Merkiaari Wars: 03 - Operation Oracle
“I’m so glad you’re here and safe. I heard they sent you looking for stray Merki. Find any?”
    Varya replied in Shan. “Yes, not as many as we fought at Charlie Epsilon, but enough to keep my team busy. All finished now.”
    Gina nodded. “Glad to hear that.” She turned her attention to James. “It’s good to see you, James. It’s been a while. Where’s Brenda?”
    “She stayed behind today. This is some weather, huh?”
    Gina nodded. “Should have brought my rain cape.”
    James shook his head. “I’ve seen this before. We used to use these micro bursts as cover to get in position to ambush the Merki in the city. They don’t like rain much. It will pass in a few minutes. It’s not even raining a klick down the road.”
    “Huh,” Gina said and watched the General talking with the Shan for a moment. “You know what this is all about?”
    “Politics,” Varya said and spat dryly to the side, his whiskers drew down as if scenting something a week dead. “Elders and Tei get involved in warrior caste business and turn everything into a big debate.”
    Politics? That wasn’t her understanding, Gina mused. She wondered if the General had forgotten to mention it, or whether he was about to be blindsided. How did a simple promise to a blinded friend turn into a high-level political brouhaha?
    “Shima isn’t warrior caste,” Gina said. “Scientist caste I think she said once.”
    “True spoken,” Varya agreed. “But the Blind Hunter is... sort of. It’s hard to explain, Gina. Heroes in our culture are a special case. I am not the right person to explain it, but as I am here, I will try.
    “Is it a truth with Humans that warriors lead warriors, and elders lead elders, and scientists lead scientists?”
    Gina nodded. “Broadly speaking, yes. We don’t have elders as you think of them. We have politicians, but yes they debate amongst themselves like your elders and decisions are made.”
    Varya flicked his ears in agreement. “Then perhaps this will make some sense. I know Humans do not have a clan-that-is-not, but if you did, it would probably be no different to ours. Tei cross all boundaries but are never elders. By tradition, Tei are separate. They are...” Varya paused trying to think of the right words. “This isn’t exactly right, Gina. My people know this instinctively, but Tei are separate but equal to the elders... but not... not in charge? No that isn’t right either. Tei lead, but they don’t say where they are to lead us. Does this make any sense to you?”
    Gina shook her head but James was nodding.
    “I have spent a lot of time with Tei’Varyk, Gina,” James said. “I think what Varya is trying to say is that although the Elders and the Tei both lead their people, they do it separately and in a different manner. Tei lead by example from the front. They literally lead by doing it themselves. They are living examples of what should be done. The elders are more like the Council. They decide policy. As a people, the Shan go in the direction the elders decide is the right one, but how they get there is more in the realm of Tei and individual choice.”
    “Yes! Yes that is right,” Varya said evidently relieved. “There are Tei in every clan and caste, but heroes are always warriors. You understand that heroes are made through their actions in battle, so warriors you see?”
    Gina nodded.
    “We do not make war except against Merki,” Varya went on. “Without the war there would be no heroes at all, and most only become heroes by dying in battle.”
    “Dead heroes are always easier to find,” James murmured.
    Gina smiled. “And some would say dead heroes are more convenient.”
    Varya blinked rapidly. “That is something very close to a warrior saying of my people. There are no old bold warriors, just dead heroes.”
    Gina grinned. “Ha! So heroes are a special case. What does that mean for Shima?”
    “It means, that everyone wants a piece of her,” James said grimly.

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