Friday, September 28, 2012

117 - I Have to Hit Hard

Nadian spread the separate pages out on his table and glared at them.  The information he’d tried so hard for, bled for, struggled for, was here.  Spread out on page after page.  This had arrived from the border, for every peasant scum to read.  No secrets at ALL, no information to be witheld for favours, just... just printed for anyone to see, free.  Diryish this technology for everyone will destroy us all.

The Heir.  Wasn’t a boy after all.  It was the champion whose death had been faked by that boy-sucking Milar years ago.

It took everything I had to actually support that sheep-buggering bastard, son of a diseased pustule.  He was the one that discovered father’s plot. To save myself I had to betray you, father.  Why didn’t you trust me enough in your plot to take Diryish down and put our family on the throne?  Together we could have done it, but Bil and I... were left ‘innocent’.  Damn you to the burning light old man.  I was forced to betray you, with that Ilaxandal, to save my own neck.

Not dead.  Apparently, according to the stories out of the Milari Unity Talain had been approved by a couple of doddering old zon in those mountains of theirs.  Trained by them.  Mandery and clinery both.  Still expressed as a warrior but of course he’d be astonishingly good at both because he’s a direct-line grandson of the old man.

But he'd been injured.  Years ago but some injuries just never healed up well.  Talain had been over-run by the retreating troops and clawed to shit, fractures, compression injuries.  That had been in the report that Diryish had demanded, completely not realizing that d’Molfe did get the report.  But the general was convinced that Diryish wanted it to hang him out to dry, and if the Milar loved the scum Amir already he’d want to protect him.  Bleeding dry, scorching sand in my wife’s vagina! This was a disaster.

He'd have at least a dozen days till the whole politically delicate caravan arrived at the city.  Surely he’d find a way to hack the datastream and get a lovely illness or two into Talain’s bloodstream.  Bleed him out into the sand before they arrived.  Dark, if he managed to make the man sick it would delay them further.  Surely his defenses weren’t perfect – and Milar?  They’d not know what to defend against. Rather than narrow his target down to a single man, he'd better... more happily... destroy them all.

His finger tapped again against the description of the entourage, from the ‘kuluri at the border post.  These fancy birds.  Ilaxandal Vania, damn his bloody heart, looking fit and hale, his squires, Talain, also described in glowing terms, only with one squire.  This many older people in krashnall silks, probably the Milar idea of Hive Lords, people Vania couldn’t leave out of his sight or those currying favour with him.  Probably someone to hold Talain down for him every night.  A small enough entourage.  They’re trusting their own prowess as warriors to protect them?  No guards at all?  That is madness and Talain should know it.  What on the planet are they DOING coming in here so vulnerable?

He rose and swept the pages into the box’s hopper where the fibre would be re-used.  It was a useful thing to have one of these LIN boxes in his private control.  He’d grown this one himself.  It was an ‘unlisted’ box and had no number.  Only he could access this room and this information.

It was time to open up the books of transcribed codes and spells that he’d been too genteel, too gentlemanly and pure of soul to attempt.  I have to hit, and hit hard, before they get anywhere close.


The caravan was five days into the badlands of Lainz, when the flensing wind came roaring up out of the toxic salt plains.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

116 - We Boxed It Tah th' LIN

 “Gada Samapti’s seen more folks comin’ thru inna last three months than in the three years, Amir,” Pouyah, the senior man on station, said, setting down his cup.  Dukir drank his down and refilled both their glasses with his bottle of spiced raki.

“Just Isfahsalar, old friend.  We’re off duty.  The pup an’ his nose-bleed high betters ‘r all bedded down.”

“He’s comin’ along.”

“Ya.  Not sleepin’.  All sittin’ in their bedrolls, reading them pages yeh pulled off that LIN thing.” Dukir put his hand on the stack of pages he’d culled out of the saved pile.  It was so novel a thing, to have new things to read every day, the Milar had come across with fibre and the river was right there, even at the height of hell season.  “This... is havin’ them Milar come across?  Fer news from Lainz?”

“Oh, aye. Every day.  Sending a clerk from their village office 'n everybody gettin' tah read 'em.  Letters.  Dark man, if yeh know the box number yeh kin get a letter from a courier in Milar tah ass end o’ Trovi in less ‘n four days turnaround! The Milar want it.  They want boxes o’ their own.  Central Viltari news o’ their own.  Dark, when thet news came out about the surdeniliarch hidin’ some Lainz feller and them marryin’ him... Thet was him, Kyrus Talain, wern’t it?”

“Yes.  But how...”

“I saw im durin’ the war. He were m' commandin' Amir.  Armoured up like now, veiled.  But he carries his-self same.  An’ some-un drew a weddin’ pic and sent it down by courier.  We boxed it.  It’s all over ‘t Empire.  Kyrus Talain not dead.  Kyrus Talain a man lover.  Kyrus Talain’s a Milar prince, married in tah the gov’mnt.”

“Hmmm.  Not quite like that.  But people must be talkin’.”

“Oh, ay.  Talkin’ an’ boxin’.  Some people wanna rip ‘is liver out.  Some say it’s grand.”

“An’ yerself, kapikulu?” Dukir lifted the refilled glass up under his veil and sipped.  The room was spinning with the sudden overwhelming information, instead of spinning from the raki.  Not that he’d ever gotten drunk while in another persona.  Faked it perhaps, but... oh, Diryish, this tek has thrown everything we knew into total chaos.  EVERYONE can express their opinion, if they have this box thing.  It’s not an Empire... its a wild plunge into... into Milar arm-waving, eardrum shattering sensibilities.  Information.  That everyone can pass around to anyone.  Not limited to the few who have enough owner deenay to be able to access the equipment.

The ‘kulu snorted and slammed his empty glass on the table, waving at Dukir to refill it.  “If yer jess Isfahshalar, then I’m jess plain ol’ Pouyah!  Heh.  Talain saved m’ life on teh field.  Tol’ thet general to shove his orders up his cloaca hisownself in the hell of bein’ overrun... pulled us outen there and got us to retreat to where we could hold.  General Kelke...  brother in law of that Basserus bastard, got cut inta collups.  Wouldn’t retreat.”


The old man waved genially and picked up his glass.  “He’s a good ‘un.  Don’ know but glad he’s comin’ clean.  Clear out some’ut lies and sand-sheets inna govermn’t.  Clean up ‘teh Asses.  Even if y’all r’ Rasheem... yah still know.  Rot spreads and gets cut.  Time fer some cuttin’ and he kin do that.  I seed it.” His hand closed around the cup and he thumped the fist on the table splashing raki around.  “Not fer me tah say, but ifn’ His Shiniest wants tah write tah everybody, everyday... he kin here from everybody, everyday!  Like the Milari.  M’wife explained it and it makes sense... now we kin.  Wit’ these boxes.  ‘n Hisownself give em!  So His ownself must wanna hear what us Asses got tah say, hey?”

“Yer right friend Pouyah. Who knew what hisownself were thinking.”  What in the endarkened, frozen, hells of vacuum were you thinking, Diryish?  This... this is going to be madness!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

115 - May Justice Prevail

Report to the LIN, priority from Sunrise Loggia

The once honourable Zurchan, acknowledged son of the Amin line, has lost his name and all positions and titles.   

The man who had been the most Radiant One’s trusted vizier has been arrested and is being tried for the attempted assassination of the Emperor he served for twenty-two years.

The trial is expected to last this full week.  Should Zurchan be found guilty, the harshest penalty that can be called for, for this crime, is exposure in the great traitor’s cage.

The last time this particular cage was used for an execution, it might be remembered, when the Hive Lord once known as Basserus’s body was tied in place, after his heinous attempt on Emperor Pollus, ten years ago.

No details on Zurchan’s trial have yet been released to our disseminators and pollenators of news.  The Emir of the Rasheem has promised us a copy of the record, once the trial is over.  His most Radiant, Emperor Pollus, declines to speak of his reaction.  He says only “I am grieved that someone so close to me is in this position.  May justice and truth prevail.”

We at the LIN echo His Radiance, long life to him. May justice prevail.

In the time since the Emir-al and the Amir had come through, on their mission, the Lainz border post had undergone a remarkable transformation.

The bridge over the border river had been fixed so that the birds could safely be ridden across instead of led over hooded.  The Emir-kapikulu salaamed as they stopped at the karal fence, which was again a solid wattle, with no holes.  “Kapikulu.”  The Emir said, not getting down immediately.  The man jumped to take the war-bird’s chain with his goad.  “Much better than last time.”

“Bright One, we serve.  If the Emir-al would care to inspect?”

Dukir’s smile never rose above the line of his veil, though he had to cough.  The kapikulu was the senior of the border attendants, and his uniform, that had been conspicuously absent when he’d been at his Milari wife’s house, was clean and obviously newly let out to fit him once more, the line of revealed cloth a darker black stripe. He was aware of the row of eyes peeking along the top of the adobe wall just around the corner.  Likely the children of this once despised bunch, who had no doubt been watching for their approach and given their da’s some warning.  Wide, lighter eyes and skin than Lainz alone.  They looked a great deal like Haraklez.  He tried not to laugh out loud at their awe as they took in the whole flock of fancy birds.

The zon had actually had some fun on the Milar side of the bridge and pulled out their wildest coloured krashnall silks and banners, mandering in colours that matched their riding birds.  Maya had said that they’d put on a show that people would respect.

The younger two ‘kulu, callow asses both. They’re probably glad of the uniform veil to hide their protruding teeth or receeding chins. He rebuked himself inwardly.  He’d been that bad when he was that age.  The one on the right opened the door of the post and then settled back on his side side of the newly fixed and newly painted door.  Milar work, since Lainz tended to leave all planks bleached white/gray.  The Milari touch of the wives and husbands was all over the little post, from the unregulation terraced garden on the lee wall to the vibrant colours painted on fence and walls and stones lining the path to the door.

“Perhaps later,” Raghnall said and swung down with a creak of leather.  His pack-bird squawked. “The surdeniliarch and his entourage are in my charge, enroute to pay their attention to the Most Radiant One.  Give them all honour.”

The old ‘kulu nearly fell over right then and there.  He knew the significance of the Milar warmaster going a visiting from both sides of the border.  “We serve, Emir-al! Borzoo!  Darab!  Attend the warmaster’s officers!  Get their birds settled and pump that trough full, jump!”

Rasheem they were not, but they were at least acting like warriors of Lainz once more.  The older ‘kulu’s eyes rested on Kyrus and Kyrus with a beady speculation that set Dukir’s warning signals off all at once.  He recognizes them, or one of them, at least.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

114 - Doing Squat But Bad

 Kyrus sat on his bedroll.  Thankfully, it wasn’t leather, though the drawstring of its leather carry-sack and the mouth of it were crumbling.  It was the remnant of the continuing mindless attack on any kind of protein that carried traces of his touch that had pointed out that it was a focussed attack.  All the straps on the saddle, the saddle itself, the hood on the bird, all of his leathers in his things had disintegrated, until Werfas’s clinery had blown the attack to bits.

I wanted to make a name for myself.  I wanted to be a warrior.  I’ve worked and studied and accepted all kinds of weird and odd things to get that name, and I find out I didn’t need to.  My father would have acknowledged me without me being a good warrior.  But I wouldn’t have found him, still alive, if I hadn’t done what I did.

The Emir-al and the Amir would have found me, in the Basin, and Milar wouldn’t have been involved. Da might have lived and died in that cave without anybody knowing it.  He sighed and poked at the embers of the fire with a stick. 

Hara lay asleep, rolled in hers across the fire with stepda’s bedroll empty behind.  Ilax was taking watch.  Everybody not on watch was asleep, like he should be.  Since Milar, he’d slept well.  It was at home that he didn’t sleep.

The spring running through the cave ran slow enough that stars and falling stars reflected in the pool they were camped near.  It was so funny, the warbirds that the Emir-al had brought weren’t used to all this surface water, even after weeks in Milar, and lifted their feet in funny dancing pats at the surface and plunged their whole heads into it if you let them.  They were all staked out with a chain run through their leg bands and asleep too, heads under wings or buried in neck fluff till all you could see was tips of their meat-hook beaks and squinched shut eyes.  One or two even gave off little tweeting snores more suited to a bird the size of a cat or a fluffy, instead of something the size of a man.

Who am I kidding?  The avalanche would have brought him out, whether I was there or not.  I might have gotten killed in the Basin, forced to join a boy-sex gang, or fighting not to.  Oltarios might have set me up as his secret mistress, until the law was repealed and then – he was a decent man – maybe acknowledged me as his male zardukar, even if I wasn’t trained at the school.  I wonder if they are accepting boys now?  I don’t imagine Mother Thriti would be so bigoted that she wouldn’t train boys for sex.

Most people don’t know about the secret classes you can attend, if you’re veiled like a girl.  But its dangerous.  Boys disappeared, probably raped and thrown off the edge if they were caught.  That’s what the gangs believed.  Safety in numbers.

And now?  Now I’m Siwion and my da is probably Kraganzh?  That’s scary as a world with no water at all.  That’s a scary as finding out that the CEO has found out that we’re all alive and contenders for ownership.
He’d probably pound us flat with ice from the moon.  He doesn’t want us alive.  The bombardment is probably enough to break through all the caves in the badlands and all the valleys in Milar are vulnerable.  Nadumar, Rumon, Charnan, Hippifrey, and Trovi... everybody’s vulnerable to gigantic chunks of solid water falling out of the sky.  We have no way to stop it.

I wonder if His Radiance has a way of stopping it?  His Radiance.  He’s my great-grand da.  Um. That’s just weird. 

I’m going to have to walk up to him and say ‘Hi, great-grand da, I hear people are trying to kill us to inherit the Great Hive and all of Lainz?’  No.  I can’t even imagine walking into the Sunrise Loggia.  I used to sit and look up at the big gates in the sun that glittered hard enough to make my eyes hurt.  You could see the tops of gigantic trees over the walls.  Trees that held water in the city.  Baskets and balconies crammed with flowers and bees, all part of making the planet good for us.  Plants and insects that turn this place into more like the home planet every day.

He lives there.  He’s the oldest man alive and I... what am I?  Kyrus Talain, the younger.  His blood.  They’re teaching me to do mandery.  I’m learning to be a warrior.  I’m my father’s son and HE has a reputation that any Basin rat would kill for.

He got great big brass ones he kin clang tagether w’ the Highest.  Endark!  Great big gold balls tah clang in any choob’s face ifn’ they give lip or hip. ‘n he’s hipper ‘n most.  He kin draw hip outta nuthin’ cut yah and let it go ‘fore yer red hitten the dirt an ‘vaporatin’.

His Radiance got even bigger uns. He kin hit yah w’ Hive ball size o’ birds wi’ all feather out.

Oh dark.  What am I going to do?  I'm nay siwion. Jess a Basin rat chitterin' flitterin'. They want me to be this prince, this siwion. I’d be inclined to just cut ‘em up tah bird feed, set new uns. Old uns doin’ squat but bad.