“That magic potion I mentioned may do something about the wires in the brain. But it might also attack the other cyber parts. You might be better off just hiding from the True People.”
Cinco looked at his left arm, flexed it. “If it freed me from them, forever, it would be worth losing an arm. Again. But you don’t know, do you?”
“No. Never tried it on a Cyborg. It doesn’t much affect old, healed injuries. It might do nothing.”
The doctor was glowering. “No medicine does ‘everything’ and even combinations rarely affect things it wasn’t designed to do.”
Cinco was looking thoughtful. “Give it to me. I’m old, if I die, I die.”
Dr. Coombs glared at him. “I wouldn’t take it, and I’m dying of cancer.”
Eldon snorted, and got up to grab a couple of cups, pulled a carton of wine out of a bubble.
“Cheap wine?” The doc shook her head. “Bloody snake oil salesman.”
Cinco shrugged and took the glass from Eldon, sipped. “Ho! It’s been awhile since I’ve had any wine, but this is pretty good stuff.” He took a mouthful and rolled it around his mouth. Swallowed.
“Heh, we’ll see how fast you get drunk.” Eldon looked back at the doc.
She was staring at the glass like he’d offered her spider juice. She finally picked it up and took a tiny sip. “Nice . . . Oh!”
“The aphrodisiac doesn’t compel action. So just get yourself under control, the worst will wear off in a few minutes.” Eldon grinned.
She glared, and her hands closed on the glass. “I’m going to analyze the hell out of this . . . I feel drunk on one sip. I’m going to need a ride home . . .”
Lyle shot Eldon an exasperated glare. “Dr. Coombs, let me give a quick brief to the night watch, then Sergeant Fielding and I will drive you home. Eldon . . . go sleep in your suburban, right out there.”
Eldon didn’t even try to look remorseful as the new crew showed up. Boggled over the Cyborgs . . . who were both picking up English impressively fast, and with Spanish and Latin “roots” were reasonably able to get their meaning across.
Eldon just grinned and brought of the cards. He staked Cinco and Icarus to the tune of twenty bucks each and considered it money well lost as the new guys were accepting of the Cys before they ran out of “chips” and headed for their beds. Eldon stepped out into a chilly desert night, spooked the troops by pulling a car out of nowhere, and sacked out in the back seat for the rest of the night.
The doctor bounced in bright-eyed and ready to go at the crack of dawn.
Eldon diagnosed sharing her wine with her husband, and kept his mouth shut. About that. “Hey, doc. I had a thought. Cinco said he got cyborged,” He turned and nodded as the Cy joined them, “at sixteen? How long ago?”
Cinco nodded. “Ninety-two years, those Elites live a long time, and those of us with some of their genes tend to live a lot longer than we sometimes wish. So?”
“So I didn’t notice any differences between your arm and Icarus’s. And he’s had his for how long?”
“Year and a half.” Icarus stuck his robotic arm out.
Cinco put his beside it.
“No design changes in all that time?” Eldon looked them over. They’re even the same size. About right for Cinco, oversized for the kid’s arm.
“Now that is interesting. No changes in nearly a century? No updates, no innovation?” The doctor marched over to the scanner. “I need one of those tables over here, to use as a desk, and chairs.”
The soldiers all jumped in to move furniture, Ernie showed up with three dozen donuts . . .
Eldon looked around, nodded. “I’ll be right back.”
Lots of sandwiches and sodas, a big screen TV and movie disks and some nice comfy chairs from Goodwill—there was a limit to how much he was going to spend on the unimportant parts—and he had the metal building looking homey. And more to the point, the Cys could settle down and watch movies for language practice and history lessons.
The movies got stopped regularly for explainations.
Lyle dropped by mid-morning. Caught the eye of the squad sergeant and shrugged. “That’s Eldon.”
“He, umm looks a lot like that movie star, except for the blond hair and beard.”
“Yeah, that’s because he is that movie star, and he claims his hair really is blond.”
Duran looked over. “Huh. And is he really a wizard from a parallel world, like he always says in interviews?”
Everyone looked from Eldon to the Cyborgs.
Eldon grinned. “There’s millions of worlds out there, each just a little different than the next. Then when you get far enough away, you suddenly realize that all those little changes have added up to someplace very different.”
Dr. Coombs stalked back to glare at him. “You cannot incrementalize your way to magic!”
Eldon grinned. “How about genetic engineering that enabled telepathy, telekinesis and stuff like that? Not to mention the ability to see and manipulate dimensional shit?”
“All right. I’ve seen you pull Cyborgs out of thin air, and worse, put them back in. But . . . magic? I don’t think so.”
“Yeah, well, here I am.” He looked over at Lyle, who was clicking off his phone.
“Eldon and Ernie, let’s take a drive.”
“Head back through the gates, there’s some fuss going on.” Lyle sighed. “They’re yelling for Eldon.”
“Huh, for translation or . . . more likely the kids. I mean, they don’t know me, and your government doesn’t want to get into a shooting war with a cross-dimensional polity with a thousand worlds.” Eldon winced. “They probably want their kids back.”
“Into a war zone?”
“They’re the leaders. Can’t have their kids safe and sound, it shows a lack of confidence.”
“If they’re confident, they’re insane.”
There was a lot of construction type noise in the background, skeletal roofs visible over and between trees.
A patchwork of large tarps protected the Roman’s headquarters from the chilly drizzle.
Horus left his sister’s side as their vehicle stopped. Eldon stepped out to meet him.
“They want Jau and Sati.”
Eldon nodded. “I figured that would be it. Well . . . can you or Rista come with me? They’ll be happier going someplace with someone they know and trust.”
“And give you a third hostage?” The Emperor fellow . . . Well, if my world was about to lose to a bunch of Cyborgs, I’d probably be a bit suspicious and nasty as well.
Eldon shrugged. “What about one of your guards? Or a teacher? Some one they know. No? All right.” He glanced up at the sun, late afternoon. “I should be back with them by sunset.”
He gave that tiny inclination of his head thing a try and walked back to the hummer.
“Your Haciendia, Eldon?”
“Yep.” He hauled himself up into the back seat. “If you guys need to stay I can take the . . . No?”
“No.” Lyle half turned in the front seat to look at him. “Diplomacy. I need to be seen, as the representative of my government to be returning the kids safe and sound to their parents.”
“Yeah. I guess they’re a bit short on trust, right now. We’ll just have to build it up nice and slow. Starting with returning their happy children, chattering about how much fun they’ve had.”
“Yep. I just hope they can hold that fortress.”
Eldon nodded. “They had power tools, so they’ve got power. They just . . . when I get back, I’ll ask about hiding the gate better, just in case the Cys over run them. And maybe I’ll camp out closer, in case they need it closed, all of a sudden.”
Lyle nodded. “Damn it, yeah, they’re in desperate straits, and they dare not trust us, given the tepid interest we have in getting involved.”
“I wish . . . I . . . wasn’t so bloody terrified of Xen Wolfson. This is the sort of thing Disco ought to be doing, not a reformed criminal idiot.” Eldon scowled down at his feet.
I could go to Embassy. I could tell Xen about this Drei Bunny thing. He’d probably pop over to that branch world and destroy their gate. Find their mentalists and bubble them. Free all the Cys and like as not know if the Wine of the Gods would attack the cyborg parts.
I’m not a hero.