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12 October 2017 @ 01:53 pm
_Fractured Loyalties_ part 9  
 

He spent a week dashing from work at sixteen hundred to the speed bubbled house, and dashing back just before noon the next day for guard duty. A very odd way to spend what felt like three months.

Oak went from tottering a few steps to running everywhere in the blink of an eye.

He met various relatives as they came and went, also keeping an eye on Nighthawk. Two of Nighthawk's childhood friends had two year old daughters. Oak was hesitant about these people her own size at first, then the trio joined forces to create chaos. Kestrel and Oriole insisted on regular trips to the beach and natural sunshine.

"Honestly Nighthawk! You, of all people, cowering inside a house."

Double stares at Ra'd.

"With a man." Kestrel's lips quivered, and curled up. "Oh wait. You're just carrying on the family tradition, right?"

The eighth day, Nighthawk's grandmother arrived. Rustle Neverdaut looked a great deal like her son, hair a bit longer, and bit curlier, skin tones a deep tan. The witch who had invented the permanent gates. One of the midwives Nighthawk had mentioned.

Nighthawk introduced her a bit breathlessly, one hand to her abdomen.

Ra'd swallowed nervously and shook hands carefully.

Rustle's eyes twinkled. "Relax. That was probably just a practice contraction. But I'll stay close, it's about time."

Nighthawk had gotten huge in just the five hours he'd been gone. Four days, for her. And her shape has changed.

"Yes the baby's dropped. She'll . . . he'll be here soon enough." Rustle shook her head. "Bad girl. Just as well you don't live in Ash any longer."

Nighthawk laughed. "Says the witch who shocked everyone with her first child!"

Rustle sniffed, then grinned. "But it was the Auld Wulf's fault. Everyone will know that you did this deliberately."

Ra'd raised his eyebrows at the old North American pronunciation. "So, may I entertain my daughter while my . . . hmm, if I'm a Pet, does that make you an owner?"

"No!" In duet, with glares.

"I think almost-wife and almost-husband is a better way to put it." Nighthawk grimaced, rubbed her stomach, and paced.

Ra'd dry swallowed. "Or maybe I'll just sit here in quivering terror."

For five hours. And then the move to the hospital—not that it was needed, but Nighthawk, between contractions, gasped out that this made it official and public that his son had been born here. On Embassy. And an hour later, he was holding his tiny red wrinkled son.

***

Not the first baby born here, by any means. And not the first Oner child either. Someone must have notified the embassy. A registrar, with all the equipment, showed up minutes later. A drop of blood and Wxfo Clostuone Nicholas Comet Fall was officially registered.

"Fox." Nighthawk grinned, briefly banishing her visible weariness.

"Not," the man sniffed, "that I think he's really a Oner at all, but that's how we've been told to do this. At least he has a priest gene."

Ra'd eyed him, and his portable lab. "I have a daughter as well. Almost two, and never registered."

Glower. "If she's near by . . . "

Eyebrows rose as Ra'd pulled out the handles and opened Oak's cradle.

They studied the resulting twelve letters.

"Hoaq would sound closest to Oak, but Hawq would be more like her mother."

"Hoaq. That way I'll know who's being called." Nighthawk beamed, and added her fingerprints to both sets of documentation.

The newly named Hoaq was staring at the baby. "That's my brother. I'm going to teach him everything!"



Chapter Eleven

1 Rajab 1408 yp

Empire of the One Embassy, Embassy World

/// At least two try/fails!!!

Word had spread—speaking of gossip.

"Congratulations, you insane warrior. Now explain to me how you've been here for two months and had two babies."

Essy was talking but everyone, including Lt Lucky and Commander Umbe, was listening.

"It's these bubbles. Same thing as the Bags of the Prophets. Ten thousand to one time dilation, naturally. So Hoaq was born five years ago, but was stored for more than half that."

Ra'd suppressed a grin. "The Fallen can manipulate that time ratio all the way to one to twenty the other way. So by spending most nights inside it—she's got it all around a house that's thirty kilometers down the coast—Nighthawk did the whole gestation in forty days instead of forty weeks. Umm, frankly? It's totally alarming. No time to adjust, even though I spent nearly every night there—each of which was roughly six and a half days long, to us, inside."

"That has got to be the weirdest thing I've ever heard of." Boner shook his head. "Two kids, eh?"

"Yeah. Scary." But Ra'd couldn't suppress his grin any longer. "And utterly amazing."

Umbe just retreated shaking his head.

Essy shook his head. "So . . . you've been working one day a week? That's way too decadent to be legal."

***

"Zero change in Earther's habits, that we can see." Ra'd scowled at the computer screen.

Jack shrugged. "You can't expect to hit the jackpot on the first try. And I've been busy watching the women, none of them are doing anything out of the ordinary. Although the subject of Moar's bragging has changed."

They all looked at Boner.

"But the search programs haven't picked up anything about Earth women in the Ladies' chit chat. Moar and Lios don't appear to be spreading the gossip. Possibly because they all got lectured about security."

Essy sighed. "And that may be all it took to seal your leak. Umm, I had a thought . . . Boner, how about your sister? Does she see those women either at work or after?"

Boner moaned. "You're going to get me killed. If my parents ever hear I might have endangered my precious baby sister's career . . . "

"Just bring her to dinner . . ." Essy winced. "Take her out to dinner. See what she can tell you about these women you're trying to get to know."

"One! She'll go home and tell Mother!"

"Don't be a baby." Essy tapped his comp. "But also on the theory that women gossip to women, I've found eighteen women who regularly go off grounds. Let's set up some surveillance and find out where they go and with whom they have contacts."

***

"And all of a sudden we have zero single women out clubbing alone. Less than half the usual either in all girl groups or with men. Holy One. Maybe we did hit a jackpot on our first try."

"Well, it is an indication that the women's gossip circuit leaks unimportant things. With a three week lag. But since Jack thinks no one here has an Earther contact, we'll have to probe further. Find the path the information takes." Essy scowled at the chart.

"Another rumor?" Jack looked around at footsteps.

Kobold trotted up, grinning. "Did you hear the news? It's official. Director Izzo of Exterior—and get this—Director Ajki of Interior. Efge has retired."

Ra'd settled back with a smile. "Interior? Guess Ajki isn't getting thrown overboard after all."

Nods around.

Essy squinted. "So Izzo Withione Alcairo can tromp the problem subdirectors from Alcairo. Excellent. I foresee a lot of changes in the subdirectors. I wonder what Izzo will do with them?"

"Or to them." You grinned. "May be a lot of openings and some long over due promotions coming along soon."

Ra'd bit his lip. Exterior? Think bigger. What is the president up to?

Ajki taking over Interior, where he has no experience? They say if Minister of Audits Axti runs for president and wins, Ajki would be his presidential director. Is President Orde actually making sure a potential successor has an experienced director? That's . . . rather amazing—and generous—foresight. Fifteen months to the primaries . . . This will probably be Orde's last election. If he wins he'll spend twenty years in office, and surely that's enough. But a War Party president . . . I think Wolfson needs to work harder at the make friends and meet the cousins ploy. I have no wish to be two, or seven, years away from a war.

"Not that it'll change much of anything for us. The embassy guards will still be embassy guards." Essy glanced back at his screen. "Although I've got to say it's livened up a bit."

Moo nodded. "We need a new rumor. Maybe something about Granite Peak?"

"No, no, no!" Jack recoiled. "Stay completely away from controversial matters. You are not real spies! Remember that you are busybodies having a lark."

Ra'd nodded. "Sensible. So . . . what do we do next?"

Edsw grinned. "I had a thought about that. I mean, everyone likes the idea of Neanderthals. Have we found some with a high tech civ, and initiated contact?"

Essy nodded. "I like it. A couple of you have chatted with buddies in Exploration, and heard about it."

"And no doubt it'll become the Ministries' project as soon as any substantive contact has been made with the government. I like it." Jack was all bright-eyed. "Pity it's not true."

***

This time it was Moo and Ev who managed to talk to two of the young Harpies, and drop the information.

Ev scowled. "Not that I managed to impress her. But I did talk long enough to appear to be desperately trying to impress her. Vaol Servaone, she's a records clerk."

"I chatted up Kicks. Keix Servaone, if you insist." Moo sighed. "I think she was looking me over, not listening. And I don't know whether that's good or bad."

Jack snorted. "The problem is, how do we detect that information. I, umm, didn't think about that. What happens when the Earth Ambassador asks Ambassador Ejhe about it?"

Ra'd suppressed a grin. "Or tells Disco about a possible illegal contact the One has underway? I suspect our various superiors will be less than delighted about it. We'd better think up something less inflammatory for the next one. Think about it for a couple of weeks. Or a month. Might give us a better idea of who to drop the next one on."



 
 
 
ekuah on October 12th, 2017 07:28 pm (UTC)
Random thought.
The young harpies are completely uninterested in those guards, right?
Those guard are Cloustuones, Neartuones and Withiones, right?
At least two of the young harpies are only Servaones.

Pam, somewhere in Blackpoint clan you wrote, that Halver and Servaones are quite interested in Cloustuones, Neartuones and Withiones. (At least as seed donors)
(Anonymous) on October 12th, 2017 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Random thought.
Even more random, there are effectively two types of Withiones now, Closetuones who are courtesy Withiones because they lost genes in the attack and real Withiones. The difference would matter to the Servaones and Halfers. How are they dealing with this?
matapampamuphoff on October 12th, 2017 09:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Random thought.
_When_ they want children, some of them will seduce the most powerful man they can, in hopes that their child will be higher ranked socially, better job prospects, stronger magical talents. As happened with Ebsa.

_These_ women have important jobs, careers, live independently. Whole different mind set.

As to the genetic attack . . . (1) Very few people are open about it. (2) Those genes were field genes--always on, so always draining a bit of power. People who use magic regularly (Like a Magifacturer) may detect a strengthening in their ability. So nothing is detectable to an outsider.
ekuah on October 12th, 2017 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Random thought.
I think I had made a suggestion some time back about those rape genes.

That Cometfall offer an alternative version of gene restoration potions.
Where non working or deactivated variants of the genes are added.

The insertions will be counted (so you can have a 216 number) but the genes do not affect you.

Of course, those alternative versions have to be clearly marked as modified, only for insertion count.


Edited at 2017-10-12 10:56 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on October 15th, 2017 12:38 am (UTC)
Oak's oner designation
In "Dystopia" Oak is introduced to Ebsa and Paer as Hawq. Minor item to clean up before publishing.
matapampamuphoff on October 15th, 2017 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: Oak's oner designation
Already taken care of. I figured one "Hawk" was sufficient, per family.