Archon Toth fiddled with a million things in his laboratory. It was not out of nervousness; they were specific things that had to be adjusted in his ritual circle. Energy transmitter tuned just so; runes painted on the floor in just the right color with just the right dilution of blood and urine in just the right sigils; wires framing the Celtic-knot pattern of the circle itself.
Perfecting the art of techno-magic rituals was essential to furthering his studies, or so he believed, and to the work of the Order.
But once he'd known so much more. BEEN so much more.
Only Pale Inventor knew his true origins. Thousands of years ago, Archon Toth had been a demigod, the Court Sage advising the Elder Gods of a galaxy so distant it was clear across the universe. He'd known nearly everything there was to know, in any field: history, the sciences, the mystical arts. He designed amazing divine engines for his masters, to be used in their deific tasks, whether it be harvesting souls or demolishing dead stars.
Then a heretic had seized one of his engines and started a rebellion against the tyranny of these galactic elder gods. The Elder Gods were powerful, and smashed the rebellion without too much trouble, but they were shaken. What if more of the engines should be stolen? One wasn't too bad, against their combined might, but what about more?
The head of the galactic pantheon saw an even more troubling possibility. What if Archon Toth himself ever got it into his head to rebel? He controlled and could create more divine engines that might destroy even the Elder Gods. So he called the Trickster demigod into his service.
The Trickster came to Archon Toth, and using sly words and cunning devices, deceived the demigod sage into placing 99% of his knowledge and skill into an enchanted book - then the Trickster stole away with the Book and presented it to the supreme elder god.
Now the knowledge and skills were safely in the hands of the Elder Gods, who could call on them at will without having to worry about an independent mind that could subvert them.
And Archon Toth, his power thus reduced almost entirely, was banished. The reward for his centuries of service.
Across many ages of wandering, he came to Earth, where he found the New Order of Magic. He hoped that working with them, he could reclaim at least some of his ancient power.
He studied the technomagical ritual circle before him. Now, he just needed two life forces to polarize the energies that would be summoned into the circle. (The life forces would NOT be drained or harmed in any way, only used to stabilize the metaphysical poles of the sigil.) He could ask one of the NOA's spirits, but he'd prefer mortals.
Then he heard a loud BANG reverberating through the complex.
Who could that be?
He suppressed a smile. Who else could it be? Walker Gray. Between Archon Toth and Walker Gray, there were explosions nearly every day.
He hurried towards the source of the explosion, following the trailing smoke, which curled around his ankles as he hitched up his cerulean working robes. His fingers were smudged with alchemists' ink, his eyes with the wild cast of someone not quite in synch with the world around him.
Turning a corner, he saw Walker and Tinker. "I see you've been busy." He tried to make it sound superior, impressive, but instead it came out in a manic rush.
"Do you mind?" Walker asked. "Tinker's helping me out."
"Er, well, I was hoping," Archon Toth plunged forward, "I need two people for my technomagic ritual?" He made it sound like a question.
Tinker suppressed a grin as he worked with Walker's C4. "And what does this ritual do?"
Archon's eyes lit up. "It measures the energy coefficient of the astral flux's coagulation as defined by the energy regulation of--"
"So it does nothing," Walker concluded.
Archon drew himself up indignantly. "These measurements are necessary for the proper tuning of magitechnical melding!"
Tinker took sympathy on him. "We'll come down as soon as I finish here. Won't we, Walker?"
"Fine," Walker waved a hand dismissively as Archon wrung his ink-smeared hands.