The Voyages of the PS Nones
Chapter 13, First Trip to Pharos
We head out of the Tierrico system as quickly as we can, having apparently rescued Klulimi and eliminating our adversaries. Dafnord, Markel, Robbie and Salimar are aboard the Dubious (Nones). Aelwe, Katrina, Kate, Morniesul and the Brunalf are aboard the Obscura. Both ships and several of the passengers still have some damage from the shock cannon attack.
Aboard the Dubious, Dafnord manages to wrestle Klulimi into the hold. This task has been rather awkward because, as he discovered, Klulimi appears to be encased in a form-fitting stasis field with his limbs spread outward. Additionally, a few objects seem to float nearby, also apparently part of the stasis field: a length of popish putty, a small hand tractor, and a pocket computer. A little experimentation reveals it to be some kind of psychic stasis as doors and bulkheads neither interfere with the field nor allow the trailing objects to be separated from Klulimi.
The Dubious can neither identify this type of stasis nor generate a stasis field of its own. Dafnord works on contacting the Obscura, this task made difficult by the fact that both are using different kinds of hyperdrives, and asks Aelwe if the stasis field could be Qui. "Well, yes. I didn't know he could do it!" He suggests a psilencer.
Dafnord finds a psilencer and turns it on near Klulimi. After a few moments, it begins to get hot. Dafnord turns it off and reports this interesting fact. Aelwe and Morniesul both express surprise. ("Psilencers don't do that normally...") Salimar, still not looking her best and only managing to look like a wiggly octarine jello version of herself, burbles that something must be working against the psilencer. She schlumps over and sniffs Klulimi. "He reeks of Qui," she observes.
Dafnord asks Aelwe whether or not he can break the stasis. Aelwe says that he's used counter-Qui before and that he's "pretty good" with it now. Despite everyone's unexpressed skepticism, we agree to drop out of hyperstate and rendezvous so Aelwe can try. Robbie has finished rebooting at this point and takes care of arranging the rendezvous and extending the diffusion fields. After that's complete, he heads below decks to tune the engines for the next hyperstate jump.
Aelwe comes over from the Obscura to try and counter Klulimi's Qui. Kate and Katrina come over to take advantage of the autodoc. While those two draw straws, Aelwe makes a few passes at Klulimi's. Nothing appears to happen and Aelwe says that he's baffled. Dafnord suggests that a trigger may be needed. Aelwe scans the Qui and detects a slightly different patterning on the pocket computer.
As he scans it, he realizes that he's triggered an unraveling. Aelwe fiddles a bit more then yanks the computer free of the stasis field. We hook up the pocket computer to the stasis field and watch dispassionately as data mysteriously appears on the system. (We see stranger things than this in our breakfast nutri-solutions. Even Salimar's.) Aelwe recognizes the data as being in a Qui dialect and reads it:
Dybor II [the reigning unpopular Emperor] and his partisans are out to exterminate the Quishonne. For this purpose, they have built the Hexenjagers using Old Terraformer Technology. They obtained the technology from the archaeological site at Axar City. The dig is now their base of operations. Their biggest disadvantage is they must stay hidden from the Imperial Senate.
Morniesul observes that we have all of the information necessary to make a report: a Quishonne report, actual pieces of a Hexenjager, and an influential citizen (himself) to contact the Senate. Unfortunately, contacting a Senator might be difficult. The Imperial Senate here is an aristocratic and mobile class--mobile to avoid bad feelings in any given part of the Empire.
We also still have the problem of the Qui-rigid Klulimi and his orbiting debris. We decide the best alternative is to head for Pharos so that we can at least free Klulimi and listen to his suggestions. We start to return to our respective ships and make the turn for Pharos when, simultaneously, the Dubious reports an intruder and Robbie shouts from the engine room below decks: "Hexenjager!"
Everyone scrambles. Aelwe grabs Klulimi and manhandles him toward the bridge. Salimar brings the net up and determines that Robbie is in a zone of psilence. A quick second sight reveals that he is also unconscious. Dafnord growls realizing the really big stuff is in the weapons locker below decks. Morniesul and Kate grab their sidearms and head for the hatch with Dafnord close behind. Brunalf and Katrina stand ready to head below while Salimar guards the hatch. Markel and his dragon place themselves between the hatch and the bridge as a final line of defense should the Hexenjager start for Klulimi or Aelwe. Someone shouts an order to the Dubious to track the intruder as well.
Morniesul jumps down and Kate floats down, getting hit by the intruder for her trouble. Kate returns fire but is unable to see the Hexenjager directly. Sparks from where her shots are hitting the main drive tend to outline it, though. Morniesul tries covering the area with glamour fire which reveals its outline but also gets hit, badly. Dafnord jumps through the hatch at this point and he and Kate finally stop it without too much collateral damage.
Brunalf zips down and starts to reboot Robbie while Dafnord carries Morniesul to the autodoc. Kate cuts limbs off of the Hexenjager with her macro-metal knife. Salimar sweeps the area and finds no other evidence (or more correctly absences of evidence) of activity. The Dubious is told to check its systems.
After rebooting, Robbie explains that the Hexenjager crawled out of the wall. Salimar checks out the hull and eventually finds some scratches on the hull where apparently the creature was hanging on. Using her retrocognition, she confirms that the Hexenjager was just hanging onto the ship while it was flying away and that only one seemed to be out there.
After the excitement, we start cleaning up. Robbie starts with himself and then moves to the engines. Morniesul recovers slowly from his attack. Kate tries to figure out how to mount cameras on the hull. Dafnord checks the weapons cabinet then takes a page from Lorelei's book and climbs into his body armor. After thinking a bit more, he straps on Umbra (nee the Sword of Chaos Twilight.) Morniesul apparently learned that lesson as well: after consulting with Aelwe over the conductivity of his chainmail, he decides to don his spacesuit, armor, and an overtunic for style.
Brunalf and Robbie decode the instructions from this Hexenjager. This one had instructions to board, then stun anyone unconscious and kill anyone conscious. After finishing, it was to call someone--but they cannot tell who. They also discover a series of crystals on the inside of the Hexenjager's shell, all with communications lines to the brain. This seems to be how they manage to walk through walls and, if Robbie's analysis is correct, perform limited teleportation. Morniesul suggests removing these crystals for further study then has the bodies and brains of the two Hexenjagers placed on separate ships.
Meanwhile, the Dubious and the Obscura are getting within range of Pharos and the rest of the team discuss how they should arrive and who they should contact. Tentatively, the Obscura will land first with Morniesul, Brunalf, Aelwe, and the dead Quishonne from our Loald adventure. They will then determine how to deal with Klulimi.
The two ships pop out of hyperstate over Pharos. As the Obscura drops the Dubious immediately detects and reports the presence of cloaked, no, now decloaking ships. (Morniesul growls at the Obscura, whose newly-bought almost-AI politely informs him that he should ask if he wants that kind of information.)
The decloaking ships hail: "Prepare to be boarded in the name of the Emperor!"
Not a good sign. Especially because Pharos isn't part of the Empire.
On the Dubious, Robbie heads below decks to check on the engines as Dafnord heads for the Obscura, preparing to cloak both ships and then make a random jump. On the Obscura, Aelwe tells anyone listening that he can't seem to raise anyone on Pharos. Morniesul was listening and forbids both ships to scan the planet (in case we need to jump here again) while firing on the closing ships of the Empire. On the Dubious, Robbie can be heard arguing with the ship just as the jump takes place.
THUMP! ("Gosh, that didn't feel right...")
Morniesul examines the final seconds of the logs and can't tell whether either ship hit anything. Meanwhile, Robbie comes back up carrying a partially spent fire extinguisher. ("Some parts of the engine run faster if their cooled quickly," he says with a grin.) It seems to have done the job as both ships are now speeding off in hyperstate in some direction.
Morniesul and Aelwe discuss what could have happened and the alternatives. They agree that Klulimi could not possibly have gotten there in time and that Dybor II seems to have made his move against the Quishonne. It's not clear whether everyone escaped or not. (We may not know until we go back and perform the rescue.) Morniesul also wants to make a report to the Senate.
This seems to be the hardest part, especially since the Emperor's forces seem to be on the lookout now. Katrina is asked to go over the logs and find a time about five months ago when they all weren't in residence at the Loald home so that they can reconnoiter, research, and rest.
Last Updated: 18-Feb-97
©1997 Tim Lasko