matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Cool as Ice_ part 6

Chapter Three

Trial and Error

13 Safar 1422 yp


"Former President Afgu's trial is going to be a complete circus."

Ice wasn't the only person who nodded agreement of Ox's opening statement. Roughly a third of the Black Horse Guards, two thirds of the Princesses, and all the agent-analysts were crammed into the dining/gymnasium/recreation room at the center of the Black Horse Barracks.

"Everyone wants to see it. So we are setting up vid coverage, with feeds to all news outlets. One only knows what they will do to it with a bit of creative editing.

"While IR runs the courts and is in charge, we'll be on call to assist them whenever needed, we'll be escorting all the witnesses and accused that are our responsibility to guard, and some of us will be called as witnesses." Ox nodded at Major Onca, the new head of the Black Horse Guards. "So you need to find someone who doesn't fall into that last category to oversee it all."

Excellent! I'm out. I may be called as a witness. Of course they may not need me, as all the early actions were recorded by multiple vidcams. But the possibility means this isn't going to become my problem.

Onca nodded. He'd been the number two man in the Guards for years. Returned to normal duty in the Army almost a year ago, when President Afgu returned to office after recovering from the Cyborg Implant.

Ox had waited until after the special election to repair the Black Horse chain of command, feeling that, if anyone other than Izzo had won, a second switch would be more harmful than bumbling along with gaps, even at the top. Scar and Lucky Dave had split the Commander's duty between them, and had thankfully turned everything over to Onca as soon as he'd returned.

And then he'd put Dave in charge of Presidential Security, and Scar in charge of Versalle Security.

Now he looked around, thoughtfully. "Idlo? Here's where you can finally use that law degree. Keep an eye on the court and organize escorts with Lucky Dave . . . Foo, keep an eye having enough personnel here, at Government House," everyone winced, "and available for escort duties."

Rip snickered. "With the site investigation over, can we put chunks of marble out in front of Government House so the souvenir seeks will stop risking their necks going into the rubble?"

Ox snorted. "After the trial, so we don't get accused of disposing of evidence. Again. Ice? They uncovered your squeeze box this morning. How the hell did you get out of there?"

Ice squirmed. "Teleported . . . umm, I'd been working on memorizing the spell part . . . and Dog teleported to what he called 'Uncle Xen's recognition point' and coached me through the rest of the requirements."

Foo eyed him. "Your buddy Dog. Figures. But why couldn't he do the teleporting?"

"There wasn't enough room for him to get to me, and the power for the spell has to go from point of departure to point of arrival."

A growl from Isakson, as he turned to glare. "You will be teaching that to all of us."

"Right . . . umm . . . I haven't actually tried to do it again . . ." Ice bit his lip and shrugged.

Ox snorted. "That's almost a relief. Although it would shorten your commute."

Onca nodded. "Not that we're enforcing the 'live within ten kilometers' rule, but Government House is down and out for at least five years. Izzo rather wistfully said it would be nice to have the next election party in the new improved House. I, umm, said I just hoped the architectural arguments had been settled by then. And I was only exaggerating a little. So anyone who is thinking about moving closer, it'll be a good long while before you regret it.”

A few nods in the crowd. The Black Horse lived in the barracks, or the family housing just outside the secured area. Most of the Princesses lived in their wing. The agents and analysts had half a wing, but half of the ones who worked here and all of them who had previously worked in Government House had had homes of their own.

Teleporting would make commuting easier. I'll have to work on these recognition points.

Until I fix the house. Then I'll be five kilometers away. And then they'll finish the new Government House and I'll be thirty kilometers away again. Well, I have five or six years to figure out how to get myself a job out of Versalle, instead of Government House.

"Ice, they may call you as a witness, so stay in town . . . well, I guess your little project will keep you out of trouble." Ox shook his head. "All we can do is keep our heads up and spot the problems developing and do something about them."

Major Onca nodded. "However, on the good news/bad news front, we'll be getting transfers from the army. Twenty of them next week. Then ten a month through the end of the year."

Grim nods around the room.

A hundred and twenty new Guards. To replace their friends and comrades, killed fighting the Cyborgs in Government House, or crushed when the demolitions brought it all down. Of the men on inside duty that day, only forty-eight survived.

The new Government House will be built to deal with assaults from both inside and outside.

An interesting challenge for the architects.


"So I'm starting on the driveway, since it's barely a century old and no one cares what I do to it." Ice propped his elbows on the booth's table. Keiq's current commute was south on the V-line then west to the end of the "Southern Cross" line where she parked her car. As often as possible they met there and dined at one of the local restaurants.

Keiq studied him, head cocked a little. "I'm going to use you as a test of my expanded abilities. I can tell you're not mentioning exactly what you're going to do to the driveway, and that it's going to involve magic and moving a lot of trees. Why do you want to move the driveway?"

"Because I need to shift it about ten meters further from the house so I have plenty of room to . . . move the house about thirty meters east, to get it well clear of the drainage washout and the top of the slump."

"Move the house." A flat statement. In a tone that said he'd better elaborate.

"In order to level the house, the drainage has to be diverted and the current gully under the house filled in. Then the house must be lifted high enough that, gravel, sand, and a vapor barrier can be shoved underneath, thicker on the west, of course, and then the house lowered down onto it."

"Sounds . . . dangerous?"

"Yes, and quite apart from the people getting the material under the house, leveling it and packing it down . . . it leaves the house right where the ground is starting to slump. But if I had just a little bit more space in front of the house, I could dig a huge hole for the basement, pour in gravel and sand, pack it down properly, perfectly level, spread the vapor barrier, with no danger of the house supports giving way and killing someone . . . I could simply lift the house and slide it twenty-five meters east and set it down. Further from the slump, safely away from the gully."

"Simply lift and slide the house."


"Are you planning to hire this done? Not to mention the permits?"

"I've read the law as enacted, and the regulations that are based on it. There are some interesting loopholes."

Keiq thumped the heel of her hand to her forehead. "While you are working over the driveway . . . I think I'd better read up on these laws and regulations."

Ice grinned. "Good, because what I want to do to-and-with the driveway may not be as easy as I think it will be. So I'll work out the techniques in private, instead of with you watching and laughing."

"However much I'd like to split my attention between the law and the driveway, Ajki is sending me to a week-end session with your buddy Rael."

"Ah, see, that's what you get when you display uncanny shooting ability in front of her." Ice grinned. "I looked forward to seeing what you are capable of next week."

She lowered her brows and glowered. "And you feel gleeful. It's only a weekend. What can she teach me in a weekend?"

Ice grinned. "You'll find out."


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