and get the last one out before the first one's rest period is over and they raise the alarm.
It's not going to be possible.
The constant rumble of the trucks died away. He pulled his mimcam back out and shifted to see . . . Ah. They're done with out-going and now the in-coming traffic starts.
He slipped back out the big truck door and walked around the building . . . not liking the door placement. Don't they have fire marshals to insist on emergency exits all over the place?
He slid quietly off the grounds and around to where he'd left the car.
Then home to argue with himself.
I'd rather kidnap them . . . but killing them may be the only option.
He headed back to the warehouse., and slept for a few hours until the rattle of the back door being raised alerted him to a problem.
Men in dark clothing ducking under the door as it rose, flashlights . . .
Axel reached and hit the light switch.
The men froze, then clustered defensively, a few pistols coming up as they focused on him.
"Oh good. I was afraid it was the police. Who are you . . . very young men?"
Ah, under eighteen so they aren't chipped. Six of them.
The one in front, one of the three with a pistol, was looking wary. "Gib me alle your cash Karten, and du won't get hurt." Some sort of pidgin German-English mash up.
Axel nodded. "You know, I don't believe in passing up opportunities that just fall into my lap. Let's talk business. You guys don't look terribly healthy, especially the one with the bandage around his hand."
"Was? You denken sei waste medicine on Livestock? It don't matter who our Vater are, not that we know, but we got," He squeezed his hand closed on a glow of power, "das Talent, even so. Und they don't like that."
"I see." Axel kept up a shield, even though the kids didn't look all that dangerous. He walked to the table and grabbed a glass and a bottle of wine. Twisted off the top and poured a half a glass. Pulled his med kit out of the truck and walked back to the table.
"All right bandage boy, let's see your hand."
The boy swallowed and edged out. The others followed. Currious, supportive, wary. They were eyeing the glass of wine suspiciously.
And him even more suspiciously.
He pulled out a pair of scissors. "I'm going to take the bandage off, so you can see what happens."
The boy managed to pale even further. "Der doctor said they might as well konnten it off, I wasn't good for anthing but a Cyborg anyway."
This scrawney little thing?
At least it was a professional wrap, and didn't stick, but the jagged cut in his palm was oozing puss, and the red streaks had almost made it to his wrist.
"Right. Now drink this."
The kid took the glass cautiously and took a sip. Huffed a surprised breath, and took a deep swallow. A couple of breaths. "Gut painkiller." he startled and held out his hand. "Was ist los?" His voice rising in panic, as blood tinged puss gushed out of the cut.
Axel wiped his hand, then led him over to the sink and washed it thoroughly with soap the kids crowded around and watched in fascination as the cut closed up on healthy looking flesh, the red streaks already gone . . .
"What this stuff is, is a couple hundred healing impressions and . . . some other stuff." Axel waited until the kids all looked back at the partly drunk glass of wine.
Bandage boy looked up from his hand. "What stuff?"
"Pain killer, you'll feel pretty lusty for a few days. And . . . It dissolves zivvy wires."
They froze. Staring at him.
"You have to do it right though. This is what you do for a servant chip. Half a cup a day for seven days. Then absolutely no alcohol for three weeks. The seven days dissolves the wires. but it runs on alcohol. You keep feeding it, and it'll attack the chip, and then you're in trouble. Seven days, then stop, and the chip still reads normal. You'll have your talent back, your smarts."
"Now Cyborgs . . . three days, maximum, else they may lose use of the arm. But they'll be harder to control. I don't know about wife chips. I suspect they're the same as the servant chips. They can get back their magic."
The leader took a deep breath. "How much do you have?"
Axel shook his head. "It's a von neumann's potion. Do you know what that is? Good. Take this," he handed over a cash card, "and the rest of this bottle. Dope up a bunch of wine. Give it to those who need it, charge those who can pay. And keep it quiet, because when the authorities find out about it, it will become illegal."
He shooed them out, and locked up. Turned out the lights and slept again.
The second portal was just begging to be raided. And the portalmaker young and in pain.
:: One more week. Help will come. ::
Axel drove back to the warehouse and fiddled with the car ID so he could get into the car park across the street, and for good measures, two other false IDs as well.
He slept fitfully through the nightmares.
The third portal was manned by another elderly portalmaker, hardly worth the risk killing, let alone kidnapping. But the architecture was "interesting."
The steel cube and panel architecture that he was much too familiar with, with the portal facilities at one end . . . and museum at the other? He walked cautiously over to read the sign . .
Drei Mächte Bündniss World Headquarters
discovered, built on the ruins of the native buildings flattened
during the first stages of the invasion
The World was named Stuttgart after the beloved home of
the Great Leader
I think I'll barf. This is where it all started, attacking late industrial, early electronic age Worlds and taking . . . instead of colonizing Worlds with no people and building. Creating.
The security system and locks on the side door were no doubt adequate for the local hoodlums, but yielded quickly to Axel. He slipped quietly deep into the "preserved in pristine historical condition" . . . crap he had to deal with at home. He trotted past displays and beyond the offices staffed with appropriately dressed manikins and into the Great Leader's private chambers, where he found the door to the working part of the complex.
So to speak. He had to shift boxes and a metal shelf unit that were blocking the doorway on the other side. One direction, the quiet dark offices of the bureaucrats . . . oh. the payroll department?
Axel supressed a desire to give everyone a giant pay raise and went the other direction . . . to the security offices. Peeking around a corner and hearing people through the first door down the hall . . . He eased up to take a look.
Two bored officers. ". . . call themselves the Black Widows. Makes you wonder what their husbands really died of."
A snort from the man behind the desk. "Hardly matters, they'll be dead as soon as the doctor gets here in the morning."
"Ach! Experimenting! Times have changed--forever." He shrugged and started toward the door. "Not that much will change for us."
Heh. A wise man. Assuming he survives the rest of this year.
Axel backpedaled hastily, and ducked around the corner, the sound of boots on the hard floor, fading.
Axel let the man get well out of sight before he reached out and gently fogged the deskman's mind.
And bingo! The other side of the desk was full of lights and controls, a clear plas door behind him opened to the tap of the Desk Man's ID, and Axel took a quick look down the row of cells. The first big cell was the only one occupied.
The four women were slumped. Tired. Hopeless. One had gray threaded through her hair, and the lines of experience on her face. The other three were younger, late twenties or thirties, perhaps. One of them spotted him, despite the camosuit and nudged the woman next to her.
Axel glanced back at Desk Man and had him open the women's cell.
"Would you ladies like to get out of here?"