Week 12, Trading Up
We left our heroes preparing to highjack a blaster cannon for the defense of Biloxi and the confusion of the Prince's troops. We also left them about 36 hours from their last sleep, running on modified neuro-transmitters.
There is a pause while Chris, who has never liked this assignment much, asks again why we are stealing the cannon. Like, what does it have to do with finding Waverly?
Tom answers that the best place we have to look for Waverly is still in the vicinity of Jason Derrico, who is in the tunnels near the cannon. If we can get the cannon away and shake the situation up some, we may shake loose some clues. Also, we (Tom and Cantrel anyway) are part of an organization dedicated to protecting the Jack, and Tom feels that this includes the past citizens as well as the present ones.
Chris gives in rather than raise a metaphysical debate. The glamours and cloaks are cast. We take the air-car up to the axis and bring it straight down on the truck holding the cannon, in a tight helical descent.
Alag, meanwhile, flies over there invisibly, under his own power. He's very fast and it doesn't take long. He takes up a position in a pine tree and relays reports telepathically. The cannon's truck is in a small clearing, with another truck, some air-cars, and two clusters of soldiers looking relatively at ease. Someone is working on the other truck. Someone is doing inventory on our target truck.
After a while, the soldier on guard and then his friends begin looking up into the sun-lamps. It appears that the air-car has been picked up on radar (which we weren't sure they had, and hoped that they weren't pointing straight up).
Cantrel is in possession of some enemy armor. He gets a bright idea and turns on the helmet comm-link. The radar team is demanding that people try and spot this incoming, and people seem puzzled that they can't. (Psychic they may be, but not apparently used to glamour.)
To add to the confusion, Cantrel speaks briefly into his comm-link: "Captain, this is Johnson. There's troop movement about 500 meters outward. They-- Ak #Bshhhhh#" Then he switches off and listens to the resulting bewilderment.
The air-car "lands" (well, comes within a couple of meters and hovers). By now, the driver of the target truck has appeared and the truck has started to move off slowly. Lorelei, Tom, Jake, and Gene jump off, all still invisible. The first two dash to the cab of the truck; the latter two run for the door at the back.
Lorelei sleeps the driver and the truck curves off in a slow meander. A soldier runs for the truck, but Alag trips him with TK. Tom piles in through the passenger window and tries to steer. Lorelei dashes for the back and sleeps the inventory clerk back there. By then, she, Gene, and Jake are hanging on to the back. She slaps a magnetic disc onto the side of the truck.
It vanishes, and the air-car takes on the truck's appearance. Unfortunately, the truck's back door is hanging open, so there is a door, suspended pantope- like in the air. One solider gapes at it briefly, before Alag patches the illusion.
Cantrel begins shooting at the soldiers. Alag joins in with grenades and arrows. Someone dashes for the grounded air-car and starts reporting into a comm-link. While Alag takes aim at him, Chris takes the disguised air-car to tree-top level and hits the accelerator.
Tom also lifts, just in time to bump into the air-car as the reporting soldier was taking off. Alag and Cantrel soon give him other bumps to think about. Tom gets the driver out of his way and is able to drive for real. Lorelei passes around fresh doses of magical sleep, then starts stripping the equipment off her victims. Jake and Gene are glad enough to have scrambled in the back door, shut it, and (eventually) gotten out of each other's way.
About then, Cantrel overhears enemy HQ order the soldiers to "identify and go to individual channels." The radio chatter dies down. So they're on to our tap into the comm system.
Alag drifts down to the largely devastated clearing, to pick up his arrows lest they get analyzed by the enemy. Thinking to distract the next wave of reinforcements, he starts up an air-car with TK. He THEN spots a gunman hiding under the other truck. Cantrel hear's him report "One of the air-cars just started. What do I do?" Cantrel (into the mike): "That's me, you idiot! DON'T SHOOT!" By the time HQ has repremanded the reporter, got him onto an individual channel, and figured out Cantrel's call was spurious, Alag has launched the air-car and made it appear to blow up. The radar operator starts to insist the air-car is still there, but HQ won't let him until he changes channels.
Meanwhile, Chris has flown off through the trees, changed his air-car back to invisible, and curved off for Biloxi, flying low to stay under the radar. Tom has turned control of the cannon-bearing truck over to Gene. Alag has acquired yet another air-car.
As we all converge on Biloxi, we see three big air-vehicles come zipping out of Woodlark, pause briefly over our recent battle-site, then take up scout positions some way from Biloxi.
We unload the cannon for Augustus's people in Biloxi, then take it and our cars deeper into friendly territory.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.