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15 November 2018 @ 07:44 am


The mirror agal worked. For as long as he could keep it in the back of his mind.

Arno got used to going to bed with an aching head.

Technically, he was in the group of seven boys who hadn't yet felt the Power of the One. The cheerful Izmo had shrugged away the designation. "Every single one of you is getting mentally loud, and glowing like mad. You'll feel the power soon enough. After all, the average age of bloom is eighteen. I suspect you'll all be early bloomers. For now though, we're going to run some quick assessments, to determine what specific talents you might have."

"Talents?" Or What looked uncertain. "Like for micromanufacturing?"

"That's one." The old priest didn't seem to mind interruptions. "Physical manipulations, both large and small. Telekinesis, scientifically speaking. Telempathy. Telepathy.

"Although 'Tele' is a bit of a misnomer. It means 'distant' in an ancient language, but we use it when we mean 'mental' or 'magical' methods."

He shrugged. "But when we say talents, we often mean very specific inborn biases toward one thing or another. We all have things that come more easily than others. Such as subjects in school. I was always good at language arts, and dismal at math. Brilliant at gymnastics, pathetic at track. These exercises will give us some idea of your current magical biases."

Arno latched onto one word. "Current?"

"Current. You'll grow into magic much as you'll grow into your feet. Now, Arno, you think you're small and clumsy, in ten years you'll be tall. Graceful, eh, too early to tell."

"So you're testing now, to watch us grow, magically."

"Exactly. Now you seven may find these exercises stupid, if not impossible, but frankly, I wish we'd started six years ago, before any of you twenty-seven blossomed. So, let's get started. Paper and pencils in front of you, eyes closed. Listen to my voice . . . "

Fifteen minutes later, Arno was frowning at the stick figure people standing in a circle that he'd just drawn . . . and wondering why he'd drawn it. Izmo just dated it and slipped it in a folder with Arno's name on it.

"How about some video games?"

Not the standard ones Arno was used to, but the full immersion games were half frustrating and half easy. Until they ramped up a few levels. Drat. Well, if they were measuring something, no doubt he'd improve. Eventually.

Or not. If they were measuring some connection to the One. This Endi Dewulfe, Xen Wolfson person. His father. Biofather. Whatever. That person might be able to change that. He'll probably do anything Aunt Rael asks. But he'd better not do anything to me without checking with me first.

He hunched his shoulders. Being some stranger's child hadn't bothered him a few days ago. Somehow knowing more was making it worse.


"Four girls have one copy of the standard One X chromosome, and Wolfson's X chromosome, with its doubled power genes. The other eleven all have two One power genes, but one of their X chromosomes is otherwise Wolfson's. The ability to see very clearly those things Wolfson sent back with Rael doesn’t correlate exactly with the Comet Fall power genes. But except in one case it seems to match with the child having both of Wolfson's chromosome sixteen. That damned wine effect . . . " Ytry looked back at his notes.

"The boys are a bit more varied, with some odd combinations. The One X and a normal Y. Four boys got both X and Y from Wolfson, and so have the same power genes he has. All four of them have strong dimensional talent, plus three other boys. Again, all but one have Wolfson’s chromosome sixteen."

Duic sniffed. "Probably just an unusual coincidence, since it isn't universal."

"Possibly, but since the two with only one copy are twins, and they both have the same chromosome sixteen from their mother, that gives us a starting point for identifying the genetic basis for dimensional abilities."

/// end of updates///

Chapter 1st school

Ryol was in the first limo to cross over to Embassy. I'm going to meet him. One! I'm actually going to meet him!

Voyr was wide-eyed and pale. "What if I faint? "

"Oh, buck up!" Gior was less than sympathetic.

Yrno leered. "I'll find out what color your panties are."

Most of the girls shrunk away from him. Five girls and three boys in this group. Unfortunately they'd gotten this over sexed bully

Ryol, sitting in the front seat, turned and glared. "Do not even try something that stupid."

The leer broadened. "And who's going to stop me? Your fancy aunt isn't here."

Ryol flashed her teeth. "So your only worry is how much she taught me." She turned around. They were just turning into the corridor to Gate City, and she wasn't about to be distracted by an ass. She wanted to enjoy every second of her first ever gate transition. And perhaps savor the faint smile of approval on Princess Diuc's face.

The decontamination station blasted the black limo with jets of water and air, then they drove straight at a big square of . . . frosted glass? Thin smoke? Pouring rain? The other side was a long ramp to a street. The ramps helped avoid traffic jams. You couldn't stop halfway through a corridor; the effect would toss the car through, no matter what was in the way. She'd read all about it. There was also supposed to be some sort of time dilation effect to stretch out the acceleration needed to match the movement of the far side . . . She clenched her teeth to suppress a scream as she was stretched, compressed, the limo was thrown out onto the ramp and spat out onto that street. It wasn't at all foggy or smoky. Clear morning light, the street a bit wet, as if it had rained overnight.

Ryol took a deep breath. No one ever said it was like that!

They turned into a walled alley, stopped at a heavy gate that looked like it could stop a speeding tank. Beyond, the Secure Gate Area.

The guard at the entrance was studying his comp. He looked up, looked them over, alert eyed and counting, before he nodded. Tapped at his comp. "Follow the yellow guide."

Nothing high tech. A zippy little bug, yellow with a flashing yellow light. The gate rolled open. The princess followed the bug down streets and around corners and out into a wide open grassy field, laced with paved roads. Two turns and the light turned off at the end of a short line of vehicles waiting just off to the side of a big arch with a lit sign "EMBASSY."

The gate itself was a glittering sparkly fog, spinning slowly, like a slow motion whirlpool laid on its side.

A vehicle burst out of the glitter. A long gray van full of people. Followed by two more.

"Carefully spaced out." Ryol murmured.

Diuc nodded. "They space them to avoid collisions. They aren't as bad as collisions in the old powered gates, but they can be deadly. Here comes the last one."

Ryol wondered how she knew; the van that popped through looked just like the others. But the first car in line took off at the wave of the controllers wand. And was sucked into the fog. Pause, then a long gray van went, pause, black car, pause, van, pause, truck. And then they were facing the whirlpool themselves. The controller waved. The princess drove forward. They were sucked in, whirled, lights flashed as they shrank and expanded . . . and drove out into a stone courtyard. The limo veered right at the signal from the controller on this side.

Ryol took a deep breath. "That was interesting." She winced internally at the squeak in her voice.

Diuc shot her a glance, but said nothing.

"I thought it was rather ordinary." Foyh sniffed. "Not much different than a corridor."

Is she pretending to be sophisticated, or did she not see what I saw, feel what I felt?

Duic stopped by a tall distinguished gentleman. "Ambassador Ashe." Half introduction, half greeting as the ambassador opened the limo door.

"Princess Duic, good to see you again. They've built a 'School of Magic' and dorms." The man nudged Ryol over closer to Duic and sat beside her. He talked while he directed them. "We’ll take the scenic route, past Disco. The school took Xen, Q and six new people about seven hours to build it all. Which included a lot of jokes about over-building, alterations, plumbing and installing an independent solar power system. Apparently they can manipulate large masses of rock as easily as we make micro-electronics. It was . . . illuminating, watching them work. At least they used granite, not more of that menacing black basalt." He nodded across the square.

Menacing. Ryol joined them all in gawping at the big black cubist . . . muscle building as they drove past. It's not menacing. I refuse to be menaced by architecture.

Next was a modernistic low flat building, all windows, and sharp angles, and a low sign that said "Kitchen" in large letters and "Comet Fall Cuisine" in smaller letters below.

A horse barn. A lanky young man brushing a shiny chestnut drew whistles from Voyr and Gior.

"That's probably another half-brother." The Ambassador's voice was a bit dry. "The Comet Fall people seem to think that working in barns and kitchens is good for children. All the Comet Fall people pitch in. Q is an excellent cook—the Kitchen has contests. Informal, but quite fierce, between all the witches around, both at Disco and the Comet Fall Embassy.

“Not that our offerings aren’t better, during the Fall Festivals every year.” He grinned. “I doubt you’ll be here for it, pity, it’s quite fun.

“Turn left here. That white two story building is where we’ll be holding these classes. Once we get the school built and staffed and so forth, this building will be dorms for remote students, or it can be additional classroom space. Whatever we need."

Ryol blinked as she recognized One Izmo, standing outside the ornate front entrance. The short priest was dwarfed by the tall man . . . Dark gray jacket, waist length, lots of pockets. Open to show the black shirt underneath, matching gray pants. Black shoes, or boots, perhaps. He looked like a foreigner, and still was instantly recognizable. Shaggy curly brown hair, instead of the straightened and streaked and professionally cut hair of the spy, Endi Dewulfe.

Xen Wolfson.

Her father.