Shabina was marching with purpose towards the centre. Lavindra had been stunned when she had smiled at her. It was true that she was trying to distract Shabina, but she did feel a little guilty. Just as quickly though that guilt was swallowed whole when she focused on it. She, not Shabina would be Seleto. Her cousin was her rival Potential that was all…
Lavindra should have been the one to open the ceremony. She was not inferior to Shabina! They had a like-dislike relationship ever since they were children. One moment they were the best of friends and the next the worst of enemies. Their parents hadn’t exactly made it easy for them to get along. Still, she and Shabina had always found each other after the fights.
Until of course she had switched sides & they were both selected as Potentials.
All of a sudden, nothing else mattered. The Rhungs wanted Shabina to replace her father and the Wrazes wanted Lavindra to win in the next run for Seleto. She was their candidate. She would do whatever it took when the time came. Today was the very embodiment of that.
They had been told by their cliques to stop socializing with one another, and that they could only speak on official political or military business. The two parties had amped up their rhetoric and flung plenty of sluice at each other. Her scathing opine piece just published this week had hundreds of thousands of views. She had clearly laid out why Shabina would be unfit to lead.
They had no choice but to be rivals.
The loud commotion in the Chamber meant that Arsin and Billen had entered. She knew it before she saw them.
Arsin and Billen really wanted to take each other out, and not just for the Royligio and Vibulare they respectively represented. No, this had been simmering for years: it was intensely personal between the brothers. In her latest briefings it was clear that the personal conflict had effectively become synonymous with the Vib-Roy standoff. She was an only child, and had always wanted siblings, but maybe she was better off, if this is how you turned out. Why couldn’t the two of them just destroy each other already?
Lavindra’s vantage point was wide enough in the inner ring to see Arsin wink at Corina and Billen salute Thalina.
Corina and Thalina. Many people had dismissed their own potential. But her younger cousins were more than just beauty to be traded off like Jhael Shards. The problem was it was difficult for people to take them seriously because of their looks and because of who their sister was.
It was odd, because even though she was Inter Facet now sometimes the twins got on better with her than their own big sister. Maybe it was because everyone lived in the shadow of Shabina’s lines, well everyone alive anyway. Shabina could be difficult to get along with: so driven, she was completely about The MultiFacet all the time, but she often made no room for other interpretations on what was best for it. Lavindra knew that Shabina gave no weight of lines to Corina and Thalina’s future marriage potential outside The MultiFacet. Lavindra wasn’t so sure it was a bad idea, she needed to figure out a way to use those two properly.
Looking back at Shabina for a second, Lavindra’s eyes widened. Shabina had looked into the Religai and Secule stands, and there were tears glistening in her eyes. Why was she wasting water at this—
Lavindra felt a twinge of jealousy. She instantly fidgeted with her emerald green Potential Hood. She hastily pulled a strand of her in front of her face. It was green, the colouring was flawless.
She had always been line for line with her cousin. From politics to fighting there weren’t many cubits between them. Except when it came to him, she always won.
He was always the closest to her cousin growing up. Lavindra had never mattered to him. She had always been the third line in a dual pairing.
Lavindra could have her pick of any of them. Even from a young age, she could use Inter-Spectrum, making her one of the most rare and powerful users. Everyone wanted her, but Rydin had always pulled her lines the most.
She and Shabina had never fought about him, what was there to fight about? They both know who he had truly wanted.
Lavindra thought that when the two of them went separate ways she could fill the void. In fact she had visited him over three lyears ago after his parents had left to console him.
He was so distant, and it was difficult to get a response from him.
She finally lost her patience and had snapped at him. “I bet if Shabina was here you would talk…, oh wait you haven’t seen her in some time have you?! She wanted to rattle him but the look he had given her was one she would never forget. What exactly happened between them anyway at that middle point?
She had tried to apologize immediately, “I’m… sorry Rydin. I know you are going through a lot right now.” She regretted her words. How did he do this to her?
He tightened his lips as he spoke. “Why don’t you just leave? I have some work to do.”
He had just sat there looking at those stupid leaves. Yet, for some reason, she didn’t think he was moping, it was something else, but she couldn’t name it….
Danal had been an amazing lover, everything a woman should want (if you overlooked his dirty clan). Still the whole time she was with him she was fascinated with Rydin. Anything her cousin had she should have!
She was prettier, she had what it took to lead, she was a man’s dream was she not?!
Yet, Rydin wanted nothing to do with her. Even after Shabina and him were no longer together, she thought he would run into her arms. When she -revisited him again a lyear ago she had even offered him an official place as her Part-Time. A chance to move in with her and to be by her side as she rose down.
He slammed the door in her face. The sensation rush of wind she felt from the doorwaza was so vivid for a second she thought she was back in the moment.
She would possess him, and unlike Shabina she would bring him to heel. His brothers were the powerful ones, he should be thankful she was pitying him enough to give him some standing in life. She had even offered him a workshop to make that funny story of his.
Rydin was for later. Shabina was for now. The lesser Potential was desperately trying to take charge of the situation and command attention for The Multi Facet. Have some wherewithal cousin, slap them in the face! Damn Rhungs and their passive aggressiveness.
Shabina kneeled and the two brothers hesitated, instead they focused on one another. Such disrespect! However it was to be expected, the Vibulare and Royligio considered The MultiFacet a nuisance and only cared about defeating the other. The constant threat from those two was the only thing that could ever make the Rhungs and the Wrazes close lines together. If Shabina would acknowledge her as superior and concede the selection, Lavindra could utilize her in the fighting force she was envisioning.
She would be Seleto, and would remake the position in every line possible. Starting with the name. The InterFacet. It sounded so much better!
She smiled to herself. Screw this up Shabina.
Lavindra stared at Shabina.
Shabina stared right back.
Rydin Razi had done Full Spectrum. Never in a million lines would she have guessed it would have been him!
There was no way she was going to allow Shabina to have the first real access to him. The Separators in there didn’t count, they were just guarding him.
She could do Inter-Lining, Shabina Could do Multi-Lining, Arsin and Billen could Rotate Three Lines, and Danal could use Spectrum Absence.
None of them had ever been able to use Full Spectrum!
Hanslought asked Shabina, “Potential Shabina do you accept or contest?”
Lavindra knew this was a lose-lose for Shabina.
Contest her and they would have to go Line for Line, accept and they would have to share the Persuasion.
Lavindra would not feel guilty about blindlining her, Shabina had mis-stepped, albeit through no real fault of her own. Lavindra had to show strength in front of the Roy and Vib.
Arsin and Billen needed to know her power was greater than Shabina’s.
She was ready for Shabina’s answer.
“I accept, Master Hanslought, but I invoke Potential’s Privilege on both parties.”
Lavindra wasn’t ready for that.
Her father Pedram was outraged, “That is unacceptable, The Inter– I mean The MultiFacet have a direct right to know about the results of any interrogation. Lavindra looked back to see him seething.
She then saw Velut sizing Shabina up. Was that a bit of admiration she just saw?
Kaylin looked at Lavindra as if to say, what is your move?
Arsin and Billen, too looked at Shabina with respect. They were both thoroughly enjoying this.
In a split lycle, Shabina had gained the upper hand.
Lavindra had another trump, but she decided against using it here. It would cause her as much damage as it would Shabina.
“I accept the terms of Potential’s Privilege. Whatever information we discern cannot be shared with anyone.”
Master Hanslought addressed Danal (who Lavindra realized had been hanging back at the entrance almost like he didn’t want to be noticed, how odd), “Ah, Chaptain Danal there you are. Will you please open the cell for the Potential’s Persuasion by Potentials Shabina and Lavindra with Rydin Razi..”
Danal looked seriously caught off guard and alarmed (how had he missed what had just happened?), but he did as was told and walked past the two of them and rapped on the door that led to the cell area.
Out came several Separators each of them eyeing her and Shabina with disdain. Also out walked a lysician, Lavindra remembered Rydin had been dehydrated.
She hoped he was okay! Despite all the politics, deep down she wanted to see Rydin. Lavindra felt foolish, why did he always make her think about him, feel for him? She would have to fix this problem of hers. It was unhealthy. He was going to be her property nothing more.
Danal flourished his hand and said, “The prisoner is all yours, ladies. Last cell on your left.”
Shabina looked at Lavindra.”Well, Potential, what are you waiting for?”
My whole life to defeat you! She wished she had said it aloud instead of inside her head.
Lavindra joined Shabina and they walked through the doorwaza together.
… It closed behind them, and it was eerily silent.
Lavindra took a step forward. Shabina stuck her hand out, making her collide with it and stop.
Shabina didn’t look at her. Just removed her hand and said, “I know how you and your family have tried to use my failure to your advantage today.”
How does she always find everything out so quickly? Lavindra thought, frustrated.
It was true. After Shabina and Rydin hit the water, it was all chaos…but it was also an opportunity.
While Danal and Esbin had been busy separating the crowds, she had seen Rydin being dragged off by the Separators.
She had immediately followed them at a distance. As soon as she knew which holding area he was being taken to, she raced back and met her father who had exited the chamber shortly after her.
Immediately Pedram had sent out messengers to the Halak Council, saying that the Rhungs had failed to perform in the opening ceremony. It was a clever move, using the pages like that. With no communication prisms allowed in the Chamber, her uncle Seleto Pieroz did not have time to counter the message with his Communicators.
The message had spread like wild lines. The Halaq members were looking very negatively at Shabina, Pieroz, and the Rhungs. Further, the Pages made sure to mention that the intruder (Rydin) had come from the ceiling, which was the responsibility of Esbin and the Waleez.
Esbin and the Waleez guarding the roof had been ordered to wait in the Rhung Green Room areas for their failure.
Lavindra was defensive. “Don’t act like if the positions were reversed, you would have not done the same thing Shabby.”
Shabina sized her up, “I don’t need to cheat to win, Lav.”
Lavindra shot back, “You screwed up. I just picked up the pieces.”
Shabina was hardening by the lycle, “Oh and inzaming Esbin, and pulling Fakhir from his Well Guard position on the ground, to come up here is just “picking up pieces?”
Lavindra tried to muster a defense. “Fakhir was notified that he needed to be present to barrier between the Roys and Vibs with Esbin being sequestered.”
“Yes and how exactly was he notified, when you can’t communicate in and out of the Chamber?” Shabina demanded.
Lavindra hesitated, “Well, we had a Paige go outside the chamber and had him send a message.
“An unsecure message.” Shabina said. She was starting to intimidate Lavindra a little, with how much information she had.
Shabina clenched and unclenched her fist. “So now neither the leader of the Waleez, nor the leader of the Thabaz is guarding the Well! And the entire crowd must have seen Fakhir line his way up to the Chamber…. AND everyone watching the ceremony has realized that there has not been a light burst from the top signifying a winner.”
Lavindra was confused, “What is your point?”
Shabina didn’t answer but continued to walk forward.
Lavindra followed her quickly, and asked her again, “What is your point?”
Shabina kept walking, Lavindra reached out to grab her…
… but Shabina twisted her shoulder so she missed and banged her right hand into the cell.
Lavindra rubbed her hand in pain, water was seeping out of it.
In pain she called out to her cousin, “What is your prob-“
“If the two of you wanted me all to yourself, you could have just asked.” Lavindra was startled to hear his voice, despite being ready to meet him.
Lavindra had a retort ready but let it die on her lips. Shabina had a murderous look on her face. A look of Controlled Fury.
It wasn’t for her.
He was sitting on the floor, with puncture marks all over his body and water was slowly ebbing out in dozen areas. Rydin looked terrible, but he had an amused look on his face, like he had just discovered something.
Despite her earlier bluster, Lavindra was stunned. She just watched as Shabina walked towards the Green Bars and simply made them retract effortlessly. As soon as she stepped through, they blocked the way again. Shabina had taken the First Line with him again.
That was supposed to be Lavindra’s Line.