The Chaos Marches
Chapter 13, Tom Disappears
We left our heroes in the middle of a fight with the draconian Lilim. They have successfully scotched three, at the cost of getting Tom thoroughly toasted. Tom is now in the autodoc, full of nerve blocks and slathered all over with fake skin. Meanwhile, there are still three Lilim to go, elsewhere in Last Valley.
Several times, the Lilim have appeared to anticipate our attacks, but not the one that roasted Tom (shortly before its demise). Kate speculates that the psilencer Salimar stuck to it had jammed its prescience. She carves the psilencer off the dragon, along with some goop and dragon-hide. (This is, by the way, a flying dinosaur, not a wyvern as stated in the previous log.)
Looking about, we spy a winged man-dragon thing hovering high up, watching, then peels off for the dark side and home. Dafnord watches it as long as he can, with binoculars.
Salimar, meanwhile, resume her form of an invisible wyvern and heads over to Professor C's downed dimension-ship, the "Zephyr," under attack by the remaining two Lilim -- a real wyvern and a big, classic flying dinosaur. Robbie borrows Tom's gun and some clips, and runs off through the woods, to rendezvous with Salimar at the "Zephyr."
Tom now suggests that someone take him up to the twilight, so he can use the Chaos' Rim effect to try to heal himself quickly. The others suggest that the painkillers are getting to him, but eventually he persuades Kate and Dafnord to drag the autodoc up the slope, to the edge of the twilight.
Salimar reaches the "Zephyr" and sees it scorched by dragon-fire and scored by dragon claws. The two dragons are looping over the ship, making attack runs at their nadirs. Invisible, she starts climbing, preparing to shoot the goop-gun at them at the tops of their loops, when their speeds are lowest.
She rendezvous with the big dragon first, follows it down the loop, and, when it is as top speed, goops it, fouling its wings and gluing on a psilencer. The dragon loses control, veers off, and plows into the top of the ship. (Oops. Sorry, Professor.) It burns itself somewhat, on the ship it had heated with its own fires, then skids off into the treetops and begins struggling for altitude.
The wyvern has watched the misfortune of its companion and veers over to meet it. It looks agitated and roars calls to it. Salimar takes the opportunity to dive on it and glue a psilencer to its shoulder. The wyvern, distracted, looks for what hit it and plows into the big dragon. The big dragon lashes out reflexively with one forepaw and slaps the wyvern away. Salimar shoots some more goop around for good measure.
Robbie arrives now and starts shooting at the dragons. Between bullets and goop from an invisible source, the wyvern smacks into the treetops, but manages to pull out again. After another dose of goop, though, looking broken about the neck.
Salimar and Robbie now turn their fire (or their glue) on the remaining dragon, the flying sauropod. Salimar manages to partially glue one wing down.
The dragon can't see Salimar, but it can see Robbie, who is busy loading some bullets into the wyvern, just in case. Salimar sees it ready its flame and telepaths a warning to Robbie, who dives and rolls just in time. The dragon finds that it cannot pull out of its strafing run with its wings all gluey, and plows into the treetops, starting a forest fire.
Salimar throws one of her telepathic brain cocktails at it, and its flight becomes still more erratic. Its tail dangles limply, probably paralyzed by Salimar, and whacks into trees.
Robbie rises and begins shooting at the dragon. Between this and still more goop, it crashes into the ground -- skidding straight over Robbie.
Robbie finds himself only lightly damaged, but trapped under a knocked-out dragon. He steers his remote eye over and looks the situation over. The creature is in bad shape, with wings broken, but still living. Using the eye's speaker, Robbie yells at its head, "Hey, stupid!" A draconian eye opens. Robbie's eye ducks behind a tree, but, as Robbie hoped, the dragon tries to rise, thus getting off Robbie.
It stumbles and falls back onto him.
Robbie sends the eye out again with "Nyah, nyah, nyah!"
fhooom It blows fire, kindling the nearest tree and so adding to the spreading forest fire, but the eye dodges again. "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me. I'm the gingerbread man!"
fhoom again. Poached eyeball. It can still fly and see, though, even if focus is not what it was. The dragon tries to stand again, and Robbie slips out from under it.
fhoom Roast robot, but not very effective.
Essentially unhurt, Robbie now has time to notice an old radio message from Professor Cadwallader, hanging about in a buffer: "attack let up temporarily thinking of fleeing." Robbie sends back, "One dragon dead, one down in forest fire. Relocate." The Professor sends back that he is already lifting. Robbie asks to be picked up and sends to Salimar with this latest news.
Meanwhile, back on the twilit slopes on the high side of the valley, the autodoc pumps Tom to the gills with painkiller and releases him with the remark that "Estimated patient viability, without additional medical care, is two weeks." Meaning he'll be dead in two week if he doesn't do something about it. He means to.
Tom tries to levitate his sizzled body, but fails. Kate helps, and floats him up into the twilight. As a result, she and Tom fall off the general telepathy net and are left with only their own connection. Father Paddy comes up behind, ready to help, while Katrina and Dafnord stay below with the autodoc.
The twilit slope is not a pleasant place, being dark, ooky, and furnished with menacingly twisted trees. Trying to lay this aside, Tom wills himself back to health. Or tries to. After seeing him fail a couple of times, though, Kate gives it a try and largely succeeds. His exposed skin looks only sunburnt, and his eyebrows are back. He's essentially healthy again, though still a bit shocked and wobbly. (N.B.: This will be important.)
Main mission accomplished, Tom considers what useful thing he might do with the twilit chaos, now that he's here. We really need to be over at the "Zephyr," and he was able to manage a portal before, so he tries wishing one up.
A circular portal appears before him. Very good. He looks into it, and Kate feels his surprise on the empathic level. He turns to her, but before he can even frame any words in his mind, he (being wobbly and shocked) slips on the rocky slope and falls into the portal. The portal immediately collapses.
Kate is already leaping down the slope in pursuit of Tom. She goes sliding through the space where the portal was, followed by Fr. Paddy on a similar mission. They slide and slither down, out of the twilight, where Kate, at least, is caught by Dafnord.
Damn, damn, damn, dammity-damn.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.