Week 27,Rejoining the Pantope in Boston
We left our heroes trying to catch up with Victoria and the pantope. A correction from the last log: the itinerary she left with Holmes did not say "book passage from Boston" but "book passage to London." We decided to take it from Boston because that was the last place we took it from that Victoria knew about. In full, the itinerary reads:
Our ship doesn't sail for five days. We do a bit of shopping, Pfusand takes some harpoon lessons from an old sailor down at the docks, and Jonathan and Lorelei spend a fair bit of time strolling in the park together, chaperoned by Daewen. Lorelei gives Jonathan one more chance to bail out of membership in the pantope crew (without mentioning pantopes), but he declines.
We set on July 30th, ETA August 6th . Pfusand cheerfully suggests we look up Nate's analog on this timeline. She gets vetoed. Instead, Lorelei suggests we go spend our free time vacationing in the country. Sophie, who knows the area, recommends we travel up in New Hampshire, where the tycoons are currently building beautiful and eccentric mansions all around Lake Winnepesauke. We agree.
We arrive in Boston without incident, book our return passage, and journey by train up to the new resorts in New Hampshire. Daewen takes with her several blank books and uses them as the beds for some astralware computers she conjures with Glamour.
A week before our departure time, we return to Boston and take up residence in a hotel. We check the Map of Here for dimensional activity, but it is blank. We case the neighborhood around our original drop-off point.
On the second day, Lorelei spots someone on the streets that she also saw on the ship. He also shows up three days later at the hotel restaurant. Inquiring of the maitre d', hinting at romantic interest, Lorelei learns that the young man has been looking for an introduction to HER. We decide that, if the fellow is really an enemy trailing us, it's best to confront him. Chris sits down next to him and remarks, "So, I understand you want to meet my sister-in-law." The fellow is understandably flustered. Chris gives our current travel-names, finds the fellow goes by the name of Bottoms, and invites him to tea.
At tea, Tom does a lousy impression of the pater familias, but Bottoms isn't watching Tom. Lorelei probes him and finds no psychic activity, and no interesting devices implanted in his mastoid process. As we tire of his company, Chris sugars his tea and casts Alchemy on it, causing it to become alcoholic AFTER it's been swallowed. Tom and Lorelei sieve his fogging brain and find nothing of interest. Tom air-brushes out the episode with some Amnesia. We let him nap on a day-bed for a while, wake him, tell him he must have gone faint with the heat (it is, after all, early September in a Boston without air conditioning), and send him on his way.
Midnight on the morning of 17th, Tom tries telepathic contact with Victoria. He rouses her out of a sound sleep. Her shields snap shut, then open again. Tom learns she is with Tyrell, in a hotel down by the docks. The pantope is set to arrive in Boston at 7 AM today, in the alley where we first arrived.
Tom tells the others and Cantrel resolves to pay a visit to his wife and son. As he dresses (in his usual cat-burglar black), he argues against taking Jonathan, out of the latter's hearing. He feels the fellow is under-powered. The others argue that he has lots of potential -- especially psychically, plus some psychic talents none of us have. Cantrel reluctantly concedes this.
An hour later, he arrives at the dockside hotel and knocks at the door of Victoria's room. He finds her awake and dressed, packed and ready to go. She grouses for a time about her recent four-month "vacation" in Britain, Africa, and America, and Cantrel gathers that she has been following us on foot rather than in the pantope. (No wonder she couldn't make the later Ferdinand connection.) He consoles her with the presents he picked up for her in Liverpool, and other demonstrations of affection.
Some time in the wee hours, Victoria says she is feeling guilty and had better bring Cantrel up to date on her own doings. The guilt is due to her selfishness in disporting herself with Cantrel while there's trouble back home. Oh there is? She explains that there was a power failure on the pantope, the result of which was to dump all the people out of stasis that we had stored in the sick bay. Fogi, Wu, and the worldbender guard we took prisoner are all scattered to Time's twenty quarters. Wu, she thinks, is in Durango.
Cantrel recommends she come back to our hotel with him and tell all of us about it. So, around 3 AM, on the 17th of September, 1894, we all hear of Victoria's recent adventures:
Back in June, when we should have made our pantope pickup in London, something went wrong and the pantope seemed to come under direct dimensional attack. Victoria slammed the door shut. Then there was a power failure. When the power came back on, Victoria had the serving system open 1000 doors and windows randomly, all over London, to lay down cover. (So that's what that was.) That may have been the wrong thing to do, she admits, and may have executed a causal loop -- maybe drew the attention that caused the attack.
In any case, the power failure broke the stasis on the autodoc's sick-beds. The worldbender soldier attacked Victoria and vanished into the pantope's shifting architecture. She ordered the autodoc to stabilize the others as best it could and went after the worldbender. She lost him and, on returning, found that the autodoc had risen to the occasion. It had only one functioning stasis bed left, and so used that for the Captain, who is still at the point of death. It had managed to revive Wu from his coma and to resurrect Fogi.
Then the worldbender showed up again and there was fighting all over the bridge and the areas connected close by. He grabbed the suitcase containing the folding house and Fogi's golden egg, perhaps mistaking them for a hand- carried omniport and a diadem segment. Then he dived out a fluttering door. Fogi dived after his precious egg, Wu dived after Fogi, and the door closed. Looking at the (very incomplete) service log later, Victoria thinks the worldbender and Wu dropped out in Durango. Fogi seemed to show up in Hollywood, in the '30s or '40s. Fogi and Wu were both still very ill, and the pantope is a bit of a wreck. Or a bit MORE of a wreck.
Victoria's pantope navigation is pretty rudimentary. She can't find NEW places with it, just revisit old ones. On this basis, she made up the itinerary, contacted Holmes, and gave it to him. She left the pantope on automatic, to meet the itinerary, and started out after us mundanely, by foot, train, ship, mule, camel, etc. Quoth she, "I don't recommend being a woman on your own in Islamically controlled Africa without a laserifle." The batteries on hers are completely discharged, leaving her with just the blaster and the bullet-guns. She isn't sure but things she may have started a jihad.
"Would you like to cry now?" asks Pfusand. Victoria explains that she did that while picking leeches off Tyrell in a jungle. Tyrell, by the way, has acquired such useful skills as learning to put on his own pith helmet and riding in the mail-lined back-pack Victoria uses as a kind of combat Snugly.
That morning shortly after dawn, we enter the designated alleyway, invisibly, with displaced images, weapons at the ready, net up, and Cloaked. Somewhere in Daewen's pack, the dimensional detector cuckoos, and Daewen, Tom, and Jonathan all find the invisible door with their various methods. We slip inside, to find a somewhat battle-scarred bridge but no enemies in sight. Welcome aboard, Jonathan.
Tom steps to the console and disconnects. The flutter in the controls for the 6th and 7th dimensions is worse and seems to be spreading to the 5th. On request, Jonathan feels around and finds a couple of un-accounted-for presences. The first turns out to be Number One, still deactivated, but face down in the sickbay. Pfusand gathers him up and Jonathan goes on to locate the last presence in Tom's quarters.
Chris and Sophie burst into Tom's room and find a small monkey. They stun it and tie it up. Of course, the net is still up. "What's going on?" asks Tom from the bridge. After they are done, Chris and Sophie explain. Tom sighs and asks them to please untie the monkey; it's not dangerous. "Why? What do you know about it?" asks Chris. Tom asks Sophie to drop off the net. Struck by a misgiving, she does so. "Is it your monkey?" asks Chris. "Yes, he's mine. I made him myself. His name is Puck." Sophie, meanwhile, has been examining the monkey with her artist's eye and notes that its fur and eyes are exactly the same colors as Tom's hair and eyes. (Sophie has a particular distaste for the creation of living things from ectoplasm; she has asked Tom not to TELL her about any such activities of his, and he has tried to comply.)
Tom goes over the operations log and the visual log from the bridge door. No one seems to have snuck on board. The attack seems to have been of the same sort that put the pantope into bad shape to start with -- "topological," the Captain called it. Daewen tries another console in the auxiliary bridge and agrees.
Meanwhile, Lorelei, Alag, and Cantrel have gone to Lab 1, which is also somewhat mussed up from the fight (a fight that happened only hours ago, pantope time). But they find the diadem still tucked into the proper drawer. All the tests we can muster indicate it is the real diadem. And when the Eye of Dalgroom is inserted, it takes on the form of a normal diadem segment.
One segment to go. But shall we try to retrieve our missing friends first, or repair the pantope as best we can?
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.