“Oh, poor kids! They’ve been in a boarding school here all last semester. I’ve been grabbing them for weekends and holidays regularly. Well, Raod and Ox made it here about every other weekend. But they’ve passed their control tests, so they can live at the house now.”
“They’ve demonstrated control of their magic. Under law, children with magical potential have to live in one of the clan enclaves from the time they first show signs of blooming—showing a grasp of power—until they can show that the can control it and are not at risk of accidentally hurt anyone. Most kids stay through the end of high school, but the law is until they pass the control tests.”
“Okay. Next Question. Clan Enclaves? Weren’t there . . . three thousand clans?”
“Yep, now, three thousand, two hundred and seventy-four. Spread all over, and they all have an enclave, small town size, that is exclusively for Oners. Ostensively for the safety of outsiders as teenagers feel the power, at the same time they’re suffering through puberty.”
“Huh. And ‘ostensively’ probably means more snobbery, right?”
“Right. The central region here has eight enclaves. Paris has almost engulfed four of them as it’s built out. Versalle is in one. My house isn’t. Hence the boarding school in the Mireau Enclave.”
Dave sighed. “At some point I will no doubt start having fewer questions with every conversation we have. Now however, I’m off duty, so I’m going to brief Nicholas on this interesting meeting on Tyrant’s World.”
A Nice Little House in Paris
10 Emre 1414
“So Ox are you surviving the move to a small house?” Izzo grinned at his friend and former subordinate.
“So far. It’s not as bad a squeeze as I feared, with the four kids. I hadn’t realized the basement was finished. Arno pounced on a bedroom down there, and Oxy decided to join him. It’s now Boy Territory. They’ve declared the bathroom off limits to girls, but allowed as how they could come down for laundry or to use the big screen.” Ahxe Withione Timber Black Point shook his hand, then Xiat’s. “But even though that gave us an extra bedroom, Niin has opted to rent an apartment. Something about sharing a bathroom with two girls . . .”
Izzo grinned. “At least you lucked out with a good secretary for an assigned princess.”
“I know. I hate to say it, but I think Rael may have gone to the Princess School and strongly suggested they not send an immature sexpot.” Ox shrugged. “I’m not going to ask.”
“Safer that way.” Izzo turned his head at a giggle. “Hi, Rael. Giving up your magic house?”
The woman he considered one of the most dangerous people he’d ever met grinned.
“I figured they needed a few months at a minimum to check out Paris before they decided exactly where to live.” Rael shrugged. “Probably years. Although since this isn’t in an enclave it will cease to work rather quickly as Razz is . . . ten? So even though Arno and Ryol both passed their control tests and can live here, it won’t be long before the smaller brats blossom and need to be in one of the enclaves.”
Izzo blinked. Nodded. “I shouldn’t be surprised. I saw how well controlled their magic was, building sandcastles on the beach.”
Ox nodded. “Living in the Montevideo Enclave simplified everything when Ryol felt the touch of the One. Arno, of course, did it so quietly even he didn’t notice.”
Xiat nodded. “Fortunately that gothic horror of a Director’s Residence is inside the Gate City enclave, so when it happens to our twins, we won’t have to move.” She stepped into the kitchen. “Hey Raod, good to see you again. All moved in?”
Izzo waved to Madam Raod as he followed Ox into the living room. “I’ve never seen this house furnished. I watched a bit of the renovation—not good for the ego. Xen just sat down on the floor and things happened.”
“Ooo! I wish I could have seen it.” Ryol called from the stairs as she trotted down them. The sixteen-year-old was a spectacular redhead, and knew it. “Did he really use firewood for the floor?”
“Yep. He’d just take a chunk and pull it out to about the right thickness and smear it out across the floor. Smooth and level.”
Ox shook his head. “Well, the results are spectacular. Although I’m not sure about the dark blue bathroom.”
A laugh from Xiat as she called from the kitchen, “It started out pink. Rael was horrified.”
“You’d better believe it!” Rael walked out carrying a tray of veggies and dip and placed it on the dining room table. “And I know perfectly well he did it on purpose just to make me yell at him.”
Ryol rolled her eyes. “Grownups are stupid. Pink would be nice upstairs. It’s a really boring bathroom.”
Xiat strolled out to join them. “How’s the new school?”
“Not bad, now that we’re not boarding. We can get away from the insults. I’m glad we didn’t start last year. I mean, maybe it would have been better if we were just two more new freshmen, but well, in Montevideo when everyone found out we were Xen Wolfson’s kids, everyone already knew us. Here we’re strangers and his kids. There’s been . . . talk.” She shrugged. “I just ignored it, and got on with the classes.”
“And you left your friends behind.” Xiat considered all her buddies in high school, and winced.
“I know two other students, so it’ll all come together. I don’t have trouble making friends.” She looked behind them, and Izzo glanced back.
Her twin brother was coming up from the basement. Arno, quiet and smart. A gangly teen-age version of Xen Wolfson.
“We were talking about making friends after moving. You probably haven’t even talked to anyone yet. And I thought ‘Sahara Trek’ was funny. I suppose you dissected the science and ignore the brilliant characterizations.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed everyone avoiding you. The classes are all right, but they pile on the homework. At least the history book is up-to-date.” The boy circled around them to snag a carrot stick.
“That’s just Voyr and Gior not wanting to be targeted by the bigots. I will make friends. There’s lots of kids who do talk to me, unlike you who doesn’t even notice he’s being shunned.”
Arno rolled his eyes, jerked his thumb at his sister and made quacking motions with his other hand.
“I am not talking too much!”
“Yes you are. Here you are with an excellent opportunity to pick up information for that current events report we have to turn in next week—personal communication with the External Relations Director—so maybe we should let the adults talk and listen in.”
Ryol glared at him, then turned a smile on Izzo. “Speaking of moving, last I heard, the Other One and Helios have both finished their embassies on Embassy, and were moving in. Are they adjusting well?”
Izzo sighed. “Well, they’re adjusting. The Whirlpool Earth’s main building is almost done as well. So we’re getting . . . a bit of friction from them as well.”
Ox shook his head. “It’s enough to make me glad I’m switching to Internal.”
Izzo grinned. “But Ox! Wouldn’t you love an opportunity to build a police and courts system from scratch? One knows Embassy needs them.”
“No. Merging two justice systems—three times—was bad enough. How many Worlds are there on Embassy, now? Hundreds?”
Izzo snickered. “Wise man. But if it doesn’t work out here, just give me a call.”
Then the younger kids galloped in, ten-year-old Raaz, and eight-year-old Oxy, AKA Oxre.///
Also nice kids, asking about Xiaz and Ixto, his five years old twins.
They all crunched nice healthy vegetables while the three women giggled as they finished up dinner prep. Kept the conversation light all through natural roast beef, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and peach cobbler.
Then a tour of the house, with Oxy showing off his basement bedroom with the door to the back garden, courtesy of a dimensional corridor. Much discussion of how dimensional phenomena could change architecture once the price came down.
“Once I get better at it.” Ryol bounced and giggled, in a manner terrifyingly like her biomother. She scowled at her brother. “Arno’s way advanced. But I’ll catch up.”
Izzo looked at the boy. “Think you’ll be able to make gates?”
“Yes, sir. It’s putting them where I want them that’s the problem. The lessons with Disco have been interesting. I think I can find home reliably, so I could go through a powered gate, and make a permanent gate back. I think. And . . . maybe I could even get it into the SGA. Maybe.”
“Oh . . . already. I hope you’re planning on the Directorate School. Not that we won’t hire you, if you go freelance.”
Ryol grinned. “Directorate School is on the top of the list for both of us, right now. And we’ve got enough extra high school credits that we can probably graduate in two more years, and start college in the fall of 1415.”
“The University of the Empire in New York has an excellent sciences department.” Arno’s voice squeaked a bit, and he sighed resignedly. Cleared his throat. “So I can take extra science, beyond what the Directorate School offers.”
Izzo eyed the boy. “Don’t answer, if it’s too personal, but you’re not doing the hormone suppressants?”
“I talk to Xen about it. He said it’s a lot less . . . socially weird if I wait until my voice settles, and then suppress it until I’m twenty-two or so.”
Ox sighed. “The world has gotten very strange.”