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08 September 2015 @ 05:20 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 25  
 

Chapter Eleven

Ebsa looked at the empty hoop of metal. Stomach knotted. "Damn. And me with no good recipes for giant rat."

Wxxo rubbed his face, too tired to even reply.

"Sorry. Not funny. Let's get back, and see how the patients are doing. As soon as it's light I'll see what I can salvage." He steered the man back to the ute. "The fab and vendo refills were behind the wall, and may be all right."

Wxxo sighed. "Right."

"Relax for a bit. Center yourself. You're going to be the strong confident leader as soon as we drive back into the camp."

"One! I don't believe this blew up so fast."

"I think it's seasonal. On the coast, I think they spent a great deal of time underground. I don't know if the recent rains chased them out, or if they came out to eat the vegetation. But the first surveys had a distinct lack of these things, so I think they'll go away." Ebsa thought that over. "I hope they'll go away."

"Me too." Wxxo looked over at him. "Is it going to come down to eating rats?"

"Might." Ebsa paused. If Ra'd's whole family could do it . . . "Look, Paer and I know people . . . we know Nighthawk, Wolfson's daughter. She's given us dimensional bubbles. If all else fails, we all climb in and check every few seconds to see what's happening. For as long as necessary. In fact, it might be a good idea to bubble up the worst wounded right now."

"Really . . . that's . . . useful."

Ebsa drove up to the camp barrier and hopped out, taking a quick look around before he opened the gate. Wxxo shifted over and drove through. Ebsa closed the gate behind him.

"Umm . . . did Ogly or Yeahza happen to mention that we rescued a couple of elf children from the underground museum?"

Wxxo stalled the ute. Restarted it. "You have a fascinating life. The next time you show up in mine, I may run away. Screaming."

"Yeah, not a bad idea."

Wxxo's announcement of their being marooned was met with two seconds or silence, then deafening outrage.

Ebsa spotted Paer and pointed to the side. Wiggled through the press of people. Only eighty of them. Everyone else is dead or injured. Or on guard duty.

"Paer? Do you have a bubble with you? We can bubble the worst injured and . . . "

He face lit. "And bring them out when we can get to a hospital." She turned and bolted for the crawler.

Ebsa waved to Ogly, up on top with gun in hand, and followed Paer. She had a metal rod, 20 centimeters long in hand. "That's a standard bag . . . why don't we use my spoons for this?" He grabbed them and started pulling everything out. "Then if we end up bubbling everything, your more recognizable handles will be there, for someone from Disco to spot."

"Oh, good plan." Paer dropped hers back in her footlocker.

Ebsa pulled out the Eden beacon and eyed it thoughtfully."This may prove useful. I'll set it up tomorrow."

"In case the gate authority can detect it?"

"Or the Elves, so the kids can at least get back home."

Paer stepped up on his bunk to peer at the pair. "They must be exhausted."

"Yes, and just as well, we need to do so much so fast . . . so, let's ask in building four who wants to be bubbled, and move them to three. We'll bubble the whole building."

Paer jumped out the door and they trotted down past the crowd.

Ebsa braced himself and stepped into the Aid Station.

Atly was head down at the desk, but raised his head and blinked at him.

"I have a dimensional bag. I was talking to Wxxo. We can put the critically injured into it, where they will experience very little time until we can get them across and into trauma hospitals."

"But . . . aren't there ambulances on the way? What is taking so long?"

"The gate is gone. We're marooned, hopefully not for long."

"Mah . . . What? How? Why did they . . . oh, those rats must have . . . the Army should have been able to deal with them." He scrubbed his face. "Well. Right. There are six people here I want to bubble, and most of the burn victims."

Building four was stuffed by the time Paer and Ebsa worked the bubble around the whole building, closing the handles at the door of the building, for easy access.

The crowd had broken up, but re-coalesced to watch the building disappear.

Ebsa stepped up beside Wxxo, and raised his voice. "We have another bubble. If necessary, we will bubble most of you, and just keep a rotating watch out here, waiting for rescue."

Wxxo raised his voice. "So while the situation is calm, please, get some sleep. We'll see how the situation evolves over the next few days . . . and nights."

The crowded stirred. And finally dispersed to their beds.

The few left exchanged glanced. Ebsa held out the spoons. "Dr. Atly? Your office?"

The man shook his head. "I won't open them for . . . until we're rescued. Wxxo? Stick them in your office." The man staggered off, hopefully to sleep.

Wxxo sighed and took the handles. "Well. That's thirty-two people I can stop worrying about." wince. "Thirteen fatalities. So . . . eighty of us, give or take a couple of Elf children. Ocho, Iqgu, Ebsa? You three work out a watch schedule, and at first light, an assessment of power water and food. Iqgu?"

The Action Leader shrugged. "The few surviving rats dragged a couple of the dead ones away, presumably to eat them. We've spotted roaches, but that powder seems to have taken care of the worst of that problem. If we . . . when we run out of ammo, we're going to be in trouble. I've got six men on watch, I'll swap them out as soon as the relief has had a couple of hours to sleep . . . and eat?"

Ebsa intercepted that glance. "Send them to the crawler. I'll just keep making crap sandwiches until I run out of fab base. Then if I can't salvage refills from the wreckage . . . well . . . we'll find out if rat is edible."