The Trials of Slaves, Chapter 79-80

The Umevan Estate gets heat for the winter. The FSA runs into problems.

Chapter 79.

The Umevan Estate.

The first heavy snow had fallen, the lake was frozen over and Stadlee was in the transmuter control room for an annual ritual, starting the transmuter up at low power. He turned to Otto and said, “Pull the rods, fifty percent.”

Otto turned the wheel, and gauges moved on the control panels. When the needles reached fifty percent, Otto stopped. Looking over the gauges, with everything running smoothly, Stadlee turned to Naertho, Chompers and Vaeril and said, “We are set for another winter.”

“Why run it now?” Naertho asked.
“Heat. We can heat all the villages on low power for the winter. We can also shut the dam down for maintenance without turning the power off. That way we avoid ice in the turbines and can shut things down without putting people in the dark.”

“You do know that there are people in the Fellowship and the Republic that don’t have what everyone here has.”

“I hadn’t.”

“In a way, I didn’t fully understand my father’s dream until I saw this at work.”

“We are set for the winter in any case. Now my job starts.”

“We can bring people in to help you with the dam.”

“I know, but it’s still going to be a big job.”

Naertho smiled. “That will keep us out of temptation.”

Nistra looked at Tilly and said, “Why do you do this?”
“I did something a bit stupid and this is my penance.”

“What did you do?”
“This is complicated, but I helped Tad get kidnapped when he was in Zirgoccol.”

“Why did you do something like that?”
“Boredom and selfishness. I wasn’t exactly a good girl. Frankly, I am happier here and I have some people that I care about.”

“I have seen you with Stoneflower.”

“That is one. The problem is that we have to wait our turn for the wedding.”

“There are that many?”
“Yes. In any case, the housework is not overly strenuous, I am not posturing for others and this is far from Zirgoccol.”

“Not all that far.

Tilly laughed. “I know. My cousins came up here for vacation with their friends. The portal in Innshys does have some disadvantages. Let us get this done.”

“These machines make laundry much easier.”

“They were a bit of a shock when I started. I had assumed that this was a backwater and instead, we have all this.”

“When do you think that Durlan will come for me?”
“When he can, I am sure.”  
 The Hall of the Justiciars.

Gander and Folas grinned as Llag came into Gander’s office. Folas said, “You got the big one!”
“It wasn’t me. You called in the major and the Richflights? That hardly makes sense.”

Gander laughed. “That wasn’t me. I just sent a discreet message to my grandmother. Apparently they did the job.”
“Yes they did. Very well, actually. The good news is that Durlan has a lady.”

“So, tell us what you found,” Folas said. “By the way, I am glad to have you and Yralissa back and Galen will be really glad to have you back.”

Llag groaned. “You handed him another trainee, didn’t you?”
“Yes. It keeps him occupied and he appreciates you more when you return.”

“Ok, I arrived at Bubul Kil and things were pretty much as the brief you gave me said it would be, Gander. I got a job as a machinist and helped the Haven with their projects. I want to talk to some people about that, but that was secondary to what I was there for.”

“Was the Protector covering for the Haven?” Gander asked.

“Almost certainly. He had been responsible for the steel mill project being shut down and while he did not arrive until things were ending, it was evident that he was keeping the rest of the clan in the dark about things going on there. He made some mistakes, not least of which was underestimating how stubborn the Umevan were. Apparently the Umevan were perfectly willing to keep a steel mill on the books, idle, until things changed. When things did, they moved right in and got to work.”

“What was Jorge up to there? He has raised a bit of a storm in the Republic.”

“He and his grandfather showed up and removed the thing that Dúhael was there to look at. It was sent to Astaire with some other things. Apparently Dúhael didn’t know that the building was leased by the Umevan. So the thing was sent with the rest. What did Jorge do in the Republic?”

“I should send you and Yralissa down, but Folas will be upset if you go there for an extended time.”

“I won’t be, but Galen will,” Folas said. “He’s the one stressed out now.”

“In any case, Jorge performed one of his pranks on what most of us in the Republic call a termite mound type,” Gander said. “At least that was what we called them when I lived there and if what my grandmother sent means anything, that hasn’t changed at all very much. I sent some people down as part of an exchange for the major and the people my grandmother sent. Apparently the Director of the FSA has been toadying up to the termite mound types and annoyed some people.”

“Who did you send?”
“Bill, Syllia, Tom, Naexi, Julien and Elen.”

“Good choices. Here are the pictures I took and the long report. I gave the short report to my uncle, the Home office and intelligence.”
“All of them?”

“They hauled me over to the office and were all together. So I didn’t have a choice. Any case, here’s how things went.”

Llag gave his brief and as he was finishing up, Kelvahn came into the office with both Dumag and Kulgha. “Good, we caught up with you all. Kenia wants you all, with your families at the estate this evening.”

Llag looked at his uncles and said, “How did you show up right behind me?”
Kulgha grinned. “I went to Dumag’s office with an invitation and he mentioned that you had just left. We got the plane to Ishendell, picked up our wives and ported here. I want to know more about Bubil Kil.”

“I guess that everyone does.”

“Yes we do, Llag,” Kelvahn said. “Especially how you caught the big one.”

“It wasn’t me.”

“You didn’t do it personally, but you were the Justiciar that was there and provided what others needed. That is what we do. The important thing is that you pushed the case forward in a big way. That was a true accomplishment. Let us celebrate a victory.”

Zirgoccol.

Qambois looked at Nathan and Yrvien and said “You did not return right away after you completed your mission. What happened?”
“Mother,” Yrvien said. “She wants to schedule things with Nathan’s mother, so we had to arrange that.”

“That is fine. I take it that things went well.”
“We retrieved the objective,” Nathan said. “Jorge’s people were dropped in without a hitch and the retrieval went off perfectly. I don’t think that anyone in Bubil Kil knew anything other than airplanes showed up. We arranged a cover with the Umevan afterwards with Beinan’s flying aerial photo flights for them. That should cover the flights, and Jorge wasn’t seen by anyone else.”

“Excellent. Nathan, your mother is the perfect excuse that we need right now.”

“What for?”

“Sarya wants some discreet assistance. The Director of the FSA has bungled handling the Stewards and the Stewards have actually started to use the Primaries they have.”

“That’s not good,” Yrvien said. “Has there been any sign of Primaries being here in the Fellowship or the Kingdom?”
“Not as of yet. That was a consideration. The events during the recent election and the five cities being closer to home may have forced any fanatics underground. In any case, I want you to assist Sarya and your family and see if you can see how the Stewards are operating. That will give us a head start in looking for such things here.”

“Then we must discuss wedding with my mother,” Nathan said. “If other things come up, that does happen.”

Chapter 80.

Ironton

Shael was indulging in the luxury of having endless books to read when Rilldia came into the parlor and said, “I think that somebody is following Nat and me.”

“Are you sure?”
“I lived in the Lower City and you get a feel for that. If I were home, I would tell the house mistress, who would tell Tony and that would be the end of it. That is unless it was Durlan.”

“What did you do about Durlan?”

“Go to Lady Jessen’s and talk to his sister. That worked amazingly well, but some girls, the slaves from overseas mostly, were afraid to do that.”

“So Durlan’s sister works in Lymseia Reymyar’s House.”

“Yes. She is one of the lady’s top courtesans. Of course, she keeps her family out of it, or did. She would be the next Imperial Mistress if the Emperor did such things.”

‘That is interesting and did you tell Lady Orizana about her.”

“I hadn’t thought of that. Of course Nat and I were rather distracted.”

“Before we get too distracted ourselves, I think that I need to make a call. Jorge’s grandmother told me to call if I thought I was being followed. It might be somebody working for family.”
“I spotted those right off. This isn’t them, it’s somebody else.”

“Let us make the call then.”

When Ara came to the phone, Shael said, “Rilldia thinks that she is being followed.”
“She is. We have people watching them as a precaution.”

“Not them, she says. Some new people.”

“Ok, let me make a call, and then we can go to lunch and do some things.”

Shael grinned. “That sounds wonderful.”

Jorge looked at Frank, Tolly, Vince, Chris and his cousin Bill and said, “All of you together?”

“We’re the fourth year committee,” Frank said.

“The what?”

“Every year, the fourth years are expected to pull off something around graduation. It has to be big, visible, make the papers and be unable to trace back to the college and the students who pulled it off. We want you to help us with ideas.”
“Why?”

Because we know that you don’t like the termite mound types any more than the rest of us do,” Vince said. “You also have experience with pulling off amazing things.”

“No portals if we can help it.”

“Why not?” Tolly asked.

“Too easy to trace back to us, here, and the Beinans might get upset if somebody thinks that they did it. If we had Charlie here, things would be different, but he’s going to college in the Fellowship next term. Who is your target?
“The Societies at Beltain.”
“The Societies?”
“They are clubs that have houses on the plateau,” Bill said. “If you are a member, you have all sorts of connections. Of course, you have to go to Beltain and be initiated into one. Low lives like us wouldn’t have a chance.”

“What about the old families?”
“They have their own house, but they don’t have initiations and it is only so that family members going to Beltain don’t have to live in the dorms,” Vinnie said. “Family members going to the Plateau can stay there too, so it acts as a hotel for the families as well. It’s called the Residence.”

“So you want to hit the Societies on the Plateau?”

Frank grinned. “Actually, we want to hit them at their big beach party at the break. Ironton had a party last year and for some strange reason, the Stewards showed up and busted things up a bit.”

“Where is the Societies’ party this year?”

“Ishendell.”

“Isn’t that expensive?”

“That’s the point,” Vinnie said. “The snobs want to rub our noses in how much better they are by doing things we can’t afford.”

“The Beinans did it. On the other hand, most of the family is on the northern continent and they make airplanes. I suspect that the Societies are all renting villas on the beach and not the hotels. Have the reservations been made?”

“Unfortunately, yes they have, if I’m thinking what you are thinking.”

“Reserving the villas that five day, you mean. Yes, I was. Which Society is Derry Gilders a member of?”

“We can get that for you,” Frank said. “Of course, that is if you are in.”

“I’m in. The idiots just made a big mistake.”

“What was that?”
“I have a LOT of friends in Ishendell. Also, Ishendell is one port away from all sorts of resources. Vinnie, your Uncle Tony is going to love this. So will your Uncle Andy.”

Vinnie laughed. “Shearing the sheep, you mean? That’s not a prank, that’s just business.”

“That’s business. There’s no reason that it can’t be both. On the other hand, what they don’t know is going to make them look rather ridiculous and if I had been Derry, the LAST place I would want to be is Ishendell after annoying me.”

Vinnie and Joe were stuck on another fruitless day following the couple that had come down with the target when Joe suddenly had two men step out in front of him. He looked at them and said, “Would you mind stepping out of the way?”

“We might, if you tell us why you are following the ladies.”

“That is none of your concern.”

“It is, actually.”

Joe pulled out his badge. “Go away or you are interfering with a Federal investigation. I can have you hauled in on an obstruction charge.”

One of the men raised a camera and the other pulled out a notepad. “What’s your badge number and the case number, special agent?”

“I don’t have to give you that information.”

“You don’t, if you go away, special agent. Otherwise, if you haul us up on charges, we will need that information and the warrant that allows you to tail the ladies. The magistrate won’t be happy if you play games in his court. Of course if you bust us, you have to drag us down to the court, the magistrate is going to have to be called and it might take all day for you and your buddy to clear the paperwork. In the mean time, my boss will be talking to your boss about little details like probable cause and warrants. It looks as if the ladies have moved on, so have a good day, special agent. I would tell your boss that you have been made and that tailing people without warrants can get you in a lot of trouble. You’re new in town, but I thought that your boss wasn’t an idiot.”

The two men left, leaving Joe standing there.  Looking around, the ladies were gone as well. Vinnie showed up and said, “You lost them.”

“We’ve been made. Two heavies showed up and held me up enough that the ladies got out of sight.”

“We could go after them.”

“I think that we were set up. If we push without a warrant, our heads will be handed to us. Let’s go back to the office and file a report.”

“We could bust the heavies for obstruction.”
“I think that was what they wanted. Since we don’t have a warrant as yet, they can tie us and the office up for days probably, clearing the thing out and we still lose.” 

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