Earthquake relief follow-up
Ortolan 25, 230 A.C.
Continuing nouetic and electronic image and word stream from the Surakosan relief team in earthquake-stricken Eridu. This text has been edited for delayed release at this time.
It has been more than two months since the great earthquake struck the historic city of Eridu. The nouergic team which the Surakosai Institute sent to the city had a limited stay of two weeks. They judged that nouergists were needed as first responders to rescue those in most need, but after two weeks no living people remained trapped in the ruins. At that point, though nouergists would be useful, conventional equipment could do the work of heaving up fallen walls and roofs. And so the nouergic team went home, through the Gateways it had been using all along.
After those first two days of continuous nouetic and electronic information feed, our chroniclers only got transmissions here and there. So we have to rely on recollections and interviews. What you will read here are fragments of interviews we were able to get with members of the Surakosan relief team. We also have some interesting material from a nouergist who wasn't there, but is a student of Director Tanheu. Our new nouergist contact is Matio Erigeron, the youngest trainee at Surakosai.
From Ariadne: On day two, in the afternoon, a team from Beka Construction arrived to collect Barandigi. We had persuaded her to stay with us and not run away, since that would give her the best chance of surviving. By that time Tanheu was gone, and Mereth was out in the city with Kuklian. Beka used two nouergists. One opened the gate, and the other went through to pick up Barandigi. He used a subduing technique to render her docile and cooperative, and she said nothing. Four armed men accompanied this nouergist, ready to act on any resistance. They hardly had anything to say to me or our team members; no thank-yous or any kind of remark about Barandigi's status. Both the Beka nouergists refused mental contact. They already knew that Liatris was dead, but they had no interest in retrieving his body, which was still under the remains of the crashed lifter. "He was a fool," was the only thing the Beka nouergist said about him. The whole event took no more than fifteen minutes. They didn't even allow Barandigi to pick up whatever possessions or clothing she had brought with her. They were gone as quickly as they came, leaving us wondering what fate was in store for Barandigi, whether we would ever see her again.
I felt privileged that the Director allowed me to visit him in the protected apartment. This space was created a number of years ago for sick or injured nouergists, whose defenses or abilities would be too weakened to resist outside pressures. The whole place is networked with retained effects which do the shielding work so that whoever is in there can recover. Inside the space, it feels ultra-quiet, almost foggy, without that background mindnoise that is part of every nouergist's life. Someday maybe I'll have the skill to create a place like that for myself.
I was greeted by Tanheu's black cat, who had allowed himself to be put in a case and brought to his person's temporary home. I thought that was quite generous, for a cat. The director's tea machine, along with cups, was on a table in the "living room" of the apartment. I found Tanheu sitting on the couch, surrounded by plaks and papyrs. Evidently he was doing a lot of research, even just a few days after nearly losing his life at a failed nuclear plant. He allowed me to look at some of the titles: a papyr entitled "Transactinide elements under retained effects," in the Journal of Nouergic Physics. Diagrams of nuclear power plants from EnergiAlgon, in the Algon language. A map of Eridu and some current satellite photos of the earthquake zone. He seemed to be wasting no time.
What was it like to be de-powered, I asked him. Quiet, he said. Very quiet. He didn't seem too broken up over it. I would think that one of our Masters would be a wreck without his powers, but he seemed to be taking it as if it were a vacation. This had happened to him before, and it would take some weeks to recover. For now, he could do anything he needed to do from the safe apartment. Joris had been here earlier and Dr. Psanti, the nouergist doctor, visited every day to monitor his condition. A number of his other non-nouergic friends had visited as well, so he wasn't lonely. As for me, he said that since I was so good with information, I was tasked to provide him with daily reports from the earthquake team. Ariadne filed an official report every day, but I could practice receiving the nouergic feed and remote viewing the zone. I was glad that the Director asked me to do something, because without my preceptors, and without the skill to work on the relief team, I was feeling kind of useless.
Meanwhile, out in the courtyard behind the Castle, Noshir and his fellow Aurian Narseh open the Gateway to Eridu twice every day, to receive injured people and to pass supplies through to the team. I watch them when I can, but the Gateway is years away for me.
Relief team, Day 5 after the earthquake: Two new nouergists have arrived to help. One is Nerat Kantai, the director of the Nouergic Institute of Larsa, upriver from Eridu. She has some Surakosan connections, as she spent some months at our Institute as an administrator and nouergic management consultant. Larsa also had earthquake damage, but not as much as Eridu by a long way. After doing what she could at Larsa, Nerat joined our team for a few days.
The other visitor was a middle-aged Khemaru, a high-ranking military officer named Narbo Khentiy. He and his aides visited the Surakosan relief camp only because he knew that Mereth Kahn was there. Their meeting was private, but it was easy to see that there was some conflict. Mereth, who usually appeared indifferent even to the most disastrous sights, looked angry after Narbo's visit. This was Khemaru nouergic politics and it was none of our business. Meanwhile Khentiy, after delivering whatever message he had for Mereth, sped away in a Khemaru lifter, on his way to the Khemaru Embassy.
Mereth tells us that the Embassy, a fairly new building set in a Khemaru-style garden enclave planted with date palms, was hardly damaged at all. The garden had become a refuge for the homeless and injured Khemaru in the city. Narbo would be setting Gateways for these folk, and any other Khemaru who wished, to return to their country of Khemi. Meanwhile, a Khemaru military and medical detachment would stay at the site to take care of their countrymen in the stricken city.
That evening, Mereth Kahn folded up his marvelous geodesic dome retreat, packed his belongings into his expedition duffel, and with the shortest of goodbyes, disappeared through a golden Gateway, back to Khemi. Someone suggested that he had to go because his mother was calling him.
In the distance, there is smoke and flame and the clattering of lifters and rotocraft. A section of the top floor of the Great Library of Eridu is burning. This is an area occupied by squatters. As the lifters work to extinguish the blaze with water and sand, Aurian soldiers move in to finally remove the hundreds of people who are still holed up inside the top floors of Inhatan Kahn's grand palace of knowledge.
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