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17 December 2017 @ 06:10 am
_Mirror, Mirror_ part 6  

"Umm, are you Utterly or Wicked?"

"Wkde." He pronounced it like Wick Dee.

"And I'm Utly." Slightly taller crossed his arms and glowered.

"Sure. What sort of odd things?" Ebsa kicked off his shoes.

"None of your business."

Ebsa sighed. "Well why don't you order dinner. I'm going to take a shower."

He poked into a few cupboards. Nothing useful. He got glares from the guards.

He walked out in a towel to find steaks on the table and dug in. "Umm, umm. Nothing like a long day of interrogation to make ordinary vat meat delicious."

Then he kicked back in bed with the remote control and channel surfed for information. Paused at a lurid vid with a mad scientist laughing while lightening cracked all around. He threw a huge switch to much arcing and sound effects. A flash and sudden daylight flooded through a window. The mad scientist looked out over a peaceful green pasture, white washed village . . . "They'll never find me here!"

The remote was snatched from his hand. The screen died.

"Don't listen to that crap."

Ebsa eyed him. "Umm, if your weird stuff was anything that could possibly be misinterpreted as moving entire buildings around . . . "

Then the building shivered. Ebsa rolled off the bed, lost his footing for a second that felt almost like low gravity . . . thudded down and stumbled to the window.

Still in Paris.

Really. Did I actually expect something else?

"Nice little earthquake . . . " He reached and flicked the lamp switch. Nothing. "Took the power out."

The guards swapped nervy glances.

Ebsa just climbed back into bed. "Well, see you in the morning, guys."

He slid into a meditative state, reached into the high mental frequencies and eavesdropped.

:: That was right when they were going to test the gate. ::

:: Stop it! We had gates for nearly two centuries before Granite Peak. Never a single report of something like this happening. ::

And from just a little further, probably the occupants of neighboring rooms, a low level fear.

And then clear and high, his team mate Azko, who was supposed to be camped out on the far side of Disco's gate, collecting electronic intel.

:: Ebsa? What the hell was that? ::

:: I was hoping it was just an earthquake. Were you on this side . . . ::

:: No, I was burning dinner when the gate flashed and everything shook. I'm across now, of course. The gate appears to be back to functioning normally. ::

:: That's not good. You have a relay all the way back home, right? Get ahold of Q and tell her we felt the quake on both worlds, and about the flash. Tell her that this One World has no working gates, and was going to test one right about when the quake hit. In the morning, when you've got good light, drive around and look for . . . I don't know what. Anything odd. ::

Mad Scientists' secret bases.

:: Right. You coming back? ::

:: No, I've encountered the forces of good and have them half convinced I'm good too. I might even manage to talk to someone in government if I just sit here and keep telling the truth. And if you come back through, watch out. There's a Ra'd on this side who's a wanted mass murderer, and apparently Qamar is so bad-assed she's got a kill-on-sight order out for her. ::

:: Qamar? The mind boggles. ::

:: Yes. Now get. ::

:: Yes boss. ::

Then the clear communications were gone, and only the worried niggling's of his guards remained. Ebsa shut them out and slept. Woke up when the power came back on and the lights came on. He nodded to Wicked on his way to the bathroom. Turned his damp undergarments on the rail, felt the toes of the socks. Almost dry. He walked back to bed.

Both guards scowled at him.

"Look guys, I'm sorry. But I really need to make some useful contacts in your government. Later, I promise to make a daring escape and lead you through the labyrinth of the slums to the Evil Villain's secret headquarters, all right?"

Wicked glared. "You could just tell us where he is."

"I haven't actually got the faintest idea. And with luck I'll be too busy elsewhere to actually help you."

"He's your friend."

"Not really. No more than that woman down in Montevideo is my mother. But I would move mountains to not hurt her. Knowing she'd look at me blankly and wonder who the One Hell this nosey punk thinks he is pushing into her business. And . . . well, she does have a way with words."

A snicker from the other bed, where Utterly lay, fully dressed. "Yeah. I'm from Montevideo. Madam Castellanos . . . is verbal. I remember when she ran for the City Council. She came pretty damned close to unseating Uhra."

"She ran for City Council? That must have been awesome."

Ebsa leaned on the window sill. A faint blush of predawn light to the east, all the tall modern buildings silhouetted against deep blue. "I don't remember hearing that Paris had many quakes."

Reflected in the window, he could see the guards exchange glances.

Wicked shrugged. "They say they used to be quite rare. The central French area got one or two a decade. After the nuke . . . everyplace had more, but mostly in the known fault zones. They settled down after a year, then continued at a low rate for five years. Until we tested the new gate."

"No, really, they started picking up before that. Statistically they're related to the gate tests, but they still started before."

Ebsa turned around. "Testing components perhaps? Umm . . . shooting off a nuke in a gate . . . maybe the problem is in the inbetween, not in the gate. Maybe running the gate lets the inbetween affect us . . . you . . . more strongly."

"Oh, listen to the scientist."

"But if the problems, call them dimensional turbulence, started earlier . . . I wonder if the Earth that caught some of the blast through a gate was affected. May be they're testing their gate too. And the two worlds are linked somehow. Or three, Granite Peak might have been affected too. I wonder if it split?"

"You should write for the vids." Utterly shoved himself upright and frowned at him. "Do you know what you're talking about?"

"One hell no. I had a single intro to dimensional theory class at the Directorate School. Just ignore me." Ebsa drummed his fingers, turned away. "Damn I wish I had my computer and com. I'd like to sic Disco on the Nuked Earth. Get the dates and times of their gate tests, or gate openings, and their earthquakes. Have to calculate the time slip . . . Urf! I hate waiting for politicians, especially since there's a fifty-fifty chance my claims haven't gone beyond Interior."

Wicked snorted. "You going to take a hair dryer to your tighty whities?"

"It's that or go commando." Ebsa threw himself back in bed. "Wake me up for breakfast."

Chapter Seven

Nick eased up the street, trying to be unnoticed without actually using any magic. Because everyone was alert, scanning the street in puzzlement, recognition or repugnance.

"I just don't . . . want any." The pretty girl, woman, turned away from a baffled and furious dealer. "I don't know what happened."

Nick was fairly sure this was one of the pros he'd . . . known. Hard to say, with maybe a quarter of the amount of makeup and her improbable shade of red hair just brushed back behind her ears. And while she wasn't wearing much, it was a lot more than . . . two nights ago?


Nick spun, ready to strike out . . .

The man was clean shaven, hair recently cut. He was clean. His raggedy clothing was clean. And familiar despite the current lack of grunge.

Nick eyed him, and man behind him. The Winos. My first victims . . .

"What was that you gave us?" the first man frowned at him.

The second man stepped around to stand shoulder to shoulder with him. Also cleaned up. "We're cured. Our alcoholism is gone. Just like that. Neither of us wants a drink, nor drugs."

"Best rehab ever, mind you." The first man smirked. "But I want to know what was in the wine."

"Yeah, me too, honey." The woman had come up behind him, making his nerves crawl. "What the hell happened? Everybody's . . . cleaned up. It's freakin' me out, here."

"Ah, Macy, you weren't ever dirty."

"Hush now, Inty, you know what I mean. I was hungry this morning . . . and I ate food. It's going to ruin mah figure."

mbarkermbarker on December 18th, 2017 01:02 am (UTC)
And the Fallen joy juice strikes again! You know, you oughta bottle that stuff...
matapampamuphoff on December 18th, 2017 03:50 am (UTC)
I might have gone a little overboard with it--and I wish to heck I had some.
mbarkermbarker on December 18th, 2017 06:12 am (UTC)
Nah, I like it! I will admit, I was thinking Kickapoo joy juice... and had to look that up, whereupon I realized that I have buried memories of Lil Abner's strip. I must have read that in high school, when I carefully followed the Sunday comics, especially. But I hadn't really remembered Kickapoo Joy Juice... probably that collective subconscious thingie, right?