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matapam
28 June 2017 @ 09:39 am

"Wow!" She didn't have to fake that. The view was spectacular. The beach and rocky headlands stretching out to sea on both ends and the brilliant tropical blue ocean stretching out to the horizon. "Now I'm going to wish our diplomatic ministry hadn't put their foot down and refused to get into a 'taller building than theirs' contest."

Montgomery chuckled. "Indeed—not we don't need more space—but just one ridiculously tall building is not the best solution. We're making plans for a second tower, and I'm arguing to keep it at half of this."

Sounds from the street level were faint . . . funny how the bark of dogs carried so well . . . and now louder than normal engine revs.

Xen scowled over the edge. "I told them not to . . . I swear I'm going to do something nasty to people who mistake the square for a racetrack." He turned away and planted his butt on the low wall. "Unfortunately I probably can't until they hurt someone.

Rael looked over the edge, choked faintly. "They're racing around the fountain? Inside the ring of gates?"

Xen didn't turn around. "Yes. It started with the Oners, then a couple of Earthers brought what they called muscle cars. Last week there was a Purp with this . . . thing that had to be seen to be believed. The first of the month meeting, I'm going to have to ask if there's a civic need for a race track and let everyone argue about specs and regulations."

The Ambassador snickered. "Insurance."

"Old Gods! I'd better go break them up . . . "

Xen was halfway back to the elevators when the brakes shrieked.

Rael turned back and looked over the edge. A horse sideways across the hood of a car, the driver sprawled across the top, rolling off. "One! Someone hit a horse . . . and someone is going to get the snot beat out of them . . . " She gulped as the rider picked himself up off the ground and advanced on the driver of the car. Who was getting out, gesturing . . . not in a way she'd interpret as friendly.

That's the Arbolian arch. Still turned into the plaza, instead of out. He came through, right into their path.

The rider's return gesture was accompanied by a flash of steel and a spray of blood . . . and a hand . . .

Xen started down, then leaned back, eyes half shut . . . He's going to teleport down . . . bet I can beat him.

Shields, out and draped, fasten to ankles, no need to push . . .

"RAEL!"

Weeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Bend the knees to level out and twist the wrists for control and aim . . . wobbly . . . need to figure out a tail for proper steering . . .

Below, the Oner driver was clutching his wrist, a crowd of other Oners was forming . . . The closest, the other drivers, were running up, fists clenched . . .

I am going way too fast . . . push ahead of me, push . . . they are all in the way. But what the hell . . . One nice broad push across the whole gang.

That slowed her nicely and she made her best landing yet. Dismissing the shield and striding forward. "Stop it. Now! The adults have arrived and you children are about to get what you've so royally asked for."

One fellow stepped out sneering . . . hitting the ground snoring.

A restless stir through the rest as she knelt by the injured driver. He had the blood flow almost stopped, despite his shocky panting, tears running down his face.

She pulled a shoelace off her sneaker for a tourniquet. hanky for a pad, pen from the man's pocket and twist . . . throw two quick stun spells.

She turned to look for the swordsman. He was kneeling beside his horse, while Xen looked at a leg . . . splintered bone showing through the blood. She winced and looked away.

She walked over and tried to not get sick at the severed hand laying there.

"Can you cool it down a bit Rael? There will be less cell death before I have the time to reattach it."

The crouching man whimpered. "Now! Do it now! Please!"

"Asshole. As soon as the horse is stablized. Because frankly I care more about him than you, just now."

The driver shot a beseeching look her direction.

She pulled heat carefully, even as she shook her head at the man. "Half the gates open out into the plaza. You damn well knew it wasn't safe."

He whimpered.

Behind her, Xen was talking. "Keep him flat, while the wine works on his internal injuries. I'll be right back to transport him."

He walked around her, and scooped up the hand. Knelt beside the man and matched up hand and wrist. She could feel the magic, couldn't read it at all.

"Rael, pocket flask inside left jacket pocket. Give him a jot."

He sounded quiet, ordinary.

She fished out the flask and held it for the man to take a sip. He blinked, relaxed. Pain killer on top of everything? As needed I guess.

"And loosen the tourniquet. Don't move!" his voice had a definite snap now. "I haven't connected the bones."

"I can't feel anything."

"Tendons next, then the bone. The nerve cells have been told to grow and split, they'll be ready for attachment in another ten minutes or so."

"Oh." Whimpering.

They'd drawn quite a crowd, some authoritative types were ordering people to get the cars off the plaza. She caught something about "confined to quarters."

Then people with a guerney showed up and Xen stood away from the driver.

And looked down on her. "Rael . . . I had no idea you could fly. AND I SUSPECT I'M GOING TO HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT YOU JUMPING OFF THE FRIGGING THIRTY STORY BUILDING FOR YEARS!"

She reached out and patted his arm. "It's a Warrior of the One thing. Surely you can levitate?"

He eyed her dyspeptically. He was too tanned to pale much, but he did look almost greenish and the muscles in his face were tight.

"You've never mentioned flying."

She gave him her best giggle. "I'll go make sure the idiot gets to your hospital, while you take care of the horse."

He was still standing there as she walked—bounced—away.

 
 
matapam
27 June 2017 @ 11:10 am

Sorry, couple of bad days. I really can't write when I'm seriously short on sleep.

"Won't you join us, Xen?" Mischievous tones in the old man's voice.

"Certainly." He strolled along at the Ambassador's other shoulder. "Are you loosening up your security, or just making an exception for us?"

Montgomery chuckled. "Oh, an exception, but really, the paranoia is both well founded and a waste of time, given the demonstrated ability of the Ones to get a team and their weapons up to our roof. We're quite curious how they managed." He glanced down at Rael. "Can Oners teleport like the Fallen."

Rael shook her head. "Mind you not for lack of trying. But we don't seem to have the knack of it. Or perhaps, like the gates, we simply don't have the enabling genes."

The Ambassador nodded. "Infuriating, isn't it? We're trying to duplicate the gate either mechanically, or with the tiny number of part-Fallen that have been born on Earth."

Rael raised her eyebrows. "I didn't realize you had any."

"Oh, let's see. Twenty-seven years ago, now. This Pax person—The God of Peace, Xen?"

"A Communist who believed that peace would only come when all nations and worlds were united."

"Ah! So, a total warmonger. As we've pieced the story together, he teleported Our Asian gate anchor to Fascia, then the Amma led his Oner Trained troops through the next time Earth opened the gate."

Rael bit her lip and kept quiet.

"That Pax person mentally controlled the Gate personnel to keep the gate open long enough to get everyone through, then switched it to an Empty World with an active mining operation, and shifted everyone—well, his Army, his most loyal nobles with all their families and servants—back though it. This took more than a day, and a major killing raping and looting spree by his troops as they established a perimeter."

Montgomery shrugged. "We never have found the world they moved to. And they left a bomb to blow up the gate after they left. Some of the raped women got pregnant, and a few decided to carry to term. We haven't, to date, had any luck with them being magic at all."

Xen nodded. "There's a lot less magic in Auralia, than in the West, although in Fascia the Oners have been . . . donating magic genes for generations. But from whatever source, surely you've gotten some of the insertions and power genes."

Rael sighed. "Finally! A cross dimensional invasion that wasn't the fault of either of us, eh, Ambassador?"

He chuckled. "Well, we believe most of your people went through with them. They apparently intended to just bring in their trained native army to hold the gate area while they switched the gate to One World so your army could join the invasion. Poor fellows. Probably marooned with a population of mostly male Auralian soldiers and the Natives we imported to work the mines. Also probably all male."

Rael couldn't even summon a giggle. "That . . . we really have to stop stupid . . . Arg!"

"Well, with Orde back in control, there's some hope." Xen's voice was mild . . . just a tinge of doubt.

Montgomery led them past the appalled guards and into the lobby.

"We were surprised there was no retaliation—on the personal level—after the attempted judicial murder of your daughter, Xen."

Xen chuckled at that. "I was pleased that their own electorates rejected them. That was a much better message to future . . . idiots . . . than us doing something to them."

"It's hell having to think diplomatically, isn't it?"

"Umm. I may have to admit to having achieved adulthood."

That had Rael giggling.

Xen looked around the lobby. "How did your team get up there?"

"Oh, they climbed the outside. The inside security was just too tight. They were also muttering about the actual construction of the building making it difficult."

One of the collection of people that had started trailing them snorted. "Told you so!"

They were alone on the elevator . . . but not on the roof. Obviously someone had sent people ahead. Rael suspected that the Ambassador was wired. They probably record every interaction he has with outsiders.

"Wow!" She didn't have to fake that. The view was spectacular. "Now I'm going to wish our diplomatic ministry hadn't put their foot down and refused to get into a 'taller building than theirs' contest."

Montgomery chuckled. "Indeed—not we don't need more space—but just one ridiculously tall building is not the best solution. We're making plans for a second tower, and I'm arguing to keep it at half of this."

 
 
matapam
25 June 2017 @ 08:54 am
 

Chapter Four


The doctor was a woman. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.

Rael winced. Please keep your Arab side under control . . . Rael's thoughts derailed as she took in Isakson's wary expression.

Rael studied the doctor . . . lowered her shields. And found the bottomless depths of controlled power she'd always associated with Xen.

"I'm Doctor Gisele Heath. Welcome to Embassy."

The Goddess of Health and Fertility is working in a hospital? Well . . . where else? But on Embassy?

A flick of a smile her direction. "I both work and teach here. Lots of sick and injured people here for my students to learn on."

Isakson took her extended hand like he was being handed a snake. "I am Isak ibn Isak . . . "

"Isak's son? Oh my, you don't look much like that scrawny little imp, but time does that to us all, doesn't it? Now . . . good heavens! How many times have you broken that jaw? It looks like a jigsaw puzzle." She wasn't actually that young, more matronly.

"I'm two hundred years old. I've lost track. And my grandfather Hugo always said you were one of the enemy."

"And Hugo too? Well that explains the fighting . . . Hmm, your teeth need work too. But lets start with the jaw. Would you like some steel reinforcement? Since you seem to get punched regularly?" Grey swept through her hair and she stooped a bit as she reached for his face.

Judging by his expression Isakson was more likely to run away than hit her. Rael slipped out and leaned on the wall, shivering.

And . . . I'm already running. I didn't . . . I hadn't thought what they might be like. Holy One! Talk about your Archetypes! The Maiden, the Matron, and the Crone. I wonder if she has any control over it? I should go back in and ask . . .

Rael looked back at the door. Caught a high sweet voice. "I think I'll just mold the bone instead of rebreaking it, and shift the teeth before I heal over the new break . . . Would you prefer artificial teeth or shall I persuade your jaw to grow two new ones?"

I think I'll ask Xen.

***

Xen was chatting with someone in the Disco building lobby . . . He brightened when he spotted her, and the other man turned around to see the source of Xen's grin.

"Ah! Princess Rael! What a pleasure to actually meet you."

Recognition clicked in. Arg! The Earth Ambassador!

"Mr. Montgomery, the pleasure is mutual." Rael shook his hand and restrained a giggle.

"It must be infuriating to know you were, umm, a tourist attraction for a month."

That deserved a giggle, and bat of eyelashes. "Indeed. Not nearly as much fun as having murderous statures on your roof to twig Ambassador Ashe about."

That got a rueful smile. "It was fun the first few times and he took it in good grace. One almost couldn't see the steam coming out his ears. I started feeling a bit guilty about enjoying it."

He shrugged. "And then my people started complaining about them ruining the view. All things considered, it came out as well as it possibly could of, at that point."

Rael sighed. "Yes. However personally embarrassing, it shook up enough people that perhaps we can prevent a repeat of this . . . impulse to war." She glanced out the tall tinted windows. The top of the Earth Embassy building wasn't visible. "You must have a spectacular view down the coast."

"And of the mountains. Who you like to see it?"

"Absolutely." Rael giggled—no subterfuge, the look on Xen's face was priceless—as she took the Ambassador's proffered elbow and walked off with him.

"Won't you join us, Xen?" Mischievous tones in the old man's voice.

"Certainly."

 
 
matapam
24 June 2017 @ 10:27 am
 

Chapter Four

///Embassy World

The doctor was a woman.

Rael winced. Please keep your Arab side under control . . . Rael's thoughts derailed as she took in Isakson's wary expression.

Rael studied the doctor . . . lowered her shields. And found the bottomless depths of controlled power she'd always associated with Xen.

"I'm Doctor Gisele Heath. Welcome to Embassy."

Isakson took her extended hand like he was being handed a snake. "I am Isak ibn Isak . . . "

"Isak's son? Oh my, you don't look much like that scrawny little imp, but time does that to us all, doesn't it? Now . . . good heavens! How many times have you broken that jaw? It looks like a jigsaw puzzle."

"I'm two hundred years old. I've lost track. And my grandfather Hugo always said you were one of the enemy."

"And Hugo too? Well that explains the fighting . . . Hmm, your teeth need work too. But lets start with the jaw. Would you like some steel reinforcement?"

Rael slipped out. Judging by his expression Isakson was more likely to run away than hit her.



 
 
matapam
23 June 2017 @ 12:26 pm

I'm pulling in a few fresh eyes who haven't seen it in the making, but don't feel excluded or anything.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EBlJjtRL8JVxOZEzS7dmdVFPSoey-rMMEVmSeLSmuPw/edit#

And the cover for those who don't facebook.

 
 
 
matapam
23 June 2017 @ 09:15 am
 

***

After several more sessions aimed at forcing her opponents to exceed what they'd thought was their fastest, Rael handed the mat off to Captain Okbe.

"C'mon Qayg, I'll give you some pointers before Isakson gets back. Assuming he hasn't beaten us out there."

The cafeteria table had been replaced by a very sturdy platform with three take-off heights. And as usual, they had spectators.

"I suspect that at least half the guards have given it a try." Rael raised her voice. "Any of you guys have any luck? No? Drat."

"All right. Let me go through this step-by-step. I will skip a couple of the 'discover by hitting the ground' steps that Isakson seems to think are required. So, you will start on the lowest platform, so as to not break your neck. I regret to say that some hitting of the ground will happen no matter what."

Rael climbed up and demonstrated proper shaping, size, anchoring to ankles . . . the need to stutter a push spell . . . "And I have a suspicion that the ancient Warriors never just took off from flat ground on windless days."

A growl.

Rael looked over her shoulder. Isakson had stalked—silently—up behind them.

Deep breath. "So let me demonstrate a basic exercise. Form wings. Get ready with the push. Lean into the wind and as you tip, you will feel the lift. Combine it with a good strong push."

She raised her voice, "The focus of the push will be further behind you as you move faster. A fast series of pushes will keep you going . . . and to stop . . . slow the cadence of the push and start moving it closer under you as you drop and . . . "

Rael got her feet down, released the wings, the push, stumbled forward and hit the ground.

Just with her hands, this time.

"I still need a little work with that." She glanced at Isakson. Not all wrapped up . . .

Growl. :: Broken. Jaw and a tooth. He wants me to see a specialist. Bah. ::

"So. Qayg . . . hop up there and lets see your wings."

"You just want to watch me cut myself up playing with shields like that." Qayg climbed up to the low platform and spread her arms.

Shielded. Extended the shields down from her arms . . .

"Don't make them too thin, this isn't a slice. Extend them outward as well. About a meter."

At which point a wind gust blew her back, off the platform . . .

"Hmm, now that total body shield was pretty handy. C'mon back up and this time lean into the wind . . . "

After a single additional prat fall, Qayg managed a short flight and almost graceful landing.

Rael looked over at the watchers. "So. Who's next? I'll try to do five people a day."

Only one broken wrist. She didn't bother counting the scrapes.

Major Eppa had joined Isakson, leaning against the barn wall. He walked out now. Projected his voice. "Minimum requirements—hold a shield and push. Practice—carefully until you can do both at the same time. Then ask for flying lessons. First person who jumps off the roof without Isakson's approval is going to be on muckout duty for a month after he gets out of the hospital. Second shift? Fifteen minutes until horses and uniform inspection." He lowered his voice. "Rael, will you get Isakson to a hospital and make sure he don't kill any doctors?"

Growl.

Rael grinned. "I know just where he needs to go."

Two narrow eyed glances.

"The Comet Fall Hospital on Embassy. They all have these gorgeous teeth. This is an opportunity to observe their dentistry."

Growl. :: My teeth are over two hundred years old. What could they possibly do? ::

Rael giggled. "Exactly. Let's go find out. ::

 
 
matapam
22 June 2017 @ 10:37 am
 

Chapter Three

Qayg looked her up and down. "Grinning? So flying lessons are worth a skinned nose and chin?"

Rael held out her hands, palms up. "As Scar said, a perfect four point landing. What can I do for . . . Oh. Don't tell me. Isakson wants to see you."

"I informed him I was too old for this. Coming up on two centuries. He pointed out that he was thirteen centuries old and to be there tomorrow morning. Xiat says he's called her too."

Real giggled. "So the only people he's missing from his top ten Martial Arts students are the children? And no doubt Ra'd already knows all of this."

"Indeed. But he says they're busy in their new jobs so he's not going to call them in for extra training. Yet."

"Oooo! I hope he does you guys first, so I've the energy to watch you two face plant."

Qayg shook her head. "I cannot recall ever before hearing about a bouncy happy Dancer. With luck, the One will decide you're a Warrior. Then the reputation of Dancers can return to that of the sleek deadly lady assassins."

Rael tsked. "What about Bunny?"

Qayg straightened and looked down her nose. "That little girl is not a Dancer!"

"Well . . . All right, but she did just happen to back up everything the Committee did, in a place they never found."

Qayg glowered. "She's a nice little girl, and while she was placed where she was useful, she's had no special training. She was an utter failure as an Assigned Princess."

"And then she was back at the School for two years, then a secretarial program for a year before she was hired on as a clerk at Government House." Rael shrugged. "Not that I have the faintest idea how a clerk could be useful."

Qayg covered her face with her hand. "Right. So once I've been utterly humiliated flapping my arms and trying to fly, I will find a way to haul that nice little girl out to Versalle for some sparring and judge just how much of a sweet little menace the One has slid into our midst?"

"Please flap. I want to see the expression on Isakson's face." Rael giggled, but her mind was back contemplating Bunny as an assassin. Sproing! Nope. No way. She's a perfect agent for things a clerk can do. But I should introduce her to some of those poor lonely bachelors out here.

She smiled sunnily at Qayg. "I'll look her up, next time I'm downtown. Haul her out to Versalle to show her around."

"Excellent. If though some miraculous transformation she has become dangerous . . . we need to know."

***

"He's smiling. Oh God." Rael obeyed the crook of his finger and stepped out to bow to Isakson. Who bowed back and proceeded to try to main and cripple her for life. She was pretty sure he wasn't trying to kill her. She stuck to blocking with forearms and attacking with kicks long enough to convince him that her hands were so sore . . . A fast punch to his jaw.

Down he went. She leaped back over the low leg sweep, jumped in for carefully controlled kicks to his head and neck that had the spectators wincing.

Isakson had made it clear that once one was past a certain point in training, nothing was off the board. Just like in a real fight.

She stepped back. In a real fight he'd be dead. Now he rolled to his feet—slower than usual—and bowed to her. She bowed back and retreated.

He shook his head, winced. "You . . . " wince.

:: Spar with Qayg. She needs someone to push her speed. ::

Everyone watched in silent awe, as Isakson headed for the medic station.

It was the first time it had happened in Isakson's seven years of instruction here.

Qayg was smiling wryly. "I may not get my flying lesson today, but that was worth the drive down here."

Rael giggled, heard the nervous note in her voice and cleared her throat. "I suckered him into thinking my hands hurt. I'm going to be in trouble as soon as he's back."

"Oh yes. That I am sure of." Qayg stepped out and bowed to her.

 
 
matapam
21 June 2017 @ 10:26 pm

Chapter Two

"Myths of the Warriors." Rael click down to the Table of Contents . . . "Don't care about origin myths. Nor bloodlines, because who know which Prophets my genes came from. The Mythical abilities of the early warriors . . . all right. I'll start there."

She hummed a bit as she started reading . . . started taking notes.

Fear spells that routed entire armies.

Telepathy over thousands of kilometers.

Slice through solid steel at several hundred meters . . . One! I'm going to have to take these seriously, aren't I?

Flying.

Seeing in the dark.

Possessing the body of another person. Highly illegal, but it is known to be possible.

Living to extraordinary ages. All Oners have double of triple the lifespan of the Multitude.

Surviving fatal wounds with healing comas that lasted a year. Like a Comet Fall God.

"Oh One! Those don't sound nearly as impossible as they did even just a week ago . . . " She broke off as Urfa tapped at her door.

He walked in at her wave. "What's not impossible?"

"Things the Warriors were supposed to be able to do." She eyed the list. "I think I'll ask Isakson to teach me how to fly."

***

"And how do you think a Warrior would make himself fly?"

Rael blinked. "Umm, levitation and push?"

Isakson looked up at the ceiling of the gym. "This? This is what I get from a modern woman? Well educated and an expert with modern tech? Probably she had flown in an airplane! Yet has she the faintest idea of how they fly? Apparently not!"

"They have wings! Engines! Tails. Rudders and things . . . "

"Wings. Ah. Now continue to think."

"Their . . . airfoils . . . shaped to channel the airflow over and under to produce lift." She frowned. "Can shields do that?" She held her arms out and frowned at them.

"You will practice outside, after I have finished sparring. There are others here who should watch you."

That he didn't call her out to spar was a little alarming.

Wsca and Ohhe, she expected. Uzmo and Ixpu. Not too surprising. That he sparred with, but did not select Fool or Mac . . . Shocked her a little. Four more Black Horse guards and two Directorate agents . . . sparred with and found somehow lacking.

"So. You four will observe first, and then attempt to copy what Rael is going to do."

Wish I was as confident as he is!

"Come with me. Bring a table." Isakson walked off. Wsca and Ixpu swapped glances and headed for the careteria.

Isakson walked around to the north side of the stables. "Put the table there. Note how the wall of the barn channels the wind here. A strong wind is very useful for learning. Rael, get up on the table."

Rael hopped up and spread her arms. Started to shield them . . . "Umm, you guys might want to step well away while I figure this out . . . "

She pictured her shield as a sheet drapping over each arm. Front side flat, back side arching over her arms and sweeping down, curving to meet the front part of the sheet. Extending out . . . a few centimeters? Half a meter? The wind staggered her, as the shields formed up.

"Lean into the wind."

She leaned, let the force of the wind hold her up . . . and twist the shields back.

She yipped, windmilled and got her hands out to catch herself. Barely in time to soften the impact of her face hitting the ground.

"Flight is a matter of controlling the airfoils." Isakson lectured as she picked herself up.

:: A perfect four point landing. Nose, chin, both palms. You're bleeding. ::

:: Shut up, Scar. ::

She pretended to not see Wsca's not-well-suppressed grin and she climbed back onto the table.

How the One Hell do you keep the airfoils from rotating? If I let them drape down further, I could wrap the corners around my ankles . . . which might help with steering . . .

She crashed again.

"And not being designed for flight, humans need rather large wings."

Now he says that!

She had to extend her "wings" out two meters each direction before she felt the lift . . . lift her. And blow her back a meter and tip her flat. And drop her.

She picked herself up off the ground and climbed up on the table. "Can I use a push spell to try to move?"

"Certainly. I recommend you push against a platter sized piece of ground below and a bit behind your center of gravity."

"Which means I'll have to be leaning way forward off the edge of the table."

"Of course."

She formed the airfoil, leaning as she enlarged it, toes on the edge of the table, leaning into the wind and pushing . . . wait . . . quick, a second push . . . a third . . . she lost the airfoil . . . looked down . . . Eek! . . . spread her wings and pushed . . .

Hit the ground, muscle memory producing a parachuteknee bend before she hit the ground stopping all spells before she hit soemthing with a shield . . . and stood up. Looked back at the table fifty meters away.

"I can fly!"

Isakson snorted. "Tomorrow we will work on landing."

 
 
matapam
19 June 2017 @ 04:21 pm

The New Warriors

Chapter One

22 Yusef 1404

Paris, One World

Rael bounced through the door and threw herself into her office chair. Three spins . . . then she forced herself to get serious and . . . figure out what she'd stolen before she put any serious power into it.

She pulled out the spell and spread it wide. Glowing symbols and arrows and flowing transitions of colors hanging in the air, invisible to anyone without magic.

"Now what have I got?"

A snort from the door. "If it's drinkable I think I want some."

Urfa Withione was Head of the Presidential Directorate, and a damn good man to work for.

"Ha!" Fool was right behind him. Not quite her boss anymore, head of the highly trained and very dangerous women, "princesses," that comprised a quarter of the President's personal security. "Am I to believe that make-up sex—even with Xen Wolfson—is that intoxicating?"

Her voice trailed off a bit and she eyed the spell.

Urfa poked at it. "What is that? That bit's momentum changes, right? Speed?"

"Orientation." Fool looked from the spell to Rael.

Who looked down at her fingernails, trying to look modest. "It is sometimes possible, in moments of great distraction, to get into that man's spell storage system. And take a few peeks. I didn't recognize this one, so I copied it."

Urfa was still looking at the spell, complex and beautiful.

She giggled and sat back to watch their expressions. "From what I've identified so far . . . I think it's the teleportation spell."

They both stared at her.

Rael spun her chair. "And I'm in a good mood because . . . well, I may be the Multiverse's most incompetent assassin, but when it comes to mental espionage? I. Am. Awesome!" She cleared her throat. "If I can just figure out how it works, that is."

Urfa grinned. "It's beautiful . . . but it may require some of those different genes the Fallen have. Xen's kids are almost seven . . . well, give them another decade and things could get interesting . . . " He paused, eyeing her thoughtfully.

"What?" Does he know about my niece and nephew?

Instead of answering, he looked at Fool. "Could you step out for a moment? I need to ask Rael something personal."

Fool raised her eyebrows and stepped out, closing the door behind her.

Rael swallowed. "What, umm . . . "

"Do you know who your father is?"

"Oh. Well, according to my birth certificate . . . But my mother's been to Comet Fall. Do I need to get my genetics tested?"

"Oh, already done. Let me send you a few things. Then I swear I'm going to collect everyone who might possibly be part Fallen, and get them tested genetically, and trained and tested magically."

"How many . . . ?"

"Other than Endi . . . Xen's twenty-five children? Only two others, that I know of. "

Rael nodded. "Imde and Deim?"

"Yes." He eyed her, clearly trying to decide what, if anything, to say to her.

"My biomother's girlfriend's twins. Just please tell me I'm not Xen's sister."

That made him laugh. "No, no. I was a bit worried that you might not realize . . . well . . . "

"I never really wondered who my father was. I mean, I knew it was unlikely my rather intimidating 216 biomom could have had a child with this Egto Neartuone who's name is on my birthrecords. I . . . had a bad moment a couple of years ago when she glared at me and said she'd always rather admired Agni."

Another laugh.

"Learning she'd been to Comet Fall was actually a relief. I figured maybe this Egto really was my biofather . . . except, well, he's got brown hair and brown eyes. I was expecting a redhead."

Snort. "Between Kael's report on a rather nasty mission there and Ambassador Never giving us a copy of the Fallen's report on the same incident . . . I asked Xen if the agents were anyone we knew, and he said no . . . then he said they'd gone missing in that mess when we'd hijacked the Earther's gate anchor. He sent me a picture and asked if we ever spotted them anywhere to send them home please."

He tapped at his comp then turned it to show a picture. Two men in uniform, blue and gold, grinning out of the screen. A sharp-faced man with very red hair and a handsome fellow with thick golden blond hair.

Rael put a hand to her spiked red hair. "Imde and Deim have this gorgeous, thick, golden blonde, wavy hair."

"The redhead's Bran Butcher, the blond is Oscar Harryson."

"Bran. Butcher."

"A very strong Mage, from a family of strong mages. Born, raised, and trained in Ash. The other one we know less about. 'Harryson' apparently denotes an orphan adopted by the God of Travelers, one of the original thirteen Old Gods."

"Bran. Sounds like something I'd name a dog."

"It's not actually so simple. As we've learned from Xen's children, that Wine of the Gods of his does some switching around of chromosomes to get the most powerful child possible. Your two X chromosomes are one from Kael and one from Egto. Apparently Bran has an ordinary X, so it got swapped out. Your twin friends, because their mother is just a servaone, got major three way mixes. Deim got almost half from Oscar Harryson, just Idre Withione's X substituted for his ordinary one, plus four of Idre's insertion bearing chromosomes, where Mead had no insertions. The brother's count is half Harryson's including the Y with the Comet Fall mage gene in the same place as our Priest gene. The other half is a mix of Mead's and Idro's chromosomes."

"Yikes!"

"Indeed. So think about how to inveigle Xen into talking about their training methods, and how do they recognize and train the dimensional talent anyway?" Urfa grinned. "Then come home and we'll see if any of you three have any dimensional talent."

"Yikes!"

"And we really ought to test your magical limits. What you managed down in Montevideo was extraordinary."

She swallowed. "I thought it was the Dream OD."

"Only one way to find out. Let's go out to the junkyard."

Which wasn't really a junkyard. But they did keep a lot of big solid items around to practice on. One of which was an engine block. It had a few surface scratches on it.

Fool eyed it, then her. "Several of us tried to duplicate your . . . slice." She touched a shiny triangle where a corner had been lopped off. "Qayg did this from a few centimeters away."

Urfa grinned. "And you sliced one up from about three meters. So let's just see what you can do, stone cold sober." He paced off the distance. "Twenty meters."

A low whistle from the people who'd followed them. Curious, or have they started betting already?

"Urfa . . . that's impossible." Rael swallowed. Slice. Just an ultra thin physical shield that extends out from your body . . . She raised her left hand and pointed, pushed her shield out as hard as she could and swung it back and forth.

The engine block sat there. She waved her hand around. Nothing.

"Well." She shrugged and walked back to it. "Did I at least mark it?"

She gave it a kick. It fell apart in chunks in a metallic crash.

"Oh. My."

Urfa grinned and walked around behind the heap of former engine.

The neat stack of logs looked solid, but when he shoved, it gave slightly . . . enough to show new cuts.

They were collecting a crowd, and Fool led the way around to look at the far side of the stack.

Except Isakson, who stalked further, to the low hill behind the junkyard.

"Look at the cuts in the grass. The two side cuts, the swoops as you let your disbelief loose and just swung your hand around." He frowned down on her. "You will have to be very careful of who and what is in the background until you learn how to gauge your range."

He looked around. "Have you trained to use push in a small diameter?"

Rael nodded. Oh One! "I can do ten meters."

"The dead tree across the fence. Hit it."

That's . . . She shut down her calculation of distance, and called up the spell, narrowed it down. Focused on the tree and poured power into the spell. The tree swayed . . . the top ten feet leaned, snapped off and fell.

Wsca lowered the rifle in his hands. "Range finder says ninety-two meters."

Isakson grunted. "I will start testing people and develop a training program. I had thought the power of the Warriors diluted and lost. Obviously I was wrong."

Rael put her fingers to her throbbing temples. "Can I faint now?"

A snort from Isakson. "Warriors do not faint. You will run back to the barracks."

She turned and started running. He did not say that! It didn't mean that! And I don't think there were any female Warriors, anyway.

 
 
matapam
18 June 2017 @ 06:48 pm
Fun with world building! But I really hate the time frame imposed by insisting on a thin thread of actually possible.

Chapter Two

"So, what did you think of Earth?" Spence grinned at the pile of luggage. "Liked the shops, did you?"

Dee sniffed. "I got presents for everyone. And spare parts for everything. Trade goods out the wazoo. Yes, yes, I know I paid to get the mass off Earth, but once I'm home I really feel rich."

"Because everyone has money, but you've got a fifty megawatt duel amp?" He grabbed the first crate and pulled it to the wagon. The shuttles docked in the low-g ring for easy movement of freight and minimal dealing with floating tourists or drunks.

She sniffed. "No one will ever again drown out my music—and you know perfectly well that's for Jimmy anyway." She added hers and caught the one he slid her direction. "Sorry, we're going to be a little cramped for room, aren't we?"

"No big deal, it's only a two year trip."

She winced and he grinned. "So, was it worth it? Over four years in a floating hotel so you can spend two months on Earth?"

"Yeah. It's . . . I don't know if I'll ever do it again. But I'm glad I saw Earth once in my life." She flashed a grin. "It was a dynamite fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth birthday present."

And it got you completely away from some really nasty influences at a vulnerable time in your life.

He grinned back, and tossed the last little box. "Let's find our room . . . Oops, looks like the clueless newbs are in trouble already. Mind the wagon." He sauntered over to the family standing by their pile of goods.

"No one showed you where to find the wagons?" He charitably pretend to not notice their clumsy over reactions. "Wait here, I'll get you one."

Dee, of course, was towing theirs closer. "Hi . . . so why in the heavens are you going to the Asteroid belt?"

Spence loped off to the depot, and gave the snickering manager a dark look. "Is that really a good idea? Do you realize who that is?"

"The walking dead, and some new girls for the brothels."

"Nope that's the Marshal the president sent. Not much in the space smarts, but I'll bet he'll catch on fast. Best think about what he'll be like in a couple of years and leave his family alone."

The loading crew—whose jobs consisted solely of unloading the cargo holds and nothing to do with passenger service shrugged indifferently. Manny the manager spat.

"Nasty habit in space." Spence turned his back on them and walked over to the last two wagons. Took the one with four firm tires. What didn't matter here would be a pain in the higher gravity away from the pole.

When he got back, Dee and the two kids were head down in computers, the mother hovering, the father eyeing a few of the men wandering closer. Who glanced Spence's direction and started wandering away.

The Marshal eyed Spence. "So they know you and respect you? And what did they have in mind?"

"Snatch a box," or your pretty daughter, "and run. And yeah, they know better than to mess with a belter's stuff . . . not that I'd leave anything around untended. Dee can deal with them, but I'd just as soon she didn't have to."

"Ha! Anyway, they didn't have assigned cubic, so I got them to two rooms next to ours."

The wife looked dubious. "She says they're large."

"They are. And for cash, they'll connect them. Highly recommended, given the age of your kids. Spence showed them the Deadman brake on the wagons. "It's a long ramp, you'll need the brakes."

The marshal sighed.

Starting to realize he's jumped in over his head. Good.

"How long?"

"Umm, about a hundred kilometers. It's just a matter of coasting down into the equatorial strip where the gravity's about point eight g. It can catch you by surprise." He ignored their shocked looks. C'mon! No research? The asteroid's fifty kilometers in diameter. We have to spiral down the ramp to the equator.

They'd been loading as they talked and quickly filled the second wagon. Spence just shrugged and nodded at his. "There's room, the only other wagon has a flat."

Two large heavy crates. Even in low g he could feel the momentum of the mass.

None of my business. Although I rather hope the first marshal out in the belt has come prepared to fight.