Chapter 7: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Dafnord stares a little longer at Daphne, and then decides the pixie is
bluffing; there will be no more waifs tonight. He announces his intention
of returning to our rooms in the Terran Quarter - by taxi. Kate, Robbie,
and Salimar join him, while Daphne and Fallataal remain on the Munch with
The three organics return to their bedchambers, while Robbie goes back to his studies of the Tlappina Aelth. The Hood Ornament definitely does not look anything like any of the major divisions, so he starts examining the minor ones, and even their domestic animals. There is still no match. They are unsurprisingly fond of bilateral symmetry; the Hood Ornament's five-way radial symmetry is not part of their vocabulary. Another argument against the Hood Ornament as their creation is its use of teleportation. Their psi is almost entirely biological and medical in nature, with essentially no gross telekinesis.
Dafnord awakens from a sound sleep, tingling with pain. It's a recognizable pain; someone has just stunned him with a shock pistol. Not well enough. With a yell, he throws off the bedcovers and leaps... on a faint, unfamiliar discoloration in the room. It turns out to be a clothed being, of distinctly non-human shape.
Markel and Kate are both awakened by the yell and thump. Robbie and Salimar, over a floor away, are only vaguely aware of a distant thud. Markel grabs his quarterstaff, and Kate her sonic stunner, and both head for the corridor and the direction of the sounds.
Dafnord and the stranger grapple in the dark. Repeatedly, Dafnord's blows are parried, and Dafnord parries the return blows. Soon Dafnord becomes aware that his opponent is, at most, translucent. No wonder he's hard to hit. Dafnord, nevertheless, knows it is not impossible, and keeps slugging.
As soon as Kate emerges from her room, she feels a gun muzzle at her neck, and hears "Greetings, sentient," in a Blenari timbre. Ah. Someone objected to Betalto's disappearance. She pops up the net and pings everyone. Markel, who entered the hall at the same time she did, can see that Kate is obscured by... something. Kate broadcasts her position, what she and Markel know of her situation, and what they and Dafnord know of the Acro's situation.
Robbie lifts to the ceiling in the library, and turns a light grey to match it. He then heads up towards the site of the action. Salimar slithers close behind and prepares one of her brain cocktails.
Dafnord finally connects -- "oof!" -- with a pile-driver blow, and parries the return. That return blow was not made by an arm, a leg, or even a head. Kate tries to TK the muzzle away from her neck, but has no effect at all. Markel swings his quarterstaff at the translucent blur with a solid "thwack!" and the blur staggers across the corridor with an "oof!" and there it... crouches. Perhaps.
Salimar takes psionic aim at the ceiling and bestows her brain cocktail on her best guess at the location of Kate's assailant, two floors up. Unfortunately, the assailant has moved. Markel feels cocktail's tingle as the edge brushes him. He hits the blurred figure again, and it is still. Kate uses her sonic stunner to ensure that it remains that way.
Dafnord gains dominance in his struggle. He lands another blow, and his opponent hits the floor, but remains conscious and swinging. Dafnord hits squarely with a last blow, and the figure stops moving. He turns on the light. There is an irregular patch of blurriness on the floor, with a claw sticking out of it here, and a tail tip there. Ah. The Acro plucks the cloak of invisibility off the Blenari, then turns off and removes its psilencer. It's a Blenari, a dead Blenari. He tries on the cloak, and checks it in the mirror. It's a surprisingly good fit, if a bit roomy. The space for the tail on a Blenari translates into greater height for a human. Dafnord practices a bit while the body cools.
Salimar quickly pulls out the Map of Here, and checks to see if our intruders used a teleport. Nope, just us. Markel flicks the cloak off the unconscious Blenari and turns off its psilencer (which explains the failure of Kate's TK). Our alien bit of ooze sets to tapping its mind. She immediately reports that our surviving guest is Territan of Algis, and that he was sent by Daracru to rescue Licconeten.
Oh, rats. Dafnord calls the spaceport to warn them of more "experiments," summons our projective teleport, and carries our clinically dead intruder to the Grand Asclepius autodoc. It grumbles, sticks a lot of silvery tubes in the body, and pulls its cover down over it. It informs Dafnord that it will be at least one day before the patient recovers consciousness, and five days before it regains mobility. Well, it could have been worse; it could have been sincerely dead.
Meanwhile, Salimar learns from Territan that he and his companion had planned to kidnap two of us, and memory-audit what we had done with Licconeten. Ah. That's irony for you. Salimar also ascertains that Territan is really in poor shape. Zot! Markel drops the new patient into
the projective teleport, and it's retrieved by the Munch. Dafnord slips it into the sleeping bag autodoc. While waiting for the autodoc to give its prognosis, Dafnord reflects that both our autodocs are in use now. The lesser autodoc reports that it will be three or four days before its patient can be released.
Dafnord finds Fallataal and Daphne (peacefully sleeping, until now, aboard the Munch), and tells them what's been happening at our apartments. Dafnord returns via teleport, Fallataal continues to patrol, and Daphne goes back to sleep.
The pixie dreams that there is a golden Blenari fairy sitting next to the Grand Asclepius, reading a magazine. Waiting.
Immediately upon his return, Dafnord calls the spaceport to report a temporary end to our experiments. He hangs up before there could be the possibility of even an insincere "thank you, sentient" from the other end. He dresses in one of his more impressive uniforms, and calls Daracru. He gets an underling on the vid, and announces, "I am the Tenth Dragon of the Auspicious Sunrise. May I speak to Daracru?" Daracru arrives promptly, and is summarily informed, "Do not send any more of your people. We have filled our autodocs, and cannot take more." Daracru's eyes get wide as he realizes what this message really means. He recovers enough to ask to speak to Licconeten. Dafnord does not promise this, but allows the possibility of some communication. He hangs up.
After a few hours of sleep, everyone except Markel takes a taxi to the Munch for breakfast. As we are finishing, Licconeten and Betalto slip in, hand in hand, tails brushing. They select their breakfasts from the dispenser and eat while we all talk.
Dafnord asks Licconeten what her relationship is to Daracru, and learns that he is some sort of cousin. Well, the Algis is a clan, so that's not very helpful. We tell them something of what happened last night, and suggest they send messages. Licconeten decides to use bound telepathy on a string, so we do that. Bethalto decides to write a message in battle code, and comes up with "I can no longer fight in your war. The female I love is on the other side. We are going away." Salimar helps him bind in the meaning of the message, so that its sincerity cannot be doubted.
She then takes the messages to the KaiSen embassy, so they can be delivered without being traceable back to us.
We can now contemplate how best to get our young lovers off this planet, and how to complete our assigned mission. (Remember the mission?...)
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.