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07 September 2015 @ 12:29 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 24  

Buildings three and four held the critically injured. Offices of some sort, now with make shift beds and Paer crying silently beside a small figure covered in gauze like a patchwork mummy. Ebsa froze. The mummy was breathing in small gasps. He forced himself to relax and walked closer.

Paer looked up and wiped her cheeks. "Ryej. I had to turn off her pain receptors and force a sleep spell on her. Even with the wine . . . I don't think I can save her. Wfne is nearly as bad. They were the closest to the explosion. We've got a couple dozen bad burns and twice that with minor burns. And the ants and roaches before the explosion, and then the rats came . . . "

"What exploded?"

"Rye was carrying about ten kilos of flour from the fab back to the kitchen. A couple of rats ran into the tent. She threw the flour at them and ran. Woofie said he was frying something, and ran without turning it off. But even if it had caught fire, it couldn't cause that size of explosion." She gulped. "Octo said it was it the flour. Just like a fuel-air explosion, he said."

Ebsa winced. "Fabbed flour is . . . easy to get too fine . . . In this dry baking heat . . ."

Paer grunted to her feet. "All the . . . probably hopeless cases are in here. Dr. Atly's in surgery with one of the directorate scientists who's had enough medical experience to be useful. Haad and I Are trying to deal with all the non-surgical issues. We're just trying to keep everyone alive until help comes. Wxxo sent for EMTs and ambulances. And . . . I can't even sit with her." She looked around the room. "They've all had the Joy Juice. They're all sleeping and in no pain, and that's the limit of what I can do for them."

She hooked his arm and led him outside, and around to the next building. Twice as many patients, but mostly awake and aware. Paer took his wine bottle and made the rounds, doling it out to them all. "Last dose for a while guys. Sleep if you can."

Then to building six, which had people standing around outside, chatting while keeping their eyes moving and looking around.

"If you're feeling well enough, head for your own beds."

Paer glanced inside and repeated that. Then led him back to the aid station.

A short line of patients. Paer straightened her shoulders and got to work.

Ebsa headed back to the crawler. Quiet and empty of everyone but the elf kids.

Back outside, to see Wxxo headed his way, Ocho, and Iqgu on his heels.

"C'mon. We need to talk." Wxxo turned to his office and they all sat. Weary. Done.

"Well." Wxxo scrubbed his face. "The explosion took out the radio antennae or something. I'm not getting anything from the soldiers on the gate. So I've sent for the army, and for transport for the injured. But I haven't heard back yet . . . and now that I've got the time, I'm worried about it."

Ebsa bit his lip, and glanced at Ocho. "Power and water?"

"We're good there. The water level's so high in the caverns the Archeologists are having to go back to the surface ruins. Which probably explains why we're getting the critters up here. Food . . . well, we'll be out of here soon enough."

Wxxo nodded. "What we need to know is that there isn't a problem with the gate. If they were attacked . . . surely they wouldn't close it without checking on us?"

Ebsa paused. "Can they close it? I thought they'd need someone from Disco . . . "

"It was an experiment. After that mess with the Helios, Disco came up with a way for us to collapse a gate. We got the first experimental version of it."

"Oh." Ebsa thought about the likely response to swarms of cockroaches. Ants that could snip off body parts. Rats the size of elephants. "Well. Perhaps we'd better go see. Then we'll know . . . if we can pack up and leave or if we're marooned. For a short while. Because with Paer here, they'll come looking for us even sooner than they might have otherwise."

Iqgu showed teeth. "All we have to do is stay alive long enough. We're getting low on ammo. And how about food?"

"Oh. We'd better go find out fast. There are fabs on the crawler and the trailer. But refills for them? I'll dig through the debris at the mess tent, and see what I can salvage. So . . . shall we take the crawler? Or something smaller?"

"Smaller." Wxxo sat up. "I'll drive, and throw my weight around to get the injured evacced. I'll need a shooter."

A ute was wrecked half way to the gate. Bloodstains inside and out.

The gate area was splashed with blood and the gnawed bones of three rats.

The gate itself was gone.