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28 October 2015 @ 12:04 am
_Trouble in Paradise_ part 9  

"Well Closey, see what your Native friends have done?"

Ebsa leaned back and eyed the man. "Ape . . . don't you mean what your ill thought out and failed actions have triggered? You have, in all probability triggered a war. And you know what? The first attack just rolled right over us, without us getting a blow in. You idiots have started a war that is going to be fought on our Home World, with weapons of the enemy's choice."

"We know where they are. We can retaliate with a bioweapon, kill them all."

Ra' snorted and sat down beside Ebsa. "As soon as we are absolutely certain we've found and closed every permanent gate they've set up to spy on us. Otherwise there will be a serious containment problem."

They were attracting a lot of attention.

:: Paer? Stay away from the dining hall. Grab Heak and Azko and keep them out of here. ::

:: Are you about to get beaten up? ::

:: Oh, have a little faith. There can't be more than fifty of them. ::

:: Ebsa! ::

:: Oh, all right. Six that may make trouble. Ra'd and I can handle them. ::

Blob loomed. "Oh? Think you know all about it, Wqlw? Oh Hey says you've had a whole month of Military tactics. Wow. What an expert!"

"He is, however, quite right." The man elbowing through the crowd was older.

"Professor Ongo. Military Sciences." Ra'd muttered in Ebsa's direction, then raised his voice as he eyed the professor. "This may give you some idea of what a mostly magic war would be like. Probably opening up more possibilities than you've thought of."

"Heh. For starters, I had not anticipated pin point genetic engineering as a method of attack. Broadcast mutagens, yes. But removal of the rape genes, the crumpling of the Oner's social ranking? That's . . . going to take some pondering."

The professor turned and eyed all the students. "Eat your lunches and get on with your classes. You seniors? You may be ceded to the military by the time you graduate, but you still need good grades for getting a job, post-war. Hopefully with the Directorate."

His gaze fell on Ape and Blob. "You two . . . had better behave. You are on thin ice already. Do not start fights. Do not try to weasel out from under the predictable results of your own actions. Own up to your errors and learn from them."

Sensei Ikku hustled up, frowning from the professor to the Action trainees.

Professor Ongo glowered at the Sensei. "I know these two have just gotten here. But the rest are trouble makers as well. Teach them to coordinate with other Oners, not target them. Else they'll be having a lot of trouble in the military."

Ebsa could hear Ikku's teeth grind.

His gaze fell dyspeptically on Ra'd and Ebsa. "Don't make trouble worse."

The professor eyed Ra'd. "An essay on the possible use of gates and corridors in wartime. Get it to me by Monday."

The Action trainees eased away, and kept going while the two older men returned to their meals.

:: All safe. The adults made the Action boys behave. Still, not being seen too much in our company might be wise. ::

No mental answer, but three tray dropped on the table next to them.

Heak grinned. "Really Ebsa, you should know better than to expect us to run away."

A faint sigh from the guard standing between Paer and the sullen group at the other end of the room. Paer grinned.

Ra'd snorted. "No sense at all. And now I need to brainstorm ways to use gates and corridors in a war."

"Brainstorm?" Azko frowned. "What is that?"

"It's just throwing out ideas as fast as possible, with no pause to analyze how practical or possible anything is, until you've got a huge list. Then you start analyzing."

"You mean like, a corridor with an illusion over it? So tanks that thought they were going through a powered gate to Comet Fall land in the middle of the ocean?" Ebsa shivered. The possibilities are enormous.

"Oooo! Open a gate to a dinosaur world!" Heak's grin faded. "They wouldn't, would they?"

"Open gates directly to Earth." Azko nodded. "We wouldn't have time to worry about Comet Fall."

Paer hunched her shoulders. "Rael said that Xen once mentioned opening a gate aimed side on at the powered gate rings, and then opening the other end in front of a bullet train."

"Yeaow." Ebsa thought that over. "Or they could aim it at a full session of the Council. Or send through more subtle assassins."

"They could use them to distribute more potions, probably aimed at removing the One power gene. Or diseases."

"And close the gates and corridors we already have, isolating the colonies, blocking imported food. Make us get all the merchant ships out of drydock to move goods around here."

"Attack the One in Makkah."

They all stopped and stared at Ra'd..

". . . or have they already? How did this attack affect them? What else could they do there?" Ra'd's fingers beat a nervous tattoo along the table edge. "One nuke could end the Hive mind."

Ebsa bit his lip. "The One needs to move . . . secretly. Or at least some of them move far enough away to survive the loss of the majority."

Ra'd shook his head. "Brainstorm."

Ebsa got back to skull drudgery. "Well, they could divert the army through gates to empty worlds, and just maroon them. Or turn soldiers into bronze statues—kind of time intensive at that scale though."

"Sabotage equipment, set off bombs. Well, not that they'd need corridors for that." Azko shrugged. "We're screwed, aren't we?"

Ebsa nodded. "They'll bring the war here, and get creative."

Ra'd bit his lip. "A pre-emptive strike to remove as many of their magic users is starting to sound like a good idea. Not that we haven't tried that before."

Ebsa looked around the dining hall. All the energized, expectant faces. "What we need to do is stop the war from happening in the first place."

Chapter Cannibal World news

The Wednesday evening seminar was buzzing about the coming war, but the professors had a new item for them to consider.

"Disco is fully engaged with a cross-dimensional invasion involving two worlds we've never encountered. First reports are that one world is cannibalizing the other, merging with it."

Ebsa didn't know the physics professor presenting the series of brief vids.

A long shot over a city. A sharp line of demarcation between building styles cross the city. The rough brutal concrete of the further buildings was in shadows, but no clouds floated above to produce the effect.

"This isn't much like the slow gentle convergence of nearly identical worlds we've seen elsewhere. Something very odd, and hopefully very rare is happening. Even people very unlike each other are merging with each other."

The next vid clip showed an odd dim area snapping forward to engulf a group of hastily backpedaling people. Uniformed soldiers ran forward, charging the retreating group. The handheld vid was jumping all over, the audio was confusing, but one loud voice ordering people to back up, to not touch the soldiers . . . the soldiers had a different goal and jumped for the men in suits and other uniforms.

When they touched they were pulled together, pulled into each other, collapsing as they merged.

A civilian woman gestured, ground fell away isolating the civilians with the three merged soldiers lying on the ground. The trio was grabbed, and hauled away as the clip ended.

"The merge victims are being analyzed. That darkish zone where the merging took place is expanding. The city there has been evacuated, but they have no idea when, where, or if, the expansion will stop, or whether the intrusion will go away at some point, or if it will take a chunk of this world with it when it goes." The physicist stared at the vid in frustration. "We're organizing to study the phenomenon."

Even with nearly a thousand students stuffed into the halls, there was silence.

Broken by Ape. "Wolfson's busy. We can attack Comet Fall, right now, as fast as possible. A lightening strike to kill their wizards and witches."

Heads turned. Down beside the speaker's platform Professor Ivy hid his face behind a hand. Lowered it and raised his voice. "That decision is just a little over your pay grade, Trainee."

"Why not attack now? Why not? Because of that coward of a President, and his pet horse boy?"

Paer growled.

"Perhaps," Ebsa stepped up on his seat and raised his voice, "he doesn't want to get thousands of people killed because of your criminal actions? This bio attack is a response to your raid. Own it, you little asshole. It's your fault. And I hope to hell you're the first man to die."

Professor Ivy's exasperated "Ebsa!" was drowned out by a cacophony of shouts, insults, cheers for various sides, the faculty's attempts to restore order . . .

"Perhaps." Ebsa tried to project his voice. "We should put more effort into examining that weird merge we just saw a bit of. Because it seems like there are more important things to worry about than tit-for-tat retaliations that have finally spiraled up high enough to sting."

It was more than projection; someone had aimed a directional microphone at him. Might as well take advantage of it.

"You sought petty revenge against a girl who'd showed your friends up as lying to the police in order to foster a political agenda. That!" Ebsa pointed at the screen. "That is a bit more important. That is something I want to understand and prevent. Is that a unique occurrence? What if it happens again? What if it happens here? We need to go all in on this, for our own sakes."

"Even that's petty." Ebsa stabbed at the screen again. "That, dare I say it? That is a world full of people who need help right now! It looks like Disco is trying to save a world with a population of billions."

He lowered his hand to his hips and tried to look belligerent. "And your first thought is that this is a good time to stab them in the back? What are you doing on Teams? You obviously ought to be in politics."

That got a few laughs and a lot of applause.

The people down on the stage were looking his direction. Talking.

Professor Ivy stepped forward. "Right. Ape? Argue your point in a paper as make up for missed classes. Ebsa, ditto, as punishment for having an interesting point of view. Both papers will be published. Class dismissed."

Ra'd's shoulders were shaking as they walked out.

"It's not funny." Paer kept her voice to a faint hiss.

"Oh yes it is. 'Punishment for having an interesting point of view.' That is so Ebsa."

Ebsa grinned. "Just think how widely read I will be. Tenured professors will grind their teeth in envy. Or fall down laughing, depending on how good or bad a job I do."

muirecanmuirecan on October 28th, 2015 07:43 am (UTC)
Minor typo at the beginning.

"Ra' snorted and sat down beside Ebsa."

That should be Ra'd.
hollybambolo on October 28th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
So it isn't common knowledge that Xen and Q did change a gate to a dinosaur world. Ra'd's going to meet his grandfather-in-law when in timeline? After this, presumably. With Charlie around to rremind Wolf of old memories, well, I suppose things like missles and gate rings are still gone from his memory, but Ra'd seems a lot like young Wolfgang. Expect they'll get along immensely well. (Also, can't help wondering if Harry is ever going to move his tavern to Embassy, as the crossroads of the worlds. Ebsa would fit right in that kitchen.)
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 28th, 2015 05:24 pm (UTC)
Interesting to see if Charlie Alpha is snagged by the Comet Fall Collective Unconscious or Logic is able to detach herself.

Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames
hollybambolo on October 28th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC)
I think we had somewhere a line about Logic lives in Charliesville, which is in Arrival. Detached or not, well, Wolf and Xen can be summoned across gates and by non-Fallen (Rael, in Empire, Roger, in Dark Lady). Presumably so can others, leading to an interesting hypothetical encounter involving a Fallen and a Not-Fallen Old Gods.
Charlie Alpha certainly ought to be an Old God: he's got dimensional abilities, which seems to be one indicator, and there's a working collective subconscious on Arrival, or Roger wouldn't have been able to summon Wolf. Since brain damage doesn't seem to be required--at least, most of the Baby Gods haven't been that traumatized--well, guess we'll see!
matapampamuphoff on October 28th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC)
The book I'm going to write for NaNo is "What Ra'd did while Ebsa and Paer were marooned on Dystopia." Which is basically assigned to the Embassy on Embassy to get close to Xen Wolfson and learn more about their magic.

I'm planning on Ra'd meeting Nighthawk's two grandfathers, and no doubt a bunch of the other Old and New Gods.