Subsubsection: 11 May 2016 (driving towards Eugene) Up Subsection: Operation Hard Sell Subsubsection: 29 June 2016 (the attack on the bunker) 

2 June 2016 (Fort Eugene and Portland)

The group pokes around for a bit, and David locates some salvageable tyres on the wrecked cars while the others gathre the bodies (already starting to rot) together into the school, where at least they’ll be safe from large-animal predation. Welsh doesn’t want to accompany, and he reckons help will be on the way – so he stays in the town.
The group makes fair time through the reality-storm zone, then crosses one last storm into a clearer area; this is much more like the Living Land as they know it, with thicker mist, a worse road, and lower travel speeds. It also looks as if one of those bullets must have hit the fuel tank: they’ve been using a fair bit more fuel than expected, and are now running low, so bypassing Fort Eugene as planned doesn’t seem viable any more.
The fort is a stone stockade straddling a dirt track, with about fifty feet of cleared ground outside the walls, with pits that aren’t concealed but might discourage larger dinosaurs. There’s a machine gun covering the gate, and when Stephen walks round the site he sees two more machine guns (one on the other gate) and three tubes or chutes with no obvious purpose. The guard changes at sunset.
After dark, Diamond stays with the truck while David lurks outside the walls and Thorfin and Stephen quietly climb them. There are four patrollers on the walls as well as the two machine gunners, so they quickly slip into the near-darkness inside (there’s some sky-glow from the moon through the mist). A quick scan of the compound shows four family-type houses in the near half, the road running through the middle, and on the far side a circular structure of sandbags and an old garage. The chutes seem to be for dropping large rocks on attackers; they’re on wheeled platforms. One of the houses has a circular patch around it where the omnipresent plant growth of the Living Land seems to be being kept under control more effectively.
They move over to the garage: it’s evidently in fairly regular use, and they’re able to scavenge a couple of jerrycans. They work open the hatch to the underground tanks, and Stephen fills the cans while Thorfin keeps a lookout. (Over on the far side of the garage, a horse whinnies.) They close up and get out the way they came in, having spent some possibilities to stay unobserved.
After a night’s sleep, they set off again; it’s most of a day’s travel to Portland, as it often involves stopping to hack through jungle that’s encroached on the road. During one of these breaks, Stephen looks up to see a group of humans riding dinosaurs, some thirty feet away; they look contemptuous, but not immediately hostile. Once Thorfin makes it clear that the group isn’t Spartans, they become more friendly: it seems the Spartans have two jobs, to be a stay-behind resistance and to clear Earth-native humans out of the Living Land to make it possible to revert it to Core Earth without killing them, and some of them enjoy the clearance altogether too much. Katherine Burr, the leader of the group, listens to Thorfin’s story and decides to bring the group in to what’s left of Portland.
The outskirts look much like other cities overtaken by the Living Land: buildings transformed or overgrown, occasional wrecked vehicles. Near the Columbia River, though, there’s a roughly circular high stone wall something over a mile round. A sign over the gate reads: “Portland Resistance Community — hope, courage, and a future worth fighting for”. Spray-painted underneath: “No Spartans”.
Visible as they enter is a hill in the centre of the settlement, with a bunker or blockhouse of some kind on top, with a satellite dish mounted on it. That’s not so unusual, but Stephen thinks he saw the dish move.
Unlike the dinosaur scouts who are in animal skins, the locals are mostly dressed in Core Earth clothing. A tall, good-looking man in modern jungle camouflage steps forward and introduces himself as Luco; as the four tell their story again, he beckons to “Tiri”, an edeinos who moves to join him. Luco does a decent job of checking for inconsistencies, but seems to be convinced, though Tiri mentions that the edeinos tribe a little way to the east – they don’t have friendly relations, but maintain an uneasy peace – have been agitated recently, as if some large predator had moved into their hunting grouns. Luco’s more concerned because the Spartans haven’t attacked Portland for over three months. They agree that the team needs to go and see “the Ghost”.
This turns out to be in the bunker at the top of the hill: on close inspection, it seems to have started its life as a video arcade, but it’s been heavily reinforced since. It’s inhabited by three early-teenage children, who seem to have been spending their time repairing and improving the video-game hardware, and cannibalising some of it into the “main computer”, which takes up most of the inner room. Their leader, “Wizard”, starts talking about breaking into Kanawa communication satellites; David finds this primitive technology amusingly baroque, but joins the effort.
It rapidly becomes clear that one Maji Kenoto is the main player on the Kanawa side, and he’s based somewhere pretty close by; the Portland team is able to get in partly because their signal is coming from nearly the same place as Kenoto’s. Things seem to be going well, until David suddenly realises that now would be a really good time to pull those circuit breakers: the antenna and analogue hardware are damaged, but the feedback that might have spilled out into the rest of the place is arrested. It seems that someone spotted the intrusion and turned the satellite’s microwave transmitter power way up.
Wizard did find a crucial file, but he’s sure the site of the intrusion is known: there’ll be Kanawa forces on the way. The file makes the Hard Sell plan clearer: the virus will be released within 36 hours, and will kill anyone it infects within ten days. A team will be dispatched to get the Portland Resistance Community to leave, explaining that the cure is too unstable to transport. Once the area is cleared, Kanawa expects to be able to assert rights to the land it’s purchased, and to repeat the process elsewhere. There’s a map which indicates the base is somewhere near “Mount Soda”, a few miles east and north.
But the whine of jet engines is audible close by…
 Subsubsection: 11 May 2016 (driving towards Eugene) Up Subsection: Operation Hard Sell Subsubsection: 29 June 2016 (the attack on the bunker)