Ice eyed Afgu. "Are you truly so blind? Didn't you realize they had an army poised to take over? You betrayed the Empire and handed us to them, all to gain power for yourself."
"I'm doing this for the One. I will expand the One and we will rule a thousand worlds." Afgu looked him up and down with satisfaction. "So. The Destroyer. All the Pre-cogs were right. You were the lynch pin. The one who could bring down the Three Fold Powers."
"They have it down to a real science. It started over twenty years ago, all the Pre-cogs about the man who could destroy the Drei Mächte Bündnis. And then one of them saw you."
Ice kept his gaze locked on Afgu. "You know . . . when we get a Pre-cog, we try to make it not happen. But sometimes our response is what makes it happen. I was an analyst, sitting at a freaking desk. All the Drei Mächte Bündnis had to do was avoid me and not get me involved."
"Killing you was a better idea."
"But when killing me didn't work, you fired me. Didn't anyone check? My apartment was three blocks from one of the gates. I was onsite in a few minutes, instead of watching helplessly from across town."
Afgu's lips drew back in a snarl. "They were right, and handled it all wrong. It's nearly too late, but I can fix this. And then I. Will. Rule."
Ice felt ill. "Over the death of the Empire. Do you imagine that your Puppet Master will follow your orders. You're just a naïve cow, being milked for everything they can get. When you stop producing, you'll be sent off to the slaughterhouse, like any other useless animal."
The hostages on the next riser, Urfa and Ydza, stepped apart, getting out of the way of the confrontation.
"You stupid Native! I should keep you alive, you'd make a lovely Cyborg. But the Three Hundred want you dead."
Ice eyed him, side-stepped to the right. "So are you going to sell us all to your Cyborg Masters? Agfu . . . is that still you inside there, or is there a mentalist controlling you, even now?"
Ice could see, on the other side, Izzo step from the second riser to the first, and nudge the Prime Councilor.
Ice took another small step right, a slight turn. He kept staring Afgu in the eyes and didn't waver as Ajki stepped off the first riser, and Insa stepped down onto the first.
The Troops shifted and Ice stepped forward, finger jabbing at Agfu. "You'll be the first one they Cyborg."
The troops stirred, guns swinging to cover Ice. The hostages all shifted carefully, to get out of their line of fire . . . and incidentally lower down.
Good. Keep going. If all we'll need is one shield, held long enough for Rip to lead the charge up the steps . . . am I kidding myself, that I can feel people again? Agfu's got a tiny glow . . . and now I can feel the nearest troops.
"You don't know what it's like! You've never contacted one of their Mentalists. They're greater than the One Hive Mind ever was. But individually weaker than we are. Especially now. I owe Wolfson that! We will dominate them, we will bring back the One."
"You are just fooling yourself, or allowing yourself to be duped by the Bunnies."
"Stop calling us that!" Almost a hiss.
"Ah. I see. Have you merely suppressed Afgu or erased him and taken over? Who am I talking to?" Ice stepped again, Afgu turning to face him, now with his back to the big room.
Ajki leaned and grabbed Orde's shoulders and started dragging him toward the door. No sudden movements, to draw attention, but still . . . The others were grabbing stunned people as well.
How many, or rather how few, Bunnies are controlling all these troops? That they aren't even seeing what's happening right under their noses?
And more limp bodies sliding off without apparent cause. Some disappearing.
Rip's got people with unnoticeable spells, and lightwarps in. And surely he's ready to raise shields . . . Ice stepped sideways again. The longer before he notices . . .