First Intermission 7
Turns since TBfGK: 1
What looked like shrieking rockets lifted off from the outer walls from every direction, spaced at even intervals around the city. Twenty-eight archons soared up into the airspace in graceful, synchronized arcs, trailing red and white sparks from their feet and shooting simultaneous bursts of yellow and pink from their fingers as they rose.
Following the shouts of a drill leader, they came together in a perfect double circle formation at an apex high above the center of the city. Twenty of them held hands in an outer ring, facing outward, and eight locked elbows in the center, facing in. Those in the outer ring began kicking their feet and yelling, "OHHHHHHHHH!" in a rising tone. Each kick sent a red or white streak whistling loudly across the sky and falling away with a smoke trail, as if tracing the roof of a huge dome over the mountain. From the inner circle, blue streaks began flying straight up, almost twice as high above the ground as the archons floated. These detonated in sun-bright yellow flashes, followed a second later with sharp, booming reports that the watchers below could feel in their feet and chest.
The show continued, and even though it was daytime, it was dazzling. Stanley, however, missed much of it. He was having to kick and beat his panicked dwagon. All the dwagons in the stack were having trouble with the display up above. The ones with riders were bucking, and the rest were rearing up and/or roaring at the sky. As his armored red tried to rear again, Stanley considered hitting it on the head with the hammer, which always pacified any dwagon but would knock the thing out for the rest of the turn.
Then he saw Wanda just standing there, watching him serenely. For some reason, he found it infuriating.
So he let the rearing dwagon lift off and take to the sky with a roar, the way a walking man who tripped might play it off by starting to run. The rest of the stack took off and followed him almost straight up, heading right toward the formation of archons.
The archons were now in two interwoven rings of fourteen, one moving clockwise and the other counter, like an airborne maypole dance. The dancers shot booming volleys of white and electric blue sparks up and over the heads of the dancers on the opposite side, so that the whole thing looked like something between a pinwheel and a fountain. They were all facing inward and leaning back, so that none of them could see the approaching dwagons.
Or, of course, hear them.
It was Jack who prevented an ugly collision, though this was not clear to many at the time. Above the fountain of sparks there appeared a huge, glowing apparition of Stanley the Tool's face, surrounded by bright rays of red and gold, just as he appeared on his new emblem. But these rays were like arrows pulsing outward, outward...go that way, scatter!
Whether the archons took the direction literally or not, they knew the big giant head projection was beyond any of their natural Foolamancy abilities, and it certainly had not been part of the rehearsal. They glanced around, spotted the dwagons in time, and scrambled quickly out of their way as the stack plowed through the spot where the circular dance had been.
As Stanley and his dwagons pulled up in front of his gigantic face in the sky, the drill leader had the sense to shout, "Finale! Form up!"
The archons delivered their grand finale. Jack sat atop his purple dwagon, and filled the city with stirring martial fife-and-drum music to accompany the dazzling, booming light show below. Stanley, for his part, picked a nice dramatic moment to stand up in the saddle, hold his hammer aloft, and shoot a sphere of lightning strands into the sky.
From the ground, this looked exactly like he had blown up his own head. Nobody ever told him that.