May 23, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“There will be other races,” Saydrie offered cautiously. “And other times for you to go interesting places… with interesting people.”
“Hey!” Taikie’s wisdom was short-lived. “We’re interesting people.”
“We are. But, rumors about the nature of ‘teams’ aside, I do not think we’re the interesting people that Enerenrie wants to go to a race with, or, say… they say ‘down to the beach,’ right?”
Enrie’s lips twisted in something that might have been a smile. “If I don’t get expelled, there will be many years for going down to the beach.” She had a sinking fear that Gianci would not invite her again, and that he’d say no if she made the invitation.
“He was… Enrie!” Taikie sounded scandalized. “We could have gone to the library without you.”
“We do this as a team, remember? The last time one of us went off on her own when there was something interesting going on, it ended badly.”
“But we did solve the mystery! I don’t think we’re likely to get hit over the head in the library!” [muah-ha-ha].
“Nevertheless.” Why couldn’t Taikie have had this revelation before Enrie had done the right thing and turned Gianci down? “We’ve got a lot to do. Library after classes? And don’t forget to eat something now. It’s not going to be good if we all pass out from food exhaustion.”
“Yes, noble parent,” Taikie teased. “I’m sure we’d all fall over and die if it wasn’t for you.”
“That’s usually Saydrie’s job,” Enrie countered. “My job is to come up with clever schemes, and right now the next step in this clever scheme is that we all eat something.”
“I like this scheme,” Saydrie grinned. “More of our plans should involve food.”
“Well, let’s stop talking about the food and eat some? Before it’s all gone.”
They sat down at their normal table, which seemed empty and strange without Riensin’s team there. Enrie picked at her food, despite her advice to her teammates. Nothing seemed to taste good.
“So,” she made herself say, “we’ll start in the library. We’ll go to the treaty room first, and see if anything is left. There might be some references in other places… Folk songs and the traitor emperor, we should read about him.” She scribbled notes on the side of her biology notes. “They liked to hide things. Whoever ‘they’ was. Hopefully we find stuff before…” She flapped her hand.
“…before those awful people do,” Taikie finished, her nose wrinkled. “How could they…” She frowned at her plate. “That happens a lot, doesn’t it? What you said about the Traitor Emperor… It’s got to have happened other times. People just wiping information away.”
They’d talked about it before, but Enrie couldn’t blame Taikie for being upset. “That’s what we’re dealing with. Well, that’s the pebble we’re pushing down the mountain. It’s going to take a lot of pebbles, but one has to be first.”
“What if it carries us with it?” Taikie whispered. It was the fear that had been pressing at Enrie all along. “I mean…”
“Well…” Saydrie spoke slowly, his eyes on both of them. “Remember what Kitlino said in her presentation? They used to say that the best way to feed humanic aether into something was to bleed on it. The bigger the spill of blood, the more power, the more aether.”
Taikie went pale. “Instructor Talmizhaab’s Device…”
“And this project,” Saydrie interrupted gently. “If we bleed for it, maybe it will be stronger.”