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matapam
06 October 2019 @ 11:20 am

Ice choked faintly, then folded up on the ground and watched.

Dog eased down beside him. Rael caught a faint whisper. “. . . that’s impressive . . .”

And from Ice, “No, that’s insane.”

Rael snickered. “Just wait . . .”

Ra’d and Ebsa damped down the power, letting the heat flow away in a slight breeze, and broke the merge.

Ra’d nodded. “Very nice. That was a good shallow merge and good power handling.” He eyed the bright eyed young men sitting there. You and you, next.”

Unko and Osti scrambled out to take Milo’s and Agny’s places, for another good round. Eggo and Kev barely formed up before Ra’d dropped it. Pointed at Kev.

“You are too young for this. Powerful, yes, but you need more low level work and just time to . . . not be damaged by handling this much power.”

Fun took his place for a rather lumpy and uncertain round.

Then Arno and Sunny. Bright power circling . . . wobbling a bit as it faded, with a flash up into the sky.

Definitely need to do this at the beach.

“You two are very strong.” Ra’d looked back at the group. “All of you are. We’ll do this again Thursday. I would like you all to come to Embassy. We have a beach where we practice high energy magic—nothing flammable around, other than ourselves. Eight am. Main entrance. Bring a change of clothes, the weather is warm.”

Rael dismissed them.

Ice and Dog stood up and watched the kids laughing as they walked away.

“I’ve never seen anything like that.” Ice swallowed.

“I have. But it was a long time ago.” Ra’d looked over at Rael. “Why so little control?”

“Because all they’ve been taught all their lives is to suppress their magic.” Rael grinned. “But they’re about over that. Maybe I can start some control exercises, now.”

“Please.” Ebsa glanced after the boys. “A compass with Arno, Sunny, Milo, and Agny all in it will be interesting.”

“Arno is the strongest.” Ra’d eyed her. “Still a virgin. Lots of control exercises, please.”

“Right.” She eyed him. Didn’t ask. “And my last class, the Team Track Seniors.”

Ra’d studied them as they walked up. “Only five, this year?”

“Yep. Guys . . . I see you recognize the coaches I’ve called in for Compass practice. Warriors, may I introduce Wavy, Ted, Ijjy, Use It, and Ebow. Over to you.”

Ebsa nodded. “So you’ve done quite a bit of compass work, right?”

Wavy stepped up. “Right, but not since Rael been . . . showing us how much we were missing, magic-wise.”

“So,” Ebsa looked at Ice and Dog. “We need an eighth. Have either of you? Good.”

Dog stepped up, looking a little apprehensive.

Ebsa walk over to take south, to Ra’d North. Wavy hesitated, then took east, Ted west and the rest slotted in between them.

Rael walked over and stood beside Ice as power circled, wobbled, and was dropped. Ebsa shifted three men around and they started again. Power building, climbing, bright and beautiful. Fast and smooth this time.

I’ve never seen people swapped around like that. It certainly seems to work.

She lowered her mental shields, and eavesdropped. Caught a startled look from Ice, then he was listening in as well.

:: energy shield, but form a hole when ever anyone in the merge throws an energy spell. ::

A quick flash of light, that slipped right through the hole and hit the slope. Ebsa and Ra’d, of course.

But then the student members of the compass were holding shields, opening holes, closing the holes, feeling and knowing when a hole was needed. They swapped around who was holding the shield and kept to the less dangerous spells, then added a mental shield and practiced which shield needed the hole for which spell was being thrown.

Then the power spun down the shields faded, and the men staggered apart, five of them sitting down abruptly. Rael grabbed boost and handed it around.

“That was really impressive.”

Rael glanced over. A man she recognized as Ijly, the Combat Department head. Ikku and Ongo were there as well.

Wavy finished his boost and staggered to his feet. “Told you it would be good.”

“Indeed.” Ikku grinned suddenly. “And I never expected Ra’d and Ebsa to ever set foot on campus again.”

Ra’d snorted. “Especially to train Teamers in compass work? They’re already good at the Compass, we’ll work them again Thursday on shield and attack coordination.”

Hey. Not going to take them to the beach. They’re . . . strong by the usual measurements. The other nine? Ra’d saw it. I’m training a batch of Warriors. And then there’s the six women. I know clusters happen, randomly. And four of them are Xen’s kids. But that’s still eleven ordinary Oners who, like Ebsa, won the genetic lottery and got all the good stuff.

I don’t know if I’m glad the Combat staff didn’t see them, or sorry. But no doubt they’ll find out next year.

She watched the Team trainees head on direction, the Combat faculty the other, then turned back to the four men.

“So, are you guys going back to Gate City tonight, or can I offer you dinner?”

“We’d be delighted to stay.” Ebsa grinned. “We’ve been hearing rumors about your house and I never saw the finished office.”

Rael glanced at Ice and Dog, hovering. “Yeah, you guys too.”

***

The office was duly admired, with Ebsa impressed by the bearskin. “I wonder if Paer would let me have one?”

The salutary tour of the house and Ebsa demanding to hold this new sort of stepbrother of his.

Exzy was sound asleep. Oops. I haven’t brought him out since . . . we left Embassy.

“Well, he not as cute as my kids, but he’s nearly a match for Ra’d’s.”

Ra’d just grinned. “So does the red hair indicate volatile emotions, or is he going to be more laid back, like his big brother?”

“Umm, pretty laid back, but social and a chatterbug.”

Dog eyed Ebsa. “Sort of stepbrother?”

“Oh, through my biodad’s fifth wife’s half cousin or something or other. Someday I’ll diagram it out and discover that I’m not related to Rael at all.”

“Oh, you’re Montevideo Clan, bound to be some very distant blood relation.” Rael grinned. “Of course that means there’s a whole lot of people neither of us want to be related to, that we probably are.”

“Huh.” Ebsa frowned and stepped into the kitchen to frown at the refrigerator. “It’s not plugged in.

Rael sighed. “I need to hide that wretched plug. Xen . . . did something to the fridge, so it stays cold.”

“Careful, Rael, you let him poke around your kitchen, he’ll wind up cooking something delicious.”

“I was thinking I’d send out for something . . .”

Ebsa tsked, and pulled out the two dead chickens . . .

They all grabbed stools and put their elbows on the counter while Ebsa whisked around the kitchen. Dog and Ice relaxed enough to chat, talking about their current project of watching the love hate relationship between the War Party and Insa, a rabble rouser who had formed a new party before the last presidential election.

“Are they managing to lure a substantial number of their former colleges back? Much though I hate to say it, Izzo mostly won because the War Party and Isolationists both lost so many people to the One Firsters.”

Dog and Ice visibly refrained from commenting.

Rael shook her head. “IR Goons. War Party. So sad to see such potential wasted.”

She grabbed plates and flatware for Ebsa to load. “How do you do that so fast?”

He juggled three knives, shrugged. “Sheer ability, or possibly magic? A nice little hot ball inside a chicken cuts the oven time nicely.”