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13 September 2015 @ 12:20 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 30  
 

Chapter Thirteen

Ebsa strolled back around the heap of rats, sticky blood under his boots. He tossed a crowbar salute to Iqgu and walked on to his kitchen, thankfully bare of rats. The water faucet for the kitchen, the hose he'd cleaned the slab with . . . The water was unfortunately tepid, but he stepped off the slab and got all the blood out of his hair, off his face and hands, took off his shirt and soaked himself. Got a few wolf whistles. And respectful kidding . . . a bar of soap, a bottle of boost.

Iqgu thumped his damp shoulder. "So . . . I take it that really was you at the Conclave?"

"Yep."

"And what year were you born?"

"1383. Ra'd's the accidental Time Traveler. Umm, Wqlw, if you've never met him."

"The guy that berserked on Team Twenty-nine? Put half his own team in the hospital?"

"Yeah. Making a joke about raping his sister—the daughter of the Prophet Nicholas—was a really bad idea. By the laws he grew up under he should have just killed the offender, rather than just beaten him to a pulp."

Ogly and Yeahza walked up, Yeahza limping.

"Told you guys that was them." Ogly stretched his back. "I counted. You took out thirty-eight with that slice of yours. A mere fourteen with the crowbar. Five with fireballs. Paer was a piker by contrast. She only killed twenty-eight, total."

Yeaza grinned. "Plus any either of you two shot. We were too busy to count, just then."

Ebsa pried his feet out of his filthy boots turned the hose on them. "You know . . . I'm really glad I'm not the one of Ocho's cleanup crew."

Iqgu snorted. "Wanna bet we get drafted?"

Ebsa moaned. Poured the water out of his boots and put them back on. Sloshed back to the crawler.

The kids were quiet and wided-eyed, scurrying to get him booster, a towel . . .

"Hey, don't you guys go overboard on the respect thing. Brains are more important than brawn . . . except when there are hordes of rats descending on your camp."

Then he went out with tubs and sacks to find plump young rats to butcher.

Wxxo caught him at it, and shuddered. "Why so much?"

"I'm hoping that we've killed enough that they'll be hard to find, from now on. So I'll need ten kilos of meat a day to maintain adequate protein intake." Ebsa sighed. "If we don't get found in two weeks, I'm going to have to triple the meat and cut everything else drastically."

Ocho had walked up in time to hear that. "I guess this wasn't the best world to get marooned on."

"Well, the air's breathable and we've got water. I wish I knew more about the climate, how hot the summer is going to get. I've got survival seeds, but when do I dare plant them, eh?" Ebsa shoulder his last sack. "So this is fifteen days of supplemental meat. The rest is all yours, Chief."

He popped all the meat into Paer's bubble. Very handy, that time dilation.

Then he took a hot shower and washed all of his filthy clothes. Collapsed in bed and slept until dinner. Fabbed, of course.

Paer sat down beside him. "Well, Uhfa's arm is repaired and a dozen minor injuries dealt with. Dr. Atly grabbed a couple of the Directorate assistant archeologists and made them clean the OR after surgery. He was quite impressed with the micro manipulations and spells, especially the nerve reconnection techniques. Finally, respect. And I'm too tired to appreciate anything but not having to mop the floor."

Ebsa nodded. "I don't know how Iqgu is going to manage a patrol, tonight."

A sniff behind them. Dr. Itchy and his wife settled at the next table.

Dr. Tieh smiled at them. "You two did three-fourths of the work. The rest are in fine shape for guard duty. Well, baring a few injuries."

Ebsa eyed them. "Do any of your group have any farming experience? Ever grow a garden? Ask around, will you?"

"Young man . . . do you have any idea how terrifying the implications behind that are?" Dr. Itchy reached out and took his wife's hand. "I'm a city boy. I can't even keep a houseplant alive."

After breakfast he had a trio of women scientists waiting for him to finish.

"Tell us about these seeds." The spoke scientist was a gray haired woman, short and stout.

"I have a standard survival pack of a variety of fruit, vegetable, and fiber seeds. If you know what to do with them, they are all yours."

They trailed him to the crawler as if expecting him to try to escape, then looked affronted when he invited them in.

"As if!" The tall thin one huffed.

The little pink one eyed him dubiously. "Everyone knows you're really an Action Teamer."

Gray hair snorted. "We'll wait out here."

Ebsa rolled his eyes. But it made it easy for him to only hand over one of the two sets of seeds. Just in case they don't know how to . . . adapt their gardening techniques to this world. The sealed can had instructions; a thick book printed on waterproof sheets. The incipient gardeners had it open and were reading as they wandered slowly off.

The kids were ready to go, but a bit leery of the heavy machinery dealing with the rats, so they took over the dining area. Ebsa shifted tables and settled down, ignoring the audience he seemed to be drawing. A grinning Paer joined them. Some of the Teamers looked a bit wishful.

"We're just doing basics, for the kids." Ebsa shrugged. "The warrior thing is mostly a matter of Speed. I'm just barely a black belt."

Paer grinned. "He thinks he doesn't need technique when he so fast. Umm, we could run some advanced magic practice if anyone is interested. In, oh, an hour."

With just a few day's practice, Zhodan collected power easily, and held his spherical shield strongly. And was getting good at extending it into a slice, a thin sheet of force that could cut nearly anything. He already had a reach of a meter.

Ebsa worried, not about how dangerous he was, but by the grimly determined way he worked at it . . . Is he trying to never again lose family to things like those ants? But while they both look a little lost sometimes, I haven't seen anything like grief.

And their ears . . . why do I keep thinking about kidnapped and ransomed children, and body parts sent to horrified parents?

I'm not at all sure that Zhodan is thinking about giant ants when he practices.

And I wonder if someone is looking for them.