Q stared up at the metal lattice reaching up above the concrete wall. Down at the installation under her feet.
Huge rings laying flat, rotating slowly. Easily a hundred people down there.
She open her mental shields to incoming . . .
“Well, Py, we’ve found them and their gate mechanism. But what I want is Xen. And if he’s hiding mentally, I’m going to have to get close. Shall we head for town?”
Pyrite bobbed his head. She had to jump for the stirrup, and briefly wished for a shorter horse. But Pyrite was the fastest horse, despite being worse than her brother in being over protective.
The footing on the verge was perfect for running. He set off at a fast gallop, head up . . . a flick of power and he was a couple of miles down the road still galloping.
“Xen never told me you could teleport! You never told me!”
All she got back was an impression of mental smugness. And another jump down the road as far as he could see.
They hit the suburbs as the sunset. Two cars ran off the road when their drivers spotted them. Q put a spell of acceptance around them . . . with minimal effect.
“What is there problem?”
:: It’s me. They’ve never seen a horse before. ::
“Never . . . Oh.”
Pyrite wrapped an unnoticeable spell around them, and teleported across intersections.
She could see all the sparks of humans around her, bright against the duller animals, the patchy glow of bacteria in the soil, and the insubstantial ghosts of plants.
“No Black Hole of Xen. Cover your mental ears, I’m going to yell.”
Pyrite’s glow dimmed further.
:: XEN! ::
Apart from the shriek of tires on the road, the crunch and bang of a collision.
“Oops. I didn’t feel any magical people. But obviously some people are sensitive.” Q looked back at the nearest intersection. Lots of people getting out of cars, yelling. No one badly injured. Or worse.
“Let’s get out of here before the police come.”
Pyrite turned his head to look at her. :: Should we follow the police? Xen might be in jail. ::
“Stuffed full of Methalformaline? Bah. We’ve got assemblers of our own that take care of that.” Q hesitated. “But maybe we should find out where they keep important prisoners.”
Pyrite trotted down to he next intersection. :: Downtown. At some point There will be too many people on the sidewalk. I will get in my stable, but leave the hole in the bubble open enough to know if I need to rescue you. ::
Q glared down at her mount. “Do you mean to tell me you can manipulate bubbles! That you have . . . yes I see your stable, I thought Xen stuck it there. Horse! Can you make gates?”
:: I have never tried. ::
She could feel him thinking about it, remembering all the times he’d seen it done . . .
“Well, we don’t call you guys God Horses without reason, but . . . what about your foals?”
He shook his mane. :: Flame can see bubbles . . . I’ll ask the Old Dun. ::
When they found a transit station, Pyrite shoved his bubbled stable to an alley wall and stepped in, closed it. Q pinned it to her shoulder and felt the return of the horse’s glow as he cracked the bubble open.
I’m going to have to start thinking of that horse as a person in a horse suit.
She was getting some odd looks from the people on the street . . . her gray Disco suit was alright on the color, but the style . . . A illusion of loosed pants, a longer jacket with a belt, and they mostly ignored her. Went around her. Hmmm.
An electronic tickle, and the gate let her into the terminal.
A man in dark gray frowned at her. “Your rather young to be wearing anything that dark.”
Oh, a nice bright glow! There is magic here.
She opened her shield to outgoing, just enough so she’d glow a bit more . . . The man stepped back, paling.
“I beg your pardon.” He nearly scurried away, casting a nervous glance back at her.
Now that was an interesting reaction. So the powerful wear dark colors, and powerful women are scary. Well, I can certainly understand that.
She walked down stairs and followed signs, then stepped into the tram that stopped beneath the “City Center” sign. She lightened up her gray suit and squeezed down her glow to something just a bit above the non-magical level.
She got off at the “City Center” station and followed the crowd up to the street. Eyed the tall building . . . she could feel a strong glow up there, but it felt witchy. Lots of mid-level “average mage or wizard” glow. Nothing remotely like Xen.
She closed her eyes in pain. I should just throw corridor to the gate and . . .
And just thinking about the inbetween called her attention to the unmoving bubble.
She trotted down the block. It was right . . . there. She dived half under a bush and pulled a rod out of the mulch.
Xen wouldn’t need handles!
Wiped off dirt. Opened the handles and looked in. Brass flask, open and empty. Clothes. A woman’s colorful blouse. “Rael. Dammit, they’ve got Rael too.”
“Miss. Who are you and what are you doing?” A man in a black uniform.
“Looking for a friend. What can you tell me about a redheaded woman . . .” She could see his suspicion solidify.
A quick dart of thought from the man she was too slow to stop. No matter. If this one doesn’t know what happened to Xen and Rael, the next ones will.
“Tell me about the man snatched from another world almost six months ago.”
“Tell me about the redheaded woman.”
“None of you business, Miss.”
But he knows. She stared at his eyes. “What happened?”
His mouth firmed, but he remembered . . . running up on a fight, a woman beating a troop of enforcers, disappearing. A distortion on the wall. Pointing and yelling. A pile on, something jammed into her back at a shallow angle . . . Got her! No more magic tricks, now!
Q broke off, as she was pulled off balance. Not the cop she expected, it was Pyrite leaping out of his stable, throwing a push to shove more black uniformed men away, lashing out with his heels.
Her own cop wrenched away and stumbled back. “A monster!”
:: Shield! ::
Q threw out a perimeter physical shield, winced as a barely seen laser defected from an energy shield the horse had up.
She looked out at the fast growing crowd of black uniforms.
“So Any one want to tell me what happened to the people you have kidnapped from my planet?”
Plenty of noise and orders for her to surrender.
A big man stalked through the crowd, the other uniforms making a path for him.
He stopped and stared at her. “Criminals are transported. As you will be soon enough.”
“Away, we don’t care where they end up.”
“Right, so you look Oriental. Does your calendar name years after animals? What year is it here?”
He eyed her suspiciously. “Snake.”
"Year of the Snake? Too bad. I don't do snakes. The year of the sheep or hare would have been perfect. Oh well. Guess this can be the Day of the Goat." Q opened the mental box and rolled up a dozen copies of her personal version of the Black Goat spell. And she needed to test her Cute Little Purple Bunny spell . . .