April 11, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie was carrying on a conversation, but at the same time, she was deep in thought.
There was more to the issue than just a simple cheating problem. Even if she didn’t go into anything other than the cheating itself, the matter would be complicated and risk offending several powerful people via their children. And the more she started thinking about it, the more complex the problem got.
She brought herself back to the conversation at hand. Saydrie and Aronnie were discussing a particular royal woman who had been the ambassador to the enclaves when Saydrie was back home.
“No, I don’t think she was dishonest.” Saydrie was frowning deeply. “But she was very strict. It may be that Ulunumani is just trying to keep up with her mother’s expectations. I do not think she recognized me,” he added. “I know she is taller than the last time I saw her, and she looks quite different in her uniform.” He plucked at the hem of his tunic. “I suppose I do, too.”
“Compared to Bitrani drab?” Aronnie nodded. “Of course you do. So – you think that this is not an infection but just a symptom?”
“If we change metaphors one more time I’m going to get dizzy,” Taikie complained.
Enrie chuckled. Taikie had this habit of complaining when things got too far from engineering for her. She was more than capable of keeping up with them, of course; she was probably the smartest one on the team. On the other hand, right now, Enrie was a bit lost.
“So Ulunumani is the cousin who was backing Olisama on the cheating? The Martial House One?” she tried.
“That’s her,” Aronnie agreed. “She’s dangerous, but only in a distinctly physical way. She’s not all that clever and she doesn’t have that many allies. It’s why she follows Olisama around.”
“And when it comes to the cheating…”
“You didn’t implicate her. Yet. Because, I assume, you didn’t know her name?”
“Well, she didn’t admit to it, either. She just stood there.” Enrie frowned. “It was clear what she was doing, but you can’t very well say ‘a royal person – probably – overdressed and in Martial House colors’ when she doesn’t introduce herself and doesn’t step forward.”
“Ah. So that’s why.” Aronnie nodded slowly. “I had wondered if you were protecting her – or protecting yourself by protecting her. That makes sense.”
Enrie couldn’t help but hide her surprise. “Protecting myself by – oh. Oh, you thought I was trying to avoid her end of the family being angry with me.” She shook her head. “No. But I will talk to her. Do you, um. Do you think she’ll be willing to talk?”
“She probably thinks the same thing I did,” Aronnie admitted. “So she’s probably waiting for the other shoe to fall.”
Enrie frowned. “Well, that will make talking to her interesting. But maybe I can make it work.” She looked out the window, where through the small panes of glass you could see the rest of the school. “I wonder about the other problems, too. I mean…” She fell quiet, guiltily, and only barely managed not to look at Saydrie.
Aronnie coughed politely. “One problem at a time, maybe? If you pull all your levers at once, you’ll never figure out which one had which result.”