Chapter 6: Evening Jaunts
We decide we should see more than one sample of teleport cage, just to
make sure of our deductions. We return to the spaceport, and rent
another flying saucer (or maybe it's the same one, if that's Dafnord's
gum under the steering console). We select another battlesite in Algis
territory, but one that is rather far away from our previous site.
Dafnord, as the Tenth Dragon, calls Algis Air Traffic Control, and
announces our intended destination. We're cleared, and arrive in good
time in an appropriately desolate area.
It's an area skimpily covered with tall shrubs (The fauna is keyed as Green.), which have the unrealized goal of being trees. Right in front of us is a modest hill, topped by a scorched-looking crater.
Salimar produces a superb retrocognition, and we are treated to a three-dimensional vision with surround-sound that envelopes the entire hill. It's night, but everything is illuminated by the reflected light of the planetary rings. There's a pillbox on the hill. Almost immediately, a strange, geodesic dome pops into being a few hundred meters above the building, and begins descending. Blaster fire sleets upward, and return fire blazes down. The sphere sinks lower and then -- KA-BOOM -- there is a crater instead of a pillbox. The transport grows closer to us, and Salimar does a freeze-frame.
There is a Hood Ornament in this vehicle too, and Dafnord points out the variations that tell him it is a different one from our previous exemplar. We examine it closely, and continue to believe that it is organic. However, we cannot spot any eyes or any orifices. The five pods and five tendrils meet in... a sort of... wad in the creature's middle. It could be a plant or a sponge or... our knowledge fails us.
We examine the transport cage itself. The struts are surprisingly thick, and we speculate that they contain machinery as well as being supports. There are sixteen Blenari being transported, and two of them look the worse for wear from the blaster fire. We check for the protective discs, and find that most of them, including both wounded soldiers, are wearing two, presumably one of each kind. After we've squeezed what information we can from the scene, Salimar ends the pause. Soon thereafter the dome blinks out and the vision ends.
As part of this display, Dafnord had seem lights (ships?) over the trees, but they had not come closer, and so we cannot study them further. We agree that we can learn no more here.
We call Eric, but get his answering machine. Well, it's late by human reckoning. We return to the human enclave, park, and go to the rooms that Eric got for us. We feel hungry for some familiar food, so we call the Munch and have it send us the projective teleport. It arrives, we get in, and to return to the Munch for a late night snack involving waffles, ice cream, or both. The teleporter returns us to our quarters and snaps back to the Munch.
There's a phone message for us, but it's not from Eric. It's from Requembel Spaceport. Oh. Dafnord calls back. They want to know if we used our hyperdrive in the last three "periods." Dafnord says no, then realizes that the teleport is connected to the hyperdrive, not the gravitics. Ooops. And it's from the future, of course. He explains, "Uh, we did run... an experiment." We are asked not to do that again without warning them, since our activity looks like an unscheduled takeoff using hyperdrive on the ground. This is upsetting to them; it's bad for the tarmac, for a start. We promise.
We select our rooms, arrange our personal stuff, and sleep.
Daphne is awakened by a faint, whirry, rattling noise. She slides open the door to the corridor, to see reflections of flickering firelight on the far wall. She flies down the corridor, and around the corner. There's a huge room there, lit only by a lantern on a shelf. It reveals two Blenari, no bigger than she is herself, with shiny, golden skin. One is pulling fluff out of a large basket, and the other is turning it into thread on a spindle.
"Hi," says the pixie.
"Hello," says the creature with the basket.
"If you're going to volunteer for something like this," says the other, "you need to follow up."
Daphne looks askance.
"You need to get the numbers."
"The kind you need to get there," the first one explains.
"Where she was when you met her. At her home."
Daphne's thoughts churn through her conversation with Licconeten. "Hmmm."
"Mind the wick," warns the second creature. The first one reaches for the lantern, but the flame dies and the room goes black.
Daphne flies over and up to the light switch and turns it on. The room is empty. The shelf is there, but there's no trace of the lantern. She flies back to our rooms and wakes up Salimar. She tells her everything that happened. Salimar remembers an incident from Martshayla Port: There were two small, golden Blenari comforting a large Blenari. They gave it a ball of yarn and led it through a door, a door that didn't lead anywhere for us.
So those were Blenari fairies. Daphne understands that, but she is still confused. She did give Licconeten our names and numbers. Everything should be fine.
Robbie is spending the night researching the Tlappina Aelth. (The seven major divisions are the Veem, Hroon, Kwass, Vrev, Plick, Grob, and Vree.) The comm console pings. Edvard reports that he has a phone call for Daphne -- and Daphne flies into the room.
Edvard reports, "I have a call for you fro--"
Licconeten blurts out everything in one long rush. "There's going to be a raid, right on top of Betalto, and I don't have the coordinates, and even if I did, I can't get near a projective teleport, so you've got to help me."
Ah. Daphne is now in control. "Yes, I spoke to the golden fairies and-"
Licconeten can't believe her ears. "You s-s-spoke to, you s-s-saw fairies?"
"Yes. They told me I had to give you the numbers. So. Just where is Betalto?"
"He's in Yenotra."
"Edvard?" demands the pixie.
"Yenotra is a large town, located at-- " The coordinates mean nothing to her.
Robbie has been watching and listening with great curiosity. "I think we should pick up Licconeten first." Daphne agrees. While Edvard collects information from Licconeten, Robbie calls the spaceport and warns them that we will be performing another series of experiments. As the eidolon and fay watch on the screen, our Juliet is plucked up, passed through the Munch, and delivered to our living room.
Getting Romeo is going to be harder; he's in a group, since he's been called up to fight. Daphne wakes up Kate, who obligingly produces a general telepathic wake-up call. She is the maroon dressing gown with dark brown hair that leads the group into the living room to meet Licconeten. Daphne explains (sort of) about the golden Blenari.
We put our heads together to devise a method to extract Betalto. Robbie pulls a street map of Yenotra off the web, and has Licconeten locate Betalto's group on it. We decide that a large open square nearby is a good extraction point. Dafnord asks our damsel for a verbal token, so that Betalto will know that our message is really from her. She suggests "bling-fruit" and blushes a delicate khaki.
Dafnord makes the call to Betalto. "Greetings, sentient. It is imperative that you go to the fountain at First and Main Streets. There will be bling-fruit." It may not be subtle, but it covers the ground.
"... brought by a girl?" tentatively asks the stunned Betalto.
We finish glamouring the teleporter to look like an Algis model, and ourselves to look like the Blenari fairies. We call Bethalto again, to confirm that he's reached the fountain. Blinkety-blink. We're hovering over the fountain, with our ears popping. "Raise your arms," instructs the small, golden Daphne. Betalto does so, then Robbie and Daphne fly down and take one arm each. Kate TKs the three of them up into the teleporter, while the two fairies act like they're lifting the Blenari on their own.
Blink again, and we're on the Munch. We push our two guests out first, and have Edvard start up the furnisher, running up Blenari furniture. We turn off all the glamours. Dafnord makes the phone calls. First, he calls Daracrew and tells him that the Korando know of their raid, and so they should call it off. Then (after asking Betalto for the information) we call one Miramu and give him the corresponding message. Dafnord enjoys leaving a trail of surprised-looking Blenari. It's only fair.
Lastly, he calls the spaceport, and tells them we've finished our experiments.
He looks suspiciously at Daphne. "Is there anyone else?"
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.