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12 September 2019 @ 09:24 am
_Professor_ part 24  
Backing up into the party, since I've changed a few things.


“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. I have the Disco reports from Utopia. 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. It sounds more like an infection, the way it spreads.”

“Really? Hmm. I foresee a long talk in our futures. But I won’t try to start it in the middle of a party.” His eyes drifted to the side. He nodded. “Erdu. So are you going to add classes in Zingo Mandarin?”

“No. There’s really no demand for it here, and anyone with a good grasp of Mandarin will pick it up quickly enough if they go there.” The Head of the Languages Department glowered. “And we really ought to wait until their civil war is definitely ended.”

Ongo nodded, looking a bit disappointed. “I suppose that’s wise. But experience fighting either—or both—Cyborg descended magicians and Tellie descended magicians might come in handy someday.” A crooked grin. “When the Cyborgs inevitably hit one of the contacted Worlds.”

Rael nodded. “Disco and various other groups have had encounters with them. Xen thinks Earth has had encounters that they aren’t admitting to.”

“Indeed? But closer to home, Sensei Udlo is having a worse than usual problem with his women’s Martial Arts class. Is there any chance of you dropping by and giving them a pep talk? Mondays and Wednesdays, ten hundred in the south dojo.”

“Umm, I’ll drop by on my way to work with the Senior Teamers.” Rael sighed. “Once. I’m too busy already.”

And after the last guest had been ushered out of one or another door, she put on her latex gloves and combed through the trash and the used plastic spoons and forks for DNA samples. Three hundred of them. “XR labs are going to hate me.” She grinned as she labeled and prioritized the samples from the three Magic School professors. “And since I don’t otherwise know which samples came from who . . . this may not be terribly useful.”

“True.” Xen prowled around the kitchen. “I think we’ve found all the trash bubbles. But if nothing odd comes up, it will eliminate the possibility of outside interference.”

Rael nodded, tried to hide her doubts. Because Xen would have warned off any Comet Fall people.

He flashed a grin. “Mind you barely a third of them would shake hands. Nothing odd about them. I’ll make a list and cross those guys off.”

And, of course, he’d happily lie to me.

He held out a bag of proper swabs. “From the kids, for elimination. I’d hate get your labs all excited about the dozens of Comet Fall Spies.”

One! Why’d I ever fall for the Gods of Spies?



Chapter Modern Dance

The women’s Martial Arts class was double the size of Advanced, and just watching the Sensei Udlo’s attempts to get them to do basic exercises was painful. Are they always this bad, or is this the dunce class for the women students? Good thing I came prepared.

Rael dropped her unnoticeable spell and walked out of the shadowed corner by the changing rooms. Bowed to the Sensei as he did a double take as he recognized her. He bowed in return.

“Dr. Ongo said he’d invited you to take a look at this group.” He sighed as he looked over the women. “We have an unusual number of incoming women students this semester, as well as rather a lot back for remedial work. And they are all so very uninterested in Martial Arts. I would be delighted to watch you deal with them, and hopefully get some pointers.”

“Right.” Rael grinned and bounced out to face the herd of girls. “So? Not much Martial Arts training? Well, who has had dance lessons?”

All hands up. “Ballet?” About half the hands dropped. “Modern Dance?” Most of them back up. “Cheerleading?” Mostly down. “Ballroom?” All.

“Excellent. So, let’s start the music.”

And damned if every single one of them couldn’t do that kata with snap and enthusiasm. Rael added a couple of extra moves, not strictly Martial Arts, but it kept the girl’s interest up and . . . Dear One! They’re bouncing!

Rael cut off the music as the kata ended. Put her hands together, and they picked up the cue, bowed. She returned their bow. Sensei Udlo stepped up, received and returned a bow, dismissed them.

He looked at Rael, and shook his head. “I . . . am astonished. And incapable of teaching like that. I shall beg Ongo to steal you from Social Sciences.”

Rael shook her head. “Won’t happen, but you might check some of the Junior Lecturers and see if any of the female variety scored high enough in Martial Arts to TA here. Especially any who also studied Modern Dance.”

He blinked and started grinning. “Actually, I know just the people to recruit.”

Chapter Lab Results

“One Fallen, two Purps.”

“What!” Rael blinked at the lab report.

Dr. Ynke nodded. “Yes. About the time I was cussing about your pile of samples, and eliminating the known Comet Fall samples from the collection, one analysis turned up a half-Fallen, half-Oner woman. Her Fallen genes were quite close to the elimination group’s. I wondered if you’d missed one?”

Rael snorted. “Oh that. I ought to have thought. No, that would be my DNA. I hope. I’ll leave you a sample to be sure.”

Ynke’s brows rose. “Really?”

Rael snickered. “My biomother, otherwise known as Subdirector Kael, served on Comet Fall and had an encounter with the Joy Juice.”

Kael . . . I see . . . I was very puzzled, because so much of the sample DNA also matched the records of the prophet Emre One.”

“Kael’s father. Apparently there are a fair number of his children around, and also children of some of the oldest priests, many of who are the children and grandchildren of several of the Prophets.”

“I . . . see.” He nodded. “Well, getting back to your samples we also came up with a Purp. And then a second one. Both male, and the very detailed study came up one hundred percent Purple Planet. Mind you, they have the turned-off-before-birth version of the purple gene, which is more common on Comet Fall, but their inserts are all the versions common on Purple, and have a couple of alleles never seen on Comet Fall. Their non-insertion genes are all basic human, unlike the average of nearly thirty percent Prophets’ genes, or if you prefer, Telie’s genes, on Comet Fall.” Dr. Ynke looked cheerful. “Now if only you’d labeled each sample . . .”

Rael swallowed. Purps! “Unfortunately those were all culled from party trash. The three women I prioritized . . .”

“Oners. No doubt about it—we ran every sample back through, looking at the Telie count—they were all in the normal range for High Oners.” Ynke’s eyes gleamed. “And those Comet Fall elimination samples? Four of Xen Wolfson’s kids, and four fathered by three other men, but the same four mothers, all closely related. The kids all had that weird chromosome substitution.”

Rael nodded. “Yep. There’s a subculture on a part of Comet Fall that . . . well, they are quite libertine and use the Joy Juice regularly. Umm, I wouldn’t talk about Kael’s genetics, or her having a half-fallen daughter, if I were you. She gets a bit testy when it’s hinted that she snogged a Native.”

“Oh . . . yes.”

Rael frowned at the computer screen. “Two men from Purple. I take they have a power gene?”

“Two each. The Wizard gene on the X chromosome, and the Mage on their X chromosome. They’re brothers, by the way. By the wear on their telomeres, probably at least eighty years of age. And . . . I’ll see what I can find out about the Purps longevity genes, might be able to give you a closer estimate of their age.”

Rael nodded. “They must have infiltrated before the switch to the DNA based names and ID. And the instruments wouldn’t have been as sensitive, which would explain how their aberrant power genes didn’t get noticed.”

“Right. Probably would have noted the abnormally large Priest genes on their Y chromosomes, but so long ago, maybe not.”

Rael blew out her breath. “Well, now I just need to whittle down the potential candidates, from all the men at the party. Thanks, Doc.”

***

“Purps? Or Powers, as they call them. Huh. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. The Earth used a couple of Purps in their infiltrations of Comet Fall. And they’re both still there. There’s so much prejudice on Earth that they’ve both, umm, gone native was the term used, at high volume, by their former chain of command when they tried to lure them back a few years ago.”

“Really?” Rael searched her memory for anyone she’d met . . .”

“I don’t think you’ve met either of them.” Xen grinned. “So how are we going to find your infiltrators?”

Rael bit her lip . . . “Xen, God of Spies? What will you do if you find them? Warn them? Rescue them? Help them retain their cover?”

“Ahhhhh . . . Crap. I’m not actually sure. Especially if they summon the God.” He sat back with a huff. “Actually . . . yeah. Damn, that’s gotten me into trouble before . . .”

Rael bit her lip. “I really don’t want us to be on opposite sides of an investigation.”

“You’re not going to let me play, are you?”

“No. Dammit.”

“Okay. I’ll behave, but remember that you’re a spy as well, and I’m much more inclined to your side than anyone doing psychological damage to so many kids.” Xen frowned down at her. “And please be careful.”

Rael snickered. “I’ll remember Qs oft repeated advice to you. ‘Shields! Dammit!’ And I haven’t been a spy for decades. I’m not even a government agent, any more.”

Xen dimpled. “Riiight. Six months ago you were cruising around Zingo gathering an impressive amount of information. And now you’ve gone absolutely classical. Top government agent on a leave of absence, neck deep in what may turn out to be a hugely important, long term cross-dimensional cultural sabotage. Just wait till they make a vid of this!”

“No one is going to make a vid of . . . anything.”

“Complete with the obligatory humor of your magic duel with the Evil Professor.”

“I was sort of hoping you’d never heard about that.”

“Quacking? Purple hair? Ludicrous amounts of ground moved, including breaking a sewer pipe? I think I heard about from eight different points of view—and opinions—at the party.” He grinned. “I have to say I’m proud of Ryol and Arno. They never said a thing.”

Rael blinked. “Well, they were raised by various relatives with security interests. But I’ll have to give Ox most of the credit. He never talked about cases until the trial was over.”

Xen nodded, but his gaze was inward, thinking.

Rael dropped her mental shields to incoming, and still could barely skate the surface of his thoughts, a bare impression. Why is he so worried?

 
 
 
ekuah on September 12th, 2019 07:20 pm (UTC)
Mage Y not Mage X.

On the other hand, that could result in something genetically interesting. ;-)