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28 October 2017 @ 12:00 am
_Gate Team_ part 13  

Soldiers who just want to go home . . . to merge with terrified teenagers . . . He sucked the power out of the hot humid air, and threw it at the aircars. Watched the burning wrecks fall, then turned and stepped through the corridor. He popped it behind him.

Threw a couple more gates, got kicked out of trance by Rael. "We need to get out of here, right now!" Huge dark clouds and constant shaking.

"Huh. I think we triggered a volcano, or maybe started one from scratch."

"Stop analyzing and . . . " Rael gawped, and he turned to see climbing black clouds. A deep boom and a blast of air staggered them.

"Yikes! Corridor fast! Q! Witches, into the utes, guys get ready to drive." Xen finished pinning the corners, the other side opened . . . "GO!" He channeled power as he grabbed witches and yanked them out of their triads. Lots of energy releases . . . The utes zoomed through the corridor as soon as Q had it open. Xen leaped through, and it popped behind him.

Not that it wasn't shaking here as well. "Everyone stay in the utes. Q, time to get off this world. Can you find any cones?" They sat on the ground.

Q's cone connected some where, his connected right in front of them. The utes drove through, Q and Xen jumped.

Xen thumped back down on the ground of their Staging Point World. Caught a cone and took down the gate. Stayed in the blue.

Helios, from this distant perspective, was small, tied to another world by a skein of silvery threads. The whole miniverse in a slow tumble. As he watched, the Alpha Centauri pair of suns slid past their twins, the angle of the miniverse carrying them below . . . flares and eruptions on the stars.

He looked for the Sun . . . passing above the larger universe's Sun . . . and down there, two Earths. One full of life, one ruined and nearly dead . . . nearly touching, cables tight . . . stretching and . . . Helios was past and moving away.

He pulled back a bit, looked at the ghostly fading trail it left behind . . . extrapolated forward . . . Oh Shit!

Xen let the blue go.

"Damn, damn, damn, damn, DAMN! They pulled away." Q thumped down on the ground. "Damn it."

Rael kneeling worriedly beside her. "It didn't work?"

Xen shook his head. "No. And it looks very much like we've aimed it right at that Primitive World."

A couple million people, without a clue that doom is bearing down on them.

Next month.

Chapter Eviction

Deep night. Bright stars. Down below, all was quiet. The fires burned down, everyone asleep. Safe behind their sturdy wooden walls.

Xen grabbed a bubble, "seeing" it large. Large enough to scoop under the entire village and take it all. He slap-attached it to his shoulder . . . picked up the shocked reaction of two guards who'd been outside the stockade and popped over to bubble first one and then the other. Attach their bubbles to the village bubble, then reach out and feel for the glow of a concentration of intelligent life and use that to jump a few hundred miles to the next village.

There's not enough time! God damn those Helaos!

A sudden bright mind, half a continent away. :: Stop being so pessimistic. We've got a month. ::

:: Q! Who's minding the shop?:: He could feel even more people with her. Orion, Korbin, Falco, Grace, and Kevi. Richie and a pack of his kids. His knees felt weak with relief.

:: Warric. He's utterly horrified. ::

Xen snorted and relaxed. :: Right. Now, how are we going to do this? ::

:: I'm going to drop the guys off near large bunches of people, and . . .are you having trouble persuading them? :: She sounded worried.

:: Not asking. I'm scooping up huge areas, their whole villages, at night when almost everyone is home and bubbling them. ::

:: Oh. Well, that will save time. Since you're in the south, I'll spread everyone out then find the north end of their range and start working on that. We can work every night for a week, take a break for the meeting with the Oners, then get right back to it. ::

Xen huffed out a breath of relief. Twelve of us. We can do this.


It was dark by the time Rael pulled into her garage.

A week of debriefings, mainly because everyone's nervy and . . . not panicked. Really. And a meeting tomorrow

She turned off the car. Climbed out stretching.

Another exciting night, alone in the house that Xen built. I always feel safe here, but nothing stops the loneliness . . . she opened the door to the entry . . . except the smell of roses.

She set her briefcase down quietly and walked into the living room. Dimly lit by the city skyglow coming through the floor to ceiling windows and glass doors to the patio.

The roses in the vase barely showed a tint of red. But she didn't need her eyes to recognize the long form on the couch.

"Hey you. I wasn't even sure I'd see you at the meeting in Gate City tomorrow."

Dim light flashed off his teeth in a quick grin. He swung his legs off the couch and sat up.

She snuggled in close for a long kiss.

"Umm, well with a reason to be here . . . " He broke off and looked away. Looked back. "Actually I was missing you, and the meeting was, well, the handiest excuse."

"Yeah." She could feel his tense muscles, almost read the quivering emotions he was suppressing. "Xen? What's wrong?"

"I'm . . . Sorry. I'm having an attack of conscience."

"Umm . . . "

"Helios will hit the Primitive world straight on. And we aimed it at them, trying to force the Dino merge."

"I know . . . "

"If the Intel is right, they'll merge whether they wish it or not.

"Q and I have already started moving the Natives. We'll get most of them, but there's just not enough time to track down every single tiny tribe or family group."

"We'll help . . . whatever you need us to do."

"And on the Dino World, those Helios . . . flying for our gates, just soldiers wanting to get home . . . where they'd be a couple hundred more soldiers for us to fight, if it comes to a battle. And a couple of hundred more people they'd destroy by merging with them . . . if they can find anyone."

She waited silently.

"I killed them all. Just a messy slash across their whole airfleet. It was . . . so easy. And in a month I'll be killing a whole lot more of them. Everyone on the planet." Tight muscles quivering. "I'm becoming worse than they are."

Rael just reached for him.


"You all right?"

Rael snorted and rubbed her cheek on his chest. "Mmmm. That was some emotional storm. My head feels very floaty, just now."

He stretched, then gathered her up again. "I think I owe you whole lot of backrubs for that. Maybe we could skip the meeting and just sleep in tomorrow . . . umm, today."

Rael giggled. "I don't think that will fly. How about a fast time bubble?"

"Oh good thinking." He eased out of bed and padded around the room. The background mental noise of the city disappeared. "There we go. Five to one. We can sleep in and still get up at the crack of predawn."

He sounded back to normal. "Wonderful." She laid her head down . . . and woke feeling his body heat, even not touching him, and feel the soft deep glow he kept concealed during the day. She slipped out of bed . . . almost literally as her feet slid on the slick inside of a bubble.

I wonder if I can even get out? The blackness was absolute. No electric power, but maybe my comm . . . which is out there somewhere. She trailed a hand along the wall, around the corner . . . to a vertical rod. Rods. She could feel the crack between them and pried them apart. The mental pressure of the city lapped back in. The door swung open, attached to one rod. And the usual rectangle of dim city glow at the end of the hall guided her to the kitchen to check the time.

"Oh dark thirty. Or two am if you prefer." She kept her voice low. An hour and a half . . . would be seven and a half hours sleep? She pulled her comm out of the briefcase and set a timer for . . . Umm, five more hours sleep and I'll still be up at three am to get ready for an early morning trip to Gate City for an afternoon meeting . . .


Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 28th, 2017 03:40 pm (UTC)
== "Q and I have already started moving the Natives. ==

Rael noted that Q said "people", wouldn't Xen too?
(Anonymous) on October 28th, 2017 05:58 pm (UTC)
With the flow of the conversation switching voices every paragraph before that, the first time through I thought that Rael had said that, then thought "That doesn't make sense.".
mbarkermbarker on October 29th, 2017 12:21 am (UTC)
That last bit made me think — we all grumble about jet lag. With corridors, and fast and slow bubbles, I’ll bet they have some real lags to contend with.
matapampamuphoff on October 29th, 2017 07:52 pm (UTC)
Commute very far and you might as well be on the night shift--with the added bonus of messed up day-night lengths.

It'll be the next realtor's spiel. "It's only one time zone off Paris, you get up a bit early, and have an extra hour in the evening. Two corridors and you're downtown."

And all those self-drive cars are going to need upgrades. "Automatically identifies and meshes with the new city-grid, you just steer through the Approach and departure zones."