Welcome to Saturday Morning 2 Tom Mazanec Sliffis jumped and half curled into a ball when Riko emitted one of his infamous pistol shot sneezes. The landodile would normally tease the ichneumon about the noise, as Riko teased him about his pine cone body or long tubular snout. But with Weeha out scouting the bizarre scenery than had appeared in the north, in what had once been the Great River Valley and later became the War Zone. Just over what had been the farthest Avalon advance in the war appeared a small town where the day before was charred rubble. The town looked nothing like anything that had been there before, according to a couple members of the platoon who had been in this area before the war. Suddenly, the sanstring opened up with jumbled sounds for a moment and then fell silent. Rico made up his mind. "Out! Juggernaut too!" The platoon and the juggernaut came out of hiding and moved toward the building the otter aesop scout had entered as fast as they could. The ichneumon was used to making drastic decisions on the spur of the moment...in Hindia he had fought capello snakes in carnivals when he was growing up, and if you thought too long there you would entertain the visitors by dying in agony before them. The battle was quick. The defenders only had a small number of people in uniform, and they were armed only with pistols. Against a juggernaut and a platoon armed with rifles there was not much doubt what the outcome would be. Weeha had a strange flesh wound on his neck ("Let me tell you, whatever they say in books, flesh wounds hurt!") The platoon killed a number of humans. They shouted in what seemed to be a cross between English and German, and soon fled for their lives. The vehicles in the town seemed more streamlined than any they had seen before, and that made Sliffis nervous. The medic smeared some medical paste on Weeha's neck and wrapped a bandage around it. The platoon and juggernaut then made quick speed south before the newcomers could call for reinforcements. Rico began interrogating the otter. The building he had chosen to enter was the one where the uniformed humans were stationed. They almost immediately attempted to take him captive, and he tried to call for help on his sanstring before they smashed it. He was unable to understand their language, but allowed himself to be captured, being rather outnumbered. They at once began angrily shouting at him, then started trying to remove his head. When they failed in this endeavor, someone brought a pair of scissors and started cutting at the fur and skin on his neck, when the platoon arrived and rescued him. Some pretty strange things had happened in the last five years of war. Sliffis had a feeling that the strangest things of all were just starting to happen. ************************************************************ Alberto Philho sighed and shook his head. His second in command and near life long friend Paulo Vargas nodded sympathetically to him. "I had a great deal of trouble making myself believe it, too. I am not up on the latest scintific ideas as you are, of course. Is there anything that would correspond to such a thing?" "There is an idea I have heard that every time an unstable atom breaks, a universe is created where that break did not occur, and one where it did occur. Then each universe goes its own way, getting more and more different from each other as different atoms interact with the broken or unbroken atom. But it is considered a fool's guess about how unstable atoms break. Of course, we only learned about unstable atoms twenty or thirty years ago." A man came in with a rolled up cylinder of paper and deposited it on the table, then bowed and left, as Paulo Vargas had instructed him to do as soon as the map was available. South Vespuccia was now divided into four new countries. Alberto Philho was stunned to see that Brasil was now barely over a quarter of its former size. Instead of covering almost nine tenths of the continent, it was the smallest looking of the four "countries". To the south was something labeled "Plate", to the east was "Quechuan", and to the north was "Amazon". "I am getting way too old for this" thought Philho, not for the first time since the war began. Well in his eighties, he moved slowly and painfully now. Vargas was not too many years younger, and he did not have parents who had both lived into their nineties. When he had led the Bloodless Revolution so many years ago, he thought he would get his country to a position of liberalism and scientific learning and then retire to a life of science. Somehow, it had not worked out. "Are you sure there are these three different realms on our continent? What is the rest of the world like?" "Actually, there could be a hundred or more areas of this new world we are in...each with people from a different history. Quechuan seems like our Huaraca, a surviving Inca nation, only larger...how much larger depends on its exact borders. Plate seems to have been settled by the English..." "Exact borders? Aren't these the borders?" asked Philho, pointing to the map. "Actually, we only know that they are our neighbors. We don't know how far away they extend, yet. In fact, just before I woke you I had heard of sanstring messages that seem different in language from the language spoken in Amazon, which seems to be Dutch, a language spoken, until yesterday, by only a couple million people. They seem to come from where Novohispania was, based on direction finding. At least part of that area now seems to be called "Wenzela" or something like that. But we have to speak about Amazon, Alberto. There have been at least twelve battles already by aesop troops with the people there. At least two of them were caused by aesops hearing "Amazon" and thinking the Humans said "Avalon". You also have to understand that aesops seem to be unique to our area of the world now. Other people react to them like you would to a walking tree or a talking fish...they not only never saw aesops, they never heard of them or even imagined them. And a lot of the aesop troops along our border with Amazon are rather... well...aggressive." "Yes." Philho now had some reason for regretting putting so many aesop like wolverines, ichneumons and Tasmanland demons in and near the War Zone. "Have orders given immediately for no fire or even scouting unless you or I order it or to defend. How many casualties?" "At least a few hundred Amazon Humans. And several score of our Aesop killed. Maybe twice or even thrice those numbers injured. Amazon seems to be more advanced in technology than we are...actually, much if not most of the world is now, based on sanstring messages...but the Aesop have surprise and sometimes numbers. Amazon doesn't seem to be at war now, most armed people seem to be police, so while their pistols are better than ours, they do not match our rifles." "Very well. And also find some people who speak fluent Dutch, so we can open negotiations with this Amazon before we stumble into another war." If we haven't stumbled into one already, he thought.