matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Marooned_ part 20

Chapter Fifteen

What a Mess

“So I leave for a week and you guys trash my plaza.” Q eyed the muddy mess down in the pit where the water mains had spewed until someone had shown up and sealed them. And the new sewer lines, too.

“And you didn’t even keep anyone here for me to kill.”

Inso cleared his throat. “No success, I take it?”

“I finally got close enough to pinpoint the right world, but it’s going to take a solid month to get there.” She looked around.

The bottom three steps of the Disco build were gone, and a damn good thing the Earth embassy was set well back from the street. They’d only lost their security fence. The Comet Fall embassy had lost their courtyard and part of the front wall of the building. The angle and curve showed the size of the sphere the Poobahs had gated away.

“So, did they kill anyone? Snatch anyone?”

“No deaths.” Inso gritted his teeth. “Rael was standing on the steps there and went with them.”

Q closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Rael. Well. Guess I’d better get back to work on gates.”

“Yeah. I suppose we should fill the hole.”

“Oh.” She reached for the beach and stepped into the sand. Grabbed a bubble and swooped up a huge swatch.

The next storm will fill it in. She stepped back to her office. Dusty and forlorn. Four months since I’ve worked a normal day. Dammit . . . I’ll put in a week of work, but then I’m going back out.

She swiped a tear off her cheek.

And I will deal with losing my big brother. My rock.

When I have to.

She trudged back outside and opened a hole in her bubble. Sand poured out, and she recrystallized it as it filled the hole. Got it level with the sewer line and she formed new pipe. More sand and repair the water main. Smaller pipes back to Disco, then fill the whole thing, level it off two feet below the plaza, so she could redo the stone work sometime, then level the road, rough up the surface for traction. Curbs. New steps for Disco.

I can do anything except save my brother.

Walked back to her house. More alone than ever. She crawled into bed.

I’ll check on what everyone is doing, then I’ll head back out and finish the last gates. I can see that world in the distance. I can get there.

Chapter Sixteen

“Weak women. Can’t work and you won’t even put out, will you?”

Rael set the bowl aside and wiped clay off her hands. “Oh hell no. What are you griping about now, Sam? Hangover?” Must not kill one of the seventeen humans on the planet.

“Yes . . . although the jump in my abilities . . . I can really feel it now.” The old man scowled. “But we men still have to do the heavy lifting and the hunting.”

You don’t hunt, but you do hump rock up the stream bank, and cart firewood. Grumbling all the way.

“Making more things to cook with and eat off of is what needs to be done right now. I’m sure I’ll be hauling a lot of firewood . . .” She broke off as Sam’s eyes widened, turned. “Oh, the bears are size extra large around here.”

The bear on the far side of the stream was looking them over, then started down the bank at a low stalk, eyes focused on them.

I haven’t tried the death punch. Small diameter push spell, gather some extra heat and . . .

The bear charged, galloping over the cobbles.


The bear hit the ground chin first and tumbled, rolled to a stop not quite at their feet.

A faint choking noise from Sam.

“That bear was at least ten meters away . . . is it dead?”


:: Hey Jiol! Got your bear fat for you. ::

Rael giggled. “Shall I be a weak little woman and get Xen to butcher it?”

Sam snorted and picked up a stick to poke the bear with.

A rattle of stones and everyone except Xen showed up to admire her kill, and muscle it up to the “village.”

Rael walked out to the low hill where Xen was meditating, and softened her shields as she sank down beside him.

:: See? That’s Xin Zhongguo. I think. Home is that way, beyond it . . . so faint, so far. But see that little thread, way out there? I can just barely see it, can’t touch it. Yet. It’s a permanent gate. Q’s, I’ll bet. ::

:: So the path to Embassy is right there. So close. ::

:: Toss up whether she finds us before I can get to her last gate and salvage a little bit of my masculine pride. ::

:: Ha! You’ve been around Sam too long. ::

:: Oh? Is he being a problem? ::

:: Verbally. But I think I may have just impressed him. Want to come help skin a bear? ::

The blue faded. “A bear, huh?”

“Yep. For your research, Sam was astonished I could do a needle punch from ten meters away.”

Xen sighed. “I suppose, you being so dangerous and all, I shouldn’t choke and gasp in horror about you letting a large animal get that close before you killed it?”

Rael giggled and led the way back to where Karl was lecturing the poor city boys on what to do to turn a dead animal into a month of fine dining.

“And not a single faint or vomit. I guess a bear just isn’t in the same class as cute little bunny rabbit.” Xen grinned as he got glared at, and fetched a bowl. To the horror of everyone but Karl when he mentioned blood sausage.

Rael grinned and mostly watched. The poor City Boys didn’t actually want to touch the dead bear, especially not all the blood . . .

But then, neither do I.

Sam was telling everyone about it. “ . . . staring death in the face, and she just points her finger and kills it! Look at the hole! Between the eyes and all the way through See the other hole? In the back of the neck, must have hit both the brain and the spine. She’s a powerful moshushe, I tell you.”

Connor rolled his eyes. “We know. You’ve told us three times already.”

Rael cocked her head. “Moshushi. Magician.” ///Find out how to mark tones and whether KDP will accept them///

Sam and Connor looked at her, exchanged glances.

Connor shrugged. “It’s just a coincidence. She doesn’t really have the same accent as The Boozy.”

Rael’s eyes narrowed. "That's almost like the Mandarin 'Buxiu' which means immortal or immortality."

"Yes. Boozy Jaejong."

"Huh. Kinda lost the tonality over 1400 years."

"800 years. You Lingmen can't even count."

"Oooo! Lengmen. Outsider." Rael giggled. “Where’s a linguist when you need one? I only had two years of Mandarin in school.”


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