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28 September 2018 @ 10:24 pm
_Meet the Family_ even more ending  

Chapter Ten

Are We Done Yet?

“So, we’re standing at one car crash fatality, a month ago, of the possible principal, who unknown to almost everyone had already started things in motion. One unexplained anaphylactic shock fatality, of the probable cut-off who had just knifed the blind errand runner, trying to cover his tracks when news of the arrest of the hit man leaked. Followed by one fatal heart attack, one dehydration after an intestinal bug which was caught in time . . . and six abrupt resignations.” Rael sat back and shrugged. “Any of whom may or may not be involved. People do have heart attacks, after all.”

Scar sniffed. “The resignations are definitely suspicious. Especially the ones who went straight from the office to their doctors.”

Urfa nodded. “Nothing more now for twelve hours. But some poisons have a lot of lead time. This is a really unsavory way to unravel a conspiracy.”

“I really am a bit uneasy with the One’s control by assassination.” The President drummed his fingers on the conference room table. His Princess, Qayg, was in Makkah, suggesting to the One that leaving matter to the more ordinary justice system might be worth consideration. People who grumbled that the president’s princess was more of an ally than a check on his actions were absolutely correct.

Urfa nodded. “And One help me, it was the Isolationists this time.”

Idlo grimaced. “Definitely sent a message. I doubt, though, that the Council’s going to let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs become a Presidential Department.”

At the head of the table Orde nodded. “But I think they’ll be less inclined to not consult with me about our foreign policy before they try something so dammed stupid again.”

“We all hope.” Urfa glanced at his agenda. “So, next item . . . the Granite Peak traitors. The Exterior agents, and the civilians who committed treason, but did not murder or rape anyone, were sent to prison instead of being executed.” He eyed the president with disfavor. “Because someone thought ninety-two executions were enough and asked for clemency for the rest of the traitors.”

“Nearly a hundred deaths was a horrible shock to the External Relations Directorate. Two hundred might have destroyed it.”

Urfa grunted. “They will start being released in another year. We need a plan in place before the insanity of the election takes off in eight months. So what the hell are we going to do with them?”

Orde scowled. “As they wished to leave the One, I’m tempted to just toss them through a gate to one of the Evacuation Worlds and wave goodbye. Unfortunately that means it would devolve into a 99% male hellhole, and if someone—the Combat gang or those smugglers—found them, we could find ourselves with a really brutal gang roaming the Multiverse.”

Rael wrinkled her nose. “And we could throw Updo through after them. More realistically, I suppose you could allow families to join them, and come and go—just the traitors not allowed to return.”

Feol sniffed. “It’d still be a hell hole. I doubt it’s possible to find someone to appoint as governor who could whip them into responsible behavior.”

Rael started to nod . . . paused. Caught the President’s gaze as his own brows rose.

“Agni.” They spoke together.

Urfa winced. “Well . . . yeah, but . . .”

“I don’t think he’d turn them into an army.” The President pulled out his comm. “I’ll ask him.

“Oh, and Rael, Ambassador Never knows what happened to the ministry people, but will you go inform Disco, and if Xen’s not back, go tell him about it.” A flash of a grin from the President. “Let him know he really was here.”

Rael didn’t even try to keep the enthusiasm out of her voice. “Yes, Sir!”



Epilogue

“Huh, so the One cleaned up its own mess.”

Rael eyed the man, flat on his back in the grass, on crest of the hill behind the Disco building.

“Tried to prevent it, apparently. The man we think was leading the clique died in a car crash about two hours before the cut-off handed the instructions to the blind errand runner. We think Agta—the cut off—must have received the packet about noon, handed it to Onion, who took it straight to where the note said to take it. The hit man left immediately, with what looked like a legitimate reassignment.”

Rael shook her head. “Everyone in the office was delighted. Then horrified by the news about the subminister’s car accident. Just an hour or two difference and nothing would have happened. Nothing else.

Rael looked north, where Carousel was meeting a whole bunch of smart horses. The mare had run and bucked and danced with them in the sheer joy of having found people like her. Now they’d all settled down and were grazing their way closer to the humans.

Rael had known as soon as she’d driven through the gate that Xen was back. Some odd . . . magical effect? Perhaps something like the One, but subdued . . . sort of?

But the Master of the Multiverse was home again.

She sat down beside him and stroked his scalp. “At least it looks like a buzz cut. It was weird, when you were summoned to One World, you had that straightened, streaked gigolo cut.”

“Hey! I was never a . . . kept man.”

“Boy toy.”

“Spy. Very clever spy.” He propped himself up to look at here eye-to-eye. “Rael . . . when I’m healing like that . . . I can’t tell dream from reality. Did you really come to Ash?”

Rael giggled. “Oh, the temptation to lead you astray . . . but eventually you’d wonder how my horse got into your parent’s stable.”

“Oh. Of course.”

“Yes. I came to Ash. Met the witches, met Nil, you showed me Rip Crossing. Then I was invited to meet the Crown and Sword, and all the . . . mess blew up over lunch.”

“Oh good. Because I had the weirdest dreams, and wondered if you’d been there at all. You didn’t arrive in a hot air balloon, did you?”

Rael giggled and shook her head.

“Good, because you fell out. In one dream I altered a couple of your longevity genes to the best versions.” He reached and touched her face. “Oh good. You already have the good ones, so I needn’t worry about ever doing that.”

“Xen! Honestly, are genetics really that easy for you?” Oh . . . My.

“My specialty. Our Elixir of Long Life? That was my doctorial project. I made versions for humans, dogs, and horses. So if Carousel wants, she can be young and longer lived than any normal horse.” He eyed her. “You do know . . .”

“That she’s a Smart Horse, a person, not property? I sure do.” Yeah, let’s talk about horses, not people!

“Good.” He flopped back in the grass.

“I don’t ride very often, now that Paer’s off on her own. I doubt I’ll need a horse very often. But I thought I’d ask her, and then ask you for a bubble stable. But I suspect she’ll want to stay here.”

“Oh, I’ll make you the stable, then you can ask her to come along anytime you think you might need a good horse, and she can stay here whenever she wants.”

A snort of agreement. Carousel walked up and nodded. “I’m a working horse, not the broodmare type.” She looked around at Pyrite. “Well . . . maybe one foal . . .”

Rael giggled. “As you wish. I’ll see about an import permit, and then show you my world.”

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on September 29th, 2018 03:40 am (UTC)
I like the epilogue.

One thing I noticed, though, was I think you meant "Crown and Spear" rather than "Crown and Sword."

--TheOtherSean
matapampamuphoff on September 29th, 2018 04:04 am (UTC)
Yep. I keep doing that.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 1st, 2018 12:22 am (UTC)
Crown and Sword - David Weber's Manticore and Greyson.

And Pam tends to use Imperial where Royal is conventional, ie Imperial Guard. Only Verona has an Emperor.
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on September 29th, 2018 05:43 am (UTC)
Beautiful conclusion!
(Anonymous) on September 29th, 2018 10:31 am (UTC)
Indeed.

A thought however, would Smart Horses need import permits? or Comet Fall/(Nationality) Passports? Disco diplo visa's perhaps (to make sure no-one gets away with trying to cook one)?
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on September 30th, 2018 01:40 am (UTC)
First they'd have to be officially recognized as sentient beings by the world they want to travel to. Then they can have passports, just like everyone else.
(Anonymous) on September 29th, 2018 01:15 pm (UTC)
Exile
Having completed their sentences, can Orde exile the traitors? I would have thought that he would have no authority to do that because if he does, any ex-criminal could be further punished at any time by the president.
matapampamuphoff on September 29th, 2018 07:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Exile
Depends on the terms of the sentence. "Sentence of death for treason, two year stay of execution at the request of the President. Convicts to be imprisoned for a minimum of three years. Permanent solution to be negotiated."

Hard to say. In the early years, the Prophets, attempting to unify a world, treason would have been treated harshly, and they were building on a foundation of Islam and the Arab culture, which tends toward both harshness and favoritism.
(Anonymous) on September 29th, 2018 01:21 pm (UTC)
Smart horse slavery
There really needs to be a story (possibly a short) where the Earth accuses the Kingdom of the West of slavery for their treatment of smart horses. After all the nasty things the Kingdom has said about them (totally warranted) tell me that people in the Earth government would not love to throw that accusation at the Kingdom.
(Anonymous) on September 29th, 2018 02:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
Given the difficulty many Earth bigwigs have admitting engineered humans are people, having them make the leap to smart horses are people seems perhaps a step too far. Especially for French chefs.

--TheOtherSean
cnmckenney on September 29th, 2018 03:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
OH, they wouldn't have to believe it to make the accusation. Politicians, at every level, accuse everyone of everything, true or not, all the time. Just look at the front pages. Look at Facebook. Look at your trash emails. Any kind of accusation that will distract the public from what the politicians are actually up to.
matapampamuphoff on September 29th, 2018 06:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
"Go on up in the hills and ask the horses, yourself." Xen shrugged. "There are very few Smart Horses outside the magic community, but yes, there is an issue with the occasional Smart Horse outside our overview. The part breds, you see, are very smart for horses, but not to the point of talking, or understanding basic vocabulary.

"But a bit of inbreeding and you'll get truly intelligent horses. We ask them if they want to get away from the people who have them, and if so buy them and free them.

"A lot of them are happy where they are." Xen paused . . . and decided to not mention recent genetic engineering by an Earther, Damien Malder's sister, who was the source of Malder's Smart Horses."

Shrug. "Of course, numerous nations on Comet Fall have legal human slavery, and the Kingdom is not going to go to war over that, either."
(Anonymous) on September 30th, 2018 02:12 am (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
"Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse."

Sorry. I couldn't resist.

--TheOtherSean
ekuah on September 29th, 2018 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
I think those French chefs should spend some weeks as a goat.
Right between an Indian kitchen and a restaurant from the middle east.
(Anonymous) on September 29th, 2018 10:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
That reminds me of the strip mall with the veterinarian office sandwiched in between the Korean restaurant and the leather goods store.

--TheOtherSean
ekuah on September 30th, 2018 08:11 am (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
Well...
At least it was just a veterinarian office and not a PETA office.
Joe Wojo Jrwojorider on October 1st, 2018 02:16 am (UTC)
Re: Smart horse slavery
PETA People Eating Tasty Animals
(Anonymous) on October 2nd, 2018 03:18 am (UTC)
I want to read the scene where the first smart horse visits the Team training at the Directorate School.

Darqref