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05 September 2015 @ 07:16 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 22  
 

Paer looked out and nodded. "Even Ra'd might give him a passing grade. The rats keep stopping to eat the dead and wounded. That's really disgusting. But it does work."

"I don't understand why they are so . . . desperately voracious. Have we arrived in the middle of a crisis?" Ebsa drove ahead, around a curve and eyed the approach to the hillside. It looks even worse going up than it did going down. And the first section I'll have the door on the cliff side, and Paer will have to shoot through the windows, without leaving them open behind her . . .

"Paer, I'm going to back up the first section. Close all the windows on the right, in case of bugs on the cliff side."

"Good idea. The left side is much easier to shoot from. Especially if I open the door." Paer grinned. "Mind you, I'm just going to ignore the bugs, for now."

Ebsa slowed, and watched the ute and trailer's progress up the first leg. At the first corner, a tight one, he swung as wide as prudent, and the trailer followed without difficulty.

"Huh. You were right." Ollie climbed up into the left passenger seat. "Now how are you going to do this? The crawler's even slower than the ute without the trailer."

"But like the ute, we have lots of torque." Ebsa aimed the crawler into the head of the curve, put her into reverse and started backing.

"I see. Very interesting . . . driving." Ollie sat back and fell quiet.

Silence from the Crow's nest. Paer paced and peered. Stopping occasionally to check the kids. Very silent children, looking out the window, side by side.

They must know everyone else is dead . . . Who were they and what the One hell were they doing there with two children?

Ebsa backed into the first curve, and drove forward. Stopped in the middle of the leg until the trailer was clear of the next turn.

"What are the rats up to?"

"Eating. None of them are coming this way yet." Ogly called back.

Ebsa drove on. This curve was broad and short. He drove around it normally. Chugged along at a distance from the trailer. A tight fit, but doable. At least it got the door overlooking the drop. And then the worst corner. Yeahza cursing as he dragged the trailer up over the rough rocks of the center of the curve.

Ebsa maneuvered carefully into the curve, barely grazing rocks, slewing the crawler, and backing out of the curve. Backing around the next one. And the next. Finally seesawed again, and finished the climb moving forward.

"Well. That wasn't so bad. We'll be back to the base in four hours." He squinted at the sun, dropping in the west. "Probably not until after dark."

Crossing the gully was . . . interesting.

"That's going to be quiet an angle between the ute and the trailer. Ogly? Come down here, in case I have to go help them. And . . . well, everyone needs to be strapped in. I have been known to roll this critter."

Ogly handed the BFG to Paer and with one foot and both hands had no trouble getting down. And as small as the Crawler was, no trouble hopping to the Driving deck and strapping into the navigator's seat.

Paer was deploying straps over the kids, so Ebsa turned his attention to the ute as it dived over the edge.

The coupling between ute and trailer proved to be quite strong enough for them to lever each other around. The ute lost traction until the wheels of the trailer crossed the lip of the down ramp. Then it was all a matter of control, with enough forward speed to get up the other side before the rear wheels again lost traction and the whole thing ground to a halt.

Yeahza cursed over the radio.

"Oof. All right. Yeaza, we'll come give the trailer a friendly nudge. Brace yourself and be ready to go."

"Shit. You're going to add to the dents in this thing." Ogly braced himself and ebsa cantilevered them over the lip and they tilted down and plunged down the ramp. Scraped the forward under carraige, drove on and up the slope taking aim at the trailer.

Ebsa threw out the soft shield, anchored it to the crawler frame and rammed the back of the trailer. The spell cushioned the impact, and gave the trailer time to react, to strt moving before actual contact was made, left a slick layer so the trailer could tilt, lift shit, and get jerked forward as the ute gained traction and hauled it over the lip.

Ebsa didn't even try to follow it. He let the crawler roll back to the flat bottom and backed as far as possible.

"You clear Yeahza? I need at least thirty meters, and preferably more so I don't hit you."

"Right. I'll turn onto the highway before I stop to check connections and see what you've done to Directorate property. We're clear now."

Ebsa floored the accelerator all the way up and managed to flop over the lip.

He drove sedately around to the "highway" and parked behind the trailer.

Yeahza was out and eyeing the rear of the trailer.

"Well, it's only a little bent."

Ebsa nodded. "They build them tough. Guess they've seen crazy people before. If we ever do that again, I'll go first and winch you the rest of the way up."

"Yeah. Better yet, we explain to the bulldozer crew what 'negotiable by wheeled field vehicles' actually means."

"That would work too." Ebsa climbed back aboard the crawler and found Ogly in the driver's seat.

"And to think I was worried about your weapons qualifications." He shook his head. "Not to mention that I slept half the day, so why don't you take a break."

Ollie turned his head stiffly, hands still gripping the arms of the passenger seat. "And clean up those smelly children."

Ebsa grinned. "What? They didn't drop the shield to piss? No surprise there."

"I think it's a good idea." Paer released her restraints. "I'll fab some clean clothes, while you introduce them to the concept of the shower."

The shower proved to be familiar tech, and they both stripped and jumped in. Much soap was applied. then warm air and towels. Fluffy soft jammies, food, and into bed. Once they realized there were high bunks, they gleefully insisted on them.

Ebsa made a more elaborate dinner than meat cubes for everyone, Paer washed the kid's clothes and sheets they'd, umm, added aroma to. Ebsa hit the shower himself, then stretched out in bed. Another couple of hours to the base; Ogly'd been chatting with them. The sun set turned the sky red behind him, and Ogly started cursing.

"They've got bugs swarming."

Ebsa rolled out of bed and stepped up to the driving deck. The radio channel was still open even though there was no one talking to them at the moment. He could hear gunfire in the background.

And closer to the mike, Wxxo's voice. "Is that . . . a rat?"

Ebsa and Ogly exchanged glances.

"We're quarter of an hour out, yet. Yeahza's going as fast as he dares." Ogly beat his fist on the steering wheel. "They don't have a 20mm there. And from what I heard, even a 12mm doesn't work really well."

"Depends on the ammo. We'll roll into camp loaded and ready . . . Ogly, the wine I gave you was Comet Fall Joy Juice. You leg is probably healed enough to walk on. I don't know if it's up the really rough stuff."

"I wondered about that. Didn't test it though. May have to now."

Ebsa pushed back and headed down. "I'll get everything loaded, and take the crows nest."

The crawler jolted.

He spun and watched a ball of flame rising above the base.