New York 1984
Week 8, Back to the Tunnels
We find our heroes in the pantope, after running a gauntlet of belligerent wild talents deep under NewYork. The wounded have been patched up by the autodoc and we are now training and equipping ourselves for a second approach from a new direction. This is taking place outside of Earth time, so we trust the wild talents won't have much time to re-group.
Tom and Chris spend a fair amount of time designing gadgets -- a spray can for our famous sleep-gas (proposed by Lorelei), re-usable psilence grenades (proposed by Alag), and a fine-tuned TK blocker (psilencing TK but not telepathy or clairvoyance, Tom's idea). Unfortunately, the psionic equipment requires materials we don't have on the pantope. So, after about a month of training, pantope time, we return to the CoDominion timeline and show up at our offices on Helene shortly after we disappeared chasing after the Kendorini.
Lorelei's battlecry has always been, "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping." Endeavoring to be tough, we buy ourselves a laser, a blaster, some flying spy-eyes, a sentry monitor, and (for the psionic equipment) two dozen small but powerful psilencers, plus parts. We then vanish back to the pantope again, where Tom and Chris cobble up the psionic gadgetry and we train for another month. Chris patterns all the guns to jam if used by strangers.
Refreshed and re-fitted, we open the door back at the science fiction section of the New York Public Library, much surprising a pencil-necked kid in thick glasses such as stereotypically haunt that part of the library. "Paratime," Lorelei confides to him, with a certain accuracy.
We now try for the third approach to the diadem, as mapped by Cantrel. On the way, we stop to call the police and verify the badge number of the lady cop we met on leaving the maze under the city. Yes, she's a real cop, named Katie Mallory.
The entrance to this third approach is in the basement of a mom-and-pop grocery store southwest of Grand Central Station. We approach by the back door opening on an alley. Cantrel picks the lock skillfully but almost rings the little spring bell on the back. Tom throws up a Glamour of silence and we enter, then descend the basement stairs.
There, we find a semi-collapsed wall behind the furnace. Beyond is a dull- looking passage. We sneak down this cloaked in Glamour. After considerable effort, Alag finds a secret door by clairvoyance. Behind it is a spiral staircase leading down. The door is very stiff, but the stronger members of the party can move it. Just as we are doing so...
Ting-a-ling-a-ling. That bell on the back door rings. Chris flicks a clairvoyant viewpoint up there. It's a man in contemporary clothing but carrying a quadcorder. As a matter of fact, it's Henderson. Henderson, you may recall, first showed up in Hong Kong in 1872, where telepathic examination indicated he was working for the Tenth Dragon (the organization run by Nguyen Cat). We were very much surprised to run across him again on Portobello Station, several light-years from Earth, several centuries in the future, on the CoDominion timeline. And here he is again, in New York, 1984. He seems to be tracking us, possibly our psychic tricks, on his instrument pack. At one point, he even seems to see Chris's clairvoyant viewpoint.
We all pile through the secret door. We left footprints in the hall, but Lorelei reaches out with Deryni TK and dusts them away. By now, Henderson has descended the stairs and spotted the collapsed wall. He comes into the corridor and stalks up and down. He misses the secret door the first time, but comes back to it, apparently guided by his instrument pack. He then tucks away his gadget, flips a coin, and retires to the end of the corridor, where he sits on the rubble, pulls out his recorder again, and stares at it.
Cantrel suggests leaping out and blowing him away. Chris and Tom remind him of the danger of timelock. WE've met HIM in the order Hong Kong, Portobello, NewYork. But suppose HE meets US in the order New York, Portobello, Hong Kong? Perfect possible with two time travelers. That means, from his point of view, he is foredoomed to live to meet us later, so he can't die now. If we tried to kill him, the effort would fail and might recoil disastrously upon us, as it did when we tried to kill Nguyen Cat (first inadvertently, then in forced desperation) back in 1872, when we had already met him in 1934.
While Cantrel sorts this out, Daewen adds that it isn't even wise to talk much to someone you've encountered in reverse sequence, since that can lead to timelocks too.
So we turn our attention to making progress, quietly resolving not to come out this way if we can avoid it. Alag sends his clairviews down the spiral stair and comes to a dusty tunnel, with a few fragmentary footprints. We descend and head toward our diadem reading, ignoring the side passages. Many of these are blocked off anyway. The whole place has a decrepit air. We come to the end of the tunnel. It looks like a dead end, completely solid to Second Sight. No secret doors in evidence either. But our quadcorder says there's a trap door in the floor. After looking carefully, Chris sees the outline, though clairvoyance senses the floor as solid. We've seen this trick before -- "Astral Glamour" or some such that tricks clairvoyance but not normal vision.
Daewen uses her own Glamour to make the trapdoor more visible by taking OFF its own Glamour. It's a big manhole cover, with no grips. TK doesn't work either. Cantrel mutters and gestures, though, and it opens far enough to expose some grips on the sides of the manhole cover. Second Sight now gets double vision looking under it.
"How did you do that?" asks Daewen curiously. "Magic!" Cantrel coyly replied. It was the wrong thing to say. "No $#!+ !" she replies [98 on her reaction roll] and Glamours him into a pig [00 on her Glamour roll]. Then she looks worried. Cantrel's still giggling (or grunting) and not worried, but Daewen's Glamour can be AWFULLY real. She and Chris both set to unworking it [and fortunately make critical hits, both of them].
"Now, how did you do that?" Before Cantrel can make an ass or any other livestock of himself, Chris tells Daewen that it's Chyoxan magic he picked up. Daewen casts a glance at the manhole cover and says she doesn't think it's supposed to open that way. Tom kneels down and kicks in his Tools knack, to feel out how to use it. Yes, you can open it by touching HERE and HERE. Close it by touching THERE and THERE.
Pfusand lifts the trap door off and we all descend, closing it after us. Alag's Second Sight bounces somewhere below. Psi barriers. We're getting warm ... again. We head down.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.