"Problem?" Jannon frowned at him.
"It popped. Hang on a minute." He closed his eyes to look at the inbetween. Deep crystalline blue. Empty.
"Well . . . the gate appears to have affected all the bubbles." Eldon looked at the Cys. "So. What with the five minute trigger and all, I will go down invisibly and look for a place the put the bomb where they can't get to it in five minutes. While I am doing that, you will form up and march down the hallway toward the entrance."
Cinco crossed his arms and looked down at him. "Eldon?"
"I will be running like hell, and when I catch up with you we will all run. Got it?"
"Right. Here goes nothing." Eldon warped light and trotted down the stairs. People down the hallway, no one close. He eased into the gate room, and turned right, walking quietly around to the big garage style doors on the right where some techs were checking over the coffins.
"Please, just let me die!" faint and muffled from the close one.
"Let me out, let me out!" sobbing from the far one.
Eldon shuddered. Old Gods! I am so . . . bloody stupid! He looked around the room. Nothing he'd think of as gate machinery here. So the living part's here, is the mechanical on the other side?
He stepped back. Couldn't take a second step. Dammit all! I'm going to kill a pot load of people in just a few minutes! These two don't matter!
He closed his eyes and looked at the inbetween. A few bubbles, floating into the void.
He grabbed one. Opened it carefully. Walked over to the far coffin. Shoved the bubble in and mentally guided the opening out to the sides, and down them, and closed, and stuck it on his arm.
Beepings and alarms. He backed away as the techs rushed over. Grabbed another bubble and stepped to the first coffin. In, around, closed, and on his arm.
Then he ran. No other doors on the far side, just the other hallway. He looked down the main one, and there were his bloody Cys looking in a door.
He bolted up to them. "What are you doing?"
"Looking at computers, and I think there're some power controls." Cinco called back from inside.
"Is the bomb set?"
"No, dammit, I couldn't find anything that looked critical." Eldon shot a glance down the hallway, up the hallway. "Company coming. Get in there, can we lock and brace the door?"
Icarus shoved him through, and the rest piled in. Swung the door shut and turned the lock. Braced themselves against it . . . a desk beside the door . . . Eldon grabbed it and heaved it lengthwise against the door. It barely fit between there and the raised floor the computers sat upon. Lots and lots of computers.
"Is there another door?" Eldon galloped one way, Icarus ran the other. They met on the far side. "No back door. Right."
He closed his eyes. Still just a few bubbles. He reached and grabbed one. Opened it. Pinned it to the wall. Threw it.
"This is not good."
"Eldon." Cinco looked around at the grim faces. "Set the bomb."
"Let me try one more thing."
Another bubble. Gently open it and pin it down, a small hole, something to crawl through. He pushed it reaching through the wall, and opening . . .
Got thrown back as it popped.
"Eldon, the bomb?"
He pulled the bomb bubble off of his arm, opened . . . it popped. He grabbed the bomb before it hit the floor and popped open the simple controls. Pull out this brick shape, turn it around and put it back in, red side in. Flip up the plastic cover, push the button.
"I wish to hell I was a proper spy." Eldon shoved the bomb under the raised floor, and walked away. Turned his head to look at Cinco. "I'd just . . . 'God of Spies! Please, can you get these guys out of here?' And if there was a chain of gates all the way . . . to . . ."
Eldon turned his head back in time to bounce off a wall of charcoal gray . . . Xen Wolfson.
"Uh . . . look I know I'm on your shit list, but can you get these guys out of here before the bomb goes off? They're trying to save their worlds. And the mentalists are tracking me. I'll, I'll . . ." he looked around helplessly. He could hear crashing at the door, the pressure of mind, seeking him.
"Lead them away? Good idea." Xen's eyes defocused. :: Q! Run for the gate, Eldon's going to blow up another world! ::
"It’s just a little bomb! And it's going to go off really soon." Eldon pulled two bubbles off his arm and slapped them on Xen. "And those two probably need Lady Gisele."
"Right. And stop worrying about a building you're planning on destroying." Xen pointed at the wall, a quick swirl and a circle fell out. The God looked at the Cys.
"There's a gate twenty kilometers north northeast . . ."
They all disappeared.
The door crashed in. Eldon turned and dived through the hole. Got to his feet and ran. Direction didn't matter. Just distance, as fast as he could run.
He hit the floor hard before the pain in his leg even registered. He sliced down the corridor, then got shields up, rolled to his side to smother his burning pants. Cursing at the pain even as he forced himself up, made himself run.
It’s not deep, it's not bad, it's just a burn and you have no idea how far away you really need to be because the idiot who made the bombs said he hadn't tested this size.
The Cys behind him were closing in now, and he was vaguely aware of massive assaults on his mental shields, but there was daylight, Big glass doors being hastily barricaded.
Ha! Watch me learn from my mistakes!
A big looping slice and he rammed the center of the doors with his shoulder, fell through and rolled down steps, screaming from the pain of the burn. He slowed enough to get his feet under him and keep moving, and the only reason he didn't take a header down the rest of the steps were all the Cyborgs he crashed into on the way down. Caught his balance on the sidewalk, bolted through traffic, fortunately slow, across the horribly wide street, who needs six bloody lanes in a city, anyway? Turn right and stagger half a block to a road leading further away.
A car roaring up beside him, big black . . . no it wasn't. Windows down.
Eldon grabbed the nearest handle, pulled the door open and threw himself in.
"He got out before me. Get as far away from there as possible as fast as possible. Warn the rest of your people if you can." Eldon twisted around, reached and pulled the door shut as the car accelerated.
"You better be right about . . ."
White filled the car, shining from behind.
Eldon squeezed his eyes shut, his shields shut, and it wasn't doing a bit of any good. He was vaguely aware that the driver had floored the gas pedal. He flopped over on his uninjured side and endured.
And . . . the light softened. A little. And a little more.
The driver was still cussing, and as Eldon sat up blinking watering eyes, he could see they were in an alley, cruising faster than was sensible. Braking at a cross street full of wrecked cars. They wound between two and back into the alley and sped up.
Eldon closed his eyes and looked at the inbetween. No lack of bubbles now, or cones, cylinders, pulsing blobs, pyramids . . . all erupting from somewhere behind them. But even as he watched, the flow slowed. Thinning out, slowing down.
"Right. Well that was a bit more than I'd expected." Eldon leaned over the seat. "If you can, head for where you picked us up. I'll check and see if Cinco, Diego, whatever, is there, or if Xen closed the gate, I can make another one . . . Was he, like, the head of your intel back before the Cyborgs?"
The driver shot a glare over his shoulder. "No. By then Diego Ignascio de la Vega is the last legally elected President of Tierramundo. He went to meet these strange dimensional visitors . . . and came back a Cyborg. The whole crew that went with him, guards and diplomats . . . all Cyborgs. But he did manage to trick them. They thought ambassador /// was the President. And the ambassador got up in front of the cameras and the Army and ordered the whole world to surrender. And in the background, Diego shook his head. And signaled 'Fight!' We never saw him again. We thought they must have killed him."
"Dang." Eldon sat up as the car turned onto a normal road, turned north and slowed.
"So, where to from here?"
"North about five blocks, then turn left for three blocks." Eldon closed his eyes . . . a gate right over there . . . and a deep dark hole named Xen Wolfson . . . "Pull over. A block and a half ahead, turn right up the alley, block and a half to the gate."
"Where are you going?"
"Running away from my well deserved punishment." Eldon jumped out of the still moving car. Made a little hole in the Suburban's bubble and slipped it off. He looked back at the driver. "The Mentalists are looking for me again. Warn Wolfson, and I'll lure them away again."
Eldon climbed painfully into the Suburban and drove past the disguised car. And kept going.
I'll run for half an hour, then it's time to float away!
Cinco stood in the alley, watching that painful white light dying down, not like a normal fire, no reddening or even yellowing.
"I dunno why I thought Eldon would have a normal bomb."
The stranger beside them snorted. "At least this was a little one, looks like it won't dissolve more than eight or ten cubic miles. Well. It's stopping. And you can leave anytime." He nodded at the wall. "I'll check a few things, and come back in a few days." And disappeared.
Cinco shook his head. "I think the Drei Mächte Bündnis has just met some people who can stop it. And they really don't seem to be the least bit interested in taking over from them."
"Eight or ten cubic miles." Icarus nodded. "Pity we don't have some sort of surveillance. I wonder how much damage it did. I mean, did he say dissolve? I really, really hope it killed a whole lot of Mentalists. And . . . Bunnies in general."
They swapped grins. "Bunnies!"
And then all eight of them were laughing and slapping each other's backs.
Jannon took a deep breathe. "I hope to hades that Eldon got out."
That sobered them . . . and they leaned hopefully as a big black car drove up the alley.
But Pequeno Jose was alone in the car.
Cinco thumped his shoulder. "So. It took me ninety-two years, but I finally struck back."
Jose huffed a laugh. "Eldon told me he thought you and your . . . friends got out . . ."
"You saw him? He's all right?"
"He's injured. Seemed pretty damned unworried about it. He pulled a big white car out of nowhere, climbed in and drove off. He said the Mentalists were still tracking him, so he'd lead them away. Told me where to find you."
The head of the Intelligence Service that hadn't legally existed for almost a century eyed the last elected president of their world. "So what are you planning to do now?"
Cinco grinned. Nodded at the other Cys. "These guys are all from Roman World. They figured that if this gate was shut, and no more reinforcements could be imported, they'd have a chance to win." He could feel his grin widening. Tugged at the cord around his neck and clinked the bespelled coins. "Especially since we've got these charms that shield against mentalists, and some medicines that dissolve the wires in our heads."
Little Jose stiffened.
"One dose takes out the wires. Repeated doses might do more. We'll find out, eventually. But right now? They're going to march into Cyborg mess halls and anoint their food and drink. And then they can drop these charms on them and have instant recruits, or rather, freed slaves who are now experienced soldiers, and ready to fight for their world and their freedom." Cinco eyed Jose. "I'm thinking I just might try it here."
Jose actually wiped an eye. "I think that is an excellent idea."
"Park the car, and let me show you the Free Cyborg Rebel base."