Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Man Who Sold the World

To recap, our heroes returned from fighting Karza to find that the larger Scrap Pile organization had been bought out by Interlocking Technologies, and the Tripod City team and all subsidiaries had been disbanded. The Beta City team (which would be our guys) and their base had been off the record, so they were overlooked. They did, however, find that all the utilities had been disconnected.

Elsewhere, while Houston had been liberated, the city and the surrounding areas had been devastated by the war. In addition, swarms of antrons and reptovors from subspace continued to ravage the countryside. As a result, the entire state of Texas was declared a Forbidden Zone, its government shut down and its governor executed. Okay, no, the governor wasn't really executed. He had already disappeared in a hornetroid attack early on.

So anyway, the team did what they could to get things working again, including trying to get some back pay out of Captain Scrappy. While they were setting up the rabbit ears, they caught a broadcast about a new Interlocking Technologies-managed team called the North Coast Guardians. This team consisted of a strangely familiar tech-using character called Sideshow who wore face paint instead of a mask, a woman called Scorpio who wore a glowing opal on her forehead and used a tech-based tail, a woman called Jellyfish who was able to assume an amoeboid form, a man with insect-styled tech called Scarab, and the rogue hero they had encountered in Dimension Q, Blue Shift.

And then Karl Caravel (who Magi and Land Shark met while hunting Doctor Zodiac) showed up, asking for help because, "I might, possibly, have, um, caused just a bit of an alien invasion." He told the team about a meeting he had at one of his many philanthropic events. He was approached there by an old friend he had thought dead. This "Ulysses Nebul" wanted to buy an ancient jade tablet which, according to legend, conferred ownership over the Earth to whoever held it. After having a laugh over the idea, Caravel shook hands on the deal and they parted for the evening.

Later, after the deal had gone through, Caravel noticed rising numbers of paranormal incidents with "demons" of a few recurring types, and began to suspect that they were actually aliens. There was also the "Digit 6" political group, which... I'm not going to explain all that here.

Caravel was about to say more, but then our heroes decided that this was a good opportunity to wrangle funding for their now-orphaned enterprise. Using heroic guilt-trips, heroic blackmail, and various other heroic coercion methods, they managed to secure support for their base expenses, regular salaries, and the money Caravel made selling the tablet. Caravel also agreed to help establish The Scrap Pile as a legal business entity.

Caravel, revealing that, "I’m something of a mystic myself," said that he believed something was going on at the Weatherhead Building in an abandoned section of Lightfoot Island. The bizarrely twisted building had been popular with occult practitioners ever since it was abandoned in 2001

They found the building guarded by brutish aliens with four arms, one pair of which bore fearsome claws. After the team defeated one of the aliens, Disco was able to win over the other with a light show and convince it to take him to its leader.

They found several banks of elaborate, if strangely old-fashioned, machinery set up in the auditorium. A small man with big folds of flabby skin and a woman with a red crystal ball instead of a head were working there with some more guards.

Subduing and/or brainwashing these two, the Scrap Pile discovered that "the real show" was happening over at the Chandra Hill Observatory. There, Nebulon ("Ulysses Nebul") was planning to summon an ancient god called Shuma-Gorath to take possession of the planet, as promised by the jade tablet.

As they approached Chandra Hill, they could see shadowy forms flitting out from the telescope lens. While Torpedo walked directly into the lobby and then shifted to lava form when attacked, the others made their way up to the telescope and started working on destroying the lens, which turned out to be a great deal tougher than regular non-demon-summoning glass.

Inside, Torpedo found that Nebulon was indeed performing some kind of ritual with the jade tablet, and a portal was indeed opening. Between Torpedo and Nebulon was another patchwork horror-show. There was a gorilla with a man's head, a man with a bison's head, and there was Chondu. Chondu had a demonic-looking form with eight lampreys for arms (four from each shoulder), big ole bat-wings, a horn sprouting from his forehead, a forked tongue, and the talons of a gigantic bird for feet.

Magi, Land Shark, and Disco destroyed the lens fairly quickly and joined the fight. Eventually, Land Shark got his hands on the tablet and smashed it. The ground shook. The portal started to flicker and fluctuate erratically. Nebulon screamed as Shuma-Gorath's six tentacles reached through the shattered gateway and took hold, dragging him through.

The portal snapped shut and vanished. Chondu's various pieces all fell apart, leaving his lifeless head rolling around on the floor. The same thing happened to the man-headed gorilla. The bison head disappeared, leaving a headless corpse behind.

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