And suddenly there was a black truck plunging into the fog . . . slowing, and then curving to land upright on three tires, slewing a bit as it stopped.
Kit raced over and hauled the battered door open. Uncle Martin with a death grip on the steering wheel. He felt suddenly shaky with relief . . . then the other men, uniformed soldiers, registered and he stepped back.
"Kit!" A world of relief in his Uncle's face, followed by worry, and a fast scan around. "Watch out for Colonel Jiang!" Then he looked back, "You guys all right? They're okay, it's Jiang thats . . ."
He head swiveled back. "Where . . . this is Embassy! How did we get here?"
Firm footsteps behind him. Dr. Heath. "Your nephew brought you. Now, none of you seem to be in serious conditions, so you'll step out . . . Haily? Four glasses and the grass clippings, please. Room thirty four." A girl dashed off.
Kit shifted away as Wolfson stepped up. "So, how did you come to be chasing your nephew down a steep hill and getting shot at?"
Uncle Martin turned to give Kit a hug. "No one ever quite explained to me, just what these 'valuable' animals, who bore a strong resemblance to children are, and while they kept saying kidnapped, I rather expect they were escaping on their own," he looked down at Kit, "and how the hell did you get mixed up with them?"
They started walking toward the building, the crowd breaking up, apart from some teenagers looking over the truck.
Kit walked with them, slowing as the four men were stiff and moving carefully.
"Accidentally. I was escaping from the latest set of Foster Parents, who showed early signs of sexual interest, made it to Nowwhereistan and stowed away on a truck that was heading Across. I was hoping for a mining World or colony where I could disappear. But I wound up at a secret facility what was about to shut down, shipping their . . ." Oh, watch your tongue . . . "cloned part Purp and part Oner girls, they were all sixteen, off for training to be telepathic spies and honey pots. They didn't want the younger ones anymore and were just going to kill them."
Uncle Martin grabbed his shoulder. "Stop right there. You will not discuss this further with anyone but a lawyer."
Wolfson growled something under his breath, " . . . Earthers!" Then he looked over at the others. "And you are?"
The oldest soldier, who didn't look all that old, spoke up."Lieutenant David Gaines, this is Corporal John Yuan, and Private Fu Yu. We were assisting Detective Antoine in locating his Nephew . . . off the book, so the speak, due to . . . irregularities in . . . well, something fishy was definitely going on. I roped these two in." He shook his head. "Sorry, guys."
They all got ushered into something that looked more like a small waiting room than a treatment room and sat down carefully.
The corporal shrugged. "Hey, I'm on vacation, all me and Fu have to do is get back to Earth and look innocent. You, Boss, are screwed."
"You can stay with us, Uncle Martin." Kit looked worriedly at his uncle. "Except you can't go home, again."
"I wasn't actually planning on returning. I resigned, sold everything but the truck and got it all in cash cards I probably won't be able to spend."
"And Lieutenant . . . Gaines? Except that would be desertion, wouldn't it?" Kit eyed the unknown fellow.
"Well, in as much as my superior office just tried to murder me, desertion sounds pretty good." He took a glass that was half full of a bright green sludge.
Uncle Martin looked at his. "And it's called grass clippings?"
"Because of the color." Dr. Heath smiled. "It's easier than calling it a Type Two multi-rybozyme von neumann's potion." She poured two more half glasses.
They all looked at the green stufff. Uncle Martin looked at the doctor. "We've heard of this cure-all wine."
A snort from the doctor. "This is not that. This has all the healing nanos, but none of the aphrodisiacs. It'll take care of all those bruises, scrapes, and the Lieutenant's mild concussion."
The Lieutenant grinned. "Bottoms up." He took a sip, grimaced, and chugged the rest."
Fu sipped. "Huh. Like orange juice tea." He started drinking with every sign of enjoying it.
Yuan shuddered, but drank it all.
Uncle Martin hunched his shoulders and drank.
Wolfson shifted. "There's a delegation heading this way, from the Earth Embassy. Any of you who want to return to Earth and try to bluff your way through? I'll take you, right now. Where would you like to be, to establish your alibis?"
"Taipei." Yuan looked wishful.
"That would work for me, too." Fu stood up. "Can you actually get us there?"
Uncle Martin pulled two cash cards out of a pocket and handed them to the two soldiers.
The Wolfson reached and touched their shoulders and disappeared, taking the soldiers with him.
Uncle Martin straightened and looked at Dr. Heath. "Would you prefer we faced our diplomats outside of your hospital?"
"No. I think you're right where you need to be." She gave them a sweet smile. "Behind a magic shield . . . Oh, that was quick. Xen's back already, and goodness, right in Ambassador Montgomey's face. Poor man's had thirteen years of trying to balance politicians, military, foreigners, and Xen. I rather admire the fellow."
"Err . . . Any military types there?"
The doctor sighed. "Yes. One of them just tried to shoot Xen. Which, of course was all the excuse he needed to teleport them all back to their Embassy. If you'd like to leave, this would be a good time."
Uncle Martin stood up. "Damn. That stuff works really well. Well, let's see if we've got time to grab the stuff in the truck."
Kit jumped up and followed them back out to the parking lot. Uncle Martin climbed into the back to unlock the big tool box, while the Lieutenant climbed into the cab to grab things.
Kit grabbed a bubble and swooped it over the whole thing. Stuck it on his arm. Turned around and almost ran into Wolfson.
"Well, that's one way to stop them from arguing with you."
Kit nodded. "I guess you knew Uncle Martin. And Mom, of course."
"She was a friend. I stayed there for a few months. Witness protection. They found me, we fled, got found, they crashed her car. She was unconscious, badly broken ankle. I bubbled her, carried her off."
He huffed out a breath. "I led the chase away from anyone else, hid and unbubbled her to try and fix her ankle well enough to heal without complications. I probably shouldn't have given her a dose of the wine, definitely ought not have had any myself."
Kit gave a skeptical snort. "They told me my father was an old wino who'd died before I was born." He sidestepped and started walking.
Wolfson turned and walked with him. "Sal Fromage. He got hit by a car and literally thrown into my arms, killed instantly. I was scouting out a place to set up a listening post, and he was almost as tall as I am. So, I changed my appearance to match, and put the body in a double bubble."
"So you didn't kill anyone, that time."
A sigh. "Like when I blew up the powered gate? Your government attacked my world. Keeping you lot at home was the easiest way to protect my people."
"There really wasn't a bioweapon, in that tanker."
"Not by the time Q was done with it. She insisted that I could scare them, but not release a plague or whatever was in there. Do you have a place to go?"
"Yes. We're using an old abandoned Oner base. We've met people, traded, hunted . . . we're fine so long as those people who want us dead can't find us."
"And now you have your uncle." He sounded amused. "It's usually the adult who saves the kid. Next question is, do you have transportation?"
"Yes. I'm just amazed they had sense enough to stay two gates away." Am I actually talking to the man? "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that no one is noticing us."
"No. Do you know why they are so determined to kill your friends?"
"I think they think it could start a war."
"Not over clones of half-Purp and half-Oners."
"No. And it's better that no one knows. Not even you. Or maybe especially you."
"That sort of decision is a bit above your pay grade."
"Yes. I'll ask the kids if they want to take the risk. It's their decision." Kit looked up at the man. "As I have made mine." He turned back and jumped through the gate.
His father did not follow.