Chapter 120: Three Dead Ends and a Bomb
by Tim Lasko
After a thorough chewing out by Cantrel for our seemingly lax attitude
towards the collateral damage caused by the Munch's guns firing in the
hangar, Dafnord instructs the Munch to repair itself and then leaves
through the pantope door. Tom disconnects.
Kate, Mirien, and Tom head for the tent while Dafnord climbs into the autodoc to restore some of the friendly fire damage he took from Robbie earlier in the evacuation. None of us are quite up to finding out what kind of chaos has been left back on Yazatlan without a nap first.
We needn't have worried. The Nephilim quite sensibly took cover when the dragon fighters started exploding. Daphne, Mithriel, Runyana and Markel were able to keep track of where they ran, and when Tom reestablished the connection to the Tellemetaru, the Nephilim seemed especially motivated to listen to our directions and go into the tunnel in a quick and orderly manner.
The seventh loading complete, we disconnect from Yazatlan and start to plan strategy on evacuating the remaining Nephilim from the actual Cities of the Seven Kings.
Robbie suggests that the first thing we should do is find out where those fighters came from with the pantope window. Kate starts to maneuver the window following the fighter back away from the cities and from nephil-occupied areas and into a rough, mountainous area.
Just as we move in to look at the door opening (closing in reverse) in the side of the mountain, Tom gets a very bad premonition and takes over the console. In a matter of seconds he shuts the window, flips through his set of bookmarks, opens a window over a different mountainous area, checks for observers, and then opens the door.
Tom then takes a breath and reminds us that the dragons have demonstrated enough dimensional technology that they might have been able to lock onto the window and possibly break into the pantope. A high-tech mountain base probably would have the technology, if they imported it to Yazatlan.
Oops. We all forgot that, while computing how long it would take to raze a dragon base into rubble. While it is interesting to know where the ships might be coming from, there isn't much we can do about it without endangering ourselves or causing timelock. Dead End.
Tom closes the door and explains that he connected us to Djinnistan, which we know affects the pantope and hopefully will confuse any coordinate lock that the dragons might have been able to get on the Emerald Metaphor.
While most of us look off uncomfortably into the weird fuzzy distance on the pantope, Robbie seems a little distracted, trying to decide if the feeling he had when the door was open was real or just some nervousness at Tom's sudden activity. Except he didn't use to feel nervousness, either, so it's hard to compare. He is distracted by the arrival of another idea.
Robbie wants to ask the TDF whether or not they might have some insight into the draconian dimensional technology -- or perhaps has already developed a way to guard against an attack.
Tom opens the door to the TDF base on Olam Nephilim. Kate, Robbie and Tom go to find Timmons, who is busy resolving supply troubles. Tom and Robbie quickly brief Timmons on our concerns.
The short answer is that Timmons doesn't know. He's more an administrator and technician than a researcher, but he will pass the message on. When we ask how soon, he explains that their security doesn't allow any direct commnication and that he's not authorized to give out coordinates for any TDF base except the New Dawn Yards.
Oops. We have those coordinates, but we infer that the best researchers aren't there, either. Worse, if the technology were already usable, Timmons and the Olam Nephilim base would already have it. Another Dead End.
Kate wonders out loud about "dragonsbane", something she has read about on the Classic Line, although it is possibly mythical. A magical defense would be welcome and since possibly being mythical has never been a reason to stop us from tracking a lead, we decide to contact Daewen at Lanthil of 30 years hence. If it exists somewhere, Daewen's library should have a reference to it, or Daewen might know who to ask.
Runyana warns us that Daewen is having political difficulties now -- speaking of Daewen as contemporary to her, of course -- and there is a strong faction that believes that it is more important to work on building Lanthil than picking fights with other lands, such as Patala. (And Faerie, we all think, remembering that Lumitar is running around there as well.) Actively researching something called "dragonsbane" might be interpreted as hostile to Patala and put Daewen in an awkward position.
Oops. We settle for leaving her a note asking whether or not she has heard of "dragonsbane" or can investigate its existence at her leisure. We make no specific plans for a reply, knowing that if Daewen does have an idea and it might be useful, word will reach us. Tom opens a door into the Castle on Lanthil and Robbie steps out and leaves the note with a not-too-startled Enorathi. Another Dead End.
Back to the Exodus. We call for Metalais and ask him to describe what is happening in the cities themselves. He describes several smaller events that would be held in sacred groves, temples and other open areas. These would group the Nephilim in several small-to-medium sized places. However, Metalais points out that the city celebrations have more of the air of a day-long fair and not all of the Nephilim would be in one of these events at a particular time, although a good majority would be.
We ask about dragon buildings in the cities and he describes the three kinds of structures. There is a stronghold in each city, similar to the one we destroyed in the Desert of Tears, one or more dragon temples and possibly one or more estates for wealthy or powerful dragons that enjoy the city environment and being close to the race they've subjugated.
The number of temples and estates vary but all cities except one have at least one temple and most of the cities have a few estates. The temples seem to be more interesting because there are well-known "off-limits" areas in each of them. We look at the first of the seven cities through the pantope and, with the help of a few recently rescued Nephilim, pinpoint the temple and the off-limits area in the temple.
Dafnord argues that a very large event, like destroying the stronghold, will cause the dragons to start clamping down on Nephilim and go into a strong defensive position. Instead, he suggests dropping a small incendiary in the off limits area of the temple.
This would create a seemingly innocent distraction that hopefully draws a good fraction of the dragons toward the temple but one that the Nephilim would be forbidden to go near. At the very least, we will cause some chaos with the dragons and will hopefully avoid a major armed confrontation.
We then use the pantope to simultaneously scoop up the small-to-medium sized gatherings, making sure our dragon detectors and heavily armed Agents of the Exodus are ready to handle any dragons in the crowds.
Oops. We might have to go ask Cantrel for an appropriately-sized bomb.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.