Week 15, Running the Gauntlet
I described us popping out at the very end of last week's log. However, we must now back up a few minutes. Some more events were introduced before our exit.
Just before we were ready to pop out, Cantrel fumbled his way through the intercom channels and found a voice that identified itself as "Control." He announced to Control, "We're the ruffians who are trying to break out of here. We'll use stun if you will." Control seemed somewhat skeptical.
Meanwhile, Aphron took the opportunity to dirty up Wu's washed brain. He established some degree of telepathic rapport and hypnotized at the unconscious Wu like fury. However, he was unable to tell if his de-programming was successful.
Tom had been standing guard on the teleport platform. This platform includes a live projected image of the place you are going to land. Tom therefore noticed when a large horseman, draped all in black and riding a huge black horse, moved by. He also noticed that the dawn itself appeared to retreat in the dark aura that attended this figure. He reported this to the group.
Victoria heard the elevator hum. Therefore, we were ready when it opened to deliver four guards, guns at the ready. Victoria fired but missed and went down stunned. Cantrel stunned one and Aphron fired at two others. One went down, but the other parried with his own gun, putting it in the path of the incoming beam. It went off.
Cantrel got hurt, and the erstwhile gunman stood there looking dazed and empty-handed. Tom took the opportunity to stun him. One to go.
David threw a dagger at this last survivor, who caught it. Lorelei meanwhile dove for his gun. The guard blocked Aphron's next shot in no obvious way, but not the next one. So they were all down.
For one shining instant. One woke up and stunned Aphron. Or tried. Aphron parried with HIS gun.
Aphron was left barely standing. The newly-revived guard then took out Cantrel. Mark, of all people, hit the guard with a thrown dagger, and Penny threw this old bent bar from a coat closet that we happened to have. The guard dodged or ignored these missiles and levitated Tom's gun out of his hands, then tried to use it on him, but missed.
Now two guards are conscious. Aphron downs one, but the other parries again mysteriously. (Aphron notices that his arm is being brushed out of aim by a mystery force. The guard is using psychokinesis.)
Victoria now leaps back into battle against one guard. David grabs his gun, but he PKs another and zaps the kid. Aphron fires, is PK-parried the first time but not the second.
ANOTHER guard wakes and grabs a gun, but Victoria knocks it out of his hands. Tom dives for Cantrel's gun (Cantrel got stunned some rounds back, remember?) and Lorelei grabs another. Aphron zaps the guard Victoria is fighting, and she proceeds to kick his head all over the elevator so the sonofabitch won't wake up again.
For a blessed moment, they are all unconscious. So we stun them all three or four times to keep them that way, then loot them as quickly as we are able. We also examine a mysterious door that no one has ever come through. For good reason -- it's a closet. It contains a hi-tech-looking wizard's staff and two mysterious boxes. Forget 'em.
AT LAST we pile onto the teleport stage and pop out.
Now we're REALLY in trouble. We found ourselves on an open, grassy field in mountainous country. A deep valley began a few dozen yards to our left. That ought to be Rivendell. Riding down into that valley is the black horseman. He is a Nazgul, one of the minions of Sauron, the Dark Lord. He is about the meanest thing this side of a demon from hell. And we don't know that because we never read the book. So we ignore him, since he seems to be ignoring us.
About one football field away is a stand of trees. One of the trees has the pantope door hidden in it. And, in the middle distance, we can see five worldbender guards flying in, wedge formation, eight feet above the ground, disflorgers at the ready. In the remoter distance is another team of five.
Aphron took cover behind an armored corpse he brought through. Cantrel used David. Just about the time some activity started down in the valley, with the Black Rider, the lead flier on the first team came zipping in. Kickoff. I mean, he opened fire. Aphron instantly took him out. Another guard fired on Aphron's cooling corpse-cover. *>BLAM<* No corpse. And the guns are NOT set to stun. Cantrel stuns a second guard, then everyone with a gun dials the power up.
Tom kills one guard and Victoria dashes forward, leaps, and seizes the disflorger from an unconscious guard. She reports his buddy is reviving, so Aphron blows him away, following with a fourth.
The visiting team grabs some yardage before the second string of the home team shows up. Then fire opens again, and we learn that some of the guns ARE on stun. Cantrel gets stunned, as does Tom. Victoria fires and misses, while David dives into a foxhole that appears at his feet when another guard misses.
Aphron takes out another guard, but two take up positions in front of the pantope, one from the first wave, one from the second. The remaining first-wave guard attacks Aphron where he stands amid the sleepers (Cantrel, Tom, and Dr. Wu) and gets stunned for his trouble.
Meanwhile, another foxhole appears beside Victoria. She stuns one of the guards at the pantope's tree. Mark runs down the sidelines and grapples with one of the guards hovering before the pantope. Meanwhile Tom revives, grabs Cantrel, and runs. Back at the goal posts -- er, I mean tree -- Mark vanishes under disflorger fire. The guard is stunned by the backlash from his own weapon, and Victoria instantly avenges Mark by blowing him out of the air.
At the end of the first half, the score is:David now dashes up to the pantope, grabs a gun, and starts groping for the hidden door. The surviving guard wakes up, so David blasts him and is singed in the kickback. Aphron and Victoria pick off the remaining guards, one of whom blows up his unconscious buddy whom Aphron was using for cover.
Two black horses now ride onto the field. One carries the Black Rider and the other bears a knight in gray armor. They are charging roughly toward us, with swords drawn. They then close with EACH OTHER (relieved sighs) and the Gray Knight whacks at the Black Rider.
Meanwhile, back at the tree, Lorelei finds the door and people start piling into the pantope. The Gray Knight falls off his horse. Since the knight is clearly no danger, Tom (who hasn't read the book) fires on the Black Rider, who might be. He misses, but the Black Rider notices. Dark beams fly from his hand and Tom goes flying, landing unconscious. The Gray Knight lands a good one on the Black Rider and in the process loses HER helm, showing herself to be an elven maid.
Victoria throws Cantrel at where she hopes the door is. (She's right.) The Gray Knight and Black Rider continue to trade blows. A worldbender pops out of the air right by the door. Victoria hits him in the face and turns to retrieve Tom. The Black Rider, not wanting to lose his prey, throws more evil rays at her but accidentally creams the teleporter instead. He knocks into Victoria, who recovers, grabs Tom, and splits.
David, the first to reach the tree, is now out there all alone. He leaves. The pantope disconnects, and its time for another beer commercial.
Elsewhile, we find that Tom is relatively unharmed, just stunned. Wu comes around and has been successfully de-programmed. We will all sit here quietly for a bit and catch our breaths.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.