Week 10, Combat with the Animal Men
We left our heroes in Westpod, having just rescued four children from Lafayette. The children had got caught in the gravitics machinery while fleeing four of the Prince's minions. Having delivered the children to the folk back at Biloxi, we head back to polish off the minions, whom Alag spotted at a farmhouse. We want to get rid of them while we have the advantage of surprise, as a public service, to revenge the children's parents, and in hopes of getting their air-car.
We stop off to try and fix the ailing gravitics. This took the form of a booster motor -- a ship-sized engine used to keep the pod's rotation correct. Tom was able to power it down, but not to re-set it. As we approach the shed over the access elevator, we feel the vertical slipping again and realize the booster motor has managed to turn itself back on. Finding the elevator jammed, we locate a manhole about a hundred yard away (hidden in the brush, but located by tracing through the tunnels with Second Sight). Tom, Chris, and Jake head down while the rest wait.
By the time we reach the control room, the gravity is fully as deranged as when we first came here. Tom powers it down again and finds there is some other gravitics out of joint. Ah, the booster motor's subsidiary steering motors are also queered up. They may have tickled the main motor's gravistat into turning the motor back on.
There are five other booster motors throughout the pod. When left to themselves, they seem to be smoothing out the ripples caused by their ailing fellow, but Tom is unable to get his booster to behave. Whoever worked here before the children came evidently did not lock the console; thus a small boy hoisting himself up to have a look could and did press some buttons accidentally. Giving up for the moment, Tom locks the console and leaves.
We steal up on the farmhouse. One man stands outside on guard, by the parked air-car. The other three sit in a ground-level room. Chris and Alag will take out the one at the air-car. Simultaneously, Cantrel will toss three fragmentation grenades into the room, from behind a psychic shield. The rest of us circle the house and guard the exits.
In a smooth piece of TK, Cantrel unlatches the window, opens it, and sends in the grenades, HOLDING them there by TK. One of the trio is lion-like in appearance. He is also very fast and shoots at the grenades as they are coming through the window. Thus they explode over the sill instead of in the room. Lion jumps / is thrown out of the room. Cantrel's shield protects him and bids farewell.
Meanwhile, Alag and Chris, both aloft and invisible, have let fly with elven arrows. The guard fired back futilely and goes down.
Cantrel gathers up the concussion rifle we captured in Lafayette and flies blindly toward the window. Someone shoots the rifle out of his hand with another concussion rifle. Ow! Cantrel rolls back.
A leopard-spotted man, presumably the enemy marksman, half-jumps half-falls out of the window but catches himself nicely as he lands. He fires at Cantrel, who tries to spoil his aim with TK on the rifle. Lorelei, Tom, and Chris converge on Leopard with laser, bullet, and arrow, and down he goes.
Jake, meanwhile, has stolen up to the house and peered through the window into another room, expecting to find Lion there. Lion is just leaving. There's a weapon cache in the room, and he's probably picked something up.
Out front, Alag shoves at the front door (careful, from a distance with TK) to draw fire. Yup, someone fires at it, with a blaster.
Thanks to Alag's Second Sight casing of the house earlier, we know the layout of the place. Cantrel grabs Leopard's rifle and flies up to the second floor, expecting any survivors to retreat there. Lorelei probes into the room below, where the grenades went off. She finds rubble, some weapons, and a warmish body. Then something goes off, hard enough to make her probe hurt. Just as she withdraws, she perceives a grenade-rifle on the floor, firing by itself.
Chris, thinking of retreats to the second floor, turns on the air-car and thoughtfully parks it 30 feet up, too high to jump to, even from the upper floor. The grenade gun continues to go off, and Lorelei explains what's making the noise; she uses the hand-comms, since we decided not to use telepathy.
Cantrel misses Lion as the latter prowls through the upper floor, barely seeing his heels retreat out the window into the night air. Outside, Tom sees Lion flying. He and Lorelei, then Chris, open fire at him, but Lion dodges and fires back with the concussion rifle, grazing Lorelei and Tom. Chris notes the flight-belt Lion is wearing and aims for that. Lion goes crashing into trees and, eventually, the ground.
The rifle is still shooting itself on the ground floor. Eventually, it runs out of ammo. Jake comes in, just as Cantrel thunders down the stairs and almost shoots him. But we soon determine that all the enemy are dead or down, and the rifle was just firing on automatic, not by TK. We settle down to count the loot:
About now, Alag spots more air-cars coming in from Woodlark. Chris hops into our new air-car and floors it into the woods. The rest of us follow.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.