Still pictures of the surface part of the Transporter mechanism.
A video of Jaejong and AnnaKarina down inside, looking at the mess they’d made of their judge and his guards.
Xen watched them closely. Body language of people used to each other, but no liking. The man arrogant, confident. The woman aped the man’s assurance, but was there a touch of wariness in her movement? In her abruptness?
The delegates were also silent and intent.
The government building. A map. A history timeline. Vids of the tram system, street scenes. The other cities. Friendly city cops in blue, not-friendly cops in black.
“I specifically looked for an army. The cops in black were the closest I found to a government force . . . and they weren’t militarized. Now when Q encountered them, and things escalated, they did bring in some heavy weaponry and six tanks. So I did miss something.
“How much I missed is unknown. I’d love to get a satellite into orbit, as a first move.”
Lon eyed her. “Xen mentioned a population of only fifty million. Does that seem credible to you?”
She flipped back to the map. “Yes. They have ten cities in a wide arc around three sides of the gate, or dimensional apparatus. Lots of smaller towns, stretching outward. Farms, mines, fishing. Fifty million is credible. Unless there are other cities, completely disconnected and unknown to the common people.
“Hence my desire for satellite confirmation.”
There were dozens of questions from the delegates, but Ambassador Ashe put his finger on the most important one. “Why the bloody hell is this tiny world coming here to pick a fight?”
And for that, they had no answer.
All in all, everyone was unsettled as the meeting broke up.
Rael trailed all the official Disco people out of the assembly room. I’ve been working so closely with these people for five months now . . . but with Xen back . . . well, I guess I'm not really 'in group' anymore. I’d better check in with my boss. Bosses. Whatever. They've had time to skim through the raw data dump I sent..
Xen slowed, looking a bit unfocused. Then he looked over at her. “There are some people here who need to see that vid of Jaejong and AnnaKarina. Let’s grab the conference room. Lon? You’ll probably want to hear this.”
Q moaned. “I don’t!”
Xen caught Rael’s eye and they shared a grin.
Xen and Q’s father was taller than Xen, broader than Xen, trim grey hair and beard, looming down at his daughter.
“Not the way I’d recommend finding your long lost brother.”
“Err, no. I thought, a quick look wouldn’t hurt.” Q squirmed. “And I . . . lost my temper. I lost it.”
“Mind you the results were spectacular.” Xen hugged his mom, got engulfed in hug from his dad. “Sorry that took so long. Nasty magic suppressant they’ve got.”
“So. Gisele called us all in to talk about some old friends and enemies?”
“Right, let’s start with the pictures.” Xen led the way into the big conference room.
Lots of tall people followed him, some she recognized for a trip to Comet Fall, some from pictures . . . She froze in shock. Nicholas One!
The New Prophet of the One True God grinned at her as he sat with the Comet Fall Gods.
Real swallowed and stuck her chip in the room’s display controls.
“That’s a gate mechanism?”
“Mostly underground.” Q put in. “I didn’t go down there, being more interested in finding Xen. The powered rings are laying flat and very large. I think they must have a way to focus the dimensional effect up here and . . . something. I’d really like to see it in operation.”
The old guys nodded.
Then the vid of the pair . . . dead silence, all of them leaning forward staring.
“That really is AK.” Logic sat back frowning. “So they have a ‘mystique of generosity’ but know perfectly well that most of the people they dump are going to die.”
Nicholas drummed his fingers. “That Asian man . . . remember Chairman Chou? He always had a young assistant along.”
Harry nodded. “Or bodyguard or something. But he was never sent away. I remember him giving an opinion once, and Chou took it immediately.”
“And when they were all exiled . . . “Charlie Alpha grinned. “It was the young one who was yelling . . . holy cats! I’d forgotten about that.”
“Yes.” Harry met his gaze. “He was yelling about how he was Jaejong and . . . he said something about just wanting to find his home. I think he was a marooned explorer . . . and that power gene he ‘invented’ was probably just a copy of his own.”
Lady Gisele was tapping a finger on the table gaze unfocused. She sighed and her gaze sharpened. “I don’t like this. If that’s where the powered genes got their start, on Earth . . . it’s turtles all the way down. Where is he from? It that why he’s . . . pecking away at the multiverse? Not building a proper civilization, just using it, again, in an effort to get home? Where is he from?”
Wolf snorted. “And what kind of a fixated idiot is he? We may need to check him for mental modeling when we get our hands on him.” Shrug. “If we do that and don’t just cut them off.”