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06 April 2018 @ 09:11 am
_Marooned_ part 5  

In the morning the column of smoke was clear. Xen loaded up the folds of the orange suit with throwing stones and tools, and bundled smoked venison and all his arrows in a deer hide. Four jugs of water, the necks tied together and slung over a shoulder.

The latest bow. One spear.

He felt ridiculously over loaded.

But if there are people out there, I may not come back.

He headed south.

***

Rolling hills, the grasses dry, not much in the way of seed heads, but even a little bread would be nice.

Later. Yeah, an all protein diet was getting old, but first, check out the fire.

Twenty miles until he reached a gully worthy of the name. Dry, not water at all.

Good thing I brought water. I wonder if my stream will dry up . . . and maybe I’d better think about which way to move if it does.

He squinted at the mountains. No snow. I wonder where on the world I am? If these streams are mostly snow melt . . . there could be problems.

He topped the hill . . . and spotted something orange and irregular heap in the grass.

He trotted down to it, the heap resolving in a human shape.

“Hello? Damn, damn, damn, don’t be dead, dammit.” He dropped down beside the figure, and heard the raspy breath as he grabbed a thing shoulder and rolled him . . . her . . . “Oh shit. Jiol! Jiol, can you wake up?”

Shrunken old hands . . . “Dehydrated. Maybe heat stroke.” He worried the cork out of a jug and sat her up. Her eyelids moved, tried to open. He splashed a little water on them, poured a little over her head, to cool her a bit.

Semi-conscious or not, I have to get some water into her right now.

“Take a sip.” He got a tiny splash into her mouth. Her eyes opened and blinked. “Swallow. Just a tiny sip.”

H maneuvered around to get her in his shade, and helped her hold the jug, kept her to small sips, wiped her eyes again.

“Xen?” her voice was a thin croak. She sipped water “Glad to see you survived whatever happened. Not sure I’m going to. No magic. I can’t feel it, see?”

“Yeah. I suspect you’ve got a slug of something like metalformaline under the skin of your back. Once you’ve recovered a bit, I’ll remove it. Take another sip.”

“I’d like a nice long drink, you . . . nice man.”

“Small drink. Then I’m going to carry you up the hill and down into a nice shady gully a travois to haul you back to my home-sweet-home and then you can lay about and recover in safety.” Xen eyed her. “How long have you been here? With no water, you wouldn’t have lasted three days.”

“I did find some water. A scummy little pool . . . and nothing more, so I moved on.” Her brows drew together. “I think I saw a fire, so I turned around and headed back south.”

Xen nodded. “I saw the fire, I was off to look and see if someone had set it, when I found you.”

“Oh, well, we should go . . .”

“No. I need to know that you are safe before I go back to check and see. It may have been started by lightning. I’m not risking your life to find that out.”

“Humph! Did I call you a nice young man? I misspoke.”

Xen grinned, and let her hold the jug herself. Pulled power from the sun beating on his back, and cast a gentle healing spell on her.

“So . . . did you have a slug of solid methalformaline in your back? Or is it still there?”

“I think I’ve gotten most of it out, but it’s located where I can’t see it, I can barely feel it, and it hasn’t been properly flushed out. There’s enough left to seriously inhibit my magic. But it’s improving daily.”

“But you can see to get mine out.” She didn’t make that a question.

“Yes. I’m going to haul you home, to where I have water, and you’re going to get some nice primitive minor surgery.”

“Excellent.” She tried to sit up straighter. Failed.

“Sip water, while I weave you a sunhat, then I’ll drag you on this deerskin, which will get vastly improved once we’re over the hill and down to that dry streambed on the other side.”

She sipped, head turned to watch as he hacked off tall half-dried grass. “Stone tools? How interesting. How . . . typically Xen . . . even without magic you just roll along doing amazing things. How did you catch that poor deer to get the skin?”

“My semi-friendly wolf and I hunt cooperatively.”

Snort. “Your wolf. Of course. Don’t you have your horse and dogs along? Or . . . can’t you open those bubbles?”

Xen kept his eyes on the grass hat he was trying to form. “I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, so Pyrite was out with the other horses. So that bubble and the dog house bubble was at home. And a damned good thing, because all the weapons and so forth that I always have along, are gone.”

“Oh . . . So Pooh Bah is dimensionally able? We wondered, because of the perfect placement of his magic carpet.”

Xen paused. “I hadn’t thought of that. It cannot possible have landed randomly right where it made the best display, facing Disco.”

“Twice. Q checked for a beacon, there was nothing. No sign they’d scouted us out, but I think they much have.”

“Q’s good at looking a world over before she let’s her gate attach . . . I don’t like the idea of facing someone with that same ability . . . but it felt like a powered gate . . . Dammit.” Xen dropped something that might be generously called a hat on her head. “Now let’s see about getting you home.”

She—and all of his stuff—was much easier to drag, once he’d chopped down a couple of slender trees and made a travois.

It was nearly dark before he got back to the water fall, and at her insistence, cut the slug of nasty stuff, out of her back and scrubbed the long cut he’d made.

Then he carried her up to his under-the-tree-house and scaring the wolf.

“As soon as you even halfway steady, you’re going to slice me up and scrub my back.”

She grunted something about telling Inso he said that, as she curled up in his bed and slept.

She was better in the morning, if still weak. She drank venison and wild onion soup, and he laid spells on her burns.

“You’re much less burned than I was.”

“Yes, well . . . There were a bunch of us . . . Rael had something that caught and diverted the first two strikes, as we all tried to get each other off that damned carpet. Inso shoved Q off and I’m pretty sure he and Rael both got off . . . Who else was there?” She shook her head. “At any rate, yes, I got a much lesser shock than you took alone.”

“So half of Disco decided to get electrocuted?”

She snorted. “Well, perhaps a quarter. You’d been gone for two months.”

“And Rael was there? Playing lightning rod?”

“Pretty much. That’s an interesting young woman. Very self contained. If Q hadn’t said she cried in your bed every night, I’d have thought her quite unmoved.”

Xen bit his lip and managed to not say anything about Rael finally moving in with him—once he was gone.

He soaked up some sun, and came back to throw another healing spell on her.





Chapter Eight

A girl and her dog

Xen reached out, and the bubble jiggled a bit . . . and suddenly rushed sideways as a bright slash of a powered gate cut through the inbetween.

Xen pointed, and opened his eyes. North-northwest. I don’t known how far . . . but I’m going to try and find any new victims of that chubby little menace who zapped me and dumped me here.

“Jiol? How you feeling?”

“Much improved?” She walked over, stiff and careful of her balance. “Why?”

“I think I just saw a powered gate.”

She tsked. “I wonder who they dumped this time? I must have been fifty kilometers or so from you . . .”

“So I may not be back tonight.”

***

The wolf heard it first. Slinking down, ears focused beyond the next hill. Xen went to one knee and watched where the wolf was focused. And caught an odd sound . . . not a clanking, more of a smooth metal sliding, thumps and rustling grasses.

Movement at the crest of the hill. Metal . . . coppery metal that brought up some bad memories . . .

A robot climbed over the crest of the hill, details emerging. The head with glowing red eyes. Xen could see the exposed metal and plastic scaffolding of the legs. He blinked at the lack of much in between, then the robot turned a bit and he could see that the body was behind those legs, wide and solid. With another pair of legs behind. A robot in the form of a dog?

Crap, I really hope that thing is not here to hunt down people who survived their being injured and dumped here.

The dog’s head turned and studied him.

I haven’t tried a light warp yet. An illusion won’t fool a computer. I wonder if I can slice?

 
 
 
1stew1stew on April 6th, 2018 09:36 pm (UTC)
Oh about Bubbles
Dear Pam,

Holly asked about bubbles and gave a sorta answer, but then you wrote:

"can’t you open those bubbles?”

Xen kept his eyes on the grass hat he was trying to form. “I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, so Pyrite was out with the other horses. So that bubble and the dog house bubble was at home. And a damned good thing, because all the weapons and so forth that I always have along, are gone.”

“Oh . . . So Pooh Bah is dimensionally able?"

Would love to know the secrets of bubbles please do tell.

Which still leaves some mystery:

1. What do bubbles attach to? Person? Clothes? Magical Energy Field?
1.5 Do you have to be Dimensionally enabled to attach bubbles? It seems Non-DI people always have some handles on their bubbles so it begs to reason that they really can't interact at a base level with a bubble such as attaching.
2. Did the bubbles peel off and float away because Xen's power was diminished?
2.5 Is Xen unable to perceive the bubbles because he is dimensionally impaired?
3. It seemed that some tunnels could be sorta locked shouldn't the same be true for storage bubbles?

matapampamuphoff on April 7th, 2018 02:17 am (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
Bubbles are free-floating in-between-the-membranes dimensional phenomena.

A sufficiently powerful magician (generally with two different power sources) who also has a mix of genes enabling the ability,
can capture bubbles and attach them to anything they wish.

Xen does not know what happened to his weapons bubbles. He cannot see them because his ability to collect power from outside sources was chemically blocked as well as his ability to perform magic. As the blocker is slowly metabolized, his ability to gather power _and_ use it is improving. He can see, now, that they are gone.

Both corridors and bubbles can be closed. The time dilation of the bubbles only effects the contents when they are closed. The corridors can be closed at either or both ends.
ekuah on April 7th, 2018 10:00 am (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
Remembering 'Utopia' the youngest of the witches was able to see the bubbles but couldn't interact with them.
So my guess is that 'seeing' and 'handling' bubbles are at to different power levels.
Maybe Xen hasn't recovered enough to manipulate them, but can already perceive them.

About "Did the bubbles peel off and float away because Xen's power was diminished?"
I don't think so, because bubbles can be permanently attached to inanimate things like handles. The bags of the prophets lasted over 15 centuries.
1stew1stew on April 7th, 2018 08:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
That was the base of the question though...What is the bubble attached to?
If its his clothes...those are gone. If its his person well then the bubbles are still there, unless Poobah ripped them off. Eldon wasn't quick enough when he bubbled that panel van rapist/serial killer who floated away.
I'm just pointing at it for Pam to see if she wants to add perspective or keep it mysterious.
The Hylis Family series by Laurence Dahners is one of my favorite uses of "Powers" as they are not super powerful but have to work in really limited way say compared to the usual Superman style over the top powers. Understanding bubbles (And their limits) which are so versatile and powerful when used by someone like Xen in full power mode makes for great fun.
matapampamuphoff on April 7th, 2018 08:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
Xen attaches them to himself. So either these "gates" that drop a ten meter diameter area of undetermined height right where they want it, shook the attachment loose,or someone with dimensional ability removed them while he was unconscious.

I'm leaning toward the latter, but hedged by not having Pyrite and the dogs around. After all, it's not the first sword Xen's lost.

Edited at 2018-04-07 09:18 pm (UTC)
ekuah on April 9th, 2018 08:29 am (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
Okay, since I'm not an inhabitant of the Comet Fall Universe, I can only guess what I would do.
But I would go a mixed way.
Some bubble attached to my clothes and some attached to myself.
Why?
Now if I understand it correctly, the bubbles have to be attached manually directly to the exposed surface of that object.
Also Xen can't look into the bubbles. (I think that's a rare ability only some Cometfall/Oner hybrids have)
So you have to space them a bit apart to keep track of what goes where.
(It would be less than ideal to have to skim through twenty different bubbles just to look for your parachute. ;-)

Now given the limited amount of exposed body surface you show in every day life, it would be prudent to attach some bubbles on your clothing.
(Again a less than ideal in an attack situation, if you have strip off your jacket, your vest and your shirt, just to get to a sword bubble attached to your elbow)

So I would store some bubble on my clothing for easy reach, and some on my skin (like a spare pack of clothing, in case I would loose my garb somehow)

Edited at 2018-04-09 08:35 am (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on April 9th, 2018 12:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
The bubbles are not 3-D phenomena, only something a wizard forces it to attach to exists for it.

And Xen's sword is on his left shoulder, hilt up for a quick over-the-shoulder draw. Then a tool box, food, clothes for all occasions. Those four he's usually got along. Then Pyrite in a small stable with sleeping loft that he takes when he's going across, and the dogs in their dog house that he usually takes across. He probably keeps a selection of modern weapons and ammunition in a bubble, and also takes that Across, but it's not the automatic "of course I'm wearing a sword" sort of thing.

I suspect each one has a particular place to be put so he doesn't have to look to find the right one. Anyone who can manipulate bubbles can look inside if they try, just as they generally don't see the inbetween and all the bubbles, unless they want to. Otherwise they'd be functionally blind.
ekuah on April 9th, 2018 05:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
"The bubbles are not 3-D phenomena, only something a wizard forces it to attach to exists for it."
I'm a little bit confused about the meaning of this sentence.

-The bubbles are not are 3D phenomena of our dimensions.
-Some Comet Fall magicians can anchor them to solid objects of the normal three dimensional Universe
Up to here we are on the same page.

Now, how I had understood your stories, was that most Fallen handle the bubbles with their hands.
And when they anchor these bubbles they do it to the surface of a physical object.
Sure some more experienced people can shove bubbles into walls (like Xen in the magnetic center) but why should you do that with equipment bubbles?
Wouldn't it be more handy to have them on the surface?

2nd. "Anyone who can manipulate bubbles can look inside if they try"
This doesn't seem Canon.
There was a scene in a published book, where a witch from the Black isle gang was frantically opening several bubbles in search for her babies.
So obviously, she could handle bubbles but could see into a closed bubble.

As I understood it (and please correct me if I'm wrong) dimensional able people perceive the bubbles as immaterial soap bubbles floating around.

If they could see the inside of the bubble, their worldview would be clogged by copper colored inverse spheres.


Edited at 2018-04-09 05:48 pm (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on April 9th, 2018 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh about Bubbles
Right. If they peered hard at them, they could see inside them. The Black Island witches are not well trained.

Yes, Xen sticks the bubbles on the skin of his arm. _He_ deliberately envisions the bubbles as apple-sized, and therefore can manipulate them as if they are that size, and can easily reimagine them as larger when he needs to.

So when he reaches, say, for his sword, he doesn't reach through his clothing, he pulls the sword out of thin air, a few inches behind his shoulder.
mbarker: Me typing?mbarker on April 7th, 2018 02:31 am (UTC)
Robot dog and grubby? Wow! By the way, should Xen check grubby to make sure he isn’t a werewolf or something with a melaniform (sp?) implant to keep him from shifting? Since the judge seems to like dumping people here...
matapampamuphoff on April 7th, 2018 02:54 am (UTC)
While I've got dragons and mermaids, I have avoided werewolves to date.

I suspect methalformaline or any other magical suppression method would prevent any physical metamorphisis, whether the form they were in at the time of dosage was original or changed.