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03 January 2018 @ 10:58 am

Wolfson glance out the door at the sound of many feet.

The receptionist, with the kids. "And this is HIM. Yes, Xen Wolfson, also known as Endi Dewulfe."

Woldson started laughing. "Giving tours, Dagger?"

"You better believe it. I'm bored."

The kids were gawping at Wolfson. They'd added the Ambassadorial pair, with governess and guard bringing up the rear.

Epic's older sister leaned toward the Ambassador's older daughter. "He's almost as cute as the actor!" If that was supposed to be a whisper it carried remarkably well.

That girl nodded her head. "Iss Dacca is so sexy!"

Wolfson snorted. "I need to meet this Iss Dacca and thank him profusely for diverting so many women from me."

"Now, next on the tour is THE BRIDGE!" The receptionist—Dagger?—made her voice drop dramatically.

Epic's sister's eyes brightened. "Oh yes! I want my picture taken right where Rael was!"

Wolfson pinched the bridge of his nose as the kids followed Dagger. "I hadn't realized I was a tourist attraction. And just wait till Rael finds out she's still a famous statue."

"She'll just giggle and leave everyone wondering how she really feels."

That raised his eyebrows. "Know her, do you?"

"Yeah. I'm from Montevideo. She sort of mentored me through my teenage idiocy when she was down there finishing up her rehab, after the assassination attempt."

One! Am I chatting with Xen Wolfson?

"I really ought to commission a full sized bronze statue. Maybe with a donation box 'All funds go toward Rael's rehab after her next disaster.' But I'm not suicidal."

"And the government covers everything. And really, I think the time there helped her get back in touch with her family."

"Yeah, I'll bet. Being best enemies, I've never met her family."

So then he was somehow pulling out his comp and showing the Master of the Multiverse a bunch of pictures from home . . .

Until his comm beeped. "There's a shipment . . . "

"My plates!" Ebsa bolted for the stairs and hustled back to the embassy.

Where Ra'd, all fancied up in the Brown-with-khaki accents dress uniform of the External Relations Directorate, was examining a little plate. With a golden unicorn, as advertised, rearing over overly ornate lettering.

"Oh, that's perfect." Ebsa introduced himself to the relieved driver, and helped unload the rest of the boxes.

"Everyone wants local souveniers, not generic Empire plates. I need all the warehouse space, so," Mike shrugged. "I put in some extras."

"I may need them. In fact I ordered paper plates for when I run out."

Mike laughed. "Yeah, you never know with these country fairs. You'll either have too much or too little." He pulled his comp out. "If you need anything else, call these guys, they rent equipment—tables, chairs, bunting, tents, and sunscreens . . . "

"Décor." Ebsa slapped his forehead. "I'll need to decorate." He copied the comm number.

"Tell 'em Mike sent you, and that I can deliver anything you need." He departed cheerfully, leaving Ebsa staring at a pile of boxes.

"Where the heck do I put these things for the next . . . twelve days?"

Ra'd grinned and pulled two pencils out of his shirt pocket. "Take these. Nighthawk was showing off."

Ebsa eyed the pencils, held together by a rubber band. He pulled off the rubber band and the pencils still stuck together. "Window dressing so no one wonders why they're stuck?" he pulled them apart to show the bronze inside of a dimensional bubble. "Perfect."

He started shoving the cartons in . . . an interesting exercise as they resisted until they were halfway, then got sucked in.

Ra'd laughed at him, and bent to put the plate he was holding back into the opened box . . . stopped and frowned at something behind Ebsa.

Ebsa turned to find Master Chef Unsa bearing down on him, staff in tow.

"Are those the plates Madam Xaum had you order?"

"Yes, I . . . "

"Excellent. Boys, take them to the kitchen."

Two boxes left on the pavement, the open one Ra'd had been inspecting and the one it was sitting on. Ebsa closed the pencils and put them casually in his pocket. "One for me, one for you?"

Ra'd blinked and settled back on his heels. Held out the plate to the Master Chef. "Very nice. Don't you think?"

"Indeed." Unsa snatched it, inspected it and nodded his approval. "I'll show this to Madam. Boys take the boxes."


"Take it up with the ambassador." Unsa marched off, nose in the air.

Ebsa stepped out of the way of the other two cooks.

Ra'd shook his head. "I'd have punched him."

"Tsk. Haven't you heard that revenge is a dish best served cold?"

"Yes, but never in the context of a cooking contest. It's always interesting watching you finesse these situations."

"He's smooth, all right." One of Ra'd's security team had been watching. "Sneaky. This should be fun. So long as he keeps cooking."

Ebsa shrugged. "I hate to tell you this, but I think the kitchen squishy was supposed to be delivered today."

"No!" A mass moan from several directions.

"But Ajha did say something about sending funds this direction to cover feeding the directorate staff along with my actual job which is feeding the Project Dystopia staff."

That got a cheer, and Ebsa headed around the corner to check on the aforementioned squishies, and found a small city being assembled.

The team from the project was watching from a safe distance, and Iqgu waved him over. "It beats tents, but we're getting bored."

Ebsa nodded. "So, work or play? On the one hand, you could explore Embassy's uncharted wilderness. Or invite family and/or girlfriends out to play on the beach or climb mountains."

Multiple sighs.

Ogly shook his head. "With our jobs? Girlfriends? You're kidding, right?"

"Hmm, this is a problem. How many unmarried women were in the project? There was at least one women's barracks . . . No?"

"Nope, they were outnumbered three-to-one by unmarried men."

"Hmm . . . " :: Hey Nighthawk? Any witches around who'd like to party with these poor Oners stuck here for three months? ::

He felt her amusement. :: They might not like the way witches play, but I'll check. ::

The team was watching him, expectantly.

"A friend of mind will check and see if there are any lonely witches around." Ebsa bit his lip. "Umm . . . "

"We know! We got the lecture about 'This isn't home. Rape is punished no matter where it happens. And you won't like the punishment.' Without saying what it is."


03 January 2018 @ 05:01 pm


Okay, I've fixed all the typos you guys found, and I've also worked over the draft a bit.

I need any notes of where you gt bored, where you got lost, what you didn't understand.

I especially need this from anyone who hasn't read it before.