But it’s very odd, that it all happened in the fifties.
They were both thoughtful as she showed them the house, and the detritus of the stone working in the back yard.
“The kids picked it up so quickly, so easily. There’s no excuse for them to not be training. And they all got scolded, yelled at, called dangerous, and irresponsible . . . The younger group had Ryol and Arno bucking them up and getting them to act powerless and inhibited, so it didn’t stick too hard.”
Rael pointed a finger and cubed up a shard of granite a couple of meters away. “Milo—the kid that got hit in the face in the ranking? Three lessons to get him to lose his disbelief in his ability to do anything, and he cut those two slabs there.”
Kael frowned. “Pity his martial arts aren’t up to snuff. That kind of slice would be handy, the next time,” a glance at Ajha, “someone needs an Action Team for a Dinosaur World.”
Ajha grinned. “Yes, plus it makes gathering firewood so much easier.” He looked at a small triangle of granite, and it fell apart in slices so thin they were nearly transparent.
Kael snorted while scraps stacked themselves neatly into a teetering pile, then slumped down into a pile of sand.
Rael giggled. “That’ll teach me to show off.”
She walked over to the Dojo with them, and listened in as they talked to the Seniors, then took the trainees over to the practice field, to show off their rather minimal slices. Rael pushed them for greater distance, and then small diameter pushes. Even Kael looked pleased. “It been years since we had an entire graduating class with some decent magic training.”
“I’ll be working on mixing it up with martial arts, and then compass work for the same, before they graduate.”
“Excellent. That will get them out in the field a good six months before the usual new teamers. Dismissed.” Kael glanced at Rael. “You’re right about them. So much potential, so little training.”
Ajha nodded and glanced over his shoulder. “And you’ve got some students with good unnoticeable spells.”
The gang from last night dropped the spells. All six of them grinning.
Rael grinned back. “Milo’s a Junior, the rest are Sophomores, although some have enough points to almost call them Juniors.” For them, she took firewood well up the hill, leaving Kael with raised brows. Ajha looked mildly interested.
Note to self: Don’t play poker with that man.
Slice, push and pull, “Death Punch,” and finally fireballs.
Kael and Ajha exchanged glances.
Kalel grinned. “I see why Urfa ‘suggested’ we come and talk to you.”
“Sophomores and Juniors. They’re going to be very interesting additions to all the Teams.” Ajha eyed Rael. “Keep up the good work, and watch your back. Even if it’s just inter-department rivalry, it could get nasty.”
They lunched with Urfa, then Rael trotted off for her two classes. And pretended to not see them in the back row.
And spent the afternoon thinking.
If this was a crime, I’d be looking at motive and opportunity. Sorting my suspects accordingly.
So if this isn’t Empire-wide stupidity, it would have gotten into place before 1352 and the modern IDs . . . not that they can’t be forged, but it’s hard. And what about the colonies? Did they lag a bit getting the new IDs?
The Granite Peak Colony was blitzed on 13 Emre 1355 yp. Panicked civilians fleeing through the gate, half of them on foot. Half of them still trying to crowd through as the Earthers charged over the crowd to get to the gate . . . and we closed it.
How closely did we check the people who made it home?
Three years, two and a half, really, after we started switching to the modern ID.
So that’s my start point. Find out if any moles could have gotten Across in that panic. One Hell! How many of them just ran for it, and didn’t even have their ID on them? Track them down and see what they did at the time, what they are doing now.
Heh. My suspects are rather large groups.
Motive: Interschool rivalry, Chancellor Adse, Professor Jues, and the rest of the department.
Motive: Sabotage Oner Magic training. Suspects . . . the same people.
Dammit, this is stupid. I need more information on Cyborgs, especially how to detect them if none of the metal bits show. And Jaejong didn’t have the means to create any. His spies on Embassy were both oriental. Maybe I’d better look over the Magic School Staff for Asians.
Rael thunked her head on her desk. “I am simply not detective material.”
A chuckle behind her. “What are you detecting?”
“Zero, zip, nada. Tell me, God of Spies, how could I detect a covert cyborg, like Jaejong?”
“Oh. Genetically. They have a lot of magic genes, but they aren’t in insertions packets, like ours. I suspect they would test out as Halfers, as most of them have a power gene on the Y chromosome.”
“And nothing on the X? So it’s inherited father to son, and no women ever have power?”
“Exactly. We’ve got samples from three different branches, and they’re all like that.” Xen grinned. “Except, of course, on Zingo, where they intermarried with AnnaKarina’s descendants. For them . . . the lack of radiation damage, perhaps?”
Rael blinked. Does he not realize that all the analyzers have been altered to detect the differences between the Fallen power genes and ours? “I suppose that would work for detecting Fallen spies as well, except if they’re like you and have so many of the Prophets . . . Old Gods . . . chromosomes, that radiation damage isn’t expected. Dammit.”
Xen snorted. “We have an information officer in the embassy here. He’s really all the King needs, what with the Disco observers in Gate City ready to report on troop movements. I know there’s always sabre rattling, but we really don’t need to spy. It’s always all over the news.”
Rael felt her jaw sagging and sat up and glared. “You don’t think we’re enough of a threat to be spied on!”
“Umm, not in some ways. Mind you we’ve got a whole department dissecting all the news we can collect. But technologically? We don’t want weaponry like yours, we don’t need it. In another ten years, or ten centuries, we may be faced with an aggressive Empire, with gate makers of your own. Then we’ll have to deal with the fallout of my sins.”
Rael swiveled her chair around and eyed him.
“And they’ll be much harder to keep bagged than you were.”
Rael slapped her forehead. “Xen!”
“I won’t kill my own children, grandchildren, whatever. But I will try to stop them from opening any gates for an invasion . . . unfortunately I won’t be the only person out there, trying to stop them.” Xen sighed. “But really, you’re getting so sensible. Not exactly peaceable, but . . .”
Rael stood up and leaned on him. “Izzo’s no hawk. It’ll be all right.”
“Yes. We’ll make it right. So . . . you think you’ve got a Cyborg pulling the strings somewhere in the background?” He smiled down at her. “Let’s collect some genetic samples. Want to throw a housewarming party?”