A double-crack alternate universe in which Leo gets an army and then takes over the northwest.
Black Knight and White Queen from the 9th and White Knight from the 10th and
Red Queen from the 11th,
Captured Knight continued,
Chessboard,and several pieces by inventrix – /directly/ after Chessboard.
“It’s been happening for a while.” Cya ate slowly and made herself keep her eyes on Luke. She wasn’t going to justify herself to him, to Addergoole, so she shrugged a bit instead. “You’re not the only one to notice, but so far it’s been in the family.”
“You have a plan?”
She smiled. All these years, and he hadn’t really been paying attention. “I had a couple good ones, ’till you challenged him and got him all wound up. Now… my plan is to assign you to keep an eye on him while I consider the rest of my options.”
She had back-up plans, of course. She had back-ups for her back-ups. But if he hadn’t figured that out about her yet, he’d have to learn it the hard time.
His wings twitched. “You want me to keep an eye on him. Worship — being worshiped — it’s forbidden.”
“The interesting thing, though.” Cya set down her fork and leaned forward, making sure she had his attention. “It’s not against the Law.”
“The Council has decided we’re too much effort to slap down, for the moment.” That had been a hard battle. Cya had no belief she could take down the strongest, stodgiest of the Shenera Endraae in a fair fight, but if it came down to it, she had absolutely no intention of fighting fair.
She noticed Luke was giving her a Look. “We take care of ourselves. Boom. Cloverleaf. We always have.”
She’d said something similar to him, early her second year of school. I can take care of myself. Boom can take care of itself.
She wondered if he remembered that. All he was showing right now — tight wings, tight expression — was worry. “This is serious.”
“Of course it is. I have an empire, Leo has an army, Addergoole wants to kill us, and the Council will probably come knocking pretty soon. It can’t really be anything but serious. But we’ll work it out.”
If anything, he tightened up. “Addergoole doesn’t…”
“I think I asked you not to lie to me.”
“Well…” his wings twitched. “Regine doesn’t want to kill you. Mike…” his voice caught. “Mike mostly wants to play in your playground.”
“Damnit!” His wings unfolded with a snap, and just as quickly folded back up as his expression twisted in sudden guilt. “I’ve been trying to keep you kids alive for decades now! But you won’t keep your heads down!”
She found she was giggling. “Welcome to my world, Hunting Hawk. I’ve been keeping Boom alive for decades. And we never, ever, stay down.”
Luke ate the rest of his dinner in silence. She thought he might be irritated at her. His wings were folded tight, his head was down, and he was stabbing his food.
She wasn’t going to apologize. He was going to have to get used to Boom being Boom, or this was going to be a very long decade-plus. He was going to have to get used to the fact that they laughed at danger, not because they didn’t take it seriously, but because they did.
“Dishes can wait,’ she said, when he was done and wasn’t actually looking for the sink. “Come on. We’re going upstairs.”
His wings tightened further. “Why?”
“Because it’s the only place we can both get comfortable while I go digging in your mind.” She smiled brightly at him, like she was flirting or something.
He responded with exactly the glower she’d imagined he would. “You don’t have to do that.”
“That’s my call.” She didn’t think the calm, matter-of-fact voice would slap him down the way it might a 20-year-old, but it did suffice to startle him, if the wing-quiver was any indication. “Come on. Upstairs.” She tilted her head in the proper direction and waited until the implied order got him moving. “Come o, Luke,” she teased, now that he was starting to think, “some people would be thrilled at the chance to get in my bed.”
“Some people aren’t your senior by centuries,” he muttered.
If he was going to feed her straight lines like this all the time, she was going to get lazy. “Oh, I don’t know,” she retorted to his back. “I’m pretty sure Mike’s a bit older than that.”
At this rate, she wasn’t even going to have to work to see what he was like really, really agitated.
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