Week 12, Captured by the Worldbenders
We left Penny keeping watch from a building near Delany's house. She had just seen the latest version of Stefan Corum enter. She moved over to Delany's roof and tried to eavesdrop on conversations but only succeeded in puzzling some servants who caught a passing glimpse of her braids flapping outside a window.
After trying long and hard, she DID find Corum and Delany, and overheard the single word "Rhodri." She decided to make do with that.
The next day was June 13th, and probably a Friday, judging by our subsequent luck. Mark delivered a notice to Stefan Corum and Barrett Delany to meet with us at the inn we first stayed at. The whole party was there, scattered at various tables. Stefan showed up with a Deryni woman unknown to us.
Wu, wearing his "Robert Gray" form, probed these two with special attention to their mastoids. Nothing. They raised their eyebrows.
Wu: You're looking unusually well.
Corum: [puzzled] Forgive me, but despite the obvious resemblance, I can't place you in my family tree.
Wu: I'm CALLED Robert Gray.
Corum: I was expecting the same initials but a different name. [He looks at Aphron and Cantrel.]
Wu: It's a great surprise to see you. Where do you last recall having been with RG?
Corum: [puzzled again] I met the gentleman briefly in Eastmarch.
Wu: We both know that's not true. Shall we be honest?
Corum: I AM being honest, sir! [He probes Wu, then introduces the lady as Marian de Winter, a friend of his and Barrett's.]
Wu offered to show Corum their last meeting, telepathically. They lowered shields and 'pathed a memory of our last battle with worldbenders. Corum was severely shaken. He asked to read a bit further, to make sure these were real memories. While he read Wu's memory, Wu read his. He remembered that time as dull and innocuous, unrelated to us. In fact, Corum remembered nothing about us dated later than the night-raid staged by Rhydon.
Wu asked to continue this educational experience somewhere more private. Corum said he knew of a safe place. "The one in the mountains?" asked Wu, which drew another surprise reaction from Corum.
Wu and Cantrel left with Corum and de Winter. The rest of us dispersed as inconspicuously as we were able and returned to our present lodgings. The quartet returned to Delany's house. There, Wu and Corum teleported to a place Wu recognized from the book -- the chambers of the Camberian Council.
"Oh," said Wu. "I meant the OTHER place in the mountains." Meaning the Michaeline retreat that Corum uses. Corum didn't remember telling Wu about that, of course, but was willing to take him there.
Once there, Wu unloaded our life stories on Corum for a second time, and for a second time Corum was stunned. He began to notice how phony many of his memories looked for the time he was working with us. [At this point, the gamesmaster and Wu's player went into private consultation. For the sake of continuity I shall now record what I now know happened.] Corum admitted that his memory had obviously been edited. Wu opined that, whatever else had happened, Corum had faked his own death and teleported out. At that point, six worldbenders in gold uniforms, with disflorgers and blue pencils teleported into position. They blue-penciled both Wu and Corum and quickly re-arranged Wu's brain. He was now their agent.
Wu and Corum popped back into Delany's house. They had been gone an hour. Wu reported the memory dump and told Cantrel that things had happened that were hard to explain. He wanted to gather the rest of the party.
Cantrel left Aphron to keep an eye on Corum and took Wu away to be verified by Vivienne. Unfortunately, Wu hypnotized Vivienne into believing he was his old self. Thus deluded, the party duly assembled in Delany's house. Of course, no sooner did the last of us arrive than the worldbender SWAT team popped in and covered us with their disflorgers. A managerial type and some technicians followed. The technicians put some circlets on our heads and all our shields went crashing down, along with any associated psychic powers. These were the psychic equivalent of handcuffs. The manager then informed us we were all under arrest and we all popped out of Delany's house, to someplace rather like the set of Star Trek.
Corum was taken away for another editing session. We were put in a futuristic brig, with force-field door, and taken away one at a time for questioning, first Penny, then Aphron, then Wu. It hardly mattered that the first two subjects weren't cooperative -- they used a telepathic scanner for the questioning. Penny managed not to THINK about the relevant information most of the time, but of course Wu "willingly" spilled all the beans. So the worldbenders now know how much of the diadem we have collected, who we are, when we are from, and when and where the pantope is set to open next.
Aphron at least managed to trip up some of the guards on his way back to the cell. He got stunned for his trouble. He told Cantrel about the encounter and judged the guards good but nothing superhuman. Consequently Cantrel tried to break away and very nearly made it a couple of times. Part of his near success was because he managed to use telekinesis to disarm a guard. How? you may ask. It seems that, secretly, Cantrel had had the autodoc make him over into one of those humans who can acquire Deryni powers. He acquired them in or near the first battle with the worldbenders, probably having them activated by the first Corum. That explained his shields. One of the Deryni powers is "delayed" telekinesis, whereby you can rev up a TK spell and then wait before you use it. Cantrel had done this shortly before having his psi damped.
Meanwhile, back at the battle, Cantrel managed to shatter the ankle of one guard with his nunchuks (these guards had been terribly sloppy about disarming us), but still did not quite get away. The other guard recovered a disflorger and stunned him. They threw him back in the cell without questioning him.
We are in a lot of trouble.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.