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26 January 2017 @ 11:24 am
_The Last Merge_ part 11  

Eldon's casual stroll paused as he spotted the parked car and the policeman leaning on the door of the Magic Potion. "Hey. Thought you'd be busy with that mess on campus. My kids aren't mixed up in it, are they?"

"We haven't a clue, because we can't get past their military cordon. We were wondering if you could do a pair of gates that would get us someplace useful."

"I can throw a Corridor a couple of miles. Just show me where you want it. What the hell's gong on?"

"We were wondering if you could tell us that, too."

"Umm, you drive. I'll look and see if they're messing with the Gate to Wilderness."

As soon as he sank into meditation he could see the foreign gate, a massive writhing tube, like a snake trying to rip a piece of the World off. He traced it back to where it was coming from, a weird churning World giving off flashes of light and explosions of bubbles, violent flapping of the paper-like 'World'. He looked back at where it connected here. Not close, they were using a Corridor to move people to the Gate. Taking people away. Why? But the Gate's presence was so strong he thought he could throw a Corridor at it easily enough.

He opened his eyes, and realized someone was shaking his shoulder. "Stop. I see them. I'll get you a Corridor right to them, but be ready, they're armed, military." He opened his eyes and looked around at the police SWAT teams, and shook his head. "They don't seem to be killing anyone. You have time to get the Army in here. 'Cause you can't take them." He sank back into meditation, just deeply enough to keep an eye on the Gate. The next time someone shook him, he saw a line of tracked vehicles, men in camouflage and armored. "Right. I'm going to open a Corridor, nice and wide, right here. Then I'll go through and make a big exit. You're going to be in the middle of a parking lot, in the dark. The Bad Guys are hauling flat beds loaded with anesthetized bodies from a corridor opening to the left, across about a hundred feet, and into the gate on the right. There are three big tank-like things just beyond the Gate, aiming at the Corridor, not toward us. Men with rifles everywhere. I've got a magic shield, and invisibility and I can bubble up the trailers full of kids so they won't be in danger. So I'll do that, while you take on the army types. Okay?"

The officer in charge growled. "I'm supposed to endanger my people on the word of a scam artist?"

"Your choice." Eldon caught a bubble and anchored it at the base of a pole. He scaled the pole to make the opening tall enough, then crossed the street, making the opening two tanks wide and scaled another pole. "I'm going to go see if they've got _My_ kids." He shielded, and threw the Corridor. Jumped through. Threw an illusion over it as he glued it up wide open on the side of a building. He loped across the parking lot, grabbing bubbles, and started swooping up the flats of stunned kids, and pinning the bubbles down. They'd be out of the way for the battle, and easy to find again. No one he recognized. Soldiers were running through the Corridor now, spreading out and homing in on all the armed enemy. The tank-like objects started to turn, and two tanks roared through the Corridor and started firing their cannon.

Eldon had all the kids bubbled, so he headed for the enemy Corridor and jumped through. Tossed some stun spells and scooped up flats. Damn it, he was right in the middle of the campus. Where were his kids? He tossed another Corridor and stepped through near the police swat people. "There's no tanks on campus, that I can see." He ducked back through and jogged for his old, original Gate, damn control freaks had made him put it in a garage, where they could control people coming and going . . .

"Hoy, sister-with-freckles." He grabbed her and hauled her back around a corner. "Where's everyone else?"

"They've got Shane! I think they got most of us. I just woke up and they're gone."

"Right. Stay here. I'm going to show those idiots whose kids they'd better not fool with." He flipped a corridor through the wall of the garage and jumped through his Gate. A hundred feet away, he sat and meditated. Falchion had always said that home was easy to find. And as soon as he thought that, he realized what she meant. Home. Right there. He placed the first Cone carefully, in the Rip, right . . . there. The second cone twisted up with the first and sucked down on him. He jumped through and trotted up the stairs. He waved at Epee, fixing breakfast. Started looking through bubbles.

"What on the World are you looking for? How did you get here?"

"I've been practicing with gates, and I want those big crates we took away from those physicists and Bellamiso. In fact, I'll take the SUV, as well. I've got a war to fight." He pulled the three SUVs out of nowhere and nodded at the three large crates. "I'll take the battered one, since it's probably going to get even more battered." He shifted the three big crates, and the two little ones.

"I'll load you up with other stuff as well. And supplies." Falchion trotted out of the kids' area. "Don't get yourself killed, you're pretty damn useful to have around."

He ducked into his room, for some guns and ammo he'd picked up here and there. Some more potions. Huh. He could do better than these himself, now. All right. Time to do one single sensible thing.

He sank into meditation :: Orion. Speak to me. Dang it, you're the nearest . . . ::

:: Eldon! What are you doing here? Where are you?::

:: Shut up. I need you to contact the Disco people. Tell them that some one is raiding across the dimensions, kidnapping older teenagers and young adults. Tell Q that the place doing the raiding looks really weird, with explosions of bubbles and the membrane flapping in the breeze. I'm going to try and find the kids right now, and I have a really nasty present, so when I yell for them to get out, it's time for them to get off that World.::

Back in the living room the Witches climbed out of the SUV and told him he was set to go. "We're going to take down your Gate as soon as you're gone." Falchion tossed a Corridor down to the bottom of the Rip and he drove back onto Wilderness. Over to Earth. A hard right to get out of the building through his Corridor. It was quiet, no one but Freckles and the two cops in sight.

"The fighting's stopped, but no one knows what happened to the kids they've already taken away."

"I've got a bunch of them, safe. If you're ready, I'll start pulling them out. The ones they already took through the gate . . . I can find that World, and I just yelled for help from the Dimension Cops." He walked down the street popping the bubbles holding the unconscious kids as he spoke. Walked back to the SUV as people arrived at speed to take the kids away.

Eldon sat down in front of the SUV and meditated. No snake, anymore, but he could see the bubbles, the flashes that marked where he needed to go. One Cone, two cones. He got back in the SUV. Jerry, Phil and the dog jumped in. He drove through.

Part Three

Ebsa and Ra'd

Breakfast was in full spate the next morning when Ebsa spotted the running men. Running through the tents of the army encampment.

They were wearing odd capes, short streamers of tan and green cloth all over. But underneath . . . Those are Helios uniforms!

Paer was sitting across the pavilion, facing him, with a couple of the other medical staff . . .

:: Paer! Behind you! Shield! Now! :: He didn't bother with a narrow focus, and half the diners sat up and looked around. Paer's shield was not the only one flashing up.

:: Ra'd! Weapon up! You may need the big one! ::

Ebsa reached under the cold buffet, ripped out the 10mm and both magazines. Slapped one in while running. Gunfire, now. He pulled up a basic physical shield. He could sense the sparkle of shields, physical and energy, see their limits. See the soldiers shooting toward the pavilion. Bullets ricocheting, the flick of light as lasers hit an energy shield. Ebsa added an energy shield to his own collection. He ran to the side, clear of the massed shields of everyone in the pavilion, turned, opened a hole in his shield and started shooting. One, two, three. He was knocking them down, but two were getting back up. They don't have shields, but they do have some body armor.

Where the hell are our soldiers? . . . Other than eating breakfast, with no weapons to hand . . .

He raised his aim for face shots and potted two more Helios before the bulk of the return fire came his way.

He pulled the barrel of the gun back inside his shield and trotted forward, staggering a bit, as the momentum of the bullets punched at him. Stopped to shoot two more.

Soldiers with shields up were running up behind him, scooping up Helios weapons and returning fire. He could hear the Colonel shouting about getting shields up and rushing the invaders. Some gunfire from the pavilion, sounded like pistols . . . A boom that sounded rather like Ra'd's favorite gun . . . Smoke climbing from down the road.

Then Ra'd's clear mental voice. :: I need a spotter up here on the roof. They're crossing with tanks now. ::

Ebsa handed the 10mm to the nearest soldier, the pistol to the next—the colonel!—and bolted for his storage box. Up on it, up to the roof of the kitchen to the high roof of the pavilion. He crouched and ran up to the top ridge.

The Helios had tanks, and more coming through the third gate. Ebsa bracketed his eyes and called up a spell to magnify his vision.

"They're using the center gate. Tank coming through, now, can you hit the driving slot? Below the turret, to our right of center . . . "

The big gun roared. A bright splash right there. The tank lurched, turned, jammed, shot forward, a twisted wreck, barely clear of the gate.

"Track right. Two tanks on the road."

The first tank took two shots to stop. The second tank . . . the turret rotated, the barrel lifted . . .

"Don't shoot! I'm shielding!" As hard as he'd ever tried, angled up, anchored to the roof, to the beams . . . and he was flying, sliding . . .he stopped himself before he slid off the roof. Three fast shots from Ra'd. Ebsa staggered back beside him.

"Truck to the right . . . it's gone through the target world gate." He scanned. "One more tank. To the left, it's behind the big tent, moving to our left . . . "

Scrambling behind to the left. Ebsa turned and sliced the two Helios who'd made it onto the roof. Blood flew, a head bounced and rolled off the edge.

One last boom from Ra'd's favorite 20mm. More shots, scattered around the camp. Silence.

Ebsa took a long slow study of the camp. Waved to catch the Colonel's attention. Pointed toward suspicious movement.

The Colonel sent soldiers—armed now—at the run. Two shots.

More silence.

"Well. I guess breakfast is over." Ebsa swallowed and pulled out an easy healing spell and aimed it at his ears. Not too bad. I think I've got the hang of that muffling spell. I didn't even think about it. Even Ra'd's cannon didn't mess my hearing up too badly.

They stayed on the roof while the soldiers searched, then climbed down when the Colonel sent a man up to relieve them.

The pavilion had become the triage center. Paer was moving between the seated injured, a touch here and there. Ebsa sighed in relief. She'd be busy for awhile. Trained in Comet Fall style medical magic, she could repair bones, muscles, skin . . .

The colonel strode over and clouted Ebsa on the shoulder. "Some cook! They took out my sentries right at shift change. Two shifts and eight tank crews without a single warning getting out. Some sort of anesthetic gas, the docs are saying. Then the Helios went on a throat slitting run through camp. If you hadn't raised the alarm, I suspect they'd have had us all. And the gates." He eyed Ra'd. "You know, it's nearly a kilometer to that gate. I'd have thought that shot was fluke, if I hadn't seen you take out three more tanks with, what? Five shots?"

"Six. I didn't have any armor piercing rounds, just penetrating fragmenters. So I had to try for vulnerable spots."

The colonel paused. "No armor piercing . . . You know, if either of you tire of the directorate, let me know. But right now, if you'll excuse me . . . "

Ebsa looked around at the mess. The Helios had gotten several shots off before the shields were up. In fact they'd probably started with lasers, to avoid noise, and even Paer's first shield had most likely been physical.

And the colonel said, running through the army camp . . . killing soldiers as they encountered them. Ebsa winced. And looked around for Wxxo. He was walking back in as two cars roared off toward the gates. Reporting to HQ and Disco, no doubt. Did the Helios take out the communications relay? Of course. It was probably one of their first priorities. Crap, we were . . . well, if sneak attacks never worked, there'd be no such thing. But the Colonel's going to catch hell, and probably the Action admin as well. Not that guarding the camp is their job, but there weren't more than a dozen of us armed at breakfast.

Ebsa hesitated, then turned back to the kitchen. People still need to eat. I'll have hot soup and cold sandwiches on hand all day.

He scrubbed up in the sink and got to work. He got a lot of respectful nods, as people came and went. Didn't see the Lying Moron or the rest of the analysts. The colonel returned the 10mm and his pistols, cleaned and loaded.

Ra'd, still carrying his 20mm, prowled.

Ebsa waved him down. "Stupid of me to worry, but will you check on the baby analysts?"

Ra'd shrugged. "The Intel crawler is empty. Hob's in the hospital waiting in line for a doc. Paer says he'll be fine, but they need to remove the bullet before she heals over it. Do you think there's a problem?"

Ebsa hesitated. "It's just . . . they haven't come by here. If they aren't there, where are they?"

Ra'd looked around and spotted Wxxo, talking to the Colonel, and walked over.

They all walked back.

Wxxo was frowning. "I didn't send them off with the messages—in fact I haven't gotten a reply . . . I'll do a head count."

The Colonel nodded. "I've been looking for bodies, for some missing in action."

"A truck got away. They took the gate through to the target world. It should be easy enough to find them . . . " Ebsa broke off as Wxxo looked to the side where a car was hustling down the road.

The Colonel nodded. "Two trucks got away. The other went through gate two. They stole weapons and ammunition. I suppose they could have taken people . . . but why? Let's see what HQ has to say."

The driver started talking before his feet hit the ground. "The Helios have attacked Home. They struck two college campuses and have kidnapped close to ten thousand students. They think they're going to use them for merge victims."

Silence all around.

The Colonel nodded. "Right. I'll send a company to track the truck that went through to the target world."

Wxxo clenched his fists. "I need Ajha, damn it."

Ebsa and Ra'd swapped glances.

"We'll go find him."

Ra'd nodded. "We'll take the old crawler, just in case, but they were on foot, so they can't have gotten very far."

The siren wailed.

"They're coming again."

Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on January 26th, 2017 09:37 pm (UTC)
Allowing the Helios to possess Corridors (Eldon sees them) may require further thought.

Like /how/ plus does this mean they can see/ detect Disco's gates ?
matapampamuphoff on January 26th, 2017 09:53 pm (UTC)
Excellent point! I shall have to address this matter. Probably have the point men carrying and placing multiple beacons.
mbarkermbarker on January 27th, 2017 06:24 am (UTC)
ACTION!... I love it! but...

Wait a minute. One shot, first tank. Then two shots. (that's 3) Shield. 3 fast shots. (that's six!)) and... one last boom. Seven?

"Six. I didn't have any armor...

Make that seven, I think?

And keep it rolling! How we gonna save the day? Eldon? WOW!
matapampamuphoff on January 27th, 2017 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, finally! The battle starts.

The part I haven't written will involve Xen and the Oner Army taking on the Helios army to take two merge centers, then Xen's off to Helios to find the prison where the kids are being held.

Haven't written in the part where he runs into Eldon. Eldon's part is all written, apart from his encounter with Xen.

And then Ebsa and Ra'd rescuing Ajha and all those kids. That part's all written.

But with three separate parts that only come together at the end, it's made for a slow start.
ekuah on January 27th, 2017 01:48 pm (UTC)
The first part with Eldon is a little bit confusing.

The police is swallowing his explanations to easily. Or did Eldon brief them about corridors, bubbles and gates?

And lastly, the witches are a little bit to supportive:
"In fact, I'll take the SUV, as well. I've got a war to fight." He pulled the three SUVs out of nowhere and nodded at the three large crates. "I'll take the battered one, since it's probably going to get even more battered." He shifted the three big crates, and the two little ones.

"I'll load you up with other stuff as well. And supplies." Falchion trotted out of the kids' area. "Don't get yourself killed, you're pretty damn useful to have around."

A short mentioning of an explanation somewhere in there could ease this problem. (like "...I've got a war to fight." He explained what happened while he pulled the three SUVs out of nowhere..)