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13 July 2015 @ 11:36 am
_External Relations_ part 2  

Chapter Two

The newly appointed Director of External Relations, Izzo Withione Alcairo, had two offices. One in Paris, from which to organize his dealings with top government officials. One in Gate Town, handy for his field reps, minimizing their turnaround time.

"What I need is a clone, to be in both places at one time. Two clones. The other one can take care of you full time." Izzo thumped down on the bed and gazed worriedly at his bride of three weeks.

She turned her eyes downward toward her very large belly. "I promise. I will not strangle either of your parents. So relax. Or rather, don't relax. Run at full speed and get your Gate Town people organized so you can get back here for the twins arrival." She held up a hand to forestall a reply. "And if you can't, you can't. Your mother may drive me to distraction, but she will make sure I get to the hospital on time. And I'm sure your father will be very supportive. After all, he's a wildlife expert. A mere human giving birth is hardly noteworthy." She started snickering.

Izzo gave her a faux hurt look. "He's only hyperventilated and fainted twice. And wasn't I right when I said we only wanted to tell them at the last possible moment?"

"Thank the One I listened to you. With my figure expanding, even Zowie couldn't go too overboard on the wedding. And your father has limited time to worry. Now. You've got two months to get everything settled. Get."

He looked deep into her blue eyes and nodded. "Yes, wife. As you command."
She snorted. "Don't make me beat you – again. I made sure you had plenty of toothpicks packed to keep your underlings affronted, Colonial."

He managed one last hug. "I can't believe I let the President talk me into tackling this mess. Right. I'm going. Damn."

They'd moved into her apartment, and bought the adjoining flat so they held half the floor. The workmen were just getting to work on the other apartment. Bedrooms and playrooms and a home office. The two kitchens were side by side, half of that wall would be taken down . . .

And I don't know whether I'm dumping it all on her, or whether she's getting me out from underfoot so she can do it to her tastes.

He let the Directorate driver do his thing with the car door and settled down for the trip. "Morning Davi."

Avdi Servaone, Davi was a nickname, nodded back formally. "Director Izzo." It would take some time before Izzo became simply "Director." His predecessor had taken over Interior Relations, and grumbled about having the same problem. Izzo had been Acting Director there for half a year, as his predecessor fought retirement. Glad I'm out of that mess. Good Old Uncle Ajki can deal with them. Xiat's uncle, not his, and now married to Xiat's schoolgirl chum.

So, from barely accepted by my natal Alcairo Clan, I've gone to semi-adopted into Black Point. One help me. Especially since I know the reason I've been chosen for the Hatchet Man's job is that an Alcairo Director can axe several Alcairo Subdirectors without giving the largest Clan an excuse to scream about factional politics. I'll I have to do is figure out which subdirectors are the problem, and what the hell they are up to.

But I can ignore that for now, and just be the new Director. Get established before I start making changes.

Today he could concentrate on that problem. It was quite simple.

Fifteen Subdirectors had just been skipped over for promotion in favor of some damned upstart from Interior. The Upstart was not looking forward to his first day at the office.

The car rocked as blasts of water and air washed insects, pollen, mold, and whatever from the exterior. They slicked through the Corridor and emerged into the early afternoon sunshine of Gate Town, located in the middle of North America. The location had been chosen centuries before, to leave thousands of miles of empty plains between invaders and the nearest population centers. The dimensional Corridors had removed the inconvenience, and centuries of being the bully on the block had relieved any fears of the Gates being captured and used against them. But Gate Town was still in the middle of nowhere. He eyed the rolling golden hills. Wheat harvested, no fall rains yet. If we moved our principle residence here Xiat could have a horse. Ponies for the kids. His view was abruptly shut off by buildings and he looked around curiously. He'd been through often enough, coming and going from visits to his parents. But he'd never thought about living here. In Paris, half the thirtieth floor of a residential tower was perfect. Here? Could the Director have a cozy little ranch? Or was he going to end up with a mansion and servants? He knew he could afford it, but did he want it?

He eyed the elevated train tracks. Starting in various warehouses and office complexes, arrowing for the gate complex. They had three high energy, expensive gate generators. Dozens of the Comet Fall permanent gates.

Eleven Colonies, each with its own subdirector who sat atop the political and law enforcement pyramid, reporting directly to him, and through him, to the President of the One World. And the Gate to Embassy World. With a subdirector sitting atop a potent brew of plots and maneuvers and espionage. And in the tower they were pulling up to, the home of all the Information Teams, Action Teams, Researchers, and Explorers. And fifteen irate subdirectors.

"Thank you, Davi. See you later, if I survive." He walked straight in. Nodded to the security people as they leaped to their feet. And to two familiar faces. "Ajha, Fean. Come to see who gets eaten?"

Ajha cleared his throat. "They've got a welcoming committee in the conference room on the eighth floor. I thought I should warn you they were snickering."

Fean sniffed. "They've brought in some Native from Homestead with a present for you, but they wouldn't tell me what it was or why it was so funny."

"Ah, the higher you get, the more subtle the insults."

"They . . . didn't give much of an impression of subtle. More sophomoric."

"I hope they're not going to make some unfortunate early impressions I'll have to spend years getting over. Oh well. Feel free to flee, or stand back and watch while I try to tame the lions."

Fean grinned. "I was planning on taking notes. Xiat says you're good with people, and that's one of my weak spots."


". . . not sure about the bright primary colors when the rest of your beautiful flat is all Earth toned and subtle . . . "

Xiat smiled wryly at her parents-in-law. She loved them for creating Izzo, for keeping him safe from the quirks of Oner society, for the genes they'd contributed to the children she carried. Really.

Zowz was driving her crazy, and Igzi worried her deeply.

Zowie was a bundle of energy. Barely a hundred and fifty centimeters, with a thin wiry build, she never seemed to stop. She zipped around, waving her arms, chattering non-stop. Blue eyed blonde, pale complexioned. She reminded Xiat of Izzo every time she saw her. His father Igzi "Iggy" was average in size, build and coloring. Very large in the intelligence category, where it didn't show. Certain and decisive in most things, her pregnancy had found all his weak spots.

The One, the collected subconscious of all of the people depended on a core of the most magical becoming an almost hive-like single consciousness. Every year people were chosen, to replace those who had aged and died. Some Princesses, like herself, with every single gene of the Prophets and double copies of the power gene on their X chromosome. But two thirds of the One was made of men with a rare power gene on their Y chromosome. A gene that conferred strong magical ability, if its mediation of brain growth wasn't interrupted by the effects of the male hormones on the brain. Iggy had seen both of his older brothers taken away from their family, to have those unfortunate hormone producing organs removed, to be educated and raised by the One. Never seen again. As the third and last son of the family, Iggy had been spared that fate. He and his bride had immigrated to a colony world, and their only child had been born in a Native village, and not registered, not tested, until he was too old for the fate of his uncles to take him as well.

The rules had changed. Boys could now refuse the privilege of priesthood.

But Iggy had still fainted when he'd heard she was pregnant. And again when the early genetic tests had detected twins, one a boy. Even now his smile looked forced, his lips pale.

She just wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be all right. Because I want to believe it myself, that they won't have another rule change about the time Ixto is ten years old.


Ivul, pronounced like Eiffel, smiled. "We thought you'd like a small present from your former home." He stepped to a side door. "Bring it in, my good fellow."

The man who walked in was a typical *Zolt, a native of Homestead. His dark ringlets of hair had a reddish undertone. They were brushed straight back from his forehead and cut off square at his shoulders. His deep skin tones would have had him classified as sub-saharan on Earth. His nearly black eyes were sparkling with laughter.

Izzo hadn't seen !Tok for decades, but no amount of wrinkling could prevent the instantaneous recognition. Then the small cage he carried registered. A pretty little white beasty with two black stripes from head to tip of plumed tail. The cage wasn't very tall, the critter's tail was flattened, and couldn't be raised. Thank the One. Of course some people de-scented them for pets, but they wouldn't need a cage like this.

Dreadfully funny, did these city boys actually know what they were about to do? Izzo pulled out a very old memory, a spell he'd learned from his father. He let it seep over himself, and down, across the floor, protecting the carpet and the beautiful teak table. And !Tok. The rest of them would have to take their chances.

Ebko swaggered forward, grinning. He took the cage, and turned it around for Eiffel to pop the top open and grab the skunk. It all looked so smooth and unrehearsed. Very well done, except they obviously didn't know about skunks, and their ability to flip up their tails and spray the predator in front of them.

Izzo rather suspected that they didn't have any experience with close up, enclosed skunk odor, either.

!Tok had stepped quickly back. Ebko and Eiffel got the full dose across their faces. The cage dropped. The skunk hit the ground and sprayed again. All those polite senior staffers were piling out the doors, gagging or turning red as they tried to not breathe. Eiffle was puking his guts up on the floor, Ebko made it as far as the tiny sink beside the coffee bar in the corner.

Izzo tossed a stun spell on the skunk and stepped up to pick it up before it got trampled. He rolled up his stink-proof spell, taking all the spray with it, and stepped past Ebko to look through the doors, yes, a tiny executive lavatory. He flushed the spell, not releasing it, and the worst of the odors, until it was a couple of meters down the pipes.

"I was hoping you'd have your father's spell ready." !Tok's shoulders were shaking as he watched the puking Oners try to pull themselves together.

"I thought you were some big time Capitalist these days? Filthy rich, owns eighteen companies or some such, Mother says."

"I am. But I saw your name on this request and couldn't resist bringing the skunk myself. Why would my old friend want a skunk in its natural state, eh?"

"Indeed. Hmm." Izzo pretended to ignore the others in the room and laid the stunned skunk down on the table for an examination. "A male. That makes it easy." He pulled out his pocket knife and opened the sharpest blade. The few men with cast iron stomachs who'd stayed so far, paled.

"So, !Tok d*ment!k. Apart from your appalling sense of humor, which I already knew about, why the charade?"

He clicked his tongue. "Still the clever boy, aren't you? I have a petition."

Izzo straightened in alarm.

"Homestead wishes to be able to negotiate trades on our own, import and export directly, and be exempted from the ban on gene altering therapies."

Izzo bent over the skunk for a moment, then used a repair spell where he'd excised the scent glands and testicles. Then a general healing spell. He set the animal in the corner to recuperate.

"You want me to take this petition to the World Council, the President and the One?"


"All right. After all, how much trouble can the two of us get into today."

!Tok grinned at their various parents' oft repeated phrase.

"They're going to think you want to secede."

"And you will point out that if we are able to add the One gene and the Genes of the Prophets, we will instead become more solidly a part of the One. A part of the Empire and citizens of the One, equal to the Oners."

Izzo whistled. "Now that's going to make everyone sit up and take notice."

Ebko looked up from the floor. "What is this?"

Izzo grinned as he realized they'd both fallen back into speaking T!ectlk*. Just as well. A bit a secrecy about this petition would be a Good Thing. "You've been Played by a Native expert. Live and learn. When you feel a bit better, get housekeeping up here to shampoo the rug and wipe down the furniture and walls. Tell them vinegar works best."

He steered !Tok out. "Lunch? I was going to do something with this lot, but they seem to have lost their appetites."


Izzo stepped into the car and tried hard to not slump. To not snicker when Davi sniffed and looked around with a frown. "Umm, do you know, I haven't the faintest idea where my secretary reserved a room."

Davi actually looked surprised at that. "The Director's house is yours now, of course!"

So much for the little ranch in the country. "Ah. Well that takes care of that problem."

He kept his eyes open. Be embarrassing to have to ask directions to my own home tomorrow. Davi turned a few corners and headed west on a major thoroughfare. Izzo glanced from time keeper to speedometer. They were out of the built up part of town quickly, turned north, turned in through automatic gates and up a hill. Izzo's heart sank. "Mansion" was insufficient, but at least it stopped short of "Palace." As Davi swung the car around the circular approach and halted smoothly in front of the doors, Izzo eyed the ornate carved stonework, trying to identify the style, and settled on "Gothic Horror."

He climbed out and walked toward the massive double doors. They swung wide, displaying a well lit tasteful entry. I hope the inside will be normal.

The dignified, white haired man operating the doors inclined his upper body. "Welcome to the Residence, Director Izzo. I am Ohno Servaone, at your service."

"Ohno, a pleasure to meet you. Are you in charge of all this?"

"I manage the household staff. Master Gordon manages the outside help, and Mistress Fail keeps the books." He frowned over his shoulder are the sound of running feet.

The footfalls slowed and the young woman coming around the corner looked elegant and poised. "Director Izzo! I'm so glad to meet you at last." She looked eighteen, which for a high Withione meant she was probably under fifty. But there was something bubbling behind her shields, excitement and trepidation, that felt incredibly young. She was exquisitely beautiful, with a soft golden brown coif to match her big hazel eyes. "I'm Princess Gewz, assigned to you from the One."

Oh. Shit.

She stepped closer, her shields falling. She stepped right up against Izzo and kissed him. He choked. Threw up his hardest shield and hastily backed away. Grabbed her right hand in his and shook it.

"Pleased to meet you Princess. Gewz . . . Gee Wiz? Please understand that I am a happily married man, expecting my first babies, and you and I are going to have a very professional relationship."

She stared at him in disbelief, and glowed harder. Poor Ohno was leaning toward her, his eyes glazed. The girl's excitement was turning to ire, and the trepidation faded to reveal the hunting predator.

"No. Sorry." He frowned down at her. "How old are you?"

"I am twenty. I just graduated from the Princess School." Her eyes were angry now. Affronted. She pulled in her glow and Ohno staggered back.

"Why don't you two show me the family quarters. Have you been briefed. Ohno? My wife and I are expecting twins in about two more months. I expect my parents will be frequent visitors."

"Oh. You'll want to be away from your wife, so you can sleep." Gee Wiz smiled cattily.

"No. Absolutely not. And you will not be sleeping in the family quarters, Princess."

"I am assigned to you!" A bit a growl to that.

"Yes. As the One's check upon me. Not as my mistress. Some men no doubt enjoy such relations with their Princesses, I'm not one of them. You can be a social secretary here, something useful at the Directorate, or do absolutely nothing. Your choice."

The family quarters consisted of the standard two large bedrooms separated by dressing rooms, closets and two complete bathrooms. All interconnected, so one could get from one to the other without going out into the "public" hallways. Five other bedrooms, each with its own bath. The one closest to the master suite was obviously occupied.

"Move. Preferably to the opposite wing."

Inarticulate growl.

Izzo compared the two connected bedrooms. "We'll take the corner room, the babies the other, until they are grown a bit."

Ohno nodded. "You have an excellent library and office, just above these rooms." A door gave access to a stairwell and he followed the old man up.

Real, actual paper books. Gleaming wooden furniture, all carved curlicues. "It's magnificent." Right in keeping with the exterior.

shana: pic#26226061shana on July 13th, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC)
Izzo is racking up Game points, isn't he? I guess the One thought that Gewt needed a lesson. Did she even bother to check and see that Izzo's pregnant wife is a Princess?
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on July 13th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC)
It's the laughing maniac who oversees Oner staff allocation hard at work again.

Doesn't a sub-director rate a Princess ?

How is this Mansion House the same as the quarters that the interns got in A Tale of Three Interns ?

Or is one "My little place in the Country" and the other a flop-house ?
matapampamuphoff on July 13th, 2015 09:31 pm (UTC)
It's the same place. This was written several years ago, before any of the Directorate school stuff. There will be plenty of continuity errors. I shall have fun when Izzo gets lost in the maze.

Izzo is interesting to the One as an example of a very high Oner with the Priest gene that is somehow fully activated. They don't want to interfere with this interesting experiment, so they delayed assigning a Princess, and have now sent one they calculate won't much influence.
shanashana on July 14th, 2015 01:13 pm (UTC)
How did Izzo's Priest gene get fully activated?
matapampamuphoff on July 14th, 2015 04:18 pm (UTC)
That gets explained somewhere. Basically, in the back of beyond on Homestead his father, quite manically determined to not let the authorities get a hold of Izzo, dosed him with various native treatments to suppress puberty in livestock. Izzo had a lot of trouble with control of his magic, blooming a bit early, and was a rather dangerous in a normal community. Suppressing puberty sort of helped.

At some point this treatment and the Comet Fall suppression are brought to the One's attention.
matapampamuphoff on July 13th, 2015 09:33 pm (UTC)
Nope. Didn't check a thing. Arrogant little snot is going to get what she deserves.
shana: pic#26226061shana on July 13th, 2015 09:58 pm (UTC)
I am looking forward to her meeting Xiat. (I'm sure Fean would love to see that, too.)
hollybambolo on July 13th, 2015 10:47 pm (UTC)
Yes! I think we all are.
Bretbretw on July 13th, 2015 10:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, me too!
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on July 13th, 2015 10:02 pm (UTC)
Recent graduate of the Princess school.

So do they /now/ teach that Princesses can get pregnant ?

Under 'current affairs' natch.

Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames
matapampamuphoff on July 13th, 2015 10:34 pm (UTC)
:: groan ::

I'm stealing that.