Beacon, check. Common laborer's garb but made of spatter cloth with the hood in the collar, check. Tools in a grubby canvas tote, check. Quad of Portalists focusing down on the right building, the Dimensional Center, with the portal access in the far rear, to keep the mere commerce away from the Elite bureaucracy that controlled it from their posh offices in the front, upper levels . . . and down past the security offices and into some vague area that might be where the holding cells were, check.
Pity those two idiots weren't more certain where the cells were and whether that was where the Twins were being held, or not.
Or even if they were alive or not.
:: It looks like no one is in that room. :: from the quad.
:: Attach there, then. :: Axel watched the portal spread and pulled the spatter cloth sack over this head. Found the slit for vision. Trotted up and jumped through.
An empty room, as advertized.
He cracked the door . . . empty hallway. He gave a thumbs up and the portal shrunk and disappeared.
He stepped out and walked down the hallway . . . stopped and listened at the squeak, squeak . . . he turned and headed toward the sound. The corridor was long, hallways leading off to the left, nothing to the right.
So I'm on one side of the building?
The squeak got louder. A cart emerged from the last cross corridor. A large bin, some handles sticking up . . . and old guy pushing it. Tan cap. Hmm, going to need one of those. Tan pants and shirt, check, lightweight shoes . . . well, his were the right color . . . lanyard and card . . .
The janitor showed no sign of noticing him. Turned and stopped in the center of one section. Walked into a room emerged with a small bucket sized basket . . . emptied it into the bin on the cart. Right. Collecting the garbage. And where do you take it when you're done? And where do they keep prisoners?
Axel walked closed, reaching out mentally into a dull, slow, incurious mind. Saw the routine, where to take the garbage . . . past some guards . . . who would probably know where to hunt for the idiots.
He followed the janitor into the next office and sent a sleep spell. Took the cap and lanyard and walked back out. Tucked his tote out of sight and pushed the cart, squeaking all the way, down the corridor, turn, down to the elevator . . . another janitor coming from the other side.
Axel got in first. The other man pushed his cart in. Pushed a buttom. The elevator rose. The janitor pulled his cart out, Axel followed him to a security checkpoint. A guard grunted and walked over to open a large gate.
Axel reached out mentally, gently to read the guard's surface thoughts.
Poor sods. I'd rather they just took me out and shot me than be that stupid . . . a glance outside . . . wish they'd hurry, I hate waiting for the shots . . .
Axel got the whole picture, as he pushed his cart through the gate and outside. Oh Shit! Where can I ditch the cart without raising an alarm? And . . . those Cyborgs marching out there . . . The firing squad?
Axel shoved the cart to the side, grabbed his tote and took off running. Wire fence, quck swoop of slice and dive through. Dropped the tote and sprinted as the Cyborgs lined up facing five men in stripped overalls, hands bound behind their backs, heads shaved . . .
Lasers or, no they have rifles.
He pulled power as he ran, turned to run sidewways, to get clearance between executioners and the condemned.
"Ready . . ." The man sounded bored.
"Aim . . ."
A hard physical shield, angled downward . . .
The impact of the bullets on his off center, unachored shield tumbled him. Axel proped himself up and threw a hard stun spell across the prisoners . . .
Axel stayed low and watched the officer turn away indifferently and lead his squad away.
Workers in khaki drove a small flat out to the bodies on the ground. Shaking out body bags . . .
One man in civilian garb walking out and pointing something at the bodies . . .
Axel closed in fast, and reached out into the man's brains. Squashed his startled realization the first guy was alive. Had him enter the death . . . and the next . . . all five confirmed dead, and he walked awway, leaving the workers to their business.
Axel walked to the flat and unsealed the bags as the workers loaded them, so the men could breathe . . . barely recognized Andre with his head shaved, the stiches and scab where a chip whould be inserted. Shit! And Nikoli . . . two strangers . . . and . . . was that Councilman Kovalev?
The workers wanted to take the bodies into that building back there to be cremated.
Axel leaned on them telepathically, convinced them that they were all done for the night, go home, good job, all is well.
Now I just need to fire up my beacon and drive this disaster through . . . He straightened and eyed the bright lights half a mile away. The lights flickering across the walls from the headlightss of the trucks lined up for the portal.
Pity to come all this way and not do any damage at all. I think a little reciprocal kidnapping is called for, under these circumstances.
He stepped up on the flat and with a little experimentation was headed back to where he'd dropped his tote, then turned down a path along the wall of the building toward the Portal Center. Tried to remember details from his brief visit.
It was standard enough that he hadn't looked beyond the large number of armed men standing around.
So I walked out on a ramp, for foot traffic or small vehicles. And judging by the trucks, the protal can be turned the other direction so larger wheeled traffic can drive straight through--or out of--large doors that would have been behind me as I faced the mercenaries.
So the portalmaker's private hell is either right through that wall, or across on the far side of the portal.
Well, growing up, up top, I know the standard controls . . .
I should be able to feel the pain and find the portalmaker.
He slowed and stopped. Lowered shields and felt . . . a mental . . . stubborness. Pain under it. A refusal to give up.
And someone closer, shielded and powerful. Axel snapped around . . . to stare at an empty corner . . . no, there was a distortion . . .
"Damn, that's a good . . . hmm, not unnoticeable . . ." Axel blinked. This has to be . . . He switched to English. "The Enemy, I assume?"
And suddenly there was a man standing there. Black haired, tall and muscular. "Is that what you call us?"
"We have no idea who you are, or why you are attacking us. We assume you are the same people who destroyed almost every government building on Tier One Stalin. And are responsible for the Plague. What do you call yourselves?"
"The Empire of the One. You attacked us. We repulsed you, followed you home and destroyed, as you say, nearly every government building. A year later, you returned from a second world. So this Empire of yours is going to be destroyed."