Legend of the Tiger Generals

2 - Cargo Cult
As the newest Tiger Generals explore Diamond, Valakar Doel's crew draws them into a conflict with a covert and warlike organization.

The three new Tiger Generals begin to receive their orientation. Dr. Lupine quickly splits off to investigate the gardens and greenhouses that will be opened to him. Valakar Doel and Gemma Fleetwind get to know their assigned guide and liaison, a Vesper named Kuro. Kuro offers to arrange lodging for them in Diamond (Doel accepts, Fleetwind declines). He then points out a skysled and volunteers to fly them on a tour of the city.

The initial part of the aerial tour of Diamond is pleasant enough. However, as they pass over a section of skydocks, Kuro notes that it seems Doel’s crew is involved in some kind of trouble. As they descend, they see that the crew is confronting a group of dockworkers who are attempting to unload a vessel as quickly as they can. The bosun Gorin, a rhino-Kin, has taken the spearhead in the argument, attempting to shout down the rival team’s leader. Once Captain Doel arrives, Gorin explains that the teamsters commandeered the crane while his crew were still using it. The teamster head insists that their need is greater, and refuses to have his men cede the equipment — he stubbornly insists that Doel’s crew can use it once they’re finished.

As the argument continues, Gemma takes notice of the crate dangling from the crane. She takes advantage of the distraction to dash over and encourage the crate to slip its hastily-fastened line, returning to her previous spot in a blur. The crate falls and spills open, and a great deal of chitin spills onto the ground — arms and armor made from daemonstinger shells. Pandaemonic contraband, and highly illegal.

The teamsters become determined to fight their way out. They draw empty sword hilts from under their clothes, and then focus their will. Reddish energy blades spring up from the hilts, something that Gemma recognizes as a weapon that draws partly on its user’s life force. With a shout of “For the Sword!”, the covert agents charge into battle. Unfortunately for them, they grievously overestimate their enemies. Doel drops one with a lightning bolt before they can even close, and the rest don’t last long against their paragon enemies. Only the one battling Gorin manages to last for more than a single exchange of blows, and he too falls after the angry Kin bosun puts his back into a final shot.

Valakar Doel takes charge of the interrogation. The chosen Conquering Sword soldier isn’t nearly as fearless as his doctrine would require, and he rapidly surrenders what he knows. The arms shipment was to go to the local cell — under a dojo that’s recently changed hands. Kuro volunteers that he knows the dojo in question, and he can get the Tiger Generals there.

Kuro quickly pilots them to the dojo. There they push past the ursine Master Gorbo, and find their way down a passage to a lower room, an old warehouse now commandeered by the Conquering Sword, by the looks of the banners on the wall.

Two ranking templars of the Conquering Sword confront them in the lower storehouse. One is a Pridefolk male with rune-tattoos on his neck just visible under his mane; the other a human female with a bright orange mohawk. As the Tiger Generals challenge them, they move to the attack. The woman, Vulkana, activates the Erebian jewel in her neck, covering herself in molten basalt that rapidly cools into armor. Seeing that, Gemma opts to challenge the Pridefolk, Ruja the War-Crier, reasoning that he won’t be too painful to punch. Valakar Doel braces himself against the woman, Vulkana, and the brawl begins.

After an initial pass or two, Gemma takes a hit from Ruja’s powerful roar, knocking her into the wall. Vulkana’s smoking basalt fist likewise sends Valakar back. But the two quickly reverse the battle’s momentum. Gemma kicks to her feet and leaps forward, catching the Pridefolk templar with a clothesline to the neck, knocking him senseless and draping him over one of the quintains. Doel aims a gauntleted fist at Vulkana, beginning to overcharge the weapon.

“This is your last chance to surrender,” he says.

“That’s against the rules,” she replies.

He nods and fires a supercharged thunderbolt into her. Her feet leave two burning furrows in the floor as she’s blasted back, then collapses.

Kuro comes down the stairs as the smoke clears, and congratulates the new Tiger Generals on their victory. He says that the guard has been summoned, and proposes that they celebrate with a drink. Doel decides this is a fine idea.

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1 - The Call
Three paragons learn that their names have been written on the Tablets of Courage.

A powerful storm rages above Chalcedon, and Captain Valakar Doel steers his ship into the thick of it. He shouts orders at his crew to get the vanes ready before the lightning strikes. As he rides the winds into the heart of the electrical activity, a lookout spies someone approaching — a hawkwoman, braving the tempest to reach his ship. He calls for his men to prepare for a visitor, but continues the process of catching the lightning to feed his tree. His raven-colored visitor watches the bolts strike. Once the tree is fed, she announces her purpose, and asks the captain to set course for Diamond — Captain Doel has been chosen by the Tablets of Courage.

Elsewhere, Dr. Alec Lupine runs for his life, ahead of an isolationist tribe of angry Hanumen. He manages to reach the velox-pulled cart and his hired guide, and the velox races away from the furious tribesmen at top speed. Lupine recounts that the tribe got very upset when he took their sacred plant, only to find out that the explanation he’d given them apparently translated as something pants-related.

They reach town before long, and Lupine returns to the room he’s rented and filled with all manner of plants. There he finds another hawkwoman waiting for him. She explains that he has been chosen to wear the white star. Listening to something unseen, she says that their ride to Diamond is arriving. She opens the window, and Captain Doel’s arboreal sky ship can be seen descending. Dr. Lupine is fascinated at once, and excitedly accepts. Doel and the hawkwoman Gin descend to meet Lupine and Gin’s sister Nin. The crew begins bringing Lupine’s things aboard as the twins explain there’s one more person to collect.

On the Thunder Plains, Gemma Fleetwind races ahead of a storm and the knave directing it, Shango the Stormbinder. When the arboreal skyship of Captain Doel descends along the path, she puts on a burst of speed and accelerates well ahead of the distracted Shango. The storm wizard directs a thunderbolt at the ship, only to see it absorbed — and decides discretion is the better part of valor. As he retreats, Gemma races back from the town, her message delivered. She doesn’t wait for the lift, leaping from root to root until she stands on the ship’s deck. Gin and Nin make introductions, and extend the call to her as well.

On the trip to Diamond, the hawkwoman twins explain more. Three Tiger Generals recently fell all at once, giving their lives to defeat a colossal wind-Terror from Erebus. Now their stars seek new bearers. The conversation spills over to the flying tavern The Fifth Wind during a quick break for resupplies and drinks.

While at the Fifth Wind, though, the conversation is interrupted by a trio of bounty hunters. Kaska Thornlasher, Vald Blazewing and Tibo the Drunkard call out Captain Doel, aiming for the price on his head placed by Lord Accumulo. The hawkman accepts their challenge, and Dr. Lupine and Gemma Fleetwind stand alongside him. The skirmish is embarrassingly brief: Blazewing falls to Fleetwind’s unblockable flurry, Tibo is overborne by the sudden massive form of Dr. Lupine’s werewolf form, and Kaska eats a quick thunderbolt from Doel. The Strato-Warden offers them a chance to retreat, and she accepts.

They reach Diamond, and are guided to the Tiger Palace. There they are greeted by Sirius Invictus of the Magnificent Twelve, the lamia Seraphina who acts as adjutant to the Diamond Throne, and the seneschal Minister Jagatai. The newcomers go below to the cavern where the Tablets of Courage await, with Bouda Khan, Mamont Trigontherii and Shieldmaiden as witnesses to their oaths. Each one touches the Tablets without hesitation, and receives the white star — hovering between Doel’s wings, upon Lupine’s breast, and between Fleetwind’s horns. The initiation complete, the ranks of Chalcedon’s 108 are complete once more.

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