The Five Doomed Cities, Chapter 11-12

Bill visits the Strange Science office. Tad explores a bandit camp and some ruins

Chapter 11.

Chatsrey.

Stan was rather dejectedly going through the mail, hoping that his sources would send something that would make a lead story. The last few issues had all done very well and he had added new subscribers. He didn’t want to lose that because he was off his game, but he didn’t have the money to make a quick trip to the airshow this year without draining his reserves. Without a good lead that could lead to trouble. Looking at the mail, he sighed when his assistant, page set up, receptionist and wife buzzed the intercom. “Stan, the young man that had that furnace is here with a friend.”

“Did he say why he is here, Sally?”
“He said that he and his friend found an underground fabrication plant in Racketgarde on his friend’s uncle’s property and he has pictures that he thought you would like.”

“Send him in.”

Sally sent Bill and a young fae into the office and Stan said, “Bill! You did very well with the furnace. So what do you have now? Is this fae a relative of your bonded?”

“This is Fireoak, who is a friend I met recently when he was with a friend of Moonshine’s.”

“So what brings you here?”

“My dad likes your magazine and you had that article about the accelerator tunnels. Fire apprenticed with some relatives in Racketgarde and when I was looking for things related to my furnace, we opened an underground factory next to his uncle’s plant. We have pictures of the inside.”
“I have a standard rate for pictures if they are any good.”
Bill put the pictures on Stan’s desk. Stan started to go through them and said, “I will pay you for these. Where is this?”
“Next to Finster’s in Racketgarde,” Fire said. “They are my mother’s family and Bill and I decided to poke around when Bill was looking for somebody to build a better furnace for him. We found a place, my cousins poked around some more and we wanted to give the pictures to you, since Bill’s dad likes your magazine and I could use a little extra cash.”

“Do you happen to have a write up about the pictures?”

Bill put some paper on the desk. “We did one yesterday on the train to Chatsrey. We need to go. We’re flying up to Ishendell to be with my dad.”

“Are you going to the air show?”

“I’m not sure.”

“If you do, take lots of pictures and write up a story. Even if I have other things, a fresh viewpoint will make for a good story.”

The boys left, Stan went over the write up, made some small changes, typed up the story, and took the pictures and copy to Sally. Sally looked at him and said, “I thought that what they had was good. What was it?”
“They had pictures of an ancient factory in Racketgarde that the fae boy had opened up with his relatives.”
“The fae has relatives here?”
“Apparently. He’s related to the Finsters. I want to know more about him. His story sounded interesting if the hints I had were true. I think that we should go to the air show after all.”
“I’ll book us a flight and get my sister to look after the kids.”

George grinned as the two men were let into his office. “Captain Bloodfoot and Keyrth Harper. What can I do for you?”

“We want to know how you set up vehicles for Inanimates.”
“Richard sent you.”

“Yes he did,” Roger said. “My grandfather is concerned as well, as is my ex boss. So when we decided to set up an Inanimate patrol for House Qinvaris, we had quite a bit of interest.”
“We have been mostly focused on the cities for obvious reasons. What were your thoughts, since you obviously have more rural areas in mind.”
“Roger and I were talking about this and we want to set up motorcycle patrols that are trained to spot Inanimates and incursions and call them in,” Keryth said. “We really don’t have radios, or enough of them, but we can set up portable telegraph and field telephones. The telegraph worked fine and the telegraph stations have small fields for the light planes we use for Blight patrols.”

“Why don’t I get Thaetmaeg here and we can discuss this. Richard has handed you our brief on Inanimates, hasn’t he?”
“We’ve both been over it, and we had some guard and militia go through this as well.”
“I’m surprised that Richard let you do this during the harvest.”
“He wants this covered and Roger and I were the best to handle that. We also want to buy every flamethrower we can get our hands on and more GPs and trucks.”

“Rosa has talked with me about that. We are probably targets as well, but I will see what I can get for you.”
George called Thaetmaeg into the office and when he arrived, George said, “Thaetmaeg, “This is Roger Bloodfoot and Keryth Harper.”

“The same Roger that tore up the track in the Fellowship a few years back. You were good for Slipgreaze and very good for Ortrag here in the Republic. I’m surprised that they didn’t chase up and grab you.”
“I was in my Service and they may have found out who my grandfather was. Also the Hammers were pushing the blacklist since I wouldn’t warm Lori Harper’s bed. Ortrags are a bit cheaper for racers in the Fellowship because they are harder to get parts for, but they are great machines. I’m talking to them now about their patrol bikes.”

“Why not buy from the Fellowship?”
“I can’t, because, between replacements for 2nd army and other needs, Hammer and everybody else is tapped out of patrol bikes. I’m competing with the Fellowship Army, the Provisional troopers and even the Mortal kingdoms, the Justiciars and guard in the Empire. Everybody wants to upgrade and that puts a pinch on things. On the other hand I have to get the Qinvaris guard, Qinvaris Militia cavalry and the Post Service patrols equipped.”

“That makes sense. A bunch of people are scared.”

“The events of last year scared a lot of people.”

“So what brings you to us?”
“We want to develop the techniques for handling Inanimates quickly,” Keryth said. “We think that if some people send them at us, they will use them to spread the Blight. A single Inanimate spreading Blight could do a lot of damage.”

“The best thing is to have obstacles. I would have thought that there would be adequate hedgerows and what not already.”
“We started to get rid of those when we started to use reapers to harvest about ten years ago. Most of them are gone, except for the truck farms and slave plots near the villages. The Inanimates will have trouble there, and since Aunt Rosa brought that brief from you back, we’ve been passing the brief around to the guard stations and militia armories.”

“What about the cities.”
House Qinvaris doesn’t have any direct influence in the cities, but we’ve handed the brief around and talked with most of the city guards. They are a bit leery of the risk of burning the cities down if they have incursions, but they know that they may have to. Tarranth has also had a bunch of Projectors brought in. We can’t mount them on trucks right now, as we need the trucks for the harvest. Some trucks have plates over some holes made in the beds, so that they can have the Projectors mounted, but that will take time.”
“How is the Empress’s little project going?” George asked.

Roger grinned. “Very well. She had more devises faster than she expected.” 

“That was good work on the part of the Beinans.”
“Not only the Beinans. The Sanctuary, EiMagic and some others made contributions. There was a lot of cooperation in the project.”

“I think that the prospect of being Scourged does that.”
    

Chapter 12.

The Wildlands, the Empire, next to the Palen estate.

Tad and Jorge exited the portal and Khiiral was waiting with a dozen men from the Umevan, Nerihorn and Qinvaris estates, two GPs, two trucks and a transporter with a bulldozer on it. Khiiral grinned when he saw them. “I have some people to help.” Jorge and Tad got in a GP and Khiiral drove past some guards, who waved and on to the estate. There were some people with scanners working in the dead zone and they went past them to the road that Tad had found. The road to the ancient abandoned village appeared to have been cleared somewhat and when they approached the village, Jorge said, “I think that I have been here before.”
“Why?” Tad asked.

As they entered the village, Jorge looked around and said, “Thought so. See that portal over there? This was one of the bandit hideouts. The cans from the Scourge devises are probably still here.”

“Will the bandits come back?”
“I doubt it. They had heard about me and when the returner showed up, they left rather quickly. I shut the portal down in any case. Let me activate it again. We can use the village here as a headquarters.”

Jorge powered the portal up, which made the slog toward the mound on the ancient road a bit easier as they could get crews to deal with the fallen trees. He turned to Khiiral and said, “I will meet you here tomorrow. Watch Tad for me.”

He went through the portal, leaving the rest of them to start the real work.  With the bulldozer helping, they were able to reach the base of the mound and the ruins on top. Tad looked at the ruins and said, “This isn’t going to be easy.”

Khiiral started the crews digging as Tad tried to make sense of the ruins, his pictures and the information they had found in the archives. Khiiral looked at him and said, “Take some pictures on a crystal Tad. There’somebody I want you to speak with about this. I will meet you at your portal tomorrow.”

Tad took pictures as the crew cleared long dead trees and brush until the sun headed toward the hills in the distance. Khiiral had the crew drive the bulldozer and trucks to the ancient village and they all ported home, leaving some Nerihorn guards to keep an eye on things. Tad emerged at the Nerihorn estate portal and Immianthe was waiting at the gate. “How did it go?”
“We are off to a start.  Khiiral wants to have me talk to somebody. One good thing is that we have a portal that you can use to go to the ancient village and you can help from there. Let’s get you to the palace. You look different.”

“I talked with your sister about some things and she showed me them.”

“I’m not sure that I want to know. Does your grandmother know that you were talking to my sister?”

“What if I said yes?”

“Do you know what my sister does?”
“Yes, I do. When we are older, she wants to teach me ways to keep you happy.”

Tad shook his head as he activated the portal, Taredd and Cyran went through, Immianthe followed and Tad went last.

Ishendell.

Terrel was waiting at the airport for Bill, Jimmy and the rest from Beinan’s. He waved and said, “All the Beinan’s people over here! I have a bus for your hotel!”

Bill and the others walked over, and on the way, Bill spotted Jerry exiting the gate and called out, “Jerry, I didn’t see you on the plane. Are you going to the estate?”
“I’m here, Bill. Dad is here and he called me in. There is some big project being worked on.”

“I can explain, Jerry,” Terrel said. “I think that there is room on the bus.”
“I didn’t see you on the train, Bill,” Jerry said.

“I had to make a stop off. Hold on a hundredth.” Bill called out, “Everybody, come over and meet my dad. You didn’t meet at the rocket launch as dad was working.  Dad, this is Tarranth Qinvaris, Alinis, Nimue, Sylvar, Fireoak, Dessielle, Peri and Renna. Everybody, this is Terrel Wavechaser, my dad.”

“Nice to meet you all,” Terrel said. He started to push Bill toward the doors. Bill said, “Fire, we can meet here tomorrow.”

As the others headed to the portals, Terrel said, “What’s going on, Bill?”

“Moonshine is Peri’s cousin and knows all of the rest. They came down to watch the rocket launch. Alinis and her family had a run in with the Customs Officer and we are planning to set him up again. We are also doing something else together. Fire and I are planning something and we want to see if we can get to Zirgoccol for the airshow.”
“That will be easy as I was planning to take you to the show. Has Valtin gotten his toy ready?”
“They were both shipped out someplace.”

Terrel grinned. “Who’s flying it?”
“Torry bought the second one.”

“Then his brother and cousin are about to get a rather large shock.”

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