Wretched Charismatic Leaders
Gior subdued a smirk as Ice looked around the camp.
Everyone eyed him dubiously.
Ice flashed his pretty teeth. "Yes, it's me. Not to worry, the ink will come off, ditto the hair dye."
A snort from Yuri. "Hey Bob, have a nice vacation?"
"It had it's interesting moments." Bob eyed him. "I see you've lost your collar."
Yuri snorted. "Three times now. I've almost lost my tendency to lose my temper and attack mentally."
Ice looked at her. "I'm surprised you took it off."
She shrugged. "It was an accident. Could you have chosen a more obvious handle? Any transgression, and back on it goes."
She looked around at the chaotic mess . . .
"We made the first enclosure too small, didn't we?" Ice caught her growl. "Or I did, if you prefer. I like the little cabins, I'll have to get one. But first, the wall."
Gior rolled her eyes. "How about getting the horrible tattoo off your face while I go buy . . . Five of you? Hmm . . . I'm going to make you join the gold hunters. Once you've finished the water and sewers."
Furkan and Mikel exchanged glances, and no doubt words. Furkan grinned. "Right. I'll go with you, while Mikel shows Ice the corridor up into the forest, so he can enlarge the fort before we get back with a place for him to stay."
Gior rolled her eyes, but headed out for her favorite hardware store.
Ever since her second buying spree, they'd kept a bunch of "display models" with bigger windows on hand. As soon as she walked up to them, two young salesmen popped out, sporting big grins.
"How many cabins can we sell you today, Miss Gior?"
"At least two." Gior frowned at the selection. "You know, if those two were close, faceing opposite directions and I put up a pavilion high enough to over lap them between . . ."
They leaped to show her pictures of the various kits . . . "They don't come assembled for you to just, umm, magic away."
Furkan snickered. "Looks easy enough to put together . . . what do you think? Another pavilion for the picnic area?"
"Oh, good plan." She flashed a smile at the eager salesmen. "We're expanding a bit. Let's see those sizes again."
"We'll need nails. Hammers. And a couple of ladders." Furkan grinned at her. "This is more fun than I've had in centuries."
The salesmen grinned. "We'll put the bundles for the pavillions together and have them ready for you in . . . three hours."
By them time they'd had a leisurely dinner and strolled back to the store, everything was ready to be paid for, and bubbled (half the employees came to watch) and taken away.
And the south wall of the camp was half disassembled to be taken off and used to finish the new wall, doubling the protected space.
"That's . . . a bit more than I'd expected." Gior looked around the empty acreage. "Are you planning . . . what?"
"I grew up in a village, I know how they work. Or at least, one way that works well. I thought if we moved these houses back, along all three sides of the wall, we could have a village square around the spring and pond."
"Oh."Gior looked around a nodded. "Umm, if you keep the houses out away from the wall, everyone could have a yard . . . not that that's really important."
"That's a good idea, people could garden, maybe plant little orchards." He turned to look around.
Gior tilted her head to listen in on Furkan and Mikel. ". . . slice and step out of the way. I'd like to see what that man could do to a tank."
She sighed and walked closer. "Slice and dice. Ice is the big hero of the Cyborg Invasion, with enough of it recorded to leave no doubt. Pity he's such an utter jerk."
Furkan laughed. "I think I'm glad of that."
She grinned at that. "Yeah, now that you mention it." She turned to survey the watchers, and raised her voice. "So, shall we clear out a village square? And if so where do you want your houses moved to? Think about enlarging the houses as Ice gets water and sewer lines in and we can have kitchens and bathrooms, and don't crowd each other."
"We can get some stakes and start laying out lots!" Tory looked around.
"We don't have any real surveyors, but we can pace it out . . ." Ivan eyed the wall. "I'll pace out the whole thing then we can divide by how many houses . . ."
Gior watched them all heading for the wall and sighed. "I'll bet a bunch of them will combine their houses."
"You sound wishful." Furkan was smiling at her. "How about it?"
Gior shook her head. "You're going to go back to your wife, and I'm going to go back to my job."
"Melody is seventy-five years old. She told me to stop being silly and grab you while I had the chance."
He went and talked to her? And no doubt his fifty-year-old daughter as well.
"I'm . . . not grabable. I'm an XR exploration Teamer. Currently on loan to the Drei Mächte Bündnis Project."
"What if you never find your home?"
"Never's a long time. But I think it'll take at least a year for me to give up hope."
He sort of oozed closer. "And you could always come back. No reason we shouldn't be on good terms with your world."
She leaned on him. "No reason at all. I hope."
Ice and his buddies all slept in the two cabins, then got to work moving people's houses as soon as the sun rose. Then he went with her--and Furkan and Mikel--to the hardware store for an amazing amount of pipes and "fittings."
Gior, keeping a rough running total in her head, took a detour to sell more gold, returning with a check made out to the store that covered most of the plumbing.
"Honestly! I've got all these wretched tax statements . . . I'm going to wind up filing a tax return, which is silly since I don't live here."
Furkan laughed, but Ice nodded. "Never get between a government and what it sees as it's money."
Even Mikel thought that was funny. "Speaking as an experienced cross-dimensional explorer?"
"Advice from every one I've ever spoken to."