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02 September 2015 @ 08:43 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 19  

:: Damaging an irreplaceable artifact, in situ! :: Coffee, sounding furious.

:: Hopefully we can come back and study the whole cavern in detail. :: Ebsa leaked plenty of skepticism into his mental voice. :: But I want to save this specific artifact, in case something even worse than insects takes up residence, or the whole thing collapses in an earthquake. ::

He got reluctant agreement in return, as he picked his way through the rubble. He squeezed down more power, stuck the light on his forehead, and tried to hurry.

The first body was stripped to the bone . . . and a lot of those were missing. He made sure his vidcam got a good shot of it, poked around a bit. "I don't see any ID. Moving on . . . "

Half a dozen ants were hauling another body away, whole. Ebsa reached out mentally . . . whoever it was, was quite dead.

Ebsa moved on. He avoided several more concentrations of ants, spotted the mob around the spherical shield.

He must be curled up in a ball. But why not try to walk out with the shield at skin level?

Ebsa tossed a bug bomb. A high arc, so it burst on impact and scattered dust. The ants ran frantically about, then retreated. Ebsa circled them, knelt down before the sphere. The shield felt shaky, weak.

It collapsed, the small figures inside sprawling out of a tight knot.

Children. A boy and a girl.

Ebsa blinked at their elegant sweeping pointed ears.

:: Elf! ::

:: Didn't think they were that small! ::

Ebsa shut out the babble of mental speculation.

The boy tried to stand, fearful, exhausted, glassy-eyed, but still looking for a direction to run . . . Overextended.

A meter tall, dark hair and eyes, skin tones hard to judge in this light. Neither very light nor very dark was the best he could do. The dead ones were large enough that I didn't think of their sizes. I wonder how old he is.

Ebsa pulled out a bottle of booster, twisted off the cap and extended it.

"I think you need this." He kept his voice soft.

The girl was smaller, clinging to the boy's leg. Silent. Terrified eyes fixed on Ebsa.

The boy reached out and took the bottle. Sipped. Then gulped.

Ebsa heard rustling in the background. "We need to leave."

The boy followed his glance, and said something. His voice was sharp, and high pitched, nearly painful, and Ebsa suspected some of it was entirely out of his range of hearing.

Ebsa rocked back to his feet and looked around. plenty of movement around the powdered area. He grabbed another bomb and tossed it high up, in the direction they needed to go. It hit the frame of a case and burst. The ants retreated from the dust. And further as the powder settled. He threw a third one as hard and far as he could.

He eyed the kids. The boy had exhausted himself, keeping up the shield. The girl looked . . . five maybe? Maybe older, if elves were smaller. Whatever their ages, he was going to have to carry them both. Which is really going to inhibit my bug bomb throwing.

He slung the gun and reached for them. High squeaks and withdrawal.

Ebsa paused, looked around. I don't want to scare them, but we need to get out of here.

He squeezed down another ball of light and sent it upwards.

A mass of ants prowled the dusty perimeter. Ten or twenty deep. Behind them, a steady stream, streams, of ants were headed their way.

Panicked squeaks and both kids threw themselves at Ebsa.

He hoisted them up and started running. :: Yeahza, ready to go? ::

:: I'm halfway back to the spoons. ::

:: Good, keep going, the ants are homing in on me, we'll want to jump in and go. :: He stuck to the powdered areas, but dead ahead he'd be out of the powder, and while there weren't that many ants right there he was going to have to resort to brute force. Starting with his bulldozer blade shield, angled to just shove them aside.

He staggered a bit as he hit the first one. One Damned things must weigh twenty kilos! He kept going as fast as he could, aiming for the blue light on the cavern wall.

The girl eeped, and he threw up a shield behind them.

Light ahead, and settling dust. Yeahza looked around., the beacon over his shoulder.

:: Paer? ::

:: I'm half way down the chimney. It's so rough I'm afraid the rope might fray and break. ::

:: Right, well, Yeahza's shoving his trophy into the bubble now and I'll be there in a few steps. We'll seal it up and you can pull us up at your leisure. Open the spoons . . . if you don't need us to shoot, carry us out to the surface and open it there. ::

Yeahza voice :: I'm going in. ::

Ebsa staggered up to the bubble. Both kids still clinging. :: And I'm stepping in. ::

He turned and stepped in backwards, and let go of the kids to grab the spoons and bring them together. Both kids clung.

"So, Yeahza, I don't suppose you speak Elvish?"

Light flooded in before he'd finished the sentence. Bright sunlight and heat.

Everyone was looking away from them at something moving on the other side of a wall.

"Think we should hide in there?"

A white haired hump of a back. A head lifted. Pointy muzzle with whiskers, rounded ears.

"Ah, figures rats would survive even this disaster."

Chapter Eight

"Yeah. Pity they've gotten as large as elephants."

Ebsa looked around, only one in sight, thank the One. "I though rats were gray, or brownish."

Paer nodded. "Looks like a lab rat, doesn't it? More likely a natural mutation, possibly adaptive because it lives under ground?"

She was sneaking glances at the children, eyes wide . . .

The rat's head dropped back out of sight and its back moved forward.

Ebsa knelt down and started shoving everything back into the bubble. Snatched the crowbar. One help me if I need it!

"Let's head for the ute. Fast. We don't want to be trapped between the ants and a rat that size."

The kids crowded even more closely as more strangers gawped at them. Ebsa hung the crowbar over his arm and scooped them up and headed for the street. "Vee lead off. Yeahza and Paer, rear guard, stay close."

Paer stuck the spoons through her belt. The Archeologists followed Ebsa and Vee. Finally got them trained! Or are they following the alien children, as the most interesting thing around? Who knows?

Ebsa walked carefully over a ridge of debris, glad they'd been this way several times, and he could see where the footing was secure. He moved as quickly as he could, unbalanced and his arms occupied with holding frightened children.

"I see more rats . . . One damn it, one of them has seen us." Paer's voice was steady.

Ebsa took a quick glance. She and Yeahza were at the crest of the little ridge, guns up ready to fire.

"Go for their eyes," Yeahza advised. "Here they come."

Ebsa turned and jogged through broken stone and brick as quickly as possible. Up a slab of concrete to the crest of the last debris ridge. "Rich, take the little girl, Ug, the boy. I'll cover Paer and Yeahza's retreat. Get in the truck. Get it turned around and ready to go as soon as we reach it."

He handed off the kids with frantic chirps and squeaks and turned to watch.

:: I've got your line of retreat covered. :: He felt himself slipping into a cool analytic state, everything slowing slightly.

Paer and Yeahza were shooting methodically.

:: Damn it, there's a couple of dozen of them. :: Yeahza sounded half panicked.

 
 
 
Bretbretw on September 3rd, 2015 06:43 pm (UTC)
Elves? Am I the only one who's totally confused?
matapampamuphoff on September 3rd, 2015 07:24 pm (UTC)
Blame my subconscious. I may manage to talk it into dropping the whole elf part, but it hasn't worked, yet.
Bretbretw on September 3rd, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC)
I think it's more that the elf thang just whacked me over the head and screamed, "Bret, your confuuuuused!!!"

But elf or not where did they come from? They weren't living here were they? So they came through the gate (anchor)? But why? And with children? To this nightmarish Dystopia (you sure got the name right for this one!)?

And I look at my questions and they don't make sense either. I got a bit behind on my Uphoff reading there for a while, so I just must've missed something key while catching up.

But if someone could give me a hint, I'd appreciated it.
matapampamuphoff on September 4th, 2015 12:52 am (UTC)
No, this is the first time the Elves have shown up in person. They are called that simply on the basis of the ears. Both Earth and One World have found Elf worlds and not interacted very much with them. Like the Neanderthal worlds, they are simply parallel worlds were a different branch of the hominid tree became dominate.

I am vaguely, at this point, picturing the specific world the kids came from as high tech, with dimensional travel. the world has multiple nations, mostly loose confederations of warlords, with conflicts, switching allegiances ...

When the Eden Beacon was exposed to sunlight with the holes in the museum roof it began working again, and attracted the attention of one faction, who thought it the perfect place to keep a couple of kidnapped hostages.

That is to say, a big mean Daddy Elf is looking for the elves who kidnapped his kids and had captured the bad guys' base about the time two of them came screaming back through their portal yelling that everyone was dead.

I think the only way I can handle this is do at least a few chapters from Daddy's POV, which I haven't started yet. As I keep hoping my Muse will shut up already about the Elves!