Lonely Divide

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Chapter 29

Unexpected Rescue

You are Rose, three weeks later, about to attend a meeting with the others

"Why do we have to do this again?" you ask Jaden, riding her shoulder as usual.

"Clayton feels it's important, and it is our job," she answers.

"I guess."

You enter the meeting room and Jake comes in a moment later and sits down. "How's the new direction going?" he asks.

"Good," replies Jaden. "With Rose's help casting that Augment Skill spell I've got several interesting prototype devices finished and ready for field testing."

"That's great! I've been getting my Illusion skill up enough to learn Masking. I figure if our friend wants to play the invisible card, I might as well hand it right back the only way I can."

"They won't be invisible long, I've picked up the Visibility spell," you brag.

"Say, that's great! You've been learning a bunch of magic lately huh?"

You nod. "Being a natural magician does have some benefits."

"Unfortunately," says Clayton, who was already sitting at the table when you came in, "None of that helps get us closer to catching this person and putting a stop to their activities!"

"And what have you been doing to that end?" you ask.

"Oh, uh, well, I got some new cybernetics installed, does that count?"

"I thought so. What did you get?" You are interested despite yourself, as Clayton's eyes look a little different.

"A distancer, some EM sensors and a blood clotting system, complete with healing nano-bots. They can't heal my arms of course, but if I get shot in the body or leg I should be okay much faster then normal."

"What's a distancer?"

"I can look at things and tell how far away they are. It helps me shoot stuff."

"Well that's useful."

"You know, sometimes I have trouble telling when you're being sarcastic. Maybe I should get some cyber ears? Anyway, once again we're here see if anything new has been learned about our mystery assailant."

"I think he was the one being sarcastic that time," Jaden whispers to you.

"I think so too." You turn back to Clayton. "Nothing new. Can we go now?"

"Rose, you have to take this seriously. We have to find this person before another PC goes missing!"

"I know, but how are we ever going to find them?"

"I don't know, but there must be something. Let's go over what we do know."

"Again?" you protest, "This will be the third time."

"Sorry, again."

Jake opens his folder and starts laying pieces of paper out. "We know O.I.F, that's Our Invisible Friend, is going after PCs for some reason. Some are old, some are young, both male and female. They are not limited to any one place on the earth, and they all vanish without a trace. Most PCs are left alone, so it is not suggested this is some plot to destroy all PCs but some kind of personal vendetta. There seems to be no link between the victims, so this idea is tenuous at best. We have no clue why, in other words.

This has been sporadically going on for at least a hundred years, if not longer. This suggests an immortal wizard, someone with a regeneration spell going, a cyborg, or maybe a dragon or some other long lived creature. It could also be a group of people who have handed the task down to a younger generation. O.I.F. could therefor be a red herring, some kind of golem, animated at a distance and made invisible to further reduce the danger of capture.

O.I.F. has at least twice teleported a victim away to a second location and at least once shipped them out from there to at least a third location using mules who we caught and were questioned. They knew nothing about Belquis, the girl in the ice. No further attempt was made to take Belquis again. We can't say what would have happened to Clayton or us, had we fallen into the same trap, because Clayton did what Clayton does best- violence."

"Actually," breaks in Clayton, "My best skill is-" he looks at his character sheet. "Oh, yeah, it's pistol. Sorry, carry on."

"This person seems to plan way in advance, setting up controllable situations and traps in case things go wrong to create diversions. Also they know tech or employed someone to jam all radio signals where Clayton went to, though that could have been done by magic, it's hard to know for sure. This suggests someone with a fair amount of intelligence or experience, which again could point to someone old or a group."

"Basically," you say, "We have no leads or clues of any kind, like last week, and the week before that."

"That seems to be the case."

"Could we tag every PC on the planet? There can't be that many of them," suggests Jaden.

"We could, if you wanted to violate every privacy law that ever was. Besides, just waiting for someone to be taken doesn't sit well with me, and if they're taken to an area with interference, we would know they were gone, but not to where. Wouldn't help," answers Clayton.

"I've talked to the other wizards around here, scrying spells don't work, they've tried. Whoever this is probably has some sort of concealment spell going as well as invisibility."

"Probably why they've been able to operate for so long, whoever it is is very careful."

"We can't exactly set a trap, either. We know what O.I.F wants, PCs, but they're just walking around out there, ready for the taking!" says Jake.

"Well we have to think of something," says Jaden, "This person is out there laughing at us right now while we sit here!"

"If they aren't dead from Clayton shooting them full of holes," you point out, glaring at him.

"Would you rather I be missing right now?"

"Wait a minute, that's a good point."

"What is?"

"Didn't you say you tried to get the license plate number of the van that was going to carry you away, but the angle wasn't right?"

"Yeah, so?"

"We can use the Time Frame again, head back there, and see where that truck came from. It's visible, after all. Maybe we can get some answers from the driver."

We all looked at each other, it seemed like our only option at this point, we had a lead!

"So what is it?" asked Jake, turning the frame over and over in his hands. We were currently driving back to the site of the fire, having gathered what we needed into our inventories (mostly Rose's new gadgets) after I teleportaled us to the other NPC-PS building. Clayton, having more cybernetics this time, went through last, which collapsed the portal, which was fine.

"It's an imbued object, just like our bracelets or your ring," you explain. "The spell on it is Time Window, which usually makes an immobile area that can see into the past, but put on the frame, it can move, because the it's the frame that moving, dragging the spell along with it. We'll find the time the truck drove up, then tell the frame to go normal speed, reverse, and just follow it back to where it came from. That's why we're driving, rather then just going there directly."

"Nice, that should lead us to someone interesting."

"No doubt, as we have cards again, unlike our last little mission."

"Well it's not like we were in any danger there," Jaden says.

"Still, it would have been nice to have the option of turning some in for XP."

Having reached the site we backed through time until the truck backed (from our perspective) into place and a punk looking guy got out, walked backwards away from the scene, and left the area. He had a cyber leg, a bizarre hairdo and tattoos all over himself. A pleasant fellow, you have no doubt.

"Why did he leave?" Jaden asks. "That seems odd."

"O.I.F probably told him to, so when they loaded Clayton up he wouldn't see it happen, so he wouldn't know what he was transporting. At least if the pattern holds," answers Jake.

"So do we follow were he goes from here, or back further to see where he came from?" asks Clayton.

"I suspect it might be the same place," Jake answers. "Let's go."

We follow the truck through the city, now running time the right way, though we do have to pause it at times because the traffic patters are different. We have a siren though, and a car with lights on it, so it isn't too much of an issue. The truck is driven for maybe twenty minutes to a loading bay near a train station, and is met by two other men, also with at least one cybernetic replacement and weird hair + tattoos. They open up and check the back of the truck, and don't seem surprised to not find anything. They close it up, and the two others jump on motorcycles and take off, the original guy right behind them. They drive back to the bad section of town they just left, and pull into a large building with a garage door big enough to accommodate the truck.

"So they must have had some agreement with O.I.F to keep the truck there at certain times, then unload whatever they found inside. This must be their home turf," says Clayton. "I say we bust in and get some answers."

"At least let me go in and check the place out invisibly, we don't want any surprises."

"I already see there's five cyborgs in there, all in close proximity, we can take them!"

"There are five, my detect enemies magic tells me that. I'm going in anyway," you say, getting out your wand. You cast phase on yourself, then go invisible, passing through the wall and into the interior. You check the place out, and like Clayton said, there are five people there. One appears to be sleeping, two are playing some kind of video game, one is tinkering with a beat up robot and finally one is working on his bike. You check each room to make sure there's no one else, and are shocked to discover a naked woman chained to bed! She's unconscious or asleep, and is badly bruised throughout her entire body. Even so, she's so helpless and vulnerable you can't help but feel a longing towards her, curse you Easily Infatuated weakness! You have to help her, and her current state seems to suggest she won't be raising any sort of alarm if you do, so you quietly cast regeneration on her and wait for her wounds to go away. You don't have to wait long, and she stirs, blinking and looking down at herself.

"I'm here to rescue you!" you whisper to her, floating over to her ear. "But be quiet about it!"

"Where are you?" she whispers back. Oh, what a sweet voice she has! Focus Rose, you chide yourself.

"I'm invisible, and I have some friends outside, if I get you out can you tell us about this gang?"

"I'll do anything you want if you can get me out of here!"

Naughty thoughts, no naughty thoughts. "Do you feel okay? I need to know if you're all the way healed so I can drop that spell."

"I think so."

"I can always cast it again later if you need me to. Now how are we going to get these chains off you?"

"I don't know where the key is, sorry."

"I could just go get my fiends, they're about to storm the place for a different reason anyway."

"You mean Blitz didn't send you?"

"Who?"

"My boyfriend. Never mind, please, don't leave me, they may come back any minute, you have to get me out of here."

"Okay, okay, I'll shrink you, and I'll try to do it slow so you can slip out of those chains."

"However, just hurry up."

You drop Regeneration, and cast shrink, putting four extra energy into it, bringing her to a size -5, small enough for you to carry.

"Did you have to go that far?" she asks, now dwarfed by the bed. You drop phase, you saw an open window you can fly through, and while you could have just used teleportal to get her out, why waste the energy. Carrying this naked woman to safety has nothing to do with it. At all. Still, usually you get bigger for Jaden, it might be nice to turn the tables and make her smaller... your thoughts seem to be straying again, so you swoop down and pick up the tiny lady.

"Goodness," she says, "Am I being rescued by a fairy?"

"That's right, now stay quiet, we're getting out of here." Good thing you're pretty strong, for a fairy, you easily dart into the room with the open window and out into the street again. You turn visible and fly over to your friends, mission accomplished! Wait, why were you here again?

The others seem confused as you fly over with this tiny naked person, and you set her down behind Jaden. "Just a second," you say, forestalling any explanation, and cast the lengthy creation spell to make her a sheet to cover herself with, at least. You could try for a dress, but you don't know how well that would work, her size is a little hard to tell at the moment. You tell her to crawl underneath and then you let the shrink spell go, bringing her back to her normal size.

"Explanation now?" Clayton demands, crossly.

"I found her!"

"You don't get to keep her."

"She was chained to a bed!"

"What?"

"Who are you people? Why are you here, if it's not for me?"

"We're with NPC-PS, miss," says Jake. "We're here about a truck that was going to be used in an abduction attempt, driven by one of the people in this building. Do you know anything about that?"

"Do I ever! That's why Blitz left and why I got beaten up. He said the gang shouldn't be doing that kind of thing, no questions asked work like that, but the others said the money was too good to pass up. So he left the gang and I paid the price, they grabbed me two weeks ago and, you can guess what they did."

"She was all beat up when I found her," you say. "I healed her."

"I'm starving though, they didn't bring me much to eat or drink, but right now I just want to get out of here."

"Rose, teleportal her back to the nearer NPC-PS base, she'll need to give a statement, then get back here. We'll need to talk to these fellows awhile. Is there anything we should know about them before we storm the place?"

"They're all average fighters, of course, no PCs like you. You shouldn't have any problems, there's only two guns in the place. One guy uses a chain, the guy with the big cyber arm punches stuff, and one guy likes throwing knives."

"That helps, thanks."

"Thank you for getting me out of there!"

You make the portal, another energy gone, and fly through with her, so you can tell them what you need them to do for you. They say the'll send a wagon to collect the others when you're done with them.

You fly back to see Jake and Clayton arguing over their course of action now.

"Clayton just wants to rush in, Jake says that we should just call the police and have them arrested through normal channels," Jaden explains.

"What do you think?"

"I think I'd just mess things up if we went in there, but you know Clayton is so trigger happy, he might accidentally kill someone."

"You won't mess up, you're great, remember? And it's not like they're using magical weapons that can actually hurt you."

"I guess you're right. But I just don't want to storm in there and start beating them up."

"Did you see what they did to that girl? And they were just going to deliver Clayton on ice to O.I.F."

"I know, I know, it's just I'm so much more powerful then them, it's not fair."

"What they did to her was?"

"Just because they don't act with honor doesn't give me leave to act the same way."

You sigh. "Okay, tell you what- you go in there, and tell them to surrender. Obviously they will attack you, allowing you to defend yourself and fight with honor. You knock them over, I'll immobilize them with magic, nobody gets killed."

"That would satisfy honor, wouldn't it? Boys, I'm going in with Rose, you can be our backup."

"Are you crazy?" Jake and Clayton say.

"No, invulnerable. You two will heal, but a lucky shot will still kill you, right?"

This is uncomfortably close to the truth, and both of them know it.

"Neither of us can be hurt by these guys, so just come in when it's over, okay?"

"Is there a place we could watch from, at least?" Clayton asks you.

"Not unless you want to peek in through the windows."

He shakes his head. "Have fun or whatever."

"I think I just might do that," Jaden answers. "As it is, I get to use this card after all. I declare, card 23, taking these guys down myself."

"You could have just said that," Clayton says, glumly.

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