Week 15, Finding Genvieve
When we left our heroes last time, they were in the tunnels under Woodlark, having recently joined forces with Waverly, evaded some of the Prince's men, and killed off a couple of others that look rather lizard-like.
We are about to cross through the "shield," a boundary around the Prince's HQ. According to Waverly, psychic powers can operate inside it, but not across it. Before entering, we get a general description of the place from Waverly: it is rectangular, with a courtyard in the center and a couple of small buildings in the courtyard. The courtyard itself has a plastic dome over it.
We decide to come to the surface in this courtyard, and then break our no-psi rule long enough for Tom to take a couple of quick Findings on Genvieve and Waverly's time-belt. Then Waverly and Chris will start slithering through the air-ducts toward the belt and the rest of us will go raid the harem for Genvieve, each group hoping that the other will provide cover for it.
We hop through the shield all together, to disguise our numbers should the thing be sensitive to penetration. Then we scuttle our way through the service tunnels, heading for the point under the courtyard. Waverly leads the way, followed by Chris and Cantrel, followed by the others. People in the rear lose sight of Waverly. At one point, we heard stunners firing in the middle distance and are relieved to find it was Waverly doing the shooting.
Surfacing, we find ourselves emerging from a manhole, behind some ornamental shrubbery. The courtyard is mostly filled with a garden full of twisty paths and a vaguely Arabian atmosphere. We hear fountains and a few remote voices. Tom does his Findings, using some bandages of Genvieve's and Waverly himself. The girl and the belt are in almost opposite directions and Waverly is surprised to find the belt nowhere near the Prince's cache. In that event, Waverly would rather have Cantrel than Chris as his backup; if Waverly finds the time-belt, he may be able to simply vanish, but he can't take passengers; Cantrel would have a much easier time of going under cover locally than would Chris. [Anyway, Cantrel's player didn't show that night.]
So Cantrel and Waverly leave the main group, which slinks off in the direction of Tom's Finding. We dodge some spy-eyes and come to a smaller garden-within- the-garden. It is walled, with a gate. Alag climbs the wall and finds some trip-beams. Now that we know they are there, it would probably be easier to hop over them than to get through the gate ... except that Tom muffs it and probably DOES trip one. We decide that haste is now in order, and the heck with the no-psi rule.
We renew the Finding and hurry on, evading two girls chatting. We come to the door into the harem, separated from the garden by raked gravel and a flagstone walk. Lorelei's probe reveals a pressure switch under one stone, so we turn on our flying belts and look around for open windows.
They are all grilled over in delicate filigree, but one grill stands partly open. Lorelei probes THAT for traps and finds none -- just a bedroom behind it. Alag paints us all with invisibility and Chris puts up the telepathy net. We then drift quietly up to the window, Lorelei and Alag in the lead. As they enter the room, they notice that they become translucently visible. The girl who comes in from the bathroom, draped in towels, notices too.
The odd thing is she doesn't seem particularly surprised. Lorelei throws a Hremish sleep-spell at her, but she doesn't look sleepy, either. Furthermore, Lorelei and Alag find they have fallen off the telepathy net. Alag stuns the girl with just as little effect as Lorelei; his gun is a psionic one; perhaps this particular flavor of psilence is inhibiting it. But what's inhibiting the girl's surprise? She ignores Lorelei and asks Alag what he's here for. "To get someone," he replies. She suggests herself. "I mean to get them out." She suggests taking his time about it, with her. Her name is Selene, by the way, and she seems to have exactly one idea in her head.
While Selene tries to vamp Alag, who tries to get some useful data out of her, Lorelei feels around telepathically for Genvieve. She finds her, bucking the semi-psilence all the way, and makes contact. Somewhere a few rooms away, Genvieve sits bolt upright and yells, "WHAT?!" (This has never happened to her before.)
Meanwhile, Chris has wafted in, becoming foggily visible, and taken over the conversation with Selene, who apparently finds males interchangeable and females beneath notice. Chris tests the local vibes and recognizes this soft semi-psilence as similar to privacy devices near his own era. He suspects Selene of being drugged and flicks on his psi-opener to cancel the muffling. "Those are very pretty nails," he remarks, taking Selene's hand with the idea of clearing her bloodstream with some Metabolic TK.
Selene, however, interrupts the conversation by turning into a lamia. This is a myth-creature rather like a mermaid, only the bottom half is giant serpent. Sometimes called a nagini. She shoots up on 20 feet of scaly tail and enfolds Chris, with extensions toward Alag. Alag fires his stunner to no effect, then pulls out his katana and hacks at the scales. No blood. Visibly fast healing.
The rest of the group comes pouring through the window at this point. Tom shoots Selene in the head with his old-fashioned sonic stunner and she passes out very nicely thank you. But Chris is still caught in the coils and goes down with her. Alag is unconscious, and it may have been from something Selene did when she gestured at him.
Lorelei decides this is irrelevant to the mission and leaves the room, looking for Genvieve.
Chris, Jake, and Gene are in favor of cutting Selene's head off. Tom suspects that she IS drugged, and enchanted to boot, and urges Chris to turn off his psi-opener. He does, the muffling returns, but the snake-tail doesn't vanish.
Tom wakes Alag. Meanwhile, Jake takes our a macrometal knife and reaches for Selene's neck. Gene picks up Alag's katana to help. Tom shoots Jake with his stunner, then holds off Gene while Alag and Chris struggle out of Selene's coils with both muscle and TK. Gene decides Tom has flipped.
It takes Gene's added help to remove the coils. Chris makes a bitter comment about now we have to save our enemies as well as the by-standers. Tom rouses Jake ("What happened?" "I'll explain later.") and volunteers to stand guard over Selene and refresh the stun while the rest go on. They depart in something of a huff. Tom, meanwhile, notices that the snake-tail fits rather loosely around Selene's waist, which tends to confirm his suspicion that this is a case of therianthropy, the transformations done with ectoplasm.
Once out in the hall, the others soon catch up with Lorelei. Alag is able to able to repair their invisibility a bit, leaving only faint highlights and shadows. ["I got critical Second Order Glamour," his player remarks after one roll. "On all of us?!" the other yelp. "No, just me." This means Alag is permanently invisible, barring more Glamour. Alag is delighted; no one else would be.]
They head downstairs, following Lorelei's telepathic link. They find a door. Chris and Lorelei probe through it and find a room with several young women in it, but no Genvieve. She is in the NEXT room, with a few other women.
Lorelei deepens the telepathy to the verbal level and talks to Genvieve. Genvieve is not able to leave this room. She thinks some of the women in the outer room are guards.
Under cover of glamour, we slip through the door, keeping ourselves invisible and inaudible, keeping the door apparently closed even when open. A quick barrage of stunners and sleep spells polishes off the women in the outer room. The next room is locked, but Lorelei TK-picks it. Then the same assault is repeated. Genvieve, of course, sees nothing but her captors fainting. Lorelei telepaths to her, "Genvieve, close your eyes and follow me." She then takes her hand and leads her out. Of course, the girl peels somewhere in the next room and has to stifle a shriek.
As they start to open the outer door, Alag feels someone on the other side. Chris Second-Sights through and sees three guards approaching from a very few feet away. We cast invisibility on Genvieve. The guards flip open the door and find -- the door! Oops. Alag takes down the mirage door, and the guards go down before a hail of stun beams and sleep spells. (We're getting good at this.)
We retreat the way we came, Genvieve now being MUCH better about keeping her eyes shut. We collect Tom in Selene's room and flit out the windows into open psi. Chris tries to telepathy Cantrel and tunes in in the middle of a gun fight. Figures.
We head for the manhole, except for Alag who flits up to the plastic dome. He wants to burst a hole through it with some grenades, as a diversion (and for the fun of it). Across the courtyard, an armored figure comes smashing through a stained-glass window. So THAT's where the fight is...
Alag flits down and peeks in the remains of the stained-glass window. Then he begins hacking at the grill work until an enemy grenades him. He drops his katana, and it imbeds itself in the concrete sidewalk. (Macrometal is SHARP.)
Cantrel is crouched behind a desk, firing with a concussion rifle and Waverly is fussing with his time-belt. At least he's found it. Alag recovers enough to cast invisibility on both Cantrel and Waverly, leaving decoy images behind. Cantrel lofts and flits out. Waverly catches himself on the grillwork and impales himself badly.
Except for Cantrel, Waverly, and Alag, we are all at the manhole, starting down. Something tries to grab Waverly and we realize the Prince is here, doing TK. He's at one end of the garden, with a mess of soldiers. Cantrel grabs Waverly and pulls.
Alag opens on the Prince with a blaster, burning off the Prince's clothes and revealing armor beneath. Alag lands a shot at the head, we think. The Prince loses concentration and drops Waverly. Alag lobs the grenades at the prince, but one of his men shoots them out of the air.
The soldiers retreat, in close formation around the Prince. Alag sends out a general warning on the net, then fires on them with Daewen's flare-rifle. With a little luck this will dazzle them so they do not see the direction of our retreat. Which will be fast.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.