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27 August 2015 @ 05:02 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 14  

" . . . be an ass Ogly." Paer looked around as Ebsa stepped into the very crowded trailer. "Oh good. Ebsa, grab his foot. The idiot has made things worse, fighting off cockroaches a few hours ago."

She had her hands on Ogly's right thigh, staring down at the wrap around it.

Can she really see the bones and stuff?

"Good. Now pull gently. More . . . a bit further, it's not too compacted, but I need the extra room to get the pieces into place . . . " She fell silent.

Ebsa tried to keep still, to not change the tension on the leg.

Ogly was sweating. "Ebsa, you got any idea what she's doing?"

"Telekineseis to get the bones into the right place. Then she's got a calcium crystallization spell that'll hold it in place while it heals. Beats the hell out of surgery. Then she'll look over the soft tissue. Physical repair, where needed, then she'll apply the usual healing and anti inflammatory spells. She's the best."

"Oooo. Got lucky did you?"

Ebsa glared . . . failed. Tried for lofty. "I prefer to think of it as fate. Two souls, meant for each other."

A snort from Paer. "If I thought you were serious, I'd never kiss you again." She straightened. "Right, the bone's all stuck together, but it's fragile. I'm going to put it in the splint, and then we'll . . . " she looked around the trailer.

It must have been cramped before they'd added eight wheels. It was twelve meters long, and no driving deck, of course. The trailers were shoved through the gates, with nothing but momentum and a small steering wheel to get them out of the way. But even though it had side modules that could be pulled out, Ebsa knew what eight men in a small area felt like. Add the wheels off both ute and trailer, and man eating bugs roaming outside . . . Just thinking about it was enough to induce claustrophobia and cabin fever.

Ebsa sighed. "We'd better move you to the crawler and take you home."

Ogly was shaking his head. "Can't. The bugs have been bad. I think the coast had a milder winter, and wetter. I think the bugs are swarming, all of them. Right now."

Chapter Six

"We can't leave these guys with a single shooter. Yeahza's good, but there's only one of him."

Ebsa bit his lip. "Right. Well. In that case I'll see about reinforcing some spells around the camp. In the morning, we'll get the new tires on the wheels, and we can all leave. Return midsummer when the bugs have all . . . gotten back to their normal behavior."

"If they do." The older man sounded exasperated. "There was a huge burst of static, electromagnetics of some sort. We got a rough fix. Do you have any idea how incredible finding working electronics would be?"

Ebsa eyed him, looked at the predatory, sharp glances from the other scientists. Oh. No. "Why . . . I suspect it would make you reputations in the field. Papers published. Talks at the big conferences. One save me, you don't care how dangerous it is, do you?" Stubborn faces all around.

Professor Coffee nodded. "We're not leaving until we find it."

"Right. How far away was this rough fix?"

"Two kilometers. We walked around the surface. It's got to be underground." A second scientist glanced guiltily at Ogly.

Ogly snorted. "It was a bad time for an earthquake. But I'm glad I wasn't any deeper underground."

Ebsa contemplated the group. Looks like two Professors, a couple of Post Docs, and a pair of grad students to do the grunt work. And two guards.

"Right. We'll see what the roaches do tonight. If it looks safe, we'll take a look at your site. But if the bugs are bad, we are very definitely out of here tomorrow afternoon." He cleared his throat. "Umm, I'm Ebsa, this is Paer. Ogly we know . . . "

"Professor Coffee." The older man shrugged. "They call me that because I prefer tea. Ocfe Withione Azteca if you want to be formal. This is Professor Olle Withone Tunis, Dr. Ajbo Withione Black Point, Beau, here in the field. Dr. Uflu Withione Al Cairo—call him Rich. And the Graduate students, Ugg and Lovey are gaining valuable field experience this season. Probably more valuable that they'd expected."

Lovey rolled his eyes. "Wbvy. With a double eu. Please call me Vee. And Ugg is Ugko."

"Pleased and all that." Ebsa eyed them. "Do any of you hunt? Have any weapons proficiencies?"

Vee shrugged. "I shoot skeet."

Silence and shaken heads from the rest. A disapproving glance from Professor Coffee.

"Good. I'll get you a shotgun."

Disapproval slid into outrage . . . and faded with a glance out the window.

"Ebsa, why don't you move the crawler around so the doors are fairly close. It'll minimize our exposure if we have to get from one vehicle to the other." Paer turned back to the civilians. "Now, someone mentioned roach bites. Any bad enough to need treatment? They may not be poisonous, but that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous."

There was a general shuffling forward of all six Archeologists.

Ebsa boggled. "All of you got bitten? Must have been a real adrenaline rush, for a while there!"

Coffee nodded. "I am really glad it happened in the daylight. At night? Honestly, I wonder if we wouldn't have been eaten alive."

Ebsa stepped outside, looking around. Vee followed him.

"We can just, like, close up and wait them out, right? I mean, if Rich hadn't insisted on going outside this morning, and if everyone hadn't been sick and tired of each other's company and stressed over Ogly's broken leg . . . No one would have been attacked. And Ogly wouldn't have had to crawl out and saved our asses." Vee grimaced. "Wish I'd had a shotgun then."

Ebsa tapped the 12mm.

"I've not used a rifle much."

"All it takes is practice. Well, a gun, ammo, rifle range, instructor . . . "

Vee grinned and watched him open the gun safe. "No lock . . . whoa, an elcino twelve gauge . . . "

Ebsa grinned and handed over shells. "Loaded for deer . . . how big, in numbers, is a giant cockroach, anyway."

Vee looked up from the gun he was caressing. "Oh, there were at least five species, last night. The little ones were about twenty centimeters, the big ones were about a meter. I can't believe they can fly. Well, the biggest sort of hop with wing assistance, but a fence can't keep them out."

Ebsa eyed him, then dug out all the twelve gauge shells he had. "So Roach skeet. But none-the-less, I think I'll try to lay some spells around, and keep you from having too much fun."

He fabbed up more wine and got to work.

Everyone wandered out to watch him. Well, except Ogly. The scientists were torn between sneering at the primitive glyphs . . . and fascinated by them. Several of them copied them, took notes about what each was supposed to do . . . Anti-chitin, magic bug repellant, and a physical shield. He wound up explaining about putting power into the spells so they'd linger for a couple of days. "We used to make a fine screened dome over our camps to keep the bugs out, but bugs the size I've heard described would fly right through anything but a hard held full on physical shield. Unless you guys want to do some compass work . . . " He grinned as they recoiled. "So we'll most likely just close up for the night, and worry about the bugs in the morning, when we get to work on the tires."

Yeahza came and blinked at him.

"Yeahza, when was the last time you slept?"

"Slept . . . "

"That long, eh? Go eat something. Go to bed. I'll keep watch."

(Anonymous) on August 27th, 2015 01:51 pm (UTC)
I noticed...
That Ebsa carefully did not mention being 'Closetoone'. What happens when the scientists (who I noticed were sure to include tgeir 'Withione' designation, find out? On a related note, did he bring his keffiyah and green agal? Could he use his Warrior status to enforce common sense? Are the science party even aware of the re-emergence of the Warriors?
matapampamuphoff on August 27th, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC)
Re: I noticed...
Indeed. Ebsa deliberately did not say Clostuone. He also didn't mention that he was the head cook. The Scientists automatically assumed "Neartuone" which is still "respectable" and expected of a Teamer.

By the time they figure it out, they'll just boggle and keep doing as ordered.

Ebsa has an interesting conversation with Ogly in private, a bit down the road.

Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on August 27th, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
Ebsa ought really to make a sitrep to Wxxo.

Regulations ?

Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames
matapampamuphoff on August 27th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
The away group was not out of touch, no doubt he, like Ebsa, is hoping the roach swarms will subside. And with Ogly under medical care, has no problem with Ebsa assisting with the exploration of the ruins.
Melvyn BarkerMelvyn Barker on August 28th, 2015 11:51 am (UTC)
Scratching my head

I'm not trying to nit pick but I think there are a few loose ends. For instance I can't help wondering......

Where and when did the giant bugs come from - did they co-exist with the previous civilisation - if so how did the people cope with them - were the cities/houses bug proofed in some way or did the giant bugs wipe out the city builders or force them to leave?

What ecological niche do the bugs fill - what do they eat or prey on, and what preys on them and controls their population - are there giant birds for example?

Are spiders and cockroaches the only giant species - what about other insects and arachnids - giant wasps ?
matapampamuphoff on August 28th, 2015 02:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Scratching my head
I'm think the catastrophe killed just about anything that didn't live underground, and/or couldn't spend a fair amount of time nearly dormant. After the catastrophe, which was actually a series of catastrophes, the survivors got larger, not an uncommon reaction to a wide open range of niches. You are correct though, in thinking that the world needs a whole lot more thought given to it.

Some info on that will be forthcoming, but it still needs a lot of work.