Wednesday, October 20, 2010

364 - Planning

I slept right through the night and Gannara coming in late. When the servant woke me up for training next morning I was sore everywhere and felt light in every limb as if filled with gas rather than flesh, as if my heart were turned inside out, scrubbed clean and turned right side again.  I stretched and crawled up to train with Kallijas, not sure if all this good fortune wasn’t going to kill me.
He smiled at me and set me to light stretching.  “Two days intense work in a row can actually cause damage.  Not to worry, Min.”
“Thank you, Teacher.”
“No need.  When you’re stretched do some running... then Sheng will done and you have some planning to do before you head off.”
Chevenga had come in one night before I had placed the advertisement in the Pages and we had thrashed out the first part of the raid.  This morning was the last planning session I could have with him present. Then I would have to go with the elite to try and kill or capture 2nd Amitzas’s Mahid.  Then Kallijas and I would have less than sixty days to win our election at the end of the 52nd last Year of the Present Age of Arko.  No problem. I swallowed and swallowed again, unable to get the sudden clot out of my throat
“Outer Jintila fessas couple seeking smooth-skinned boy for threesome, bottom preferred,” had gone out in the Pages and I needed to be on the south road of Jintila in two days.  By wing it could be done.  

From my stretching I could watch Kallijas and Chevenga sparring with each other.  Everyone was too well trained to stop and watch, focussed on their own work but anyone taking a water break watched.  The leader of exercise did have to call some of the pairs to order to pay attention to their own exercise.
The two of them were like light and shadow, the dark hair and the blond and perfect reflections of each other in skill.  I could feel the edges of their connection... just from the taste of it I had had yesterday with Kallijas.  His wife, Niku was there, fighting in the strange, ‘flying’ style the aNiah used and I found I couldn’t watch her move without reacting in a way I didn't want to.  The Imperatrix sparred topless.
I put my head down on my knees, looking down.  The meeting wasn’t to be long either.  Chevenga only had a short time before he had to be in the Highest Office for his first meeting and the raiding party had to leave this morning.
There was a cascade booth just at the stairs, for those training to rinse off quickly before heading down into the Marble Palace and I was just as glad there were walls between the cascade heads.  I couldn’t bear looking at Chevenga with no clothes on.  I had to resist wrapping my loins up tight again.  Surya had sent a note along with me yesterday, telling me to continue leaving the wrapping off. I'd found it on the dressing table this morning.
“How was your session with Surya?” Chevenga asked.
“Um. Good.” He laughed at the expression on my face.
“Knocked the shen out of you?” His grin was wry.
“Oh, yeha,” I said fervently and found myself trading a look of perfect understanding with him.  “Surya... I can see why he’s the Imperial healer.  I’m glad you’ve got him.” If he could not be on Haiu Menshir to finish healing from what my father had done to him, and did to him, then it was perfect that he had the best.
“Yes.  I am glad I've got him too.  We are both very fortunate.”
We went into the Blue Filigree room where Kaneka – who was the best Yeoli raid commander that Chevenga had—waited for us.  Kaneka was a Yeoli I couldn’t really read.  His face gave me no idea what he thought, except for the idea of killing the last of the Mahid.  I could understand his enthusiasm there.  He had light brown curls and his eyes were a light brown as well.  They had an intense stare and in some lights could be said to be almost gold. When he smiled he had a dimple in his chin that I noticed, not that he smiled much at me.
We sat down and Niku came in just then and we bent over a map of Jintila.  It was on a wide point on a little river by the name of Jabokkas. The town was on the south side of the pseudo-lake and there was only one south road.  It was why I had specified ‘bottom preferred’.
“We won’t know where their camp is,” I said.
“Or if they brought everyone,” Kaneka answered me.
“It’s 2nd Amitzas.  He’ll have everyone close,” I said.  “He might have let one out of his grip... the okas-trained Mahid... but he’ll want to have everyone he can clutched hard in his glove.”
Chevenga signed chalk, listening, he glanced out the window where it was still dark, barely silvering Rim dawn.  “The group will be a mix of Yeolis and Arkans,” he said. “Best dark-workers. Kaneka, you’ll be my second.”
Everyone stared at him as if we’d all died.  “Your second?” Kaneka said weakly. “Your second...?”
“Chevenga! You cannot, even if you are the best dark-worker!” Niku snapped.
“You want someone with weapon-sense there, don’t you?” he asked us. “Twenty-odd Mahid won’t be easy.”
“You’re... you’re you, Imperator... He Whose...,” I managed to say, I felt the blood drain out of my face at the thought of him hit with a poison dart.  Even weapon-sense could not avoid all of twenty darts, repeated firing, cross-fire out of the underbrush. “You’re far too valuable to risk on something like this.”
“I’d say that’s for me to decide,” he said. “We’d better come up with a plan that ensures a minimal risk, at any rate.” Oh Ten. Oh Ten. He needed me to do this.  And do it perfectly.
“It’s not even something critical, it’s just mopping up twenty Mahid,” Niku said. “You should leave it to people whose death wouldn’t be a national disaster for two countries.”
“It just needs a failsafe plan,” he said. “Niku, Minis, don’t worry. We’ll run over it a hundred times every way.”
I glanced at Kaneka who was looking at Niku who was staring at Chevenga, who looked back at her.  He could stand on rank as he always did and that would be it. Sing-song done, Flood Gates Open and all Run Home.
Niku put her finger over her lips, still looking at her husband. “Pehali, why do you want to do this?”
He said nothing and frowned. “To settle old scores?” I chimed in. He said a lot more nothing.
Niku sighed and said something I just didn’t understand. “Last chance.” I looked between her and him and then over at Kaneka and he didn’t know what they were talking about either.  Chevenga ran one hand through his hair, looking down at the blue marble floor. 
What’s going on here? He looks like a child with one hand caught in the sweet cupboard. I wasn’t sure what was going on here but perhaps it was because I’d just had such a shaking up by the man and perhaps because he’d just asked me about it... I opened my mouth and asked “I wonder... what would Surya say about this?”
His eyes snapped up to mine and locked on as if I’d become a target.  A target or a way out.  I had no idea what I’d said but it seemed to be the right thing.  Thank you Mikas for giving me the right words.  He jumped up.  “I need to go speak to him. I’ll abide by his judgment. You three do some more planning, I’ll be back.” 
The door clicked as he all but ran out and Kaneka said quietly... “Maybe this healer should be inside the Marble Palace security?”  Niku and I both nodded and then we bent over the map once more to do what we could before he got back.  We planned as if Kaneka were leading, hoping.
Chevenga came back three tenths later, shaken up. “I’m not going.  You’re in charge, Kaneka.”
A-e kras, he said, signing chalk.


  1. I love Surya. Even off stage he can install sense into the foolish.

  2. Heh. Off scene here. Very much on scene in asa kraiya! It's one reason his name means 'certainty'!

  3. Yeah, like I said, the weird shit that happens in ak is just starting to show up here.

    I love Surya, too. He was originally Shirley's character, in many RPs, but I ran with him in the process of writing ak, and he became very idiosyncratic in a way I created. There are three characters for whom I connect with my higher, wiser self, as best I can, to portray: Azaila, Sukala and Surya. But they're all different.

    <chevenga>Who you calling foolish!?</chevenga>

  4. WWSS
    What Would Surya Say?
    it totally needs to be wristbands or something.

  5. Putting that on our list of Fifth Millennium Store gear...

  6. Heh, I think I know how to make the jewellery!