He walked over to Andre and Nikoli. Partly dazed, partly . . . devastated.
"Don't look at me!" Andre turned his head away. "Where are we? How did we get here?"
"You've been rescued. They didn't really chip you, they just played a vicious little game to manipulate you."
"Really?" Nicoli's eyes widened, then filled with tears and he fell back, shivering.
"You'll be fine in a few days, take a vacation for a couple of weeks so your hair grows back in . . . right now we're all in quarentine until they're sure we don't have the plague." Axel held his hand out and squeezed down a handful of power.
Everyone in the room did the same, some a bit shaky, the portalmaker's flickering and dim.
Axel walked back to him. "Relax. You're going to need some rehab . . . what's your name?"
"Henrike Leitz." A faint smile. "It's been awhile since anyone's called me that. What is the date?"
"February twenty-ninth, 3739."
"Thirty-nine! God above. I was in that casket for eight years?"
"I guess so." Axel shivered. And I hope to hell I can get Henrike into Dr. Borodin's program!
And get out of here myself, soon. God, I wonder what's going on at home?
"But . . . what . . . nobody will tell me anything!"
Nastasya looked up from picking up the large pieces of glass, so the bits could be swept up. Lady Veronica was looking around, in tears. Standing on the bottom step of the stairs, as if afraid to set foot on the marble floor.
Her house is trashed, her husband arrested and hauled away . . .
Lady Anastaciya was keeping to her rooms, with the children.
Nastasya bit her lip. "Perhaps, My Lady, under the circumstances, you might want to use the east side stairs, and dine in the Breakfast Room. Shall I send lunch there? And perhaps for all the children? And send Lady Anastaciya's to her rooms?"
Lady Veronica took a deep breath. "Yes, an excellent suggestion, Nastasya, thank you."
Nastasya set the glass in the box and headed for the stairs, Brushing off her shoes, careful that she wasn't tracking glass splinters down the hall, tucked her gloves in a pocket and trotted down the stairs to the kitchen.
Where emotions were high, between shock over the Twin's arrest, worry over the future of all the servants that belonged to them, and glee over the overheard talk in the aftermath of the battle.
"Igor! I heard it clear as a bell! Our Lord Axel is Igor!"
Nastasya snickered. Poor man's tried so hard to hide it! Even we didn't suspect anything like that! She pulled her self together and followed the good smells to the head cook. "I suggested to Lady Veronica that they take lunch in the breakfast room. She's going to bring all the kids down, but probably Lady Anastaciya will eat in her rooms."
"Oh, good idea." Miss Vera grabbed plates and bowls. "I'll send up the soup immediately, the day's getting cold! Alfonya, get up there with water glasses. You, girl, the silver, hop to it!"
Junie started collecting the siverware, Nastasya grabbed a pile of napkins and the table cloth and hustled up the stairs. Spread the cloth, distributed napkins, left a pile of extras where they'd be handy for the kids . . . then trotted down the back hallway, glad to see that all the ornate old etched and beveled glass windows here were intact. The back wall of the Grand Hall . . . well the ground floorwas a mess, glass gone, and the carved wooden frames shattered, and burned. The second floor had lost some glass, and the wooden planeling and furnature up both sides of the hall were pockmarked and spintered by bullets, even the marble floor hadn't escaped. Chips, shattered tiles.
Only a little glass was missing from the front wall.
I hope His Lordship kept the insurance payments up to date.
She pulled on her gloves and got back to work.
Dimitri came and took her box of salvaged antique etched glass away, leaving an empty one. Barf was sweeping up the glass splinters, muttering curses under his breath, bandaids on his fingers multiplying as the day went on.
They rotated out for a lunch themselves then everyone worked steadily until Lord Axel returned, with an Inquisitioner and the man Lord Axel had called "Boss" with him. Nastasya sent a girl to tell the Ladies, then eased nearer, to listen in.
"Damn, we really made a mess here." Lord Axel stepped up to the panelling where a bullet, hitting obliquely had left a splintered trail before burying itself in the wood. She could, sort of see an aura of power, and a deformed bit of metal drop into Lord Axel's hand.
Then he ran his hand along the splinters, pressing them back into place . . . and they stayed there.
"Hmm, learned that from my Grandfather. I suspect I'll be using it a lot." He looked up the back staircase, as Lady Anastaciya and Lady Verionika hustled down their anxious glances searching the hall, then settling on the red robed inquisitor.
The Inquitor didn't bother with pleasantries. "Lord Andre Vinogradov and Lord Nikoli Vinogradov were kidnapped and replaced with agents of the Budapest Reborn Government. We staged a raid, and recovered your husbands, and three other men who had also been kidnapped and replaced.
"They were ill treated, but they are under medical care and are expected to make a full recovery. We will be keeping them in a protected area until such a time as we are sure we have found all the infiltrators. Tentatively, I would say two weeks. That may change."
Vlad had had worse hangovers, but not in recent memory.
He eyed that nice dry sandwich and glass of milk dubiously as Dina snickered.
"I should never have let you talk me into drinking your medicine." Lord Axel's cow potion. Dissolves zivvy! No wonder he warned Forty-one to not get any on him!
She sniffed. "How are your eyes?"
He looked around at the bright colors, out the window and across the city. "Fully recovered." And I didn't have to set the computer at arms length to read it!
"And apart from a horrible headache, the rest of me is recovered as well, although I don't think I'll go into work today." He glanced at the computer. "Catch up on my mail and paperwork and such, I think."
He'd just finished his late lunch when the comp dinged for incoming business mail . . . from Regulous.
Siberia Max had been discovered by the Regulous Hub, but the first sceintists in the Research Center had been from all over, about two thirds Russian, the rest German Families. The businessmen who came later had been mostly Russian Family from Regulous, with servants . . . and the three servants of the Vinogradov's who hadn't been born here had been imported from there.