Lord Palen’s Tragedy, Chapter 15-16

George asks for an evacuation. Roger has an iterview

Chapter 15.

Beltian, Capital of The Republic.

George was rather uncomfortable as he entered the office of the President, even though direct access was part of his mandate as the head of the Office of Inanimates. The president’s aide let him into the office and President Jarfaet Cloudrunner, Secretary of interior, Lemuel Claringbold and Secretary of Commerce, Gracie Brewbasher were waiting. The president looked at George and said, “Are you having difficulties with the fact that your office suddenly started having to deal with real Inanimates?”
“Not at all. At least not so far. The next couple of days might get dicey, though.”

“What’s happening in the next couple of days?”
“At some point soon, the Darkmage is going to send a major incursion, with probably a bunch of Inanimates being sent into the grainlands loaded with the Blight as well as a massed incursion in the City of Chatsrey and maybe other cities as well.”

“Presumably you have taken steps.” Mrs. Brewbasher said.
“Yes we have. We think that we have a handle on the problem. The bigger issue is that I need to go to phase two of the evacuations.”

“That is a bit abrupt.”

“The army and Sarya have lost track of those three bombs that Stormfire made off with and I want the families out of the non Scourged areas of Chatsrey and Cleadsgate.”

“The non Scourged areas?” Claringbold asked.

“Yes. My people think that an area that has been Scourge will have detrimental effects on subsequent Scourges to the point that the Scourge will not act at all or will actually replace mana. Without devises to test this, we are working from old journals and some ancient Imperial books on mana flow to support this. In any case, the old Scourged areas are sections of the city that are commercial or government, with few people that actually live there. So, if we get the people out of the areas that haven’t been Scourged, we can essentially evacuate almost everybody.”

“What about the closing down of businesses and the government?”

“That is phase three, along with having every ship in either port leave and stopping all inbound canal or rail traffic. I have a report with what we know, what the Empire has sent us and the latest from the Peninsula. There is one piece of good news. Tom Harper sent a team of ordnance specialists to the Empire to defuse the armed devise. They were too late, but they are looking at the remaining devise. I will have a report when I have more.”
“I will sign the evacuation order,” Jarfaet said. “You’ve been doing good work with the Inanimates and you didn’t pass the buck over the evacuation and the Scourge. Do you have the order with you?” George handed the president the order and Jarfaet signed it. “I wish that this was unnecessary, but with real devises visible and almost certainly going to be used the need for a timely evacuation of probable targets is apparent.”

“Mr. President, you can blame me for panicking if the devises are not sent, but my gut says that things are going to get ugly here.”

“I agree.”

The Qinvaris Estate.

Rob Bronzerock reached for his ID as a guard moved out into the road as he made the turn he was told he had to make. The truck and following GP stopped behind him as Urthock Meadows, his chief, stopped the GP that they were using. The guard, wearing tan and green Imperial peasant clothes and a broad brimmed cover with red and yellow braided into the band, looked at the ID, looked at a list he had on a board, handed the ID back and saluted. “Commander Bronzerock, if you drive up this road for about a mile, there will be a building on the right. You can’t miss it and parking is in front.”

“Very good, soldier.”

Meadows started up the GP and said, “Interesting look to those characters, sir.”

“The farm clothes?”
“That and the rest of it looking like an ad hoc army. We were covered by four more that I spotted and maybe more. The others had RSSM2s and had us covered until the soldier saluted. Whoever set that up was from the Republic and very very good.”

“We’ve seen that since we arrived, chief. Mr. Harper is true to form, like his brother. Here we are, and I see a welcoming committee. Have our people collect their gear while I talk to our hosts.”

A man with the Harper look to him, walked over and said, “Commander Bronzerock, I am Richard Harper, your boss’s brother. This is Alinar Nerihorn, Adiun Beinan and Chompers?”
“Chompers?”

The elf in question grinned and said, “Old nickname, because most of the time when people saw me, I looked like Jimmy. My real name is Kindel Zinfiel.”

“I’m going to take it that this is not where the armed devise is.”
“That devise went off three days ago near my estate,” Lord Nerihorn said. “It Scourged two other estates and some farms in the Fellowship. We have one of the four remaining devises here. The others are in enemy hands, I’m afraid.”

“What do you have on the things?”
“Quite a bit. My son went to the library in what is known as the Sanctuary and was able to retrieve manuals and related materials from them. We managed to remove what is known as the Primary from the devise, inside its casing. The Primary contains things that need to be handled carefully due to the possibility of what they call radiation. Adiun Beinan has had a devise made to detect radiation and we are having a leaded apron, gloves and face mask made so that the Primary may be dismantled with a degree of safety.”

“All this is going to be new to us, so we will want to go over everything. Do you have pictures of what you have done so far?”

Alinar handed Bronzerock the pictures and he whistled. “This is the first time I’ve seen one of these. Not, unfortunately, the first time I’ve heard about one. Mr. Harper, you would know the place better than I would, but there was a vault on Bloody Ridge at one time.”
“Open and empty now. I used it for cover from artillery fire. Was there one of these things there at one time?”

“Yes. Two of them, actually. The marines discovered them about seventy years ago, took them to the pier at Ishendell and an idiot opened one as they made sketches for the people at the university. Everybody on the pier died. The navy, using condemned prisoners, grapnels and an old bomb ketch, pulled both of the things onto the ketch, towed the ketch to deep water and sank it with a powder charge on board. Then the entire thing was made secret and we ordnance people were always told to look out for the things and treat them very carefully. Fortunately we haven’t run into one since. Obviously, you have manual 12-145 Handling of High Energy Mana Devises.”

“How did you know about that?”

“That is the thing that the ordnance people have wanted for the last seventy years. I was told that the bonus if I discovered a copy was going to be huge by my boss when I started and I have told my people the same thing for the last twenty years. The warning to have that at hand before opening the devise was on the drawings made seventy years ago and ever since, we ordnance people have been looking for a copy. We found some related hand written things, but not that, except for what we are reasonably sure are fakes.”

“That document was the link that led to what else we found at the Sanctuary,” Alinar said.

Bronzerock grinned. “Before I leave, I will have to pay a visit. I have a little list of things that I have been looking for.”

“You’ve run into things like my son Tarranth has, haven’t you,” Richard said.

“Not quite on that scale, but people have been shooting at each other on the Peninsula and the islands for a very long time and not every boom, goes boom. We do our best to find them and make them go boom when we want them to rather than when they hurt somebody, and when digging up booms, we find other things, some of which may be booms. I have my people keep a note of whatever labeling that they can find and, as I said, I have a list. Most of it is probably innocuous, but knowing what we are doing keeps us alive. Why don’t we take a look at your problem?”

 

 

Chapter 16.

Chatsrey.

George looked at the skeptical faces in front of him. There was a downside to how well he had done his job and now, with the powerful men and lady who was currently the mayor in front of him, he was staring at it. With nothing else he could say, he started in. “Gentlemen and lady, four days ago, the Scourge was set off in the Empire. The events have been in the papers and it is believed to have been an accident and a partial Scourge. That being said, the probable number of deaths were approximately 2,000. The Darkmage’s son, Stormfire assaulted the vault where five of the devises had been stored and made off with four of them before the Justiciars could stop him. That included the devise that exploded. In light of the events, I have requested an evacuation order from the President and received it.”
“An evacuation order?” Sarah Heavytoe asked. “Isn’t that a bit much?”
“Not in my judgment. Considering the consequences of the city being Scourged, the evacuation seemed to be a reasonable precaution.”
“Why are you talking to us?” Admatius d’Dolmon asked. “We are hardly police.”
“Between you, you control much of the transportation into and out of the city. Changes in the traffic patterns are going to be needed. For instance, commuter rail will only be outbound with no passenger accepted into the city unless under then cases listed in the report I am about to give you.”
“With only three of the devises, how much damage are you expecting?” Jacob Fraunces asked.

“That depends on some things. There are aerial pictures of the Scourged area in the report, but the Scourged area is much smaller than the historical Scourged areas here. I have also included information from Ishendell, the extent of the ruins and the results of some work that my office has done. I understand that you are skeptical and that the heat from this will likely end up on your heads rather than mine. On the other hand, the devises do exist, the Darkmage’s sons do have them and they would not have gone to the lengths they did to obtain them if they did not intend to use them, and soon. Since the location of the devises is unknown and if they use one way portals, there is no way to stop them, I decide to err on the side of caution. As for each individual devise, the amount of damage may depend on where it is set off. If it is in a already Scourged area, the damage may be limited to the explosion itself. If a devise should go off in an area that was not Scourged in the Mage Wars and operates as intended, then the death toll could be large, with all sorts of collateral effects. I had to look at the worst case scenario.”
“Considering your office’s mandate, you have said nothing about Inanimates,” the mayor said. “Why not?”
“Because I know the maximum number that the Darkmage could send, there are teams already all over the city prepared to deal with the threat and I have already issued a rather complete report on the Inanimates. If you are concerned that Inanimates are going to appear in amongst the evacuation efforts, so are we. My people have already met with your people, mayor and there is an action plan on your desk. It is likely that by tomorrow morning, there will be very few Inanimates to send in any case.”

Qinvaris Mechanical Shop, Allaneas.

The car took Roger through a gate following two trucks and into a rather large complex of elven style buildings with a fair share of brick and even new steel buildings. After a bit of a seemingly roundabout route, the car dropped Roger off in front of elegant two story building bearing the Qinvaris griffon and the words, “Mechanical Shops, Headquarters Building.” Nalaea was waiting and grinned as he walked up. “You dressed up a bit.”
“I didn’t think that you would want me digging around in TAVs quite yet, so I dressed for an interview.”

“Actually, you are partly wrong. My brothers’ idea of an interview is to haul you all over the things and have you explain things to them. But we have coveralls and can deal with that.”

“I am going to say that “Uncle Richard” is Lord Qinvaris.”
“That would be hard to hide at this point, so yes, my Uncle Richard is Lord Qinvaris. At least Aunt Rosa insists that he carry the title around, now that they are officially married. Come on in.”
They passed a pair of portals that were both busy and looked new and Nalaea said, “At least we don’t have to go into town anymore to use the portals. I was hoping to spare you this, but mother is insisting.”

An elf woman’s voice carried up the hall, the beautiful notes in complete contrast to what was being sung. “We send you gages so that the parts are what we can use! Look at this! Does this look like a fit to you! Now you take these back and send some that are actually usable! The craftsmanship excellent? Yes, they are very pretty! They won’t be so pretty out in the fields this fall when a reaper is down and there are rain clouds coming! My people won’t have time to make the parts fit out there in the fields! That’s why we insist on interchangeability! Now send me parts that do what I need them to do!”

A rather frightened and muttering dwarf left carrying a box of parts and Nalaea murmured, “At least you know up front,” as they went through the door. An elven woman in a peasant dress and green eyeshade turned from the desk she was sitting at and said, “Nalaea, you found him!”

Nalaea looked at her mother and said, “And you almost scared him off with that. Roger, this is my mother, Eletha Harper. As you heard, she is hardly an ornament.”

Eletha smiled. “The ornament is my sister in law. I, on the other hand, have had to grow up in a rather harsher school. So I am not a lady. At least as far as my brother is concerned. My husband thinks rather differently. He is away at present, and as you heard, the clowns are taking advantage.”

Roger grinned. “Were the parts pretty?”
“Yes they were. They were very nice, until you actually had to fit them into a reaper. Then it was holes too small and in the wrong place. The problem was correctable, even in the field. But during the harvest, hundredths count and a reaper down could mean lost crop.”

“You are using combines now, why are you bothering with the reapers at all?”

“First of all, we don’t have the budget this year for more combines, so we can’t get rid of all the reapers and the crews and second, when we do, the reapers are being sold into the mortal kingdoms and we wrote a repair contract into the price for five years so that the things don’t just break down and get left in the fields. Richard had to learn that the hard way, some time ago. It was amazing how fast the sickles came back out while the reaper sat there for some minor repair. We had to learn that and teach others the advantages of certain things. Some people still haven’t learned as you just saw. Before I turn you over to my sons, tell me about yourself. Where do your parents live?”
After the interrogation was done and they left the office, Roger said, “Does she do that with all your boyfriends?”
“No, because she knows most of them. Let me take you to my brothers.”

They walked down the hall as the noise got louder and entered a huge shed through a new door. The shed was a well fitted mechanical shop filled with combines and the five TAVs. The TAVs had their drive sprockets removed and the final drive gears exposed. A coveralled elf turned, spotted Roger and said, “Good, you brought him, Nalaea! Didn’t you tell him to dress for work?”

“He isn’t working yet. Roger, this is my brother Keryth. Keryth this is Roger Bloodfoot.”

“Apparently you are the one who can tell us why these final drives all have to be coddled.”

“Why did you lengthen the hulls?”
“We needed the room for the drivetrains we bought in the Republic from Stingfire. That was a bit of an adventure. Then we hit the gear issues. The strange thing is that according to the prints we have from Kugrim Railworks those gears should not be a problem.”

“How did you get the prints?”
“Waved Uncle Richard and looking for new vendors as well as the fact that we are building some new tractors for the Timberlands and were going to need hulls for them. It’s amazing how that works.”

“I can’t really say very much, but I would see if I could find somebody outside the Fellowship to fabricate new gears. At least, you should not purchase them from Hammer Motors.”

“We are working on that. We have a source in the Kingdom making some gears. We should have them in a five day. When we took things apart, we smelled politics, but we figured that Hammer used a smaller power plant that they had on hand and played games.”

“They did, after I did some tests on those gears after we ran into the same things you apparently did. Of course, that cost me.”
“Nalaea told us. When can you leave the troopers?”

“I haven’t accepted the job yet.”

“I think that you are already doing it.”

“Why are you playing around with these anyway?”
“Uncle Richard said that he was thinking of sending the militia through one way portals, TAVs were mentioned and these were sitting there on the Peninsula, so we hauled them up.”

“That’s a lot of work for a conversation.”

“Uncle Richard ok’d it, the militia gets some modern punch if they need it and the opportunity presented itself.”

“Why would an Imperial House militia need TAVs?”
“Because before Headbasher went down to the Peninsula, we were looking at these things possibly coming across the border with a compelled army from the Fellowship and romping through a bunch of our farms or taking over the Empire through our property. The Darkmage had already tried that once, from the Sanctuary and we are already dealing with Inanimates and the Scourge. Also, driving these in the capital will give our uncle and the other old sticks apoplexy and that makes the entire thing worthwhile.”

Roger grinned. “Just what am I getting myself into?”
“Why don’t you find out? Nalaea, arrange for some coveralls. Roger, do you have a tool box?”
“Yes, but it is in storage with my racing motorcycle at my father’s place in Oceanside.”

Keryth’s eyes lit up. “Racing motorcycles. We must see that. My sister has her new car, but the rest of us suffer with GPs because we didn’t hint that we wanted cars for Winterfaire.”

“I’ve seen the car. Rather an expensive Winterfaire gift.”
“I hate to say this, but my sister earned it by keeping the trucks moving through the harvest. Considering that she hadn’t seen a truck before last year, what she did was incredible. So the car. Let’s get you started. Welcome to the House. Where are you living at present?”

“Fayspire.”
“Too far for what we will be doing. Mother can set you up at the estate. You can expect long days, odd hours and lots of cursing. You will, like the rest of us, be all over the Empire during the harvest. That is part of the job. So we will set you up at estate.”
“Now comes the hard part.”
“What is that?”
“Telling dad that I left the troopers.”

Keryth laughed. “Nalaea said that the troopers were a family thing. On the other hand, both my sisters said that you looked rather bored and Nalaea said that you wanted to do other things. Here you can do other things and frankly, we need somebody with your skills here now. We pushed last year to get the combines and the rest of it and we are still catching up with some things. The locker rooms are over there, here’s my sister with the coveralls, so you can lose the suit and get dirty.”

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