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13 May 2017 @ 11:57 am
_Scrambled_ part 20  

Chapter Ebsa

22 Yusef 1411 yp

Ebsa waved his new crew aboard the crawler.

"Welcome to the Junkyard, gentlemen. Our crawler earned that name by being repeatedly battered and repaired. We are going to try to not do it again. Or at least not on this trip."

Utly and Wkde glanced around . . . froze and stared at Ra'd.

"This is our Ra'd, not your Azho. Azko, there is our electronics expert and Nighthawk Swishdaut is from Disco. She's our dimensional expert."

"Toss your stuff in two of those bins by the folded up bunks. For simplicity's sake we've left the starboard side for visitors."

Wkde grinning at Nighthawk. "So what's a dimensional expert, Honey?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Someone with extremely strong magical abilities, the dimensional talent, and lots of training."

Ebsa cleared her throat. "Guys? Treat Nighthawk like a very powerful Ice Princess, and you'll have the tone about right. Get fresh, and she'll beat the crap out of you."

They swapped glances and frowned at Nighthawk. "But you're not a Oner. We can tell."

She rolled her eyes. "Welcome to the Multiverse. The One World has two of the five major groups of power genes. No, I don't have the One power gene. I have what we call the Witch Gene and the Wizard gene. The fifth type we call the Mage gene. It has, that we recognize, five versions, although some people argue that the One gene is a sixth version, not a separate type."

She looked beyond them . . . "Raven! You're our Medgician?"

Ebsa got his mouth closed. The girl had a spectacular mane of curly red hair.

"Yep. I finished medical school and of course I've been getting the magical side of the training from Lady Gisele and Uncle Xen since forever. This Oner named Paer trained me on the Oner equipment I'd find here, a week ago."

Wkde poked Utly. "Vicious, nasty Princess. Remember that."

Raven eyed them, and grinned like a hungry predator. "You'd better believe it, although I'm not as mean as Nighthawk."

Ebsa paused . . . shrugged. "You're big boys, you can fend for yourselves. Let's line up so we're ready to go as soon as Q finds another prospect."

The new gate was busy. Flats trundling through with squishies and containers of equipment and supplies.

Ebsa lined up and drove through. "Welcome to the refugee world. Anyone who hasn't got a place to return to—or a place they want to return to—is being settled here."

Wicked, Utterly and Raven had nabbed the other three seats on the driving deck.

"That gate goes back to Embassy, of course, and then these corridors go to the incipient towns." Ebsa drove as he lectured. "And over here we have the competing welcome centers. Nuked Earth on this end, Nuked One on the other . . . "

"We object to that name, you know." Utly growled.

"I know. Choose another. 'One World' is already taken, as is 'Empire of the One.' Sorry."

From below, Ra'd laughed. "I'd suggest 'Two' but someone might try to hit me. Again."

Double glare aimed backward.

Ebsa suppressed a grin. "And in the middle we have Purps and Disco. The Purple World sort of wants their people back—they're on their second generation Earth-born by now—but most of the expats would just as soon start fresh here. And Disco is here to count how many squishies they need to import and hook up and sort the pioneers out into groups that won't immediately start fighting with each other."

Raven pointed. "There's Q. So we're putting the gates up here?"

"Yes. Keep in mind that so far we haven't found any worlds that anyone wants to stay on." Night hawk climbed the four steps to the driving deck and stood behind his seat. "The only problem we anticipate is if, when we find the mining worlds, people actually want to live there. Then we'll have to break the news to Earth that they can't have the world back."

Ebsa lined up with the rock arch, staying back from the people sitting on the ground. "So far, all the miners we've rescued jump at the chance of land they own here, rather than stay on either of the mining worlds."

Wicked peered out at the people sitting cross-legged, facing the arch. "They can't possibly be opening a gate! What about the energy it takes?"

A chuckle from Nighthawk. "The powered gates create a magnetic tunnel between membranes. Our gates utilize a natural multidimensional phenomenon. Much less energy intensive."

"The lady in the middle is Q. Dr. Quail Quicksilver. She could do it by herself, but she's making her understudies practice. The halo of teenagers are just observing, at their ages. The two guys who are standing around don't have any dimensional abilities. Like five of the seven of us, they can look through a gate and see what is actually there. The gate makers see the energy of the gate, and can't actually tell what's on the other side."

"That's why we like mixed teams." Nighthawk added. "You guys are handy."

"So all of you . . . Fallen?"

Hawk and Raven nodded.

"Weird. Fallen are dimensionally talented?"

Shaken heads.

"No, it's rare. Ordinarily our explorers are made up of both, from our own people. But Disco aggressively recruits the dimensionally talented, so Disco teams tend to be mixtures. That guy in the blue uniform? That's Colonel Lebonift, the head of Comet Fall's explorers. The equivalent Ebsa and Ra'd's External Relations Subdirector Ajha. Except he's better at escaping and getting out in the field. I doubt the Nuked One has one yet." Nighthawk broke off as a rusty red desert appear in the rock arch.

"Desert." Ebsa couldn't see any signs of human habitation, but that meant nothing.

The guys already on their feet lead the way through, the Fallen scrambling up to follow them.

"Why aren't we going?" Utly was leaning forward eagerly.

"We'll let them get some idea of whether, and what direction, any people are." Ebsa shifted all wheels forward as he got a wave from the other side. He barely noticed the twist as he drove through. Who'd have thought you could get used to that!

Desert all around.

Ra'd opened the door for Lefty.

"There are people at the limit of what we can feel, and Q says there's definitely a big pinch here." He pointed behind them. "That'a way. About a thousand miles. Have fun."

A chorus of young voices fro behind him, volunteering to help them. Lefty just grinned and backed out.

Q stuck her head in a slapped the bulkhead with the Fallen's usual gesture for attaching a corridor or bubble. "They're a bunch of strong Oners. Not in immediate danger, but a bit stressed. If you need me to move the gate, just yell."

Then she was gone, shooing the youngsters off to one side. All wheels forward and they were off, turning to face an arid plain dropping abruptly to a broad sweep of canyons and mesas and lots of more desert. Once away from the gate, Ebsa took a compass bearing.

"This should be fun. Hawk? Let's give our new friends a demonstration of how we descend cliffs, shall we?"

Nighthawk grinned and got out to throw a corridor down to the bottom of the cliff, stepped in and opened it, stepped back and mentally held this end open.

Ebsa drove straight at the desert patch . . . really it didn't actually look like he was driving off the cliff . . . They screamed anyway.

And looked embarrassed as he drove out onto the floor of the canyon.

Nighthawk jumped back in and he started driving, explaining the simple controls to the newbies . . . "Raven? Have you driven?"

"Motor vehicles, you mean? Yes, Uncle Xen gives us all driving lessons."

Uncle Xen. Right. Q's only got a toddler, so is uncle a courtesy title or is she related to him?

He ran out of lecture and let them each take an hour's turn driving. Utly almost rolled it.

They stopped for the night when it got too unsafe to drive in this terrain, even with lights. They camped on the top of a mesa.

"Not that it looks like rain, but this is obviously flash flood territory."

They started again in the early dawn for a long day of corridors up, down, across or past various obstacles. They only back-tracked once. The second night they slept up on the rim of the much-narrowed badlands and Azko picked up bits of radio transmissions, but couldn't get through to them.

"Low powered, might be security comms like our guards have. No antennae to speak of, so they aren't hearing us at all. It sounds like two different groups, patrolling to make sure the other group isn't sneaking up on them to steal their stuff."

Ra'd laughed. "That makes four out of six worlds that carried their grudges and their war with them."

Nighthawk snorted. "The Water World wasn't much better. Another day and I'll bet there would have been a fight for the last of the fresh water. And the Dino World ought not count, since all eight survivors were from Nuked Earth."

ekuah on May 18th, 2017 03:03 pm (UTC)
My 50cent
'Raven eyed them, and grinned like a hungry predator. "You'd better believe it, although I'm not as mean as Nighthawk."'
-You could let her mention
"At least we are not like my great aunt (rustle). When she lost her virginity, two men died, four man got brain damaged, and the remaining two ran for their lives"
-That would be like a cold shower for any amorous male.

'From below, Ra'd laughed. "I'd suggest 'Two' but someone might try to hit me. Again."'
-Why not 'Empire of the None'?