A Hub All Her Own
The Algae World quickly sprouted a ramshackle "Gold Rush" town of trailers and modular buildings, and prefab bunk houses.
Dimensional Gates. Heavy metal cages on each side.
After four gates, Gior slipped away to crash at her house in the compound. Which was just as ramshackle, but lacked all the graybeards running around looking for office space.
She woke to find Furkan asleep in her chair, head down on her table. Which, with her bed, was the sum total of her furnishings in her little shed.
She grabbed clean clothes and slid out quietly to the privy and bath house.
Pity Ice never got around to the water and sewer systems he was threatening to make before I marooned him. But then we'd all have to make bathrooms and kitchens in our cute little sheds . . .
The cooks had the breakfast buffet running, and she loaded up a plate and sat at a picnic table with a couple of the other girls.
"Is there anything I need to do, before I start making gates again?"
Tory grinned. "Well, with all the scientists gone, I think we can stop thinking about expanding the wall."
"And we're good for meat, the guys bagged a nice tender yearling bull yesterday." Bridgette looked out the open gates. "Maybe some shopping. Umm, and maybe we should think about some larger houses?"
"Oooo!" Natalia grinned. "Have you and Randall decided to get married?"
"Might as well, since it looks like we're going to have a baby."
Gior pinched the bridge of her nose. "How many of us idiots have forgotten we don't have a doctor here?"
Bridgette snickered. "The same number who realize we can just pop across to a world that does."
Gior perked up. "That's right. What do you think? We could all find just one to deal with our idiosyncrasies?"
Furkan stomped up. "And I can tell any docs on my World to just suck it up and deliver the babies, and make sure they get the documentation for going to school and all that."
They all looked dubiously at him.
Gior finally asked, "Suck what up, exactly?"
He snickered. "Local slang for . . . something like straighten up, suck in your gut and take orders like a soldier . . . sort of."
"Thank the One!" Gior pointed. "So grab a plate, and come eat with me. I'll see if I can find Ice today."
Out of the Frying Pan
Ice even managed a few hours of sleep, after building a real bridge and an additional twenty kilometers of "road."
A dozen more "campgrounds," including a few with water wells. But he ran out of time to do much more.
There are squirrels in the trees, birds, rabbits hiding in the grass, hoof prints that look like deer.
They won't starve. The only question is, where will my people be?
He teleported back to the starting meadow and set up the beacon so vehicles could just drive straight down the road.
I wonder what the lead car will do when it runs out of road? I don't know what their telepath range is, but surely they have radios? But if they drive slowly enough on these primitive roads, it could be as much as an hour before they' they reach the end. And that might be enough time to get most of them through.
At five minutes to eight, Neu Berlin time, he turned on the beacon and stepped aside to wait.
Within minutes the balled lightening lit the predawn dark of the meadow.
Two Baggie clad figures were first through, each with a ramp that covered the beacon, braced on the sides. They locked it into place and gestured. Two tough looking vehicles, stuffed with men. Ice pointed down the road, probably not needed. Then a fancy job that veered off the road and parked. The box truck that followed veered as well. The next vehicles drove straight down the road, and Ice turned to eye the fancy car.
Benedikt stepping out from behind the wheel, feminine faces peering out at Ice, and around at the dark night. He gestured for Ice to come closer.
"I have orders from Berezin, Vasiliev, and Dryagin. I am to make sure they do not take the beacon away. And you're going to help me, right?"
"Sure. Dead easy. I'll tell them I'm not going to stay, so I'll do my usual beacon retrieval. They'll be delighted to not be the people with their legs chopped off."
Benedikt grinned. "You really are a clever little monkey, aren't you?"
"You have no idea." Ice glanced at the car. "Your family?"
He rolled his eyes. "My mother, an aunt, two sisters and a cousin, all squeezed in. My father's driving ahead to find a good campground for us."
The door of the truck cab opened and a Cyborg climbed down. The old scarred one Benedikt had challenged him to take over.
Brain scarred by fighting the controls. Opportunity alert!
"I don't suppose you brought anything to eat?" Ice put a bit of whine in his voice.
"Oh, gee, didn't your girl pack anything for you? Oh wait, she ran off somewhere, and the Germans snagged your Cyborg." Benedikt laughed and walked away, turning to watch all the cars streaming by.
No problems so far, and as for Bob . . . Damn. Going to have to rescue him.
Ice turned and stalked away as if pissed.
Circled back in the dark and approached the old Cyborg. Fished a necklace of charmed coins out of his bag.
A casual sweep of his hand and the necklace was around his neck. The charms were outside his uniform, but still strong enough to partially block mental spells.
The Cyborg froze, his right eye widening.
"Against your skin it will block better, but not well enough to block the strongest of the Mentalists." Ice pulled out a net bag. "The wine contains a von neumann's microscopic repair nano. It will spread to any alcohol that gets even a drop of it. Although where you'll find any is . . ." The Cyborg nodded at the truck. "Ah, nice. Three days will remove the wires from a person's brain, a month will dissolve the brain chip. I don't know what will happen to a full Cyborg."
His fists were clench, he didn't move.
"The globs dissolve in water and will take the Mentalists' power away. There are ten more sets of charms, for the people you trust, who need them. You may need to leave the charms in a pocket, so you can hear commands, and obey, until the mentalists have all . . . had the plague."
The Cyborg still didn't move.
Ice set down the net back and walked away.
Benedikt looked around as he joined him. "Still trying, eh?"
"Of course." In between cars, the very brief gaps, Ice spotted the German officer staring at him.
Pointing at the Cyborg beside him. Bob.
Pointing at Ice. Downward. Probably meaning the beacon. And crooking a finger in summons.
Ice checked Benedikt, who was looking down the road. Looked back at Bob, who now had his right hand up against his cybernetic left upper arm.
Ice met the officer's gaze and nodded.
Watched a bus stuffed with Cyborgs pass. Every car was stuffed full of people.
A desperate caravan, trying to escape the death of magic . . . civilized city people for the most part. I hope to hell they know how to hunt. And that they haven't brain damaged their women too badly for them to deal with cooking whatever they find, or catch, preserving food, and everything else a pioneer needs to do to survive.
A last car . . . the two men in the baggies started taking the ramp apart.
Ice trotted up. "Look, go on through, I'll toss the beacon to you."
Oh damn, this is going to hurt. Again.