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04 September 2015 @ 05:25 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 21  

Ebsa juggled the girl awkwardly—the boy reached and took the gun, hands carefully on obvious non-control parts. Ebsa nodded approval. Not that I have the faintest idea what a nod means to an elf.

Yeahza hit a fairly clear patch and sped up. "So do you do precog, Ebsa? Leaving the gate open this morning suddenly sounds like a brilliant idea."

"Ha! The fence won't even slow these guys down. Professor Coffee? Since we have at least four rats who apparently think we look yummy, I think we need to load up immediately and leave. Do you object?"

Hesitation, then a shaken head. "No. You are right. We've done all we can under these circumstances."

"Good. Now as soon as we get to the camp, Ogly will no doubt be taking care of these particular rats. Yeahza? Back right up to the trailer and hitch it up. I'll pull in all the extensions. Paer? Secure the kids and get ready to drive."

"Right!" From both.

Yeahza slowed slightly on a slope. The rats closed the gap. They crested the hill and headed down.

Yeahza whooped. "I see the camp! Ogly do you see us?"

"Yep. I'm up top and loaded for bear."

"Good. Shoot the big white thing that just crested the hill."

A sharp crack. The rat jolted sideways. Gore and intestines blew out the far side, the rat collapsed kicking, shrill squeaks of agony that had the girl burying her face in Ebsa's chest and screaming. The boy covered his ears, so Ebsa carefully covered the girl's. She clung to his shirt and whimpered.

Yeahza slowed, turned, sped up. Another crack. A third.

Yeahza turned through the gates. "Ebsa? Should we close them now?"

"No! Hitch up. Professor Coffee, you guys can ride in the ute or the crawler, but please get there fast, we're barely going to get out of here before we run out of ammo."

Yeahza swooped into a tight turn and backed up to the trailer.

Ebsa jumped down. "Squeaker? You need to let go. Paer's going to get you into a safe place."

It only cost him a little chest hair to hand her over.

The scientists were clucking about what they had to have while Ebsa started pulling all the room extensions back into the body of the trailer and locking them down.

"Guys! We'll be back at the base before midnight! You do not need this stuff while we're rolling."

They all paused at the roar of the big gun. While he had their attention . . .

"If you absolutely must, take your comps. Vee? I think you and your shotgun need to be in the ute. Ogly in the crows nest with the big gun, and I'll be running around the crawler shooting out of various windows, if I need to. So one, maybe two of you can ride in the crawler at the most. But you need to move. Please! I want to be out of town before dark."

They paused again.

Ollie shifted uncomfortably. "Last night wasn't too bad . . . of course there weren't any rats . . . I'll ride in the crawler.

Rich sniffed. "Are those smelly creatures are going to be in there? Can't you stick them in that . . . travesty of a bag of the Prophets?"

"Yes, they'll be there, and if worse comes to worse, they will be in the bag with everyone else."

There was a general shift toward the ute. Just as well, I won't be tempted to throw one of them to the rats when he hits my limit of insults to the kids.

Only Ollie limped for the crawler. Ebsa finished up the pull in, and trotted around the outside locking the extensions down.

"Yeahza? How's your head count? Including yourself?" Ebsa glanced back toward the Crawler. :: Paer? Do you have Ollie and Ogly aboard? ::

"I've got six." Yeahza grinned. "Including myself and the Skeet champ. All the trailer lights are green. I especially checked that the brakes were working."

:: Two idiots, two elves and myself. ::

"Right. So let's get out of here." Ebsa jogged to the crawler.

Paer abandoned the driver's seat. "Much though it pains me to admit it, you're a better driver than I am."

"And you're a better shot than I am. All this logic from a woman, it confuses me . . . " Ebsa waved to the wide eyed children in his bunk as he took the controls.

Two more booms from above, and cursing.

"Paer, can you bring me more ammo?" Ogly yelled from above. "I'm down to . . . " Boom. "None."

:: Yeahza. I'll lead out and turn up the road to the dome. You keep straight on and we'll shoot rats until you've got a good lead. :: Because towing the trailer, there's no chance you could out run them.

"Everyone hang on, we're moving." He threw a glance over his shoulder.

Paer waved as she climbed back down from the crows nest, and he shifted all wheels forward and headed for the hill.

Two cracks from above. "Better move your ass if you expect to beat them to the turn!" Another crack, and cursing.

Through the gate, down the road at the crawler's top speed, which was not impressive.

"Hang on. The corner's going to be a bit tricky." Ebsa cranked the wheel over, slapped the right side wheel into reverse and gunned it. Scrapped around the corner, all wheels forward. He charged the rat that was half a dozen meters ahead.

It gathered itself to jump and Ebsa hit it, kept the accelerator down and pushed it back. It squeaked, turned and trotted away, the long tail whapped across the windshield. Ebsa stopped, watched it retreat into its pack as they milled around. Noses lifting and sniffing.

Why don't they just eat some cockroaches? Or lizards or toads? This is a pretty piss poor excuse for a working ecosystem!

Or is it working? Maybe it's been going downhill since the cataclysm a hundred and fifty years ago. Maybe this is all that's left, and it's still in adjustment. Or on its last gasp or something.

A rat advanced out of the pack, moving toward them.

A loud crack, and it flopped, thrashed. The other rats piled on, ripping and eating. More rats showed up, emerging from the ruins on either side.

Ebsa winced as a gun fired inside the crawler.

Ogly's startled curse. "Didn't even see it coming! Hey, Ebsa! Your girlfriend kicks ass, now get us out of here."

Ebsa's mirror showed him a snake thrashing on the ground. All wheels reverse. At the corner he angled as much as he could, right wheels forward and floor it to skid, slew a bit as they scraped around the corner, then all wheels forward and go.

"Ogly, anytime you need me to stop so you can pot a couple let me know."

"Hey! Are you insulting my shooting? I seem to remember a certain Junior newcomer to the Directorate School who'd never fired a gun in his life. You did pass the weapons requirement, didn't you?"

"Of course. Eventually." Ebsa slowed as he caught sight of the trailer. "This is going to be a slow trip up that hill."

Professor Olle snorted. "Wait until you see what they do to the corners."

Ebs grinned. "Yeah but the trailer's wheels are up further than the crawler's. This direction, they ought to be able to hang the rear end over the cliff below. Not nearly as fraught as scrapping the rising cliff behind them."

Ollie looked skeptical.

"Stop a minute!" wafted down from the crow's nest. Three well spaced shots. "Go ahead."