"Ooo! Is that them? The poison that destroys magic?"
The kids all crowded around. Well, the ones who returned. Even Yuri's limping across these days. I wonder if he wants to go home?
Gior nodded, and pulled a ball full of the gene editors out. "This is them. We'll toss one in the reservoir, as long as we've got a gate there. What the heck. It might work. If there are any Mentalists there."
"How can you be so cavalier about it!"
She could feel Yuri's anger, feel him pulling power, lashing out . . . her shield bounced the control spell right back at him and he staggered back a couple of steps.
Blithering Idiot. Which will do nicely for a handle. She dropped the chain over his head.
"No, no, no! Why'd you do that! I obviously couldn't hurt you!" Yuri wailed.
"Yeah, but what if you'd lost your temper with anyone else, here?" She shook her head. "Think about never, ever, magically attacking any one. And I'll think about taking it off again next week."
The kids were looking at her, wide-eyed.
"Wow Gior, I had no idea you could do that!" Ken gulped.
Natalia nodded. "Can you teach us?"
"Maybe? You guys have a very different genetic basis for magic." But Ice was trying . . .
Back by the lake, she sent Ivan off with the glob and sat down to watch the bright lights as the sky deepened to twilight blue.
Yuri limped up and sat down, stiff, and careful to sit at a respectful distance. "I wonder what world this is? If it's even part of . . . my empire."
He hung around long enough to pick up gossip, watch the interactions, listen to the planning. Then he went shopping, and headed for the hotel. Plenty of food, lots of gauze and tape, lots of wine, lots of whatever caught his eye as useful . . . Crutches! Excellent.
They were all in Rafail's room, attempting to watch, or rather, understand, a vid in English.
Rafail, still pretty pale, grinned from where he was propped up against the headboard. "Between the four of us, we're getting about half and guessing the rest."
Animal's voice from under the bed. "I don't know what a lot of the words mean!"
"Huh, exceeded an . . . eight year old's vocabulary? How old are you, Animal?"
"So who's hungry and who wants an instant English lesson?"
They swapped glances.
Rafail cleared his throat. "How about a bit of assistance to the bathroom, then lunch while you tell us what an instant English lesson is?"
Which evolved into crutch adjustments and cautious practice.
There we go. A few necessary details dropped in and we're ready to get back to the story . . .