While they ate, Ice sat crossed legged on the floor and pondered his next moves.
If they find a world with more Bunnies and decide to move, either by invitation or invasion, do I go or stay?
If they find a high tech World and decide to invade, can I poison them all before they invade, so they fail?
Or should I give the resistance enough lead time to cripple the German Hundreds and their Cyborg army, and then poison the Russians before they spread elsewhere?
I guess if the World they choose has already been invaded, I'll go and try to disrupt the established Hundreds. And the Russian invasion. Which leaves the question of do I take everyone with me or try to leave them behind?
Crap. What I wouldn't give for a reliable Precog.
He opened his eyes to find Animal sitting cross-legged beside him.
Bob grinned. "You seemed to have adopted another stray."
"And I thought dogs were bad. Feed them once . . . "
Rafail eyed Bob. "I refuse to believe in a strayed Cyborg."
Ice snorted. "Nah, he was escaping, I just gave him the opportunity."
"Along with the person you were rescuing, twelve eighteen-year-olds who didn't want to stay around for their birthday brain chip?"
Lada grinned. "Sure Bob, I believe you. Just like I was about to fail badly at escaping when I ran into . . . Khar."
Rafail grinned. "Really? And did it have anything to do with the explosion at the Cybernetics Center?"
"Certainly not!" Ice made that a firm, loud, statement. We are so damned trusting. But admitting to some things would be very unwise. "And now I'm going to pick up a few things to work on this afternoon, before I go find out what the next World looks like."
Rafail sighed and headed for the Parsdies to pick up gossip.
Ice frowned around the room. "Would you guys like something to read? I could look for something in Russian while I'm out."
Bob and Lada exchanged grins. Lada raised innocent eyebrows. "I have wondered what language you use on all the electronics you never let us get a look at."
Bob snickered. "Ice the Destroyer."
"Shh! Do not ever say that." Ice hesitated, gave up. "Can either of you read English? I might have some entertaining books on my computer. In fact, the screen is small but they made some highly fictionalized vids about my world that you might enjoy."
He dug out his comp. The outside matched DMB machines, the working parts were very different. He hesitated . . . then brought up "Horseboy" a very fictionalized version of Xen Wolfson's infiltration of the One World.
"Tap this to pause, that to start playing again . . . and I should be back shortly, depending on whether any stores have coins."
A hundred and ten years after the fall of Fort Rangpur, the fort was still in ruins. Gior closed her eyes and spotted the two bags immediately. She pointed at them, and opened her eyes. "There's one in that bulldozed pile of rubble. I think that's where Nicholas One is."
"The other is stuck on a wall, on the far side of that building." But everyone was headed for the rubble, and Gior followed.
". . . dozer in and . . . "
"Crush the handles and maybe pop the bubble and finish off the job the Imperial Chinese army started?" Gior eyed the pile. That big chunk of concrete first, then . . .
"Watch out!" She levitated the concrete, holding it still as everyone realized what she was doing and drew back. Furkan bounced down the pile, all balanced and graceful.
One! I really do hope I get pregnant. Think of a daughter, gymnastics star . . .
She kicked her mind back to business and floated the slab off to the side and dropped it. Then some of the big stones they'd used for the walls. A push spell to take off a layer of dirt. Broken Concrete, broken stone, lots of dirt, with dark streaks of charcoal. She climbed up and lifted a stone. Furkan darted in and grabbed the bit of metal sticking out between two stones. Retreated to the flats.
Hesitated . . . "Was it sideways or up and down when they closed it?"
"It doesn't matter, the inside orients to the gravity field, not the handles." Gior pulled out her bottles. "Get some boost in them to normalize the electrolytes, then some food. Totalmeal is good, and then let them recover a bit before the Wine."
The doctor who was part of the traveling entourage frowned. "Alcohol is not . . ."
Furkan shook his head. "It's the most amazing thing. Hundreds of healing spells." His hands shook a little as he looked at the handles. "Guess I might as well find out if my friends have survived."
We talked about it. What if someone else was in there, or no one. We really don't know when the split happened.
Furkan knelt and spread the bars. Gior couldn't see inside, but she saw his spreading grin.
"Damned lazy soldiers, laying about for a damned century . . ."
Gior stepped forward and lifted the top of the hole; took a peek before the medical types rushed in. Three men. That's the same. She held the bubble wide open while the men were carefully shifted onto stretchers and removed. Horrible, bloody makeshift bandages . . .
" . . . wife and the baby . . ." The one with the crudely wrapped abdomen was looking around anxiously.
Lucky Dave, panting, one hand clenched as he refused to scream.
The Prophet Nicholas, pale and still.
Gior stood back and headed for the second bag. Mikel hesitated, then followed.
She had to close her eyes to "see" the bag, the illusion was so strong. But she popped it, and the attachment spell, and handed the bubble to Mikel.
Mikel popped it open, grunted and pulled out the other set of handles.
Gior took the first handles. "These are Nicholas's. I'll hold them while you let everyone out."
He growled, but opened the second handles.
The man who leaped out, left hand raised for magic, the other clenched to punch . . . transformed instantly into grabbing Mikel's shoulders. "Mikel! News! Where is the Commander!"
Not questions demands.
"Badly injured. Lucky Dave and Davos are also in desperate condition. No one else survived."
Gior backed away from the crowd of wailing women and children. Caught the eye of the tall boy . . . "Oh. Ra'd at fifteen. That's the stuff of nightmares." She held out the rods. "These are your father's. You were all double bubbled and it's been a hundred and ten years."
Behind him, Mikel yelled at the women. "Silence. All this stupid wailing and screaming withh just distract the doctors who ate treating the other three. Take the children over there, and sit down and stay there. Umaya and Jadida may come if they will be quiet and stand back out of the way!"
Gior turned and headed around the building, The young (and still scary) version of Ra'd on her heels.
". . . lucky to save any of them." The doctor was pretty distressed.
Ra'd's fists clenched, and the two women following them drew breathe to wail like, well, arabs.
"Oh don't be stupid!" Gior stalked forward. "You can always put them back in the bag and take them where you have what you need, or double bag them and wait a thousand years."
She stooped to pick up the boost, the Totalmeal, and the Wine as she passed them.
"The Prophet is in a healing sleep. He'll be fine as soon as you get the rib out of his lung and let him sleep. Davos? Let me look at you first, Lucky Dave? Have a swallow of this then let your brother have some. It's electrolytes, which I suspect you're all low on." She twisted off the cap, and held it out to him.
The man's gaze swapped to Furkan, who nodded. He took the bottle, sipped, sipped again. Handed it back. "It's going to take more than salt and sugar to help us."
Gior swapped her glance between the brothers, frowned at the bottle. "This, and a nutritional drink are to get you in shape for a very powerful healing potion. I'll be doing a lot of . . . do you call the medgicians? Or magical Physicians? Anyhow, I don't want to stress your bodies beyond what they can handle."
She shivered, seeing the utter refusal to quit in the man's glow. He slugged half the bottle, handed it back to her. She shifted around to study Davos. "You probably ought not have anything until I've check out the state of your gut."
She looked up as the doctor loomed over her.
"What are you doing? He's dehydrated and half starved."
"Then why haven't you put him on an IV?"
The Doctor growled. "Because we haven't had time."
Gior flicked a glance at the Prophet, who did have one. "You're going to hear about Triage versus Elite Status, Real Soon Now."