When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
Week 3, Making Preparations
We left our heroes back in the late Cretaceous, having just had an enlightening conversation with Henderson. Before we continue, here's a bit of flashback concerning Henderson: Cantrel returned his silver pencil and asked what it did. Several things: laser, blaster, stunner, "jangler," ... And what do the worldbenders' blue pencils do? Henderson has carefully not found out.
Once back in the shuttle, it's still a week until our next pantope pickup. We decide to take a bit of vacation somewhere far away from here (the island continent of India) and select the Kentucky coast, on the eastern shores of the Kansas Sea (which stretches from the Caribbean to Hudson Bay, slicing the eastern seaboard off from the rest of North America).
On the way over, on a sub-orbital flight, Chris checks his watch, which is supposed to tell universal time. It does not record Lizard-Man Standard Time, but rather hours and minutes since leaving the pantope. Cantrel's watch, a later model, DOES record some sort of date and time, in octal.
We discuss what equipment to use and what to leave behind. Clearly, we should leave most of our enchanted stuff, but we disagree about some items. Are the Lorien cloaks and the no-encumbrance Kevlar enchanted? Elvish magic was used to make them, but are they magical in operation themselves? In the end, we decide not to take them, but to keep the silverwood bows. Also, we won't take psionic equipment, save for psilencers and psi openers, which are not detectable when turned off (we're pretty sure) and could be very useful to turn ON.
Cantrel loses patience, having so little that he misplaces it easily, and suggests we just lob a few asteroids at the center of Lizard-Man Land, since we know they're doomed anyway. Or nuclear weapons. The others dislike such large-scale tampering on strategic and ethical grounds. (Tom says he has one genocide on his karma already and paraphrases the Christian scriptures to the effect that evils must come but cursed be he through whom they come.)
How about hi-tech, non-psi tricks? Tom suggests Glass Daggers. Cast your minds back (or forward) to the days of the Jack Patrol, of which Cantrel, Pfusand, and Tom are veterans. They once came up against some insidious weapons called Glass Daggers -- remote-controlled flying laser pistols hidden in holographic invisibility shells. Tom thinks he can cobble some up once back on the pantope.
On our third day at Kentucky Beach, Daewen spots something while on watch, floating at tree-top level on the flight belt. Without thinking, she creates a Glamour telescope to examine it closer, then remembers and takes it down. What she saw was some large remote object moving to swiftly and evenly to be organic.
We pack up into the shuttle and take off for the upper edge of the air. While Chris pilots, Daewen fiddles with the shuttle's telescope, then turns it over to Tom. Eventually, we get a close look at it -- a dirigible? No, a boat. Shades of the Sultanate's air-ships of the Turtle World.
There are several of the intelligent dinosaurs on deck, looking rather aimless and unoccupied. There is no obvious pilot. One stands at the prow, either on lookout or just enjoying the feel of wind in his ... scales. They have a ground speed of about 20 mph. They were never closer to our camp than several miles and seem not to have noticed us.
Tracing back along their path, we find a dinosaur fortress about 25 miles up the coast from our camp. There are no signs of activity in it. It looks carved of native rock.
We move camp to a Pacific island, making sure that it and its neighbors are uninhabited, wait out the week, then rendezvous with the pantope without further incident.
We spend four weeks on the pantope, training and making equipment. Tom designs six Glass Daggers, three with lasers, three with mechanical grabs. To build them, he needs parts that Daewen coaxes the Technology Museum into making. He then gives steering lessons to anyone who wants to run them.
Cantrel looks for radio traffic over India. He finds none, but does spot two broad-spectrum low-frequency ultraviolet beacons, one of them at or near the segment's location, the Point of Avoidance. Very mysterious.
Jonathan reflects that the Calvary Syndrome may help keep the worldbenders out. We can hope so.
Daewen builds an X-ray-like device that sees through walls and works on monologue physical principles -- therefore probably too subtle to be noticed by psychic dinosaurs.
Alag gives Chris lessons in Suggestion.
After a month, we're as ready as we can figure a way to be. We'll open our door at 1-day, 3-day, and random intervals, starting with a door high above the point of avoidance. We'll drop the Daggers into dinosaur territory from above, then steer them in.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.