Advanced Theory finally got through the old textbook, and she posted the one she'd thought she’d be teaching from, from the start.
In Comet Fall Theory, she eyed the older men and women in the audience. Looked over at Lenny and Joke. “There are a lot of people here that I never see elsewhere. Too old to be students, too young to be full professors. Do you have any idea who they are?”
They both shook their heads.
“Right. See the two men, top row, middle? When I get near the end, you guys circle around to the other entrances, and follow them. I’ll be along as quickly as I can. I’m curious as to what sort of people are auditing the course.”
Real spotted the four of them, with an interesting mix of body language. Joke stiff and affronted. Lenny’s head swinging back and forth, trying to watch the other three. Tall dark and handsome grinning. Brown hair with his hand over his face. Talking.
“Ice, swear to The One I can’t take you anywhere!”
“Not my fault I keep getting accosted by beautiful women, although in this case, she might have been accosting me at the request of her boss.” Tall, dark, and handsome, presumably Ice, met Rael’s eyes.
Rael decided to ignore the . . . body language. “Yes. I’m curious about all these people auditing the class. Most of them too old to be a student. And I haven’t seen either of you around campus. Not that I’ve met all the staff. Do you work here?”
Brown hair shot Ice a warning glare. “We heard about the class and it sounded fascinating.”
Rael opened her shields at a high frequency . . . :: know if Ajki wants her to know. ::
“Oh, I see.” Rael giggled. “Why don’t we pop out to the practice field and I’ll get some of the students to demonstrate. Then you can report all sorts of good stuff to Ajki.”
Ice burst out laughing. “Pegged us instantly. Pay up, Dog.”
Brown hair glared. Switched to a friendly smile at Rael. “Hi. I’m Analyst Arfy Withione and this is Analyst Icka Withione. Director Ajki is curious about what you’re teaching, and sent us to observe.”
“I see.” Rael pulled out her comm and tapped a message to Ryol and Arno. What to show off for a couple of IR goons? Meet us at the Practice field. “C’mon, I’ll see if any volunteers turn up to show off.”
“Are any of Wolfson’s kids here?” Ice strode out to walk beside her as she turned and walked away.
Rael grinned. “Hmm, tell you what. Let’s see who, if anyone, shows up and then you can try to guess which of them are Xen’s and which are highly talented pure Oners. Not that any of us are pure. Since the Prophets all married into the multitude, it’s pure hubris to assume we’re sufficiently inbred to have dropped all the non-prophet genes.”
Ice eyed her in surprise. Dog snickered. “And, of course, some of us are upcomers with plenty of Multitude—or worse yet—Native genes.”
Ice sighed. “I’ve got to spend more time in the salle, so I can beat you in a duel to the deathly embarrassment.”
Dog shook his head. “But you’re already a deathly embarrassment. So sad, no early fencing instruction.”
Ice nodded. “The really pity is Dog, showing up unarmed to the battle of wits.”
“There’s no status in being smart.” Arfy stopped and eyed the grassy slope. “I thought fields were flat. That looks more like the backstop of a shooting range.”
Ice eyed Rael. “Surely it’s not needed! And is that a greenhouse? Why the firewood?”
Rael followed his gaze. A neat stack of firewood had appeared on the far side of the green house. Thank you, Xen. “It’s a bit cold for sitting on the ground to meditate, and the wood is used for targets.”
“Ooo! They’re both cute!” Gior banished her unnoticeable spell.
Ice and Dog both dropped their hands away from reflexive grabs at guns.
“One! Ice, she’s harder to spot than you are.” Dog twitched again as the rest of the gang dropped their spells.
“Yeah.” Ice edged away from Gior’s leer. Voyr walked up and whistled appreciatively.
Joke snickered. “Oh, don’t you like being on the other end?”
Ice grinned. “Not when they’re this young.”
Ryol and Pussy looked the men over and shrugged. There was a hint of belligerence in the guys’ expressions.
Rael cleared her throat. “So, is Ajki interested in Comet Fall specifically or, well, at this point I’m teaching general magic. Guys? Run some firewood up the hill.”
“Up the . . .” Ice looked startled. “Where are they going to be standing?”
Rael eyed the pair. “You’re not grads?”
“I am.” Ice shrugged. “Fourteen years ago, mind you. But all my magic techniques classes were from the School of Magic.”
Rael nodded. “The School of Magic is not actually very good at teaching the use of magic for the sorts of things the School wants. Did you specialize in Magifacturing or . . .”
“Truth matches, actually.” Ice shrugged. “Not that I’ve ever used it. Or took any advanced classes. I jumped at the offer of a job from XR Info, rather than go for an advanced degree.”
A snicker from Dog.
“Fine. I was sick and tired of school, and Info was interesting. Four years later, I moved to IR.” Ice shrugged. “I ought to go back for an advanced degree. Probably need a PhD to get anywhere in government.”
“And learn to fence.” Dog grinned.
Ice walked closer and stood between Milo and Ryol to watch as the kids sliced, punched, and threw fireballs.
Milo looked over at him. “So how far can you slice?”
Ice looked over at the hill. A mostly intact log exploded, splinters flying. “About that far.”
Rael raised her eyebrows. “I’m impressed. I didn’t think the Magic School was capable of teaching that.”
“They aren’t.” Ice shrugged. “I’ve picked up a few things, since then.”
Dog snorted. “And this batch of teenagers is already outdoing you. Jealous?”
“Only of their training.”
Dog stepped up and pushed a stick six meters away, levitated it and twirled it.
Rael looked from one man to the other. “Have either of you ever taught techniques?” She smiled at their sudden frowning attention. “I happen to need some volunteer assistants who can catch flares.”
Ice squirmed a bit. “I have . . . for kids a lot younger than these.”
Dog shook his head. “We’ve got jobs . . .”
But Ice looked up the hill, littered with debris. “It might not be too hard to convince Ajki that we need to watch all your students for a few weeks. See how fast they’re improving . . . catch a few pointers ourselves.”