On the drive back to Castle Refuge, Wyoming does her best to act as a buffer between Loyal and the triplets, upon whom they have turned the full force of their hospitality.
Back at the castle, Wyoming encounters the Wolf Pack in the motor pool. Loyal is very guarded, and her weapon is out, but not raised. The several dozen guards in the area respond in kind.
Lt Stevens is also there. After saluting, Wyoming makes introductions. Stevens extends his hand, but Loyal is unwilling to take a let go of her weapon for even an instant. Wyoming advises her to bow instead. Stevens motions to the guards to stand down. He gives her a variation on his standard speech, telling Loyal that she’s welcome here, she can join the Legion if she wants, but she’s also free to leave if she wants. This actually manages to get her to relax a little. Stevens mentions to Wyoming that the rest of her crew is still out on a job. She asks if there’s any chance of her catching up with them, he advises her to speak to the Wolf Pack.
Vlad is the first to see Wyoming, and welcomes her with a big hug. Wyoming introduces Loyal, and Vlad brings her up to speed on how Mason, Puck, and Argyle helped to find Tina, and that they continued on to chase down the bugs. She says goodbye to all of them, speaking briefly with Winters about Mason. Vlad advises her to talk to Stevens about an airlift.
Wyoming brings it up to him, and he mentions the town of Valiant. She is quite surprised when he offers to give them a lift in something large enough to accommodate her Glitterboy armor. She stops by Smitty to upgrade her armor and weapons.
The rift is apparently stable. A ziggurat is visible inside the portal, the landscape surrounding it is covered in webs, and there are two suns setting behind it. As the crew approaches the portal, they can smell the air of the other dimension: hot, dry, dusty.
Puck tosses a rock through, and sees that gravity seems to be about the same. He hesitantly sticks his head through, and doesn’t die. He establishes a telepathic link with Argyle, starts counting, and steps through entirely. The link is not broken.
Hector and Dolan briefly discuss what to do next. Hector advises calling it in, Dolan says they need to investigate it first and establish that there’s a threat. Argyle follows Puck though the portal, followed by the Coalition troops, and Mason is the last one through. Once on the other side, they realize that the webbing stretches as far as they can see.
Mason starts experiencing periodic glitches in his visual systems. When his optics inadvertently zoom in for a few seconds, he can see that the dust all around is crackling with some kind of energy. In his mind, Puck can hear the death screams of millions of souls. Dolan tells Argyle and Mason to tune to his frequency, and tells Hector to turn off the encryption.
They approach the ziggurat. At the top there is some kind of altar, and there are four floating pillars that slowly rotate around the top of the structure. Puck climbs the stairs and peeks over the top. Argyle and Mason stand ready to assist him if necessary. Puck can see an ornate helmet lying on the altar, connected it it by some kind of cable. He’s able to detect all kinds of arcane energy coming off of it.
He picks up the helmet and puts it on. Immediately, he gets a flood of images and information. He is aware that this place is called the Temple of Convergence. He learns that the helmet was created to connect the consciousness of all the sentient species on this world, but something went wrong, and it never shut off. The energy reached out through the rift, and found the town of Valiant, and also the Xiticix hive, and it attempted to do what it was designed to do. He also gets flashes of a man in a lab coat. He is given the option of reversing the process, but given what Dahlia said about how the townsfolk are actually quite content with their current condition, he opts instead to simply shut it down.
While Puck dons the helmet and sinks to the roof of the ziggurat, everyone else can see behind them several large, hulking figures rising up out of the rubble all around them. They appear to be made of brass. They shoot beams of energy from their chests. One of them hits Dolan, shaking him.
Mason charges toward two of the figures and swings wildly with his chainsword. There’s a shower of sparks and the smell of ozone, and one of them is cut in half. The other one is still up, but it’s not happy. Argyle follows up with a three round burst, which downs it. Hector wrangles the dogboys, and they all attack one of the remaining creatures. The dogboys open fire, but fail to do any damage. Hector also opens fire and manages to shake it.
The dogboys switch to melee weapons, advance on the creature, and begin tearing into it. They cause a lot of damage, and Hector finishes it off. Argyle barks orders to converge on the remaining creature and opens fire with another burst, shaking it. Mason strides forward purposefully with his chainsword, takes an almost leisurely swing, and neatly bisects it. Dolan keeps an eye out for additional targets. Puck begins the process of shutting down the system. Dolan sees four more creatures emerge from behind the ziggurat and fire jump jets to land at the top of the structure and surround Puck. He fires at the closest one, shaking it.
Mason climbs up the ziggurat to engage two of the creatures (one of which was shaken by Dolan). He kills one of them, and the other is on its last legs. Argyle sees the remaining two menacing Puck, and fires full auto, shaking both of them. At that moment, Puck manages to convince the system to shut down, but he can feel a tremendous surge of energy building. One of the creatures takes a swing at Puck, but it misses by a mile and slams its fist into the stone of the ziggurat. By this time, everyone can feel the rising energy, and Hector orders a tactical retreat. The dogboys all start spraying autofire, but one of them takes a measured shot, tags one of the automatons right in the head, downing it. Dolan takes a parting shot as he retreats, but fails to do any damage. Mason steps in between the remaining creatures and Puck, and slices both of them in half. He picks up Puck (despite his protests that he wants to take the helmet), and everyone makes a hurried retreat toward the rift. They all dive through as the ziggurat explodes, and shortly after, the rift collapses, and they find themselves in the field near the ley line nexus.