Jourd’Bellona, 19th Primera
Trust was the issue, of course. Anytime, anywhere, in any situation – it always came down to trust. Yarrow was fairly sick of it.
“We can’t,” said Caelum sharply. “They’re unknown variables. We can’t risk it.”
Yarrow’s eyes flicked to Jules. “As was Jules,” she said, watching the medic’s face cloud with anger. She looked at Anala. “As was Anala.”
The other bellica nodded in agreement. “Aye. And as ye’d been ta me. But we’d only be here, tonight, in this tent, a’cause o’ Ghia’s meddling.”
There was a general silent consensus around the room. “The girl is certainly good at that, it is true,” Yarrow said.
“Would you rather she weren’t?” asked Jules testily.
“I wasn’t insulting your betrothed, Jules – calm down.”
“She’s not my betrothed.”
“Then what in Tyvian are you waiting for?”
“Enough bickering!” said Aro. Yarrow and Jules fell silent, Jules glaring daggers at her. The bellica looked at Aro sharply – they were the first words he’d said at this meeting. He’d been increasingly quiet the closer they’d gotten to Aeril. Yarrow had worried that perhaps he was having second thoughts, but Anala had assured her that Aro was as committed to the cause as all of them – mayhap more. “Bickering doesn’t help matters. The fact is, that we can’t know whether or not to trust Anita and Leala without asking Ghia, and…”
“…we can’t do that,” Caelum finished for the other major.
“And why did no one think to ask her before we left?” A chorus of shrugs answered Yarrow’s question and she leaned her head back and sighed. This conversation had transpired in several different forms over the past two hours, until Yarrow felt like stabbing something. When she’d originally planned to revolt against her sister, she’d thought rebellion would be easy. Step one: raise an army. Done. Step two: storm the castle. Easy – she lived there. Step three: take the Sceptre and set the country to rights, bringing about a new age of peace and prosperity in the land that would be talked about in history books for ages to come.
Not so easy, that. But she could just decide what to do when she got there. First she had to get there.
She wished the Third Regiment had not been sent with them. It would make this incredibly easy. She was sure her sister had sent Anita and Leala’s regiment as insurance against possible treachery from Yarrow and Anala . Zardria was not stupid, for Juno’s sake. She would have noticed Yarrow, Anala, their majors, the healers, and Anala’s boys riding in to Atherton that day. She would have seen the new-found camaraderie among the group – the core rebel team of nine, all equally surprised to be in the group with one another. Well, team of seven, she supposed – Lares and Dagon seemed to hold no passion for rebellion aside from their devotion to Anala. Yarrow didn’t think she could really count them.
But that didn’t really matter right now – right now what mattered was helping the Aeril insurrection while making it look like they were subduing it, if indeed Anita and Leala could not be trusted. If they could, then discussions could end, and they could just go ahead as planned. Somehow Yarrow doubted that would happen.
“Feck this noise,” she said, tired of it already. “We need answers as of two hours ago. I want suggestions – now, and ones that don’t involve asking Ghia.”
A small silence passed before Jules spoke, after a brief look at Lares. “Reconnaissance, Ma’am. Send someone to spy.”
“Great. Whom do you suggest, Medic?” she said, though she already knew what Jules was thinking, and wasn’t terribly pleased about it. She didn’t trust Lares still, despite Ghia’s assurances. She wasn’t even sure she should trust Ghia – the girl wasn’t even human, for Bellona’s sake.
Lares cleared his throat and bowed low before them. “I would be happy to serve in this capacity, Bellica,” he said smoothly.
The group looked at Yarrow expectantly, and she realised there was not another option in sight. It was trust Lares – and by extension, Ghia – or risk bollixing up the whole operation. That, and her intuition told her to go for it – and if a Bellica can not trust her battle sense, that tightening of the gut that tells of danger more strongly than one’s eyesight, then what can she trust?
She gave a sharp gesture with her head. “Go. Be quick about it.”
Lares was already going through the tent flap, and Yarrow sat down to wait.
“Well, that may make things a mite tougher.”
Anala’s voice roused Yarrow from the doze she’d fallen into in her incredibly uncomfortable chair. She looked up to see Lares back, and before he even shook his head ‘no’ she knew the answer.
“Understatement of the year, Anala,” she said wryly, cursing her luck.
Anala smirked at her. “Nay, the understatement o’ the year would be that yer sister has a bad temper.”
Yarrow let out a bark of laughter. “True, friend, true,” she said, smiling at Anala. She was very glad they were close again – she’d missed the banter they’d shared so many years ago. “Alright,” she said, abruptly changing the subject. “We need to decide what to do.”
Another silence passed – much longer this time. Yarrow tried not to feel despair as no ideas came to her. Come on, Yarrow – you’ve been bellica for how damned long? Think!
“Too bad the Third Regiment can’t just come down with a case of swiftshock,” she said at length, only half-serious, trying to stimulate ideas.
Jules looked at her with a stricken expression. “Better they don’t – no medic of worth would abandon the Creed, and then you’d be out of your medicorps,” he said seriously.
Yarrow waved her hand irritably. Goddess, but he’d been touchy since Mudflat! “Lighten up, Jules. I wasn’t serious.” Not really, though it would be convenient.
A pause, and then the second bellica spoke. “Tha rebel core o’ Aeril occupies tha ‘acienda, Molly said. Third Regiment dosnae have ta enter tha building, ye ken.”
Yarrow blinked, and a slow smile spread across her face. “You’re brilliant, Anala – how come you’re not first bellica?”
Anala smiled in return. “I’d be a mite slower,” she said, but with no rancor.
“Apparently not,” Yarrow said, though she knew Anala spoke of physical, not mental, speed. “Third Regiment will be on duty in the town, then – subduing the people, on orders to use minimal force. First and Second infantry and officers spread throughout to make sure nothing gets too fecked up. We can take the hacienda.”
“All we need now is someone to warn the townsfolk,” said Aro, the second thing he’d said all day. Yarrow couldn’t help but mentally remark on the total flip in personality between him and his bellica. “Resistance could lead to accidents.”
Yarrow nodded, glad to have his input. She wouldn’t have thought of it. “Someone who can ride there tonight,” she added, and looked around the room for volunteers.
Immediately Dagon the sailor stepped forward. “I’d be willing ta go,” he said. “I’d not be in uniform, fer one thing, and fer another they’d be more of a mind ta trust a Harbourtown cretin than someone who sounds court-educated.”
Yarrow looked at Anala briefly, expecting the other bellica to be offended, but only saw agreement on the younger woman’s face. She addressed Dagon directly: “It will be dangerous, sailor. Can you handle it?”
He gave her a half-smile. “I worked on an un-guilded merc ship fer ten years, more often than not flying under tha standard o’ Exsil Vis. I’d be no outlander ta danger, Bellica.”
Anala’s head snapped up in surprise, and Yarrow saw the other bellica was just as shocked as Yarrow was to learn her Honor Guard had served Voco. It didn’t matter, however, as Dagon served them now, and he did have a fast horse – the mare used to be Anala’s, after all, and was still young. “Go, then, and make all haste.”
He bowed, and then left the tent, followed by Anala and Lares.
“That’s it, then,” Yarrow said, addressing the rest of the room. “Rest well, soldiers. Tomorrow comes the hard part.”
“Now that is the understatement of the year, Yarrow,” Caelum said with a smile.
Despite herself, Yarrow smiled back.