Universally Loved . . . or Wanted
"No. I'm going to personally escort the Gorbachev family home. If you'd like me to return, I will."
As Pauli changed into the exit lane for Portal One, a red light lit on his dash. Axel signaled for him to move back. Pointed at the sign for the next exit.
"Do you want me to return?" Axel failed to detect grinding of teeth. "Or if your Superiors want to talk to me, let me know where, and I'll see about getting there."
"You will turn around right now and wherever you are hiding the Gorbachevs, call them to return to their relative's home and wait for permission to leave."
"Pauli take the next exit, we're turning around."
Since the next exit was labled "Siberia Max Deliveries" Pauli just grinned. And as they dived off the high speed Axel pointed a detector at a car ahead signalling for a left turn.
And on his computer started playing with the traffic tracking system. While pointing right.
"Good. Now produce the Gorbachevs."
"Right. I'll call them." Axel hung up and checked that traffic control had swapped the numbers and was tracking the car ahead. And reached under the dash and flipped a switch.
"Be careful, the auto-drives can't see you now."
Pauli took the corner in a hurry. "Noticed that." He leaned into the wheel and peered upward suddenly at the not-a-snowstorm of small reflective-absorbative energy shields dancing overhead and behind.
Good thing it's overcast. Getting rid of the blue end of the spectrum is always difficult.
"Three miles ahead. You can go fast, there's not much traffic. There are three gates, take the first one, slow down so I can open it in a way that I can close it after us." He rolled his window down.
Pauli hit the brakes and turned the wheel slewing neatly to a stop facing the gate and then rolled up closer. Axel sent a tiny slash out to cut the chain and a mental push.
Pauli gigged the gas, and Axel swung the gates closed behind then, and levitated the chain around and spot welded it. Not neat, but . . . "Stop about twenty feet back from that ramp." He opened the door and hopped out a hair before the car stopped. He trotted up the ramp and felt for densities . . . the button . . . and pushed it."
"Mind you I haven't the fainest idea how long it will be before someone notices the beacon's on, but hopefully it'll be before I run out of the oomph to hold a dome shield because the police seem to have already found us."
Axel jumped in before looking, and bright sparking ring already spreading . . . He reached mentally, out behind the car and planted some broad thick shields, slightly rounded triangles that shouldn't do too much damage but . . . "There's Up Top, as soon as we get a green flag, floor it."
He looked back as the car rocketed forward.
"Whoo! This baby's got zip!" a twist and burn on his left side where the window was down.
"Close the portal!" A brief glimpse back, where a police car heaved up his overgrown speed bump, and down, hung up, teetering . . . and the Portal swirled down to nothing.
Pauli hit the brakes, stopping just inside the building."Uh . . ."
"Yes, stop. Just for a quick word with the Boss." He cranked his window up. "You'd think I'd know better, wouldn't you?" He popped the door and stepped out.
Murph and Ape both in armor?
"Did I interupt something?"
"Nah, the Boss seemed to think you might show up with trouble behind you." Murph glanced back toward the Portal ramp. "Police or something. Can't imagine why."
Snickers from the quad, peeling off their helmets.
Brisk footsteps and the Boss strode out one of the back doors.
"So I have . . ."
"Portal! Out . . . out there!" Henrik pointed. "Just trying to attach!"
"Pauli, start the car! Henrik, all of you, into the car! Pauli, get them out of here!" Axel snatched the last boy's helmet and gave him a push. Run!" Helmet on the chair, shove it under the table, shove the whole thing against the wall.
Into the Control Room; an impression of "weary sleep" slapped on the coffin.
"Who's after you?" The Boss was moving to look out the big door.
"Either the Inquisition or the Bureaus."
"Shit . . . Igor . . . "
"Sins coming home to roost. Don't interfere."
Chapter Twenty Nine
Master Mentalist Lord Michail Rasputin, Director of Imperial Security, Siberia Max watched the battle limo peel out and turn for the road down, then turned back to watch as the portal finished attaching and troops with familiar red lightning bolts on their armor jumped through first weapons sweeping the area, and focusing on the departing limo.
Inquisitors. This is going to be ugly.
Axel stepped out into the sunlight, catching their attention. All the weapons turned his direction.
More people coming through the portal. Workers jumped through and started installing a ramp.
On the far side, a cityscape of steel. A huge palace, all steel clad.
A long limo drove through. Three figures in robes stepping out. Red robes flanking the black. Massive gold embroidery.
Oh. Shit. An Executioner.
The old man in the center eyed him, then pinned his gaze in Axel.
"I am Tier One Alban von Duerr, Executioner for the Alliance, charged with examining this report of multiple un-permitted Portal Connections, three charges of Portalmaker kidnapping. And removal of zhivyye provoda and chip.
"Bring forth Axel Ivan Vinogradov, also known as Igor, to face the Question."
Murph and Ape grabbed Axel's elbows and marched him out. Let go. Backed off, but not nearly as far as they ought to. Axel dropped to both knees and bowed his head.
"I am Axel Ivan Vinogradov. I accept the authority of the 300. I will answer your Question."
"What say you to the charges?"
"We were attacked by two different Worlds. I believe we responded appropriately both in defeating attackers and punishing them. I accept that in the matter of Tier Two Stuttgart I was operating independantly in a power play. And succeeded."
Oh, Axel! You? Ambitious for power? But a legitimate defense, since you won . . .
The Executioner eyed him coldly. "And the zhivyye provoda."
"There was no arrest, no trial. There was no legal chipping."
"Lower your shields. You will show me how you removed the zhivyye provoda."
Michail listened in as Axel's shields faded, as he brought out a memory . . .
mother's compilation of medical Impressions. Analysis and treatment. Parasites. Malarial Plasmosis, trichinosis in the brain, naegleria amoeba . . . and inorganics, impressions to dissolve bullets and other inserted material . . . and healing spells, health boosts . . . a wave of disoriented frantic . . . everything in the book . . . put everything into the wine. Memories of pain, anger, determination . . .
"I don't even know how it got impressed on the wine . . . "
"And did you give it to anyone else?"
He frantically twisted away from that probing mind. "It's my fault, all mine . . . not theirs."
"We were under attack, the General wanted the kill switch, I thought, it was all I could think of . . . " And a memory leaked . . . two of the little bottles. "Half tomorrow, half the next day."
"It's my fault. Mine alone."
Michail could feel Murph's and Ape's shock, as they drew back.
"And you care for the friends you've condemned. Good."