Remember the Weatherlight, Part V(a): Imperfect Parts



Quote from Gerrard Capashen »
This is where we belong. There is no vessel I’d rather sail, and no crew I’d rather command. There is no enemy I’d rather fight, and no world I’d rather defend. We
took the fight to our enemy’s command post, and then his stockpiled fleet. Now it seems he is returning the favor…

Phyrexia comes to our world in force. Their goal is no less than the destruction of all nations and the extinction of all species.

The invasion has begun!


Remember the Weatherlight, Part 5: Imperfect Parts
or Yawgmoth Ate My Bandwidth
Note: this article has a LOT of pictures. It may take a long time to load. Maybe go get a snack.

Click Here to Read Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

For three thousand years, Urza Planeswalker has prepared for this day. For three thousand years, he fought a silent war, in the shadows, to make Dominaria ready. But Yawgmoth waited, and the Lord of the Wastes, too, prepared – prepared for thousands of more years, with an entire plane willing to die at his whim. Now, finally, Yawgmoth’s day has arrived. Once the Phyrexian portals appeared in the sky, it was clear that, no matter how the invasion ended, Dominaria would never be the same.
But whether or not Urza's plans succeeded in defeating Yawgmoth's, it was clear that Magic's epic storyline had not gone as Wizards of the Coast would have liked. The storyline begun four years earlier was hardly their top priority--repairing the damage done by the power of Urza block and the mediocrity of Masques block was. The game had been hemorrhaging players for two years, and needed to do something drastic to win them back. Who cared about Dominaria, if the game perished?
Of course, nobody on Weatherlight knows what is going on in their own world, much less in ours. They haven't been on Dominaria for a year. After battering their way through Rath and bantering their way through Mercadia, after losing Crovax, and Mirri, and Ertai, the veteran skyfarers return to Dominaria. However, though they try time and again, to reach Benalia City, strange spatial distortions keep the great ship from planeshifting in.

Hanna and the rest of the command crew scour ships logs, navigational charts, anything they could to figure out the source of the problem, while Karn guides the ship from planeshift to fruitless planeshift, always hundreds of miles off course. But all the planeshifting gives Hanna the data she needs to pinpoint the source of the distortions--a trio of signatures like the one Weatherlight leaves when planeshifting, only constant and massive in scale.
Hanna plotted a course to the exact center of the distortions, and Weatherlight punched through into Benalish sky. But it was not alone there. Three massive portal ships disgorged fleets of dragon engines, plague ships, landing craft... nine thousand years of Phyrexian nightmares, returning to reclaim the plane they consider their own.
Gerrard orders Weatherlight through the nearest portal ship. Blasting its way through the Phyrexian armada, Weatherlight returns to the realm it fought so hard to escape—Rath. Weatherlight's Phyrexian ray cannons, freshly installed on Mercadia, have ample targets, while the Phyrexian fleet does massive damage to itself trying to hit the nimble vessel. Still, one gunner is killed, and the gun damaged enough to bring Hanna on deck. Amidst the fighting and debris, she receives a tiny scratch.
Weatherlight destroys the portal it used to get to Rath, rockets through the armada doing as much damage as it can, and destroys a second as it passes through back to Dominaria. Through it all, Gerrard laughs, seems even to enjoy it—until Tahngarth reminds him of the dead gunner. He remembers his angsty past of running from responsibility. Indeed, the first few chapters are spent reminding readers who these characters ARE. We had seen them but once since Exodus, after all; only one time in the last six sets. But now, with the war starting and some final resolution inevitable, all surviving wings of the cast will take part, in their own way. For now, Weatherlight cannot hope to overcome the Phryexian fleet, and so sets course for Benalia city to prepare them.

(And, though distracted, WotC DID make an effort to show the story off in style... still before the advent of magicthegathering.com, magicinvasion.com offered nice primers for each set, maps, and a nice foreboding soundtrack for the storyline. This picture came from one of the animated storybooks on that site. The site isn’t linked to anywhere I could find, but it’s still there. Unfortunately, the Apocalypse section doesn't work, but take what you can get for something WotC itself basically abandoned.)

Weatherlight lands in Benalia City, calling for the army to prepare itself against an otherworldly attack. Gerrard greets their incredulity with frustration, as Benalish authorities scramble to meet this strange flying ship. They react with hostility, particularly when they find out Commander Gerrard Capashen is a Benalish master at arms… who abandoned his post without leave.
Times Weatherlight has been captured: 3
…oops. Smooth move, hero man.
Arrested along with the crew is an old, blind seer, who goes by… well, Blind Seer. Even as Weatherlight landed, this would-be Tiresias preached doom from the skies. As they were all arrested, Gerrard and his crew agreed. The Benalish should have listened. Instead, even the soldiers guarding the imprisoned heroes are called off to fight.
While trying to use Tahngarth’s horns as a lock pick (don’t ask), Squee reveals that he can fit through the bars of the cell, and sets the crew free just as Phyrexian troopers storm into the prison. The crew, unarmed, seems doomed, but a laser blast opens the way to the surface. The Benalish who had stormed the ship had mistaken Karn for an engine component, and the golem took the distraction of the attack to free his shipmates. As they reboard the ship, they see the city—indeed, all of Benalia—never had a chance. The Phyrexians are too strong and too numerous. Within the first days of the Invasion, one of the most venerable locales in Magic history is wasted. But the Blind Seer suggests one corner of Benalia where Gerrard might salvage a few allies—the type Gerrard would appreciate.
As Gerrard flees his burning homeland, its destroyer comes onto the field. Tsabo Tavoc, bloodthirsty and sadistic, strides through the ground troops, her ‘children,’ with whom she shares a mental link. She savors every death on an almost sensual level, whether it is dealt to or by her troops. Terror, pain, despair, hate… she drowns herself in it like a frat boy at Oktoberfest.
Needless to say, she cares little for casualties on her side. Benalia City, the greatest bastion of white mana on Dominaria, is crushed within hours. However, the victory leaves a sour taste for Tsabo, as a fortuitous chance to capture Urza’s ultimate weapon fell through her talons. However, knowing Weatherlight is in the area, she resolves to capture it and present the ship and its crew to Yawgmoth—such a victory would elevate her even over Crovax.
Meanwhile, an ocean away, Urza’s former student, Teferi, is fighting to defend Zhalfir. Urza and Barrin are prepared to join in, but Teferi has used his temporal manipulation in such a creative way that it doesn’t, technically, make sense. Long story short, he reverses the flow of time around the Phyrexian portals which causes gravity to push instead of pull. The invading ships capsize, and send debris falling upward.
Teferi holds a grudge against Urza for not coming to help protect Zhalfir and the rest of the Jamuraan subcontinent during the recent Keldon invasion. Promising an argument afterward, Teferi guides Urza through a spell to shut the Phyrexian portals through a feedback loop.
But, always the prankster, Teferi uses the energy the spell creates to phase out the entire subcontinent. Urza sat out his war, and now Teferi intends to sit out the Invasion. Urza warns him that this act will only cause huge problems in the future, but Teferi will not be convinced. Jamuraa, the setting of the Mirage war and the place where The Weatherlight Saga began, simply ceases to be. For now.
The Weatherlight arrives to meet the Blind Seer’s prophesied allies: convicts in a Benalish military prison. Former mercenaries, murderers, cutthroats… fierce fighters and efficient killers who will fight for what’s right (at least, once backed into a corner). Gerrard overcomes the garrison and frees the prisoners, but they turn on the crew as soon as they have numerical advantage. They see no reason to be loyal to Gerrard… at least, until the doom he’s been talking about arrives.
Tsabo’s army approaches the prison, and the liberated prisoners decide that the skyfarers might be worthwhile to keep alive. Orim helps as many prisoners aboard as she can while the crew works its way back to the ship. Tsabo enters the prison to capture Gerrard personally, but a sequence of miracles sees the Weatherlight, brimming with roguish refugees, escape unscathed. Tsabo laments having lost her quarry, but Gerrard is still fleeing in defeat, and Tsabo knows her victory will be rewarded with the greatest command in the Invasion: Koilos
What few survivors remain of Benalia, flee Tsabo’s rampaging armies and continue the fight elsewhere…
...or are exterminated by the virulent, engineered Phyrexian diseases that have been disseminated from gigantic plague ships, called Harbingers. Any who contract the disease, waste away. And Gerrard is horrified to discover that the one person he loves most has been infected for days. Orim swears she will find a cure, and she’s as epic level as the rest of the crew. All they can do is hope.
In another theater, Yavimaya too is beset from above. While Urza had spent millennia perfecting magics and machines against Yawgmoth’s hordes, Multani and Gaea have given the sentient forest the greatest possible natural defenses.
Gaea calls forth allies even Multani knew nothing about—multifarious (and starving) lizard-like creatures called kavu, lying dormant below Yavimaya’s surface like Godzilla under the ocean near Tokyo. These newly awakened defenders find Phyrexians quite tasty, but Yavimaya needs still more help.
Multani utters a prayer to Gaea as all hope seems lost, and it is silently, decisively answered. Trees grow spikes to impale Phyrexians, pumping them full of sap. Spores suffuse the air, entering into the Phyrexians, changing them. Metal and sinew become wood and vine, and the invaders are transformed into holy defenders. Without Urza’s help, Yavimaya has fended off the Invasion… incidentally, without anything exploding, either.
Even the most fiery Shivhole of Dominaria is besieged. Urza and Barrin again arrive to defend their allies, led by another former student: Jhoira. But honestly, Urza could care less who runs the place - he sees the Mana Rig as vital to the war effort as his only source of powerstones. Honestly though, he’s had access to the thing for a few thousand years now; there isn’t much time in this war of annihilation to be worried about building a little more. Realistically, what he has to work with is what he has to win with.
The planeswalker needn’t have worried—Jhoira has organized a capable, lava-centric defense. Moreover, she has managed to either discover or create systems in the Mana Rig allowing part of it to break off and crawl around Shiv, spouting lava at anything that pisses it off, which tends to be a good deterrent.
It’s a good thing for Urza that the Rig can walk, because soon after Teferi arrives. Seems that Jhoira asked him to protect her homeland as he protected Zhalfir—by phasing it out. Again, Urza’s unique anticharisma loses him an ally.
But he DOES still have Darigaaz, who happens to be the head of the United Dragon Nations of Dominaria. (He has happily stopped being a fire drake, as he was when J. Robert King introduced him.)

I’m sure Urza can find some use for huge flights of dragons. Perhaps he could make them explode to good effect?
Other parts of the world never even heard Urza’s warnings of doom. Somehow, he never got around to rallying much of the world. What rumors of war were heard in xenophobic Llanowar are mostly ignored.
…as long as they can be, at least. The kings of the elven kingdoms are ill-suited to the monumental task ahead of them, yet they are also ill-disposed to give up power. When they hear word of a mysterious man, warning of the invasion and coming to their treetop palaces with an army of followers, they react not in hope for an ally but in fear of a different invasion. Who dares lead a popular uprising now?
The same man who dedicated his life to leading a popular uprising on the dark world next door. Eladamri, korvecdal of Rath, had made an impossible escape from the heart of Phyrexian control of his plane. Belbe’s portal had disgorged Eladamri, Lin Sivvi, and Takara into Verdura, not far from Llanowar. Eladamri began warning anyone who would hear of the horrors to come, and unlike Urza, had the charisma to be heeded.
Of course, there was also the rampant bloodshed to lend credence to his claims. In the power vacuum created by the weak lords of Llanowar, this mysterious man from another world has a simple, magnetic efficiency that makes desperate elvish civilians follow him by the thousands.
The elves arm themselves, and begin calling Eladamri the “Seed of Freyalise,” assuming that he is sent by their patron goddess (truly, the planeswalker who cast the World Spell ending the Ice Age, but how would they know the difference?) Eladamri doesn’t wish to lead them, but is long used to the burden of leadership settling upon his broad shoulders.
Fresh off his own victory in Yavimaya, Multani travels to Llanowar to see this wondrous man who Gaea is elevating to lead the fight there. Molimo, Multani’s local counterpart, takes some convincing (as even he is somewhat taken in by Freyalise’s supposed status as a deity), but finally accepts Multani’s help as thousands of small Phyrexian portals open over the forest and start dumping plague bombs. But Eladamri and Multani aside, help comes from another source as well…
Laden heavily with its new recruits, Weatherlight appears over Llanowar, following the tides of the war. While Orim is working feverishly on a cure for the Phyrexian plague ravaging both Hanna and the forest below, Sisay steers evasive and Hanna herself tries to think of some way to close the multifarious portals.
Some fancy piloting and manipulation of the ship’s planeshifting envelope tugs the flurry of portals behind it, and the ailing Hanna sets course for a planeshift back to Rath. The portals follow, and begin unleashing their payload on the massed Phyrexian armies covering the rathi surface, but the troopers are unaffected by the plague bombs. Orim reasons that the Phyrexians must have some natural immunity to the disease, and uses the anchor for a fishing expedition. Hanna collapses, and Gerrard orders the ship back to Llanowar.
Eladamri has led the survivors of Llanowar in a retreat to the Dreaming Caves, during which Takara—already dying of the plague when she was found in Volrath’s dungeon—dies covering their escape. The retreat saved the elves from the continuing attack, but they were already showing symptoms of the plague. However, in the Dreaming Caves below Llanowar, thoughts become manifest. Eladamri signs battle songs to raise morale, then rallies hope and joyful memories to cure the plague below…
...while Orim’s tireless efforts above net her a vaccine that can make anyone immune to Phyrexian virulence. While the inoculations safeguard the rest of the crew, they are no use to Hanna, who slides in and out of consciousness as her condition worsens.
After clearing the skies, Weatherlight smashes into the forest canopy, surviving only because of Multani’s help (Times Weatherlight has crashed: 3). The crew descends to start looking for survivors while Multani and Karn repair the ship. When Gerrard hears of Eladamri’s miraculous cure in the Dreaming Caves, the entire command crew ventures down there with Hanna, believing as strongly as they can that she can be cured. But the essential person who must believe, cannot—Hanna herself is in a deep, wasting coma.
Her father, meanwhile, has been fighting a losing war on wretched, undead-infested Urborg of all places, at Urza’s absent insistence. He has done all he could with helionauts and angelic hosts and the draconic nations, with Keldon allies he hates and what local support he can muster, but the Phyrexian tide is just too strong. Mile by fetid mile, Barrin has to fall back.
In the equally inhospitable desert around Koilos, where the Thran-Phyrexian war ended, where the Brothers’ War began, and most importantly in Urza’s mind, the site of the only free-standing portal between Phyrexia and Dominaria itself. Instead of having closed it in the millennia he was free to do so, Urza chooses now, when it is disgorging thousands upon thousands of Phyrexian troopers, that it needs to be shut.
Urza deposits his metathran army, a hundred-thousand strong. The army is split into two wings, led by genetically engineered twin commanders Thaddeus and Agnate. The two are so alike, their minds are telepathically linked—truly, they are one being as much as a team. When Agnate fails to wake up from his cold storage and Thaddeus panics and beats his counterpart awake. Barrin points out this could be a big liability should one die, but Urza being Urza, he chooses not to hear.
The battle at Koilos is fiercely fought—the genius and discipline of the metathran grinding against the merciless ardor of the armies of Tsabo Tavoc. Neither metathran commander truly realizes how horrid the battle will be until the spinal centipedes appear…
…and turn their own troops against them. They kill their fallen kin, and fight on, deeper toward the sacred, unholy cave where everything began.
Tsabo Tavoc hears Thaddeus and Agnate conversing telepathically over the battlefield. She feels how Thaddeus fights through the death of her armies, and becomes enamored with his killing grace. She sends word to her children—she wants Thaddeus captures. The metathran under his command thus break through the Phyrexian lines, delving deeply into the Koilos caves. Thaddeus is captured…
…and interrogated via slow and careful vivisection. He divulges nothing—he is not truly any asked anything. Tsabo glories in the marvelous craftsmanship in Urza’s general, as he is disassembled part by part.
Weatherlight and Agnate set sail for Koilos to help in the battle, as the Blind Seer suggests. On the way, they notice Phyrexian craft hovering above the ocean, shooting what looks like spears into the water. On looking closer, they realize the spears are actually machines—in fact, the same spinal centipedes the metathran had gone up against—being used to take the war even into the ocean’s depths. Weatherlight swings low to take out some aggression.
While his general is being torn apart and his closest friend is losing Urborg, Urza departs to gather more allies for the next phase of his plan. Teferi was supposed to have been the first, but he drove the Jamuraan ‘walker away. The first ally he goes after is Taysir, which gave all long term storyline fans a joygasm. See, Taysir was the original most powerful planeswalker, native of five of the 1001 Rabiahs (you read that right), and protagonist of the super-old school Wayfarer comics.
The last we had seen of Taysir, years and years earlier, he was raising the young planeswalker Daria (above), and had gotten over his jealous attachment to Kristina of the Woods, who is in fact visiting the two as Urza arrives. Of course, story fans were a bit LESS amused by the fact that Daria only got one picture, and the other two were never given any recognizable picture at ALL. But other familiar walkers also appeared to mitigate this. Freyalise came next, who had been ‘rehabilitated’ into revisionist continuity by Jeff Grubb’s excellent Ice Age trilogy...
...as well as one of her nefarious Ice Age contemporaries, equally prerevisionist Tevesh Szat, the Doom of Fools. The other ‘walkers object to having Szat along, as he’s a murderous lunatic who prefers the form of an acid-spewing black dragon, but Urza insists he needs him.
The ancient Urborgan panther warrior Lord Windgrace also joined the team, who may have been prerevisionist but wasn’t a major player if he was. Interestingly, Crovax’s noble family went by the name ‘Windgrace,’ suggesting some sort of historical connection.

The final two in Urza’s little band are entirely new walkers: Bo Levar, a mariner and cigar smuggler (hardly the most ambitious thing for a planeswalker to do) who, like Urza, ascended in the Sylex Blast; and Commodore Guff, custodian of a grand, impossible library with the histories, past and future, of every plane in the multiverse. Guff was, in reality, a rather blatant caricature of then-head of Magic continuity, Scott McGough. While inserting real people—particularly your editor—into a story is a mite unprofessional, it CAN be done well… theoretically. And while I’ve nothing against Mr. McGough, I do resent that he appears on more cards than Taysir or Kristina of the Woods!
Urza takes the party to present them with some new toys—titan engines. The planeswalkers are all given massive suits of exoskeletal power armor to augment their already considerable power. As they get used to their suits, they begin to alter them to more suit their personality—Szat’s becomes a huge dragon, Daria’s a lithe dancer, Freyalise’s a vine-covered faux force of nature. Urza’s titan, of course, is the biggest and most powerful of the nine.

Urza’s plan for the group is simple: the Nine Titans will storm Phyrexia itself, and destroy it.
Some of you might question the necessity of giant mechanical war machines for already nigh-omnipotent beings, thinking the idea is stupid. By and large, you would be right. However, there are a few things that make this semi-useful. For one, many of the environments on Phyrexia are toxic, caustic, on fire, or otherwise inhospitable, and a planeswalker would have to dedicate a significant portion of his/her attention into the act of not becoming dead. Further, the extra weapons systems allow the ‘walkers to conserve their spells—the more resources, the better. Finally, as the power of planeswalkers can suddenly and causelessly fluctuate when the readers “aren’t paying attention,” having something more consistent to fall back on is useful.
When Barrin visits Urza to ask for reinforcements to hold Urborg, Urza says there are none—everything he has is committed to Koilos. Barrin is furious that Urza can so flippantly disregard the loss of so many troops. Barrin then sighs, and says he’ll travel to Koilos to help with the assault, after a brief visit with his daughter. Urza informs him that this is quite impossible, as Hanna is dead.
Barrin tells Urza to frak off, and leaves.
Barrin uses a homing spell he had cast on his daughter at her birth to find her body, recently buried by her mourning crewmates. He exhumes her corpse, alarming the crew until Gerrard recognizes Barrin, and the two share a look of deep inner emptiness. The old archmage teleports his daughter home to Tolaria, to bury her next to her mother.
Urza’s activities with the titan engines had finally revealed Tolaria’s location to Phyrexia, and Barrin arrives as the island is being overrun. After tearfully closing his family’s crypt, he uses up his own life force to cast one last spell—the same spell Urza had used the Golgothan Sylex to cast over four millennia before. In one titanic flash, Barrin and Tolaria, both battered for their dedication to Urza’s cause, are consumed.
The metathran advance had stymied, with one half the army sans commander and the other unable to move without his counterpart. However, the arrival of Weatherlight provides a new possibility: Eladamri. However, neither the metathran nor Agnate will accept him, even though Urza commanded it. After a trial by combat between the elf and the metathran, Eladamri draws first blood, and does so with charisma and bravado to gain the allegiance of the troops. He cannot replace Thaddeus for Agnate, but at least the Coalition can resume the war.
(Really, though, why is Koilos important? Maybe it’s the only open portal to Dominaria, but they can already send landing craft anywhere on Dominaria, and there isn’t anything around Koilos that needs a big army to take on. Both sides act as if it’s of critical strategic value, but honestly, what’s the point of it?)
Tsabo is prepared. She has already captured Thaddeus. She already has a grudge against Gerrard. Now, she feels him enter into the fray, and feels the delicious fury within him. If she can capture Urza’s engineered hero, and take him to Yawgmoth, none but the Ineffable himself would be above her. And Gerrard plays right into her hands, leading the charge of the Benalish prisoners into the caves, seeking revenge against the spider woman he blames for Hanna’s death.
The titan engines enter the fray, leaping over the Coalition armies and smashing the Phyrexian ground forces. But Tsabo has some titans of her owns—giant witch engines, big hovering spheres of mechanical maggots with killing tendrils that even the planeswalkers had a tough time killing.
But the crew of the Weatherlight figures out how to kill them. Using the anchor to dig into the core, the ship flies in a tight circle around the witch engine and cuts the monster in half. The dragons and titans begin dismantling the witch engines and the Phyrexian air forces as the Coalition advances below. However, a shot hits here, an attack lands there, and Weatherlight descends to the ground, and…
Times Weatherlight has crashed: 4.
The ship rests in Coalition-held territory, so the crew charges into the caves to find their commander.

No, that isn’t Drizzt
Gerrard and Agnate charge into the Caves of Koilos toward their respective targets: Tsabo and Thaddeus. Gerrard kills with a bloodthirsty glee as Tsabo draws him on. Agnate, on the other hand, kills with resolve, Thaddeus telepathically pleading with him to stay away. When Agnate reaches him, it’s obvious why—Thaddeus has no limbs. His torso is a sundered ruin. He is kept alive only for this encounter, only to lure Agnate in after him. Only to stab the unkindest cut of all into Agnate’s soul, when he relieves his brother of his tormented existence.
Meanwhile, Gerrard fights on, throwing himself at Tsabo like a berserker, battling her with the idiot rage that is at least more effective than angstful brooding. Tsabo revels in his perfect fury, enjoying it even more than Thaddeus’s resolve and physical perfection. Gerrard’s hate-clouded mind is easily outmaneuvered, and Tsabo captures the man, holding him tight beneath her with several of her legs...

…as the Weatherlight command crew bashes
their way into the caves in the bloody, oily wake
of Gerrard’s and Agnate’s armies.
They reach the portal room as Tsabo approaches the gate. Squee, having rode atop the unstoppable Karn, and now scampers under Tsabo and gives Gerrard a sword. He stabs the spider woman, escaping her grasp and distracting her long enough for Karn to fight his way to them. Yes, fight, for Karn is slowly remembering his past, and has come to realize that if he does not kill for his world, his world shall die.
Heavily wounded as the heroes surround her, Tsabo throws herself through the portal, as the Blind Seer appears to smash the portal machine. The gate to Phyrexia is closed. Without infinite reinforcements, without their fanatical leader, the Phyrexian morale shatters. Urza reveals his identity to Gerrard, and the Benalish man says he hates him. He will fight Urza’s war, but he hates the planeswalker for every tragedy that’s befallen him. Urza accepts this, even with a note of regret.
While the rest of the Coalition—even the metathran—enjoy days of jubilant feasting, Gerrard, Agnate, Urza, and Eladamri share a quiet moment, too close to the dead to join in the joy of the living. Karn and Multani work to rebuild the ship, stronger than before—with the crowning touch of a Gaea figurehead, wearing Hanna’s face. All know this is but a pause in the war, but only Urza probably knows what is coming next. And why would he bother telling anyone?

Stay tuned - we'll be back tomorrow night as the war enters its second, deadlier phase.

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