The Preparation IV
Master Hatr’er had collected five books for the Tauri. He placed the lab book on the top of the pile and his breath caught as he finally recognized it. He knew what this was, who it belonged to –or rather- had belonged to. It was Prenti’po’s laboratory book. It was not completed. And until Master Hatr’er found a gifted student with an open mind, the lab book would remain uncompleted. It had been placed in a special bookcase for those students who wished to look through potential projects.
Master Hatr’er knew that this was never going to be seen by Major Carter. Prenti’po had been making monumental strides in her studies of naquada. According to the University’s best investigators, the naquada Prenti’po had been working on had been tainted by another metal. A few months after the pain had faded, Hatr’er had completed his own independent experiments and proved that Prenti’po’s accident had indeed been an accident. His laboratory results were recorded in Prenti’po’s lab book as a warning to the next student who would attempt to control the unstable compound.
Master Oz wanted Master Likk’op to see this book. Master Hatr’er was loath to let it outside the walls of the University. Prenti’po’s work, even incomplete, had been the basis for other successful studies, quite an accomplishment for someone who never had the chance to become an apprentice.
But what Master Oz wanted, Master Oz was given.
The book was placed in the middle of the pile of books. Hatr’er would hand Master Likk’op the stack at the end of the Others meeting later this morning. He was at peace with his choices.
Master Sonke’ne was pouting. She wasn’t slouching in her seat as an Earth-bound teenager might express their displeasure, but her feelings were broadcasted just the same by her discreet body language.
Master Malt’en had insisted on her presence for the Others’ Meeting. He wanted an accounting of what the Healers had found. Sonke’ne hadn’t wanted to stop learning. She hadn’t wanted anyone to learn something important before she had a chance. Who knew what new, lost Furling technique was being discovered while she sat in the Meeting? She had ignored the first summons to the Meeting. Malt’en had expected as much, she had done it before.
He had ordered a pair of Other Guards to retrieve the Furling before the messenger had returned without the Healer. Oz had looked at the Other Judge in confusion at the order. With as much smug superiority he could hint, Malt’en simply said that Sonke’ne would miss the Meeting if given the option.
Gavva’ni had whispered to Oz that the Master Healer did so any time she thought that she could get away with it, normally every fifth Meeting. Having the Other Guards retrieve Sonke’ne was almost expected. Malt’en and the Others realized that Sonke’ne relished in being treated differently, but until a Healer distinguished his or herself in such a way that they could be given the Other Healers’ seat in the auditorium, the Others had to endure the woman’s ways.
Oz had shrugged and said, “Huh. Read that one wrong.”
Master Sonke’ne finally arrived, with the two Other Guards in tow. They did not touch the woman in any way, but many Furlings saw the procession through town and shook their heads at the implied dishonor. The Master Healer held her head up high, proud.
Now the Meeting could begin.
The meeting finished in record time. Duties had been listed and then delegated. The Furlings were trying to prepare for war. They knew that they could not prepare for any eventuality but they were trying. Most of the Others hurried toward their respective areas to do their assigned jobs. Two of the Others never dawdled were dawdling now. To most, they seemed to aimlessly wander the Others’ Floor, but then they stopped in front of each other.
The exchange was made in silence. Master Hatr’er handed Master Likk’op the books. The Others watched with much curiosity. Then both men walked away. Not a word was spoken. They barely made eye contact.
Master Hatr’er prayed that the lab book would be returned to his care.
Other Guard Curk’id observed and was smug. He knew the Spyang Sku ngo had succeeded and would succeed. Could Anubis survive one would could break down the wall between the Mage Grove and the Univeristy?
Grij’er had to use his hand to keep his mouth from dropping wide open. Master Hatr’er had just handed Master Likk’op something in public. No snipping, no scornful looks, those two had never been so civil before.
He felt rather than saw Master Kinta’mi’s humor. When Grij’er had related the dream, she had watched him with twinkling eyes. Grij’er had thought that she was laughing at the irony. Obviously she had been laughing at Grij’er and his disbelief with his abilities. It was a child’s mistake and now one he would have to correct.
He would have to write the dream, no -not a dream-a vision, in his book. He would have try and remember every nuance of it. He would have to record his dereliction of duty as well.
Oz watched the exchange impassively. He was surprised that Master Hatr’er had picked a public place, but he was pleased. Rumors of the meeting would spread throughout the University and the Mage Grove before the midday meal. Master Gavva’ni was avidly taking notes. Her report would be published in her news periodical. Everyone would hear of it. Hopefully, other Furlings would follow their example.
Oz prayed that other Furlings would follow their example. Lives depended on the cooperation of the Furlings. Anubis would only be defeated by a united Furling world.
Other Master Judge Malt’en watched Master Hatr’er and Master Likk’op with thinly disguised hope. If those two chose to cooperate, Malt’en’s headaches would be halved. Hatr’er’s motions were purposeful, direct and calm. He also seemed rather . . . sad? Likk’op was accepting and calm. He seemed resigned.
Malt’en shook his head, his talent of reading body language was failing him in this instance. His mind could not compute what he saw and weigh it against what he knew. Calm was never used to describe Hatr’er and Likk’op. The last time the two had been in his courtroom, the Other Guards had to break up a very heated fistfight. It had taken Malt’en’s apprentices days to scrub the blood out of the wooden floor.
He was missing a piece of the puzzle. His eyes slid to Oz. The bitten Tauri was still a mystery to Malt’en in many respects. Malt’en focused on Oz. Oz revealed nothing in his stance or movement. He was not staring at the two men like the rest of the Others. To Malt’en, his aura was pleased.
Oz was pleased.
Malt’en swung his attention back to the books that Master Likk’op was carrying out of the Meeting Place. Master Oz must have initiated something. He must have given them some task that the two Masters needed to cooperate to complete.
Malt’en was impressed, slightly jealous that none of his personal attempts had yielded such positive results, but he was still impressed. The task must have been somewhat complicated, but not too time-consuming. It must have required cooperation but not personal interaction. The task would have to be something that both groups could take pride in and important enough that both groups cared about the results.
Malt’en had no idea what the task was, but he was impressed.
When Oz had queried about the relationship between the two professions, Malt’en had told the truth. The Mage Grove despised the University and vice-versa. The hatred ran deep. The history was bitter and old. It started about the same time as the Great Sacrifice given to defeat Anubis. Each group blamed the other for the species’ cultural loss. Malt’en was the latest in a long line of judges to attempt a peaceful coexistence.
The closest Malt’en had gotten to a cooperative measure was the Hospital and Master Sonke’ne. The Hospital utilized both magic and science. Master Sonke’ne cared enough for her patients that she would bully either a Mage or a Scientist for assistance. Her rough manner and impatience often complicated the issue instead of creating groundwork for further relations. Master Sonke’ne had three mages and three scientists on permanent hospital staff. The mages’ offices were on the south side of the Hospital and the scientists’ were on the north side. The staff rotated frequently but they were in the same building.
Master Oz had started something good. Master Malt’en was not about to rush it to conclusion.
He caught Master Sonke’ne’s eye and shook his head. Sonke’ne glowered.
No, Malt’en would not approach either master today. Master Sonke’ne had come to Malt’en, early this morning. She told Malt’en about the Room of Healing in the Temple of History. She told of all the unfamiliar machines and spells. She requested at least one mage and one scientist and she couldn’t spare any from the Hospital. Such a request could only be made through the Other Judge to the Other Mage and the Other Scientist.
Sonke’ne had played on Malt’en’s jealousy and hurt. Oz had said nothing about the new room. She had played on Malt’en’s ego. Master Oz could have also made the request, but Sonke’ne had chosen to go to the Judge. Malt’en realized that Sonke’ne would have made the request to Oz. Master Oz must have refused, or delayed. That would have frustrated Master Sonke’ne.
Master Oz had a plan.
So far the plan seemed to be working. Malt’en would ask to assist. Sonke’ne’s request was at cross-purposes with Master Oz. Master Oz was waiting for something. Malt’en would ask to be briefed on Master Oz’s plan so as to help and not hinder. If Master Oz’s plan offered domestic peace after pursuing intergalactic peace, Other Judge Malt’en would, in no way, hinder.
Master Oz was showing his intelligence and wisdom. Master Oz would have made a very good judge, but thankfully, he did not want the job.
Oz had a guitar to keep tuned. Malt’en might ask Oz to play him another song today, maybe something inspired by his trips to the Temple of History.