In the morning, Leonti watched the young Mentalists walking off down the hill.
And the old Mentalists walk uphill, hunting. His father took a rifle. Uncle Volya said something about testing his range.
I wish I could go exploring with Benedikt. I suppose they'll follow the river. Or maybe they'll look for something a vehicle could traverse. Not that many of our vehicles have a charge left.
Which had him digging back into his scout gear. Yes. A solar charger. Tiny. Meant for charging coms. I wonder if there's anything small that's crucial?
His head jerked up at a distant shot. Was that a scream?
A wounded animal, most likely.
Forty-nine rolled out of his bed, and faced uphill, listening.
Crashing, as if someone, if some animal, was running through brush.
"Get the women into cars!" The Cyborg bolted for the faint trail uphill.
Leonti spun and ran for the Bower. He helped his grandmother to her feet. "The truck, Mash! Open the door!"
She bolted over and swung the door wide, got in and pull Grandmother in. Mother and Vita came running, carrying the two girls Leon boosted them in as they handed the girls to Masha and G'ma.
The sound of running feet, Leon looked over his shoulder as Lord Ivan broke out off the trees, running . . . the boar closing in on him was huge, turned slightly as Forty-nine ran at it from the side, left arm up.
The laser was invisible but the boar tumbled. Forty-nine turned and ran, back tracking the boar.
"Father and Uncle Volya were with him." Leon walked a few steps toward Lord Ivan, gasping for breath on the ground, but half the servants were heading for him, and Anuska . . .
Leon turned to the track . . . I would just be in the way . . . He looked the other way.
The other Cyborgs . . . "Eighty-seven Four! Try to backtrack them and find Father!"
"One-Oh Three, Lord Volya was with them?"
"Yes, and Ninety-eight." The Cyborg was practically vibrating in place.
"Go." Leonti bit his lip. Twenty-two turned into an idiot, Thirteen is good. Volya's other Cy is nothing special, Ivan's other is showing signs of failure.
"Thirteen? Go up the track listening carefully. Do you have charge? No? Wait."
Leonti swung around to the back of the truck, opened the door and climbed in. Reached for a rifle . . . thought about the size of the boar and grabbed the heavier rifle. Checked that it was loaded, grabbed an extra handful of rounds. Handed the rifle to Thirteen, dropped the loose rounds in the Cy's pocket. "Go quietly and carefully. Don't shoot until you can see what you're shooting at."
The Cyborg nodded and trotted off.
Leonti grabbed the lighter rifle, lots of ammo and climbed down.
Everyone was standing up and stepping away from Ivan. Anuska bursting tears and dropped to her knees beside him.
Someone said something about his heart . . .
Dead. And Father and Uncle Volya . . .
He blinked back tears and took a long slow look around the camp.
No other danger. He stepped over to the knot of uneasy servants. "Ludmilla? And I correct in thinking that an old boar will need pit roasting?"
The cook gulped and nodded.
Leon looked at the menservants. "Take the boar off to the cooking area, dig a pit, however Cook tells you."
He prowled a bit. Placed the last three Cyborgs around to keep watch.
And finally, One-Oh-Three trotted back. "Lord Volya is dead. Lord Klim injured." Told baldly, nothing to soften what couldn't be softened.
Kamilla wailed and sat suddenly.
Anatoly is the head of the household, now . . . and twelve-year-old Vlasiy is the head of the Kuznetsov Family.
Anuska gave another sob, father and husband lost in a single hour.
Leonti spotted Darya, standing still and quiet, and very alone. He walked over and gave her a hug. "Come over to the truck and help Masha with the girls. We'll all stick together."
He veered off to where the servants were having trouble with the huge boar, and told Twenty-two to help them.
The women were out of the truck, and G'ma was straightening out her bower . . . "Bring him here. He may not be able to climb in and out of that truck."
Mother nodded, then picked up her skirts and ran when she saw Forty-nine walking out of the forest carrying the front end of an improvised stretcher.
Dark stains from right hip to ankle, death grip on the long poles, teeth set.
"Get the chairs away from the small table." Makariy had a small bag, and looked pale. "I asked around two days ago, I'm the only one with any medic training . . ." He swallowed as he looked at all the blood.
Forty-nine trotted for the truck, and climbed in. He reemerged with a bottle of vodka and a glass with something red in it. He spotted Leonti and held out the glass. "Hold this, while I add more alcohol. It's a healing potion . . . and I think it'll kill the pain."
Leonti held the glass while Forty-nine poured. Then Forty-nine swapped with him. "Bring it. We'll need the vodka to disinfect the wounds."
He walked to the table, where Makariy was hovering, easing cloth away from wounds.
Forty-nine stepped up with the glass. "Drink this. It might help the pain."
Father hissed a little. "And you're going to have to hurt me." Makariy helped Forty-nine sit him up and Father took the glass in shaking hands and took three quick gulps. "All right, that helped. Now get started."
Forty-nine handed Leonti the glass, and took the bottle.
A servant brought a pot of streaming water, another had rolls of cloth, that looked more like sheet material than bandages, but that was probably all they had.
"Leonti, stay back. I may have the plague."
Leonti stepped back, and looked around. Twenty-two was closest . . . Leonti looked down at the half glass of diluted healing potion. Looked at the Cyborg. Healing potion? Probably nothing that could help Twenty-two. But what about Six Sixty-seven?
Leonti stepped over to the young Cyborg. "Drink half of this. Take the rest to Six Sixty-seven. Tell him to drink it."
Then he walked to the spigot and washed his hands very well.
The Plague. Should we even allow rather to stay in the camp? Should we isolate him? For how long? And then isolate everyone he'd been near for the last day? Except he must have been infected earlier.
We've all been exposed.