The three mages exit the repository and begin heading to Wates’ office.
Marcus, however, sees a rainbow flash and departs from his compatriots. Li calls to him, but Charles reminds Li that they’ve got big problems that require immediate addressing.
Loballo is addressing… he reaches into his filthy robes and removes a one-of-a-kind, ancient family Talisman.
Loballo holds the Glass Ant Mask in front of himself and after a few seconds shatters the Talisman across his face.
A rumbling in the Penumbra is felt as golden energies slice through the air.
Immediately, a sea of army ants begins to emerge.
An oceans – 500 million ants, 150,000 kilograms of swarming army ants (literally 165 tons of famished ants) pour out onto the repository’s floor, quickly consuming the fallen Marauders.
When Li and Charles return with Wates, they’re stunned that no bodies remain – only the monstrous Loballo who appears satisfied.
Charles shows the mechanical animal remains to Wates. Wates looks the remains over and is sure that both devices came from someone in the Technocracy.
By this point Charles says, “the fuck with it,” and asks Wates for some of-a-lot of his rum, while Li departs for his node. Loballo find a secluded park on campus and begins to mediate.
After a few drinking contests with Wates and an assurance from the professor that he’d take care of the repository problem Charles drunkenly searches for the SUV that Marcus took.
Finally, he just stumbles to Stacey’s house and climbs through her window to pass out on her floor and sleep off the booze.
Charles wakes up drunk – Wates put him three floors below the table.
He calls Li and tells him that he has no idea where Loballo is, Li concedes that he doesn’t either.
They both figure he must still be at Xavier University so they agree to meet up.
As Charles walks through the French Quarter towards Xavier University he sees that Arte Indie has been burnt to the ground – thoroughly burnt to the ground, there’s no frame just black debris and police tape.
He asks a cop what happened and is told to, “Get lost.”
Meanwhile, Loballo is attempting to connect with his Avatar.
The tree he’s under dissolves and he’s left floating above a pool of blood. A writhing mass of animal parts and carcasses, begin to ascend from the pool’s depths.
Each part that breaks the surface forms into a different animals, which itself breaks apart – knitting and forming into the various building that permeate New York City, until the cityscape is completed in perfect detail.
Loballo floats in the city until his field of vision soars like a bullet to a very tall black building in the Finical District.
His meditating / floating form ascends the building’s height and nearly reaches the top floor, but he stops… looking through a clean window over the shoulder of a total VIP of a man.
The man is flanked by assistants and his desk’s expensive name display reads Gregory Quincy.
There’s a picture of Charles’ face on Gregory’s computer as well as a “Top Secret” Classified file with Charles’ photo paperclipped to its contents.
Gregory turns off his computer’s monitor and closes the file, pulling open a drawer near his desk and filing the papers away in their proper place.
Loballo witnesses all of this and then begins to feel another presence growing more aware of him.
He leaves the vision his Avatar created and comes back to himself.
He then enhances his senses of smell, so he can sniff out Charles and Li.
A hungover (but now sober) Charles meets Li coincidentally right in front of the correct park, as Loballo emerges smelling the other two mages.
All three make their way to Wates office to confirm that the Marianna Repository is “under control.”
Wates invites them in and gives Charles some “Hair of the dog,” as a cure for the bags under his eyes and the dozen adding machines in his head.
As the four men make their way to the hidden library Loballo reveals that he knows a powerful Technocrat named Gregory Quincy is after Charles.
Wates fires Charles.
Then he rehires him as his # 3 TA.
As the group arrives at the repository’s location, Wates opens the hatch leading down into the library, but all that is revealed is solid concrete and a Correspondence sigil.
Charles, Li, and Loballo are impressed.
They then vow that they’ll handle the remains of the French Quarter’s Marauder cell.
The mages make their way to Audubon Zoo to see if they can catch any leads.
As the taxi drops them off, they notice the tree the Marauders were gathering under is missing.
Charles rewinds time, again, and witnesses Stephen step out of the Penumbra with the remaining twin as they proceed to use Spirit magic to move the Palm tree into the Penumbra.
Charles coughs up some more condensation and tell Li and Loballo what happened.
Loballo figures he can track that type of magic, so he uses Spirit sight to see if he can follow Stephen’s trail.
He sees a slim golden thread, almost like glowing yarn, where the tree once stood – it shows the way.
The mages arrive at a cemetery and follow the Spirit trail to a mausoleum.
Charles draws his gun, Li charges his staff, and Loballo’s hands rend and splinter off – bursting like blood sacks as large eagle talons grow out of his wrists.
Loballo kicks open the wooden door and the mages are confronted by four very confused and shocked thugs.
Loballo tackles the nearest thug, Mark.
Charles shoots and kills Will – the bullet going right through his forehead.
Peter cries, “WILL!! NOOO!!!” and empties his clip at Charles, the door frame Charles took cover behind is torn apart and explodes.
Li rushes in and strikes the fourth thug Charlie, who drops his gun in response.
Mark tries to shoot the monstrous man who apparently has knives for hands, but to no avail – Loballo carves him up and Mark comes close to death.
Charles shoots Peter through the shoulder and Peter loses consciousness.
Charlie pulls out a switchblade and flails it at Li, who just steps back and knocks Charlie in the head.
As Mark is just about to die, Loballo heals him, feeling the sting of Paradox as he does so.
Mark nearly loses his mind as his leg knits together and he runs past Loballo.
He stumbles and falls on his ass next to Charles, and then gets up and sprints as fast as he can away from the mausoleum – babbling something about magic legs and knife hands as he runs.
Charles notices a trail of dirt – like the kind that flakes off from an exposed root system – on the mausoleum’s floor leading to a exit.
The mages recollect themselves, open the peculiar door, and begin to descend.
Five stories the stairs lead down, until a softly lit archway is revealed.
The party looks in and sees Stephen and the other twin engaged in an extended ritual, using the palm tree as a unique focus.
Charles tightens his hold on his newly acquired assault rifle, ducks in, levels it, and empties the clip into Stephen.
Stephen is killed immediately.
The only remaining marauder disconnects himself from the ritual and runs to the back wall – Li strikes him as he runs.
The young man is hurt, but still makes it to the back wall where a black porthole is displayed – it looks like someone painted a black dot onto the wall – a Correspondence sigil rests in the center and four Marauder symbols surround it.
The last Marauder touches the porthole and the Correspondence sigil vanishes, followed by the Marauder symbols.
Loballo rushes in and stabs the man through his back, the last Marauder dies.
Then, there is a rumbling…
The porthole is not painted – it’s actually a hole leading into nothingness.
There’s a loud crash on the other side of the basement’s wall as something attempts to come through.
It does not succeed, but Stephen’s shot up body revives itself and his mutilated frame bolts upright, floating… almost hanging off the ground.
Charles, angry that the man might still be alive shoots him again – but he continues to hang in midair.
Li rounds himself… and as fangs begin to grow out of Stephen’s face his plants his staff firmly in the man’s temple, disconnecting Stephen’s head from his shoulders.
The mutilated frame of Stephen bursts into flames, pseudo-transforms, and writhes as the porthole on the back wall vanishes and the palm tree begins to disintegrate.
Charles, Li, and Loballo hustle out of the mausoleum, not wanting to linger.
The Party hails a cab and makes its way to Larry Flynt’s Barley Legal Club, to check up on Gaberiel.
The mages arrive on the scene late, but the Barley Legal Club has seen better nights. The windows have been blown out, the walls are bullet ridden, and the door frame has been burnt to a crisp.
Still, Gaberiel Roget is simply sitting outside the doorway, a pillow behind his back, smoking a cigarette, drinking some wine, talking to the former owner, and enjoying the company of three lovely ladies.
Before the mages can ask what happened a very expensive stretch limo pulls up alongside the pummeled club and one of its doors opens…