Week 14, To the Teleporter
We paused in our skulking to bind Wu down to his neurons. (We have NOT removed the psi-cuffs.) We also gave his armor to Mark, and Cantrel tended Victoria's feet as well as he could. And we managed to revive Aphron.
The system of halls has a cylindrical symmetry, as if we were in a round tower. Mark said he thought we were up and outward from the place we came in, so we decided to work our way down and inward, seeking a teleport station.
Remember there was a background noise going "thrum, thrum." It now crescendos to "thrip! thrip!" presumably indicating a shift from Condition Yellow to Condition Orange. About the same time, Tom noticed that a short segment of the corridor ahead looked odd -- a slightly shimmery texture. The party therefore ducked through an open door, into an office.
Cantrel burned a hole in the floor with his disflorger. The room beneath appeared to be full of machinery. He dropped through. Hm. There were also six technicians who hadn't been visible before. Armed? Hard to tell. A technician pushed a button on a panel before Cantrel could stun him. Cantrel expressed a desire to leave so Tom, who is still dressed as a Highlander of the Eleven Kingdoms, lowered his pseudo-Scottish plaid for Cantrel to climb up. A technician threw something at Cantrel as a parting shot. Cantrel caught it with psychokinesis. Sirens started going off. We scrammed.
We went down a radial cross corridor and Tom spotted another odd segment. He brushed his plaid against it and found it was a force field bulkhead. The party found another open door to an apartment and Cantrel blasted a hole in the wall of the shower stall.
It would appear that, even in 100,000 AD, they convey water to the shower via pipes in the wall. Cantrel had just bored a hole into the plumbing. Cantrel changed clothes (using some slightly out-sized garments found in the closet) and bored a hole through the closet, into a corridor. Victoria of the burned feet heard someone running away and dived through the new hole in pursuit. She returned moments later and said she had clobbered a tech. She returned without the clothes-closet strut she had been using for a staff, so she ripped out another one.
We split again and again came to a force field. (We got good at spotting them.) We ducked into another room, walls lined with strange machines, and Cantrel tried another drill through the floor.
Cantrel came flying back, slightly singed. Some of the machines started to flicker and flutter. And there was a small hole in the floor. Aphron tried burning it from a greater distance but got exploded upon and hurt even worse. The machines started flaring. We chose another part of the floor and heard an alarm make an abortive "whoop." Through this hole we saw another room full of machines. Cantrel noticed that one of them seemed to be glowing brighter and brighter with ever passing moment. To hell with the hole in the floor. (Indeed, to hell THROUGH the hole in the floor, it appears.) We dashed back out into the hall, pausing only to grab a bunch of silvery coveralls from some closets.
The "thrip! thrip!" alarm, which we had left behind, started up again. We fondly hoped we had done the worldbenders some major technical damage and ducked into an office to don the silver suits, so as to look less like fugitives. The alarms then escalated to "ba-BOO! ba-BOO!" and we started making tracks, after a quick looting of gadgets left on the office desk.
Cantrel blasted down another level and brought us out in unoccupied barracks. We found a cache of Eleven-Kingdoms-style clothing and weapons, and Tom gladly supplied himself with a sword, wrapped it in his faithful plaid, and shoved it down the back of his silver suit.
Cantrel stepped out into the hall and saw six random members of the staff approaching. (These people seem to travel in sixes.) He studied the face of an instrument pack he had filched and registered Thoughtful Concern. Between this and his silver suit (SWAT team uniform? janitorial staff?) the passers-by retreated. After all, alarms are going off around them.
Cantrel came back in the barracks and burned down a level. Storage room, and someone just left it. Hm. We left the hole, hoping it would misdirect someone, and trooped out into the hallway. We headed away from the six retreating staff members.
A door opened as we went by and more staff came out. They looked shocked and the door closed. (We look shocking. We are dressed in some of their own clothes, one of us (Victoria) is limping on an impromptu crutch, and another is carrying an unconscious form (Wu in silver) over his back.)
After that encounter, Cantrel realized the room they had come from was an elevator or a teleport station. So we went back and pushed the little button. Once in the room, we found no more controls, just a panel with foreign writing on it. Speaking orders to the air got us nowhere. On simultaneous hunches, Aphron and Tom both sent probes into the panel and spoke a destination. Two different ones. The elevator (for such it was) jostled up and down. So Tom tried alone. Probe "Teleport room."
And off we whir. The elevator opened on a room vaguely like the transporter rooms you see in Star Trek -- a control panel, a stage of some sort, and three doors, one serving the elevator. There was a technician at the controls.
"Report!" Cantrel commanded.
"What's the difficulty?" asked the technician, looking confused.
"We'll need to make a test," Tom offered, to keep up the verisimilitude. It didn't work. The technician started to look suspicious, so Cantrel pulled the disflorger and stunned him.
Aphron tried to seize his mind but found he had shields (though he didn't feel exactly Deryni). Aphron therefore ordered Mark to administer some of our merasha -- the drug that knocks out Deryni powers. The technician, already unconscious, was suitably deranged by the merasha and Aphron started pounding on his mind shields.
While the others guards entrances or puzzled fruitlessly over the console, Aphron reached the tech's memories and started reading. The technician had been engaged in a delaying tactic when we arrived. Some higher-ups were porting through from Headquarters, and he was told to put them off. We are clothed in high-energy suits, like 20th-century radiation armor. No wonder the passers-by looked upset. Finally, Aphron hit some of his technical training. Using this, he started to work on the teleport controls.
In the tech's memory, Aphron found a standard drop-off point in Middle Earth, in the woods north of Bree. He then located a date there, six weeks prior to the time the pantope is due to open. The pantope will open near the edge of the valley of Rivendell, not a place on the standard drop-off table. We figure it might easily take us six weeks to get from Bree to Rivendell. And when we arrive, we expect to find worldbenders in attendance, because Wu spilled the schedule to them at interrogation. sigh
Aphron set the coordinates and threw a rag onto the stage. pop Now to pull it back. pop So far, so good. David takes Wu's universal watch and steps through to get an exact time reading. (By the way, Wu and Cantrel's watches both read Eleven Kingdoms dates, and the tech's memory confirms we are still in that hunk of this world.) David comes back confused. The watch now reads unintelligible runic numbers -- Tolkienian elvish dating.
Cantrel figured out how to get a dual display on his watch and, between the two of the watches, we got a time fix. Meanwhile, we decided to try to get as close to the pantope's place and time as possible. That way, we don't present six weeks' worth of target practice and we don't have to worry about covering our tracks -- which would entail erasing computer memories in the teleport and maybe human memories in the technician.
So Aphron found a map mode and started trying to locate the tree that we wanted the pantope to open under, using crosshairs. It was tricky. Especially when the intercom started beeping. He ignored it.
Meanwhile, people started showing up. Another technician (the relief for our captive) showed up and was creamed by Victoria. Cantrel stunned another.
Tom, who had been watching attentively and enviously, took over from Aphron and was marginally better at zeroing in. Eventually, we were within a hundred yards or so of the destination. It wasn't likely to get better. So much for space. Now for time.
David stepped through with Wu's watch again and we got another time check by correlating with Cantrel's watch. About a month to go.
Victoria reported footsteps coming. Lots. Tom handed her his disflorger; he was busy anyway, counting days as they flickered by on the viewer. At his back, there was a short battle between Cantrel, Aphron, and Victoria and four guards. All the guards got stunned and their disflorgers got confiscated.
David stepped through for a time check. RIGHT. The intercom bleeped again. This time, Aphron puppeted the technician, who answered.
"What's going on there? Where have you been?"
"I had to go for a leak."
"Who are those people behind you?" (Oh, it's got video.)
"Power technicians. There was a false alarm."
(Massively unconvinced.) "Did the guards show up?"
"Let me speak to the lieutenant?"
Things were no longer convincing. We hung up.
About then, we were ready to pile into the teleport. Mark had been cutting throats on the fallen guards. Several of us picked up armored bodies.
*pop* It is dawn. We are in mountainous countryside. We have a gauntlet to run.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.