The bull plowed into them, bellowing in pain as lasers hit, and still fighting as he went down. Kicking and thrashing, a last lunge that impaled the Mentalist as it collapsed on him.
"Wow!" Gior eyed the human (mostly) and bovine wreckage. "That was nasty."
Moans and whimpers. Dammit. Wet clean up on aisle one.
"I've got a knife." Bob sounded reluctant. "I . . . know most of them."
"Yeah, well, I think they've stopped being dangerous, at least for the short term." Ice looked around at Gior. "Why don't you do a head count of the kids and . . ."
He stopped and looked around. Rolling hills with lots of rock outcrops. Mountains in one direction. "Take them up on that hill and have a look around for danger . . . and water. Bob and I will deal with the mess here."
She looked relieved and trotted away.
"And be ready to shield if something tries to eat you!" Ice called after her, then followed Bob down to the carnage.
The Cyborg was standing over the mentalist, knife in hand, brow furrowed.
Ice sighed. "Yeah, it's harder in cold blood."
"I . . . can't . . . breathe . . ."
"He's . . . I hate him, but . . ."
"Yeah. So, it looks like the horn's made a bit of a mess of that arm, but all we really have to do is get the bull off of him." Ice pulled up another copy of the Chain. Xen Wolfson. And cast it.
Bob snickered. "Good, umm, my cybernetic arm is strong, but . . ."
"Yeah, I'll levitate and we'll shove the bull back that way . . ."
The Cyborg shot a half panicked look his direction.
"I am nothing like these slave master mentalists of yours." Ice pulled power and levitated. "Heave!" the horn sucked out of the long wound through the man's forearm, as the mentalist screamed.
They moved the carcass half a meter, then Ice grabbed the horns and lifted the animal's head while Bob pulled the Mentalist out, screaming again.
Ice checked the Cyborgs. Three still alive.
"Bob? Are any of them also Mentalists? We know from the invasions that some of you are."
Bob nodded, walking over to the whimpering man, curled up, arms around his stomach. "We're all weak Mentalists. They breed us, rape our mothers, or like Ten, here, grow us in a vat, cloned from a Gate Maker. Everyone's excited about the whole race of Gate Makers, who don't even need machinery or electricity." He frowned. "But you didn't . . . I thought it was all of you? Is it just the women?"
"No, it's both men and women, but it's very rare. Are they safe to leave unchained? Do you want me to take yours off? Can you feel it?"
"Yeah . . . everything's sort of dull, but it beats being controlled." Bob stood up. "They're safe, but I don't know how badly hurt they are. It might be a mercy to kill them quickly."
Call me Bob. Ice broke his Chain, then knelt by "Ten." Pain glazed eyes, but conscious enough to swallow a jot of joy juice. The Cyborg's expression cleared as the pain killer in the huge collection of spells hit.
"Right, just relax and let the nano meds work." Ice rocked back to his feet. "Come help me with the others."
The other two Cyborgs had broken bones, probably internal injuries. They got dosed, and their bones set as well as Ice and Bob's amateur efforts could manage.
Then back to the Mentalist.
"Yuri Bogdan." Bob looked down at him. "We were friends, sort of, when we were younger. I was a suitable playmate for a scion of the hundred."
Ice closed his eyes and tried to see the harder skeleton. Multiple fractures of the pelvis. Mostly on the right. Hip joint trashed. Well, guess we'll leave it to the joy juice and luck.
He looked over to where two grinning bald kids were mincing through the grass.
"There's a spring low down on the far side of that hill and we're setting up camp uphill of it where we have good sight-lines." The wobbling pitch of a teenage boy.
"We were raised on a farm. Do you need help butchering that bull?" The high tone of a girl. "I'm Tory Collins, and this is my twin brother, Dean."
Ice grinned. "That's an excellent idea."
It was deep twilight before the bodies were buried, the bull butchered, and shoved into his dimensional bag, and the four injured added more carefully.
To the wide-eyed fascination of all.
It made toting it all to the camp a whole lot easier.
The camp site was good, above the spring, with a very crude outhouse well away from and lower than the spring, a moderate seep with a deep dish that hinted at larger flows, probably after rains, or if there was snow, while the snow was melting. Ice turned the meat and hide over to kids claiming to know what to do with it. And laid out the injured in the quickly designated "hospital area."
Dear One! Such enthusiasm! But then they all just escaped having control chips stuck in their brains, so . . . if they want to treat this like a fun adventure, who am I to spoil it.
He stretched out and slept until the smell of roasting meat woke him.
He happily tore into a skewer of tough beef, and listened to the kid's plans. The hide for shoes was a very good idea. And weaving baskets for gathering nuts and whatever.
Ice cleared his throat. "Short term, I'll cut trees and we can get a wall around the camp that will at least keep the wild cattle out, but there's bound to be carnivores that hunt them, so we'll need to be very careful while we explore."
Tory looked at him. "What about long term?"
"I'll be going home, and, well, we have an Embassy World where all the different Worlds can hammer out their differences without resort to invasion, and there are several refugee Worlds with gates there that you guys might fit into better than any of the bigger nations."
Lots of dubious looks.
"Yeah, mine for instance, is very snobby about magical abilities and our kind of genetic engineering. Even if you were allowed to immigrate, you'd be looked down on as powerless natives. Mind you, legally, you'd have all the rights and legal protections of everyone. But socially?" Ice shrugged. "Nope."
Gior squirmed. "Ice? I can't see where I'm putting a gate. I don't know if I can find Embassy or Home."
Ice nodded. "Yeah, but if you keep trying, sooner or later someone--probably Q--will notice and come to see what's going on. So in the mean time, we'll camp and hunt and so forth."
He looked around at the blanket clad crowd. "Mind you, finding a World were we could shop for clothes, shoes, chocolate . . ."
That got grins around the fire.
". . . would be nice."
Gior's slump had disappeared, and a happy grin spread. "Right. First thing in the morning!"