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26 May 2017 @ 09:14 am
_Scrambled_ part 29  
 

"And of course the older priests . . . they control the use of the power of the whole. I cannot say that there is not residual hatred there, but there is definitely the desire of power and determination to hold it."

"Older? You said you were . . . "

"A hundred and twenty-two. More than half are older, and the eldest, now that Emre is gone, is close to nine hundred years old. They are the sons and grandsons of Prophets. Oh, there are younger sons of Emre, but the Elders won't allow them to mature enough to threaten their power." His laugh squeaked. "You thought us so peaceful and egalitarian? No, there are always politics. The fools thought they could take Ra'd's—Nick's—power before he matured enough to hold separate from the One Mind. Fools. The personality of a Warrior Trainee was more than a match for the whole, once the drugs wore off, and then Isakson arrived . . . an hour's difference and perhaps the slaughter could have been avoided. The only wonder is that he didn't kill us all."

"But now everything has changed. You can . . . grow any direction you wish."

"Yes. As He said. I have made a start, and I will do better, now and in the future. I will seek to develop in myself His honor."

Ahco felt a shiver up his spine. Does Nick have a disciple?

***

By the end of the week, two dozen people were starting their days with meditation and magic practice on the hill.

Nick refused to take any more . . . and as Ahco watched, and felt carefully, he realized how often Nick was catching loss-of-control bursts of power among the students as he push them to develop. The aura of power over the group was not a group effect. It was Nick, spreading his power to catch potentially deadly mistakes . . . and more . . . there was information in that invisible cloud. Techniques that leaked into minds that were starting to grasp the idea. Techniques that were practiced until they were internalized.

Poe's control developed quickly, and he increased his range.

The rest of the advanced group . . . Ahco found himself with a headache every day . . . and a slice range double what was considered possible. And the ability to hold three shields at once.

***

By the end of the month, Nick pronounced five of them as trained as he could manage right now. "Just practice. By next year you'll be smooth and automatic, without drawing too much power. Then we'll train more."

"Next year . . . " Myyk winced. "Yeah. We're stuck here . . . No?"

Nick was shaking his head.

"You know that all the parallel worlds . . . well, they're actually diverging . . . Just before all this blew up, I met a man, an Exterior Directorate Agent, from what he called a near split. A One World where they closed the gate to Granite Peak in the face of the fleeing colonists. The Earther's never found that One World, no invasion, no nuke."

"And you believed him?"

"Yes. And he said he was working with . . . if I remember correctly . . . the Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation. He said they were studying a weird phenomenon, several worlds trapping in a whirlpool." Nick shrugged. "In short, people with dimensional travel ability are probably looking for us."



Chapter Ebsa

"Yes." Ebsa tried for patience. "In theory you can all hold an election and decide for or against contact with any given world, or none at all. However, to try to avoid serious contention among worlds, Disco has opened a very nice Empty World to colonization from all these various . . . displaced messes."

"Very nice?" Skeptical tones from the Miner's rep.

"Yes. Trees, grass, wild animals to hunt, fish in the streams and rivers and lakes and oceans. So far the population is just under two thousand, mostly the people from Thousand Year War, and High Cliffs, about a hundred Purps."

"Fish is not an inducement. The ocean's twenty klicks away over those hills and we were sick and tired of fish before the mixup."

"Bison and deer to hunt. We're importing cattle sheep and goats from eight world. Fruit trees, good soil for gardens." Ra'd had given up on patience during the move from the other mining world they'd finally finished three days ago.

They were starving. And still clinging to what they knew. Even the idiot Oners over there sort of didn't want to leave.

Utly looked around. "You know, since there aren't any Oners here, and no one is shooting at anyone else . . . couldn't we just open a gate close by and they can stick their noses through and make up their minds at their own pace?"

"Oh. Good plan." Ebsa flashed a grin at the Miner. "We'll just leave you to it. We're in a bit of a rush because the scientists think they've found the last of these mixed up worlds, and we'd hate to be a few days too late to save people. Nighthawk? How about over there just off the road?"

He ignored the tense worry in the two guards' eyes. Last chance to find their missing six thousand people. And Earth is still missing over a thousand people. One, I hope they are there, because if not, we've got to consider that they were on the water world and collapsed completely enough to be below sea level.

It would be nice to end the search with good news.

Chapter Main Accounting

"So you guys need to keep your heads down and, and . . ."

Lou nodded his thanks for the warning. "I can't believe they want to fight again. I mean . . . we're marooned on a whole world full of potential. There's no need for 'A strong man to keep us safe' and sure as hell not General Fu."

Harrison nodded. "Nor, of course, that fruitcake mutant Minister of the Oners."

Ron sat up in alarm. "You don't actually talk to them, do you!"

"Just the Red Zoners. Civilians like us, trying to survive dinosaurs and idiots that want a war."

Paulette cackled. "Like us? Don't listen to him Sergeant. Whores and motorcycle gang. All led by a mass murderer."

Lou shrugged. "Okay, Nick's a bit scary, but if you need help, he helps. He's . . . actually I guess he's the strong man keeping them safe over there. But he doesn't govern, he just says, no murder, no stealing, no rape. Then he walks away to go hunt."

Harrison nodded. "It's kind of weird, over there. I guess we're so use to having, you know, contraceptives, that half the women showing pregnant is kind of creepy."

"Eww. Well, I suppose we ought to expect them to breed like Natives." Denny shrugged. "But it's nice to know some of them aren't blood thirsty killers."

"Like General Fu?" Lou pointed across the center to the tall buildings. "Nick says those are apartments. They've got something like four thousand civilians, mostly office workers like here, trying to feed themselves, hunting and gardening."

"Four . . . thousand?"

"Yeah. Civilians. Militarily, we've got them outnumbered, but not by enough to make an attack a sure thing. Or at least that's what Nick says." Harrison frowned at the buildings. "General Fu is really going to attack? I mean, if we're marooned forever . . . shouldn't we keep all the genetic diversity we can?"

Ron hunched his shoulders. "Only through the female line, according to the general. So all of you . . . "

"Need to hide. Yeah . . . I think a long hunting expedition is in order. Tomorrow, you say?" I ought to warn Nick . . . I ought to not get involved . . . Oh Hell . . .