Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scott Walker... The Douchebag's Douchebag

So… I’ve been having some issues with things going on in my state Government.  Our Governor is Scott Walker (Yes I’m a Wisconsin Cheesehead) and he is proposing a budget bill that in essence GUTS education across the board.  K-12 is screwed under this plan, colleges get decimated, and the long term effects are deadly to the state as a whole.  So why is he doing it?  Because it fixes the budget in the short term…  This little bill of his also would COMPLETELY REMOVE and type of organization of folks to speak out against governmental decisions…  Yes this means unions, but read that more carefully…  NO ONE WOULD BE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER AS A GROUP AND OFFER DISSENT AGAINST GOVERNMENTAL DECISIONS.
So I’ve been trying to write a letter to our governor about my extreme displeasure of this bill…  Of course I never intend to ever SEND this sucker, but this will give you a little window into the mind of a truly pissed off Thunderstep.

Dear Governor Walker,
                Now you listen up you little shit-stain.  I have no God-Damned clue what the hell you’re thinking by pushing a bill like this down the throats of your constituents but I have never before seen in American politics  such a display of power grabbing, money hungry, acts of despotism since the days of the robber barons!
                Oh wait… that’s right you don’t have a college education so that last sentence may be a bit beyond your limited little brain.  How about this one, I’m calling you out shithead.  You are nothing more than a power hungry little dick that is preying upon a “weak” section of government to fill your coffers.  You may think you’re playing Robin Hood to balance the budget but you’re robbing the poor to feed your already rich fat white ass.
                You know I may have been a little bit supportive of this astronomically bad move if you had the shred of human decency to impose these draconian demands on ALL aspects of state government and workers INCLUDING YOU AND YOUR CABINET!   Funny how you demand pay cuts, benefit removals, and silencing of dissenters in all areas but your own and choice few others… like those of Firemen and Policemen.  What is it Scotty boy?  Too scared to take on folks with guns and fight fire?  Content to only pick on a buncha teachers?  Talk about a blatant Machiavellian power play…   Oh wait I keep forgetting you don’t have a higher education, how about this one, you’re acting like a retarded Cobra Commander!
                So, let’s see here, slashing the budget in education, removing benefits from state workers, all in the name of making things better.  Let me paint you a long term picture here Scotty, without the budget, benefits, and resources needed for education you are damning our kids to lifetime of idiocy and marginalization.  The United States has already fallen FAR behind the rest of the world in education thanks to bone headed moves like No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To The Top (RTTT) but your little addendum to these programs stripping collective bargaining powers from all state workers just slams the final nail in the coffin.  I hope to God you find yourself in a surgery room sometime in the future facing the scalpel of one of our “Graduates” of your education reform bill and he says “You know I never got the hang of what muscles were important and which were not” just before you go under anesthetic.  Or perhaps better yet you face the same scenario but the doctor is Indian and has to read from a prepared surgical script because we had to outsource the position because no Wisconsin student was up to the fucking job!
                You are totally blind to the bigger picture here asshole.  THAT is what I am calling you out on.  I am not a republican, and I am not a democrat.  I have my own party and its called “THE ANTI-STUPIDITY LEAGUE.” And as of right now, you are public enemy number one.  Not only do you show extreme cases of total and complete ignorance of what is needed for education, but you are essentially trying to force FURTHER stupidity upon us as a people by gutting all aspects of education!  What, are you saying that like in George Orwell’s 1984 that you need to keep the people stupid to control them?  Wait… yeah the college thing again…  Perhaps the Apple Ad that riffed on Orwell’s book would be more your mental speed.  You are the face on the screen there Scotty boy…  I’m not the chick, I’m the mother fucking HAMMER breaking your ass.
                I never voted for you, let me make that clear.  I would have never voted for you even if one of your cronies had a gun to my head.  I’m pretty sure that’s what you had to do to make that bullshit ad about state workers not sacrificing our fair share.  Fair share?  FUCK YOU!  Where is your fair share, you hypercritical asshat! I don’t see you taking a pay cut!  Oh and don’t think for a moment that it has escaped my notice that something LACKING IN EDUCATION is trying to tell educators not only how they should do their jobs, but cramming it down their throats.
                To sum up in words you MIGHT understand.
                Ugna Bunga Dis Plan stinks like da poop… and hurts like when da poop came out sideways.  You no should do it.  Fuckhead.

Thunderstep, Leader of the Anti-Stupidity League
You sir are a Fucknugget swirling about with an asshat on while twatwaffling.  I have no clue what this means but good Lord does it sum you up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Aether Magic Part 1

So BadgerAngel contacted me about how magic worked exactly in the setting for the Pinkertons.  Initially I had planned on simply giving a breif response, but it suddenly bloomed into... well THIS:

Magic in A Leumrian Awakened World
1)      ALL magic comes from Aether in some way shape or form. 
·         Rituals pull and funnel Aether, Summoners use Aether as the medium to carry their call or command, illusionists shape raw Aether into dreamstuff, and so on.  Even calls to the Gods (Immensely powerful beings whom some call Gods and others just say… “It’s NOT a God, but Damnitt be respectful of something that can squish you!”) are carried via Aether.
2)       Lemurians use Aether-Tech, which is akin to handling raw unbridled POWER
·         A big point here is that Lemurians do NOT see Aether-tech as magic but rather a highly refined science.  They use “callers” to pull raw Aether into a spot so it condences to a point where a rift can form.  From there they stabilize this rift with various machines and literally send in harvesters into a massive white void of Aether-Space.  Harvesters bring back pure Aether that is further cleansed, condensed, and put into use as a liquid energy carrier (Hence wires at the carnival are more like hoses) or condenced to its hardest state of a crystal.  Crystals can be used for many things… from boiling water to create steam (useful in sun deficient areas for steampowered items) to being able to transmit message across great distances.  The Lemurians have refused to fully teach humanity all Aether can do until they feel we have “Grown Up.”
3)       Not all sources of Aether are alike.
·         The bit about purification of Aether by the Lemurians is important.  Aether can be tainted, most easily by emotions or deeds.  It seems to soak up empathic wavelengths and can vastly alter the qualities of the Aether.  Fear causes nightmarish qualities, anger produces bloody handed powers, etc…  Lemurians have found ways to strip Aether of these emotional ties but will NEVER extract Aether from an area known to be tainted by emotion, like graveyards.
4)       Humans have been using Aether since they first came out of the trees.
·         Humans knew about “all pervasive energies” and found a lot of different ways to pull it, tug it, channel it, twist it, bend it, and make it work for them. 
                                                               i.      Ritual magic:  Pulls mass amount of Aether to an area by an individual or group to obtain a certain effect or end.  Highly dangerous as the Aether, while collected quickly also becomes quickly tainted by the emotions of the ritualists.
                                                             ii.      Witchcraft: An individual pulls Aether in small amounts for immediate effects.  This works as long as the caster is in an area with easily accessed Aether.  Since the Lemurians returned this is not a problem and a lot of charlatans and hedge witches that thought they had no power at all suddenly found they had a LOT more than they ever dreamed.  Individuals of this sort are born with an innate ability to pull, shape, and craft Aether but need to be taught to control it quickly.  Armies of angry toys from a spoiled child “raw talent” not getting his way have happened…
                                                            iii.      Illusionists:  These folks pull minimal amounts of Aether to create visual, auditory, and in some cases even physical effect.  The more complex the illusion, the more Aether needs to be drawn and maintained to keep the illusion going.
                                                           iv.      Summoners: Call forth a small amount of Aether and fire it into Aetherspace carrying a message to some other being.  This can look like prayers of supplication, sacrifices, or tossing notes into a fire.  This inherently taints the Aether used with the nature of the call and will effect what entity gets the message.  The trick is control and shaping of the Aether.  Good communication skills will result in a good message that will be picked up by an intended target.  Blind calling can work, and the more Aether used in calling, the quicker something will respond, but it can be dicey…  Some things are just curious about who would blindly call into the void and often come to see.  A variant of this is what is used for Aether Crystal calls (You need BIG Aether Crystals to get pinpoint accuracy on the same world for person to person contact.)
                                                             v.      NEW BREED: Gamblers:  these folks often use dice, cards, poker chips, or other items of chance to pull Aether to them and randomly shape it.  While they have the advantage of speed in “casting” they suffer from random effects due to the nature of the Aether they draw from (Chaos tainted).  Many of these are untrained Witches/Warlocks.
5)       Magical Races can control Aether too, some better than others.
·         Typical Fantasy races can be found, but not all have connections with Aether any better than humans.  They just used Aether to get here when the influx of Aether happened.
                                                               i.      Elves are here of a startling wide variety.  They may primp and preen and say “I’m a light elf!  I’m a Drow! I’m a Grey Elf!” but Lemurians have proven via their burgeoning fields of genetics that all elves are genetically identical…  i.e. race distinctions mean NOTHING.  Like a white man and a black man are both humans, high elves and drow are both elves… and yes they were not very happy about learning this.
                                                             ii.      Dwarves came in and were unlike what the world pictured them to be.  They had tight ties to Aether in all forms but channeled it mainly into Forgecraft, and can make things to rival the best of Lemurian Technology out of metal and Aether.  Folks are a bit reluctant to use them as Dwarves charge STEEP prices and if the Aether flux in an area is weak the items often stop working. (These are traditional NORSE Dwarves, the Nividellender… led by Brokk and Etri who forged the hammer of Thor.  Yep… THOSE dwarves)
                                                            iii.       Obsidimen are stone beings that are slow, passive, but powerful.  They are great workers but seem to revere nature above all else.  They have some affinity with Aether, but it seems to be a born talent amoung those who are born with crystalline runes on their bodies.
                                                           iv.      Others…  Yeah I need to fill this in.  I have a lot of ideas here though.
·         The Fae are a total mystery but some willingly speak with other races.  The little we know is that their reality is just about co-current with ours but has been separated for quite some time due to a lack of Aether around our world.  This was due to the Lemurians hording the free Aether to better protect themselves.  Once the Lemurians were forced to drop their shields, the flood brought the fae back in FORCE.  In the U.S. you’ll see a lot more of native American fae, but will all the immigration, fae from Europe are common as well. 
                                                               i.      Fae BROADLY fall into Seelie and Unseelie courts.  THESE DO NOT MEAN GOOD AND EVIL!  If anything they represent emotional states of dreams.  Seelie are happy and colorful (but even the brightest of dreams can be callous and cruel) while Unseelie are dark and scary (Let me just point to Nightmare Before Christmas, Monster’s INC., and so on to show that scary is NOT NECESSARILY evil)
                                                             ii.      There are a HELL of a lot more courts around the world.  The Water Empires of the oceans, the Jade thrones of the East and so on.
                                                            iii.      Being “fae-touched” is a nice way of saying somewhere in your bloodline is a full blooded member of the Fae.  You have an easier time calling Aether and doing… stuff with it.  Most Fae-Touched make ROCKIN’ Illusionists, Witches/warlocks, and summoners.
                                                           iv.      If you REALLY want me to expand on the world of the Fae remind me to send you Lumi (my wife) and my “Karasu and Jack” story.  I’m cribbing that type of fae for this world… as I love those guys having written for them for so long.
                                                             v.      Big note here… GOBLINS ARE FAE!  They have their own court but throw in with the Unseelie more often than not.
PLOT IDEA: Europe is in a bit of a snit as someone calling himself Arthur has emerged from the lands from the Fae and is calling for Victoria to step down!

Monday, February 14, 2011

New year, New game... FINALLY

So once again I'm starting a group to play PRGs via Skype.  I know I've mentioned this before, but  this time we have 2 sessions under our belts and I'm reasonably hopeful.

We're using the QAGS system (as I freakin' love how damn simple it is) and my own Steampunkish setting I've road tested with my students on campus.

So who do we have this time around (NOTE: Names are avatar/callsigns from online to protect privacy until I'm told otherwise)

Thunderstep: That's me...  GM as usual, and I love being the GM (Rare I know... just hope I'm doing a good job).

BadgerAngel (BA): Myra Varney, the gun slinging sorceress.  GOD I love that name and feel...  BA is also our resident southerner and I REALLY appreciate her help when it came to fleshing out areas of the "Former Confederacy" and correcting my geography in game.  Like I told her, I'd never get this stuff ironed out without road testing it.

A note on the Sorceress bit...  I really had not fleshed out a lot about"Magic" Per Se in the world yet beyond that it was there.  As BA is a practicing Pagan I intend to use her RL experiences to help guide me here for a good "feel" for magic.

Zathras (Z): David Frost, Native American tracker.  This character took a bit for Zath to form, both from just general concepts, but also his utter LACK of ability to do a southern accent.  Several times BA heard him trying one and replied "Good GOD honey that just hurts my soul!  Stop!"  So yeah...  no southern drawl from Zath.  Thankfully he has not gone full-blown "Tonto" either.

So, our first session was a gab fest, followed by character creation.  Our last session (i.e. 2/13/2011) we had our first real game, and I decided right off to start it with a bang...

Or rather, an exploding Silo.  They began game in a small field in Arkansas when someTHING burst through the silo wall nearby and let loose a massive roar.

When I snarkily asked "So...  What do you do?"  In synch they both responded "WE RUN LIKE HELL!"

O.K. fine, I cribbed from M-Force here and used a modified beast called a "Grain Giant."  It was a massive assembly of corn kernels that was trying to add onto its mass.  Looking at the stats of the beast again I began to wonder if that was a good idea to pit them against something that badass...  Silly me.

Myra ran to the farmhouse, talked the ol' farmer out of a jug of his best moonshine, and made a truly awesome throw to plant it between the giant's legs on the ground.

Then she SHOT it...  Look I have relatives down south, and I KNOW what moonshine can do.  I had her roll and she got a one... Quirky Success right?

BOOM!  Moonshine goes up, bigass fireball in corn giant's crotch, all according to plan... up until the damned thing turned, looked at them, and roared...  Yeah the quirk was simply that now they had the giant's undivided attention.  I also got to roar while slapping my cheek to simulate an corn giant turning into a popcorn mass...

David Frost ran past, picked UP Myra, and continued to run like hell...  before he rolled REALLY badly on a dodge against a stream of flaming corn kernels issuing from the giant's hand.  Well he rolled a 1...  so he did dodge... too bad Myra was on his SHOULDER!  She went flying and had to quickly recover while David was caught by her boot and knocked down.

So... David is prone in the mud, Myra is running like hell.  then this tidbit happened...

BA asked if a creek or stream was nearby... and I promptly replied "I don't know... is there?"
"Well hell if I know Thunder!  You're the GM!"
"I forgot to explain about yum yums didn't I?"
"The hell is a yum yum?!?"

Yeah so, after a quick explanation she popped for a stream and dove into the water...  the giant followed, but popcorn and water do not mix well.  A massive fist slammed into Myra, and became a pile of dissolving goo quickly after.

David and Myra gathered their wits and watched the pile of popping corn dissolve in the stream.  Hey a win is a win.  That was when their "pagers" went off.

I'll admit, I ADORE steampunk and had a blast coming up with goofy little things that existed.  Like the Alarm-clock and ticker-tape pagers the Pinkerton's had.  It was a quick way for the home office to get a hold of them.  The message read "Get to Aether Crystal for new assignment Immediately."

NOTE:  Aether-tech is something I've been cooking up and has to do with the works of the Lemurians.  They know how to extract, purify, and utilize Aether for all sorts of things.  In essence a lot of the effects LOOK like magic, and magicians and sorcerers have used crude ways of aether manipulation for years to garner effects without really understanding what the hell they were doing.  Now with the re-emergence of the Lemurians, Aether is now readily accessible, very powerful, and in the wrong hand can make a massive mess.

 The Short Story I posted about Thaddeus Mainspring and crew shows were Aether comes from...  It's an energy from "Between" that makes connections.  Kind of like a tangible quantum foam if you will.  They are some of the first explorers to actually enter INTO Aetherspace and explore.  It turns out that concentrations of Aether can open rifts to other worlds.  Lemurians know how to control these things and have even set up cross world trade in some areas.  However... laymen magicians can also open rifts, or natural rifts can form with excess Aether... and let THINGS in.

Hence the current influx of things like Fae, Elves, Dwarves, and many other beings from a variety of worlds.  Some are intelligent, some less so, and these beings are a BIG reason for the Pinkerton's Monster Hunting Agency.

Lore Dump over...  Sorry.

So, Myra and David head out to a larger town that has a hotel modeled in a Victorian fancy pants style.  It has a BIG Aether Crystal on top to allow for communication (This idea came from the Parasol Protectorate series of books... AWESOME SERIES!!  READ IT!!)

They get access to the Hotel's Crystal and get to speak with their commanding officer...  no name, just CO and looked like Jack Pallance with an Eye-patch.  (I did a bit with a REALLY BAD Lilly Tomlin impression before connecting them to the CO... I was asked to never do it again...  *Sighs* Critics)

The CO filled them in on a rash of disappearances from a small town on the Southern edge of Arkansas... A town named New Hope and was being built by a mix of races and people come together for their "Utopian ideals."  New Hope is an Iron Mining town (BA told me the only US diamond mines are in Arkansas... WHOOT!  Random state draw worked!) so fae presence is VERY low there.  But Many other races are present, even some Lemurians!

The major problem is the disappearances are all children!  That got Myra and David riled up and ready to go right then and there...  Until the second issue came to light.

The second issue arouse when the fount of this information to the Pinkertons was disclosed.  One Reginald Wainwright... possibly Lieutenant or Lieutenant Colonel formerly of the Confederacy, and a known Klan Sympathizer.  (BA Kicked my butt here when I siad he was originally out of Oklahoma...  And she nicely pointed out that Oklahoma was NOT a Confederate state.  So...  He's from Kentucky.  DHOT!  And I quickly got this map into my mind so future screw ups won't happen):

Wainwright is a real piece of work and the CO has no damned idea how such a bigot like him got placed in a position of power in this new town.  Basically take the most racist person you know... up that by ten and drop him in the ghetto in Chicago... and give him lots of money and voting power.  Yeah someone dun screwed up there letting Wainwright fly under the radar like that.

Wainwright does not really CARE about the kids, but just wants this mark from his public face removed, and he's convinced that its the strange carnival that has parked outside of town.

So with all this in mind Myra and David set off and get to New Hope with no problems.  They know they can meet LtCln Wainwright in the locak inn/tavern named the "Fuzzy Quarterstaff" (Old joke for me here...  the Fuzzy Quarterstaff was a joke from my AD&D days... when we, as adventurers took our spoils and made, not only an inn, but a franchise of inns...  The Fuzzy Quarterstaff chain was born...  See what reckless Aether Crystal use has let in?!?)

Myra said quite simply that she was in no mood to deal with morons, and they decided to check out the Carnival outside of town.

The Carnival turned out to be much more than a few tents!  There was a massive ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and a diving pirate ship ride.  There was a lighted midway full of shops, a carnival midway for games, and tons of food vendors.  The power was obviously steam and gears, but Myra did a quick spell detection and found the Aether-tech power lines running throughout the grounds.

David and Myra went to the back of the carnival to meet with the "main office" which was in a horseless carriage of Lemurian Make!  It was then they found they were in the Carnival of Doctor Lao!  Of course it's not the movie version, as THIS Lao is a Lemurian, whom Myra goes to after passing her badge to David and posing as an itinerant worker looking for a job.  She quickly grew to like the Dr. (Whom I played in a bad "Charlie Chan" voice...  just like Tony Randall did!  Steal from the best Damnnitt!)

Meanwhile, David was watching the grounds making sure things were safe for Myra when he was shoulder bumped by an exotic beauty... covered in DEADLY SNAKES and little else in the way of clothing.  She winked demurely at David before rushing off.  Suddenly he felt a tug at his sleeve (which he took to be a pickpocket) and looked down into...  Well combine a rhesus monkey, a Cheshire cat face, give it blue fur, and two thin tails and you got it.  The Cat-Monkey was wearing a Fez and a bright vest and was staring intently at David...

Taken off guard David looked at the thing and said... "Um... Hello?"
And he was met with:
"COR! BuggermeforatwitthatIamyousegottalottaleathertherepalandwowlookitthatthemtherebadgeitssoverySHINEY!  Ooooooo Shiney..."  in a really bad cockney accent...  (I was going for the dialect of the nac Mac Feegle from The Wee Free Men but it came off more like a Feegle on a caffeine bender...  Wow what a scary thought that is...)

A Human rushed up to David and apologized profusely for his "partner" whom he called Winxie.  He pushed Winxie away and stuffed a free voucher for the show into David's hands... Which announced several shows such as:
Satha, the Priestess of Yig and snake charmer! (Ladies lock up your men from this show!)
The Comedy Sty-lings of  Winxie and Dangle! (Kids welcome, but we're not responsible for any new vocabulary learned!)
The Great Magician Thrystam and his Menagerie! (Petting Zoo free!  Come pet the k'ilin!)
Mr. ? (NO CHILDREN ALLOWED FOR THIS PERFORMANCE) [NOTE: the picture of this showed a "person" half covering his face with a Doll's Mask but there was a totally BLANK FACE behind it.  No Eyes, Ears, Mouth...  NOTHING]

Obviously this last note really caught David's attention...

And there we ended, Myra trying to figure out if she should just admit to Dr. Lao that she's a Pinkerton agent trying to help find the lost children, David wondering what the heck Mr. ? was and if the snake woman was free later...

And BOTH of them are firmly convinced that this Carnival is BAD...

*Wicked Grin*  Well I'm not gonna tip my hand on this one as I have PLANS.

We play again next Sunday and I'm curious... would anyone want to hear a recording of our session?  I have the stuff to record off skype but there are so many actual play pods out there...  What do you all think?

More from the Pinkertons next Sunday!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Damned Zombies

So recently I picked up on my Nook (yay digital readers) a copy of Zombies Vs Unicorns.  This was a damned good read for something I picked up on a whim because of the funny title. 

Being a fantasy buff of course I know a lot about both sides of this "debate" and while all of the stories were well written I could not help but find myself falling into my own prejudices in terms of fantasy monsters.  Namely... well let me be blunt, ever since I was a child I have loved one and only one type of creature above all others.  DRAGONS.  So while the authors of Zombies Vs Unicorns debated I kept thinking: "Feh, a good Dragon would roast BOTH sides and then sit down and laugh about it later."

Anyway, what has this got to do with the post title?

Has anyone ever heard of an Egyptian beast called "Eater of the Dead?" 

 Her proper name of course is Ammit, also known as “Devourer of the Dead,” “Eater of Hearts,” and “Great of Death.”  Not a deity per se, but still a powerful being that was part of the final judgment of souls entering the afterlife in Egyptian Mythology.  Simply put, when you died, your heart/soul was taken by Anubis and weighed against a feather.  This feather was purity and truth in a solid form, and if your heart was NOT pure, well Anubis would snatch it up and toss the sucker down the gullet of Ammit there.  You were cursed to NEVER find eternal rest and in many ways destroyed outright.

O.K. so we have some weird beast that was part lion, hippo, and crocodile that would cause ultimate obliteration of the dead if they were not pure...

This is how my brain works...  Lets take that idea, say a world is in the midst of a "Zombie Apocalypse," and then have a scientist genetically engineer a whole new breed of animal that not only can fight the zombies but like to... say... EAT THE DEAD and cause their TOTAL OBLITERATION?

Yeah...  I think I have a short story idea here.  I may post it later, but my question for folks is simply this...  how do you feel about a Zombie story that deals with something that could actually defeat the hordes of undead?  A zombie story with hope?

What do you think?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Works in Progress

This is a small excerpt from a work in progress I have going on.  This one little bit started a whole slew of ideas, namely the world where these characters come from is the same one I'm building via my QAGS game!

So for the first time here... Meet Thaddeus Mainspring, Elisa Geargrind, The Steam Powered First Mate Omega, and the automoton crew of Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon...

“Hard to port!  I want those Aether cannons loaded and ready!”

An explosion caught the Aether-ship Wanderer on the forecastle and caused her to list before her crew was able to wrestle the sub canvas back into shape.  Thaddeus cursed loudly while Omega held the helm as steady as possible.  The sounds of timber cracking were less than encouraging to say the least.

“I thought you said Aetherspace was devoid of life sir!”  Omega shouted just before the beast wheeled past the bridge and roared loud enough to shatter the glass encasing the levitationals.

“I said I thought it was lifeless!  Nature it seems scoffs at the amateur naturalist!  Gamma!  Delta!  Epsilon! Fire when ready!”  Thaddeus fairly screamed into the brass tube intercom.  Three tinny voices echoed out of the bell replying “Aye Aye sir!”

The beast in the void spread the leathery frills about its neck wide as it inhaled pure Aether.  Energy cascaded off the scales on its throat and frills while sickly green light played between the massive fangs.

Before the beast could loose its blast however, three ringing cannon shots erupted from the Wanderer.  The ship was physically pushed back by the blast of its own cannons, but the blue energy wreathed balls sped towards the beast.  One shot went wide but the others slammed into the head and first fore-flipper of the thing.  The flipper was blasted free from the titanic bulk of the beast, trailing a luminescent fluid of some sort, most likely the beast’s blood.

The shot to the head however was far more cataclysmic.  The blue energy wreathing the cannonball slammed into the white and green forces playing about the beast’s head.  A blending of the energy happened briefly before the head of the beast flared and suddenly exploded.

The Wanderer was caught in the energy storm released from the explosion while her sails shredded from the force of the shockwave.  Thaddeus could hear the upper and lower masts crack before he saw the main mast begin to fall.

“Oh shi…”

“Sir!”  Omega yelled as he ran past picking up his captain and running for a lifeboat.  “I don’t think the Wanderer will make it through this!”  Already the ship faltered and suddenly began to rise at an alarming rate as the cracking of timbers overwhelmed any other sound.

“There goes the under-mast…”  Hissed Thaddeus.  “Where are Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon? Or Miss Elisa for that matter?”

The clattering from the stairs announced the rest of the crew making a break for the lifeboats as well.

“Half the bloody belly of the ship ripped free sir!”  Epsilon shouted before diving into the lifeboat.  Gamma and Delta followed without comment, but Thaddeus could not help but notice that Delta was seriously wounded and bleeding.  Before he could ask what hit Delta, Elisa tossed several bags into the lifeboat before looking sternly at Thaddeus.

“I’ve grabbed the notes and log books professor!  The discoveries we will have to leave!  That damned beast ruptured the containment tanks!”

Thaddeus sighed and nodded, clambering onto the longboat, followed by Omega while Elisa cast off and engaged the drives.  They quickly sped away from the wreck of the Wanderer and watched in sadness as the ship slowly began to dissolve once the shields faltered and failed.

“There, but for the grace of God go we…”  Muttered Thaddeus.

“Well sir, “God” had better find us a way to recharge the limited containment chamber on the longboat here, or we will be dissolving like the main ship!”  Omega tapped the smaller version of the tanks and sighed.  “We have a few days at best.”

Thaddeus sighed and rubbed his temples.  “Looks like we have no damn choice here…  We’re going to have to find a rift and go from there.”

Elisa groaned.  “We’re in uncharted Aetherspace with rifts leading to Gods knows where…  Yes Professor, what could possibly go wrong this time!”

Thaddeus shook his head and glared at his assistant.  “You mean beyond being attacked by some great bloody Aether-dragon, which all the scholars said was nothing but a myth I might add, and being stranded in the middle of nothing?  We don’t have a choice here Miss Elisa, and you can stop grousing about it.  We will find help once we get through the rift and land.  It’s either that or we starve to death here in the Longboat.”

“We would dissolve first sir.” Omega remarked and then recoiled from the withering stare from both Thaddeus and Elisa.

Elisa shook her head and dug out the rift-finder.  “Three leagues in that way…  Let’s just hope whatever natives we find will help us.”

“Let’s just hope we find life at all Miss Elisa.”