New York 1984
Week 5, Battle in a Pipe
When we left our heroes last time, they were still encountering outrageously talented people deep underneath New York City. We find them at the end of a tunnel, facing a wall beyond which is water a couple of feet deep.
We decide to carve a peephole in the dam wall (ABOVE the water line, of course). That done, Lorelei sticks her hand through and tries to conjure a handfire for illumination. Nothing. So she tries probing. That works, and she feels out a tunnel, running athwart our present tunnel, with water in the bottom and no one in it. There is a smaller pipe lying in the water.
Since this seems to run more or less toward the segment, we decide to cut a hole through the wall. Cantrel makes it 2.5 feet wide, above the water level. A second, mundane, look shows a catwalk on the side of the tunnel, about six inches under the water. The back of the inner pipe, however, sticks up high and dry, though rounded and tricky to walk on.
About then, the wall collapses and water starts pouring out around our ankles. Seems there was a secret door we neglected, and when we carved the hole in the wall, we took it off its hinges. Using muscle and TK, Tom and Chris move the rubble back into place. Chris then uses alchemy to cement the stuff back into a passable dam. Alag, meanwhile, has found the conduit is psi-proofed all round, like so much of the local architecture.
We enter the conduit. Daewen sets up a glamour such that the dead light bulbs revive as we pass under them. We go slogging down the catwalk, except for Pfusand, who chooses to go teetering down the back of the pipe. We keep on the lookout for hidden doors and traps.
We come to an upward pipe, plugged with rubble. Alag can second-see up it for about 40 feet, then hits a psi-proof barrier. Next, we come to a grill platform over the pipe, in a small alcove. We debate trying to stop and rest there, since many of us have been burning the candle at both arcane and mundane ends and could use the rest.
Just about the time we decide to press on, the decision is made for us. Cantrel spots a half dozen or so figures further down the hall, using his infrared binoculars. Chris and Alag follow this up with Second Sight. Two of the figures are very big -- one may be the warrior we met earlier, the other is somewhat smaller and dressed in many layers and a hood. There is a tall, thin fellow who might be Cantrel's assailant of last episode; our old acquaintance Shadow; an attractive lady who is hard to focus on; and two nondescript types.
After a bit of deliberation, we turn on out heavy-duty psilencer. All the glamoured light-bulbs go out. A faint illumination comes from the other party. The mysterious lady seems particularly luminous.
Cantrel sneaks along the pipe, then lies prone. Lorelei seals her space helmet and quietly submerges in the water. At the other end, the hooded figure comes out in front and the giant draws a gun.
Sophie calls to Shadow, asking if they want to talk. No answer. In the dark, we quietly fall back thirty feet, to not be where we were last seen. The local party stops about twenty feet from our old position. A new figure shows up, it would be hard to say from where -- he seemed to zip in, with a strobe- light effect. He wears a hood and flowing sleeves. He talks with the others, pulls out a strange device, and points it at us. Nothing obvious happens.
"Hello!" calls Sophie. "We're still willing to talk."
The locals confer some more among themselves. The newcomer touches the two big men on the shoulders. They then turn and leave with startling speed, and we have the feeling it was given them by him. The lady vanishes, as does the tall fellow and Shadow. Each seems to have his or her own method of vanishment, all of them odd.
We're alone again. We move forward, taking light and psilence with us, looking for traps. Lorelei (still under water and communicating by hand-comm) suddenly feels watched. Alag and Cantrel feel something approaching. Using the infrared binoculars, Cantrel sees someone ahead, zipping toward us -- one of the speeded people, the giant in fact.
Lorelei opens psi and throws a sleep spell at him. He slows down, but only to start chucking things at us -- lumps the size of baseballs. Tom fires off three rounds of laser light, but his target DODGES two of them. All of his lumps fall at least ten feet short. Chris shoots the last one out of the air.
Ah-ha, a grenade. Alag fires an arrow at him, but it bounces and slips neatly back into the elf's hand, smack on the bowstring. Cantrel manages to connect with a laser shot.
That was the two other grenades that landed in the water, as Lorelei is keenly aware. Fortunately, she's armored. But also the walls of the conduit start collapsing. In fact, Tom notes that the bits of ceiling aren't just falling; they're being thrown down, hard.
Chris and Sophie dice the fall clear of our side, but this unfortunately means dicing them TOWARD Cantrel. He doesn't get hurt, but it spoils his parting shots at the giant. Alag sends some arrows through the avalanche, and one connects. We then hear a sucking kind of WHOOSH from the other side.
Tom peers through the opening diced by the elven couple. The giant isn't around (vanished with the whoosh?) but the robed figure is there, gesturing arcanely. Tom ducks. By the time Cantrel can take a peek, the conduit appears empty.
Cantrel starts worming through the rubble, with Alag behind him. More ceiling starts to fall on him. He burrows on, cussing over the hand-comms. But, mixed with the rubble, a couple of grenades fall past, into the water. Cantrel orders the psilencer off, reaches out with TK, and tosses the grenades down the tunnel.
So two MORE grenades fall in. Cantrel conjures up a magical shield while Chris and Tom start digging him out of the rockfall. Meanwhile four more grenades drop in, in pairs. The subsequent explosions are impressive, but Cantrel survives them without much trouble.
Lorelei, meanwhile, is tired of viewing dynamite fishing from the receiving end. She climbs out and probes at the source of the grenades. There's nothing there but a small open space. A teleport receiver?
Daewen also surfaces. She had snuck under the water and was trying to sneak through that way, but rocks and grenades got in the way. We now notice that the water is rising a bit, and flowing. The pipe we were walking on has been busted in the explosions, and it is the source of the new water current.
Cantrel proposes we cut off a chunk of this pipe and use it for tunneling through the rubble.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.