(A/N): Quote in italics homage to Linkin Park's tracks "The Catalyst" and "The Requiem."


LXIV. Calling

{Broken people living under loaded gun, a thousand suns}

Baralai shields his eyes from the sun, hand outstretched to cast shade. His sigh breezes impossible humidity. Hand on his hip, he scans his surroundings; sand, dunes, and more sand occupied by pitched tents and nervous recruits. The horizon ripples beneath a clear blue sky.

The first day of training. His first day of reconnaissance.

Maester Kelk Ronso entrusted him a secret task, an honor for a humble priest such as himself. 'But how will I be able to keep tabs on Maester Kinoc if he insists on privacy and special treatment? I must learn the true aim of this exhibition.'

Baralai muses the Maester organized everyone in teams, compacting individuals in consideration of their complementary strengths and weaknesses. Vague instructions demand they seek each other out by reporting immediately to their designated stations. Before embarkment, a lieutenant provided each person a basic map of continuously-shifting geography. Kinoc also issued uniform-custom guns. Square barrel, crimson insignia on hot metal, heavy clip loaded with death's favorite lead, and a difficult trigger.

The gravity of his sacrifices did not occur to Baralai until this put his religious tolerance to the test. 'Am I allowed, no, expected to use this?'

"Is there a problem?" Startled by the stern rhetoric, Baralai turns to regard his target. Plump and challenging the desert in orange robes, Wen Kinoc looks down on his inner conflict. "Man up, soldier. You're not in Bevelle anymore."