Who's there? Another episode!
Six figures stood at a tunnel entrance, watching as the paths ahead of them changed from the rough steel of the Reaches to the black glory that was the Patropolis of Hath. Spreading out before them, it towered twenty stories high, gleaming onyx buildings marked off by walls, flickering energy fields, and the low sound of pumping pistons. Smoke drifted from factories towards the refresher fans above, casting the city into shadow, and the buzz of automatons filled the air.
Tenrek shook his head slowly. â€œWe have to get through that?â€
â€œThe Soulsteel Caste are wardens and enforcers.â€ Aegis looked over the city, her interest mixed with disgust. â€œBut there â€“ those factories are not what I would expect. And there is a charnel smell in the air.â€
â€œNecrotech factories, preparing for war. Corpses are turned into war machines for the Sageâ€™s plans.â€ Jasmineâ€™s glow had faded to nothing, here, and she crouched at the edge of the tunnel, eyes sweeping the city. â€œYou should be grateful. Hath is exporting produced necrotech towards the front lines, and each factory installed is one less security centre we will have to bypass.â€
â€œOne might be enough.â€ Kieran spoke slowly. â€œI can try to sneak, but Iâ€™m not that goodâ€¦â€
â€œNot a problem.â€ Alina smiled suddenly. â€œIâ€™ll run interference. You guys just stay low and sneak as best you can. Iâ€™ll pace you, and distract anyone thatâ€™s moving in on your position.â€
â€œBe careful. I donâ€™t want to have to explain to Citrios how we broke you.â€ Fokufâ€™s voice was light, but his eyes were solemn.
â€œNot a problem.â€ With a light salute, Alina backflipped up, landing lightly on a tower. A moment later she was gone, concealed within the shadows. Fokuf glanced away to find Kieran watching the point where she had vanished.
â€œSheâ€™ll be fine.â€ He grinned, setting into motion. â€œBut we shouldnâ€™t keep her waiting. My lady, if you would?â€ An extended arm invited Jasmine to take the lead, which she did silently. Moments later, five beings walked the empty streets of Hath.
â€œWhere is everyone?â€ Tenrek muttered the comment under his breath. Aegis responded seriously.
â€œMost likely working. This is a reeducation sector. Those within would not be supposed to travel except during shift-change. I imagine there is more movement further east.â€
â€œNot much.â€ When Aegis glanced over to Jasmine in surprise, the ghost continued. â€œHath has killed one in five citizens to date. Only the need to keep up appearances prevents him from doing more, and he has vastly restricted travel to prevent his citizens from recognizing what is happening.â€
â€œLovely.â€ Fokuf shook his head. â€œAnything else we need to know?â€
â€œNo.â€ With that, Jasmine waved the group to silence, and resumed walking.
The journey through the streets of Hath were harrowing. At first, it was quiet enough, but soon enough they began to hear sounds of violence coming from all around them â€“ sudden explosions of sparks, the sound of tramping feet or buzzing rotors, and the occasional scream of metal on metal as a flight of darts flew to miss their mark. Every time, the sounds came from one street over, or several levels up or down. More than once, Jasmine quickly altered her route to avoid one of the danger spots that Alina had just discovered.
It was several minutes later that the group found themselves outside the gleaming soulsteel tower that marked the exact centre of the city. Kieran looked it over dubiously. â€œKind of obvious, isnâ€™t it?â€
â€œThat is the point, yes.â€ Jasmine gestured to the massive soulsteel-lined double doors. â€œNormally, a squad of automatons guard these. And, of course, the doors themselves are immensely old and powerful, immune to all but the most impressive attacks.â€
â€œTheyâ€™ll be guarded again, soon.â€ Nia landed lightly beside the group. She was sweating heavily, and several tiny marks dotted her body. Noticing worried looks, she shrugged. â€œA few drones got a bit too close with lightning nets. Iâ€™ll be fine. But weâ€™ve got maybe a minute or two before an army shows up.â€
â€œThen we will make use of it. Everyone, prepare yourselves.â€ Golden light began to glow as the Solars called upon their Charms. Aegis let the intricate patterns of her anima coalesce around her as she drew her guns, and Jasmine began once again to glow. She then nodded towards the door. â€œTenrek, if you would do the honour of knocking?â€
â€œHeâ€™ll answer?â€ Tenrek raised an eyebrow. For a moment, Jasmine just stared at him, and then she shook her head ruefully.
â€œI am spending too much time around Steel. I meant knock it down.â€
â€œAh. That, I can do.â€ Tenrek grinned, cracked his neck, wound up, and slammed his gold-covered fist forwards as hard as he could.
The doors of the tower were forged from soulsteel-reinforced stone, forged in single blocks to ensure that no weakness remained within them. They had resisted the occasional riot, a few minor battles, and a Blight invasion, and although they still bore a small mark from where a nephwrack had attempted in vain to batter them down with a grand daiklave before being stopped, they were otherwise smooth and unworn.
Tenrekâ€™s fist struck the door dead centre. With a phenomenal crack, the door split down the middle. The others ducked for cover as shards of soulsteel and stone flew in every direction, as the doors collapsed downwards onto themselves. When the dust cleared, all that was left was a pile of shattered rubble.
Fokuf grinned. â€œI love it when he does that.â€
(And just to prove I spent too much time thinking about this: the doors of Hath's tower are immensely powerful. They have 30B/L soak, 15/30 health levels, and are immune to Piercing damage. Also 30 hardness.
Tenrek has Smashfists (+7B) and Strength 5, plus Solar Hero Style and Infinite MA Mastery for +8 dice to his Dex + MA 8 (+Spec 1, Artifact 2) for 20 total dice. On an average roll, he scores 10 successes, dealing +20 damage through his Form charm. Sledgehammer Fist Punch then augments his 32B damage to 64 damage, destroying the door completely in one hit.
Solar Hero Style. When that wall just needs to go.)