matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Cool as Ice_ part 29

Ice pulled power and mentally heaved at one end of the slab, jerking it upward, then walked to the far end to repeat, to get the board up out of any pinch between the other slabs.

Back to the middle to roll out the levitation spell and feel it start to float . . . he grabbed the slick surface and pulled it toward him, edged toward the rear to push and the front started sagging.

Keiq grinned. And trotted passed him to the back and pushed. Leaned into it, and it started moving. Ice kept it floating, steered it . . . "Not too fast, it's going to be just as hard to stop it as start it, unless I ram the Wrecking Crew."

Who took the hint and got out of the way . . . mostly.

"Where do you want it?" Oljo grabbed the leading edge and steered it away from a big branch.

"Any fairly smooth stretch of driveway."

The Wrecking crew jumped in to grab it, with Tanya jumping up in down in frustration, until the slab passed her and she could help push.

Ice eyed the girl . . . "You know, Keiq, I should run some beginners magic classes. Do you think Wacky would send Elk down? And Akji and Ox both have kids that are in that 'just grasped' age range."

"Oh, Elk's hot for lessons. Tanya? How much training did you get? I keep forgetting how young you are." Keiq caught on right away.

Hell, she probably understands being an untrained girl. She probably didn't get much until she was in college, herself.

"Training? To not broadcast my thoughts to the world, and shut out all the voices." And angry huff. "My uncles all laughed when I said I wanted to learn to fight. I don't know why I thought Mikel would be different."

The Wrecking Crew eyed her. Oljo looked at Ice. "Another bag?"

Ice nodded. "Doubled." Everyone knows about the Rangpur survivors, and Lucky Dave.

He lowered the slab and laid it flat on the concrete before he released the levitation spell.

"The trick to dealing with raw lumber is to remove the water while not letting the wood warp or crack. The slab is about twice the thickness I've worked with before . . . so i think I'll start in the middle and pull water upward. Gently! I'll do several iterations, dry it gradually, then once the water's out, compact it, collapsing all the pore space, and squeezing the fibers tighter. Makes it nearly indestructable."

Gentle pull, flip it over, gentle pull.

"The last greenwood I did this to I was just fooling around and compacted it, which worked fine on a small piece I didn't care about. This, because I really don't want to crack it, I'm going slow and pulling the water out gradually. So I'll flip it again, and keep going, Until I get up the nerve to compact it."

A couple more flips. "Keiq how long and how wide do you want the table?"

"It's your ridiculously over-sized dining room."

"But it's your fault for pointing out this cool house to me."

Keiq rolled her eyes. "The large dining tables at Government House," wince, "were a meter and a half wide. An eight meter long table will leave two meters at each end of the room open, not that it matters at the north side that's open to the entry.

Tanya nodded. "That's about right, but Mikel's had rounded ends. Half circles. And the edge was . . . fancy. I'll draw it."

"Right. So, I've left the bark on so far, so the edges didn't get too dry too fast, so I'll trim it now, roughly, since I've got plenty of wood to work with . . . Then since I'm not sure about compacting the whole thing all at once, I'll again start slow and work from one end."

He pictured the solid sunshine and minerals, the fibers. Measured out a meter and a half and sort of rolled over it. Not a steam roller, that would be too much. More of a cook's rolling pin, getting a nice flat . . . whatever. He let the "dough" of the wood swell sideways to fill a spot that was a little too narrow, and again over there and out to the end, where he pinched it in a bit.

Flipped it and did it again, and rounded out the other side a bit.

Rubbed his forehead. "Got a little heavier on the squeeze than I'd planned. But it didn't split."

Oljo edged up to the slab like he expected it to explode. "It's about half the thickness it started."

"Yep. I think . . . maybe if I put it up on something, inside I can both see how it looks and stick legs on underneath." He rubbed his temples. "But today, I think one more bit of levitation and I'm done."


"Did you plan ahead of time to kill Former President Afgu?"


"Did anyone suggest that you kill Former President Afgu?"


The truth match was light, nothing like a compass, just enough to detect the truth, to see and hear surface thoughts and emotions.

"What were you thinking, at that moment, when you acted to kill a former president?"

"It was not so much a thought as a fast reaction. The realization of the danger."

"Danger to you?"

Ice shrugged. "Had I the time to think, I might have thought that he would target me from personal animus. But within ten meters and in plain sight: One Emre, One Nicholas, President Izzo, Prime Councilor Isgu, both former Presidents Orde, all three directors, three ministers. Even a wild shot, a ricochet . . ."

The other seven men, even the War Party councilman winced.

"He could not be allowed to get off a single shot."

"And now what are your thoughts and feelings?"

"Very mixed. I regret killing him, even though I know it was necessary. I . . . am glad there is no precedent set, that the One has the power to execute a man for actions taken while he was president. I . . . had the option, months ago, to leave him in Government House or remove him to stand trial. I still feel that him standing trial, to show everyone that he had to be removed, that this was not a political ploy was necessary. That hauling him out of Government House was the right thing to do.

"It's been very messy. But it had to be known. Public."

The truth match dissolved.

Ice stood, bowed and followed the baliff out.

They only subpoenaed three other people.

Well, they're going to ask Izzo, Ox, and Ajki if he suggested, hinted, or ordered me to kill Afgu . . . A bit awkward, but . . . it should be quick.

And if they wanted my history they could have asked me.

The witness waiting rooms were hushed, the guards kept up mental shields all over the area . . . an interesting effect, I wonder if they work together as a compass?

So he just sat and read until the baliff returned and led him into the inquest room.

"The Superior Court Inquest finds that Icka Withione Sycamore Tall Trees acted legally, and within the duties of his position with the Presidential Directorate in killing Afgu Withione Iztapalapa Azteca. No further legal action will be taken." A tap of the gavel. "Court is dismissed."


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