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07 January 2018 @ 09:59 am
_Cooking Hot_ part 13  


Then Rael headed for Building One.

The receptionist recognized her and looked a bit panicked. "I really can't interrupt this meeting!"

"Oh, no, no need. I was just going to pay my respects and so forth." She glanced around the well appointed space, a few people walking through, a woman pouting—and glowing—in a seat that over-looked the door to their main conference room . . . "Is that Qyyr? Ashe's assigned Princess?"

A sniff from the receptionist. "She prefers it to be pronounced Choir rather than Queer. Yes. She replaced Giet when she retired last year. Nasty piece of work, this one. Please take her away and give the ambassador a break."

Rael giggled. "I'll give it a try. I've never met her."

She strolled over to the other princess, trying to read her beneath the glow.

Selfish, predatory, ambitious. Ick. Why did the Princess School send her here? I swear for every right match they make, they find a way to fail spectacularly. Maybe Ashe irritated the One? Or being so out of touch they wanted him to have an aggressive Princess who would try to influence him while being uninfluenced herself? If so, I think they failed to consider how little an intelligent man would care for a shrew.

"Hey, Choir, you waiting for Ashe, too?"

Qyyr regarded her from under lowered eyebrows. "I hope you aren't going to keep him long, Rael. I really shouldn't have to be working to connect with him, after a year."

Rael shrugged. "Maybe you're trying too hard? Come and have coffee with me, and I'll give you some pointers about subtlety . . . " Not that you'll listen, but I’ll bet you'll tell me more than I want to know. And you're not as young as you look. I'll bet you had some short assignments, watching one term wonders, and were recalled when they lost reelection.

Choir tossed a last glance at the closed door and led Rior down to the break room. The two workers there glanced at Choir and left quickly. Rael poured a cup of coffee and sat down at one of the little tables.

"So, how is the ambassador getting on with his wife? How long have they been married? Four years?"

"Almost, and no children." She looked smug.

"This marriage game is . . . "

"Ridiculous." Choir tossed her headful of auburn hair. "Ashe is obviously the highest of the High Oners."

Rael nodded. "Obviously. I wonder if Madam Xaum is a 216?"

Choir smiled thinnly. "So she knew she was as good as barren when she married him. Maybe she thought she could get some of that Wine of the Gods here and that would do the trick."

"If she did, it obviously didn't work."

Choir nodded sharply. "He'll have to divorce soon."

Have to? No, and he doesn't impress me as that big of a social climber. Well, third wife, so he is. And she doesn't have family connections of any note, if I'm remembering her correctly.

"But if you're trying to drive them apart, that can backfire on you. They'll resist the pressure, and then the lingering ill-will when they do divorce will attach to you as well. You're better off being supportive but a bit distant. Then when she finally goes, you console him."

The woman's eyes narrowed. "That might work. But One damn I hate to wait. Maybe I should get some of . . . " she broke off.

Rael snorted. "Do you want to get pregnant? That's not really . . . "

"Something a princess ought to do?" She smiled snarkily. "But he'll be needing a new wife if he . . . tries for an elective office."

Rael shuddered. You mean the Presidency. Well, this Princess isn't in love with her principal, but she sure wants to be the president's wife. This isn't a healthy relationship. Nor useful for the One . . . I think. If the One wants Ashe to run, a pushy ambitious wife would help. And help steer the president afterward.

"Hmm, interesting analysis. I think I'll go take a look at Madam Xaum and talk to the ambassador later."


"Rael dear, how nice to see you again." Madam Xaum's eyebrows rose as she looked Rael up and down. "And you're very nearly not clashing."

Rael giggled. "You've been talking to my mother again, haven't you?"

"Of course. I got down there a few months ago to see my own parents, and old friends and enemies. Funny to think how Raod and I used to hate each other's guts and compete for men's attention. And now she has four children . . . " The corners of her mouth turned down again. "I thought when I found Ashe, I'd found the man I would love and cherish forever."

"Is he . . . unhappy that you haven't . . . "

"Three miscarriages in three and a half years. We're incompatible. I . . . if I want children I'm going to have to give up Ashe." A sheen of tears in her eyes. "And the children. Asnu is growing up into such a fine young man, and the girls! I adore those two girls."

Rael nodded. "They're what, fifteen and twelve?"

"Yes, and aren't you well informed."

"Meh. The Ambassador's one of the people we get briefed on. How's the new Princess working out?"

"Oh . . . don't get me started. Within a week Ashe tossed her out of the apartment and told her to only annoy him during office hours. And she makes snippy remarks about my figure." Xaum ran her hands down her flat stomach. "I'm the perfect high society wife. Except for one thing."

Well, I know how to derail that bitch . . .

Rael pulled out her thin wallet, and pulled out the little tube of Joy Juice. Urfa's given some of us permission to carry and use at need. He was thinking medical emergency, and asked us to be discreet and not bring it to the attention of the police. But this is a political ploy . . .

Xaum's eyes widened in speculation. Narrowed in thought.

"Stay for afternoon tea, Rael . . . or perhaps a glass of wine?"

Chapter Eight

21 Hija 1408 yp

"My nefarious plans proceed apace." Ebsa stacked the last frost covered box and stepped out of the Squishy. Closed the door and closed the bubble handles. Put the pencils in his pocket.

Epic looked worried. "Good said to tell you that Master Chef Unsa bought all the Emu. A hundred kilos."

"Not to worry. I have a hundred kilos of boneless chicken and a hundred and fifty kilos of beef. I have fresh veggies. What I need are a few easy-serve things. Some small pots to keep sauces hot and that are easy to pour out of. And maybe some large pots. Let's go prowl the mall and see what's available right here before I try ordering anything else."

"You're running out of time."

"Yep." Ebsa headed across the field on the hastily graveled path they were all using. Number One Minion in tow.

Number Two Minion appears to have developed a passion for reading case studies and recommended regulations. And organizing them. I guess some people really are suited for the legal profession.

(Anonymous) on January 7th, 2018 04:31 pm (UTC)
Proceeds apace
And the plan of the ONE proceeds apace. If Rael will not do as told we will finesse her into doing what is wanted.
cnmckenney on January 7th, 2018 04:54 pm (UTC)
Unintended consequences
Why do I have an uneasy feeling that Number Two Minion is going to throw a spanner in the works. He may find or interpret something from those stacks that will totally throw the party into confusion. Such as, if it sits on the mall for longer than 24 hours it becomes the property of Disco, or the purveyor of food items is responsible for any allergic reactions, or any duel over inconsequentials must be fought while wearing arctic rated foul weather gear using blunted Renaissance style pikes - the sixteen footers - without magic, or purveying of food items within the paved portion of Embassy requires a permanent structure.
(Anonymous) on January 7th, 2018 10:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Unintended consequences
With Rael letting the Joy Juice loose I can see where the Fair turns into a Joy Juice orgy...she has a history of doing that. Now how do you determine citizenship of the child?
(Anonymous) on January 7th, 2018 11:03 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: Unintended consequences
But isn't the von Neumann?

Nah. My bet is that number 2 is going to save the day with what he finds in the regs, and maybe get himself a job at Disco or what about a stint assisting Judge Michaelson studying creative Comet Fall law?
cnmckenney on January 8th, 2018 02:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Unintended consequences
Naw. I think Xaum is going to turn up preggers and Choir is going to blame Rael and attack in the middle of the fair. A catfight in the middle of the fair (assuming that they both limit to non-lethal effects) could result in interesting affects on the bystanders and all sorts of resulting diplomatic uproar.