August 26th, 2020

_The Destroyer_ part 37

Ice reached and took the bars, stepped back and opened them.

Inside the bag, just a few seconds had passed. Lada was just turning away from the handles she closed, Rafail was clutching the wall, Animal hiding behind the heap of clothes on the floor.

They had enough warning to scoop up stuff on the way to the hide away. Good.

Lada spun, leaped out to hug him . . . recoiled when she spotted Mikel.

"Lada, we're with a bunch of my friends, on another World." Ice stepped inside to grab Rafail before he fell over. "I've been rescued. Come meet my friends. You too, Animal. I think you're going to like it here."

She eyed him dubiously. "Thy thorns are smeared."

"Yes. And very soon now I'm going to wash them completely off. Would you like to watch, so you'll recognize me without the thorns?"

She gave him a dubious glower, but when he helped Rafail hobble over to sit in the car, she followed, ducking down to peer under the jeep.

"No, that's how animals get squished. On the other hand, there appears to be a space behind Rafail's seat and the bed of the jeep."

She studied it. Rafail grinned, and leaned forward, and grabbed a lever that tilted the seat forward. Animal vaulted in and crouched down. "Lean Back! Hide me!"

Rafail leaned back, and Animal glared balefully from her triangular cave.

Ice looked back at Gior . . . hand tucked in Furkan's elbow, double glow . . . Oh isn't that going to be fun to explain to the bosses! "So, what else have you been doing while I was away?"

"Well, looking for you, of course, but exploring around here, we found some gold. So we started trading in on other worlds, and buying tons of things. Then I found 375 World, and well . . . once I'd helped them find and treat the Rangpur survivors, and showed them around here and how I made gates and found a dinosaur world . . . Umm, I've made gates to an Algae World and there's a ton of scientists studying a bunch of Dinosaur and Pleistocene Worlds from there . . ."

"And rescuing me. Hot damn, Gior. That's awesome." Ice looked around as Mikel loomed.

"I suppose you have one of these Withione names? We haven't been formally introduced. I am Mikel ibn Daiki ibn Byrum."

"In my society, I'm Ice-kah Withione Sycamore Tall Trees. In the old style . . . Ice ibn . . ." damn, security alert! ". . . Ingwe ibn Emre."

"Ah, a grandson, that explains a lot." Mikel held out a hand, jumped at the strong zap. "And by that and your purported blond hair, a descendant of Byrum as well."

Ice shrugged. "If so, it's lost in a thousand years of random reproduction."

A snicker from the Prophet. "He's probably a descendant of yours, Mikel."

Ice pinched the bridge of his nose . . . and met Mikel's gaze as he lowered his hand from his own sinal salute. Precogs. The sycamore trees.

"Well. This young lady is Lada MacDonald. Bob is properly Bogdan Egorov. And the younger lady has not actually admitted to a formal name, and prefers to be called Animal. And Rafail Rudolph Zarkov, in the jeep. Guys, this is Gior Withion Tallin, my fellow marooned Oner scout.

"And . . . instead of inundating you guys with names, why don't we head for the camp. Gior? Do I still have a lean-to or do I need to start from scratch?"

Gior winced. "Oh . . . The camp's a bit messy. We've been importing a lot of prefab cabins and barns and stuff. Let me show you!"

She grinned suddenly. "But now that you're back . . . let's talk seriously about water and sewer systems."

Chapter Seventeen

Wretched Charismatic Leaders

Gior subdued a smirk as Ice looked around the camp.

Everyone eyed him dubiously.

Ice flashed his pretty teeth. "Yes, it's me. Not to worry, the ink with come off, ditto the hair dye."

A snort from Yuri, who appeared to have lost his chain. "Hey Bob, have a nice vacation?"

_The Destroyer_ infill, here and there


"Ooo! Is that them? The poison that destroys magic?"

The kids all crowded around. Well, the ones who returned. Even Yuri's limping across these days. I wonder if he wants to go home?

Gior nodded, and pulled a ball full of the gene editors out. "This is them. We'll toss one in the reservoir, as long as we've got a gate there. What the heck. It might work. If there are any Mentalists there."

"How can you be so cavalier about it!"

She could feel Yuri's anger, feel him pulling power, lashing out . . . her shield bounced the control spell right back at him and he staggered back a couple of steps.

Blithering Idiot. Which will do nicely for a handle. She dropped the chain over his head.

"No, no, no! Why'd you do that! I obviously couldn't hurt you!" Yuri wailed.

"Yeah, but what if you'd lost your temper with anyone else, here?" She shook her head. "Think about never, ever, magically attacking any one. And I'll think about taking it off again next week."

The kids were looking at her, wide-eyed.

"Wow Gior, I had no idea you could do that!" Ken gulped.

Natalia nodded. "Can you teach us?"

"Maybe? You guys have a very different genetic basis for magic." But Ice was trying . . .

Back by the lake, she sent Ivan off with the glob and sat down to watch the bright lights as the sky deepened to twilight blue.

Yuri limped up and sat down, stiff, and careful to sit at a respectful distance. "I wonder what world this is? If it's even part of . . . my empire."


He hung around long enough to pick up gossip, watch the interactions, listen to the planning. Then he went shopping, and headed for the hotel. Plenty of food, lots of gauze and tape, lots of wine, lots of whatever caught his eye as useful . . . Crutches! Excellent.


They were all in Rafail's room, attempting to watch, or rather, understand, a vid in English.

Rafail, still pretty pale, grinned from where he was propped up against the headboard. "Between the four of us, we're getting about half and guessing the rest."

Animal's voice from under the bed. "I don't know what a lot of the words mean!"

"Huh, exceeded an . . . eight year old's vocabulary? How old are you, Animal?"


"So who's hungry and who wants an instant English lesson?"

They swapped glances.

Rafail cleared his throat. "How about a bit of assistance to the bathroom, then lunch while you tell us what an instant English lesson is?"

Which evolved into crutch adjustments and cautious practice.


There we go. A few necessary details dropped in and we're ready to get back to the story . . .