Though the citizens of Hallifax were perplexed at the dragons’ method of communication – a giant stone obelisk dropped just a few metres from the Matrix – they nonetheless resolved to be cautious but polite in their dealings with them.
Sadly, cautiousness and politeness is only so effective in the face of a powerful being who appears to be utterly insane. Appearing in dracnari form as her sister emissary had done in Gaudiguch, the dragon – later described as akin to a teenager or unruly child – struggled to form complete sentences amidst clawing her own colourless scales. She, too, spoke of being hungry, and of wishing to eat the city’s thoughts and access their ‘map of Time’, though she never fully explained what it was she desired.
Her madness ultimately brought her to incoherence and agitation that could not be subdued, despite the valiant attempts of the citizens gathered there. Raising one clawed hand, the dragon summoned a meteor from a rift in the skies, stepping off the city platform as the meteor collided with the base of the Matrix Research Institute.
What followed was chaos. Fire rushed through the ruined tower, and the six Senior Researchers had suffered all manner of wounds – some grave. For one Senior Researcher the wounds proved fatal, a vicious lesson in triage and crisis response for the citizens who were there. Although many of them possessed the ability to heal others, they were too late to reach Etoathe Oolin, who perished beneath the wreckage of his laboratory.
The remaining five, along with the two scientists who worked in the inner Institute rooms above, were evacuated to safety and treated by both the citizens and the Doctor who had been summoned from the University of Cosmic Understanding. Fires extinguished, the survivors – shocked and in deep grief for the loss of their colleague – were taken to the Grand Aerie’s gardens for rest. In the meantime, reconstruction work began.
When all had recovered in the following month, a funeral was held for the Senior Researcher, attended by all of his colleagues, his mother and brother, his second cousin and many of those citizens who had tried so desperately to save him. His body was disintegrated by his mother’s own hand, and cast to the winds by High Supreme Justice Lilliana Sunfar.
That, with the reconstruction work finished, should have been the end. It was not.
As the Senior Researchers were led back into their tower, it was discovered that something was affecting one of the Institute’s most prized temporal machines. The machine was spewing equations that did not make sense. At length the citizens located a window left ajar, marked by claw scratches – and a chair that, when moved aside, revealed a strange device that combined Aeonics, Harmonics and the song of the Loralaria.
Thanks to their communal knowledge of mathematics, musical theory and more than a little bit of stubborn perseverence, the citizens were able to depower the device and prevent it from causing any further harm. But data from the target machine suggested that, even as they had worked to depower it, the machine had unknowingly attempted to transmit the findings the device had demanded. Whether the transmission was successful or not remains unconfirmed.
Theories abounded as to what this transmission might have been – but without confirmation, the city could do nothing but turn to addressing the replacement of Etoathe Oolin, may he rest in fair winds and clear skies.