Parties and other disasters
Saturday 22 Furkan 1416
She invited the whole Social Sciences department, then, since they were there, Languages as well. And Ikku and the rest of the Combat Staff. Urfa and Puur, of course—with a warning that it was getting a bit out of hand—Ejti, the University Chancellor, and then the School of Magic.
“As we do need to learn to get along.” She smiled toothily at Magic School Chancellor Adse, then swapped the smile to Professors Bwyv, “Bev”, and Miet, “Meat.” The two women had been exiting the Chancelor’s office as Rael dropped off the invitation with Adse’s secretary.
“Just come by my office any time after five.”
“Oh yes, we’ve heard about you having your own corridor. I’m surprised that’s legal.” Meat smiled.
Bev bit her lip. “Is Xen going to be there? I’ve always been curious about what he felt like mentally. A Native with power.”
Rael giggled. “He’ll be there.”
“I know it got a little out of hand, but . . .”
Xen snickered at her. “Never fear. I planned on feeding a hoard.”
One of the “Wolf Kids” swooped by and made an empty tray disappear, and another whipped an all new one out of nowhere.
Bari, the oldest of that bunch of Xen’s kids had taken over the kitchen and was serving wine from an apparently unending supply. Abandoned glasses were disappearing and trays of clean ones popped up whenever needed.
“But if I’m not careful, Dad’s going to find himself pressured to export wine.”
Chancellor Ejti looked around at that. “This is a very nice red.”
“A six year old blend. Mostly merlot. I prefer straight merlots myself.” Xen shrugged. “I getting saturated with introductions. Am I remembering right that you’re a Sociologist, and specialized in Native cultures?”
“Indeed.” The chancellor eyed Xen. “I really wish I’d had the opportunity to study Comet Fall before all it’s local cultures were corrupted by Oners and Earthers.”
Xen cocked his head. “It was really only the Auralian culture that the One impacted. Earth, on the other hand, never had any penetration into any of the established nations. I suppose any Oner studies were conducted by Action Teams.”
Ejti snorted. “No. There was some decent work by an Info Team, but really . . . nothing seriously rigorous. Now when I was out in the field, we’d go out and live with the Natives for years. My treatise on the Nomads of Granite Peak is still the seminal work on the subject.”
Rael blinked. “Goodness, how early did you get in there?”
“Thirteen forty-six. We rode through with the first farm machinery and walked out to find the Nomads. We were out there for almost three years, kept tabs on three tribes. Well, we did get home a couple of times. But the data we collected.” He sipped wine. “We got a good look at the original culture, and saw the first distortions caused by contact with a more advanced culture. And no, not us. We lived off the land, traded no advanced tech at all.
“But the farmers . . . blocking their traditional migration routes, slaughtering so much of the native wildlife. Bah. We came back in the Spring of 1349, and got back to the academic analysis of it all. I had two grad students, you see. They both got their PhDs on the strength of their hands on research. Damn good papers. One of these days I should gather it all together. Maybe go back and see how the tribes are doing. Publish a book.”
Xen nodded. “An excellent idea. Disco has a strict hands-off policy; I’d like some studies to either back that up, or dispute the wisdom of it.”
Ejti snorted disapprovingly. “There is no wisdom in destroying cultures. Don’t be so open minded your brain falls out.”
Rael missed Xen’s reply as she was jostled from behind.
“Really! Associating with that Native.” Jues shuddered. “How can you stand to let him touch you? And don’t think we didn’t notice the room upstairs, furnished for a baby.” Jues eyed Rael’s flat belly. “Planning something?”
“A work in Progress. Exzy Withione Montevideo is two months old.” By the calendar! Rael shrugged. “Not here tonight, of course.”
Meat looked her up and down. “Have you no pride? No . . . dedication to the One? To allow a . . . person like that to get you pregnant!”
Rael giggled. “Oh, Meat, you poor thing. Raised to think of a pregnancy as disgusting. That’s so unnatural, and probably the reason the One have never been more than ten percent of the population.”
Bev sighed, barely audible in the crunch. “I can see why he was such a boy toy! But to . . . procreate . . . with a primitive! I feels so sorry for the child! Handicapped like that!”
Real showed her teeth in what was definitely not a smile. “Are you three evolutionary dead ends?”
Three raised brow stares. “Well! Really!” Meat led the trio away.
Rael followed a few steps, to pick up the glasses they were abandoning on handy flat spots as they marched off. She slipped into the kitchen long enough to empty the dregs of the wine and stash the three glasses in a bubble.
Hope Xen can get some DNA off them, because I don’t think shaking hands or otherwise making bare skin contact is going to happen.
Lenny eeled through the crowd, grinning. “I think the main reason people are eating so much is so they can see those kids do dimensional tricks with the snack trays.”
A tall man turned and glowered at him. “We are collecting observations to base theories on, not watching tricks.” He caught Rael’s eye. “Mostly. Ongo, Military Sciences.” He stuck his hand out and gave hers a firm shake.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m afraid I’ve been so busy, Ikku’s the only one from the Combat Department I’ve met.”
“Indeed. Are you actually teaching seventy students basic techniques?”
“About that. I need to re-sort them; quite a few are well past the basics and ready to learn some serious magic.”
“Really? I’d like to observe.” He threw a glance toward Xen, barely taller than the Oner men around him. “Just in case we wind up fighting a magical enemy sometime.”
Rael nodded. “Yes. Fortunately the Zingos have a very small population, and the other Cyborgs have only a little magic, mostly telepathic communications over tens of kilometers.”
“Indeed? Do you have references for that?”
“Yes. Disco reports from the Utopia battle. I’ll forward them to you.” Rael tossed a look toward Xen herself. “And ask Xen if he has any other evidence from the other branches of the Cyborg . . . well, I suppose it’s an Empire. Sometimes it seems more like an infection, the way it spreads.”