Chapter 3: The Algis Clan
Everyone is linked to Dafnord over the net. We wait tensely. He smiles
amiably, and walks off with the two Blenari soldiers. There is a faint
rustling in the treetops as Daphne follows him via the high road. Robbie
pops out an eye, and succeeds in sending it after the Acro
We've done what we can, and turn our attention to the actual area of the battle. There is no question about its identity. The area is scorched, with occasional lumps of slagged equipment and there are the blackened remains of a single building jutting up near the middle. We examine the ground closely, looking for other traces. There are no personal armaments or bits of uniforms, but a few of us find some disks. Salimar examines hers closely; it is actually a lens-shape on a tether, white, shiny, and opaque. Robbie's is obviously broken; he can see that it is not uniform inside, and is therefore a mechanism.
Salimar does a simple retrocognition, and learns that hers hung around a person's neck, and that it was psionically active. She uses her hex clairvoyance, and decides that the innards are more biological than electronic. Robbie turns his attention to her lens, and succeeds at coiling into it and turning it on. Salimar decides that it is dicing, acting as an effective good luck charm. Robbie probes deeper, but can find no programmable capacity in it; it's either on or off. Fallataal also finds one, but can tell only that it is related, in some way, to Chaos.
At Dafnord's suggestion, sent over the net, Robbie puts on the amulet, and Kate and Markel throw rocks at him. It seems to each of them that fewer of the rocks hit than should, but they can't really be sure. We shift the lens to a tree, and throw some more rocks, but again can't tell which rocks "should" have hit. Although throwing rocks is fun, we eventually stop because it isn't useful.
Salimar runs a retrocognition of the ruined building as an octarine display. It's night, and there are Algis soldiers in the building. Korando soldiers lob in grenades. The Algis fire plasma rifles out through the new holes as well as the old ones. Our alien slows down the action, so we can observe more closely. Some of the Korando soldiers are indeed wearing the lenses. They do seem to avoid being hit. One is struck shortly after an Algis manages to pull the amulet off him. It is all very suggestive, but not definitive.
Dafnord is led to a clearing with a steading in it. There is a house with a lawn, several outbuildings, a landing pad, and a primitive road leading into the forest. At their approach, a Blenari comes out of the house. He is wearing civilian clothes, including the pumpkin pants that Blenari are fond of, lots of ribbons, a pair of bandoliers, and two plasma guns. The pair of soldiers come up to him, do a present arms, crouch slightly, then resume their initial posture. Dafnord gives a slight bow.
"You are the Tenth Daragon?" asks the Blenari.
Dafnord stands up very straight, so that he towers over the three Blenari. "I am the Tenth Dragon of the Auspicious Sunrise. Call me Ten."
In the ensuing conversation, Dafnord again claims to be an arms dealer, and says that his people are analyzing the battle site. "It would appear that your arms are about equal, but that their armaments are better," he volunteers.
The three Blenari discuss things quietly, including our group's unauthorized arrival, and the need to be sensible. Then they go quiet in that attentive way that indicates telepathy.
These pre-negotiations resume. Dafnord carefully suggests, "Your real problem appears to be one of Intelligence." He presents them with various possibilities, but soon find their evasions too exasperating to deal with. He becomes blunt. "What do you know of your enemy's allies?"
It doesn't help; they are unwilling to reveal what they know, except to say that they know about many Korando allies, and see no way that they could be giving the odd sort of help that the Blenari clan clearly have.
Dafnord signals Salimar, and holds out his hand. Using Robbie's nearby eye as a focus, our slimy alien glamours the image of the pod-creature, some twenty centimeters tall, onto Dafnord's open palm. The Blenari exclaim, and the leader starts taking holograms of the image. This is something they haven't seen before, and they thank Dafnord for revealing it to them.
Dafnord then suggests that we spy on the Korando for them. The Algis leader explains that he cannot authorize us to spy, but when we seem willing to spy on the Korando all by ourselves and then tell them what we know, he says he's willing to listen. Especially when Dafnord is particularly vaporous about what we want for pay, and suggests we are "paid" by the favorable alterations in politics we expect.
What the leader can do is authorize us to use Algis space. We will still have to announce our arrivals. We will have to submit to a public verifier at our next meeting as well. Dafnord agrees to this, but stipulates that we will be using a verifier too. They agree to this, and Dafnord is led back.
Salimar scans the entire battlefield psychically, and Markel scans it physically. She reports that there is lots of psionic activity here, and that most of it is Blenari. He reports that all of the participants are Blenari, urging her to concentrate on the non-Blenari activity. She confirms that the non-Blenari psi is coming from the amulets.
Dafnord and his two escorts arrive. He joins us in our examination of the area, while the two Blenari soldiers settle into watching us from a parade rest. With Dafnord's arrival, Markel feels free to follow a track away from the site. He misses the dramatic sight of Kate collapsing from a failed qui. Sullenly, she refuses Salimar's offer of help. "I prefer to have my own headaches, thank you."
Salimar takes a break from scanning, and just looks over the area. She decides she'd like to grow a tail. Then she comes back to herself, and rips off the amulet around her neck. She races after Markel, and does the same for him, broadcasting the situation over the net as she does so.
Daphne did not return with Dafnord. Instead, the pixie scouts around the Blenari house. There are two soldiers patrolling, one in the front and one in the back, but they don't worry her. She flies high above the forest and follows the road far enough to see that it leads to other houses nestled in the forest. The nearest house is the most interesting. It is the largest, it's guarded, and it has six air cars parked near it. Perhaps this is the local Blenari headquarters.
She slips closer, and looks through a window. The rooms are low, as befits a sauroid race that leans forward from its hips, and has low, backless chairs that accommodate their tails. This house seems more opulent than the first one; it has more decorations and elaborations. She spots some Blenari acting as servants; they are soldiers.
She checks out another room, and finds a Blenari sleeping fitfully, and looking distraught. She flies in the window.
We have been keeping track of her. Kate asks, "What are you trying to do?" The pixie ignores her, and addresses the distressed Blenari.
"Is something wrong? Can I help?"
The Blenari falls off its couch, peers over its edge, and asks, "Are you a Terry?"
"No, I'm a fairy."
"But they're all shiny - and gold."
Daphne thinks it's perfectly fine to be blue. "Maybe yours are, but I work for the Terrans and I look like this."
"You were spying on me."
"You were upset. I'm supposed to help people. Would you like a chocolate fruit?"
The Blenari eyes the alien fruit and recoils. Daphne eats the fruit herself. The Blenari keeps facing the pixie, but edges toward the bellpull near the wall.
Daphne notices. "Are you going to hurt me? You're really big. Why were you upset?"
"Uhhh... Do you understand promises?"
"Oh, yes," says the pixie brightly. "They're really important."
"Do you promise not to tell anyone I'm upset?"
"Yes." We already know, and "anyone" really means Blenari anyhow.
The story is simple, familiar, and old, the story of Romeo and Juliet. This is Juliet. She and her Romeo can sometimes contrive to meet in Requembel, but she is afraid that he will be killed, either in battle, or because they have been found out.
"You could go away together," suggests Daphne. "You could leave the planet on our ship. With us. I'm Daphne. You could call me and I'll come. You are called...?"
"Licconeten. I will call you." (As in "Don't call us, we'll call you...")
Daphne explains about the Auspicious Sunrise, and that its AI is Edvard. Licconeten seems increasingly nervous. Daphne asks, "Should I leave now?"
She flies out the window and back to us, pleased with having done her fey duty to be helpful. We are not impressed. She sulks. "You guys know too much to be decent mortals!"
We've finished our reconnaissance. Markel's tracks split into smaller and small groups of Blenari pursued by other small groups of Blenari. Nowhere did the Map of Here show any new pins. There is nothing more to be learned, so we agree to return to our flier and leave. We still need to learn more about the pod creatures, the white lenses, and the transdimensional transports, and we can't do that here.
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.