This chapter was written by Scylla.
Scylla was always scared of her father’s hounds.
The beasts never failed to stare her down as she walked into the Azys compound. Today, however, they had a particularly predatory look within their scarlet eyes. Her father promised they would never attack her, but there was something wicked and vile to them. They were meant for war and killing, enchanted with various aether enhancements and imbued with shadow energies.
War-creatures were something that Allag had not seen for more than a dozen generations during the Great Peace. Her father was recently asked to accelerate such projects by the Council to counteract the rebellions at the borders.
Her mother’s six month assignment the southern border ships was extended for another rotation. Attacks, although small, had become more commonplace – at least that was what her father and the holo-news said.
Mother won’t be home for another half-rotationat least. Maybe she’ll stay for a little while. But perhaps it’s for best… she won’t be happy when she sees this.
Scylla looked down at her robes, lamenting the streaks of mud and deep lavender stains which also spread in blotches across her elbows and forearms. Though she tried to scrub it out at school, she knew that the dye wouldn’t fade from her skin for another week.
The robes were a whole other matter. Not only were they muddy and dyed, but the hems on the bottom were burnt where that evil long-eared imp caught the edges on fire.
This wasn’t an accident.
Someone had filled her autostylus with explosive purple-bind ink in mathematics class. And then that same certain someone set a mud trap for her on her way home. How he had laughed and mocked her, telling her to go back to her own hound-shelter.
Still, the girl didn’t let Amon’s foolish actions go without her own revenge. How he had howled after finding his brand new Academy rucksack filled with biopellet waste! He had reached in, not realizing the stench would remain… permanently.
The instructors never figured out how that accident happened.
But then, Amon struck back again. During the Level II Aetherclass, Amon set her robes on fire. He said it was an accident and gave his goofy grin as always.
The teacher didn’t even really punish him. By the end, we were having a lesson on aether control!
Of course, she had punished him back.
A jar of clamper crabs dumped on the head was a fitting enough. Last she saw Amon, Clio was still picking them free from behind his ears.
Even the sweetest revenge would not fix her one-of-a-kind hand-woven garments. These were her bloodline’s ancestral robes, carefully preserved throughout the ages through secret aethero preservation techniques.
This was the first year that she was allowed to wear them to class. They were not the common robes synthesized at the supply nodes. Repairing the robes would take serious effort, if they could be cleaned and mended at all.
Thinking about all of this brought a lump of shame into her throat. All of her older sisters had returned with these robes in perfect condition.
Mother is going to be so mad at me! Curse that Amon!
Scylla clenched her fist around the fabric, wrinkling her brow with slitted scarlet eyes.
It’s all that savage long-earred toad’s fault! I’ll have my parents excise him from the Academy for this!
One of the hounds leapt up on the fence and growled, shocking her out of her fevered daydreams. The girl cowered back, letting a guidepost along the opposite side of the walkway brace her from falling. She looked at the creature, her gaze locked to its cold glare.
I’m sure it would kill me, if it could. Maybe we could feed Amon to it… but then it would likely choke on his ears!
It stared at her silently, evil red eyes targeted in challenge to her own. These were the first war-chimera projects that her father had worked on, though he said that he was behind the curve. He didn’t seem to like working on such things.
House-servants and industrial assistants were fine creations. These creatures of bloodshed and fury were anything but.
Scylla rushed back to the path, pretending not to notice the canine heads turning in unison with her motion. She continued down the central path to their large, tree-lined habitation unit.
It was one of the more lavish units in the city, though small compared to the major houses along the Sun-Path. Of course, with the teleporters and aetherytes, no one used the paths for much other than just occasional walks.
She would be alone for a while, free of the bustle and noise of the central Syrcus Tower. It was only a short walk from the transport terminal, so the girl often walked when she needed to think. Right now, the only thing she was thinking about was plotting revenge against that pesky no-good forest snot.