|| Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Liberty League | | Turn 10 ||
"Jack, is there a reason why I found the four spare Roberto bodies wearing sombreros and sitting around an empty bottle of tequila and a deck of cards?" - Dr. Z
Despite Bathmat's -- or whatever he calls himself -- words, a very long time passes. Or seems to pass; she tries to get a sense of time by counting against her breath, but worried thoughts interfere repeatedly. Even before the accident at Zach's lab that changed them all she had never felt this helpless; certainly not since. Trying hard to keep her imagination from running wild with what horrible things might be happening to her family, Dee reminds herself that the rest of the League is out there somewhere -- surely if they'd been captured as well there would have been more gloating from That Loser Eliot. _So it's just a matter of time. Jack'll bust into this place with a wisecrack, and Dr. Z has probably come up with some gizmo that turns these guys into glass, and Mancer will saunter in and make some kind of sick innuendo.... Just a matter of time._
Nothing happens for a while longer.
She starts to wonder if they're just going to leave her like this for as long as it takes. She wishes Eliot would come back; it would distract her, and she could be sure that he wasn't doing anything awful to her parents, though he seems more the gloat-and-deathtrap sort. Almost she wishes Bathmat would make another appearance, but if she thinks about Terry she might start crying. Sweet, wise, innocent Terry... he hadn't wanted the sand-things hurt, it's not fair that anything could have happened to him. Her throat constricts sharply at the thought. She thinks about the homework she never got a chance to finish. She wonders how much a heart weighs, with or without metaphors.
Footsteps make their approach once more. Dee can barely make out three shapes in the entryway. In his forebodding tenor Bfmaat announces, "It is time, fleshling. Time to see if you will die forever as the others or if the Gift of The Dragon that burns inside you will allow you to benefit from the Cycle of Khepri to become something even greater in your next life in the world we will make for the Great Serpent."
Dee can fell, less than see, a hand pass across her field of vision. The ectobotanic goo covering her eyes seems to disappear with the gesture. Her sight returned somewhat she is less than satisfied that the same cannot be said of her prodigious strength. Bfmaat raises his arms again and the constraints are subsumed into the wall once more. She is restrained by the two silicates in the monster's company.
He turns his back and begins to walk toward the Hall of Two Truths. The silicates follow, dragging Dee in their wake. Rather than two boot etched lines in the sand an abstracted serpentine slither marks her trail....
* * *
Terry's consciousness is engulfed in blackness. His vision offers no sight. His sense of touch offers no comforts. He exists now in a void. From somewhere nearby he can sense other forms, other shapes, other silicates all just as lost as he is. Perhaps moreso.
Chaos? Formlessness? These are concepts he has faced before, without the benefit of the training he has received from his parents. From darkness comes light, from formlessness, purpose.
At least he has retained his sense of self. That is the core lesson. Be yourself. Keep yourself together all else will follow. His life has been a sequence of pulling things together to make shapes from chaos, to bring order to the formless.
He doesn't think he's ever started so far back on the road though. Still, focus on his sense of self. Continue to build on that for it is from that that all else will flow.
He tries to imagine his own form, the one he takes on when not thinking about being and focusses strongly on that. When he has that form fixed in his mind he will ensure that it stays there. When he is sure of his 'self' and his 'form' he will begin to make more careful exploration of his environment.
Despite being reunited with his kin he has never felt more alone.... It certainly wasn't the reunion that he'd been hoping for. He cannot believe that the silicates are necessarily bad - seems like they've just got themselves a bad deal with their politics. He must believe there is something worth saving - he knows that he was right to stop the others killing them.
Alone? Hell, before he was was alone. At least now he knows there are others like him.
* * *
By the time the others returned to the base, Zach had the main computers operational. He had also activated another Roberto body, and the lair's android butler was doing his best to clean up the mess.
"Ah good. You're here. I should have all the necessary systems back on line to track Dee and Terry's communicators. That should give us the interface point where we can cross over..." Zach leaned back against the computer array and chewed his lip, a sure sign that there was more going on inside his head than he was letting on.
Before anyone can comment, however, Zach glances at Shatterman. "Jack, is there a reason why I found the four spair Roberto bodies wearing sombreros and sitting around an empty bottle of tequila and a deck of cards? Hmmmmm?"
"I'm sure there is," replied Shatterman with mock indignation, pretending he had nothing to do with this terrible mistreatment of Roberto. Then Shatterman bursts into laughter. "Just as soon as I remember what it was ... Oh, yeah! it had something to do with tequila - a couple bottles - and Winston. She had dropped by one evening. Said something was on her mind, but she wouldn't tell me what. _She_ got really drunk - cuz you know I have a high tolerance - and I was trying to cheer her up so we dressed 'berto up and arranged him with one of our empties. It's not like he was using those bodies, right?"
Pavel looked at the sky in mock dissaproval. "My boy, my boy, denial should _always_ be the first response. If he must have the truth, at least let him work for it!"
"Hello! Perspective check!" Shatterman laughed. "Work for it? I could spend months planning a prank and Dr. Brain could decrypt it as an accidental brain fart while switching on his sonic toothbrush."
Pavel just shook his head, as if at a particularly dense student. If the lesson that deduction was a dime and confession a dollar had not yet been learned...there was little Pavel could do.
Gaslight, who has since the computers were restored to operation remained seated quietly in the corner, deep in a state of yogi meditation to replenish his diminished energies, emerges from his trance-like state just in time to catch this latest exchange. He disapproves: the Liberty Leaguers are intent on treating their activities as some sort of game or adventure, as though they were all members of some super-children's kiddie club, rather than the deadly serious business that it is.
It's true that Mason finds their playful approach at times refreshing and amusing, but, with Silver Dragon missing and Terraform quite possibly under the psychic domination of a petty psychopath, this is not one of those times. Damned over-powered amateurs.
Zach just shakes his head in indignation as the console behind him beeps. He turns just in time to hide his grin. Boys will be boys, after all.
"Good. I have a lock on their communicators." He hefts the shoulder-mounted EMpulse controller to its correct posion before grabbing the scanner. "This scanner will let us home in on where we can initiate a cross over. It'll also act as a signal booster so we can get a call though."
Zach looks over his allies. "Psyche, Gaslight, I hate to impose on you for this, but we may need your help a little while longer." Gaslight gives no formal reply, but he doesn't really need to -- Z knows that he can always count on his old friend and ally to come through without hesitation. Moving to stand by Psyche, Gaslight quickly pats himself down to reassure himself that his weapons -- especially the "specialty items" acquired from the armory -- are all in place.
Eleanor nods her head quickly to signal acquiescence to Zach's indication of the need for further assistance. "I'm very happy to do whatever I can to help Dee & Terry," she adds quietly, glancing at Mason for reassurance as the thought of travelling into a different dimension makes her feel uncertain of the usefulness of her abilities.
Mason guesses easily enough the thoughts behind Eleanor's pointed glance. His own first foray into another plane of reality had occured many years ago, even before he had assumed the identity of Night Boy and his primary adventuring role was as kid mascot to the Challengers of the Red Sands and, occasionally, "boy hostage" for one super-villain or another. His ordeal in the Purple Dimension of the Seven Deadly Perils had been extraordinarily unnerving and one he would never forget, so he can certainly commiserate with Eleanor's own uncertainty. Since his mask would hide any smile of reassurance, Gaslight simply nods and continues to project his usual aura of supreme self-confidence that, he hopes, Psyche empathically senses and is comforted by.
*Will Mr. Moonlight & Heisenberg also be accompanying us? Or have you other plans for them?* she tags on mentally to Zach.
She can feel Zach's hesitancy as he decides whether or not to tell her something. *I'm afraid we'll have to - Heisenberg at least. Unless Dee or Terry does something on the other side, I don't have time to construct a dimensional transport device. However, it's possible that Heisenberg could act as one, letting us cross over. We'll have to see when we get there.*
"OK, we'll plan strategy en route." He looks back at Jack while walking to the hanger. "Could you descibe the tactics of the ones you encountered at Norris Labs, lad? I'm wondering if they behaved differently or displayed different powers under Eliot's direct control."
"Sandman tactics at the Norris Lab?" repeated Shatterman with unaccustomed seriousness. "Doesn't seem like much to tell really. A lot like this morning. They just poured out of the metalwork and were all over us. 'Dragon put the beat down on a couple and Terry did his mud-mojo. I blew a couple apart. Then they were all over me dragging me down. Hey, I guess one thing was different. This morning they were all frenzied flailing fists and at the Labs they were more focused and trying to grab us and drag us down Greco-Roman sytle. Well, they dragged me down anyway and cocoon me like a spider with a sleek juicy fly. They covered my head pretty quick, too, so I lost track of 'Dragon and 'Form. By the time I blasted my way free, those two were gone." He shrugged. "'Dragon was massively P.O.ed so I fear for whomever thinks he has _her_ subdued."
Zach checks the scanner again before they reach the staris to the hanger, wondering about trying to make contact with any of his missing teammates, when he stops dead in his tracks. This is seconds before the claxons blare an intrusion alert for the second time today.
"They're in the front yard. Eliot may have tipped his hand and given us exactly what we need. Come on!" The Indestructible Man is already in motion, sprinting to the window overlooking the yard and diving through, trusting the others to follow in their own fashion.
Gaslight is in motion before Z has finished speaking, and is both amused and very slightly surprised when Zach beats him through the window. It seems somewhat uncharacteristic of the Smartest Man on Mars to charge headlong into danger without first calculating a plan of action, but, on the other hand, there is very little for an Indesctuctible Man to fear, is there? Gaslight reaches for one of his contingency weapons, but pulls up short as he glimpses the scene through the window and, rather than plunging through, waits for the remaining Leaguers.
When the others reach the window, they see Zach looking uncharistically puzzled in the front year. "There should be an incursion point right here, but nothing has emerged. Everyone get ready...but I don't think it's an attack."
Eleanor can still hear Zach's thought, *Bless you Terry. Get that door open.* A figure begins to swirl above the ruptured lawn it has yet to coalesce into shape of friend or foe.
Terry's distorted image appears on all of the monitor screens and Zach's scanner. His speech is broken and halted, as if fighting with all his will to get the message through to the Leaguers. Zach had long surmised that Terry could interface with high tech items through their use of silicon, this would seem to be the proof.
"Help ...us. Opened path... Not sure ...how long ...can keep open."
"Way to go sand-castle!" Pavel crowed.
"Take me to your leader, dude!" Shatterman said awe struck.
"You heard him Leaguers! Link hands and let's go!" Dr. Z added.
"Link. Hands." Only the seriousness of their compatriot's situation prevented Pavel from asking for a chorus of 'Kumbabya.'
Mason offers his hand to Eleanor for assistance in clambering through the window. "After you."
Mason feels the mental whisper of *thanks* as Eleanor takes the proffered hand, grateful for her mentor's moral support, and smoothly climbs through the window out into the yard.
Moonlight, surprisingly, leaps to the ground, an almost ferral snarl sounds as he raises. His features are lupine and his scraggly hair seems longer and even more unkempt. Tufts of argent hair sprout through holes in his worn longcoat.
"Let's make this quick...I ain't sure how much longer I can hold this lunar mystery anymore these days." Mr. Moonlight's paw gruffly grabs Gaslight's gloved hand as the aged villain joins up with the circle of heroes.
"Longer than you may think with yours truly around, George." Heisengerg says with some pride as he floats down looking at Pavel the entire short flight down. He secures his white silk gloves in place before taking up the Wiseacre Wizard's calloused digits into his own. Glancing over at Pavel, he says "Next time, best to ask someone if they can fly before you accost them. I would have at least expected dinner and a movie before such treatment in the past."
Heisenberg finalizes the link by grabbing Moonlight's hand. "Down the rabbit hole once more, hmmm," he muses aloud to no one in particular even as he looks at Dr. Z. Is it possible he somehow knows of Zevon's aspirations to build a stable dimesional travel machine where all else have failed?
The science-strongman tucks the question aside for the moment. Instead he doesn't heistate to give the "Go" command. One small step, one giant leap for humankind....
* * *
Now that she can see, she scans the place more out of habit than hope that something useful will turn up.
The vaulting walls of the Temple are etched in symbols that vaguely resemble hieroglyphs she's seen in her anthropolgy classes or even the eldritch icons on Pavel's PDA if you squint just right. More a feeling than a visual really. See can make out shapes that are akin to scarabs and jasmine petals but far more alien in their angularity.
"Secure her on the altar, grainules. I shall return momentarily for the judgment. I sense something ...amiss." Dee can make out clearly unwanted and potentially painful writhing beneath Bfmaat's robes and wonders what could be wrong with him even as he disappears. _Something horrible, I hope._
As the "grainules" drag her toward the altar, Dee considers her options, which are depressingly few, dragon or no dragon. _Well, think of it this way - what the hell do you have to lose? Doing the unexpected worked last time._ She stops fighting their inexorable forward motion and lunges _forward_.
The effort provides little in the way of escape for Dee. The monsters secure her upright with shackles at her wrists, ankles and waist that seem to be born from the ground itself. She is standing between two scales. Her sense of defeat would be almost complete if not for the sound of rumbling from a nearby sarcophagus and the unmistakable sense that says that Rajni is awake once more....
Empathic communication is far from precise, but Dee tries to find out if she's hurt. Her frantic inquiry is enough to finally push the flying serpent over the edge. Acidic steam rises from the sarcophogus and Rajni flies up through the green mist, then speeds toward the altar. Spewing twice she causes the two remaining captors to divide themeselves.
She stares Dee in the eyes for a moment, hisses once and then arcs back up into the air before charging full speed into Dee. Most shockingly she seems to be absorbed on impact!
They are fiercely hot and death-cold, light and massive at once. The air tastes of dust, and for a moment the sound of blood is loud in their ears, rejecting the death that fills this place. Rejoicing in the return of strength Dee wrenches at her bonds, fighting at the same time to maintain clarity of thought; Rajni's mind is bent on destruction of those her understanding has dubbed egg-crushers.
Night-black scales glimmer in the dim light as they step free, slitted vision focused on wherever it is Bfmaat went....
* * *
With one step there is a blinding, sudden transition, from well-manicured Liberty League lawn to barren desert. The heat of the late afternnon sun beats down on them oppressively, the hot, dry air attacks their sinuses and skin with prickly fervor. The Martian Mancer's response to Heisenberg, "Why should you be any different than my third wife?" is lost in the awesomeness of the change.
"I think it's reasonable to assume that we're probably expected," Gaslight says, upurturbed. "Everyone be on your toes. Shatterman, some aerial reconnaisance is in order."
The Martian Mancer, who had taken the air once it was clear there was walking and lots of it in their future, responds to Shatterman's clear but unspoken question. "No, I do _not_ want to race you."
Dr. Z gestures the direction his detectors indicated, after a quick sidestep to triangulate his sensitive instruments, and Shatterman is off in a cloud of sandy backwash.
"I have a lock on both their communicators ahead. I'm concerned that since Terry was unable to bring us in any closer that his conscious might have been temporarily infected with the overriding alien intellect Psyche was sensing." Dr. Z turns to the English Esper Extrodinairre, "Psyche, if we see him, make a check for that and let us know. I have total faith in Terry's ability to override that given time, but no sense in being taken by surprise."
The same thought had occurred to Psyche and The Doc's comments reminded her further of the rough treatment she had received as a result of her previous attempt to disrupt the link.
It is minutes' work for Shatterman to locate the cluster of Egyptian structures that matched Dr.Z's azimuth, fifteen minutes for Pavel to join him, and a long, impatient hour of hiking for the rest to catch up.
"Well, this sort of thing never interrupted Niven's landscapes," Heisenberg says from the dune that overlooked a large pyramid in the valley below. He scans the structure and obelisks, his expression belying the fact he is looking for something terrible and familiar.
Gaslight's murmur was quieter than a whisper from several feet away, but crystal clear to the Leaguers near him. "Psyche, can you sense Silver Dragon or Terraform in that structure?"
This produces an eerie echo, as through her mild psychich link with Dr. Z she hears *Psyche, can you sense Dee or Terry in that structure?*
"I hope so..." comes the subdued reply.
With her desire to know if her missing comrades over-riding any reluctance to risk another mental backlash Psyche steps forward and with her feet firmly planted in the drifting sand Psyche's astral self begins searching. Gazing ahead her mind darts into the pyramid and begins searching. The darkness enveloping her as she travels through the narrow, crumbling corridors as she feels for the mental signatures of her erstwhile colleagues and the little dragon Ranji.
Terry's "signal" is faint and distant. Eleanor can tell he's inside the building but something's in the way. The "alien" intellect perhaps? She'd burrow deeper since it seems occupied but she still hasn't picked up Dee yet. Best to do that to see if they're both inside then get taken down by the feedback.
Eleanor picks up Dee and Rajni...at the same time? Rajni's empathic connection is usually felt a split-second later after contact with Dee. Never this rapidly...never this dark.
"They're definately both in there but neither feel right to me; we need to get in there..." her voice trails off as she tries harder to establish direct contact with Dee. *If you can hear me, we're coming to get you* she pushes through, *hang in there*. With contact made Eleanor focuses her attention on a more definate link to Silver Dragon, attempting to assess Dee & Ranji's physical state and their awareness of their surroundings.
*We're... fine.* There is a certain dark humor in the thought, although Dee's usual light-heartedness is entirely absent right now, replaced by an undercurrent of seething fury that somehow feels curiously... old. *Can you find Terry?* That thought is freighted with something close to panic.
*Isn't Terry with you?* Eleanor mental voice has a slightly anxious note to it as she continues the exchange,* He's in the pyramid as well but I've not really tried to touch his mind as I'm being blocked...but he did help us get here. I'll make an attempt once I can report back on your situation. Are you free to move around at all?*
*Yes. I haven't seen Terry - we all got separated. They said....* She cuts off the thought.
*Those damn sand men trashed the lair but we're all ok & we have Heisenberg & Moonlight with us too,* as Eleanor sends Dee receives an image of the whole group atop the dunes, glaring at the pyramid, *I'm going to try to link in Zach..."
Meanwhile, Dee keeps a wary eye on the sand-creatures.
"Then we'd better get in there," Gaslight replies. "I'd rather not risk crossing the open expanse of sand on foot. Perhaps the fliers can carry those of us who are ground-bound?" To Z, he asks, "Any idea on how to penetrate that structure? If the pyramid is constructed of similar terra-materials, perhaps your EMP device could generate us a means of access?"
Noting the signs of continued mental effort on her face, Gaslight asks Psyche, "Can you continue your attempts at communication while we draw nearer? Will it disrupt your concentration to travel?"
"I don't think so. Do what you must," is the strained response from Eleanor,"Doc I'm gonna try and link you in too...* after a millisecond Dr Z is aware of the contact he had with Psyche becoming stronger and now including Dee. He 'hears' Psyche say,* you can just think what you want to say & the Dragon will hear it too now Zach.*
Silver Dragon becomes aware of a feeling of amplification as the mental contact extends to include the link Psyche already had established with Dr. Z, *OK we're all linked. I can sense you're not alone Dee,* Psyche continues, *but can you fill in any of our blanks?*
*Depends, what are they?* Answering Psyche's question forces her retain some semblance of control. *This Eliot moron grabbed my parents - I saw him here, but don't know where he's got them. I don't know what happened to Terry and Shatty. The sand critters spewed some kind of poison, knocked me out. Don't know how long it's been since then. Are you sensing a theme here?* More dark amusement. *The sand critters' boss is called Bfmaat and he wants Mars to go back to being dead. He's around here somewhere....*
*Hmmmm... Dee, this is Zach. Jack is with us, and he's fine. The poison they spewed, it was some kind of spore release, correct? That would fit with the consistent alien flora and insect life we've been encountering.*
*"Bfmaat, whatever he calls himself, is something akin to Terraform - both have personality matrices overlaid on their PE/EM fields. I don't yet know where his got its Egyptian fixation, but I'm sure it will come. Terry may have been temporarily overwhelmed by it, so if you see him, try and ground his core personality with your familial relationship.*
*We have a fix on your communicator, and we're closing on your position now. Are you recovered enough to break free on your own?*
*We're free,* she informs him, hesitates and decides not to go into explanations when she's not sure what's going on, herself.
Dee gets a strong sense of sympathy coming through the contact with an underlying feeling of support, *Be prepared for our entrance - I don't expect we'll be allowed to walk straight in,* muses Psyche, *I'll do what I can to locate your parents too.*
*Thanks.* Now where did that rat Eliot go....
Pavel, hovering in lotus position above the sand, agreed with Gaslight's proposal. "I can get most of us over there, but where exactly? Once I start circling like an airborne battleship our last shred of surprise is gone. Heisey? Any ideas?"
"A true confidence man would always keep the element of surprise on his side, 'Wizard'." With that evasion made, he picks up Mr. Moonlight and flies slowly toward the Pyramid. The Liberty League breaks into predetermined groups; Mancer flying Psyche and Shatterman, through a cunning use of Zevon's forcefields, pushes along The Good Doctor and Gaslight.
Pavel's eyes narrowed, more convinced than ever that Heisenberg knew more than he let on, and regreting not hitting him with magic truth serum any one of the two dozen times it had occured to him. But with an 'Uncertain Man' is it even possible to get truth out of him?
The flight, once begiun, is surprisingly quick. Zack spends all of it checking his scanner and looking at the horizon. Shatterman is holding him under his arms, and one arm is extended to hold Gaslight's hand - the strength of his indesturctable muscles holding his friend effortlessly aloft. In actuality, a force field playform exists under Gaslight's feet, keeping him aloft while still letting his cloak billow in the wind and, more importantly, giving him room to move if something should attack.
"OK lad, take us down there" Zach says, pointing with the scanner at the spot on the wall closest to Dee's communicator signal. "Dee says she and Terry are free, but she didn't offer any more data, so keep my warnings about Terry's possible mental state in mind."
"Once we're inside we'll need to reconnect with Dee and Terry, resuce the Norrises, take Eliot out of the equation and finally deal with this Bfmaat. Gaslight, you and Mancer are best suited for finding the human element and dealing it it - Eliot's probably ranting at the Norrises, so they should be in one place. The rest of us will find the others and deal with Bfmaat. Psyche, stay close to me and I'll be able to shield you from harm."
Gaslight nods. "Reasonable division of forces. Mancer, can you use your 'magic' to determine the locations of all the parties involved?"
"On this commando time scale, not without help from my passenger. Whaddya say, girlie, any hints? Get me within range of her sweet perfume, and I can take it from there." Pavel noted cavalierly that Zach's concern must have been great indeed, to launch into action without a complete psychic/magic recon. Good for him, the boy always thought too much anyway.
"Uncle, you're incorrigable. Psyche, can you scan the structure to get a focus on Mr.& mrs Norris while Jack and I create an entrance?"
Disconnecting from the switchboard Psyche reaches into the Pyramid, scanning thoroughly for the Norris's location and hoping to assess their state of being and whether or not they were alone.
Zach gets a tight grin, "Hesineberg, do you think that this is possibly the most vulnerable section of wall for penetration to the inner complex?"
Chances are...." the ne'er-do-well slyly comments on his own powers and the liklihood they could make it so.
"Good. Shatterman, I'll be holding the tunnel open. I need you to make us a way through the wall right..." Dr Z stops, runs the scanner over the wall quickly to make sure that it isn't a giant congregation of PE/EM auras before clipping it on his belt, and points, "There."
The indestructible man braces his arm a few feet above the point, firmly holding the wall in place to prevent a cave in, waiting for Shatterman to unleash his nigh-limitless kinetic power.
"Be prepared to be attacked from the moment Shatterman makes his first strike," Gaslight cautions. "They'll know we're here for sure, if they don't already." Gaslight reaches under his coat/cloak/opera cape, drawing out a rather low-tech weapon in the form of a police-issue M-79 grenade launcher, colliquially known as a "bloop gun." Slung across his chest is a bandolier of six 40mm grenadss, the first four in white shell casings, the last two in purple. Loading one of the white grenades, GL holds the weapon at the ready, straining his senses to detect any sign of unnatural movement within and beneath the sands...
"OK, Jack. I've got the wall supported. Let her rip!"
"You got it chief," replies Shatterman. "One hole coming right up." Shatterman stand back a few paces from the wall. He might be invulnerable, but he still wants to be able to see once the dust and debris start flying. Casually, Shatterman hurls a devastating blast of energy, then another. Each bolt carries the power of a tank gun. Each bolt capable of shattering a bus. Each bolt can level an alien sand monster. Each bolt makes only a tiny dent in the alien pyramid.
"Ow," whimpers Shatterman. "That's hard on the ego." Before anyone can respond, Shatterman digs his toes into the ground and leans forward. "Stupid wall gonna die." With an unusual look of intense concentration, Shatterman crosses his arms in front of himself, one hand up, one hand down.
Thinking about his friends -- Dee, Terry and even Rajni -- he lets the seriousness of the event build in his heart. _They're counting on me,_ he thinks. He moves his arms in opposite directions and a ball of coppery-green energy begins to swirl and form between his hands, in front of his stomach. The moment draws out as the energy builds. Static electricity fills the air and eddies of energy play across Shatterman's legs, back and shoulders. The ball of energy swirls faster and the brightness begins to hurt the eyes. With a violent shout and equally violent motions, Shatterman straightens his arms and hurls the channeled energy at the alien wall "right there." A defeaning "whumph" is heard as it impacts, stone, dirt, soot, smoke and debris fly everywhere causing others to duck. A second roaring blast, then a third instantly follow. Then a painful silence after the thunderous sounds. When the smoke clears enough to see, there is a ragged hole, about 1.5 meters in diameter and 3 meters long through the alien wall.
Shatterman is lying on his back, looking slightly dazed. "Did it work?" he asks with a weary grin halfway between ecstacy and unconsciousness.
"Perfectly" Zach says, holding the wall up and open with his arm. "I'll go hold it up from the other side, everyone follow me. Jack, take rear gaurd through. Psyche, stay close."
With that Dr Z moves through the hole, taking a similar positon on the other side. One of his force fields guards the hole and everyone getting out, a bubble of safety inside the alien and hostile space...
Martian Mancer holds out a hand to help Shatterman back to his feet. "Bad day to be a sand pyramid," 'Mancer says approvingly. "Definitely get style points."
Shatterman shakes the fog from his head, his hair flopping as he does so. "Heh, thanks. Rearguard, I'm on it."
Psyche's roving mind finally makes contact with Audrey and Ronan. Her own psyche is awash in the terror her targets feel. Unaware of their locations, trapped in what seem to be sarcophogi, and worse still yet, each fearing the worst for their life-long partner.
The gaping maw of the pyramid beckons the heroes forward....
Meanwhile, inside the dark construction the creature that was once seperately Dee Norris and her faithful Rajni catches scent of her prey. A forked tongue flickers in delight. Dark eyes tighten into slits as their anger mounts.
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© 2002 Daniel Harvey et al