March 14, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Aronaraariennie was relatively easy to find. She was in the common room for her floor, working on a Device with two other Engineering House students.
Enrie had visited the common rooms of upperclassmen in Diplomacy House and found them posh and full of books. She probably shouldn’t have been surprised to find Akaizen House’s Fifth-year common room was half a workshop, with pipe fittings and tools filed as neatly as books and scrolls were filed in Diplomacy house. The furniture had all been pushed to the other side of the room, and one student was trying to study while all of his floor-mates were swearing creatively at the Device.
Taikie studied what they were doing for a moment, then grabbed a wrench and carefully stepped in. “I’m here on your left, Gotlie.”
They paid her only enough attention to tell her what to do. Valves were turned. Pipes were joined. Someone poured a red fluid into a deep beaker while Aronaraariennie very carefully placed a blue stone the size of her thumbnail into what had to be a custom-built casing for it.
They checked with each other over a few more places, and then carefully, and as in sync as if it were a dance, all the engineering students stepped back from the device.
Enrie found herself holding her breath. A moment passed, and another. Nothing happened.
Aronaraariennie and the too-skinny boy with the very long braids who had to be Gotlie both laughed. It had the giddy sound of too long spent staring at a project.
“Well,” Gotlie quipped, “there are a lot worse reactions than ‘and then nothing happened.’”
“‘And then we set the room on fire,’” another student quipped.
“‘And that’s how I have no eyebrows,’” offered another one.
“We can try again tomorrow.” Aronaraariennie pointed at a valve. “Gotlie, make sure it’s off, and Marzio, disconnect the stone.” She turned her attention to Enrie. “Hello, cousin.”
Enrie bowed as perfectly as she knew how. “Hello to you, cousin.”
“Oh, knock it off. I’m not Olisama or her ilk and neither are you. I’m Aronnie and you’re…”
Enrie was pretty sure she knew. “Enrie. And you know Taikie, and this is Saydrie.”
“You three certainly make an impression. Olisama says you called her a traitor.” Aronnie smirked about it.
Enrie didn’t bother to hide her relief at the smirk, or her frustration. “Olisama needs her ears cleaned out. She’s just angry because I talked to the staff about the cheating issues.”
“I imagined it was something like that. And something about a personal challenge?” Aronnie’s eyebrows went up in silent interrogation worthy of Diplomacy House.
“Well, I told her not to lay her hands on me anymore. I told her it very clearly.” Enrie smiled humorlessly. “If she takes that as a challenge, well, clearly she’s planning on hitting me again.”
“Clearly. So, what can I help you three with? I doubt you came here to look at our Device.”
“It’s a very nice-looking Device,” Enrie offered politely.
Aronnie laughed. “Diplomacy House for sure. Yeah, I believe you didn’t challenge Olisama. You’re too tidy for that. So why are you here, really?”