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21 December 2017 @ 07:20 am
_Mirror, Mirror_ part 10  

One last post. From here on there are spots I need to fill in or change a bit, but it's a done deal.

Chapter Eleven

Nick followed Ebsa across the plaza.

He studied the man. Bright blue eyes, gleaming, studied him in return.

He's enjoying this!

"You're young, but you look lean, mean, and hungry. You ought to be able to hold up a side of a minor compass."

Nick nodded. "It's been a long time since I've practiced . . . "

I ought to have been practicing with Abbaas and Hakim.

"Right, let's go . . . Ra'd."

Ebsa laid down his rifle and faced him, shields dropping to reveal a smooth deep glow of immense power.

Nick remembered a nightmare, a day seven years ago. The overwhelming pressure on his mind, breaking him . . .

There was no pressure here.

Ebsa held out his hands. "Your choice."

"Call me Nick." He reached. And lowered his barriers.

Energy. Ebsa's left hand to his right. Nick took it and passed it back through his left. A circle of power. They both added to it and it whipped around faster, expanding into a glowing cyclone of power . . .

Disappearing. Absorbed. Nick felt like his head was inflating.

Hands dropped. Ebsa's eyes glowed with power. Scooping up weapons . . . Ebsa was taking a crowbar? A backpack he pulled from a bag of the Prophets?

He looked inside. "Shaped charges. If we can get through the gate and damage their rings, it might stop this."

Urfa shifted. "And can you get back?"

Ebsa grinned, glowing so brightly it nearly oozed from his skin. "Well, that may be a problem. So when my people show up, suggest they look for us over there. And Urfa? Don't shoot at them."

Urfa glanced at the gate. "They've just about got the bulldozer pushed out of the way."

"Right. Work on the flanks, Nick and I will take the middle." He handed Nick a belt with holstered pistol, extra mags in two sizes, a knife . . .

He buckled it on and took the proffered rifle.

Criminal to hero in one easy step. Bet the reverse will happen as well.

He pushed thought of the future away. Time to fight.

"Shields up, physical and energy." Ebsa turned and strode toward the Earth's army.

He didn't seem to notice the bullets and lasers hitting his shields, and Nick tried to shed the momentum as readily as they broke into a run. Power flicked out and the closest shooters crumpled.

:: They have no magic at all. ::

Ebsa stopped, switched to his huge rifle and fired once through the gate. :: If they get a tank through the gate, that won't really matter. ::

Nick staggered. Was crushed down and then floated for a second.

Alien strips replaced normalcy to either side.

:: Stay on the bricks as long as possible. ::

The mental contact felt almost like his own thoughts. Merged.

Wrench. The strange bits went away. He stumbled . . .

:: Are they manipulating gravity or is that part of the weirdness? :: Ebsa slung the big gun and pulled the crowbar off his belt.

Nick pulled a pistol, fired carefully placed shots across the line of soldiers facing them. :: Good armor. Aim for the edges of sections. :: He slapped in another magazine and started firing again. Men fell. This time slower to rise.

Then they were in among the troops. And heading straight for the gate.

Through the link to Ebsa he could feel the older man using the power they'd built up. Careful precise spells. :: Stun has a range of two meters, push can go twenty, but they'll just get back up. Spin and laugh are somewhat useful. If it gets nasty, I can slice about ten meters. ::

The soldiers all around them were dropping. Ebsa vaulted over and kept going.

We're really going through? We can't fight a world! Can't . . .

Ebsa tossed a mental grin his direction. :: We already are. ::

Click. Out of ammo.

He holstered the gun and ran forward. Shields up. Must be some weapons laying around out here somewhere. He scooped up a rifle on the run and started shooting, aiming for seams, under the arms, bottom of the clear faceplate. Damn that's good armor. He was knocking them down but too many were staggering back to their feet.

He spotted Ebsa with his crowbar . . . breaking arms and legs. Damn.

Stun spells snapping out, troopers laughing, spinning, coughing. Dying.

Nick dropped the empty gun and scooped up another. Kept shooting. He tried magic, a push staggered a man. Pull tripped them.

He was getting surrounded himself, and turned and shot the soldiers behind him. Backpedaled. Shot a couple more . . . How bloody many soldiers have come through?

:: Hundreds. :: The other one was cool and analytical, focused.

Ebsa slashed out and half a dozen men collapsed into a pile of gore.

Then the other man leapt through the gate.

A explosion to Nick's left. Grenade? Who's shooting? The cops behind me?

Two steps, leap over a ridge of body parts and through the gate.



Chapter Twelve

One bulldozer, no longer pushing the other broken-down dozer out of the way to the left . . .

To the right, more foot troops, beyond the dozer the turrets of tanks.

Ebsa cut right, threw a stun spell, reversed, staying between the pair of unmoving bulldozers and the gate.

Nick leaped out of the gate with a gasp of pain.

"Keep them off my back for a minute, then we have to get as far away from the gate as possible. Fast." Ebsa jerked a thumb over his shoulder. Knelt beside the concrete and steel arch that held the gate. Tried to remember the schematics he'd seen of the Oner's powered gates.

Some where behind this are two counter-rotating super-cooled super-conducting rings. All I need to do is break their containment. And duck.

He whipped the gun-sling over his head and handed the 20mm to Nick. Peeled out of the back pack. Shaped charges three of them. He synced the timers. Ignored something flying over his head. He didn't bother to look. Nick had it. A boom from the big gun and the nearest engine noise died abruptly.

A quick triangle on the wall. :: Thirty seconds!:: He threw himself away and went to work with the crowbar.

:: Can't hold them. :: Nick was backing away, staggering as the Earthers tried saturating his shield.

:: Don't even try. It's set. Come on.:: Ebsa jumped in as the Earther troops charged back through the gate. He smashed a faceplate, and the face behind it, grabbed Nick and hauled him out of the scrum. They ran, cut right behind the first dead bulldozer, got behind the bulk of the metal as the world disintegrated.

At Speed, he could see the shards of the gate mechanism, the super-cooled rings flying . . . he knocked two chunks away before the end of the crowbar shattered, grabbed a rifle, dodged cold death, batted another away, no traction on the ground, falling sideways, no, that way was down and it hit hard . . .

Ebsa rolled shakily to his feet. A quick glance . . . a longer look around. The fallen buildings of the East Plaza . . . mostly. A thin green wedge of tall grass led away . . . And he was quite certain there was not supposed to be a body of water over there.

"Why did the tank and bulldozer come through with us?" Nick frowned at the machinery. "How the hell did we get here, for that matter?"

Ebsa looked at the ground. A circle of stark gray concrete, a deep hole where the gate had been . . . the gray concrete spiraled out into the red brick of the Plaza . . . The horizon full of recognizably Oner buildings, however damaged . . . except for that half of a building right there . . .

"Get on the brick, in case it goes back . . . " Ebsa backed away from the Earth soldiers as they recovered.

He reached for the last bit of the compass's power and projected his voice.

"We have closed the gate. Now you may surrender, or we can kill you all. Given the damage and deaths here in the city, I highly recommend you surrender quickly, because we haven't got time for any shit."

The soldiers looked around, one, an officer by the subdued rank marks, stood for a long survey of what had been a busy city a hour before.

"Look at the ground." Ebsa told him. "Something very strange has happened, and I don't know if you'll be getting home anytime soon."

Urfa limped up and eyed the officer. "Surrender and I'll try to make the worst that happens is you get to help with search and rescue."

The man looked around, eyes narrowing.

Ebsa walked closer. "Two of us just trashed your command and blew up your gate mechanism. What have you got here, fifty men in working order, twice as many casualties? You want to start all over, or get them medical treatment while the healthy save some civilians?

"At a minimum, back off to that slice of concrete. Maybe it'll take you home."



Part Two: Scrambled

Chapter One

Day 1

Nick backed away keeping his gaze moving. He grabbed and slung weapons as he backed away.

Ebsa looked like he was going to be able to talk the stranded soldiers into surrendering . . .

Time to assess the damage. Several shots had made it through or around his shield . . . not too bad. Really.

But he saw the Oner cops eyeing him.

:: Fake weakness. Look harmless. ::

He let himself stagger, let himself look weak . . . knowing his shield was going to collapse. But I'm not really weak. I won't faint . . .

Another heaving wrench. the tall grass he'd been eyeing disappeared. Brick returned.

Three more steps, across that shattered line marking the edge of the weird effect, then he dropped all the guns and folded up. Clung to consciousness and kept his eyes and ears open.

He watched Ebsa limp across to his footlockers, put his guns away. Pocket something, and walk back to Urfa poking at his com.

"Ah, there we go, I have . . . " Ebsa trailed off, listening. "Good."

He dropped his hand and looked at Urfa. "Search and Rescue and medical help on the way. Disco says the highly quake prone areas have problems, but nothing like this."

Urfa looked a bit stiff. "Our people will be sending help as well." He looked up suddenly. Aircars swooped by, the black and purple stripes of the Black Horse Guard. "They'll check on Government House." A sudden worried crease between his brows. "And the President will no doubt send them out for search and rescue, as I suspect ground vehicles are having problems with debris in the roads."

The World wrenched, and they were gone, along with the bricks and concrete and horizon full of Parisian office towers.

Nick uncurled from his duck and cover.

Sat up.

He was on a slash of East plaza . . . surrounded by lush tall grass.

The fight's over. Ebsa doesn't need me . . .

Nick grabbed all the guns and staggered away into the long grass. Far enough to be off the part that seemed to be coming and going. So he didn't return to the One World or Earth when that patch did . . . except . . . they'd blown the gate.

Does that mean this is fixed, now? Not going to change back, ever? Except it just did, so is it going to keep happening? Stop or get worse?

"The only way to find out is to wait and see . . . and . . . " He stood, wavering a bit. Surveyed the area. Three groups of towers, some areas of smaller buildings. A single building tall enough to call a skyscraper. Movement, Earth soldiers, over on a stretch of concrete. Some moaning, a couple picking themselves up. He looked at the next strip. It started narrow, widened to a few hundred meters. . . buildings, then trees, tall and majestic beyond.

Nick turned away. If we aren't twisted around, that way would be southeast.

I might as well go see if "home" is here or there. I hope to hell the family got out . . . but that would be unlikely . . . Okay . . . I know odd things happen to Warriors. Coincidences, luck, call it what you will, just get your feet moving.

Wrench.

Nick eyed the concrete of the Earth facility, with soldiers picking themselves up. The brickwork of the plaza at home, with police picking themselves up. The lake that shouldn't be here either. . . and the uncut prairie grasses surrounding all the other patches of . . . other worlds.

Where I am not a wanted criminal. But . . . my family . . . His eyes were watering as he lunged to his feet and ran, keeping to the grasslands.

He had enough of a shield up to only stagger when the bullets hit.

Probably the police, might be the Earthers, but . . . I just helped stop a cross dimensional invasion, can't you just let me go?

He stumbled on the uneven ground under the chest-high grass, kept going.

I'm going to be very sorry if it doesn't go away again. And either way, I'll probably never see my sister again. Abbas will have to take over the job of protecting the family.

Or perhaps with me gone, they'll be able to hide better. But the boys . . .

Nick stopped as he found the far side of the grass.

The collapsed ruins of a modern building. Concrete road, a couple of abandoned cars, the roads blocked by the debris.

It's either Earth, or Home.

He edged closer. If it's home, I might be able to escape. Get to the apartment before the police trace . . .

The World heaved under his feet and tossed him out onto . . . the desert sands . . .

He jumped up and took a quick survey.

Collapsed buildings there. Desert, lake . . .

"The apartment was maybe six kilometers southeast." He eyed the sun, turned and started running.

:: Gamer! Do you hear me? ::

Nothing. Damn, damn, damn.

He spotted concrete and a fallen skyscraper, veered to climb up for a look.

And then a slow scan.

Palm trees beyond the debris, desert to either side of both.

Like a long strip of random terrain, through . . . a desert, or a desert World?

Another strip running southish, just to the west. Was there another to the southeast?

:: Gamer! ::

Still nothing. He climbed down into the palm trees and kept heading toward where his family ought to be.

Strange trees . . . stranger birds, hind legs feathered as if they were trying for four wings.

They all took flight as the ground shook. Nick watched the trees, but they all stood firm.

He shinnied up a tall one and found himself surrounded by home.

:: Gamer! ::

:: Yes! Thank God you are all right! Where are you? ::

:: In a weird strip. Find one and get everyone there. Wait and see if the large area outside the strip turns into grassland. Move onto the grasslands. Contact everyone and tell them to do the same. ::

:: Ha! We're standing here watching things come and go already. Grasslands it is. ::

Nick sent a wave of . . . glee? Hope? Something wild and strange as this odd . . .

Another quake. Grasslands. He sacrificed skin for speed, and was off the tree and running for the grass . . . A brief nightmare glance of something leaping at him . . . he slashed. Stumbled out into the grass before he turned and looked.

Gawped. A dinosaur. The jaws of the severed head still chomping, the body twitching.

Movement beyond, more dinos.

I have no desire to share a world with velociraptors!

Three slices later, he cursed as the last dinos faded back into the trees.

He caught his breath. Noticed his hands shaking a little. Running out of energy. Yeah. I've been a bit busy.

The ground heaved the palm trees turned into desert. The surrounding grasslands remained. Excellent.

He walked back to the nearest decapitated dinosaur and used his knife to slice about a kilo of meat off one shoulder. Walked up to a slight hill and took a scan around for danger.

All clear. Two steps back down the hill, so he wasn't silhouetted.

He pulled up several grass clumps and started a small fire in the dirt. The grass burned well enough to sort of sear his dino steak.

Good thing I like rare meat. Chewy rare meat.

A quake. Concrete ruins. Nothing familiar.

This phenomena . . . That one was nearly an hour after the previous. It's slowing down. Will it stop altogether?

His hands steadied, and all his injuries made themselves felt. He sank into a light meditation. In case the Dinosaur world comes back. A healing spell. A bit of telekinesis to get out a bullet, but everything else was minor.

And he started grinning. "Worlds! These. Really. Are. Worlds!"

A laugh from his right. Abbaas wound through waist high grasses. "Our bunch is out. Meisha got ahold of Fatima. They're trying to get to the kids at school, and will try for grasslands."

 
 
 
matapampamuphoff on December 21st, 2017 01:22 pm (UTC)
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on December 21st, 2017 08:01 pm (UTC)

Outstanding