"Full blown Cyborgs are . . . well, three days will dissolve the wires, but whether they can get enough to completely reject the skull plate, eye thing and the arm? Probably take years."
Ice leaned to make eye contact with the tall thin man.
"But take a Cyborg Army Base. If you can dose the water with the 'plague' to knock out the Mentalists' mental abilities, and then get three days of the wine into the Cyborg soldiers' food . . . That army will cease to take orders from the Drei Mächte Bündnis. And they will probably be pissed enough to fight for you."
"Oh yes. They will, that much we know." Tall thin looked at the bottle.
"It's a von Neumanns. It runs on alcohol, so dope anything with alcohol in it and it will spread. In red wine it'll store for years, white wine or beer, a few months, dilute it in water and it's good for a few days. Because it needs alcohol, we've never had a problem with it turning everything into itself, when spilled."
The science guy looked wary. "Everything has side effects."
"The side effects . . . the most obvious are the sickest people tend to act very drunk on a few swallows, and, well, it's an aphrodisiac that has to be experienced to be believed. And in people in extremely bad health, the fast healing can be too large of a strain on their bodies and they die."
They looked at him.
"On my world there's a flourishing Black Market in it, due to the tendency to incite orgies. And did I mention the fertility boost?"
He shrugged. "Spread the plague around the army bases. Then the wine. If you can destroy the Mentalist's power, then free the Cyborgs, the war is over." He picked up the bars and tucked them in his pocket. "Experiment a bit, Then we can talk again."
He felt the location, the hotel room, the spell, the power and stepped back to the hotel.
Startling both Lada and Bob.
"Tsk! So little faith in me you had to sit up late worrying?" He grinned. "I don't know about you two, but I'm tired and I'm going to bed."
Bob snorted and looked at Lada. "I'll hold him, if you want kick him."
Ice made a rude gesture and shucked his shoes, the laces still untied.
Lada glared. "What. Happened."
"I talked to a bunch of people in masks. I made some helpful suggestions that they may take, or not. I suspect we'll talk again."
Lada looked him up and down. Ice looked down at his unbuttoned jacket, shirt untucked, bare footed self.
"There was a strip search involved. Go to bed, little girl, so I can too."
She snorted and stomped off to the closet.
Bob looked at Ice. "Gior will locate this world again, right?"
"If she can't, she's got a Father and Aunt who probably can. We'll get out of here, and get Lada someplace safe, or at least free." Ice grinned. "So long as I don't get killed."
"You have a horrible sense of humor."
"And the next time we go shopping, remind me to try and get a whole bunch of those coins. I ought to have thought of that." Ice looked at the bed. "Is it my turn for the floor?"
Bob started laughing. "You are flat impossible. Certainly, the Cyborg guard should take the bed while his master sleeps on the floor."
Ice grabbed a pillow and the bedspread. Headed for the corner. "It's for your own good. You need to get used to the idea that everyone is equal."
"Well . . . I guess I'm equally insane. I'll take the bed."
Excellent. Get you used to freedom.
"So they're off again? Good Luck to them." Ice surveyed the late morning breakfast crowd.
Bored. Poor fools are probably hoping for excitement.
A man he didn't know, turned to sneer at him. "Unlike you lot, coming home empty handed?"
"Yep, just think what we could do, if we found a high tech world, one we could set to making cybernetics. Set up some cloning facilities, start building a new gate center . . ." Ice suppressed a shudder. If they do, I'll have to figure out how to dose some of their supplies. Or go with them, but I really would prefer to stay on the World where Gior lost us.
He strolled back to the buffet to load up on things that could be transported . . . then he sat back down so he could slip food into the empty bag he had ready . . . while everyone was turning to look at the rowdy men coming through the entry. Laughing.
"But what do we do with her after we've shown the Gutter Monster off?"
Ice turned to look. Both Mikhailov's and Viktorov, of course, with half a dozen others. And Rafail's voice. "Oh, give her to Khar. He likes them young."
Lots of laughing assents, no doubt from the crowd who seen a barely teen-age girl escaping from his vile clutches.
Half the people in the room looked Ice's way. He raised his nose.
Stay cool, and out-snob them.
The crowd headed his way, and split to disgorge Artem Ivanov. He had a struggling child held half off the ground by one arm. So caked with dirt it was hard to see where the filthy rags merged with encrusted skin. Raspy breath, faint grunts.
Ice wrinkled his nose. "Eww! What is it?"
"Another little girl for you!" Some smirking fellow.
Ice looked the child up and down, with an expression of distaste. "Are you sure it's human? It looks like some animal that rolled in the gutter."
He dumped a pile of food in his linen napkin and tied the corners in a bundle, "Lada, see if you can lure this creature off with some food. Maybe even get it a bath. Or . . ." he glanced toward Bob, who lurched away from the wall.
Ice turned back to the smirking crowd. Heavy on the sarcasm. "I just don't know how to thank you all for my new pet. However did you capture it? Must have been quite the hunt."
They laughed. Bob scooped the child up with his right arm, his left cyber arm, not really swinging toward the group. But Lada stepped past him and headed for the door, and Bob turned and followed, the child flailing in panic. Harsh raspy breathing.
Why no screams, no curses?
"Hunt! Ha! It was like trying to catch slimy frog." Anatoly Mikhailov smirked at Ivanov. "Some people got quite dirty."
Ice looked the young man over. "And probably enjoyed it."
They laughed, Ivanov reddened, and the crowd broke up and drifted off.