Mid 20th Century Hong Kong
Week 3, The Death of Nguyen Cat
We start in the morning of the third and last day before tournament, plotting and planning with Cho. The rest of day is uneventful. At dinner, Victoria tells Cantrel that bandages leaked and blood may have been visible.
Evening. Cantrel & Wu successfully stealth out of the compound. They will steal the diadem while the rest of us divert. Tom takes the "gorilla" walkies with Mei Ling (secretly accompanied by Lorelei). They rendezvous with Cho and Victoria, then with Aphron and David, all apparently unobserved. We are all bound for the boat house, and then down the secret tunnels.
Victoria runs into a guard near the topiary maze who calls out in the brief seconds left to him. More guards come, including a ninja in black, on the roof, who plants arrows in Victoria and Tom. Lorelei spots the ninja, and David, Tom & Naza shoot at him. Eventually, he falls off the roof and Victoria finishes him off. At length, we all escape into the topiary maze, leaving behind six dead guards.
Meanwhile, Cantrel and Wu flit aloft on gravity belts, fly to the temple, and quietly break through a handy skylight, using an ultrablade.
Back in the topiary maze, we come through the other side, and face an eight-foot wall. Cho leaps to the top, and he catches us while Victoria throws us up. All except the "gorilla." Pfusand chins herself up as best she can, but Tom has to call for Cho and Victoria's aid. "Your gorilla can't climb?" "Well, no. Just give us a push, will you?" Meanwhile, the chameleon circuit is losing its vertical hold, trying to make all of this appear to be a gorilla climbing a wall. There's nothing it can do about the fact that this "gorilla" feels like burlap (the Naza's robes).
At length, we are all perched on the wall, including the Naza, and we go teetering off to the guard tower on the boathouse.
Over at the temple, Cantrel and Wu drift silently through the skylight -- and get hit by something potent. A stun gun? Cantrel is out cold, and Wu wishes he were. Cantrel flutters to the floor, and Wu drifts aimlessly from wall to wall, bouncing. He can see a man in the shadows -- Nguyen Cat, holding the disflorger. He tells Wu to come down when he regains control of his limbs.
Back on the wall, we reach the tower. Cho cases the place and tells us there are three guards inside and three at the foot. Cho and Victoria go through the window, while Tom stands shotgun outside. Everyone else climbs off the wall and vastly surprises the three guards at the bottom -- and in case you've lost count, "everyone else" is David, Aphron, Lorelei, Mei Ling, and the Naza, disguised as a gorilla. No wonder the guards are surprised.
Cho and Victoria butter the three guards in the tower, then Victoria leaps out the window spear first, impaling one of the three guards fighting below. In very short order, we have polished off another six guards. David spots someone aboard the steamer yacht. Cho goes to investigate and gets shot. Tom sneaks up as a rear guard, just in time to see Cho retaliate on the gunman. Tom finishes him (the gunman) off when Cho is finished with him.
Over at the temple, Wu alights and obediently approaches Nguyen Cat, pausing along the way to nudge Cantrel with a boot toe. Cantrel rouses under this stimulus and, being Cantrel, rolls over into a battle-ready crouch. Nguyen Cat is caught off guard, with disastrous consequences. He misfires his 1000th-century weapon, and it blows up. There is a tremendous thunderclap and Nguyen Cat's gun arm is gone. Somehow, he is still alive. Wu and Cantrel karate and knife him the rest of the way to death.
[I know this looks like GM intervention. There really were some very strange dice rolled at this point. The GM expected our heroes to be carted off to the dungeons, from which they would be given a chance to escape.]
Cantrel instantly resumes his search for the diadem segment. The tracer leads him to the temple altar, and he soon finds a safe hidden in its back. Meanwhile, Wu has barred the temple door and radioed the party that Nguyen Cat is dead. Moments later, there's pounding at the door as guards try to break in. Both Wu and Cantrel are temporarily deaf from the explosion, but Wu happens to notice the door buckling.
Back at the boathouse, the diversionary party has heard the explosion and is bound for the temple, when Wu's message comes through. Cho and Victoria continue to the temple, but the rest of the party now head for the boat, there to receive the expected victors. (And then, when Mei Ling isn't watching, Aphron lofts on his flying belt and flits to the rescue.)
Cantrel hacks open the safe with the ultrablade, just about the time the temple door breaks in. There are several guards and a sumo wrestler. Wu retreats vertically, just as Aphron arrives, flying in through a broken window, blaster blazing. The guards, seeing this and their master dead, are demoralized and flee. The sumo wrestler is not demoralized, for some odd reason (gross stupidity?) and advances on Cantrel. Aphron fries him badly. Cantrel now has leisure to gather up ALL the goodies in the safe, and figure out later which one is the diadem segment.
At this point, Cho vaults through a high window, in his inimitable style, just in time to see one of his three flying buddies (Wu) alight and finish off the sumo wrestler. Wu then goes on to loot Nguyen Cat's body, getting a disflorger holster, a harness, an instrument pack of some kind, and a funny wristwatch. Aphron, as a precautionary measure, shoots through the arras hanging over the walls, and a fire starts. Cho finds a secret door in the enhanced light, opens it, and dashes down the stairs, promising to return in three minutes.
Cantrel takes the three minutes to examine the back room of the temple, which contains Nguyen Cat's office. This contains an ordinary roll-top desk -- equipped with 3-D remote viewing equipment -- and a wardrobe, containing a lightweight, shiny silver suit and a briefcase that folds out into a control panel.
Victoria arrives sometime around now, (she and Cho having killed two more guards en route, bringing the nights total up to fifteen, not counting Nguyen Cat). She tells Cantrel she would have liked to kill Nguyen Cat herself, but it was a job well done in any case.
Cantrel has other things to think about. He has found three little egg-shaped widgets in a box clearly made to hold nine. Where are the other six? On his way out, Wu spots one, hovering in the air near the temple. After some examination and comparing the locations of floating eggs with the desk's viewscreen, they conclude that the eggs are probably remote viewing sensors and not (for instance) miniature nukes. Aphron and Wu flit to and fro, on an aerial egg hunt, not noticing how interesting the smoke smells, coming up from the burning temple. It smells interesting because what's burning is the center for the opium trade for most of Asia.
We eventually get back to the boat, with Victoria, Cho, and Mei Ling, plus scads of futuristic loot, and (on Cho's part) all the evidence on the workings of the opium trade he can possibly use. But Wu and Aphron don't remember much of the trip back and are high in two senses.
When things settle down (and Wu and Aphron sober up, after a quick run through the autodoc), we have yet another piece of the diadem. The silvery suit is a space suit; the harness is a flying belt and force field, psionically operated; and the briefcase is an omniport -- and anywhere door. The pantope may be able to use the omniport to repair itself.
Victoria gets a look inside the Dance of Hours when Cantrel invites her in for a quick heal on the autodoc. Also, Cantrel invites her to join us. She's thinking about it. We now plan to hang around Honk Kong at leisure, while Wu takes karate lessons from Cho and Victoria makes up her mind.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.