Thursday, November 4, 2010

375 - Most Honoured Mother

“MINIS!” Kaneka. “Get her!  Get Inensa!” Thank the… I lunged down fingers reaching my broken shoulder twitched as I strained. She was sinking faster and I couldn’t reach her, my air burst out of my lungs in an eruption of bubbles.
I couldn’t… her hair, her braid had come loose coiled up and shedding pins, I seized it though it bit me, kicked for the surface, for the firelight glowing above on the other side where the air was.  I burst through, gulping gratefully, pulled the loop of hair, pulled and pulled and strained… she had to breathe… she was drowning…
There were others in the water all around me. All Yeolis, they could swim in their armour, all around, Riryaena, Vanyera-e, Biryaren.  Riryaena caught Inensa under the chin and towed her toward the shore. My eyes followed. Kaneka had ordered me to get her.  I tried to follow, my wrist still wrapped in her braid.
My hand bled into the water as I pulled myself after. “Minis, relax, float, let me help you,” Vanyera-e said. He had me by the sash and my belt and towed my limp, now floating body after Riryaena.  On the shore, standing in the water to his knees, Forlanas, Ilburas, Rurenas… the Arkans… reached to haul us all out. 
Forlanas lifted me and I lost sight of Riryaena pounding on my mother’s back, forcing water out of her lungs.  Mother don’t die. Don’t die. Thank you, Muunas, it’s Yeolis trying to revive her. They know how. I couldn’t see anything, turn my head to look at something else than Forlanas’s armour.  I hoped, vaguely, that the spike in my mother’s braid, had not been poisoned.  The yellow and red of the flames flickered, driving the darkness back, overwhelming the silver moon.  What’s burning?
There was a Haian medic along with both Arkan and Yeoli medic trained in the elite.  Forlanas took me into one of the tents and laid me down.  “Minis, rest. She’s safe… the women are safe and disarmed.  They’re unconscious.  They won’t be able to kill themselves before you can talk to them.”  I closed my eyes. They would have heard the Mahid call me the Spark of the Sun’s Ray.  Any number of people, Arkans, Yeolis… all knew who I was… and that Inensa was my mother.  They were elite darkworks and warriors… Kaneka had said… Chevenga didn’t want it babbled about that I was working with Him… I couldn’t think straight.  They’d keep their mouths shut, or they wouldn’t.
Someone was undressing me and I didn’t have to be ashamed to be naked.  Someone strapped the arm into the right position and great waves of shivering washed through me, even after I’d been wrapped up snugly, to warm me up.  The hand my mother’s hair spikes had pierced was swabbed dry… a pause… Perhaps someone was checking for venom.  Then my fingers were swabbed with something damp.
“Take this,” A Haian voice said, and my mouth popped open to accept remedies without my willing it.  “Close your mouth and rest until the Accedence wears off.”
All around I could hear the wrap up happening.  Bodies being counted, stripped, stacked up to be dealt with later.  Inventory of what the Mahid had.  Distant screaming and crying.  Joyful?  More women.  More than the women I’d recognized.  Who were they? Hostages? No, that would be too stupid for words.  Even 2nd Amitzas wouldn’t risk exposure like that, would he?
I didn’t think I would sleep but things went away for a time.
Joras stumbles to a halt next to the fire.  I can see the small fire, deep in its hole.  The flap above is angled but still holds enough smoke to make my eyes sting.  “Joras. Put him down. Here.” 2nd Amitzas’s voice.
Joras sets me down. I am rolled over onto my back, limbs flopping. I stare up, helplessly staring at the dark, smoke-stained flap and there is motion to one side. 2nd Amitzas’s face comes into my field of view.  Did I dream?  Did I pass out?  Where are the elite? Where is Kaneka?
“I prefer you lying there, Spark, while you learn how I shall punish you for your disobedience.  You will learn that I am truly your teacher and that all of this misguided softness is your nightmare.  You are the Spark of the Sun’s Ray and you will be upon the Crystal Throne with my strong guidance.  Insult to me is inconsequential, though you will regret having defied your just and honorable teacher.”
He reaches out and lays one finger upon the broken bone in my chest and pushes gently. Pain radiates all through me but I cannot scream.  I have not been told I might.  He raises his fist and I know he is going to strike me there.  He smiles and pauses.  “No.  That might harm your function.”  I want to put my rage into my eyes but I know my face is blank under the influence of the drug.
“This forzak, barbarian ugliness will be purged from you.”
I turned my head, no, no, it hurt my chest and my eyes opened as I strained to open them.  A dream.  A dream? Was I dreaming?
It was daylight.  Which fight had happened?  Had Kaneka and the elite won or had I been dragged in front of 2nd Amitzas?  I was in a Mahid tent.  All the fittings were Mahid.  I could smell burning meat and hear voices… a lot of voices.
The Accedence had worn off.  I managed to sit up, slowly and the Haian… I had forgotten his name. Akminchaer?  Yes… Akminchaer rustled over from where he’d been examining… my mother.  “Stay sitting.  You have a broken clavicle, the remnants of Accedence in your system, bruises, contusions, scrapes, your hand… luckily the spike that went into your palm was not envenomed….” He didn’t wait for a response from me but rattled on about my inconsequential injuries, beginning to examine me, while I peered around him, over his shoulder.
She was in restraint, gagged, her face pale as marble but she was breathing.  Her eyes were open, looking back at me.  “Akminchaer… my...” He didn't know.  “Inensa... the woman there… is she all right?”
“Oh, yes. She is fine.  Somewhat stressed as are all the women but they are all alive, all well, including the pregnant ones.”
“Pregnant? I wasn’t imagining that?  How is Joras?”
His quiet face grew sad.  “Yes, there are several of the women carrying children.  Joras is still alive, but he has not wakened.  Stun and Accedence together in one system… we do not know if he will wake.”
“I will pray hard for him.  His loyalty is above reproach.”  My head felt as though 2nd Amitzas were pounding upon it with his spiked gloves.  My words weren’t for Akminchaer’s ears.
“The raid leader wished to know when you were awake.  I shall tell him and get you something to eat.”  He bustled out and I leaned forward to put my face in my one hand.
“Inensa Mahid.  I know I am your son, whether you believe it is right or wrong that it be acknowledged. Before the High Gods, Muunas and Selinae, I am your son and I request that you consider swearing to the current Imperator.”  I couldn’t look.  I couldn’t see how she was taking it.  “Your father… my grandfather… expressed his wish that his most correct daughter finish her assignment and return to her familial base.” The Mahid phrasing came very naturally under her dagger sharp gaze. 

She was gagged and trussed tight enough in wide bands of fabric, torn sheets it seemed, that she could not move to try and slaughter herself or anyone else.  “I shall be attempting to rise to the Crystal Throne in the next few eight days.  Only you and the Imperator and the man who would be my Regent know.”
I looked up at her. How had I never seen that her eyes were the same as those regarding me out of my mirror every morning?  “May I request you at least not kill yourself until I have either succeeded or failed at my attempt? Nod to answer, yes, or no.”  She was staring at me, fixed. I had the image of her closing eyes falling away from me in the lake, one laid over the other. At least this time she was breathing. “Most honoured Mother?”


  1. “Your father… my grandfather… expressed his wish that his most correct daughter finish her assignment and return to her familial base.”

    Yes! THAT is how to appeal to your Guerilla-Commando-Mama!

    I love Guerilla-Commando-Mama!