The touchpad still works fine, though.
Cutting the tow cable didn't stop the vines growing up towards the ship, but it freed the ship to flit away from the growing vine. Next, the brain flung a bunch of pus-filled wyverns at them. They took out the first with bullets and cannon, and an ice-shield put up by Nico to stop the splattering pus, since while they were moving around at top speed the incense couldn't protect the deck. By the time they'd done that, though, there were three more wyverns in the sky. That number kept building, until there were about four *hundred*.
Also, the island grew wings, like the flippers of a turtle, and started chasing them around. The ship was still faster, but the island-turtle controlled gravity, which made the flying very disorienting... and the brain had started to launch things other than wyverns, so trying to kite it wouldn't work forever.
The sheer mass of resources controlled by the zombie-brain was daunting, but they knew roughly where it was. Cane souped up a barrel of gunpowder by adding some water to it to amplify its effects (to the horror of the chemists on board), turning it into a bomb, and Nico and Fernau made the party and one of the small ships invisible, so that they could sneak in and plant the bomb without being seen, while a volunteer from the crew who *claimed* to be able to fly the ship kept it from getting caught and eaten by the island-turtle, which was looking more and more turtle-like all the time, and now had a mouth.
Getting to the brain involved going in the nose, instead. The nostrils were huge, at first, but eventually narrowed, until (after spooking a swarm of swimmies who for some reason had chosen the nostril as a playground) they were forced to land in a field of mushrooms (which sprouted legs and shuffled out of the way) and carry on on foot. Eventually they got to the cranial chamber, where the strange brain controlling the zombies proclaimed to them that they were too late -- it had already achieved its objectives, and the fact that its minions couldn't sense them was irrelevant. It didn't have any defenses immediately available inside its skull that could survive Kyngeah's purifying light, however, so they lit the bomb, sealed the chamber behind them with a wall of ice, and fought their way through the field of mushrooms (which had grown teeth! but were still very weak) to their ship.
Then they ran into a swimmy on the way out, which wrapped around most of the crew of the small vessel, and shocked the non-feriphals (Takara and Kyngeah) into unconsciousness before passing out itself from the collision. That meant Cane had to take over flying, and since there was also some damage to one of the vanes from the mushrooms' chewing, he barely made it out the nostril ahead of the wall of flame. So the smoking, wobbly shuttlecraft limped back to the Brushfire, which looked like a hedgehog -- the backup pilot hadn't had as much luck and/or skill dodging as Kyngeah had.
But the crew seemed to have the situation under control -- these attackers weren't pus wyverns, just animated splinters of wood flung like javelins, which turned into weak melee combatants on board -- so Cane tried to land on the deck (no one was paying attention to open the cargo bay) to get Kyngeah and Takara to safety.
Any landing you can walk away from, right?
Luckily, Kyngeah and Takara recovered from the electric shock and were able to help in the fight. Takara used a random magic arrow that made one of the splinters stronger but insane (the same kind of arrow that had made the zombie immune to anti-infection magic earlier, apparently it was a strengthen+insanity arrow) and another that let her tap into the zombie communication network, which was in chaos -- the overmind had died in the explosion after all, and now they all wanted to fight each other for control of the island-turtle.
Cane and Nico cleaned up the splinters on deck, and then the Brushfire stood back and watched as the zombie jungle ate itself. When it was mostly gone, they scried around for the survivors and rescued them, as well as another forty or so who hadn't had magic mirrors. They also fireballed the last surviving patches of zombie jungle from a distance, and looted the island of everything valuable (mostly, handheld mana-lasers and priceless artifacts) since a tarot reading revealed that it would be a bad idea for the survivors to try to re-establish a village on Izzet (as the now-turtle-shaped island was called) in the middle of the war.
Then they headed on towards Jaxom (which was the third city in their assigned route after all, with the *fourth* being Teferi). Cane taught the myriander kids they'd rescued how to shoot the mana-lasers they'd gotten from the island, since the world was an unsafe place. The kids thought it was a lot of fun, and (being shapeshifting myriander) couldn't be effectively prevented from getting their hands on the lasers outside of class time. They mostly fired at passing clouds, at least.
When they got to Jaxom, they saw that they were just in time! Four fleets were approaching the floating free city: one of drakivolki ships 'assisted' by grid, from Paladine, one of giant floating porcelain heads from Amalthea (according to Locust), and then two strange new fleets, one made of stone and one looking sort of like standard elven ships but subtly different and painted in the sort of bright colors (red and gold) elves would never use. The stone ships were escorted by flying carpets, though, and as the red and gold fleet approached the drakivolki the genies launched from it to start attacking, so it looked like those two were on Jaxom's side, at least.
Takara, having much sharper senses, was able to spot a few other players -- several lords of Amalthea inside an approaching storm, a fleet from Ree in the distance that was going to be late to the party, and a changestorm seed, sneaking up on the fleet of stone ships from Dagerro.
They knew that they could take a changestorm seed, since they'd done it before, so the Brushfire moved to intercept it. Before they could get the cannons loaded, the kids were all up on deck with hand lasers, shooting en-masse at the seen in the distance. The seed fired back, turning a few of the kids into strange things, but Cane told them not to worry -- the transformations were temporary, and would reverse once the seed was destroyed.
Which was true. But when the kids destroyed it, the *other* thing that happened when a changestorm was destroyed happened, which the party had never observed quite as clearly -- it shot out a supernova death blossom of beams causing permanent transformations to everything in the area. The Dagerro and Midas fleets were hit pretty badly, along with the porcelain faces and the storm-lords of Amalthea... the Paladine fleet and Jaxom were only lightly brushed. The distant Ree fleet and the Brushfire itself were completely missed.
So, their work done for the moment, they resumed course for Jaxom, docked at the cheapest dock that wasn't an obvious trap ("We'll keep your ship safe for you! In this steel box!"), and started negotiating a trade -- priceless artifacts for repairs and upgrades. They didn't really get a very good deal, but it was enough to fully repair the ship (for the first time EVER) and add a couple new vanes, six magic cannon, and some iron cladding to protect against fire and cannons.
Some of the people on Jaxom who'd been hit by the changestorm arrived to try to kidnap the kids who'd shot at it (or at least the ones who'd hit it) to be sold into slavery to pay for the damages, but Cane told them to go fuck themselves, that the damage could have been worse if they hadn't destroyed it, and that this wasn't the time. "We'll be back!" Locust noted that Jaxom really had no way to enforce its not-really-laws-anyway because of the bit where the whole mercenary fleet had been hired away by Paladine, and was now on its way back to conquer them. They had weapons, but no one left who really knew how to fight, because no drakivolki could resist the kind of money Paladine had offered.
So, while the ship was being repaired and upgraded, Nico flew to meet with the heads of the richest families of Jaxom to deliver the warning. "They can destroy Jaxom, but they could never conquer is!" they proclaimed proudly. However, destroying Jaxom would work just fine for the empire's purpose (namely, keeping control of the mercs permanently without having to bid on them at auction).
So they decided to move the city. They had a lot of vanes on hand, and bought up all the Brushfire's remaining silk (at a crappy price, similar to the 'deal' they'd gotten on Dagerro) to make more vanes. They probably wouldn't be able to outrun the incoming fleets, but it would make it harder on them!
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