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15 April 2017 @ 12:02 am
Scrambled_ part 2  

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."

She looked back at the house. She and Seuz rented the left half of the amateurishly divided old building. Fat Kedy rented the right half.

"Huh. With luck the ole skinflint won't be here crabbin' about the rent bein' late again."

Fat Kedy chuckled. "You won't be glad when you try to get the electric and the water fixed." She sobered. "Not that he ­could fix it. One Damn me, we really are in trouble. C'mon. Let's hit the grocery and load up on canned stuff and bottled water, quick."

They ended up with a barbeque in the middle of the street. Cooking all the fresh meat before it spoiled, over the coals of wood salvaged from the collapsed house across the street.

The smell of cooking brought out all the people hiding in their houses.

Fat Kedy chuckled. "This sure is tamer than the last street party."

Snickers all around, and bragging.

Macy turned her back on the grinning men. "Let's see . . . I think I did ever' single one of them Skinners. That scary boy—do you think he really was him—Idog and Zoom, and topped it off with Mr. Agra. How'd you do?"

Seuz snickered. "About the same, and I, you know, didn't paid for any of them, just like you!"

Macy sniffed. "It was a party. A night off . . . well . . . I didn't exactly rest. What was in that wine? How did it make all the rest of the wine wild like that?"

"Heh." Zoom—Ozmo Servaone—shrugged. "Magic. Must be a contagious spell. Like in the vids."

Macy rolled her eyes. "Honey, I don't believe none of that nonsense. Next you'll be tellin' me . . . that Mad Scientists kin move their secret headquarters . . . One Damn me . . . "

They looked around silently.

Fat Kedy cleared her throat. "I suppose those stupid shows might have been the government getting us mentally prepared for this . . . occurrence."

"There's those rumors about, you know, Azko the Priest Killer." Seuz edged a bit closer to the firelight, even though the sky was still pretty light, the sun barely below the horizon.

"He said she was holdin' the building up, not knockin' it down." Macy raised her chin. "Ah believe him, an' I think he's not so bad eithah. We ought to try and find them. If they're around they'd be handy."

Slow nods.

Zoom shuffled a bit, nervous. "None of us are very powerful. I think Enuf, the biker, is a Clostuone. The rest of us are just Halfers or Servaones. Or Multitude. Never really mattered, since we just drank and drugged and . . . killed any magic we might have had once. If he is here, we'd best be polite. Cause we can't stop him, if he wants to do something bad."

Macy lifted her chin further. "I ain't afraid of him."

Fat Kedy snorted. "I be afraid when he acts nasty and not a moment before." She looked around. "I guess most of the people around here ran away during the quakes, and the weird stuff. There's only, maybe fifty people here."

Macy looked around. "Hey, Pits! Where'd that man o'yours get off to?"

The short curvy woman shook back long black hair. "He's gone exploring. He said he'd be back in a day or two, depending."

"Did all the Skinners go?"

"Yep. They think it's all a big adventure." Pits tossed her head. "They'll get over it when they run out of gas."

Chapter Three

"No Earthquakes all night, and I'm hearing a bit of contact at the extent of my reach." Nick looked over his little group, and then at small collection of strangers. "We're going to go exploring—and looking for family. You may stay here in camp, go exploring on your own, or whatever you feel like. A few more vehicles would be nice, but we'll be out of fuel real fast. We'll be back, probably before nightfall, it'll depend on . . . terrain obstacles."

"What if you don't come back?" Kirk looked wistfully at the apartments, looking shabby and cheap in the morning light.

"Then you're on your own."

Nick first objective was the tallest tower.

They crossed a strip of bleak lifeless desert . . . stopped to eye the patchy ragged join with a mostly drained and fast drying . . . "Tide pool?" Qamer sounded dubious.

"Maybe that water world? Shallow seas and very little dry land?" Nick shrugged and got back in the truck. Gamer drove across another stretch of tall grass and stopped her truck short of the rubble and debris filled streets. They walked the rest of the way to the tower.

Forty floors of stairs. Gamer laughed at him as he had to stop to catch his breath fifteen floors up. He just grinned as he passed her a few minutes later, sitting and panting two floors further up.

They had to damage a few doors to get to the roof, but the view was . . . illuminating.

He sketched it out quickly. A pinwheel of eight thin vanes, each curved slightly, clockwise. At a guess, each vane of foreign land was about thirty kilometers long, pointed at both ends, probably less than half a kilometer wide in the center. It looked like each vane had pieces of four worlds raggedly joined . . .

"There's a progression." Gamer handed the binocs to him. "The first bit of this one is the second of the next . . . clockwise vane. The second one here is the first section on the counter clockwise vane, and third of the clockwise."

"Gottcha. Number them like an old clock. Call this one eight o'clock. And our Red Zone is third out on its vane—five o'clock—so some part of one will be second out on vane three o'clock? First on one o'clock?" He squinted across ten kilometers or so of deeply scrapped and dug out ground. "The hub of the pinwheel looks like a spiral, I was there when it all started switching back and forth. I got on the grass and lost all the people who were shooting at me. I hope to hell there aren't too many policemen here."

"Yes. The tall buildings over there? That'll be downtown. We'll have to watch for police from there. From the One World."

Nick looked around. "I don't think that is Paris. And this isn't either. I mean . . . this is roughly where the Council Hall should be, and all the buildings around are five floors or under, and all marble and carved to match the Hall. So . . . the pinwheel pattern doesn't repeat."

Gamer nodded. "The fourth position on vane, Six o'clock, maybe—should be ours. I wonder if it's far enough from the city for livestock? We should check it as soon as we've looked for the rest of the family."

Nick finished sketching in what he could see, streams that might be difficult to cross . . . no large rivers in sight. If this is the same lat and long as Paris . . . we seem to have misplaced the Seine. "Yeah. Might be something useful out there."

Chapter Versalle

Captain Ahco surveyed the ruins of the Versalle Barracks and barns with disgust.

Whatever the One Hell had happened . . .

Their efforts to get personnel and horses out buildings that were doing things that buildings were not supposed to do, without ever losing sight of the necessity of guarding the President . . .

The Major had taken all the aircars, stuffed them to bursting with guards and headed for Government House.

The other Captains had grabbed the heavy equipment and headed out by road.

Ahco had been told to hold the fort.

Which . . . well the mansion was probably . . . hopefully . . . where it belonged. Ditto, Government House and the President, downtown.

They, however, were very much not where they belonged.

He had twelve men, half proper guards and half grooms. Almost all injured, four very seriously. Five Princesses had been in the part of the grounds that had come with them, bruises and a few cuts. All operational.

A hundred and seventy two horses. All spooked, not a single one without bumps and scrapes. Some . . . very odd injuries when they'd been over the edge of the effect.

Fortunately the worse had bleed out and died quickly. He was fairly sure they could save the rest.

"All right. Let's saddle up and go take a look . . . at where Government House ought to be." He looked over at Princess Myyk. "Mike, you're in charge here. With the wounded. I'll take two of your princesses."

"Wiz and Booze. They're the best riders." Mike turned at looked at the hastily repaired corrals stuffed with horses. And the picket lines. The four beds. "Ahco . . . If this weirdness goes away, we'll haul the injured out of this . . . strip. The horses? If it's lame, we're going to have to turn it loose to graze. Save the grain for the working stock."

"Right. If were not back by tomorrow . . . "Ahco looked at the tall grass beyond the trim lawn . . . "Oh, hell. There will be predators. Keep your eyes open . . . and turn the worst injured horses out now. I suspect they'll tend to stay close to home, and their buddies who are tied up . . . Mike . . . keep all the mares."

She paled a bit. "Surely . . . well . . . if we're stuck here permanently . . . it's a pity we don't have any stallions."

"Yeah." Ahco took Panther's reins from Igloo and mounted. "We'll keep in touch."

He led them out to the northwest, then turned north east to follow the boundary between the well kept grounds and the unkempt grasslands. the lawn ended in a ragged border with more grasslands . . . odd trees . . .

"Looks like Africa." U-go frowned out at the landscape. "Hopefully without widelife."

"Yeah." Ahco shrugged and pushed ahead. Five kilometers on, Africa gave way to sand and rocks. Dough eyes the sand. "No tracks or trails. Dead World?"

"There's lichen on the rocks." Wiz shrugged. "Maybe what they called an Algae World?"

At least he had a good line of sight here. Eight kilometers by two, long axis pointing north northeast. The grasslands outside the strip were narrowing too. Seven or eight kilometers to a discontinuity . . . and northeast of it, buildings. Or ruins. One tower he guessed at forty floors . . . nope, there was no such thing right there. On their world.

"I really hope that isn't Earth." Dough muttered.

Ahco booted Panther ahead. "We'll ignore it for now. Check them out later."

"They're checking us out now. Some one is up there with binocs."

Chapter Fiveish

"Black Horse Guards. Oh bloody Hell." Nick lowered the glasses.

"Versalle? Have we got Versalle here with us!" Qamer bit her lip. "It was south east of the Red Zone . . . "

"About right to be the tip of the last vane." Nick looked the other way. "They'll be heading toward Government House. Let's swing around to the west and worry about them later."

He closed his eyes and reached mentally to the north. :: Fatima! Mona! If you hear me, swing wide to the west. We are coming. ::

He checked that the Black Horse Guards were still heading north, then followed Gamer down the stairs.

They drove past a long stretch of half empty tide pools, cut across desolate sand and rock back into the grasslands and turned north.

More Earth buildings to the right, tide pools ahead . . . and two vehicles bumping across desolation to the left. Filled with familiar auras.

Gamer steered for them and stopped nose to nose with the van driven by the beaming Mona. Fatima pulled up beside them, and everyone debarked for a round of hugging and kissing.

Fatima sniffed. "I hope you know what's going on, young man! I spotted a dinosaur! One of those duck billed things!"

Gamer turned and looked at him. "I never did ask. Do you know what happened?"

Nick nodded. "Sort of. You all know about how we nuked the Earth's gate, and gates haven't worked right since?"

"The government says there's no relationship between gate tests and earthquakes." Umaya sniffed.

"Except they are, but it's whenever either One or Earth tests them now. They finally got a gate to attach in East Plaza. There was a big battle, and a guy got through to the other side and set some charges on their gate. When they went off, all this weird stuff happened."

"A guy?"

"The one I told you about. Who said he was a Directorate Agent from a close parallel One World." Nick shrugged. "Personally? I'm getting out of here. Off into the wilds where if this stuff all goes back where it belongs, I won't go with it."

The women looked around . . .

"Good idea." Meisha waved at their vehicles. "We threw a lot into the cars, but in great haste. We'll inventory what we grabbed, but we'd better plan on scavenging for a few supplies. Especially for the seeds of domesticated crops."

Nick nodded, grinned. "I think you just volunteered to plan out everything we need."

"Humph!" Umaya rolled her eyes. "As if we'd leave anything this important in the hands of a warrior! We'll need allies. We should go talk to those people in the Red Zone."

Nick gulped. How many of those women am I going to have to face . . .

Gamer grinned. :: All of them. And the winos and bikers. ::

He swallowed. "The Red Zone. Good idea. Let's follow our tracks back to our camp and start talking to people."

But he detoured and cut across between the vanes"8:30" and "7."

Something that might be the collapsed roof of the Black Horse arena was indeed out at the end of vane 7. Then it changed to a dense forest that gave way to a different sort of grassland that ended at the lichen covered rocks. He was half way across the strip when he spotted the buildings . . . the people watching him.

They parked at what he hopped was a respectful distance and Meisha walked up to talk to them, turned and waved them in.

"They're miners' families. Wives working in the mining company offices here." Meisha waved at the buildings.

One woman edged forward and eyed them cautiously. "The Earthers all drove off, tying to get home. We stayed. It looked more dangerous to go. Have you seen any men, any miners?"

Nick sincerely hoped the man he'd killed hadn't been one of their husbands. "There was a guy with purple hair. Rude, we kicked him out of our camp. We'll ask around."

"Or you can come with us. I'd guess it's seven kilometers to the next patch of your world." Meisha looked at the three packed vehicles and frowned.

"I'll walk." Nick looked southward. "I'd like to scout out what's happened to Versalle."

:: Be careful! Use an illusion! :: Gamer looked worried.


Versalle was a mess.

Nick eyed the collapsed ruins of what had once been the homes of the Black Horse Guards.

Turned away to eyed the only half collapsed stables. A started back with a burst of adrenaline.

The young woman was pointing a rifle in his general direction, but not ready to shoot. Studying him. How did she get so close without my noticing her?

He cleared his throat. "Hi. Umm, I guess Versalle isn't going to rescue us all, is it?"

"We got people out . . . searching."

Ha! "Checking on the president, first, I'll bet." He swept a look around. "No vehicles left?"

"Protecting the president is our job." She shrugged. "Some of us went out while things were still coming and going, and some since it settled down. But Government House may or may not have come through. Where are you from?"

"The Red Zone. I got up high enough to get a good look. There are eight of these curved vanes radiating out from a really mixed up center. Each vane has swatches of four worlds." He gestured over his shoulder. "One World is the third patch on that vane, and on the far side the second patch looked like those big apartment towers. Good engineering, they're still standing."

"So the vane beyond that might have another chunk of home?"

"Yeah. Haven't been there. My first priority was finding family."

"I don't suppose you've found any doctors?"

"No . . . I have a potion with healing spells imbedded in it, if you've got injured people." Nick glanced aside at movement. A foursome of black horses eyed them, then limped away. "I don't know if it'll work on horses."

"Well, come on in and talk to the boss. It's . . . beginning to look like we're marooned here."

The boss was an older woman, glowing despite a firm shield. Trained Princess! Oh Hell, they all are.

"I'm Myyk—call me Mike. And that's Muuz, call her Cow . . . "

Nick blinked at the third princess. "Sure, whenever I feel suicidal."

His . . . guide snickered. "I'm Diep. Dipper. And you are . . . ?"

He sighed and looked them over. Might as well dive in!

"Look . . . the Red Zone is full of whores, pimps, winos . . . A whole pack of skinners, complete with bikes . . . until they run out of gas." He bit his lip. "If you are willing to treat us all as blank slates, prove ourselves honest or untrustworthy . . . or dangerous . . . we can all work together. If you're going to carry on like cops, forget it. We'll go our way, and you can attack us at your peril."

"Oh? And what category do you fit into?"

"Mass murderer." He banished the illusion.

The three women recoiled, the casually held guns were suddenly not casual.

"You're Azho, the Priest."

"I am not and never have been a priest. I was assaulted and mutilated, and fought to keep my mind, my personality, my self intact and get my family out of there and away from those sick leeches. I have attempted to live honestly since."

He gave them a minute to think it over.

"Call me Nick. Now, you want this healing potion or not?"

Dipper frowned. "Why aren't you afraid of us?"

Nick kept his voice gentle. "Because there are only three of you, and my shields are more than strong enough to deal with that caliber of weapons."

Mike stepped forward and hit his shield. Felt it, walked around him. "All right, I'm impressed with a dome shield of that strength. But you are still the worst of criminals. One! Is your sister here?"

Nick growled, raised his voice a bit. "Gamer was holding the whole freaking building up. Everyone got out alive because she stood there in plain sight of the police. And you tried to kill her! You are idiots." He sidestepped and picked a paper cup up off the ground. Blown here from who knows where. It looked clean. He shrugged off his back pack and fished out the jam jar of potion. Half a cup in the paper cup. He reached through his shield and set it down.

"It spreads to other wine, if you need more." Nick turned and walked away.

That didn't go well. We won't be able to stay anywhere near the Red Zone.

mbarker: Me typing?mbarker on April 15th, 2017 07:41 am (UTC)
This one really needs someone who isn't familiar with the rest to read it! I mean, part of the fun is the parallels and contrasts, but I wonder how it would read if you don't know any of the rest?
matapampamuphoff on April 15th, 2017 12:57 pm (UTC)
Hopefully like a straightforward survival with antagonistic strangers thrown together. I haven't written any of the marooned Earther's POV yet. :)
(Anonymous) on April 15th, 2017 02:55 pm (UTC)
Ordinary bored young soldier, on guard duty at . . . Main Accounting. Cushy duty--all those pretty women to admire, even if they wouldn't give a soldier the time of day--but man, it would have been cool to be on the assault teams that were going to tackle the assholes who started this whole screwed up mess . . .

Arg! I need names!!!
matapampamuphoff on April 15th, 2017 03:01 pm (UTC)
That was me, BTW. Random name generators are awesome.

Ron Valenti and Harrison Titus. Not going to be bored for long . . .
matapampamuphoff on April 15th, 2017 03:24 pm (UTC)
Arg! No, NOT Ron. I will not have Ron and Ra'd, even if I I call Ra'd Nick. I'll be typing the worng thing half the time.
ekuah on April 15th, 2017 04:25 pm (UTC)
Use 'Don' instead
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on April 15th, 2017 11:38 pm (UTC)
I like Don Diego Valenti. That has panash.
matapampamuphoff on April 16th, 2017 01:03 am (UTC)
Not Don Diego De La Vega?
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on April 16th, 2017 03:44 am (UTC)
I just love the way old world names tend to just roll off of the tongue.
matapampamuphoff on April 16th, 2017 03:55 am (UTC)
:: sigh :: The younger generation! Don Diego De La Vega is Zorro.
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on April 16th, 2017 09:34 am (UTC)
No I saw the zorro movies and serials back in the day. It is just that I am really terrible with names.
Michawl Dolbear: pic#111005956Michawl Dolbear on April 15th, 2017 10:06 pm (UTC)
Pam, is it canon that One World uses gasoline in cars ?

Fort Dinosaur suggests otherwise a bit
(Anonymous) on April 15th, 2017 11:30 pm (UTC)
They've got a mix of electric and gas. I don't know if I've ever mentioned diesel. The crawlers use electric motors, charged with sunlight from their skin or small generators that can run on a number of liquid fuels.
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on April 15th, 2017 11:40 pm (UTC)
Fun, these Blackhorse guard have no experience with the Wine of the Gods. 😃