“While the situation is under control, I want to explore northward. The pattern of all of our arrivals argues for one more arrival point a hundred kilometers to the north. I want to see if there’s any sort of beacon there. Or, of course, anyone who might have been transported before I got here.” Xen eyed the others and noted the lack of panic on any faces.
Good. They realize they can take care of themselves.
Rael eyed him. “May I come?”
Yes! Or oh, no! Or . . .
Snickers from the other guys.
Xen glared. Rael giggled.
“Certainly.” Xen tried for casual, knew he was failing.
Jiol smiled. “It’s so fun to watch you try to not melt in Rael’s presence. When we get back we need to try harder to recruit her.”
Xen fished his scrambled pheasant eggs and tossed a moderate selection of food in his pack and headed north. Rael at his side.
“Sorry. I . . . didn’t mean to, umm . . .”
Xen just shook his head. “I think it’s pretty obvious that I utterly adore you.”
“Really? I think you’re trying to resist me. Why?” She trotted to keep up with his longer stride.
“The joy juice’s fertility effects linger for about three months.”
Rael stopped . . . then caught up again.
“Yes. And . . . I’m almost sure I can deal with it . . . except I’ve got the assembler as well, and that stuff is just flat scary, some of the things it does.” Xen veered over to a copse of young trees. “This is far enough. Let me throw a corridor.”
Rael trotted after him.
Be strong Xen. Instead of being an idiot around her.
A warm hand on his arm, and he was turning around scooping her up and kissing her. Glowing at her. Resistance melting.
She pulled back and stared him in the eye. “Xen. I know I was drunk when I said that. But I’ve wanted a baby for years, I just keep chickening out. I’m, I’m . . . Xen. May I have your baby?”
“Yes. But I think we should wait at least another month and make sure that nasty stuff is absolutely totally out of our systems. And I ought to check up on Q’s progress on the gates . . .”
He rested a cheek on her hair and let himself look at the blue. Reached out . . .
“Ohmygod. She’s reach Xin Zhong.” He grip slipped and Rael dropped to the ground.
“Xen, she’s been an emotional shit storm for months. If she’s there, she’s in trouble!”
He thumped down, cross-legged.
Relax and let the tension go.
Look for a cone. Grab a bubble and bump it.
No, you miserable piece of shit, get your sorry excuse for a multi-dimensional existence right over here and . . .
He slammed the cone down near the other gate and held the tail while he looked for another cone. This one scurried to obey. Twist tails and pull it to him.
“No people in sight, you’re at their gate facility. Their capital city is a hundred kilometers west.” Rael was standing behind him.
“Right . . . Oh hell, we’re only a few miles form the village. Rael. Stay here. Watch. If they try to come through, a shield across this die should change their minds. If they get through, lead them away.” He pointed east. “Across the river and cut south. They’re welcome to Poobah.”
“Right. Be careful, dammit!”
He turned and jumped through the gate.
On to roughly mowed grass beside a towering concrete wall, forest on the other side, and a painfully bright magic battle . . . yeah, about a hundred kilometers that way.
He closed his eyes and felt . . . recognized here . . . and Q he should be able . . . Pyrite! He pulled out the teleportation spell, powered it, pulled up shields and stepped forward . . .
Into chaos, bright explosions of artillery, brighter splashes of magic.
Q spinning, a slice spell . . . dropped. “XEN!” She launched herself at him as he hastily threw up a dome shield as hers fluttered.
A vice grabbed his shoulder and shook him—gently.
Xen freed one arm from Q’s embrace and hugged the horse.
“Horsie, can you hold the shields for a minute?”
Pyrite’s shields took over.
Q’s teeth gleamed in the flashes of power all around them. “What are you going to do to them?”
Xen glanced at the rainbow goats and long haired fluffy purple bunnies running about out side the shields. “Is there anything left to do?” He closed his eyes, recognized this spot, his gate site and pulled them both with him.
“Hey! I was waiting for the top echelon to show up! I’m. Not. Done!”
Xen picked her up and jumped through his gate. “Yes you are. Now let’s close some gates.”
“Close them! Xen, those people are a menace to the Multiverse, and they . . . Rael!” Q leaped to hug her and Xen sat.
No cones in sight. Xen glared at his gate. Stop it. Get!
Tails untwisted, cones detached and spun away. He looked at Q’s last gate. You, too! Scat!
He opened his eyes to find Q staring down at him.
“You know, the long term effects of that shemofazing are going to be interesting.”