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08 May 2017 @ 07:29 am
_Scrambled_ part 15  
 

Chapter Twenty-two Nick

Day 8

"So we decided to make the pavilion equally inconvenient for everyone."

Nick laughed. "Good idea. So you've moved into the Mining headquarters and are installing bathtubs and showers?"

"Yep." Kirk grinned. "No point in staying in those pokey apartments. A couple of Desi's friends are trying to talk their husbands into grabbing a building over there too."

"And my family's moving out several kilometers. But if we use it for a school, most of the children will be coming from the apartments or the Red Zone, so it's best that it not be too inconvenient for them."

Marco grinned. "And we'll all fill in the spaces in between, once we figure out the best way to build houses here. There's some tall skinny trees, but nothing I'd use for a log cabin."

Nick bit his lip. "Have you checked out the sink hole groves. Some of the pines are large enough and straight enough."

"But there's not enough in any given swale for even a single cabin." Marco waved at a loose stack of large bricks stacked around the campfire. "I'm experimenting with adobe. If all else fails, I'll have to head for those mountains and see what's growing there."

Kirk nodded. "We may need to figure out how to trade for some horses. I've got a couple of the guys working on how to make wagon wheels.

"Speaking of my family . . . "

"They moved. They all agreed that any roof was better than no roof." Kirk grinned. "Those are some strong willed ladies."

"You have no idea. So, why don't we let your ladies get to work on most of this meat, and I'll take some to this new home of mine." Nick took a long slow scan to the north and west. No human glows.

"Problem?"

"Not yet, but those Earth soldiers are less than twenty kilometers away. . . what might they do next?"

Kirk eyed him. "What about the Oner soldiers?"

"Half of us are their citizens. And I lent a hand today. Hopefully they will . . . consider us allies." Nick shrugged angrily. "Of course their damned Minister started the fight all over. Who knows what madness he'll come up with when they let him out of the docbox."

***

Umaya and Gamer had the house floored in squares of limestone, and a substantial garden dug up.

"I think I sprained my magic trying to keep up with Momma. She'd slice down to the limestone , go sideways and flip a huge chunk up into the air. It exploded all over, which made it really easy to get the weeds out of it. I think we did millions . . . or at least a couple hundred scoops like that."

"That's great . . . but where are you going to get seeds?"

"Ha!" Umaya trundled past him, hands full.

"Potatoes?"

"I grabbed all sorts of things while the crazy was going on. Yams, tomatoes . . . I don't know if I can get viable seeds from the squash, but I'll try. Popcorn isn't ideal, but better than no corn at all. And beans and peas, of course."

"Of course." Nick grinned at Gamer. "Your Momma is good at this survival stuff."

A snort. "I am not a spoiled city girl. We always had a big garden and a few fruit trees. Papa always said we should know how to live without depending on others."

The Prophet Victor. "Yes, Dad said he was a scholar. Studying magic, inventing spells and techniques. You lived with him and your mother, didn't you? When Dad was traveling?"

"After your mother died." Umaya sighed. "I thought I'd be jealous of a sister-wife, but she was like a second mother to me. And you! Horrible brat, spoiled. No wonder your father took you off with the soldiers when you were so young!"

Nick grinned. "Careful. For just a moment there you were being nice."

"Humph!" Umaya snapped her fingers with a spark of light.

Reminding me that she's magic. Not as well trained as a warrior, or one of these Princesses, but better than the average Oner.

"I need to start teaching magic lessons. I wonder if we could get one of those Black Horse Guard Princess's to teach the girls."

Gamer perked up. She's sixteen, she should be getting regular lessons.

"Certainly not! Those women have no morals! And they're trained to kill!" Umaya plunked her potatoes down and started burying them.

"Nick's trained to kill." Gamer grinned at him. :: And no morals to speak of! Orgies! ::

:: Only one. ::

"Ra'd ibn Nicholas is not a woman." Umaya snapped, then flushed a bit. "I mean, just because."

"Stop." Nick pinched the bridge of his nose. "For your information, that healing potion, err, I regenerated some body parts. Okay? So let's stop . . ."

Umaya screamed. Jumped up and grabbed him and danced him around, and Gamer was laughing and the other wives came to see what was wrong . . .

Which turned into a party, which somehow included getting the gardens planted, and the dinosaur in a pit to slow roast. A horded package of cookies shared around. And Abbas scolded for deciding to wait.

Umaya's little house had four mattresses on the floor. "Since you've practically adopted the boy . . . you men and the dogs will sleep over there. Qamar and I will be over here, and when we get the plumbing in, there will be walls and a bathroom in between. And I will have a kitchen."

Nick grinned. And managed to not ask if she figured men and dogs were equally dirty animals. At least she let us in the house.

Chapter Twenty-three Main Acc

Day 8

Lou eyed the approaching soldiers.

Nearly everyone was outside, lots of meat over the coals, and some experimentation with various sort-of-grains going on to one side.

They must be watching to see when we'd be worth robbing again.

"Only six of them. I wonder how much they'll steal this time."

The one in the lead heard that. He frowned at them. "We're not thieves . . . is that really Main Accounting?"

Paulette Hill stalked down the steps. "Yes it is, and we're the accountants. We're Earthers, same as you, young man. You're supposed to be protecting us, not stealing our food and leaving us to starve."

"Well . . . we didn't."

Lou joined Miss Hill. "Not you specifically, those soldiers were Orientals of some sort."

All the heads in the small patrol were nodding. "General Fu's Special Troops. They get all the perks."

One of the soldiers elbowed the speaker. "Sarge, remember when they had the feast and we weren't invited? Bet this is where the food came from."

The sergeant inhaled deeply. "Yeah." Hungry and wistful.

Harrison stalked down to frown at them. "You guys are better equipped to hunt than we are. What's up?"

"General Fu. He wants us all ready to fight. No hunting for anything but Oner Mutant incursions."

Paulette sniffed. "I never did believe that nonsense. Just propaganda, I figure."

"No, we've got some captives, tested them. They may look human, but they aren't."

Lou's thoughts solidified. "Well, the meat's a bit rare and definitely tough, but you guys look hungry enough to manage. C'mon up."

Paulette frowned at him.

"We need to make friends. We're defenseless."

She sniffed and hustled to grab Nick's knife and a plate and start carving meat off a roast. "You two are doing an excellent job of keeping us safe. And hunting."

Lou grinned and grabbed more lumpy asymetrical plates. "Yeah, I know. Not your fine china, but we're getting better."

"Wow. You guys are actually making dishes? That's amazing!" An eager private took a plate full of meat and savored his first bite. "That's delicious. We've got generators enough to run a couple of fabs."

Another pulled out a package. "Look at this crap they give us to eat."

"Crackers?" Paulette perked up. "We've been eating so much meat that crackers sound wonderful . . . is that chocolate?"

Two hundred and sixteen women stopped frowning and started looking hopeful.

Harrison snickered. "If you can swap around and bring us chocolate and bread, we'll gladly feed you meat in large quantities."

The soldiers shared what they had, not that it went far, then boggled over their tidy square pool of fresh water.

"We've been scavenging pipes from the building behind us, but there's not enough water pressure to actually get it into the building."

Sergeant Ron Matthis nodded. "You'd need a pump and electricity."

Mr. Ferguson nodded. "Pity they never got the solar panels working. But I suppose it looks virtuous, even when it doesn't work right."

Lou sat up. "Do you mean to say we've got solar panels on the roof?"

"Eh, you're too new to know about it. They ordered a different inverter, to get the phase angle right or some such nonsense.

PFC Shade grinned. "But with no grid power, that doesn't matter. Let's take a look."

An hour later they had power.

By unanimous vote, they left the lights turned off.

Probably no need, without battery backup the lights would be off anyway, but in the early evening they might be obvious before the solar cells quit altogether.

"We don't want to attract attention."

The soldiers all nodded. "We'll try to make you part of our patrol territory, and . . . jimmny. You guys are such a tasty target."

He almost hated to see them go.

We have allies. The Oner civilians and half our own army.

Gala walked up to stand beside him. "It's nice to know all soldiers aren't vicious killers."

"Hey!"

"Oh, you two are . . . you know us." She grinned. "Have I shown you my office? I'm experimenting with grass stuffed under an area rug for a mattress. It's not bad."

Lou prodded his loose teeth with his tongue. Not too painful. Really.

A sigh from Gala. "Guess not."

"No! It's just . . . that first group of soldiers knocked some of my teeth loose . . . "

"Oh! Oh no. And no dentists here . . . unless the Oners have one? Maybe tomorrow, instead of hunting, you could walk way around the army base and find Nick? He might know where to find a dentist."

"Good idea." And somehow he'd been maneuvered inside and to the stairwell . . . I could use a distraction . . .