Week 7, Joining the Archeologists
We left our heroes with two exciting developments. Tom had just spotted Henderson up on the starbase -- Henderson who was last seen 900 years ago, on Earth, in a different time line. Cantrel and Pfusand had just seen the archaeologists open the alien building, much to the time-travelers' surprise.
As the scientists prepare to dive in, all eagerness, Cantrel asks them, "Is this wise? There might be traps inside. Wouldn't you like more guards?" The scientists recover their caution and decide that might be a good idea; after all, they can always open the door again, now that they know how. They ask Cantrel to be sure it is never left unguarded, then close it up while Cantrel summons more guards.
Up in the starbase, Tom gathers the rest of the crew and they retreat toward their ship, and the pantope hidden inside it. On the way, Daewen spots Henderson again, taking the other elevator, and leaves to stalk him. When we reach the docking bays, Alag stays behind to arrange for a swift departure. Lorelei, Sophie, Chris, and Tom vanish into the ship, thence into the pantope, stop external time, and pause to plan.
The strategy they will put up to the others is:
All this decided and done, we start up time. We do this when open on the interior of the building. Immediately, we see a corridor of ornately carved walls, lit by a pulsing white light, coming from around a corner.
Well before her five minutes are up, Daewen calls us, growling something in very low elvish about the bodily secretions of orcs. When she recovers her temper a bit, she reports that Henderson spotted her and vanished -- poof.
A bit later, she and Alag come barreling onto the bridge in person. Daewen commands that the auxiliary bridge be next door, so it is. She then rearranged the helm and does arcane things with it.
We ask, what did she mean, "vanished"? Probably teleported, but by no very advanced means, judging by the sparks, after-images, and whoosh of displaced air. And the scan she's just done indicates no one else in the neighborhood is playing pantope-style tricks with space and time. So we may hope that Henderson is NOT a worldbender.
We explain our strategy to Alag and Daewen, who approve them. We then open the door on the outside of the building, down on the planet, and call Cantrel on the communicator. He saunters around the corner, as if on reconnaissance, and slips into the pantope. After getting caught up on developments, he suggests we bring the ship down so as to be able to meet it in a plausible way. He'd also like us to dress as hired guards and disguise our appearances. Okay.
Alag suggests we take a diadem reading. We take one on the inside of the building: it's very bright but still directionless.
We drop off Cantrel, then give the door a new outside position, on the far side of a low hill between the archaeological dig and the base camp. We then stop time, fit ourselves out with uniforms and disguises, start time, and exit. We come marching up over the hill, followed at some distance by the real base personnel.
Daewen asks Tom, "Did you leave the kitchen door open?"
Tom (puzzled): "You mean the one inside?"
Daewen (disgusted): "Subtle, Tom, very subtle."
Tom: "Oh. Uh, no, I left the front door open."
Cantrel now tells Tom, Pfusand, and Daewen to check out the door to the building. As they enter, he sends Lorelei in to keep us in sight. As soon as the door is opened, the pulsing white light appears and the specialist who opened the door asks "What the hell is that?"
We work our way down a corridor of pale, carved rock. We come to an intersection and Daewen check it for traps. We then turn the corner around which the light comes. (Outside, Chris and Sophie head back to the pantope, to move the door.) We find closed doors along the corridor, but will not investigate them on this preliminary scouting. Daewen thinks she may see faint scratch marks on the floor, perhaps signs of dragging.
By now, the pulsing white light seems to be coming from all around, casting no shadows, as if the air itself were glowing. This is three minutes into our scouting, and we should return in five. We call in to report, then troop back to the door. (Meanwhile, Chris and Sophie have moved the pantope door to its inside location, which turns out to be near the door to the outside.)
The specialist is now eager to go in. He and the other scientists and technicians enter, accompanied by us. this time, we will check out the doors.
The first two doors we come across are locked. Despite the psi storm, Lorelei manages to punch through a Deryni probe on one door and discovers it can readily be unlocked by telekinesis, if you know where to push. So she pushes, much surprising the specialist, who was probing away with his pet gadget.
Beyond the door is more white light. It illuminates a room full of alien gadgets, in neat rows. It could be anything from the computer center to the laundromat, for all we can tell by looking at it. Much of it looks like carved stone. We all gape at this for a bit and Tom congratulates the specialist and his buddies on their find.
Cantrel sends Lorelei and Daewen in to check the place out. Daewen finds some footprints in the dust of ages -- Kendorini footprints. She passes this information telepathically to Tom, who sends it to Chris, show sends it to Cantrel. (We have to use this bucket-brigade approach because of the psi-storm.) Cantrel promptly hustles the scientists out and, after hearing the Kendorini are in here, they are willing to go. They suggest the Kendorini might have entered through some other door.
After re-grouping, we go in again, this time only with the specialist, leaving guards at the door. Also, we send Sophie off for sunglasses; that placeless white light was getting very bright.
Lorelei explains how she unlocked the door, and how most of the group could probably follow her example. The specialist is fascinated to learn how many telekinetics Cantrel has in his team.
As we go exploring cautiously back down the corridor, Daewen receives an explosion. She flies back, injured but conscious. It was a Kendorini, she says from the floor, with a blaster. She was largely protected from the blast by the elven armor she was wearing under her uniform.
Cantrel now spots a hidden door worked into the corner of the corridor. The Kendorini appears to have fired and retreated from it. More investigation reveals another hidden door, both of them in corners of the rooms full of ranked machinery, facing outward into the corridors.
Lorelei opens one and discovers a spiral stair, leading both up and down. There's another behind the second hidden door. Cantrel orders in a work crew and has them seal up the doors of the second stairwell. He also sends Lorelei and Sophie to fetch additional armor, including chain mail, since that is particularly effective against blaster fire. Daewen goes with them, to get patched up. (They are retreating over the hill to the pantope doorway. Naturally, we do not discuss this.)
After she returns, Lorelei scries the first hidden door and determines that it was used recently and someone went down the spiral stair, in great excitement. Pfusand and Tom scout UP the spiral first and find another door, which Cantrel has sealed to prevent attacks on us from the rear. (The archaeologist isn't at all happy about all this sealing up.)
We are now ready to follow that Kendorini. Cantrel starts to telepath something to Tom and finds he is mentally shouting in a vast silence. The psi storm has stopped.
What are the Kendorini doing? Have they grabbed the diadem segment? No, Tom slips a look at the detector and it's still glowing. We have a hasty telepathic conference and decide we'd better go after the Kendorini, in self-defense and to preclude their getting the segment. The specialist, not on our private circuit, is very excited and would like to stay, but Cantrel sends him out, along with all other non-combatants, just as the elves start turning invisible (except for Sophie). Tom promises to take instrument readings for him; the specialist is surprised to find that Tom CAN use his personal instrument pack. (No problem, as long as the break in the psi storm holds.)
The communicators beep and someone outside says one of the work crew is missing. Daewen goes to check this out. In short order, we hear sounds of stunner fire. "I may have got the bastard that time!" says Daewen. She hit him just as he was in the act of vanishing. It was Henderson again, dressed as one of the workmen. (Now that we pause to compare notes, we find that some of saw a team of three workmen, other, a team of two. Very tricky, this Henderson.)
Since we have open psi, Chris feels around telepathically and detects a large number of minds in the floor below. Making an invisible scout run down the stairs, he sees six Kendorini, waiting around the base, weapons ready.
We hastily organize an ambush. The elves cast Glamours of invisibility on themselves, Pfusand, and Cantrel. Cantrel casts Flight charges on himself, Pfusand, and an elf or two. This phantom SWAT team then ghosts down the stairs and takes up positions behind the six Kendorini. Tom and Lorelei come down using mundane stealth and caution.
We all open fire, with blasters and lasers mixed with elven arrows. The six Kendorini have little chance. But Pfusand landed next to a door. The door has a window in it, and through the window, he can see a couple of dozen Kendorini, bustling about in a room full of alien machinery. The machinery looks like sculpted crystal, and vaguely normal machinery is scattered around it. Several of the Kendorini are turning around to see what all the commotion is about.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.