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16 September 2016 @ 12:11 pm
OK, have you seen this one?  
Kicking off from the Xen/Rael scene at the end of _Embassy_

" . . . So things like that cavalcade that slid, very neatly, by the way, into Purple, isn't any of my business. I hope."

Rael winced. "Actually, we haven't heard back from them, as planned, and we're getting worried."

Xen eyed her thoughtfully. "You lot are so arrogant, I can see you having trouble fitting in. But it shouldn't have been an immediate disaster unless they did something really stupid like dying their hair purple."

Rael blinked. "Of course they dyed their hair purple. Is it a crime?"

Xen squeezed the bridge of his nose. "Imitating a Purple? Damn straight it's illegal. We'd better go rescue them. The penalty, unless someone will post bond, is enslavement. They auction them off. Big market for prostitutes."

"Good thing they were all men, then."

"Well, no. They castrate the male slaves. The young pretty ones are in high demand." He glanced at the clock. "Midnight in Rel. Good, I'll have time to change. And you should unspike your hair."

Xen didn't change his clothes. He changed his body.

He looked horrible, with the purplish tinge to his hair and skin. And slight changes to his face. Flatter cheekbones, broader nose, heavier jaw. Just enough that he really was not recognizable.

"Thought you said it was illegal? Actually I thought all of them were purple. I take it there's a minority of normal people?" Rael followed him through yet another gate. She'd heard of the maze, but this was her first experience with it. Hopefully her last. He stepped through a corridor. "Faster to collapse," he'd claimed. "In case of angry Oners on our trail."

She followed. Again.

He started talking as soon as she'd stopped wobbling. One Damned shoes! "The Purples are the minority. I have the purple gene, but it's turned off. I just turned it on, and changed about ten percent of my brown pigments to blue or purple or peacock, or whatever you want to call it. Indistinguishable from having started that way, and if they check my genetics, there the genes are." He grinned over at her. "Which is why you remain as one of the 'Halfers' of their society. That is to say, you have the gene insertions and magic, but no purple.

"They're an Exile World, but they didn't have any gods or prophets. Just a high percentage of genetically engineered real humans." He stopped, finally, frowning at a patch of darkness floating in midair.

Rael stopped beside him. There appeared to be the inside of a barn on the other side. "Real humans? Is that Purple?"

"Yes. Is there anyone there?" He caught her surprised blink. "Because I can see the structure and energies of the gate, I can't see through to the other side. Well, if I shut down completely, I can, but since I've got you handy, I'll save myself a headache . . ."

"It looks like an empty barn. It's pretty dark."

"Good." He stepped through, turning to scan the whole barn. "All the experimental genetic engineering was done on laboratory animals, hybrids of several species with eight percent human genes. Ten percent was the legal limit of human derived material allowed in lab animals, back then. Of course, the ninety-two percent was genes humans have in common with other mammals, and the eight percent was what made humans different, but the test kids passed the legal definition. They were animals, not humans. No matter what they looked like."

"I got all that in lectures." Since you blew everything wide open. "It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." Rael eyed the truck parked to one side of the big building. It looked a lot like the ones the team had taken across.

Xen sauntered over to the truck and raised the bonnet. "I agree. They all looked human, and were generally engineered to be smarter than ninety-nine percent of humans. They can cross-breed with humans, sort of. There are enough fertility problems that one could argue the matter. But, getting back to the subject at hand, the people exiled here were not test kids, they were regular humans with a few fixes and improvements, even a few power genes. So they've got—that I've seen—pretty much the same mix as Comet Fall. Mage, witch, and wizard genes. The social ranking here has evolved into double purps at the top, single purps—only one peacock gene, usually their skin looks almost normal—magic non-purps and then everyone else. Among the Purps, magical are better than norms, but it's the peacock gene that matters the most. People like me—like I look right now—are called Muddies. We're double purps, but we've got so much other pigmentation that we aren't, well, pretty. Clear, beautiful purps with magical abilities are probably less than a percent. All Purps, altogether, magic and non, are probably five percent of the population. Another ten percent or so of the population have enough magic that it's obvious. Their magic training is exclusive to the Purps, and mostly male Purps, at that. So if you feel the need to use it, do something clumsy and brute force. The Purps don't much like the Powers. Except as wives."

Rael eyed the engine. Reasonably recognizable parts, function dictating shapes. Xen's hands were resting on the battery terminals. She could feel some subtle magic, couldn't identify it. Other than by context. She looked away, pretending there wasn't anything unusual in the ability to charge batteries magically. "But I've seen Purps with black hair, just a purple, almost iridescent, sheen to it."

"Yep. Pretty. Therefore high class. The room to the left has clothes that will probably fit you. Fortunately ID is very basic, here, so I can fix you up with some. Then we'll get some news, see if we can find your strayed lambs."

"No hurry, huh?"

"Well, they hold court mid-mornings—judges don't rise early—so it's either too late or we have a couple of hours to bail any of your people who're in trouble."

The room to the left held the usual furniture. A wardrobe supplied clothes—she went for something as close to business-like as the crinkly natural fiber clothing would allow. She bit her lip and changed even her undergarments.

Xen had abandoned the truck and emerged from the middle room dressed in heavy fabrics, work clothes, she'd have classified them, at home. He handed her a folded piece of paper. "Memorize the details, stick it in your purse. Umm." He detoured into the left room and grabbed a fabric sack, fished through it and removed some papers.

"I'm afraid to ask whose clothes I'm wearing."

He grinned. "Q's. Never fear, she's not possessive. Stick your papers in here." He handed over the bag then opened the barn doors, and walked back to the truck. "Now, keep in mind that there are plenty of magic users around—so you can't yell. Can you subtly contact any of your people?"

"If we are close enough. We, umm, have done a bit of poking at the Purps on Embassy. We can talk without them knowing." She frowned as Xen's dimples deepened. "What?"

"Nothing . . . So, a mile or so. Close the barn door behind the truck, and let's see if we can find your team."

The barn was surrounded by a rundown neighborhood, in what she finally decided must be an old part of the city, that newer and nicer developments had leapfrogged over. Sort of like the part of Le Havre his team settled in, when they were spying on the One World. Maybe we should ask him to teach lessons in infiltration.

She split her attention between the city and her paperwork. The single sheet declared her to be Term-wife Sophi Lobo, nee Rainbow. With a "home territory" of Ellaiha, and residing at 2368W 13978S, Rel, Meric.

"What's your name?"

"Gene Lobo, Lord of Ellaiha, currently living at that same address, which is the barn."

"Lord?"

"That means I own it. It's a shabby ghost town, formerly a small mining town, abandoned when the local ore veins gave out. We're dirt poor, wife. But you want your kids to be Purps, and I'm hoping they'll be a nice clear purple."

"Term-wife?"

"If the kids aren't good enough, I'll dump you."

Rael eyed him. "Am I allowed to protest?"

"Hell yes. In fact, if you're an absolute shrew, you'll fit right into this place."

"Yikes."

He grinned. "For now. We're newly weds. After I get you pregnant, you'll be apprehensive. Lousy medical care, lots of maternal deaths. And if you don't get pregnant, you know I'll dump you, like trash, and no one else will want you. Used goods."

She choked.

"Very cautiously, see if you can find any of your guys. We're close to the City lockup, but they may be getting dosed with something to suppress their magic."

***

Okko, better known as Kook, couldn't even look at breakfast. He hadn't eaten dinner either. Pity I can't starve to death before noon.

:: I presume that means you're going before the judge this morning? ::

The telepathy had the unmistakable flavor of a Princess.

He sat bolt upright in the bunk, hitting his shaven head on the one over head.

:: Quiet! Reach way down low. ::

He mentally followed the "voice" down to a low frequency. :: Can you get us out of here? ::

:: Yes. Tell the jailer you want to call your brother-in-law. Your sister's name is Sophi Lobo. This is the number you will punch in . . . or dial. We are close. How many of you are there? ::

:: Four of us. The others are laying low. I hope. ::

:: Ugho? ::

:: Here. Can't you talk to him? ::

:: No. They're putting something similar to methalformalin in your food. Now, go yell for the jailer. ::

Kook rolled out of bed and leaned on the bars. The serving team was just finishing the block, under the eagle eyes of a purple guard. He cleared his throat. Over the last two weeks he'd learned to speak politely to the guards. "Er, sir? I, umm, would like to call my brother-in-law."

There was a faint stir down the aisle. Other prisoners wondering what he was up to, double that for his Team Leader, now breathing down his neck.

The guard laughed. "Finally got scared enough to yell for help, eh? Figures."

He walked away without saying anything, ushering the feeding crew out.

"Kook? What are you doing?"

Kook turned around and sagged back against the bars. The guards had shaved off their criminally dyed hair, and taken all their money as well as the (fortunately local manufacture) odds and ends in their pockets, thumped them around a bit then kicked them in here. They were filthy and stunk. High Oners every one of us.

He could still feel the princess. Catch the info she sent. "Look, my big sister, I know she doesn't like me, us, but she married a Lord. And I know he thinks I'm worthless, but he won't let them . . . I'm sure of it. I'm calling him. He'll get me out of here, and I'll ask about you guys, too." He passed on the information as quickly as she sent it.

Ugho, Acri and Olmo surrounded him, all frowning, no patience left. Lost. Over two very long dragging weeks.

:: Because we're all from Ellaihaa. ::

"Because we're all from Ellaiha." Kook parroted.

A metallic rattle drew his attention. A weedy looking older guard.

"So, someone wants to try something desperate? Call a brother-in-law, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

:: He's the Lord. Surely he'll bail us all. ::

"He's the Lord. Surely he'll bail us all. Even though he, umm, hates my guts."

"Oh, a country bumpkin lord. God save me from this. He'd better be close enough to get here before court, or nothing will save your goodies." An unpleasant chuckle. "And have lots of cash on hand."

"He, he will." Kook just about melted as the man unlocked his cell and let him out. He followed humbly, went where he was told and finally sat down at a table with nothing on it but this . . . thing. It had wires running to and from it. He grabbed it, part fell off . . . Old vids came back to him, and he put the loose part to the side of his head. He looked at the dial and stuck his finger in the hole above the first number the princess had given him. Nothing happened.

:: The clear circle rotates clock-wise. Spin it until your finger hits the stop, jerk your finger out and do the next number. ::

He fumbled his way through it.

"Hello? Gene Lobo, general contractor."

"Err, Gene, this is Klark."

"Who?"

Kook swallowed. He didn't have to pretend to be nervous. "Sophi's little brother?"

"Oh. You. And what can I do for Sophi's stupid brother?"

"Bail me out of jail?"

Growl. "What did you do?"

"Impersonated a Purp."

"YOU WHAT!"

Kook dropped the telephone at the bellow. Curses interspersed with descriptions of his intelligence and common sense were loud enough to not need a closer acquaintance with the phone.

His guard grinned and sauntered over to scoop it up. "Sir? Your relative and his friends go before the judge later this morning . . . yes, three of them, going by the names of Hugo, Carl and Loois. Bond is three thousand. Each."

There was a long silence.

"Them. Son of a . . . " The voice was small and tinny from this distance. "Those idiots are going to earn it four times over or I'll turn them right back over to you. I'll be there."

"With cash." The guard said.

"Right. With cash. Twelve thousand! Son of a . . . " the voice ended with a crash.

The guard grinned. "Looks like your lucky day, pretty boy."

Kook shuddered. And shuffled reluctantly back to the cell.

The bondsman was right outside the courtroom. Big safe behind him, a pair of accountants to the side. All the prisoners were brought out of the cells and lined up along the wall. One by one they were hauled through the door and into the courtroom. The door was too thick to hear the proceedings. Some of the prisoners returned with other people, who paid various sums to the bondsman, and then were either ushered off to the left or prodded to the right. In one case cold cocked and dragged.

They were the last on the morning's docket, and were sent in together. Same fat son-of-a-bitch judge that had tossed them in the cell for two weeks—apparently the time allowed to find someone to pay their bond.

". . . good is it to marry a lord if he won't help his family." The sharp voice belonged to a redheaded woman who looked like she was trying to look business-like in super-wrinkled faded jacket and blouse over pants so baggy they looked at first like a long skirt. Her eyes sought them out, a faint flick of thought and she dashed across the room and grabbed him by the shoulders. "You blithering idiot! I hope your hair never grows back! You, you . . . " She flung her hands up in the air, turned and stomped away.

The judge banged his gavel. "I understand someone is standing bond for them?"

"Yes, your honor." A big ugly Purple stood up. "Gene Lobo, sir, your Honor."

"Keep them in line or you'll be bailing yourself out."

"Yes, your honor."

"Stick your finger in there."

Kook recognized the box. Some sort of test for "true purple." Possibly magical detection of the purple gene. They'd all flunked it, of course. The light flickered green. This guy passed. Who was he? Or should he say, where had the Princess found him.

"Get outta my courtroom, worthless pretenders. I'm almost sorry someone claimed you." The judge got up and waddled away.

The guard pointed them back out, and they stood there while the bondsman had his accountants count the cash Gene Lobo handed over, and he filled out papers.

"Nobody else had so many papers." Ugho growled under his breath.

The bondsman's eye slid his direction. "They weren't accused of felony impersonation. You are being indentured and will be marked to prevent a reoccurrence."

"Marked?" Carl's voice was a bit high.

The Bondsman ignored him. Accepted the last paper from "Gene Lobo" and a slip from the accountant. He clipped them together and tossed the sheaf in a bin. He signed four pieces of paper, then crunched them in some sort of stamping device. He handed them to Lobo. "Right. That's it then. Take them through the door to get burned. Want them cut at the same time? Saves bother all around."

Kook choked.

Lobo looked back at them, his eyes lingered on Ugho. Then he shook his head. "Nah. I'll keep that as a threat."

"What do you mean, burned?"

Lobo actually had to lean down a bit to look Ugho right in the eyes. "You are too stupid for words, just shut up and be glad you're getting out of here indentured instead of enslaved, and, at least for now, your balls will stay where they belong." The big Purp grabbed Ugho by the arm, and when Ugho tried to shrug him off, twisted his arm up behind his back and shoved him ungently through the door.

Burned was a euphemism for branded. After a brief, painful, interlude, all four of them had a neat little x on their right cheek. Kook had eyed the other equipment there, and the fresh blood stains, and had tried hard to not flinch.

Lobo looked them over, then down at Olmo, Loois, rather, out cold on the floor. "Hugo, Carl, pick him up. Let's get you out of here. We're going to get a few things straight, right away." He turned and walked off through another door.

Ugho, Hugo, looked like he was looking for the right spot to slide a dagger in.

The redhead, Sophi, scampered after him, she paused to look back. "He can have the man finish the job you idiots let yourself in for. Or you can grab your friend and get out of here."

Kook grabbed Loois' feet. Hugo scowled, bent and grabbed an arm. Carl grabbed the other and they heaved him mostly off the ground and dragged him out.

Lobo led them to a truck, an authentic version of the common work vehicles they'd copied. I wonder where everyone else is, and how we're going to find them?

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on September 16th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
They have rotary dial phones, but also gene testing. Bet the Oners didn't expect that. Heh.
ekuah on September 16th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
@Pam, no we haven't seen that. (Or at least it is new for me)

I'm guessing that they are somewhere between Comet Fall and the Empire of the One.
More Magic than the One, but not so much that their technology is as stifled as on Comet Fall.
Bet the purple check box is somewhat magic.

P.S.
Some of the Data dumps as pretty long again.
Would be nice to put some Rael-reaction in between.

Like:
'He grinned over at her. "Which is why you remain as one of the 'Halfers' of their society. That is to say, you have the gene insertions and magic, but no purple.

[insert]She bristled a bit when he called her a Halfer. [/insert]

"They're an Exile World, but they didn't have any gods or prophets...'
matapampamuphoff on September 16th, 2016 10:28 pm (UTC)
From Embassy:

Xen spent a bit of time reinforcing the identity he'd set up on Purple when they first discovered it. A general construction laborer, with an alcohol problem to explain the long absences. But Earth continued to treat Purple like a trading partner, and showed no sign of aggression toward them. So the identity was probably a waste of time.

His father had laughed when he'd heard about that world.

"There were two colony groups, already organized, before the Exile. They each wanted their own world, and wound up exiled together. No gods, but some power genes."

"But why do you smile, thinking about them?"

"Oh, one group was a bunch of historical reenactors, playing at a Wild West culture that never really existed. The culture was highly sanitized in books and movies, and it was the movie version they copied. The other group was the Peacock Club. They all had kids with the peacock gene. Blue or purple hair. You'll have to tell me how they turned out."

They'd turned out to be a rather swaggering batch. The Purps had an industrial civilization. Motor vehicles, electricity was ubiquitous, mass manufacturing well established on a resource rich world.

There was some magic, some systematic training of the strongest men, but the elite, the government was all purple or blue haired, with or without power.

Xen rather suspected that the mental abilities were the reason the Earth explorers had decided on friendship and trade, rather than their usual conquest.

Pity we didn't try that!
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on September 17th, 2016 12:06 am (UTC)
Thank you


Fun Fun Fun


Appoint Flare as Ambassador ?
muirecanmuirecan on September 17th, 2016 01:35 am (UTC)
Oooohhhh No you hadn't shown that one to us since I joined the fun. :) Coolness.
Zan Lynxzlynx on September 17th, 2016 05:21 am (UTC)
Have not seen it
Haven't seen this one but it looks like a lot of fun. Xen and Rael spying together on Purple. While hiding what's going on from the other Oners and the Purple at the same time. :-)

But that's the only way the Subconcious will let Xen stay with Rael, right, if they maintain a frenemy spy vs. spy status. Otherwise she falls into the lover/wife template and gets killed or something else awful.

Or that's what I understand anyway.