Marty couldn’t help looking back for a few moments: it wasn’t usual for Kevin to sit around moping; normally when something went wrong he just went to a backup plan and started another five schemes. Who would have known that his weak point was being beaten up and dominated by the Big Bad Wolf Muppet? Even on a bender he never would have guessed that one. Maybe it was something left over from early childhood? At least it hadn’t taken him long to recover after being removed from Sesame Street – but seeing Kevin-the-Werewolf moping because he’d gotten beaten by another wolf-creature almost made up for missing out on seeing his ex-wife’s face after the dragon, even if he had had to pick him up and carry him out of Sesame Street while he was busy whining.
“What did you expect? He was twice as big as you! Now, if only I could have seen her face. What do you think she looked like, Limey?”
“Uh, happy maybe? Pet’s are always fun!”
“Yeah, they are. Especially when they spit acid and you’re not the one having to clean it.”
Kevin had still looked pretty sheepish for a bit after Marty hauled him out of Sesame Street and he’d reverted to human form.
Oh well. Enough retrospective. Kevin was pretty well caught up on his scheming and recruiting anyway. He’d just been giving orders for the dataswipe-and-analysis they’d been wanting to run on a Core computer node; he was having the magical services offices in Crusader use the best copy-spells they could manage (a specialist-thrall should be able to manage something in the L6 to L9 range even if he or she couldn’t do it very often) to copy all the internal and hardwired data from one of the system nodes there to external storage for analysis. That way they could analyze things without letting the computers know about it at all. That should be quick and quiet enough to keep the system from simply wiping the bits they wanted to know – which was a problem with almost any form of physical theft. The bloody computers reacted in microseconds.
With that underway, it was time to get back to the Linear Realms. The bulk transit gate from Crusader was up and running anyway, so they had a nearly-direct route to use.
There was a lot of forklift-and-truck traffic going back and forth through the gate, although every once in a while something rumbled past under it’s own power. The Norfolk base was buzzing with activity as well. The Commander was busy “directing traffic” on the Crusader side of the gate.
He probably didn’t want to give up his new powers. Well, it didn’t seem to have gotten him into trouble so far – and if there was an attack, he’d probably be more useful over there anyway.
Anyway, the shipping was going just fine, although it was obvious that Norfolk hadn’t been this busy in some time, and was taking a while to ramp up to meet demand.
They’d already deployed them some additional Thralls, so there wasn’t much they could do there at the moment. Marty voted for trying to get in on some of the followup assaults on the other enemy bases. It would be a lot more entertaining – and he needed to work off all that birthday cake anyway.
Myagi confirmed that the mopping-up was still underway. Attacks were stepping up on both sides; it looked like the enemy had caught on to the fact that the Linear Developments had caught on, and they were now trying to cause as much damage as possible. The boldest move so far had been an attack on Yucca, but New York had been one of the more troublesome places though.
“Really. Where are they attacking in New York?”
“Well, your realm is shaping up to be a notable front. We can deploy a few more aides here to help you out. What’s most urgent?”
“Well they have been trying to hit the financial institutions and the harbor facilities, and causing general chaos. The Police and Fire departments have their hands full at the moment, the FBI are enroute now – along with some uncover military forces. At the moment we’ve traced a large number of their operatives to the New York area. Unfortunately with all the chaos going on there, our forces are spread thin.”
Well, evidently they weren’t having any trouble accepting the Thralls as special agents – although a little shapeshifting might help with the uninformed. Kevin – suddenly having plenty of Thralls available – promptly deployed a hundred more to help them out, half to the New York area.
Marty was mulling over going in person. He didn’t like to see ANY version of his home town being threatened. Maybe he should start putting together the Greater Federation of New York or something.
The Linear Realms weren’t actually on the attack anywhere at this particular moment; they’d hit all the known enemy bases as quickly as possible, and were now analyzing information, running interrogations, and trying to trace people back.
On the defensive side, New York was being hammered hard, Washington DC was in lock-down, and they’d gotten wind of an assault on North Bay Base in Ontario. In the Linear Realms it was the primary headquarters of NORAD. The transfer had been made after the responsibilities grew to large for Cheyenne to handle without serious upgrade costs.
Kevin sighed and called for another hundred Thralls. After all, he’d just recruited quite a few, and they might as well help defend their homeworld. All of that was defensive though; they needed enemy commanders. Well, they could continue trying to capture and trace; he’d bet that the enemy still wasn’t sure what they were up against.
So: rout terrorists in New York, join the defense of North Bay, chase a bomber in Washington, interrogate prisoners, see what they were after in Yucca, wait and see what else turned up, or do something else entirely?
Kevin deferred to Marty; he was the combat strategist after all – and Kevin was still feeling a bit embarrassed about making suggestions.
Marty considered that. Yucca might get them some intelligence. The thralls and the local forces could probably handle New York, as much as he hated to admit it. They still didn’t know that much about their opponents except that they were using Singular tech. Marty made a personal note to rummage around in Singular a bit more; the military there had apparently had secret technologies that the lunar colony bunch they’d transferred to Ealor hadn’t known about – such as the dimensional transport device that MacArthur had used to escape to the Linear Realms. North Bay and NORAD it would be. He wasn’t sure that he wanted the enemy to have access to those kinds of systems anyway.
Kevin quietly opened a gate on request: he was still feeling a bit subdued.
Hopefully the attack hadn’t yet started!
Currently the base was a whirlwind of activity. Fighter planes were flying nonstop air cover. Trucks full of soldiers were arriving almost continuously, along with automated tanks and light military vehicles. There were drones flying everywhere, and a significant police presence on all the roads. Antiaircraft defenses were being prepped for action.
Kevin promptly deployed thirty thralls in various small-animals forms to keep an eye out for infiltrators. He didn’t think that the Linear Realms bunch fully appreciated the power of local Identities yet. Besides, any direct attack would probably come from the inside via teleportation, gates, or some similar method, and would bypass most of the external defenses.
They were in the local records now anyway, so they stuck with the information they’d given Myagi; “Perry Scott” and “Peter Acquilla” headed for the gate – and were promptly surrounded.
“Identify yourselves. Please be aware that failure to comply is cause for us to open fire!”
After some identification – the guard looked a bit oddly at the readouts on his rifle when they noted the presence of Jamie Wolfe, Bard, Gerald, Daniel, “and various Ferrets” (“What? I like ferrets!) – but everything appeared to be in order. He did ask them to submit to retinal scans, which might not be perfect, but it was better than going by general descriptions.
“Alright, everything looks to be in order. I suggest you find someplace out of the way and keep your heads down. The story is the top brass are expecting a major firefight coming in, but they aren’t letting us in many of the details.”
“Right. You heard him, guys.”
At the central command center, the place was a mess. There were computers and people giving status reports from all over the world. There were satellite video feeds coming in on various screens. At the center of the room there was a holographic display of the base and the surrounding areas including at least some of the underground chambers and utility lines.
Well, they were basically here to keep an eye out, and possibly spot patterns that the locals hadn’t. Marty took local guard and kept an eye out for odd behavior, while Kevin used his new multi-tracking talents to watch multiple situations and relay useful information to the Thralls.
Marty kept an eye out for odd behavior as well.
Hm. There wasn’t much actual tactical information in the flood: several operators were watching geophysical data and occasionally making observations about incoming tremor data. Another set was watching weather data and making similar observations. There were so many people coming and going that the – extremely numerous – guards had pretty much given up on confirming ID’s of everyone coming and going from the room.
Tremors and weather? Either this was a front, or somebody was planning on snatching the entire planet or something and these people knew about it already. If this was a military command center in the middle of a series of raids and attacks, there should be a lot of situation reports and tactical information up. Not weather reports.
Kevin had the kid with divination – even if it was only low level – start checking for illusions. This could be something very weird.
As it turned out, the generals and almost all the technicians were illusory. The guards were real. They had a look around for some real people other than the guards. Somebody had to be holding the illusion. One of the local psychics might be behind it: limited psionics worked just fine in the Linear Realms… It looked like one of the technicians was real, but he wasn’t paying attention to his display. He was drinking coffee and was mainly watching the room itself.
Kevin wandered over to him and quietly set up a modest privacy/cloaking/anti-spying spell.
“I take it you’re expecting an attack here and this is bait?”
The man sighed.
“Saw through it then, did you?”
“Well, the data displays are inappropriate.”
Marty joined them
“So, what’s going on?”
“They are? Blast it. One second.”
The “technician” closed his eyes for a moment
“Blasted things tend to drift without direction I fear.”
“Why not just funnel in some real date feeds? It would make your job easier. I’ll assign a couple of aides to bodyguard you and help out a bit. They’ll have enough computer capacity along to generate some realistic datafeeds.”
“That would be appreciated. I assume you are more of the psy-ops bunch? You don’t look like the enlisted type.”
“House of Roses.”
“Don’t know why I am surprised anymore. So then the rumors are true then? That is not reassuring.”
Kevin called in a couple of the Thralls who’d gone in in small-animal form and introduced them.
“That someone from a parallel world is attacking. I’ve heard everything from Nazis to Alien Empires as possible candidates.”
“Sadly, they’re all out there, and they all are possible candidates. Fortunately, there are just as many allies out there – and the ability to freely create gates is very rare.”
The man was a bit startled as the Thralls Kevin had called in resumed human form in front of him. Kevin covered his illusion for a moment when it wavered in surprise.
“Now that is a neat trick. The only other person I’ve ever seen do that couldn’t change size.”
“Much easier with extra-dimensional access. Anyway, they should be wearing more than enough computer power to handle simulating some decent datafeeds and they can help with your illusions and such.”
“Good, that should help things a lot.”
“And for you, some basic body-armor; don’t worry, the fiber structure will simply weave itself into your existing clothing. The computer functions will come online as soon as it adapts to your neural patterns.”
“Oh now that is handy. I can see allies being of great assistance.”
“I take it the actual command structure is operating from an undisclosed location or some such?”
“That is my impression. Apparently the higher ups are being paranoid right now.”
“Can’t say I blame them.”
“Well, nice to meet you, and I’m glad I could help out a bit – but this may not be the most effective use of our time at the moment.”
At that point, of course, they were proven wrong as the lights began to flicker
“Now that is strange, this place is supposed to have its own power station.”
The ground started to vibrate, and they become aware of a humming sound rising in volume in the background.
“Which will have taken an instant – thus producing a flicker – to take up the load when the external grid went down. Either that or something just generated quite a pulse. Ether way, the backup power will also be a target. Better get ready to have the images react with confusion as the displays go down.”
Marty got ready for a fight as Kevin tried to spot where the interference was coming from. If someone was opening a Gate he should be able to spot that. If it was a mole drill or something it could get weird.
That opened up a series of speculations about the killer mole people jumping out and attacking NORAD – after all, they could undoubtedly find a batch if THEY wanted them for some reason and it would definitely be a surprise tactic for the locals – but it didn’t seem to really fit the theme of their opponents. Now, if they’d been defending the Crusader side of the supply gate, it would definitely have been something to look out for.
Regardless, Kevin could tell there were at least three gates opening up – one inside the room and two outside. Hopefully it wasn’t going to be War, Plague, and Death. They weren’t really ready for that yet. He warned the illusionist (and told the two Thralls to bodyguard him), and they all concealed themselves and got ready.
Meanwhile, back on Kadia, the Thralls – per Kevin’s instructions – were formalizing the current informal procedures. People who expressed interest in the Thralls abilities were being given a basic summary:
“Amarant Solutions field agents are trained to use whatever magical, psychic, shapeshifting, and even gatekeeper potentials they may possess, are trained in the martial arts, are supplied with appropriate equipment, are provided with a verity of enhanced abilities, indefinitely extended lifespans, various other augmentations, and are soul-anchored so that they can be recovered if killed. Unfortunately, at this time, the training program and soul-anchor only seems to be fully effective on relatively young and adaptable individuals. Given these extensive benefits, those who opt to undergo such training and augmentation must sign up for an obligatory indenture period – which, thanks to the abilities they are granted and the soul-anchoring, they are guaranteed to survive in good shape, after which their various enhancements and abilities are theirs permanently, although they may sever the soul-anchor at any time after their indenture is up. The requirements and training for local office positions is not nearly so stringent”.
Potential Thrall-applicants were referred to Kadia, where more detailed summaries were available. Those who were still interested after more detailed explanations and more complete demonstrations of the various powers can attend a recruitment spiel – but must agree to a recording-device ban, scan, removal, and blocking, as well as to memory blurring of the details of the contract if they didn’t sign up.
Slaves and other involuntary candidates got the recruitment spiel. If they didn’t accept they were given minor memory blurring and were either cared for if they were too young or, if they were old enough, were put to work elsewhere until their debt was paid off if they couldn’t come up with the cash to buy off their indenture.
Of course, when “official” inquiries, or concerned parents, started turning up, they’d probably have to go more or less public and discard the memory-blurring part – although the basic “happy Thrall” impression from Kadia and Core should still be a good point. Kevin had prepared a presentation for parents and authorities that stressed the immortality, safety, public-service, and educational aspects – as well as the bestowed powers and the regular home-leave and contact provisions. Of course, that presentation also stressed the fact that kids who wanted to go adventuring were making their way into the Manifold anyway, and a fair number of them were meeting horrific fates out there – while the ones who signed up as Thralls were quite safe. After all, as soon as the inquiries really started he’d have to make the general outline of the contract pretty much public – if only because people could figure out quite a bit of it though investigation anyway, so there was no big point in denying it.
Besides, as Marty had noted, the best part of all that was that it was all true.
In the Linear Realms, one of the walls of the command center suddenly lit up and turned into a shimmering circle of light – and people in gray military fatigues begin to step through into the room. They promptly began shooting at the illusory technicians. A few Praetorian signatures and quite a few of the combat cyborgs they’d last seen assaulting the FBI offices. A relatively small squad at least – and, while the gate was staying open, at least no more were coming through at the moment. It looked to Kevin like the gate went… back to Singular. North America. Nevada. Most likely some sort of holdout military base. Possibly the place MacArthur had abandoned.
Blast it, they should have asked if he’d abandoned anyone there. Still, it might have been some other base anyway, and they’d been fairly distracted at the time. Probably shouldn’t have trusted the robotic assessment of the place – or have checked for an alternate version: they never had found another explanation for the time differential between their visit and the lunar colonists timeline.
Still, this could be pretty serious trouble if they let it stay purely physical. They probably weren’t up to multiple praetorians and a bunch of killer cyborgs unless they called in all the Thralls – and they were needed outside. They opted to try for supernatural oratory, with as many enhancements as they could stack on, instead.
He also had a couple of Thralls in small-animal form slip though each gate and start reporting. That multi-tracking discipline was SO convenient in situations like this.
Marty and Kevin launched into a tourist-style welcome spiel, and – between them – managed to ensnare the entire squad. They couldn’t hold them all that long – or if they were subjected to any serious attacks or restraints – but they could have the Thralls swipe their weapons and then pile some explosives around them and ask for a surrender.
Outside, the contingents from the other gates were spreading out to the rest of the base, and there was quite a lot of gunfire and explosions – but the fact that the locals were expecting this, and had backup from twenty-four Thralls seemed (at least according to the Thrall-reports) to be putting the Linear Realms bunch handily on the winning side.
On the other side of the gates, the Thralls were reporting a very large room with what appeared to be a control center up on a balcony looking down at the three gates. There were more troops set up in a defensive position around the gates with multiple heavy gun emplacements. The entire place appeared to be built out of concrete. A man in his thirties, wearing odd style clothing, was leaving the room to head up to the balcony at the moment. He was dressed a bit like Spellweaver, but the face didn’t match. Baelarian mages guild robes or similar perhaps.
“Too bad we don’t have Jarvain or the Mirage along.”
“Eh, I don’t know. He drinks all my alcohol.”
“We could just step through and start talking, but enough would be sure to resist that we’d just get shot up.”
“And while I’m starting to miss death, that wouldn’t do anybody any good.”
“Of course, multiple heavy gun emplacements means multiple large stocks of explosives, and the Thralls do have pyrokinesis: they might die of course, but that’s no big deal.”
Since the locals had the command-attack-squad disarmed and covered by heavy arms (and incidentally seemed fairly impressed with the ability to neutralize attackers by talking to them), they decided to go on the offensive.
Kevin had the Thralls he’d sent through start detonating ammunition stockpiles; they’d go through in person when the explosions died down. Impressively – and in a good tribute to their sensible reaction of “working at range and from under what cover they could” – none of them were even too badly hurt – and they’d recover from that in a few moments. That left the guns more or less destroyed, a lot of smoke and charred concrete, most of the soldiers badly wounded, a few dead, and the windows to the control center all cracked.
Kevin and Marty (Jamie was busy helping with the local defense) arrived and found quite a few dead-or-severely-wounded lying around, the smell of burnt and powdered concrete, the sound of klaxons going off, and flashing red lights (the main lights had been knocked out). The gates were providing most of the illumination and there was nothing much left in the way of opposition.
Marty had his Thralls give him a telekinetic toss through the control-room windows – and Kevin followed him in. The six Thralls in small-animal forms could handle any attempt to reorganize the soldiers after they finished healing themselves and stabilizing the ones who were near death.
“Ah, just like old times… WHEE!”
They crashed through a cracked window, sending shards of glass everywhere, and landed on top of a computer display with a technician staring up at them.
“Hi! Nice hardware!”
The oddly-dressed guy was nowhere to be seen: he’d probably scrammed as soon as something went too wrong – if not earlier – but clues were clues. The technician screamed and took off running – along with everyone else in the room. Kevin telekinetically closed and sealed the doors before they could get to them though.
“Was it something I said?”
“Settle down please!”
With their supernatural oratorical enhancements still running, it was easy enough to settle everyone down. It was just a timesaver anyway.
“Might I ask what all of you believe you’re trying to do?”
“Because I’d give at least 20-1 on your being seriously deluded.”
“Well I would say we are trying to fight a war.”
“Against who? At the moment you were harassing people who didn’t even know you existed, so you’re not doing very well. As a surprise attack, this is a complete bust. Would you like to rent a tactical advisor? I’m sure Marty has some connections.”
“Yeah! I can get you call center training, and you’ll learn how to punch and kick people in no time!”
“Or, if you want, we can have explosions in here too, and we can talk more in the hospital.”
“That’s fine too.”
There was something of a difference of opinion among the responses:
“Well I like my health thank you.” – “Don’t tell them anything!” ” Traitor!” “Oh like they couldn’t get it from us with whatever weird powers they might have!” “Ya, but still…” “Do we really need to be discussing this in front of them?” “Well where would you have us discuss it then?”
“Hey, all I do is sneak around and stab people. I’m GOOD at it, but still.”
“Look Mr… Ilander; we’re trying to make this as easy as possible all around, since you’re blatantly nothing but pawns. Would you rather I simply wrecked your mind pulling things out of your head?”
“Alright then I am game, what do you want to know?”
“For starters, WHY are you doing this other than ‘there’s a war?'”
“What is it you want? There are lots of empty universes where you can get what you like without bothering people.”
Marty was mildly disappointed. For a few minutes there it had looked like there might be a serious fight. Still, he wanted to stab something more interesting than technicians – like Cthulu. Or at least somebody on the other side of some importance. Unfortunately, there were lots of layers of pawns to get through.
Personally, Kevin was betting that these people had been told that the Linear Realms had been behind the magical attack of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in an attempt to steal their technology – and the fact that the Praetorian technology had been being used covertly in the Linear Realms thus became evidence of theft. Always nice when you could send in a sabotage crew and then use their presence as a way of getting the people you’d almost exterminated to fight your battles for you.
It looked like that just about hit it perfectly.
“Just for the news people, you’re currently working for a group that almost destroyed your world, stole your technology, is using it to sabotage other worlds, and now is sending you in in the wake of their saboteurs to attack the people who “stole your technology”. You got to be massacred and then enslaved without even realizing it! Lucky you!”
“Which also makes you yet another blind for the actual enemies to hide behind; therefore there is no real need to injure you. I presume that you also find this good.”
“Well I suppose so, although this idea of being lied to this entire time is unsettling.”
“Now, just as a note, we gave the people from the lunar colonies a nice new planet and some assistance in setting up. Since this place is such a mess, I’ll call over and see if they’d like some more company.”
That raised quite a commotion – mostly of the good kind, although they heard some resentment over some being allowed to escape to the moon while the Earth was in such a state.
Marty told them where that had gotten the lunar colonists – Battling Business World – and asked if they’d like to be put there instead. Kevin pointed out that there was no shortage of good planets, but if they wanted the moon, they could give them that instead.
That mostly shut them up.
“You know, Marty – “civilized warfare” is all very well, but I think we’re compressing it too much. It is sort of obligatory to rehabilitate and rescue after one side “wins”, but we keep trying to do it all within an hour”
“Back home we called that time management.”
“Well yes, but the usual assumption is win BEFORE rescuing the enemy, not keep stopping the battle to do it in the middle.”
The Ealorites were pretty shocked that there were survivors planetside, but they were willing to take them in.
“Right then; how many people in your colony? And do we have to go rummage them out, or will you bunch visit your relatives and then call or visit back?”
The consensus was about 2,500 people – and they were willing to collect them if this “Ealor” place was as described, although it might be difficult with this section of the facility under lockdown. Soldiers and drones would be arriving shortly, some automatic, some not.
“Right then: off you go. We can call back any remaining forces from the Linear Realms while we’re at it.”
They got a few details on the gate system as well, but they could worry about that later.
“Marty? Shall we wait for the soldiers after we send this bunch off? Along with the wounded?”
“Sure. I haven’t stabbed anybody in a while.”
Meanwhile, from Ealor, Child Protective Services was taking the chance to chew Kevin’s ear about the Thralls. After all, they 1) Talked about being able to kill themselves. 2) Were willing to do so. 3) HAD done so. 4) Had – obviously – been conditioned or otherwise tampered with in order to be like this. 5) Seemed perfectly willing to kill themselves REPEATEDLY. 6) Talked about an “Afterlife” that sounded like some kind of glorified Arcade. And the list went on and on.
Kevin would have thought that (1), (2), (3), (5), and (6) would seem to be sort of going in a loop – or that the ability to “repeatedly kill themselves” at least indicated that – for them – it wasn’t too serious – but the CPS people seemed to be stuck in a logic loop with a thesaurus. And yes, while they were obligated to serve him for a period in exchange for their immortality and powers, immortality and powers meant that they no longer NEEDED protective services.
Oh well. They could try to straighten it out in person next time they were by – but Kevin suspected that no outside argument would get Child Protective Services out of their loop; it was probably a computer calling. Of course, to be fair, under normal circumstances, would they really want Child Protective Services to see child-suicides as acceptable? Still, it wasn’t like the Thralls were actually suiciding; for them it was just discarding their current body in favor of fast travel.
They set up a table, a luncheon, a white flag, and a sign proclaiming “negotiations”. Just to make sure, they also set up a blatant pile of nuclear/antimatter warheads and a Thrall-waiter with a bottle of wine and some menus. Marty shifted to a good suit, and got out a briefcase and a cigar to help him look formal and official.
“This is perfectly legal according to the laws of Faerie.”
They had a Thrall dressed as a Butler unlock the door and provide a formal announcement. A couple of others were in the corner, finishing up medical treatments in the injured.
“Some military gentlemen to see you Sir!”
A squad to soldiers and drones came through the door and spread out to duck behind cover at a run – although one – it looked like the squad leader – stepped out into the open a few seconds later.
“What the hell!?… Right, well I suppose it would be wrong of me to shoot you. Especially if those weapons are real.”
“Well, not the puffy fuzzy ones. The others are. You can shoot me if you want though, I have diplomatic immunity. Will you find it especially comforting to shoot me, or would it be more upsetting if it didn’t accomplish much of anything?”
“And I just come back pissed when I die.”
“How many times do I have to tell people; that is not how diplomatic immunity works. Wait a minute, what the hell? Did the lab boys royally screw up this time?”
“Oh, trust me. If I want it to work that way, it will. And I think the level of screwup depends on how you look at it. Most of the techs are off getting acquainted with another survivors colony. Tea, Port, Red Wine, Water, or Faerie Liquor?”
“Right, the lab boys seem to have made a wormhole to Wonderland and have brought back the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit. Port I think. I am going to need it during this.”
Kevin handed him a glass. Marty had a Martini.
“Close enough really. So who’s in charge here?”
“Sir, is that wise?”
“Probably not, but it will preempt the headache I am going to get from this.”
“Well, I’d say it’s as good as any other response, and better than most. Quite a lot of them get everyone killed for the moment, while this response simply gets him a glass of a rather nice port.”
“Well I suppose that all depends on what you mean by in charge.”
“Well, what have you got? Because we intend to negotiate until you have a nice new planet to live on, a wider social circle, good healthcare, peace in our time, all at no particular price, and we won’t take “No” for an answer!”
It seemed that the local Singularites were in charge via a council at the moment – although there were several outsiders who had taken up residence or visited on a regular basis. They also seemed to have a lot more say in what actually went on than their official status would indicate.
The locals were mostly willing – and eager – to leave after they got a look at Ealor.
The Outsiders were a little more complicated.