Once I figured out I could do some decent writing for the fandom, I aspired to do a longshot fic for Simoun. I have always loved ejhawman's fic "Aer and Neveril's Adventures in Time and Space", and wanted to try my own hand at a longshot. Over the summer I began writing ideas for one such idea that I felt would do the series justice. I began writing chapters, but kept them to myself. Now that I have 11 chapters completed for this story, I felt confident enough to post it. I'm thinking there's maybe 2 or 3 more chapters to write before it's finished. I'd like to update here every few weeks, depending on how my schedule works out. I chose to have a beta for this story to most make sure my ideas and wording worked out - melengro from LiveJournal. He does the grammar check as well. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
Chapter 1 - Reports
"Here are the reports, ma'am." A man in a simple olive three piece suit placed them on the desk of the woman before him. He waited for her acknowledgement.
The woman he worked for wore a serious look, eying the reports before glancing up at him. "When did they arrive?"
"Just now. I brought them straight away, as per your instructions. They were delivered to the side entrance, as always."
"Did anyone see you?" she pressed, knowing that secrecy was of the utmost importance. There was no need for more people than necessary to know about these reports.
He shook his head. "No. No one was around."
"Thank you. That's all I need for now." She watched as he turned and left the room before she gave further attention to the reports. Her fingers quickly counted the pages, noting that this report was shorter than most. In her short experience, the length of pages had not mattered. A short report could give minor details on a dull period of time, and a long report could ramble about meetings, lectures, and plans for future plots, none of which were certain. However, a short report could also contain the quick message to begin the attack, as could a long report. Still, counting the number of pages meant she knew how much she needed to read, and how to direct her focus.
She knew that if anyone found out she was more involved in the war than suspected, it could very well mean her death, no matter which side made the discovery. She received the reports through a number of contacts because of her family name and current position. No one asked about the affairs of a twenty-something aristocrat's daughter. No one would think such a person would want to soil their good name, or would have the intelligence necessary to comprehend the affairs of military men. She wouldn't have thought herself capable of it either, but the current situation affected those she cared about. She'd come a long way from being the once shy Sibylla of an affluent family.
Rodoreamon also knew that her opinion of the war didn't matter to the current delegates "running" the country, which had been split once the peace treaty had been inked and signed. Simulacrum still existed, but only as a weak entity. Its northern territories had been annexed, and given to Argentum as offering. Argentum did not possess the capabilities to fly the Simoun, and thus the technology was worthless. It still had taken one of the ancient Simoun for research purposes. Years had passed and the uneasy rest that had pervaded both sides since the treaty began grew. Plumbum and Simulacrum, though uneasy about the other, formed a hesitant bond. Argentum realized this eventually, and had decided it wasn't satisfied with the terms of the treaty. Therefore, it would attack Plumbum and so the war began again.
Drafts had quickly begun, even before the war became official. Anyone who was a former Sibylla and a male in the Argentum territories was called to the front immediately. Plumbum drafted former Simulacrum Sibylla to fight on the front, and its own priestesses to fly the Simoun. Rodoreamon was lucky to live in an area of Simulacrum that hadn't been annexed, but it was dangerous ground. It wasn't a true alignment, and thus any small thing might also turn Plumbum against Simulacrum, which could no longer defend itself with the chariots of the gods. War begot more war, and she felt that the cycle would continue until they managed to kill themselves in the process. They would fight until only two men remained, and in their stubbornness, one man would still try to kill the other.
She rose from her seat, and turned to look out the large window behind her. Tempus Spatium must be angry. There must be a reason for the discord her world had been thrown into. It was punishment for the sins they had committed. They had taken the gift of the gods and turned it into military craft. Beautiful light trails of prayer became ammunition to destroy and kill. The meanings of Ri Majon were twisted and used to destroy lives instead of to protect and bless them. It was obvious now that the first war did not simply end because the neighboring countries had acquired the Simoun. The war continued because a new reason had come about for one country to be mad at the other. Mad was too simple of a word to describe it, but it fit. Mad, like a child who can't agree with another child. Groups of children who fought each other just because one side did something the other disliked.
Children were the reason she became more involved in the war. She forced herself to read through the military terms and decode them into her own every day speech, pouring over the pages until late into the night. She watched for key attack strategies, the one on the children in particular. Simulacrum children were sought after to be studied. The Argentines wanted to see how their bodies worked, how they were made up prior to entering the Spring. They'd test the bodies, and push them to their limits, comparing them to their own methods of surgically assigning a gender at birth. Instead of Simoun, the children were to be the key to saving their country, though how had yet to be worked out.
The idea was sickening, and Rodoreamon wasn't going to stand for it. So far, Argentum hadn't shown much of an interest in the orphanage or the children, but that could change easily. So much changed easily. It sought the target, and it'd eventually attack the target. One of her former Sibylla companions was in charge of caring for orphan children, and every day strived to do her best to make sure the children were safe, sound, and loved. Until Rodoreamon had seen this, she would have never invested herself in it. After all, she'd given Paraietta the money to fund the orphanage in the first place. What more could she have done? She was a mere woman who simply had access to sums of money.
The answer came to her the one day she'd gone to visit, shortly after the war had started. It wasn't her first visit, yet something about this time was different. She saw Paraietta in action, playing with the newest orphan that had arrived, a young girl with a crop of messy black hair and the ability to cry easily. Rodoreamon had become involved with the children, getting on their level, playing with them, talking with them. Though war had taken their parents, they still continued forward with cheerful smiles and a bright demeanor. The past did not affect their present. They were the future, the generation that would be affected most by the outcome of this war. Something inside her clicked, and she knew what she had to do. With her influential connections, she had begun to listen more closely to the war effort, and the attempts to plan attacks on the orphanage. She knew she could help protect the valuable treasure the Argentines were working to take away.
She turned back to her desk, sitting down. She pulled the papers toward her, wondering what they contained this time around. Much of it was battle tactic or strategy, something that she would bumble through, not really understanding. Sometimes information was provided on the next attack plan, or possible solutions to various problems. It all depended on the way the war was progressing. Rodoreamon glanced at the basic information given to provide a summary of the report. Her eyes scanned the text, searching for the key terms she always watched for. It was near the end of the third page this time around. She read and then reread the statement, the plan. It was worse than before. Where the other plans had easily failed, this one seemed sure to succeed. They would pull the stops on this one. It was not a plan that was set in stone as of yet, but it very well could be, and it was dangerous. She would make contact with those who could assist her, and then plan her visit earlier than she had expected.
Immediately, she began penning a communication notice that was short, simple, and most importantly, gave away nothing from the report that she'd just read. She could not risk the message being interpreted as any sign that she knew of the existence of Argentum reports. Moving my usual biweekly visit up a few days. Expect me tomorrow. –Rodoreamon. She signed her name to it with a flourish and tucked the notice neatly into an envelope, which was then sealed with a wax stamp. All that was left was to have it delivered by messenger. Rodoreamon had her own personal messenger, and she pressed a button to call for him. He was quick, trustworthy, and asked no questions. This her contacts assured her. He did as he was asked, and that was what mattered most.
Rodoreamon wasted no time in giving his instructions. "Please deliver this to Paraietta. It must get there today." She watched the soft brown eyes, seeking that he understood the importance of this task.
She received a soft grin in return. "I understand." The man asked no questions, and none were needed. He pulled the brim of his straw hat over his head, bowed and left the room. She knew he'd quickly prepare a travel rucksack and be off. She had no doubt that Paraietta would receive her message, seal unbroken.
The next morning, she rose bright and early. The sun was also beginning to rise, the first rays of light creeping across her bedroom. She dressed quickly, wearing the familiar olive jacket with the black dress slacks. Her hair came last; she brushed it out before braiding it. She pinned it up and tied it with the bow. In her own way, it was her tribute to the girl who had given her life so that another could live. Until that point, she had never really understood Neviril wearing two clips in her hair instead of the one she had worn with Amuria. It made no difference to her. Now she understood. It was a memorial to one she had loved, and by wearing something that reminded her of Mamiina, she felt as though Mamiina was always with her, and would never leave her side. This thought never failed to calm her soul when she was in need of a steady hand.
Rodoreamon took one last look in the mirror. Everything was in place. She would take a quick breakfast and then gather the documents she would take with her. Most of the report had been destroyed as soon as she had finished dispatching with the messenger. There was no need to have incriminating evidence lying around her office that had nothing to do with her secret objectives. She only kept the most recent report pertaining to the orphanage. After showing Paraietta the source of her evidence, it too would be destroyed. She covered her trail well. Thus far, no one had suspected a thing, and that was how it would stay.
The ride on the helical train was long and tiresome. Though she had been able to secure passage in one of the more private cars, it was still crowded. She observed others without making eye contact, and simply listened to those talking around her. There was discussion of the war, rumors of battles that were to be fought or where the enemy was expected to be next, and of course, talk of the wins and losses, and the effect that would have on either side. The companion beside her and those across from her were particularly chatty. It was the talk that she had not heard in her Sibylla days. She hadn't realized how sheltered they'd all been while serving Tempus Spatium as priestesses. She had seen the battle from the frontlines and then further back, but she had never witnessed the battle from the civilian point of view. It was quite a different story. She closed her eyes, trying to block out the droning of conversation.
At her stop she exited quickly. From the station she looked around for her transport. She spotted an older man with a horse and simple carriage. He sat off to the side of the dusty road, appearing to be waiting for someone, but never looking anyone nearby in the eye. She walked over, and he offered a hand to her, pulling her up the short distance. He did not ask if this was the person he was waiting for. She took a seat beside him, and he whistled to the horse, snapping the reins. The carriage took off with a jolt, and soon they were traveling along bumpy dirt roads that led far away from the small village. Neither of them spoke for a time, waiting until they were well away from the village.
"Paraietta received my letter?" asked Rodoreamon softly.
"Yes. She's happy you're comin' for a visit. The children will be excited to see you."
"They always are." She smiled at the farmer.
"Yes. She's happy you're comin' for a visit. The children will be excited to see you. They wanted to come with me to pick you up. Paraietta wouldn't allow it. Said you needed some quiet time after the train ride."
Rodoreamon turned her head to watch the countryside pass, her smile falling a bit as she remembered the information in her report. This area could soon be ravaged by the sound of battle and the stench of blood. Beauty could soon be the site of chaos.
"They'll want to play of course. A few of 'em have been helping me in the fields from time to time. They help me plant the new crops and tend to the baby plants." For a time, he trailed on, continuing to tell stories of the orphan children. Eventually he noticed that Rodoreamon was not making any sort of remarks to his stories. He looked over at his companion, who looked distracted. "Something wrong, milady?"
Rodoreamon realized that her worry was showing on her face. She didn't want to trouble the farmer, who knew nothing about the situation. He was simply a kind older man who provided some of the food to the orphanage, and one of the familiar faces the children saw on a daily basis. She scrounged for an excuse, and found one easily. "Ah, it's just this war. It makes everything more difficult."
"I see. Have faith. Tempus Spatium will take care of us." He snapped the reins again, encouraging the horse along.
If only Rodoreamon could believe that to be the case. Tempus Spatium needed to watch over the children most. She felt they needed the protection more than anyone. Her faith in Tempus Spatium had not waned, but she knew they'd need more than the guidance of just prayers. It would take a miracle to keep the children safe from the twisted plan of the enemy. She wasn't quite sure that Tempus Spatium could offer a miracle, or anyone, for that matter.
"What surrounds this piece of countryside?" she asked, deciding it would be best to engage the farmer so that he wouldn't ask anymore questions about her mood.
"You mean who lives here? Not many choose to live on this land. Lots of droughts can create hard times, but lately we've had some good harvest seasons. Nearest farm is a few miles east of here though."
"I see," answered Rodoreamon. At least if the area was attacked, it wasn't very populated. "Do you think the war will make it out here?"
"No, milady. Tempus Spatium would never let any harm come to those children. They're too precious."
She couldn't help but smile. "Yes, they are precious. Do you have a family of your own?"
The farmer chuckled. "No, I don't, sadly. I'm just an old man who uses the land to provide sustenance for those who need it most. What of your own family?"
"They are well. My husband is away with the war, and my daughter is at home, safe and sound." It was a lie, but it would be harder to explain why she wasn't married. She chose to skip over these small details.
"Ah the war changes everything. I pray your husband makes it home safe."
Their conversation would have continued further, but Rodoreamon spotted the large building in the distance. It was surrounded by a simple stone fence, and already she could hear the shouts and laughter coming from inside. A few heads peeked over the top of the fence before disappearing once more. This caused the shouting to increase in volume, and Rodoreamon was greeted by the many smiling faces as the carriage came to a stop.
The farmer helped her down gently and she stood, beaming back at the children. Her eyes searched for the one she sought. She didn't have to look far; Paraietta rested calmly against one of the pillars of the building. "It's good to see you again, Rodoreamon," she called pleasantly.
"It's nice to see you as well, Paraietta. I only wish it were for a happier reason that I came today." She moved toward her friend.
"I agree with you. Let's talk."