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matapam
19 September 2017 @ 04:22 pm
  I'll trim stuff back as needed, right now I'm putting everything in.


Chapter Mixed Triads

"Those things look pretty dangerous."

Q took her eyes off the large herd of large cattle under the substantial dust cloud. "They look like they're migrating. I fail to understand why. It's the middle of the summer."

Goldfinch eyed the dry clouds. "Maybe the water is drying up in the south? Isn't Northern Europe supposed to be wetter, year round than the south? Of course, I have no idea what climate changes this world has experienced."

Q nodded. "Makes sense. And they're avoiding the hill, for now, but we may need to break off early. Which makes this a good time to switch things around a bit."

Rael walked up raising her eyebrows, the rest of the women trailing.

Oh this is going to be good!

Q hoped she was looking businesslike. "Bunny? Why don't you try working with Demi and Egret. Rael with Goldfinch and Ibis. And I'll make a third triad with Jacana and Lapwing."

Rael grinned. :: Giving the Mean Girls a lesson? ::

:: That's half the fun. You'll be the other half. Not to mention Xen's reaction. ::

But the other looked variously interested. Jacana and Lapwing exchanged glances and started grinning.

They spread out along the hill, the guys keeping an eye on the cattle.

***

Rael followed Goldfinch and Ibis along the hill and down a bit.

Ibis grinned. "Don't look so apprehensive. We're the nice witches." She held out her hand and Rael reached to meet it.

Zing!

"Whoa! Hadn't expected that from a Oner!" Ibis scanned her. Shook her head. "You'd fit right into the Farmer girls. Don't you think so, Goldie?"

Goldfinch nodded and held out a hand. Rael grit her teeth and touched it.

Zing!

Oh one damn it all to hell!

She cleared her throat. "My mother served briefly on Comet Fall . . . and got pregnant. The name Bran Butcher has been mentioned."

Black and Auburn heads nodded.

"Hi Cousin! My mother is your father's younger sister. And Ibis would be your niece. Her mother's is one of Bran's half sisters." Goldfinch's grin widened. "You'll have to come meet the rest of the family sometime. Don't worry, there's only a couple hundred of us . . . last time I counted."

Rael just closed her eyes and held out her hands. I never thought about having family on my unknown father's side. Why me? She shut down that line of thought as the others took her hands and led her off into the sparkling blue to hunt for cones.

***

Q managed to not laugh . . . until she turned around and spotted Xen. Blank faced, staring at Rael. Ha! You never analyzed your girlfriend's genes? Good. I'd hate to find out you were as analytical as I am.

Jacana and Lapwing held hands and smiled hungrily at Q.

She switched her grin to them and took their hands. Opened her shields to their hostile advances and let them in. Reached for them and swamped them with shear personality as they merged.

:: Let's get to work.::

Eight gates later she released them.

Smiled sunnily. "Good work guys. Thanks!"

Xen parceled out boost with a straight face to the two stunned looking witches. Didn't say a thing. Out loud.

:: Did you out-bad the Bad Witches? Tsk, tsk! ::

:: I might have been a little too dominant. :: Q took a sip and looked the other way. :: I'm a bit surprised that you were surprised. ::

:: I wasn't actually. Except . . . I suddenly realized that it wasn't the meek little assistant that Bran seduced, but rather the leader of that whole appalling action. ::

:: I trust you have sense enough not to hold the sins of the mother against the daughter. ::

He glowered at her. :: No. But it might explain an ability to do horrible things when ordered. I'll be more careful the next time she tries to murder me. ::

Q started laughing and walked over to wake up the other triads. :: Beats being meek. ::

:: Yep. ::

The pheasant in game sauce won, seven to six, with Q abstaining from voting. "The boss needs to stay neutral."

Two days later they packed up and headed home.

We'll know in a month if it did any good.





Chapter Eldon

He eyed the dark pack. "At least you lot are armed. What do you want to bet the pale pack hasn't got a single gun among them all?"

The head of the boy pack eyed him. "What are you, anyway? Mexican? I never heard of a blonde Mexican. You bleach your hair?"

"No. I started out blond. And where I come from, everyone's sorta tannish. I'm maybe darker than average. There aren't many as dark as you, and nobody that horrible fish-belly white like them. I dunno why we keep finding people like that all over the Multiverse."

"Multiverse! Where are you from?" The pale boy, Shane, had walked up behind him.

"Yeah. Lots of parallel universes, except they aren't really parallel. I'm from the one they call Comet Fall."

"What do they call ours?"

"I dunno. I'm not an explorer, I'm a Bad Guy. You know, steal stuff in one Universe, sell it in another. Stuff like that."

The dark leader laughed. "You're one of the Strangers. That's what you are. Lost weight since you were changing into a deer, haven't you?"

Shane backed away and eyed him. "Geeze. Take note, for once in the history of our Universe, Coltrain Newhouse is correct."

A sudden cacophony of yells and running kids drew their attention. What charged out of the woods behind them looked a bit like the things beyond the Gate at the lodge, except this one had more feathers and a huge beak. Eldon loped down the hill, as several guns started firing behind him. He toughened up his back shield, and threw a slice as soon as he was in range. The bird's head dropped and the body ran around a bit pumping blood.

"Dang."

"Mo Fo!"

"Wow, must have a lot of actions co-ordinated off the spinal cord."

Eldon and Coltrain stared at Shane. Coltrain shook his head. "There oughta be a law about smart boys like you. Keep 'em ona leash or neuter them so they can't multiply and blow up the World. Again."

Shane straightened indignantly. "We didn't. It's pretty much accepted that the Kamchatka attack was actually a meteorite. Well, Okay, everyone over reacted. But that was a hundred years ago."

Coltrain spat, and walked over to where the over sized roadrunner had collapsed.

It was pretty gamey, roasted over a camp fire.

Once Eldon had found all the kids and wrestled them through the Gate, he tipped it back over and crawled underneath to cross. He didn't want that thing's friends to find it.

***

"You won't live to be thirty, crossing streets like that." The old lady rolled down her window and yelled at him. The man in the fancy chauffeur's get up in the front seat looked resigned.

Eldon grinned. "I'm twenty-seven already, and I'll be young forever." He turned back around and continued down the street. The big black car turned the corner and matched his pace.

"You are at the most, eighteen. I'd kill for your energy, not to mention my eighteen year old complexion."

He looked at her thoughtfully. "Killing won't get you what you want. How about a million dollars, instead?"

She snorted. "If you could do it, I'd pay."

Eldon fished his two wine bottles out of his bubble. They were the one thing, well, two things, he always had with him. In case he had to bolt. "Gotta wine glass? Drink these, and if you like the result, meet me here in one month with a check for a million dollars." He dodged around a light pole and some newspaper machines, and she held out a wine glass. He poured, grinning as they kept moving. "See you in a month. Bring your friends."

He stowed his wine and watched the car speed away. If she'd drink it, if she was good for the money, if she brought a friend or two . . . could be an easy way to get filthy rich.

***

They were back the next day. Armed and dangerous. With sleeping bags. Girlfriends armed with cook ware. Or in Shane's case, quite obviously a sister.

"Don't you have to go to school tomorrow?" Eldon looked them over carefully. "I'm going to assume you all know to use those weapons, despite not noticing that birdie getting hit."

Coltrain scowled. "That's why I've got this." He patted something that Eldon tended to associate with military movies.

"We're college students, we can skip classes if we want to." Shane gazed wistfully at the weapon.

Eldon blinked at Coltrain's nod. He'd figured they were the notorious inner city gangs they talked about in the papers. Although the shop was a bit outside the really rough areas, and not that far from the University and cheap student housing, now that he thought about it.

Eldon shook his head. "Well, don't get lost." He ducked through the Gate and crawled out from under it. Vultures and things that looked like over sized weasels scattered from the remains of the bird. Nothing large in sight, again. He tipped the Gate up.

"Have fun scouting around. I'm going to build some sort of building around the Gate."

The kids moved off, the women both repulsed by the gory, and slightly stinky remains and partly fascinated by the alien animal.

Eldon ran a quick head count. Seven guys, four gals. Then he scowled at the Gate. He just wasn't as good at rock stuff as, well, any witch half his age. But he wasn't helpless. In fits and starts he cleared the ground, found rock about six feet down. He eyed it with disfavor. Molding solid rock would deepen the pit as the walls rose. He kicked a rodent that came to investigate. "What I need is a rock outcrop, so I can bring all the rock down here."

The ground rose to the east, past the woods, so he headed that direction.

He spotted the kids up on a bare hill top, and veer aside to leave them to their little adventure. He spotted a more ragged looking hill, and found his outcrop. Slice was such a satisfying spell. Such clear results. He trimmed off the weathered limestone, and started cutting two foot thick slabs.

"Are you teleporting them to the Gate?" Shane had walked up behind him again.

"Nah, just scooping them into a bubble. Then I can pull them all down to the Gate and pull them out one by one, and fuse them together."

"Can we learn how to do that, or do you have to be born magic?" One of the other dark pack edged around and studied the scooped out rock.

"Well, see, it's genetic. My ancestors were engineered to be this way. I suppose I could give you some of the magic genes, but since you didn't grow up with them, I dunno if you can ever learn how to use them." Eldon eyed them thoughtfully. "You're pretty young, I don't suppose it would hurt to try it. I'll make up a potion when I'm done with this." He got back to work, and gradually the kids wandered off. Just as well. Some of them were curvy enough to be interesting, and he really didn't want to find out how Coltrain would react to him stealing his girlfriend. Or Shane his sister, for that matter.

He took the outcrop down to ten feet below ground level, then walked back to the Gate. "It would improve the atmosphere if you guys would drag that thing off a couple hundred feet." They'd been so busy poking it, they hadn't heard him coming.

"Wow, you walk pretty quietly." Shane's sister eyed him in a clinical fashion. Definitely too young.

"So do stalking animals. You lot should think about sentries." Eldon turned his bubble around and slid out his first slab. Fused it to the ground. He got a five foot wall and a temporary roof done, pulling the Gate down to the bedrock so it was safe, before he quit for the day. The kids followed him, after he promised to give them free access to the Gate.

He crawled home and collapsed. He hadn't worked that hard in years. In fact gold mining was slower and easier. Maybe he should go back. After Superbowl.

In the morning, a search of the potions he'd picked up from Rior and Aunt Susto gave him a good starting point for creating wizard potions. He had the potions for the three power genes, but what about the rest? A hundred and five other engineered genes, with no idea which were necessary for magic.

Well. He could start with longevity, and something from Susto that claimed to be "good health". He could reinforce their natural hair, eye and skin colors. Or change them if they wanted. Intelligence. Hmm. He took a sip of that one. Just in case it might work on an adult. Pity I didn't get any when I was a kid. I could be a nice honest wizard today. Probably bored to tears. Married, six brats. Unfortunately it didn't sound too bad.

He pulled out eleven empty bottles, and started mixing.

Heso came along to see his Gate. The kids eyed him carefully, then trooped through as Eldon opened a doorway out of his stone room.

"All right. I mixed up some stuff this morning. It won't change your hair, skin or eye color. If you want to change, tell me and I'll work something up. I don't even know what most of your names are. Here. Shane's sister. Miss Goldenhair. Nosey."

After he'd thumped Nosey, he explained that there was nothing wrong with a big nose, and what was his name? Ice? "Right. Now stop being so sensitive, only girls are sensitive. Here's yours. Coltrain. Pimples. Sorry, what your name? Right. Jeff."

They all looked scared, and eyed the bottles. Eldon grabbed his bubble started removing his low ceiling. His next tier of five foot tall slabs completed, he started on a floor. Heso levitated thinner slabs while he fused them to the walls and then to each other. He left a hole for stairs and started the next row of wall. Basement with gate. Three floors. Flat topped roof with stairs, for a look out post They all bugged him until he put up a half wall with crenellations. And arrow slit windows on all levels.

The kids informed him that there was a river fives miles away, and his location was lousy. He huffed a bit, then drilled a hole down through the sediments . . . six feet to solid limestone . . . but another hundred feet down he found a sandstone full of water and with a spell to induce movement, had running water in his kitchen and privy in no time.

The kids spent a week puking sick from the river water. He never heard what their parents thought about it. He just gave them all keys to the shop so they could come and go at will.

***

Eldon slouched around to the block where he'd poured wine for an old lady a month earlier.

The big black car was parked and waiting for him. The window rolled down. The middle aged lady studied him. And finally handed out a slip of paper. "Half. Because I don't look eighteen. Can you make me look even younger?"

He handed over a card with the magic shop's address on it. "I can. I don't have what I need with me."

She eyed the card, and looked in her mirror. "I still don't believe it. All my friends are envious of my very good face lift. Who are you?"

"Someone who knows that this stuff can never be licensed. Someone who would go to jail if the ingredients were known. If you want your young looks, don't tell the authorities." Eldon stepped away, and the car drove off.

The bank teller had a hard time not choking over the amount of the check.

Eldon opened the door of the magic shop, set out the sign and kicked back to watch a really great gory movie while waiting in vain for customers.

His young/old Lady showed up early two days later. She frowned around the shop. "I don't believe this. With what you can do you wind up like _this_?"

"This is the start, not the finish." Eldon protested. "You were the first rich customer I could find. I don't suppose you'd like to bring your friends along? I could give you a discount on our magic skin tightening cream." He wound up giving her a percentage.

***

"No incense? What kind of magic store doesn't have incense?"

Eldon slowed his steps as he approached the door of the Magic Potions. The high clear voice had sounded female and young.

"We specialize in magic charms and potions." Heso sounded breathless. She must be pretty.

"Well, what books do you have?"

"We don't sell books, that's around the corner, we're just renting the back room."

"I know that. I'm curious about what system of magic you use. Or pretend to use."

"Pretty much straight Comet Fall wizardry for me. My partner Eldon is better at the potions than I am. He's a mage too, and I think he's added a few thing here and there, some on purpose."

She snorted. "So, you could get rid of my freckles?"

"You don't want to do that! Your freckles are marvelous. I mean, attractive. I mean, why would you want to change yourself?"

Eldon grinned and leaned against the wall to listen. Heso sounded like she'd knocked him for a complete loop.

"Well, if your going to sell potions as if major changes are no more important than a better haircut, you ought to be used to it. Let's see. You can cure acne, baldness, graying? You've got to be kidding. No one will fall for that. I suppose your weight loss potions are no more harmful that any other junk people sell. Improve your eyesight? Heh. What's in your 'general base' up there?"

"Oh, umm, general healing, rejuvenation, libido, fertility, long life, strong immune system, anti cancer. Then we add special stuff. Whatever the customer wants. Most of them figure that's enough right there. Except the bald guys and the fatties."

"And them you charge extra."

"Would you like a sample? Maybe with some power genes? A bit of this and that will really rev up your Spring Rites, or whatever." There was a clinking of glass.

"I really don't think . . . "

"No, on the house. It's really good wine, by the way. Let's see, add a bit of witch and wizard, that's a nice strong combination. I've been thinking about adding a bit of mage, myself. Umm, a few extras to boost you magical ability . . . "

Eldon thought at him. :: Intelligence, Memory. Add her natural hair and eye colors.::

:: Mine! Go away!::

:: I don't poach.::

:: Then stop eavesdropping.::

Eldon wandered away, still grinning, and walked down to an ice cream shop.

"You keep eating like that you're going to get fat."

"I've got a potion for that." He told Shane's sister. "I suppose you lot are off to try and get yourselves killed again?"

She sniffed. "Coltrain's killed two more of those bird things. Did you see the humongous thing, a baluchi –something, I looked it up. It's like Miocene, fifteen or twenty million years ago. So we're time traveling."

"Nah. It's just a different World, where the time runs much slower than here. My World's even faster. So we had genetic engineering. And time to sort of evolve into it."

"How much time? Relative to here, I mean?"

"About a thousand years."

"That's not enough time for evolution."

"It is if you've got a whole bunch of new genes and a small, isolated breeding population. See, the people that made my ancestors freaked out over the magic stuff, and exiled us to another World. Then they had a nuclear war, maybe three, depends on how you count them, and they lost a lot of tech. They just rediscovered dimensional travel a couple hundred years ago."

"Huh. I wouldn't believe a word of it, if it weren't for the Gate. Triple chocolate, please. How come you're not at the shop?"

"Ah, Heso's trying to charm a lady there, and I figured I'd stay away. Not fair to the poor guy, to have to compete with me."

She snickered and traded the lady money for her cone. "Riiight. All this and modesty too. So, why did you make the gate? Why to there?"

"Well, I've never made one before. I was experimenting, and that just happened to be the World it went to. I suppose I'll open another one, sometime. Gotta try and figure out how to steer them, you know?"

"Sounds sensible, but isn't it going to crowd your shop a bit? Or do they over lap?"

"Naw, they repel each other. I've got to get about a hundred feet away. So I'll practice from the other side."

She looked out the door. "Well, here's everyone. Hope your buddy's lady friend can handle the shock."

The shop was empty, and they all jumped through the gate. By the sound of it, Heso had his lady upstairs. The kids grabbed their packs and guns from the hooks on the basement wall and headed straight off for the river. They were chattering about hunting, a bonfire and tanning hides. He was pleased to see a reasonable number of them looking around. Maybe they'd all survive, despite the nasty predators out there.

He returned to the shop and kicked back to catch the pre-game sports show. He'd close up the shop and head home before the kickoff.

***





Chapter 2nd placements

Empty World Paleoscene Megafauna


"So, in summary, our scientists' measurement agree with Q's. The first close encounter increased the probability that it with hit our world. By our calculations, Q's efforts during the second encounter deflected Helios by a few degrees. So our probability had less of an increase than it would have had without her work. Both the Dinosaur World's and the Primitive World's probability rose higher than it would have. The Dinosaur World will be the next close encounter, and Q is right now laying in gates this more distant Paleocene World to further encourage that.  Then she'll add hundreds of gates between Helios and the Dinosaur world. If it misses, it's close enough that it should deflect Helios away from the One World."

Director of External Relations Ajki Withione Black Point eyed his small audience.  "And unfortunately, toward Primitive World 65480.

"The Helios scientists' conclusion, that their world will miss the Dino World and has a high probability of hitting the sparsely inhabited Primitive World  65480 remains unchanged, as of our last intercept of a report to their Archelaos. We are monitoring around the clock."

Most of the people in the room were his experts, here to give details of their research and reports, if needed. "Questions, sir?"

The rest of the people consisted of the President of the Empire, the Prime Councilor, and the closest advisors of each.

The President was the first to speak. "I am delighted to hear this. None-the-less, as a hostile dimensionally able civilization, it behooves us to keep a close watch on them. I'm funding the completion and expansion of your current spy post, and authorizing another to pre-stage a large army. In case we need to either destroy or capture their merge centers. We'll work with Disco and . . . hopefully not need the army. But one way or another, when it's over I want their dimensional abilities destroyed. They've killed billions without remorse."

The Prime Councilor nodded. "Ten months until that happens. One help all the Natives if Disco can't move them."