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Page 18

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce


"Don't look back."
These were the words her father had spoken to her over the phone.
"When it explodes, make sure you're in Elven form, and clear all magical energy inside you. It's the only way to survive the astral blast."
Silvia knew they were probably out of the physical range of the bomb, but the astral range was a lot bigger.

She saw Dorodo was looking out of the back window.
"Sleg! Don't look! When that thing detonates you'll be blind in a split second!"
She pulled Dorodo to the front of the van.

"Betta put sometin ova du back window den." Tank said in his bizarre dialect. "Dere anyting to put on?"
Yes... some cardboard and duct tape." Silvia replied. "Dorodo, help me with this, will you?"
"Okaay!" the Goblin replied. They quickly put the cardboard on the window, and taped it on.
"Right then people! Now look away from it and close your eyes!"

Tank kept driving. His cybereyes would protect him against the blinding flash anyway.

Then came the blast. Even though the window was sealed and their eyes closed they still saw it.

"You have to remember this. When you ban all magic from your body you'll survive. Otherwise you're doomed."

So... this is it... clear your mind... let it all come, go through you and pass you...

She felt it inside her. Cold... dead... empty. The blast had already spread over a great distance, and was a lot less powerful than what the attacking dragons got. But she could still feel it inside her.

She heard Dorodo scream. Apparently he had had some undiscovered magic inside him...
I hope he survives... I kinda like the little guy.
Tank, who didn't have a shred of magic in his entire body, looked confused. He never really understood the magical effect of a bi-nuclear weapon, and felt powerless because he couldn't help his friends.

Then it was over. It passed them. They were far enough from the astral vacuum; the mana of the life and the earth around them slowly began to regenerate. Silvia felt incredibly weak, and noticed she couldn't shift back to her dragon shape.
Oh no! Dorodo!

The goblin was lying on the van's floor. Unconcious, but still breathing.


N'zar smiled. Now the plans were running smoothly. With the confusion that rumour and threat created, he could finally launch an assault at Vladivostok compounds, were the only Greater Dragon who had opposed him lived. Unnoticed, unexpected, merciless. The attack was carried out by the leader himself.
With the Maelstrom powers of the royal sceptre and the ones of his own, that would be a massacre.
Alarms on Vladivostok triggered on. But it was too late.

But no one hoped that someone else was aware of their true intentions.
N'zar gazed shocked when he saw what happened. Mac had dissapeared from the place where he was. A dim light surrounded him.

Mac woke up. He was on Roszondas paw.
"Glad you're safe, my brave warrior. I could barely warp you here via lightshift. But the time has come to hide an master yourself into new skills. A war is about to begin, and we need as many allies as we can."
So Mac was fully healed by the inmense powers of the dragon, and dropped in the landscape. It was far away from the city. Others would think that he would be dead.

Soon the fleeing dragons fron the city arrived where Roszondas was. The older ones bowed down their heads and shouted
"Our prince, we can't believe you're still alive!"
Normally, lesser dragons did not like their Greater comrades. But Roszondas was different. His kind and generous attitude towards their lesser comrades, and the lesser species had made him be respected by many, but hated within his own brood.
"My sons, This is indeed a great disgrace. I arrived too late. I could only seal the physical explosion of the device into the void and lessen the damage. We now must help these people and evacuate all of them out the city."
"But the astral space is destroyed..."
"We don't need magic to use our natural strenght"
The words of the prince felt like the relief the city needed. A shine in the doom.


As the bi-nuclear blast went off, Jyl stood and watched for only a nano-second before plumenting himself into the sewers. Allowing the once sane part of him to take over, which only happened once in a blue moon, he removes a chunk of concrete to create a hole in the wall and covered himself back up with the piece, the whole process happening quicker than the eye could trace.

It had been since last night since he had used any magic, and that was the last thing on his mind. Right now, it was recovering his vision and his vampire half kicked in, healing him as the astral blast swept over him and he went black for several hours. The actual nuclear part was only about 14 blocks from where he was holed up.


The morning brought with it new concerns as Chance and Ash worked their way back into the city. The roads were clogged with frightened people and their vehicles... their logic being "since such a terrorist act could happen once, it could happen again"...

Ash was walking steadily despite her healing wounds. Being physically fit, the marvels of modern medical treatment, combined with Wolf's medical skills, had resulted in her being able to move almost normally. She still found it difficult to speak, and had to spend the previous night being fed liquid food. However, she was impatient to get out of the shelter to where her friends last were, a sentiment shared by Chance.

Initially, the duo had considered aquiring gas masks to filter out any fallout. However, one of the last few conscious and sane Daisaka mages had informed them that the contained blast meant that any radioactive fallout had been kept within the Aztech compound (which was already being labelled Ground Zero Geneva by the press). The mighty corporation headquarters was no more... its pyramid replaced by the permanent roiling ball of buclear and magical energies.

They continued down the streets... With security forces in a mess due to the attack, looters had begun appearing in alarming numbers. The same thing happened with weapons, Chance seeing more instances of guns being carried openly by scavengers and refugees with suspicious eyes. The soldier had retracted the extendable stock of his assault rifle and slung it in a shoulder bag with a long zipper so that he had easy access to the weapon. He had to get himself a more concealable pistol soon, having given his previous sidearm to Lady Zero. The soldier still held the silencer for the pistol though... It wasn't good form to give assassination equipment to what was technically a civilian.

It took them a while to get to the hospital area. To their surprise, the building still stood. And in front of them, minus her disguise, stood Doctor Turin, solemnly grasping a silver staff that Curim once held.

The duo understood the significance immediately.

Curim was dead.


The other runners converged upon the doctor, in the grim aftermath of the bomb.

Crystal and CylinderHead emerged from a helicopter, which they had put down in a road nearby, suprisingly free from debris. Ash and Chance had arrived first, and stood on either side of the doctor.
Tank and Silvia, the latter carrying the unconcious body of Dorodo, picked their way through the rubble, and moved to stand next to Mary. The big Ork put one huge, scarred hand on her shoulder. Obviously the blue goblin had had some sort of damage done by the magical shock of the bomb.
Crash and Firearm, with a shocked-looking Lady Zero, arrived, in the solomn silence. Xecktos appeared silently from somewhere, after his earlier dissapearance, to pay his respects. Raven limped through the ruins, holding a scrapnel wound in his arm. He saw the staff, clutched in Mary's pale hands.

He understood.

The charred remains of much of this area of the city was like a corpse, snatched too late off the funeral pyre. The Buclear blast had ensured they would not find Curim's body.

Only Dragon did not arrive. No-one seemed to know what had happened to him, after Crystal had seen him plummet off the hospital roof before the firestorm.

Mary held the staff still in here hands. Many of the other runners bowed their heads, in respect to the dead troll.

Raven, Mary, and Crash wept.

Then the heavens opened.

Thick, polluted Genevan rain began to fall, tiny splashes breaking the silence. Ash turned to black mud, which oozed underfoot. The rain was dark too, the ash thrown up into the atmosphere coming back down with it.
The smell of death was all around now.

And still they stood in silence, mourning a death.


The sound of dozens of dragons broke the silence. Cheered up by an unknown leader, they soon forgave their pride and helped the survivors.

Curim's sstaff began to be covered with a big shadow. Everyone turned their sight up in the sky. A 30ft dragon, with golden scales, was standing there. For the size, it was sure to be a Greater dragon. Silvia had actually seen him somewhere else before, but didn't remember where.

The runners didn't tried to ask what intentions he had. They just stood there, crying the death of the troll.

Wolf arrived in the last minute, and kneeled down in front of the flying dragon. "My Lord Roszondas, it is a pleasure to see you, even in this circumstances."

Silvia finally remembered who was that guy.She had seen in her dad''s History books. He had been the last Prince of the dragons, also the last member of the Quetzacoatl''s brood. They called him "the visionaire" just because he believed that despite the power differences, all sentient beings were equal in rights. His name was Roszondas, and it was believed to be dead.

An even more terrible thing had happened. The Vladivostok compound was believed to be attacked by N'zar's forces.There were no survivors.

The dragon finally spoke. his words were so quiet and calm that even gave relief to the crying hearts of the friends of Curim.
"It was a brave warrior, Indeed. But he is not dead. He lives amongst your memories. He is part of you character by now. A great warrior is not measured by the weapon or skills it has. It is measured by the memories it leaves. I know you are exhausted, sad, and hopelessly, but worse things are about to happen. The dead troll named Curim would want as me to carry on, wash your tears and fight the war it is about to begin!"
The others gazed at eachother wondering how he had known the dead person's name.
The dragon headed towards Silvia. "Silvia, consider yourself proud. You're the living proof of what I have defended."


For the first time in her life Silvia was truly speechless.
It was an incredible honor for her to meet the Dragon... but she never expected him to adress her.

Finally, after about half a minute of silence, she spoke.
"Well... I just hope I can still live up to what I am... the astral devastation seems to have done its damage; I can't change back to my dragon form."

"Don't worry." Roszondas said. "Your abilities will return soon. You're not the little girl that disappeared into the shadows a few days ago. You are stronger now... more mature. When you have made your full recovery you will probably be able to... fly."

That one word kept echoing in Silvia's head. Fly. Truly fly. No longer having to climb the stairs of unknown appartment buildings to gain height, but to be able to use her own wings for that.

"Wow..." she whispered.


The close presence of the huge dragon was pretty alarming... considering that the last one that Chance saw had tried (and succeeded) in buking the city. He reverted back to training and practical considerations while Silvia talked with the big fellow. That dragon didn't seem too interested in Chance anyway.

The past few days had given him ample practice at being a medic. Mary, Tank, Ash... even Crystal with her cured hangover... all had received medical aid from him. As the soldier trotted over to Dorodo's unconscious form, he wondered if he should add "Medic Skills" to his resume and begin carrying a small belt-mount medical pack around. It might earn an extra thousand nuyuen or so on his next job.

The little goblin's eyes were rolled up in his head, but he was conscious and his heartbeat normal (goblins had rapid heartbeats as compared to humans due to their smaller size). Chance did not know anything about how badly the goblin's spiritual aura had been harmed, but he reasoned that remedying his physically unconscious state was better than nothing.

Shifting the goblin into the unconsciousness recovery position, the soldier proceeded to regard the others with a critical eye.

They were a beat-up lot... everyone was wet and muddy, their clothes and hair covered in rainwater, soot and ash. At least a couple of them, Raven and Tank at least, sported shrapnel cuts and scrapes. The hole in the big guy's head had scabbed over some, but the Ork had collected an impressive number of bruises and scrapes on the rest of his body.

Curim was dead, and Dragon was missing, probably dead.

Chance regarded the sky, letting the rain wash across his face, running streams down the dust and grime of the devastated Geneva.

Rest well, my friends... For I suspect that this story is still a long way from its end


After a few hours, Jyl awoke and shoved the concrete piece off of him and stood there, not a trace of the vampire in him showed, only the elf. Stretching, he jumped up and slammed his way through the concrete above him that had been sealed off by the intense heat, the only presence of the vampire in him. His fangs did not show. He landed nimbly on the ground 10 feet from the group of 'runners and tilted his head slightly, listening to their conversation.


Over the next few days, the city began to grind forewards once again, slowly building up momentum to normal life, as the reconstruction of the blasted area began. The buclear weapon, unlike nukes, did not leave a large irradiated area - in fact, the only the sprawling Aztechnology compound (now still a raging firestorm) - would be affected in this way.

Mary retired to her apartment, allowing Dorodo, Silvia, and Tank to crash there, until the three left for Terganon, to find Silvia's parents. Mary's flat was luckily outside the blast zone, while theirs, sadly, had been inside it. Crystal elected to stay with Raven, and Crash to stay with Firearm. Dragon and Jyl dissapeared, while Xectos went to try and find Lora in the streams of evacuees pouring back into the city. Ash and Chance were living together anyway. No-one heard of Ery, but he was promoted in AET, due to his actions prior to the blast. He aquired a new bodyguard, a hellhound called Sparkles. Lady Zero retreated to a new manager.

Mary's life began to return to some essence of normality.
Almost a week later, Mary's wristphone beeped. It was Crystal.


Looked at all the faces as the came walking by them, none of them were Lora. Only found another friendly face come walking towards him.

"Hey arent you day elf dat got run over by the super tanker I still need to ask you some questions..." Xecktos tossed his hair and crossed his arms.
"The city rests in ruin, many are dead, i'm looking for my love. Let that incident go there is no reason to contuine such a futile thing."
Jol puffed his cigar, and then dropped to his knees. He began to cry.
"All I got is dat left, my home my rig, my job are all gone." Xecktos grinned. Pitiful orc. Then xecktos got a very strange feeling as though some one was watching him. Xecktos spun around to see a man in a long black cloak. His face covered by a hood.

"You're looking good Xecktos... sad you've had such a hard life." The man said. Xecktos raised an eyebrow.
"Who are you, and how dare you speak unto me about such a nature." There was a brief silence.
"Still on the pithy search of yours for your family and for you 'love' Lora?" Xecktos clinched his teeth in rage, leaned over and picked up Jol's SMG and open fired on the man. The man didnt flinch, the bullets bounced off some type of magic shield. The clip was empty and the gun was hot.
The man grinned
"Is that all you've got? Say hello to mr steel rafter." The ground shook as the a massive steel rafter came out of the ground to the left of him. It floated in the air, before it shot out at Xecktos. Xecktos sidestepped to dodge it, but the rafter bent and coiled around Xecktos, it was tight enough so he couldnt move, but not tight enough to kill him.

"I thought you would be stronger then you are, oh well... if you can get out that, then you may open this chest behind me" he stepped to the side showing a large chest. " If not, then I hope you have a nice after life. If you survive, we will meet again." With that the man jumped into the blackend sky, and became lost in bleak darkness.

"Wow, looks like yous in a pickle aye?" remarked Jol, xecktos could only groan and he tipped over and fell on his side.


The newspapers showed up the MUNDI ultimatum. They defined N'zar as a bloody maniac that should be erased, for the world's sake. The destruction of th Vladivostok compound was added to the destruction of a key trade point: The city of Geneva. War was inevitable.

N'zar scheme was fitting perfectly. Foolish MUNDI would be consumed soon by his forces. And that was only the beggining. The beginning of the end. The conclusion of a plan forged by the hatred of centuries. A plan forged by a Greater Dragon.
But there was a thing that was not planned. The Prince of Dragons. Somehow, he was still alive. But, he would be not aware of his true intentions. Not even the Quetzacoatl dragon, one of his brood brothers, would stop him.

Eva had followed Wolf, and wanted to become a Black Dragon ninja, as Dragon did. Wolf could not hold her back. He had known her for a long time, although she could not know. His father, Grigor Alexeiv, had been the leader of the scientist group of the BWG project.

An unknown wandered kneeled over the tomb of Jade, the legendary runner, and dropped her katana. Mist Lotus was also there, and somehow felt that the wanderer was not unknown to her...
The wanderer walked off, slowly, quietly dissapearing the way he entered.

But Mist Lotus was already busy with something else. The newcomer recruit, Eva. She resembled Dragon somehow...

"Wake up, Crash, we need to talk."
The screen showed. Crash was amazed at how the unknown decker had entered his own cyberdeck.
"Who are you?"
"A friend of mine had told me about you. You seem quite a good promise boy. From now on, call me OverMind, and you can learn great things from me if you want"


Dorodo recovered faster than expected. In fact, it seemed that the presence of the dragons greatly increased the mana regeneration of the entire city. But the place where the bomb exploded was dead. Empty. An astral vacuum around the still raging ball of fire. The vacuum would shrink in time... very slowly, the magic would reclaim its lost terrain. But it would take thousands of years to completely disappear.

Tank got better, but he still got headaches quite easily; there seemed to be a small piece of the destroyed control-chip left in his brain that surgeons couldn't remove without causing further damage.

Roszondas helped Silvia with her first flights, but the Greater Dragon had other duties, so he didn't have much time. Silvia's final goal was to be able to fly all the way to Terganon, just like her dad, but she wasn't strong enough for that yet. Now that the long-range comlink of the city was restored (it had been hosted in the now destroyed Aztechnology pyramid) Silvia had finally been able to contact her parent. They had safely arrived in Terganon, and looked forward to seeing their daughter's new flying skills. But they didn't want to come to Geneva. Terganon, as a dragon city, would probably have an internal political struggle to determine who's side they would be on in the upcoming war, what made it neutral ground for now.

The Ork district was a mess. Part of it was in the actual physical blast, while the rest was nearly uninhabitable because it was inside the astral vacuum. Silvia had wanted to go there and look for her Ork friends, but Roszondas advised her not to, since the Astral vacuum would damage her magic abilities for a long time.
However, Tank offered to go and look for them. He wanted to go there to pick up his armor anyway.

He came back with sad news; the old Bugor, one of Silvia's best friends, was dead. His small groceries store, where Tank and Silvia had hidden from Rent-a-cops and street gangs for countless times, had been wiped off the face of the earth.
An old Ork shaman she knew had gone crazy and jumped out of the window of his flat; his apprentice died in the Astral vacuum.
Most of the other Orks seemed to have fled the district. They found a few of them camping around the outer borders of the city, but not even a quarter of the Green Lake Clan was accounted for.


"The Ork district is really messy indeed". said Roszondas, projecting magically his vision, to check that the words of the Ork were truth."Do not be surprised, young half-dragon. The Quetzacoatls do not depend on the existance of Astral space. They do create an Astral space. However, the range of these Astral auras is really small. In fact, only half mile wide."

"I felt somehow guilty for all this churn out. If only I could be here earlier I would not only prevent the physical explosion, but also the astral one."
Silvia stood amazed."That vortex is your doing?"
"Well, in some ways, yes. It is the result of forcing the Astral energies to contain the explosion, moments before the Astral one." the Greater Dragon replied proudly. He didn't look like someone who lied.


NewsEye! We Give You The News We Want You To Hear!

"World leaders were in collective shock today after the mysterious explosion in the Geneva Free-Enterprise zone."

Cut to Queen Antoinette of Brit-Sprawl, resplendant in full uniform, in her press room.
"It is a tragedy. Someone is tampering with forces their miniscule minds cannot possibly understand. I fear there shall be repercussions the like we have never before seen on this Earth." Smiles at the 3DTV camera, causing unsettlement among viewers.

President Duchamps, Northern French Alliance:
"I say again, if anyone uses such a weapon on my country, we will respond with a full Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Strike! Vive la France!"Wipes brow. which is weating profusely.

Juan Atzcapotzalco, Aztechnology CEO:
"The people of Aztlan will have veangeance on these despicable murderers! Mark my words!"

Back to shots of devastation:
"It is not known exactly what type of explosive was used but early reports say the city is a no-go area. Daisaka security - Who run law-enforcement for the city - Have imposed a quarantine, to the outrage of civil liberties groups."

Usual Daisaka PR man:
"This is just a precaution, until we have evacuated the most seriously wounded. We have to stick together, people!"

"Scurrillous sources suggest that a bi-nuclear weapon may have been used on the city. However, military sources say this is impossible, as if that were the case, none of the city would be left. Magical societies have recorded an unprecedented level of so-called 'magical abhorrations' across the city, and indeed, across europe."

Shot of Mage going catatonic, held down by British police.

"Whatever the case may be, we can only watch and wait. There are clearly many questions unanswered here. Will we ever find out in our lifetimes? Time will tell. Sooner or later...Time will tell. This is Belvedene Chanteuse, Newseye - A division of General Metro Incorporated."

Final, chilling shot of the huge magical disturbance at the heart of the city, ringed with barricades, Panzers and even a panzerfaust MBT in General Metro colours.


End Chapter One...

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