So what if her salute was not quite the right decorum? Billen had saluted her after all, and she was merely returning the respect that he had shown her. Amongst all of the people in her life, he was one of the few who actually made a great deal of sense.
No one was going to protect them. She had to be able to protect herself and The MultiFacet, did she not? The odds of the Royligio and Vibulare going to war were somewhat staggering. Didi kept espousing this idea that if somehow you could keep the sides apart forever, it would only remain a stasis war. Thalina was skeptical that The MultiFacet could truly keep it stasis.
She and Corina had not been sitting idly by all these years while Didi was training to lead. Thalina was the official Liase In Training for The Multi Facet to the Vibulare. Cor was the same, but Connect to the Royligio.
Yes it was true that she and Billen had exchanged a great number of ideas. They hadn’t spent time together in childhood like Rydin and Shabina, but that was a good thing considering the way those two had turned out. Billen was mature and sensible about how he approached things. He did not want to destroy The MultiFacet. The Royligio were extremely distasteful to him and to her in actuality as well.
Billen had often been dismissive of her Living with Contradictions philosophy. It was hard to have an argument with him, as many of his points she had thought hard about herself. For Billen, the choice was clear: either you were sensible and Reasoned to None, or you were stupid and Believed in One. There was no Middle ground to him. He had wanted her to Revert, to join him in the Vibulare. Yet she would have to give up her family, her hard work, and her current worldview. It was a lot to ask, but she didn’t want to end up like Didi who had invested so much time in someone and had just one day snapped the line. It perplexed her, why put in so much time with someone and then end it?
Rydin had left an imprint inside her sister’s head. It was beyond mere emotion; he had always challenged her thinking. Thalina knew that as much as Shabina found Rydin frustrating, Didi lived for that challenge. He scattered her when no one else could make her lose focus, not even her sisters.
When Thalina challenged her sister, Shabina was always a step ahead, yet Rydin the rambler could somehow unsettle the Potential. Perplexing!
When they had separated, Shabina was incoherent for days. She began writing down notes (actual notes!) about some stupid character named Nardvale. She also heard Didi talking to herself about ‘how she knew exactly what being in a relationship meant’. It was extremely sad and puzzling at the same time. There was only one other time in her life that Shabina had been so rattled , but even Thalina didn’t want to revisit that period.
Shabina eventually recovered, and then turned her drive up several levels. Of course insisting Corina and Thalina redouble their efforts to secure their future positions in The MultiFacet. Shabina knew about her interest in Billen, and Cor’s in Arsin, but as her big sister was not in favour of her sisters leaving The MultiFacet, Shabina refused to entertain any conversations on the matter. Shabina could only see one thing in front of her…
Yet for Didi, winning the selection for Seleto was no guarantee. It would be a close future selection. What role would she and Cor play? Would they even be in The MultiFacet when it happened?
It seemed stereotypical, but her twin felt the same way about being left behind. Yes they were different, (after all look at Cor’s less than suitable choice in a man!), but Thalina knew that Cor didn’t truly want to live in Shabina’s shadow. They were both disappointed when Fathin had selected Shabina as the one to be pushed for Potentialship. Thalina shouldn’t have been disappointed: was there ever any doubt about who the “Seleto” wanted to succeed him? None.
She supposed their father had spared them in some way though. If he had selected her or Corina to be Potential, the other may have become jealous or vindictive. Sort of how they felt about Shabina now. They would never know though, as that opportunity had passed.
Yet the stakes were exponentially larger than the relationships of three sisters. The real question was where could Thalina make the most impact in life? Was it in The MultiFacet or the Vibulare? The Roy were ludicrous and not an option, even if Cor did join them.
It was fine to talk about Living With Contradiction, neither rejecting or affirming The One or None, but it had taken a toll on her and she couldn’t pretend it didn’t. She wasn’t Shabina.
Looking at her big sister, Thalina could see that Didi was asserting command, situating herself in the middle of a fight that had been brewing for years. Billen and Arsin had real problems with one another, it could not be denied. Would those problems become her problems?
Shabina straightened, and Thalina snapped out of her rapid series of thoughts.
Thalina looked at Shabina readying herself to march. Why did Didi have lingering looks into the Royligio and Vibulare section, could she be looking for… no not possible. Her sister was over it.
Shabina left them behind on her way to the centre, clearly wanting to show her sisters that she was better than them.
Billen marched to the Centre to meet Arsin.
They were ready.
Decision, decisions, decisions.
Thalina was feeling very confident as she surveyed the room. It was a stylized reception area that led into the holding cell. Everything that The MultiFacet did was elegant when it came to resin decor: the floating chandeliers, the lush brown carpet with flecks of black making rows and patterns. A person would think they were about to enter a fine dining hall, not somewhere where prisoners were held.
The cells were through the doorway, but it had been decided that this impromptu meeting, would be held here before Rydin was brought in. It would have been severely cramped, all of them trying to talk to him in his cell.
A group of Separators were standing guard and not allowing people into the holding cell. Technically, Separators did not have to answer to anyone in The MultiFacet or InterFacet, although if her father or uncle had insisted on going on, Thalina would have liked to see the confrontation.
Thalina looked again at the impressive assortment of people who were assembled in the room. They were tucked away deep within the World Water Council Chamber. The chaos that would be unfolding outside was for a moment stayed.
No one was talking to anyone.
The Royligio, led by Believer Kaylin were huddled on one side of the room, while the Vibulare with Reasoned Velut were on the other side.
Corina was standing with her Connector Hrovje and periodically would look at Thalina and her Liase Batrouk, then glance at Jair and Truyuuh from the Vib and Zana and Kenbo from the Roy who were huddled respectively in diplomatic pairs She couldn’t say anything in this situation, but she and Cor would of course talk after this, and fill the other in. This might be a day to make an exception to the no talking about their relationships rule.
Her father stood in between, and her uncle Pedram was not quite next to him but close enough. Lavindra stood next to Pedram. Of course. Thalina couldn’t fault her cousin for trying to get the upper hand on her sister. The Royligio and Vibulare didn’t vote in the Seleto Selection, but her own Facet voters were heavily influenced by how a Potential could handle both groups.
It was one of the logical reasons she had laid out to Shabina during their “talk” about her interest in Billen. Yes she would no longer be in The MultiFacet, but she would get assurances that the Vibulare may favour Didi as a candidate.
Shabina was harsh in response; she admonished Thalina about trying to justify her own thoughts on leaving. Further, Shabina had bristled at the notion the she needed help from anyone.
Speaking of her, where exactly was Didi? Thalina had gone to her official duty along with the Liase Batrouk: they had both quickly attempted to diffuse the situation with the Vibulare. Billen was of course unhappy with what had happened, but he seemed genuinely intrigued that Rydin of all people should have caused this mishap.
Her father cleared his throat, “We are just waiting for Potential Shabina to arrive, as you can imagine the events of today–“
He was interrupted by the door lining open, Didi strode in flanked by Sitara. Of course Didi’s “Confidant” would be joined to her side. Pathetic! She and Corina shared a quick look of mutual disdain.
Her father paused as Shabina gave him a very determined stare. It cut across the room.
Didi wasn’t happy, but not just about Rydin, Thalina knew she was frustrated that their father had pulled her out of the water. As Seleto he may have had his reasons, but Shabina wouldn’t care, and would clearly be angry about it.
Didi was too smart to say anything in front of everyone, but she would have words with her father. They fought because they were so much alike.
Then Didi surprised everyone. She didn’t stop to stand next to her father. No, she walked right by him, and without looking back said: “Master Hanslought I am invoking Potential’s Persuasion with the Prisoner.”
Hanslought stuttered. “P..P..Potential?”
Shabina was firm, yet polite. She still hadn’t turned to face a room that was intently surveying her.
“Again, please record Potential’s Persuasion.”
Hanslought announced, his stutter gone, “Potential Shabina Rhung has invoked Potential’s persuasion, she has 15 millycles and it will deduct from her allotment.”
Shabina kept marching to the door.
Shabina whipped her head around to see Lavindra looking confident.
Hanslought looked like he was about to faint.
Lavindra repeated: “Master Hanslought, please invoke my own Potential’s Persuasion with the Prisoner, Please also make it a Simultaneous Persuasion, not Sequential.”
Thalina looked at Corina, whose eyes were wide.
Master Hanslought found his confidence again. “Potential Lavindra Wraze has invoked a Potential’s Persuasion request, but Simultaneous not Sequential. Potential Shabina Rhung do you allow or contest?”
Shabina turned and walked towards Lavindra. Lavindra walked at Shabina.
The tension in the room was thick, as if a million invisible lines floated around all of them, ready to explode.
Please not here, don’t do this here!