The War For The Mortal Kingdoms Chapter 15-16.

Roger and Keryth arrive at Athlin. Commander Seafisher finds out what kind of scow he is assigned to.

Chapter 15.

Chatsrey

George looked at the emergence scanner and cursed. There was an incursion right in the middle of the financial district, in the lunch twentieth. He turned to the radio center and said, “We have an incursion downtown. Get some trucks there.”

“Yes sir!”

The Inanimates appeared in the middle of the lunchtime crowds and it took a brief time for the crowds to realize what they were, with the result that the Inanimates were able to strike and the crowds, wreaking havoc as they spread out. About a hundred people were attacked and killed or injured before anyone realized what was happening and five hundred more were not able to run or were injured in the rush or caught and struck by the Inanimates.

Sergeant Dan Ringfounder went to a call box and called the incursion in before opening the cabinet in the box and pulling out a shotgun and bandolier of shells and turning to fight the incursion. He started to push people into buildings and shoot Inanimates heading toward people knocked over in the rush to escape. He kept shooting and dragging people up until he ran out of shells. He looked around and the carnage had stopped as the street was cleared of people.

The Inanimates were forced to stop or got caught up on cars and street furniture or on the building fronts. People with guns started to shoot the Inanimates as  approaching sirens signaled the arrival of reinforcements. Still more Inanimates emerged as first the police and then trucks from the Office of Inanimates arrived. The police and fire departments pulled the injured off the street as the torch men of the Office started to flame emerging Inanimates that were separated from the crowd and set up barriers to catch the Inanimates and hold them. After half a twentieth, the incursion was over, except for the cleanup.

George looked at the map and sighed. Whoever had staged the incursions had known the city as it currently was. Rather than basing things off the old emergence points, the incursions had been sent right into crowded areas, right at the times where an incursion would create the most havoc. The financial district, downtown and the Central Park had all had incursions at midday in the middle of the lunch twentieth. That had been followed up with further incursions as the evening rush started. Unlike the Darkmage’s incursions, these incursions had deep reserves and the people on the other side hadn’t hesitated to use them, with chilling effects. Mayor Heavytoe came up beside him and said, “This was not a good day.”

“No it was not. These monsters knew where and when to hit us to create maximum terror and chaos.”

“At least you took down the incursions quickly.”

“A quarter twentieth doesn’t cut it when the incursion starts right in the middle of a crowded street.”

“There was no way to know when they plan to attack.”

“I think that we have our excuses set, mayor. Now we face the press.”

“Now we face the people depending on us to do our jobs. After the evacuation, this should be easy.”
“Do you think that the evacuation was an overreaction.”
“Ask me after the pictures of the Five Jewels come back.”

Zirgoccol

 The landdragon parade assembled in the park at the south end of Bank St. With all the troops assembled, signs and donation buckets ready, the parade started up the cleared street. Just as they were almost to Merryhorn bank, figures emerged onto the street. Harry sniffed, turned to Vestelle and said, “I think those are dead already.”

He charged, and when there was no reaction, pushed one with his forepaw. The thing tried to attack him and he swatted it. Vinny charged up and yelled, “These are Inanimates! Stomp them!”
He put action to what he was saying and started to stomp the figures, tearing them as they fell. Harry and the other landdragons followed, stomping Inanimates as they appeared as the sounds of sirens told of approaching police. A truck with a flamethrower appeared and started to torch the Inanimates. After about a quarter twentieth, the incursion was over and the police started to keep the street clear for the clean-up.

Major Ualiar watched the events unfold and waved his soldiers into Merryhorn’s. A few Projector bolts cleared the lobby and there must have been a money transfer ongoing as there was a large stack of gold coins on a cart next to the desk. The major looked at the locked teller cages, turned to his men and said, “We’ll take this and go.”
By the time they reached the street again, the chaos had settled down, and the Inanimates were mostly gone. Sliding into an alley, the team headed to the portal set up in a building on the next street.

Betrek and some of the other young dwarves charged into the lobby, guns in hand, only to find Dudral getting things back to normal. Betrek looked at him and said, “What did they get?”
“They were rather impressed with the stacked coins I had and took them.”
“The Urdusin’s?”
“Yes. They didn’t even try for the teller’s cages. I hope they enjoy the coins.”

Bhastrath and Jorgreg walked up and Bhastrath asked, “How many drawers did they empty?”
“None,” Dudral replied, grinning. “They were too impressed with my little display and they made off with it.”

Jorgreg laughed “Maybe they didn’t like your advertising.”

Qambois was looking at Spitty’s latest report when Vafealine came in and said, “They attempted a robbery during a Inanimate incursion on Bank Street.”
“How many were killed?”
“The landdragons were having a parade looking for donations for the evacuees in the Mortal Kingdoms. They stomped all over the Inanimates before things went bad.”

Qambois laughed. “That must have put a damper on things.”

“I think that it did. Apparently nobody told them about the landdragons.”
“Shame, that.”

The Hideaway.

Blackfire watched the troops exit the portal and when the Major emerged, said, “Well?”
“The Inanimates ran into some sort of Transformed and landdragon parade and were stomped on. We hit one bank and retrieved some coin, but I’m a bit suspicious about it.”
“Why?”
“It was sitting, without any security, right next to the main desk. The money was not even in chests, just on a cart. In any case, the incursion in Zirgoccol was little more than entertainment for the landdragons.”

“Where did the landdragons all come from.”
“I don’t know. You could check with the loom.”
“Seriellia hasn’t figured it out yet and the connections have not been reestablished.”
“Why was our sister not brought with the rest of us?”
“Dúhael was certain that we would not need her.”

“We should have discussed that. This was the hardly the time that we wanted to be left in the dark.”

  County Westlaas, Vestia.
  Sir Leo looked left and right at his squadron as they prepared for yet another charge. Lances at the ready, Leo signaled for the bugler to sound the charge and the squadron advanced at a walk, then a canter and finally the full gallop. Leo picked up an Inanimate, the red dress standing out and set his lance. As he closed, he looked and just before impact, pulled his lance aside. “Sallia!”

The Inanimate turned to strike at his horse as Leo pulled up and the horse screamed in pain and slipped, falling and taking Leo to the ground. More Inanimates staggered up, striking at the horse and Leo, who drew his sword and frantically tried to cut his way out. He saw his sister, the ball of flame from his lance stuck to her and starting to burn her.

Visor down, it was hard to see very much and Leo struck around with his sword, trying to clear a path. There was a series of roaring noises and a call cried out, “Watch the cavalryman.”

Suddenly there were bangs from guns and Leo could see streams of fire going out, engulfing the Inanimates. Hands grabbed him and pulled at him, dragging him out of the circle of Inanimates, and Leo raised his visor and stood. Looking around, he was surrounded by strange soldiers with crimson and yellow helmets, firing with guns and using some sort of flame projector to torch the remaining Inanimates. There was huge snapping sound and a bright bolt of light struck toward the city, striking a mass of Inanimates and causing them to go up in flames. His second rode up and said, “Leo! They got you out. Why did you swerve like that?”
“I was about to torch my sister.”
“There is a litter for you. Let’s get you to the healer.”

Leo’s helmet was removed and he was put on the litter and lifted to a strange vehicle. Leo’s litter joined another and a driver sat in a seat and with a brrr, the vehicle headed to the healer’s tent. The tent loomed up and Healer’s aides came out and took the litter into the tent. Ailed, Leo’s squire appeared and started to work at Leo’s armor, pulling the various pieces off. A healer arrived and looked Leo over. After poking and looking at his eyes, she said, “You were lucky, sir knight. No bites or scratches through the armor. You have just been tossed about somewhat. Stay here for a day and rest.”

The healer went on to her next patient  and Leo lay back, an orc walked up and said, “Sir D’Hart, I am, Jerthad Toothgrinder.”
“Looking for a contract? I am afraid that I am not in a position to let contracts out at present.”
“I am not a mercenary. What I want is your story.”
“Other than the fact that I torched my sister today?”
“She was already dead.”
“That doesn’t make it easier.”

“I imagine that it doesn’t.”
“What do you know, Orc?!”
“Quite a bit. I’ve been around a lot of wars and battlegrounds. This one is strange, I will admit. Do you think that your sister was sent out deliberately?”
“It is hard to be certain. She could have just been in the next incursion, sent out at random. Who were those soldiers that rescued me from my folly?”
“Qinvaris guard and militia and post riders from the Empire.”

“Why are they here?”
“I think that their lords want to have the Inanimates destroyed here, rather than at home. The people doing this did not make any friends.”

“Why are you here?”
“To get the stories of people like you and tell them, so that world knows what you are going through.”

“You want my story?”
“You, and the others who have been in this fight.”
“What about the enemy’s story?”
“That may be more difficult. They have managed to betray and leave behind their better people. I don’t think that they would talk to the likes of me in any case.”
“Why did they do this, all of it?”
“That is a long and twisted story. I will tell you what I have learned after you tell me your story.”

“That is a good trade.”
Geral walked up to the two men wearing hats in the same color as the helmets and said, “I am glad that you have arrived. Who are you?”
“Roger Bloodfoot and Keryth Harper. We were placed in charge of this venture by Lord Qinvaris. This is the Qinvaris militia and guard’s new motorcycle patrol and Inanimate suppression company as well as some post riders from House Glynynore.”

“As I said, I am glad to see you. My soldiers are getting worn out and making mistakes, as you saw.”

“Lord Qinvaris feels that if we destroy the Inanimates here, he will not be finding them in his fields more than he has already.”

“Whatever the reason, I am glad that you are here.”

Jorge walked up and said, “Roger! I should have known it was you responsible for the motorcycle troops.”
“What do you mean, Jorge?”
“You set this up with Richard.”
“He wanted troops with mobility and the flamethrowers. I set it up and motorcycles can go places a GP can’t.”
“I’m glad you are here. We are holding, but things are getting strained.”

“Any ideas where they went?”
“Not yet. We can’t get to the portals they use and we’ve been tangled in this. The new general at First Division was rather annoyed that I couldn’t keep this from happening, but no more than I am.”

“Roger and I think that we know what they are really up to,” Keryth said. “They are robbing the banks and treasuries. We may have put a bit of a spike in their wheel.”
“How so?”
“All the money is radioactive, at least the money that they can get their hands on here is. We set it up with and Lords Palen and Zlymenor so that the Imperial Bank and the Exchequer is going to scan the coin and take special action if it should be radioactive.”
Jorge grinned. “I’m going to assume that you have arranged some convincing fatalities.”
“Well, some things along those lines,” Roger said. “Strangely enough there have been some strange illnesses in the two Houses. It may just be unrelated, but the lords want to recover the coin as a precaution and the Imperial Bank is recommending radiation scanners at all banks in the Empire.”

Jorge started to laugh.

Jorge looked around at the countryside, turned to the others and said, “It didn’t look like this the last time I was here. There’s Major Tollings.”

They drove over in the GP that they had ported over from Ishendell and the Major grinned as they drove up. “Jorge, you were not supposed to be here.”

“We have something that you will like and we want to coordinate with you.”
“What is it?”

“I rebuilt one of the things that we were sending through portals during siege, since some soldier made off with the machine gun and I wanted to send it as a surprise.”

“Ok. Let’s go back to Lain Othrond and coordinate with the navy on this. They are flying patrols and if we can time your surprises with an assault, we can hit them in the cities.”
“How are things going here?”
“It’s been a mess. You can see that.”

“Well, hitting the Inanimates in the cities will help.”

“Why did you come up with your thing?”
“General Ironcutter wouldn’t let me here in the beginning and said that my skills were needed in Ishendell. We’ve done some things and are coming up with more.”
“Who is that with you, though Nat, you were dragged in rather quickly.”
Nat laughed. “Things just sort of happened and what Jorge was doing seemed like it was fun. We were just taking a tour of Ishendell and we spotted the thing, minus machine gun and put it together.”

“Who else is that with you and how was he dragged into your schemes, Jorge. I can understand the chief, but this other fellow?”
“This is Ben Harper from the Office of Inanimates,” Jorge said. “He comes up with ways to deal with Inanimates and stayed behind to cover the Ishendell office because his bosses are here. We were asking about flamethrowers and Urthock suggested that we check the office. Ben liked the idea and could requisition things from army.”

“I see. Ok, why don’t I take you around, introduce you to the folk that you don’t already know and you can coordinate. Where is Tad?”

“Tad is acting as a gofer for the Emperor. The Emperor is under the weather and the princess has Tad digging stuff up for him.”

Jorge laughed and pointed. “Mr. Harper, your boss is up there at the main camp. I need to see to something and then I will join you.”

Roger looked at the GP that had driven up and frowned. “Ben, you were supposed to stay at the office.”
“Jorge here, along with Nat and the Chief, came up with something that we want to test.”
“What crazy thing are you suggesting now? Gentlemen, I hope you know that Ben here is the office’s man for things that seem crazy and very strange. I’m Roger Lore.”
Jorge grinned. “I’m Jorge Umevan and I thought that I was the crazy one in the project. In any case, we modified something that the Portal Service used for one way ports during the siege of Ishendell and that I discovered there when I was taking Nat around. I went to the chief, who recommended your office. Ben was there and we put the thing together.”

“What does it do?”
“Sprays jellied gasoline on whatever is surrounding it.”

Roger grinned. “Ben, you are forgiven. How many of the things do you have?”
“Just one, so far,” Ben said. “We only had the one frame and wanted to test it before requisitioning more.”

“I think that a test can be arranged. Even if it isn’t ported though in the cities, we can use something like that. Things are rather tight here.”

Chapter 16.

Beltain

President Jarfaet Cloudrunner looked at the members of his cabinet and said, “How bad is it?”
Lemuel grimaced. “Not as bad as it could have been. The Inanimates people were on top of things, the police were on the ball and there was a limit to how fast they could send Inanimates through the portals at us, so they concentrated on Chatsrey.”
“The financial district,” Delton said. “They did the same thing in Zirgoccol. Zirgoccol was lucky and the landdragons were parading in the other direction for a benefit for the orphaned kids in the Mortal Kingdoms. Those poor Inanimates never had a chance.”

“They knew quite a bit about where to strike,” Gracie said. “A little strike and the markets get jittery, or the traders stay away.”

Jarfaet  looked around the table and said, “They must have a strategy then. In any case, the stakes have gone up. We now know that they will not hesitate to use the Scourge or any other means to get what they want.” There were nods around the table at that. “The next step is to find them.”
“Sarya’s people are working with the Portal people, but we don’t have access to the portals in the Five Jewels as yet,” Thothak said. “They have been careful to make sure that we can’t get a portal trace.”

“I want it made clear that any country harboring them is risking war with us.”
“I think that I will make that clear. On the other hand, I think that most places want them, or will want them in any case.”
The Arsenal, Cleadsgate.

Feeling more than a bit uncomfortable in his uniform, Terrel was let into the admiral’s office where the admiral was waiting with Captain Duggings. Terrel saluted and Tom said, “Sit down captain. I wanted to brief you on your assignment personally.”
“That was a surprise, sir.”
“First of all, the assignment is going to be rather unorthodox. You are getting Gatherer”

Gatherer sir?”

“Yes. We were able to squirrel her away from the old admiral and his clan of not so ex pirates. Unfortunately we can’t just bring her here and take her apart because we are going to need both Gatherer and Collector.”

“What for, sir?”
“I suspect that our enemies have or will have a seaborne capability of some kind. They attempted to retain some people who could maintain that, but Captain Ravathyra was able to keep most of the people away from the enemy.”
“I take it that I will be working with the captain.”

“Yes you will. You are probably the best that the navy has for getting the most out of the things that Gatherer can do.”

“Did you have me called up specifically?”

“The reserve call up office handles the call ups based on skills the navy needs,” Peble said. “In your case, there were no others that would have your expertise and seniority.”

“It was also recommended that my older son enter Service as well.”
“Is he doing so?”
“He was going to. By the way, I asked Paeris to keep eye on Desert Howl for us.”
“I had heard that he had set up there,” Tom said. “His bonded came from your bower, I believe.”
“That was long before my time and his bonded’s sister, who also has lost a bond hunted him down. I think that they will keep each other out of depression. In any case, Paeris was there and I asked him to keep an eye on your uncle and the other crazies down there.”

“That was a good thing, but why?”

“Because of that thing in the vault that Bill found and dragged out so that the enemy could see it. I wasn’t there to restrain the boys and I’m not sure what they might come up with.”

Tom and Peble laughed. Tom said, “You have your orders, captain. Take the flight to Ishendell  and port to Lain Othrond. You can collect your staff on your way. You should be able to pick some of them up here in the next couple of days or so and the rest at Milport.  Peble’s office has your orders and staff assignments. Dismissed.”

Terrel saluted again and left. Peble turned to Tom and said, “He didn’t seem to be too upset that he was called up.”
“I think that he knew it was coming. Once the Five Jewels were Scourged, the call up was inevitable and we need his talents”

“Beinan’s is going to be screaming that we are taking advantage.”
“Of course we are. But that doesn’t change the fact that we need him and we may need his ship.”
“How are you going to break Collector away from the old admiral?”
“I don’t need to and having her will keep that band of pirates out of our hair. You need to get back to the assignments, so, you are dismissed.”

“Dismissing, sir.”

Terrel went to the Chief of Staff’s office and after the lieutenant on duty saluted, said, “I’m Captain Wavechaser. I am here to collect my assignment and staff assignments.”

“What is your assignment, sir?”
Gatherer”

“I didn’t know that there was ship by that name.” The lieutenant went to the back room and pulled out a large packet. “Sign here, sir. This must be a new commission.”
“Very new.”
“Good luck and good hunting, sir.”
“Thank you.”

Another officer came in and said, “I am here for my assignment. Commander James Seafisher.”
“Let me go and get it.”

The lieutenant went to get the assignment and returned. The commander looked at it and said, “What kind of scow is Gatherer?”

Terrel had been taking a quick look at his personnel assignments, turned and said, “My command, Commander. If you would like to transfer, that can be arranged. On the other hand, if you do, you will be regretting that for the rest of your career.”

The commander blanched. “Sorry, sir. What is Gatherer?”

“A recent acquisition on the Navy’s part. You and the rest of the senior crew will meet with me tomorrow here for the brief before we go and collect her. I won’t take what you said personally, but I expect my first officer to have relevant and recent news at his fingertips. What was your previous assignment?”

“Training gunnery officers and Defiant before that.”

“This will be rather different than a battleship. I will see you tomorrow unless you ask for reassignment.”

Terrel left and the commander gulped. The lieutenant said, “Do you want to put in for reassignment, sir?”

“Lieutenant, I don’t think so. Now I need to go over to intelligence and Buships and find out just what my new assignment is all about.”

“That would be the smart thing to do, sir.”
“With that in mind, what can you tell me about my new captain.”
“Other than he is a bit of an Ironbottom, sir?”
“I deserved what he just did.”

“I can tell you that he was pulled out of the reserves specifically for his command and that he worked at Beinan’s in radio technology.”

“RDR?”
“That part of his file was classified.”

“I think that I don’t want to get on his bad side, or the admiral’s, so I need to catch up on my new command.”

The commander picked up his packet and headed to Intelligence and fellow commander Tully Claringbold’s office. “Tully, I will buy you lunch.”

“I’m game. You don’t buy lunch unless you want something from me.”
“I just stepped in it big time with my new CO and I need to show him that I am not a total loss.”
“What did you do?”
“Called my new assignment a scow.”
“What is your new assignment?”
Gatherer. The navy acquired her recently.”

“I didn’t know that the navy had brought her in.”

“You obviously know something, so spill.”
Gatherer was taken with Lain Othrond after attracting attention by cruising down the coast and back, spending most of it, invisible.”

“Like Collector?”

“Exactly like Collector.”
“Let me take you to lunch and then you can get me everything we have on both ships. I need to apologize to the captain. He was right. I would be regretting the assignment for the rest of my career.”

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