Ice laughed. "I really hate thinking that over-emotional child has better sense than me." He grabbed his pencil and meter stick and started laying out the pattern on the first beam
Four days of frantic woodworking, one step behind electricians, a step ahead of the plasterers . . .
Then it was time for magic plumbing. Reinforcing the old pipes, adding the new. Getting the drain and water pipes through the big conduit pipe under the basement and attaching the water and drains pipes. Ditching out to the water mains and sewer pipes at the road. Laying out electrical lines in the ditch before everything was inspected, and then buried.
Ice felt over worked every day . . . and astonished at what he could do. Magically manipulating pipes with solid concrete between him and the pipes . . .
Frequent breaks and late nights for "real" work. A depressing amount of which was rereading his own reports to "refresh his memory" of the events of the previous two years.
Then the court summons.
1 Jumada 1422 yp
Ice looked over at Keiq. "I'm going to be sequestered for the length of the trial, so I don't hear anyone else's testimony."
"Take lots of reading material." She leaned on him. "One! I hope this is over quickly."
"Yeah. Have you got a summons?"
"Nope. Ajki laughed at the very idea of them wanting his lie detector on the stand."
"Heh. Damn, this is going to stink!"
He was under guard for two weeks, moved twice, without explanation.
Finally called to the stand. Wondering what all the other testimony had been.
It'll be interesting, watching the whole thing . . . eventually.
An elderly priest administered the oath. "Please state your entire legal name."
"Icka Withione Sycamore Tall Trees."
"Please state all other names you have used."
"Mabudazu Kungodarodaro, Fusa Weni, Harp Sideris, Acce Withione Kriti, and Akta Withione Sideris Kriti." Mispronouncing Sideris both times, but nothing was going to keep this from the notice of the Earth's embassy personnel. I haven't a clue what Izzo, Ox and Ajki want to do with me.
The priest didn't even blink. "Do you swear to tell the truth as you know it?"
"I do so swear."
The priest stepped away and the Prosecuting attorney stepped forward.
"Please describe . . ."
Ice spotted the man standing up in the audience, hand crooked oddly to keep it clear of the tube in his sleeve . . .
Everything slowed . . .
A flash, a fast projectile . . . pushing out a shield, and curving it around, closing on an explosion . . .
Screams, as the explosion beat his completing the globe, shrapnel and hot gasses hitting the ceiling . . . a second shield, wide spread, cupped to catch the debris raining down . . .
The globe dimmed and cooled.
Black Horse Guards all over, grabbing the man and taking over the shields. Ice handed them off. Panicked spectators screaming running, cringing, hiding . . . Slowing, as nothing further happened.
Ice turned and bowed slightly to the judge. "My apologies for using magic in the courtroom." He sat down and looked back at the Prosecutor.
Who swallowed. Looked to the judge. "Recess?" he croaked.
The Judge tapped his gavel. "The court is in recess until ten hundred hours tomorrow. In a different courtroom. With no spectators."
The Black Horse shifted him to yet another hotel and in the morning, in a smaller courtroom he spent half the day talking himself hoarse, describing his thoughts and actions as the Drei Mächte Bündnis infiltration became clear, his call to Rael, and Xen Wolfson's identification of a cyborg control chip, Ajki's orders and departure for the inauguration.
Thank the One they aren't interested in the battle!
They skimmed his unemployed period, and jumped to the interrupted installment of the Interim Ruling Committee.
"I was not in Government House, and only know what I saw on screen, until I entered the Rotunda."
And then he talked his way through the confrontation with Afgu, holding the attention of the soldiers while the hostages were rescued. The start of the battle . . . then skipping to the end, where he saw Afgu initiating the countdown on the demolition charges. And hauled his sorry ass out, almost making it out of the building.
Dog coming to walk him through teleporting, getting to safety.
"Why didn't you arrest him? An agent of Comet Fall?"
"I was not in good physical condition at the time, and barely able to get President Afgu out of the building before any further collapse killed us both."
The Prosecutor stepped back. "No further questions, your Honor."
Low voiced conversations at the defendant's table. Afgu glaring at Ice.
The Defense Attorney rose and stepped out. "For how long did you know Arfy Withione was a Comet Fall spy?"
"I did not know until after he was arrested on one Qadah of 1421 yp, and he escaped by teleporting away."
"Did you ever suspect him?"
"I first investigated the possibility in the Spring of 1417 yp, concluding that there was no actionable evidence that he was, and lots of evidence that he was not from Comet Fall."
"So for almost five years you worked with a suspected traitor?"
Objections and so forth.
"What is your opinion of Arfy Withione?"
"That he is a good man and a good friend."
"No more questions."
Ice was escorted out under heavy guard. And taken to Mikel's House.
Where he was tackled by an enthusiastic Keiq. Then hauled in . . . "Hey, landscaping!" and into a plastered, painted, black marble floored . . . "Damn, it looks like a palace! With a staircase!"
Keiq grinned. "Those are just cheap pine boards, so we could get rid of the ladder. We left the stairs for you to do properly. Come see the kitchen."
Nero grinned and tapped his earbud. "Former President Afgu Withione Iztapalapa Azteca Has been found guilty of Treason against the Empire . . . and he immediately appealed to the One."
"That's going to be interesting . . ." Ice admired the period cabinets with the original tiles inset in their tops. The original sink, the cast iron stove . . .
Keiq grinned. "And they're going to install the windows and doors . . . well, now that the Ponies can relax a bit, any time they want to."
The One Mind
The One sent a list of people it wanted present.
Nicholas read it off, in person, to the Council.
Broadcast to the public.
Prime Councilor Isgu headed the list.
President Izzo and former presidents Orde and Orde. Three ministers, War, Transportation, and Audits. Directors, current and past, Urfa, Ajki, Ajha, Ox, Ehfa, Wpgu, Encw, Uqqy, Arci. IR subdirectors Alli and Exxi. Former Presidential Candidates Ynbu, Ovli, Insa, Rumakova, Guur, Ramos, Myoc.
The Warriors from External Relations, Ra’d, Paer, and Ebsa. The two leaders of the Black Horse Guard. Eppa, retired and Onca current. To their shock and apprehension, Enno and Ettw.
Afgu, of course.
And Ice and Keiq.
“Most of you are here as observers.”
Ice obeyed a summons from a young priest, and stood where ordered, as Emre spoke.
“You need to understand what has happened, how it happened, and hopefully, stop it from happening again.”
Ice suppressed shock as he saw people being guided into a wider circle around the inner eight man compass.
A Grand Compass?
“Everyone needs to understand what Former President Afgu did and why.” Emre turned, taking the North Position of the inner Compass. "The rest of you, please sit in the first row of seats, and for now, observe.”