Tyler Starke was turned over to the police, raving at Kida ve Alema that the “stag” would take his side. Kida seemed pleased with the turn of events, as did Kvarti Gorbatiy, who claimed that he was first hired by the man to assassinate Rock Rackus. The dwarven assassin had a change of heart though; having an eschatologist’s bias, he decided that the docker celebrity was ultimately harmless, and was undeserving of such a sudden end.
Eager to scout recruits for an all-star RHC Team 2 roster, Kvarti was invited back to headquarters for questioning and coffee. Hugo Von Gearkinson took an interest in the carved message in the dwarf’s weapon, but otherwise contented himself with going back to work on Alexander Grappa’s body.
Safely locked away in a mage cell, Xambria Meredith spilled all the details she could about Sijhen’s memories, as well as knowledge it had taken as a result of devouring the brain of Caius Bergeron. She was rambling, but the basics of her intel were as follows:
- Sijhen had been locked away behind the seal of the Apet ziggurat for thousands of years. Her team’s tampering accidentally unleashed it.
- Reed Macbannin and Caius Bergeron worked for a shadowy organization called the Obscurati, which is interested in learning more about the Ancients and their planar seals. Neither man was in charge of the group, though, and Caius had a spell put on him that prevented even Sijhen from learning who he reported to. Later in the conversation, she also revealed that the head of the party’s office, Margaret Saxby, was also an Ob agent.
- Sijhen wanted to return home, but something always seemed to prevent him from establishing a successful portal. But he seemed to figure out what had gone wrong, and was on track to opening a door to Gidim, his homeworld. It was opening tonight. When asked where it was, she only said it was “down and sideways.”
When this information was brought to Stover Delft (the constables decided not to mention Saxby’s involvement just yet), the Assistant Chief Inspector pulled out a city map, marked with the routes of the under-construction subrail line. Some of the zoning paperwork had passed through his hands some time ago, and sure enough, one of the tunnels currently being dug was less than fifty feet from the RHC’s basement.
The constables hurried to the nearest access point, and followed the tracks to the end of the tunnel. Several lanterns had been appropriated from the walls; now glowing with silvery light, they’d been arranged in a semicircle around a two-ton golden seal, likely the one from the Apet ziggurat that had been replaced with a fake. Hugo and his simulacrum, SNARE, ventured forward to use his new spell, Gold of Urim, to deactivate the lanterns that were now obviously some kind of ritualistic foci. The spell worked, but there was an unforeseen consequence. In Hugo’s pocket sat the Golden Icon of Apet, which he’d originally gotten from Xambria – it seemed to activate the ritual, which until now had been unable to function.
Sijhen never wanted the three relics taken from the ziggurat. He had only come to the Gala to allow himself to be kidnapped, to be closer to the things he needed to complete a ritual to return home. He’d planned it all, even using the constables as unwitting pawns!
Spacial mana flowed outward all directions, turning the world translucent, then to ghostly transparency. The constables could see through walls, streets, ceilings. They looked back through the rock to see their headquarters being invaded by a half-dozen killers from the Bleak Gate (later found to be Lorcan Kell’s men, suggesting he was part of the Ob as well), as well as Xambria simply walking out of her cell. To make matters worse, a worm maw and several smaller Gidim appeared, instantly turning their attention to the helpless RHC staff.
Reeling from disorientation, the constables scrambled to return order to their home office, navigating several different threats, including the escape of all the prisoners in the RHC’s cells! Luckily several members of Team 3 were on the scene to help, along with Kvarti. Saxby also waded into battle against the Kell-guild killers, but made escape her priority. Talon Silverhawk almost prevented her escape, but without backup, or hard evidence to prove her betrayal, he had to let her go.
While reality continued to phase in and out, Xambria was brought down thanks to a team effort by Qiyet Outrunner and Serena Fynes. One floor below,Alain Templeton and Carlao Langford held a hallway against a small group of Kell’s killers.
Stover Delft completely lost his cool, the formless monstrosities forcing him to have flashbacks to the mimic that tore a chunk out of his leg all those years ago. He shot Kida with his pistol, then drew his sword on Qiyet – but the martial scientist brought him back with a combination of carefully-worded arguments and a powerful slap to the face.
While most of the team was distracted with the worm maw, Sijhen emerged from Xambria’s unconscious body, pulling the professor’s mind with him in a thoughtform version of herself, leaving her physical body to die. Sensing that the ritual had been stopped by Hugo (who stayed out of the fight this whole time), he phased back through the street to stop the technologist.
Drawing forth his pistol, he unleashed a magic missle at the psionic tendrils binding the Gidim to Xambria, freeing her! Unfortunately, she started fading almost immediately, unable to hold her thoughtform. With no where else to go, she dived into Hugo’s mind, where she still resides to this day.
Alone, Hugo’s psyche was no match for Sijhen’s mind-control power, and he unwillingly handed over the Icon, which Sijhen needed to restart his ritual to return home. Hugo fled, meeting up with his team, and leading them back to the tunnel’s end. Templeton managed the flashiest entrance, borrowing the Experimental Steam Suit from the RHC evidence locker and smashing through the street above.
With nowhere near enough time to open the door to Gidim, Sijhen was soundly outmatched and eventually destroyed, his incorporeal body flickering between states as his corpse curled up on the stone. For once, Hugo didn’t get the killing blow.
A ceremony was held, in which Nigel Price-Hill awarded Stover Delft with the title of Chief Inspector, and city governor Roland Stanfield personally congratulated Team 1 on their valiant defense of the city. As far as the attack itself, the official story was that a monster got out of an Ancient ruin, came to Flint, and killed people in an attempt to reclaim old relics. Nothing was said of Saxby’s betrayal, or of secret societies, or worlds unknown to even skyseers.
Later in the day, Delft assembled Team 1 in a secret place, urging them to tell him everything they knew. With all the cards on the table, he apologized for his lackluster performance as their supervisor, and vowed to do away with the bureaucratic bullshit stopping the constables from doing their job.
“From now on,” he said, “You five are my anti-Obscurati specialists. I don’t know what they’re up to, but I won’t rest until we take them down! Our first step will be to infiltrate that train Caius mentioned…”