A crafty mage and a skilled smith (and chemical and electrical engineer) trying to figure out why the world is going so... strange.
Name: Weyland Jones
Calling: Crafty Mage-Smith
Description: One of the first things you notice about Weyland is his square chin, which looks like it could be used to break rocks. The next thing you notice is his shoulder width,and a bodybuilder’s permanent frown.
Attributes: Str 3, Dex 3, Sta 3, Cha 3, Man 3, App 1, Per 4, Int 4, Wits 3
Epic Attributes: Str 2, Sta 1, Per 1, Int 1, Wits 1
Abilities: Academics 2, Art (carving) 1, Brawl 3, Control (automobiles) 1, Craft (Blacksmithing) 3, Craft (Electronics) 3, Craft (Automotive) 1, Integrity 1, Investigation 1, Melee 2, Occult 2, Science (Chemistry) 3, Science (Geology)3, Science (Physics) 3
Virtues: Expression 2, Intellect 4, Valor 2, Vengeance 1
Boons: Safely Interred, Fire Immunity, Magic 1
Spells: Ariadne’s Thread, The Unlidded Eye
Knacks: Crushing Grip, Holy Rampage, Damage Conversion, Refined Palate, Fast Learner, Meditative Focus
Birthrights: Crystal Lens(Magic, Magnify, Guide)3 dots, Hammer(Fire, Earth)+2B 4 dots, Guide (Chiron’s mortal form) Contact through Crystal Lens by pointing at Saggitarius 4 dots
Combat: Dodge DV 3, Parry Un3/Ar2, Join Battle 4
Move: 3 Dash: 5 Jump: 5/10
Baptism in… Fire…
The world swirled around Weyland Jones as he stumbled into lab. The night’s partying had left some bruises on his arms, but not even hard partying and a light brawl had been able to shake loose any ideas on the control circuits for his senior thesis. He was getting down to graduation, and while what he’d accomplished was ok, it wasn’t up to his professor’s standards. His deadline was noon tomorrow.
Weyland sagged down at his bench and unlocked his computer, hoping that maybe the alcohol would show him where he’d been going wrong in the circuit diagrams. Maybe, just MAYBE, he could salvage this and finish his thesis on time, or at least have a reasonable explanation and an extension to rebuild the water lighter to spec.
Hah, that damned water lighter. Once the theory was known that you could use radio waves to make salt water flammable, his professor had told him to make a fresh-water cigarette lighter. The applications were endless, right? Water-powered emergency flares, cookstoves, what have you! He’d be famous!
The water lighter was going almost fine. He’d gotten it down to pocket-sized, he could ignite a water-fueled flame and extinguish it, but he could not control the intensity of the flame at all. The last test had fried his professor’s eyebrows nearly off. Something about the radio-based method of lighting the water made the controls for the flame unpredictable, and he wasn’t going to get a good grade if he blew up the lab, which had nearly happened once.
Weyland stared at his circuit diagrams, going through all the possible errors he could think of. None made sense. His mind whirled, the schnapps and akvavit he’d had making his mind explode with possibilities, but they were all useless. He could sense it. He growled in frustration, and exploded from his stool to pace, only to bounce off a wall and hit the ground. “Wait… There wasn’t a wall there,” he thought muzzily. And why did he see those oddly shaped boots?
“Drink not helping, son?” With those words, one of the ugliest men he’d ever seen helped Weyland to his feet. Setting him back on his stool as if he weighed nothing, the ugly man with the salt-and-pepper hair pulled up another stool and hopped onto it, casually, as if his misshapen legs and twisted feet meant nothing.
“Hey, how did you get in here? This building’s got security! And who are you, anyway? I’ve never seen you here before!” The surprise visitor had shocked Weyland almost sober. He SHOULDN’T have been able to get in here without a couple of keys, a security code, and a keycard.
“Calm down, son. I’ve got a few special benefits that get me in almost anywhere I need to be, especially into engineering. It’s my thing, you know. Clever devices, mechanical works, the lot. I’m Hephaestus, or Vulcan, if you’d prefer. Thought I’d come by and give you a bit of a boost, a few gifts, that sort of thing. “
“Hef… Who? And why drop in on ME, in the middle of the night?”
A massive shoulder shrugged. “You REALLY need to study the classics, son, and not just what you find on Wikipedia. As for why I dropped in on YOU, you really don’t know? I’m your adopted father! Besides, I like that lighting water on fire trick, but you need a hand with it if you’re going to graduate with honors, and I like to see my kids getting on well in this and every world. “
“Hold on! HOLD ON! You’re lying through your teeth, and I know it! One: I don’t HAVE a father, adoptive or no. He skipped out on Mom before I was born. Two, I have a picture of him, and he is NOT you! For one thing, he didn’t have a face like an overripe melon crossed with a dirty potato! He didn’t have legs like a half-melted candle, either. So get your lying ass out of here before I call the police! Only reason I’m not pounding you into pudding’s that I don’t hit crips, especially not fruits!”
As strong as he was, when Weyland got mad, people ran. The ugly fellow was laughing at him, instead! “Eh, you have some fire in you. I can work with that! I said ADOPTIVE father, son, and I meant it. Your father’s trapped, defending.. . Eh, it wouldn’t make much sense to you, but he can’t get away anymore. He wanted to come see you, really did, but he’s barely holding his own. So he got word to me, smith to smith, and told me you were mine if I’d help you. Gave me a few things to get you started, swore you over to me, and here we go. I’m your adoptive dad. Call me a crip again, though, boy, and I’ll thump you one you won’t forget!”
“SWORE me over to you? It doesn’t… You can’t… That’s illegal! What am I, your slave now?”
“No, son, you’re my scion, my blessed son. Even by adoption, my power flows in your veins, the power of a smith! Engineer, inventor, scientist, magician, you can be all of those things and more! You’ll have to be more, too! Things hunt the children of the gods, you know, and they’ll start hunting you, now. You WILL have to hunt them if you want to survive, be a hero, like Herakles. That’s why your father…”
“Gods? Are you nuts? What do you mean, GODS? And who’s Heracles? You mean Hercules? Like the cartoon?”
“The ugly man sighed, suddenly looking very old, and very frustrated. “Kids these days,” he muttered. “No respect for their elders, no knowledge of history… All right, son, FINE, use that computer and go look up Hephaestus on your Wikipedia. SORT of accurate, as far as it goes, though it barely scratches the surface. Here, I’ll even spell it for you!”
Wikipedia showed that yes, Hephaestus was a god of smiths and forging, and legendarily ugly and twisted besides. There were some other references, but Weyland ignored them for the moment. “So who’s my REAL dad? My mom calls him Mari, but that can’t be right.”
“No son, your father’s Ilmarinen. Great smith, not so good with the ladies. You can look him up later. NOW, as I was SAYING, your father gave me some things for you. As a smith myself, I adapted them for your use, naturally. Here’s a nice hammer. I made it from a fragment of the Tsampo that your father gave me. One of his most famous craftings, that. You’ll find it protects you from fire and suffocation due to being buried alive, and I’m sure you’ll figure out many other things you can do with it later.” The ugly man picked up a hammer from… somewhere… and handed it to Weyland. It looked just like his uncle’s hammer, from when he smithed at RenFaires, but it had an oddly knurled handle and a golden sheen to the metal that made it not only the most comfortable hammer and well-balanced hammer he’d ever held, but lovely as well. It was also the HARDEST hammer he’d ever held, he noticed as he bounced it off the floor. It may have looked like gold, but gold doesn’t dent linoleum or concrete.
“Cool! Ummm, how does it protect me from fire and that other stuff? It doesn’t LOOK like Nomex or anything. “
The ugly man sighed. “You’ll figure it out, eventually,” he said, passing over an odd necklace with a crystal pendant in some kind of bronze setting. “Now THIS is even more useful, once you figure it out. Your father wanted you to be able to contact him through it so he could teach you some things himself, but he’s so blocked off it’s impossible. So, I changed it so you can contact a fellow named Chiron. He’s currently British, called Lord something-or-other, and he can teach you some magic, which I don’t meddle with myself. He’s also quite wealthy and well-connected, and knows a LOT about the lay of the land. Gods, monsters, demigods, nymphs, and so on and so forth. If you look on the inside of the ring, his phone number and current email will show up, even if he becomes someone else. Don’t look at me like that, he’s a tricky one! Don’t abuse the email or phone, son, there’s a time lag between here and there and he does NOT appreciate being woken up at all hours. Besides, he has secretaries who filter his calls and mail. Like I said, he’s wealthy and well-connected, and if you start asking him questions over the phone about how to deal with a Cyclops, it could get both him and you in trouble. Now, if you want to contact him another way, point the crystal at the constellation Saggitarius – just look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t know what it looks like – and he’ll be able to answer through that. “
“Oh, and one other thing, can I see your prototype water-burner?”
Somewhat dazed, and still tiddly, Weyland opened the drawer and pulled out an oversized cigarette lighter that fitted both his and the stranger’s hands perfectly. Unscrewing the control panel, he opened it up to expose the circuits and power source. Hephaestus, if that was how you pronounced it, moved the crystal over it like a jeweler’s loupe. “Take a look, son. Makes most magnifiers look like pikers, even most microscopes, if you use it right.” The ugly man was right, Weyland had the sharpest view, and best magnification, he could want, right down to the tiniest of imperfections on the circuit board. “Incredible,” he muttered frustratedly to himself. “Doesn’t work right, but it’s nice and pretty as I can build!”
“Oh yeah, that control problem of yours. Easy enough to fix. See these two circuits, the igniter and the control circuit? See the pattern they make? You sure are Ilmarinen’s son, all right, and I was right to adopt you. What you need to do to fix this is move THIS wire a half-millimeter to the left, THIS needs to go up a millimeter and connect to THIS junction, not that one, and THIS junction needs to be moved up or down from the current plane it’s in by, hmmm, let’s see, a distance that does NOT equal the wavelength of this transmitter divided by 4. I’d move it maybe 1-2 13ths of the wavelength if I were you. Nicely done, otherwise. Here, you don’t have much time, and it’s hard to get the precision…” His new “father” pulled out a set of tools that LOOKED golden and seemed like oddly twisted needle-nose pliers, reached down, tweaked the circuitry, and then pulled back. It had all moved exactly as he’d said it needed to, though the pliers couldn’t POSSIBLY have gripped or rearranged the microcircuitry, it was too small for that. One of the circuits couldn’t possibly work right, either. 3 wires in a junction for the minimum ignition setting didn’t make sense! Nor did one wire LACKING a connection!
He stared at his father incredulously, and the ugly man grinned a huge grin. “There you go, fire her up and see how she burns!”
Weyland did so, and found that the control worked perfectly. Flicking from small to large flame and back again, he started laughing. “I’m dreaming! I have to be. I’m going to wake up passed out somewhere, aren’t I?”
“Well, suit yourself. You look like you could use some sobering up, anyway.” The ugly man passed over a flask and, still laughing, Weyland took a pull.
Groaning, Weyland pulled his eyelids open. His mouth tasted like overaged lutefisk, and his eyes were gummy. Someone was shaking his shoulder. He gingerly sat up, and looked around in surprise as the expected hangover didn’t appear. His professor was beaming at him. “Whatever you did last night, it worked, Weyland! It doesn’t blow up anymore! The control’s perfect! Oh, and I like the stylized hammer you carved on it. Absolute A+ work, this is. You’re going to pass like a volcano, magma cum laude! The writeup is nice, too!”
Weyland turned his head. His written thesis was sitting there, neatly compiled, with the final circuit diagrams sitting next to them. Wait, that had been in his desk drawer, so… He opened his desk drawer, to find a hammer and a crystal pendant, together with a printout of the constellation Saggitarius. In a neat, formal hand, someone had written, “Check in often, he’ll keep an eye on you while you get your feet under you. Move fast, son. Like the Erinyes themselves are on your heels. You’re a Scion now, watch your back and keep your hammer ready.“
A month later, Weyland was a new graduate of Yale, engineering degree and all, with some wild parties behind him. He jumped on the Greyhound, heading south to Williamsburg with his duffel and laptop. He hadn’t seen his uncle at graduation, and he wanted to chat with him about his memories of his dad, “Mari.” Maybe ask if his dad’d had a truly fugly cousin… His mom HAD made it to graduation, but he hadn’t asked her. She didn’t like to talk about his dad these days, and was dating someone he rather liked, anyway. At least with his uncle it wouldn’t be so… awkward, bringing it up. He’d brought some books on Greek myths with him for reading on the way. Not much else to do, and he needed to figure out who this Chiron person was, before he dared contact him.
He was completely absorbed in Kerenyi, and finding him very confusing, when something made him look up. A group of motorcycles was passing the bus on the other side of the road, and something was just… Wait, that couldn’t have been real. Nobody rode THAT far forward on the bike! And where were that one’s legs? As they passed the bus, a couple of them looked right at him, like they could see through the tinted windows, grinned, and pointed. Nobody else seemed to notice.
Half an hour later he heard the same chorus of bike engines: this time from behind. He looked out the window and there they were, pulling up and grinning at him. One had a torso protruding from where his handlebars should be, another seemed to be fused with the seat of his bike. A third had what looked like horns, until he realized they WERE handlebars, sticking out of his head, acting on their own to steer the man, who seemed totally oblivious to them. Another had grills, literally, where he should have had teeth, and was fused to his bike like the rest, with a headlight in the middle of his chest. They weren’t doing anything, but he realized that as soon as the sun went down all they had to do was wait until the bus pulled over, then they had him. He heard an old lady grumbling behind him about those “nasty bikers,” but nobody seemed to realize what horrors they really were.
He got off at Washington DC, switched to a bus for Savannah, and hoped he could evade them, but they showed up as soon as he left the city. He searched his bag for some kind of tracking device, figuring that they could have something electronic planted on him, but found nothing. The bus continued onward, out of DC, south along 95, and it grew quickly darker among the pines. After Richmond there wasn’t going to be much, maybe he could get out away from people and lose them off road. The night grew darker, and he realized that the Milky Way was rising. Wait, wasn’t that… If he could just get a clear view, the archer was somewhere in there! He brought his crystal lens up in front of his eye, and panned it frantically. A cluster of stars caught his eye. They seemed to be changing, flowing into the shape of a horseman with a bow. The shape changed into the image of a long-faced man, sitting in a dressing-gown in a very fancy chair next to a fireplace, reading an ancient book of some kind. Classical music welled faintly from the crystal, and then the man seemed to shift into two pictures. One ignored him, reading the book, the other looked straight at him. “Well, fancy that, you’ve contacted me at last! You seemed to be too busy graduating to even bother, lad. No, no, don’t talk yet, just think about talking, or keep it to a quiet murmur, and I’ll hear you. I am Chiron, lad, and it’s about 3 in the morning here. You’re lucky you didn’t rouse me from bed. Still, from your expression you seem to be in some trouble. What is it, lad? Tell me and maybe I can do something for you.” The well-modulated, and VERY aristocratic, English voice coming from the crystal seemed almost like a dream to Weyland, and he blinked his eyes and felt the rough seat of the bus to ground himself.
“Um, Chiron, sir, I’m on a bus and I’m being followed by… by bikers. They’re not ordinary. They look like the bikes are part of them, like cyborgs or something. I don’t know how they’re following me; I changed buses and everything, checked for tracking devices. I don’t know what to do.”
“Do you have any compatriots, lad? Any other scions to draw upon? “
“Hm. You will need to remedy that as soon as possible, lad. Safety in numbers, and then you can hunt them! Can they see you?”
“The bus has tinted windows, sir, but they seem to be able to see right through them.”
“Hm, some sort of foul magic, most likely. You say you searched your bag… Did you find any things that you didn’t pack, perhaps covered with writing or runes? A bookmark, perhaps? It is possible that someone planted a different sort of tracking device than you are presuming, young man. Still, they have your scent now, and will follow it as best they can. Remember this. They do not care about ordinary people in this war. If you must fight them, try not to do it in public. Traps might also work. If they run on petrol, they are probably vulnerable to fire, and that is something you are not. Good luck, lad! I’ll leave you to plan. Contact me if you find the tracking magic and have a clear line of sight to my constellation. “
Relieved that Chiron, at least, seemed helpful, and not so mysterious, Weyland searched his bag with a will. Finally he noticed that the bookmark in one of his engineering texts was not the one he’d left there. It was covered with some kind of writing that he couldn’t read, though it seemed to be very sloppy Greek or maybe Russian. He looked for the stars, but they were deep in the pines and he couldn’t see them. Outside, the bikers seemed to be getting bolder.
Weyland made his way up to the bus driver. “Say, sir, you noticed those bikers trailing us?”
“Yeah, kid, and I don’t like it, neither.” The driver frowned in worry, white hairs in his beard glinting in the light.
“They’re following me, sir. They tracked the bus I was on down to Washington. Is there a gas station you can maybe drop me off at? Like at the next exit? I don’t want you all getting hurt, and I think I can lose them. Otherwise, we get gas, they’ll swarm the bus.”
The driver looked at him grimly. “I don’t know what you all are mixed up in, boy, but they’ll mess you up good if you’re not careful. Get off if you have to, and thanks for being careful of us. Maybe I should call the staties, but these boys ain’t done anything yet I can yell about.”
15 minutes later, the bus took an exit, swung by a gas station, barely stopped, and kept going. Weyland jumped out and ran for the inside of the station. It was a good choice, completely isolated from the rest of the world. He could even see the top of a septic tank, so they didn’t have sewer connections. He ran inside and grabbed the man behind the counter, yanked him over before he could blink, and threw him towards the opposite door. “They’re coming, and they’ll kill you. Go!” The man looked confused until he heard the bikes. He dived back over the counter and grabbed a phone. Weyland didn’t have time for the attendant. Let him do as he would. Weyland gathered jumper cables, a wrench, and dove for the back and the bathrooms. Leaving the bookmark behind the mirror, he ripped the tips off the cables, hooked up a miniature water-burning circuit he’d brought along, and tossed them in the toilet. He switched the lights off and ripped out the light switch, hooking up the other end of the jumper cables to them. He tossed some chips in the toilet for salt, anything to make the reaction go easier, waited 15 seconds, and flushed, reaching into the bowl and ripping out the flap so the toilet would not stop draining.
When Weyland came out of the bathroom, he distinctly heard a rough voice yelling “Boy, come out and make it easy on yourself! Otherwise we’ll just burn the place down, with you in it!” The attendant was crouching behind the counter with a gun, peering outside. Weyland crouched and cautiously looked through the windows. Gas was spreading in puddles on all sides of the station, as the bikers ran the gas pumps, squirting gas on either side of the store. Seeing the attendant trying to work up the courage to shoot, Weyland hissed at him. “Don’t, you shoot and we blow up!” The attendant turned pale, jumped the counter, and ran out one of the doors, screaming and waving his gun. The bikers reacted instantly, though he shot one of them before they caught him. His screams were brief. “Hey boy, guess who’s got the gun now! You want us to just start shooting?” Weyland ignored them, moving towards the back and the light switches he’d spotted. The place went dark. Weyland found the back door, and moving quickly, found the alarm switch and jammed it before he carefully slid out the back door. Nowhere to go but up, now.
As he quietly swung up on the roof, Weyland grinned, remembering all those years of climbing out his window to go sneak cotton candy and caramel apples at fairegrounds. It seemed they’d paid off, though the tanning his bottom had taken, and the stomachache from overeating, had made it one of his worse memories. Compared to what was about to happen, though, he figured that hadn’t been so bad. He crawled across the roof, as far away from the bathroom as possible. For what we are about to receive, he thought.
Below him, Weyland heard at least two of the bikers entering the store, as gas fumes spiraled up from the pavement. It seemed they weren’t willing to risk an explosion after all. Too bad. He grinned savagely and concentrated on getting as far away from the bathroom as possible. Below him, he heard grumbling as the bikers navigated the narrow passage towards the bathroom, followed by the opening door and the brief click of the light switch. “Hey, he’s not…” The explosion that followed was massive, and disgusting, as a huge current flowed down the toilet to the water-igniting circuitry, and the burning water mixed with the methane and sludge in the septic tank. The lid of the septic tank blew off, as did the roof above the bathroom, and a torrent of flame sluiced skywards, fountaining down on the poor bastards who were still holding the gas nozzles and spraying their torrents of fuel.
As the rest of the bikers ignited, and the store started to blaze, Weyland ran across the roof and leaped as far as he could for the dubious shelter of the woods. So far, so good, he thought, as fire pooled around his legs, but, incredibly, didn’t burn him. Now, about a bath…