Excerpt From The Price of Power

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None of the kids needed sleep. Being operant meant they could easily go several days without, same as me. But after dinner, the ritual was always the same. Baths, and then give sleep a chance for an hour. I had to help Imtara with her bath; at about ten Earth months she wasn't quite coordinated enough to be able to bathe herself safely, but Ilras at two Earth years of age was fine by himself, as were Ilora at three and Esteban at four. Even Imtara was safe enough, she just didn't get clean on her own. Technically, none of them were Seventh Order Guardians yet, but they'd all been operant from conception. It made motherhood so much easier in terms of physical demands that it seemed like cheating.

In terms of mental demands, however, it made parenting natural state kids seem like a cakewalk. Baby Alden wanted to learn, and he wasn't even born yet. In order to keep him safely swaddled, I had to devote two of my para to him full time as an interface between him and the universe. He was already prepared to take at least half a dozen tests for level four competency - about the equivalent of mastering a lower division college curriculum - as well as several lesser tests. The other four shared four more para I'd had to devote to them to monitor what they were doing, help them with their learning, keep them on task, and keep them as safe as I could from outside threats. That wasn't perfect, as I'd found out while carrying Esteban - experiencing a duel in the womb wasn't something I'd recommend for any child. I'm not going write down how many total para I had, but my usual practice of devoting three to Vector piloting left me feeling stretched.

There had been benefits, however. Without Esteban, I'd have been killed by that djhanta who blamed me for his own shortcomings, and I'd gained Fourth Order power as a result of the duel, which had been gradually improved by keeping up with my wunderkind children to the point where my mental prowess was now well above the Natsi Cutoff. Any future children I had would all be operant - not Seventh Order, but operant - even if I lost Asto somehow. I didn't think it likely I'd make the Sixth Order transition any time soon - I wasn't the strongest or best integrated even of the family spouses - but Scimtar thought it was within the realm of possibility.

Publicly, however, I was still only admitting to Second Order. I wore the Second Order gold triangle with a stick figure human when protocol demanded, not the green of Fourth Order. Asto knew my real power, the kids probably knew, and a few of the other Scimtars, notably Anara, Gilras, Helene, and Scimtar himself. As far as the rest of the Empire was concerned, I was still a middling strong Second Order Guardian.
That didn't mean I wasn't Fourth Order in reality, however. The difference between Fourth Order and Second was more than just power. It was like I'd crossed some kind of threshold, and the universe actually wanted to help me exercise my operant abilities. It didn't make much difference to auros, but for all the other disciplines and their combinations, I'd had to learn to restrain myself. It somehow took less in terms of absolute power to achieve the same results, and my integration had improved almost overnight from lowish-middling gold well into the blue range. I wasn't as focused as Asto and probably never would be, but it had sharply narrowed the difference

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 19, 2020 3:44 PM.

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