May 8th, 2020

_Cool as Ice_ part 9

Chapter Four


20 Safar 1422yp

"I had just ordered a late breakfast at the balcony restaurant of the Foret Hotel."

"Why were you there?" Lawyer Number One narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

"Oh nice body language. Have you considered either leaning back and crossing your arms to indicate disbelief, or are you saving that for later?" Ice grinned. "I was avoiding the crush around Government House, but getting close enough to be handy to accept a job offer, should one of those be offered so soon."

A glare from both lawyers.

From the defense team.

Two Priests, and a prosecution lawyer were observing from the required distance. A light truth match was in place. Just enough, really, for them to tell if I'm lying. Because a normal truth match goes both ways. I'd be able to see what they were thinking.

Ice shrugged. "And showing off my girlfriend in public and spending a little more time in her glowing presence."

"Did you expect trouble at the swearing in?"

"No. Oh, a little unpleasantness, perhaps, but the Black Horse had doubled the usual number of Guards present. I was delighted to see that President Afgu was not present, as it cut the chances of a verbal disruption. Afgu not being a class act like Former President Orde in the same situation."

"Can we stick to answers, and no political opinions."

Ice grinned. And drawled. "So sorry."

Glares as they all felt that lie.

"And when did you become aware of something wrong?"

"I was watching intermittently on the screen at the restaurant. I was actually looking at my companion when she spotted something on the screen. I turned to see that Afgu had entered the rotunda with unknown troops in uniforms I couldn't identify."

"So you didn't see him enter?"

"No. I did not."

"What did you do then?"

"I turned up the sound so I could hear what was being said."

"Which was?"

"He threatened to start killing, if I did not show up quickly. Do you want exact quotes?"

"No. That is sufficient, for now. What did you do?"

"I took off my suit coat and flew down close to the crowd, and shoved through the crowd. The Guard in charge of the outside security, Sergeant Wtfu, waved me in and warned me that I would be sprayed with . . ."

"What do you mean 'flew?' You hurried?"

More drawl needed. "Well, it's more like being a kite. Or gliding. I like to think of it as falling with style. The restaurant balcony is four floors up. So I jumped off and glided as close as I could get and landed where I could still find open space."

Lawyer One got his boggle under control. "And you spoke to Sgt Wtfu?"

"Yes. He had a small screen and turned up the sound. Afgu gave instructions. While I was rolling up my pants legs Foo told me I'd be sprayed with Methalformaline or something similar. I told him to get anyone who could warp light, hold an unnoticeable spell, and shield ready, and I'd try to hold their attention."

Scowls. Because they know it's the truth. Because if I look heroic, a jury will subconsciously place their client in the role of villain. Which, of course, he is.

"So you walked in anyway?"


"No worries, no hidden weapons?"

"I coated myself with an anti-methelformaline spell. It didn't work very well, but it did kick in well enough that when the shooting started I could get a weak shield up to almost deal with the caliber of weapons they were carrying."


"The bullets fragmented on the shield and penetrated at a lower velocity. I had dozens of metal shards skin deep all over my back."

"Because you were running away."

"Yes. The Black Horse was getting the hostages out, time for me to get out of the cross-fire."

"You abandoned the president."

Ice snorted. "To his own troops."

"But he was controlled by the Puppets. You could have saved him, right then."

"Right then, I was luck to shield, poorly, myself. I could not shield another person, could not get away from the Drei Mächte Bündnis troops while restraining someone, nor carrying them."

"I understand you killed some Black Horse Guards."

"Yes." He let that one lay there.

They paused, perhaps thinking he'd babble excuses.

"You discovered the bomb, and did nothing."

"It was not a bomb. It was a distributed system of demolition charges designed to bring down the whole building. I know very little about explosives, nothing about how to disarm them. There being no obvious 'off switch' on the controls, I concentrated on getting the President out of the building."

"How did you know it wasn't a single bomb?"

"Because there were no explosives attached to the controls. It was a computer, signed onto the building info-grid system. The explosives were elsewhere. President Afgu said they were everywhere."

Lawyer Two winced. "All right. We're going to need a detailed retelling of all the details you can remember."

It took the rest of the day.

He dragged out at seven and found a message from Keiq "I'll collect picnic stuff and meet you at Mikel House."

Which perked him up considerably. He and Keiq had both driven south and parked at the west end of the Southern Cross Metro Line. And since he'd wound up in the lawyers' office, he could cut over a block to the midtown south and transfer to the Southern Cross . . .

And watch the sun set over the oxbow lake while having a picnic with his incredible Keiq.

"Sorry I'm so late. Wretched lawyers wanted details."

She rubbed her cheek on his shoulder. "I'm scheduled for Wednesday. Ugh. I expect to have to explain why I followed orders from Rael to shoot those poor spectators up on the IR Tower."

Ice snorted. "DNA analysis is in. Both Bunnies. I think they're desperate and will eventually give up and go for 'It was the best way to deal with the Drei. Assimilate and then take them over with our superior magic.' Or something like that."

She shuddered. "Which wouldn't have happened. Just the thought of those brain chips gives me the chills."

"Yep. Apparently we're only one of four worlds that have managed to beat them back. Even the one that's leading the rebellion was 90% conquered before Eldon tripped across them." Ice shuddered a bit himself. "If they had gotten that far on our world . . . I keep telling myself that there are enough strong Oners to have shielded and fought . . . But I'm really glad they didn't get a toe hold."

"Would they have gotten to the colonies?"

"I talked to Ra'd. He said Ajha assigned each of Xen's kids to a line of permanent gates. On his signal, they were going to start closing gates, and the last one, they were to close from the far side."


"Yeah. Then Ebsa went and got all the soldiers from Limbo, and Agni came with his Action Teams, and we chased them all back where they came from. Paused to weapon-up and organize, then Wolfson started opening gates to the World they'd attacked from."

Ice looked around. He'd cut a wide swath of brush around this nice little vantage point, but that was it for the day. "Tomorrow I'll get here early enough to get some real work done."