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05 May 2017 @ 08:19 am
_Scrambled_ part 13  
 

Everyone was fleeing in a panic, stumbling down the stairs. Just enough not-panicked people in the crowd to keep some semblance of order, and grab people before they fell and got trampled.

The sixth floor was on fire. Nick stood, arms out, a shield doing something odd, blocking flames coming through the wrenched stairwell door, as two people gimped painfully past behind him.

Nick glanced his way. "I don't feel anyone else on these two floors. So I'm going to put out the fire."

"How?" Ahco stood aside so Mr. Nguyen could help Mrs. Nguyen down another flight of stairs.

"By pulling power. You pull power from the heat of the air, don't you?"

"Yes, but . . . "

"Fire's mostly hot air." Nick turned to face the doorway and the flames died. He leaned over the door and sliced out a circle of glowing hot metal around a point so white hot it was painful to look at. "Incendiary rounds, this was a deliberate attempt to burn the building down."

Ahco followed him through the doorway, pulling power.

The rebel priest found five more shards of burning magnesium—the ordinary flames died as he walked past them—before he walked over to a shattered window, and sent six hot pinpoints out into no-man's-land where Earther soldiers still lingered. And hastily retreated behind their wall.

Ahco's head was pounding. "How do you hold so much power?"

"I don't. I expend it." He pointed at a half burned wall. "Throw a sleep spell at it. Make it hiccup. Surely they teach some magic to the Black Horse Guards."

Ahco glared at his back as he walked away. Then he threw every spell he could think of at the unoffending wall. Then he searched the floor. Madam Piyc hadn't made it. And the couple in apartment A-612 had apparently decided to hide under the bed. "Smoke inhalation, I suppose."

"Yes." The uneven high tones behind him. "And five more dead on the seventh floor."

"I suppose I should be glad they hit the smallest building. Only a couple of hundred people lived here. I haven't even had time to meet most of them." Ahco blinked at the man's burden. Wine? He turned to the stairs and trotted down them.

***

He strode out of the building. Frighten, coughing, burned, injured evacuating . . . "Damn. The clinic is going to be . . . insufficient."

"At least you have one." Nick shoved past him and descended on Deip, who was shrugging off Ijje's attempts to grab the 20mm.

" . . . needed for the common good."

"Sir, as you saw, they are in the best hands to defend us." Deip spotted Nick and looked relieved . . . then suddenly more worried.

Ijje spun around. "You! A wanted criminal! I order you to surrender your weapons to the authorities. To. Me."

"I do not take orders from a pewling coward. Nor do I give my weapons away to those whose motives I distrust." Nick turned to Deip. "Thank you, Princess."

Deip handed him the gun and shrugged out of the backpack.

Ijje lunged to grab . . . and hit the ground. A simple push, no finesse required.

He scrambled to his feet red-faced and furious. "Who do you think you are?"

Nick turned to face him. Shorter slimmer . . . what was he, nineteen years old? But he was dropping his shields and showing a gleaming hard glow.

Burning Magnesium to Ijje's drippy candle.

"I am Ra'd ibn Nicholas ibn Emre x Elif. I am a Warrior of the New Prophets of the One True God. I enter a bag of the Prophets as Fort Rangpur fell, and emerged into this pretentious theocracy of child abusers. The only wonder is that I am protecting you, rather than sitting back and laughing while you burn."

Ijje put his hands to his temples and backed away.

Nick stalked away to a pile of concrete and set down his two bottles. Opened them and added something from a small jar in his pack.

"This is a massive combination healing spell. It is also a very strong aphrodisiac. It will help these people." He handed one bottle to Deip. "And like as not trigger a street orgy if you let it spread to more wine. Be frugal in dosing people."

Ahco blinked. Met Deip's glance and shrugged. "Dose them. I'm going to go see what he's going to do next."

"Street orgy?" Deip looked past him. "Is that what happened to those geldings we dosed?"

Ahco followed her glance. Hairy was making a nuisance of himself. "Probably."

"Ick! I think I'll find some water and dilute it."

"Good idea." He wove through the crowd, spotted the young . . . warrior . . . and followed him into the clinic.

Several dozen patients sitting, standing, two flat on the floor, screams from beyond the closed door.

The crowd parted instantly for Nick, grudgingly let Ahco through. The inner door opened easily for Nick, Ahco grabbed it and followed him through.

Nick touched the screaming man's forehead, and he stopped screaming. Ahco winced away from the sight of the man's charred left side, looked around and spotted little paper cups by a water dispenser. He grabbed a dozen, and held one out. Nick nodded, and poured a tiny dose into it . . . looked at the man and filled the cup. "Drink this."

"What are you doing?" Dr. Edrw looked up from his careful cutting of clothes melted to the man's arm.

"Healing potions. Can't hurt."

Edrw opened his mouth to protest . . . looked down at his patient . . . I don't have half of what I need to save him. It would kill any of the docbox patients to remove them right now." He put his scissors down. "I don't even have pain killers."

Nick . . . Ra'd? Propped the semi conscious man up and held the cup to his lips. "Drink it."

The man swallowed, blinked . . . sort of . . . swallowed more, finished the cup.

Nick lowered him down. "Come with me. I'll teach you the pain suppressing spell."

The other two doctors were with critical patients . . . and didn't appreciate . . . Warriors armed with pain killer spells until they saw them . . . and the potion . . . Even Ahco could see the shift in the medical monitors as the patients' vital signs dropped to near-normal.

"Go ahead here. I'll give dilute doses to everyone out there." Nick nodded to the doctors and walked back to the water dispenser. It was pretty standard, even though the water in the bottle was a bit cloudy.

I wonder how the chlorine is holding out? We're all going to be drinking untreated water eventually.

Nick manhandled the bottle off the stand without too much slop, added most of the rest of the bottle of wine, then tipped it back into the stand.

Acho stepped into the receptionist's area. picked out three people with minimal burns. "Come help dispense a healing potion." Medical trays of small paper cups of slightly reddish water were handed over the counter.

Half of them left after a few minutes.

Nick carried the last tray into the docbox room. Shooed out the last of the ambulatory patients and gave the patients laying there extra.

"You!"

The last patient was propped up on one elbow. No burns, this was one of the early patients, evicted from the docbox to finish healing on his own.

"Why did you do that!" He stared at Nick.

Nick walked back to him. "Ah. A priest. Do what? Kill the perverts who kidnapped, drugged and mutilated me? Refused to join the sick theocracy that castrated me and Abbas? Fought them to keep them from taking the rest of the family?"

"You killed him."

"Emre? No, that was actually Isakson. Not that I wouldn't have. Anything to break your stuck grand compass. God, hundreds of you trapped. Influencing an entire world. Kidnapping children and raping their minds. Had I the ability, I would have killed every single one of you." He turned and walked out.

Ahco looked at the Priest.

Tears running down his face. "I can't hear them. I can't feel them. I'm all alone."

Ahco bit his lip . . . asked. "Do you remember your childhood? Did you go willingly to Makkah?"

"No. No one does, but we all become resigned, once it's done. And then we begin to enjoy the huge power we wield. We know all the boys will come to the same pleasures."

Ahco shook his head, unable to summon any sympathy. Or even a verbal pretense. He turned and walked out. The street was nearly empty of people. Deip fell in beside him.

"That wine . . . you could see the first degree burns healing, the second degree were a bit slower. How'd it go inside?"

"Much the same, but some of the badly burned . . . I don't know. He had a pain suppression spell that worked really well, so no one's hurting. I don't know. You can't heal chared flesh and bone." Ahco looked around. "Where'd everyone go?"

"They . . . I told them it was a dangerous potion that would spread in wine. Next thing you know, they were climbing back to their apartments for wine and hard liquor and spitting into it . . . and Nick . . . Ra'd . . . wasn't kidding about the aphrodisiac nor the street orgy.

"I told them to take it inside, and they did. Two floors destroyed, if we had a Fire Marshall he'd have condemned the whole building. But tonight it's party central."

"Ijje?"

"When I checked, he was gone." Deip looked at her hands. "I, err, licked my fingers without thinking. So, umm, I need to take a nice long walk. Alone. Maybe I can kill something for dinner. Because I really don't want to find out what you'd do if I groped you."

"Ah . . . I'd order you to grab a gun and a horse and go hunting."

"Right. This had better wear off by tomorrow." She veered away toward the horse's corra