chapter 10

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The capital of Pendi was the center of the country, where the best minds from the other regions assembled for varied reasons. It was the center of government, where the prime minister assembled the divisions of management, and the committees under these divisions. It was the center of education for scholars and programmers, those who were learned from the books and wisdom from many years of knowledge, and those who were skilled in manipulating the programs and lifecodes keeping the world in order. Students and program trainees came from the other regions for basic and advanced training. Any attack from Selatan at the capital, therefore, affected the operations of the country, more than an attack elsewhere. 


In recent time, Selatan had appointed a powerful and ambitious king over them. This king wanted Selatan and Pendi to become the Bersa of legend once more…but under his rule. In the current generation, the king of Selatan had solidified the armed forces of his region into a powerful force composed of the best ice programmers and intellects. He had managed to attack the capital of Pendi several times already in the last few years. The defense committee of Pendi was kept busy, ensuring Selatan forces were kept at bay, thinking of new ways to defeat the enemy. The offices of the defense committee was a bustling and busy place, with programmers, scholars, and government officials of various ages and kinds coming in and out of its large main doors. 


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The four programmers had arrived at Pendi’s capital with the sunrise after traveling all night. Marceau headed off by the inter-capital carriage to her house in the government quadrant. The other three headed to the traveler’s inn in the commercial area of the program guild quadrant. Beika took one room apart from the young men with her. As soon as they were settled in two rooms, they all immediately slept the morning away.

Beika groaned as she opened the door to Marceau’s furious knocks. “It’s still so early,” she murmured, her salt-and-pepper hair sticking every which way. She fumbled for her spectacles, just to make sure she was seeing right. She scratched her head, surprised to see the sun so high up already. 



“It’s noon already, sleepyhead.” Marceau’s voice could be heard by the whole hallway of the inn. “Why are you in another room! Why did you leave those two by themselves! The Sela…Soji is potentially dangerous! The loner firespark can’t be left alone!” 



Beika drowsily answered, “He snores, Soji does.” 



“Never mind. Go wake up those two and get dressed. We have to hurry. The council will assemble in three hours.” Marceau did not even wait for Beika and walked off to the next room. She knocked strongly and unrelentlessly. 



“It’s the OTHER room, Marceau,” Beika sleepily said. 



Marceau marched to the other room beside Beika, fuming all the way as she knocked strongly and unrelentlessly once again. Beika yawned as she entered her room again to dress up.

She had managed to finish dressing and combing down her unruly short hair when she heard a high-pitched scream coming from the other room. She grabbed her satchel and ran next door. 



Marceau was at the center of the room. Soji was seated at his bed, putting on his gloves. Lan was still huddled in bed, hidden inside a blanket. The room was filled with misfired ice daggers, just melting. 



“This! This is why you should have stayed in this room, you crazy heal programmer!” Marceau screeched again. “We’re as good as arrested! Good as dead! I’m not getting that position! You know how hard it is to get into the defense committee! All because of you!” 



Beika faced the onslaught with lowered head, not saying a word. Soji stayed seated on the bed, looking at the room filled with ice with confusion. 



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