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Feb 27, 2024

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Reinventing the Lightbulb - Part 8


Previous - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 7


Night begins to fall slowly, casting eerie and long shadows through the forest, ushering out the creatures of the day and bringing forth those nocturnal. Over at the pyramid, the setting sun casts a deep orange light to silhouette the massive building, the light shining through the short arch-tower, casting a sharp glint against the statue, visible from even the edge of the clearing. This glare sparks a round of movement, the guards shifting from the top to the base, and from base to top, indicating a rotation.

Raziel sits in the bushes outside the clearing, carrying a number of wooden wedges in his pack and carrying the makeshift sled on his back. As soon as those doors close again, the fox and the tiger should move in and get to work…

Zorro watches the set of them walk around and rotate, and says to Raziel, “Looks like our chance. A few more minutes and it’ll be dark. We’ll be able to sneak in there and block the doors. Then, we need to get up to the top.” He tugs on the vines he’s been fiddling with to ensure they’re tight, “But I’ll need to go up first. When I’ve finished what I’m doing, I will use this to signal you.” He uncovers his canteen, which has a mirror polished finish. “This will reflect the moonlight well enough, I think. Just fire a few rounds, and I think that’ll put us in a good position.”

Raziel nods. “Alright. Hopefully the I can catch the guards up there by surprise. I’d rather avoid spear wounds if I can.” He checks his gear again to make sure everything is in order, and, once satisfied, continues to wait for the right moment.

Zorro waits for it as well. If it’s long enough, he notes that they should wait for one more rotation. It really needs to be pitch black for this to work. He also wraps a little bit of the vine around his head, so he can pull it tight and close his ears when it’s time to start shooting.

Nighttime finally comes, faster than one would expect, probably due to the cliff the clearing is set on. Soon everything is bathed in a clear, dark nighttime, free of any clouds or other obstructions. A full moon shines down bright, illuminating everything in an even light, a cool crisp silver-white.

Zorro sneaks low in the grass, motioning Raziel to follow while he holds onto a block or two. He keeps things slow, working to take advantage of the darker environment to keep them hidden. From that high up on the pyramid, they shouldn’t be visible. One would have to get quite a bit closer for them to be seen. He slides with Raziel up toward one of the doors.

Raziel nods slightly. “This is as good as good as it’s going to get.” He just hopes the tribals’ night vision isn’t on par with his own. He follows Zorro carefully, using his long coat and hood to conceal as much if his white fur as possible. As they approach the door, the tiger pulls out one of his wedges, and quietly begins to slide it in place.

Zorro keeps a lookout while Raziel guides it in, and keeps his big, fennec ears erect, loosening the vines around his head a bit for better listening.

Raziel inserts another, and another, and another, keeping them spaced evenly and making absolutely sure they’re not going to slide out in their own. Once he’s done, he nods silently to Zorro, and gestures for them to head to the next side.

Zorro keeps a slow, quiet pace. They have to get them all in before the next shift, but that should be more than enough time. So he takes it slow to avoid making any sounds, or being very visible, and keeps his ears perked for signs of danger.

Raziel follows Zorro’s lead; he’s sure the fox has a greater grip on stealth than himself. As they come to the next door, he slowly and methodically repeats the process, keeping as low as possible.

Zorro, seeing the next one done, continues along the path of the base of the pyramid, listening closely for danger. Only two more doors to go. Soon they arrive at the next one.

Raziel continues to nudge the wedges into place. He /almost/ drops one onto the stone steps of the pyramid, but catches it just in time. If he wasn’t sweating before, he is now. Like the tiger said; stealth is not one of his strongsuits.

Zorro’s eyes go wide, and he lets out a soft sigh after the close call. No need to dwell on it, they need to keep moving. The two of them arrive at the last door, and Zorro hands the wooden blocks he’s carrying to Raziel to complete the set.

Suddenly a small tink tink tink sound is heard falling down the steps to the door the two are working on, a small gleam flashing in the moonlight as it falls down those steep steps, one of the guards seeming lost a bauble or trinket, and he’s running as fast as he can down the stairs without falling all the way down then.

Zorro motions for Raziel to lay down flat next to the bottom of the stairs, and he does the same, laying lengthwise right up against the bottom step, giving distance between him and the bauble, and staying deathly quiet. Hopefully, Raz picks up on the technique.

Raziel gets as flat to the ground and as close to the pyramid as he can, hoping to stay completely out of the guard’s line of sight. He’s not as small as the fox, so it’s a little trickier, but he thinks he managed to do it.

Not soon after the trinket bounces off the last step and plops into the dirt none four feet away. And then about five straining minutes later the guard leaps off the top step and picks the little thing up, a small black stone of some sort wrapped in copper wire. He lets out a sigh of relief and kisses the stone, saying something in his strange tribal language. He smiles bright and lifts the thing up into the air with two fingers, spinning around to face the moon with it, the stone showing a soft faint glow of purple. After nearly a minute just standing and looking, he starts to walk back to the pyramid, still entrapped in the stones glow, only looking away when he steps back onto the steps, making no notice of the fox and tiger right underneath him.

Zorro waits, staying still until he can’t hear the guard walking up the steps anymore. He gently gets back into a crouch, and motions to Raz that he can do the same. Back to work.

Raziel looks over to the fox, and glances up at the departing guard, before nodding. He slides the last wedge into place with utmost care, and prepares to move on to the final door. But the tiger’s curiosity is nagging at him. What was that stone?

Zorro looks up at the top of the pyramid, and examines it. He looks for the shadow of a pillar, and how it lays against the steps. That shadow should be pitch black, and he starts slowly climbing up through it, being as quiet as he can. The steps are rather big for him, poor little fennec.

Raziel follows Zorro through the shadows, taking extreme care to be silent; as well as to not travel too fast. It will defeat the element of surprise if he’s gasping for breath when he reaches the top.

Zorro works his way right up against the pillar, very close to the top, and makes a motion for Raz to stay where he is. He’s small enough that, if he’s quiet and slow, he may be able to slink against the edge of the steps and be invisible to them. But Raziel is far too large to do so. Zorro slowly lays down, cuddling against the edge of a step, and crawls as quietly as he can around the pyramid. It’s difficult to tell precisely why he’s doing this, especially in the dark.

Raziel stays right where he is, watching the fox curiously. As Zorro passes from sight, the tiger decides to check his watch - then thinks better of it. The cover, though snug and well oiled, would still make a distinct *pop* when opened. Oh, well. They should have plenty of time yet.

Zorro eventually completes his circuit around the pyramid. He leans back up against the pillar, and then folds his ears down, tightening the vines around them to keep them pinned. He squats, grabbing something, and then shining that reflective canteen a little so that Raz can see. The guards shouldn’t be able to see because he’s not facing them, though.

Raziel notices Zorro’s signal easily; he’s been watching him most of this time. So, the fox just wants him to fire off a few rounds…anywhere? The tiger points his rifle into the sky and tilts his head, as if to confirm this.

Zorro can’t be seen very easily in the dark, but that /is/ what he said.

Raziel shrugs. He thinks he knows what the fox has in mind, he just wanted to be sure. The tiger puts the rifle to his shoulder, aims up (with a slight angle, to avoid having the rounds fall on their heads), and fires three times, before laying as close as he can to the pyramid.

All four guards are startled at the shots, yelping out in fright and surprise. They scurry about up top looking all around the edges of the pyramid. Soon enough they gain their bearings and two continue to look for what caused the noise while the other two run over to one of the pillars. One of them reaches into a hole next to the base of the pillar and pulls out a very thick rope, looking to be about six ropes twisted together. Both guards pull on the thing as hard as they can, the pedestal in the middle slowly sinking down with each pull, faster and faster.

Zorro can hear them staying inside, and doesn’t move. He reflects that light at Raziel some more. Keep shooting!

Raziel nods, and wastes no time in taking aim again. This time, however, he has something to aim /at/. The tiger stands and fires at the two guards operating the rope. He knows this will expose him to the other guards, but hopefully he’ll be able to take care of them in due time.

Again the guards yelp in fright and surprise as the shots go off, and the one guard pulling on the rope absolutely freaks out as his companion is shot down, stepping away clutching his chest, a clean bullet hole through it, stumbling at the side of the platform and rolling off down the side of the pyramid. The two lookouts rush off to the rope as the other spasms and goes into shock. The two new pullers start pulling as hard as they can, with their effort and the effort of the two before, the rope suddenly comes loose, causing the two to fall over each other, and the pedestal in the center to drop out of sight, a horrible stone scraping noise followed by crash, a good six feet down. The two downed guards scramble and writhe on top of each other, trying to get free, making for easy targets.

Zorro gets ready, waiting for an opportune moment. At this rate, it almost seems like his clever scheme is going to end up unused, but he’s prepared, either way.

Raziel blinks. That was unexpected. But /why/ is nothing ever simple! The tiger begins firing at the two entangled guards. He has no intention of underestimating them and ending up with a spear in the spine.

The two guards are dead, and the one is passed out from shock. The pedestal is inside the pyramid, and all the doors are blocked.

Zorro looks at least a little disappointed that he didn’t get to tighten the vine and trip the guards. He starts gathering up the vine around the pyramid, so he has the resource still. Might come in handy again later.

Raziel lowers his gun as the last two guards fall. He looks over to Zorro, and motions for him to take the rope off of his ears. “Can you use some of that rope to tie up the unconscious guard? I don’t want him waking up and disrupting anything.” The tiger walks the rest of the way the around the pyramid, looking over the fallen guards. He’s looking for one in particular; the one that nearly found them - and has the trinket.

Zorro nods, and makes his way down to the unconscious guard, wasting no time in tying him up, lest he have a moment to wake. He triple checks his knots before heading back up to where Raziel is.

Raziel stops next to the unconscious one. Yeah, he looks vaguely familiar. The tiger quickly rummages through his belongings (pockets, pouches, satchels, what have you), until he finds that odd stone the tribal was holding earlier.

Zorro looks up at Raziel, “Well. Guess all that’s left to do is line up and handle the ones inside.” He recollects the vines, and starts to head down the steps, having to climb down them a little.

“Wait!” Raziel shouts, before the fox can get too far. “How do we know that wherever the statue fell connects elsewhere in the pyramid? Though…I suppose we can worry about that afterward. Nevermind.” The tiger looks at the trinket he picked up as he follows Zorro down. It’s a marble-like purple stone, polished, wrapped decoratively in copper. Probably amethyst. Cool. Raziel drops it into a pocket.

Zorro nods, “We could try following an alternative method of fetching it later, but this seems to be the most sane way of getting it for now.” He keeps on heading down the stairs. Poor little fennec with his little legs.

Raziel would offer to carry the fennec down again - if it wouldn’t be incredibly awkward. And unfortunately, the sled was not made to be ridden by /living/ things, and the landing would be less than pleasant. So, he just follows the little fox.

Zorro stops above the door. He sits atop the spot where one of the wedges is, and thinks, “We need to come up with a good, controlled way to release this door.”

Raziel looks around. “Maybe we should have thought of that earlier. Granted, this whole plan was kind of spur-of-the-moment. Any suggestions?”

Zorro hmms. He looks at his vines. “Maybe if we tied the vines to the blocks, we could yank them all out at once from a distance.”

Raziel nods. “That could work. But first…” The tiger walks a short distance away (far enough to not be impaled, but still close enough to be confident in his marksmanship), where he takes the sled and jams it into the dirt vertically, making a bit of makeshift cover. It’s not much…but it’s better than nothing. “OK. Shall we begin?”

Zorro nods, and cuts the vines with his teeth, tying the ends to each of the blocks, and then running the four lines next to Raz. “I’ll yank them and run to hide and watch for the coast to be clear.” He doesn’t really have much to fight with, so he figures it would be better if he stayed out of the way.

Raziel nods, but looks back at the temple, thinking. “There’s one thing you *could* do, but only if you’re comfortable with it, and I’ll warn you ahead of time; it will be loud. I have some spare black powder in my bag. I could tie a fuse to it, make a little improvised bomb. If there’s too many of them in there, and I’m in danger of being overrun, you could throw that at them. Not the best plan…but it’s all I have at the moment.”

Zorro nods, “I still have the vines around my ears. I was going to have to pull these tight anyhow.” He walks over to the bag, and brings it to the tiger, holding it out to him.

Raziel reaches down into the bag and takes out a small sack of black powder, and a length of fuse. He feeds part of the fuse into the bag, ties it around a couple of times, and leaves a portion of it hanging off to be lit. The tiger hands it to Zorro. “Uh…do you have anything that makes fire? Flint and steel, matches…anything?”

Zorro checks his little bag, and nods, “A bit of flint and steel, yes. I keep it with me.” He camps often enough, apparently.

“Alright,” Raziel replies. “Hopefully, it won’t be necessary. If it is…well, you know what to do.

Zorro nods, and tightens the vines around his ears, getting behind the cover, but peeking beyond the sides. The fennec yanks all of the blocks free, and preps the flint and steel.

The door suddenly slides forward as if it were spring loaded, and absolutely nothing comes out. At least for a little while. A good minute later six more of the guards come rushing out of the door like ants, unawares to the two waiting for them.

Raziel takes careful aim - then fires, trying to pick as many of them off as he can - before they figure out where he is, and inevitably charge.

Raziel, professional engineer - not professional marksman. He manages to hit half of the guards that emerge, but misses the other three completely. Hopefully this sled will be able to take a few spears…

Zorro doesn’t think this is yet the time for a bomb, but keeps ready, hiding behind the tiger.

The remaining guards stop and look at their fallen comrades, yelping and shouting and pointing at them, saying things in their primal language. Until one of them points and shouts at where Raziel is hidden behind the sled, and they all rush for a charge of course.

Raziel can’t say he’s surprised. Thankfully, he knows not to panic by now. The tiger flicks the lever of his rifle a few more times, firing into the assault.

Zorro doesn’t think that’s worth a bomb, so he stays behind Raz and the cover.

Two guards fall, one dead, the other screaming from a bullet wound. And one still charging. He closes on the pair as fast as he can, rage on his face and vengeance in his eyes, his spear out in front of him, ready to impale and taste the blood of his foes.

Raziel’s eyes open wide, appearing a pale silver color in the moonlight. That’s not good. The tiger rather dislikes attempts to impale him. He fires once more, doing his best to prevent that from coming to pass.

And the guard falls to the ground silently, a clean bullet hole right between his eyes, his spear tasting the gritty taste of dirt instead of blood as it impales on the ground.

Zorro peeeeeks out at the doorway, checking for threats.

Raziel continues to looks around nervously, reloading his rifle. “That was…closer than I like. Do you see anyone else?”

The doorway stays silent, and surprisingly the guy not killed by bullet. He’s just kind of laying there, possibly dead, or just passed out from shock. And maybe blood loss. That too. Otherwise, nothing much is happening.

Raziel nods to Zorro, “I guess we should move.” The tiger stands up carefully and begins slowly creeping forward, making sure to check on the tribal that may or may not be dead…

Zorro follows Raziel, walking behind him. He keeps his flint and steel ready, prepared to light and chuck a bomb at a moment’s notice. He shivers, frightened.

And the guard is passed out. But from the way he’s bleeding, it could go either way if he lives or dies. Otherwise, the pyramid is silent, and the door stays open.

Raziel feels a pang of guilt. He doesn’t feel too bad - they did try to kill him, after all - but these guys aren’t really evil…they’re just protecting their idol. Or whatever. The tiger sighs, and grabs a piece of cloth, tying it around the wound. That will have to do for now. “Zorro, can you tie this one up? He’s still alive.” He may be helping the tribal live, but that /does not/ mean he’s about to let him screw up the plan.

Zorro nods, “Yes, I can do that.” He scurries back toward the trees, and gets some more vines, returning after a while to tie the fellow back up.

Raziel nods when satisfied. “Alright…in we go. We have to find Viktor, and hopefully we can find a way to the statue without climbing all the way to the top.” The tiger takes a step forward, then abruptly stops. “And we should be careful. We don’t know if there are more inside.”

Zorro nods, and holds the flint and steel ready, keeping them a bit away from the bomb, “I can strike these to give us little extra flashes of light, assuming there’s not any in there, and I imagine there must be some for them to live sanely.”

Raziel blinks a few times. “There’s wood around here, you know. We could make a torch. But none of the tribals were carrying any when they left, so I assume there’s light inside.” The tiger looks around some more, checking for motion. “Alright, let’s not put this off any longer.” He heads toward the open door.


Next - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 9

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