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Freedom Hall 

New Jersey

January 2022 


When the wormhole opened up on Freedom Hall's lawn, just outside the protective technology that thwarted actual invasion, it was cold outside; enough that there was an actual coat of thin snow and ice on the ground this close to the Atlantic Ocean. But it was warm inside; the blaring alarms interrupting what had otherwise been a very interesting New Year's Party - albeit one with at least one important absence from the League's main roster. 

The Patriot, who had volunteered for monitor duty so that other people could enjoy themselves downstairs for a little while, took one look at the monitors and said "Goddamit," and thought No space-date tonight! as she moved from her position upstairs for the elevator. 


The first figure through the portal was a dark human outline, a uniform deep black with glowing white eyes surrounded by a circle of glowing black balls of anti-light. He, it, was followed closely by a gigantic, amber-skinned woman a good eight feet tall, wearing the gold and blue of the Centurion himself! More came behind them; a man with spiky hair wrapped in a tight black uniform with dark horns just visible above, accompanied by a glowing blue feminine form; and following them all was a sturdily-built figure in patriotic red, white, and blue, moving with the speed and grace of a panther. 

The team fanned out quickly and began talking among itself, some pointing at Freedom Hall, others at the street. The one in black called 


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Ms Grue

Daphne was enjoying the party nursing a drink to the happy buzz of humans having a good time. So tuned to the general psychic buzz she felt the disturbance a moment before the others, the sudden appearances of minds was an obvious sign of trouble.


Not wanting to ruin anyone’s fun sooner than needed, maybe she could sort it all out before it did, she floated through the walls and out to the courtyard of the Freedom League Building. Then as she solidified she grew to her giant 12 feet form, ready for any potential fight.


“No need to shout we heard already! But an explanation would be nice.”

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"Well, you certainly made an entrance."


Gaian Knight and Tiamat had been closest to the door, which even on the former's reflexes made them first outside - or, at least, first of those who needed to actually use the door. Other options were a luxury neither of them could indulge without property damage. "Not meaning harm is a pretty good plan," he added, taking stock of their visitors. The woman in the Centurion's colors got more of a glance than most, though he didn't do more than frown briefly in surprise. "If you did mean otherwise, you'd have picked one heck of a day for it. What can we do for you?"

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Casper was still feeling weird being here, hanging out with the Freedom League (and some of the other Aux members). It still felt off, somehow, being around the big leagues like this. Still... he mingled, he talked, he enjoyed the good food (no alcohol, he'd learned long ago that ghosting and drinking didn't mix), and didn't look completely out of place when a lot of the party were dressed up too.


He looked up from the food when some of the others started to leave, and then the voice that called out.


Casper looked longingly at the food for a moment, then sighed as he set down his plate, then moved out to join Ms. Grue, Tiamat and Gaian Knight.


Ghost pulled his mask down over his mouth just as he floated out near the others, looked around at the newcomers.


"Yeah, uh, what they said."

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Despite having been a member of the Freedom League Auxiliary for over two years, Casey still felt like 'the new kid'. At twenty-four, she was definitely one of the younger team members, and her somewhat bookish nature meant she had a relatively small circle of friends. And of course, there was still schoolwork to be done. Still, it was nice to see Daphne and eat way too much of the catering; she didn't really bother with alcohol, since it barely had any effect on her.


When she noticed Daphne suddenly turning her head to the door, Miracle Girl turned her amazing eyes towards the outside to see what was up.


"Oh jeez."


She politely handed her cup and plate to one of the caterers, thanked them, and then flew outside to join Daphne and the others, floating in the air next to her friend, arms crossed and looking stern.

Edited by Heritage
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There was something - familiar about this assemblage as the various heroes looked more closely, especially to Gaian Knight and Tiamat. How many black outline humans could there be? For her part, Patriot kept to the back of the group of which she was only technically an associate member, trusting that the more experienced heroes could handle the visitors from another dimension. 


But the floating black outline said 


SORRY! I'M NEW AT THIS! THE VOICE THING...UGGH! For all that his voice seemed suited to booming across stellar distances, it didn't sound like the man inside the shadow was terribly comfortable with the role. With that, the shadowy outline stepped back, his shadowy form seeming to coalesce with two darkly outlined blades at his sides. 


The other man, the bearded man with the patriotic get-up, nodded and took the lead. "Greetings! I recognize some of you, but you may not know me. In my world, I am known as the American Patriot,"


Oh geez! thought Ashley disgustedly, that guy! "The cybernetically-enhanced superhero had become something of a cult hero on the far right even before the reappearance of Paul Revere on the scene; a martyr killed in his prime by a mad-dog supervillain. Ashley had never met him, but there'd been stories..."these are my allies - this great lady is Century Woman, Hellion and Persephone," this was the devilish young man and his holographic-looking assistant, "and-" 




"Yes." The American Patriot said, "If we surprised you all, I'm sorry, but we come as friends seeking help, if you can give it-" 

Suddenly, behind him, Hellion collapsed without a word and his holographic assistant yelled, panic on her projected face: "No! I knew that tie-off wouldn't hold, don't any of you people have superhealing? He's-he's everything to me!"

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Being able to fly faster than sound was useful, but when inside a building it was not the most useful ability. Those whose speed was more about their body-movements (whether running or flying) could do so with ease, but Gabriel essentially flew like a plane in the sense of how it worked. He was more than skilled enough to not hit buildings, but trying to do more than a sedate float inside a building was asking for trouble. And a talking to from either Stesha or Gaian Knight about playing pranks on the new members. 


'A man plays at being an actual angel one time and they never trust his pranks again. Disgraceful.'


Thus it was just as the newcomers were giving their names that he came out onto the lawn. Which meant he was in a prime location to see the oddly hellish man collapse to the ground. In two eye-blinks he was kneeling next to the man, helping make sure his airway was clear. His very presence was calming to all who were there. 


"Gaian Knight, could you perhaps give us a touch of privacy for the moment? It's a bit messy but this is devolving rapidly. Could someone else try to find Fleur? We really need her help on this, I'm already out of my depth."


He looked up at the holographic woman and gave her a gentle smile.


"Everything will be fine. My name's Gabriel. Nice to meet you, Persephone."

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"Mm-hm," said Gaian Knight; he'd already shifted slightly, digging his feet into the ground as he felt out what he had to work with. Not that the rock and soil under Freedom Hall should be changing all that much, but in this city you never knew.... "Hopefully Fleur got an alert from the alarm they tripped; if not, Patriot - ah, our Patriot," he corrected, gesturing off-hand at their liaison, "may be able to reach her on comms."


Even as he'd talked bits of earth and stone had started leaking upwards around the perimeter of the Hall's grounds, and at a gesture they flowed en masse, surrounding the lawn with a castle wall - complete with a gate at the main entrance, just in case. "Otherwise," he said, drawing a smooth stone operating table up near their patient, "I can make a gate and someone can go see if she's on Sanctuary and available."


Not that he was going to wait on that; a stone archway was already forming behind the group - though, notably, on the League side of the group, and he didn't seem inclined to light it up until Tiamat had broken her glare at Dark Star long enough to go stand guard.

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A visit to Sanctuary wasn't necessary, which was probably good given how much Tiamat enjoyed glaring. One of the stately trees on the edge of the property shook off its snowy coating as it yawed forward to open its branches and deposit Fleur de Joie safely on the ground. She was out of costume as she had been since well before starting her maternity leave, bundled instead in a massive puffy blue overcoat that surely didn't belong to her and that looked to be covering at least a couple other layers of winter clothing. Her green hair was mostly covered by the coat's hood, but there were hints of a glittery gold "2022" tiara peeking out from behind a few errant strands. 


Fleur stepped out of the tree's path and let it return to its full height. From her position, she didn't have a good view of the strangers, but she could see several of her teammates. "Patriot called and said somebody needs healing right away?" 

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Those guys. Yeah, sure.


Casper had to admit, he had no idea who most of those people were supposed to be. Maybe he had just missed something. Everyone else here seemed to be all stoic and accepting of whatever was happening, so... best way to do it, right? Besides, Gabriel was already checking on the wounded guy, Hellion, and Fleur was arriving... Dark Star was her ex, wasn't it? Probably not this guy, if he was talking about being new at it? A woman in Centurion's colors, an American Patriot...


Or maybe it was some alternate reality nonsense. He honestly wasn't sure what was going on right now. 


But of course he couldn't keep his mouth shut. "Not to make light of your friend's situation or anything, but can't help but notice that you didn't really tell us why you're here?"

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In the following few minutes, many things happened at once: 


American Patriot said to Ghost, his voice serious. "Our Earth, Earth-1, is faced with a serious threat: an alien invasion that's already claimed many lives. While some of our most powerful members have stayed to battle the invaders, my team and I came looking for allies - or at least advice. But they hit us just as Dark Star was opening a wormhole to get here; and Hellion took the brunt of the attack." He sounded serious; the voice of an overworked man. "I-I see you've met the Grue and you're still here," he added with a nod at Daphne. "So maybe you can help us." 


"Hey, nice to meet someone else who's large and in charge," said Century Woman, shaking Daphne's hand with a firm grip, the cybernetic implants in her hands cool to the touch. Century Woman was some four feet shorter than the shapeshifter, but still towered over her team and almost anybody else you could name. "You know," she added with a wink, "you don't need to make yourself look scary like that when you're already that big. We're all friends here...and honestly some of us are pretty jumpy," she added more seriously, looking back at her team. 


"Over here!" said Persephone, her projected voice full of purple worry, waving her arms to get Fleur's attention. "He's over here!" Her charge, Hellion, looked to be suffering the effects of a deep stab wound to his back, one that had gone through somewhere around his kidneys and come through the front. He'd been stitched up wherever they were from, but it had been a hasty patch job that had now come loose. "You have to help him! Without him, space will have no king, and we'll never stop...them!" she added, looking up at the sky, hands over her heart as she looked down at Fleur's labors. 


Dark Star flew down next to Stesha while she worked, offering an encouraging word to Hellion. DON'T WORRY, KID - IF SHE'S ANYTHING LIKE OUR FLOWER PRINCESS, YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS WITH FLEUR! He gave two big black thumbs-up to Stesha, something like a smile just visible on his black-outlined face. This was definitely not Derrick; though whoever it was seemed downright familiar...


"come on Sephy," Hellion was muttering, "let the lady work, can't you see she's..." His eyes rolled back in his head in a faint. 


Patriot blinked, looking from Dark Star to Fleur, and exchanged a look with Gaian Knight and Tiamat. Should we...? The question in her posture was obvious; and only the fact that she wasn't technically a full-on member of this team was keeping her from stepping into action. She hadn't been around for the divorce of one of the most famous couples in Freedom City history, but she certainly knew about it - and Stesha had just had a baby for pity's sake.. 


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Gaian Knight let out a sigh of relief, and with immediate crises well in hand he let the arch behind him collapse back into the earth - directly into the earth, even, falling through the grass itself as if it had never existed. He did catch Patriot's look, though, and glanced back to Tiamat as well. "Gently, please...?" he muttered.


It only took her a few strides to move over and clap a hand down onto Dark Star's shoulder. "We should give her space to work," she said, slowly and firmly and worryingly pleasantly. Her grip was not gentle. Had her teeth been that pointy a moment ago? Boy that was a lot of teeth. "You should step back over here, and not bother her."


"...and tell us more about the problem you're facing," interjected the Knight, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Of course we're happy to help if we can, but we can't promise anything without knowing more."

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Gaian Knight, Tiamat, Patriot (the one from their world, not this stranger), Ghost, Miracle Girl, and Ms Grue would hear Gabriel's voice whispering in their ears. They knew this was one of his abilities, one that was a bit of an "ace in the hole"; undetectable ventriloquism that he could send only to the people he wanted to have hear it. He could hear even the slightest whisper from them in return, but hopefully there was no need.


--Keep them busy, and keep them away from Stesha. The baby's with her. I'll keep the AI talking and focused on me, I'm already holding their Hellion. Don't say anything about the child. Force authorized if they flip.--


For a whisper, that was the firmest most of them had ever heard his voice. Outwardly, he gave Persephone an encouraging smile. His hands were supporting Hellion still, but as Stesha arrived and began her work, he worked one hand free and gently laid it on her shoulder in a gesture of comfort.


"It's alright, Persephone. He's in fantastic hands. You're safe here. We're all heroes here. It'll be okay. These things work out in the end. You made it here for a reason, it's okay."


It was as much calming patter-talk as anything, but it would ideally do the double-duty of distracting her and keeping her focus on him, not Stesha or the child. 

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Fleur hurried over to the fallen hero, ignoring the snow to kneel awkwardly beside Hellion and Persephone. "Don't worry," she promised the distraught AI, even as she began pulling seeds from her pockets, "he'll be good as new in just a minute." She began the familiar motions of creating a healing poultice, only to nearly drop the mess of plants in her hands when the so-familiar black void appeared at the edge of her vision. Rearing back, she stared up at... "You're not Derrick," she realized aloud, narrowing her eyes to get a better look. "You're... I know you." Her mouth dropped open. "Erik? But how?" 


Tiamat's arrival was enough to drag her attention back to the matter at hand, and in another moment the poultice was finished. Carefully sliding aside ruined fabric to expose Hellion's wound, Fleur applied the mass of plant material and waited until it glowed green and disappeared into the skin before removing her hand. "There we go. Hellion, can you hear me?" 

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UH - ERIK, WHO KNOWS! MUST JUST BE SOMEBODY FROM HERE WHO SOUNDS LIKE ME. I DON'T KNOW THE GUY BUT HE SOUNDS HANDSOME- the shadowman was saying awkwardly before Tiamat intervened, OH UH SURE said 'Dark Star', stepping back from Stesha and sounding a little apologetic. It was hard to tell with the ethereal tones that came from being pure cosmic power. LIKE STARS'N'STRIPES SAID, WE'VE GOT A BIG GRUE PROBLEM WHERE WE COME FROM. He gave a look up at Daphne; one that was hard to read under the circumstances, then another look at Tiamat. HEY DRAGON LADY! IS THE MISSUS HEREABOUTS? 


"Since you already know them, I won't give you the speech I'd prepared - but in our reality, they've overrun most of our allies among the Lor and Stellar Republics," said the American Patriot, sounding serious. "It's so frustrating," he said, sounding deeply heartsick. "We had finally made peace in the stars! Dark Star's predecessor had turned the whole Khanate into a republic before he retired. Then those damn thought-vampires came out of nowhere and blind-sided everyone." 

"My husband Viktor, er, Dr. Archeville is out there now," said Century Woman, stepping back from Daphne and rubbing her silver-streaked hand thoughtfully as she looked up at the big Grue. "Along with some of our best people, like the new Centurion and Psyche. But we only have so many people, and there are so many planets. We came here hoping for answers; hoping that someone, anyone, could help us find an answer on how to deal with the Grue once and for all." 

"I'm...fine," said Hellion, sitting up carefully, a wan smile on his actually quite handsome face. "It's okay, Sephy, I'm in good hands with Fleur. In any reality, it seems." The local Patriot, the one from here named Ashley, had joined Stesha by Hellion and Persephone's side, giving the hologram a concerned look while she celebrated and hugged the near-human who was obviously her lover. 


"Are you okay?" Ashley whispered to Fleur, cocking her head towards Fleur's midsection. "We probably have this..." There was no reason to call attention to the baby just yet. To...oh hell, Ashley remembered. She'd looked at the pictures Stesha had sent of her and the baby, along with the people who'd been with her in Sanctuary when she'd had the baby...oh hell what the hell is the baby's name? Crap I'm going to look like an asshole! 

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What the hell was Fleur thinking, bringing her baby here? Sure, she was powerful. Way more than him. Could take care of herself, could take care of the baby, but still... Ugh.


Alternate reality nonsense, and with Grue? Yeah. Sounded like a bad time. And Fleur had to bring her baby. 


He should just let the big shots handle this. It sounded like Gaian Knight, Tiamat, Gabriel and Fleur knew what they were doing here. And sure, he had dealt with alternate reality nonsense before, but not Grue like this. Casper paused briefly to look up at Ms. Grue, towering above them. That wasn't what she normally looked like, was it? Did the Grue shapeshift organs and everything too, or was the form just skin deep? He had no idea. But if these people were dealing with Grue... Then who was to say that none of them were Grue?


Casper pulled his goggles up over his eyes, turning them on as he did so. Just a hunch. Probably nothing, but he'd rather be sure everyone looked like what they were supposed to look like on the inside.

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Ms Grue

It didn’t take an empath to sense that she was making some of them nervous, something she’d experience before though it was less common now then when she arrived. Still even though a lot seemed to be happening, it was probably something she should address if they were going to cooperate.


I’m an outcast from my people with no contact with the Meta Mind, you probably know more about Grue culture than I do. It’s long complicated story I assure you.” she smiled softly at her memories of her unusual upbringing.


Daphne did however shift her features until she looked more like her normal human self, the one she considered her “normal” form. Though for tradition she added a little domino mask (relatively speaking) to hid her identity.


I do have some Grue technology that might be able to help, if you need it obviously…”

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All looking normal. 


More or less. Except for Century Woman, at least. Looked like she was full of some kind of nanotech? Was that some Grue thing? Or... hadn't she mentioned being married to Doc Archville or something? Hadn't he been doing stuff with nanotech too, or did Casper remember that wrong?


He could just ask them all about it, it was probably nothing, or just regular nanotech in their world or something, but, he'd rather be on the safe side.


Ghost floated up near Ms. Grue, and motioned to his head with a finger a few times. Hopefully she got his meaning of reading his mind. If not... he tried to think really hard at her. Yeah, yeah, he was acting like a lunatic, but better safe than sorry.


If she read his mind... he tried thinking Do you recognize Grue tech? at Ms. Grue. Look at what I'm seeing when I look at Century Woman. How's that look to you?

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"I'm fine," Stesha assured Ashley quietly. "Don't even worry about it. You were right to call, that was a very nasty wound." She smiled a little ruefully. "I'm pretty sure I'm not wearing my own shoes and I completely forgot my hat and mittens, but it's nice to know I can still do a sixty second response when I have to. And Basil may just sleep through the whole thing." She splayed a hand over her chest, which made the small bulge of a baby in a cloth sling a bit more apparent under the coat. "So... what's the story with these guys? I'm getting nonhostile alternate reality but wow, it's a weird one." She chanced another look over at Erik-not-Derrick, but it was just too strange. 

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Tiamat maintained eye contact with the other Erik for a moment, letting go of his shoulder without really leaving his personal space. "Assume less," she advised, crossing her arms.


"To hit that much space like that would take...an incredible number of Grue," mused Gaian Knight, scratching the back of his head. He was looking upward, trying to remember how many planets and colonies they knew about - on this world, at least - and quickly gave up trying to do the math. "At least here, their tradition against stronger foes is more infiltration than outright invasion until they've already amassed power and can seize control. Do you know how or were they got the raw force to hit that much territory that quickly?"

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Ms Grue

Humans were such a mess of noisy contradictory thoughts it was generally a good idea to shut them all out, besides they didn’t like it when you read there thought’s. It had confused her when they’d went on about wanting to know the truth, but hated it when you actually told them what they “wanted”. But just like hearing your name in a noisy crowded room someone thinking at you worked much the same way.


You don’t need to shout I can hear you just fine! her thoughts had a tinge of humour I’d need to get Mother Unit to scan it, and I doubt they’d allow me time to go get her!


She enthusiasm might be mistaken for naivety but she’d been doing this for quite some time now.

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"The Meta-Mind?" said Century Woman, giving Daphne a baffled look before turning to her team with something of a shrug. "Well if that's true, I guess she is clean." She seemed to be treating Daphne with the ginger care one might give a member of a previously extinct species. "Are there others like you here?"  


"We still don't know much about what happened," admitted American Patriot, "but there was some sort of civil war on the Grue homeworld a few years ago and a faction called the Arcane came to power, one that relied on magic rather than science. When they took to the stars again, they had whole armies of mindless drones powered by magic rather than intellect; endless disposable armies surging across the stars. The interstellar powers weren't prepared for that sort of war, and most of them have barely survived. Luckily the Lor had King Hellion here to rally around, and he was able to summon allies from Earth. But it's only so long before one of their strike waves hits the Solar System." 




Ashley gave Stesha a quick tactical rundown about the visitors seeking aid from another reality. "It seems like things are less hostile there; or were until very recently. They obviously know most of us, even if they didn't recognize me." It was hard to know how to feel about that; maybe it was a good thing. "They came here for help." Hard-hearted good soldier she was, she couldn't help but duck down and smile at the baby. "Oh my God," she said, looking down at the very small baby. "Look at that little face." Oh my God, she realized, with dawning recognition. I want a baby. 


That thought was enough to distract her before Hellion spoke up, his voice a little weak. "I appreciate the welcome, but, ah..." He pointed to Freedom Hall, then said, "Do you think we could go inside? It's cold out here." 

"Yes! We need to warm him up!" said Persephone in a firmly sympathetic tone, "and everyone else, too." She was standing next to Hellion, her arms wrapped firmly around him. "Fleur de Joie has children to think of - just as we do back home! We need your help. So does - so does all of space!" she added dramatically, waving her hand to summon holographic images of the naked stars overhead, an imaginary sky overrun by silvery shards of war and death! 

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"I think displays of this would be best left for inside, Miss Persephone."


Gabriel gestured at the fantastical things she had summoned from the light she commanded. There were walls about them, but drones had been a real problem lately.


"We'll be able to make any necessary calls from inside as well. We'll get His Majesty some food and water, as well. I don't know about him, but the last time I got stabbed in a kidney and healed, I felt like I could drink a river and eat a hill. Couldn't have any beer for a day or whiskey for a week, though; doctor's orders".


He gave an over-dramatic wink that made it clear the "doctor" had been Fleur. Then he clapped his hands, and that sound carried much like his voice: exactly enough to be heard by all present within Gaian Knight's walls but not by any outside of them.


"Right then, feeling like I'm one step away from a fight for my life makes me hungry. Let's go inside, I'll tell the autochefs to get something cooking now. We can eat while we go over the details, and then the Freedom League of this world can talk about what options are on the table to help you and yours."

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Not exactly the response that Casper had hoped for. He made an annoyed expression under his mask that the rest thankfully couldn't see.


Alright, thanks anyway, he thought back at Ms. Grue. Doesn't sound like they're using tech, anyway, with that whole Arcane thing they're talking about.


Well, better that they didn't have some kind of mole, but he wasn't about to just let it go.


Could you let the others know that Century Woman's full of nanotech? I mean, they're probably on their guard anyway, but got no need to keep it to myself.


He joined the others moving inside, but kept silent, at least for now. 

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"Hrm. That's oddly encouraging," said Gaian Knight, opening the front entrance to usher everyone inside. He really should have thought to protect the skies better; an awful shame for someone who could fly.


"It's horrible, mind," he amended, double-checking to make sure that everyone was at least indoors and on their way to the nearest conference room before he shut the door behind them; his stone edifice, now abandoned, sunk back into the earth from which it had come. No sense attracting more attention.... "Definitely, you have our sympathy, and we'd like to offer what help we can, if we can. But an army of mindless drones speaks to a chink in your foe's armor."


"The summoner," mulled Tiamat. She was standing by the door to the conference room; more accurately, she'd planted herself so that no one could sneak off further into the building. It was not a day for tours. "Mindless drones imply a mind somewhere else."


"Yes, that. If they're mindless, someone has to be pulling the strings; if they're magic, someone has to be calling them up. It's something, anyway."

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