matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Guardsman_ infill 2

Ambassador Ashe was a dignified man, the grey invading his hair the only sign of advanced age. Indian subcontinent by his features, with the strong shielded glow of a High Oner, no sign of Hindu or Buddist beliefs, but he did order the chicken dish, not the beef. And look ruefully down at it. “I tried once to steal a chef from XD, but failed. Mine, well, the embassy restaurant’s chef is . . . adequate.”

Lucky Dave had also ordered the chicken, as had Izzo. Mark of respect for the man, or his possible religious restrictions? He took a bite . . . “Actually, it’s quite good. Although as a soldier, my standards aren’t high.”

Ashe nodded. “Are you considering returning to the army?”

“Well, it’s a completely different army, and there’s no war.” Dave pondered, shrugged. “I’ll stick to keeping my old commander alive for now.”

Izzo grinned. “I’m trying to recruit him, but I seem to be in competition with Urfa.”

Ashe’s eyes twinkled. “Well, if Urfa didn’t keep all of them wrapped up in Versalle, the rest of us might just be trying as well. I’m sure at least one of the Ministries will be interested.”

Dave refrained from rolling his eyes. “And especially interested in nabbing an actual Prophet? I’m finding that for all the mythos, we’re not all that extraordinary. I’m dabbling in history classes on Grid. And from what I’ve seen of the . . . credentialism . . .involved in most hiring and advancement decisions, I may have to go for a degree before I do much of anything.”

Izzo hesitated, nodded. “Yes, there was a point in my life—a long time ago, mind you—when I had to choose to be a good cop, or try for something better. Of course, that just landed me in PreCog and Divination.” He caught Dave’s startled glance. “It’s a department of the Interior Directorate. I was an analyst, trying to sort wishful thinking from the real deal . . . and then trying to make sense of it.”

Dave thought back . . . “Interesting. I always wondered why it was the third generation—and mostly women—who had visions or whatever. The Prophets never showed any sign of . . . future knowledge, apart from their experiences prior to the Arrival. And they were very reticent about their memories. Not wanting to break the mythos.”

Izzo’s brows rose. “Really? I, well, Ra’d broke the belief that all of the Prophets were male, and I never considered that PreCog was a development of their descendants, that they didn’t have.”

Ashe nodded. “Which makes the snobbish ‘One Firsters’ even less logical.”

“Because all Oners are a mixture of Prophet and Multitude.” Lucky Dave shrugged. “With three exceptions. Emre, Nicholas, and Ra’d.”


Dave slid into the limo after Izzo.

“It’s one in the morning in Paris. Why don’t you come crash in the, umm, Director’s Residence and I’ll send you back to Paris in the morning?”

A snicker from El Zee. “You should at least come see the building. Then I can drive you back if you’re afraid to stay there.”

“Afraid . . .”

Izzo sighed. “It has to be seen to be believed.”

“Okay. Now I’m definitely curious.”

The setting sun might have added to the atmosphere . . . but the flying buttress . . . and Grecian columns, gargoyles, an onion dome . . .

And the three . . . ladies . . . arguing with a stiff and proper butler in the doorway.

“Oh. My. One.” Izzo choked. “You know that post at PreCog I mentioned? The three most infuriatingly accurate-if-you-winnow-out-the-day-dreams women . . . appear to have tracked me down.”

“Really?” El Zee peered at them. “The ones who told you you’d find true love in Paris?”

“Yes. And then they came and talked to Endi Dewulfe about their PreCogs.” Izzo braced his shoulders and advanced on the trio. “One! I hope they’re just insatiably curious, and not . . . doing it again.”

The closest one turned around and beamed. Her thickly applied makeup somehow managed to not crack. “Izzo! There you are! Don’t you love these corridors! All the way from New Zealand to Gate City in less than an hour!”


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