|Zaal! by K-Bonifield|
The Roster (with Fate "high concept" aspects, followed by traditional Rifts O.C.C.s)
Arisis Solstice, Radiant Daughter of Atlas (female titan Cyber-Knight), played by Felix
Katrina Mansfield, Mutant Psi-Stalker P.I. (female mutoid Psi-Stalker), played by Chris
Max Parkinson, Runaway Teenage Mystic (male human Mystic), played by me
Valerie Cain, Amazon Cyborg Wildchild (female Praxian Headhunter), played by Kent
Having pursued the neuron beast Zaal into the outskirts of the interdimensional junkyard known as the Pile, our heroes have found themselves suddenly facing a cadre of mysterious individuals in strange, partially ectoplasmic armor. One of the armored figures agrees to allow Zaal to escape in exchange for the young women that our heroes have reclaimed from the neuron beast. He explains that the twins are his aunts, which prompts Arisis to engage him in parley. She informs the armored man that she and her friends are in the employ of a relative of the twins. If he is family, she says, he should reconsider. The vaguely non-human-looking man responds by drawing a sword and identifying himself as the Grand Imperial Almighty Prince Barrenton Bahren Chanestor Osange. Asha and Annejah, he declares, were taken from his family by the group's benefactor, Nysa, "a generation ago", and he has no patience for the likes of Arisis and her friends. (At this point, it became clear that the group's prior intelligence was faulty, and that both twins were in fact contained in the stasis box Arisis was carrying.)
Kat springs into action before the Prince can act, putting him on the defensive and allowing Arisis, who is still holding the stasis box that contains the twins, to break away and head for the Sunstar Aegis. She reaches the ship as the three mecha that accompanied the Prince and his companion open fire on her with javelin-like projectiles. The titan shrugs most of them off, but one spike lodges in her shoulder, dangling painfully. The unprepared inhabitants of the Pile frantically attempt to flee the carnage. Max, who still views Zaal as the primary target, casts a Carpet of Adhesion spell on the neuron beast from his vantage point on the Sunstar Aegis' bridge. It wraps the demonic entity in a mass of sticky sludge and Pile debris, but does not completely immobilize it as the young mystic had intended. Valerie engages Prince Osange's bodyguard, who (at his master's prompt) introduces himself as El Capitan Ko Strinick and appears to be a match for her fighting skills.
At this point, the ogre pirates that had also been pursing Zaal (and our heroes) catch up, with several of them, including the shaman Max had earlier engaged psionically, swarming aboard the Sunstar Aegis. Arisis, undeterred, barrels past them and stashes the stasis box in the ship's cargo hold. Kat invokes her Everyone Has Their Use aspect and maneuvers behind the partially entangled Zaal, hoping to use him as a shield, but before she is able to act upon her advantage, the neuron beast psychically dominates Max, forcing him to dispel his Carpet of Adhesion. Max is shaken by the ease with which Zaal overcame his mental defenses, then horrified to see Valerie, his closest friend, brutally -- almost effortlessly -- cut down by the man called El Capitan.
Kat directs one of her mechanized drones to swoop down and carry Valerie from the battlefield. Max, who is Always There For Val, bursts from the bridge of the Sunstar Aegis in his techno-wizard power armor and flies (perhaps needlessly) to the headhunter's rescue. The crystals of Max's armor grow jagged as his unrestrained emotions flood into its harmonite circuitry, strengthening its enchantments. (Fun fact: one of the armor's aspects is called Emoverload!!.) Max unleashes the energy, blasting El Capitan with magic lightning and cracking his ectoplasmic armor. Kat is likewise unable to restrain herself, and launches herself at the Prince, slashing at him in a berserk fury. In the meantime, Arisis has continued to protect the ship, weathering a combined mecha and ogre assault with barely a scratch. Even the Prince's mecha are unable to restrain the titan, as she permanently dispatches the ogre pirates' shaman with a single blow of her Psi-Sword.
As a chase which developed into a skirmish now threatens to engulf the Pile in full-scale battle, yet another faction joins the fray. A mutant bird of prey calling himself Sunifre Ortio Caracara swoops in and opens fire on the ogre pirates with an assortment of firearms that telekinetically float alongside him. The falcon-man directs the rest of "the Defenders of the Pile" to put a stop to the fight. Aside from Caracara, the Defenders are:
- Grooma, a female dwarf techno-wizard piloting a ramshackle mecha built from Pile detritus
- Nina, a young Latina in gothic attire, and
- The Trashman, a tectonic entity that obeys Nina's commands.
The Defenders begin to turn the tide of the conflict, concentrating on the ogre pirates. Prince Osange evidently decides that discretion is the better part of valor, as he leaves the field, accompanied by his bodyguard and the three mecha that had engaged Arisis. Max, infuriated, points at El Capitan and shouts "Ko Strinick! I know your name!", swearing revenge for his fallen comrade, Valerie. He then turns to the escaping Zaal and uses his psionic Evil Eye power to temporarily freeze the neuron beast in its tracks. Kat, Arisis, and the Trashman turn their attention to the beast, wounding it badly before Max incinerates it with his armor's Fire Bolt spell, rendering it unconscious. The young mystic flies slowly towards Zaal, summons the Psi-Sword that Arisis taught him to manifest, and slices the neuron beast's head off. "From darkness to darkness," Max intones softly. As the entity's body blackens and shrivels, Max hurls the head into the Pile. The neuron beast Zaal is dead.
Max immediately raises his hands in surrender to the Defenders, which Caracara somewhat grudgingly accepts. Nina protests that Max singed the Trashman. She accepts the mystic's apology, but adds that the Trashman might not be as forgiving. The Defenders and our heroes begin to clean up the mess and aid bystanders.
Max soon finds himself returning to Valerie, who he restores to consciousness with healing magic. The pair embrace, though Valerie will not be at one hundred percent for some time. The psychic members of the group (Arisis, Kat, and Max) sense that the stasis box apparently does indeed contain both twins, and wonder whether to open it -- or if they even can.