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24 March 2017 @ 08:38 am
_Black Point Clan_ the end  
 

***

Fean was the next arrival.

Ajha pretended he didn't see her slip a small bottle to Ajki, and turned back to Xiat. "I really doubt Arja will talk, but that's about the last thing I can see to do."

"We've got him cold on the arson. But the destruction of the house was so through that unless he fiddled with the house computer sensors and alarms remotely, I doubt we can hang a charge of attempted murder on him." Efku showed his teeth. "Not that I'm going to mention that to him. Might be a useful wedge to pry loose a name and proof to back that up."

Xiat nodded. "Shall we make this official? Arrest him for the assault on Poppy and Jay. Take him back to Denver to the District police headquarters for processing and questioning, and if necessary extradite him back here?"

Ajha winced. "We did remove him . . . rather casually." he looked around for Captain Wrlo.

Who was already on his comm. "I'll send my man back to Denver . . . Oh good. Stay there . . . find a place to open the corridor and do so." He glanced at Ajha. "May I recommend that you change Arja back before the Newsies find out? And please! Let us do the fighting!"

Izzo turned away, coughing. Then offered his car to transport everyone.

Ajki was the only one who stayed, saying he'd leave the internal murder investigation in the capable hands.

Ha! Going to get private with that counterspell. And no doubt some joy juice. Pity we have to take Poppy with us, do you both good to have a romp. And maybe even romance.

***

Ajha's guards had a car. They came close to manhandling Ajha into it, then followed them through the corridor.

With everyone else stuffed into the limo, there wasn't going to be any more snuggling. Xiat hauled her mind back away from the residual whispers of the Joy Juice. Note to self: Don't try this when you are planning on working the next day.

Izzo made intimidating cops look easy. He received a conference room to hold them all while the local police took care of the details. Arja was arrested properly and a lawyer sent for. Poppy and Jay gave statements.

"One, perhaps you could give us a more detailed explanation of what happened in Black Point?" Izzo was studying Ajha.

"Oh, I expect you have all the physical details. I can add my thoughts and so forth, for what good it will do . . . " He sighed and cast his mind back. It was going to be a long damned day.

Eventually everyone decided they didn't want any more from him and sent him away. He offered Poppy and Jay a ride and pick of the guest rooms in his house.

Where he found Maiv's sisters in the kitchen.

Maer swiped a hand across her cheek. "You saved Maiv. Mother's with her in the hospital, and told us to shop and get cooking. Making sure you're eating right is the least we can do."

Ajki shrugged. "I was hungry, so I let them in. And yes, I'm behaving. Damn, but that joy juice made those little girls tempting."

Ajha suppressed snickers at the smoldering glances Poppy and Ajki exchanged across the dining room table. Both of them still feeling the effects. Well, good luck to them both.



Chapter Twenty-one

A quiet day, for a change.

Uncle Ajki happy, Poppy blushing, a house overflowing with cooks—Maiv and her mother having stopped by on the way to their own home here in Freeport—relatives, professional colleagues . . .

Fean was showing off to for the young Oners, and loving it. Magic classes for Jay and the cooks.

Then the Guards got to throw fits again as the swords came out. Ajha and Fean demonstrated the speed bursts Ajha had used in fighting Bo. Ajki, Izzo and Xiat joined in, then Jay and Maiv got fencing lessons.

News from the enclave was good.

Ajha's parents are talking to each other again, staying up the hill with Grandfather. Fibber and Imgo had recovered.

Jain was being detained, as rather a lot of what she did was with knowledge.

Various Blind Errand Runners were getting tracked down.

Ajha took a walk toward the coast, stopped and looked back at the house. From here he could still hear the happy laughter of the kids of various ages. Very mellow, and he felt mellow too, weighed down by the load of souls he'd collected.

He walked on and the guards came out to meet him. "Time to head back to Makkah. We'll need a car to San Francisco, though."

They produced a car instantly, and he was gone before even Fean realized.

He slept most of the way, slow and torpid with souls.

His guards steered him, until he found himself in the center again, facing the three other Philosophers. He outweighed the Warmonger and the Isolationist. He looked over at Usse. It was close.

Usse nodded. "Study, and possible war, but also possible friendship, but always looking to our own first."

Ajha bowed, and felt the flood of souls cross the star to Usse. War and Isolationist bowed as well.

"It is done." Usse opened his hands and the weight of souls flooded away, back to where they originated.

The other two Philosophers walked away. Ajha looked at the new Philosopher of the One. "What about the War Party?"

Usse smiled nastily. "They are taking care of themselves. Axti of course, will be the next leader, but he's never been stupid about war. It will be interesting to see who comes up through the ranks to replace Arlw and Efge. Hopefully more moderates."

Ajha turned and walked out. His head felt light, not nearly as many thoughts inside his head as previously. Excellent.

"I wonder if I set a record for brevity of Philosophy?" He didn't address the comment to anyone in particular, but a young woman turned and grinned at him.

"No, One. The Record is fifty-two seconds."

"Ah. That must have been interesting. So . . . what about my office and house and all that?"

"The office will become a local office for contacting the One. The One thanks you, an office was needed in the region. The house is yours, for your service to the One, and a stipend with it."

"I don't need the house and I'd rather work."

"Then sell the house and go to work."

"Thank you, One." He bowed to her.

"Thank you, One." She returned the bow and walked away.

So all he had to do now was figure out how to escape the attention of the public, and he could get back to the Directorate . . .



Chapter Twenty-two

"Xiat? Xiat?" Izzo grabbed her as she swayed on her feet.

Xiat shook her head, steadied. "Oh . . . not again. I really don't want a job at Precog."

Izzo kept his arms around her. "What did you see?"

"Arlw killing you with a sword with the rolled tip snapped off. Some sort of large room, lots of people in fencing gear."

"Pre-cogs aren't generally very exact, Princess. If Arlw wanted to stab me in the heart, he'd kill you. So you be cautious while I'm gone. And after I'm back, for that matter."

"Well, the last one didn't happen at all. Most likely this one won't either." Her shrug and smile were clearly forced.

Dammit, I really can't skip this "Let's chat at the salle tonight, Izzo" type of off-the-record meeting. It's an opportunity to . . . what? Advertise that yes, I really am a player? Stupid. I probably deserve to get killed.

Izzo gave her a last squeeze, then stepped away to pick up his bag of fencing gear. "Hopefully this isn't a 'Let's have drinks and chat' situation. I hate the feeling that I've missed all the hints and code words."

"Hadn't expected to see you here, Arlw."

"Bonded out, do I look like a man who is a flight risk?"

Efge stepped in and tapped Izzo's chest. "I need to know if someone so highly placed is going to be a good party member, or not."

"The problem is that I seem to have joined a party that is a very poor match for me. The party chairman will have my written withdrawal from the War Party on his desk in the morning." He started ramping up his speed.

The cry came, not from the front, but behind. "Traitor!"

***

Xiat glanced up as the door opened. The start of a smile froze. "Ifbo. Taking up house breaking, now?" Ewmo and Orc walked in behind him. The door closed.

***

Izzo reached for that leap of speed even as he spun, evading the grip that would have trapped him. Stepped out of the way. Ipge's rush and lunge and natural size gave him huge reach.

Arlw looked down blankly at the steel that pierced his chest. Ipge recoiled in horror. Blood spurted as Arlw folded.

A rush, and troops were suddenly everywhere. The uniformed medgician bending over Arlw, straightened, shook his head.

Urfa shouldered through. Then looked around and summoned someone out of the crowd. "Emmy you're the Metro Chief of Police. I believe this is all your baby. Tragic accident, nothing left but the paperwork."

Izzo watched in fascination as the glares and menace that had been aimed at him, started softening, eyes started darting around the room.

"Accident?" Efge growled. "Izzo aimed him . . . "

"Sorry, but the view on the monitors was quite clear. Izzo dodged, and didn't touch him. I wasn't aware you'd been released from isolation, Efge. Or should we call you Feeg for the next little while."

There was a general inhalation of horror, and there was suddenly a wide gap in the crowd around the directors and the body. Izzo eye his boss. The aggressively masculine suit was loose enough, the shirt stiff enough, to hide the difference between breasts and muscle. Hard to say how far the spell had gone.

"The spell is temporary, and more illusionary than actual." A sudden shift in Efge's eyes showed that he'd realized he shouldn't have admitted to any feminization in this crowd. "It is a sign of how dangerous those people are."

"Actually, I think it has a lot more to say about their understanding of our culture, and their rather nasty sense of humor." Urfa crooked a finger and summoned two troopers. "Director Efge is going to make a statement to the police, then you will see that he returns to his quarantine."

Izzo made a quick, factual statement of his actions. Nothing of suspicions or deductions, thoughts. The Chief of Police scowled at Urfa, and told Izzo he could leave.

As he stepped toward the door Urfa materialized at his side and walked out with him.

"So. Switching parties, are you? The Strong Federalists lost a high functionary, lately. Or the Democratic Republicans might interest you."

"I will certainly give those Parties my consideration, Director. Along, of course, with the Modernists." Izzo wasn't surprised that Urfa had shown up in person, keeping a very close eye on this meeting.

"Good. Good. Now, in view of Efge's retirement, which he will be announcing soon, the President has decided to mix things up a bit. If Axti becomes the next President, no doubt Ajki will take over my position. Two, or better yet a seven, years atop Interior Relations would prepare him nicely for that. This will leave the President a hole at the top of Exterior Relations to fill. Why don't you think about that as well."

The street was dark, a faint sheen of oil on the damp street.

"I will." Izzo looked both directions, and stepped off the curb. Stepped back quickly. The car brushed his bag as it whipped past. Lights off, license covered, a very strong unnoticable spell. It turned the next corner and was gone. "I've found a variety of experiences to be useful to a man. Precogs, for instance. I worked with them directly for years. The weird thing was how their predictions could be interpreted to cover three or four things. And they always seem to hit after one thinks one has avoided them. I'm going to be paranoid about crossing streets for the rest of my life."

Urfa's cover closed in, several of them moved out ahead. This time they crossed the street safely. And escorted him the last two blocks.

A trio of police cars were at the entrance to Xiat's tower.

***

They looked aggressive, but their hands were empty. "Well, then. You three are under arrest. Up against the wall, and . . ." Xiat sidestepped and twirled as Ewmo rushed. A step in the dance, a kick to Bo's midbody, a graceful leap that included contact between the ball of her foot and Orc's jaw. She danced to the table and picked up the two steak knives.

Ewmo was looking in consternation at the hunched and gasping Bo. The limp Orc.

"This is your last chance, Ewmo. Hands up . . . "

Ewmo and Bo rushed her simultaneously, and she spun, a steel edged whirlwind that intersected Bo's reaching hands and stopped suddenly, right hand low, knife up under Ewmo's shirt and deep into his abdomen. She left the knife in that wound, as he staggered back and collapsed. Bo was staring at his hands, the stumps of fingers . . . his eyes rolled up and he folded.

Xiat hit the emergency button on her com. "Police and ambulance." Damn, do we need Ewmo's testimony?

He was still breathing when they whisked him away. A second gurney was brought in and Bo and a bag holding his fingers loaded. Orc, still dazed, but in handcuffs, was taken away, also hospital bound for his broken jaw.

Xiat was frowning at the stained carpet when Izzo rushed in.

He huffed out a breath of relief and straightened, trying to look professional in front of the remaining cops. "Warned you about those pre-cogs, didn't I? Whose blood is that?"

"Ifbo's and Ewmo's. I hope they found all of Bo's fingers. The cleaning service will be challenged enough as it is. I think they will all survive, although Ewmo looked pretty bad." She suddenly noticed the man behind him. "Director Urfa."

He nodded to her, and the metro police behind her. "I'm afraid Minister Arlw died this evening. Shocking accident at his fencing club. Congratulation, Investigator. I believe this should wrap up your case."

"Indeed."

A few minutes later they were alone.

"Mind you, I'm only reasonably certain Efge wasn't the instigator." Xiat looked Izzo over carefully.

He held his hands out and turned around. "See? Practically untouched. Urfa tells me that Efge will be retiring soon. I don't think he's told Efge that yet. Then the President is going to shake things up all around the Directorates. Urfa suggested that I consider Exterior."

"Exterior? What happened to Uncle Ajki?"

"Nothing. But Urfa thinks a few years at Interior is just what he needs to get ready to take Urfa's place if Axti win the Presidential election."

Xiat rubbed her nose thoughtfully. "And the President has such a reputation for not Playing."

"Just taking advantage of what comes by." Izzo shook his head. "All this starting with a figurehead Patriarch's title."

"Black Point Clan. There not another quite like us."

"Thank the One."

 
 
 
ekuah on March 24th, 2017 10:57 pm (UTC)
About the salle scene:
The Salle scene feels awfully rushed.
You drop the reader right in, without a preamble or decription of the location or who is present.
Suddenly Ipge (who is that?) tries to kill Ajha, and also suddenly Urfa is there also.
What does Urfa do at a war party get together?
Urfa is Modernist and not war party, right?