chapter 9

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Beika found herself talking to her mind, as three people kept to themselves around her. So many feet off the ground, with just the wind to keep her company through the journey, she felt alone. She saw the plains of Diluar looming to the right of her travel cloud. Fields of rice and wheat were shadowed by the cloud overhead. 

She nudged Lan awake. “We’re at Diluar, Melancho, look.” 



He nodded his head, but did not sit up, or show interest. 



”We’ll be back at the capital, soon.” 



He nodded again. 



She slowed down as the towers of the capital began to appear. 



Marceau turned and faced the rest of them. “Selati. Gloves. Sash,” she said.

Soji took the gloves from his pocket and wore them. He removed his programming sash and stowed it into the pocket.

“Keep your mouth shut when we get there.” 



“Yes, Marceau di Pendi,” he bowed. 



Marceau paled. “What…what did you just call me?” 



“Marceau di Pendi. Yes?” 



She grew flustered, looked this way and that. “I…um…yes, that’s fine. That’s fine.” 



“Wait a minute, why is she just Marceau and I’m a master and Lan is a master?” Beika asked. 



He shrugged. “Is right.” He smiled at her, somewhat different from the servantly smile he kept using. 
”Lan, master. Beika, master. Great programmer. Marceau, of Pendi. Kind to me. You all, yes. But if she say no, I not go. But she say yes. So, of Pendi, good person…special person…pretty person?” His cheeks reddened. 


“What? I’m not pretty?” Beika pouted.

“Yes, pretty, but Master Lan, friend…” the ice programmer scratched his head, at a loss for words.

The green-haired girl interrupted. “Just Marceau, alright? Just Marceau,” the futuretell told Soji. 



“Just Marceau,” he repeated. 



“NO, no! Marceau! Only that!” 



“Yes, Marceau,” he repeated. “I obey.” 



“STOP THAT!” 



“Stop what?” 



She slammed a palm to her forehead. “Just, shut up.” 


Beika laughed at them as she steadied the speed.

#

The capital stretched for several miles in all directions, surrounded by heavy walls with towers evenly distributed every fifty yards apart. As futuretell programmers were employed by the defense committee, normally regular soldiers guarded these towers, with fire programmers and heal programmers on standby as assigned by their guilds, ready to take action. 


A large assembly area was designated off at the center of the capital, a place where major events such as festivals and announcements by the prime minister were held. At the farther end of this circular open area was the government building for the prime minister, with an elevated enclosure for speeches. Behind and surrounding this building to the northeast were the offices of government, the buildings for the defense division, the legislative division, the executive division, the division for overall guild regulation. 



To the northwest of the central open area, majority of the programming guilds were located. All the guilds had offices in all the regions, but all the guilds had their central offices and buildings in the capital. The guild for fire programmers had a large space just a little past the central open area. Music programmers had their own offices, their theater, and their concert hall facing the open area, so occasionally events at the open area faced toward them, and not the prime minister’s building. The infirmary was a group of large buildings, the assembly point of the great heal programmers from all the regions, easily accessible from the central open area. 



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