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17 April 2017 @ 08:37 am
Scrambled_ part 4  

Chapter Seven BHG

The slices of odd territory ended at a broad circle of chaotic mixes of worlds.

"That red brick . . . might be the East Plaza." Captain Acho looked right. "Those are the highrise apartments down Yusef . . . and across the mess, that might be a slice of the police building, and those are the Transportation Ministry . . . still mostly standing."

"And nothing but grass, where Government House ought to be." Wiz rode up beside him. "What shall we check first?"

"Ministry first, to see if there's any part of the government around . . . then we'll check the apartments." He turned Panther and trotted out. It was only a half kilometer around the chaos, then he started seeing people . . .

And recognized the man giving orders at the ministry site, or rather, trying to give orders. The people doing the actual work seemed to be ignoring him.

Acho slid off and handed his reins to Wiz. "Subminister Wmcu?"

"That's pronounced Mac You." The man turned, irritated frown giving way to raised eyebrows as he took in Acho's uniform. "Black Horse! Thank the One! What the hell has happened? Where is everyone?"

Acho looked north. Where there was a notable absence of Government House. "I suspect, sir, that they are where they belong, and that we have been transplanted to a world that, at least locally, has a lot of grasslands. Now, do you have people still trapped? Show me . . . "

Mac You huffed and waved at the collapsed building. "We can tell that there are still people alive under there . . . but we don't have the heavy equipment we need."

Acho waved in the rest of the troops. "Park the horses. Let's see if we can slice our way in."

Magic slice and levitation got holes through three slabs of concrete, and with some sideways slices they helped the last of the trapped crawl out. One of the workers organized triage, and the worst were carted off immediately.

"There's a working hospital?"

"No, but there are clinics and the off duty doctors are coming into do what they can do."

"Right."Acho looked around. Wiz and Booze looked beat. They were the strongest magically, and had done the lion's share of the slicing and levitating. The rest were in good shape. "Right. Let's see what we can do to help there, and check out the apartment towers."

Panther spooked as he mounted. He grabbed leather and stayed aboard, hauled the horse around to face . . . a dinosaur. Bipedal. Head-to-tail it was a good five meters. It lowered it's head like a bull threatening to charge, but it only had a big bulbous skull . . .

"That's a Packy-something-or-other." Igloo pushed his mount up closer to Acho. "They think they charge and bash heads like rams. Umm, I think it's a herbivore."

"Right . . . if one . . . or more . . . of these worlds are full of dinosaurs . . . we're in trouble." Acho eyed the Packy. It seemed to loose interest in them, and walked over to sample a bush. "Right. We'll stick to rescue right now, and . . . keep one man on watch for dinosaurs or other predators. Hi? Get on the radio to Mike and tell her we've got dinosaurs." He turned Panther away and headed for the still standing towers.

In the towers, the three surgeons manning the first clinic begged him to find a pharmacy.

"We need antibiotics, painkillers, and bandages. Pretty much in that order."

The towers, without power or water, and missing lots of window glass, were not going to stay habitable for long.

Most of the inhabitants refused to believe that and stubbornly refuse to move "Until the world goes back where it belongs! I'm not leaving my stuff, and that's final. And on your way out, tell the super that he'd better get my power back on pretty damn quick!"

"They'll come down soon enough." Acho flopped on a convenient slab od concrete. "We need a good source of water, and start thinking about food."

"Umm, umm. Pachysaurus steaks!" Wiz eased down beside him. "There's a small stream two klicks thata way. I watered the horses."

Acho levered himself up and climbed a pile of rubble. "Right. Seventeen of us at Versalle. Several hundred Oners around here."

"Thousand. I've been trying to keep a tally. A bit more than three thousand in all these towers."

"One! Right. I didn't see any people outward of these two strips. So let's think about how to secure them."

"We have enough rubble for walls. Keep the outer face close to vertical and the whole thick enough that a dinosaur can't push it over . . . "

"Right. Did Hi get ahold of Mike?"

"Oh yes. The good news is they've got everyone on their feet. The bad news is that another chunk of Home that came along is part of the Red Zone. And—brace yourself—Azho's here."

Chapter Eight

By the time Nick got back to their first camp, the truck had been back and forth several times, and the Redstone miners had spread out and laid claim to their part of vane 5 with the apartments, their part of vane 7 with the offices and all the grasslands in between.

Kirk was sitting by the fire, his arm around the woman from the Redstone offices.

There's one problem resolved happily.

The Red Zone folks were mingling, and it look like their chunk of vane 5 was going to join in and reach both ways to engulf all of vane 5.

Kirk nodded. "The tip's from Dust Bowl, another mining world. Probo and Denta clans went there to work, but there were only about eight of them in that little slice. And a couple of Purp supervisors, including the guy you kicked out yesterday. I figure he can go find some Earthers to kiss up to."

"Vane seven is empty from the Black Horse people all the way to the hub and we didn't see anyone on vane 8 so we might as well stake a claim to it too. And if the Black Horse types bother us, we just leave." Gamer was looking happy, the camp fire was mostly coals with some large roasts suspended over it.

Nick sniffed. "Deer?"

"Yep. Native I think. So tell us about Versalle."

All the Red Zone people perked up and listened.

"It's a complete loss. The barracks pancaked, the barns were cut in half, the arena lost a corner and is sagging. It all happened slowly enough that everyone got out, and most of the horses. Then most of them headed for Government House while everything was still coming and going. The group left here is small, and most of them, again, went in search of Government House. Seven people there, ten or so out on horseback. We spotted them riding up the far side of vane seven. They should be nearly to Government House by now. If it's there."

The buzzing of bikes from the south.

Nick and Kirk walked out to meet them.

The first Skinner in was grinning like mad. "Wait till you guys see what we found."

Nick squinted into the dark. Moonlight glinted on something large and metallic.

"We had to go slow, and find a flat path."

The grill of a big truck slowed to a stop, barely into the firelight. Nick walked the side . . .

"You found a tanker?"

The head Skinner, Enuf opened the door and climbed down. "Almost full of gasoline."

Nick contemplated the difference several thousands of liters of fuel made to their mobility. "Enuf? I think you have just made yourself the richest man on the world."

"Yeah. All I have to do is figure out how to keep it."

Nick nodded . . . "Let me take a look at what part of the One world came with us. There are several places big enough to hide it. . . . The car wash on Kaito has a high metal roof. Tall enough, but no walls . . . What parts of the Red Zone are here?"

"Long stretches of Diego and Kaito running north-south. Rouge, Azul, Cinnamon, Kohl, and Verde east-west. Enuf turned and waved in a rider. "Check the car wash at Kaito and Cinn. See if the roof's up and if we can get there."

"There's some mid-sized warehouses off that alley between Kohl and Verde. Might be better." Gamer joined them. "Nick, let's get a good long ramp up to the streets."

Enuf winced. "Yah. We'll need a bulldozer, our ground is higher."

Nick and Gamer grinned at each other, and angled toward their home patch. The gibbous moon rose higher, and they could see the meter high edge of the vane.

"I'll slice off the lip about halfway up, then we can shove it off and use it to fill in the rest of the ramp."

Gamer nodded. "Keep it shallow, the truck is pretty long."

Nick jumped up to the road and backed off, calculating the angle.

"You can't cut through all that! It's a couple of meters!" Enuf edged cautiously to the side. "Can you?"

Nick sliced carefully across the entire width of the road at a low angle. Then he and Gammer shoved at it, mentally. The plane of the slice was slick, as close to perfect as he'd been able to steady the molecules-thick force. It slid down the plane of the slice, gravity helped and off the edge, where it broke up into large chunks.

Enuf climbed over the chunks a jumped to the sliced ramp. His feet slid and he landed hard.

"Whoops. Going to need to texture that." Nick scratched his chin.

"I'll get it. Very shallow diamond pattern slices should work." Gamer frowned down at the slope.

Nick slid down, very nearly muffing a leap to the rubble as his feet had no traction to speak of. He offered a hand up to the flailing Enuf and then got to work breaking the largest chunks and packing it all down.

Pretty soon anyone with any pretense of power was helping them. Or trying to. They broke for dinner. Put the kids to beds in a nearly deserted camp as the people with homes to go to left.

Home. We can finally just make a home. There are enough people around . . . we need to get close enough to them that if we leave, a bunch of them will come with us. Gamer and the kids can marry, have kids . . . Damn the One.

Nick's gut gave a twinge. He checked that Abbas was on duty, then crawled into his bedroll.

We'll need predator fencing . . . not that we have any livestock . . . I wonder if any of the black horses escaped . . . I should keep an eyed open for them, get to them before the predators. Either find an empty house or start building . . . Find a doctor in case this is appendicitis . . .

He gave up after an hour and sent Abbas to bed. Tried another slug of that wine. It just made his gut hurt worse. Enough to keep his mid off women and sex. Mostly.

A wolf approached the camp . . . no, the ears flopped. A dog. Nick whistled and it came right to him.

"Hungry boy? Bet we've got some nice meaty deer bones around."

In a big soup pot . . .

"Don't tell Gamer."

A snort, and Gamer got up, pet the dog and got him some raw bones.

"She's sweet. Not a purebred, but she must be part german shepherd. Good job. We'll need guard dogs and hunters."

"She?" Nick checked. "Probably spayed, the things these people do to their animals." And themselves.

He winced as he straightened. "So . . . I figure we should collect all the domesticated animals we find, kill the local predators, and hunt. Maybe a wildlife survey, see what sort of world we've gotten ourselves marooned on."

Gamer nodded. "Keep an eye open for dinosaurs like the one you killed. I really don't want any of them around."

"Yeah." It came out in an irritating squeak. He cleared his throat. "I'd best clean guns and count my ammunition tomorrow morning."

muirecan: Withersmuirecan on April 18th, 2017 02:29 am (UTC)
Why do I think that is a hellhound.

mbarkermbarker on April 18th, 2017 02:55 am (UTC)
Because that's how you make plot soup?
(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2017 03:52 am (UTC)
Up till now, there has been no interaction with any dimension that had Hell Hounds on it. CometFall isn't involved. Neither is Disco or Embassy. Before I'd allow a hellhound, I'd want to at least know where it came from.

And this story is going to need ferocious control of viewpoint identification, which probably should include not only date and names, but an identification of the viewpoint's clan or world.

(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2017 05:02 am (UTC)
I can see half a dozen ways a hellhound could end up in the mix, not least being an Earth university researcher smuggled a dog marked for euthanasia home. 1400 years ago. Ebsa has potential access to both Xen's line and Elden's line, and we know Ebsa collects critters in bubbles. Heliotrope had hellhounds on One world, in Empire of the One, and some half-breeds may be there yet. This story is quite a ways down the timeline, IIRC, Paer is pregnant in the opening scenes of Mirror, Mirror. There's ample time for Ebsa to bag a hellhound if needed in an earlier tale.

Or she could just be a normal domesticated dog. Nick and Gamer's very non-Oner attitude towards the dog is the point I'm getting from the dog's inclusion. With a dog and a new look (did Ebsa give Nick anything other than Wine?) they could pass as American Earthers, albeit not from a gateEarth, but one of the earlier breaks. Ra'd uses old Americanisms all the time, so will Nick.

matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2017 01:43 pm (UTC)
She's just a dog. I'm noodling around thinking "What do they need if they never go back?"