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matapam
10 November 2018 @ 12:14 am
This is a fast mash up. There will be continuity errors.

Chapter One

10 Ramadan 1410yp (Kids would be 14.5 )

Paris, One World

Arno stood straight and still, but his eyes roved.

About a dozen boys, including me. The girls' group is a bit bigger.

He didn't want to turn his head far enough to get an exact head count.

All the children of Xen Wolfson. All together. But why?

Mother should have told us. Warned us about who—what—our biofather was.

He and a few others had been escorted here from their homes. The majority of the kids either lived locally or had come in earlier.

He and his twin sister had been picked up by a priest and a princess. Not, unfortunately, his aunt. They'd had three other kids in tow, a boy and two girls. The school they'd been taken to was on the outskirts of Paris, and the dormitories empty.

Not unexpected, most kids did go home for Ramadan.

Which didn't explain why they were being specifically gathered here.

And why didn't Mother tell us?

***

It had been quite a shock. Mother had been pacing the floor, a single sheet of paper clutched in her hand, when they got home from school. Arno's twin sister was all bouncy and happy, as usual. All the boys in the upper grades were noticing her, and it was going to her head. Pain-in-the-neck twin. No fair that she was two inches taller than him, with red hair just like Aunt Rael. And athletic, and glowing. The Power of the One had come early to her. Leaving her scrawny, brown-haired, clumsy brother in the dirt, as usual.

Mother had made them sit down.

Dad? Surely nothing has happened to Dad? He's not even the Chief of Police anymore. He's just got a contract job, he'll be back this weekend. Please . . .

"You've had history, and current affairs, and so forth. You know about the three way balance of power, between the Empire, the Earth, and Comet Fall. You've heard about Endi Dewulfe . . ."

What? Arno shook himself. Heaved out a deep breath. Whatever is wrong, nothing horrible has happened. So this isn't that big of a deal.

Ryol had interrupted. "His real name is Xen Wolfson, Mother." Little show off.

"Yes, and he stopped a war by, well . . . "

"Showing up the High Oners in the War Party by getting their wives pregnant."

Mother had sighed. "Yes. He had, oh, I don't know that they have an accurate count of how many babies . . ." She'd crumpled the paper in her hands. Smoothed it out. "Actually, I suppose they do."

Arno had finally spoken. "What is that Mother?"

"A letter. You see . . . " She had red spots on her pale cheeks and her voice was all high. She looked over their heads, not meeting their eyes. "You two are . . . Endi Dewulfe is your biological father. The One has summoned all of you to be tested and observed. For two weeks. In Paris."

There was a long silence.

Arno tried, failed, to say something, do something. Anything but sit here feeling . . . very odd.

"But, but . . . " Even Ryol was having trouble with words.

"You've always known Ox was your stepfather. That he was my sixth husband. I played the Game . . . Oh . . . I'll tell you later, one shock at a time is enough." She took a couple of gulping breaths. Regained control. "So . . you need to pack. Two weeks in Paris. It'll be fun."

It was too strange to even be frightening.

Until they were in the limo. Headed for Paris.

With no idea what was going to happen.

***

Arno hunched his shoulders against the wintery chill. He was dressed for it, but corridoring in from mid-summer in South America, he wasn't at all acclimated. No doubt the locals thought this sunny afternoon quite pleasant. Hence the meeting in this courtyard.

One of the women in the knot of adults-in-charge strode over to stand in front of them.

"Good afternoon. I am Princess Diuc, assigned by the One to this project. You are here because the One wants to understand the potential of the mixture of the One and the Comet Fall magicians." The Princess glowed brightly enough to hurt his brain. Her voice was pleasant but professional.

"You will be taking a lot of tests this week. Some will be familiar to you. Others will be new. We will discuss with you, collectively and individually, what we have found, collectively and individually.

"We will design some exercises to strengthen your abilities, both the regular Oner talents and any possible Comet Fall talents.

"Then we will send you home.

"When we have analyzed the data, some, possibly all of you, will be offered special training opportunities.

"Folders with your room assignments and schedules are on the tables to your left." The older Princess's voice shaded into exasperation. "Do read the labels carefully, because you are all half siblings, your names tend to be similar. If not identical.”

Arno eyed her. Does she think we’re stupid—or does she regularly deal with girls who are all hormonal idiots like my sister?

"Your luggage should already be in your assigned room. In half an hour come down to the cafeteria on the ground floor. We'll talk, there will be a brief medical exam. You are all very healthy, but we want a detailed genetic scan. Then you will be free to socialize. Rather than a normal cafeteria dinner, there will be a buffet spread, and music." She waved a graceful arm. "Go."

Arno relaxed and ambled over to the tables, eyeing the other kids. Half brothers and sisters! Lots of brown hair. Some black. A fair selection of blondes. His sister won the red category, although there were a few auburns and one strawberry. The browns and blondes were all shades too. Complexions tended toward a strong tan. He couldn't see all that many eye colors without getting personal. All-in-all they just looked like a bunch of ordinary kids.

Folders . . . some were being snatched up, but the way they were laid out . . . Lots of Ys and Os on the boy's table. Heck there were two Yr_o's and three Or_y's. His own A was well represented, it was common enough; mother was double a, r, and, o. So really, the N in his name was the only letter his mother had used, from . . . that man.

I just don't like thinking about my mother as a glamorous high society wife . . . sleeping around. And maybe she didn't. This slots in with that other problem I've been chewing over, doesn't it?

He put it out of his mind, and reached for his folder. There was another Arno, as well as an Anro. He was the only Montevideo Clan, so it was hardly confusing.

He flipped through the information, his school records, his medical records, his birth scan . . . He really didn't want to see proof . . . "Yp" caught his eye. He stopped dead and boggled. A priest gene? Surely he wasn't a candidate . . . He eyed the priests organizing the mass of kids. Soft faces, high voices. Eunuchs. His stomach clenched and he tried to control his body language, to stroll casually away. To look back at the room assignment. Some of the priests were aiming the kids at a building. He turned and headed that way.

Arno glanced back, and noticed that the Princess was looking at them a bit dubiously.

Yeah, we're a bit young for a music and munchies icebreaker. You must be from the Princess School, and used to dealing with college kids, not fourteen year olds.

He'd have sworn her glance sheered his direction for a second. He stumbled over his big feet and headed for the dormitory. Room 210. The girls were on the first floor up, guys on the second. He followed the general trudge up the stairs, sort of looking at the others, without making eye contact.

"This is too weird." One boy wasn't reticent. "So suddenly I have eleven brothers and fifteen sisters? Somebody wake me up from this horrible nightmare!"

That got a general round of laughter. The girls all poured out the first floor door and the dozen guys walked on up to the next. Eyeing each other more openly now.

The boy he'd met at the airport, Yrno, grumbled under his breath. "Still wouldn't mind porking a few of them."

Arno gave him a fishy look. ­They were all fourteen. Even the oldest are a couple of months short of fifteen.

Yrno gazed balefully back. "Baby." He shoved through the door and turned left. They spilled out of the stairs and hunted around for the right rooms.

Arno turned right, glancing at numbers on door.

A tall boy looked around. "So we're all born from Safar to Rajab? About a four month spread. Call me Jay, Ypjw being someone's idea of a joke."

"Arno." He looked up at the taller kid. "You're one of the older kids, aren't you?"

"Yeah. Finally, a growth spurt. I hope. You one of the young ones?"

"I think my twin and I are the last ones born. Ryol's that very redheaded one."

A couple of wolf whistles. Laughter. "Oh crap, they're all sisters!" More laughter. More names were swapped around.

Arno's room had Jay on one side and Orny on the other. Orny scowled as he introduced himself.

Jay nodded. "These names are hideous. How about we just call you Or?"

Yrno called from down the hall, "Or What?"

The kid blinked. Grinned "Umm, yeah. Or What. That works."

Arno snickered. "We can remake ourselves, can't we? If we want to. No stupid classmates to pass on crap that was barely funny in first grade." He sighed. "Well, I've got my twin sister."

"But an ordinary name." Or pointed out.

"Yeah. And a darned good thing." He turned into his room, shutting the door. Small room. Bed, desk, closet. The bathroom must be down the hallway. Ugg.

He sat down at the desk. Stared at the folder. Why paper? Why not electronic copies? He shivered. So there's nothing on our records about this. Our home schools won't know about it. Just the One. And probably the Directorates.

But no one at school will know about it. Know I'm a . . . what? A Native? That's not right, Comet Fall's got most of the Oner genes. I tested as a Withione, I'm not a Halfer . . . even if I haven't touched the One yet. I will. Soon.

He flipped the file open, looked again at the genetic results. An alphabet soup of the chromosomes, then the X and Y. Yp. But they didn't come get me, at ten years of age. Maybe they don't want Xen Wolfson's gene carriers influencing the One. He huffed out a sigh of relief. I hope. Then something else caught his eye. Why is there a reference number on my X chromosome? A search turned up nothing for it to have been referencing.

I tested as a Withione. There's nothing wrong.

He slapped the folder closed, and walked out to find out.

He felt rather like he was walking to his doom.



 
 
matapam
10 November 2018 @ 07:46 pm
I have a bad cold.. Arno has a bad case of Black Goat. That's your PSA for the evening.