Chapter 29: Scattered Thoughts
We left Robbie and his friends with the Doctor of Form, in Djinnistan. The Doctor asked Roobbie what his aim was. Robbie had not given this nearly enough thought. Gannar asks Robbie if his being an agent of his world's Time Patrol, on "detached service," is enough to constitue an aim. No, not really.
Robbie tells the Doctor that he's sure he'd like to be more stable. The Doctor questions him some more, and Robbie decides that he really liked being a wad of intelligent magic even more than being a robot. So we've at least decided on the goal of this project.
The Doctor mentions that sorcerors sometimes trap errant minds in contrived bodies, and Gannar wonders if something similar might be done for Robbie. We discuss golems. These are possibilities, the Doctor admits, but they all entail trapping Robbie rather than letting him manifest a body of his own. Robbie would rather do the latter.
Is there anything to be done with his old body, the more-or-less-robot-shaped wad of magic we've been carrying around? The Doctor looks it over -- peers through a little crystal ball, pokes at it, does funny things with smoke -- and confirms that it's djinnish in flavor. He sees no way of getting Robbie back in it, but Robbie ought to be able to do that trick again, in his native realm.
Wherever that is.
Daphne asks about taking Robbie to Chaos' Rim. It's easy to make things there. The Doctor agrees that's one of the possibilities. Lanthil is another candidate for "native realm" now, as is Djinnistan. What's really needed, he feels, is a realm created by the New Blood themselves, supposing Robbie to now be one of the New Blood (who are often characterized as "self-created" or having "chosen their own natures").
Gannar contacts Robbie telemetrically (which is interesting in itself) and asks if Tom is of teh New Blood, because, if he is, then the missing pantope is a (small) realm created by the New Blood. Robbie isn't sure.
Moved by similar reasoning, Daphne shows the Doctor a bit of emerald shrapnel from the pantope deck and tries to tell him about the pantope. This is a confusing subject, so we soon decide that Tom himself should come and explain it.
Tom limps off the Pudgie Budgie, meets the Doctor, and explains about the origins of Lanthil, the Marginalia, the Lilim, and the creation of the pantope, including the way it got stuck in Djinnistan shortly after its creation. The Doctor readily adds the pantope to the places Robbie might be able to manifest a body, since it combines features fo Chaos' Rim, Lanthil, and Djinnistan.
Robbie wonders if he could think himself into the missing pantope.
Yeah, looks like. At least, we'll hope that's where he went. Tom offers to try to follow Robbie by summoning an omniport here from Lanthil and trying to repair it. The Doctor thinks that risky, but summons up the djinna who was ambassador to the Lanthil Council, the lady who got this whole mess started.
After she has the situation explained to her, she teleports Tom back to Lanthil, where the two of them find Fallataal still loyally guarding the pair of omniports, in a small air-boat. Tom sets to work on the less-damaged-looked omniport...
Elsewhere -- very much elsewhere -- Robbie finds himself surrounded by green. Is this the Emerald Metaphor? Probably, but it's a real mess. Massive cracks in the deck. Scrambled machinery everywhere. That lump of rag is probably the magic tent. Robbie wonders where in here he should--
Back in Lanthil, Tom gets the omniport to open on the pantope with very little trouble. He starts to step in, but Fallataal, ever dutiful, flits in ahead of him in case of danger. But all's safe. If terribly messed up. Tom sadly surveys the same wreckage Robbie did, and the Ambassador joins him.
"Robbie?" Tom calls. Then he tries again with telepathy. It echoes, which didn't used to happen. But he does get a feeling of Robbie's presence. A very diffuse feeling...
"Did a djinn die in here?" the Ambassador asks. No! No, nothing at all like that! Tom assures her, not wanting Robbie to get any unhealthy ideas.
Moved by similar thoughts, the djinna takes out a yellow gem and hands it to Fallataal, then -- pop -- she and Tom and in in the gem, which is psi-proof. She tells Tom that the classic djinn in a bottle or lamp sometimes, when it escapes, tends to get all diffuse and scattered, and she thinks something like this has happened to Robbie. Normally, you'd put the patient in a "wind bottle," but Robbie is diffuse thoughts, not wind.
Tom asks if that djinnish body might be a suitable container. She says it's worth trying. They pop out of the gem, Tom stands about with Fallataal, keeping him mouth and his mind firmly shut, and the Ambassaro pops back to the Doctor of Form.
There, she reports to the group. They pick up the eidolon body and all teleport into the pantope (except for Markel, who has been left guarding the Pudgie Budgie; we'll catch up with him later).
In the pantope, the Doctor does magic stuff over Robbie's eidolon body.
Robbie is aware of booting up. Things are very confused. He runs diagnostics. They inform him that all systems are down. (Including themselves, presumably. And anything that would sustain consciousness. Diagnostics seems a little confused, too.) He opens his eyes and sees vaguely familar faces.
The rest of us note that Robbie's form is changing, getting more detailed and more truly robotic-looking. We help him to his feet, and he only really remembers us when he taps one of his memory servers. Long time, no access.
Things are looking up, but Robbie feels odd still. Something is ... remote about his body. It doesn't feel like his. The Doctor says, "There are two possibilities -- you could settle for the vessel you're now in, or you could try to manifest. To do the latter, you'd have to be decanted." And decanting involves shattering the vessel.
"Let's do it,"says Robbie.
"Wait!" says Tom. "How does he manifest?"
"By an act of will and imagination," the Doctor says. He lets Robbie gird up his mental loins, then pulls a knife and raps him smartly on the head with the pommel.
The eidolon body crumbles into bits of wiring, gears, and tubing. A ghostly Robbie is left. He doesn't feel so unreal now. But he still looks unreal.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.