Nico listened in on the calliope's communication with Three Gears, and identified it as a very fast version of Morse code. Since he was fluid in morse code, he was able to follow some of it even though it was going far too fast for him to try to speak. Three Gears was trying to convince Calliope to come back to Enca, and Calliope was convinced that it was already serving Enca, in the person of its leader, who had a piece of Enca embedded in him.
Oh, and the calliope was trying to earn money to pay back the people of Dagerrio for the stuff the grid had stolen. It wasn't doing a very good job -- they'd stolen a LOT of stuff and being a calliope wasn't *that* profitable.
At any rate, it was happy to give the party and Three Gears directions to find its leader. Nico made some teleport amulets, and Cane made some feriphal potions, and off they went, taking Billy (the mechanic) and Fernao (the fireball-happy mage) along with them. Three Gears also wanted to go, but they didn't really want him to. "Well, it's better that they go back to serving the Empire than that they continue to devour the city and kill everyone, but we really want a first shot at this, because them serving the Empire is bad." Unfortunately, Three Gears insisted that 'this was his job' and ran off ahead. Despite Nico's attempts to misshape his metal.
But they followed, through a maze of twisty little passages, all alike, with a sanctuary spell to keep them from being attacked (although Calliope insisted that the Grid would never attack people). They passed through several construction sites where the Grid were building warships, and finally came to the leader's chamber, where a massive hedgehog of vanes and guns was having the finishing touches put on it.
Three Gears was trying to argue the Grid into rejoining Enca (as Calliope had agreed to) but not having much luck -- the Grid here were using gang-warfare argument tactics to avoid being convinced, rotating out so that fresh Grid could use the same old arguments and stuff. Eventually, the leader came out to meet the party, and they had a little chat.
The leader was a prophet of 'Enca' -- a piece of a changestorm spike-sphere was impaled through him, and telling him what to do. Apparently, the Grid *needed* to keep stealing materials because they needed to build a fleet of ships to fly into the Sun (that is, the world surrounded by perpetual storms). Cane suggested that they trade for the materials, and pay for the materials they'd already taken without asking, by building construction robots to do the bidding of the city Drakivolki -- paying with their quite impressive labor. The Grid leader insisted that there were no people there.
"Are we people?" Nico asked.
"Barely," replied the leader.
It soon came out that the Grid were defining people based on the physical descriptions of the types of people that they were likely to meet -- allies and enemies of Paladine. Drakivolki, in particular, were not in the list. Cane gave them a lantern of radiant auras, which made peoples' aura's visible (even dead people, it was their way of seeing ghosts) and suggested they use that to identify people, in the future. Assuming they could replicate it.
And they sent Calliope (re-disconnected thanks to the party's convincing the Grid leader that drakivolki were people too, since that was the error that had convinced him his prophet was false) back with the party to talk to the drakivolki and negotiate fair payment for the materials the Grid needed. Three Gears, meanwhile, retreated back to the Brushfire in a sulk, since he'd been unable to fulfill his purpose by reconnecting the disconnected Grid. "I must improve myself!"
Unfortunately, the tunnel that Calliope chose led them directly into the main Drakivolki treasury, where they were all immediately arrested. Except for Takara, who'd been a cat the whole time, and Calliope, who was shot.
Fortunately, they locked the pieces of Calliope in prison with the party, and between Billy and Nico they managed to repair it before they were brought before the guildmaster for a trial, since Cane had insisted that they were acting on the Guildmaster's orders. The charges against them were, chiefly, 'digging', which carried a death penalty.
At the trial, Cane used his 'ointment of burning lies' on himself to prove that he was who he said he was (since he was locked in feriphal form still) and presented Calliope to start negotiations. The guildmaster did, indeed, see the potential for profit in getting Grid labor, and the charges against the party were dropped. The city also bought a bunch of their silk, although not at a really good rate.
Cane: "Let's get the hell out of here."
Nico: "Yeah, I think our work here is done."
Cane: "Also, I took a sample of the dirt from the Grid tunnels, so technically I *was* guilty of 'digging'."
A few days after the party left, the city of Dagerro disintegrated into a swarm of Grid ships, which headed for the Sun... but the pieces left behind were *also* ships, made with Grid labor out of the materials the Grid hadn't wanted, crewed by the people of the city, headed for Jaxom.
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