"Nine people, however unarmed, is going to get an instant response, and not a friendly one." Axel looked at the group. "I can keep up a shield for as long as necessary, which hopefully will only be as long as it takes Lord Gunter to contact the President's secuity and make sure, if there is a substitute, that he's kept away from your president until your people have convinced themselves of who is whom."
Lord Gunter blinked.
"What time of day are we most likely to find them separated?"
"Early morning. My wife does expect me home most nights." The man's face stiffened suddenly.
Just started worrying about his wife and children.
"Right, and your capital is located in . . . London? So there won't be much of a time differential. If we go Across at two of three in the morning, we'll time to either get the security forces to alert presidential security, or if we aren't immediately noticed, contact them yourself."
A firm nod. A thoughtful look. "And the sooner, the better." Gunter turned to Lord Marlin Aslanov. "Are you sure you want to come immediately? I had not considered the danger to all of you."
Lord Marlin nodded. "If we aren't safe with your escort, there's no other way to do this."
His assistant Lord Evgeny Gorky looked determined. "We're packed and ready."
With two exec secretaries and two manservants. And money. Stuttgart is still in easy touch with the home world, so all our cash cards will be valid there. Not to mention the Bank of the Three Hundred Certificate of Funds, sufficient to buy a mansion to act as our Embassy and house these guys.
In theory, I will escort a return deligation to Siberia Max. And I can only hope that their instructions are benign.
The two German exchanged glances and nods.
Lord Gunter looked back at theBoss. "Yes, well, then, the sooner the better. A glance at his watch. In six hours?"
Axel bagged a three hour nap, then dressed in his most formal suit--the full up high-necked, thigh length jacket with gold embroidery on black velvet, black pants, slim enough to slide into the polished leather knee high boots. Belt, but the saber, alas was again being left behind.
The red ribbon and medalion of a representative of an Agent of the Three Hundred had the Germans staring.
"Shouldn't surprise me." Von Mansfeld muttered.
Axel shrugged. "Out here in the far reaches of their five, we just do whatever's needed at whatever level of government needs something done."
"And you are Vinogradov . . . ?"
A faint choking noise from somewhere in the background.
"I don't advertize it." He touched the medallion.
Because when you're down in the hundreds, people keep having kids and grand kids, and every time they count things again, you're further removed. But if you're unlucky enough to be less than a hundred, most of the people ahead of you are old and done with parenting and grandchildren have either passed their challenge, or not. And getting old enough to die, even with rejuv treatments.
And now? God only knows where I stand, between the Plague and the violence.
And with luck, it'll all fall apart, and I'll never have to be a politician.
He grabbed the briefcase that was a mobile office, the black canvas tote with his vacuum packed wardrobe, both completely stripped of weaponry, and led the way to the portal room. They all donned the baggy spackle cloth overalls. Not needed, in his case, but why advertize that?
A techie walked up supressing a smile as he glanced at Axel's hair, and handed over a contraption the size of a shoe. A large shoe.
"We didn't have time to small it down. But it ought to work on Stuttgart . . . or anywhere else. Probably ought to be inside your spatter suit."
The young man looked startled to have been recognized and scuttled away.
Boleslav paused, helmet in the air over his head. :: You going to watch, and point us the right way? ::
:: Might keep you guys from dropping us off at the sewage treatment plant. ::
A mental grin as he put the helmet on and snugged it down.
Axel walked back to the group, tucking the phone into his spatter suit forming an awkward lump, threatening to slide down.
The quad was revving up power, experienced, now, reaching out. Axel closed his eyes as the quad sankinto the fizzy mess and started picking out markers. Beacons.
:: There's less every time. The higher tiers are starting to hide. ::
A bright collection . . . :: German on that side, Russian here, and Japanese there. ::
Deeper into the collection. :: Home. Germans start with six Tier Two Worlds. Checking this one up there on . . . no, London is completely different. ::
A hard pull away. Settling down. Easing toward the next German World . . . :: London looks about right. Now there ought to be four portal facilities around the north side . . . I think we've got it. ::
Axel eased a bit closer mentally. :: The Presidential palace should be . . . there . . . and their security head quarters . . . there. Attach there. ::
He opened his eyes and waved in the group. "Just remember. Run and jump through, don't stop, keep going and curve off to the side."
He pulled the hood over his head, adjusted the eye slits, and turned as the portal opened. And led the way. Twist and burn as he passed through the Portal and dropped a couple of feet to the ground. He stepped to the side and turned back, to grab a stumbling man and spin him out of the way. The next at least kept going for a few steps before he crashed. The third guy must have been watching as he landed and jigged to the other side. Next two came together, as the first hesitated and the second tackled him and carried him through. The last three jumped through and got grabbed to keep them on their feet.
Axel turned then, peeling out of his spattersuit and facing the armed men rushing down the steps. He put a little shine to his dome shield as he stepped up to it.
Severl shot, two laser hits and the men in command yelled to cease fire. He stalked up to the dome and eyed Axel.
"Excuse me, is the Tier Two Stuttgart?"
"Yesss . . ." The man was eying the medallion and very Russian outfit. Axel stepped back and looked through the Portal. Gave the Boss a thumbs up. The portal swirled closed.
"Two weeks ago///, while retrieving some kidnapped citizens of our world, we also freed two high ranking citizens of yours. They need to contact their people and a small diplomatic contingent from our world has come along to discuss these raids with your government. If I could borrow a phone . . ." He stopped as the officer's gaze had gone beyond him, his eyes widening.
"Lord Gunter!" Disbelief in his voice. "Lord Hans?"
Lord Gunter grunted. "Well. I didn't expect to fall in to your lap, General. We were kidnapped . . . almost a month ago. Lord Axel Vinogradov here, rescued us. The men he was searching for had been replaced by look-alikes. Have I been . . . I see. We came at this ghastly hour in hopes of arriving when the President was away from a possible impostor and . . . now you get to sort us all out, with, please, an extra guard on the President, because Budapest Reborn has . . . made a very hostile move against us."
The General had been tapping at his phone the whole time and now turned away to speak into it.
He turned back eyes on Axel. "Where are you from?"
"Tier Five Siberia Max."
A frown. "I am not acquainted with it."
"We're a small, sanctioned experimental world. Budapest Reborn assumed we had piles of zivvy sitting around. When we found a beacon, we waited for the owners to open a portal to it. We explained that we don't do those sorts of experiments--no one off the Citidel does. Clearly they didn't believe us, as they proceded with their plans." Axel shrugged. "While rescuing these Lords as well as our own, we . . . just happened to collect their only portalmaker on the way out."
The General paused . . . "I see. That's really interesting."
"Yes. But no doubt they have more portalmakers in the pipline, so I doubt it'll last very long." Axel shrugged. "And hoping they'll leave us alone now is not really a good defense. Hence the diplomates."
The General picked up his phone again, this time to listen. "Right. I'll send them right in."
"I appologize Lord Gunter . . ."
"But I'm going to examined like nothing I've ever experienced? I not only expected it, I welcome it." He put a hand to his head. "As a way of demoralizing a prisoner . . . convincing them they've been chipped is hard to beat, and I want to be examined completely."