Inensa leaned down to adjust her left faib skate. The fans of the Onyxine Razors sat raptly in the stands, watching the Mahid girls team warm up. In her whites, with her hair braided tight, she looked like every other Mahid woman on the team. She was sitting as second back up, the seventh woman on the team.
She wasn’t truly up to the skill that the girls had cultivated with all the focus and dedication of Mahid men, but sitting on the bench supporting them made her feel good. It was so unlikely for the 'mysterious seventh Mahid woman' to be the proper and decorous Dowager Imperatrix that no one had even been close when guessing who this new player might be.
Jorasa soared up out of the bowl and settled next to her on the bench. “Go in, 'Nesa!” She tapped the back of her glove on Inensa's shoulder.
She swooped down into the bowl, doubled braid whipping out under her helmet, thumping against her back. She found her face stretching in what charitably might be called a grin as she fitted herself into the pattern of passing and weaving and firing the disc at the goal, swooping up and back and between, ducking one disc, jumping a second, catching the third, darting between Amitza and Borasa.
She missed her first shot on goal and her second, but by the third she soared up, over the edge, feet higher than her head faster than she'd made it before and somehow clawed the air and felt the goal behind her as if it glowed. She made her shot and the fans cheered, even if it was just practice.
The team needed three more players. Four if she was truthful with herself. She knew she was the least, but Goddess Selinae it felt good. It felt good to be moving and moving so fast, stretching her muscles as hard as the precision dances hammered into her as a girl. Her self-made wind felt as though she had wings.
“'Nesa!” Coach whistled her out and she turned herself out of the practice pattern, onto the edge for several slow laps to cool down, before settling back to her place on the bench.
The coach was pressing her to allow other aitzas girls and some solas to try out for the Onyxine Razors, ad she knew she would allow it. Her father had, in effect, given over the management of the women to her.
Her father sat in the stands, up and back, to one side of her. He watched the practice, letting his bespectacled gaze slide over her as any other of the team members. She didn't do more than glance at him with the usual Mahid impassiveness.
She was shocked at how tired he looked to her. He was a very old man but he usually didn't show it so openly. A faint thread of words came to her ear from him, pitched exactly to reach her and go no further in the noisy, rumbling, cat-calling whistle filled, echoing bowl. “See me, after. You do well, First, to so stay ahead of your charges.”
“I hear,” she said, her lips barely moving, looking straight ahead. “Have you slept?”
“Irrelevant. Duty,” he said.
There is trouble enough to worry him, to keep him awake, possibly for a full night or more.
She stood up, flexing her shoulder. “Coach! Minor injury!”
“You're out, 'Nesa. Hit the cascade!”
“Yes, coach!” She gathered up her helmet and the towel she'd used and glided around to the door under the stands. No more playtime.