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, if he wanted to at least talk to them, to start by talking to Ebsa, and then to their government, before he got close to that mess in Makkah.”
“There’s probably no one there he knows. Although Jeb was there . . . did you ever meet him? Head of the diplomatic corps?”
Ra’d shook his head. “We moved to Riyadh when I was eleven.”
“Well, he and Emre were the only . . . old timers there. On our One World. This is hideously confusing.”
Lucky Dave took a slow survey. The hills rose to the east, higher mountains faintly visible beyond them. Light reflected off something on a hill . . . “There’s a building of some sort, on the hills.”
“Your eyesight . . . they call that the Kids’ Lair. A batch of teenagers from Comet Fall live up there, come down for school and work. Xen and Q keep an eye on them.”
“So . . . this father-in-law of yours. Impressive shields. I couldn’t feel him at all, down there. So he’s a healer and a warrior?”
“He’s what the Comet Fall magic community calls a baby god. The God of Spies and the Master of the Multiverse. He’s both as strong as any of the prophets, and a great deal better trained in a whole lot of different magic. He’s got the dimensional talent, and can make both gates and corridors. And teleport.” Ra’d grinned. “Yeah, and I like him.”
/// Lunch with the kids
/// Tour of Disco
/// Dinner with Izzo and Ashe
/// Back to Paris, to find Nicholas packing up to move.
The Prophet grinned wryly. “You need to go find Umaya. I told her to buy whatever she wished, and hire and assume command of however large of a staff she wanted . . . so she did.”
“Damn bloody stupid lists, I forgot Bainbridge Labs.”
Lucky Dave stuck his head in the office. Nicholas was tapping away at his comp. “Who were they?”
“A small genetic engineering lab in Washington State. They had about ten Telies, that Transworlds bought out, put the Telies in the Purple team. Which was a sort of hodgepodge of all the small companies’ Telies.” Nicholas went back to typing, and Dave stepped back out, for a stroll around the . . . compound.
Umaya had bought an old chateau with enough farmland around it to ensure privacy. Two hundred kilometers from Paris.
“And I hired a Comet Fall company to come and modernize it.” Dave had found her watching Rael’s class of former priests. Purposefully. “Lucky Dave, if I understand the situation, these young men were apprenticed to learn various tasks to keep their bodies busy, while that hive mind used their magic. I’m going to ask if they want to work part time for me . . . for Nicholas, while they attend school. I need a cook, some grounds keepers and gardeners, and you need to recruit more guards.”
She’d been right, too. The young men—anywhere from sixteen to twenty three, some of the youngest priests—had found their families unwelcoming, and were delighted to have a home and a job.
And with Umaya as a combined employer and foster parent, they were all attending school whether they wanted to or not. “They’ll all go to college eventually. Or trade school to learn magufacturing, very highly paid positions. The guards are all older. I suspect they’ll stay.”
The guards were delighted with their modern headquarters. Matching the style of the chateau on the outside, and very modern on the inside. Electronic surveillance, offices, private quarters, a common room with screens and games and a good kitchen . . .
She’d even had uniforms made for them. Black with green trim.
The younger cohort lived in the chateau and got mothered in Umaya’s rather overwhelming style.
Dave sighed. She’d done a damned good job, in choosing the house, the youngsters, and the former ecclesiastical guards. The guards were smiling, joking, individuals, now. The younger men had recovered faster, their subjection to the One Mind more recent, their horror and rejection and selves not so lost under the group memories. Of course, their nightmares were worse.
Umaya and Nicholas are both doing a good job of being parental substitutes. Rocks the kids can cling to.
Hell, the guards had needed their solid support at first, too.
What they don’t need, is me.
He circled back to the house, the landscaping that had run wild over the years trimmed back, the lawn mown, even if still a bit rough and weedy. He walked back inside, smelling something cooking in the kitchen, the laughter of the two cooks.
He stalled out in the office door.
Nicholas sat back and grinned at him. “I told you. The world has changed, and you need to allow yourself to grow. I needed you—a stubborn son of a bitch who’d never, ever give up. And in the world you grew up in, other options weren’t available. So . . . go be one of Urfa’s agents. Or whatever else you want to try. See the world. The multiverse. I’ll be fine, here, for now. Later? I’ll see you out there, somewhere. Now get.”
Lucky Dave snorted. “Right. See you out there.” And if perhaps we met when I was young enough to see you as a father figure . . . I think I just got kicked out of the nest.
Hope I can fly!