January 10th, 2020

_War Party_ part 27

Chapter Twenty-one

1 Ramadan 1420yp

Not quite over . . .

Ice woke up hurting everywhere.

Especially his head. He rolled cautiously off the bed and gimped to the lav, and down the hall. Keiq was still asleep on the couch. He chugged water, and then orange juice. Back to find clean clothes. By the time he’d showered and dressed the head ache was subsiding and his stomach growling. He grabbed a t-shirt and drawstring pants that wouldn’t be ludicrously big on Keiq, a clean towel and left those in the bathroom.

Then breakfast. Coffee, bacon, eggs, and toast were pretty much the limit of his culinary skills, as far as traditional breakfasts were concerned. The smell of bacon, or more likely, the noise, woke Keiq.

“I left some clothes in the bathroom that might fit, if you want a shower. And are you a devout Muslim?”

“No. I will gladly eat bacon.” She groaned to her feet. “I think I broke my shoulder yesterday. And everything else too.”

He poured her a glass of orange juice. “I’d offer a healing spell, but I don’t think I’m actually up to it yet.”

She drank half the juice and staggered off toward the lav. He kept an ear open for the water turning off and started the eggs and toast . . . close to the right time. Barely even burned the toast.

Turned on the screen and found a channel monitoring the proceedings of what was labeled the Ad Hoc Emergency Committee.

They dug in, watching the screen.

A news scroll about some rocket damage to Government House, a few other buildings in the downtown area had lost glass, the Government, such as it was, was currently operating out of Versalle.

“They’ve drafted people from all the parties.” Ice leaned back in his chair. “Did we actually have a cross-dimensional invasion yesterday?”

Habit kicked in and he automatically sorted out the people at the table. Former President Izzo and Myoc Withione India, for the Modern Federalists. Prime Councilor Isgu and Ydza Withione Berlin for the War Party. Toag Withione Brisbane and Ovli Withione Tianjin Peking for the Isolationists.

Keiq snickered. “They hauled Insa the Insane to represent the One Firsters?”

“Yep. And Edte Withione Copenhagen is keeping his distance.”

Guur “Beautiful Flower” Neartuone Lana’I and Akky Withione La Paz. Not that either of them looked especially Pacific at the moment. Multitude Supreme candidate Diego Jesus Blanco Ramos, Rawz “Rumakova” Servaone Sycamore Tall Trees and Ynbu Clostuone Homestead rounded out the table.

“I wonder if thirteen people can work together well enough to get anything done?” Ice bit his lip. “I don’t see Ajki.”

He shut up and started paying attention as Izzo was elected to head the committee.

“First order of business is to appoint temporary Directors to all three Directorates, and get them working smoothly. Yes, Rumacova?”

“I move we appoint Ajki to Presidential—we need his twisty mind. Axse would be good at Interior, with his police background, and the Former Philosopher Ajha at External Relations.”

“Seconded!” from down the table.

“Is there any motion to discuss these three appointments?”

Silence.

“Very well, all in favor . . . passed unanimously.”

One! It looks like they’ll all pull together, at least for now.

Ice got up and dug in his bag for his foil-wrapped comm. Caught a glare from Keiq. “Ajki told me to disappear.”

She huffed a bit. “So that’s why I couldn’t track you. Oh!” She leaped up and hunted through her shed armor and produced a comm of her own. “My brother’s going to kill me for not calling before I . . . Elk? Yeah, it’s me, tell everyone I’m fine and I’ll be home as soon as I finish breakfast and find out which roads are open. Oh, hi, Wacky, did you get that? Right, I’ll call his office.”

Ice hauled his attention back to his own comm. Dog or Ajki? Might as well start at the top. He tapped in the number.

A strange voice answered. “Ajki Withione’s comm, may I ask who is calling?”

“Iska Withione . . .”

“Ice?” Major Eppa’s voice took over. “Can you come to Versalle?”

“Yes, but depending on what’s running, it might not be very fast.”

“Make it as soon as you can, sorry, I haven’t got the free personnel to pick you up.”

“Right. On my way.”

“I’m fine Azik. Now stop worrying.” Keiq clicked off herself.

Ice started unwrapping his minicomp. “I think it’s time to check out the transport sites and see what’s running and what roads are open.”

The whole west side Metro was down. Twenty-First street, where the first gate he’d closed had been, was open from that sandwich shop to the east.

Keiq ran a finger down it, and then south, and south-west. “Looks like I can get home. I suppose I should check the office and see if I need to come in . . .” She looked down at herself in dismay.

“Not professional enough?” Ice grinned. “You could go home, and call from there.”

She glared and tapped at her comm. Ice dived into his closet and pulled out his last suit.

He came back out, tying his tie. “Office or home?”

“Home first, thank the One. They’re replacing glass on that side of the building. My boss said to come prepared to stay very late. I think I’ll take a sleeping bag. And a change of clothes.”

“And food. Can you drop me off down here where you turn south? That’ll turn ten kilometer hike into a two block stroll for me.”

“No problem.” She grinned. “Glad to hear your stuck-up nasty accent didn’t return with the suit.”

“It will, by the time I get to Versalle. But for you I’ll turn it off.” He pocketed comm and minicomp and hefted half her body armor and carried it down to her car.

And made her weapon-up for the drive.

“We cannot possibly have gotten every single Cyborg, not to mentions the infiltrators, the puppet masters who were controlling all the people that got chips in their brains.”

She glowered at him and grabbed a pistol, extra magazines, a rifle and clips . . .

Traffic was light, but slow, with many lights out and the autodrive system completely unavailable.

“Not that I’d use it, but yeesh. They made a pretty good mess of a bunch of systems in six hours.”

Ice hopped out when she stopped at a working light. “See you . . . sometime.”

She eyed him.

“Soon.” He stepped back as the light changed.

At Versalle he was strip searched, X-rayed, and injected with something they were using to mark people who’d been X-rayed.

He was half dressed when Ajki rushed in, Ux escorting him.

“Good. Listen, I’ve got about thirty seconds to spare. I need to know how you knew so much about these Cyborgs.”

Ice swallowed. “Quick version, my mother is an XR infiltration agent, and was in the middle of the Cyborgs’ attack on Earth in 1397. She told me all about it—multiple gates in an arc around the Hague, mentalists, tanks, a squad targeting the president, and so forth.”

“Your . . . mother. Huh. Right. Room 322. Get to work.”

Ice opened his mouth to mention that he’d been fired . . . but Ajki was already rushing off.

Room 322. Work first, then apply for a job.