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07 October 2017 @ 08:36 am
_Fractured Loyalties_ part 4  
 

"New York Nomads. No doubt about it." Boner raised his voice.

"Office Backstabber, perhaps?"

The piercing quality of the women's voices overrode mere volume.

"We should go find a game to watch. Surely there's a game on somewhere." Essy perked up as the food arrived.

"We'll just see if the Ambassador has you working on Rubicon!"

"Yeah, or even highlights." Ra'd eyed the women. Nothing like Nighthawk. Hard to believe so many men say all women are the same. Idiots. And they should fire their cook and hire Ebsa. Ooo, Ebsa, the spy, playing in the kitchen.

"Yesterday, Sweetie. Such a fascinating gambit, don't you think?"

"Oh, One! When they start using endearments in that tone of voice it's all over but the bloodbath." Essy sliced into his steak, stared at the lack of pink in the center, and sighed.

"Oh, wait, you don't know what it is, do you?"

"Oh, One. Everyone eat fast." Boner applied himself to the steak.

"The grain for gold swap? Really if Earth was . . . "

"Umm, this sauce is delicious. I'm going to just inhale everything." Ace stuffed his face.

"Something other than the Great Satan? How old fashioned are you?"

"Good steak. And nice and small. Thank the One." Essy reached for his wine. "Why did I think this was a good idea?"

Both young and old harpies were still shrieking back and forth when they beat a hasty retreat. The waiter's smirk was infuriating.

Five years ago I'd have had trouble not punching him. Now it's just a bit of wishful thinking.

Thank you, Comet Fall.

Ace heaved a breath of relief. "And that, my friends, is why so many Oner women are not married."

Boner grinned. "Or perhaps that's the real reason for the multiple divorce statistics."

"Desert at the pastry shop?" Essy eyed Ra'd. "The owners are Comet Fall witches. So, umm, mind your tongue?"

Ra'd grinned. "Don't worry. I don't know enough to be a security risk. I get sent out to do things, not kept home to think up devious and secret things."

Essy eyed him. "So . . . when were you born? What was it like?"

"Two hundred and fifty years after the Arrival." Ra'd pondered the second question. "Not much different than now."

Skeptical glances.

"The various families of the Prophets had spread out a bit from Makkah. I guess . . . If I'm remembering correctly there were only about a thousand Warriors. Thirty-three Houses—Clans, you'd call them now—related families headed by the oldest magical descendants of the Prophets. All the various wives and sisters and aunts forming extended networks of support to raise the children of the Warriors and Priests, most of whom were gone most of the time. And the injured, recovering, or retired Warriors. It was a zoo." Ra'd caught the puzzled looks of the others. "Chaotic. And no, the Priests weren't castrated. They were just magical with no warlike propensities. Either disposition or infirmity."

"But what about our clans. We've got over three thousand of them."

"You know how it is. Families feud and people move out." Ra'd shrugged. "My mother died when I was thirteen. My step mother was . . . well, within two months my father had given up on me bonding with her and took me with him. He traveled with a compass of Warriors, and they undertook to train me, and I started scouting for them. We were in India. A good enough tan and a few goats to herd and the Chinese never gave me a second glance. 'Where are the foreign devils, boy?' 'Down there! They are packing and running away!' Then you abandon the goats and run for it, because they might be a bit testy about the ambush."

Ra'd shrugged. "Then there was a break in the fighting. Diplomacy and so forth. A bunch of the wives joined us, dragging the kids along."

"And you all got trapped in Fort Rangpur."

Ra'd nodded. "This was before the One mind existed. We held them as long as possible, to give Emre time to get troops in position to protect Karachi. Only one of the Warriors survived, to turtle at the end. With the wives and kids, and me. It's been quite an adjustment."

They'd stopped to talk. Ace shook himself and started walking again.

"No One. That's . . . weird."

Ra'd snorted. "No. It's the One that is weird. And yes, I do get into fights over it. Beats me why people get offended over the obvious truth."

The others swapped looks.

Boner snickered. "Holy One, Ra'd. I think I just figured out why you've got a reputation as a trouble maker."

"Actually, it was the Directorate's determination to make me into a standard Rape and Murder Action Teamer that was the problem." Ra'd shrugged. "And perhaps there were some arrogant, stiff-necked insults from my side as well."

"So . . . you don't have a very good opinion of Action Teams?"

Ra'd paused. "I have been on some very good ones. Finally. The Teamers I met in school, and the first Action Team I was assigned to were violent psychopaths. I have no idea whether or not that was due to the rape genes, or just normal abnormalities. They certainly didn't change."

Essy eyed him. "Did you change?"

"Not my behavior. But the trigger on my temper got harder, my nightmares abated. I . . . suddenly felt sane instead of teetering."

That got them stopped, again.

"Most people won't admit that they changed. That they dropped genes."

"Of the men I've met, since . . . entering the modern world, two of the ones I most admire and look up to are Clostuones. I have no qualms about joining their ranks."

"Crap." Ace looked away. "I remember the day I became sane, too. I . . . have never retested."

An uneasy shift.

Essy turned and stepped up on to a wooden deck. "What I really need is a stiff drink, but carbs will do. Honey? How about a sampler tray?"

The pretty brunette dimpled and trotted off.

"That one's Egret and the one coming with the sampler tray is Falcon and they're both capable of beating us up."

The blonde snickered. "You don't have to tell him that. We all recognized Nighthawk's pet from the pictures she has all over her walls. And she beat him up just this morning."

"Only because her Dad wore me out first." Ra'd blinked as he realized he was smiling, not insulted. I need to spend more time around Nighthawk, she has a good effect on me.

A snort from behind. "Ha! You were trying to be nice. Not a good idea in a fight."

Nighthawk grinned as he turned around. "Mind you, it was nice to see someone make Dad extend himself. He said you had an interesting fighting style. That's high praise."

Pastries were consumed in quantities, and Ra'd was kidded about the dangers of dating a witch. The other guys were eyeing the three witches who ran the shop a bit wishfully by the time they'd stuffed themselves.

"It feels almost like finding a lost island of High Oner Women." Boner sighed, watching the dusky Demoiselle carrying dishes back to the kitchen.

"Yeah, they feel right mentally." Ace snatched a last bite. "Now if they were just in scanty leather bikinis, with spears . . . "

Essy shook his head. "What sort of vids do you two watch, anyway?"

"Read." Boner said. "The pictures in your head are always better than mere vids."

"More immersive." Ace nodded.

"I prefer reality, myself." Ra'd stood up.

And Nighthawk hooked his arm and led him off in full view and much laughter as the other headed back to the embassy.

"Just make sure you can walk and talk by twelve hundred tomorrow." Essy called after him.

 
 
 
ekuah on October 7th, 2017 04:43 pm (UTC)
Suggestion:
Pam, when Ra'd talks about his former action teammates, maybe you could mention, that one of them threatened to rape his sister. And that Ra'd normally would have been forced by law to kill that guy.



Edited at 2017-10-07 04:45 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on October 7th, 2017 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion:
Ra'd is trying to fit in, mentioning without need that he is not equal under the law would be a problem for him here. Besides, he obviously does not like being unequal under the law or he would have killed the scum at the time.
ekuah on October 7th, 2017 08:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion:
They know that he is Fort Rangpur survivor.
And he isn't unequal under the law.
The law is "to kill whoever threatens the daughter of a prophet" (if I remember right)
And threatening to rape ones sister is sure thing to piss someone off.
Showing that he only beat the shit out of them despite being legally allowed to kill them, is telling his new teammates that he is a quite reasonable guy.

matapampamuphoff on October 7th, 2017 08:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Suggestion:
No. I really can't keep rehashing everything in every book.

Readers who've read the rest know what happened, readers who somehow managed to start with book ten or eleven will find the reference irritating, and spoiler if they do go back and read the earlier Directorate stories.

I do too much as it is. I need to make each book a bit more stand alone.
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2017 01:04 am (UTC)
Re: Suggestion:
The fact that warriors have special laws that apply or don't apply to them has been mentioned several times in the series, most recently at the beginning to "Dystopia". I think of it as similar to the exemptions from the law and additional laws that apply to the police here.