ALLYBOT pt27: A Half Circle

a fancy island style pool in a manor or hotel
taken from thespruce.com

ALLYBOT

Master Mcnab always kept his daughter close. From the time she could talk until she was thirteen, his little Leah sat in on most of his meetings, was present for his odd rendezvous, and was there for collaborations with his illegitimate breed. Many times she was hidden but he always explained that he wanted her to see the bigger picture. She was instructed not to talk of the things she saw and heard, even to her mother, and her mother was instructed not to ask.

Through all of this, Leah still felt that she was missing out on something. The “big picture” was anything but clear. She knew her father was ruthless: several times, she saw him give up people he could’ve saved and punish others by turning them over to the Patrician Force. In addition to her exclusive schooling, she was made to study and train exhaustively, but the year she turned thirteen, Master McNab began sending her to train with specialists. She visited every major city and port in the New Republic, all the while training under master martial artists, spies, economists, thieves, and con artists.

She returned home once to find that her mother had been taken by the Patties. One of her father’s enemies had orchestrated animosity for those in her mother’s order. Several of the librarians and scholars had already been killed and Leah feared for her mother’s life. She pleaded with her father to save her mother. Eventually, Master MacNab pulled her to the side and told her that her mother would save herself. “But why?” Leah began to cry again, “You’re one of their leaders. Don’t they have to do what you tell them?”

Her father gripped her hard by the shoulder, “No one is important enough to give up the bigger picture, Leah.” he leaned in until they were nearly nose-to-nose, “Not you, your mother, or anyone else. The bigger picture is all that matters. Remember that.” Leah would never forget how calm he was when he said this. She would often recall the serenity of his urgent words, the quiet in his expression.

Eventually, some “evidence” came forward that “proved” her father’s enemy had been involved with corruption and “vile actions against the state.” Master McNab watched with a quiet smile on his face as she was hauled away to the Patrician Force’s dungeons. As far as Leah knew, she was rotting away somewhere in the dark even now. The case she’d made against her mother’s order dwindled away and Leah’s mother was released. Master McNab didn’t even go to retrieve her.

On the night Leah brought her mother home, Master McNab was waiting for them in the foyer. Leah’s mother had always looked at the world with a kind of derision, but the look she gave her father was far worse than any Leah had witnessed on her mother’s face: it was the gaze of hate. Her father held her eyes calmy, the faintest trace of his usual smirk pulling at his lips. Before long, her mother’s expression had evolved into one of resignation. She patted Leah on the shoulder and went to her rooms.

Leah watched her go before she found her father’s eyes upon her. He watched her for a while, then with a flick of his wrist, he dismissed her to her own room and strode away without a single word. From that night on, Leah would regard her father with a potent fear. Some of the people he’d given up had seemed his closest allies and some of those he punished were among his ill-begotten breed. Leah would never forget the lessons he taught her that night. She would be prepared to protect herself from any harm, knowing that no help would be coming. Among those she might have to protect herself from, the most terrifying of them was her own father.

. . . . .

He stood there smirking down at David’s trio, Master McNab, with characteristic self-contentment.

. . . . .

chapter 26 < > chapter 28

Special Author’s Note

This is the last descriptive chapter before the story really begins to take off. There’s a lot of subtle world-building here with a paragraph about people’s relationship with the Mannah, a little about the relationship of the local authorities with people, and subtle clues about details that will be important later.

I like how Gizmo’s behavior continues to raise questions that Leah seems to be actively ignoring. Imaginge if your 1998 Camry was sitting outside waiting at the curb for you when you left the grocery store. But you’d walked to the store. How would you explain this to your friends? Gizmo was easily the most fun character for me to write.

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