New York 1984
Week 15, Tracking Whizzer
We left our heroes back in the pantope, external time stopped, surveying the ruins of Whizzer's lab, evidently smashed by the wild talents to prevent us tracing Whizzer or their fellow citizens of the underworld. Since time is not passing outside, we don't do much for three days while the autodoc patches up Daewen and Cantrel and our other casualties. Once Daewen's feeling better, Chris asks her why she forced our hand. She replies she thought they were stalling us.
While Daewen recovered, Tom cobbled together a psionic device for detecting traces of living psychic residue. With this and his own arcane senses, he checked over Alag and Cantrel for jinxes and found nothing. The remaining question is, Will the jinxes come back if we meet up with Whizzer again? (Or might he just cast a new set of jinxes? Could we tell the difference?)
What to do about following the segment? Tom suggests taking a pantope window back to Whizzer's lab and watch the leave-taking. If we can't figure out how to intercept from that, maybe we can just follow him and/or the underworlders by steering the window through their door, or by everting the pantope at a small scale and flying it through. Daewen suggests that, rather than risk the whole pantope, we could evert a miniaturized shuttle and fly that, though that risks cutting the shuttle off from the pantope.
First, let's try to trace the exodus. Tom takes Chris's watch-reading of Whizzer's lab and sets up a window one hour before we entered there.
The room is empty of people and there is no gate on the back wall. Chris suggests making a ten-minute jump forward, to give ourselves a slack period where we are not limited by foreknowledge. Tom obliges.
We wait for a while and Whizzer comes in at a high speed. We choke down the passage of exterior time to watch him better. We watch careful, with zoom cameras, when he pulls stuff out of his pocket, but it isn't informative. We DO see some "enchanted" sticks come out, such as the one that cast Lorelei's stasis. Then he fiddles with a thing like a futuristic remote TV control. Nothing obvious happens and it goes back up his sleeve.
Cantrel now suggests we go back to our ten-minute slack time and use it to FIND THE SEGMENT. If we could take it, we could then save the appearances later, when we saw it blink out with Whizzer; to do this, we just open the pantope door on the far side of Whizzer's lab and take care to close it at the same time as Whizzer vanishes. Thus we would cause all the phenomena we had observed earlier. Daewen is dubious of such tight causal engineering. Tom's toes curl and he remarks that this is the sort of tricks he thinks the worldbenders could play, only much worse and more grandly, if they got the diadem.
Nonetheless, we decide to take a look. Tom steps out with the detector, armed and armored, under Hysterical Agility, and invisible. Chris takes the helm and reduces the door back down to a window. Checking the detector, Tom observes with mixed emotions that it points out of the lab. It must be on Whizzer's person. He signals for the door and steps back into the pantope.
We slip ahead fifteen minutes, to go back to watching Whizzer. Cantrel recalls that he used that little control box before. Whizzer goes over to the monitor controls and does something that gives Tom a hard time keeping the pantope connection. It gets harder and harder. Tom doesn't dare move the door or change the time scale. Whizzer walks out of view toward the wall that had/will have the gate. He then comes back and leaves the room.
Soon, people start coming and going, partially visible through the wobbly, immobile window. We see people passing back and forth with boxes and bags. Victor appears and disappears. At one point, he steps into the plane of the window, blocking a lot of view with a black cross section through his body. Tom surmises that supplies and people are being moved through the mystery door.
More time passes and more people accumulate in the room. As a spying session, this is not going well. Our window clears up somewhat. Tom stops exterior time and analyze Whizzer's moves on instant replay.
Daewen reckons that he did three different things to hash up any potential observers or interferers like us. Local space-time got screwed up three ways. It probably felt rather nasty to be in that room.
We decide to fall back a few minutes and try another form of spying -- medium- high tech. We dare not use any psychic or psionic tricks, or they will get spotted by Whizzer, Lara, or someone of that ilk. We must fall back, to Tom's evident satisfaction, on old-fashioned 24th-century technology.
First, we flip the window around 90 degrees, to get a good look at the wall where Whizzer puts the door. It is now there. We see daylight and a green valley, viewed through a crack in a rock formation. We fall back in time two hours. Cantrel and Daewen sneak out and plant a spy-eye Cantrel bought on the Co-Dominion time line. They set it up to watch Whizzer at the door controls.
While they do this, Cantrel betrays that he assumed we could receive the monitor's signal while the pantope was disconnected. Daewen and Tom disabuse him of this and Tom stops exterior time while he makes a recording device to go with the spy eye. They hide THAT, too, and then jump forward to a time when everybody has left.
Viewing the recording is of only limited use. As Daewen had noted earlier, Whizzer's controls are not marked in any straightforward way. In fact, they may have been deliberately marked to make spying difficult. Watching Whizzer manipulate the door controls on the bug's recording, Daewen now thinks that the button-pushing is all stage business. The door was pre-set or dialed up by Coiling, TK, or some such.
Chris suggests sending our compass-watch through the door and bringing it back, to get the coordinates of the place on the other side. This, too, must be done without psi. Tom happily tinkers up a crudely automated anti-gravity floater for the watch. We send it out the door and a small size-scale and leave it there. At the proper time, it will zip through the door, trigger the watch, then come back here and wait for us to pick it up.
It works. The result shows us that the underworlders are falling back about 2000 years. Chris suspects they are going back to originate themselves. Oog.
Next, we make a radio transponder, shrink it down to miniature, and plant it on one of Whizzer's effects, at a time before he entered the lab. It is a widget we know he takes with him. We then slip back to where the door comes out and look for an answer to our radio signal. None. We try hopping around a few hours or time. Nothing. Either Whizzer never came here, or he found our bug, or he hasn't arrived at any of the times we've stayed around for.
So we now know where the underworlders go, but it begins to look as if that is not where Whizzer or the diadem segment went. Bother.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.