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15 September 2015 @ 08:17 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 32  

The Last Try

The techs dialed up the power and the rings spend. Opening, this time on to bright light and heat.

"Can this be the same place?"

"Yes, sir. The generator of the pulse we aimed for seems to have been moved outside."

"Hmm." Ngratei contemplated the ruins on the far side. Then stepped through, his guards on his heels.

The heat was his first impression, the disaster his second. Something had burned recently, and the ruined equipment scattered about brought an explosion to mind. But further out, the ruins were obviously much older and weather worn. And extensive. Newer buildings, an orderly array of ugly rectangles, a short distance away, people staring.

A vehicle moved into sight, stopped when the driver spotted him. A man got out, massive and tall. A taller man strode up to him, broad shouldered, narrow waisted.

The Warlord stared. No ear points.

"Criminals, or slaves." War Chief Jklep growled behind him.

Ngratei hesitated, watching the taller man take a weapon and send a minion off at a trot. The tall man paced forward alone.

"Neither criminal nor slave. They aren't even Elves."

One of the techs edged out for a good look. "There are rumors of non-elf races on other worlds. They must be right. Goddess, it's huge. And the ears are just creepy."

"Half again our height. Not . . . that big. Doesn't look clumsy."

"Armed." A growl from Jklep.

But even as he spoke the creature stopped and set his weapon aside. Stepped forward. Hands empty, studying them.

The rest of the things had stayed back, but now one trotted out, some equipment in its hands.

"Stand down. I don't think that is a weapon."

The tall one half turned and took the book sized packet and dismissed the minion. He opened it and tapped at keys. Set it on the ground and stepped away.

An image formed above the machine. A picture, a recording of a group of the Not-elves observing two lines of large ants. The ants were streaming past each other, taking food to their nest, no doubt. Then the recording showed the tall one stepping carefully up to the ants—Goddess! The size of the ants!—and affixing some things to their backs. Cameras, apparently, as the image jumped to a view from ant height, of crawling up to a crack and down into darkness.

Into a cavern dimly lit by the sun though irregular gaps in the domed roof . . . and illuminating the food they were cutting up to take home.

Well, I know where this was, don't I? Our prisoners told us all about it.

His fists clenched and he forced himself to watch. To look for something that would identify his children.

I have to know.

And then ants swarming something, a sphere they couldn't pierce . . . a shield.

He nearly cried out as the vid switched to two of the creatures climbing down a different hole, around debris and working through collapsed layers of ancient buildings. Hustling through a building. stopping to examine the beacon that had brought the Dooro shat to that hideous cavern. One creature went on.

And saw the spherical shield.

Threw a powder that had the ants backing away.

Ngratei was blinking back tears, hands fisted to stop them from shaking as he watched the shield collapse, revealing his children. Exhausted, bloodied, ear clipped . . . Zhodan stood bravely, facing his monstrous rescuer.


Ngratei's head jerked up away from the picture to see Zhodan racing across the gravel.

A smaller form behind him. "Dad, dad, da!"

He fell to his knees and swept the boy up in a hug, freed one arm long enough to pull Ngorei in too. For one long moment of indulgence.

"Someone grabbed me and put something over my face and I went to sleep, and when I woke up . . . this elf got a big knife." Ngorei's voice wavered. and her hand went to her ear. "But Magician Paer fixed it."

Ngratei blinked away tears and looked. New pink skin on a graceful point. Zhodan nodded and touched his own.

"Warlord Ebsa saved us from the ants and brought us here. Magician Paer healed our ears. They are both very magical. Paer can fight too, even though she is female. They are very strange people."

Ngratei straightened and looked at the tall one, a shorter one—still taller than the tallest Elf—and undeniably female had walked up to stand by him.

"I don't think they are married yet, but they are in love." Ngorei let go of him as he rose to his feet.

Zhodan looked worriedly at him. "They had nothing to do with the kidnapping."

"Have they treated you like slaves?"

"No, sir. They treated us like children, like children they would adopt. Ebsa show us things about power collection, and how to use magic as a weapon." Zhodan grinned. "Ngorei has grasped the magic. She will be the mother of your heir."

Ngratei swallowed. What debt do I owe this strange creature, these two creatures. How do I redeem my honor?

"The gate is weakening, we need to go!" The techs scrambled away to help hold it. But the energy it took was most likely the problem.

The creatures were looking at the gate too.

Zhodan said something in a weird croaking voice. The creatures nodded.

The tall one met Ngratei's gaze. It spoke, hideously accented. "My honor to know children so fine."

The female was crying, but also smiling.

Ngratei scooped up his daughter and strode, side-by-side with his son, back through the gate. The guards followed, and Ngratei ordered the techs to close the gate.

"Let's go find your mother."

Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on September 15th, 2015 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

My honor to know children so fine."

Seems a little improbable that Ebsa managed this.

I supposed "My honor" could be a conventional start like "I am obliged" and "fine" could apply to people as well as to a kata say.

But I am reminded of Cherryh's 'Foreigner' series where an easy trap is that 'like' applies to salads, not humans.

Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames
matapampamuphoff on September 16th, 2015 02:40 am (UTC)
As I say, I need to work over the language lessons, not to mention karate and magic.

I've had a nasty cold, and I suspect that once I stop taking the meds and catch a solid night's sleep, I'll reread about the last half of this and scream in horror. I really shouldn't let you guys see things that are this raw. Especially the next couple scenes that sort of flounder around.
(Anonymous) on March 11th, 2018 05:21 pm (UTC)
They're facing death. Shouldn't they see if the elves can help them escape?
matapampamuphoff on March 12th, 2018 02:40 pm (UTC)
Surely if rats and cockroaches have survived, it can't get too much worse, right? And the Elf's gate collapsed quickly, before much of anything was said.