(Fenjaday, late afternoon)
Irola – Parliament Lounge
Peri Harmon sat curled up in her favorite easy chair, distracting herself with the latest gossip flypploids. It kept her from thinking about her problems in Hailu, her parents splitting up, her brother’s pressure for her to give up her seat and stay in Hailu – where he thought she belonged. Yet, now she was thinking about it again. It was depressing.
“You’re back early,” Sasky Price said, sitting in the next chair.
“And you didn’t even go home?” Peri asked, looking up from her reading.
“Nothing to do there. No election to run for, no office to take calls from, no press engagements. Atrua doesn’t care much for world politics. Now that I’m in, I’ve probably got a job for life, if I play it right.”
“Anything happen while I was away?” Peri asked.
“Hardly. We’re not in session, so there’s not much that could happen,” Sasky replied.
“Rumor has it that Flavia is going to propose that the A’mara get stripped of their special rights,” Dawn Fisher said, joining them. “I say it’s about time.”
“You’re also back early?” Peri asked, side-stepping the controversial topic.
“I didn’t go home. I spent the time investigating the power of the A’mara,” Dawn replied. “Nice to have an excuse to avoid the snow of Bronnen anyway.”
“Understood,” Peri said, thinking that it might be nice to experience a good winter snow like what Balan was famous for.
“So, where do you stand about the A’mara?” Dawn asked.
“I don’t know. My parents were against A’mara, but then so is most of X’lea. I suppose my constituents will let me know, but I can’t see that the A’mara are causing any harm.”
“Not causing any harm? So, you don’t see any problem in the number of traitors uncovered within the A’mara organization in the past two years? The number of people killed because of A’mara screw-ups? And they still expect the privilege of being able to run their own investigations and imprison their enemies without due course of Terrenden justice?! Can you just imagine the Neví trying something like that?” Dawn ranted.
“Of course not,” Peri answered.
“We’ll tackle the Neví at the same time, of course – it wouldn’t be fair otherwise. But how can we ban the Neví while the A’mara get their special privileges?” Sasky asked.
“It’s a good point,” Peri said.
“Would you like to see all the research I did over the holiday?” Dawn asked.
“Sure. I need to know both sides of the issue.”
“Peri, there really is only one side. The A’mara aren’t like you and me. They are elitists. They like to think they’re so special, but they’re nothing remarkable – except these crazy privileges they’ve had for caballus years! No other organization gets such specialist treatment and the A’mara don’t deserve it either.”
“I said I’ll look, but then I will make up my own mind.”
“It’s a start,” Dawn admitted.
Sasky quickly joined them. “Can I see your research too?”
“Of course. Let’s grab dinner. We have a long evening ahead of us,” Dawn suggested.
Peri nodded, pocketed her flyppad and went with Sasky and Dawn.
Irola – A’mara Complex
Julleon Dellan had helped himself to some jerked jelip strips with some X’lean salad topped with a joberry dressing. He had need of comfort food, thinking of his parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins left behind in Hailu after their solstice gathering. He wished he were able to begin a new A’mara complex there, but knew it was risky at best. A’mara hadn’t been welcome in X’lea for most of a century now. Aunt Melia and Uncle Yuri had finished raising him on Irola, but even they had left with only the basic training and were raising their numerous children in the shadow of the Sisters of Vasana in Avicen. It led to occasional feelings of loneliness that even A’mara training couldn’t completely dispel. He sighed from his spot at the windows, looking into the greenhouse that cushioned him from the immense megalopolis that was Irola. He often yearned for a simpler life helping his aunt grow herbs and produce for the complex. Maybe he should transfer to Avicen.
He felt the abári and her husband join him.
“Do you mind if we join you?” Saraca Krijo asked politely.
“Not at all,” Julleon replied, grateful for a distraction from his doldrums.
“I seem to remember you were planning on making friends with some of the PCs and ECs.”
“Yes. I became friends with the PCs from Jracenii and Towani,” he recalled. There were rumors that Dustin Taylor was dating a girl from Ubre’in. After his reelection, he had traveled there to be with her family for the solstice. Somehow, that knowledge had made him lonelier. Chloë Greene had also been reelected, but she was still in Towani.
“Maybe make friends with your countrymen,” Saraca suggested gently, clearly understanding his loneliness. “Sometimes just having something like in common can forge a friendship that can overcome some of the differences politics can make.”
“I’ve been told that X’lean PC Peri Harmon is already back on Irola. It might be wise to get to know her a bit better before the session begins.”
“The session doesn’t start for two months still,” Julleon protested.
“So, why is she back already? She may need a friend right now. There’s no better time to get to know her,” Saraca insisted.
Julleon nodded again. He knew the feeling of needing a friend. “What’s the current political situation? Is PC Harmon an ally?”
“I don’t know if she’s an ally or not, but becoming her friend might make a difference.” Saraca said.
Ja’tel jumped in. “The A’mara restriction movement has gained momentum over the turn of the year. We haven’t lost our supporters in the elections, thankfully, but there are people coming out very much anti – people who hadn’t expressed opinions before.”
“They want to revoke our ability to conduct our own investigations, arrest suspects and have our own tribunals. They wish to turn us into an elitist club,” Saraca added sadly. “They conveniently forget the good we’ve done in many places, and remember instead the situations with Zaynen and Ralun.”
“You think they can pass a bill now?” Julleon asked.
She nodded. “I think that unless something is done immediately, we are going to lose our status around the world.”
“I will go talk to her then,” he said, putting his dishes together on the tray.
“Thank you,” Saraca said.
Peri sat with her friends, poring over all the evidence Dawn had found proving that the A’mara needed to be brought down a few notches through legislation. It all seemed pretty damning.
“There’s one now,” Sasky whispered to Dawn.
“One what? Where?” Peri asked, looking around towards where her friends were looking.
“An A’mara. Why is he in our cafeteria?” Dawn whispered back.
“He’s coming over here!” Sasky said.
“I must put away our evidence!”
“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing,”
“But there may be something wrong with him being here if he’s trying to influence us!” Dawn added.
The man was attractive, Peri had to admit, but he was A’mara.
“Is one of you PC Harmon?” he asked as he reached their table.
“That would be me,” Peri replied. “What did you need?”
“I’m just ashamed that I haven’t introduced myself before to a fellow X’lean,” the man charmed. “I’m Julleon Dellan.”
“Dellan?” Peri asked, surprised. “I didn’t know the family had expanded out of Hailu again.”
“There wasn’t space for all of us!” he joked.
“No kidding!” Peri replied, remembering the Dellans who shared her school with her.
“You must be referring to one of my second cousins then,” Julleon said. “I’m the eldest of my group and you must be a few years older than me in order to be a Peer Councilor.”
“We’ll just leave you two to it,” Dawn said irritably, reminding Peri that they were there.
“No, don’t leave,” Julleon implored. “I don’t want to disrupt whatever you were doing. PC Harmon, can we meet tomorrow somewhere? I’d like to discuss some of what’s been happening in X’lea, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure,” Peri said. “I’ve got a pretty open schedule right now. Would mid-morning work for you?”
“Perfect,” Julleon replied, then turned and departed.
Peri watched him leave, wondered how it was she’d never met him in school.
“I think you’ve seen most of what I had anyway,” Dawn was saying.
“What?” Peri asked.
“She was just pointing out how you shouldn’t even consider dating an A’mara!” Sasky answered with a roll of her eyes. “That would subject you to being recalled, I would think.”
“I’ve only agreed to see him to discuss X’lea. I don’t see how that would get me recalled,” Peri replied.
“You’re so naïve!” Dawn said irritably. “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!”
Peri went to her apartment and got out the paints she’d picked up as a solstice present to herself – something to cheer her up after her parents’ split. She used the paint to doodle for awhile, painting a bunch of flowers, covering the canvas with a mass of pink and purple roses. She smiled at her effort. If she got recalled, she could always take up painting.
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