While the group was dealing with Wonderland, high school, a witch trial, and shadow-Afghanistan, John Marshall, a Son of Ether, was experiencing strange things at the Adventure Science Center. After dealing with some crazed Sleepers, he began to investigate strange readings of intense magical power emanating from southwest of the city. The trail eventually led him to Percy Warner Park, where he met up with the group after they’d finished their respective magical acid trips.
After catching John Marshall up with the details, the group began their investigation anew. There was no sign of Alan, and Lucas wasn’t much help since he’d been forced to navigate his own Umbral nightmare. Fortunately, Clint’s tracking device based on Mortimer’s specifications was still working. Unfortunately, it pointed them back toward the city. Before they left, though, Garth finally sealed the hole in the Gauntlet, ensuring that no other spiritual energy could be harnessed, for now . . .
As the group headed back to the warehouse where Jonathan, Edwards and Williams were waiting, they noticed a change in the cityscape. Streetlamps flickered, figures darted in the shadows, cars were crashed and abandoned. As they came closer to the city proper, they realized the glow of lights came from fires instead of lamps. People on the streets seemed overcome by waking nightmares similar to those the party had already experienced.
When they reached the warehouse, they all compared notes about their next task and made what preparations they needed. They debated whether they should head to the Music Man’s mansion for a final confrontation, for which Williams promised back-up from some friends, or whether they should find out where Alan had taken Mortimer’s machine. Ultimately, after some deliberation and finally tired of Garth’s Spirit-PBR shenanigans, they decided to go after the machine, because fuck the Music Man.
Clint managed to focus his tracker’s energy so that it pinpointed the machine’s location: the AT&T Bellsouth Tower. The group decided to head to a nearby building first to get a tactical look. Clayton used his enhanced scope to discover that there were three hulking humanoid figures and one regular-sized human near the top of the tower. The last one seemed to be Alan. He also spotted a group of people hanging around the entrance of the tower, and they seemed unaffected by the energies being emitted by Mortimer’s device. Meanwhile, the rest of the group started playing 3-man and attracted a group of crazed Sleepers who had to be dealt with quickly.
The group then prepared their best stealth abilities for their infiltration of the AT&T Tower. Fortunately, Clint knew of a service entrance that let them bypass the group of people in the lobby. As they made their ascent, they had a close-call near the stairs to the roof. The other group in the tower was none other than Vance with a few gruff agents in tow, but the party managed to stay undiscovered while the Technocrats headed to the top.
At the top of the stairs, the party decided to hold down the fort while Clayton scouted ahead. He was able to sneak past the agents while they investigated the top, and he even not-quite-teleported onto the platform above the roof proper. There he found the machine, but not before Vance called out to him to surrender and come down. Then, several things happened very quickly.
Clayton saw a rift open between him and the machine, and for the briefest moment he saw the void of the Umbra. His vision soon filled with the hulking masses of two Fomori, both of which immediately jumped in the midst of the agents below. Behind them followed Alan, who activated the machine as he stepped from the void. Arcs of dark energy flashed between the twin spires of the tower and Mortimer’s corrupted device. Alan had a gleam in his eye and seemed unconcerned about the agents below and the former agent in front of him. He mentioned only that it was all part of a greater design, everything from the past few weeks had led to this point.
He drew out a long-bladed knife, and Clayton and the rest of the gang (thank goodness for psychic-links!) decided it was combat time. Clayton leapt into the fray of Fomori and agents below him while the rest of the party burst out of the stairway. The battle-hardened agents seemed hardly a match for the Fomori, with two of them already down and another severely wounded. Suddenly, a burst of energy erupted from the platform, uniting the arcs and causing the whole building to tremble with the massive surge of energy being produced. Alan’s lifeless body fell to the ground, a small smile on his face.
John Marshall tried to stop the machine by collapsing the platform with some quick work with Entropy and Matter, but he saw the energy mass still growing in the air. Apparently, the tower was a focal point of Technocratic magic and was equal to a nuclear power plant without the messy radiation.
It was at this time the party said, “Fuck it” and tried to peace out before the energy discharged. They were halfway down the stairs before the building’s tremors made them realize that they would probably die in the resulting collapse/explosion before they could reach the bottom.
When they emerged on the rooftop, only Vance and one Fomor remained in deadly combat. Vance was lagging, but he’d been giving as good as he got. Clayton calmly pulled out his rifle, lined up a shot, and took out both targets with one shot.
Finally alone on top of the tower, Clint and John Marshall worked quickly to figure out how to manage the energy from the machine. Although it was damaged, the skilled technician and scientist were able to make some complicated repairs to the general working-status of the device. They discovered that the machine’s original purpose, removing Paradox, had been corrupted by a massive amount of Entropy and Spirit by Alan’s influence, and it was now drawing power for a summoning spell. Garth worked hard to close the void of the Gauntlet that had been growing steadily since Alan first emerged from it. Meanwhile John Marshall altered the energy being produced by the tower and the machine with his own use of Entropy with a double dose of Prime to try to negate the corrupted energy.
Finally, having done all they could, the party waited to see the results of their efforts. The arcs of the spires and a beam of pure white from the machine united in a brilliant flash of light. A glowing sphere of energy burst from the epicenter, expanding rapidly outward. It quickly enveloped the party, making their hairs stand on end as the tempered power rushed through them, and then it spread across the city in a wave.
When they looked down upon the city to survey the damage, they could see some of the figures far below cease their swarming and other erratic behaviors. It seemed they had succeeded.
The group made their way back to the warehouse to debrief with Jonathan and Edwards. They thought about dealing with the Music Man, too, since they were on a roll already, but ultimately decided to rest first.
On the way back, though, they all felt flashes of magic bursting around them. The energy had burned off the group’s accumulated paradox, but what had it done to the Sleepers who had been afflicted by torments of the Spirit?
The night had ended with almost as many questions as there were answers, and the group could feel that the true adventure was just beginning.