Bonus Scene One
Keiq wandered out to the Plaza and looked around curiously.
Now what do I do? They're going to keep Ice talking for hours. Days.
She frowned down the road past Disco . . . Not that I've been here all that many times, but I don't remember anything being down that road . . . except the first gate to Wolf World. Are Ice's new buddies setting up down there?
She strode down the street, suppressed a wince. Might have pulled a few muscles in the course of back-from-the-dead sex. She figured she was probably smirking, and didn't care. A damn good thing Ra'd gave Ice that fast room. Plenty of time to catch up on everything. Wretched man laughed at me winding up as Section Head of Bank and Securities Fraud. It's all Azek's fault, talking finances all the time . . .
The first big white building was nice slick modern thing in marble and glass. "Stone Inn Five" carved above the modern glass doors. Xen was leaning on the side of the open doors and waved an invitation. A faint shimmer of unnoticeable about him, just enough to not make him stand out.
Inside a common room with comfortable chairs and a sofa against the side wall.
A Cyborg sat on the coffee table facing the empty sofa. Talking to it. A quick glance her direction. Then back to the sofa. "And what if someone comes and see me talking to the furniture?"
A high child's voice. "Thou are not funny!"
Xen grinned over at her. Whispered, "A nice Cyborg. Worried about a little kid. Who'd have thought?"
Keiq grinned back and strolled closer. "Did that couch just say something? That's amazing."
A small face half-hidden behind shaggy unkempt black hair poked out from behind long enough to glare at her. "Thou're not funny either." Then disappeared.
Keiq studied the Cyborg. "Would you happen to be Bob?"
The Cyborg nodded, one brow rising.
"I'm Keiq. Ice managed a fast brief on the social-side before Director Ajha hauled him off to a debriefing." Keiq eyed wedge of darkness behind the couch. Ice's main worry. "Hi, you must be Animal. Ice said he'd come as soon as he could get out of a big meeting to tell everyone about what's been going on. I suspect it won't be very soon. It sounded like he's managed to pack an amazing amount of excitement into a rater short time frame. As usual."
Bob turned around to get both human and mechanical eyes on her. "He didn't talk much about himself, but it was pretty clear this wasn't the first time he'd been in serious trouble."
"Ice be my hero!" from the couch.
Keiq grinned. "He's a whole of peoples' hero . . . except the Bad Guys. They really hate him." She eyed the couch, and then the big screen on the opposite wall. "Is that thing able to play Oner chips? I have two vids they've made about Ice."
"Yep." Xen pushed off the doorway and flipped down a panel. "OO is either Original One or Old One, depending on where you're from."
"And the others would be Whirlpool One, Earth Prime, 1960 . . . RF? Oh, Rain of Fire." Keiq pulled out her computer and pulled up the most accurate of the three vids that had been made of the 1420 election. Dumped it to a chip and inserted it.
"They actually had to tone down some of the action, because it was unbelievable." Keiq shook her head at the opening sequence. "And of course Ice is much better looking than the actor playing the part."
That got a stir from behind the couch. Keiq sat on the side away from the girl's egress, and Bob shifted to the other end of the couch. Animal came out to watch, leaning on Bob's leg. The first stabbing had her retreating back behind the couch, but then she crept back out and sat on the couch, leaning on Bob's cybernetic arm.
Keiq eyed all the other watchers who'd joined them. I thought Ice said thirteen teenagers! There's double that here!
When the action revved up, one of the younger teenage girls slipped into the middle of the couch and put her arm around the girl. And sat stiff and wincing as Ice and the unknown gunman chewed their way through the Cyborg army.
The masssively stupid ending where the gunman was revealed to be the lady agent who'd been investigating him. And she kissed him.
Animal leaned to peek around the older girl. "That was thou, and thou married him?"
"Yes, that was me. And I did not kiss him. I was still refusing to admit I'd fallen in love with him. It was close to a year later when I finally gave up and kissed him. And another year before I married him." Keiq switched to eye the teenager.
Who looked nervous, suddenly. "I'm Lada MacDonald."
"Ah, the girl who helped him pass as a Mentalist. I don't suppose any of you have a picture? It sounded like a really ugly tattoo."
Bob snickered. "Yeah. It was so bad it never occurred to anyone that that wasn't the Real Nikita Khariton Morozov behind it. Umm, no, no pictures . . . Ice has been teaching me some illusions, maybe I could . . . "
Animal bounced and squinted. A glowing black and orange sphere fill the center of the room. It wavered and shrank a bit, features formed, black hair, and a black and orange thorn bush sharp and clear over mushy features that gradually firmed up into a reasonable likeness of humanity . . . And suddenly sharp. Blue eye glaring out of a pale face.
"Oh! He looks wicked! I'm not sure I'd recognize him without blocking that tattoo." Keiq held her hands up, but of course it didn't work, since the illusion was in her mind, not in the air. The teenagers were pointing in front of themselves, and laughing, as the sight centers of their brains received the same image.
"Scary! Then he fixed my neck. The scary doctor said he did a good job and let me go away with Bob. She said she'd keep Yuri and Rafail. She won't hurt Rafail, will she?" The illusion vanished as Animal started looking worried.
Xen, who'd stayed to watch the vid, laughed. "No she says Rafail's new foot needs a little help, and Yuri's pelvis needs to be remodeled. But she won't let them feel any pain."
"Too bad. Yuri's a nasty snob." Lada sniffed.
Bob shook his head. "He used to be worse."
"Rafail's nice. He tricked the bad Bunnies into giving me to Khar . . . Ice."
Lada and Bob both nodded.
Animal looked you at Bob. "Sorry I kicked thou."
The Cyborg reached across with his right hand the ruffled the girls hair. "You know, now that we're in civilization, you could get a hair cut."
Lada blushed. "I had to cut some mats out."
Animal shook her head, pulling her hair forward to hide behind.
Mats? Oh dear, where did this child come from? Eight or nine years old? Making illusions a crowd could see?
"Maybe some braids?" Keiq dug through he pockets. "I braid my nieces hair . . . and I have one band."
Animal's finger rand through her hair. "Momma used to braid my hair." a long silence. "She told me to run and hide, when they came to get her. She never came back."
Lada hugged her.
But Animal was studying Keiq. "Thou, you, can braid my hair."