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13 April 2017 @ 08:29 am
_Mirror, Mirror_  
Can't find it, I think I got a little too enthusiastic about cleaning up old posts. Let me know if I need to repost the whole thing. But the end it and tomorrow, going on:

The world wrenched, more than an earthquake, worse than a gate . . .

To his right, a strip of grass led from just off the gate past him, widening . . . to his left a narrow wedge of concrete, the corner of a concrete wall cut off at the edge.

Ebsa scanned the plaza . . . narrow blades in a pinwheel centered on the gate. Blades of foreign worlds . . . "This is not good sign."

Wrench The foreign ground disappeared, brick pavement returned.

Ebsa stepped closer . . . a thin line of shattered brick marked where the grasslands had swapped in.

Urfa nodded, breathing fast. "We have to close that gate."

"You know, if their powered gate works like ours, there's pot load of critical equipment right there." He looked over at Urfa, the two guards . . .

Urfa shook his head. "You can't get through that many troops."

"I should have brought another Warrior with me. A small compass would have been useful."

Urfa frowned. "Another Warrior."

"Yeah. Since we had better sense than to kill Isakson, we've been identifying." He broke off to discourage the troops. Didn't seem to be working. "And training new Warriors."

"So, if Wicked and Utterly could keep those soldiers off my back, I'll try to get to the gate and inflict some damage over there."

"You can't do it alone . . . " Urfa was looking behind him. "I think I can get you a Warrior."

Ebsa followed his gaze. "That's handy." He trotted over to the knot of police hauling Azho to his feet.

Urfa followed. "He killed two hundred priests. Can you trust him?"

"In this plaza alone, that many people have just died. City-wide? World-wide? Urfa, if this damage is worldwide, your civilization has just died. Let's get this gate closed."

"Shit. Release him." Urfa glared at the cops until the handcuffs were off.

Ebsa stepped up to this feral version of Ra'd. "So. Are you a criminal or a warrior?"

Hot sparks of fury in his eyes, but his gaze left Ebsa's to look at the gate, then returned. "Warrior."



Chapter Eleven

Nick followed Ebsa across the plaza.

He studied the man. Bright blue eyes, gleaming, studied him in return.

He's enjoying this!

"Young, lean, and hungry, but you ought to be able to hold up a side of a minor compass."

Nick nodded. "It's been a long time since I've practiced . . . "

I ought to have been practicing with Abbaas and Hakim.

"Right, let's go . . . Ra'd."

Ebsa laid down his rifle and faced him, shields dropping to reveal a smooth deep glow of immense power.

Nick remembered a nightmare, a day seven years ago. The overwhelming pressure on his mind, breaking him . . .

There was no pressure here.

Ebsa held out his hands. "Your choice."

"Call me Nick." He reached. And lowered his barriers.

Energy. Ebsa's left hand to his right. Nick took it and passed it back through his left. A circle of power. They both added to it and it whipped around faster, expanding into a glowing cyclone of power . . .

Disappearing.

Hands dropped. Ebsa's eyes glowed with power. Scooping up weapons . . . Ebsa was taking a crowbar? A backpack he pulled from a bag of the Prophets?

He looked inside. "Shaped charges. If we can get through the gate and damage their rings, it might stop this."

Urfa shifted. "And can you get back?"

Ebsa grinned, glowing so brightly it nearly oozed from his skin. "Well, that may be a problem. So when my people show up, suggest they look for us over there. And Urfa? Don't shoot at them."

Urfa glanced at the gate. "They've just about got the bulldozer pushed out of the way."

"Right. Work on the flanks, Nick and I will take the middle." He handed Nick a belt with holstered pistol, extra mags in two sizes, a knife . . .

He buckled it on and took the proffered rifle.

Criminal to hero in one easy step. Bet the reverse will happen as well.

He pushed thought of the future away. Time to fight.

"Shields up, physical and energy." Ebsa turned and strode toward the Earth's army.

He didn't seem to notice the bullets and lasers hitting his shields, and Nick tried to shed the momentum as readily as they broke into a run. Power flicked out and the closest shooters crumpled.

:: They have no magic at all. ::

Ebsa stopped and fired once through the gate. :: If they get a tank through the gate, that won't really matter. ::

Nick staggered. Was crushed down and the floated for a second.

Alien strips replace normality to either side.

:: Stay on the bricks as long as possible. :: The mental contact felt almost like his own thoughts. Merged.

Wrench. The strange bits went away. He stumbled . . .

:: Are they manipulating gravity or is that part of the weirdness? :: Ebsa slung the big gun and pulled the crowbar off his belt.

Nick pulled a pistol, fired carefully placed shots across the line of soldiers facing them. :: Good armor. Aim for the edges of sections. :: He slapped in another magazine and started firing again. Men fell. This time slower to rise.

Then they were in among the troops. And heading straight for the gate.

Through the link to Ebsa he could feel the older man using the power they'd built up. Careful precise spells. :: Stun has a range of two meters, push can go twenty, but they'll just get back up. Spin and laugh are somewhat useful. If it gets nasty, I can slice about ten meters. ::

The soldiers all around them were dropping. Ebsa vaulted over and kept going.

We're really going through? We can't fight a world! Can't . . .

Ebsa tossed a mental grin his direction. :: We already are. ::

Click. Out of ammo.

He dropped the gun and ran forward. Shields up. Must be some weapons laying around out here somewhere. He scooped up a rifle on the run and started shooting, aiming for seams, under the arms, bottom of the clear faceplate. Damn that's good armor. He was knocking them down but too many were staggering back to their feet.

He spotted Ebsa with his crowbar . . . breaking arms and legs. Damn.

Stun spells snapping out, troopers laughing, spinning, coughing. Dying.

Nick dropped the empty gun and scooped up another. Kept shooting. He tried magic, a push staggered a man. Pull tripped them.

He was getting surrounded himself, and turned and shot the soldiers behind him. Backpedaled. Shot a couple more . . . How bloody many soldiers have come through?

:: Hundreds. :: The other one was cool and analytical, focused.

Ebsa slashed out and half a dozen men collapsed into a pile of gore.

Then the other man leapt through the gate.

A explosion to Nick's left. Grenade? Who's shooting? The cops behind me?

Two steps, leap over a ridge of body parts and through the gate.



Chapter Twelve

One bulldozer, no longer pushing the other broken-down dozer out of the way to the left . . .

To the right, more foot troops, beyond the dozer the turrets of tanks.

Ebsa cut right, threw a stun spell, reversed, staying between the pair of unmoving bulldozers and the gate.

Nick leaped out of the gate with a gasp of pain.

"Keep them off my back for a minute, then we have to get as far away from the gate as possible. Fast." Ebsa jerked a thumb over his shoulder. Knelt beside the concrete and steel arch that held the gate. Tried to remember the schematics he'd seen of the Oner's powered gates.

Some where behind this are two counter-rotating super-cooled super-conducting rings. All I need to do is break their containment. And duck.

He whipped the gunsling over his head and handed the 20mm to Nick. Peeled out of the back pack. Shaped charges three of them. He synced the timers. Ignored something flying over his head. He didn't bother to look. Nick had it. A boom from the big gun and the nearest engine noise died abruptly.

A quick triangle on the wall. :: Thirty seconds!:: He threw himself away and went to work with the crowbar.

:: Can't hold them. :: Nick was backing away, staggering as the Earthers tried saturating his shield.

:: Don't even try. It's set. Come on.:: Ebsa jumped in as the Earther troops charged back through the gate. He smashed a faceplate, and the face behind it, grabbed Nick and hauled him out of the scrum. They ran, cut right behind the first dead bulldozer, got behind the bulk of the metal as the world disintegrated.

At Speed, he could see the shards of the gate mechanism, the super-cooled rings flying . . . he knocked two chunks away before the end of the crowbar shattered, grabbed a rifle, dodged cold death, batted another away, no traction on the ground, falling sideways, no, that way was down and it hit hard . . .

Ebsa rolled shakily to his feet. A quick glance . . . a longer look around. The fallen buildings of the East Plaza . . . mostly. A thin green wedge of tall grass led away . . . And he was quite certain there was not supposed to be a body of water over there.

"Why did the tank and bulldozer come through with us?" Nick frowned at the machinery. "How the hell did we get here, for that matter?"

Ebsa looked at the ground. A circle of stark gray concrete, a deep hole where the gate had been . . . the gray concrete spiraled out into the red brick of the Plaza . . . The horizon full of recognizably Oner buildings, however damaged . . . except for that half of a building right there . . .

"Get on the brick, in case it goes back . . . " Ebsa backed away from the Earth soldiers as they recovered.

He reached for the last bit of the compass's power and projected his voice.

"We have closed the gate. Now you may surrender, or we can kill you all. Given the damage and deaths here in the city, I highly recommend you surrender quickly, because we haven't got time for any shit."

The soldiers looked around, one, an officer by the subdued rank marks, stood for a long survey of what had been a busy city a hour before.

"Look at the ground." Ebsa told him. "Something very strange has happened, and I don't know if you'll be getting home anytime soon."

Urfa limped up and eyed the officer. "Surrender and I'll try to make the worst that happens is you get to help with search and rescue."

The man looked around, eyes narrowing.

Ebsa walked closer. "Two of us just trashed your command and blew up your gate mechanism. What have you got here, fifty men in working order, twice as many casualties? You want to start all over, or get them medical treatment while the healthy save some civilians?

"At a minimum, back off to a concrete patch. Maybe it'll take you home."



Chapter Thirteen

Nick backed away keeping his gaze moving. He grabbed and slung weapons as he backed away.

Ebsa looked like he was going to be able to talk the stranded soldiers into surrendering . . .

Time to assess the damage. Several shots had made it through or around his shield . . . not too bad. Really.

But he saw the Oner cops eyeing him.

:: Fake weakness. Look harmless. ::

He let himself stagger, let himself look weak . . . knowing his shield was going to collapse. But I'm not really weak. I won't faint . . .

But he dropped all the guns and folded up. On grass. Clung to consciousness and kept his eyes and ears open.

He watched Ebsa limp across to his footlockers, put his guns away. Pocket something, and walk back to Urfa poking at his com.

"Ah, there we go, I have . . . " Ebsa trailed off, listening. "Good."

He dropped his hand and looked at Urfa. "Search and Rescue and medical help on the way. Disco says the highly quake prone areas have problems, but nothing like this."

Urfa looked a bit stiff. "Our people will be sending help as well."

A quick grin from Ebsa. "Not to worry. Disco will go away when you want them gone . . . "

And he was gone, along with the bricks and concrete and horizon full of Parian office towers.

Nick grunted as he dropped a few inches onto concrete. He uncurled from his duck and cover.

Sat up. No sign of Ebsa.

The fight's over. He doesn't need me.

He was on a slash of concrete . . . surrounded by grass.

Nick grabbed all the guns and staggered away into the long grass. Far enough to be off the part that seemed to be coming and going. So he didn't return to the One World or Earth when that patch did . . . except . . . they'd blown the gate.

Does that mean this is fixed, now? Not going to change back, ever?

"The only way to find out is to wait and see . . . and . . . " He stood, wavering a bit. Surveyed the area. Three groups of towers, some areas of smaller buildings. A single building tall enough to call a skyscraper. Movement, Earth soldiers, on that stretch of concrete. Some moaning, a couple picking themselves up. He looked at the nearest strip. It started narrow, widened to a few hundred meters. . . buildings, then trees, tall and majestic beyond.

Nick turned away. If we aren't twisted around, that way would be southeast.

I might as well go see if "home" is here or there. I hope to hell the family got out . . . but that would be unlikely . . . Okay . . . I know odd things happen to Warriors. Coincidences, luck, call it what you will, just get your feet moving.

 
 
 
ekuah on April 13th, 2017 03:24 pm (UTC)
You had published it between July 28th and August 4th 2016.
Sadly the original posts have been deleted.
I only know it because you replied to one comment of mine.

Cue: "Empire of the None"
matapampamuphoff on April 13th, 2017 04:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was afraid of that.

And technically (a legal point of no importance . . . yet!) the rough drafts get posted, not published. Not, mind you, that I expect a major publisher to be interested, but "previously published" is a poisoned pill to some.

So I subscribe to the notion that "Published" involves a contract to put the book up for sale to the public.
ekuah on April 13th, 2017 04:42 pm (UTC)
Sorry...
...me as non native English speaker mix up the words up sometimes. ;-)
matapampamuphoff on April 13th, 2017 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry...
No, I used it, until potential future ramifications were pointed out to me. So long as I self publish, so long as Amazon doesn't differentiate between "first published work" and "previously published" there won't be a problem.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 13th, 2017 07:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry...
At most you may have to add some boilerplate "An earlier version of some chapters was posted on my blog date1 to date2"

Awkward if Amazon's robots notice as when they complained to Sharon Lee about a short story that appeared in two anthologies.
matapampamuphoff on April 13th, 2017 10:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry...
Yeah, none-the-less, I'm leery of using the term "published" and I periodically plod through Livejournal's ridiculously cumbersome process and delete things as I publish them.
muirecanmuirecan on April 13th, 2017 03:34 pm (UTC)
You definitely have done this story before though I think this ending has been tweaked slightly.
(Anonymous) on April 13th, 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
Yes. I focused on "Nick" and left him as Ebsa's only assistance in stopping a cross-dimensional invasion. And now he's escaped to another world . . .
muirecanmuirecan on April 13th, 2017 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thats right the version from last year had a small horde of warriors. Well ok Isakson and Ra's 1 and Nick and Ebsa. I think it might work better with just Ebsa and 'Nick'.