Journey to New Europa
Chapter 44, Katrina's Origins
We left our heroes with Dragomilov at the doorstep.
Dafnord, in a psychic move unusual for him, slams open the telepathy net and sends out the alert: "Dragomilov!" The general reaction, on the empathic level is roughly "!!" Tom and Salimar come skidding in to meet this uninvited guest Robbie, who's already there, asks him to come in and join us for dinner.
Dragomilov, looking very grim, steps in, slips off his white gloves, and hands them over one shoulder to the huge Turkish servant looming behind him. "What brings you here, sir?" Robbie asks politely.
Dragomilov answers that he finds he is in our debt. (He doesn't look very pleased about it.) "The greatest of my treasures was not destroyed with my house, because you have her here with you." He stares at Katrina. It seems that, a few hours ago, his house was blown up by carefully placed explosives. He now demands that we continue to protect his daughter. (Daughter!? We had seen a family resemblance, but...)
Katrina tells us that she didn't know he was her father, either. She thought he was her uncle, Sergius Constantine, and that she had discovered him in a double identity. She stares at Dragomilov, in shock.
Dragomilov explained that, in their flight from the Old Country, the family lost all its members except himself and his daughter. The casualties included his cousin Sergius, whose identity he assumed, and Katrina's mother. He remarks that, by the way, the Constantine house was destroyed at the same time, along with who knows how many Assassination Bureau agents, including Prof. Stoutworthy.
Tom says that we'll do our best to protect Katrina, but we have troubles of our own and this place might not be very safe, itself. Dragomilov pushes the urgency of his "requirement" and, over the net, Mithriel takes the unusual step of initiating contact to warn Tom that, based on her experience with her own family in wolf form, this guy is about to snap.
So is Tom. With a mixture of hauteur and hysteria, he sums up Dragomilov's problem: a world-wide criminal organization, headed by an evil mastermind, is gunning for him and his. It is by NO means clear that this is worse than the trouble WE are coping with. We are only finite, and what we are up against may not be.
When a mouse tells a tiger it has bigger problems than predation, the tiger may well take pause for thought. Dragomilov contents himself by saying that all this is "very unfortunate," and Mithriel congratulates Tom telepathically on doing the right thing.
Dragomilov asks if we require any further information of him, since he will be unreachable after this. Tom answers that, as a practical matter, he needs to know if Katrina is fully human. "At least," is the answer.
A little more questioning reveals that Prof. Stoutworthy was killed when we was "distracted" by the fire destroying the Oxbridge library. The World Crime League is not being subtle.
Before he goes, Dragomilov gives Katrina a locket, the only thing left from her mother. It contains two pictures, one of a pretty woman of Slavic extraction and resembling Katrina, the other of Dragomilov looking exactly as he does now. Tom examines the locket after Dragomilov's departure, notes a faint psychic signature about it, and remarks that Dragomilov himself would seem to be of some superhuman stock. Congratulations, Katrina. She doesn't answer.
All this has been played out in the dinner room, before Father Paddy and de Alqua, doing their best fly-on-the-wall imitations. Tom composes himself, sits down, and engages Fr. Paddy in a nice little chat about parallel worlds, the upshot of which is that there are lots of possibilities, none of which Tom can eliminate, in particular about the origins of humanity and Christianity on the different lines:
-- maybe there were parallel creations/evolutions/origins -- maybe there's leakage and people migrated from one line to the others -- maybe there were parallel Incarnations -- or maybe missionaries unwittingly wandered from one line to the others -- maybe thoughts slip across lines and help to keep the histories parallel
Over the next course, Mithriel remarks that Mother (Daewen) looked aged in the dream where she appeared with gray at the temples; very odd, that; it must be a vision from very far in the future.
Tom relies that he hadn't thought the New Blood aged, and thought the gray temples must have been cosmetic. Mithriel assures him that Daewen is sure the New Blood do age, though Mithriel isn't sure that this involves suffering physical decrepitude. But Mother and Melusine were both looking forward to their old ages, because they wouldn't want to miss a chance at the role of Hag (as in Maiden, Matron, Hag). Daewen also said that the New Blood end, not returning like the First Blood. Does Tom know why she thinks that? No.
Meanwhile, Salimar has slipped upstairs to contemplate the magic mirror. Should she warn the Seelie Court about these developments concerning Katrina? Could she call Lorelei on this thing and get a quick course on raising Wards Major?
The mirror is unable to contact Lorelei. She does call up Robin Goodfellow and warns him that King Auberon, due here tomorrow, may be walking into a hornets' nest, what with possible agents of the World Crime League gunning for Katrina. (She speaks, however, much more elliptically.) Robin refers her to de Alqua for an evaluation of the security situation.
Meanwhile, Dafnord has slipped outside to do a little patrolling. Encouraged by his recent success with telepathy, he tries contact Old Tom Langhorn, but fails. However, the old woods-bogey soon comes shuffling along anyway. Dafnord asks if he's seen anything strange. This from the genetically engineered superman to the mythical creature.
No, Old Tom hasn't seen anything unusually strange... After Dafnord breaks silence enough to ask about people sneaking about, Old Tom admits to a couple "a few miles away," with a gesture indicating direction -- east. Robbie, alerted by telepathy, launches his spy-eye to investigate.
Back in the dining room, Tom asks Fr. Paddy if he'd like an explanation of all these references to New Blood and dreams. Well, yes. Tom explains a bit, and Mithriel glamours the dream images out candle flames -- after Tom does a bit of verbal footwork to explain why we were speaking of dreams as joint experience without mentioning the dream monitor.
To Tom's eye, the black-clad, gray-templed image of Daewen looks, if anything younger than the blue-clad image, if you ignore the gray hair. But Mithriel is sure she looks older, while the blue-clad image just looks tired. Must be a fay thing.
Mithriel then goes up to look at the hole, and comes down to announce that it's gotten a little softer. She and Tom break out the old dimensional survey equipment (remember that?) but entirely fail to get a meaningful reading on the geometry of the soft spot. All they can do is get some numbers and then watch them change or not. They set up something similar on the residual distortion down in the library where the mahatma detonated.
Back outside, Dafnord has parted company with Old Tom Langhorn and continued his patrol, hoping to run across de Alqua. Instead, de Alqua runs across him, appearing quietly out of the shadows by the chimney corner to ask what's up. Dafnord tells him about Salimar's request for a security evaluation, and about Old Tom's reference to lurkers a few miles east.
On the security issue, de Alqua says Auberon should come with a good escort. (Dafnord relays this to Salimar, who relays it to Robin Goodfellow.) For the lurkers, de Alqua wanders out into the dewy lawn and whistles up some pixies -- sleek, black-and-silvery, jump-jet pixies, who zip off into the night. Robbie sends his spy-eye drifting after them.
Robbie himself, meanwhile, has accompanied Fr. Paddy up to his rooms to research the mystery fay from the dreams. Fr. Paddy has had no luck so far. Robbie asks if he can look through the books Dr. Paddy brought. Some of them, yes. Robbie leafs through the allowed books, quietly committing images to cache.
Outside, the petty-fays report to de Alqua. Two men are creeping through a field a mile and a half to the east. They're going very slowly, but very stealthy. De Alqua sets out to encounter them, Robbie's eye in aerial attendance.
Robbie's eye gets there in time to see de Alqua dusting his hands over a corpse, the other fellow being bound in a silvery rope. Both were clad in matte black cat-burglar clothes. De Alqua draws a knife and hesitates over the bound one, then walks away, peeved. The eye comes near and sees the bound one is now dead.
De Alqua evidently changes his mind and returns, casually carrying off both corpses in an interesting display of strength and agility. After a minor misunderstanding in which de Alqua mistook the robot's flying eye for an enemy presence, the elven agent rendezvous with Dafnord, shows him the bodies, and apologizes for letting the second one commit suicide. Dafnord investigates and finds the suicide died by means of a large needle piercing under the ribs.
De Alqua and the ninja pixies set out on night patrol while Dafnord and Salimar argue telepathically how to dispose of the bodies.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.