Pan Post 136 explores the aftermath of the Time Lock War, starting with Princess Damask Rosenbilte and Queen Diggleton of Discharding. The queen reveals that she should be able to remain queen as Highemperor is still alive, trapped in the time lock. Damask asks only that his end was fashionable and the queen says that Discharding will be gossiping about it for weeks. On Tatooine, Fladnag the White speaks with the Void Ranger Lobo Ono who confirms reports of the time lock but also reveals that a Netherwyrm is on the loose and Fladnag commands that the Void Rangers deal with the problem. He then meets with Marquis Rosslefot who offers his services to Fladnag. On Earth Hermes Trismegistus detects a problem in Kumari Kandam, despite the hedrons now being gone. He finds the dead body of Runekeeper and claims Runekeeper's Book and become the new Runekeeper. Dragonlord Riaken vows to lead his people, the Derkesthai, to a new age without the guidance of Typhon. In the Terminus Systems, Proconsul Kim is left as the most powerful of powerplayers by virtue of being the last. Navitatex Qemik offers to govern in Kim's stead and gains permission to search for any surviving of Highemperor's Daughters.
A steampunk[Ext 1] zeppelin enters the interdimensional veil separating the Discharding universe from the Deep Void. It meanders through the towers of the megalopolis before discharging its primary passenger at the Diggleton estate. Someone awaits the passenger.
Princess Damask Rosenbilte: Your highness, is it true?
Damask looks faint with horror, for like the Grand Duchess she was one of Highemp's lovers.
Grand Duchess Diggleton: Be of good heart, my dear. Highemp told me his plans for Discharding - rule indirectly through leverage of electoral votes, as my estate holds more electoral votes than any other.
Princess Damask Rosenbilte: But women cannot hold a primary title in Discharding!
Grand Duchess Diggleton: No, but Highemp yet lives; he is forever trapped in unbreakable stasis. This means that I have the right to speak for him on all Discharding-related matters.
Princess Damask Rosenbilte: Well, that is good. But you loved his mind and his schemes. I loved him, and wish only I could enjoy his company once more... But tell me - was his end fashionable at least?
Grand Duchess Diggleton: Oh, quite! Once I relay the tale, all Discharding will gossip about it for a good three weeks at least.
Princess Damask Rosenbilte: Three whole weeks? That long? My goodness, I don't think there's been any hotter gossip topic since the very founding of Discharding!
On the planet Tatooine in the Outer Galaxies, Fladnag rubs his temples wearily. He has been swamped with the panic and confusion of those who celebrated or denounced Mega Jonestown's return, followed by its subsequent destruction. His earpiece beeps.
Fladnag the White: Yes?
Lobo Ono: I have concluded my search of the area, and am ready to update my preliminary findings.
Fladnag the White: Proceed.
Lobo Ono: First, the rumors are true. All the great deities are dead or time-locked. Or both. Mega Jonestown Prime is completely obliterated, as is most of the High Empire - though the Terminus systems in the NeSiverse's Milky Way galaxy seem primarily unaffected for the moment.
Fladnag the White: I'll have to notify local authorities to watch out for unrest or instability in that area.
Lobo Ono: Indeed. The wreckage of the war pollutes a large swath of space within the Sol system, and there are temporal anomalies and spatial whorls throughout the debris, which makes any potential cleanup more dangerous than it's worth.
Fladnag the White: And Earth?
Lobo Ono: Safe, though it seems to be suffering from some domestic threats. Magic has returned to its normal strength there, however. The hedrons are disintegrated. Reports of surviving Derkesthai stragglers, fleeing the Sol system, have come in.
Fladnag the White: Anything else?
Lobo Ono: I am unable to confirm it, but... one of the Derkesthai's pet Netherwyrms may be on the loose, unchecked by its former masters.
Fladnag the White: A Netherwyrm? Amok in the heart of our universe?
Fladnag the White: Handpick a team to hunt down this rogue Netherwyrm. Contain whatever damage you can by it and neutralize it.
Lobo Ono: Understood. Over and out.
Fladnag closes his eyes for a moment. Then he raps the butt of his staff on the floor.
Fladnag the White: NEXT!
The Marquis Rosslefot walks in, wearing two monocles, as is his odd habit.
Fladnag the White: I see you are no longer missing. The Discharding nobility will be pleased to hear it.
Marquis Rosslefot: I was...conscripted. By Mega Jonestown Prime.
Fladnag the White: Allow me to extend an official apology. We will arrange for top of the line transport back to Discharding.
[I]Rosslefot holds up his hand.[/I[
Marquis Rosslefot: No apology needed. The challenges I was offered were quite intellectually stimulating...and I do not wish to return to Discharding yet.
Fladnag raises an eyebrow.
Marquis Rosslefot: I have come to offer you my services and technical expertise. I find the NeSiverse a fascinating place, and would help protect it in its new vulnerability...now that the multiverse at large no longer fears any vengeance by Mega Jonestown Prime.
Fladnag the White: I am honored, Marquis, and I accept.
Hermes Trismegistus has watched the terrible battles from a distance, and when it is over, he feels the magical field on Earth return to normal. But something is slightly different. Frowning slightly, he zooms back through Earth's atmosphere and plunges into the Pacific Ocean, down to the ruins of Kumari Kandam atop the Kergulen Plateau.
The hedrons are no longer there of course. And neither are the Derkesthai or Marquis Rosslefot's dragon-shaped submarine. But lying atop the ruined undersea ziggurat is a corpse, half-disintegrated by deific backlash...and a heavy tome is chained to its wrist.
Hermes Trismegistus: By all the gods...the Runekeeper?
His senses do not deceive him. He is in fact beholding the body of the NeSiverse's cosmic god of magic. He stands there for a moment, pursing his lips as he considers. Then he reaches down and unclasps the manacle from the corpse's wrist. It comes away with no trouble now that its owner is dead.
Hermes fastens the manacle - and thereby the heavy tome chained to it - to his own wrist. Power and knowledge suffuse him, even more than the already-immense magic he wielded before.
Hermes Trismegistus: Now I am the new Runekeeper!
Derkesthai Dragonrider #1: Where do we go now, Dragonlord?
Dragonlord Riaken: Home. Our planet is still there, though most of its populace was emptied into this ruinous war.
Derkesthai Dragonrider #2: But...our purpose is gone. What do we do now?
Dragonlord Riaken: If you will follow me...then we forge our own path now, no longer bound by my father Typhon, but free to pursue glory for our race.
Derkesthai Dragonrider #3: But there are so few of us left.
Dragonlord Riaken: It will be enough. Other flights of cataphracts might have escaped. And there are still millions left on our homeworld. Will you follow me?
All the dragonriders salute.
Derkesthai Dragonriders: Hail Dragonlord Riaken! Hail the lord of all Derkesthai!
Riaken allows himself a smile. This battle had not gone anything like he had expected, and he felt unmoored as well...but it was so liberating to be free of his father and the other God-Monarchs, no longer answerable to any other authority...
Proconsul Kim: Oh hey there, Cap! How'd that battle go?
Captain Qemik: Highemp is dead, and the High Empire, no more.
Kim blinks, unable to comprehend this. Qemik sighs.
Captain Qemik: Urbis Imperia is lost, so we have no higher command anymore, and most of the other territories in the empire are gone as well. We are on our own.
Proconsul Kim: Does this mean... I'm the greatest powerplayer now?! :D
Captain Qemik: By virtue of being the only one left...I suppose so.
Proconsul Kim: YIPPEE! This means I get my own harem now! Time to go vacation in Coaleshion!
Captain Qemik: Milord, might I suggest--
He pauses. It might be best to encourage Kim's folly at this point.
Captain Qemik: Might I suggest that you allow me to act in your stead while you vacation and...enjoy the fruits of your, ah, labor? I can rebuilt our local fleet and secure our borders. I expect retribution by many against us for our former empire's perceived crimes; particularly since our Terminus fleets are half-destroyed and the Anti-Deific Wards no longer function.
Proconsul Kim: Sounds great! Governing is boring anyway, all those dull meetings!
Captain Qemik: And have I your leave to seek out one of Highemperor's daughters? If any yet survive...she is the heir to what remains.
Proconsul Kim: Ooooh, and then I could marry her! Be the new emperor! I'll be the Highcat! Or Catemperor. King Kim?
Captain Qemik leaves Kim to his speculations, his boots clanging on the crystalline floor as he walks out...