Jau and Sati lit up at the news that their parents were alive and safe. Scrambled to pack—Betelgeuse had apparently outfitted them with everything they could possibly need—and were ready to go in minutes. So Ernie backtracked through the corridors and they had the royal kids back with their royal-pain-in-the-ass parents while it was still light.
The kids threw themselves at their mom and then dad and then it turned into a group hug, and Uncle Horus got pulled into it . . .
Eventually they all calmed down, and Horus came over to thank them.
“Eldon . . . I have no idea who, or even what you are. Other than exactly what we needed. Can you stay?”
“I’ll hang around close . . . and if things start looking bad at the fortress, send a runner for me. I can close the gate so the Cy’s can’t come through.” Eldon looked over to where Lyle was speaking to the Emperor. “We’ve got those three Cys that almost caught us all at the start. We’re poking at them, trying things. If we can free them, I’ll get the three others, the guys you know, free as well. And . . . I’ll try to think of something clever to do.”
Destroy the gate on the Branch World.
Old Gods! I am not a hero!
Chapter Good Meds
“Well . . . that was depressing.” Eldon flopped in the back seat. “I’m going to worry like mad about those kids. Bloody freaking mess.”
But back at Cyborg Central, Doctor Coombs was practically jumping up and down over the “shrinkage” of the wiring in Cinco’s brain and Icarus was demanding a dose.
“A large dose. Right now, c’mon, Eldon, she says the wires are nearly gone from Cinco’s pain center.”
Even the doctor nodded, so Eldon pulled out the box of wine . . . “You know, an underground movement to dose all the Cyborgs would certainly be interesting . . .”
Cinco and Icarus stared at each other.
Icarus started grinning. “And here we are, two Cyborgs who could just walk in and dope food supplies and so forth.”
Eldon poured, and handed the glass to Icarus. “Here’s to hoping. Want another dose, Cinco?”
They waited three days until the wires completely dissolved, before they brought Four-four out to play.
Everyone but Eldon and the Cys retreated from the building, Ernie and Duran unloading their weapons and talking about locking them in the Hummer, just in case.
As Eldon had expected, the mentalist was still cussing, and laughing. And still handcuffed to the bed. “Ha! Didn’t work, did it? You’re a lesser race, nothing but slave fodder. Your hoodoo magic can’t hold me for long. And then I’ll own your mind and use you however I want.”
Eldon reached out mentally and broke the Chain.
Four-four’s gaze switched to Cinco and Icarus. “Kill him!”
Cinco shook his head and backed up a step.
Icarus shuddered. Whispered. “I can still hear him, inside, but he can hurt me. I . . . I . . . I can’t keep him out.”
Cinco swayed, turned dull eyes on Eldon, stepped forward, sweating, but hands reaching for Eldon’s neck.
Eldon pulled up a mental shield and wrapped it around Four-four.
Cinco folded up on the floor. “Chingada.”
“Yeah. He was getting through.”
Eldon eyed Icarus. “You’re a mentalist?”
“Barely. I couldn’t keep him out.”
“Heh. You need some training . . . and I need to think this over a bit.” Eldon walked back to Four-four. Eldon’s still an asshole. He slipped the Chain on Four-four, grabbed a bubble and disappeared him.
He either can’t do physical things, like slice, or didn’t think to. I wonder which?
“You know . . .” Dr. Combs walked back in, swinging a tire iron. “Every man out there went for their guns all of a sudden. I think I’m glad that you . . . put him away.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Ernie slung his rifle and took the tire iron away from the doctor. “I’ll just go put this back in the Hummer.”
Lyle was adjusting his suit coat, as if he’d just holstered his pistol.
“I’m beginning to think it’s a good thing I didn’t let this experiment run much further.” Eldon stuck the bubble on the wall. “You know . . . I know a gal who can write glyphs and put some power into them. Let me see if I can remember any . . . Betelgeuse may know more about it than I do. Hmm . . . mental shields . . .”
He wandered outside, as Ernie and Duran walked back in. “Weirdest damned feeling . . .”
Eldon snickered. “Really? There’s a whole lot of people out there who think wanting to kill me is the most sensible thing in the world.”