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04 May 2017 @ 08:50 am
_Scrambled_ part 12  

Chapter Eighteen Nick

Day 6

Free of everything but hard work and obligations.

Hard work, no problem. Obligations . . .

Nick looked over the busy camp. There must be five or six hundred people, between the Red Zone and the Miners. Only my twelve are actually my responsibility. Really. Plus Zog, but I can hand him off to the Black Horse people . . .

He walked over to the gang of kids running around. "Zog? You want to head for the other group? Look for your parents? It's mostly apartments on Yusef, the Minstry of War and . . ."

"No. They wouldn't be there."

"And some Black Horse Guards." Nick eyed the boy, who'd sucked in a breath.

Zog looked back at the other kids . . . looked back. "Abbas said the Oners and the Earthers were shooting at each other and Minister Mac U was almost killed. It's safer here." His chin was up, his stance stubborn.

And you are also free of a lot of supervision and are developing friendships without baggage.

"Right. When things calm down we can go ask around, just in case."

The boy grinned and galloped back to his buddies.

We're going to need a school. But it's not my problem, not my burden. It is someone else's responsibility.

Ra'd walked back to the others and eyed the pile of sheet metal and braces. "Leave it all here. Let's get more from Versalle and use that for a shelter at the water hole. It's only two or three kilometers away. As soon as we start farming or catch more animals and start some serious fences, we'll be spread out that far and still going."

Kirk nodded. "We'll have to figure out some way to survey land and grant title to it in . . . oh say square miles . . . call it two kilometers by two kilometers for you metric types. If all those city folk come down from their towers and start farming, we'll spread out a hundred kilometers each way."

Ra'd nodded. "We're pioneers . . . But we should try to keep up as much of our modern tech as possible. I wish we had electrical power." A memory of gazing across the crowns of trees at Main Accounting. Those black squares . . . solar power? I'll go back and ask. It would probably barely power its own building, but it would be nice to be able to charge batteries.

Then they headed back for Versalle. More panels, beams, windows . . . most of the windows where trashed, but one side of the building was just leaning over on the rest of the debris.

With a carefully slice, they took entire wall segments, three at a time, and set them up in open fronted sheds, roofed them in metal.

Four up hill to the north, four a bit uphill to the south. High enough to be above floods, low enough to use the pond in the middle of the square. "A kilometer from each. And access for all. We'll have to see about running pipes or just drilling wells."

Kirk snorted. "Community property tends to get abused. And they need foundations. They're too small for a family."

Marco shook his purple hair. "These are just starting places. They get built on to, floored, plumbing . . . in fact, the roof panels are so long, we can put two facing each other, a four foot gap, but the roofs touching. Then doors and plumbing . . . "

They went back for more, to test this idea . . . which looked pretty good, so they went back again . . .

They dragged home in the deep twilight. Ate and collapsed.

The grainy fruity biscuits in the morning were . . . tasty but seedy.

"Acorn flour, hickory nuts and blackberries." Gamer grinned as he pried a blackberry seed out from between his teeth. "We scavenged around the pool. We've got enough meat for today, but tomorrow you'll need to hunt again."

"Right." Nick rotated a stiff shoulder. "I've done construction before, but usually with machine assist in the heavy lifting."

"Well, I'm impressed, and even Mother was impressed. I came back to cook, but all the wives decided they wanted the houses on the south side, further away from the pinwheel. They're deciding what they need. I suspect you'll hear from them."

Nick groaned. "Right. I think I'll head around and talk to the Black Horse people. Them and their damned war."

"Take your big gun, Macy said they spotted dinosaurs over on the east side."

"Good plan." And some wine doped up with that . . . stuff. Gasoline? Macy said they needed fuel for generators . . . but I think I'll make them ask. A visual check . . . "Are all the kids with the women?"

"Yes, even the teenagers. Meisha said they could carry rock for floors and foundations."

Nick grinned. "That'll be good for them. Wear them out. And . . . I believe I'll take that idiot gelding back to the Guards."

"Please do. Black Beauty broke out, and while we were rebuilding before the calves escaped, she talked him to acting in an extremely un-gelding-like fashion. Fortunately most of the kids thought it was gross. The miner's wives hustled their kids away. They're pretty . . . moral."

"Not a bad thing." So long as we’ve got sexy whores around.

A snort from Gamer. "Says the man who got blotto in a street orgy . . . a week ago? God, it feels like ages."

"Eight or nine days? A couple of days before the . . . scramble."

His fellow bachelors were showing up, also stiff, and grabbing biscuits, and making appreciative noises.

"We need a calendar. Money. Some kind of exchange medium." Nick rubbed his face. "A school. Hell, we need laws and enough of a government that we can . . . I dunno. Not devolve into a pack of thieving barbarians."

Qamer nodded. "Miss Boot is a retired teacher. I'll talk to her about it."

"Kirk's wife was a teacher, before the Earth kicked us 'Natives' out to the Mining Worlds." Will Charo looked wistful. "Wish she had a little sister."

Nods all around.

Marco sighed. "If all those idiots would stop shooting at each other, we could get out and meet the other groups. Now? Hell, even the Earthers would probably shoot us."

"The Oners might as well. I'll . . . sound them out."

Kirk looked over at him. "I've been talking to the Skinners. Is it safe for you go talk to them?"

"Not entirely, but they're out of their jurisdiction, and I've got good shields."

An uneasy shift from the miner contingent.

Nick grinned. "I imagine it's tough to get used to, but didn't those Purps ever do anything?"

Marco shook his head. "We're careful to not do anything where Earthers might see it. We get lots of training in how to control our reactions before we ever get any training in how to actually use it."

Nick growled. "And that's another thing I need to add to my list. Magic lessons. Because there's all sorts of things that will make everyone's lives easier with magic." Nick nodded at Marco. "Like that spell on the pipes. That one is invaluable."

"That little slice of yours made the job yesterday easy . . . well, easier." Kirk grinned and rubbed his back. Glanced toward Gamer. "From what I've heard, we ought to recruit her for some of that 'large scale telekinesis' that scared your cops into listing her as shoot-on-sight."

Marco looked her way, a little wistful, again. "How old is she?"

"Sixteen. Behave."

"Or you'll beat me up?" A teasing tone of voice.

Nick forced himself to unclench his jaw and answer lightly. "She won't need help in a mere brawl. Trust me."

He didn't get it light enough, the whole group edged away. Dammit. "Well. I'm going to saddle up and go see if the Black Horse Guards are going to shoot me on sight."

The black gelding laid his ears back, but behaved otherwise to be saddled and bridled. Riding him away from his girlfriend was something else. Nick hadn't ridden for years. A thousand years! So he wafted a spell of calmness at the horse, and then threw the same spell back at the mare, in hopes of silencing her. It worked well enough to get across the Miners' patch of dry red ground and back out into the grasslands. A four kilometer trot and gallop across the grasslands, then he spotted guards on the left side of the apartments and slowed to turn that direction.

He let them get a good look at him . . . the reflexive tensing and raising of their rifles softened and the rifle barrels dropped.

Chapter Nineteen BHG

Day 7

Captain Ahco trotted out quickly at the summons.

Eyed the rider. "Yep that's him. You will not shoot him. Or otherwise act belligerently."

The Ministry guards scowled at him. "You're not even a real soldier. I really don't think we ought to be taking orders from you."

Ahco grit his teeth. "Well, Lieutenant, I suggest you not dispute the point. You are guarding against Earthers and dangerous predators. As Captain Ijje ordered, we will be ignoring Internal Directorate matters, as we are well beyond their jurisdiction."

The overaged and probably forty years retired lieutenant growled a bit and stepped back.

Acho walked out to meet the mass murderer.

"Good morning . . . Nick, is it?"

"Yes. I thought I should come by and test the welcome various individuals of my ever expanding group might receive. And extend an invitation for anyone here to visit us."

Acho eyed the man, and then his mount.

"And return some Black Horse property we found. We have a second horse as well, but she's badly injured. Since she's got a dozen teen age girls catering to her every need, I think she's best left with us for now."

"Umm, yes, I suppose so." Ahco resisted an urge to squirm. He felt seriously vulnerable out here.

"We are starting to organize, open stores, build shelters for those without homes, get the water running and so forth." The killer looked completely . . . not at ease, but confident and relaxed.

Ahco softened his mental shields a bit, and shivered as he felt the man's awareness all around.

"So we're starting to trade, and we really need a monetary system. Coinage. Has the Government any interest in that direction? I heard you have a Minister trapped here? "

"Yes . . . coinage is an old term. Coins would be useful, wouldn't they? And . . . what do you have to trade?"

"Magic. Has Princess Myyk demonstrated the potion I left with her? And a spell to move water through pipes has proven very handy. I'm sure that we will eventually find other things we can provide that you cannot, and vice versa."

Ahco eyed the bore of the rifle slung over the man's back. Must be 20mm! "Heavy weaponry?"

"Not this one. We need it for dinosaurs."

"Captain Ijje will no doubt disagree."

"Which won't do him a bit of good. So . . . you need any help pumping water? Any injured men from that stupid waste of ammunition three days ago?" The rogue priest's gaze narrowed, and Ahco turned to look.

They attracted more guards, both Black Horse and Ministry. "Put. The. Guns. Down. Now! The enemy is those guys over there. Remember? You know, three days ago? The soldiers who were shooting at you and you were shooting back? Yeah, this guy's a criminal. If he ever sets foot back on our home world we'll arrest him. Now get back to your posts . . . FUCK!" Ahco ran toward the guards. "They're coming, you stupid worms!"

The Earth soldiers were sprinting across no-mans-land, and when they saw they'd been spotted, they started firing.

Two guards dropped, then the bullets were bouncing . . . off a shield across a dozen meters of their half built wall.

"Hold your fire!" Ahco projected that. "You're behind a shield!"

A few of the guards fired before their fellows stopped them . . .

"It's angled." Nick was right behind him, stepping up on a pile of rubble to get a good look around. "And they're retreating. Good training. Once they lost the surprise, there was nothing to gain. And like you, they're probably short handed and have limited amounts of ammunition."

Ahco grabbed his binoculars and took a slow sweep . . . "They're setting something up on the roof of the closest building."

Nick stepped down and walked to the wall, bringing his big gun to bear. He knelt and peered through the scope. "Light artillery of some sort. 30mm maybe? They must need the additional height for the range."

Ahco turned at hasty footsteps behind him. Ijje trotted up, panting. Beyond him soldiers were scrambling to the wall, half dressed. At least they remembered their guns. But they'd have been way too late. We'd have been overrun without that huge shield . . . One! He put it out easily twenty meters away, angled and anchored! I can hold a shield out an arms length, a couple of meters wide.

He could hear the roar of engines, across the chaotic zone, deep powerful . . . a tank clanked into sight. A second one behind it.

"Shit. Shit, shit shit!" Ijje looked around in panic.

Nick shrugged off his backpack. Reached in and pulled out a magazine. EXPLOSIVE stenciled on the side. He switched it out, moving with smooth expertise. Knelt, aimed . . . at an upward angle.

The artillery opened fire. Not hitting the shield. It was aimed higher. Windows exploded in the apartment building behind him.

Then Nick's big gun roared. An explosion on the rooftop.

More quick, sure motions, a third magazine. ARMOR PIERCING.

Holy One! Three shots. Both tanks froze in place, belching smoke and men. Bent over, staggering, or being boosted out, then dragged away.

Click, click. Two mags back in the pack, the unlabeled mag back in the gun. Nick turned and studied the apartment tower. Speaking of smoke . . .

"You, Princess Doppler, Dibbler, whatever. Hold these. Don't lose them, don't use them." The man handed Deip his gun and backpack. Ran for the building.

"Dipper." Poor girl was just standing there, looking stunned.

Ahco was feeling an bit stunned himself. He nodded to Deip. "Keep them safe."

Then he bolted for the apartment building.

mbarkermbarker on May 5th, 2017 12:34 am (UTC)
Couple of ra'd in there -- he's Nick over here?
matapampamuphoff on May 5th, 2017 12:40 am (UTC)
He just formally introduced himself.
mbarkermbarker on May 5th, 2017 08:53 am (UTC)
In this segment?

Ra'd walked back to...

Ra'd nodded.

matapampamuphoff on May 5th, 2017 01:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I spotted those after I answered. _Today's_ snippet has him re-introducing himself.