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14 May 2017 @ 11:08 am
_Scrambled_ part 21  
 

"I was being generous."

"Literal."

"True."

After a long day spent negotiating a rocky hill they topped out to see the spiral laid out on the stark plain below.

"One! Is that the Council Hall?" Ebsa eyed the mostly-still-standing edifice. "Or, umm most of it?" Lost half the front façade, the northeast corner, back, at a guess, to the front row of offices. Meeting rooms . . . whatever the heck they had there.

"Yep." Utly sounded cheerful. "We were really worried about it. It was in session, you see. Easily three quarters of the council were in the building, including Prime Councilor Ordu. One only knows why, but they want them back."

Wkde snickered. "Or at least accounted for, so they know if they should hold elections and get a whole new Council together."

"And bureaucrats, secretaries, assistants, gofers, janitors, guards . . . "

"Wow. And the building looks good enough that you may well get them all." Ebsa started looking for a good way off the shoulder of rock . . . "Hawk? Can you throw a corridor down to that flat spot, then another over to there . . . "

"Ha! A clear line-of-sight. Watch this!" She drew back her arm and threw absolutely nothing.

"Whoa! Ten miles, easily!" Raven bounced up to help in the corridor down.

"Yeah. Dad can go so much further . . . "

"Oh, he's old!"

"Not that old! Everyone's kidding him about turning forty later this year."

"Ancient."

Nighthawk snorted. "And you're twenty-five. Isn't that a little old to be a Crescent?"

Raven stuck out her tongue and jumped into the corridor. She appeared to shrink.

As if she were ten miles away . . . a bright spot opened up into a dizzy drop.

"Please tell me Ebsa isn't going to drive through that!"

Nighthawk shook her head. "Now we can start linking them, we'll get you down in a few minutes."

Ebsa scratched his nose. "So . . . you could have done this all along?"

"Oh sure, but most of the time it's just as fast to drive. This hill side is one of the times it's not. Going up, it's hard to see where to throw the corridors, and it wasn't so steep, so we did it piecemeal." She flicked a grin at Ra'd. "Plus it gives some people a chance to show off their magic muscles."

Utly and Wkde exchanged glum glances. Ra'd's occasional slice and push had involved quite large volumes of rock.

"Are we going to have to be able to do that in order to impress Raven? I leave Nighthawk out because she so obviously paired off with Ra'd."

Ebsa grinned. "Comet Fall witches come from a culture where witches never marry. If you're looking for a wife to take home, you're shopping in the wrong store. If you're just after sex, well, the witches don't actually expect men to be magically strong. So you can just show off in other ways and score."

Nighthawk looked around. "I'm going to tell Paer you know all about witches."

"Who do you think I learned it from?"

Nighthawk laughed and jumped through the corridor.

"Who's Paer?" Wkde looked wistfully down the hill. A red spot disappeared into something that was probably another corridor.

"My wife." Ebsa got out the binocs and scanned. "Two more corridors and we'll be down on that plain."

Azko joined them. "I'm getting better reception up here. I've been broadcasting that were the rescue party, that there's no war, that all sides are going home. They all changed their encryption, so I'm starting over."

Ebsa sighed. "Well, it does show that they got your message. Maybe they'll stop fighting."

"Raven's all the way down." Ra'd was squinting, using his magically enlarged vision instead of binocs.

"Excellent. Let's load up and get down there."

Nighthawk jumped out of the corridor. made a shaking motion, and the view through the corridor changed from rocky precipice to rocky flat. "There you go. Sorry to ruin the challenge of driving down this fun slope, but . . . "

"You know I'm eager to get home to my family. Thank you Hawk."

Ebsa climbed back into the driver's seat and maneuvered carefully to line up with the corridor. Drove through to the plains. Flat clay and sand, like a dried lakebed, an occasional outcrop of rock, patches of lichen. No grass, ferns . . . too dry for moss . . .

"Well there must be algae at least in the oceans, else the air wouldn't be breathable."

Ra'd called down from the crow's nest. "Park to the left of the Council Hall. Let's get between them and those prefab shacks. "I can see the soldiers on each side aiming weapons across the space inbetween."

Ebsa turned to avoid the rotting remains of a large dinosaur. "Now I know this place doesn't have Ajha, but surely someone ought to have thought to eat that thing."

He slowed and drove the length of the Council Hall. People were leaving from the south entrance, standing and gawping at them. He stopped opposite them. "We'll swing around and send the Earther's home next."

Wkde and Utly were the first off the crawler.

Utly was glowing with relief, as they walked up to a frowning man . . . "Prime Councilor! The President will be so relieved to know you survived! We'll have you home by morning."

"Oh? Really? And why should I return when I have an entire world to conquer?"

Utly stopped dead . . . "Uh? Umm . . . "

Ebsa and Ra'd scrambled out and joined them.

Ebsa looked around. "Why do you want a world who's highest from of life is lichen? And, well, not that this whirlpool world might not be different, but the others have been notably lacking in women."

"This . . . Whirlpool?"

"Yes, sir. Nine worlds swapping chunks in this weird pattern." Ebsa glanced over his shoulder. "One of them with dinosaurs. The Earth you nuked forty seven years ago, two of their mining colonies, two barren worlds, a Water World and one with a lot of grass."

"Who are you? I recognise the two interior goons, I suppose you are as well."

"No, Ra'd and I are from a parallel One World that split at the time of the Granite peak invasion. We're with External Relations, operating at the request of Disco—the Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation—to assist in recovering marooned citizens from all four of the inhabited worlds."

The PC narrowed his eyes. "Oh? And don't think I haven't recognized Azho the Priest Killer, standing beside you. Armed."

A snort from Ra'd. "That would be my . . . parallel self. So I'd advise against those guards of yours shooting at me."

Nighthawk stalked around and tapped two spots on the side of the crawler, and two on the ground, opening the corridor they pulled all this way. "If you walk through this corridor, and then through the gate, you will find people ready to help you get home."

"And she's not a Oner at all."

"Certainly not!"

Ebsa cleared his throat. "If you don't want to go home, fine. Just write out a resignation so your people can hold an election and replace you." He looked beyond the PC, at the bureaucrats, at the other Councilors . . .

"To hell with this world. I'm going home!" A stout woman elbowed through the crowd and marched down to the crawler. More people followed in a rush.

The PC turned to his body guards. "Stop them! Shoot the first one who tried to . . . "

As the two guards lifted their guns, Ra'd



"I was being generous."

"Literal."

"True."

After a long day spent negotiating a rocky hill they topped out to see the spiral laid out on the stark plain below.

"One! Is that the Council Hall?" Ebsa eyed the mostly-still-standing edifice. "Or, umm most of it?" Lost half the front façade, the northeast corner, back, at a guess, to the front row of offices. Meeting rooms . . . whatever the heck they had there.

"Yep." Utly sounded cheerful. "We were really worried about it. It was in session, you see. Easily three quarters of the council were in the building, including Prime Councilor Ordu. One only knows why, but they want them back."

Wkde snickered. "Or at least accounted for, so they know if they should hold elections and get a whole new Council together."

"And bureaucrats, secretaries, assistants, gofers, janitors, guards . . . "

"Wow. And the building looks good enough that you may well get them all." Ebsa started looking for a good way off the shoulder of rock . . . "Hawk? Can you throw a corridor down to that flat spot, then another over to there . . . "

"Ha! A clear line-of-sight. Watch this!" She drew back her arm and threw absolutely nothing.

"Whoa! Ten miles, easily!" Raven bounced up to help in the corridor down.

"Yeah. Dad can go so much further . . . "

"Oh, he's old!"

"Not that old! Everyone's kidding him about turning forty later this year."

"Ancient."

Nighthawk snorted. "And you're twenty-five. Isn't that a little old to be a Crescent?"

Raven stuck out her tongue and jumped into the corridor. She appeared to shrink.

As if she were ten miles away . . . a bright spot opened up into a dizzy drop.

"Please tell me Ebsa isn't going to drive through that!"

Nighthawk shook her head. "Now we can start linking them, we'll get you down in a few minutes."

Ebsa scratched his nose. "So . . . you could have done this all along?"

"Oh sure, but most of the time it's just as fast to drive. This hill side is one of the times it's not. Going up, it's hard to see where to throw the corridors, and it wasn't so steep, so we did it piecemeal." She flicked a grin at Ra'd. "Plus it gives some people a chance to show off their magic muscles."

Utly and Wkde exchanged glum glances. Ra'd's occasional slice and push had involved quite large volumes of rock.

"Are we going to have to be able to do that in order to impress Raven? I leave Nighthawk out because she so obviously paired off with Ra'd."

Ebsa grinned. "Comet Fall witches come from a culture where witches never marry. If you're looking for a wife to take home, you're shopping in the wrong store. If you're just after sex, well, the witches don't actually expect men to be magically strong. So you can just show off in other ways and score."

Nighthawk looked around. "I'm going to tell Paer you know all about witches."

"Who do you think I learned it from?"

Nighthawk laughed and jumped through the corridor.

"Who's Paer?" Wkde looked wistfully down the hill. A red spot disappeared into something that was probably another corridor.

"My wife." Ebsa got out the binocs and scanned. "Two more corridors and we'll be down on that plain."

Azko joined them. "I'm getting better reception up here. I've been broadcasting that were the rescue party, that there's no war, that all sides are going home. They all changed their encryption, so I'm starting over."

Ebsa sighed. "Well, it does show that they got your message. Maybe they'll stop fighting."

"Raven's all the way down." Ra'd was squinting, using his magically enlarged vision instead of binocs.

"Excellent. Let's load up and get down there."

Nighthawk jumped out of the corridor. made a shaking motion, and the view through the corridor changed from rocky precipice to rocky flat. "There you go. Sorry to ruin the challenge of driving down this fun slope, but . . . "

"You know I'm eager to get home to my family. Thank you Hawk."

***

Ebsa climbed back into the driver's seat and maneuvered carefully to line up with the corridor. Drove through to the plains. Flat clay and sand, like a dried lakebed, an occasional outcrop of rock, patches of lichen. No grass, ferns . . . too dry for moss . . .

"Well there must be algae at least in the oceans, else the air wouldn't be breathable."

Ra'd called down from the crow's nest. "Park to the left of the Council Hall. Let's get between them and those prefab shacks. "I can see the soldiers on each side aiming weapons across the space inbetween."

Ebsa turned to avoid the rotting remains of a large dinosaur. "Now I know this place doesn't have Ajha, but surely someone ought to have thought to eat that thing."

He slowed and drove the length of the Council Hall. People were leaving from the south entrance, standing and gawping at them. He stopped opposite them. "We'll swing around and send the Earther's home next."

Wkde and Utly were the first off the crawler.

Utly was glowing with relief, as they walked up to a frowning man . . . "Prime Councilor! The President will be so relieved to know you survived! We'll have you home by morning."

"Oh? Really? And why should I return when I have an entire world to conquer?"

Utly stopped dead . . . "Uh? Umm . . . "

Ebsa and Ra'd scrambled out and joined them.

Ebsa looked around. "Why do you want a world who's highest from of life is lichen? And, well, not that this whirlpool world might not be different, but the others have been notably lacking in women."

"This . . . Whirlpool?"

"Yes, sir. Nine worlds swapping chunks in this weird pattern." Ebsa glanced over his shoulder. "One of them with dinosaurs. The Earth you nuked forty seven years ago, two of their mining colonies, two barren worlds, a Water World and one with a lot of grass."

"Who are you? I recognise the two interior goons, I suppose you are as well."

"No, Ra'd and I are from a parallel One World that split at the time of the Granite peak invasion. We're with External Relations, operating at the request of Disco—the Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation—to assist in recovering marooned citizens from all four of the inhabited worlds."

The PC narrowed his eyes. "Oh? And don't think I haven't recognized Azho the Priest Killer, standing beside you. Armed."

A snort from Ra'd. "That would be my . . . parallel self. So I'd advise against those guards of yours shooting at me."

Nighthawk stalked around and tapped two spots on the side of the crawler, and two on the ground, opening the corridor they pulled all this way. "If you walk through this corridor, and then through the gate, you will find people ready to help you get home."

"And she's not a Oner at all."

"Certainly not!"

Ebsa cleared his throat. "If you don't want to go home, fine. Just write out a resignation so your people can hold an election and replace you." He looked beyond the PC, at the bureaucrats, at the other Councilors . . .

"To hell with this world. I'm going home!" A stout woman elbowed through the crowd and marched down to the crawler. More people followed in a rush.

The PC turned to his body guards. "Stop them! Shoot the first one who tried to . . . "

As the two guards lifted their guns, Ra'd



 
 
 
Zan Lynxzlynx on May 14th, 2017 04:42 pm (UTC)
Cliffhanger!
What a place to end a post!
matapampamuphoff on May 15th, 2017 01:16 am (UTC)
Re: Cliffhanger!
Yeah, I need to learn how to do them properly. This probably isn't it. :D
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on May 14th, 2017 04:54 pm (UTC)
From "I was being literal". To the guards being foolish and attacking it duplicates.
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on May 15th, 2017 04:14 am (UTC)
I think that second to last sentence should be,

The PC turned to his body guards. "Stop them! Shoot the first one who >>tries<< to . . . "
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on May 15th, 2017 04:15 am (UTC)
And you're fired for cliffhanging "in-snippet"
mbarkermbarker on May 15th, 2017 08:50 am (UTC)
Oh, no, that's the end of the book. Come back next volume, when we'll find out just what Ra'd...
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on May 15th, 2017 10:21 pm (UTC)
Your evil...

And yes, that's a deliberate misuse.

...And quit dangling those participles at me.