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25 October 2017 @ 11:04 am
_Gate Team_ part 11 ish maybe  
 

Chapter Speech + Fort Dino crossing

The Empire of the One

Directorate of External Relations

Months later the Helios miniverse dawdled slowly past the Paleogene World, diverted a few degrees.

Xen eyed Q's dissatisfied expression. "Not enough?"

"It was pretty much what I expected. And it did bend even more toward the Dinosaur World. But probably not enough for me to successfully force a merge with the Dinosaurs. And if it misses . . . it'll deflect toward the Primitive World. It will be close." Q bit her lip.

"We increased the chance it will hit the Dino world. Lessened the chance that it'll close enough for the Helaos to force a merge with the One World. That'll do for now." Xen thumped her shoulder.

"I'll start getting the gates up next week. The Helaos deserve to merge with dinosaurs."

"And if they miss both of the inhabited Worlds, there are plenty of Empty Worlds we can steer them toward . . . And get rid of this menace forever."

***

Presidential Dirtector Urfa sat in on the meeting at the Exterior's Research Subdirectorate.

Dr. Wrla Withione was the Subdirector of Research. The usual High Oner snob, but a highly intelligent one, and a good manager of his department, from everything Urfa had heard.

His staff doing the reporting and presenting their projections were all glowing with relief. "After two close and one distant encounter, the course of the Helios multiverse should stay completely out of merge range. We're calculating that the percent chance that Helios will come close enough to merge with the One World has dropped down to four point six four."

The Subdirector of Intel nodded. "The Helaos are definitely discussing the pros and cons of merging with the Dinosaur World. But they don't seem worried that they might spontaneously merge. So that gives us something to go by, in assessing the future risk to other worlds."

Wrla nodded. "Oh yes. The One World is well out of merge range. although we don't know exactly from how far away they can force a merge. That they've dropped us from consideration is a very good sign."

"The Dinosaur World will be the next close encounter. We will be monitoring constantly to see how it's course changes as they near, and with-or-without Qs work, the miniverse should be deflected further from our world."

Director of External Relations Ajki Withione Black Point spoke for the first time. "If the Helaos do not force a merge with the Dino World, it will deflect toward Primitive World 65480. And what, beyond that?"

"Several X Worlds. Several Empty Worlds. Ocean and Castle Peak are in that general direction, but well off the projected path. All the rest of our colonies are in other directions altogether." Wrlw shrugged. "Q is of the opinion that the Miniverse's slow tumble should have it so out of sync that it cannot merge for another twenty or thirty years."

The Intel subdirector nodded. "As I reported last winter, we've gotten bugs into some critical areas, and are now monitoring their scientists' results. The Helios scientists' conclusion, that their world will miss the Dino World and hit the sparsely inhabited Primitive World remains unchanged, as of our last intercept of a report to their Archelaos. We are monitoring around the clock."

Urfa shifted. "The Helaos know there are enough humans there on the Primitive World to merge with them. The question is, will they be satisfied with the natives or give it a pass.

"Or move. We know they have a working gate. If they can move to another world, no problem, so long as it isn't ours. But we need to also consider worse options. That rather than move to a wilderness, they'll pick a world with an existing civilization they can take over."

Urfa hid a grin as Ajki's glare failed to stop his nephew, a very experienced field agent from speaking. Ajha had been the expert on Comet Fall, and was fast becoming one of the top experts on Helios.

"Given their small surviving population, a small colony world of ours or Earth's would be ideal. Powered high tech infrastructure, but a small population they can easily dominate. We need to keep an eye out for that."

A nod from the President. "Have you discussed that with Disco?"

Ajki nodded. "Yes. Q says she can see where powered gates go . . . if it happens when she's watching. And she said she's watching regularly. She said she'd be putting her understudies to work putting up all the gates to the Dinosaur World sometime in the next week. From there, she said she ought to notice their gates even when she's busy."

Urfa nodded. "With an unfortunate lack of communication between Intel and Exploration, we've got a science expedition on the Dinosaur World. We'll give them a month, then evacuate them well ahead of any possible merge. We'll let them return after the encounter."

***

President Orde put on his relaxed public persona for this speech. Waved and smiled for the cams and applause as he walked to the podium. Brief standard greeting, then he got down to the difficult part. "As you know, we've been studying the Helios—the Cannibal World—for two years now. We gave out very few details, partly because they're very difficult to study, and so far, to infiltrate.

"The main reason, though, for the careful release of information, was because it was heading in our direction." For some extradimensional definition of direction. "Now that we have a longer baseline and can predict their course with reasonable confidence, and an understanding of the merge phenomenon," an uneasy stir through the crowd, "we can definitely say that they will not come close enough to force a merge with the One World. So we'll be releasing a lot more information about them."

A storm of noise. He let it run until it narrowed down to a few loud questions.

"We've known they were coming this direction since a few months after their merge with the Electronics age Earth. But with ///five other worlds between them and us, and not understanding how a fast-wandering miniature Universe is affected by nearby full sized Universes, nor what that causes or influences the merge, we felt it best to keep the information close to avoid panic while we both studied them and began some early preparations."

A wry smile. "Yes, that is when we rushed approval of the suburb worlds. In addition we've been prepping additional potential colonies as quickly as possible. No longer necessary, I'm delighted to say."

He cleared his throat. "There will be lots of opportunities for anyone wishing to colonize a new world.

"However, to brief you on the entire Helios situation, let me start with a quick history of what we've done so far."

And damn well mention at every opportunity Disco's—and especially Xen's and Q's—efforts. They've saved us. Stop hating them.

The screen behind him lit with something close to Q's Multiverse map, that would record well. "This is a rough diagram of something that's not actually happen in 3-D space, but it gives a feel for the situation we found ourselves in, two years ago . . . "

He kept talking, the first unaltered diversion of Helios past another world, then the start of ". . . joint efforts to influence the path . . . " with still shots of both the Speed Team, in External Relations' field khakis, Rael in black and purple Presidential Directorate uniform, and Xen and Q in in Disco gray. The civilian Witches in their triads, gates to another world visible behind them.

Charts showing the original path, and the deflected path.

"They'll come quite close to this Dinosaur World, and deflect even further. We suspect that they will attempt to merge with this Primitive World. We are watching them closely, and if necessary, we will take steps to remove the small Native population of that world."

One only knows how.

Chapter first raid

Two days later Urfa's comm buzzed. He snatched it, so few people had this number . . . Ra'd? He's never called before. No matter what.

"Ra'd? Problem?"

"Yes, sir. While guarding a scientific mission on a Dinosaur World . . . "

Oh shit! That one?

". . . we encountered Helaos. They were holding a dozen kidnapped Oner students for future merging. They raided the Home World." An edge of fury shown though Ra'd's business-like tones at the last. "Colleges in both Caracas and Alcairo."

Urfa forced the emotion out of his voice. To not sound like he'd just been gut-punched. "Where are you now?"

"Embassy. We're dropping off the students. We need to return and get our scientists off the Dino World."

"Good. I'll get things moving here. Do what you need to do."

"Yes, sir." Click.

Urfa was cursing as he hit Major Eppa's code. "Ep? We may need your fast response group, get'em ready while I talk to Ajki . . . "

And Xen . . . Oops, first call Orde, must let the President know . . .

***

Orde collapsed in his chair in his working office—the one where he got things done, as opposed to the ornate official office where he occasionally had his picture taken while signing bills or meeting important people.

The President sighed. "Thank the One we had Ra'd right where we most needed a Warrior. Not to mention Nighthawk."

"Yes. Handy to have someone along who can make gates and corridors. I hope Xen's kids can do that when they're older. Else we'll just have to give up and recruit Fallen." Urfa smiled wryly. "Maybe Rael can hook Xen—worse than he's hooked already."

Orde nodded. "We've always been relieved by the small size of the Comet Fall magical community. But I really wouldn't mind a few dozen more like Q."

One bloody single woman who can just see the whole multiverse!

"Or her brother." Urfa sighed. "Just ten years ago everything was so normal."

"And if Q hadn't found us . . . we'd be a few months away from a merge with Helios. All unknowing." Qayg ran fingers though her short gray hair. "What do we do next?"

Orde grimaced. "I talk until I'm hoarse, and we send some troops to Helios to destroy their gate. In fact I think we'll do the destroying first. Then talk. I won't have them raiding and kidnapping children. One! I'm beginning to think I won't feel much remorse if we end up killing them all."

He poked a button. "Jacky? Arrange a meeting here. The Prime Councilor, the Minister of War and General Yqli. This afternoon."

/// Meeting. The general smiled. "Well, as it happens, we have plans for every contingency. We can destroy their gate mechanism within hours."

Orde nodded. "Unless the Prime Councilor or the Minister have objections? Didn't think so. General, I order you to destroy the Helios's gate mechanism."

Broad gleaming smile.

***

"I'm inclined to do nothing what-so-ever." Lon Hackathorn looked around the table. "But what sort of a precedent does that set? We are, after all, supposed to prevent cross-dimensional raids."

"Hmm, and even tit-for-tat retaliatory raids." Xen was letting his anger show. "Urfa says they haven't lost any more students—that they know of."

Lon eyed him . . . decided to say it. "And it's not like you haven't blown up a few gates, yourself."

"Pre-Disco. But yes." Xen looked around the table. "I have, personally committed cross-dimensional raids. With mass fatalities, in the case of destroying the Earth's gate. After which, the need for diplomacy was clear."

Lon nodded. "Destroying the Helios's gate was a reasonable reaction to their raids. And Helios is an ongoing problem that we are working on . . . and we have no more moral standing than the Empire in this matter. We have to stop both sides, to stop this escalating into a cross-dimensional war. Does anyone have any new ideas about how to stop the main belligerent party? One with a recent history of killing entire planetary populations?"

Shaken heads all around. Q winced. "Kill them all."

Lon paused. Shit. They'll all die if their planet merges . . . and there are no people available for them to kill.

He took a deep breath. "And how should we respond to the Empire's actions?"

Chris Hanger snorted. "My world has a method for responding to things like this. We must verbally castigate the One World for this illegal raid, and warn them in harsh language to not do it again."

Puzzled looks all around.

Xen eyed him. "Chris . . . that won't do anything."

"Exactly. But we have made our non-approval clear. Mind you, sooner or later we'll have to smack someone down. But settling a precedent of warn once, then smack would be useful."

Lon leaned back and nodded. "Yes. Pity though, that our first use is going to be against a polity we have no intension of smacking—and will probably wind up helping."

Q shook her head. "That will just show that we've got common sense."

"Right . . . So, let's work on this harsh letter . . . "

***

" . . . and then they said that they were sending an observer, and demanded that we give him full access to anything he wants to see." Ambassador Ashe leaned back with a thin smile. "Director Hackathorn said they'd send their top agent—Xen Wolfson."

Urfa blinked. "That's . . . an interesting response."

Orde was grinning. "Brilliant. They haven't ignored a cross-dimensional raid, and they've set a precedent of sending an observer whom we all know can do just about anything he wants. But Hackathorn must know that we trust Xen and doubt he will disapprove of anything further we do."

"Knowing Xen, he'll approve, and like as not help, making it a Disco operation, if we have to do something again." Urfa grinned. "Of course your public response will be to deny that we've done anything wrong and demand that their observer get his ass over here and see for himself."

"And your top agent can keep a sharp eye on him."

Down the table, Rael, being in uniform, didn't giggle. Obviously suppressed a grin. But her eyes were bright.

***

"Tsk, tsk. You've been very naughty." Xen grinned at the reception committee. "Now, are you checking to be sure they don't rebuild? Rhetorical question. If they make much progress, please let me take care of it. Disco needs to not leave ourselves open to charges of favoritism, the next time we give a warning, and then physically block a further attack."

"Block it how?" Ajki looked curious.

"Most likely by taking down gates—Fortunately there are only four worlds that can make their own. In the case of you or the Earth, well, we demonstrated the soft block last year. Disco's never gone for a hard block, but Comet Fall did take out Earth's gate facilities in the worst possible way . . . eight years ago. I'd rather not do it again. So if they start building, I'll take it down before it's operational."

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on October 26th, 2017 03:31 am (UTC)
Speaking of Xen and Rael....
What is the story where Xen "finishes" her healing? Iremember reading it here, but not if it was actually published.
matapampamuphoff on October 26th, 2017 03:32 am (UTC)
Re: Speaking of Xen and Rael....
That's in _Embassy_. Chapter 41.


Edited at 2017-10-26 03:19 pm (UTC)
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 26th, 2017 10:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Speaking of Xen and Rael....
Is this also the incident =="And when Q told me there was a Oner with spikey red hair . . . Ha! She made me dress up before she told me, because I teleported right over and it was true.== ?
matapampamuphoff on October 26th, 2017 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Speaking of Xen and Rael....
Yep. And the next day she distracted him from the Purple infiltration.