They looked delighted, as they tossed their ramp through and jumped after.
Ice propped the beacon up at the usual angle, grabbed the straps, waited for the gate to settle down.
"What are you doing? Hurry up and turn it off!" Benedikt ran forward.
Ice dived through, jerked the beacon through, rolled off the far side of the ramp, cursing.
When he shoved himself up to a sitting position the gate was gone. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his pocket flask. Took a quick swallow.
Because I think I need to be on the top of my form, if I'm interpreting the officer's expression . . .
"Do you know, we were never properly introduced. I have no idea who you are."
The man had circled the ramp, leaving Bob behind, and towered over Ice. "I am General Oswald Savva von Oldenberg."
"Ah, yes. One of the possible successors of the chancellor. I am honored."
"You are also going to work for me." He gave a not very nice smile. "Hopefully willingly. Because we do just happen to have a few last control chips. And then there's your family . . . we could track down your family, back on Novaya Moskva and . . ."
Ice rose, staggering deliberately. "Ah, thank you for reminding me." He gauged the size carefully, and threw up a dome shield. Physical and energy. Expanded it a bit just to bump Von Oldernberg back a step. He pulled out the rods, split them, pulled out the Real Khariton's bag and opened it.
Oh hell, I still have the mad bomber's bomb. That's . . . handy. But one more thing to juggle.
He pulled it out, warping light and levitated it to the left as he pulled the Real Khariton out and dumped him on the floor to the right.
"By all means, go find his family. I don't care. Amazing, isn't it, how a big, ugly, face tattoo makes impersonating someone easy?" While most of the people were busy looking at Khar, Ice slid out an illusion of himself, warped light and stepped back, up onto the gate ramp and across to Bob, standing across the shield, flanked by other Cyborgs, all with their lasers pointed at the illusion.
Ice knelt to avoid any accidental discharges, opened a hole in his shield, and reached through to grab Bob. Recognition point. Telekineticly pushed the button on the bomb. The recognition point by Gior's original gate. Spell. Power.
He hit the pavement in front of the wall . . . spotted the soldiers . . . extended the light warp around Bob who froze at the sudden darkness. "Quiet! They can't see us."
Ice staggered to his feet, no pretense now. He opened a "window" that let in Infra red light and shifted it into the visible range, so Bob could see.
All that practice fighting with my eyes closed . . . When did I stop opening windows for myself? And maybe I'd better think about that later.
He grabbed Bob's arm and hauled him away from the Cyborg soldiers walking up to check out that odd flicker of a Cyborg that had appeared, then disappeared.
The old gate site was surrounded by heavy weaponry, all aimed at the poor inoffensive wall. Ice led Bob around soldiers, and between a pair of tanks.
Down the street, where a line of military vehicles were neatly parked.
Ice looked them over and nodded at the next to last one. "Oh, look. A nice handy all terrain vehicle. Let's steal it."
Bob snickered. "I'll drive. A Cyborg driving an important True Man in a military vehicle looks so much better than the other way around."
"Right . . . and you do have Lada and Animal, right?"
"Right. And Rafail. After all, what's one more stray?"
Ice smothered a laugh. "Let's get out of here."
Bob backed the ATV in a half circle and drove away, turned onto the first cross street and kept going.
A muffled boom from the direction of the Paradies Hotel. A climbing cloud of smoke.
"Unfortunately von Oldenberg probably didn't stick around long enough, but I hope I damaged their gate."
"And you stranded a couple thousand Russians on a high tech world?"
"Nope. An Empty World. The appearance of tech was all illusions."
"Damn. Umm . . . please tell me you are not an average Oner."
"I am way beyond average. Magic power-wise? Top fifty in a population of ten billion. So, what do you think? Time for a vacation in the country?" Ice pulled out a hanky and started wiping off ink as he pulled it out of his skin.
"Sounds good to me. Well, anything but the ocean. Salt water's bad for the electronics."
"I'll bet. And we probably ought not get too far from the city, since this is where Gior will be looking for us." Ice leaned to look in the read view mirror. Ink smeared everywhere. "Eww. I think I'm going to need some alcohol, or maybe acetone."
"Definitely. So how about one of those illusions so no one remembers you driving past them?"
"Good plan. And how'd you like to be drive a big black important car?"
"Actually, a midsize gray sedan that no one would look at twice would be even better."
"You got it." And odd itch behind his shields . . . he softened up to incoming. Anything von Oldenberg wanted to say should be . . .
:: Ice? Is that you? ::
:: Yes! Gior, you're timing is magnificent. Where are you? ::
:: Northeast part of town in a park. Can you get here? ::
:: Yeah, we've got a car. :: Ice squinted at a familiar figure on the street. "Pull over for a minute." He hopped out pulled out his bars and started rearranging things.
"Was that you blowing up their gate?" The man paused behind him
"Trying at least. With luck they won't be able to repair it. I've 'lost' the Russians where they can't do much damage. And I hope I haven't lit things off too early for you. But I'm going to make myself scarce for awhile. Good luck." He closed the handles on a bag full of gene editors, wine, and charms.
Held it out behind him without looking around.
The tall thin man took it and walked away.
Ice got back in the ATV and Bob drove off.
"I just talked to Gior. She's got a gate in the northeast part of town. Head that way and I'll be able to point you her direction when we're closer." Ice settled back with a grin.
:: We're on the way. Don't let too many people through. We're in trouble, but they don't know where we are. Right now. Might need to close the gate fast, after us. ::
:: Is that still or again? ::
:: Still, although there was a period when they weren't actually trying to kill me. Got a lot done, before things warmed up a few hours ago. ::
:: Gah! Just sitting tight while you waited to be rescued wasn't good enough? I mean, it hasn't even quite been a month! ::
"You're grinning. What's Gior saying?"
"That we ought to have just sat quietly until rescued."
Bob laughed, and swung onto a cross-town elevated expressway. "You'd think she'd know you better by now."
"Bah, she's a young punk I've never had much to do with. And the last few months might even surprise my wife." Ice leaned back and tried to not relax too much. "Really. The last few months have been quite outstanding in my formerly quiet and peaceful life."
Bob just grinned. And frowned. "We're being followed." He pointed up.