Thursday 2 Safar 1417 yp
Erdu stood in a wide empty circle of shields.
A firm grip on Ryol’s hair, a gun to her head. His expression coldly furious . . . and accepting his death.
All the Warrior Trainees were holding the shields, physical, mental, energy. All except Arno . . .
:: I’m inside the shield wall. :: High frequencies, where most Oner’s wouldn’t hear them. His mental voice wobbled a bit. :: I don’t know what to do! ::
:: Deep breath. Center yourself. Do what I tell you . . . or what I say I’m doing. ::
Rael walked up to the shields. “Let me through.” She held her own shields, and slid between Milo’s and Agny’s. “Erdu. If you surrender you’ll have a chance to live.”
Automatic pistol, nothing electronic, dammit. Can I rust it? Would that help at all?
He bared his teeth. “Oh? And cough up all my secrets, my knowledge? It’s not going to happen. But before I die, I want to see you suffer. I want to watch your face while I kill your daughter.”
Shit. What does he want even more? Escape, of course.
“Wouldn’t you prefer a gate out of here?”
She spotted the narrowing of his eyes. Gottcha. “Where do you want to go? Earth? We figured out Eshy and Adse, but who are you spying for? Comet Fall?”
He’s thinking, but is he thinking the right things?
“Or someplace you can just disappear? There are the Earth Book Worlds, quiet nice places. Or someplace without an extradition treaty, but gates to Embassy you could slip through? Tyrant’s World, perhaps?”
Oh, that interested him. Good.
He drew his lips back in a snarl. “Not that you have a reputation of obeying the law, but opening a gate to another world in full view of the public? How far can I can trust you?”
Rael nodded. “As far as you want to go. I’ll do whatever is needed to save my daughter, and worry about the consequences later.”
“So . . . open a gate to Tyrant’s World.” He nodded his head. “Right there. Where I can see it.”
Rael nodded. Stepped where he’d indicated, turned her back on him and sat. Felt Arno sit in front of her. :: Can you find it? ::
:: Yes. It’s one Q had me practicing to find. ::
Rael closed her eyes and paid attention behind her.
Radiating tension, Ryol trying to stay calm and think. :: Q showed us girls a way to drain power from a man, but I don’t think it works though hair, or fast enough to keep him from pulling the trigger. ::
:: Just be still and quiet. Let him think you are passive. You may need to snap a hard shield up the side of your head. The impact will still be dangerous, so let’s wait and see if I can talk him down. ::
“Yeah, it looks good, but how do I know it’s not just an illusion?”
Rael opened her eyes. A circle hanging just above the clipped grass of the lawn. “By stepping through.”
She felt Arno move, and stepped forward, through the circle and out onto a patch of concrete. The usual wrench of a permanent gate, then warm spring air and a chaotic wasteland of mashed up bits of eight worlds. She’d never been here, but recognized the apartment towers, battered, and one burned. She stepped further, red brick pavement, and turned to look back through the gate as Erdu stepped through as well.
His grin turned gleeful. “Ah! No One Mind prying away all the time. You really did it. And do you really think I’m not going to kill the girl?”
“Depends on your future plans. You are now on Tyrant’s Worlds, and the Tyrant doesn’t like murders.”
“He’s a murderer two hundred times over. So grovel, beg me for your daughter’s life.”
“Take the gun away from the girl’s head.” A deep calm voice. A man both familiar and unfamiliar. “I don’t care what you’ve done elsewhere, but here, murder, rape and theft are illegal and will be punished.”
Rael eyed the man who walked up out of nowhere. Familiar and unfamiliar.
“Yes. Rule of the strongest.” Erdu grinned nastily. “I think I’m going to like it here.” He pulled Ryol around by her hair and shoved her at Rael.
Rael grabbed her and snapped up a physical shield between them and Erdu. A quick glance through the gate. IR goons arguing with Milo, holding him back from the gate, while forming up for a rush.
Rael threw up a hand in a ‘stop’ gesture. Oljo hand came partway up and almost made a rude gesture.
“Am I allowed to kill him now?” Ryol glared at Erdu and stepped forward.
“No.” Rael grabbed her arm and swung her around. Added a bit of push and flung her back through the gate. Milo intercepted her sprawl, and when she turned as if to return, grabbed her, hoisted her over his shoulder and carried her away.
“Not romantic, but definitely efficient.” The man who was not Ra’d eyed her. “And what are you going to do, besides going away and closing the gate?”
“Well, I was going to try to get some information out of Erdu, here, or whatever his name is. He’s not a purp, like the other infiltrators. His genetics are all Oner, and match all the records we have.” She eyed the man, still holding the gun on her. “Mental modeling, that summer you went to Granite Peak to study the Native’s languages?”
“I really want to kill you. Such a sweet setup.”
“And you just stepped into it? My second theory being that you’re a clone of Erdu.”
Rael shook her head. “The goons were after Eshy and Adse. If you’d just kept your cool, you’d still be sitting pretty. What’s that saying? The guilty flee where no one pursues? Or in this case, pursues someone else.”
“Bitch!” he pulled the trigger.
Rael flinched as the bullet zinged past her shoulder, but it was Erdu, who screamed, dropping the gun and shaking his bleeding hands.
“You know, these shield piercing spells on bullets are getting a bit worrisome.” Rael strolled over and picked up the ruined gun. It hadn’t exactly exploded, but the barrel had burst, rusted edges, and . . . Rael reached and pulled a rusted bit out of his forehead.
Deflected the bullet enough to miss me, but he would have killed Ryol.
She stomped hard on her anger. Reached for at least the appearance of casual professionalism.
“And the rust spell doesn’t work very well as a way to disarm a perp.” Rael glanced at the looming Tyrant. “We respect your refusal to extradite wanted criminals, but if you get tired of him, you can toss him through the gate to Embassy, and we’ll all fight for who gets him.”
But the Tyrant was frowning to the side. “And who are you?”
Arno dropped his light warp. “Arno Withione, sir. I opened the gate . . . and will close it soon.” Shrug. “That was my sister.”
Another snarl from Erdu. “I should have known the multiverse’s most incompetent assassin couldn’t open a gate.”
The Tyrant ignored him. Stuck his hand out to Arno. “I am pleased to meet you. Thank you.”
Arno grinned, and shook it. “It was necessary. And fun.”
Rael sighed. “And I can’t even blame it on your biodad. Put that light warp back on, since you so sensibly stayed out line-of-sight of the gate and let’s go home.”
Erdu clenched his fists, and stepped towards her.
The Tyrant shook his head. “On second thought, I don’t think I want you here.”
Erdu spun, straight into a punch. Very-much-like-Ra’d grabbed him and heaved him through the gate.
“Thank you,” Rael grinned and jumped through the gate. :: Get around behind your friends before you unwarp. :: And under her breath, “God of Spies? A little help?”
A flood of magic and Xen stepped out of nowhere. Tuxedo with sparky lapels, a sharp look around.
Rael kept her voice very quiet.“If you could close this gate? Without mentioning that you didn't open it? And, um, we had a bit of a battle at the house, it may need some repairs, unless it’s fallen down altogether.”
“A bit of a battle . . . next time call me sooner.” The gate disappeared, and then the god was gone.