Chapter 121: Mean Streets
We left our heroes in need of a bomb, wherewith to blow up draconian
strongholds in the nephilite cities. Our first thought for a source is
Jumping Jacks, but we've tried Cantrel rather sorely lately, so maybe we
can just find something explosive in our own arsenal, back at the
ranch. (Doesn't your home have an arsenal?)
Turns out we have grenades, but no bombs. Oh well, back to Plan A; Robbie calls up Jumping Jacks and asks for seven 50-ton bombs to be delivered to the ranch. They hardly even blanch. They'll be there in 90 minutes.
We use the time to see what Drumthortle and The Lads have been up to since we dropped in last time. (Drumthortle etc. are not in evidence themselves, though, since we shipped them off to help repair the Tellemataru.)
Our new basement contains lots of dwarvish-looking earth-moving equipment -- vaguely Victorian, vaguely organic. Also three new trucks bought "by authorized contractor," according to the house computer, and then heavily modified by The Lads.
Next level down, we find a firing range and a weapons locker, already stocked with the favorite weapons of several members of the New Blood & friends. Kate shops around and helps herself to an adjustable shock pistol, then uses it to christen the firing range.
The Jumping Jacks people come, deliver their bombs, and run away, er, leave. We load one of the bombs aboard the pantope, set its fuse for thirty seconds, unload it on the roof of a draconian sanctuary, start the timer, and scram.
We then double back to our usual time for starting loading, and start picking folks up at the "block parties" that run all through the town. They're very surprised when a bronze tunnel opens in the air, of course...
...26, 27, 28...
... but not nearly as surprised as they're going to be...
... when the bomb goes off. Lots of them run away. But then lots of them come running back with more friends and relations.
Then two khaki-skinned, humanoid draconian guards, spears at the ready. Perforce, we start fighting in the midst of panicked refugees. Dafnord shoots one and downs him. Mithriel shoots at the other with bow and arrow, but accidentally downs a civilian. She tries rushing him, but gets speared herself for her trouble. Markel and Dafnord take him on. Runyana finishes him off with a shot, then reports two more coming.
Runyana blows away one of the next pair. Markel attacks the other and gets speared. Runyana kills Markel's attacker, and this, thankfully, seems to be all for the moment. Mithriel, Markel, and Mithriel's victim of friendly fire start heading down the tube to infirmaries, but not before Markel takes some more damage by getting trampled by panicked crowds.
Meanwhile, Runyana reports a group of four humans hurrying away from the loading site. We suspect them may be draconian agents. Dafnord yells "Halt!" to no effect. Meanwhile, a small draconian aircraft has spotted Runyana.
This is getting too messy. Runyana has Tom disconnect the pantope. We get our wounded to autodocs on our various starships, so we get that much out of the way.
Back at the loading/battle, Runyana makes her fourth and most spectacular kill so far: she flies up to the aircraft and shoots twice through the windscreen. The first shot weakens the screen, the second takes out the pilot. The craft whirls away to crash somewhere else, where we will undoubtedly have to cope with it later.
Dafnord is still pursuing the four fleeing humans. Shooting his goop-gun, he snares three of them. The fourth surrenders, then faints when Dafnord draws his sword Umbra. (Hey, you have to cut them out of the goop somehow.) Dafnord then asks the most coherent of the gooped guys what they were doing, but he just faints, too. Dafnord can have that effect on people.
Tom brings the tunnel back and we go back to loading people. Markel and Mithriel return, having spent several days healing in a jiffy, thanks to Tom's standard pantope tricks.
A fire brigade comes clattering up in early-19th-century-style equipment. This is awkward, because they're coming down the alley where our gooped victims lie, and we haven't finished extracting them yet. In the scramble that follows, Robbie feels a whack on the back of his head -- no, not his head; he's picked up, by telepathy, an attack on Mithriel. A large, toothy dragon-man has shown up from somewhere, but Dafnord quickly hacks him down with Umbra.
Eventually, we get this batch aboard. We take the gooped guys to the infirmary and Tom does a quick memory audit on them, to find out why they were running. They aren't spies, but they were "Tories," loyal subjects of the dragons, or at least lukewarm. They never liked or heeded the prophecies of the Exodus we carefully planted many years ago, and didn't want any part of it. Tough. Welcome aboard.
We reconnect for the next round (with Mithriel healed up again and now wearing a helmet). Soon, we spot another manta-shaped aircraft, one of their fighters. Remembering the problems he had with ship's guns last time we tried to take out a flier, Tom purposes we simply use the pantope to dump some grenades into the cockpit. We do that.
--and alarms go off in the pantope. We've been spotted. Tom hastily changes the connection to Djinnistan, but not fast enough. A portal (not one of ours) has opened and dropped a bomb in on us.
Kate and Mirien keel over. Braeta and Dafnord are still standing but hurt. Tom was behind the lectern that bears the helm computer. Well, bore it. The lectern and computer are gone, but Tom is basically unhurt. He is very apologetic; he had no idea the dragons had their dimensional technology aboard their aircraft, or watching over their aircraft.
Once more, we open our gate to the Munch and use the starship's autodocs to heal people. Once more, we fast-forward through the days of healing. We gate back to the ranch and pick up more armor for Mirien and Braeta. (Braeta's is stuff Daewen once wore when she was playing the part of the Morrigan.)
And now to see how much damage the dragons took in that exchange.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.