Thursday, July 9, 2020


Finally, it was the big day. Nobody slept well; they met up early for breakfast, but skipped the rest of the usual graduation fanfare. After a bit of looking around, the group managed to find GlenMac; he looked a big haggard, and was in a hurry, but the group stopped him and pressed for information. Jackson was, after all, sure that GlenMac was a part of it. After a drawn out argument, they finally managed to convince him that Monica was in the wrong. He agreed to help, and handed over keys to a secret elevator in Belcher Center. Suddenly, his phone rang - he was needed to help Monica. Creatures were coming out of the Burn, and he needed to be there to keep everyone safe.

Inside Belcher, faint music was drifting out of the main auditorium; Alistair cracked a door open, and nearly lost James to the hypnotic tones! They pulled him back, and headed for the elevator, but not before watching a few friends and family walk inside... for the time being, they reasoned, it was probably safer in there than outside fighting demons.

They went down...

The elevator stopped, and as Alistair finished up a shielding ritual, the others took on one of the ash monsters from the Burn, finishing it off handily. They walked down the long hallway - it went all the way across the street - and entered the closest room. Five mercs looked up, then dove for weapons, but hardly had time to draw before the group took them out. A little further were three scientists in lab coats, each with some kind of relic - a pen that shot lighting bolts, a timer that slowed people down, and a dumb phone that caused confusion. Luckily, a good hit took out Mr. Lightning Pen, and the other two went down without much resistance.

As the hallway turned back towards the Belcher Center, they came across a hulking chupacabra, staring down an equally hulking ash monster. Just then, Jackson's friend, Paul, arrived, and took command of the other chupacabra. As the two fought, the group slipped past, into the control room. Inside, they could see Jackson, loitering by another entrance, as well as security cameras in Belcher Center, inside and out.

The door flew open! With a flick of her wrist, Monica managed to freeze half the group. She was quite willing to talk, trying to convince everyone that her way was the only way. She scoffed at the idea that magic was nothing but nanites, and defended her father's "great work" as the only way to stop the creatures - oh yes, stop them! She wasn't there to take over the world, she was there to sacrifice the entirety of the Belcher Center in a desperate - but carefully planned - collection of power, which she could use to permanently seal the gateway to "Hell".

With GlenMac's assistance, the group finally managed to convince her that her way was not the only way. Relenting, she agreed not to continue the sacrifice - only to have a radio crackle to life. "Uh... Something is wrong. The Convergence is.. starting! Early! repeat, Convergence has begun!"

Quickly, she lead the party into the long hall beneath Bencher center - this one dead-ending just below the building. There, the portal machine Lilly Boatwright had built was being powered by a certain blue-tinted lantern and a necklace everyone forgot about. Monica explained that the Convergence still needed to be stopped - but it might just be possible to stop it from the other side. With that, she started a ritual, and was joined by the two conscious scientists.

A portal opened, about knee-height, and only a few feet tall; one by one, the group crawled through. James, of course, was the first one through, and by the time Alistair managed to make it through, was halfway up a winding path.

The room on the other side of the portal was... strange. It looked like a room carved with magic - instead of rough floor or craggy walls, it looked as if the whole room was formed by simply deleting various sized spheres. The floor was rounded, with sharp corners, and smoothly transitioned into walls; the path upwards was rough going, with many difficult transitions from sphere-hole to sphere-hole. The room was bathed in a watery blue light - investigating, Alistair found two strange items: an eyeball, encased in a crystal ball, and a spear, crackling with energy!

Outside, James surveyed the scene, waiting for the others to catch up. There was an enormous titan of a demon, holding a multi-story-tall obelisk. The tip reached into swarms of nanites, glowing brightly as they criss-crossed the skies. Energy crackled from the bottom, collected by a jumble of cables, and directed to a portal big enough to fit a house through! The titan was tired, though - its arms shook, and its eyes were closed, sweat dripping down its back as it struggled to stay upright and hold the obelisk in place. Closer, there were freakish creatures flapping about - weird ape/bat hybrids that seemed to be collecting nanite-ghosts and taking them to a place near the titan.

After a little discussion, it was decided that the best course of action would be to pretend to be ghosts. Alistair pointed the glowing eye at the others, and everyone shambled slowly down the hill, two ghosts ahead of them leading the way. Strangely, everyone managed to remain unnoticed until they were fairly close to the titan. Finally, one of the winged horrors spotted them, and dived to attack.

The first wave was quickly dealt with; RC tried chucking a baseball at the titan, and actually managed to hit it in the eye, bypassing its tough hide, and hurting its eye! Priya learned that the crackling spear was super-extra-effective against demons, and quickly fried two of them. Alistair managed to shoot another, and James ran for a creature he was fairly certain was the ringleader. Battling off several turned ghosts (and getting a level of fatigue for his trouble), he managed to get near enough to duke it out with the Despoiler, finally ending the dark foe for good. Then, he jumped onto one of the flying monkeys, and began an ascent to remember, hoping to meet the 100 foot tall titan face to face!

Though no one else managed to do much more than annoy the titan, Priya tried her hand at poking it with a spear - which worked amazingly well! She stabbed the spear deep into his ankle, and the titan moaned in pain. RC, seeing an opportunity, hammered the spear in with his special bat, causing it to sink even deeper. Finally, James leaped from the back of the terrified flying monkey, slamming into the titan with his demon-energy-imbued wrench. The titan's grip loosened; as James slid down the toppling creature, the obelisk fell to the ground with a crunch, shattering in a shower of lightning, and the portal went dark.

...And that's when the massive army of demons charged in.

Tripping and stumbling, the group raced back to the portal, the demons hot on their heels, occasionally managing to take a few pot-shots at the monsters along the way. One by one, the nearest demons fell, until there were only a couple remaining; James turned and bashed one to death, letting the others escape; Alistair quickly joined the ritual, and managed to hold the portal open long enough for James to jump through. A demon dove through the flickering screen, but only managed to get halfway through before the portal closed, forever. Oddly, unlike all the other demons they had fought, this demon merely died, bleeding out on the ground; the others had dissolved into ash. Thinking back, they realized the ones on the battlefield had died rather than combusted, too...

Monica slumped forward. Her hair had turned stark white; the two scientists helping her were little more than smoking embers. She stared emptily at the wall, mumbling about the Convergence and her father. GlenMac gently lead her out of the room. The group took an elevator up to the buildings across the street from campus, where Jackson and Paul met them, grinning widely.

Across the street, the graduation ceremony was complete; people were filing out, talking pictures, laughing and talking. A familiar figure strode across the street - President Nelson! He shook their hands, and congratulated them on "finishing this incredible work", handing them their diplomas. A glint on his belt drew their eyes - a badge. The badge of a member of the Texas 13, in fact. He and Jackson shared a look... and then Nelson pointed them back towards the Belcher Center, where their friends and family were waiting.

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