Michael grabbed for him, and the SS agents leaped as well. He took them all with him, landing in a heap on an antiseptic floor of an open ward. They were all three cursing.
"Now, now. There's no need for that." Xen looked around.
An old woman eyed them, a faint smile tipping her lips as Michael turned around.
"Sorry Andie. This young puppy is about to get swatted by multiple gods." His attention switched back to Xen and he glared.
"Fine. Be that way." Xen pulled a bottle of wine from a bubble, and reached back in for a corkscrew. "Here. By way of apology, the Wine of the Gods. Cures anything and everything." He poured her a tiny sip in the glass beside her bed and helped her sit up to drink it. He could feel the cancer spread far and wide and tweaked the wine that direction.
A crash of breaking glass drew the staff away. Xen could see the looks cast back at them. More than a bit of relief, that they had a reason to avoid the God.
Xen circulated, pouring wine for those who could swallow, traveling a bit to the stomachs of those who couldn't. He suspected that many here were too far gone to be saved, but he tried. When he got back to his starting point, Michael was sitting beside Andie, holding her hand. She looked better already, and Xen poured more wine.
"So how come you two are just friends?"
"Neither of us dared more, and anyway Andie wanted children."
"Ah. You need some of this too. Fix that vas right up."
"It's a bit late for that, young man." Andie smiled sadly.
Xen dug out a different bottle. "Eternal youth, in this one. Or at any rate rejuvenation and long life. Wait until you feel healthy before drinking. Don't let Michael forget how to be human again."
He opened another bottle and roamed the hospital. He spent a long time in the special premature baby unit, and again in the childrens' ward.
Then he Traveled to the gate, and walked home. It was morning on Embassy and he yawned and headed for the Disco restaurant.
:: Q? You around?::
:: Yep, how was your new world?::
:: It split from ours at Comet Fall over a thousand years ago. I met Dad. Weird. What I need to find out though, is what will happen if they meet? Will they merge like the Helios?:: “Good morning, Styx. Lots of bacon and pancakes. Coffee.”
"Now there's a hideous thought. How different is it?" Q walked in the opposite door to join him.
"They stopped the comet. Logic is dead – suicide – Barry and Art alive, Mercy sane. I have Red the Hell Hound in a bubble, for experimental purposes, but Hell will kill me if I destroy his old pet."
"I'll go talk to him. This is something we need to know for sure." She thumped his shoulder in a friendly fashion and veered off.
She was back with Hell and Trump before he'd finished a generous breakfast, interrupted by everyone demanding information.
Hell had his Red with him, a clashing purple ribbon tied around his neck.
Q looked worriedly at the dog. "I figured we could test it here first, then Hell could take his hound home, and then we'll come though."
Hell stroked the dog's broad head. "And if something happens I'll probably hate myself."
"Humph!" Trump glared at him. "Not nearly as much as I'd hate you if you merged with some stranger and dumped me. That's not allowed."
"Bah. Unless I've changed radically I wouldn't stop loving you."
She sniffed haughtily. "That's assuming you two didn't mutually annihilate each other. Eat later, Xen. I want to know now."
Xen took a last swallow of coffee and walked out and kept going until he was well beyond the barn and all embassies were behind them. He felt Q putting up a shield between the barn and them, and carefully aiming the bubble opening away from himself, released the dog. It gave a faint wuff of surprise as its jump ended in such a different place, but it spun and snarled at him with single minded animosity.
"Red! Heel." Hell snapped. His Red gave him a hurt look from his heeling position, then turned his attention to this snarling, ill tempered dog that was ignoring Him and attacking Xen.
The other Red noticed Hell and crouched, quivering in uncertainty. With a gesture, Hell sent his Red out to investigate. He bristled up to the other dog, and they circled each other uncertainly.
"No sign of merging on neutral ground." Q looked relieved. "Now, Lord Hell, if you would take your Red back through the gate, Xen will follow soon."
Xen tossed a bubble back over the un-beribboned Red. "This Red didn't seem to be attuned to you at all. A good sign of differences between you and that other fellow." He followed Lord Hell to the Comet Fall gate, then let the dog leap back out of his bubble and through the gate.
Trump gave him a dirty look and stepped through as well. Xen followed. The two dogs were circling and growling at each other. Purple ribbon jumped forward to snap and catch a fold of the plain Red's neck.
Nothing happened beside a pained yelp. As the dogs separated briefly Xen scooped the other Red up again.
"That was a huge relief. I really had visions of you lot killing each other as you got curious about each other's worlds and figured a little peek couldn't possibly hurt."
Trump snickered. "Xen! Surely you have greater faith in their self control than that!"
"Well, yes, but . . . " He shrugged and grinned up at the spectators on the top of the wall. "No, we are not holding Hell Hound pit fights. It was a _scientific_ experiment. Honest." He lowered his gaze and voice. "Thank you, sir. I know this could have cost you dearly."
Hell flicked a glance at Trump. "I owe you more than a dog. Actually I think I still owe you sixteen, but that's another matter."
Xen winced. "Yes. Well, I'd best head back and see if my distribution of wine has born fruit or fury."
It was a little of each. The motherly figure of the Goddess of Health marched over to him as soon as he set foot back in the hospital. "We want to know exactly what you gave these patients."
"No wine left? Pity, it's a Von Neumann's, it'll reproduce itself if you add more wine. Umm, is there a wine shop around? If one of you looming types would go get a couple of jugs of red, I'll whip up a starter batch for you. Err, that's assuming the patients are doing well. How are they? I don't have much experience with patients in such reduced situations." His eyes tracked to the empty bed Andie had occupied.
"Most of them are showing improvement. About a quarter are so much better we sent them home. Including Michael's old friend. And I must say there was remarkably little breakage, last night."
A man rushed up breathlessly with two large plasticized square containers that claimed to contain burgundy.
Xen shuddered and opened them, produced a small flask and anointed them both. "There you go. We call it joy juice, because, well, a healthy libido is part of being healthy, and this stuff does wonders for the sex drive, along with everything else it does."
Lady Gisele took one carton and handed it to one of the loomers. "Take this to the lab. I want to watch what this man does with the other."
Xen circled the room, traveling bits of wine into old people's stomachs, then headed back upstairs to the preemie ward. The three incredibly tiny babies were looking well. The nurses were looking contented. He traveled a bit more wine then walked down to the children's ward, and found it half empty.
"All the cancer patients have been sent home. In remission so quickly the lab tech swear they can see the cancerous cells being attacked and destroyed under the microscope." Giselle had followed him, watching.
"Have the rest of the Gods come to some reconciliation? I'm afraid my attempt to make clear that they weren't my gods may have revived something better left buried."
"Indeed. They spent the morning yelling accusation at each other in the main forum. It hasn't come to blows, yet. You've caused massive harm to the reputation of the gods, and no doubt the Church is figuring out just how to take advantage of that right now."
Xen eyed her thoughtfully. "So tell me, is your system of justice likely to assign group guilt, or do you believe in individual responsibility?"
"Justice? All matters of law come under the authority of the Church."
"A theocratic justice system? How lovely. Now. I need to talk to your government about whether or not they would like a gate to Embassy. I'll come back in a week for a simple yes or no, and if yes, perhaps they could pick a spot on their world where they would like the gate to attach. Will that be enough time? The gates are stable, long term, but we can take them down whenever we wish. No invasions allowed. This first one will simply enable the diplomats to get together and talk about trade and so forth."
"Humph. The way those fools are yelling at each other, you should at least be taken seriously. Yes, come back in a week." She frowned down at the carton of wine. "I'm going to be very busy studying this, and trying to fit it into the laws about testing new drugs, medicines and spells on people. This has been most irregular, and you've broken so many laws I don't want to even start counting. Go away."
"Thank you for your frankness, Dr. Heath."
She looked up at him, startled. "Heath. Good heavens!"
"I do hope you remember Jason Rombeau." His smile widened as her jaw dropped. He Traveled. There were people around his arriving Travel site, and they spotted him and headed his way. He warped light around himself and trotted off. In theory he shouldn't have used that wine. Probably should have kept quiet about the deliberate interference with the comet diversion attempt. He didn't generally make such a complete hash out of his first contacts. He would have to start being more careful, if they were going to explore the Comet Fall splits. He made sure he had lost his followers before he headed for the gate.