Suohonn was sitting in his study, his fingers picking out a lament on the guitar across his lap. All of their sons, all five of their boys, all of their children, dead and Kalhara blamed him. Morris and Vann had died in that vehicle accident and now-. Intemperate, she called him. Unwilling to compromise. Stubborn and mule headed. Then she’d quoted his words back at him, paraphrased with all of his offers of compromise and negotiation stripped out. She accused him of the explosion that had killed their three surviving boys in the training base at Farmhome, not that they’d been boys any more but they were his sons, forever the younger generation. Kulas had been engaged to be married – Andromache, he needed to talk to her. Persis’ daughter and almost his own daughter-in-law, Kulas’ fiancée must be distraught and he hadn’t thought to speak to her. He really was getting as caught up in his own thoughts as Kalhara accused him of being.
He put the guitar aside, turned to his communications and data hub, and selected Andromache’s number. A few rings and the link to her home workstation opened. The agouti-haired young woman with the pale gold skin had been crying recently but she smiled when she saw him, “Uncle Suohonn, did Aunty Kalhara tell you? The blasting charges came from the construction supplies, not the military armoury. Uncle Tellis,” she referred to the male half of their engineering team, “says they’re so simple to use it could have been anyone. They can’t believe you were responsible.”
“That’s not what your Aunt told me,” Suohonn said slowly, his mind working so fast he didn’t want to speak in case he said what he was thinking. “Who told you they were construction charges and who else was there?”
“Uncle Tellis told me. There were three or four of us there. Halgrim, Moid, Vollin and me. Why?” She waited for an answer.
“Kalhara and your parents weren’t there?” He leaned forward in his seat.
“No. Moid was going to pass on the report to them.” She looked puzzled.
“Andromache, I need to talk to your parents.”
“I’ll put you through to their office.”
“No,” he stopped her with a raised hand. “Bring them to your room. Don’t let Moid or any of the others follow and don’t let anyone know I want to talk to them.”
“Okay.” She stood up and walked off screen, puzzled but happy to comply.
Suohonn opened his study door and leaned out into the corridor. The trouble with Kalhara being angry at him was that she was good at throwing things, knives for instance. “Kalhara, could you please come here and talk to Andromache?”
She appeared from their gym, boxing gloves still on her hands. “What have you been saying to the poor girl?” She glared at him as she walked past him into his study.
Back on the screen Andromache had her parents beside her. Persis and Herida looked as angry at him as Kalhara did. Time to test his theory, so he asked her “Andromache, can you please repeat what you told me Tellis reported?” She did so and he watched their expressions change to shock. “I believe we have been played.” Suohonn said that with some satisfaction – interference in their lines of communication made sense of some of the oddities in their dispute.
“And I may have done something very foolish because I believed I had almost everyone’s support,” added Persis shamefacedly.
There is more in this story line here.