"Come look at the giant birdies in the sky!" Gasha cried out as she burst into the room, putting an end to the long discussion being had about what to do about the situation on Lud. Everybody's heart sank to the bottom of their stomach as the small crowd that had gathered in Gog's small workshop followed her outside to see what they had already suspected.
The Alon were descending on the once-safe island of Lud.
The Alon invaded Lud with a military precision. They landed on the once-populated marketplace that served as Lud's docking platform. After clearing it away and commandeering a couple nearby apartment buildings, they erected a massive wall, complete with sentries and gates, around the area and transformed the white-cobble common into a makeshift port. They then evacuated the residents from the apartments and began shuttling them off the island to the safety of the mainland far away.
Once clear, the Alon transferred the apartments into a temporary refugee camp and processing center. They then systematically sent out word to the entire island, requesting any and all innocents to report to the gate for processing and evacuation of the once-beautiful island. They also sent an offer: that any 'cursed' willing to do so to turn themselves in without a fight so that they could be properly treated and cured of their 'conditions' peacefully.
Within a week, the Alon had successfully cleared out the city.
Flynn Triune and his father had settled on Lud a month before it departed that past summer. His father opened a little tea shop at the base of one of Lud's massive skyscrapers. Naturally, business boomed with tourist traffic over the course of Lud's journey across the sea. That is, until the golden leaves turned red.
Being newcomers to Lud, the two didn't really believe in the crazy superstitions about an omen or worse. Of course, their customers weren't so rational. For the next couple of months, business dwindled to a trickle and eventually stopped altogether when the streets were no longer safe. Flynn's father closed his shop and settled in for a long winter.
Then the Alon came.
Still terrified that his son would be taken away, Flynn's father formulated a plan to get them off of Lud. He had heard that innocent people were being taken out of the city and to safety. Since Flynn appeared a normal Cooreinian, his father thought that they would surely be able to sneak past the gate. He was wrong.
When they got to the massive, crowded gate, they found that the Alon had a series of checkpoints with a dozen different scanning and testing procedures in place to detect 'cursed' from slipping past. It came as no surprise to Flynn that one of their scanners picked up on his powers. Naturally reacting with fear, Flynn attempted to flee with his father. The Alon, however, were well prepared to stop him and easily separated him from his father.
Though the odds were against him, Flynn managed to escape thanks to the help of Gasha and Byra who had been scouting the Alon camp and saw the breakout attempt. Thanks to Gasha's intricate knowledge of the treetops and shortcuts through the city, they were able to escape to Gog's place undetected.
By the time the city was completely deserted save for Alon patrols, 109 decided that staying at Gog's workshop was suicide. Once clear of civilians, the Alon had began to forcefully search every building in the city. It was only a matter of time before they found their safe-haven. And so, undercover of a night-time snow storm, 109 and the rest packed up all their belongings and fled underground to Zolo's cave.
The following weeks were long, stretched on by the bitter cold brought from the cave and the fear of ever being found out. Rad was able to build everybody a tent and had begun working on a contraption that would simultaneously protect the cave from the Alon while allowing 109 safe passage up and down the river without Byra's help. The entire group also began planning how exactly they were going to escape Lud for good.
Meanwhile, Adriana, Flynn and Gasha set out to find Kintaro, hoping to bring him into hiding as well. When the finally found him, he was near death. Somehow, he had suffered a devastating wound in a fight (either against Hade or, more likely, against the Alon) and had escaped to his home. Fortunately, they were able to save him.
During his recovery, Kintaro continued to watch -with his gifted eyes- the gifted of Lud suffer and die at the hands of the Alon. When he had recovered enough, he attempted to leave, explaining that it was driving him mad to stay in hiding while so many died and fell. 109, however, coerced him into staying, knowing that if he left, he would surely die and could endanger their hiding spot as well.
Eventually, they came up with a plan to build several gliders and rafts to literally fly away from Lud and sail the ocean far away from the Alon. And as Rad began crafting the gliders, another obstacle presented itself when Gog fell ill.
Putting his project on hold, Flynn and Rad went to the surface and to Gog's workshop to retrieve some medicine. As fate would have it, the Alon had picked that day to investigate the shop. They entered the building while Rad and Flynn were inside and discovered the machine that had been hiding the gifted presence. Flynn and Rad had to fight their way out. Rad feared that if they shut down the machine, their location would be found out.
To make matters even worse, inspired by Kintaro's devotion, Corey and Jake, left the cave to attempt to help whoever was left on Lud. Kintaro and 109 set out to bring them back. In order to cover more ground, they split up. Kintaro went alone, telling them that after the children were found and safe, he wasn't going to return to the cave. Eventually, Rad, Flynn, Adriana and Wade found the twins, and of course, so did an Alon patrol. 109 sprung into action in attempt to save the children.
The fight was brutal, and truly revealed to 109 the immense danger that the Alon posed to gifted. Each Alon soldier was built like a swiss-army-knife, containing a number of weapons and defenses specifically designed to fight off common types of gifted. And, as they tragically found out, one soldier was equipped with a mortar-like weapon that fired water-evaporating grenades. A direct hit to Jake sucked out all moisture in his body and killed him.
Enraged, Corey's gifts evolved before everybody's eyes and he transformed into some kind of sea-creature/human hybrid and devastated the Alon soldier responsible. he then fled the battlefield and escaped into the city, leaving 109 to finish the fight with the Alon patrol.
Though they won the fight, 109 still felt defeated and more desperate than ever. They gave up the search for Corey and took Jake's body down to the cave, intending to lay him in Zolo's tomb.
But of course, fate yet again turned against them while they were there when another Alon patrol descended into the cave through the opening in the crypt. Before 109 could react, the spirits of a hundred animals rose from their graves and destroyed the patrol.
Rad, Adriana, Wade and Flynn never felt so exposed, and they decided ultimately that waiting any longer was simply not an option. They had to leave Lud, or they would die.
The Alon attack on Lud was probably the most tense situation I've ever created in an RP. Like the time just before their arrival, I feel that I was a tad too successful in creating the mood and began to even sense frustration and irritation from my players. Again, a success and a failure all at once, but I learned a lot.
As it's probably obvious, I had wanted to create a very oppressive and desperate situation. The mere fact that they were prepared to risk death at the hands of the freezing sea below in an effort to escape the situation is proof enough to me that I had done exactly that.
Well before Lud, 109 had run into Alon soldiers in spurts, and had wiped the floor with them. At the time, I was hardly concerned with developing a dangerous antagonist with the story and was leaving it up to reputation alone. When it came to Lud, I knew that it wasn't going to work well with simply saying "the Alon are dangerous!!1" and then pitting the gang up against easily defeated enemies. (I can't seem to find that happy medium ^^').
So, I apologize to my players for kind of dragging you around and beating you over the head with hopeless fights, but I promise, it was necessary!
Anyhoose, adding in Flynn was a huge thing for me. For the first two to three years 109 went on, I was determined to exclusively have Penny, James and Chris. After Pen and I moved away and our group dwindled down to the four of us, it was pretty easy to maintain that! Then Joe Bags started coming over too, and for some reason, it felt natural to bring him into 109. So far, I'm very glad I did. Him and his character provide a very good balance to the 109 group.
During the Alon attack, I imagine a great number of exciting stories taking place.
109 never did delve into what exactly happened to Kintaro. I imagine that he got into a massive battle with Hade and the Alon interfered. Kintaro was created as a humorous, goofy character but behind the scenes, he developed into a robust and dynamic character with a complex relationship with Hade. Every time Kintaro captured Hade and put him behind bars, Hade would eventually escape (seriously, he can phaze through walls. How do you contain someone like that?). After a while, they sort of became each others identity. Sort of like a Batman and Joker relationship: one almost can't exist without the other. So when the Alon took Hade (at least, in my mind - it's not set in stone!), Kintaro sort of lost it, and began to try and help his nemesis. He probably wasn't successful.
I also try and think from the Alon's point-of-view. Somehow, they knew that there were a lot of gifted hiding on Lud. They had to do something about it. Of course, you have to remember that the Alon see gifted as uncontrollable monsters and deadly weapons. To them, it was like descending into a powder keg with the fuse lit. At the same time, their honest priority is to protect innocent people and preserve the city of Lud as much as possible (which is why they didn't simply blow it out of the sky). The Alon went in with extreme caution, set up a perimeter that was monitored 24-7, and every precaution taken. They didn't start using direct force until near the end.
The gifted that did turn themselves in (and there were some) were treated as peacefully as possible. The reason they reacted with violence with Flynn was simply because he was trying to sneak his way past them. It's essentially the equivalent of trying to sneak a knife past security at the airport.
By the time Lud was evacuated, the Alon knew that whoever was left was going to try to actively resist. This is why they reacted violently with Jake and Corey. The Alon soldiers saw the two boys and bombs about to detonate. They handled the situation as carefully as they could, and when they were attacked, they instinctively tried to neutralize the threat before they got hurt.
New pic! This one of Wade! Mad props go to Joe Bags for drawing it.