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05 December 2018 @ 05:49 am
Random Scenes from NaNoWriMo 24  

A bit of fuss at the front door, and two more people walked up the stairs. A middle-aged couple . . . Rael pulled them over to Xen. “Xen, my parents Madam Kyol and Senior Admin Ardo. Mom, Dad, this is Captain Xen Wolfson . . . No Dad, hitting him is not an option.”

A chuckle from Ox. “Not that most of us don’t want to.”

Xen offered a hand . . . that Ardo took after a brief hesitation. “Sir. I’m pleased to finally meet you. Madam Kyol, a pleasure.” Rael’s mother was stiff—well they both were—but Kyol’s fists were clenched, and her arms stiffly down by her side. He gave her a nod, and plenty of personal space.

“We were down in Montevideo and missed the sand castle building.” Ardo nodded to Ox and blinked as he recognized Urfa.

“So nice to meet Rael’s family. I hope you realize how high a regard we have for your daughter.” The Presidential Director eyed them, glanced at the children. “I suppose you knew this would all blow up eventually.”

Ardo sighed. “Yes . . . well, we reap as we sow. Regrets now don’t do any good.”

Rael lowered her brows, then smiled and excused herself.

She didn’t hug them. Damn, she’d still hurting.

Xen turned to Kyol. “I’ve met Kael, quite briefly. Is she your only sibling?”

“Yes, well, half-sister.” She looked at him, uncertainty and trepidation starting to show through her social shields. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since she’s so high in the External Relations Directorate.”

“Yes, well, I needed her corroboration of some details of a criminal case in Karista, when she was there as an Action Teamer, forty-five years ago.” Xen shrugged. I think I’ll shut up now. “Always nice to close an old file.” A glance toward Ox, who nodded.

And grinned. “Bet she hated talking to you.”

Xen grinned back. “We were both pretty frosty, and stuck strictly to facts. I’m certain I didn’t hear anything like ‘Uppity Native’ or ‘Enemy spy’ being muttered as I departed.”

Urfa snorted. “It took President Orde, in person, ordering her to speak to him and tell the truth, to get you that interview.”

“Yes . . . I was afraid I’d find out some of the killers had survived, or worse, that she’d ordered the murders. And relieved at how pissed she was about them . . . not so much disobeying, but streamlining the process to achieve the desired ends.”

“Streamlining by killing—how many people?” Ox pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Three. The plan—and Kael’s orders to her team—were to steal three uniforms and three bodies from the morgue, to set up a situation where the Earthers on Comet Fall would think they’d repulsed an attack by the Native military on their Gate Camp, with undeniably native bodies to prove it.

“Kael’s teamers . . .shot and killed three uniformed policemen.”

Ox took a deep breath . . . held it and finally exhaled through clenched teeth.

“I needed her to give me the names of these enterprising teamers, to cross check against the names of the men killed later in an attack on Ash.” Xen shrugged. “Case closed.”

Kyol winced. “Excuse me.” She stepped back and walked over to Raod.

Ardo shifted. “So, are the uniforms of police and army that close?”

“They differ in minor details, not something that the Earthers would be expected to know about. Our police, while they generally answer to local governments, are mostly army reserves, and the upper echelons are active army, and part of the King’s Own.”

“So you can call them up at need? Every cop in the Kingdom?”

“Yep. And if they have a serious problem they can call the nearest army post and get some serious reinforcements.” Xen grinned. “Relax, we’re not a police state. But the frontiers have a bad bandit problem.”

Urfa nodded. “Our maps are full of dotted lines in the center of North America. We sometimes wonder if you guys even have an agreed on border with Verona or Scoone.”

“Agreed on, no, not out in the middle. Scoone is not concerned, so long as we stay away. Verona is more aggressive. There’s a large swath of territory claimed by both sides. Fortunately most of the gold is far enough west to be obviously ours, and the area most in contention is on our side of a line established centuries ago by treaty and defended several times, long before the major gold discoveries.”

Ox frowned. “And they don’t have an embassy on Embassy.”

“There’s a bad split between the Emperor and the military. The Emperor is elderly, his heir a good administrator, but not anything close to a charismic leader. With two daughters and no son. The military is pressuring him to marry off the eldest to one of their own.” Xen shrugged. “All of which is a long winded way of saying that they’re too busy plotting at home to have much interest in multi-dimensional diplomacy. And, of course, they’re always plotting a war with us.”

“They have magicians, too don’t they?” Urfa asked.

“Yes, but not with the level of training we’ve got. Mind you, they’re all being drafted into the army, and brute force visualization can be impressive with any sort of concerted effort behind it.” Xen shrugged. “I’m out of that loop, now.” And I hope they’ve continued to undermine the military’s magic program.

Kyol walked back to their group. “Director Urfa, Captain Wolfson? I hope you’ll stay and dine with us, at our house.”

“I’d be delighted.” Xen tried to not sound surprised.

“Of course.” Urfa appeared to be suppressing curiosity.

Or amusement.

Probably enjoying every minute of my examination by the girlfriend’s parents. And maybe he’s worried about Rael too.

“Excellent.”

One of the other fathers had followed her over. Over-aged athlete, still in good shape.

“Sorry, I never did get around to introducing myself. I’m Ubno—Bruno—Clostuone.” He grinned a little aggressively. “Pleased to meet my rival. I dated Rael when she was seventeen.”

Xen perked up and studied him. “Really? Tell me, did she already giggle and bounce like that at seventeen?”

“Pretty much, but then she went to Princess School and weaponized it.”

Xen snickered. “You Oners will stop at nothing, will you?”

Urfa laughed out loud. “She’d have been . . . twenty-eight when I met her. My mind boggles at the idea of Rael as a teenager.”

Bruno snorted. “More spontaneous, less planning, all the joy. Utterly free, impossible to pin down. She didn’t even tell me she was going away, just one day I stopped by her house to see why she wasn’t returning my calls.” He nodded toward Ardo. “And got told she’d left for the Princess School weeks ago. Rather ego crushing.’ He reached out and thumped Xen’s shoulder. “Lucky man.”

He grinned and left, rounding up kids and wife. The other kids’ parents rounded them up, the independent boy taking himself off.

“That, by the way, is Ebsa’s wild colt.” Rael walked up and hooked her arm around his.

“That explains the power. Good shields, too.” He grinned down at her. “So, what’s for dinner? Grilled Xen?”

“I hope not.” She looked over at Urfa. “Are we amusing you?”

“Oh, let’s call it educational. Fourteen-year-olds doing large scale telekinesis. Xen exercising diplomacy—nice bit of getting the cop to think of you as . . . people with policemen.” The corner of his eyes crinkled. “Not as much screaming and dish throwing as I’d expected in a family fight.”

Rael eyed him. “I refuse to believe anyone as controlled and logical as you came from a family of screaming dish throwers.”

The smile broke through. “Actually, I did, but fortunately it was a rare occurrence. And then my parents would kiss and make up, which as a kid I thought was entirely too gross for words.”

The younger girl—Razz—nodded vigorously. “Aunt Rael’s right. He’s really smart.”

Rael snickered and eyed Xen. “Problem?”

“I’m trying to remember my parents ever having an argument, let alone something I’d call a fight. But then I suppose Dad’s learned a thing or two in fourteen centuries, and Mom’s pretty easy going . . . and she travels a lot.”

Rael snorted. “Your parents are cute, and the God of War is nice. Which I hadn’t expected.”

“We met them.” Arno walked up and stood between him and Ox. “He’s a lot like you are . . . shows enough glow to be polite, but somehow it goes so deep down you practically have to brace yourself to not slide in.”

“Lady Rustle’s a whole lot like that too.” Ryol stepped up beside Rael. “Powerful, but not really scary. Not like Ambassador Never! She was . . . Umm . . .”

“Appalled?” Xen suggested. “I’m afraid my grandmother and I have never gotten along very well. And what did you think about Duke Dydit?”

Arno snickered. “He thought it was funny. ‘Only Xen,’ he said. But he said it like he liked you. Why doesn’t Never like you?”

“Oh, witches are not supposed to have male offspring. So she started off appalled. Then I was a slow grower, slow to talk and walk, so she started talking about me in a pitying, ‘poor little stupid boy’ sort of way, not realizing that I understood all of it.”

“Oh.” Arno’s eyebrows rose.

Yeah, you’ve had a bit of that too, haven’t you?

“Answer’s even worse. She’s my great great grandmother.”

“Yeah.” Rael rolled her eyes. “I’ve met her. Got sneered at. ‘At least you’re well trained,’ she said.”

“What? No lecture about running around after a man?” Xen flashed a grin at her, knowing full well what the whole of Answer’s reception had probably entailed.

“Oh, I got that too. ‘Pitiful,’ she said.” Rael squeezed his arm. “Mind you that was the day after I met her, when she said it was a pity I was such an incompetent assassin.”

“Oh, she was in good form.” Xen looked over at the kids. “And I’m probably giving you all sorts of wrong impressions about Ash. Part of the problems there are that we’ve grown too large. Probably ought to sprout off at least one more Witch Pyramid, so there are fewer women in Ash to rub each other wrong.”

Rael snickered. “Xen! Are you saying that too many women, living close to each other can form rivalries?”

“That’s a polite way to portray the nasty gossip, the subtle sabotage, the verbal knives in the back . . .”

“Hmm, almost like the Princess School, when the instructors aren’t present.” Rael grinned and looked across the room, where her mother tapped her watch. “Right, time to migrate to the parent’s house.”

Arno straightened. “We’re going, right?”

Ardo hesitated. “You two . . . Ox, perhaps . . .”

“The littles can stay here.” His gaze moved from Arno to Ryol. “I guess the twins are old enough for a . . . stiff formal dinner.”

Xen suppressed a sigh. So long as it’s only stiff. I think Ardo is considering potential unpleasantness. And under Urfa’s pokerface . . . I think he’s enjoying himself.

***

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on December 5th, 2018 06:14 pm (UTC)
Being picky again
"her to speak to him and tell the truth, to get you that interview.” should probably be "her to speak to him and tell the truth, to get him that interview.”
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on December 5th, 2018 10:27 pm (UTC)
=“That, by the way, is Ebsa’s wild colt.” Rael walked up and hooked her arm around his.=

As suggested.

+“That's Axbe, by the way, Ebsa’s wild colt.” Rael walked up and hooked her arm around his.+