New York 1984
Week 16 Ambushing Whizzer
We left our heroes on the pantope, trying to track down Whizzer and the diadem segment. We've followed his people to an outlet somewhere around 1000 BC in North America, but Whizzer hasn't joined them there.
We now try analyzing the readings we got on Whizzer's own personal departure. They confirm Daewen's hunch that Whizzer was using an exotic form of semi-psychic, semi-mechanical teleportation from the hexalogue technical level. (It's called a "hopper.") Getting Whizzer's departure vector and tracing it through hyperspace, we get a series of points at which the vector intersects normal space-time at a point near the Earth's surface. These are the likely landing points for Whizzer. He headed off into the past, and the points average several years apart.
We try the point in 1000 BC, that is, about 3000 years ago, and scan about with pantope sensors. Nope, Whizzer never came this far back. No luck 1500 years ago either. At 750 years ago, we discover that he passed through this point in space-time. We then start jumping back and forth between 1500 and 750 years ago, gradually closing in on Whizzer's arrival point.
This turns out to be late in the eleventh century. For a while, we think we might be headed for the Battle of Hastings and all that in 1066, but the date turns out to be in the late 1090s, and the place is in North America still, at a point further south than New York on the eastern seaboard.
Using our stealthiest infrared-only window and Daewen's best cruise-settings, Tom steers the pantope to the right place, shortly before Whizzer's arrival. This turns out to be in a hollow hill. We stop external time and take a look around.
Inside the hollow hill, we find Henderson. We also find paraphernalia suggesting a Time Lord's dorm room -- a free-standing wardrobe, some kitchen equipment, a bed, a litter of weapons and costumes from all sorts of periods, bits and pieces of high-tech gadgetry. With time at a standstill, we flicker our door about the chambers, viewing in infrared, and case the joint. Nothing further of interest.
Henderson complicates and colors our tactics. We may still be timelocked with him; one of our earlier meetings with him may still lie in his future. This makes it very dangerous for us to use deadly force against him, quite apart from ethical considerations. On the other hand, we can not allow him to escape to warn Whizzer away. And we have to take Whizzer out the moment he arrives, since he may just hop out again if we don't, and we might not be able to trace him next time. (E.g., he might kill us first.)
(It's all really a pity. If we could calm these people down long enough to explain our strategic situation and assure them of our good intentions, they probably would be allies. Or at least not so trigger-happy.)
In the end, we decide to attack both of them with high-speed barrages of knock- out gas, sleep-darts, and sonic stunners. (No psionic technology. Whizzer, at least, is too well-versed in that sort of thing.) We will deliver these attacks through an invisible door we open in mid-air.
Tom designs and builds the delivery system, which he links to the pantope's Serving System, so we can have the benefit of computer reflexes on the attack. Chris whips up an extra-strong dose of sleep gas. (He doesn't do so well on making up the spray container and sleeps out his first experiment with it as a result.)
We now position personnel. The attack will be made from the Auxiliary Bridge, principally by the Serving System. However, Chris, Lorelei, and Cantrel will be there to cope with the unexpected, all with stun-guns at the ready, and space-suited against the gas. In fact, everyone is space-suited. Tom and Pfusand stay on the Main Bridge, to provide backup and control space-time connections. Daewen and Alag crew the Combat Bridge, in case we have to escalate the firepower. We have arranged the architecture so that these three bridges all connect to the same corridor; Sophie stays in this corridor, acting as telepathic switchboard. Tom positions the invisible door right in front of Henderson. All set? Go.
Henderson falls over immediately as gas floods his rooms, sonic stunners hit him, and sleep-darts follow not far behind.
Whack Whizzer is in the room. The Serving System lets fly with its second volley. But this time, the darts stop in mid-flight and dive back into the gun. The crew on the Auxiliary Bridge notice Whizzer looks a bit translucent. They also notice he isn't falling down yet.
Chris fires his stunner at Whizzer, Cantrel launches into a karate attack he knows may well be futile, and Lorelei strikes out with a perfect sleep spell. (Rolled 00.) Cantrel gets caught in the fallout and both he and Whizzer crumple to the floor. Disconcertingly, their figures overlap; Whizzer is intangible, as we suspected. Tom asks if they'd like a psilence grenade. "No!" shouts Chris. "They're interpenetrated." Chris uses his own TK to fish the limp form of Cantrel out of Henderson's rooms and back into the pantope, leaving Whizzer behind.
Lorelei probes at Whizzer with her Deryni senses and finds a power point that might be the long-sought diadem segment. She starts to pull Whizzer across the threshold, but as the power-point enters the pantope--
BOOM! There's a small explosion and Whizzer gets tossed back out into Henderson's rooms. Chris now tosses a psilence grenade and Whizzer becomes opaque. Alag steps out and searches the wizard. Yes, here's the segment. He steps back in and Daewen disconnects us.
Chris wakes Cantrel and finds in the process that Cantrel was slept by Lorelei's spell. Sophie takes the diadem detector and meets with Alag and Daewen. Daewen dumps the two of them off at our karate school on Helene in the CoDominion timeline, to test the apparent segment. Yes, it's genuine. We pick them back up.
What to do with Whizzer and Henderson? Cantrel suggests slapping both of them into stasis. Sounds good for Whizzer, but what about our timelock with Henderson? Daewen, Chris, and Tom all prefer to leave Henderson alone as much as possible. Daewen suggests having the autodoc heal the small puncture wounds from the sleep darts to cover our tracks.
This develops into a full-scale cover-up. Not only do we have the autodoc remove evidences of our attack (while keeping Henderson unconscious), Cantrel persuades it to run its Hippocratic programming backwards and infect him with a mild flu, to explain his "fainting." Then we flush out the gas from his rooms, using pantope doors to the outside to perform the ventilation. We then wait an anxious day for Henderson's flu to take hold. Tom invades his mind telepathically and uses his mnemonic skills to fog up Henderson's memory of the "fainting fit." Then we drop him off. See you earlier, Henderson.
All this while, Lorelei has been attempting Deryni probes and healing magics and failing. Chris soon notices she has a jinx, like the ones that afflicted Alag and Cantrel. We hypothecate that Whizzer had these jinxes primed and ready as automatic retaliation on anyone who assaulted him psychically, e.g. with a sleep spell. Probably the jinx's first action was to catch Cantrel in the fallout.
Cantrel and Alag seemed to lose their jinxes when Whizzer hopped out. We try to get the same effect by dropping Lorelei off momentarily on the steppes of Asia at some obscure date. No good. Alag casts some counter-jinxing Dice Patterns, the same kind of psychic bandages he used himself, but they aren't a cure. Lorelei bids him try it again after she's raised Deryni wards around him and herself, but the jinx sputters out as soon as she raises the wards. You cure jinxes with wards. There's an interesting bit of medical data...
Meanwhile, we have the eleventh segment out of the thirteen. Two to go.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.