Ep. 002: The Rune Portals Open transcript

NARRATOR: Since the Seventh Age began, our magicians have been refining the black, viscous, tarry substance called mana-pitch into clear grey magical gems of great value across the Forty-One Worlds. Almost as long ago, explorer-mages discovered a limitless supply of that raw material here beneath our fair coastline, and built Manapitch City to exploit their find.

But so much raw magic twists the very planes of existence, causing aura surges across the city and the citizens. The city filled with unlikely events and improbable people as reality seemed to… glitch. Over the centuries, Manapitch gained a new name, known to all and used by most.

Welcome to Managlitch, City of Accidental Wonders. We hope you keep your aura clear, citizen.

GLENN 755: Glenn SevenFiftyFive here: you are once again hearing Managlitch City Underground, on a zed-frequency of twenty-three-oh-eight. Broadcasting by net, infotower, and data-scry every open period, we have what *you* need to know to keep your aura clear in the City of Accidental Wonders.

Today is the Seventh of Colddark, year Seven Hundred and Fifteen in the Forty-One Worlds.

Cohorts, you know what’s happening today: today they re-open the Rune Portals, and I’m right here to tell you about it! Oh, I’m not down there in the huge crowd of citizens waiting eagerly for whatever happens, and you sure won’t find me on the landing plaza rubbing elbows with Princess Swiftstorm and Prime Cybercaster MacAllen. No, today the Underground is high overground with a great view, a hot mug of Tiger Red, and three centimeters of armor crystal between me and the ceremony – not to mention the rating-six mana barrier that Slippery Adam’s rigged! MY thanks to you, S.A.!

The Portal landing plaza is buzzing with activity; if you’re not either down there or seeing a high-def imagecast, you are missing out! Off to the side on the speakers’ platform, we’ve got the Council showing off their best leathers, and the Royals gliding around in silk and patent; over at the front of the plaza I see the Cybercasters’ armored robes flashing light and color over the crowd, and several squads from the Ministry of Order are keeping a perimeter like precision-machined robots! Yeah, some of them *are* precision-machined robots, but that’s still excellent integration!

The Constructors’ Guild outdid themselves with architecture and attention to detail over recent weeks. Swooping crystal-steel arcs anchored in blocks of red jade outline the five transit areas, each a hundred meters across; banners of the Swiftstorm family hang from their tops. Neat little travelers’ lounges flank discreetly-placed cargo-handling equipment, and it’s all spotless. I must have heard about a score of glitchers hired to plant surveillance devices or little surprises for the ceremony, and about twice as many others clearing them out. Sorry guys – or well done, depending on who got paid!

Each transit area contains a wide circle of rune-engraved mana gems, a comfortable distance away from the next transit area. We heard a little while ago that gem production was down, but it looks like that was a cover for all the supply going here. These portals have plenty of room to bring almost anything smaller than a cruise liner through… or to rip half the city off its foundations again. Yep, lots of fun either way.

Now the official list of worlds consists of Terra-Epsilon, Freehome, Khedvar, Siglaf, and the Jet Protectorate. Everyone expected Terra-Epsilon on the list as a sorely-missed trading and military partner. Khedvar, though, was never a major player before the Portalblast – no offence, Khedvarites! Anyone listening got a line on what the Council’s thinking? We’d like to know!

While they are still setting up, let me hit the Job Board: Zel Excursion Company is still hiring data-spinners and language experts for their expeditions. If you have skills or glitches in these areas, rumor has it the pay’s pretty good. Also, Mortimer TwoTwelve needs someone for a courier run outside the city into the Badlands. They don’t expect serious danger, but they do need speed. If you have a rep for getting things from point A to point B fast without a lot of questions, Mortimer wants to talk to you.

The Current Weird: every portable camera on the shelves of Noble Electrica turned into a root vegetable of varying species yesterday afternoon. The quality and rarity of the vegetable varied closely with the original price of the camera: a 2,000-pitmark semipro rig turned into a kind of large daikon normally found only on the world of Siglaf before the war. The proprietor, Rickford Noble, released a statement expecting profits for the week to remain surprisingly stable.

Much to everyone’s surprise, the aura forecast for today is great! Kinson, our Underground aura forecaster, says local ley lines are running clear and strong, with all of the nearby planes nicely aligned; even amateur casting work is going smooth as silk today. A little disappointing, to be honest, but –

Oh, hang on. The Princess is speaking. I think it’s time. I’m not getting good sound from up here – Slippery Adam, can you patch in the feed from the – oh, I see. Some new DRM, huh? Okay, well, she’s greeting all the dignitaries and even the commoners. Oh, and there’s a nice word for the glitchers in the crowd, even! We love you too, Princess! She’s acknowledging various diplomats from some of the Forty-One Worlds who made it here today, sucking up a bit to the Empire of Ash – keeping the reactor fuel prices low, well done your Highness. What’s that? “Many thanks to the Council and High Minister Sheaffer, all shining examples of Manapitch City bureacracy.” Ouch! That smile on his face looks almost convincing. Ha!

Prime Cybercaster MacAllen has taken the podium. After just a few words, he’s turned away from the crowd, raising his hands toward the circles of mana gems. Oh… my cohorts, the gems are losing their dull grey and glowing with every color I can imagine. The old Portals weren’t so spectacular! The carven runes on the gems are throwing flickering, shuddering shadows into the air above the circles. Some of the casters are chanting, and I can see data-spinners working quickly at terminals. Damn good encryption there, by the way; you can guess how we know that.

The center portal is stabilizing! A glowing dome of mist maybe twenty meters tall flickers over the circle, a space existing literally in two places at once. I can see – yes, I can see a parade group of figures through the portal, they’re in uniforms, holding a flag – it’s Terra-Epsilon! They are saluting the Council and the Princess! At the front of the crowd are cheering refugees from that world who haven’t seen home in –

GLENN 755: – was that? Are we back? Cohorts, three large explosions just went off, and in the smoke armored figures appeared firing slug-throwers and beam weapons. Ministry of Order troops are moving in, the crowd’s trying to run. I swear they came up right through the landing field, melding right through the ground. Oh, pitch, a bunch of the City’s Cybercasters are down, they are down and not moving, though MacAllen’s teaching these guys a little respect with a slug pistol of his own and some flame casting. Ha! That’s right, armor guy, you’ll need better sunscreen than that!

Cohorts, these look like Disruptors. We’ve all heard the rumors: they want the throne back for the Crimson Pretender, or they want the Council for ransom, or they want to just blow the city to atoms. But I don’t know anyone who’s ever seen one! The blood-red armor is just like the stories, and they sure don’t seem to care who they shoot at. They are really tearing up the place! I’m not usually upset to see Ministry blood, but so many enforcers are down, and the Cybercasters are pulling back.

The Disruptors are heading for the speakers’ platform now. Doesn’t look like they’re after the Council, either. They want the Princess! The Royal Guard is holding them back for now, but there’s another Disruptor for each one they take out. It’s looking bad down there.

There are glitchers in the fray: I can see them! Several of the Changed have worked their way from the crowd. Shells bounce off bio-armor, arm-swords stab out at crimson attackers, psychic blasts dig into their helmets. That’s right! This is OUR city; you don’t just waltz into Managlitch and shoot up the place, that’s OUR privilege! But no: the Disruptors are still coming! Save her Highness! Stop them!

No. Way. Everyone, the Princess – the Princess is casting! I don’t recognize the beam. I don’t see any tech, she can’t be a Cybercaster; is she Changed? Is she one of us?!? The Princess has shoved a guardsman out of the way and focused her beam on the Khedvar portal! It’s only half active, though, not stable at all. No help could come from there yet. That’s a hell of a beam, too – what could she possibly want to…

Oh, that color. That color, that indescribable color. Cohorts, I know that color. All those years ago… it’s happening again! Everyone – take cover! Take cover! Take cover before it –

GLENN 755: Okay, cohorts, we’re back again. Our transmitting equipment is running on backups and quick fixes, and I don’t think the encryption’s restored properly, but we’re all here. If Slippery Adam hadn’t added that mana barrier… everyone, that’s the second Portalblast I’ve seen in my life, and I hope it’s the last one. Only the half-charged Khedvar portal blew, but that was enough. Most of the crowd was out of the way, but it took out the rest of the Disruptors. Some of them are now more permanently melded with the paving. Princess Swiftstorm is safe: they rushed her away. I think today we have some new Council openings, and possibly some new glitchers: the Ministry of Order’s going to be busy for a while. We can’t stay on this frequency. Our broadcaster’s failing, and it’s not safe here. If you are listening… and you got caught in the blast and lived… and changed… well. We’re on zed-frequency twenty-three-oh-eight, glitchers. You aren’t alone.

Managlitch City Underground, signing off and getting damn well out of here. We’ll be back next open period, broadcasting by net, infotower, and data-scry. This is Glenn SevenFiftyFive, shutting down. It’s gonna be tricky for a while, but keep your aura clear, and stay grounded.

ANNOUNCER: The voice of Managlitch City Underground today was Michael O’Brien as Glenn SevenFiftyFive. The narrator was Maya Kralovna as Her Highness, Swiftstorm the Second. Our theme music is “Crime of the Century” by Consortium 499, on the web at reverbnation.com/consortium499. All other content is copyright ©2015, Glitch City Media. Visit our website at managlitch.com for more information about the City and links to our podcast archives.

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