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17 April 2018 @ 04:34 pm
_Marooned_ part 12  

She eyed the guards, looking around, alert, definitely worried, facing out as they protected their charge. She could see Poobah between two of them, fingers clenched on his staff and chair arm.

Ignoring the diplomats. He’s lost. Perhaps a more visceral approach will get a reaction.

She jumped up and headed for Xen’s house. First, she was going to get out of this ridiculous suit, then a few requisitions . . .

She was back inside of an hour. In very civilian garb, pulling a cart.

“Excuse me, gentlemen.” Rael cheerfully displaced a couple of intel types. They glared . . . paused as they recognized her, and stepped away. She unfolded a perfectly normal table and standing on stone, reached out and placed the table on the carpet. All seven chairs.

Then she reached into to the last box and brought out bottled water. Inside the box, she opened her bubble and pulled out seven boxed dinners, still hot and leaking delicious odors. She set them on the table and stepped back. “Dinner, if you’re hungry, sirs. And the small blue building you can see down that diagonal road is a public toilet and shower. Please feel free to come and go from there as you desire.” She inclined her head minimally and stepped away.

She had definitely caught their attention.

But she walked away anyway.

Ambassador Ashe turned and joined her. “Trust you to get a response out of them.”

“Well, frankly they’re so damaged I’m not sure they can relate normally. Especially Poobah. The guards aren’t quite so programmed. Just rigidly loyal to their charge, and unable to not obey orders. If this goes on very long, if Poobah gets desperate and gives them order to kill. It’s going to be messy.”

On the other hand, if they’ll eat our food, I just might dope it with the joy juice and see if it can heal them of malign influences. Although I doubt there’s any physical brain damage.

“I’ll get guards out who have good shields.” Ashe split off for the Oner embassy. Rael walked back to Disco and found some shade to sit in.

After awhile Lala joined her, and handed over a plate.

Real blinked at it. “Oops! My lack of parenting skills is showing.”

Lala giggled. “We all ate at the restaurant. Don’t worry about us, we’re practically grown up.”

“Heh. When I was sixteen, I thought sixteen was grown up too. One! Was I ever wrong.” Rael giggled. “Not that I want to act like an adult, most of the time.”

Lala snickered. “You act like an adult. And you enjoy life. It’s that last part that most adults mess up. We’ve all been talking, and we’ve decided to do adulting like you do it.”

“Ooooh! I’m a bad influence. So have you decided?”

“Yeah. Business school, so I can run my own dimensional engineering company.”

Rael blinked. “I thought you were going for biology?”

“No, that was what I thought I ought to take. Dad talked to me about it, about how since I didn’t seem really interested in it why not do something that would help with the dimensional stuff.”

“Corridors sell for half a million apiece.”

“Yep. I’m going to be a contract worker, and just do dimensional stuff. And I can hire a secretary and an accountant and someone to deal with finding the jobs and contracts and such.” She squirmed a bit. “After I get paid for the first one.”

Rael grinned. “Relax. You’ll be showered with job offers. And you’re only competitors will be your siblings.”

“Ugh! But close to half of them have applied to the Directorate School, so they won’t actually be competition.” Lala eyed her. “Was it weird, finding out you have kids? Xen’s kids?”

“It’s still weird. I love those kids so much, but I’m not really their Mom. Didn’t do the work, don’t get the title.”

“Oh . . . I didn’t think about it like that. They brag about you all the time, you know?”

Rael nodded. “But just about as much as they bragged about their aunt a few years ago. I just . . . have to build on from here. And get ready for a good adult relationship.”

“Because we’re all practically grown up. But we still need parents. So don’t do anything crazy and get yourself killed before Dad gets back. And he will get back. He’s very clever.” Lala took the plate she’d somehow managed to empty, and slipped quietly away.

***

Everyone had quit trying to talk to them after two days of feeding the poor automatons, and watching them rush to and from the public bathroom.

Rael did most of the meal deliveries, and slipped a bit of that wine into their morning orange juice the third day. It had no obvious effect, not even a hint of the aphrodisiac effect.

Sommer Albrecht shook her head. “It that stuff can’t get through to them, nothing will. I got drunk as a sailor on one swallow, and even with a broken leg, I wanted to drag myself out of the woods to find some man to pounce on. Good thing I was alone.”

“What was an FBI Agent doing out in the woods?”

“Fell off a helicopter.” The woman grinned, bright teeth against dark skin. “It wasn’t very high, it had just taken off, with a suspect in it and I jumped and grabbed a skid . . . suddenly realized what a stupid thing I’d done . . . as my grip slipped.”

“Umm . . .”

“Yeah. And all for a drug dealer with cross-dimensional aspirations.” She shrugged. “I dragged my ass home and got lectured about asking for help from the master lone wolf . . .” She leaned forward and squinted upward.

Rael followed her gaze. A rippling rainbow shimmer . . . “Damn. This might be it.”

Sommer bolted for the front door. Rael trotted closer, but stayed well back as the shimmer floated, expanding and contracting. Drifted over the copper carpet and dropped.

Rainbows all around . . . “Oh shit!”

A wrenching horrible gate transit. Rael warped light, crashed down, rolled off rubble that bore a strong resemblance to a sidewalk and the black basalt steps . . . judging by the symmetry of the heap, the gate effect must have snatched a sphere of space, maybe a third of it underground.

The whole had crumpled, big slabs of the plaza’s magically metamorphosed stone angled down from the apex, where the copper carpet draped limply over it all.

They were inside a circular fretwork of metal rods, close to a hundred meters across at the base spreading wider as it rose.

Like stadium scaffolding, or a radar dish or, of course, some sort of dimensional ranging equipment. I wonder what’s underground? The solid wall surrounding it all was about twenty meters high, blocking sight of anything beyond.

No skyscrapers, but then who’d put a dimensional . . . thing . . . in a city, anyway?

Rael climbed to her feet and started trotting around the mound. Poobah and company were on the other side . . . She slowed as she spotted the people entering the bowl.

A man and a woman striding forward, then stopping to look around.

The man was medium height, slender, Asian, young . . . although the way he was glowing with power, he could be a lot older. Same with the woman, a blonde Caucasian, frowning around the bowl.

Rael tightened her shields. Nobody here but your puppets.

Poobah was climbing slowly to his feet. He must have rolled down the slope. Three of his guards hustled over . . . to ignore him and stand at attention before the new pair. The other three . . . one was trapped under a chunk of plaza, one was laying limp and the sixth was dragging himself out clear of the debris.

Poobah staggered closer, and dropped to lay prone before the man and woman.

His glittering jacket was torn and filthy.

The two looking down on him were dressed in black. Jackets to mid-thigh, some minor embroidery in gold, loose pants, belt.

Fancied up karate gear.

“Look at me!” The Asian squatted and looked Poobah in the eyes.

The women was looking at the guards. Done with the standing three, she walked over to the crawler as he tried to stand on a broken leg. She turned away, stepped closer to the trapped man . . . stepped back, glanced at the limp form and shrugged. She pointed to the side and made a summoning gesture. Men scrambled in, stretchers, prybars.

“A waste of time. We should just kill them.”

The woman shrugged. “Why destroy our mystique of generosity? Transport them. They can die there slowly, contemplating their failure.” She frowned again. Looking around. “Guards, sweep the area, we may have collected a native.”

The three guards turned and started toward her.

Crap . . . Not that I can’t outrun them . . . She looked up, jumped to grab the first bar and swung up on top of it, grabbed the next. Let’s just see what sort of view I can get from the top.



 
 
 
(Anonymous) on April 17th, 2018 10:13 pm (UTC)
These folks seem only marginally less unpleasant than von Kratz and the evil cyborgs.

--TheOtherSean
(Anonymous) on April 17th, 2018 10:36 pm (UTC)
Much much more unpleasant. Von Kratz would not have gleefully sentenced anyone to a slow, painful death just to maintain a fiction of benevolence.

Disco is going to have a big problem with these people. Killing off the nasties at the top will be easy. Re-parenting everyone else will not. Just consider the hash we made of Russia after the USSR fell. The people had no clue how to be free, so they fell to first criminal gangs, then to a criminal cult of personality.

I am looking forward to seeing how Pam handles this.
cnmckenney on April 17th, 2018 10:45 pm (UTC)
Pam?
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 01:22 am (UTC)
What? You think my subconscious tells _me_ what it's planning? Or whether it's going to write it into a corner and leave it to me to fix?

Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 18th, 2018 10:37 pm (UTC)
So far DISCO has restricted activity to preventing interdimensional invasion and war plus finding and returning prisoners and slaves.

Fixing up the governance of polities has not been done. In God of the Sun this was up to the Arbolians.

A change would have to be approved by the Council of Worlds?
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 11:19 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, the Mythical Council of Worlds. Which, by-the-way will be Former President Orde's project when he retires.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 18th, 2018 11:47 pm (UTC)
Directorate School Ch 3


Paer grinned. "He didn't just dream it up, he made it real. There's a Council of Worlds now. And that's what counts.
matapampamuphoff on April 19th, 2018 01:23 am (UTC)
It's more a matter of stomping into Disco and yelling at Xen to make them stop, start, go away, or apologize.

There's no organized Council of Worlds, even if Disco is trying to make them act like there is.
(Anonymous) on April 19th, 2018 11:09 pm (UTC)
Recycling a good character when Ordering leaves. I like it.
(Anonymous) on April 20th, 2018 12:58 am (UTC)
"Ordering" - the wonders of auto-corrupt?

--TheOtherSean
cnmckenney on April 17th, 2018 10:44 pm (UTC)
I would remove the qualifier. I think they are at least as bad and maybe worse.
(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2018 01:29 am (UTC)
Worse than Von Kratz, perhaps, but some of those cyborgs are straight up psycho, Sokalov easily scared me as much as these creeps, and their society had gone down the whole permanently wire people into the gates method of cross-dimensional travel, even though it does horrible things to them and kills them in a few years. And the cyborgs' society was wrapped up in the whole aggressive conquest of the multiverse thing.

From what we've seen so far, I think the two leaders here, petty and cruel as they may be, are a rung down the Ladder of Evil from the cyborg society. But Pam may prove me wrong soon enough.

--TheOtherSean
ekuah on April 17th, 2018 10:55 pm (UTC)
Who is Lala?
Beside one of Xen's kids.
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 01:19 am (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
_Children of a Foreign God_ isn't showing up in a search, so I've probably already removed it.

Quick version, Laar, AKA Lala, is one of Xen's half Oner kids. Her parents are dead so Xen's adopted her.

Edited at 2018-04-18 01:20 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2018 03:54 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Who is Lala?
I would love to read Children of a Foreign God whenever I can.
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 11:48 am (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
It's not actually finished, but I'll get to it this year. Publishing-wise, _Fractured Loyalties_ will go up next week, then _External Relations_, _Cooking Hot_, _The Boy_, _One Love_, and then _Children of a Foreign God_.

In theory, this'll get me through the summer, with _Scrambled_ and _Lucky Dave_ in the fall.

I've also got _Lost and Found_, and _In the Rift_ on my list of things to do.
(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2018 01:22 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: Who is Lala?
Wow. Heavy schedule. Don't break yourself just for our pleasure.
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 01:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
Three of them are short stories, almost done.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 18th, 2018 11:47 am (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
No Laar or Lala in the version of
_Children of a Foreign God_ you last posted (July 2016).

Only Ryol and Arno are named

Edited at 2018-04-18 11:48 am (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 11:58 am (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
Hmm, a single snippet? I'll have to pull it out and run it by you guys. Probably after _Marooned_ runs dry. But never fear, today I'll be writing away in the waiting room of the dodge dealership for an airbag recall. Always a very productive venue, with no internet to distract me.
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 12:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
Although I know you've seen more. This is where Rael finds out the kids are hers.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 18th, 2018 10:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Who is Lala?
Two snippets The Bank Vault (July 2016) and Ryol and Arno discover that Rael is their biomum (March 2015)
mbarkermbarker on April 18th, 2018 01:38 am (UTC)
Can our friend Rael invoke the God of the Spies while in a strange and foreign land? That would be interesting... and if she did, when the crisis was over and poor Xen reverted, where the heck would he end up? Click your heels together three times, and say...
matapampamuphoff on April 18th, 2018 02:25 am (UTC)
The gods can get pulled through the permanent gates, so probably also the powered ones, during their brief existence.

No gate? No God.

Might also need the local populous to at least be aware of the possibility. In _Empire of the One_ Xen had spoken to the One, merged with the one and claimed to be the God of Spies. So the whole of the world knew, subconsciously, that Xen was the real deal.
mbarkermbarker on April 18th, 2018 06:06 am (UTC)
Ah, well. It was just a vagrant thought. So Xen is going to have to keep dealing with the castaways, and Rael will just have to take down the Poohbahs by herself. Sounds interesting!
(Anonymous) on April 18th, 2018 04:39 pm (UTC)
Not sure. It looks like Xen will be getting back real soon now (He can already see some other branes.). When he does, he will find Rael missing. While Rael does not have quite the same draw as Xen does, I suspect that the results to the PooBah world will not be much more moderate.