The Dark Empire, Page 41-43 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 41-43
The hatchlings and cubs no longer ran around mindlessly screaming, but instead had settled into an unusual calm of quiet activities that consisted mainly of mundane tasks. Saddles were being made or repaired, salves were being rendered in pots, furs were being dried and cured, clothing repaired, and the Tarlock had even resumed school lessons.
The group leaders gathered in the main car, sitting where there were chairs, standing where there wasn’t, and all had a plate of greasy pork and wild greens. Roael held his hand up for quiet.
“You can keep eating, but let’s get this meeting underway,” announced Roael. “First, I want to thank Maseth and his hunters for providing this incredible wild boar, and Lilaena for providing the greens she and her gatherers collected. The wild onions are exceptional delightful with the pork.”
A round of greasy hands and paws clapping and thumping on the ground ensued.
“Okay, let’s go around the room and get a status report from each section,” Roael waited until the clapping and thumping died down. “Moeth, let’s start with you.”
“We opened a gate above the island and nothing of the island remains, we are securely hidden under water at this time. There is no threat from air or sea,” reported Moeth. “I’ve carefully ranged out during every hunting trip and have seen no signs that we can be tracked. I used a Crystal Map each time while Maseth was hunting to check our position, but Aestar seems to have successfully removed us from the map. We are safe so long as we don’t gate to the same place twice.”
“Thank you,” said Roael. “Jasai, would go next?”
Jasai stood and laid her plate aside. “The maintenance bots have completed repairs to the train from the fire damage, no vital systems were affected. There is a problem with sewage though, this train was originally designed as an escape vehicle for three people – Aestar, and his mother and father. We are way over capacity and the sewage recycling plant cannot keep up. The sewage tank is currently at 80% capacity and will be filled within the day if we don’t get everyone to stop using the bathroom.”
Everyone laughed at that, and Koael shouted out, “We can use our boots instead.”
“Let’s keep this meeting professional,” said Roael. “What do you suggest, Jasai?”
“I already open a gate every eight hours to vent our cooking smoke and let fresh air in,” said Jasai. “We make everyone hold it, if they can, until the next gate opening to go outside, especially for solid waste.”
Roael nodded. “Good idea, but let’s change the gate opening for a potty break after each meal, and once during the night. But, we can’t just run out into the woods and make a mess. Zil, you’re a Mathor, so you must have your people’s engineering skills buried in that brain of yours someplace. I’d like you to take charge of figuring out a way to dig a quick latrine trench to bury our waste.”
“I have an idea,” said Jasai. “There’s a maintenance bot in storage, and I have no idea why it’s there, but it’s designed to dig holes. I can configure it to obey Zil and dig where he tells it.”
“Excellent, thank you,” said Roael. “Maseth, would you go next, please?”
Maseth stood and stretched. “The hunters are able to bring enough food to provide for everyone, but the problem is preserving the food. I’ve been storing the meat in one of the lower rooms where it’s coldest, but even with that the meat is only good for two or three days. We are having to hunt too frequently, eventually someone is going to spot us on the mainland.”
“Do you have any suggestions?” asked Roael.
Maseth glanced to Tarabeth and then back at the group. Roael kept his expression neutral, but it was obvious who’s plan he was about to lay out. “We need salt to preserve the meat, but we can’t call for Trader as long as we’re not listed on the Crystal Map, and a Shade Trader is too likely to betray us. I suggest we open a gate to a salt flat and dig raw salt, we don’t want to consume the raw salt, but we can use it to make brine and cure the meat.”
Roael nodded. “Excellent plan, make it happen. Boae, you’re up next.”
Boae stood. “I got the door open to the reactor room. This facility was powered by a hydrogen reactor, but it was shut down a long time ago. We ran out of electricity so quickly because we were using reserve power from batteries that were nearly depleted, but now we have two problems. The first is, none of us has the skill to start up a hydrogen reactor, and second, I wouldn’t start the reactor even if I could. There is a crack in the outer concrete containment wall. I think the reactor room is located directly under where the train first hit the ground. The facility was old to begin with, then the impact of the train damaged an already weak wall.”
“I see,” said Roael. “I was hoping to stay here for a few months, but without power, this place isn’t sustainable. We’ll have…”
Zil interrupted Roael by jumping up and raising his hand with great fanfare.
“Yes, Zil, you have something to say?” asked Roael.
“The train broke it,” said Zil.
“Yes, Zil, the train broke it,” Roael replied patiently.
“Then the train should fix it,” said Zil, smiling broadly.
Roael blinked, tipped his head to the side, and looked at Jasai. Jasai was staring at Zil. “Jasai, would that work?” asked Roael.
“I…I think it would,” said Jasai. “I would never have thought of it, but yes, I can tell the train’s maintenance bots to fix the reactor, and probably get them to start it up.”
Zil turned his head to Maseth and stuck his tongue out at the tiger. Maseth narrowed his eyes. Somehow Zil found out that Maseth had called him an idiot. The next morning Maseth woke surrounded by coconuts. When asked where Zil had gotten the coconuts from, being that the island was currently under water, he had taken them to an unused room filled to the ceiling with coconuts, and solved their immediate water shortage. Zil had been carrying every coconut he could find before the storm down to the bunker. When asked why he had done it, Zil said that since the trees didn’t want them back, he brought them down here to store in case they changed their minds.
“Well done, Zil,” said Roael. “Boae, work with Jasai to get the reactor fixed. Tarlock Malic, your next.”
Malic was sitting in one of the big red comfy chairs rocking Nineveh. “All of you are starting to smell ripe, we need a bath and wash day established once a week. Also, we need to find a place for the hatchlings and cubs to spend time outside playing in the sun.”
“Good suggestion,” said Roael. “Raen, on your next reconnaissance flight, see if you can find us another island we can let the hatchlings play for a few hours every day.”
Lilaena raised her hand.
“You have something to add, Lilaena?” said Roael.
“I’m doing my best, but I can’t find enough vegetables in the forest for so many people. Koael said he saw some farms when he was flying security on the last hunt, maybe we can buy some vegetables.”
“Very good idea,” said Roael. “Koael, work with Sern and put together a plan to purchase vegetables.”
“You got it, brother, no problem,” said Koael.
“That’s all I have. Does anyone have anything to add?” asked Roael.
Gaevin stood. “Papa, I don’t have a forest, or an island, or anything left to guard, maybe I can go with the hatchlings and give Rider classes when Raen finds a place for them to play.”
“Good thinking, Gaevin,” said Roael. “Make it happen. Okay, everyone knows what needs doing, we’ll have a group meeting again in a week. Let’s get on it.”
Moeth held her hand up. “Make sure you take your dishes to the kitchen.