Week 17, Recovering Alag
We left our heroes back in the pantope -- yes, the pantope -- after an absence of a few months, a few years, or negative seven decades, depending on who you ask. They are all there, including the recently rescued Waverly and Genvieve, but excepting Alag, who is now in the clutches of Prince Rashid and needs rescuing himself.
Lorelei, having slept Genvieve, carries her to sick-bay for some hi-tech rest and recuperation. On the way, she and the others see three unfamiliar figures. The Captain introduces the two groups and explains to us that these are new passengers -- three lost wanderers, who have no idea of their home coordinates. But he thinks at least one of them is from at least one of our two time-lines. Perhaps we could take them on?...
Perhaps. Meanwhile, we have Alag's rescue to organize. We take a few millisecond-long snapshots of Alag and his surroundings, on instruments, allowing as little time to pass as we may. He is still invisible and his personal psilencer is still on. It's hard to tell, but he may be badly wounded. [He is. Nearly dead.]
We decide to use a strategy similar to the one we used to take out Whizzer. It requires a pantope, but then we've got one for the moment. This is to lay a series carefully aimed, rapid-sequence ambush attacks -- the highest-power version of our favorite method of smash-and-grab.
Since this is a rescue of an injured party, one of our "ambushes" is to shoot Alag with a stasis gun, similar to the one used long ago on Pfusand. The Captain doesn't own such a thing, but he has some stasis grenades, and could cobble up a miniature grenade gun -- which he then does, with Tom's help. To play it as safe as possible, we put shock absorbers on the stasis bullets (formerly grenades) and use telemetric sighting to aim at our invisible target, with a glamour display provided by Chris.
Speaking of grenades, the Captain wants to know why the Serving System always provides them with child-proof seals. (He is also impressed that we cozened the Serving System, the Wardrobe part of it no less, into providing grenades. We explain that we simply started giving Wardrobe designs from the Technology Museum computer.) The reason for the seals is that, at one point, Chris and Sophie colluded with the Serving System to "help" relieve Cantrel of boredom: whenever he ordered supplies from Wardrobe, it would deliver them to some random and unannounced location, for Cantrel to discover later. When Victoria came upon a load of grenades in the sock drawer, she complained loudly and pointed out there was a child on board (Tyrell, her son and Cantrel's), so ever after, we've had child-proof seals on the grenades. Simple, see?
Well, anyway, we furnish ourselves with the stasis gun, some conventional grenades, and some psilence grenades, a heavy-duty psilencer, and assorted guns, mostly stunners. Several of us take positions in the weapons bay, which is damage-resistant and can be put in heavy psilence. Two doors will open from there, flanking the room containing Alag, the Prince, and half a dozen minions. Lorelei takes a position on another bridge, in open psi, ready to have her door open on the ceiling, and cast a sleep spell on the whole battle field. Ready? Start.
Lorelei goes first. Rashid himself falls asleep under her spell. Chris shoots Alag with the stasis gun. All and only Alag goes into stasis, so we have a complete, silvery nude statue of an elf, swathed in invisible clothes and gear.
Tom shoots Rashid three more times with a stunner. Unfortunately, the very stimulus of the stunner wakes him up long enough to give Tom a hefty whack with TK (even through the psilence). Tom is knocked into the back wall of the weapons bay, but not before getting off one last shot that knocks out the Prince again.
Jake works at picking off Rashid's aides. One aide knocks out Cantrel, then his gun blows up in his hand and he falls under Gerard's stunner. (Gerard is one of the newcomers, who has joined in.)
Lorelei hops out of the ceiling and probes about Derynishly for Alag's invisible equipment. Fortunately, it all seems to be on him, but when her probe brushes the unconscious Rashid, she gets a TK thrust and a painful telepathic assault -- apparently from a protective pattern Rashid has cast on himself. Lorelei picks herself up and recommends we just grab Alag and split.
Chris tries one more time to polish off Rashid. He fires a blaster at him, but the bolt bounces back and Chris has to duck it. Jake waits until Waverly can haul Alag into safety, then tries a simple knife at Rashid's throat. Everyone in the room, including Jake and Lorelei, gets a massive TK punch. (It finishes off some of Rashid's own men, all of whom are out by now.) Tom pulls in Jake, Gerard pulls in Lorelei, and we close doors, stopping exterior time.
After Alag and a number of other people pass through the autodoc and recover their health, we decide that Rashid is enough of a public menace that we, as the Jack Patrol Crosstime Office, should try to get rid of him. True, we know from history that he WILL fail and go away soon, but it might as well be us who turns out to the cause of failure.
The Captain obliges us by opening a door under Rashid, straight into deep space a couple of parsecs away. This guy has been so full of tricks, we decide to watch what happens next.
Sure enough, an air hood extends from his turban, and gloves from his cuffs, etc., forming an instant space suit. He then floats there unconsciously for some time. When he wakes, he looks horror-stricken, then vanishes.
Well, pooh. He clearly wasn't just a psi-lord. That trick isn't nearly contemporary. He's far future or sideways. Waverly points out that the way our attacks kept bouncing back at us strongly suggests we're timelocked with him, or even time-twisted. (That is, we've already met him, though he hasn't yet met us, or vice versa.) Nuts. He recommends we declare ourselves winners and quit while we're ahead. We agree.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.