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18 September 2015 @ 07:52 am
_Project Dystopia_ part 35  

"Fifty degrees. If it gets much hotter, we're going to have to bubble the whole crawler." Ebsa wiped sweat. "We could check back every month."

She nodded. "Let's fab up some paint and make a target or something . . . arrows all pointing into a circle. We need to make the handles really obvious to anyone who comes looking for us."

The motion detector beeped. Again.

Ebsa wiped his face again, as he swatted it. And stared out at the shimmering heat waves on the gray stone and cement . . . the dancing flash of light. He catapulted up to the driver's deck and stared.

Paer lunged for the door. Doubled back and grabbed a towel before jumping out into the oven hot air. She grabbed the old beacon and hustled back inside. Ebsa closed the door behind her while she leaned the beacon in the corner and they climbed back to the driving deck.

"It could be a gate. I've never seen one opened from the other side." He slid into the driver's seat and flipped switches. Hit the accelerator. The crawler lumbered forward on soft tires and he turned carefully, lining up with the sparkling lights.

The light spread into a circle of gray. Illusion, heat distortion? No, it really is a gate.

Paer's hand dug into his shoulder. "Ours or the Elves?"

"I don't know, but by the One, I'm ready to go anywhere." He bit his lip. "Except it's up in the air. I can't drive it, we'll have to grab the bubble and run for it . . ."

Two figures dived through the gate, shimmering, shielded . . . they grabbed the sides of the gate and shoved it into the ground, before they jumped back through.

"I think . . . that might be Xen . . . "

Ebsa took careful aim and cruised through. A slight jerk and lurch. He drove onto rough gray stone.

"Yes! There's Ajha and Xen, Ra'd, Nighthawk . . . " Paer jumped down from the deck and was heaving the door open even before he stopped.

"Close the gate! We've got everyone bubbled!" She jumped out.

Ebsa put all wheels in neutral and set the brakes. Leaned back and closed his eyes. Took a deep breath. Safe! Then he levered himself out of the seat and went to organize the last bits of the rescue.

Chapter Fifteen

/// Possibly skip all of this???

Paer was explaining everything to Ajha and Izzo, with the Comet Fall pair listening in quietly.

Ebsa breathed a sigh of relief, then just breathed. So nice to have some humidity in the air. And I suspect it's not actually chilly.

Ra'd sauntered over. "So. Getting into trouble without me?"

"Yep. After your tutelage, I find I'm quite good at it."

Snort. "Let's just see about that." He stepped aboard the crawler.

Ebsa shrugged and watched him inspect the gun safe.

"What happened to the ammo I loaded in here?"

"Used it all."

"And you lost a shotgun."

Ebsa shook his head. "It's in the other bubble, with a fellow who's really good with it. And I hate to tell you this, but I let Ogly use the BA 20. He wasn't as good with it as you, but he beat the heck out of me."

"Ogly from school?" Nighthawk was frowning at the crawler. "You rolled it again, didn't you?"

"No! And I only added a couple of scrapes."

Ra'd hopped out shaking his head. "No ammo at all? No warrior should ever let that happen. Did you just coincidentally shoot the last whatever with your last bullet?"

"Rats the size of elephants. Nope. I had to go to crowbar and magic. Slice worked quite well. More impressive than the guns, frankly. But I wouldn't have wanted to try it without Speed."

Nighthawk snorted. "You need a sword."

"Yeah, one of those heavy types you guys use. Although when it comes to giant rats, I'd just as soon have had an ax."

"Out of ammo."

"Not only will I stop complaining about your ridiculous over stocking of ammo, I'm likely to add to it. Until I get over the memory of facing a hundred giant rats with only eighteen rounds for the BFG." Ebsa started taping at his comp. "In fact, since I'm probably going to be in quarantine, here's a couple of lists for you to forward to facilities, supplies. Yes, including ammo. Sounds like we'll be going through Ajha for it all."

"That's not enough ammo."

"I don't want to give them a heart attack. So what have you been doing these three months?"

"Ah. Speed bubbles, twenty-to-one time ratio. We managed to stretch that to a hair over a year. I saw Oak take her first steps and survived seeing my son born. Don't listen to Nighthawk, I did not panic."

Ebsa boggled. "Oh . . . another spawn of the two worst bad asses in the Multiverse? Watch out Multiverse! Congratulations, Daddy. Damn, I've got to find the nerve, the time, the . . . political . . . One Hell. So what is this son's name?"

"Fox on Comet Fall. Wxfo Clostuone Nicholas Comet Fall in the Empire. Oak is Hawq Clostuone Nicholas Comet Fall."

"One! You registered them? And they decided to treat Comet Fall as a Clan?"

"As an identifier, and legal connection. Just passed the law for children of mixed heritage being raise as a Comet Fall citizen. We were first in line for that . . . and pretty much the entire line. Absolutely no voting or citizenship rights. So far. They are a bit . . . uncertain."

"Oners aren't good at admitting that other people just might be their equals."

Ra'd flashed a grin. "Or superiors."

Ebsa decided to not follow that thought. "So, just a little letter scramble for Fox and Hawk. I take it Nighthawk didn't let you chose their names?"

"Ha! I may sneer at my own designation, but I'm not about to mess up my kids' names."

Ebsa looked over his shoulder. "Looks like they're going to unbubble the camp. C'mon, there will no doubt be other people wanting to add to the supply list."

Ra'd followed, looking at the list. "A lot of cooking equipment. What did you do to your kitchen, Kitchen?"

Ebsa grinned at the old nickname. "My assistant cooks blew it up."

"Umm . . . "

"They're two of the critical burn patients. Poor kids. I kind of liked them. Like them. Dammit. Not sure even the infamous Xen Wolfson can save them."

The Comet Fall wizard looked over his shoulder. "I've sent Q to fetch the best medgicians she can shanghai. We'll try to save them all."

Paer held the handles vertically and spread them.

Wxxo and Ocho were still standing there chatting . . . spinning . . . starting to grin.

"Well. Here we are. Rescued." Ebsa took one handle from Paer and headed to the side. "This is an Empty World, and we're quarantined until they're sure we don't have giant bug eggs in our laundry."

"Sounds heavenly." Wxxo stepped out to meet the others.

Ebsa popped a corner of the bubble under the foundation, and trotted down the side . . . Getting the bubble off was much easier than putting it on. He handed the handle back to Paer and looked at her uncertainly.

"Did we actually get sick and tired of each other?"

She bit her lip. "I think it was just being stuck in a small hot box under stressful conditions. I . . . guess we need to think about it?" Her voice wobbled a bit.

"Yeah. By the third week, our constant togetherness was getting on each other's nerves. I didn't think there was such a thing as too much Paer."

She snorted. "We are not just casual lovers in between assignments." Her voice went small. "Are we?"

"No. We were just stressed and . . . in too small of a space and in danger for too long. Right?" Despite his best efforts, his voice wobbled into uncertainty.

Paer stiffened her shoulders. "Right."

They turned their attention to the growing noise.

All the scientists were out, excited and chattering. Or complaining. "All that fuss for less than ten minutes in a bubble. Honestly, they could have just waited . . . "

"Six weeks, Dr. Leaf." Paer raised her voice. "The Subdirector of Exploration is sending in a quarantine and decontamination squad, and Disco is calling in some really good medgicians for the burn victims."

Dr. Itchy looked their way. "How long before we're out of here?"

Ebsa fielded that one. "About long enough to get your papers ready, all about the First diaspora Eden Colony."

The Astronomer grinned. "And the unusual solar activity there."

"And the Elf children."

"The language." Paer prompted.

"First Contact. And very well done, youngsters." Itchy beamed at them, then turned suddenly to hug his wife.

Thoughtful looks were exchanged among the scientists, a subtle shift in clumps, from social groups to work associates. Or, from the sharp looks, away from professional rivals.

Ebsa looked over at Paer. "And I'll bet they're hungry. I'd better get cooking."

(Anonymous) on September 19th, 2015 10:47 am (UTC)
I would keep this. I like when there is a sort of epilogue to a story.