Ice blinked, and looked at Ox. "I'll be brief, then fill in any details you want. My mother is Princess Kaat Withione Kriti. She was with the Presidential Directorate under President Uzmo, then transferred to XR and was infiltrated through Comet Fall into Earth."
"She was integrating herself into the workforce and was a victim of our invasion of Earth through their gate to Comet Fall in 1377. Gang raped, with head injuries, she suffered some memory issues, no doubt partly psychological, and remembered only her cover identity for fifteen years.
"I am the result of that gang rape, and was born and raised on Earth. As a genetically engineered half-breed mutant, I was not legally human, and had very limited rights. However, in hopes of using those of us who were part Oner, as well as a lot of Powers—Purps without the active purple gene, but with a power gene—as spies, we were educated, and our magic trained, rather minimally.
"By my mother. Once they saw her baby's genetics, they knew she was a Oner. Knew she had cause to hate her own people, and have treated her like a useful tool with a fair amount of trust. She is still there. Still giving potential spies minimal magic training.
"I do not know where her loyalty lays, these days. She's been marooned for forty-six years, now.
"She expedited my escape from Earth, recommending that I do nothing illegal and make up my own mind where my loyalties lay."
Ice refrained from squirming under all the eyes on him. "I was wary of these brutal rapist Oners, and stayed in the Great Forest for almost a year before I finally went to the nearest town. Instead of using the forged ID I had, I claimed to be a sixteen year old unregistered Tree and was tested and issued an ID.
"Two years of high school, to swot up on history, scientific terms, and my accent, two years of the local college, then I applied for and was accepted to the Directorate School. And working for XR and IR, which pretty well cemented my dedication to the Empire.
"I went to Makkah, and got a 'welcome home.' So . . ."
He broke off at a faint movement of Keiq's hand. Sighed.
"When I finally got up the nerve to go to Makkah, a little over a year ago . . ." Ice pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes closed. "The Prophet Emre said 'And a belated welcome home . . . Grandson.'"
Keiq's hand froze and the two men stared at him.
"Which for some odd reason I try to not think about too hard."
Ice cleared his throat. "Now, as to my most questionable deeds . . . I have twice encountered Earth infiltrators . . . not while I was working for the government, mind you. Both times I hauled them to Makkah . . . uh, this was while Afgu's people were in place. Did they pass on any . . ."
They crossed their arms in unison.
"No? Well, the first guy was the extremely corrupt Chief of Police of Center City. He'd come across to Tall Trees with those beauticians and their contact. He knew nothing about any further infiltrations. The One found him irredeemable and executed him.
"The second group, four men and two women, came across four months ago. I recognized my step-sister, and called Oljo. He brought his whole team out, tracked them to their hotel. I made contact, offered to help, offered to get them someplace where they'd be free of both the Earth and the One. One of them thought it was a great idea. The other five locked us up and decamped for Makkah."
Ice sighed. "To assassinate the Prophet Emre."
"Between the Wrecking Crew and the Ecclesiastical Guards . . . they were disarmed . . ." Ice looked over at Keiq's hand. "All right, fine. I helped . . . I did heroics . . . after I punched out the stubborn son-of-a-bitch of a Prophet, handed him over to his Guards to take to a safe distance while I disposed of the bomb at minimal risk to my precious skin."
He eyed Keiq. "Better?"
"Snarky but honest."
"Right. The Bad Guys were turned over to Oljo to get all the information he wanted out of them, then, by the order of the Prophet, they were dumped on an Evacc World and the gate closed."
Ox's turn to pinch his nose. "Arno? No, don't answer. I don't really want to know. What about the sixth man?"
"Wolfson took him to a colony world of theirs where the beauticians are living."
"You took him to Wolfson?" Ajki was looking a little boggled.
"And did you help Dog escape, and why?" Ajki grinned over at Ox. "Not that I have the faintest doubt about that. And yes, I still want him."
"Yes, I helped. To prevent a deliberate murder that would have poisoned our relationship with Comet Fall, the Kingdom of the West, and especially their magic community . . . all over again."
Ice shrugged. "And because Dog's my friend and I really hate Afgu's Directors."
Ajki snickered. "Right. Anything else?"
"That pretty much covers questionable deeds . . .
"Illegal might have a few, umm I still have the forged ID from Earth, which I used when I bought the ute—paid in cash cards. Lied about my age and birthplace to get my real ID . . . failed to mention my education on Earth on my application to the Directorate School." He drummed his fingers . . . "Oh, I've distributed quite a bit of the Wine of the Gods on Tall Trees. As a Warrior, I'm probably allowed . . . maybe? Ah, imported four Comet Fall Smart Horses without getting visitor visas or whatever . . ."
"Smart Horses? Why?" Ox appeared to be having difficulties with his usual stoic expression.
"I didn't know they were smart. I wanted to try horses on Tall Trees, and thought trained work animals that knew about predators and snakes and so forth would be a good idea . . . but the Trees thought it looked like too much work, compared to a tractor or a ute, but perhaps they were tasty . . . So I took them away. I probably ought to take them back to Wolfson."
Ice looked between the two men. "Oljo can speak about the assassins, and the One said they'd inform the authorities about the corrupt Chief of Police . . . perhaps someone needs to recreate a report that somehow got lost."
Ajki and Ox exchanged glances.
"Right. You definitely trained with Rael." Ox shook his head. "Keep the horses until we decide if we want them . . . where are they?"
"In a dimensional bubble at my apartment."
"Right. And . . . why don't you two go dance, while I recover from the scope of Ice's . . . possibly-mis deeds."
He glanced at Keiq as he rose. "Oh, yeah. Umm, and I made her big brother quack when he got rude."
Ice retreated quickly, paused outside the door, holding it open a few cems, to hear Ajki's laughing voice. "He's an excellent statistical analyst, and writes good solid reports. And . . . sometimes you need someone who will just step up and do the impossible."
"He's as bad as Rael."
Ice closed the door firmly. Looked at Keiq. "No one is as bad as Rael. Trust me."
"One, no! I don't trust you a bit! You are insane." She rubbed her temples.
Ice grinned. "Oh . . . Do you get a headache when you lie, yourself?"
"No!" She winced. "Yes?"
"That would explain your brutal honesty. Automatic punishment when you lie. Probably since you were a teenager."
She thumped her forehead.
Foo snickered, and Ice introduced her around, then took her out for another dance.
And in the morning accepted a job as a Senior Analyst in the Presidential Directorate.