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matapam
11 November 2018 @ 07:47 am

Chapter Two

Morning sparring.

Xen cooled down as he walked back toward the Disco building, and his home behind it. All the kids were scampering to get to school before the bell . . .

That’s a lot of kids . . . too many for a single teacher. We need more space and at least one more . . .

Schools on Disco aren’t the job of the Dimension Cops. Or shouldn’t be. But we don’t have anything resembling a city government. It’s every embassy for itself. We just do the roads and sell the plots, where they can do anything they wish.

All right, we run a pipe from the nearest main . . .

Dammit. Legally I own the whole world. I can give land for building schools. Rope in some friends to build them. Leave it to other people to staff them . . . I hope. Am I going to have to form a school board or something?

Sheesh. I’d rather go fight Cyborgs. Again. Ouch.

Xen Wolfson took a deep breath . . . released it, and sniffed. Oh. Dear.



Chapter Three

"Endi Dewolfe, or Xen Wolfson, if you prefer, is the biological father of all of you." The Princess talking was absolutely gorgeous. Brown hair framed a beautiful face, contrasted with big blue eyes. "If you looked at the genetic records in your folder, those are the results of the usual childhood registry tests. Four of you boys tested as having the Priest gene, but in actuality you have a power gene very similar to the One gene in the position of the Priest gene. A few of you who live in Paris got more detailed testing, and a small percentage of you tested with an aberration on one of your X chromosomes. Instead of the One gene, you have two power collecting genes on the chromosome you inherited from Mr. Wolfson. One of those genes is very similar to the Priest gene, and in boys, requires hormone suppression to completely manifest. The second power gene is the one that their witches and gods possess. We will speak further about possible methods of utilizing it." Her eyes drifted across the huddle of teenagers, and Arno swore they stopped briefly on him.

"The pregnancies were enabled by a multi-spell potion variously called the Wine of the Gods, Havwee Temple Water, or Joy Juice. Among the things it does is pick the most magical chromosomes available, for the fetus. As I said, some of you, who live here in Paris, have had detailed genetic exams already. The results are interesting. One boy here, for instance, has inherited both X and Y from Wolfson—which means he has no One gene at all. Three other boys had 'irregularities' noted on their birth scans; they may also have Wolfson's X."

Oh . . .

"Several children whose mothers did not have a single complete set, got doubled chromosomes from Wolfson, so the children have complete double sets. Not perfect, mind you, because three of the genes of the prophets, located on three different inserts, are not found on Comet Fall. The Joy Juice did not seem to take that into account when choosing chromosomes. However, the majority of you boys have the Oner X and a completely ordinary Y. Most of the Girls, the usual two Oner X-chromosomes. Apparently Wolfson, or someone in his espionage group, was able to manipulate his genes."

"Now, when I said that the potion chooses the most magical gene combinations possible, it doesn't limit itself to a single ova-and-sperm combination. It can actually swap in a chromosome from a different sperm to replace a less powerful chromosome from either ova or the main sperm. But since your mothers are all strong Withiones or Neartuones, there hasn't been much of that with you. But if you prefer to think that you have some of your father's genes, well, some of you do."

She smiled a bit ruefully. "Now the part that . . . isn't exactly secret, but no one really pushes telling people about it. The Prophets, and the Comet Fall Old Gods, also had unusual alleles of the ordinary genes, outside the insertions. Literally billions of them. These genes were diluted in the genes of the multitude, starting with a fifty percent reduction in the Prophets' children and then less in grand-children and great grandchildren . . . except for inbreeding. The Prophets were long lived, and married each other's daughters and granddaughters. Those children were the Warriors of the One, and the first Princesses. Incredibly strong magicians, who conquered the world. And then married into the Multitude. When the One organized into the clans and sought to concentrate the magic genes again, they only concentrated the insertions, not those other genes." She shifted a bit. "The One now averages five to ten percent of those genes. That may be why many of the abilities of the Warriors of the One aren't with us any longer. Xen Wolfson's father is one of their Old Gods. His mother has several others in her recent blood line. Wolfson has more of those genes than we've seen since the Warriors of the One. Which may be the reason why he is so incredibly strong, magically. All of you probably have large counts of those genes."

She gestured toward the back of the room. "The more detailed genetic analyses will show us exactly what genes you do and don't have. We'll be discussing them with you, starting tomorrow. And we'll run exercises, to try and determine what talents the various combinations confer. Tonight, please just get to know each other. And drop by the medic station to give us a DNA sample. Why don't the boys, starting with A, go now, and everyone else hit the buffet. We'll call in other groups, or you can just wander by on your own if you see that there's no line."

"I'll be circulating, if you have any questions." She waved a casual dismissal.

Arno looked at the medic's station.

Do I want to know?

Stupid.

I already do. I have never felt the One. Always felt apart.

Ryol plowed through the crowd. "Well, aren't you going to go? Isn't this exciting!" She bounced on her toes and scanned the room. With only twenty-seven kids, it looked pretty empty. She dropped her voice. "Which boys do you think aren't even Oners?" She sounded deliciously horrified.

Arno stiffened his shoulders and raised his nose. Not that he'd ever managed to carry off an attitude. He opened his mouth to say it . . .

"Hey, it's my two favorite brats." Cheerful, breezy and familiar tones.

"Aunt Rael! " Ryol squeaked and threw herself on the speaker for a hug.

Saved! Arno got swept into a hug as well. And got the usual big zing of a close relative not touched for some time.

"So, you guys are getting some special training, eh?"

"Or studied like bugs under a lens." Arno couldn't help but relax. His aunt was a hair above average in height, a bit on the skinny side, but with muscles. Short red hair gelled up into spikes. And a happy twinkle in her eyes. And a reputation that took second place to none. She was the Rael Withione. And wearing her uniform. She must have come straight from work.

"Ha! They must not have said it yet. They hope you lot can make magic gates and teleport. Of course, they haven't the faintest idea how to even start training you. I may have to make the ultimate sacrifice and go bat my eyelashes at Xen and ask him to work with you guys." She grinned.

Every kid within hearing shut up suddenly. Lots of wide-eyed gawps.

Ryol gawped. "Magic gates! Like Endi made? Makes? I mean, Xen. I mean . . . Captain Wolfson? Is that really his rank? Why?"

Rael snickered. "That's his rank in the Army of the West. Disco doesn't bother much with rank. He says 'Master of the Mulitverse' and only about half the people listening laugh at him. They kept switching Directors, until everyone realized that Xen and Q just want someone to do the paperwork and argue with diplomats while they have fun exploring new worlds and beating up armies. Neither one of them takes orders worth beans, but wave a challenge in their faces and you can't stop them."

"Whoa! Do you see him often?" Ryol's eye widened.

"Oh, maybe once or twice a year. I'm mostly busy with other stuff."

Arno eyed her. "Does the External Directorate pull you in when they want Captain Wolfson distracted?"

Her toothy grin widened. "Why, Arno, how could you think such a thing?"

"That's what every one says."

"What do you mean, everyone. You live halfway around the world from anyone involved with any of that stuff."

Ryol rolled her eyes. "We chat on the grid all the time. And everyone knows we're your family so we hear all the gossip about you. And half of it involves him."

"Oh, One! There goes my reputation." All bubbly and silly—fifteen years ago, she'd thrown herself between the President and an assassin and nearly died. She still worked for the Presidential Directorate, and Arno'd seen a vid where she’d jumped out of an aircar in mid-air, and glided down to kill dozens of those Helaos cannibals that had attacked the One World.

Of course, what she was really famous for was the rumored romance with Endi . . . Xen Wolfson. A real romance, not the seduction-as-a-Game-Play.

They laughed at her, and steered her over to get drinks—all non-alcoholic but she didn't seem to mind. And munchies.

Various of the staff wandered by to meet or greet Rael. About half of them seemed to know her. Arno drifted apart to the boys he'd met, who were suitably impressed.

Arno finally sidled up to the medic's station for a cheek scraping, and a quick scan. Why were they so interested in his neck? Ryol followed.

"You two look pretty unenthusiastic. Why don't you walk me out to my car?" Rael led them out a side door. "Actually, you look a bit overwhelmed."

Arno sighed. "Mom never told us. I mean, we knew Dad was our stepfather, no zing, you know?" He eyed her . . . should he ask?

"Ask what?" Rael grinned. "Your thoughts are starting to get really loud. I'll have to come by and give you some shielding lessons. So, ask. Get it out of your system."

Arno swallowed. "I do realize that it's variable, and weakens with regular repeats and all that . . . but I've always gotten a bigger zing from you than from Mom. Are you our biomom?"