Bonus Scene One
The family reunion had moved inside, for a late lunch, out of the hot sun.
"Well, he's not only got horses, they're quite nice ones." Madam Zweg Withione Goldport Colorado eyed Ice. "A little on the heavy side, but you can't fault their legs."
Ice nodded politely to Keiq's mother. "Excellent dispositions, as well. The kind of horse you can be friends with."
Anze--Keiq's second oldest brother--curled a lip. "Now he's kissing up to Mom. Atlo warned you."
Keiq rolled her eyes. "Senior Analyst Ice doesn't need to kiss up to anyone."
"Oh right, and he didn't twist any arms to get a cushy job in Versalle?" Axgi--third brother--sneered.
Ice just grinned and shook his head. "You guys really do see only what fits your worldview, don't you?"
A snort from the youngest brother, Atlo, who was three years older than Keiq. "You may have fooled Keiq, telling her you're that blond Hee-ro, but all I saw was an idiot saving a traitor. I hope to hell Ice here is only a gigolo."
Arc's eyes narrowed, and he drummed his fingers on the table.
Ice shook his head in admiration. "I wonder what weird theory you'd have come up with if Afgu had escaped with his Drei buddies, leaving everyone wondering if we'd ever find his crushed body in the ruins?"
"Really. I'd have thought the trial would have made the whole appalling mess clear." Ice suppressed a shudder. "I, of course, didn't see it live, but I've gone over the recordings several times. It's horrifying how close we came to an elected president opening the door to an invading army."
A growl from Arc. Former Presidential Director Arci Withione Yveslin. He know how close to a full blown invasion we came to. Twice.
Skeptical snorts from three of the four brothers.
A worried look on Aqki's face as he looked down the table at his daughter. "Sweetie? Is it safe to be around a man so many people want to kill?"
Keiq sighed. "No. It's a cost of falling for a mover and shaker. Better than any of the alternatives."
Ice winced. "I hope so. And I'll work to keep her safe . . . actually she's pretty good at keeping herself safe."
Anze glared. "Dad should never have let you go to college. We'd have taken care of you."
"Like a pet? An unpaid Nanny?" Keiq's voice sharpened.
"That would be better than," a finger pointed at Ice, "that Native getting you killed." Anze hunched his shoulders. "At least he can't get you pregnant."
Azek rubbed his forehead. "Anze, manners, before the Native makes you start quacking again."
"I'm ready this time. He can't touch me." Smirk.
Keiq looked down the table. A quick flick of a spell, then she sat back with a smile and watched Anze scratch his arm. His scalp. Chest. Wiggling . . . hopefully it was just his shoes . . . Scrubbing his back against the chair back . . .
"Did I mention getting another weekend session at the School, while you were locked down? Professor Rael had some really interesting minor spells to use on people who annoy me."
They swapped grins.
"And me without my tuxedo to ask you properly."
She put her hand on his where it lay on the table. "Ice? Will you marry me?"
Definitely an extra credit kiss.
Broken only when Madam Zweg's voice registered.
" . . . in the Fall, when the trees have turned. On horseback, of course, with white cowboys hats, Keiqs with a veil and . . ."
Ice smothered a smile at Keiq's horrified expression. He brought out his mini-comp and keeping it down on his lap, started tapping.
:: The Registry's open for another four hours. We can pop down and add our retinal prints, and take the license . . . someplace. ::
She grinned and took the minicomp to add her information and hit the submit button.
:: Give me fifteen minutes to change. Meet you at the car. ::
"Mother! We'll talk later. Now if you'll excuse me . . ." Keiq got up and headed for the exit to the garage.
Wacky exchanged glances with her mother, and they both got up and followed Keiq.
Ice put on his most innocent look. "It is about time I got out to see your dude ranch. Is it still a working cattle ranch?"
"Oh of course. Our guests expect to learn all about rounding up cattle, but we stick to roping demonstrations and do the close up cattle work ourselves. But we only run a few hundred head of steers a year. We buy the yearlings in the early spring and sell them all in the late fall, shortly after the first snow fall."
Aqki nodded. "The kids just aren't interested any more, so the steers are really just for show. Not that we don't show a profit, but it's pretty small. But that part of the entertainment pays for itself. The pack trips are where the real money comes in." He glanced at his wife. "Don't worry, we host weddings every year. We'll just need an estimated guest list and how many will be there for the wedding dinner, and of course, staying at the ranch."
Ice raised his eyebrows. "Oh, surely for your own daughter's wedding you shouldn't have to do the work. We can . . ."
Massive protestations to the contrary, all the brothers chiming in various supporting the parents and declaiming the likelihood of Ice ducking out.
:: Ready! ::
Ice slipped out while Wacky and Kyws returned, grinning.
Keiq was spectacular in a long ivory sheath, the makeup she eschewed most of the time. "All right, bud, let's get you into that tuxedo of yours and head for the registry. Wacky will be waiting for a location and time."
From the driver's seat, E-one tossed a grin back at them. "Did you know Icka is one of the names we scan for regularly? Even before Keiq got out here we knew all about it." He tapped his ear bud. "So the chapel at Versalle, One Ohme is ready and willing to officiate, flowers are being fetched, and food is being prepared, and Keiq's entire family is on the visitors list."
Ice started laughing. "You lot are worse than Keiq's family."
Keiq shook her head. "No one beats my Mom when it come to running away with a plan. Although it sounds like the entirety of the Presidential Directorate may come close."
"Well, luckily my tux is at the house, then we can zip over to the South Registry office, back to Versalle and," Ice raised Keiq's hand to his lips. "then I can dare to mess up your makeup."
A considerable amount of comming must have occurred, as Keiq's SI section showed up on the heels of Ice's former fellow IR analysts, and the Wrecking Crew. President Izzo, Ox, and Ajki with wives. Wacky and Tanya joined Hoem in playing support for Keiq while Lulu, Figgy, and Oljo stood ready to catch Ice if he fainted.
Ice spoke his vows clearly, and a grinning Keiq followed with hers.
And it was official.
Bonus Scene Two
Jeb looked at Tanya, all dramatic gestures as she talked to the History Society ladies, then turned around to eye the Sycamore grove. "Now I finally see why Mikel was so obsessed with getting those three North American Sycamore trees for his yard, when the native Plane trees would be just as nice. "
Emre nodded. "He always growled about it when we kidded him about being so picky. Wouldn't explain, which meant it was some sort of precog. He hated those. But it was apparently waving a flag to get Ice Withione Sycamore Tall Trees to buy the house and rescue Tanya and Olie."
Jeb nodded. "He may not have even known why he was so obsessed with having Sycamores here. Do you suppose Ice's unknown father was from Mikel's line?"
Ice shook his head and retreated with Keiq. "Although I should be relieved. It was Mikel's psychic abilities that had him leaving a message for the Warrior from the Sycamore Tribe. Not mine."
"So do you really have psychic abilities?" Keiq eyed him. "Along with everything else?"
"Yes, but they're really minimal. Just happening to be in the right place at the right time. A slight warning, for other people. Things like that."
"Hmm, sounds . . . interesting. Pity you don't forewarn yourself. So . . . are you staying with the Presidential Directorate or coming back to IR?"
"It hardly matters. I'll be transferring the XR next year for the attack on the Drei Mächte Bündnis." Ice froze. "Oh shit. Why did I say that?"
Bonus Scene Three
"President Izzo thought we ought to avoid another civilian raid to rescue people stuck in a bag of the Prophets, so he sent me . . ."
The Whirlpool One Priest leaned forward hungrily.
Ice tried to ignore the mental pressure. "To tell you about Lady Tanya and her baby. She is the last wife of Mikel the Eye, and she's trapped with her baby in Mikel's House, which in our World is a wreck."
One Izmo's eyes narrowed. "Is the baby a boy or a girl? Would this Lady Tanya like to retire from the world in Makkah?"
"I highly doubt Tanya has the least interest in retiring at all, let alone becoming a priest herself. The baby is a boy. I sincerely hope you have been using the delayed puberty spell, or the medical methods on your potential recruits." Ice hesitated. "Do you have people who can mold concrete? Mikel stuck the doubled bags in a wall after an fight with his wife."
"Mold . . . no . . ." That hungry gaze swung back to Ice.
"Then I can come help you get it." And you'd best not try to keep me there!
"I suppose . . . well, it will be faster than trying to find a stone worker. You know exactly where to look?"
"Yes. I found ours. In view of your recent earthquakes, the house may be even more damaged than ours was. I was renovating the house when I found the bag, so hopefully I can find it despite even more damage."
"I see." The priest looked over at the two silent observers. "Get Icka Withione Tall Trees a temporary visitor's pass."
The two men nodded, and one walked out, returning quickly, a woman following him.
Ice froze . . . tried to relax and look casual. Obviously failed.
"So, you know my . . . alternate self, do you?" She held out a card.
"Yes . . . Princess? Or is it Dancer? Agent?" Ice got the flow of words stopped.
"Subdirector. What do you call my twin?"
And brief boggled silence all around.
Subdirector Kaat Withione Sideris Kriti's glower deepened. "I hope she at least had sense enough to not quit working."
Ice kept his face absolutely straight. "Oh no. Her wife quit to raise us while she completed college."
"Her . . . wife." Her voice was flat and emotionless. "I going to go away now and pretend I've never met you."
Mikel's house was disastrously tilted, turned and most of the way down the hill. But a scramble through the mud and into the house for a climb up a sixty degree slope and he retrieved the bags.
Tanya #2 decked the priest. Snatched the bags from the ground and stalked off, swearing at her absent husband.
Ice looked at the IR goons. "I suspect you'd best go talk to her and tell her what's going on." He turned and extended a hand to the Priest. "I'd recommend being friendly and supportive. Financially as well as physically. I think she'll really like this new world, and become a loyal citizen, raising her son to be the same."
The Priest growled. But took his hand and assistance back up the hill. "Friendly. Right."
"Get her into college, get her a job. Possibly even a husband."
"Thank you for your help. Now go away." The priest summoned a car. "Take him back to the Embassy Gate."
Bonus Scene Four
"I keep meaning to talk to you about this, but something always seems to come up."
Ice eyed his wife. "That sounds dangerous."
"Well, I just don't know if you'll like it not . . ."
"In researching you, I found only three Oners who'd been to Comet Fall in the early years, who had the Priest Gene. Two were priests, the third one was there for a few years, then returned here. So none of them were the men who raped your mother, but that third one could be your grandfather."
"Well, since that wine was involved, picking and choosing chromosomes . . . let's just say you've found the source of at least one gene." Ice bit his lip. "So, what was his name?"
"Oxhe Servaone Sycamore Tall Trees."
Ice blinked. Mind blank.
Keiq poked him. "Ice?"
"Uh . . . umm . . . do you mean to tell me that Oxymoron is my grandfather?"
"You know him?"
"Yeah. I worked part time in his repair shop. The man can fix anything.
"He was team support, went Across a lot. He said he married a Native, had a child, but when he got recalled home they weren't allowed to come. He said was going to desert, stay with his wife and son. His team grabbed him and hauled him home, and then Granite Peak . . . He never got across again." Ice looked inward, thinking about the old man who'd hired him part time, taught him to control his magic.
"I always assumed his wife was a Granite Peak Nomad, or maybe some world they'd explored and then dropped as uninteresting. Comet Fall never occurred to me. He . . . only talked about it once. Crying. It was his anniversary."
Keiq bit her lip. "So, I guess you ought to introduce me."
"Yeah. So . . . let's go."