“Intelligence analyst turned spy. Except he’s more like the underground resistance, now.”
“Huh. Well, Eldon said you were coming for lunch while the Military types talk, and probably get politicians involved. So I’d best get to work on that lunch.” Betelgeuse grinned. “That is to say, fancy up what the kids were about to get.”
Sandwiches and potato salad, which had the Romans puzzled. Even showing them a raw potato didn’t help. But they ate it with every appearance of enjoyment.
Then back to the lab where the officers had produce a squad of people in camouflage and more weaponry than Ernie’s battle rattle that he rushed to get back into.
Lyle eyed them. “Special Forces. Well, probably just what we need.” and disappeared. By the time he got back, in a different style of camo, and not too many weapons, everyone was pouring over a detailed terrane map of central Spain.
“The fort is up this watershed, and with the bridges blown, there is no vehicular access.” Eldon translated .
Vickers nodded. “So the attackers will be down her, in a arc. Probably with all sorts of artillery.” A flash of a smile. “So if we move in, in the dark we should be able to snag samples. And some Cyborgs as well.”
A severe stare from another officer. “We do not want to start a war, with a polity that has done us no harm.”
“True. But we need information on the weaponry.” Vickers sighed. “Right. Collect weapons as possible, without initiating contact.”
The officers eyed Eldon and the Romans.
Eldon tried to look innocent. “Perhaps I should start with planting a gate about twenty miles off? Then we can use an easily collapsed corridor to cover the rest of the distance. I don’t think we should let these guys follow us home, and best if they don’t realize we’re dimension travelers.”
Vickers nodded. “Best of all, don’t let them notice us at all. Yes Eldon, this would be a good time to set up a gate. Keep in mind that Spain is nine hours ahead of us, and night to our day.”
“Ah. The last gate before I connected is in that part of the world, so, no problem.”
“Good, Sergeant Fielding, go with him.”
Horus stirred. “I want to see this.” Nods from the others.
Lyle rolled his eyes and led them to a utility vehicle with Department of Homeland Security stenciled on its camouflaged side. The longest part of the drive was getting to Eldon’s first gate. Then a lot of tight turns through the maze, and he pulled over before the corridor to the last gate.
“Let me start a new corridor here, then head downhill half a mile or so.” Eldon jumped out and slapped a corridor between two trees. The heavily forested slope was free of brush and not too hard to negotiate. He explained about the reason for the corridors while Lyle drove through the dark forest.
And then it was time for some very careful gate placement.
South of those mountains . . . sort of east . . . a glimpse of a half collapsed barn. Perfect. He fought the cone around and let it attach on an inside wall. Caught another and and opened his eyes to the whirlpool.
“Geeze, Eldon, that’s a wreck!” Ernie shook his head. “Let me go first and shift a few things.” He bent and stepped through on the left side.
Eldon stood up and edged aside, squinting. “I wish I could see through, dammit.” He caught a frown from Horus. “I can make them, but all I see is the energy of the gate.”
“Iz clear, now.” Rista stepped through and Eldon wound up bringing up the rear.
The barn reeked.
“Ah, man, there must have been a cow in here when it collapsed . . .” Eldon looked around at the damage, “or was bombed . . . actually it looks like something crashed into it. Well, I’ll just set a corridor and then we can head closer to the Cyborg Army.”
He grabbed a bubble and pinned it down close to the gate.
The special guys led off. Rushing from cover to cover in a totally suspicious fashion. Ernie and Lyle were doing it too, so Eldon galloped along with them. Opened up mentally and found a couple dozen people a quarter mile ahead.
He trotted up to the specials and told them.
They glared and told him to bring up the rear.
New guys. Can’t expect them to believe me, or even believe in magic.
But when they got closer to the road . . . all the trees had been cut back a hundred feet from the road, and a broad area crossing the road and leading up to a guard post. Rough ground clear in the light of an almost full moon.
“So is that a clear line of fire . . . or a mine field?” Ernie breathed.
Eldon closed his eyes and spotted a large number of density spots. Well distributed. “Mine field. Hang on, I’ll mark them with really dim lights . . . and there you go.”
“Fuck me!” One of a special guys eased between his lights and made it to the road. Then the next . . . Eldon went last, following Lyle, and extinguished the lights behind him.
He closed up on the specials and tossed, not a real lightwarp, but an effect like multiple tiny mirrors dancing around ahead of them as they neared the check point.
Where one Cyborg was berating two others for being lazy and incompetent. Eldon tossed spells of inattention, a faint brush of sleep, and stepped past the specials and ducked under the bar across the road. He walked silently past the mumbling and swaying trio, and the specials followed him, two circling the Cys and watching them while everyone else walked quickly past. The two backed away, and they kept going. Into a camp proper, tents. Some quiet, some voices, some flickering lights that were either computer screens or TVs.
Do Cys even watch movies? I suppose they eat—they are still mostly meat, after all. And Left Cy said they raped women, so that’s still working. Probably a lot of women who wish it weren’t. Ugh.
And then a parking lot to the right. Probably have some fancy military name for it . . . Eldon grabbed a bubble and drifted back three rows to scoop up a big truck with a weapon mounted on top. Then back to the main road and catch up with Lyle, who was looking worried.
“Picked up a cheap ride at the used car dealer,” he breathed.
Lyle snickered. “What I want is a tank. And a reasonable assortment of handheld weapons.”
“I’ll keep my eyes open for a good deal on a used tank.”
Lyle grinned, then stopped and slunk to the side, as the specials did the same. They froze in dark shadows as a dozen Cys in a double column trotted past on a cross road.