Broken Horizons – Vol 13, Ch 16

The suggestion that they kill the [Fallen Kingdoms] was met with just a few objections.

“Have you lost your mind?” Lady Midnight said.

“How would we even do that? Punch the planet?” Rip asked.

“You’re going to sacrifice one world to save another?” Yawlorna asked.

Support for the idea came from an unexpected corner though.

“The idea has merit,” Penny said. “But the timing will be challenging.”

“Agreed,” Azma said. “I believe we can open gateway to allow transit from the [Fallen Kingdoms] to the Earth soon enough to move the resources required to end the apocalypses there before the Earth is lost, but without {Gaia} obtaining the knowledge the [Fallen Kingdoms] has that would be only a temporary measure and would divide our forces when they need to be unified to prevail.”

“Until the [Fallen Kingdoms] has exited its current death spiral, any loss of forces will simple accelerate our untimely demise,” Penny said.

“So we’re doomed no matter what we do?” Rip asked.

Azma chuckled.

“We didn’t say that,” Penny said. “This is merely a situation which requires creativity.”

“Why are they both smiling like that?” Jamal asked Marcus.

“Don’t know. I’m hoping that it’s a good sign though,” Marcus said.

“The answer’s simple, right?” Tessa said. “We need to save the [Fallen Kingdoms] so that the [Fallen Kingdoms] can save the Earth, and we’re under a time limit on getting that done. Sounds like fairly typical game design.”

“Hey!” said the [Lady of All Tides] before amending, “Okay, that’s actually fair.”

“In this case the ‘game designer’ was a sadist however,” Azma said. “Gulini placed enough apocalypses on the [Fallen Kingdoms] to be sure twice over than the world’s armies and [Adventurers] would not be able to end them all in time.”

“And they’re each devastating enough that we can’t miss even one,” Penny said.

“What state is the salvation effort at presently?” Azma asked.

“Two apocalypses were averted within the minute before I joined this discussion,” Penny said. “That brings the current total down to eight hundred and forty two.”

“And our losses?” Azma said.

“Grenslaw is rotating units into and out of medical triage areas, while Ryschild coordinates the deployments and defense via the [Teleportation Network]. We’ve burned out all [Crisis Preparation] resources and are running on the troops personal reserves now. The projections say we will overcome another one hundred and ninety ‘unstoppable armageddons’ before all forces are exhausted, at which point casualties will become irreversible and troops strength is expected to drop exponentially.”

“That means you’re six hundred and fifty two armaggedons short,” Yawlorna said. “How do we cover that gap?” Yawlorna asked.

“We’ve got the gods on our side now! That’s gotta help,” Rip said.

“When we interfere directly, more [Oblivion Remnants] come through,” the [Lord of Storms] said. “But there’s got to be a whole lot of things we can do indirectly.”

“Resupple and replenishment,” Penny said. “If you can restore the casters in our depots, the exhaustion collapse can be postponed indefinitely.”

“Give Grenslaw unlimited resources and we can do more than postpone the collapse,” Azma said. “My strategy in that case would be to use the surplus to breed more replenishment depots and extend the [Teleportation Network]. I’m certain Grenslaw will coordinate with Ryschild to maximize the impact those resources can have.”

“Will it be enough to overcome the armageddons in time?” Lisa asked.

“It will buy us time, but, no, even with that we’re starting in too deep a deficit,” Penny said. “By the time we’re able to roll out our enhanced forces, I’m projecting at least three hundred armageddons will reach their end state.”

“They’re still smiling,” Jamal whispered to Marcus.

“What if we took the field ourselves?” the [Empress Above All] asked. “Most of my servants were unmade by Gulini but that means their powers and dominion have returned to me.”

“We’d just be making the problem worse wouldn’t we?” the [Lady of All Tides] said.

“Not necessarily,” the [Empress Above All] said and cast her gaze towards the [Adventurers].

Tessa considered if there was something she could do to allow them to operate in the [Fallen Kingdoms] without the oblivion backlash they’d suffered before. In theory there were higher tier versions of the [Fracture] power she’d been using. Could she mold one of the still undefined [Fracture] variants to split a god apart from the bulk of their divine power? Maybe? Was that even vaguely a good idea? Absolutely not.

Fortunately, the [Empress Above All] had a different idea and Hailey picked up on it.

“Avatars!” Hailey said. “Like our characters!”

“Yes, it you’ll show us how,” the Empress said. “We can embody ourselves in limited creations. Powerful enough to aid in the battles but not so much that we rip apart the world we made.”

“Hell yeah!” Hailey said.

“Do we know how we did that?” Rip asked. “Weren’t you the one who did that for us?”

“I amplified the call,” the [Empress Above All] said. “You were the ones who answered it though. How you did that is within you all.”

“What do you say Marcus? Think we can work out what we did?” Hailey asked, which made sense give that they’d had dev accounts to contend with just like the gods would.

“I think I can do even better,” Marcus said. “Ashad’s in [Dragonshire]. From that Penny told me, he managed to make the transition from god-souled developer, to a basic monster, and back to one of his characters. He’s seen even more of the process than we have him.”

Tessa thought back to the encountering “Aptomos” in the [High Beyond]. He’d been the one that had introduced them to David Kralt’s [Slime] based alter-ego. He’d gotten Tessa her first wand too. She’d lost track of him in the hecticness of the arrival at [Dragonshire] but she knew he was still a part of the [Second Stars] guild so contacting him wouldn’t be a problem.

Assuming he was still alive.

“Not to be morbid,” she said. “But does [Dragonshire] still exist?”

“Yes,” Penny said. “It is in a fortunate location.”

“They’re not in danger?” Rip asked.

“Not quite that fortunate,” Penny said. “They’ve had the good fortune that only two armageddons are headed towards them.”

“What do they have for defenders?” Lisa asked.

“Those you left behind,” Penny said.

“They’re all low level though,” Tessa said. “We’ve got to get them reinforcements.”

“There are none,” Penny said. “In they will need to serve as reinforcements for the main body of Azma’s former command.”

“They’re not going to make it,” Tessa said. “The [Adventurers] there were capping out around level 30 when we left. If they have to fight in an uncapped zone their going to be annihilated faster than their first powers can even execute.”

In her mind, images formed of the [Sisters of Steel], and the crafters in the [Second Stars], and Vixali, and all the other people who’d followed her to the “safety” [Dragonshire] had offered.

She was not going to let them die.

“Woah! Hold on there,” Lisa said, placing her hand over Tessa’s

That stopped the distortion that was beginning to form in space in front of her.

“Okay. That’s not supposed to be possible,” the [Lord of Storms] said.

Tessa noticed everyone had taken a step back from her. Except for Lisa, who was comfortingly close.

“Intriguing,” Azma said. “But not the time for such efforts. Rest your worries. If the forces of [Dragonshire] are being pitted alone against two different endings of the world, it’s because they have the capacity to overcome them. If they did not, Ryschild would be deploying them somewhere they’re efforts could achieve a meaningful result.”

That did not comfort Tessa. Half of [Dragonshire] dying permanently in order to stop an apocalypse would be a meaningful result and quite possibly a price worth paying under the circumstances. It just wasn’t one she was willing to have them pay.

“Perhaps we can do better than achieve a meaningful result there,” the [Empress Above All] said. “[Dragonshire] is surrounded by the [Barrow Hills of the Tormented] isn’t it?”

“Yeah, we leveled up a bunch there,” Lisa said.

“But the mobs started acting weird,” Rip said.

“They were leveling up too!” Tessa said, remembering all too clearly how frighteningly powerful the undead had become. “Is that one of the apocalypses?” she asked, terrified of what the logical conclusion of the undead leveling to the cap would be.

“Quite the opposite,” Penny said. “They’re projected to serve as a buffer to hold back the [Corrupter of Roots].”

“And you say that Ashad was a developer who incarnated in the world as a [Slime]?”, the [Empress Above All] asked.

“Not exactly a developer. He was in tech support, so as a [GM] he had access to the usual package of developer level hacks,” Hailey said. “When I came in with them, they translated as a god soul that was tearing me apart.”

“That may provide us with an opportunity,” the [Empress Over All] said. “We’ll need to conference on it though.” She gestured towards one of the rooms which seemed far too small to fit the assembled gods.

As the developers filed in though, Tessa saw them taking seats spaced comfortable far apart from one another with there being plenty of room to spare. [Paradise] was apparently whatever size it needed to be.

“Are they going to be able to turn this around?” Yawlorna asked.

“The idea they’re working on is a good one,” Azma said, despite the fact that no one had voiced what the developer-gods were planning to do. “It will bring us closer to where we need to be, but unfortunately there aren’t enough total forces in the [Fallen Kingdoms] to effect all the changes we need.”

“Then we need to find some forces that aren’t in the [Fallen Kingdoms],” Lisa said, the light of inspiration gleaming in her eyes.

“Exactly, and fortunately the Consortium sent just such a force,” Azma said. “The task force that was dispatched to detonate the sun and cleanse the system would be most efficacious at bringing planetary issues under control.”

“About that,” Penny said. “I mentioned two apocalypses being averted a moment before I joined you here? The Consortium’s task force was one of them.”

Azma paused, raised a finger to make a point, and paused again.

“How?” was what she eventually settled on.

“One of the armageddons came in the form of an egg which was going to birth a [Sun Eating Dragon]. A team of [Adventurers] hatched the egg and nurtured it instead, then flew off on it,” Penny said. “We thought they were heading for galactic space, and in sense they were.”

“They flew to the Consortium’s task force?” Azma’s question was tinged with exasperation.

“The good news is that there are pieces of the task force still intact and worth looting,” Penny said. “Some pieces at least.”

“And the [Sun Eating Dragon] is where now?” Azma asked.

“The [Adventurers] left a note saying they were off to make sure the Consortium, and I quote here, ‘won’t be a problem for any ever again’.”

“Wonderful,” Azma sighed. “That’s not going to go poorly at all.”

“It does mean that we’re short one potential interstellar army,” Penny said. “Though on the plus side that frees up the forces we would have used converting the Task Force.”

“Converting!” Tessa said. “What about the invasion fleet’s troops? You found a method of freeing them, didn’t you?”

“Oh yes,” Penny said. “Without them the [Fallen Kingdoms] would have been destroyed already. They’re among our fiercest defenders.”

“Which means, they’re already accounted for,” Tessa said, her hopes dropping.

“As are the unusual forces we’ve recruited,” Penny said. “Your friend the [Lava Serpent] for instance has been instrumental in several of our subterranean efforts.”

“It sounds like everyone in the world is already pitching in then,” Tessa said.

“Which is why we need some out of this world help!” Lisa said, the key to their salvation burning in her eyes.

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