“Shabina, what troubles you?” said a voice from behind her. Shabina had hoped to escape from having this conversation, but her mother was so persistent. She realized she was gripping several of the prisms on her wristlet tightly, a little too tightly. She always felt comforted when her fingers ran over the smooth surface of the green resin, but it was always mixed with sadness when she realized that soon it would be no more. She could hear her laprtintarys chiding her in her head. They would always make her a new one. But they were all custom and so much care had gone into faceting them, the resin having been procured 3 lyears ago and left to age. They had all been created…
“Nothing, Ammi,” she replied hiding the look of exasperation that had bloomed on her face. Shabina didn’t want to engage, but her mother could not be denied, and Shabina turned to see the matriarch of her family emerge through two large trees, scattering green leaves to the ground. The green of the leaves on the floor matched the green of both Shabina and her mother’s Shalmeez. Her mother was so stylish, her long gown flowing around her, as if it was some kind of dazzling extension of herself.
The ring of trees formed an excellent barrier, separating the inner part of the Mediation Chamber from those seeking to look through its clear dome structure. Shabina wished the ring could have kept her mother somehow in the centre, but it couldn’t be helped. She Middled herself and looked up as the light from outside refracted beautifully through the chamber glass, casting a green glow that permeated through her.
Shabina reminded herself that she was that green light.
She fidgeted with her Potential Hood, which partially covered her hair and chest and turned to face her mother. In her most insincere voice she simply stated, “Nothing, Ammi.”
Nothing the perfect Azaleen Rhung would understand anyway.
Her mother put her hands on her hips and gave Shabina the look: a cross between a pout and a request.
“I know that tone,” her mother said, “you think that I simply won’t understand.” She gently took the Hood and readjusted it more stylishly. Seeing a partial reflection in the glass, Shabina had to it admit that it now looked better. Somehow her mother’s simple draping now cascaded around her head, neck, and chest. Where it was flat before it now had waves and ridges, elegantly fitting the occasion.
Shabina was never very good at the drapery part of all of this, and always felt insecure in these moments. She wished her sister was here.
“Come walk with me,” her mother said, moving without waiting for acknowledgement.
Shabina shrugged and fell into lockstep. They began to walk clockwise around the circumference of the chamber. Shabina’s mother walked on her right, and the glass of the chamber was on her left. It was slightly disorienting, as the Chamber was rotating counter clockwise around the current spout from the Well of Life. It seemed like she was walking backwards.
Shabina couldn’t help but marvel at the scene unfolding around her as she looked down. The Well Dome that has recently been constructed was absolutely packed in a sea of colour.
From the Western gates, the Royligio were queued. Pressed so tightly together, their Red, Orange, and Yellow attire was blazing like the sun at its Zenith.
While from the Eastern gates, the Vibulare were condensed in their Blue, Indigo, and Violet clothing. They reminded her of the colour of the sky when the sun was setting at its Nadir.
It had been an absolute daymare to issue so many FOMA entry permits to everyone wanting to attend. Beyond the current Well Dome stretching throughout the current Well Meeqat and into the Refuge Meeqat that surrounded them, hundreds of thousands of people from the Royligio and Vibulare were awaiting the opening ceremony.
Of course, not everyone could attend, and the millions of Royligio and Vibulare were watching from their home fragments. However, of those lucky enough to get here, some were luckier than others: the uber-elites. They were inside the World Water Council Chamber itself. The elites who were a class lower were stationed outside the Chamber in their floating fortresses: much to their displeasure but still on a higher vantage point of the Well Dome. Of course neither the Uber Elites or Elites would dare set food on the ground of the Well and Shabina felt a brief flash of anger at that reality.
No, the lowest class of both the Roy and Vib would be on the ground of the Well area itself. Shabina wondered whom the Ultra-Elites and Elites despised more: the other side, or their own poor.
Yet despite being mistreated by their sides, the poor of each side were the most fiercely loyal to their own Facets. The tension and electricity in the well was undeniable, the Roy poor were chanting, the Vib poor were drumming, the sounds crashed into each other: a haunting harmony.
If it wasn’t for a thin line of people -in light green of course- dividing the floor into two on either side of the well, Shabina was sure she would see a melee break out. She smiled with pride thinking about the Waleez on the ground representing The MultiFacet. She just as quickly frowned at the ring of people -dressed in dark green- guarding the well spout itself. Of course they would not risk themselves and had picked the plum position around the Well. Those damn Thabaz! All they cared about was looking better than her forces.
Her Waleez were ready to defend the Well AND protect the people from themselves. The Thabaz only cared about their own welfare. Of course they would when they were led by such uncouth people.
The Well. The reason why everyone was here, of course.
At the centre of the circle of Green Thabaz was a massive black and white cube that rose into the air, the Well Cube as it was known. She always marvelled that despite being a temporary structure, it was amazingly constructed each time. She recalled her early lessons drilled into her. The Well Cube was the protective house the encased a Well Spout on four sides, and was open at the top to let forth the lifestream of this world: water. Flowing upwards from the Well was a giant geyser that emitted from below and shot skyward. The geyser was encased in a giant green cylinder of spectrum today, and so what should have been a deafening roar of water was almost inaudible.
Shabina followed the movement of the water with her eyes, as it flowed upwards from the Well, past the large round coliseum floating above it, past the chamber she was in, and up through the clouds where it would pass the Sanctuary Meeqat (she cringed), on its way to The Multi Facet Meeqat.
Today’s configuration was for show as the green cylinder didn’t actually go through the Chamber but was split to give the false impression that it went through it. Because today was for show.
On most other days, the configuration of cylinders would be so complex and large it seemed overwhelming. It needed to be of course. Shabina knew the water would then be distributed through her city via a network of waterways and then off to the Royligio Fragment and Vibulare Fragment. What little was left got to go back down to the Refuge Meeqat.
Shabina looked again at the crowds on the ground and bitterly thought about who wasn’t there: Those who had the greatest right to the Well, yet were the last to get its water. Each year, these people were being absorbed into the ranks of the Roy and the Vib, and it was The MultiFacet who was to blame for it.
Technically The MultiFacet didn’t govern them but as the Seleto, they would be her responsibility. She remembered her lessay. The same lessay that had been part of her Potential’s Partition Theses. It was her finest work and she had passed with all the lining colours, to this stage. She briefly smiled at thinking about the unique way it had been created, the resin folded to resemble a prism. When it unfolded it expanded to show so much about Dunya. She had nicknamed it her pop up prism. Everyone had told her it was a silly name, but she hadn’t listened to them, and her Theses committee was beyond impressed with her unique method of conveying the knowledge. Take that haters. She had gotten the idea from someone else though… She shook her head to clear it.
The division between The MultiFacet and them was worsening. She needed to halt the evaporation of a relationship just as tenuous as the one between the Roy and Vib.
She laughed bitterly to herself. Just like the directions in this world and the literal ground itself, everything could change: just like that. Everything that seemed so constructed, could just evaporate in a millycle. It boggled the mind to think how the world had found a way out of the chaos. No! How her Facet had brought them all out of it.
Lost in frustration, Shabina realized that she and her mother had nearly walked back to their starting point, and neither of them had spoken. Shabina’s gaze lingered on the coliseum directly below. Her future would be shaped today in that coliseum: The World Water Council Chamber. The two chambers usually floated at the centre of The MultiFacet Meeqat far above, but this was the opening of the World Water Council Session, and so both Chambers had descended.
“Are you nervous about today, Didi?” Shabina’s mother asked, finally breaking through her solitude. She always used Shabina’s nickname when trying to get information from her eldest daughter.
It always worked.
“I am not nervous, Ammi! I have been practicing to open the World Water Council Session on my own for over 3 lycles.” Shabina knew she was coming off sounding defensive but forged on, “If I am to take over leadership of The MultiFacet from Father, then the Royligio and Vibulare Facets must each respect me for my own leadership and not because I am his daughter.”
“You are my daughter too.” Her mother’s face looked wistful at the mention of her father, Pieroz, who was of course the most important man in the world. She quickly smiled again, hoping Shabina hadn’t seen. She had.
“I know I am, Ammi,” Shabina replied, “but what is bothering me, is that the sides are so volatile and lately, all you seem to be concerned about is who Corina and Thalina will marry!” Shabina couldn’t hide the frustration in her voice.
“Oh I see,” her mother said quietly.
Shabina rushed to say, “Mother I am not jealous, so please don’t go there again….”
Her mother put her hands up. “Don’t put words in my mouth, dear.”
This was a very sore topic between the two of them.
Since her sisters were 13 lyears old they had offers for their hands, not just from The MultiFacet and InterFacet, but from the Roy and Vib as well. Her father had rebuked them all, saying the girls needed to develop their own identities. Yet the requests had not abated and Shabina knew the Royligio and Vibulare would love to claim either girl or both of them.
Shabina feared her sisters would be seduced by the power and influence that their marriages could bring.
Her mother continued. “Thalina and Corina are free to make their own decisions. I have explained to them that we will not force them to marry anyon-“
“But we both know that they don’t fully understand the consequences, it is not like they can just come back to us if they leave!” Sisters or not the rules were the rules! She wouldn’t make exceptions for them.
Their first duty should be to The MultiFacet not to wild thoughts and fancies, they are impressionable and only 20!”
“Oh, does being 24 lyears old make you a sage, Didi?” said a voice behind her.
This was quickly followed by another identical voice.
“Yes, big sister, please tell us why the single princess has a right to lecture us on whom we should marry?”
Shabina turned into the face of beauty. Well, two faces. Her twin sisters Corina and Thalina had light green eyes that left many a man sputtering like a faulty line spout. They had both highlighted their blonde hair green. Thalina had cut her hair shorter, while Corina had let hers grow out. They were identical except for the beauty mark Corina had on her left cheek and Thalina had on her right. Shabina was always mesmerized (and self conscious) by how beautiful her sisters were: they had gotten their light skin and features from their mother. Unlike her.
The relationship between Shabina and her two younger twin sisters was complicated at best, and combative at worst. Shabina didn’t always come across to them as the big sister they wanted. Rather she was the sister they needed. Shabina was completely skeptical that a marriage alliance with the Royligio or Vibulare could be beneficial for The MultiFacet, but her sisters and mother seemed convinced this wasn’t the case. It made no sense, but she seemed to be fighting a losing battle!
For as long as Shabina was focused on leading The MultiFacet, the twins were focused on showing her that they were her equals, no better. So much so that they were willing to throw away all their hard work. Shabina had tried and tried to make them understand, but the more the Royligio and Vibulare showed interest in them, the more set the two of them seemed to become in contesting her at every turn.
Being second in command to her wasn’t something that interested Corina or Thalina. She needed them on her side, but that seemed to be the last place they wanted to be these days.
“Ammi we don’t have time for this,” Shabina said, growing impatient.
Before her sisters could retort, the trees rustled loudly one more time and the most commanding presence Shabina had ever known strode through. Her father Pieroz was a rugged and handsome man and had brown eyes and semi-dark brown skin. He also was a giant of a man. Shabina got those features from him (well, minus the giant part!). He was like some ancient hero come to life: people agreed to whatever he said before his mouth ever opened. Pieroz was well aware of that, and used it all the time. Now was no different. Her sisters and mother left their sentences unfinished.
“Yes, Azaleen, the entire chamber is filling with all of the delegates and we cannot be late,” Pieroz stated matter-of-factly. Her mother and father passed a look between them that Shabina could only describe as affection mixed with resentment.
“And as for who the three of you girls will marry, I would love to give you all away because you are all headaches!” Ever the diplomat her father was.
“They are expecting the Rhung sisters inside the Council Chamber, deliver on your potential.”
Saved by the well! Shabina thought with a feeling of relief. She quickly ducked through the tree barrier back towards the centre of the Mediation Chamber. Before anyone could catch up to her, she stepped on the centre platform and descended below.
This conversation wasn’t over but it would have to wait.
Everything else would wait.
Shabina stood poised as her father announced her. His voice was muffled, but that was because she was behind two large doors measuring 60 feet high and 20 feet across.
She had a fleeting desire to hide forever behind the doors and hide from everyone else, but she obliterated that thought. She chided herself, this was what she had worked so hard for! Suddenly, the doors swung open and she could hear her father’s booming voice from the Seleto’s perch directly above her.
“And with great pleasure, I present a vision of the future. This year’s Opening Ceremony of the World Water Council will be conducted for The MultiFacet by Potential Shabina Rhung, accompanied by her sisters Thaling Rhung, Liase Understudy to the Vibulare and Corina Rhung, Connect Apprentice to the Royligio!”
The Chamber broke into applause. The Royligio and Vibulare would be on their best behaviour here of course and would pay her every compliment, even if they didn’t mean it.
Shabina stepped forward and began to walk on the ramp that led to the centre dais where she would begin the ceremony. Thalina was to her left and and Corina was to her right, having already entered through their gates. As she walked past them they started to walk behind her. Despite the pressure of the moment, Shabina surveyed the chamber around her.
It was divided into 6 equal sections, and each section had a lower and a higher seating level. To her right in the red seats, were the Religai the most powerful of the Royligio. On her left in the violet seats, were the Secule, the most powerful of the Vibulare. Next to the Religai were the orange seats occupied by the Faithai, and next to the the Secule were the Atheste in the Indigo. Directly in front of her line of sight, yellow and blue seats completed the ring. The yellow seats belonged to the Spiritai, while the blue belonged to the Agnoste. Historically, the 6 groups had been distinct, but after Fragmentition, the Religai had formed, (or rather coerced) an alliance with the Faithai and Spiritai to form the Royligio Facet. The Secule had retaliated by manipulating the Atheste and the Agnoste into an entente of their own: the Vibulare Facet.
Shabina saw Jair and Zana sitting right next to each other, well as closely as they could of course. Jair was in the Agnoste section, while Zana was in the Spiritai section. The Spiritai were the least stringent in their beliefs and the Agnoste the least vehement in their reasons. Their “sub-facets” as they were now known had good relations even after the war. Jair and Zana were a living example of it. Shabina smiled quickly at each of them and they both blushed, neither looking at the other.
The chamber was a work of art; the intricate line work of the interior was only matched by the natural beauty of the Freshta Trees that grew in perfect harmony. Not allowing herself to look for too much longer, Shabina continued her walk towards the centre. Corina and Thalina continued like shadows behind. They would only follow her so far, and despite their earlier argument, she did feel reassured having them there. She dared not look back towards her father because that would be perceived as a sign of weakness by the Royligio and Vibulare, and of course by the Wrazes. Lavindra would love to gain any advantage over her. The scathing opinion piece that Lavindra had written just prior to the ceremony was par for the course. The MultiFacet and InterFacet diplomats, political elites, and the prism wealthy were seated at the exterior of the ring around the centre dais with water in between them. It was a symbolic show. Also there were the neutral Halaq (as the key influencers were known), on the interior of the barrier that separated them from the Royligio and Vibulare seating above and elevated outside the centre ring. It was meant to say we protect our own.
That thought brought a laugh to Shabina. The Halaq were always determining and rating who had the best leadership potential. Her father had held the leadership for the Rhungs as Seleto, however his brother Pedram was the Oppose for the Wrazes. The Rhungs and the Wrazes had no love lost between them. The Wrazes were betting that Lavindra would unseat Shabina when the time came for Pieroz to step down. Lavindra sat inside the water ring in front of Jair and Zana. Repeating facts she knew was how she kept calm. An old habit but she could always rely on it in pressure moments.
Lavindra fixed Shabina with a smile that never touched her cousin’s dark green eyes, of course she had coloured them for the ceremony! Lavindra’s Potential Hood was styled over her green hair in an intricate pattern (of course), the way it draped over her chest too seemed light and airy. Shabina felt self-conscious about her own simple draping and was thankful for her mother’s earlier adjustments. Her cloakshall felt very heavy all of a sudden. How she despised her cousin! Lavindra was always trying to play games like they were kids again. Shabina always found herself forgiving Lavindra for all her antics back them, but it was different now. They couldn’t be friends anymore. Besides, Shabina would rather have a Zulfi for a friend! Shabina knew that her reaction was being watched. She gave a genuine smile to Lavindra, and the shock on her cousin’s face was priceless.
Yet Shabina’s victory was short lived. At that moment, the buzzing in the Chamber grew louder and to her right she saw a herald rush from the side entrance of the Royligio. To her left, a herald rushed to the side entrance of the Vibulare.
They practically tried to shout at each other.
“MAY I PRESENT TO YOU, THADRO AND VELUT, REASONED LEADERS OF THE VIBULARE, AND THEIR DAUGHTER MIMEEN RETURNED!”
“ANNOUNCING, KAYLIN AND JESLE, BELIEVED LEADERS OF THE ROYLIGIO, AND THEIR REUNITED SON, ZIAN!”
The chamber exploded in noise (far louder than it had been for her) as the Royligio and Vibulare sections tried to outdo each other. The Halaq too were applauding loudly, the nerve!
Shabina tried to settle the jitters that were re-emerging. Zian and Mimeen’s separation was still hard for her to comprehend, even after all this time. As she quickly risked a look back to her left and right Shabina’s eyes misted for a second, and she didn’t quite stop but sort of dragged her feet, slowing her down. She quickly blinked away the tears that were forming and made sure her feet came clearly off the ground. Corina and Thalina were nearly level with her and she kept quickly pointed her face straight ahead so they hopefully wouldn’t have seen her loss of composure. If other saw it, it couldn’t be helped. But her sisters could read her and she didn’t need the distraction from them. She needed solitude. She could not-no would not lose focus, especially not for him!
Fortunately for her, the heralds were still trying to out shout one another.
“… AND OUR BASED SELECTION FOR THE VIBULARE FACET, BILLEN RAZI!”
“… CONFIRMED FOR ASCENT FOR THE ROYLIGIO FACET, ARSIN RAZI!”
All the heads in the chamber were swivelling their necks back and forth to look at the two men coming through their respective entrances. The crowd went even louder somehow. Billen Razi and Arsin Razi. Again stupidly Shabina couldn’t help looking around the chamber for a split second. Had he chosen a side? Stupid girl, she berated herself yet again. Not now. She didn’t care anyway… Yet why did she feel pleased that she didn’t see him in either group?
Arsin was the charmer: he had entered waving to the crowd. He had darker skin than hers with wavy hair, and he gave a special smile to Corina who practically gushed back! He did look supremely confident in his Royligio attire, prism dangling over his heart.
Billen was the formal one: he strode in with his right arm positioned perfectly, resting on his shoulder. He saluted Thalina, who recklessly saluted back! He was light skinned with shining silvery hair. Everything he did was with an air of intent and he looked poised with his prism in his headband.
Instinctively, Shabina touched the prisms on her arm. It was time to take charge.
People were rushing over on each side respectively: to congratulate Kaylin and the Royligo, his bulbous frame and smirking face making him look ever the sly leader, while his wife Jesle stood with her hands clasped seeming almost apologetic in the moment.
All the while, Velut nodded in triumph along with those in the Vibulare. Her never-wavering stare was intended to strike intimidation, while her husband Thadro looked more interested in surveying the setting, aloof to the occasion.
The crowd was not settling down, neither were her sisters. The Roys and the Vibs were playing a game and Shabina was not going to get caught in it. Arsin and Billen were not proceeding down their walkways as they were supposed to. Instead, they were basking and soaking in the applause.
There was so much hype around those two brothers! People were forgetting that she was the third side of this equation: she knew she had to take charge! She straightened without looking at either of her sisters. She didn’t need to look back to know that this small gesture had wiped the stupid smiles off their faces. Shabina didn’t need to speak. Corina and Thalina knew that she was going to “own this”. They would go no further, and she knew they would be none too pleased about not being able to walk to the centre to meet those two. Tough! They were daughters of The Multi Facet and needed to start acting like it: whatever the future held…
Shabina strode forward to the centre with purpose. The chamber had been prepped to amplify in this spot, so when she spoke her voice carried to the rafters, silencing all else.
“Madames et Monseiurgs, Aurath aur Mardh, Ladies and Gentlemen of the esteemed World Water Council. It is with great pleasure that I open the 131st of the World Water Council Water Negotiation Sessions.”
Her words filled the chamber and a pin drop silence hung after. She had caught the Royligio and Vibulare off guard because they thought she would wait. The MultiFacet did not wait!
Billen who was stationary, looked right at Shabina, his face intense. Arsin, bouncing on his feet looked downright angry. Billen straightened himself up and walked on his path over the water towards the centre from his entrance near the Secule. He spoke, his voice monotone but full of command.
“The only power in this world is in the understanding that there are None Save Us. Those who dismiss this reality have shuttered their minds, leading to their delusion. Reason To None!”
When he saw his brother move, Arsin had moved forward immediately from his entrance near the Religai seats, on his own path to the centre. He did not even wait for Billen’s sentence to finish before proclaiming his own statement and said:
“Salvation and success can only come from following the divine guidance of the One Creator. Those who reject this gift have closed off their hearts, resulting in their downfall. Believe In The One.”
Just like when they were growing up, she had challenged them. Well not exactly. Back then she was defending someone else. Just as always, they would respond not just to her, but to each other.
She arrived at the centre moments before they did.
In a flourish, she swept her cloak onto the ground and kneeled. “In the name of The MultiFacet, I am the Middle. To be the voice in the world that stays the hand of hatred and prejudice, words to solve but force if necessary to resolve. Royligio and Vibulare…”
… “ You Can Stay The Middle?”
Their words were like knives.
Hers was the shield.
Neither of these two brothers would ever get the best of her.
How had he done it?
He had dropped out of the sky, right in between them and everything went white.
Full Spectrum. The tool of the Waterist!
He had ruined everything!
One second all eyes were on her, the next she was sitting here in this empty chamber looking, well looking like a fool.
In the aftermath of the chaos she hadn’t had a chance to speak with her father, but she didn’t need to. As soon as she hit the water she knew at once she had completely missed the opportunity.
He had set her up to look strong, and she now looked anything but. Everyone had seen her be pulled out of the water. She could have gotten herself out! Why did he have to help her? Shabina was shaking.
Arsin and Billen had been blown elsewhere, but hadn’t suffered the same humiliation. Lavindra must have loved every second of it!
“Arsin and Billen” she mused to herself.
When she had come out of the water, Thalina and Corina were nowhere to be seen. Shabina knew Corina would go chasing Arsin as usual. Thalina would go attend to her diplomatic duties without hesitation.
She supposed she shouldn’t feel like a second line, after all had she not always told them to put themselves fully into their responsibilities. Still, couldn’t have they have waited even a fraction of a lycle to see if she was okay. Would she have waited for them?
The water kept dripping onto the floor, she was like a human puddle. She stood up to let the remainder of it fall from her clothing. She twisted the fabric to expunge the wetness as she walked.
She twisted it very hard, imagining it was his arm.
It felt deeply satisfying, much more so than if her clothes had been Lining Attire, which would have made it unnecessary for her to remove the water herself.
The water continued to drip making a soft sound that was matched by the equally soft thud of her feet walking off the Centre Dais.
“Shabina, listen to me: you are born to lead it. I believe it. I reason it. It is going to happen!”
“You don’t need me anymore, I know I am just dead water to you.”
“Here this is my collection of bottles, see all seven colours just like you use.”
“They aren’t stupid, they mean something to me. You mean something to me!”
“I promise when I finish Nardvale you will be the first one who gets to read it!”
“You know what? I don’t want you to read it after all, especially since you think all I do is waste my time.”
“Could you show me how your Prism Works?”
“I did not STEAL your Prism, why do you always accuse me when your stuff goes missing!”
” Look, maybe you need to treat your sisters, like you know, sisters and not just pieces of the line. It’s not their fault for your loss.”
“Don’t insult my brothers, you don’t know anything about them! I have to save them I have to save them!”
“The dependants have never been happier, we care for them when no one else does.”
“We made a world for those dependants together, and now you are just leaving and limiting my access to them!”
“So with all of the people you could be with, including him you are sure you want to be with me?”
Thud… Thud… Thud…
“Go ahead, Seleto, take me out then. Put me out of my misery if you must. Because my vision is greater than anything. You can’t sustain yours. I would rather be with her anyway!”
Her eyed widened. What was that last-
She collided against a strong solid mass. She felt a little awkward as her breasts crushed against…
She looked up, caught off guard for the second time in this chamber today. Staring at her with a deeply concerned expression was a very handsome man.
“Shabina, I am sorry…” he said, “I had just stepped out from the side entrance and didn’t see you. Are you well umm…okay?”
“Yes I am fine.” Would everyone keep reminding her of what had just happened? Wow her breasts were really hurting right now. She had absorbed too much water and they were now much bigger, just what she needed!
For a split lycle neither of them said anything.
He looked like he was at a loss for words, but he nodded in his affirmation.
She spoke quickly, trying to move past this awkward moment. “I need to go find out what just happened, in person, I will go speak with him.”
Danal shook his head once, “Shabina, my Separators have him. He was saturated after falling in the water. You will get nothing of value from him. If anything, who knows if he will repeat what just happened? It is not wise.”
Shabina didn’t take orders, even nicely wrapped ones. “Danal thank you for the concern but he interfered with my ceremony and-
“Shabina, he is unstable!” The concern was gone and had morphed into….
“ENOUGH DANAL, NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS!” she said through gritted teeth. “Do I need to make this a Potential’s Directive?”
Danal became expressionless in reaction to her rebuke.
She softened a little in reaction to his reaction, “I truly appreciate the concern, please direct me to where he is being held.”
She smiled, hoping it wasn’t too late.
But it was. In an instant, Danal had become Chaptain Danal.
“They are holding him in Detention Centre 3. I actually should be there right now, and it looks like you may have someone else to accompany you, Potential”.
The last word dripped with formality. He gave her a tight-lipped smile, and slightly nodded his chin up to the space behind her.
Shabina looked back and smiled at seeing Sitara walking towards her.
She turned back to thank Danal again, but he was already sprinting off. He hadn’t even waited. She had this notion that there was something she should have asked him… Something important.
Shabina puffed out her cheeks and exhaled.
“I know you are going to say you are okay, but don’t start with me!” Sitara admonished her.
Sitara looked past Shabina to where Danal had just exited.
“So how awkward was that?” Sitara raised her eyebrows…
Shabina felt better than she had all day at seeing her best friend, who just happened to be her Potential’s Person.
“Awkward.” He had always made her life awkward.
Sitara laughed as she ghussed the last of the water from Shabina’s own clothing without asking. She regretted the waste, but she had business to attend to. She stood up straight and marched towards the exit that would take her fastest to the detention cell.
Sitara hurried to stay beside her….