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matapam
11 April 2019 @ 10:33 am

Chapter Eighteen

Announcements at Midnight

30 Ramadan 1414

“The problem with getting reference letters is that the most important people I know are relatives.” Arno scowled at the screen of his comp.

Across the table, his annoying twin sister nodded. “Aunt Rael would be awesome, and Dad too. A subdirector! But not the biodad. I wrote a letter to One Ytry asking for a letter of recommendation, but I haven’t got one back. So who are you going to ask?”

“You actually asked a priest? One of the priests we dosed with Joy Juice?” Arno blinked. “I don’t suppose they would blackball us . . . would they?”

“One Ytry had a sense of humor. The other priests? Brrrr! No way.” Ryol smirked. “Anyway, I asked the President for one. And I think I’ll ask Lucky Dave.”

“Wow. You do have nerve.” Arno looked back at his list. “I was going to ask Izzo . . .”

Ryol nodded. “And then he quit last week. Which means . . .”

“He going to run for President. One! I really hope he can pull it off.” Arno looked back at his comp, and his immediate problem. “Maybe I’ll ask Ebsa. He’s a distant enough step-relative.” Ra’d’s the one I ought to ask . . .

Clicking heels on the floor. “Ready to go?” Their mother looked them over and nodded her approval. “The limo is two minutes out, so if you need to . . .”

Arno shut his comp and headed for the lav.

A garden party at Government House to view the fireworks on the Eid. All the families of the top people invited. Hmm, how many of Aunt . . . Mom’s co-workers have I been around enough to ask for a letter of recommendation?

Well, they’ll all be planning their speeches for the announcements right after midnight.

Arno’d been to Versalle several times with Aunt Rael, but this was the first time he’d been to Government House. But he’d seen the front entrance in the news and in movies a million times, and this garden almost as often. He gulped a little as he walked out into the place where his genetic mother and father had almost died. Yeah. Right there on the dance floor.

He looked away, looked around at his sister’s squeal.

“Lucky Dave! Whoa, you cleaned up nice.”

Yep, there was the famous Lucky Dave, shaking his head at Ryol. “Hi, Crazy Redhead Number Two. I see you haven’t changed a bit in a year and a half.”

Arno snickered. Looked around and spotted Jay. Wow, someone I know. Well, all right, he’s a half-brother. He walked around two other groups of chatting people.

Jay spotted him and bowed out of the group of adults and joined him. “Hey, how’s it going?”

“Still good. Thank the Oner Mother decided we were responsible enough to trust to a grid school, so the last two semesters were great.”

Jay nodded. “My school is death on bullying, so I don’t mind all the rest of the strictness. At any rate, I haven’t turned anyone into a goat. Yet.”

“Really? You know that spell?” Arno considered a couple of students who had been especially nasty in their harassment . . . “I could have used that one last year.”

But Jay was shaking his head. “No. And probably a good thing.”

“Yeah. So when did you go to Embassy last?” Arno glanced over to see what Ryol was up to . . . still talking to Lucky Dave, now with a tall brown haired woman . . . Qamar? Yeah, the Prophet’s daughter.

“Or What, Yrno, and I got hauled in for a week just before school started. We can all do corridors, now. Still flubbing gates. You?”

“Couple weeks before that, I had lessons with Q. Man, I had no idea how hard it is to put a gate where you actually want it!”

A snort from Ryol, behind him. “As opposed to randomly? Lucky Dave, this is my idiot twin, Arno, and Jay is my nice half-brother. This is Dave ibn Daiki ibn William, and Qamar . . . do they use ibn for girls? Daughter of Nicholas, Granddaughter of Victor.”

Arno shook hands with both, trying to not let his jaw drop. “An honor to meet you both.” And they are a pair, standing close, and Qamer eyeing Ryol like she’s competition. Ha!

Lucky Dave eyed him. “So you can make gates? Randomly?”

“Well, not randomly. They have a strong tendency to stick to the same spot on the other world that you’re standing on. Not to mention the trouble anyone except Q has finding the right world in the first place.”

“Probably not too much of a problem, if you don’t particular care where on the world you go.”

Qamar nodded. “Or you could go to the place on the One World that you wanted to go to on the other World, couldn’t you?”

Arno nodded. “Except we like to keep the gates all in the SGA. Well, except for the suburb worlds . . . I wonder if they all go to their local regions, or if they try for nicer climates?”

Yes, let’s change the subject, shall we?

Qamar nodded. “It would work for a temporary gate though. Like, a quick check for gold in California, right?”

“Yep.” Or not. Lucky Dave is looking thoughtful. “Although you’d have to get permission, or a permit or something, from Director Izzo. Otherwise it would be quite illegal.”

Dave nodded. “No doubt. Why don’t you all come meet Commander Nicholas?”

***

Who was talking to Ox . . . Arno blinked. “You look just like Ra’d.” And knew he was blushing, but couldn’t seem to stop his mouth. “Umm, other way around, I guess.”

The Prophet grinned. “Yes. And you look a great deal like Xen Wolfson.” He eyed them all. “So you’re three of the people who are bringing dimensional abilities to the Empire?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Excellent. And interesting to see irony at work on a cosmic scale. Wolfson sabotaging us . . . by giving us even more access to the Multiverse.”

Qamar snickered. “It is, isn’t it? With a big enough time gap that by the time we’re seriously dangerous to Comet Fall, maybe we won’t want to be.”

“Depending on the next President.” Arno glanced at his watch. “Two hours until we start getting declarations of candidacy.” He eyed the Prophet, a sudden thought . . .

“Oh Hell no!” The prophet grinned. “In fact, I’m not dead sure I’d qualify as a citizen of the Empire.”

They all gawped at him.

“I guess I’d better check on that, and see about how to register to vote and so forth.”

Ox snorted. “I suspect that was assumed. You’ll just have to register that you are residing in the District you’re living in.”

“The French countryside. I feel like I should plant grapes.” Nicholas looked over his shoulder. “Unfortunately I need to go meet more politicians. It has been a pleasure to meet you three.”

They watched him move off, and Arno heaved a deep breath. “He’s almost as deep as Master Xen.”

Ryol sniffed. “I’d like to see him next to the Old Wolf. Although too many deepnesses . . .”

“Could be a bit overwhelming.” Arno glanced at the Prophet, now shaking hands with former Councilman Ramos. “One of Those Left Behind, Wolfgang Oldham, is our biological grandfather.”

Lucky Dave and Qamar both gawped at him. “

Dave huffed out a breath. “The Commander says he learned his martial arts, from weaponless to military tactics from a Wolfgang. The Warriors he taught call their barehanded, knife, and stick methods ‘the Way of the Wolf.’ And it’s quite impressive.”

Qamar snickered. “And Dave is a master of it. He beats up all the Warriors.”

“Not all of them.” Lucky Dave grinned. “But some, yes.”

Arno looked puzzled. “Why aren’t you considered a warrior?”

“I can’t do the fancy battle magic.” Dave shrugged. “Didn’t need it, my job was to keep Nicholas alive.”

Qamar grinned ruefully. “We’re both taking lessons from Rael. She’s called us her stubborn idiots more than once.”

Dave snorted. “Yeah. I can slice almost a meter now. What kind of range do you kids have?”

Jay shrugged. “Us Wolf Kids, as a group? Thirty to fifty meters for slice, double that for a small diameter punch.”

“Wolf Kids?” Arno looked at Jay.

“Oh, haven’t you heard that? The Farmer Kids got tired of being treated like hicks, so they decided to change it. We staged a great shouting argument, where they used it like an insult, then we pointed out that half them were Xen’s kid’s too, the other half took lesson from him . . . We’ll see if it sticks.”

Ryol rolled her eyes. “I would much rather just be . . . one more oner kid. Maybe I can shed the group identification in college.”

Lucky Dave snickered. “Good Luck, you’re not the sort to blend in. Crazy Redhead.”