Four wagons, packed solid with the kitchen stuff in one and food in the others.
And then then even more. A roof. Tables and benches. Plates and bowls and . . .
"Ah . . . there's not enough room in that wagon for all this . . ." Jannon's comment trailed off under the amused regard of the youngest of the sisters.
Macaw shrugged. "We weren't sure how you'd take weird stuff, so we decided to make a good show of it."
"It's a very impressive show." Icarus assured her, as he grabbed another crate, this one full up with the sort of potatoes the Bunnies had introduced to his world, fifty/// years ago. One of the few things we'll keep when we kick them off our world.
A small truck bumped over the rough ground from the direction of the Tierramundo gate. Cinco waved through the window, and the truck pulled up near them.
"As ordered, ridiculous amounts of red wine." The old Cy grinned. "That bomb took out the entire Reich/// and half the mentalists on Tierramundo. The governor, his entire staff . . . Our rebellion is half done. All we need is magic wine."
His friend, Little Jose, nodded. "Over a thousand Cyborg ///Army camps. We'll get into the mess halls with wine and then the other half will be done. But we need to do it fast, before the older worlds realize there's a problem, and come looking for us."
Betelgeuse nodded. "If they do, try to find where they established a gate. There will probably be something that helps them home in on a world. A beacon or gate anchor. Destroy it as fast as you can."
She bit her lip. "I don't know about those gates, but other worlds, if you crash a vehicle into one that's coming through the gate from the other side, it'll make a mess. Maybe damage the machinery. But it'll stop them until they remove the wreckage."
"Sounds . . . dangerous." Jose turned and frowned at Cinco.
"Yeah. The driver should bail out and run to the side, preferably getting behind something solid." Betelgeuse grinned. "Really. The car or whatever just needs to clip the other, it doesn't need to be an exact head-on exactly in the gate."
Cinco, Diego, grinned happily. "I love the weird turn everything has just taken. Pequeno Jose? We need to have some nice heavy old cars spotted around the city, for use as gate sabotage. It doesn't sound like as much fun as the last bomb, but . . ."
Macaw grinned. "We've heard all about those things. Eldon said the big one was enough to destroy a world. I want to go see what this little one did."
"World?" Jose whimpered. "How many does he have? Who makes them?"
Betelgeuse walked closer. "They were experimental. One big one and three little ones. And maybe a really little one they used to see if the idea would work. Then the guy who made them died, and nobody else has figured it out."
"So . . . there's two more little ones . . . no?"
"No. They . . . some criminals bought them from the guy who made them. They stole Eldon's Suburban and loaded the bombs into it, and drove away. They threw one little bomb to help them get away. Eldon and Falchion contained it, and then got the Suburban back. With the bombs."
Cinco and Jose exchanged glances. Cinco grinned. "Eldon and the people around him seem to have interesting lives."
Betelgeuse lit up. "Yes! And now you're in there with the rest of us."
And then it was time to cook. And the ladies took over and it was the best feast any of them could remember.
Cinco hoisted a beer. "Free Cyborgs!"
"Enjoy your stay!" Eldon drove off across the rocky flats, not a single edible thing in sight . . . "Ha! Five. And this lot's gonna have to eat each other. Raw. Yummy."
The Suburban shimmied on the ice and spun a couple of times. "Eight, if I live to tell about it . . ."
"Oh my word! What did you do to your leg!" Jackie recoiled.
"It's just a burn." The weird guy with the odd vehicle screwed on the gas cap and hung up the nozzle. Frowned at a truck train zipping by on the road. Four trailers on this one. "Uh . . . I didn’t see a driver?"
"Nah. It's all the new thing. And they never stop here. I hate autodrive trucks." She made a rude gesture toward the road.
The weird guy limped into the little store and looked around. "Ah! Chocolate! Excellent. He pulled out the box of one type and topped it off with a couple of other sorts. "So, is gold valuable, around here?"
"Oh sure, not that there's any mining around here . . ." Jackie had been following him around, suspiciously, scowled at the golden bar he thumped on the counter beside his box of candy, then glared at the man as he limped down to a rack of tshirts bearing the Jackson Jackalope logo.
"I don't suppose you have any pants, do you?"
"There's some jeans on the shelf behind the rack . . ." Why the hell did I tell him that? So he could walk off with some two hundred dollar jeans? Just because they're cheap doesn't mean I won't get fired . . . She grabbed the metal bar, adjusted her grip and picked it up. Much heavier than she expected. Three kilos at least, maybe four. "And you'd better have something better than a chunk of lead with gold paint on it to pay for everything." She walked behind the counter and picked up her phone. She started typing in the number of the local cops, glanced out the window. "What the hell is that?"
Bright white, sparking like mad, a ball of lightning hovering a couple of meters over the road . . .
"What?" The weird guy walked closer to the window, holding a pair of jeans. "Oh shit! They found me already!" He tossed the jeans over his shoulder snatched the box of candy and bolted out the door.
Jackie punched in the last number and pushed the button as she trotted for the door.
The weird guy was tossing his loot into his weird car, his eyes on the crackling hoop opening up in the middle of the road. Dark in the middle, with lights, like it was inside somewhere.
A Cyborg leap out of it. Honest to . . . metal arm, eye thing, plate on a bald head . . .
A shriek of brakes as the autodrive truck suddenly registered a pedestrian in the way. Too late. The big truck had much too much momentum. It hit the Cyborg and then the lightning ring. The square corners wouldn't fit through and were ripped off, flying through the air . . .
But the bulk of the truck didn't seem to be anywhere, as not nearly enough debris hit the ground.
Broken by the weird guy.
"Dang. Well, it beats have a bunch of Cys and a mentalist marooned here." The weird guy made a grabbing motion, and his vehicle disappeared, except for the door. He glanced her way, "Sorry about that, but I really needed the gas. I thought I be long gone before they tracked me down."
He climbed through the door and closed it . . . and was gone. Just . . . not there.
After a long moment, Jackie realized that the phone in her hand was making noise.
"This is the Yolo County Emergency Response Center. Please state the nature of your emergency."
Jackie looked out at the scattered debris. "Traffic accident. No injuries."
"An Officer will arrive on site in twenty-three minutes."
"Thank you." Jackie clicked off the phone and looked at the bar in her other hand. She walked back inside and slipped it into her backpack, under the counter. Grabbed her CC and paid for the gas, a pair of jeans, and dozen candy bars.
No point in getting fired before I find out if this really is gold. Four kilos . . . four thousand grams at ten thousand dollars a gram . . .