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19 November 2018 @ 08:40 am
Random Scenes from NaNoWriMo 9  

Chapter

/// Day 4

Same routine, the next day. Arno groaned. “Rise before dawn, run, martial arts. Not that I have many expectations for Magic Camp, but . . . “

And after the martial arts—and getting his butt kicked sparring—Master Xen gave them some quick instructions.

“Casual dress. The boys will be practicing on the beach in small groups, today. The girls—take your swimsuits, or wear them underneath. Q and Rael are going to give you some female type advice. Right after breakfast at The Kitchen.”

Master Xen took Yrno, the other Arno, Yrbo, and Or What off to the beach.

The priests conferred, then the female types went off with Rael and Q and all the girls.

Eight of us left, with three priests?

Ytry nodded. “Well it’s a nice day, so why don’t we step out and we’ll dole you out among us. We’ve got three with training. Three blossomed with no training to speak of, and two who haven’t quite blossomed.”

Izmo snorted. “You’re the lion tamer, Ytry. And Unvu’s got his nose in the air. So I’ll show these boys the early exercises, so they’ll have control when they do feel the power. Unvu can take the trained boys and show them the next stage. Leaving you with three powerful lads who need to learn both control and actions.”

Ytry sniffed. “Bossy. Arno, Avro, and Ogri. Let’s step over here.”

The old priest coached them in shielding, both mental and energy, and talked about physical shields.

“Don’t try them yet. Avro and Ogri, your power collection is a bit wobbly, and that can have some unfortunate effects with physical shields.” He frowned a bit at Arno. “You . . . puzzle me a bit. I can’t feel you pulling power, but now that you’re getting experience with the shields, they’re so strong you must be outside sourcing. I’m going to have to think about this.”

“Master Xen said it might be because I don’t have the One gene.”

“Hmm . . . I suppose that could be it. However, let’s move on to sensing things. Close your eyes and open those mental shields to incoming glow. Can you locate all the people around you? You know where the other three are, and where I am . . .”

Arno considered his two-way mirror . . . and dissolved the outside reflector. And hastily put up a fogginess to tone down the brilliance from outside.

It wasn’t that bright before! I know my magic is supposed to grow as I get older, but it didn’t know it would go so fast!

He tucked the speculation away . . . and looked for the others. Not working with the fog. All right. Back to the mirror, and open a small hole.

Right. There’s Ogri, irritated and wanting to go back to the beach, and Avro, also irritated, because his twin brother got to go with Master Xen first. And One Ytry, glowing with absolutely no information getting out. That’s a nice trick!

He looked around further. One Unvu was leaking irritation at having to drill rank beginners. The three beginners were getting very little training at all, and they were getting irritated.

Irritation all around!

Except over there, where One Izmo and two low glowing spots were calming and meditating.

He reached further. Lots of glows around, Oners leaking enough that the other Oners would respect them. What are those guys doing? Oh, Mahmud, Erek, and Max.

Watching us. They’re all older than we are. Don’t they get training? They could ask Master Xen. After all, their dads are Disco Agents.

And they’re irritated too . . . because the girls aren’t here? Great, they’re pervs. Or, well, maybe typical teenagers, because it’s not like anyone here’s taking their clothes off.

Why is everyone so irritated? Or am I misinterpreting what I feel?

He opened his eyes and looked at One Ytry. :: Are there a lot of irritated people around here, or am I projecting? ::

One Ytry blinked. :: Ogri and Avro are both irritated. And you . . . are very sensitive. And picking up control impressively quickly. I’d add you to the “trained” group, but Unvu’s not teaching them anything at all . . . ::

Arno’s head jerked around suddenly, to the school building. That glow was not so much bright as dense, or maybe deep, giving a small peep into a vast underground reservoir of strength.

:: And Wolfson’s back. :: Ytry stood up.

:: With Yrno, Yrbo, Or What, and the other Arno. They all feel sort of boggled. ::

Ytry shot him a quick frown. :: Indeed. Boy . . . you are going to be pretty scary when your magic fully emerges. ::

Arno thought that over. :: Scary? Like that friend of Ebsa’s? The Warrior Ra’d ibn Nicholas? He was sharp, and dangerous, but so’s Ebsa. I wasn’t afraid of them. ::

Ytry laughed. :: Oh, you’re Rael’s son all right. Enough. ::

“Ogri! Avro! Enough. Let’s see what your biofather is going to do next.”

And I need to find out what I’m going to do next. Or become next.

***

“Wait . . . you mean we could literally, actually, kill a boyfriend the first time we have sex?” Ryol boggled at Dr. Q sitting so comfortably in a full lotus. She looked beseechingly at Aunt Rael.

Who shook her head. “There’s a burst of power the first time you have sex. But not big enough to damage your lover. And I’ve never heard of this channeling. I mean, you can exhaust them, but it’s very rare that a drain is even serious. I’ve never heard of a fatality. The ability to drain someone of so much power their glycogen blood level would drop enough to put them in a diabetic coma, or even outright kill them? Yikes.”

Q nodded. “Good. Hopefully it’s not an issue for half Oners. But you do need to know, and watch for it. The channeling is the big leap in a young witch’s abilities. It enables the handling of a huge amount of power. Hmm.” She reached a hand out to Aunt Rael. “May I demonstrate?”

Aunt Rael’s brows rose, and she reached to take the witch’s hand. “So it’s not just during sex?”

“Not once you master channeling.”

Rael jerked her hand back suddenly. “Holy One! I’ve never . . . Let me feel that again . . . I can see what you’re doing . . . I can’t . . . I could pull power, but not that fast. And I’d have to take it in, I can’t shunt it around like that.”

“Ah, what we call shunting, is just diverting the power into the ground or air as fast as we absorb it. Send a small fireball my way and I’ll demonstrate . . .”

Ryol took her eyes off the two of them and glanced at the Priest-Princesses. Avid hungry stares, aimed at Q. They want power, or rather the ability to handle so much power.

They practiced shielding, shunting, and the basics of mental spells. They practiced telepathy, while they split up and walked away from each other. A kilometer, two . . . five . . .

They soaked in the hotsprings, in swimsuits, with Rael and Q kidding each other.

“No, I swear. Totally naked, from old grannies to little kids. Not a blush to be seen.”

Q laughed. “Except yours, Rael? I heard all about it from various friends and relatives.”

They dragged out, cooled down and dressed—most of them behind trees—and took the corridor back to the city.

It was a bit late for lunch, but some other kids were just sitting down, and looked them over. Their hair was rainbow of red shades, from a bare tint through strawberry and carrot to a girl with deep, dark, red. The strawberry girl grinned. “Are these our long lost sisters, Aunt Q?”

“Yep. And what are you four doing here?”

“Umm, our moms needed a bit of peace and quiet. In the Rip Crossing Inn. So they told us to go hang out here for a few weeks.” The boy with the headful of gorgeous blonde-with-a-hint-of-red curls tried and failed to look innocent.

“In other words, they wanted a report?” Q waved at the quartet. “Girls, these are yet more half siblings. The boys are Xav,” she pointed at the blond, “and Levi.” Carrot orange waved at them. “And the girls are Kasi and Styx.”

Styx, the dark red one, grinned. “And there’s how many of you? Vero said fifteen girls and a dozen boys?”

“Yep. I’ll let them introduce themselves.” Q took a side table, and the quartet started hauling tables around.

“C’mon, we want to meet all of you.”

***

“Arno?”

Arno looked around at Master Xen.

“Look at the moon.”

The waning halfmoon was almost directly overhead, a pale white half circle fading into the blue sky as it lightened with the rising sun.

“Close your eyes and imagine, oh, something like a horse’s tail, running from the moon down to the Earth, and the Earth to the Moon. The gravitational attraction between them pulling both of them, as they whip around their mutual center of mass.”

Arno pictured it, the gravity like a rope, holding them together in their ponderous month-long swing.

“Now picture yourself, where you are, in the middle of that gravity field. Look up and see a strain, the bend in the warp of space. A gravity channel running between Earth and Moon. See the stress like a glowing fog.”

The man’s voice was nearly hypnotic . . . :: Why not telepath ::

“Because this is something you need to know you can do by yourself. Look back at the strain, that glow. Reach out and take a tiny pinch of the glow. Squeeze it and watch it brighten as it gets denser.”

Arno did, a winced at a prick of pain in his fingers. He opened his eyes and . . . looked at the bright spark between his finger and thumb.

“Open your hand. Let it expand and dissipate into the air.”

He spread his fingers and the spark expanded and dimmed. A white marble, a foggy ball, blowing away.

“Well that was easily ten times as much power as I’ve ever seen a new witch gather. You’re going to need to work very carefully, in very small amounts.”

“What?”

“Witches source from gravity. I have a witch power gene, but I usually go for light and heat first, and gravity as a last option. You seem to have slid quietly into using gravity, and that being unknown in the Empire, nobody, including, apparently, yourself, noticed you’d bloomed. Blossomed. Whatever you lot call it.”

Arno blinked looked at his tingling fingers . . . and pinched a very tiny bit of the gravity. Compacted it, then let it go. “Oh. That’s . . . interesting.”

A giggle, and Aunt Rael walked up and hugged him. “Only you could be quiet enough to pull that off.”

“Well . . . I didn’t mean to.”

Rael laughed and hugged him again. But the biggest zing was from the hand that squeezed his shoulder. From the father he’d never touched.

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2018 03:21 pm (UTC)
“Well that was easily ten times as much power as I’ve ever seen a new witch gather. You’re going to need to work very carefully, in very small amounts.”

I wonder how Answer would react to that...

Looks like Arno needs to be trained by Q not Xen for right now.
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2018 05:05 pm (UTC)
Be nice to Q. If (when) Answer learned that she trained a boy who could collect more power than a witch of a similar stage she would give Q more problems than she already does. Q would like to be able to visit Ash occasionally. Xen on the other hand Answer deals with with the soft bigotry of low expectations, so anything he does that does not involve a witch she will ignore (or possibly carp about).
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2018 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'm getting a feeling that Arno is going to be a big story generator in the next generation. His self-comparison to Ra'd is apt.

Also, he's not part of the One. Is he at risk of crossing to Comet Fall and being turned into a god? That could get messy. I wonder if Reteif made enough of an impression to generate a role as The Diplomat? (I can't think of another character in a similar role . . . but there ought to be an archtype in that.)

Holly
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2018 08:21 pm (UTC)
I can’t feel you pulling power
One Ytry can't feel Arno pulling any power, presumably because Arno is using his witch gene to pull from gravity, which is different from how Oners pull power.

But when Nighthawk was arrested (location 1858, Directorate School, Directorate #1), the police instantly felt Nighthawk gathering power as she telepathed to Disco. She was standing in a library at the time. Presumably she habitually sources from gravity since she is a witch, but as a daughter of Xen she is undoubtedly multi-sourced (I don't keep genetic records handy like some do here).

-TomR
matapampamuphoff on November 19th, 2018 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: I can’t feel you pulling power
The police would have been very shielded, and wouldn't have felt anything. They were there to arrest a powerful murderer, and ready to hit her with methelformaline at the faintest sign of her doing anything. A simple defocusing while she yelled for help was sufficient.

As opposed to Ytry, who was open and trying to feel power usage.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 07:43 pm (UTC)
Re: I can’t feel you pulling power
People get an abstracted look when telepathing. So that would be a signal that Nighthawk was doing something. Certainly the police would be on hair-trigger alert for any impending magic use. I interpreted the police statement about "gathering power" to be a direct sense report rather than a deduction from observed actions. But I suppose it could be a deduction.

I don't think the series has mentioned any affect related to the mere gathering of power (except for novices who are concentrating hard at learning how to do it). So if the police could not sense power gathering and had to wait until spell effects manifested before reacting, it seems like this could easily put the police in a disadvantageous situation.

In Meet the Family, Rael felt the flunky gathering power while Deena, Garit, and Easterly apparently noticed nothing. Rael was presumably using standard shields at the time and not specifically sensing for power. And the flunky was presumably being as stealthy as he could.

-TomR
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2018 08:41 pm (UTC)
There was a comment on Mad Genius that the Directorate series brought in new readers because WotG had grown so long it was intimidating. The Directorate is now up to book 13. Have you considered branding a new series for the adventures of the next generation? Perhaps it would bring in new readers to the other two series. I know I started with the Directorate because WotG was a lot of books to invest time in, if I found I didn't like them.
matapampamuphoff on November 19th, 2018 10:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, I need to break it up again.

This one has so much freight from the past, I don't know if it would be a good place to start.

Lucky Dave, on the other hand . . . is kind of short for a first book, but would other wise work. But while I have an idea for what to do to, err, with Lucky Dave, I haven't a clue about the youngsters.

Scrambled might be a good stand alone, with possible follow ups.

Frankly, I think I need to step away for a bit. Work on _Stone_, _The Space Marshal_, _Crux_ and some other different things.
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2018 11:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, it would be awesome to read more about Stone. Crux, too.

-TomR
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 12:25 am (UTC)
Scrambled would make a great stand alone.

This one would make a good beginning for a new series I think. With careful editing, the freight couldeaily become world building. Most of the characters are new, or at least new from the kid's eyes. And it gives a taste of the main series.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 01:04 am (UTC)
Scrambled as a stand alone with the right editing, but marketed as being in the WofG universe slash multiverse. It can have snippets from both the directorate and one of the WotG books. Not necessarily the first WotG book, Xen's first trip to One World might get them in. Lots of books do multiple snippets. What about one new and two already published?

Also, you need to start snippeting your YA books in new WtoG and other books. They're good. They just need a bit of attention.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 02:12 am (UTC)
What to do with the youngsters
The plotline could be all about the kids, perhaps in Embassy school or college vs cyborgs in the cyborg wars. Siting it there helps tie together your disparate cyborg threads.

Arno is getting strong and like Xen. You've already got something happening for him in the Directorate bschool. He's so smart he could easily graduate early, still small and grow up slow but pow. Ebsa's boy belongs to the same set. If Eldon's world gets in cyborg trouble, his kids might wind up on Embassy for safekeeping, including the rescued royalty, which could also bring in Fean's two.

How old is Ajha's granddaughter? Does he want to know her? There's Ra'd s two, who can be any at you like with a speed bubble, Ebsa's babies And of course Rael's new child off adventuring.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 02:14 am (UTC)
RE: What to do with the youngsters
Or there's an exchange program with elf children.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 06:35 am (UTC)
This was the same problem I faced with the Honorverse coming to it late (2009), thankfully there was a solution that covered that legally due to Baen's forward thinking of taking the long view with on going series. It is also why I am thankful for Kindle Unlimted, it costs me the same to read all WotG's books as it does to read one. Also I power read averaging 5 books a week or more which would be a killer on the wallet other wise. IMHO if you read enough books that it would cost you $10+ a month to buy them, then KU is a good investment.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on November 19th, 2018 11:39 pm (UTC)
On the ability to drain someone and channelling we have a possible cross-check.

There is a comment (Dydit probably) that wizards are not taught to channel. But perhaps they are now. Q could enquire about CF female wizards experiences and ability to drain.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 02:17 am (UTC)
Oner men drained Trump. I'd imagine wizards and mages can give and take. Some witness have good first times and still learn to channel.
(Anonymous) on November 20th, 2018 07:54 pm (UTC)
Wizards definitely can. Look at Dydit's and Never's early experimentation with each other while Dydit was getting over Never accidentally killing him.