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14 April 2017 @ 12:34 am
_Scrambled_ part 1  


"Get on the bricks, in case it goes away again!"

Nick eyed the concrete of the Earth facility, the brickwork of the plaza at home, the lake that shouldn't be in either. . . and the uncut grasses of yet another patch of . . . some other world.

Where I am not a wanted criminal. But . . . my family . . . His eyes were watering as he lunged to his feet and ran for the grasslands.

He had enough of a shield up to only stagger when the bullets hit.

Probably the police, might be the Earthers, but . . . I just helped stop a cross dimensional invasion, can't you just let me go?

He stumbled on the uneven ground under the chest-high grass, kept going.

I'm going to be very sorry if it doesn't go away again. And either way, I'll probably never see my sister again. Abbas will have to take over the job of protecting the family.

Or perhaps with me gone, they'll be able to hide better. But the boys . . .

Nick stopped as he found the far side of the grass.

The collapsed ruins of a modern building. Concrete road, a couple of abandoned cars, the roads blocked by the debris.

It's either Earth, or Home.

He edged closer. If it's home, I might be able to escape. Get to the apartment before the police trace . . .

The World heaved under his feet and tossed him out onto . . . the desert sands . . .

He jumped up and took a quick survey.

Collapsed buildings there. Desert, lake . . .

"The apartment was maybe six mile south east." He eyed the sun, turned and started running.

:: Gamer! Do you hear me? ::

Nothing. Damn, damn, damn.

He spotted concrete and a fallen skyscraper, veered to climb up for a look.

And then a slow scan.

Palm trees beyond the debris, desert to either side of both.

Like a long strip of random terrain, through . . . a desert, or a desert World?

Another strip running southish, to the west. Was there another to the northeast?

:: Gamer! ::

Still nothing. He climbed down into the palm trees and kept heading toward where his family ought to be.

Strange trees . . . stranger birds, hind legs feathered as if they were trying for four wings.

They all took flight as the ground shook. Nick watched the trees, but they all stood firm.

He shinned up a tall one and found himself surrounded by home.

:: Gamer! ::

:: Yes! Thank God you are all right! Where are you? ::

:: In a weird strip. Find one and get everyone there. Wait and see if the large area outside the strip turns into grassland. Move to it. Contact everyone and tell them to do the same. ::

:: Ha! We're standing here watching things come and go already. Grasslands it is. ::

Nick sent a wave of . . . glee? Hope? Something wild and strange as this odd . . .

Another quake. Grasslands. He sacrificed skin for speed, and was off the tree and running for the grass . . . A brief nightmare glance of something leaping at him . . . he slashed. Stumbled out into the grass before he turned and looked.

Gawped. A dinosaur. The jaws of the severed head still chomping, the body twitching.

Movement beyond, more dinos.

I have no desire to share a world with velociraptors!

Three slices later, he cursed as the last dinos faded back into the trees. And started grinning. "Worlds! These. Are. Worlds!"

A laugh from his right. Abbas wound through waist high grasses. "Our bunch is out. Meisha got ahold of Fatima. They're trying to get to the kids at school, and will try for grasslands."

Nick grinned back. "If they can't, they're better integrated and hidden than the rest of us, so they will be fine."

He cocked his head at the sound of a motor.

"Gamer stole a car."

"Excellent. Now we need to watch for predators. Find some other people and approach them cautiously . . . My luck there will be platoons of police marooned here."

"I don't think police come in platoons."

"Don't nitpick. If we can actually move to a new world this way, we'll have to be careful about who and what else is here." He walked over to the only dino that had made it out into the grasslands.

Abbas whistled. "This could be a problem . . ."

A small open truck rolled up to them, filled with family. All with their go-bags.

Hakim tossed one to Nick. "I would have sworn you were the one who taught us to always grab our bags on the way out."

Gamer swung down from the cab, and jolted to a stop at the sight of the dinosaur. Looked from it to the palm treed patch, and the other dead dinos. "I hope there aren't too many of these things."

Nick nodded. "We'll have to actively hunt them down before they start reproducing."

The ground shivered under their feet . . . the palm trees disappeared, replaced by a low wall of water that collapsed and flooded over their feet. Nick dipped a finger as he backpedaled. Tasted. "Salt water. A world with a very high sea level, perhaps?"

No answer, Gamer had run for the truck and was backing it hastily up a slight rise in the ground.

Less than axle deep, but washing the salt water off at the first opportunity might be wise.

Nick wadded back to the dinosaur and sliced off a big roast from the haunch and followed.

Abbas laughed and did the same. "What do you think? Will they taste like chicken?"

They scrounged fallen wood, careful to wait until the next quake before making quick forays into the small bits of other worlds. Roasted dinosaur, and kept watch for predators of all sorts as the sun set.

The palm trees returned with the next quake and Nick bolted in to grab the weapons he'd left behind when he'd climbed the tree.

Theirs wasn't the only fire in sight, but the others looked more like whole houses and buildings ablaze in the ruined parts of the weird strip.

Another quake, and the palms were no longer silhouetted against the brilliant starry sky.

Low buildings, two floors, People peering out at them . . . and closing their windows and doors.

Nick circled the camp, listening to faint noises, voices . . .

"But what if they're just as bad as the mine supervisors?" A woman's voice, low, but her could hear the strain.

A faint cry, childlike and muffled.

"Hello. We're friendly." Nick kept his voice low as he mentally sensed the small group. Two men, one woman, a toddler and a baby.

They all startled, shifted around the men getting between him and the woman and children.

"Who are you?"

"Call me Nick. From your accents you must be from one of the other worlds."

That was the first group, and far from the last. Refugees from Home, Earth, and a few mining worlds approached them cautiously, or boldly.

The Oners and the Earthers scampered back to their patches of home, in the hopes of getting home. Some were miners, from several different worlds, working on the worlds caught up in this . . . dimensional chaos. Most of them headed for the patch of buildings. Cries of relief and woe mingled.

The wives fed anyone who stayed, chatted with them. Gamer beat up a couple of them, and kicked them out of the camp.

Gamer sniffed. "He felt like a Oner, but talked like an Earther. And why was his hair purple?"

"Remember father's tall tales?"

"Oh. Genetic engineering for silly things, not power. So, the Earth has the descendants of those left behind working for them. Not that it matters to us any longer." Gamer looked around in satisfaction. "Guess we're back to Hunter-gatherer. Pity we don't have any domesticated animals."

"Hey Honey, let me show you how to domesticate a woman." The man who grabbed Gamer from behind flew over her shoulder, rolled. Staggered to his feet . . . his attempt at bravado evaporated in the face of her raised-eyebrow look of casual inquiry.

Nick pointed out, away from the fire.

He retreated, glowering back at them. "I know who you lot are. You'll be sorry you didn't take advantage of my skills."

Nick shrugged. "What skills? As a rapist? Try that again and you're dead. Come back right now, and I'll kill you now." He turned away as if indifferent. Shed the man's attempt at a slice from five meters away and returned it with interest.

The wives sniffed. "Waste of power. And now you need to bury him."

Nick nodded. "We don't want anything out there to get the idea that humans are edible."

No shovel, but slice and levitation worked well enough.

Even if it did make his head ache.

"Drink this."

Nick eyed the concoction warily.

"There's only a little bit of your buddy's wine in it. Otherwise, water with sugar and salts, and a whiff of fruit jelly, because someone didn't clean the almost empty jars before he put wine in them."

He took a sip. Tried to hide his reaction to the hundreds of spells hitting him. "That's why it tastes so good. I'll, umm, take first watch, if you guys want to catch some sleep."

She snickered as he turned away and strolled around the camp. Is this how men feel all the time? This stuff makes even the old wives tempting. I wonder what happened to those whores in the Red Zone? Not that I could get them pregnant . . . and they'd all have implants anyway.

He gazed into the darkness to the southeast.

No quakes for hours. We'll go exploring in the morning.

He took another sip, flushed. I wouldn't actually mind having one of the whores walk into camp, just now.

Southeast . . . The Red Zone may well have been in the weird strip.

He veered and asked . . .

Gamer nodded. "A big chunk. About a kilometer away. We didn't spend much time there, we stole the truck and gunned it for the grasslands, when they showed up."

One of the miners looked around. "I hope there's more patches of Redstone. My wife . . . she worked in their offices, so she wasn't either home or in the mine when this all started. Earth quakes . . . we all got the hell out of the mine and drove into these grasslands . . . "

Nick eyed him. "Is Redstone your home?"

"Nah. We, all of us miners, our parents and grandparents were on earth for one reason or another—in transit or getting some extra training—when the gate blew. So we were stuck there, refugees with no rights, scraping for a living. When they finally got some gates to sort of work, we got shoved out to work in mines on Redstone or Valhalla. Those Purps are mostly the middle management. The Earthers don't like going across, in case of another big break."

"We're from One World. After the gate explosion, we haven't been able to make one work again. At all." Nick looked around. "This started when the Earth connected to us, and we blew it up."

"Damn . . . well . . . I don't know whether to curse you or thank you." The man sighed. "I'm Kirk, born on Earth of Roden Clan. If I can find my Desi . . . "

Nick nodded. "Yeah. I'll be out looking for my family as soon as the sun's up."

Chapter Two

"What is all that?" Macy teetered on the edge of the road peering out at kilometers of green. Rouge Street ended abruptly halfway past the High Ball Bar with a drop of a meter to the rough ground visible under the tall grasses that very nearly topped the road.

"Grass. Weeds, I guess. It sure needs to be mowed." Seuz leaned out and looked right and left. "It's like, you know, it goes on forever. Where'd the rest of the city go?"

More people were gathering around the end of the road.

"It's all gone." Fat Kedy stepped down and wobbled over uneven ground and grass tufts.

"Maybe we're the ones who are gone?" Old Mr. Agru poked at the grass with his cane. "No more quakes. I think we're going to stay gone."

Miss Boot stalked up, stiff as always. "Well, isn't this just lovely! No water, no electricity, no food!"

A roar of sound. The Diego Street Skinners had their bikes out, roaring around the primitive park.

"Typical." Miss Boot sniffed. "But maybe they can find something edible to kill."

Macy and Seuz swapped horrified glances. "Eww!"

Fat Kedy chuckled. "I was raised on a farm. You city girls have a lot to learn."

Macy shifted uneasily. "Like those adventure books I used tah read when I was younger?" A dubious look out at the expanse. "We can be pioneers until someone comes to rescue us. It'll be fun . . . I hope."

muirecanmuirecan on April 14th, 2017 06:19 pm (UTC)
Oh nice. I have not seen this one before. Just your sketches preceeding this.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 14th, 2017 06:47 pm (UTC)
We have seen 'Chapter two' before.

And who is Gamer?
matapampamuphoff on April 14th, 2017 07:21 pm (UTC)
Qamar. Ra'd little sister. I'm giving them nicknames in case I run the groups together sometime. I'll add in stuff make that clear.
matapampamuphoff on April 14th, 2017 07:24 pm (UTC)
I'm combining Mirror, Mirror_ and what I started as _Scrambled_, so all the post-gate destruction scenes have shifted to here.
matapampamuphoff on April 15th, 2017 03:51 am (UTC)
He shoved those thoughts away and took a new route home. They'd been here longer than he felt comfortable with. But . . . he stepped into the back room. Gamer's face was flushed with fever, her eyes half closed and not focusing. He tried to ignore the odors. failed. Feces and gangrene.

"Oh Gamer. I should kidnap another doctor." It's too late for even a top hospital to save you. You'll be gone in hours. My little sister. Qamar ibn Nicholas ibn Victor. You should be a queen, not a criminal, in this hideous future we've landed in.

Her mother was sitting by her side, silent. She wiped a tear. "Insha' Allah."

He uncorked the wine and tipped in a few drops from the vial. Pour a bit into the untouched water glass by his sister's bedside.

Waste of time. It'll be so dilute it will do no good at all.