?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
27 April 2017 @ 01:07 am
_Lost and Found_ Part 2  
 

"The city makes money offen them." Estaven Doscompos and his usual set of body guards walked up behind them. "They protected everything that was valuable to them. My neighborhood and yours are about all that's left. We've been zipping around all day – so to speak." He glanced upward, then away.

Hail nodded reluctantly. "They even bronzed the parks. I wish I really could tell fortunes, if we knew how long this was going to last, we could make plans. I mean . . . do we need to make lights and grow gardens?"

Hudson looked over at her. "Can you make bright enough light, for long enough periods, to grow gardens?"

She slumped. "No. How many stores are still open? I've got my blizzard stash, but what if we're stuck here more than a couple of weeks?"

Doscompos nodded. "I've got some chargers for cars, you know, pedal powered. Never thought I'd actually have to use them. But we could charge batteries and run lights, for greenhouses . . . not that I know diddly about gardening."

Fair went back to breathing into her hands.

"What's wrong?" Macy crowded up, looking worried.

"Every month we are bubbled, something like eight hundred years go by. A bit more than that, actually. So I really think we'd be better off figuring out how to get out of this thing."

"Old Gods! Curse them and their damned comets." Doscompos stomped around in a circle. "Right. Here's what we'll do. We're going to find out how many people are still alive, and then we're going to check all the stores, and then we're going to light up some gardens. You witches, you're going to go out to the edge and see if there's anything you can do about this bubble crap."

Hail nodded and pulled the other two away. "Let's start up north, where the final bubble closed."

As they walked off, they could heard Hudson talking about knowing all about livestock. " . . . if there's anything that hasn't been bronzed."

All three witches stayed together as they cruised the borders of the black dome.

They stopped regularly and formed up their triad.

"I can't feel a thing." Hail's voice was low. The whisper echoed off the tall bronze buildings around them. "I can't feel the bubble, let alone any hole or handle or way to open it."

Fair chewed a pencil and worked out the figures. "Every day we're in here, twenty-seven years have gone by out there. What are we going to do? Wait until that man comes back and releases us?"

Macy huddled up against her mother, in an abrupt return to childhood. "What if there's no one out there to let us go? We have to figure this out."

Fair nodded. "Let's cut across town, get as close to that man's house as possible. For all we know, he's there having a party."

The forest was bronzed. The mansion was missing entirely.

"Well. So much for that idea."

***

Estaven Doscompos was perfectly happy to be the lord of a mostly bronzed city. "All right. Only about two hundred people? No problem. But listen up. Nobody eats canned or dried foods. We've got to save them for the long haul. Right now, we raid empty apartments and stores and eat all the fresh food. Lots of folk got bronzed in the schools with their kids, so there's plenty of places that didn't get bronzed, but the people are gone. So get the word out. Eat your neighbor's fresh food. Those three stores that are still open, we'll control those directly. Make the food last. Marko? You're over on Highelay. Jimmy, the big store on Main at Bradley. Ramon, Garcio Plaza. Don't get drunk guarding the liquor store, got it? Any peeps come by, hand out veggies and milk." He broke off as Sissy bustled through the front door.

She was grinning. "The freezers are still working. The magic ones. I've got people freezing all the fresh food they can get their hands on."

"Ha! Guys, check your stores for freeze boxes. Take your guys and their wives along with you, the women can get to work freezing stuff, they'll know what to do. Just keep your eyes open, we may have competition, seega?"

They disbursed them, and he walked to where he could see the harbor, the bronzed ships. Sitting on the mud of the bottom, water lapping around them. Brackish, this close to the sea mouth. "Too bad we've got witches, instead of mages. A Compass could clear that water up in no time at all."

Sissy had followed him   out. "Cisco says he marked the water level at the pier, so we can tell if the water is rising or falling."

"Good. Although I'm not real sure I want to know."  

***

The witches returned to where they'd left off, and hiked the entire perimeter of the outer bubble.

Poking and prodding. The witches tried everything they could think of. Hudson joined them and tried everything he knew, but a weak wizard, he'd never had any training at all. Macy set out to correct that, making him join her Crescent Moon exercises.

They took a week, raiding empty apartments and stores for food, sleeping outside on their own blankets.

Hail snorted her amusement and made the three of them act like a triad. Once.

"It just won't work, with a man. Sorry Hudson."

He just grinned wryly. "It was an interesting experience. I could see how it ought to work. I don't understand why men always work in fours and eights, and women in threes."

"I thought wizards worked alone?"

"Yeah, well, that's because what we can do is mostly subconscious. And subtle. Think too hard about how to do it, and it stops working altogether. Being able to consciously make a simple light makes me powerful—for a wizard." He snorted. "We can join with Mages. We just usually don't, mainly because all we do is complete the number they need and try to hold up our compass point. They'd much prefer any half trained Mage."

Macy slumped down beside him. "It's been nine days. How long is that, out there?"

"About two hundred and fifty years." He titled his head back and stared at the dim bronze sky.

"So . . . I'm two hundred and sixty-two years old. That's pretty cool. How old are you?"

"Two hundred and sixty-eight. Funny, I don't feel a day over eighteen."

"You must have some of those God Genes." Macy told him, then shot a glance over at the older witches. Dropped her voice to a whisper. "The God of Virtue raped them, both. I think they're pregnant. Maybe one of the babies can open the bubble."

Hudson choked. "Yeah, maybe when they reach puberty and grasp power. I refuse to even think how old I'd be by then." He bit his lip. "I don't know if we can stay alive in here that long."

She paled and huddled closer.

When Hail checked a few minutes later, they were both asleep, still sitting up against a bronzed building.

Fair sighed. "I think she's right. Babies. In the middle of this mess."

Hail nodded. "I just hope she's wrong about us not being able to open the bubble sooner."

The next day they got back to the harbor.

The water was completely gone, so they tested the bubble out onto what used to be the seafloor.

With no better results.

They tried to break the bubble on a small building.

They concentrated on the bubble closest to the location of the god's mansion.

They tried the spot opposite of that.

A month passed.

Another week.

Until the earthquake.

Or whatever it was. They all ran outside, and there it was a dim honey golden glowing drop, sagging down from the crest of the bubble.



Twenty Seven Years ago

Asia

Chapter Limbo

1375 Fall

"Ambassador, get out the back door!" Oscar yelled. "All staff, run for it!"

The two triads of witches backed away carefully. "We've got a block up, but it's not holding, get _everyone_ out."

"What the hell is happening?" Brad yelled running in from the men's quarters.

"The Golden Boy appears to be trying to Travel the Gate Camp, we're right on the boundary." Oscar yelled back. _Marble buildings are not supposed to creak._

"Right." Brad ran for the kitchen, "Girls, we've got to run for it."

"Okay Brad," Risti started waddling out, Roboner and Dalphi hovering.

"You're doing great Dagni," Bran was half carrying the woman from the distaff side of the back rooms. "Oscar, go get Bali, And where's Selano?"

"Right here, damn it," the old mage grunted, carrying the girl's shoulders. Two women were hovering while the third carried her companion's feet.

"She's in labor," Mieri wrung her hands.

"Hurry!" the witches were backing out the door, "He's . . . "

The floor dropped sickeningly, and lurched.

Bran backpedaled from the back door.

Oscar took a look and threw up a shield, tried to expand it around the whole building. Selano slotted effortlessly into his west and Bran to the east, Gre backed him up from the north.

Gre whimpered. "I think I can . . . "

The building dropped briefly, thudding into the ground. The floor sloped and there were ominous creaks, and shiverings, but nothing that felt so abnormal as the earlier movements.

He opened his eyes to the normal sight and looked out the open back door. Dim lantern light shown on green plants. The tall grass around the bank building.

"We need to get out of this building, right now." Selano said, turning to help Bali.

"I'll get her, get out the door, I may need to drop her to you."

"Drop?" Bali whimpered, then clutched her belly.

"Hand you down to him, see, like Brad is doing with Risti. Everyone else first, so there are plenty of hands below." He backed up, dragging Bali. The women hesitated on the brink and Oscar, one ear tuned to the building's sounds heard a sharp crack, and shoved the woman ahead of him and dragged Bali with him as he jumped out the door and off whatever drop there was.

They fell, building, ground, people.

Hit. They all scrambled away as the bank disintegrated, the ground crumbled.  

Oscar scooped up Bali and jumped slid skittered down an avalanche of dirt to an ordinary stone street.

Broad daylight had turned to a faint bronzy glow. Enough to see the bank building crumbling, but inward, not out at them. The inside lights snuffed.

Ocsar spoke in the not-quite-total-darkness. "I wonder where we are, this time?"

A quick head count in the dark and Oscar grunted in satisfaction. "Everyone's out. All the witches . . . I think everyone was ahead of us." Gre had Dagni. Bran, Selano, Risti, Gari, Mieri, Dalphi, Roboner. All safe.

"Yeah. They got out of the trap. We didn't." Brad held out a hand and lit up the area.

Buildings. Bronze. Solid bronze, like a one piece casting. Only, full sized.

Those inside out bubbles?

Selano stood up stiffly. Eyed the bank building. "Well, at least it fell the other direction." He lowered his gaze to the girls. They were all clustered, Bali in the middle.

"Just one more good push!"

Oscar shuddered and looked away. Brought up a light of his own, raised it. Looked up. "I think we're inside a bubble."

He swallowed. "Well, at least we broke away from whatever Pax was trying to do." He swallowed again. We can't get out of this, by ourselves! None of us have any of that dimensional ability the gods say is necessary to even see bubbles, let alone do things to them. The gods.

"Harry? Harry! God of Travelers! We've got a problem traveling!"

Even Bali paused in her panting . . . then whimpered.

"Push. You're almost done . . . "

"God of War? We're under magical attack by the God of Peace. God of War, I summon you!"

A baby's first cry. A bit weak and tentative, then with another breath, louder, outraged. Oscar stopped to listen to the indignant newborn. A god's baby. Edmund Vice, Old Gods help us! Not the nicest of men, but surely most of that was the collective subconscious, not genetic . . .

"Edmund Vice! God of Vice! I summon you!"

Still nothing.

Selano stepped over closer. "I don't think they can hear through a bubble. But the others will call on Harry, and he'll come to search for us."

"True. So there's nothing to worry about. I wonder where we are, this time?" Oscar glanced

Bran looked around. "You know, we really do need to stop doing things like this."

"Why?"

"Well . . . we've never been hijacked with a bunch of women and babies before."

"A new challenge." Oscar assured him. "But what's with the bubbled buildings? Is someone try to protect a whole city from the Comet?"

"You do this often?" Gre looked up at the bubble.

"It does keep the boredom at bay." Bran admitted, grinning back.

"That's the spirit." Oscar clouted Gre on the back. "Cheer up."

"I suppose it's a good idea, but the outer bubble must be a quarter of a mile high."

"Impressive." Oscar peered down the block. "And we are not alone in here."

Three women in a triangle. Witches. Good.

"So. Let's go find out where we are."