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29 April 2018 @ 10:28 am
_Marooned_ part 24  

“The what?”

“Death of Magic.” Rael was grinning. “A nasty implant between the shoulder blade and spine where you can’t get to it. Xen says it’s full of nanos that block nerve impulses. Shuts magic right down. Xen got dosed five months ago, and he’s only been able to make corridors for a couple of weeks. That was his first gate.”

Pyrite snorted, and nudged him.

“I’m fine now. Let me introduce you two around and then I’d better head for Disco . . . their next visit could be a doozy.”

Q was frowning at his chest. “That’s quite a spectacular scar.”

“Yes, and infections are no fun without magic. Rael’s choice whether I work to minimize it or not.”

Q spun to face Rael. “Have you got one too?”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t that bad and I slugged joy juice before, so . . .”

“Oh . . .” Q searched her pockets, pulled out the rod and handed it over. “Found this under a bush.”

“Oh boy oh boy oh boy.” Rael reached deep and pulled out a paper wrapped . . .

“Is that a sandwich from the Kitchen?” Xen swallowed saliva at the very thought of bread.

“Only because I love you.” Rael handed over half.

Xen inhaled the smell of fresh bread and took his first bite. Heaven. “Umm, tomatoes. Pickles. Oh my god. C’mon, we can eat while we walk.”

Pyrite did not launch Hunter into orbit, but a single kick convinced the wolf that horses were not prey.

The Renshe gawped.

“That’s a horse!” Jerry edged closer. “I’ve seen old pictures . . . I didn’t realize they were so big!”

Q snickered. Sam was staring at her, flicking occasional glanced at Pyrite.

Jiol hugged her, Karl thumped her shoulder.

Wait, he not blushing, is he?

“She didn’t get transported, she’s wearing clothes.” Mike picked at his orange overalls, while Cali hid behind him, peeking out at Pyrite.

“This is my sister. Quail Quicksilver, who has been hunting me for months. We will . . . wait, how soon is the end of the month? I’d better leave tomorrow.”

And what the hell were you doing out there without a dozen or two troops? Pyrite’s massively competent at keeping me alive, but still . . .

Xen kicked his brain back on track and introduced her around.

Q was predictably fascinated by Killerbite and she and Mike were quickly immersed in a discussion of magic metal, Karl hovering.

I never noticed that. And I suspect Q didn’t either.

“ . . . barbed fibers that untwist, slide, then twist together again in a new relationship that form the shape you want.”

Xen shook his head and look at Connor. “Did you find the Judge?”

The boy nodded. “I hadn’t realized how bad the mental modeling was. It’s like there’s nobody there, just a limited response program. It’s scary.”

“Yes. People should not be treated like things. They consider that an honor?”

“They can’t possibly know what he will do to them. No one would volunteer.”

Xen nodded. “And I don’t know if we can help them. It’s not even near my specialty, but I know people who might be able to undo some of it.”

Rael produced a loaf of French bread for dinner . . . it didn’t last long . . . and Xen opted to sleep out in the grass and leave his tree house to the ladies who were exploring Rael’s and Q’s bubbled wardrobes, and in the morning, he loaded up jerky and headed out at first light. No point in arguing with Q and Rael about them coming too.

A corridor a hundred miles northeast, then a gate to Q’s last link.

“How many gates are there?”

:: Over a thousand. A hundred feet apart. I can run straight through them, but it’s usually a three day trip. You’re tough than Q. I can probably do it two. ::

“Something in the vicinity of two hundred miles? Let’s take three.”

Pyrite snorted.

“How about we arrive rested and ready for a fight, instead of staggering in exhaustion?” The first cone touched down near the gat he could see. The second cone zipped over to twist tails.

:: Fast room. :: The horse’s ears twitched. :: I don’t know where the stable is. ::

The gate opened inches from his nose. “Back on Xin Zhong, I’ll bet. Oh well, I’ll make one. Let’s go.”



Chapter Eighteen

It’s that Time of the Month

The alarm caused a double stampede.

The sensible people away from the plaza, the poor fools who were supposed to do something about it, toward it.

Lon stopped a cautious three meters away from the carpet, Inso beside him, looking like he was ready to charge across and strangle Poobah.

“Don’t. We have to stop this slow attrition of our most powerful people.”

Growl.

“Oh, look at that.” Lon kept his voice down to a bare breath. “We have an all new Poobah.”

“New Guards, too.”

Trust Ra’d to notice. Figures Xen would have a son-in-law scarier than he is.

The left-most guard thumped his spear. “You may approach the Judge and speak.”

“Yeah, and so far you’ve attacked every single one of them. Go away. Do not return.” Not that that will register. Yeah here they go with the . . .

Thump, thump. “You may approach the Judge and speak.”

A clatter of hooves, crowd noises increasing from behind him. Lon glanced over his shoulder to see if Q had returned . . . stared at the wild man.

Brown hair in unkempt ringlets. A beard, roughly chopped short. Bare muscular chest with a spectacular scar running from over his heart down to his right and out of sight under tight leather pants.

Xen.

 
 
 
ekuah on April 29th, 2018 06:27 pm (UTC)
Did they land on the exact same spot?
If so, build a building around that spot.
With no windows.
Best, do it magically, right when the judge is there. And ignore them completely.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 29th, 2018 08:45 pm (UTC)
==
:: Over a thousand. A hundred feet apart. I can run straight through them, but it’s usually a three day trip. You’re tough than Q. I can probably do it two. ::

“Something in the vicinity of two hundred miles? Let’s take three.”
==

I make it 100 * 1000 feet / 5000 = 20 miles
matapampamuphoff on April 29th, 2018 09:33 pm (UTC)
Huh. Where'd I get the extra zero from?
(Anonymous) on April 29th, 2018 11:11 pm (UTC)
Some repairs are very not urgent
Q should have left the hole with the sewers uncapped. Perhaps put a weak shield around it to keep the smell and the bacteria in. There is such a thing as being too tidy.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 29th, 2018 11:25 pm (UTC)
Xen doesn't need a razor or scissors to keep himself neat.

See Empire when leaving the hospital or Young Warriors.

No mirror I suppose but once Rael arrives and he has magic I would expect him to smarten up.
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2018 10:20 am (UTC)
Hey, don't let that possibility get in the way of a nice romantic barbaric entry. The dramatic picture rocks, bare chested in tight leather pants. Might even resonate to a different archetype. Avenging barbarian super-hero sorcerer god-kings might get to keep mates better than mere super spy gods. King Conan the conquerer, except Xen is magic.
matapampamuphoff on April 30th, 2018 11:17 am (UTC)
Exactly.

Plus I'm sure Rael told him he couldn't shave it off until she'd kissed him enough to decide whether she like it or not.

Edited at 2018-04-30 11:18 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2018 01:58 pm (UTC)
This for sure. Some women (ahem) like it when you have a couple weeks' beard since the last time she saw you ... and I still have a beard 27 years later.

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on April 30th, 2018 02:10 pm (UTC)
Beats the heck out of kissing sandpaper five o'clock shadow. I hate it when my husband decides to shave off his beard.
(Anonymous) on April 29th, 2018 11:57 pm (UTC)
bad guy motives, stupidity
So two months ago Judge #1's carpet "malfunctioned" at Embassy and the Xin Zhonggou gate had to retrieve it using spherical transport mode. Presumably they cleaned up the mess in the bowl and readied another carpet because one month ago they transported Rael, Judge #1, and his six guards to Wolf World.

Today they send Judge #2, guards, and carpet over to Embassy on the monthly schedule, presumably causing the usual city-wide blackout.

Now Rael's interrogator was intelligent (although stymied by AK). So not all the bad guys are morons. Did anyone try to figure out why Judge #1's carpet failed? I mean, iron bar pin cushion should be sort of a clue, and they scooped up enough dirt that they should have snagged a bunch more iron bars.

Not that he would care, but does Judge #2 have any defense against the same thing that happened to Judge #1? Do the bad guys think that repeating the same script over and over again makes them look tough? Motives are a mystery ...

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on April 30th, 2018 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
Speaking of beacons, there's one in the base of the Judge's throne. Makes retrieval easy, but not necessary.

Now that big snatch was bit off center, as everything was without power. A bit of re-engineering, and a battery backup . . .and they could do a big snatch when Judge #2 can see that there's a nice selection of high value targets within the largest snatch radius and signals for the snatch, rather than the normal retrieval.

I rather think someody's pissed over the mess downtown. Bunnies and Goats!!! Everywhere!!! Damage to street and buildings!!! DAMAGE TO REPUTATIONS OF INVINCIBILTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, wait. Haven't got that far yet. Never mind! 0:)
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2018 02:25 pm (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
Ok, that makes sense: send Judge #2 to sucker the leaders into range and then scoop them all back to the bowl.

With no beacon on Embassy, doesn't AK have to steer the carpet every time to land it in the right place / brane? Or maybe the bad guys dropped a beacon 100 km away and are using automatic offset steering such as it seems they have on Wolf World.

And of course that "minor" disturbance downtown. Not that the bad guys would know that someone from Embassy was responsible.

The bad guys might not even be sure that Rael came from Embassy. Even by inspecting DNA how would you know that Rael came from the same place as Xen, Jiol, and Karl?

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on April 30th, 2018 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
Yes, AK has to steer it in. Then picking it up is easy. Even without the beacon, she could have found it and taken a small bite.

But if the people responsible for cutting off the beacon were there, they wanted them.

And this time, after the bunnies and goats and collateral damage, it was no more Mister Nice Chou. They were going to take the biggest chunk possible.
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2018 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
So Jaejong has tunnel-vision: since he's currently fighting A, whatever goes wrong is A's fault, QED. Sort of consonant with his peremptory personality that we saw in Outcasts and Gods.

"No more Mister Nice Chou" Ooo, that's going to work out well, for sure. I can't wait to see the fireworks ...

-TomR
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 30th, 2018 06:58 pm (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
==
Even by inspecting DNA how would you know that Rael came from the same place as Xen, Jiol, and Karl?
==

Rael and Jiol are both Princesses with a double One power gene and nearly identical insertions.

Xen has very similar insertions and at least one very similar power gene (see Empire).

Also very similar to AK.

Karl isn't genengineered so could be from many worlds.
(Anonymous) on May 1st, 2018 08:33 pm (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
If I recall correctly, isn't Rael the daughter of Kael (Oner - action team leader) and Bran (Fallen - storm mage)? Even using joy juice, how would she end up with a double Oner power gene?

Oners descended from natives have significant DNA radiation damage. I don't know if joy juice has any effect on that. I would expect Rael to have about half the normal damage. Jiol has the normal amount and Xen and Karl don't have any.

From this small sample, it would just look weird.

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on May 2nd, 2018 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
The joy juice can mix and match, choosing the most magical genes available. Rael's second X ifs from Egto, who Kael (not ralized he wasn't the hot fellow from the night before and still feeling the effects of the wine, seduced. Mead's twins are even more of a mix, with Oscar and Idlo.
(Anonymous) on May 2nd, 2018 03:50 am (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
I think you mean Idre, not Idlo. Ajha's three teammates were introduced in "Spy Wars" as Idre (leader), Egto, and Wnco, though sometimes there's an Edlo or Idlo slipping in instead in a few passages. Not to be confused with one of the Action Team Leader in "Spy Wars", Edmo.
matapampamuphoff on May 2nd, 2018 11:41 am (UTC)
Re: bad guy motives, stupidity
Yeah. Him.
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2018 10:25 am (UTC)
They can shift a lot more with their big ball than Earth and One powered gates can. Different principle?
matapampamuphoff on April 30th, 2018 11:16 am (UTC)
Different engineering.