Pyrite was offended by the very idea that he’d take a vehicle rather than let him run across the multiverse.
So he loaded up the Great Stone Inn with edibles, went clothes shopping for the Renshe, the guards and even Poobah. More hand tools . . . he waffled over weapons. Finally bought shotguns, deer rifles and a few higher caliber just in case. Ammunition for all. A put it in a bubble.
I’ll hand them out when—if—Poobah and the Guards are unmolded and trustworthy. Assuming any of them want to stay there.
Stopped by the office to find the whole staff arguing about who got to go with him.
“Uh, guys, look. This is going to be boring. Sitting in the woods monitoring their Dimensional apparatus. Counting people coming and going. Recording and watching any broadcasts. If they stick to their once a month visit, we’ve got a month to pickup more information.” He held up a finger to stop their protests. “And we need to analyze how Rael got along there for a month, and how she finally got caught. Before there’s any actual infiltrations.”
A faint grumble of “spoilsport” from the back.
“So, let’s go talk to Rael then Lon will have a better idea of who, among you eager volunteers, gets to go. And I’ll set up a gate to there, the Inn for off duty, and office work, and see where on Xin Zhongguo I can safely put that end of the gate and keep a dimensionally able Tellie from detecting it.”
Lon bit his lip. “And how far away can you detect a gate?”
“If I’m looking, there nowhere on the planet I won’t see it. Corridors . . . would take a good hard look for her to see, from a kilometer or so away. I think. From what Rael said, I suspect though that most of their magicians stay fairly shielded. So this AnnaKarina may not regularly look at the multiverse. She’s shown no sign she’s seen the chain of corridors Q built. Even so, when she’s firing up their dimensional . . . whatever . . . a gate to her own world would hard for her to not notice.”
Xen eyed the crowd. “So when it looks like they’re firing up their rings, you will be leaving your recording equipment running, and scampering home. I will close the corridors and the gate. And hopefully open them again in a few hours.”
Lon crossed his arms and glowered. “From which side?”
Xen grinned. “Xin Zhongguo. Probably with Q.”
A glower from the Boss. “One of you really needs to be in a position to rescue the other.”
“Tell you what. We’ll take along both a Oner Beacon and an Earth Anchor. Program them to turn on, hmm . . .”
“Summer and Winter Solstices. Standard marooning protocol.”
“Right and we’ll place them . . . hmm . . .”
Lon was still glowering. “I will pass this suggestion on to both polities. And then we’ll talk about whether we ought to put them where they want them, which will probably be where they can either quickly capture the Dimensional setup or the Government buildings.”
Sommer Albrecht cleared her throat. “Keeping in mind that the Xin people haven’t attacked any of our member worlds. Just Disco.”
Reluctant nods mixed with indignant glares.
Xen winced. “True. And if they’ll just stop . . . we’ll leave them alone. But for that to happen, we sort of need to find out why they aren’t leaving us alone. I’m beginning to favor the theory about them using us in an internal political conflict. Maybe if we can just slap the leader’s a bit, they’ll at a minimum leave us out of the family feud.”
And I’ll find out if I can turn my back on their use of semofazing to suppress magic worldwide.
Pyrite promised to get him back to Wolf World even faster than going the other way.
:: I’m rested, full of oats. Need to practice so no one can beat me. ::
Xen laughed. Clicked his wristwatch’s stopwatch function. Then leaned forward and enjoyed the kalidescope ride of Pyrite at full stretch through a thousand worlds.
He was dizzy with sensory overload, and Pyrite dripping wet and breathing like a blacksmith’s bellows when they jumped through the last gate.
Xen half fell off and flopped flat on the ground. Clicked the stopwatch. “Forty-eight minutes eighteen seconds. That’s. . . you averaged over twenty miles per hour.”
“Who were you racing?” Rael walked into view. “Yes, Nighthawk put up a corridor from the village to here.”
He sat up. “Damn, that many gates that fast is interesting.”
“Interesting? I was puking sick before we made it half-way.”