Xen took a crunchy bite. “Excellent. And not just because it isn’t meat.”
Then he sat and charged Killerbite.
Sam flipped between disapproval of the robot dog and horrified disbelief that Xen could charge him magically. “That’s just not right. They never mentioned even the possibility of magically converting heat to electricity!”
Xen grinned, sitting in the sun. “It’s just the micro manipulation of electrons, making them all go in one direction.”
“Thank you Mr. Wolfson. I am at one hundred percent charge.”
Sam glared at Mike. “You programmed it to be polite!”
Mike watched the robodog trot off to sit beside Cali. “I wasn’t interested in a vicious watch dog.”
Xen eyed the girl, looked back at Mike. “How did you manage to explain suddenly acquiring a daughter? Isn’t there documentation? Identification?”
“Oh.” Mike blinked suddenly moist eyes. “We had . . . my wife and I had a baby. She only lived a few hours. But that was long enough for the child ID to be issued. I went to the office to pick it up . . . and when I got back, she was already gone. So I kept it, it was all I had . . . we divorced . . .”
Sam glowered at him. “And that’s why you couldn’t . . . well . . . I shouldn’t have started the project, but you were right.” He got up and stomped off.
“And there was no problem with the ID?” Xen looked back at Mike.
“No. I put it on her wrist, and it tightened down . . . that’s how we ID children.” He tapped the back of his wrist. “Adults get implanted codes, the data is all in the government computers. Kids’ bracelets have a little memory chip, it records medical data and school records.
“Cali was a year younger, but she’s bright. She was doing very well in school . . .” He looked around the wilderness. “Well. At least now I don’t have nosey neighbors wondering why my ex-wife suddenly decided to send Cali to me.”
He got up and walked over to the girl, who hauled him away to show him the tree they ought to build their house under.
Then Xen cut long thin branches and impaled chunks of bear and made them cook their dinners themselves. Which quickly brought out the scientist in the four and they argued about the effects of heat treating muscle tissue.
All eight of them crowded into Xen’s house for the night.