The Third Exile World. Jaejong must be one of the Tellies, one of the highly magical, who slipping into the groups, the families who went with their slightly improved children.
Or, of course, a baby who got a random mix of powerful genes a few, or a few dozen, generations on, trying to make himself sound grandiose and magnificent.
And a century and a half ago, a dying world? Eden Colony. Got to be. And this AnnaKarina? Yet another Tellie who snuck Across? A bit of a coincidence, but could a dimensionally talented Tellie grab the end of a powered gate as it formed and attach it where they want it?
Now how do I find Xen, and how can I get food and find a place to sleep?
She fingered the little rod in her pocket.
I think I’ll experiment before I hit my stash.
She strolled down the sidewalk, people watching, window shopping . . . there was something like a cafeteria, buffet style. The people going in passed their left wrists past a box that was probably scanning for an implanted ID. Then they’d take a tray and walk down the length of the buffet receiving things and then walking to tables.
Right. Implanted ID. How am I going to analyze that?
All right, I had classes in things like electromagic, micromagifacturing . . . What I need is . . .
“Hey Sweetie, you’re kinda cute. How much?” The man swung her around and pinned her to the wall. “Whattya say we go somewhere private, and negotiate?”
“Yeah. I gotta night room around the corner. C’mon.”
Ho, ho, ho. The idiot’s trying an attraction spell? Sure, you poor schmuck. I’d just love to get alone with a jerk.
The “night room” was absolutely minimal. Once Rael had hit him with a sleep spell there almost wasn’t room on the floor to dump him. She trawled through his mind and found him profoundly ignorant of how any of the tech worked, and he only knew how to use the few things applicable to his life. Government? He didn’t care. Government buildings? Over there.
The “ID” in his wrist was dead simple, a six by six grid of micromagnets, turned plus end out, negative end out, and null.
A rummage through her supplies . . . the flashlight had a magnet to hold it against any thing metal. She shaved off tiny bit with a slice, chopped it up and ouching a bit stuck the shards under the skin of her wrist in a not quite random pattern. Just in case something around the edge oriented the scan or something.
I need to check a dozen of these things, and maybe copy someones pattern. Not this guy, in case it’s got “male, 188cm” encoded in it.
She cleaned up all the shallow cuts . . . decided they were too noticeable, and pulled out the bottle of wine. Took a tiny sip. Panted through the reaction and did not look at the idiot snoring on the floor.
Looked through her clothes, and finally put on her karate gi and plain flats. Tomorrow she could just put an illusion of some color on the gi, darken her hair and she’d be good.
She munched a sandwich, climbed into bed and slept. Stunned the idiot around midnight and dumped him back on the floor.
Woke early and headed out.
The scanned at the buffet place lit up yellow and scrolled a “repair damaged ID” message. But it let her in and the machinery kicked out all sorts of odd things.
Bland. But with no idea when she might eat next, she finished it all.
Then off for another stroll. She stood in line for a moment at the ram station, her right hand down by a young woman’s left wrist. Then she stepped away. Stopped to study a map and pick up another wrist code. By the time she found a park, and a quiet bench, she had a dozen.
She pulled out her mini-comp and wrote them down. With a description of the people.
Dammit. All the women had a positive in the top right, and the men the negative . . . and the two next to it all four of the old people of either sex had double negatives. Middle aged and the one young woman had multiple. Wait the two black-hair men both had double no mags. Those three had brown hair No mag plus; no mag, negative; pos, blank. The blond pair had both had pos, pos.
Year of birth? Or more description?
And the next line . . . all right, let’s assume it date of birth, and positive, negative and not magnetic are zero, one, and two . . . One! Base three? Eep!
She gave up and copied the young woman’s pattern, swapping the last number in the possible date of birth line.
Another jot of wine.
She tried a cafeteria, and got a very plain lunch with no trouble.
All I need is a place to stay while I hunt for this place’s dungeons.
And hope Q finds me.
She explored the city.
Stared at the Government buildings.
Rode trains to other cities, and listened. Screamed for Xen.
Spent a lot of time in libraries everywhere. Their “Transporter” was outside Capitol City.
And the month was nearly up. She needed to explore their Transporter. Needed to be there when they transported Poobah and the six guards.
Because unless I find Xen in the bowels of the government building I’m going with them.
“I was just curious!” Rael walked off in a pretend huff. The suspicious guards stared after her.
She huffed out an irritated breath. What additional security I could see, this isn’t going to be easy . . . She looked up as a large man blocked her path. Black uniform . . . not the city cops.
A quick look around. Four more behind her, moving in on both sides. Oops.
She warped light and ran, got grabbed, tossed him, dodged back, threw herself flat between two others. Threw spell, sleep stun . . . crap they were all bouncing. She rolled away from one cop, dammit she was up against a building. She jumped and grabbed a tiny ledge, decoration not . . . really helpful.
She twisted her head around. They were closing in cautiously, looking at her. They can see the distortion, dammit. She reached awkwardly into her pocket, pulled out the rod. Held it in her mouth so she could get it open, grab the pocket flask that was always handy. Unscrew it. Drain it. Drop it back in. Close the bubble, and release her grip. Roll into the shrubbery and shove the rod deep into the mulch.
Grabbed, and this time properly. The back of her collar was pull down, and a stinging pain between shoulder blade and spine.
The gray world of the light warp snapped and color flooded back in. And that barely noticed overlay of the faint glow of every living thing faded.
Methalformaline. Now I’m really screwed.