Chapter 101: Loading a Feud
The schedule for our evacuation of the nephilim now brings us to the
N'Butu and the Kitsu, two jungle-dwelling groups in the quasi-African
part of Yazatlan, part of N'Tabo Bey's bailiwick. These are the groups
whose war we had to interrupt, or at least tried to. Now we're going to
pick them up.
We've already picked up their top echelons, by way of trying to stop the war. They are in two very separate brigs in the depths of the Tellemataru. Dafnord feels it would be good to get the advice and cooperation of these leaders, if at all possible. They've had three days, their own time, to cool off and consider. So Dafnord heads down to the brigs, escorted by Markel, Gannar, Robbie, and their remote-controlled gun-platforms.
Dafnord enters the N'Butu brig first. Folk are sprawled around it, looking sullen and despondent. "Good morning," says Dafnord, "and wel--" Jump. Zot.
Someone with some concealed spunk tried to jump Dafnord. Robbie immediately zaps him with a stun bolt, but he shrugs it off and tries to brain Dafnord with one of the trays the meals have been served on. Robbie downs him on the third zap.
"Sit!" Dafnord commands to the remaining prisoners, who were rising to action-ready crouches. They sit. "Enjoy your day," he says, with questionably sincerity, and leaves.
So we try the Kitsu brig next. Here, we find everyone gathered in a tight knot in the center of the room, looking sullen. One guy in the back is holding two empty bowls -- wooden, the kind the salads and oatmeal get served in. He may not know it, but he has several gun platforms trained on him immediately.
"Good morning," says Dafnord and, pleased at having got so far, continues, "and welcome to your third day of captivity." Grumbles greet this. "Have you decided to end your war and take part in the exodus?" Nods and somewhat glassy smiles. "Then nominate one of your number to come with us."
They confer and produce a chief, who explains that "one" won't exactly do, since, if he has to be properly in his chiefly role, he needs two bodyguards. We compromise and let him take one. He picks, naturally, the fellow with the salad bowls. Did we mentioned the filed, pointy teeth? We sigh and take them out, escorting them up to the reception area. On the way, Gannar politely but firmly relieves Mr. Smiley of his salad bowls. There was also the fellow Markel spotted, who had (almost) concealed seven wooden spoons in his belt for some reason. We took those back, too. We tell the Tellemataru that the prisoners are to be served on paper plates from now on... (Lethal paper cuts! Guerilla origami! We'll cope with those when they arise.)
We meet N'Tabo Bey in the reception area and begin. The chief guides us to a very large encampment. We look the situation over by window, then open the bronze tunnel in front of the guards at the edge of camp. We escort our delegate out to meet with another chief who is properly accoutered with two bodyguards. Soon, our delegate has another guard and the evacuation of the camp has begun.
It's a very large camp, but they move very quickly, with military discipline, even the civilians. It still takes a while, and the weather gets worse and worse, thunderstorms brewing in the distance. As the last warriors march into the tube, rear guard to the last civilians, we begin to wonder what would happen to the telemporter tube if lightning hit it. Nothing good, we're sure.
There's a ground-shaking crack of thunder and two flashes. Runyana, part of the away team, points out that the second flash wasn't lightning. Is this natural. Braeta says no, nor was the earthquake. Something seems to be going on elsewhere in the jungle.
Just then, some new boarders appear -- the local fay, several hundred strong. While they scramble in, Robbie sends an eyeball aloft to do reconnaissance. There's a big forest fire in progress, probably the source of the second flash, or the result of it. There are also lots of minor fires.
There's a four-eyed leopard-man guiding the boarding fays at the tunnel mouth. We ask him who caused the fires. The nephilim. He isn't sure why, but agrees it could well be part of their on-going battle. These phenomena are not typical of dragon attacks, we are happy to learn. No, in this ferocious area, draconians are as often the prey as the predator. (Why? we wonder again, since they -- or someone very like them -- had access to interdimensional high-tech.)
Finally, we get the fays loaded. We close the tunnel and steer them to the arboretum, where we keep so many of the other fays.
Now, we did have designated pick-up points in this area, and that encampment was not one of them, though it was the main Kitsu community. There were so many Kitsu there because the N'Butu have been preventing Kitsu from getting to the designated pick-up points, the chief explains to us. (We sigh.) There are undoubtedly some Kitsu left, though, struggling to get to pick-up points.
The big forest fire is, no surprise, quite near a pick-up point. We'd better go sort that out. We back up two hours and start windowing around. We find a scattered, small group harrying a larger, more centralized group. There are some dead. These are N'Butu, being harassed by Kitsu, so the game of keep-the-enemy-away-from-pickup-points runs both ways. (We sigh again.)
We decide to stun them all and have the Kraslk -- quick and strong high-gravity aliens who are our stevedores -- load them on.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.