Lucky Dave sighed. “The one thing all these movies are showing me is the depth of history of this world I’ve found myself in.”
Foo tsked. “Surely you had history lessons.”
“Heh. More like the myths about the world before the nuclear war. Which was only three hundred years before I was born. The History of the Dark Ages, the Formation of the Islamic Union, the age of conflicts as everyone tried to find high tech goodies in Europe and North America. That was all the history they bothered with. Oh, religious stuff. But that was even more mythical.”
Davos nodded. “We’ve got history books now, including stuff from Earth Prime and Comet Fall. The history books that the Ones Left Behind kept in bubbles are the best. That Earth had a few wars, and a had a few nukes tossed around, too. So some records were lost. Or discarded over fourteen centuries.”
Lucky Dave nodded. “The movies, sorry, vids make it all more visceral. Atleast these won’t give me nightmares. So the Horseboy slots in between, and the enemy spy is how we rediscovered Granite Peak. And I’ve got to say if your External Relations Director is anything like that third mov . . . VID, dammit, he’s got cast iron balls.”
That got laughs.
Oldy grinned. “Remember in Horseboy, the IR analyst would was getting set up to take the blame, and instead killed the main conspirator? Same guy. And in The Survivors? The guy investigating the possible incursion and catching up to them in Makkah in time to fast talk them out of there? Yeah him.”
A giggle close enough behind him to chill his spine. “He’s coming in to talk to Urfa tomorrow. I’ll bring him around so you can see the real thing.”
Lucky Dave glared over his shoulder . . . modified it into an expression of casual curiosity. He hoped. “Umm, so these fast rooms. Are they importing them?”
“Not really. The problem is the danger in leaving a baby in them too long. Even the straightforward singles are dangerous that way. At twenty-to-one if you leave your baby in there and get distracted for fifteen minutes, that five hours during which the kid’s probably been screaming and crying and whatever.”
“Oh. That’s not good.”
“Yeah. Paer’s got one, but she’s also got a nanny and two guards on the premises at all times.” Rael giggled. “She uses it to catch up on her sleep, when the twins get cranky and keep her up at night. Or if something comes up, she can bubble them, and then make up the time by sleeping in there with them for however long it takes to catch up with their calendar age.”
“Is it really necessary to do that?” Lucky Dave considered the families he’d known, the exhausted parents.
“Being the President’s daughter, their kids are under scrutiny, and being ‘delayed’ in development would get crowed all over the Empire.” Rael shrugged. “Ra’d and Nighthawk on the other hand are deliberately letting their kids grow slowly. They’re thinking that Oak being a year older than the twins and Fox a year younger, they’ll have a good play group, and extended courtesy Aunt and Uncle and so forth.”
“So Paer and Nighthawk are friends?”
“Yep. And Ebsa and Ra’d are an unbelievable team in XR.”
“Oh . . . that’s the president’s son-in-law? My head hurts.”
Giggle. “Don’t worry. There’s not too many more movers and shakers to meet. What do you think, Foo? Two, three hundred, max?”
Lucky Dave groaned while his brother laughed.
Yeah. Easy for you to laugh. You’re a Warrior. I’m a badly misplaced soldier with a few magic tricks.
Lucky Dave hauled himself to his feet and headed back to the mansion.
Scar was watching as a cart from the kitchen was unloaded, the cart across the doorway as A maid took things off the bottom shelf and handed them across the cart to another maid.
As he walked up, he could hear Umaya’s cheerful voice from inside ordering someone to put something in the little fridge.
And a sudden sharp, “What are you doing!”
Two fast steps, dive over the cart, knocking the inside maid over. Sommersault to his feet. Grab the flat lid so close to hand. Survey. Umaya wrestling with another white clad maid . . . who shrugged her off easily, pulling a gun. The thrown lid hit her across the cheekbone.
Where’s the commander? What’s the angle to his bed?
Umaya pounced on the maid’s gun hand and clung. Dave punched her throat, twisted her gun hand. The gun fell.
Scar grabbed the gun in midair and threw it at the far end of the room as he shoved them all through the door and into Umaya’s bedroom. A sharp hard crack.
“Fuck! You have exploding fucking guns!” Dave grabbed hair and thumped the maid’s head on the wall a few times. Until she—or he—went limp.
“Yeah.” Scar grunted to his feet and limped back out the door, trailing blood. The inside maid was gorily dead. “Maid in standard dress exiting 2W. Assume armed and dangerous. Explosion was laser power pack.”
Oh, he’s got some sort of radio on.
Dave checked, Umaya, stumbling to her feet and rushing for the commander’s room. Dave hustled after. All clear, opened the fast room.
Nicholas was buttoning his shirt, eyebrows rising as he took in Dave appearance, the gun now in his hand.
“Umaya, stay with him. Close the door.” Fast check, bathroom, wardrobe, under the bed. Dave trotted back out. “Clear back here.”
Scar nodded from the exterior door. “Yeah, they’ve got the third maid.”
“They were too strong for women. Small men, I think.”
“Oh? Now that’s interesting.” Scar sighed. “And we get another security review. Domestic staff has always been a weak point.”
More Black Horse Guards entered, and Dave backed up to the fast room and let them do their thing.
Not that I’m not familiar with people wanting to kill the commander, but I really thought it would be different, here and now.
A familiar voice, Rael had arrived and was talking to the first maid.
She—or he—was barely conscious and Rael was face to face with her. “The Prophet, what are you doing to the Prophet Nicholas, the General of the Armies . . . Oh really? Why would he fight for you?”
A small soft man in an immaculate robe hustled in. Rael eased to the side to give him access to the assassin.
Dave caught Foo’s eye. Kept his voice to a bare breath. “Is that one of those Eunuch Priests?”
Foo nodded. “They’re doing a truth match, to find out . . .”
Rael flinched back and hauled the priest back, slapped him. “Out! Get out!” Behind her the maid slumped to the ground. Dave flinched at the little psychic death shock.
The priest reeled, staggering back. “T-Thank you, Rael. I’m, I’m all right.” He looked up, and then back at Dave. “They weren’t here to kill him, they planned on kidnapping him.”
Rael nodded. “A splinter group that thought having a prophet all their own would help them push their cause.”