5 Ramadan 1415 yp
"No Rael, not you."
Rael giggled at all the glares being aimed at her brother-in-law-the-cop, who was suddenly her brother-in-law-the-presidential-director.
“Don’t blame Ox! An agent like me ought give an honest cop the willies, but Ox will use the tools he needs in his new job. The problem is what happens if he orders me to do something—and winds up having to go home and tell his wife he got her sister killed . . . and then tell the stepkids that he’s raised since they were five that he got their biomom killed . . . and then tell three parent-in-laws . . .”
Rael shrugged. “So he can’t just . . .”
Ox shot her an exasperated glower. "Not to mention my two youngest kids who adore their aunt and your rabid fan club. So no, you are not personally going to check out these reports of Cyborgs."
"Drat. Field work is . . . " Rael stopped as both Izzo and Ox grabbed their comms.
Uh oh. A crisis that warrants breaking into the first in-group meeting?
Izzo and Ox looked up from what was apparently a text. Both their eyes going to her.
The President spoke first. “Rael? Some sort of emergency on Embassy. Go now, report back.”
“Yes, sir.” She jumped up and hustled out. Xen, what trouble are you in now?
Unlike Xen, she couldn't teleport halfway around the world.
But she didn't actually have to . . . She closed her eyes and felt the world around her, knew it, held it in her mind along with that other location that she was pretty sure Xen didn't know she knew . . . pull power and send it into the teleportation spell.
She stepped out into an ordinary, bland apartment living room in the western suburbs of Paris. She turned and jogged into the bedroom, felt along the wall and fell into a gate. And out into Xen's house.
Out the front door and followed the crowd noises.
Half the population of Embassy was in the Plaza, with newsies perched on every available high point to get camera shots of—Rael elbowed through the crowd—an empty circle.
A bunch of people were hovering over three figures sitting on the ground.
Rael swallowed as she realized the large man wasn't Xen. It was his father. And that was his mother and Q. She eased a hole in her shields . . . a dark maelstrom of energy pulling, reaching out . . . searching.
Q hunched forward and clutched her head, shaking.
Rael winced in sympathy and pulled the handles of her dimensional bag out of her pocket. Fished out a cold bottle of Boost—electrolytes and sugar, designed to replenish a persons energy after mental labor.
“Q?” The witch twitched at the cold bottle pressed into her hands. “Drink.”
Q slugged half of it, stopped to breathe. "Rael? Oh, of course the Oners sent you. Dammit, Rael, I can't track them. They took Xen. He’s hurt and they took him. I can’t trace them. It was a powered gate, and . . .”
“Yes. They opened the gate in the plaza right there.” Q fought to steady her breathing.
Rael could feel her, trying to calm her panic, looked at her parents both sitting cross-legged on the ground.
Q took another deep breath as she sat up and forced herself to relax. Rael listened in mentally as Q reached for the electric blue of the inbetween.
:: The powered gate was coming from that direction, but collapsed before I could trace it all the way to its source. It was coming from a greater distance than I could see. ::
Her father’s magnification pulled back, further back, and the little universe sheets shrinking down to bright dots. Clustering, clouds of fireflies, and strings between, like branches holding up clusters of bright leaves, all leading back to the trunk of basic, unicellular life.
:: That’s very different from how I see the Multiverse. :: Q tried to look, to see which direction the gate had come from. Failed.
:: Show me how you see it. :: Wolf was calm . . . but that deep power that had always been there was roiling very close under the surface.
Q withdrew a bit, and looked out at the crystal of the Multiverse. The flaws and cracks that separated the major events . . . where they were, and where the gate had been. Across one crack and further. Her Dad reached through her vision to tag a universe, a second, then withdrew.
:: Did you see the gate go this far? ::
:: Yes it stretched much further . . . and then it was gone. ::
Her mother’s worry leaked a bit, was firmly repressed. :: Extrapolate. Gates wiggle around, but with a general area to search, to watch for their next gate opening, we should be able to find them. ::
Q followed her line further, across another crack . . .
Rael fell out of contact. Damn. How far did "They" reach? And who are "They?"
She stood up and listened to the voices around her, people telling each other what they’d seen. Looked back at the Disco people and caught Lon's eye.
“There was a circular rug, ten meter diameter, metallic copper colored, and as we saw, definitely an electrical conductor. A little fat guy on a fancy throne, six tall skinny guys on guard.” Lon’s firm clear voice. “It popped out of nowhere, no visible gate. The guards, three on each side, stepped off the rug to the side, like a ceremonial guard. Xen walked up to the rug and spoke, introduced himself.
“The man replied in English, very accented. ‘You may approach.’ He said.”
Rael looked around. “So of course Xen stepped on the rug.”
Lon nodded. “‘Are you the leader of the people who destroyed a world?’ he said. Xen asked if he meant the destruction of Helios, or the prior destruction by Helios. And the guy just nodded. ‘You destroyed a world.’ He thumped his staff, grounded the haft and aimed the top at Xen. The rug fibers stretched up a bit, and zap! Xen collapsed. The guards stepped back on the rug and the whole thing disappeared.”
Q nodded. “Xen was alive when they left. I would have felt him die.”
And he’d better still be alive, or I’m going to kill every single one of them!