Chapter 21 - More Than Enough Rope
Once more into the Great Sucking Noise we go. Since glamour ropes appear to be far more effective that chains, Robbie suggests we have the ship pull on such a rope. Of this, we need more rope than we have, but, hey, it's glamour, so Tom creates a new hundred-foot rope, so good it probably thinks it's real. Then a second rope, not quite so convincing. We will want to hang a camera off the cat's egg, so he makes a third 100 feet for that. And we will run a plain old fiber-optic comm line along this rope, to keep in touch.
Soon, we have the cat poised in its egg, ready to go through the GSN (Great Sucking Noise) again, with Tom riding on the egg, and the camera, with its rope, sticking out in front by means of bound TK, ready for release. The ship, Braeta on one grav pallet, and Dafnord on another, are all roped to the egg.
We do a test dip into the GSN. The egg fades out "normally," but the camera and lots of its rope are left thrusting into empty air. Of course! They're too far from the egg to be in the "witch-drive" field. We back up, un-bind the rope, coil it up, and stick it and the camera to the front of the egg, to be release inside the GSN.
In again. The egg, with its heterogeneous cargo, fades out. The tension in the rope becomes noticeable for Dafnord and Braeta, but not for the Munch. Good.
Inside the GSN, which is to say more or less nowhere, Tom leans around the egg and tries to release the camera and its rope. He releases far more -- himself, for a start. He slips, is pulled off into the suction, manages to grab the camera rope, and winds up dangling "under" the egg (if you regard the section as gravity). Since the camera is at the end of the rope, the people back on the Munch have a beautiful shot of Tom's panic-stricken face, at arm's length, against a background of dark, swirling limbo.
Tom, on the other hand, can't see much beside the camera. He can't see the egg, for instance; the rope's too long. He thrashes about with TK, to no visible effect. At the other end, Brunalf tries TK, too, with as little result. Back outside, everybody tries to haul the egg and all back out. Much harder. In fact, Braeta loses her footing and--
In the egg, the cat heard a solid thump from behind. He turns, but sees nothing. He turns back. How odd. There are now two ropes stretching ahead of his egg into the void...
Tom has company. Braeta is now dangling from another rope, beside him. She is bruised from having hit the egg on the way by, but has managed to maintain her grip.Wave at the camera, Braeta. On second thought, don't.
The Munch tries harder to pull everyone out. The power drains become quite noticeable. But we thought the glamour ropes would help...? In fact, when Dafnord paused in his tugging to summon up his hysterical strength, the ship had to pull a LOT harder to make up. Hm. It looks like it matters who or what does the pulling as well as what you pull with. Or rather than what you pull with.
In the GSN, Braeta exerts her demidivine strength and climbs up her rope to be level with Tom, then ties rope around his waist and hers. She asks if Tom can feel his feet. As a mater of fact, no. Nor can he see them. He hopes they're still there. Tom tries his glamour, hoping to use it to will the egg back into their vicinity. This makes the mists whirl and shift.
Suddenly, they get a glimpse of figures in the distance. There's a diagonal swath of color, with two large, muscular figures, male and female, struggling along it as if it were a steep incline or they were bucking a fierce wind. Rather like the situation Tom and Braeta are in, in fact. Then the scene vanishes. Tom sends clairvoyance after them though, and sees a bit more: One of the figures loses its grip and is whipped off, dragging the other with it by a rope. Something is wrong with the pace of the scene. Either the gravity/wind is very high or the two are running at a relatively faster time scale. There's a glimpse of vegetation on that surface, and the direction indicates that the surface is level, so the force that pulled the two off was not gravity. Then Tom's viewpoint gets torn off again. Nasty, that.
Tom and Braeta file that one away for later and result their own struggles. Tom's glamour eventually brings the egg into sight. Outside, the ship is piling on more power than ever before on an egg-dipping expedition. Kate comes out to add her TK to Dafnord's pull, and the egg starts to come into visibility.
In the GSN, Braeta asks Tom if the rope should curve like that. No...
In the egg, Brunalf sees nasty red lights flare up on his board. The witch-drive field is about to collapse with something poking through its boundary. This would be Very Bad for the something (i.e. the ropes). The ropes don't go slowly transparent, fading into the GSN -- they become abruptly transparent at the edge of the field. If the field collapses, the ropes may well be cut. This would be Very Bad for Tom and Braeta.
Informed of the red lights, Robbie has the Munch ease the egg back in. The red lights go out. Robbie then has Brunalf rotate the egg, winding the ropes up around it like thread on a bobbin.
Meanwhile, Tom tries to make the ropes shorter by glamour. This makes them curve more and become transparent sooner, from Tom and Braeta's angle. Tom drops that method and uses glamour to make the egg nearer. It works, and the ropes straighten out and gain opacity.
There is a jerk on the rope for no known reason.
Brunalf tries to contact Tom or Braeta telepathically, to no avail. Robbie has the little red light on the camera blink Morse code. Tom waves impatiently at it and goes on glamouring; he doesn't even know Morse code, much less have time for it.
The egg comes in view, revolving gracefully. The cat turns its running lights on. His engines are overloading... He manages to telepath to Braeta and recommends she climb hand-over-hand to the egg, with Tom. She does.
Urgently, the folk outside now pull the egg out of the GSN. The egg has the ropes wound all around it and is now in normal gravity. Tom and Braeta fall off, the ropes unraveling after them, since the egg is not really designed to be a spindle. Tom takes off on his TK. Braeta hits the end of the rope. This causes enough jerk to set off the egg's safety foam, but you knew that had to happen sooner or later.
Markel brings a grav pallet down for Braeta, and eventually we are all gathered into the Munch again.
And that was the test dip.
We conclude the ship is no particular use for this; only people pulling on the ropes matter to the magic of the GSN. So next time we'll use lots of people and tie Tom on quite securely.
Braeta asks to see the Map of Here. A good idea but it shows no dimensional traffic we can't account for.
About those two strangers: Tom shows what he saw, using glamour. Braeta can't say whether they are nephilim or not. But we may be looking at an escape attempt or a rescue attempt. Dafnord thinks it would be good to throw a rope to those folk, if we can locate them again.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.