“And Isakson’s going to be pissed at both of us.”
Lucky Dave laughed. “For not killing him? You Warriors can kill anyone you want. I’m a bodyguard, and them carrying a warning back home to not even think about threatening the families makes my job easier. Revenge for killing a priest makes it harder.”
The priests stirred uneasily.
Ra’d looked them over. Shook his head. “Take heed. I understand that the other Isakson and my duplicate slaughtered a quarter of your priests. Don’t give Nick reason to visit Makkah again. Because he won’t be coming alone. As Dave said, build yourselves up with volunteers and do something useful. Be the leaders, not the threat. But then if you were the leader types, you wouldn’t be so desperate for a real leader, would you?”
“Ambassador Ipti?” Everyone turned at the deep voice.
Lucky Dave blinked. He recognized Xen Wolfson from the hospital and from pictures . . . but the man felt like nothing what so ever. Is that an illusion he’s projecting from elsewhere, or really good shields?
“Please contact your government and be sure they actually want to start cross dimensional criminal sprees. I realize that kidnapping children is a way of life for the One. But we really dislike it here.” He eyed Ra’d, then Lucky Dave. “And I thank you both for your restraint today.”
The Ambassador growled. “What about their kidnapping raid?” His glare switched back to Ra’d.”
“Ra’d didn’t, nor Nighthawk. Izzo? Did you order any of your people . . . No? Well, Ambassador, I’ll keep investigating, but the pool of people who could open a gate, pop through and see the Bag of the Prophets and thus retrieve it quickly and quietly is limited and I suspect I’ll run out of suspects quickly.”
“They could have used that gate.” Ambassador Ipti pointed off behind himself and to the right.
“And flown and driven from Paris to Bangledesh, er, India, and back?” Wolfson shrugged. “Possible, and with a really good description of Lucky Dave’s location, wandered around for a few days and found the bag, then travelled all the way back.”
Izzo frowned. “I wonder about your rebel former priests, myself.”
The pyrotechnic priest glared. “It wasn’t Izpo, he went straight back to Tyrant’s Worlds. We watch for that traitor.”
Izzo started faintly. “Izpo? I never actually heard the name of the man who spread the joy juice all over Makkah.”
A snort from Wolfson. “A relative of yours, Izzo?”
“Well, I have two uncles who were taken for priests. Could have been, or just the usual coincidence of these name codes.” Izzo shrugged, but there was a suggestion of a smile on his face.
That had all of the Nuked Oners glaring suspiciously at Izzo. Who just shrugged. “I’ve never met either of them. If there’s any more I can do for you gentlemen? No? Good.”
As they walked away, Dave heard Izzo’s low voiced question to Ra’d. “Did you really have nothing to do with that?”
And Ra’d answer. “I obeyed your orders to the letter.”
“I . . . see.” Izzo dropped back and turned to Ambassador Ashe. “Ashe, let’s have a little chat. Ra’d? Give Lucky Dave the tour.”
“Good idea.” Ra’d gave a razor thin smile. “Want to meet the family?”
Nighthawk was a tall elegant woman, beautiful, by her complexion part African, by her nose, Xen Wolfson’s daughter.
“I’m glad to finally meet the legend.” Her eyes twinkled. “Ra’d has been entertaining the kids with tall tales.”
“Umm . . .” Dave glowered at Ra’d.
“Show the poor man around and bring him home for lunch.” Nighthawk snickered. “I, of course, have also heard all about you from my half-sister, Crazy Redhead Number Two. Stealing cars. Dear me!”
“Umm . . . Dave threw his hands up in the air. “Gah. You modern people are all insane.” And Crazy Redhead Number Two . . . could spot a Bag of the Prophets. I wonder if she can open gates?
Ra’d laughed and led him up to the roof of the building to point out the sights.
What had started as a few embassies around a central plaza had grown mostly to the west, toward the ocean on the horizon. “North was assumed to be Oner allies—note the lack of large buildings beyond the embassy. South was Earth allies. Only the Purps came close, and even they stayed a bit west, in what was generally considered neutral territory. Arrival built next to Comet Fall, and nothings been built east of them, nor east or southeast of Disco.”
“It looks like they’re running out of Neutral Territory.”
“Yes, now they’re spreading out north and south, but staying west of the original plaza.” Ra’d pointed. “The pink granite building on the northwest diagonal road is the only large thing anywhere near our embassy. It’s the Comet Fall Hospital. And down the southwest road, the white building with wings all over is the public library. All the worlds send history, culture, government propaganda and whatever, and all the other worlds faithfully copy and analyze it all.”
Dave snickered. “I wonder how many people that keeps employed”
“Tens of thousands. Anyway. We’ve now got housing developments and schools. A fire department, and we’re arguing about a city police force. The current option there being ‘whatever Disco agent shows up, and does whatever he wants to do about it.’ Which is usually kick someone off the planet. We’ve only had one murder, so far, and fortunately the victim and culprit were both from the same world. We sent them home and the killer was tried and executed.”
“You like it here, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Ra’d waved at the view. “This place is fascinating. Mind you, Nighthawk’s a big piece of it, and just growing up. But I really like the size of the Multiverse and the sense that we can all talk and trade and not attack each other.”
“Damn, you have grown up.”
Ra’d laughed. “You think I was fierce before Rangpur? You ought to have seen me after we arrived, crashed head first into the One, and . . . well, the first year was tough. And may I say that I’m delirious with joy that you rescued Dad? I thought I’d abandoned him to die.”
“Huh. Yeah sixteen years of thinking we were dead. Well Jadida married, but not Umaya. How about that other One World? Have you met them?”
“Yes. Heh. A little brother and another sister. Two Umayas. They’re all pioneering a new world, and doing well. I haven’t checked on them lately, they may be ready to return to civilization. I suggested to that Nicholas, that he wait at least a year and make sure he’s on top of his game before he seriously thinks about returning to that One World.” Ra’d grinned. “And I told him to talk to Ebsa, and talk to the government, before he got close to that mess in Makkah.”