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11 May 2018 @ 05:40 pm
_Marooned_ part 31  
 

And then a powerful piece of the One was ready to meet the judge.

They walked down the slope and into the trees. Under the trees. Great huge oaks, their limbs arching out and dropping to form cave-like spaces. One with fortified walls that might keep out wolves, but not bears.

Rael touched a wall of three inch branches and felt the shield within. Or maybe it will keep them safe. This feels like Xen’s work.

Jeb was staring up into the tree. “I’ve lived in the desert too long.”

Ytry snickered. “Wait till it rains. You’ll change your mind.” He dropped his gaze and frowned at the three people eyeing them warily.

Jeb sighed and turned away from the tree. “Mental modeling. Fairly light on the tall ones, but they’ve seriously damaged the . . . this would be the judge, right? Yes, I don’t think we can get him back, but at least we should be able to deal with the compulsions.”

Hummer walked closer, peering at the Judge as he recoiled. “What are all those odd dull spots all over his brain?”

“That’s that seemofazing.” A woman—One! What was Paer doing here!—walked in behind the priests, Jiol and Inso behind her, more people peered through the door, then retreated.

“Xen says it’s a ribozyme that attaches to nerves and muffles the transmission of information.” Rael stepped closer to Paer, not that she was assigned to protect the president’s daughter anymore, well former president, but . . .

“Hmm, that would explain why I couldn’t find a chemical suppressant.” Paer bit her lip. “They still have the pellets in their shoulders. They’re aggressive enough that their not having magic sounded like a good idea.”

Jeb nodded.

Rael could feel the soup of power building up among the priests, lumpy and odd. “You know Ytry, they call it a compass because it’s round.”

He shot her an irritated look. “Yeah, yeah. I guess it doesn’t matter when you’ve got a couple hundred priests, but it looks like we’ll need the symmetry here. Bossy Redhead . . .”

Rael stepped out the door.

All the Renshe, Karl . . . “Nighthawk? I didn’t know you were here.”

A flash of teeth. “Lon thought that perhaps someone who can open and close corridors and gates ought to be on hand. I volunteered.”

Karl—back in Disco grays—nodded. “They’ve all behaved, so far. Even the Judge.”

Mike hunched his shoulders. “The Judge is . . . unreliable. One day he wants you dead, the next he just sits and cries all day.”

“But more crying than killing, especially the last couple of days.” Sam sidled up and looked through the door.

Rael glanced in, to her inner eye the power was still limping along.

Ebsa was talking. “ . . . in small groups. Maybe I should . . .”

“No. I will.” Ajha stepped into the ring of men. “You two keep your eyes open for unusual attack modes.”

Hummer stepped back, looking irritated. “No women in compasses! Ridiculous.”

Rael nodded. “The Fallen witches work in triads. I’ve worked with Q . . . hmm . . . I wonder if we could do it without any witches, just Oners?”

“Really? Three women . . . sounds dangerous.” She walked out and eyed Jiol, and then Nighthawk. “Now you are impressive.”

Nighthawk’s brows lowered. Jiol’s rose.

Rael choked back a giggle. Oh, less impressive than a young Witch! The Insult! The Very Idea!

Jiol’s glare switched her direction. :: I heard that, Young Lady! ::

Rael giggled. “We should give it a try, later, after the guys are done.”

Ytry stomped out the door. “We’re done. Those dull spots are blocking our efforts to even examine the mental modeling. Paer’s removing those hideous pellets, One knows how long it will take for the effect to wear off.”

“Oh, I’ve got something to speed that up. Be right back.” Nighthawk jogged off up the path.

“So . . . that’s a Comet Fall Witch? How interesting.”

Rael eyed her. “You do realize, don’t you, that that is the young woman you tried to murder fourteen years ago?”

“Murder?” Hummer frowned. “I’m quite certain I’ve never felt that mind before.”

“Well, those things happen when you fail to clear the methalformaline out of the mind of someone appealing to the highest moral authority for justice.” Rael knew she was failing to keep both voice and glow under control. “Politics, control, revenge . . . have no business in a religion.”

“Well . . . I’m sure you realize that the One has been about politics and control from the start. We didn’t take over Islam because of our morals.”

A snort from Ra’d as he walked past. “Pack of child molesters.”

Hummer turned and glared.

“Humph. Such an angry young man.”

“Yes.” Rael eyed the priest. “I am glad that you have stopped. There are plenty of people who desire power and control, and will join you willingly, so long as you don’t castrate them and crush their minds.”

“Heretics! The lot of you!”

“Oh, now you’re going to hide behind religion?”

A snicker from Ytry as he walked up and eyed them. “Hummer? Don’t take your ire out on other people. Especially people who can kill you if they decide you need killing. Most bullies have enough sense to pick on the weakest.”

Hummer looked indignant. “I was not bullying, I was arguing. With people who can hold their own and not be cowed by the One.”

“Here, you aren’t the One. You’re a powerful magician among a lot of other magicians. Behave.” Ytry looked past her.

Nighthawk trotted back down the trail, carrying a bottle with a handwritten label.

“The new improved Joy Juice.” Rael grinned. “Ought to force feed you and Hummer.”

Deathly glare from Hummer.

Ytry just shook his head. “Bad Girl, introduce me to these new friends of yours.”

Her new friends had retreated well away from the argument, and were standing around the crawlers. And eyed Ytry cautiously as he followed Rael.

“Don’t worry guys. Ytry’s one of nice Priests. Ytry, this is Sam Chou, former head of a large research center. A biologist and genetic engineer. And Michael Watson with his daughter Cali. Dr. Watson is a, well, magical engineer. Jerry Thorne and Connor Johnson are his lab assistants.”

“And all four nice and glowing. These Exile Worlds!” Ytry shook his head. “And Early Diaspora colonies with magic as well! Every time we turn around, the Multiverse has gotten bigger.”

Rael glanced back where all the visitors were leaving the forest. “Looks like we’re done for the day. I hope to One we’re camping, not going back to Disco.”

Jeb groaned. “We’re camping. We’ll give that version of Joy Juice a few days to work before we try again.



 
 
 
mbarker: Me typing?mbarker on May 12th, 2018 11:52 am (UTC)
Later, in revision? I’ve read this twice, and I’m not sure what happened? I think I’m not sure who the POV character is, maybe?

Rael stepped out the door.

All the Renshe, Karl . . . “Nighthawk? I didn’t know you were here.”

Sorry...
(Anonymous) on May 12th, 2018 12:44 pm (UTC)
Is Hummer female?

Pronoun confusion!

Holly
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on May 12th, 2018 03:24 pm (UTC)
All eight are male - see the compass discussion.

==

Didn't we see Oner triad trials when Rael and the agents were guarding witches?
matapampamuphoff on May 12th, 2018 05:33 pm (UTC)
Hummer's female. In Makkah, with 600 priests in one big soup, it hardly matters. They didn't realize that she wouldn't fit into an eight person compass.

That's why Ebsa told them what they were doing wrong and Ajha's joined the compass.

Hummer's pissed about it and if my subconscious doesn't quit making her so irritating, my conscious writer-self is going to roll a dice to see if it's Rael, Jiol, or Nighthawk that slaps her down as an afterthought.
(Anonymous) on May 12th, 2018 07:29 pm (UTC)
Dang. Back on One World when Ytry said they were bringing eight priests to make a compass, I just assumed that they all obviously had to be male. If Ytry overlooked that, it must have been centuries since he last tried to form a normal compass, if ever.

Furthermore, Hummer must not appear very female -- and so unfortunate that Ytry failed to mention everyone's Oner name, which would have made it obvious -- or surely Ahja, who does know about compasses, would have commented on the oddity of taking seven men and one woman.

-TomR
(Anonymous) on May 12th, 2018 11:30 pm (UTC)
Hummer may be annoying, but she technically has a point about those she is "arguing" with being capable of standing up to her, & the fact that she trots it out so readily suggests she actually believes it was her reasoning (whether that makes it not bullying is not something I'm qualified to comment on).
(Anonymous) on May 13th, 2018 02:19 am (UTC)
Add in the Fiend and you have two complete triads.
(Anonymous) on May 13th, 2018 02:32 am (UTC)
Straight One triads? What are the genetics? Did Rael get a mage gene from Bran to go with the Oner gene? Has the Fiend added a few extras? All these women except Rael and Hummer have advanced. If Hummer is still a virgin she has a couple of milestones possible.
The Fiend is definitely the one to school her.
(Anonymous) on May 13th, 2018 02:55 am (UTC)
Hasn't Rael perhaps advanced somewhat? I always thought she'd skipped the childbirth-style advancement but got like a father's-style bit of advancement when she touched her kids - and that she didn't realize because she was still recuperating physically and magically. I've always assumed that was why her slice was so much more powerful than she expected at the end of Dancer, rather than the the Dream she'd been exposed to or simply never trying that hard before.

--TheOtherSean
matapampamuphoff on May 13th, 2018 02:58 am (UTC)
Yes, she hasn't got the extreme body awareness that witches get when they give birth, but she has jumped in ability.
(Anonymous) on May 13th, 2018 03:27 am (UTC)
Fiend Schooling Hummer
Which means Hummer is the least advanced of the six princess level women!
Yeah. Wanna see Fiend react to an insult. Poor Ajha will know what's coming. Is he now the father of her latest child, via a hard sore ride and a bottle of wine?
matapampamuphoff on May 13th, 2018 04:40 am (UTC)
Re: Fiend Schooling Hummer
I haven't decided yet whether to leave that in or not.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on May 12th, 2018 03:22 pm (UTC)
Maybe could be improved.

==
Rael stepped out the door.

All the Renshe, Karl . . . “Nighthawk? I didn’t know you were here.”
==

++
Rael stepped out the door.

There were all the Renshe and Karl . . . “Nighthawk? I didn’t know you were here.”
++
(Anonymous) on May 12th, 2018 03:41 pm (UTC)
And I can't tell where the action is happening. The snippet starts in the outdoors but then later it seems as if things are happening inside a room when the priests examine the judge. For example: when Rael steps out the door is she leaving the indoor examination site to go outdoors or is she leaving a house to come to the outdoor examination site? Or something else?

Certainly these are minor details that can be fixed in revision.

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on May 12th, 2018 05:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'll stick a note in about clearing up who's where. I hate writing crowd scenes.
(Anonymous) on May 13th, 2018 02:22 am (UTC)
All four nice and glowing? Which four? Does Cali glow? If so that makes five.
matapampamuphoff on May 13th, 2018 03:05 am (UTC)
Cali's 7? Something like that. Right now she glows like a person. Give her another ten years and she'll be bright. Sam's experiment was to try and recreate AnnaKarina from the genes of her various descendants. He didn't get it quite right--and he doesn't understand that she isn't old enough to have grasped power.

I need to put in something about Jaejong's descendants, and how they start early and ramp up more gradually than the Tellies' norm. Since Jaejong has been specifically suppressing AK's magical descendants, there's no knowledge about the "late" power acquisition.