New York 1984
Week 9, Sneaking in Again
We left our heroes working their way down a manhole into New York's increasingly bizarre underworld. Somewhere in the midst of the manhole shaft we come to the psi barrier. Below that is a trap door, and below THAT is a nine-foot drop to the ground. Nearby is a five-foot-wide pillar and no signs of a ladder.
Cantrel drops down and notes a ceiling grip by the hole, for the use of the tall or of good jumpers. The room is hundreds of yards wide on all sides, though we have come down rather close to one wall. There are lots of pillars five and ten feet thick, and lots of echo.
The rest of us follow. The diadem detector points diagonally and down. We march off, following it, marking our trail with Total Recall, Second Sight tracers, and occasional chalk marks.
Ahead and to the right, Cantrel hears light but unstealthy footsteps. Alag sends his Second Sight thither and sees a young woman, NOT Katie Mallory, the cop we met last time, but someone else, a normal-looking person dressed for the outside weather with moderate prosperity. Alag sets a tracer on her and withdraws.
His gifts are needed elsewhere. We can see something indistinct ahead. Alag clairviews that way and reports the railings of a stair, headed down. So, should we head down or continue across? We decide to descend. Alag uses Glamour to muffle our footsteps on the stairs as we do so. We come find a corridor and another stair. We go down that. The detector still points mostly down.
In this lower corridor, we find we are now moving athwart our signal. We also discover a couple of large niches in the walls. Behind us, the woman Alag spotted is now descending the stairs. She seems familiar with her surroundings. We dodge into a niche and, using Glamour, vanish. She comes to our corridor and strides obliviously past us. As a test of her battle- readiness, Cantrel trips her with TK, as if she had caught her toe on the rough flooring. She catches herself competently but without particular battle reflexes or signs of paranoia. She examines the floor with her flashlight in a puzzled manner, then goes on. Alag trails her with Second Sight. We wait a minute, and then follow her.
She comes to a doorway on the left and exits. (Our diadem detector points to the right.) Her side-corridor narrows, becomes cluttered with brick and other debris, and heads off in the general direction of one of our earlier approaches. Cantrel remarks that she's off to see the "Morlocks," as he has dubbed the underground residents.
We pass her doorway and find a wooden door on the right. Behind it, Alag scans a closet, and behind that a corridor veering off the wrong way. We pass on, and Tom notes a subtle change in the sound. He begins to feel this walled corridor is passing through empty areas, with no dirt outside the walls.
... Meanwhile, our mystery guest is navigating a twisty set of tunnels...
Tom probes the walls with Second Sight and finds rooms beyond its brick walls, carved from stone. Tunnels lead out of them, one down and forward, one up and back. We start looking for doors out of the brick hall. We don't find any, but we find a place where a doorway was bricked up. We decide to open it up again with our laser drill.
While Cantrel wields the drill, Daewen casts Glamours to hide and muffle the operation. Cantrel then hauls the brick slab out with TK, revealing a semi- natural cavern. We start peering around inside and considering how to hide the seams when we pull the door back in after ourselves.
While they do that, Tom goes back to that first wooden door on the right, to dust away the intervening footprints and set some false ones so that it looks as if the party went through that way.
... Meanwhile, the mystery lady has come to a locked door. She raps on it with a metal ruler, in a code....
Tom, busy at his disguise work, gets a feeling he is being watched. He has come to have a great respect for those feelings in the last four years. He pretends to stealth through the door, meanwhile going quietly invisible.
Chris comes flying down the corridor, invisibly, and passes Tom. Using Second Sight, he probes back into the dark, and discovers a man with no light, wearing funny goggles. Henderson again. The goggles are probably IR, so Tom and Chris are probably visible to him.
We debate telepathically over what to do. Cantrel, growing impatient, yells out, "Hey Henderson! Let's talk!" But the Glamour Daewen set up for the drill muffles him. Chris floats up to the ceiling, out of the way. Henderson reaches into his pocket for a handful of change. All of it comes up heads, and he starts retreating. Fascinating...
... Meanwhile, the mystery lady has been admitted. The door, Alag discovers, is psi-blocked, so there the trail ends. Alag got a peek through from outside and seemed to glimpse one of the more mundane people we met last time in the conduit they filled with grenade shrapnel.
Chris now uses his Glamour to throw his voice after the retreating Henderson, so that it whispers to him out of the darkness, "Want to talk, Henderson?"
He jumps and says, "Not really." "Okay," says Chris and withdraws. We gather together back at the doorway Cantrel opened up. We pass through, replace the slab, and Lorelei reaches through with Deryni TK to fill up the cracks with a thin layer of plaster, concocted from the dust by Chris with a little water vapor and Alchemy.
Suddenly, Daewen shushes us and listens. "Damn," quoth she. "Anyone put a tracer on Henderson? Can we check him out?" No, and yes. Alag sends his Second Sight racing after Henderson, but all he gets is a glimpse of a pantope door closing. Daewen said she THOUGHT she had heard one of those.
Rather to our dismay, Sleeves shows up with his usual lightning fast speed, "strobing" in with a gadget in his hands, a rod with buttons and knobs. He checks things out with it, then takes out an instrument pack rather like Cantrel's or Henderson's, zips about with it, then gestures. Two more folk come strobing in, men we haven't seen before, tending a gun-like thing on a tripod, hi-tech looking. The whole procedure of strobing in looks particularly extra-dimensional this time.
Sleeves pauses and looks pensive. Alag feels him doing something psychic, some trick related to Second Sight. Back in our group, we hastily look around for Sleeve's viewpoint, but it's not in evidence. Soon, Sleeves gives up, looks disgusted, and pulls out a third gadget. Three more men strobe in, clad in rough homespun like some of the "Morlocks" encountered earlier, but armed with futuristic pistols. They begin searching and find our trail of footprints.
Chris exerts his Alchemy to dry the mortar faster. Alag catches Sleeves planting a tracer but can't tell on what. Sleeves brings his artillery up to the door -- zip! They cover it.
These maneuvers have brought Sleeves and his group within Cantrel's TK range, and, as a Deryni, he doesn't have to see an object to TK it; Second Sight will do, even Alag's Second Sight at one remove. Accordingly, Cantrel rattles a crate in the closet. This gets instant attention from the men at the heavy gun.
Cantrel then picks up a nail in the closet and starts to scratch a message on the wall: "Why won't you talk to us?" The scritching noise brings Sleeve's party bursting in. Cantrel programs the rest of the message into the nail and withdraws. Just as well, since one of the gunmen blows the nail away, then feels stupid.
Cantrel starts the whole thing over again, this time with a pebble, rapping with it in peremptory fashion to draw their attention first. Another gunman blows this one away. Touchy lot. Sleeves zips in and turns on the Second Sight. He nods to himself and whizzes out, pulls out his tricorder (or whatever it is) and punches buttons. The gunmen retreat and they all strobe out. Cantrel grabs for the tricorder with TK but misses.
We sigh with mingled relief and puzzlement and head on down the next tunnel. It is carved through solid rock, and twists. It leads us to a small cavern. There, a pathway branches off into the cavern and a small underground river comes by, clean, fifteen to twenty feet wide. The river, path, and tunnel all run roughly the same way, which is roughly the way we want to go.
Clairviewing ahead, Alag finds the path reconverges on the river later. There's a boat moored along it. The tunnel comes to a lighted spiral stair. No people are in evidence, and the lights are a miscellany of light bulbs. At least a dozen tunnels come and connect to the stairs at one point or another. Going down, the stair meets with the river and then with one final tunnel. We decide to head that way.
At the stairwell, we find it also goes up some. At the top is a door with a beaded curtain, beyond which are broad tunnels with a lived-in look and nice tables and statues and things.
Cantrel sneaks out to the stair railing. WHAM. Sleeves with three or four gunmen zip in from the upper tunnels. Cantrel inexplicably trips and falls against the railing, which gives way.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.