February 26, 2016 by Lyn
So be it
Threaten no more
To secure peace is
To prepare for war
Jamian woke early; someone was pounding on Ty’s door. He shook Ty awake gently and padded over to the doorway, remembering to pull a robe on at the last minute. No wonder Ty left them hanging on the back of the door!
Shiva stood in the doorway, her hair sloppy, wrapped in a robe as well. “The air’s going sour again, and I’m wearing myself out Working back to breathable. We need to go talk to Administration now.”
He nodded. “I’ll get some pants on and be out.” And maybe someone could help him figure out what he’d done. He’d just been trying to help.
“Good idea.” Shiva slipped away; he closed the door and got dressed hurriedly.
“Did you hear that, Ty? We need to get out of the room before we pass out again.”
Shaking the sleep from his face, Ty stood up. Naked. Jamian took a moment to stare at his Keeper’s absolutely gorgeous body, her perky breasts and firm pink nipples, her flat stomach, her, ah, his… He coughed and, blushing, finished getting dressed.
Ty chuckled softly behind him. “I heard her. A pity, too, but there’s time later when it won’t kill us.” He snaked a hand around Jamian’s waist. “Maybe?”
“Maybe,” he squeaked. It was sounding like less and less of a bad idea. Especially when he could think about it happening “later,” not “right this instant.”
“I can live with maybe.”
The whole crew was gathered in the living room, looking, as a rule, thoroughly grumpy. “I don’t see why we have to come along,” Magnolia complained. “We weren’t involved at all, except for victims.”
“Then don’t,” Shiva shrugged. “You three-” she gestured at Magnolia, Phelen, and Nikita “-can go bother Anwell or something. The three of us are going to talk to Dr. Regine.”
“Shiva?” Nikita whined. Jamian noted, with a little amusement, that the boy was actually surprised, and, possibly, just a little hurt.
“Or come with, Niki, it’s your choice, but we’re leaving now.”
He dithered for a moment, then, looking nervous rather than sullen, followed them out. First to the Director’s office and then, when that gained them nothing but a view of the rather ominous-looking scorches and stains on the floor, down to a sub-level that Jamian had never been to where, he was told, Dr. Regine and several of the professors and staff had apartments.
He didn’t have to guess at which apartment was the Director’s: the door was open, and the sounds of people shouting echoed through the hallway. Shiva marched up to the open doorway like there was nothing at all wrong and banged on the door.
“Dr. Regine,” she called, “we have a problem.”
“Got enough of those already, kitten,” a voice called from inside. Shiva smiled in response, a sharp thing full of teeth that made Jamian shiver. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that Niki and Ty had the same response.
“Sorry to interrupt, but this one tried to kill us.”
“Come in,” the Director’s voice cut over the argument. “All of you.”
In the posh living room, Luke, Doug, the Thorne Girls, and the big gruff Viking man were milling angrily. At their center, Regine stood calm and pristine; on the couch, the buff, usually-angry-looking Taro slumped, looking barely conscious. “What is it, Shiva?”
“We have a small environmental issue in our suite,” she answered. “All the oxygen was turned into carbon dioxide.”
“Suite One?” Luke frowned. “That Working should have been dismantled years ago. What were you doing?”
Jamian was more than a little nervous in the face of all this anger. “I was trying to do a jasfe.. on hugr for Kailani cy’Regine; she was all broken up and I wanted to make her feel better,” he babbled, “but I said jasfe… and then the next word came out wrong. And I tried it again, and it came out wrong again.”
“What did it come out sounding like?” Luke sounded much calmer now, and Jamian found the space to breathe.
“Frodleikr?” It had that teeth-shattering resonance to it that eperu sometimes did.
Luke shook his head and glanced at Regine. “It’s clearly a Word, but it’s not.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “When we’ve contained the current crisis, we’ll have to speak to Professor Drake about it. Shiva, if your crew can wait a few moments for us to work out a battle plan, we’ll send someone to fix the current problem in your suite as well.”
“Thank you, Doctor Regine.” Seeming to take that as an invitation to stay, Shiva plopped down on a corner of the couch and pulled Nikita into her lap. Taking that as a cue, Ty tugged Jamian down on the couch next to them.
“I don’t see why we’re sitting around arguing about this at all,” the grizzled Viking grumbled. “Track down the beastie and kill it, wham, bam, done.”
“Well, there’s the small problem that it’s holding two of our students hostage,” Luke answered tiredly. Jamian swallowed a gasp. Hostages? “If we just dive in, we run the risk that he’ll kill them outright.”
“And what do you think he’s doing while we sit here and jaw? Serving them tea?”
“Yes, Aelfgar, I’m a timid, naïve little girl who thinks the Nedetakaei dragon you brought into our school is going to be gentle with the students he abducted.” Next to Jamian, Shiva gasped quietly and held Niki tighter. “But I don’t think going in without a plan is the way to do it.”
“Track it down. Scout its lair. Tag its escape routes, then rush it, task two members of the team to get the hostages out while the rest take down the beast.” Acacia’s voice was frighteningly cold and businesslike; she sounded like this was old hat to her. How much older than him were the Second Cohort?
“She’s right,” Doug said, supporting his student. “Although I’d put three on hostage retrieval, two to carry if necessary and one to guard.” He didn’t actually look at the Thornes as he said it; he didn’t have to.
“Oh, hell no, not that again,” Aelfgar shook his head. “We are not taking untrained children out on a mission of this magnitude.”
“They’re hardly untrained, and I have no intention of sending them into direct combat with the dragon.”
“Thanks, boss,” Acacia muttered, but she was glaring at the old Viking, not at her Mentor.
“Don’t you people have any men who know how to fight around here?”
“Fuck, Alefgar, give it a rest. I’d rather have these women at my back then any six of the boys here. Now can we stop bitching about the team and start bitching about the plan? If we don’t come up with something soon, Shahin and Emrys are going to die of old age before we get moving.”
Jamian blinked, startled. Shahin and Emrys? The pale little Victorian girl and her punk boyfriend? He twisted to look at Ty, who was looking pale and angry.
“All right, all right. So can your seer do that trackie thing over air and long distances, or do we have to do the old-fashioned pain-in-the-ass way?”
“I can track a Mara over the entire country,” Allyse said with quiet pride. “I think I can track one lousy dragon. Although… it would be easier if I had Finnegan.”
“What the hell is a Finnegan?” Aelfgar grumbled. Jamian wondered why she wanted her boy along. To carry her bags?
“My Kept,” Allyse answered, at the same time Acacia said,
“I thought you were big bad warriors?”
Acacia rolled her eyes. “She’s a seer, a Cassandra, you daft old man. You saw her in the hall. Finnegan’s better at keeping her on track when she’s on a scent.”
“Well, then, go get him. Let’s get going before it’s winter.”
“No way,” Doug retorted. “No civilians on the battlefield.”
“We’ve got it,” Massima interrupted, sounding as impatient as everyone else. Jamian wondered if the seer thing – Cassandra? – if that was why Allyse had seemed so out of it when they’d stopped by the other night. He shuddered. He didn’t know if that was better or worse, to have a Keeper who wasn’t indifferent but was just not there, tuned out.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Ty murmured in his ear. “I’m here.” That was far more reassuring that it ought to be; he settled back into Ty’s embrace.
Luke nodded brusquely. “All right, so that’s you, me, and Doug on attack.” He pointed at Aelfgar as he talked, clearly wanting to get on the road. “So Allyse will get us there, then we’ll attack from the front while the Thornes get the kids out the back. Are we good?”
Dr. Regine nodded crisply. “It sounds like a functional plan. I trust you, Luca.” Jamian was surprised at the strain in her voice; she’d always seemed like the perfect ice queen.
“Good.” Luke, too, sounded different – friendly and gentle, for just a moment. “I’ll get them back, Regine. We’ll bring them home safe.”
For all the bitching and arguing going on, there was an air of desperation hanging around the adults. Jamian didn’t know what a Nedetakaei dragon was, but it sounded as if “safe” wasn’t really what anyone believed Shahin and Emrys would be. He wished there was something he could do.
“Thank you.” Regine murmured. “And, Luke?”
She meant some sort of benediction, Jamian was sure of it. But Massima cleared her throat uncomfortably, pulling all the attention in the room suddenly to her. “Um, guys?” She was holding up, cautiously, as if loathe to touch it, a twisted silver torque. “Where did Ambrus go?”