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27 April 2019 @ 10:44 am
_Guardsman_ part 52  

“Ooo! What’s on the other side of it?”

“A couple of housing clusters, but they never brought in the city center business squishies. A couple of mining companies looked it over and didn’t bid,” Aunt Rael shrugged. “No one wants it, so it’s perfect for my needs.” She slowed and turned. “If you could pop out and move that barrier?”

Arno jumped out and grabbed the red plastic barrier and swiveled it out of the way. She drove past him and disappeared into the white cyclone of the gate. Arno swung the barrier back into place and jumped into the whirlpool.

And out onto a gravel road fast being reclaimed by tough grasses.

Aunt Rael stepped out of the car and looked around. “I think you should stay here at the gate. I’m going to dump these . . . damaged humans out twenty kilometers at a housing cluster.”

Arno looked around. “Any large predators around?” He squinted at movement in the distance. “Cattle? Bison?”

“Yes, and wolves and bears and so forth.”

Arno looked back at the gate. “I need to take a look at the inbetween, and see if I can figure out where this world is.”

“Right.” She bit her lip, in indecision. “So do that and . . . then we’ll drive on to where I’m leaving these guys, and . . .can you that light warp?

“Oh, umm, Pretty much. You don’t want them to see me?”

“Exactly.”

Arno grinned. “No problem. Just . . . give me a minute here, first.”

He sat on the gravel and closed his eyes. The fizzing blue was getting disturbingly easy to see. What if sometime I can’t stop seeing it?

He shoved the thought aside and pulled back until he could see all the worlds around this one, and see all the silvery lines of the permanent gates, see the One World, the source of the lines, the hub worlds, that hub world, and the pattern that swirled around and up to them. Past them.

Right. When I close the gate, there will be a gap in the pattern. I think I will be able to find this world.

He opened his eyes and stretched. “I think I can find this world again, if you don’t want to involve Disco or Master Xen.”

He grabbed a bubble as he walked to the ute. Stepped up and stuck it on the roof, opened it up and heaved himself up and rolled into it. Turned around and stuck his head out. “I’ll just leave a tiny hole, so I don’t lose time, and no one will know I’m here.”

Aunt Rael sighed. “And with any luck, you won’t see your Biomom doing things she hopes she doesn’t wind up doing. All right. Hold on, or . . . whatever.”

***

Arno kept his head out as the ute drove at a fairly sedate pace . . . after the second time a pothole resulted in him thumping his head against the roof he withdrew a bit further. They passed pair of squishie houses, and presumably another pair across the street.

One water well for four houses, on the corner where their two-kilometer-by-two-kilometer farms meet. I should run the numbers, see how many people they were going to have to squeeze into these houses. Might be interesting for sociology next semester, to consider what family or unrelated-group dynamics the government might have been forced to impose in order to get every single person on the home world under a roof.

Hmm. Mom, Dad, four kids, Grandmother and Grandfather. Possibly Aunt Rael and—eek!—Aunt Kael. For our extended family. With Rael and Kael probably elsewhere, on the job.

Would eight people be considered “full” or would they have shoehorned in more people? Orphans? Old people without families? Or, maybe Ebsa and his mom? Not that Ebsa wouldn’t have also been on the job.

Yeah, I think I’ll run the numbers. I’ll bet they’d have been telling people to bring their tents. Or they’d have been sleeping in their cars.

They drove past a second pair of houses, then his narrow view swung around and he spotted, as expected, two more houses.

“Stay hidden.” Rael met his gaze firmly. “This could be a little dangerous, and I’d really prefer to not have to wonder where you are if I start throwing spells and what not. And eventually these people will get back to the One World, and I don’t want them looking for you.”

“Right.” Arno let the opening close up a bit more, then shifted it around to follow her as she walked back behind the ute.

She pulled out three metal bars, read the tags on them and opened one.

Two people fell out. Limp, barely moving, not quite unconscious. A man and a woman.

Aunt Rael leaned over the woman. “You have a broken jaw. Hmm . . . Drink this, and I’ll get the bone bits back where they belong, so it heals right.”

Arno couldn’t see what she actually did, but the woman choked out some words that were probably obscene, then scooted away from Rael as Rael straightened.

Another set of bars. A man leaped out, pancaked on the gravel and grass road, rolled over, looking around in disbelief. “What, what, where . . . who . . . oh shit!”

“Indeed.” Rael opened the last handles and dumped a flopping cursing man on the road. “Peeve? You and your buddies here are on an evac world. Stay here, and there’s a chance you’ll live long enough for people to forget they want you dead.”

She turned her back on them and walked away. Arno spotted several flashes of power. They all splashed off the shield Rael held behind herself. She climbed into the ute and drove off quickly.

She stopped again on the far side of the first houses they’d passed.

The first bag yielded three people, two men and a woman. The woman had a gun in hand, and fired once before she collapsed on the ground. One of the men screamed and grabbed his side. The other dived for the gun . . . and dropped limply to the ground. So did the man who’d been shot. Aunt Rael pulled out a flask as she poked at the injured man. “Nothing critical.” She dripped something—Wine of the Gods! The Joy Juice!—into the man’s mouth and walked to the side to open another bag. Two women, backing away as they looked around. Another bag, three men. Belligerent, uncertain.

“If I had any sense at all, I’d just kill all four of you. Instead, I’m leaving you here on an Evac world. Learn to like it. You won’t like what happens if you return to the One World.”

She walked back to the ute. One man started forward, but another grabbed him. “That’s her! Rael!”

The ute moved out again and Arno stayed hidden until Rael turned and stopped in front of the gate. Then he rolled out and jumped through to check that no one was in sight on this side, and shift the barrier. Rael drove through, and he replaced it. Sat down and searched the inbetween. Found a spinning cone and bumped it over to crash into the two cones that formed the gate and break them loose.

He opened his eyes. No white whirlpool.

Arno looked back at Rael. “Would it be less noticeable if I put up a gate to a different Empty World?”

She grinned. “Go for it!”

He sank back into the inbetween. The Patern, now with a gap. There was the Evac World, and right next to it . . . a nice dull world. Not a lot of life, but more than an algae world. Two cones, and he was holding up his comm in camera function to admire rather sparse greenery, but even the bare gaps, worked, as one could easily imagine it to be a neglected gravel road.

He scrambled up and hopped into the ute.

“Well, that was tidy.” Aunt Rael grinned. “How about some lunch?”

 
 
 
ekuah on April 27th, 2019 03:57 pm (UTC)
Suggestion
It might be a little bit suspicious if one of the gates to an evac world is suddenly gone.
It would be much less obvious if Arno would create a gate to a random world in it's stead. Or maybe a second gate to another unused evac world.
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2019 05:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Interesting idea. Also an opportunity for problems.
ekuah on April 27th, 2019 05:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Well, I'm pretty sure there is a ministry of bean counting somewhere in the empire of the One.
And I'm also pretty sure that it could set off a whole chain of administrative actions as soon as they realize that they have lost an unused evac world.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 27th, 2019 06:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
I suggest creating an illusion of a gate on the hub side.

That will keep the bean and gate counters happy.

Q might notice the missing gate but is far more likely to notice a new gate.

Edited at 2019-04-27 06:40 pm (UTC)
ekuah on April 27th, 2019 06:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Q is not on the empire of the one world.
It's also unlikely she will invited to that gate area, except there is an emergency.

Also I can't think that Q can keep track of all of the thousands of different permanent gates.
Else it would be easy for her to track down Rior and his gang.

But an illusion is a good idea, as long as nobody tries to use that 'gate' to check on the world on the other end.
(Anonymous) on April 28th, 2019 11:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Of course, it can't be an illusion to both dimensionally-able and non-able, because they see different things when looking at or through a gate.

Also, I always thought that when a dimensionally-non-able person looked through a gate they saw a 3-dimensional scene just like looking through a window, with a different angle of view depending on what angle you are looking from. Can you do that with an illusion?

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2019 09:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Ministry of Government Properties, perhaps? With subministeries covering Paris Council halls and offices buildings, all other Government Buildings, Parks and Wilderness, Colonial structures, Non-Home Non-Colonial Properties . . .

The later recently expanded by 40 Evac Worlds, Personnel still fresh and eager to accomplish Great Things. Worth a short story, at a minimum.
(Anonymous) on April 27th, 2019 11:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Like the Department of the Interior and the GSA in one?

--TheOtherSean
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2019 11:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion
Yep.

And Non-home, Non-colony is a very little regarded subministry, dealing mostly with mining contracts. Once a world is an official colony-prospect with colonists on the ground, the squishies are no longer their business. Evac worlds with the squishies just sitting there?

They probably have to mow around the buildings once a year or so, and if the road is rough, add it to the queue to be graded.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on April 27th, 2019 06:41 pm (UTC)
How about food?
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2019 09:33 pm (UTC)
A persistent illusion would a red flag--a sign that the gate had been taken down on purpose.

On the other hand, a "spontaneous reconnection" to a nearby world? Q might be intrigued and come study it, and she might suspect foul play . . . but why would anyone want a gate to that world? Sooner rather than later, they'd check Evac 22 and realize what was up.

This is all part of smoothing out the election, meant to be temporary.
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2019 09:39 pm (UTC)
The squishies all had basic furniture and a years supply of non-perishable food for ten people. This world didn't get the heavy farming equipment, as that was in even shorter supply than the Squishies.

These two groups had one pistol that we know of, no long guns. Not a really good situation, but . . . but Rael is not terribly concerned about something happening to them.
(Anonymous) on April 27th, 2019 10:27 pm (UTC)
Why close the gate at all? Why not just corridor them to an island on the other side of the continent, dump a couple of squishies there and pop the corridor?

Do they have weapons for the lions and tigers and bears?
ekuah on April 27th, 2019 10:56 pm (UTC)
Short answer: ability.
They have no means to travel to 'the other side of the continent'.
At least not in a short time. (even Xen can't throw a corridor across a continent)
Rael AND Arno would be missed if they are away for more than a few hours.

The missing gate, could be an afterthought for them, like:
"Hey aunt Rael, don't you think it would be a little bit suspicious if suddenly one of the gates is missing?"
matapampamuphoff on April 27th, 2019 11:13 pm (UTC)
I just added a couple of lines.

And One save me, started writing "The Ministry of Government Properties" with two green, straight out of college, new hires reporting in on their first day of their first job.
ekuah on April 27th, 2019 11:43 pm (UTC)
Please please pretty please
Can't wait for that story.
Maybe you can even add Permit A 38 into it ;-)
(Anonymous) on April 28th, 2019 06:13 am (UTC)
A bit off topic
I'm new here, found the place looking for a spot to politely mention I have been waiting 40 some books to read more about the rats. I found the posts on them here and loved the story.

As I was rereading the series and posts here I was thinking we have humans, dogs, horses and rats, all enhanced. Cats were mentioned in earlier stories, well noted by their absence on Comet Fall, and that got me to thinking... We need a cat story.

We have the geneticist that did some of the horse modifications living on Embassy. She hasn't been active in the stories of late. She may be bored and decide to enhance her pet cat(s)?

Stan Miller
matapampamuphoff on April 28th, 2019 02:13 pm (UTC)
Re: A bit off topic
Welcome! This is my testbed, where the raw verbage is seen and critiqued before it's finalized and sold. Beware!