lord Blackfire suggested that we wait.”

“So somebody is systematically shutting the suppressors down, and you want to find out how they are doing it.”

“Yes.”

“I authorize the Jump and the investigation.”

“Yes, milord.”

“What do you think that they are doing?”

“Milord, my guess is that they are putting some sort of cage over the devises and that forces the devises to try to compensate and overload, causing the shutdown. They did whatever they were doing to the first two devises to see how well the method works and what our response will be. Then they started to systematically shut the devises down.”

“How long before we lose all of them?”

“That depends on where their base is and how long it takes to deploy whatever it is that they are doing.”

“Is two five days a good estimate?”

  “Probably. It could be done in less time if they use more teams, or more if there is only one team. I would say that they have two, maybe three teams.”

“So, in two five days, the suppressors will all be forced into shutdown and even if we place replacements, they will be forced to shut down as well.”

“Yes. I will know for sure, but unless I can work around what they did, the suppressors will be rendered inoperative as soon as they are found.”

“There may be some delay, but that is probably what will happen now that the other side knows that the suppressors can be shut down safely.”

“Prepare for the investigation. I will need to speak to the others.”

“Yes, master.”

Chapter 24.

The Lower City

Derry walked past the cultists in the park, ignoring them and the small crowd that they had attracted. He had gotten a short distance from the park when he heard a young girl scream, “You hurt me!”

Derry turned around and some kids were surrounded by some of the cultists and an acolyte was bellowing, “Leave this place, anathema.”

“We were just setting up for diamond ball. This is our park, we live in the city and you don’t.”

“We are holding a convocation of the New Gods here. You are fae and anathema. Leave.”

Derry walked over and said, using Persuasion, called out, “What is going on here! Stop what you are doing!”

The acolyte turned around and then probably sensing the resonance, said, “Who are you, that you have turned against the true faith?!”

“Not my faith. Now, are you all bullies of children?”

“They are fae and otherlings!”

“This is their city, not yours. I was taught that guests should be polite to their hosts.”

“You are Silverin, I can sense that. Will you test your power against that of the New Gods?”

“Have you actually seen your new god prospects?”

“You blaspheme!”

“Again, I do not hold to your faith. In fact I laugh at your new gods when I do not hate the monsters that they are. They take children and turn them into monsters, many from this city and others. They murder thousands, Scourging cities and rob the dead. The folk here can sense that I speak true. Can you match that? I have seen your new gods and their associates!” Derry waved his hands across the crowd. “Would you all worship the ones that took your children?! Would you worship the monsters that compelled so many and sent them to their deaths in Ishendell?! Would you worship the thieves of the five cities?” Derry spat on the ground. “I spit on your new gods, the things that sleep in stasis while their minions do their bidding, causing the turmoils and famine here in the Empire and war and death all over the world sending Inanimates and the Ravathyra to create pestilence and burn the innocent. I hope that you will see the truth, but for now, you have a choice, leave, or Dance.”

The acolyte looked at Derry and started to back away. Shifting back and forth in the motion that Vesstan had taught him, Derry stepped forward. “Can you Dance?”

“Curse you!”

The acolytes turned and left with the crowd leaving with them. Derry heard clapping and turned around.

Roshia was there. “I think that we should talk about our future. You could not Dance before.”

“I went through the Program and I have been taking sessions with Vesstan. I figured that you were a Dancer and I didn’t want to embarrass you. I still need to train some more, but he didn’t know that.”

The children came over and the girl said, “Thank you, mister. I’m Willow. We come to the park when we can. Of course if they had hurt us, they would have been in trouble. Tony and Alen would handle that.”

“Where do you live?”

“I live in House Yllanan.”

“You couldn’t Jump home?”

“There is a suppressor, so we can’t Jump. Then the clowns came and took the park. There are Benny’s boys and Tony’s boys.”

Derry looked and some men covered in flour appeared and some rather large elves followed them, looked around and shrugged. One of the boys came over. “Where did the clowns go?”

“I persuaded them to leave.”

“You did?”

“They didn’t want to dance.”

The elf looked at Derry. “You’re from the Republic. Dad will want to speak to you. I’m Kicaver. Ask for Tony at the casino. Things seem to have calmed down here. Willow, are you ok?”
“I’m fine, Kicaver. You can go now.”

The men left and Derry turned to Roshia. “I was looking for you.”

 “I know. You were also learning new things and had your work, so I watched from time to time. You didn’t notice and it was sort of fun. Why did you come?”

“That night we met, a friend was killed by the spider and there wasn’t much to say at his funeral.”’

“The spider is dead. She was trapped, using you as bait.”

“Not me, actually, since I was here. Some relatives used glamor and played being me. I was enduring the Flight Instructor with some new friends, slaves that came from the Empty Lands.”

“Been there and I understand. If you want more training, we can go through again together.”

“I think that I would like that. Can you join me on my errand? It is just a minor thing and then we can go to lunch.”

“What is the errand, if I can ask?”

“I’m just seeing the Fae ambassador and Mr. Goodfellow. I’m handing them my brief covering the recent events in the Republic.”

“What is going on?”

“I’ll tell you while we walk.”

They said good bye to Willow and the other kids and as they walked away, Derry started, “You probably don’t remember Senator Steelslash, but he’s been dodging a scandal concerning some material about him was released after a another Senator, Kinford Halder, was murdered under strange circumstances. Then Luggergate happened and the FSA Director was discredited and facing the boot. The old spider arranged to have some documents stolen from the Secretary Of The Navy’s desk that had the details of a very secret project to see if Scourge devise could be placed on top of rockets and launched at a target. The President had ordered the investigation right after the Project’s secret base in the jungle was discovered and there were serious concerns about destroying the base if necessary if the jungle was impenetrable. Senator Steelslash handed the documents to a reporter willing to distribute them to friendly newspapers and set the Director on the Old Families supposedly looking for more evidence of a plot to build Scourge devise tipped rockets.

“Because the President had not discussed the test program with the Senate, the Senator made the case that the President had violated the rules of war and the founding documents. The president resigned to prevent a constitutional crisis and the Senator made up a list of the people he wanted out of government, all from the Old Families and handed it to the Vice President, who handed it to the President and Admiral Harper. That caused a wave of resignations that essentially closed the government. Unfortunately, the Director has continued his mage hunt and there are massive court fights going on while the war effort is being strangled by the FSA shutting down the people that make the things that the navy needs to fight the war.”

“I knew that the folk on the mound were foolish, but that beggars belief. Don’t they understand the Project’s goals? You certainly do, or you would not have been able to face the new gods acolyte with such passion.”

“With the exception of Luggergate, the war has been in the Empire, or the Mortal Kingdoms, far away from the Plateau. The Ravathyra raids were much less of a threat for the last ten years and not something the Plateau was concerned with in any case, Luggergate can be seen as a terrible accident if you avoid thinking too hard about how the Scourge devise got there in the first place and they don’t see the rest. I have a very nice file that I can show you with the arguments I had with friends, who refused to believe.”

“What about Luggergate?”

“They think it was an accident, or that the navy or the Old Families did it in an insane power grab. Anything but the truth, because the truth would force them to change their view of the world. Here is the embassy. I shouldn’t be too long and then we can go to lunch.”

Derry went into the embassy and was let into Artamo’s office, where Artamo and Robin were waiting. Robin had a huge grin and said, “I see that your lady has made herself known at last. I am a bit disappointed that she did not require you to go on a long quest to seek her. I imagine that the times work against that.”

“She appeared after I drove off the new gods cultists after they were bullying some kids out of the park.”

“That was foolish on their part. Why did they do that?”

“Some of the kids were fae. The cult was saying that the fae were anathema.”

“That’s new,” Art said. “Not that much of a surprise, though.”

“I think that they think that they have enough members now that they can pursue the real agenda. I don’t know where the fae is anathema comes from.”

“The Project, its acolytes and stooges have held that opinion for a very long time,” Robin said. “We will probably see other things that we have seen before as time goes forward. Derry, I will make up a brief, though I doubt that the admiral or Sarya are unaware of how the Project thinks of some folk.”

“Not at all, considering the long section about Lord Yllanan and Begonia in the Brief that State gave me when I came up.”

Robin grinned “Is the brief classified or can you show it to us on your next visit?”
“I will have to ask the admiral.”
“You’re no fun. Then again, both you and Art are new to the game. I have other concerns at present and will discuss certain things with my old friend later.”

“You seem to know a lot of people in the Republic. Especially my bosses.”

“I was a Marshal in the Blasted Lands for some time before the Council made a better offer and I had another job.”

“That sounds like you were a spy.”

“That is a nasty word for what I do. I prefer counsel. I give Art and the Council the information that they need to make intelligent choices. If some folk don’t want me to have that information, that only makes the game interesting.”

“Before Robin gives too much away, Derry, who is your lady? Why don’t you bring her in and we can chat.”

“She is Roshia and I don’t have a last name as yet, as we have only met twice for brief periods.”

Robin grinned. “Then you do not know her family. This should be fun. I think that you want to have a quiet lunch, so why don’t we plan dinner at the Ravathyra tavern. Art can bring his wife. Mine is at home in the grove because she was home when the suppressors activated.”

“I can do that.”

“Then, that is settled. We will meet you then.”

Derry went over to the tavern and sat down across from Roshia. “We’re in trouble.”

“Why?”
“Robin spotted you. So we are going to dinner with Robin, the ambassador and his wife.”

Roshia grinned. “At least it won’t be mother yet. Dad has already met you.”

“What is your last name, anyway?”

“My father is Radalarc.”

Derry laughed. “So you are a member of Clan Ironaxe. What did you think of them when you visited?”

“I think that I want to visit when they aren’t on the hunt. Things were fun, but everyone was so focused on the spider that they weren’t their real selves and we were busy laying traps to trap the spider. Then we had to return home so that dad could return to work and mother could plot with the lady and revamp the Justiciar’s paperwork. Actually, that is what I have been working on most of the time.”

“I can help with that. I took my Service in Congress while pursuing my law degree before transferring to State to come here.”

“It must have been boring work.”

“Yes it was, which led me to some foolish things, like stealing Jorge Umevan’s paper.”

“That was very foolish, but you had no way of knowing that, as I suspect that the FSA hasn’t thought ask the Justiciars for Jorge’s file.”

Derry laughed. “They haven’t. They did ask Mrs. Steelmaker for his file, but she would not turn it over.”

“Mrs. Steelmaker lives in the Republic and Jorge is going to be there for some time. So there is no way that she was going to annoy Jorge. I think that the news about your little incident earlier has gotten around. There’s Alen, Gander and Traelion.”

“Who are they?”

“The Justiciars of the Lower City, Investigations and the Gates, respectively. Hello, milords.”

“Hello, Roshia,” Alen said. “Youngling, we will not want to earn Roshia’s wrath by interrupting your lunch, but would you be willing to discuss your little incident with some folk earlier?”

“I would, milord.”

“Good. We will get a table and meet with you later.”

The three Justiciars found a table and Roshia said, “The cult must be a bigger deal than I thought. At least Uncle Kelvahn wasn’t with them.”

“Did I do something wrong?”

“Not at all. You were just protecting the girl, though the cultists were idiots if she had a boyfriend as the boyfriend either lives in the Lower City or the Windegar Aerie and she is from House Yllanan.”

“They would be dealing with Lower City street gangsters, dragons and whatever the House comes up with, and, if she is from the Sanctum, whatever House Shahana and House Zylvyre come up with. I see your point.”

“Yes. Here’s lunch, so why don’t you tell me about your family.”

“Ok, you probably already know about my crazy sister and her dragon. I had my world a bit flipped over when mother was all for the relationship, but that has been a surprise. Of course my brother ran into Swifty’s sister and they will probably coming here all too soon. Dad is a Senator and in the middle of the mess, though our state has Luggergate in it and he split from his friends and changed parties over sacking the Director. My grandmother lives on the family property and is strange, though I think that you will like her and an aunt works at the Crystal Palace.”

“She is Silverin and had the issues.”

“Yes, she does. It is worse because she was kidnapped in Chatsrey when she was fourteen and dragged into a certain lifestyle. On the other hand, she has had a long term relationship with a policeman and they do have some kids.”

“I can’t wait to meet them all. So what do you do for the admiral and what is it like working for him?”

“I do various things. I also spend a lot of time in the Lower City and the downstairs of the Houses talking to people that came from the Republic.”

“Slaves?”

“That is complicated. Many of the people brought over are happy here, more than I would have thought. In any case, I talk to them and get their stories when I’m not doing messenger duty or looking into things in the palace.”

“My brother has seen you there.”

“Would I know him?”

“Yes. He doesn’t look anything like I do. I think that we are done with lunch, so I have work and to prepare for this evening and you have to talk to some Justiciars. Don’t worry, Bellas is not with them, so it will not be like one of those movies.”

Roshia left and Derry walked over to the other table. “I am at your service, milords. What did you want to discuss?”

“Why don’t you tell us about yourself youngling, since you are joining the Justiciar family,” Alen said. “We can finish lunch and discuss more serious issues later.”

“I am Derriald Gilders from the Republic, but you probably already know that, and I work in the Representative’s office as a general assistant.”

“Why did you come to the Republic, other than Roshia?”

“Milord, I had an incident at the same time that I met Roshia on the Plateau and realized that even if I reached my objectives in life, people would not have much to say about me when my life was over. One of my friends was consumed by a spider that night and that was what happened at his funeral where we all stood around and there just wasn’t much to say. Since Roshia said that she was from the Empire I asked to transfer my Service to the Representative’s office and they accepted me.”

“What is working with the old admiral like?” Gander asked.

“It hasn’t been dull. Of course things have been rather busy with the war and other things going on. He keeps me running around.”

“You have made a good impression here in the Lower City even before today’s incident,” Alen said. “Were you trying to attract Roshia’s attention?”

“Maybe a bit. I was looking for her. Most of what I was doing was talking to the people from the Republic that live here and poking around a bit. Most people in the Republic have this idea of what the Empire is like and I have discovered that things aren’t that simple. I also do things at the palace and other places for the admiral because I won’t get in trouble like some others might.”

“You have done well on that front. Was that a result of your growing up on the Plateau?”

“More than a bit. As a child on the Plateau, you learn to not be seen in plain sight and not embarrass your parents. As the oldest, I was probably more exposed than my brother and sister, who don’t have the baggage that I had. You probably know my sister and her dragon.”

“We do,” Gander said. “Has she gotten him to a cave yet?”

“They went up on the mountain behind our summer home and suddenly there were two dragons flying around for a couple of days hunting the wild hogs. My uncle liked that. Swifty has turned out to be more interesting than I had thought. He is in the adjuncts at present and talking to his grandfather.”

“The Dragonkin with the camera?”

“His other grandfather, the Congressman and head of the navy committee. Of course the new navy secretary has managed to step deep into the crap and doesn’t seem to realize it.”

“Why?”

“He rescinded all the Old Family and Dragonkin appointments to the Academy, including Swifty’s. Congressman Flyer had not been talking to his daughter for a very long time and was looking forward to Swifty being in the navy. So far, the Secretary hasn’t changed his mind about the appointments and does not know about the relationship between Swifty and his grandfather. That’s after a stack of telegrams from various Congressmen concerning the appointments. In the meantime, Swifty is in the adjuncts, assigned to intelligence and passing briefs around to all the members of the committee.”

“Here’s the guardstation,” Alen said. “We can use the room in back.”

 They went into the room, sat down and Alen continued, “We want to talk about your confrontation with the new gods cultists earlier today. What set that off?”

“The cultists started to blather, said that a fae girl was “anathema” and go after the girl. I decided to break that up.”

“Your background helped with that. You were very persuasive.”

Derry looked at the three Justiciars and said, “I don’t know if I should say anything.”

“We share the background. The cultists are not even trying to hide what they are and you defeated that acolyte without any trouble. You should be careful about starting a Dance.”

“I have only had training for that through the Program and some further training from someone I am not going to talk about.”

“My wife’s uncle.” Traelion said. “We’re all in the family here, so you don’t have to worry about that. So you have had some training with Vesstan in the Dance. Why did you start a Dance?”

“I wanted to see if there were any Dancers in that group. If there had been one hiding, the threat of a Dance against the Acolyte would have drawn them out.”

“You weren’t concerned about the risk to yourself?”

“The cultists have been in the city for some time now and I was sure that they were being watched, as Lady Fallingwater was with me when they appeared. So, I thought that if there was a Dance, that there would be guards or somebody to break things up very quickly. Actually starting the actions against the girl was rather foolish on their part and spouting off about anathema, the fae, and then assaulting her in the Lower City wasn’t going to end well for them, considering how many fae live here and everyone else.”

“You made some very good arguments for someone from the Plateau,” Gander said. “In fact, you humiliated the cult. Was that deliberate?”

“Not really. If I had thought about it, I would have used better rhetoric. My professor would have failed that speech, but he wasn’t there and I had to be fast and keep it simple. We never had to pop a speech out like that in class. You had somebody with a crystal there, didn’t you?”   

 “We did,” Alen said. “You actually messed things up, because the cultists are wearing the Silverin badge and if they misbehave against other Houses, I can write a writ against House Silverin and the House will have to act directly to restrain the cultists. If the cultists had actually injured the girl, that would have tripped all sorts of things that were bad for them. You had no way of knowing that, of course, and you did the right thing by breaking it up. On the other hand, the House can use your methods on the cultists going forward and we will have other chances where the cult will go after the fae.”

“Do you all know what is going on in the Republic?”

“We have good sources,” Gander said. “I’m not going to say more than that, since grandmother will be annoyed. The Director is running amok in an attempt to muddy the waters where Luggergate is concerned and finally getting his revenge on the Old Families.”

“The people involved may be sabotaging the war effort as well.”

“You are saying that what is happening is deliberate?”

“Yes. The marines obtained intelligence that the Project was using the telegraph to communicate with people in the Republic. I hand delivered that to Mrs. Steelmaker. Unfortunately, with the new Administration and the huge chunk of the government that resigned rather than be ruined by the purge that Senator Steellsash was tripping off, there is no one to actually report that information to and there is a very good chance that the people in positions of authority are the other ends of the communications or the other end is pulling their strings. That includes the current President.”

“The telegraph office was the second target of the suicide bombers and they risked the Guild’s wrath to destroy it. We did not ask why.”

“Milords, the admiral is probably wondering where I went, so I have to bid you all good day. I will drop the latest brief at the Justiciars.”

“We may speak with the admiral about borrowing some of your time,” Alen said. “I think that more speeches will be very effective.”

“Then I will have to brush up on my rhetoric.” 
The Imperial Palace.

Narbeth came into the apartment as it was filled with laughter. He looked at the ladies in the apartment and said, “What is so funny, ladies?”

“I was sharing a crystal I made, your majesty,” Ilythe said. “I was watching the cultists yesterday and they were rather humiliated.”

“Show me.”

Ilythe ran the crystal, Narbeth laughed and then said, “Make it clear at all the posts that action against the fae are to be suppressed harshly. I do not want to have a war kicked up because somebody is stirring up old prejudices. The guard is to take any measures it has to if somebody starts inciting violence against the fae.”

“Yes your majesty. I will tell my father that.”

“Who was the rather persuasive one? I think that I have seen him about the palace.”

“That is Derriald Gilders. He is a member of Admiral Tollings staff.”

“He was taking some risks there. The cultists could have turned on him.”

“I think that he was aware of the risk. On the other hand, he was very persuasive.”

“He didn’t have a fertilizer spreader with him.”

“We can’t arrange for those in the Lower City.”

Derry was leaving Prince Zao’s office when a voice behind him growled, “You should be careful talking to certain people!”

He jumped a bit and turned around to face an orc. “Who are you?”

“Llag. You are my sister’s True. I just wanted to warn you about a certain fae and some other characters you were seen with recently.”

“You must attract attention, being the orc in the palace.”

“Not really. I know a nice corner where we can have lunch and chat. By the way, you made some good friends yesterday.”

“How so?”

“My younger son likes Willow, the girl you rescued. Those characters probably told you about the plans the kids had cooked up, but you were bad enough and the kids will get another chance at the clowns.”

“How old is your sister?”

“That doesn’t matter, other than the fact that the family is glad that she found somebody and you have grown a lot since the night that the spider visited the Plateau.”

“Your sister had something to do with that.”

“She apparently made an impression on you that night on the Plateau.”

Llag led Derry to a little nook and said, “The servant here is deaf, but he does read lips and I’m not sure who he reports to now. We write down what we want and he makes it.”

They wrote down their orders and when the servant left, Derry said, “Should you be telling me that?”

“Most of the people in the palace know already and knowing that can be useful if you want to have a chat with somebody and let them think that they are being discreet when they are not.”

“I am a foreigner.”

“Said to the orc in the palace. Of course you would be surprised how invisible I can be. Uncle Kulgha walked right past me one day and never even noticed.”

“He was looking at somebody else, wasn’t he?”

“He and Bob Harper were looking to trap Paeris and drain him a bit. This was during the Conclave, so they couldn’t make off with him.”

 “Other than to warn me about fae spies and random Justiciars, what did you want to discuss.”

“First of all, mother wants to meet you soon, so I was going to have to open contact at some point. Second, I wanted you to know that I can arrange discreet contact home if you need it. Finally, I wanted to get your impression of the clowns you dealt with yesterday.”

“The cult. Do you know Lady Fallingwater?”

“Yes. I would not call her that to her face. She is rather militant about keeping her collar.”

Derry laughed. “She took the case to the high court in the Republic over that, so, I would say so. In any case, she spotted the cultists first and then I did in the park when they had their first little meeting. I walk by that park from time to time and they have their meetings there frequently. Yesterday was the first time that they were spouting the stuff about the fae being anathema.”

“That is something that has been going around the Empire for a very long time, mostly in the Cloud City. It’s like the prejudice against the Dragonkin on the Plateau, only worse. We thought that the prejudice against the fae was going to die with the Dowager Empress who was the source of most of it, but the cult is resurrecting it.”

“I’ve had to change my mind about the Dragonkin, since they are going to be family and bullying girls is right out, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Why don’t I take you around the palace and introduce you. I’m sure that you have stories.”

“Yes I do.”

“I shouldn’t ask this, but have you been tested yet?”

“I haven’t. Things blew up, the Umevan estate was taken, the grove at the Sanctum is not testing new people and the Mage Academy closed up.”

“I’ll see if we can get that dealt with. You have lived in a low mana environment your entire life, so you could be at risk and not even know it. The fact that you overpowered those cultists so easily says that you are stronger than you know.”

“Let me know where to go and get it done. You know how to contact me.”

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