Week 14, Finding Waverly
When we left our heroes last time, they were loitering on the outskirts of Woodlark, discussing their strategy for their searches for Waverly and Genvieve. We are going to try sneaking through the underground service tunnels to reach the new "palace" in the center of town, where a Finding indicates Waverly's presence a short way underground.
We have decided to use psi as little as possible, to avoid attracting attention. Alag feels that this makes him more use outside as backup than inside with us. Cantrel tries to persuade him to come in, just leaving some of the more spectacularly enchanted objects behind. Alag eventually agrees.
We sneak in from the woods, hop a large stream, and approach from the counter-outward side of the city. (You gotta get used to new compass points in the Jack.) We encounter some of the fencing for the wilderness preserve, but it is torn up. Skirting it, we come through thinner woods, then to city proper and a straight street. We begin looking for manhole covers or other entries to the tunnel system.
One of the things we look with is a sonic scanner, which locates a tunnel running under the street. Just as we locate a manhole, we hear the distant thrumming of heavy gravity motors. The group hastily files itself into some nearby alleyways, except for Jake, who does a very creditable imitation of a pile of rags lying in a doorway.
Two open armored air-cars come by. One cruises to the city limit and starts working its way back. The other lingers nearby and plays a searchlight over our area. Two men in plastic armor hop out on grav-belts and start down the alley containing Jake, Gene, and Chris. They note the "bundle of rags" and come up to investigate. Jake keeps his nerve and does nothing, even when prodded with a boot. When this manifestly fails, he plays the roused bum.
Cop: "Well? What're you doing here?"
Cop: "Where'd you come from?"
Jake: "Beyond the edge." (Well, that's one way to put it.)
The cop mutters into a comm link, then growls, "Get up, boy. The Prince doesn't like beggars and vagrants. Leave." Jake starts scuttling and the cops stalk back to their car.
And they leave! Just like that! What refreshing naivety!
Once the coast is clear and Jake has had time to slink around the block, we scamper out of our hiding places and down the manhole as fast as we can. We find ourselves in one of the lower-class tunnels, as wide as a narrow street, with catwalks on the side and crumby lighting from crude, old, and dirty light-piping from the outside.
A block later, Lorelei curses, having spotted a lens in the wall, just AFTER the nick of time. Four of us have already passed it. There is another button in the wall opposite -- probably sending a beam we've cut. The multicorder confirms this.
Cantrel hastily constructs a "rock-fall" from the ceiling, using a crowbar. Alag adds cosmetic touches with some trained hysterical strength and his macro-metal gloves. We then go on another block, with Lorelei on the lookout for lenses.
She sees two figures coming toward us in the distance. We flit with quiet haste to the next intersection and duck down the side tunnels. After a short wait, two men dressed in black jog by, with light rifles on their backs. When they're most of a block away, we move OVER one block, then proceed inward.
Cantrel spots something mechanical ahead with the multicorder. Chris scouts it, but it recedes from him swiftly and vanishes in the gloom. Some sort of robot, he decides and reports. Nothing to be done about it except to slip another block sideways and continue inwards.
At the next instrument sweep, Cantrel's multicorder picks up something headed our way -- fast! He tosses the multicorder, tucks, and rolls. The rest of us follow suit.
We gather our possessions and our nerve and continue, not using the multicorder except for a brief glance.
And there it is again! This time, we stand our ground and Alag, with his elven infrared vision, spots someone or something far down the hall and VERY well hidden indeed. He tries to get a better view with the infrared binoculars, but finds nothing.
"Let's talk to him," Cantrel suggests. After all, he's almost certainly seen us already. Though he can't see thin Unknown, Cantrel goes strolling boldly down the tunnel in the indicated direction. Around the right place, he hears a faint beeping. Cantrel loosens his holster and recalls the Allied Epochs passwords he's been told.
The shadows move a bit, like ink in ink, and briefly suggest a crouching man ... with a gun. Cantrel speaks his first choice for password. While the Unknown considers this, Cantrel has the chance to trace his outline a bit; he's wearing absolutely flat black everywhere but his eyeballs. The beeping comes from his hand. He gives the countersign.
"Hi," says Cantrel. "I'm here to rescue you, or help you finish your mission." This MUST be Waverly.
"About time," returns Waverly. "Have you traveled crosstime much? You know, if you point these multicorders AT each other, you get a lot of ghost images." So that explains the mysterious readings.
Waverly, Cantrel learns, was headed inward too. Foes showed up as he neared the shield around the "palace." (That shimmer Alag noted is a shield.) "You're one of those crazy Transworld guys, aren't you?" Waverly remarks at one point. "We're also the cavalry come over the hill," Cantrel replies. (Waverly's name for us is interesting; "Transworld" is our private name for our concern; to the world at large, we're the Jack Patrol Crosstime Office.) He leads Waverly back to the rest of the group, where Alag notes that the flat-black clothing is even black in the infrared. Cantrel already wants a set for Christmas.
We retire to a corner. Lorelei persuades Waverly to disrobe enough for her to heal some of the damage he's taken. We learn that his black outfit is also psi-proof. While we catch our breaths, Waverly tells us what he knows.
Waverly tells us we're one block from the shield. He wants to get in because the Prince has his time-jumping belt, and Waverly would hate to let someone like the Prince play with that sort of power. We tell him about Genvieve, and he is willing that some of us should try to rescue her. The two operations may provide distraction for each other.
Chris will go with Waverly to the Prince's cache, where the belt is likely to be; numbers won't help there. The rest of us will go rescue Genvieve, seeking her in the harem and planning a simple smash-and-grab. We agree that, if we get separated, we will meet a month hence in Joliet, or if necessary a year hence in Spantower. Cantrel gives Waverly a blaster and Alag four grenades.
Waverly cannot place Prince Rashid in history. He could be a roving psi-lord, or something else. He feels both anachronistic and alien, though Waverly can point to nothing definite. The Prince is definitely on the paranoid side, and has the tunnel system massively bugged. (We wonder how many detectors we've set off without knowing.)
The Prince is probably recruiting locals. The semi-animal men are his crack troops. The creme de la creme are the lion-men; Waverly is somewhat impressed and pleased that we've taken one out. He thinks that he must be timelocked with Jason Derrico; he's yet to see any of these androids that started the whole mission.
The Prince's powers definitely include telepathy and levitation, but nothing that looks very subtle, at least not that Waverly has seen.
As the debriefing ends, we head for the shield wall. On the way, we encounter two of the Prince's men and a brief fire-fight ensues. We use stunners, except for Alag, who casts caution aside and some glamour, and uses a silent concussion rifle. The enemy clearly have Anticipation, but not enough to keep dodging our fire indefinitely. When they are unconscious, we find they look rather lizardy. Waverly insists on killing them by knife. We take their rifles and their ID, for our glamourists to imitate if cause should arise.
We end the episode approaching the underground portion of the shield.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.