After re-entering the city and getting rid of the squirrels, the party headed down to the miner-cat tunnels to try to locate the invaders. The old base they knew about was abandoned, but they found tracks that led to... a miner-cat checkpoint. After identifying themselves and waiting a while -- and some pounding and yelling and threatening by the horses -- they were let through, and met the dragon.
With the dragon -- and later with the other invaders, after agreeing to help -- they plotted the assassination of the Lord of the city. The invaders were sneaking in more supplies through the aperture with scuttlecraft, and they were going to throw everything they had at the Lord because they only had a few more days before the skyplant hid Pan away for another 20 years, leaving it easy prey for the Destroyer, who would destroy the moon and take its power unless it was brought into the Federation, which presumably could protect it.
"We didn't manage to pry it open with the null-magic nodes, and the backup plan was to destroy the world before the destroyer could get to it, but that failed. Twice. All that's left is for someone to claim the Lord of the City's title and with it control of the skyplant. And it has to be a satyr."
Carnelian convinced them to try stealth instead -- they'd drop the antimagic crystal shards from the crashed ship onto the tower, then follow it down, and do an area-dispel powerup combo on the tower if they ran into a magical barrier they couldn't penetrate. That would be the signal for the rest of the scuttlecraft to attack with the various lasers and cannon and other weapons they'd smuggled down through the aperture.
So the lone scuttlecraft with the party (newly rearmed with TL7 submachine guns and high-tech 'very fine' melee weapons that also had an electric mod using feriphal spines) glided imperceptibly towards the tower. Except that as they got close, the giant spider that was still guarding it (most of the smaller spiders were out dealing with the wreckage of the fleet, or spinning webs to try to close off the hole) did something weird -- it brought its leg up to the balcony, where one of the soldiers spotted a mage casting some sort of spell on it. With mage sight, Serene managed to spot the spellcasting, and thought that it was some variant of see invisible, probably designed to see through their perception field, since the mage was looking right at them.
Well, until he got shot. Twice. That did interrupt his spell, so instead the spider screeched a deafening screech and flailed blindly at the source of the lasers, and... critically hit the scuttlecraft, slamming it to the ground. This heavily damaged it but didn't take it out, and after putting in improvised ear plugs using wadding from the TL4 guns they'd been using before to protect against the screeches, they managed to sneak up to the top of the tower and... discover that most of their antimagic crystals were gone, lost in the crash.
They dumped what they had, though, then rappelled down to the balcony -- the mage's body was gone, perhaps taken to be healed -- and activated their portable perception field to sneak past the guards. This worked on most of them, and Serene did a good job dazing the ones that saw through it, until they emerged in a laboratory where the mages inside saw their door guard getting dazed and reacted by unleashing their golems and familiars on the party.
The familiars took the form of giant acid-spitting insects with acid blood, splattering acid all over everything, especially Gamble. They could also blink out of existence, and then back in at some other location when they needed to. The golems shot lasers out of their eyes at random targets, and slowly walked forwards, grabbing and squeezing everything in their way -- they actually did more damage to the enemies than to the party. Carnelian's submachine gun downed one of the mages (who looked like he was healing the one who'd been trying to cast on the giant spider) and then shot but didn't take down the other. Gamble ran across the room and stabbed him in the kidney, and the mage tried to surrender.
Gamble cut off his leg. His familiar broke off the attack and pleaded for mercy. Gamble killed it. Then killed the stunned familiar, and made sure the two unconscious mages were also dead. Meanwhile, Carnelian and the soldiers finished off the golems and the pathetically untrained guards who'd come un-dazed eventually.
Once everyone was dead, Serene used her alchemy skill to make a massive critical failure of a laboratory-destroying explosion, and they moved on.
The central chamber of that level of the tower had a spiral staircase... surrounded by a dozen invisible golems, forming a wall with only very small gaps. The golems didn't attack right away, so they decided to try to sneak past. Gamble was sent through first, and... failed, knocking one of the golems over accidentally. It still didn't activate. As far as they could tell, the lord's enchanter-mages (who they'd just killed) had never gotten around to re-enchanting these golems, and they were just naturally invisible somehow.
The staircase was trapped, but after Gamble nearly got spiked, Carnelian found the pattern and led them past. They went up and up and ended up in a wooden-walled trophy room with no exits, just the heads of everyone who'd previously challenged the lord of the city. Including their friend the owl from the library, whose name they'd never gotten. He wasn't... all there. His head was animated, and seemed to have something of his memory and personality, but not much. Most of the heads were, of course, disenchanted.
They couldn't find the secret door out of the room, but the soldiers each had a satchel charge with them, so they set some explosives and blew a hole in the ceiling. The giant floating head appeared and told them that they were all going to die, yada yada. Carnelian grabbed a grenade from one of the soldiers and tossed it up through the hole in the ceiling, which made the head abruptly disappear as it detonated.
"Did we win?" asked one of the soldiers, just before being impaled by the leg of the giant spider, stabbing in through the wall of the tower. As he wriggled like a bug on a pin, they shot and stabbed at the leg, but it was basically invulnerable to their attacks. So the four survivors headed upstairs before the spider could stab again, and found... a room full of recently broken magical mirrors, with a pile of glass shards and metal in the middle. There was no sign of blood, or of any body.
Then the remaining soldier poked at the pile of glass and metal, and it fell over, allowing the lord to timeslip back into reality, unharmed and kind of pissed that they'd destroyed his favorite Telecaster.
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