And he'd realized that even if close to half the men had power . . . it was moderate to weak. They all got a small dose of the plague, not enough to remove all their power genes, but enough to limit them. No wonder they've holed up, up here. They can't take out Orlov. And I'll bet none of them can energize the zivvy, either. Maybe a lot of them never could. It's their means of control, not a requirement to represent their Families.
There were about four times as many servants up here as the fifty-two Representatives. Personal servants, clerical staff, cleaning staff . . . Two fully tricked out Geishas, apparently belonging to two of the Japanese Family reps.
And techs, who set up the cameras while the 52 sought their chambers to clean up and dress appropriately for the ceremony.
"We are fifty-two of the 300 who ruled three years ago. We are the sole survivors of that ruling cohort because under the cover of the chaos following that attack, we were attacked by our own side.
"Treason from the very top of the Office of the Inquisition.
"The Family members you have sent to replace their fallen predecissors never reached us. They were taken by the self-styled Grand Executioner Vladik Orlov. When they could not empower zhivyye provoda, they were given a choice between death and poisioning with the 'plague' to remove their Power.
"We grieve with you.
"Here are our orders.
"All Inquisitors, Executioners, Agents, Cyborgs, and Servants are ordered to not obey the Office of the Inquisition on the Citadel. They are in active rebellion and will be dealt with.
"All Officers, Employees, Cyborgs and Servants of all Alliance Bureaus. Do not take orders from the Inquistion until we have corrected the current problems. You may take legal advice and cooperate on criminal matters.
"The Inquistion and the Bureaus need to cooperate and assist the World Governments, in domestic affairs, and seek to keep trade moving and prevent attacks between member worlds.
"World Governments. At this time, we have no capacity to manufacture zhivyye provoda. Cease all routine chipping. Methods of opening Portals that do not required chipped portalmakers are being explored. We have sufficient successes that we give permission to all Worlds to experiment and deploy any such tech.
"The legal status of unchipped Natives, Halfbreeds, and Servant class adults will be that of free workers, who may be legally employed in the same manner as working class lords and are subject all the same laws. They may not use the title 'lord.' The legal staus of chipped Servants and Cyborgs will not change."
Half of what I want. And no mention of removing chips.
"We will update these directives at least annually, as circumstances change." Yezov stepped back and Tokugawa stepped up to repeat that in Japanese, then it was Kaplan's turn to put it into German.
They handed him a small tab and a mid-sized box. "A copy for you. Just place the box somewhere with line-of-sight of the Central Antenna, and it will attach to messages being sent though portals and spread throughout the Three Part Alliance."
Axel eyed the collection of old men. "Will you be safe here? I could release portal keys to here, but a battle might be more dangerous than waiting them out. There are a lot of open doors."
"We will lock them. And lock the one you leave by, behind you. When Orlov gets hungry he will have to choose between surrendering to us, or crossing to Home."
Axel bowed deeply.
"Use your judgement. The Inquistion on Home has a key, and has not used it. If it seems necessary, hand them out like candy. But I'd recommend waiting a year."
Axel bowed again, and followed one of the spryer Representatives to the elevator
Jaeger looked like a healthy fifty-year-old, which probably meant he'd had a good responce to Rejuv.
He led Axel through tunnels to another heavy vault door that opened ponderously to yet another steel corridor. Fifty feet, then a bend to the left.
"Three hundred yards on, there's a door to a staircase to the surface, near the open ground where they park vehicles. Have a nice trip."
The vault door closed behind him.
Axel snorted and started walking, counting his paces.
There was no sign of a door in the vicinity of three hundred yards down the tunnel . . . which bent every fifty feet or so.
Emergency escape tunnel, with kinks so no one can just shoot down the whole long thing. I wonder where it ends?
He backed up past the last bend and ran his hand along the wall around the corner . . . a faint discontinuity . . . in a square. He put his right hand flat on it. A faint gritting, the outline of a door now showing . . . Axel put his shoulder to it and it scrapped half-open against a pile of dust. Started to step through . . . paused and used a shield to push all the dust against the far wall. A quick swipe around the edge of the door, the door jam, around the hinges . . . "Sorry, no oil." Then he stepped through, surveyed the ladder up, and shoved the door closed. five steps up the ladder, he let the shield go and released the dust. Instantly regretted it as the fine particles floated upward.
He scrambled on up, blinking watery irritated eyes . . . good god am I still fifty feet underground?
Apparently. But he finally reached the top. A half tall door that, by the hinges, opened upward.
And was well stuck.
He had to slice all around the edges, very carefully in the hinges, before it would budge. A wall of sand stood in the doorway, ready to fall, with an uneven inch of eyesearing light above it. He gave his eyes a few seconds to adjust, then craned his neck to look out.
At a car headlight three feet away. Looked to the side, another car.
"Near the open ground where they park their vehicles? Yeah, I guess that's near." He gave the sand a shove and climbed out. Stayed low and got between the cars . . . flat rotted tires, sand pitted paint and glass.
"So, I'm guessing this is not the motor pool." He raised up enough for a survey. The Citadel towering behind the "rock" he'd crawled out of. Office building over there. So the Portal was most likely that way . . . And there's movement that direction. And maybe either a car I can steal or hitch a ride with.