Chapter 4: Pardon Me Boy. Is That The Chattanooga Teleport?
We've learned all we can at the site of the battle between the Algis and
Korando. We pile back into our rented flying saucer, and return to
Requembel. While we're letting the autopilot handle the navigation, we
pull out the Map of Here and notice the pile of pins in Requembel. Hmm.
Wonder what that is...
The vehicle returns to the rental agency near the spaceport and lands neatly in the same slot we took off from. The rental agent pads out to greet us and we complete the return process. No dents or dings, tank is still full, mileage within acceptable limits. Sign here. Press there. Blow into this tube. Thank you, sentient. Please keep us in mind the next time you need to rent a vehicle.
Orienting ourselves against the pins displayed by the Map of Here, we make our way down the street past the entrance to the spaceport. It's typical KaiSenese architecture: a monumental arch in flat white, with controls down low. There is lettering on the entrance in KaiSenese Interstellar, Household Words and Tradetalk announcing to all who pass that this is the entrance to the spaceport.
Continuing down the street, we take a left at the next corner to find that the pins all appear to be inside a building labeled "Teleport Station." Well, that would explain it.
Entering the Teleport Station, we find a large, cavernous hall with halls leading off it. The far wall has a diagram showing that this Teleport Station connects with six others; three on the planet in (presumably) other cities, and three on orbital stations. Salimar strolls up the nearest information kiosk and starts asking the Rioli seated in the kiosk about how the Teleport Station operates. When the Rioli gets suspicious, she displays her cloak, identifying herself as a KaiSenese liaison. Assured of her credentials, the Rioli answers all of her questions.
The teleport technology is derived from the standard hyperdrive. It's safe for all materials, but it will break psionic linkages. When Salimar asks whether any military materials have been transported in the last seven days, the Rioli replies that military materials of any sort are prohibited items.
The technology used in the public teleport system requires a sender and receiver, so it hasn't been used for the attacks. The Map of Here displays the same color pin for both this site, and the attack sites. The key describes it as "Mechanical Psi."
As we're walking towards the entrance, a Moto Banu approaches and stops in front of us. "Greetings Sentient. Are you the party from Jumping Jacks?" When we acknowledge that we are, he continues, "My name is Hfnafar. My brother Eric McNeil has sent me to escort you back to the human quarter." Since that's where we were planning to go anyway, we follow Hfnafar to a floating platform parked nearby. Once we're all aboard, he guides the vehicle into traffic, and says, "Eric needs to know what happened in the Algis territory. He received a call from the Algis chief Getnamen. It was an 'intense' call, and Eric seemed rather upset." Despite our questioning, Hfnafar can't or won't tell us anymore, so we settle in to watch the passing multispecies architecture of the city.
Arriving at the tower housing TXT in the human quarter, Hfnafar leads us to the TXT offices, where we find Eric looking perturbed. After we've all filed in, he asks us, "Could you tell me your version of what happened when you went to the Algis territory?" No reason not to, we suppose. Dafnord relays exactly what we did and our suspicions. He discretely doesn't mention Daphne's side trip.
When Dafnord's finished with the recitation, Eric sits behind his desk looking at us for a few moments digesting what we've told him. "Well you certainly attracted their attention. The individual you were negotiating with was Daracru, their security chief."
Salimar, ever the liaison, asks, "Did we offend them?"
"Offend? Perhaps. But you also intrigued. They called me because they considered it 'Terry business.' They were very interested in the image you showed them."
"Oh. This image." Salimar projects the image of the Korondo transport device with it's strange organic looking 'hood ornament.' "We don't know what it is yet. Or if it goes well with butter."
The off-hand comment momentarily distracts Eric. Hfnafar, however, is looking intently at the image. "Scale it, please." Salimar obediently scales the image so the thing perched on top is what we assume is full size. Hfnafar takes pictures of the thing, which appear on one of the wall screens.
Daffnord asks, "Do you recognize this?"
Eric looks closely at the image. "No. Hfnafar?"
Without pausing in his photography, Hfnafar replies, "No. I've never seen anything like it. It's a creature, you say? I grant you it looks organic..." Turning to Salimar, he continues, "This would require a great deal of butter." Turning to Daffnord, "How many did you see?"
Dafnord replies, "Only this one."
Eric muses aloud, "All regular teleporters are dual point send/receiver pairs. There is some cutting edge work... Do you think it's a projection cage?"
Oh yeah. A projective teleporter. Like the one we had installed on the Munch when we bought it. Fifty years in the future, at Marshaylaport, on our way back from the Terraform Reach (where we rescued a family member who isn't born yet from slavery 3000 years in the future). Our projective teleporter uses tachyonic hyperjump technology. We also have a second device called a Transilience Driver, or Jaunt Canon, but travel using it can be a little rough. It came with it's own test guppy to send through before trusting it to transport 'higher organisms.'
Hfnafar is looking closely at one of the pictures on the wall. "This looks like a projection cage, but I don't see any reflectors..."
Now that his memory has been jogged, Robbie contacts Edvard on the Munch to ask what he knows about projective teleporters. Edvard reports that the technology was (Will be? Time travel can be so confusing.) developed in the KaiSenese Association and will become available commercially in about 10 years. When asked, Edvard can't identify the object (alien?) perched on top of the device either.
Eric looks at Daffnord and says, "The attack on the little emplacement was taking out an Algis screening post. The equipment inside the build would screen the launching of teleports."
We have much to think about. We bid Eric and Hfnafar goodbye and go to our quarters, up ramp a level.
Once we're upstairs, Salimar produces the Map of Here again. We call up a map of Varkard on the room's wall, and notice that the large stacks of pins correlate with the four planetary teleport stations.
Excluding the large stacks, the remaining pins appear to be evenly distributed between Algis and Korondo territory. By examining them closely, we're able to deduce they seem to be paired - sources and destinations, and that the time sequence suggests a pattern of attack and counterattack; one side will attack the other using their projective teleports, and the second side will attack the point the first side teleported from.
So both sides have projective teleporters. That's not the technology upsetting the balance of power. The Algis use plasma rifles, while the Korondo use shock rifles, but there's no real difference in the effectiveness of the two types of armament. The only thing we've found that one side has that the other doesn't is the little white disks, which among other tricks, appears to affect the probability of being hit by a weapon.
Speaking of projective teleporters, we can use the one on the Munch to go scout the source of the Korondo raid into Algis territory. Robbie and Dafnord return to the Munch to see what we can do. First thing is seeing what the projective teleport does to one of Robbie's eyes. If he can maintain connection with it, then we can have an observer in case something goes wrong.
Robbie floats an eye into the cage, and Daffnord sets the controls to project the cage to the center of our quarters, about a meter above the floor. Crackle - Zot. The cage appears, floating in the middle of the room, with Robbie's eye in it.
Since Robbie is none the worse for wear, Salimar separates off a blob of herself and puts it in the cage. Daphne decides that if Daffnord is going, she'd better be there to protect him, and also enters the cage. Robbie pokes the return button with levitation projected through his eye. Crackle - Zot. The cage returns to the Munch. Salimar is aware of the transition, but her link with her 'bud' survives the effect.
Dafnord resets the controls to 30 meters above the ground from the location the Map of Here specifies as where the retaliatory Algis strike occurred, and enters the cage. Robbie pushes the big red 'Go' button. Crackle - Zot. The cage is hovering above the treetops, just like Dafnord planned. However, he hadn't planned on the sharp ear pain he and Daphne get from the pressure differential. Off in the distance we can see what appears to be a homestead. There are signs of the retaliatory Algis strike between here and the settlement. Daffnord lowers the cage until it's hovering just above the ground. His ears feel much better here.
Salimar's bud performs a retrocog that shows the Algis arriving at night, in a cage-like thing. This version of the projective teleporter has eight refrigerator-sized boxes at each corner of the cube-shaped cage. They must be the reflectors that Hfnafar was talking about. It definitely has nothing like the 'hood ornament' the Korondo version sports. The cage is full of Blenari carrying plasma rifles. Those would be the Algis troops. Once all of the Algis disembark, the cage vanishes.
Before we can investigate further, Dafnord's keen hearing picks up the sound of an aircar approaching rapidly. He quickly gets all of us back into the cage and pushes the button, returning us to the Munch. Robbie resets the controls to our quarters, enters the cage and Daffnord pushes the button. Crackle - Zot. We're 'home.' We leave the cage in our quarters and head down ramp. A quick ping to Edvard, and the cage vanishes, returning to the Munch.
In the TXT offices, Eric is examining pictures of various models of projective teleporters, while Hfnafar is examining a set of instruments. Robbie points at one of the pictures and announces, "That's the model that the Algis are using."
Hfnafar looks at him quizzically, and then asks, "Excuse me, but have you been using a projective teleporter of your own?"
Dafnord replies, "Yes, but we can't tell you where we got it."
Eric looks over at Hfnafar, and then shrugs. He must be assuming that it's a piece of black technology that Jumping Jacks is working on.
In the resulting silence, Markel hands Hfnafar the white disk he picked up. "We picked up a number of these at the at the site of the battle in Algis territory. As far as we can tell, it affects probability around the user."
Hfnafar takes the disk, and waves various instruments over it. "Clearly, this is randomization psi. The technology is remarkable because machine generated random psi is very rare and limited. We'd heard about these, but been unable to obtain a sample. The reports were that the Korondo had some sort of good luck charm that deflected attack by beam and projectile weapons."
Salimar mentions that at least one of the disks seemed to be attempting for make her grow a tail. She produces the disk and activates it. Hfnafar examines it with his instruments and says, "It appears to be a kind of patterning."
Dafnord suggests that perhaps this kind of disk is intended to keep something or someone in Blenari shaped.
Eric looks up from the workbench at this suggestion. "That bit about Blenari shaped reminds me of something. A news story about the conflict..."
Markel offers "Perhaps they help with healing?"
Hfnafar responds "Possibly... It works on long chained molecules..."
While Hfnafar has continued to examine the disk, Eric has been doing a search of pictures from the conflict. He dredges up a picture of a battlefield in Korondo territory, with dead bodies strewn around the field. He zooms in to a close up of one of deceased. The Korondo soldier's legs are strangely deformed, as if it melted from the hocks down. Instead of the musculature visible on the other bodies, the legs look like they're just bags of flesh. When he pans the image up to the torso, the corpse is wearing one of the medallions.
Varkard Log 4 1 Played 8-Nov-2002
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.