He shook the bank officials' hands. The twins caught on and did as well, and they headed out.
He pretended to not here a low hiss from Anastaciya. "Four million! A miserable four . . ."
He paused long enough to let the others get ahead.
The Bank Manager walked out with him. "Thank you for being so reasonable. And I'm especially grateful that you sent Mr. Chaykovsky to a doctor. His blood pressure was sky high and his heartbeat irregular."
Axel nodded. "My Uncle . . . was perfectly capable of running all over others. He simply didn't care what he did to people."
He glanced out the front, where the limo was pulling away. "Thank God! Now I can take a cab in peace and quiet."
The manager coughed.
"I'm sure you'll get along splendidly with them, once they buckle down and realized that they need you . . . Umm, do you know . . ." he turned back to the meeting room.
"Oh, Lord Axel?" Mr. Chaykovsky looked hopeful. "Have you had any luck with the receipts?"
"Still looking. There are some truly excellent people on the job . . . Mr. Chaykovsky? How much of these investments are in other Worlds, or involve the sale of target Worlds to other Alliance Worlds?"
"Err . . ."
"Check it out and start thinking about how to shift to all local Siberia Max investments." They were still staring at him as he walked out, calling a cab.
The first thing he did was go home. And grab a wine glass and take it upstairs to contemplate the half-full bottle on the credenza.
What exactly does this stuff do?
How does it locate the zivvy wires and what does it do to them? The people on Neu Frankfort were quite certain that it dissolved them.
And look at Dina. Apparently she was barely able to talk, read one book over and over.
He poured a scant tablespoon into the glass. Dipped in a finger. Jerked at the contact with multiple spells. So many different shapes . . . wait, that's a simple health boost . . . antibiotic, slightly different one, bone repair. Antiviral. Acidic balance . . . detoxifier . . . That one, I should recognize that one . . .
He turned on his comp and brought up some old programs . . . I grew up in Mom's lab, reading everything I could get my hands on . . . no wonder I found school so boring. The attack sites for so many disease causing organisms . . . there! Malaria, the parasitic Plasmodium. I knew I recognized that one.
He grabbed a tissue and wiped his finger. Didn't help much.
Sat back and stared at the glass. They took every single healing spell they had and threw them all into a single stew of . . . everything and hoped that something, or some combination, would attack the zivvy.
"And it worked. God above."
He trotted all the way down to the garage and into the "wine cellar" room. Grabbed a cheap bottle of red wine off the bottom shelf and untwisted the lid.
Took a sip. A totally undrinkable cheap plonk. He tipped it and stuck his wiped off finger in. And felt the glowing complexity of the stew of spells growing through the whole bottle.
A von Neumann's. This is so dangerous . . . and so . . . fraught with possibilities, good and bad. I need to research this.
With permission. Very, very carefully.
"Well. I've split Dear Uncle's Trust between the cousins. Unfortunately, they were so cash poor that I was forced to take my management fee in property. Specifically, you four. Now I know I have . . ."
"Yippee!" Nastasya threw herself at him in a big hug, the guys were grinning . . .
". . . a reputation to keep up as a brutal task master." They snickered. "So let's start by relocating a number of things to the house which I'm sure Nastasya has failed to describe . . ."
"F-four empty bedrooms." Pauli grinned. "Barf will have to s-sleep on the couch so th-there's room for the electronics . . ."
"I was thinking the garage might have to become the combined library and electronics room."
They looked horrified.
"But what about a car?" Dimitri yelped.
"Important man like you needs a car." Barf frowned at him.
"H-he 's s-single. A h-hot sports car." Pauli eye him. "What s-so f-funny?"
"You are all so predictable. I think I'll rent an office and the books and electronics can mostly go there."
They all brightened. "We'll find you a good one!"
Pauli looked around with an innocent expression. "Master!"
"Don't even joke about it! I dislike the whole . . ." He stopped at yet another invasion of his office.
"The Inquisitor wishes to see you."
Axel eyed the messenger.
"He said to wear the fancy suit. And die?" A faint uncertainty wobbled the young man's voice at the end.
"Right. Do you have a car? Then let's go."
What's one more person knowing where I'm going to be living full time, starting real soon now.
A quick brush through of the hair dye, and then the fancy suit, which had spatter cloth lining and was hotter than hell, the formal knee-high "riding" boots and the brief case full of interesting items, half of them disguised as grooming aids . . .
He grabbed the sword belt and short saber, just-in-case they were going to be really formal. Outside of lessons and practice, I've never used it. He tromped hard on a thought that maybe this time . . . and headed back out to where his young driver did a double take and then straightened his expression.
Axel grinned. "Yes that kind of dye." And ignored the man's reddened neck.
They took the road up the cliffs, then curved toward the Dimensional Experimental Station. The portal facility here was either the oldest or youngest of the four Siberia Max portals, depending on whether major rebuilds counted, or not. It was located up on what was, on other Worlds, the island of Malta. The other three portal facilities were down on the flats, and much more convenient for commerce.
Most Imperial business ran through here, as well as exploration, espionage, and experimentation.
It appeared today as if both first and last were in play.
Four young men, sitting around a small table, were putting helmets on their bald heads with trailing wires. Techs appeared to be doing some finicky adjustments . . .
Axel got his attention back to the group around Inquisitor Gorbachev. His boss was there, and Murphy and Ape, standing back a respectful bit, but obviously listening to the last man. Governor Berezin was looking very unhappy.
"Well, we have to know. But please try to not get caught." He turned and walked away.
The vehicle lined up for transit was locally known as the Battle Limo. A carefully designed facade over a military-grade all-terrain chassis. Armored, of course. With a luxury interior.
The Inquisitor eyed him. "I'm going to pay a visit to my grandfather on the Home World. And find out if Vice President Sokolovsky's claims are true. Would you care to join me?"
Holy crap! Opening a portal to the Home World could be considered treason.
Axel bowed. "Certainly, sir."
First stop, a side room, with his boss. "Drop. Every. Single. Weapon. You've. Got."
Axel blinked. "Oh. So there is absolutely no armed invasion."
He blinked at the two Cyborg lasers laying on the table. Holy . . .
He set the sword and the case on the table, emptied his pockets . . . picked up a cash card and slid it into a pocket. "Well. Guess that'll do." He tossed the loose items into the case.
Shrugged. "Might as well leave everything else."
His boss snorted. "Just keep the Inquisitor alive.
"The item in the trunk is a one-time-only beacon that will self-destruct fifteen minutes after it is activated. We will start searching for it at seventeen hundred hours, for fifteen minutes. And every hour on the hour our time. You will need to find a place to bury it two feet deep, for wheel clearance."
"So no retrieval."
Nod. "The Inquisitor, while he can only go to his Family, is concerned that the Family will suffer if the authorities find out . . ."
"I will minimize that risk. Murphy and Ape are going?"
"Yes, and yes, they have the same instructions." He rubbed his temples. "Damn, I hope you all get laughed at."
"Yes, but . . . it might be a good idea to stop routine chipping, and save what zivvy we have on hand for criminal cases."
His boss eyed him. "Damn. Maybe we'd better."