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11 July 2019 @ 10:23 pm

They eyed him warily. And L’Sanjac even more warily. “So . . . why don’t you care that a pack of kids is roaming the . . . you call it the Maze?”

“Because there are, by now, probably a thousand worlds connecting to it . . . and it is impossible to control. Might as well admit it. Umm, if you do find worlds with people, I’d appreciate you’re telling us, so we can check and see if we need to close those gates?”

They looked stubborn.

“Some primitive tribes have no immunity to modern diseases, and some modern polities think invading first and asking questions later is a good idea. So . . . please don’t get friendly with primitives, and be careful with any modern worlds until you’ve got some grasp of their aggressive tendencies.” Xen grinned, and looked toward the next gate. “Is the terrain drivable?”

“Well, to there, yeah.” The first woman looked baffled. “But . . .”

Centauri and Dagger popped the bubbles holding the utes.

“If you go to Embassy, tell them you talked to Xen Wolfson, and need the hospital or Disco—Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation. Anyone there can point you in the right direction.”

He ignored the mutter in the back, “. . . really say Disco?”


Five gates later he had them park the Utes, and trotted ahead alone, with a light warp. The gate was close, but fortunately turned away, so it anyone was watching, they wouldn’t have seen the Utes, and everyone scowling at being left behind.

And of course the mirror trick was a bit awkward, but there wasn’t anyone waiting to kill him . . . disturbed ground on the far side, but not vehicle tracks or a footpath . . . leaves scattered.

Trap of some sort? He backed away and circled out of sight. :: They’ve got something on the other side. Trap, or maybe an alarm. I’m going to set it off and see who shows up to check on it. ::

He sliced a heavy branch off a tree, cut a section and lugged it around to the gate. Shields, so Q doesn’t yell at me again . . . Heaved it through.

A flash of light and wood splinters and metal shrapnel knocked him flat, or maybe the rush of air. No boom, sounds didn’t transmit well . . . He rolled to his feet and got his mind back on the job.

:: Get back through the last gate and out of sight! Now! ::

A mine was a bit more than I expected.

He stood beside, a little behind the gate and stuck his mirror out past his light warp, widened the eye slit for a good look.

And yes, here they come.

Yep. Zingo cops in black uniforms, half a dozen, and stopping well back. Have they got a whole mine field out there?

He watched a trio walk a zigzag path, kneel to pick up a shard of oak, fresh and heavy. The leader narrowed his gaze . . . and eyed the mirror. Met Xen’s gaze.

Xen grinned. Come ahead and we’ll just see if you’re as tough as Jaejong Chou.

He grabbed bubbles . . . inside out would leave an interesting impression . . . Of course, AnnaKarina could free them, so no problem, right? Maybe they just need to disappear, one-by-one.

He shifted, closed the eye slit to everything but ultra violet, then frequency shifted the UV down into the visible range. Wreaked havoc with the colors, but, he was much less visible as he shifted around and waited.

:: They’re talking. Much handwaving. ::

Xen sighed. :: Alf, you’d better be keeping your shields up, and peeking around a tree you can duck behind. ::

A mental snort. :: I do have just a bit of experience. ::

:: And the children? ::

:: I put them to work thinking up clever combinations of spells to ambush anyone chasing you through the other gate. They might have sense enough to stick to that side. ::

Xen suppressed a thought along the lines of “unlike you.”

:: Ah, here they come two-by-two. They’ll be sweeping both sides, looking, but like as not firing. :: A mental smirk from the old admiral. :: Speaking from experience. ::

:: Just like a boarding action? ::

:: Close enough. And . . . Go! ::

The first through fired on auto, swinging around the gate and filling the air with lead . . . The next two held their fire, peering around, flanking the gate. Last two covered straight ahead . . .

Xen swooped up one man and then the other behind the gate. Grabbed another bubble, looked and teleported right behind the leader. Got knocked flat as bullets hit his shield, kept up the light warp. A stun spell bounced off the nearest Zingo as Xen got up, ran closer and scooped him up in a bubble. The last two fled back to the gate. Stepped carefully back through, and turned to look for the safe path through the mine field.

:: Deadly traps on the other side! Do. Not. Follow! ::

Xen eased after them placing his feet carefully. When they relaxed and ran, he followed, grabbing bubbles. The Zingos in their camp were already alert and armed.

“Invisible moshushe!” The first man yelled. “Guns can’t touch him! Try lasers!”

Bloody smart cops! Xen raised a broad wavelength energy shield, and stopped long enough to pick up a recognition point. Look at the far side of the camp and step there. The Zingos swept their lasers across the approach from the gate, while Xen stepped up behind the rearmost and bubbled him.

And the next. Tried spin and trip. Damn they’ve got good shields! Good thing they aren’t dimensionals!

By the time he was done, the Zingos had started two minor forest fires and burned most of their own camp.