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15 December 2017 @ 12:03 am
_Mirror, Mirror_ part 4  
  

Another man came in . . . Eggo or something like that. Exterior Directorate. "And if you're done, Urfa, I have some background questions about his version of the XD."

Urfa eyed him. "Actually, I assumed it would be the same as before the disaster. Why should it have changed?"

"Not a very safe assumption. They must have had to adjust to the loss of Granite Peak, even if they didn't nuke the gate."

Ebsa frowned suddenly. "I didn't have enough time to look deeply into the matter. Did we nuke our own gate, or did the Earth bring an anchor through and open their own direct gate?"

Both men eyed him.

Urfa shrugged and broke the silence. "Their gate, we were trying to get the bomb through the gate and then detonate it."

Ebsa chewed his lip. "The Disco expert said there were several membranes orbiting each other. I wonder if there's a version of Earth out there that got nuked?"

Eggo leaned at him. "So tell me about XD."

"Well, after we lost the Granite Peak Colony—the anchor was destroyed so we couldn't find it again—we beefed up Exploration, trying to find Earth, or Granite Peak, or a Colony of Earth we could use to attack them. With no luck. We also beefed up the Action Teams . . . In my opinion unwisely recruiting a lot of bullies and rapists . . . that were used on a number of Target Worlds.

"We opened several new colonies. Then we started actions on a medieval level world, to start our conquest. At roughly the same time Earth discovered it.

"The short version of the story is that the world was a fourteen centuries old Earth colony, used to exile some of the genetically engineered people on Earth. Including Those Left Behind. We captured the Earth Anchor but failed to invade the Earth. The local magical community, which included many of the very old original Tellies, became aware once again of the Multiverse, and started working on making gates themselves, and eventually set up an Empty World for embassies from all over, and sponsored Disco, to put some teeth in their 'No War' demands." Ebsa eyed their crossed arms and stubborn expressions. "You really do need to talk to them."

Urfa shifted. "And what of the One?"

Eggo frowned at him. "What does that matter? Why should it be different?"

"Because there wasn't a huge battle two years ago, all over Makkah, between the Last Prophet and the Last Warrior. Aren't you curious?"

"Not really, that's Interior's problem. I have enough of my own." A glance at his watch.

Ebsa got his boggle under control. "Emre One versus Isak ibn Isak? With a cast of thousands? Is Makkah still standing?"

Urfa leaned close. "Don't get snippy. There were over two hundred dead, including both the Prophet and the Warrior."

"Emre and Isakson are friends. Or, on this world, were friends. Until the One kidnapped the child of a Warrior. Castrated a three-quarters trained Warrior. What the Hell were they thinking? I'll bet Ra'd was responsible for half the casualties." Ebsa boggled, shook his head. "You created a monster. What about the rest of the kids? The wives, widows, rather of the Warriors? What happened to Umaya, wife of the Prophet Nicholas? What happened to the daughter of the Prophet?"

Urfa glowered. "She's more dangerous than her brother. Massive telekinetic sabotage from easily a hundred meters away. There are kill-on-sight orders out for her. Interior nearly had her, last week. Pity they only injured her."

Ebsa huffed out a breath in disbelief. "You are damn lucky they didn't kill her. Are you trying to make your monster worse?"

Eggo glanced at his watch.

Why is he watching the clock? Ebsa rattled his handcuffs in frustration. "Right. So . . . what, apart from trying to disassemble Makkah has he done?"

"Aiding and abetting the assassination of a Prophet of the One? It's hard to top that," One of the other Interior guys growled.

"How many murders, here in Paris?"

"None that we know of. He's not on a killing spree . . . " the Interior guy trailed off, starting, finally to look worried.

Ebsa softened his voice. "How many Presidents have you lost? How many Councilmen, Ministers, Directors have died?"

They stared at him.

"And maybe he will just suck on a gun when he has nothing left to live for. But I think he'll leave a heap of bodies behind before that happens. Carefully selected targets."

Scowls.

Urfa glared down on him. "And what's your solution?"

"Not my problem, despite my immediate 'my friend is in trouble' knee-jerk reaction. But tossing him through a gate and losing the location comes to mind." Ebsa looked over at the priests. "Is your medical science so primitive that you cannot simply suppress the hormones until the brain is fully mature? I mean, with castration, you miss the boost in ability that comes with puberty, loss of virginity, fatherhood . . . No? You really ought to try experimenting."

"That is hardly the business of a . . . Native." Ohme had been around nearly constantly. Touching devotion, or more likely a desire to track Ebsa to find Ra'd. Or Azho. Whatever.

"Umm, wrong insult. I'm a Closey Upcomer Bastard, thank you very much."

Urfa glowered and tapped at his comp. "A two oh one Closey Bastard. Bad luck, eh?"

"Umm, not really. I'd hate to think what a nasty snob I might have turned into with a whole set." Ebsa looked innocent. "Much better to sneak up on high status through three or four generations, don't you think?"

Eggo sniffed and looked at Urfa. "You've all the test results on him and his clothes. It all agrees with what we'd expect from a dimensional traveler from the One World, right down to the implanted ID that gives him the top security rating. Including presidential access."

Urfa growled, and looked to the cops. "Put him someplace you can watch him, while I talk to some diplomats and bureaucrats about this Disco thing."

Eggo glanced at his watch again. "Dammit, I need to get back for the test."

Everyone sort of froze.

"Trying to destroy the world again?" The Interior guy sniffed. "We don't need gates."

"Yeah, not until Earth finds us again." Eggo stalked out.

In an uncomfortable silence, they handed in Ebsa's clothes and he dressed quickly, walked out. Eyed the table. "Comp? Comm?"

"We're still dissecting them."

Ebsa sighed. Reached for his wallet . . . much lighter by ID and the cash card. He shrugged and pocketed it. Strapped on the watch, hanky in other back pocket. He shrugged into the suit coat, folded up the tie and pocketed it. Put the pencils and the pen in the shirt pocket and picked up the roll of antacids. Took two. Left the pocket lint.

The Interior fellow waved a pair of goons forward. Totally stereotyped, so probably a lot brighter than they looked.

"Utly and Wkde will . . . escort you to a place where you may remain comfortably. Try to leave without them, and we'll find a less comfortable place for you. Much less comfortable."

"Righto." Ebsa looked at the two men. Mouse brown hair and brown eyes in plain features. They were going to be hard to tell apart. "So, where we off to?"

A hotel. Ebsa looked toward a restaurant across from the front desk. "Dinner?"

"Room service." Utly steered him toward the elevator.

"Righto."

So they think I'll take an opportunity to escape?

Ha! I need to stick around long enough to talk to government people. And perhaps they'll want to talk to Disco, So I can arrange that. Well, introduce them to Hackathorne and rush home to my bride, while other people do the arranging.

Sorry guys. My objectives and yours are at odds.

And I haven't a clue what I should do about Azho.

***