Home Sweet Home
A quick search through bags, and Ice found his comm.
A yellow warning light on the power gauge. But it found a connection.
He pushed the first button. I wonder what time it is in Paris?
"Hi, Keiq, I'm almost home and the comm's low on power."
"Where are you?"
"On the road to Wolf World. I should be on Embassy inside of . . . Drat." red light, dead air.
But she knows I'm alive.
Ice heaved a relieved breath and headed for gate 4.
It looked like half the population of Camp Freedom had joined the rush.
Ice gave a loud whistle. "Listen up! You all need to hang back a bit until I've explained to everyone that you are all friendly, even the Cyborgs and mentalists!"
They reluctantly slowed down and let him take the lead. Rin snickered. "Except for Furkan who chasing down his runaway girlfriend."
"And Wolfson's bound to show up to see who's chasing his daughter." Ice started trotting.
And dammit, was feeling it by the time he trotted through gate one and onto a familiar street.
Half a block from Disco's ominous black cubist architecture. And past that, across the corner to the plaza where Wolfson was looming ominously at a Prophet of the One True God.
". . . not running away from me. I was just trying to catch up." Furkan sounded exasperated.
Ice dropped to a stroll. "If Gior had been running away from him she'd be inside your HQ. Instead, as I suspect, at the Comet Fall Hospital asking for the Elixir of Long Life for the Prophet Furkan's wife."
Wolfson blinked and rocked back on his heels. "Not another split!"
"Yes. I'm afraid so. Three Ra'ds. This one's only fifteen." Ice's gaze drifted toward the One embassy, where a rather official looking car was exiting. "And before I wind up in hours of debriefing? Gior and I have accumulated a crowd of Drei who are delighted to escape their cultures. Will you please not kill any of them? All four Cyborgs are friendly. Two Mentalists, one nice, one not, but learning to behave himself. The rest are teenagers and a girl in the eight to ten range." He looked over his shoulder. The whole batch jammed up, eyeing Disco HQ.
"Umm, as soon as I get done talking I'll find someplace . . . "
Xen snorted. "I'll set up one of our standard inns . . . maybe two, the way it sounds. Go get grilled, I'll talk to your buddies."
"Thank you. They do have a nice safe home on an Empty World, so you can kick them off anytime they misbehave." Ice looked across the plaza. "And here comes Gior."
Furkan side-stepped Wolfson and went to meet her.
Ajha was the first man out of the official car and walked up beside Ice to watch Furkan and Gior, their voices faint with distance.
" . . . Melody. It changes the artificial longevity genes to the most successful versions, or adds them if they're missing. It's a von neumanns."
" . . . joy juice?"
"Yes, keep it in red wine."
Ice breathed to Ajha, "Furkan's wife is elderly."
"I will love you forever. Not for this, but because of everything. Your beauty, your energy, your brilliance . . . because you care so much for me." A tender kiss. "Now get, Career Girl, and remember you can always call for help."
Ice watched him turn away, blinking damp eyes. Gior swiped hers, and braced herself as she spotted Ajha.
"Oh, and she's expecting twins in seven or eight months."
Ajha's eyes tracked Furkan as he headed up the road to the Wolf World Road. "Another split?"
"Yes, going very slow. They're at 375yp. Just building New Paris. Eight prophets still alive."
"Oh. This is going to be such an interesting debriefing."
Ice snickered, then seeing the direction of the other Oners attention, raised his voice and prepared to raise a shield. "I have with me some Drei Mentalists, and four Cyborgs, as well as a batch of teenagers who are all happy to be escaping. Do. Not. Shoot them."
"But, but . . ."
Ajha laughed. "No shooting. Think of them as the DMB resistance or something."
Ice trotted over to the kids, squeezing away from the Disco HQ and out onto the plaza. "Right. See the really tall guy in the gray outfit? He's the boss here. If you have a problem, take it to him. And this is Ajha, who is my boss, and who is going to be making me write down everything, as soon as he finishes making me tell him all about everything." He looked at them in dismay. Looked at Ajha. "I'm not sure I should leave them alone."
Ajha looked beyond the kids. "How about them?"
"Scientists from the other One World. They were studying dinosaurs and such but kept getting distracted by us." Ice twitched at a familiar feel . . . "And my wife has just arrived. Will you please stop any shooting while I go over and kiss her?"
Ajha shook his head. "Honestly. Things were so much easier when away personnel were made up of the unmarried. Go."
Ice grinned and jogged through the gathering crowd to where a battered ute was pulling up to the curb.
Keiq grinning and crying, so he just pulled her into a hug and glowed at her, and got glowed at in return. Someone who sounded like Ra'd shoved something into his hand.
"Fast room and a room key in the Directorate building here." A slap on his shoulder.
Ice released her slowly. Kissed her gently. "You all right?"
"Now. I . . . they thought you were dead, in the explosions and fire in that Cybernetics Center. Q said there were gate scars everywhere, and she couldn't tell the old powered scars from the newer permanent gate scars, but that maybe Gior'd managed to open one, so there was no actual declaration . . ." Tears running and she wrapped her arms around him again.
Ice took a quick look down the road, to where the crowd was retreating, led by Wolfson. No shooting. Twice as many teenagers, a lot with red hair. The Wolf Pack--Xen's kids and students. They'll keep the kids safe.
Keiq wiped her eyes. "Sorry. I brought clothes in case . . ."
He looked at the stuff in his hand. Bars and a key card with a number on it. "Let's park the ute around the back of building three, and find this room I've been assigned, before Ajha decides to pin me down and make me talk."