Inquisitor Grigory Odissey Gorbechev gathered power. Again.
And contemplated the bin of comple organic material in front of him.
Fell into the cadence of the mnemonic poem his great-grandfather had made him memorize decades ago. Envisioned the carbon chains before him curling up into tight springs . . . and the heap of material just laid there ignoring him.
He comcentrated on the tiniest bit he could feel and tried again. And again. poured all his power into the indifferent chemicals.
Sagged in defeat.
Igor could probably make this damned powder sit up and sing!
"Who is Igor?" A snapping voice.
Grand Executioner Yarik Orlov. Grigory shut his mental comentary down hastily. "One of our Agents. A Master Mentalist. He can be amazingly subtle. Have you tried any Chemists or Microbiologists? Rather than just running down the lists?"
"That is none of your business. Come! Get some rest. You have four more trials before we discard you."
Grigory staggered weakly to his feet and wobbled after them. Trailing badly, as they really didn't care if he fainted from low blood sugar.
A single guard followed him, as usual.
Why? To make sure I don't, what? Escape? What a joke. Igor would have stayed long enough to check everything out, then walked out, leaving everything in ruins behind him.
I'm not Igor, or even in his class, more the pity.
Or not. I don't actually think I want the secret of zivvy manufacture to be rediscovered.
He staggered, and the guard stepped back. Probably wants me to collapse helplessly at his feet. The little spurt of anger carried him the last stretch to the small snackbar, located here for just this reason. He grabbed a drink and collapsed in a chair.
Grigor swallowed the sweet thing, and sighed in relief.
I should rush through my trials and get it over with. Maybe, maybe, they'd let me go at least as far as Regulus to Present Arkhip. Before they force-feed me the Plague poison, like they forced on Father and Grandfather.
Great grandfather didn't survive the violence that broke out when the 300 started realizing they'd lost their mentalist powers. When the guards realized they were free, when the Grand Executioner realized the Grand Inquisitor had no power, and even the servants and workers ran wild, until the few surviving Mentalists took control, and totalled up the damage.
Or should I say totalled up what was left?
Fifty-two of the Three Hundred, not a single one with the Power, but possibly able to teach how to make the zivvy.
Servants and Cyborg guards . . . perhaps ten percent survived.
He pushed himself to his feet, and grabbed a selection of snacks, a sandwich, another drink, a small handful of salt packets that he dropped in a pocket, his hands other-wise full.
At least the workers in the manufactory were mostly locked in, and most survived. Not that making the non-power precursor of the zivvy matters any more. But at least they're alive.
Twenty-eight Inquisitors and Executioners still had power. Here. The Head Executioner took control, got the riots stopped--bloodily--and left the Inquisidors in control.
Then he crossed to Home and gave the order to isolate The Citadel for one year. And took over the Office of the Inquisition there. And started negotiating with the Bureaus.
They have forty million pods of zivvy here, and the Bureau of Revenue and the Bureau of Distribution are fighting over another twenty. Tiers Two and Three grabbed some of the big shipments, but most of the last pods manufactured reached their intended destinations, the delivery staff unaware of the chaos behind them.
And those Worlds mostly used them before they got the word that there wasn't anymore coming.
He ripped open a salt packet and opened his sandwich to annoint the vegetables.
They won't let me go. Not in time. Not still with my mentalist ability intact.
But surely, surely Demyon will get permission to Present him. Or Ariadne has gotten Ark back to Siberia Max so Axel can. Or Regulus has stopped chipping. Or . . . something. Anything.
Because if they're being held there . . . hostages . . . I wonder if the Bureaus are trying to use them to influence Father or Grandfather? Would they bother? Knowing they have lost their Mentalist abilities?
Clones and Cows
A magic lesson this time. Push and pull. Spin.
Pauli and Six-Twelve both got used for practice.
Fireballs. Flowing the physical shield off the hand to slash.
"I recommend against using that one in a big scrum. It's too easy to loose track of where your other limbs are. After you've demonstrated your excellence, it's a merciful way to put down a Cyborg with brain fever."
Ark swallowed, jerked his head in a nod.
"Now, let's talk about the nervous system." Axel sighed. "Pressure on a nerve can be useful. Even in a fight, if you can tap right over the spine, you can numb the whole thing, with this impression."
Ark nodded cautiously. "But I have to kill them."
"Turn around, Pauli." He tapped the base of the skull. "Right here. They can't breathe, interfers with the heartbeat. You'll have to hold it for several minutes."
A swallow. "Seems like the slash would be kinder."
Evgeny Chernov phoned him when they left the Novikovs house, heading for the hotel.
"I was admiring your car the other day, why don't you take me for a drive?"
Axel eyed the phone. "Certainly. It's a company vehicle, all the modern conveniences. Where shall I pick you up?"
Pauli snorted and pulled over. Popped out to open the rear door."
"My. What a coincidence. Finding me interesting?"
Chernov bit a knuckle. Got his face straightened out. "Five. Count them, five top analysts are watching a documentary on the dairy industry, trying to find the secret code or hidden message."
Axel choked. "All right, that tops my most idiotic assignment, hands down. So, where would you like Pauli to demonstrate this most excellence vehicle's paces?"
Down a high speed throughway, and off to a gymnasium.
Where he found a glowering "I am the manager of Portal Number Three and I have no desire to have some complete unknown try to foist 'new tech' on my facility." A glare over his shoulder. "Especially with a batch of clones, the highest of which is an eight point three!"
"The only changes to your Facility will be a different connection to the Portalmaker, through the standard Ninety-six F. If you have a non standard connector, we'll flange up an adapt . . . No? Good. Now let's see if this group can handle the new technique."
Alex sidestepped him and walked up to the wary group of kids, and two men who were probably their trainers.
Three other men who were probably some of Director Zorkin's people.
"Well. This is a test for some proprietary new equipment, so I'm going to have to ask you two trainers to step our of the room. Manager if you can lower your shields to listen, without any projection, you can stay and listen in." Axel eyed the seven boys . . . lanky with knobby knees and elbows, painfully remanescent of Leon and Robert, the youngest of the Portalmakers he'd stolen . . .