Song of the Earth

Countdown to Primetime

Sunday, December 20, 1992
11:00 AM

It’s pretty late on Sunday by the time America has gotten up and done her routine, sleeping in as only teenagers can. Davey has actually beaten her up for once, atypical as he is the more slothful of the pair. He’s dressed in fuzzy chick pajamas and is looking intently at some Ether-sensing equipment, back ramrod straight.

The sound of her arrival actually disturbs him. He turns around, his expression unchanging. It’s not grave. Focused, maybe. Working out the implications. “America. Come take a look at this.” He slides his chair away so she can look at the readings on the tabletop.

The young woman rubs the sleep from her eyes and gives a nod and a yawn in reply, stretching as she sidles up to Davey. “What’s up, D?” she asks with a sleepy curiosity.

America leans against the workbench, elbows helping keep her perched there as she browses the readings before her. She has to brush the mess of dark that is her hair away a few times as it interrupts the view.

“There’s going to be a Juncture tomorrow,” It’s hard for him to keep the excitement out of his voice. Forewarned, it’s easy for America to see what it is he’s showing her, though she’s used the same sort of equipment herself the past few days—Friday night included—and missed more subtle signs.

“You know what that is, right? A Juncture is a time when Quintessence is freely available, just like a Node is a place where you can grab it.” If they were using their equipment to detect a Node, they’d pick up increasing markers that Ether was freely flowing. This is much the same, but it’s like they’re approaching a time when it will be available. Tomorrow morning, less than 24 hours from now. If America had to make a rough estimate she’d say 9 or 10 in the morning, though she hasn’t been tracking the rate of increase long.

Quintessence, of course, is used to power science and even standing equipment like the flashlight they just made. It’s not something they get to use often, since the Avengers are weak enough they don’t control access to any replenishable source of Quintessence and have to treat whatever they have as finite.

America hadn’t heard of a Juncture before. Having only Awakened recently, and having done so as an Orphan until even more recently, the young woman has no prior experience with the concept.

She hums acknowledgement and nods along with what her counterpart is saying. She’s learned so much from Davey and feels comfortable expressing ignorance around him. Unlike Will, Davey has never made America feel stupid for asking a question. “Is there a limit to how much Quintessence is available? Is this going to be like Black Friday for mages?”

“Well it’s time-limited,” Davey answers immediately. “There’s only so much available at any given moment.” He gives her a blinking stare at her Black Friday reference as he tries to figure out how to apply that to a Juncture—maybe it’s because he’s Canadian. “And there’s only so much that any of us can hold onto.”

The young woman chuckles at Davey’s reaction to Black Friday. “So we need to get as much as we can while the getting is good,” she paraphrases.

The Daughter of Ether taps fingers to her chin thoughtfully and looks around the work bench. “So we want to fill our shopping cart,” she says to continue a terrible analogy. “But you know when people really want to shop, and they know the deals are coming, they make sure they are ready with several carts. Maybe even a truck!” she laughs and hops up on an empty work bench, spinning around to face Davey once more.

“Pretty much,” Davey agrees. As America continues the shopping metaphor, understanding dawns on his face. “Oh yeah. Pretty much exactly like Black Friday. A Node is a place Mages and Technocrats and I guess werewolves fight over to control. A Juncture is more like,” He waves one hand, "Ether radiating everywhere, but if I’m standing next to you and I collect it, it might prevent you from doing it until my “arms” fill up," He makes quotey-fingers there, “Or until you get further away.” Now that he’s thinking about it, the Black Friday reference does make some sense here. “And I doubt this will last much past noon, 1 o’clock maybe where we are.”

“So game plan,” America sets in after receiving confirmation of her analogy. “I’m assuming we want as much as we can get. I can think of a great many people we don’t want getting their share. Like a ball, we should play keep away.”

“I don’t know how possible that will really be,” Davey replies after a moment. “This isn’t my first Juncture, but I was a lot newer the first time. I had less of an idea of what was going on. There was no plan. Not at first.” He leans back in his chair, thinking of how to explain this.

“We—the Sons of Ether—shared the Council of Nine for a time with the Ahl-i-Batin. Before the Virtual Adepts held that Seat. They use a water analogy. If we’re in a desert, then Ether is water, and a Node is an oasis in that desert. Well, a Juncture is a rainy day—might only happen once every few years or less. So you can’t really keep someone away from the rain. It works a little bit differently than an oasis.”

“I guess you can still open your mouth, but if I’m collecting all the rainwater in an area, you’re not going to get much more than a few drops. But you can still leave. Go somewhere else. Because it’s raining everywhere. All over the continent, maybe. The analogy isn’t totally perfect I guess, because from the sound of some Junctures there might only be a little bit of Quintessence raining down here, and then I want to move on down the block and take some, but the one I was in there was plenty available in one place. But they’re not all of the same power and importance either.”

“I guess the obvious point is that we’re going to be more powerful but so is everyone else.”

America listens and nods along. “Alright. Then let’s build some buckets and put them around town,” she suggests. “The widest net catches the most fish, right?”

The young woman spins around in the work bench and sets to the sketch pad before her. “The juncture’s an Etheric swell basically, right?” she asks without looking away from her pad. She scribbles drawings of what appear to be metal flowers. A smile spreads across her lips as she recalls the metal flower she presented to Eleanor. That was their first date.

The petals act in the same way solar panels, with a lotus pattern and a slight upturn leading the Ether they absorb down towards the middle where a containment unit might exist like a corolla.

She turns in her stool and taps her pencil at the sketch, gesturing for the other Technomancer to check it out. “Right track?” she asks.

Davey looks impressed. “Damn, you’re smart. We don’t have a lot of time though.” Just under 24 hours.

Her design makes sense, and it’s just within her capabilities. America can’t—at this juncture—directly transfer Quintessence from Pattern to Pattern. If the Quintessence were being stored somewhere, like in a Node, only Davey could get it out. Davey could even take it from another Mage. But in an event like tomorrow, where it’s just flowing free, America can snatch it up, and she knows how to store it—not just within herself either.

“Right track. I guess we better get to work.” Davey says. It’s not like anyone else in the cabal can help them with this.



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