Then he turned his one gleaming biological eye on them. “They are attacking my world, my empire, and MY Emperor! What can I do to help you?”
A faint whimper from the Doctor. “Mundus? Tell me he didn’t say someone was attacking his world!”
Eldon gave her a kindly pat on the shoulder. “Now that we’ve got the laser gun off his cybernetic arm, you can scan the hell out of him. Hey kid, what’s your name?”
“Octoginta septem . . . no. I am . . . Icarus . . . Veritus.” He stood taller. “I am Icarus Veritus.”
“Yeah, that beats the hell out of Eighty-seven. How about you Cinco?”
“No . . . that boy is long gone. I am what I am.”
Ernie muttered something about getting a headache from all the languages flying around.
Ernie was frowning at Icarus, who was staring at Four-four.
Cinco walked over and nudged him. “The big guy, Eldon, put some sort of mental inhibitor on him. He can’t hurt you now.”
“Wait till I get this off me! You are going to be in so much pain you will beg for death! I will not be treated like this! I order you to release me! Right now!”
Icarus shuddered and edged over to the scanner. “But if he gets loose . . .”
“We can get away from him now.” The old Cy frowned. “Although I’ll admit I’d be happier if he was dead.”
While Icarus was getting scanned, Eldon stepped outside and brought out the suburban. A bit of a rummage and he found some sandwiches. Fortunately double bubbled, so fresh and hopefully tasty. Ten sandwiches, and a stack of plastic glasses. Deck of cards and a sack of coins that would probably do for poker chips.
He bubbled the suburban and walked back inside. “Hey Ernie? Can we get some tables and chairs? I mean, laying around in bed is really boring, you know?”
“Right, and food and such.” Ernie looked at Eldon’s armful. “Do you ever run out of sandwiches?”
“I’m almost out now. I’ll have to load up again, next time I’m in town.” He looked at Four-four, still making threats from his bed. “Actually . . . I think we should bubble him again, so he doesn’t know what we’re doing. And how we just might be able to help the other two.”
Lyle looked around and opened his mouth to say something. Closed it abruptly. “Good idea.”
The Doctor glowered, again.
Eldon searched his memory . . . “Hey, Doc. I don’t think we ever got properly introduced. I’m Eldon Brown, this is Lyle Hemmingway of DHS, Sergeant Ernie Fielding and Duran something . . .”
“. . . and you are?”
“Doctor Geneva Coombs. My nurses are Private O'Neill and Private Twain.”
“Pleased to meet you Dr. Coombs.” Eldon glanced at the occupied bed. “I’m going to put Four-four there into a dimensional bubble that experiences a ten thousand to one time dilation. For him, a whole week out here will only be a minute inside. He’ll still be cussing when we take him out tomorrow.”
“I do not approve . . . Oh my God!” She hustled into the empty space where her patient had disappeared, taking his bed with him. Turned in a circle.
“There. Much nicer.” Eldon turned his head as truck noises stopped out side the door. “That was fast. Cinco, Icarus? Stand over here and be quiet, we’re sort of limiting the spread of knowing about this Drei thing.” He threw up an illusion of the metal wall, completely across the end of the building, hiding the beds, the scanner, and the medical types, along with the Eldon and the Cyborgs.
Ernie tossed a startled glance his direction, then opened the doors for the delivery of tables, chairs, a small refrigerator and boxes of MREs.
Eldon shuddered. “Yeesh. I’ll go shopping later tonight.” He kept his voice low.
Cinco grinned, and kept to a low growl. “An illusion, I presume?”
Dr. Coombs shot him a surprised look and edged forward
Icarus was blinking at the air, as if he could see it . . .
The soldiers departed and Eldon released the illusion.
Cinco snorted. “I’ve seen strong mentalists do things like that twice in my life. I think I’ll be very polite to Senor Brown.”
Eldon shook his head. “Where’s the fun in that? C’mon. I’m hungry and thirsty.”
Sandwiches, drinks, and friendly chatter. The Doctor and company mostly stayed quiet, wide eyed as they chatted about things they . . . were having to believe.
"It's like a tree. A new sprout turns into a branch with sprouts of it's own. The only thing that limits the Drei's spread is the rarity of mentalists with gate making ability. Even cloning them, only one out of five thousand, on average, actually has a useful level of ability." Cinco drained his coke and followed Eldon's example of crushing the can and tossing it into an empty box. "I'm from the node, the first world of a branch, the one that grew a mentalist who could open gates. "
Ickarus hunched his shoulders. "And my world is what? The tenth world that's been attacked and taken from that node."
Eldon looked over at Lyle. "We really ought to take a look at that node world."
Lyle shook his head. "I don't think we'll go so far. We don't want to call attention to us, for all we want to be prepared if they do come."
The doctor finally spoke. "Can't we talk to them? Negotiate? Set up trade?"
Icarus shook his head. "They don't do diplomacy. They just take."
"So how old is the dimensional mentalist? Seems like it would take a long time to conquer tem worlds."
"The first one barely lived a decade. I think they have two, right now. They don't last long. A lot of branches die, when there aren't replacement mentalists." Cinco grimaced. "I think that's why they mostly just raid and loot. When the Mentalist starts fading, they pull all the True People back and leave the ruins they've created. My node has been very . . . fortunate to have grown several mentalists in succession."
"If we could kill the mentalists . . ."
Cinco shook his head. "The moment we set foot back on any Drei world, we'll be back under their control." He tilted his head at Eldon. "Unless you can shield us."
"Umm, not really, but I do have a few ideas that might help against weak mentalists. Call themselves the True People, eh?" Eldon shrugged off all the looks he was harvesting. He shrugged. "But right now we're still trying to find out . . . pretty much everything."
At some point the Doctor decided she might as well sleep at home, same with her staff.
Eldon bit his lip and shook his head. "I should stay close to the gate. I’ll . . . I dunno, sleep in the suburban? Here, or maybe out there . . . a ways.”
Ernie and Duran swapped nods. “We’re whipped. You’re going to need to bring more guards in on this. Or see if the Special Forces guys have caught up on their sleep.”
Lyle looked at his watch. “The time zones changes are getting to all of us. I’ve got a new squad who should be showing up in an hour to take over for the night, then we can all go home. Well,” apologetic nod toward the Cys, “those of us who aren’t going to be living here for a while.”
Icarus looked at his arm. “And no place to go, after you’ve studied us.”
Eldon shrugged. “Eh, worst that will happen is we stick you on a nice Empty World and leave you there. Probably with plenty of company. And after the doc gets done with you, I can see if some . . . interestingly different medicines will help you.”
The doc frowned. “Space Alien medicine?”
“Umm, more like cross dimensional wizard magic potions.” Eldon grinned. “Really. It’ll cure damn near anything, and it’s a hell of powerful aphrodisiac on top of it.”
She looked from him to the Cys and back. “I am probably going to wake up in the morning and wonder if I should pop down to the hospital for a drug screen.”
O’Neill and Twain nodded. Twain grinned. “You two, three, aren’t the kind of patients we usually deal with . . . but we’ve got a lot who could use prosthetics like that . . .”
O’Neill leaned and squinted at the plate on Cinco’s head. “Do those wires control the arm?”
“No. They control me. They see what I see, heard what I hear. They can talk to me, and if I disobey an order, they can punish me. Or take control of my body, both cyber and meat, and do it while I watch helplessly. Or both.”
Icarus nodded. “They can stimulate the pain centers. I . . . think I am glad they saw no reason to make us feel pleasure.”
Everyone looked horrified. Hell, Eldon felt horrified.
Possession, by tech, not magic. Or maybe it’s a combination.