Indira.jpg Ahnika.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 2011.01.07
Location: EW - Headwoman's Office
Synopsis: Indira learns that she has a granddaughter, Ahnika is (unknowingly) inducted into the family ‘business’ and plans are set in motion to beat the Lady Tillek at her own game.
Rating: PG13
Logger: Indira

A few days have gone by since the decision was taken to apprise his mother of the existence of her granddaughter with delays having come in one form or another. This night however, the stars must have aligned for both he and Ahnika’s schedules seemed to have meshed. And so it is, as they navigate the hallways of the Weyr toward Indira’s office that Max’s hand seeks the redhead’s out. Tension written all across his frame and in the tight expression he wears. Yeah, he is not looking forward to this. In fact he’d probably rather meet Vaputero face-to-face than his mother right now.

As they walk and Max reaches for her hand, Ahnika grasps his and gives it a reassuring squeeze. There's a faint scent of oil about her, those of two different varieties, the kind used in oiling a dragon and the kind used in working leather straps. Determined to get the hang of it herself as opposed to just paying for someone else to do it for her, Ahnika will probably have both oil smells about her for months while she's working on her own straps and riding leathers in between physical training and weyrling lessons. But knowing that their schedules would finally work tonight, Ahnika took time away from that leather working to make a stop into the kitchens earlier that morning after the breakfast rush and her morning lessons. As such, the redheaded weyrling's unoccupied hand is carrying a little basket of goodies to make this unpleasant conversation perhaps a little less unpleasant.

Max is freshly from the baths himself, as if he thought that perhaps presenting the right image might make for things going better. Working in the beast caverns as he does and having enough leather equipment of his own to take care of, the chances are good he finds the mingled scents of oil Ahnika wears to be…oddly soothing. It’s the familiar. It’s what he knows. And there it is, the Door of Doom. Or so the anxious beast manager is mentally dubbing it, a quick glance going over to the redhead for the reassuring squeeze of hand. Doran is given a nod and sardonically given, “She starts screamin’ an’ shoutin’. Don’t come in.” Northern accent strong as he effectively warns the door guard to stay out no matter what. Inhale, exhale, try to look calm and then his attention turns to Ahnika before rapping on the closed door, “Ready?”

Dipping her head politely to Doran as they arrive outside the door, Ahnika then turns her attention to Max and the impending knock on the door. "Yes," she says simply in answer. There's no, 'she's not going to scream,' or 'don't worry, it will all work out,' pep talk. Ahnika knows better than that even if Jhath is being the motivational speaker in her mind at the moment and trying to be encouraging. Assuming they are admitted, she gives Indira a smile and dip of the head before turning her attention to the basket and looking for an appropriate place to set it down.

With it being after the dinner hour, Indira is not in her private quarters as some might expect her to be, but as those that know her well enough, at her desk currently frowning down at a sheet of paper. The knock drew her head up, the entrance of her son and Ahnika hand-in-hand, a brow up and the basket being carried by the weyrling, a flicker of amusement, “Are we having a picnic?” Pleasure threading into her tone for the unexpected visit.

A little more stiffly than intended, Max forces a smile out in response, “Ma.” His head dipping in greeting, eyes guarded though wariness filters through and has him looking away. Oh look, Ahnika. Perfect distraction and so he hangs back just enough that she might end up a half step or so ahead of him. Big baby!

Ahnika smiles at Indira, only a hint of concern at the corners of her eyes, but it is more for Max's behavior and nervousness than it is for any nervousness of her own. "I assumed you already had dinner, so this is more of dessert and a toast to good news." Good news? Well, that's one spin anyway. "I can go get a basket of supper for you, though, ma'am, if you haven't eaten." There's a beat pause and a glance at some of the paperwork on Indira's desk, though it's obvious Ahnika isn't trying to read it upside down, just acknowledging it, "I hope we're not intruding too much? Can you take a little break with us, ma'am?" She settles the basket so that it is balanced on the edge of the desk, and held there by the handle, avoiding disrupting any papers on Indira's desk, but allowing the fruity fragrance to waft about and perhaps detract from some of the oily smell. Unlike Max, Ahnika's not had a chance to have her bath yet. The redheaded weyrling tries to tug Max on up to the desk with her with the hand clasped in his.

Indira’s had her dinner if you can call the plate of picked at food settled off to one side, eating. Slowly the document she’d been reading is set down and the Headwoman leans back in her chair, sloe eyes flicking between her son and his girl. And then her chin goes up, a faint air of suspicion lingering about her features, “Good news?” Mind going a mile a minute to try and jump the gun by figuring out what that might be. “No, not intruding at all. I always have time for you, Ahnika,” almost looking to be ignoring her son’s presence and then adding, “Lomaxin too of course.” The smile she sends both, deceptively calm and welcoming as eyes touch down to the basket and its enticing aromas and then back up again, “Please, sit.”

Max finds himself having to tighten his jaw in order to avoid openly gaping at Ahnika’s choice of words. Finding them to be along the lines of throwing a party before dancing at the end of a hangman’s noose. And so he likely comes across as being somewhat distant. Realizing his silence is likely to simply buy him longer length at the end of said hangman’s noose, he clears his throat and darts a glance over to the redhead, hand tightening about hers in a death grip, “Aye, good news.” Yeah, he’ll have a go at following her lead and trying that angle. He doesn’t sound terribly convincing however but when they’re bidden to sit, he moves a little closer to one side of the only other chair in the room rather than stepping up to the desk as the weyrling does. Leaving the chair open for her use. Good grief! If his northern counterparts had to see him now…

"Well I think it is," Ahnika responds to Indira's first, "I'd like to think you will think so too." And if not, well, there's wine in the basket that might help. "Thank you, ma'am," stated as she is invited to sit, and she does so, taking the basket with her and slipping her hand out from Max's as she settles the basket on her lap and begins to open the flap, retrieving three serviceable mugs and handing two of them to Max so that he can hand one to Indira, assuming she doesn't already have something for the wine (though she probably does). It's perhaps a testament to Ahnika's sense of 'always be prepared' more than anything else. When Max speaks, Ahni gives him a somewhat sympathetic look, and then launches right into it - practical and earnest and forthright even if this is really Max's 'good news' to tell - "L'min's proud lineage and legacy continues on." Okay, so that was probably a little too cryptic, but Ahnika didn't want to take the responsibility from Max entirely. It was really his news to tell. She was just trying to be helpful? Ahnika busies herself pouring wine into the cups she handed off to Max.

Indira is nothing if not intrigued, though still somewhat suspicious, especially once Ahnika seats herself and starts taking out those mugs. Then again, for all she knows, this could be the weyrling's way of announcing her first mounted flight or something. And so with a querying brow sent her son's way she indulges with a patient smile in place, "Looks like you've come prepared." Unable to hide approval for her once would be junior. It's what the young redhead says next, cryptic or not that has dark eyes first flaring and then narrowing pointedly at Ahnika's waistline, anger starting to cloud her face as she makes assumption from that cryptic statement. Her regard snapping to the currently silent beast manager, "Are you some kind of special sharding idiot!? What the shells were you thinking!? And as for you…" turning her ire onto what she assumes is a mother to be sitting before her only to be get cut off mid-sentence by her son who finally finds his voice.

"Ma!" Max's voice barks out louder in the confines of the office than he'd intended, temper flaring for the manner in which both he and Ahnika had just been addressed. "It ain't nothin' like that! Jays, give us some credit would ya?" A frustrated sound catches in his throat and then with a look down to Ahnika, his chin lifts, determination in both tone and eyes, "What Ahnika was trying to say before you so rudely jumped to the wrong conclusions is that…" Aaand there he gets stuck for a moment and a heavy sigh spills out and he tries to appeal to the Headwoman's maternal side, "You know how you always said you wanted a daughter to play dress up with an' teach ta give us male sorts grief?" Well those hadn't been his mother's exact words and certainly not spoken to him directly but he's embellishing, trying to make what he has to say sound appealing, softening the blow so to speak, "How 'bout…a…granddaughter?" Well now, that doesn't really clear much up or take the heat off of them as a couple much either, now does it?

Ahnika practically beams for the praise, subtle though it may be, that she came prepared, and even as Indira starts to get irate, the redhead doesn't seem fazed. But then, with all the building up to it that Max did, enough for them both, really, it might not be surprising that she is unfazed. Or did she plan the blundering start from the beginning? Hearing you're already a grandmother by someone else's womb is probably easier to hear after the scare of thinking you're going to be a grandmother by your former protege's womb, right? Well, maybe. It was a calculated risk. "No," Ahni says remarkably calmly, in answer to Max being an idiot, taking one cup of wine and leaning over the basket to set it on Indira's desk for her. "Have some wine, ma'am, please." And then she lapses silent as Max speaks and she pours the third cup for herself. She's allowed a little anyway, and this seems a good reason to indulge now. As he finishes, Ahnika looks uncertainly at him and tacks on at the end, "From the womb of another woman," for the sake of clarity, "An unfit and dangerous woman. But we have a plan to rescue his daughter and will install her here at the Weyr where she will be safe and cared for, or elsewhere if we are unable to get your blessing, ma'am." She looks at Indira cautiously, "I'd hoped she could be raised here, ma'am. I could think of no other place she'd be safer and more loved." Especially with Indira as Headwoman, but saying so directly might be laying the ego-stroking on a little too thick, so Ahnika refrains. Jhath's sense of strategy and tactics have obviously done well in partnership for the would-be junior headwoman.

Indira’s ire simply deepens when her son dares to snap back at her, and in front of another no less. In no way accepting of her own bad behaviour in having jumped to the conclusion she had. A conclusion that would likely have been met with open joy were the redhead not still a weyrling, no doubt. “Don’t you dare…” not another word comes out of her mouth as both Max and Ahnika’s words hit her. Colour drains from the Headwoman’s face and she’s able to do little but stare mutely at the two of them for a moment or three, the offer of wine completely missed. Shaking her head a little as if she hadn’t heard correctly, she stutters a little, “Wha..what? Who…how?” Utterly and completely side blinded by the revelation. Quickly she draws that cloak of anger about her though it’s a weak attempt and appears as little more than bewilderment, “Are you kidding me? When in Faranth’s name…” Slowly but surely it all starts to sink in and first Ahnika and then Max are set with a tight look for the apparent trouble her ‘instant’ granddaughter is apparently in. Hissing low, “Where is she!?” Not bothering yet to ask who the mother might be as fierce protective instincts kick in.

Max opens and closes his mouth a few times and then eventually presses lips together in an unhappy line and lets Ahnika do the talking. He having so clearly failed in his attempt. Although he does send a deeply appreciative look the redhead’s way for being the more diplomatic and tactful of the pair of them, sincerely grateful to have her at his side. “Ma…” concern coupled with caution filters into his low held voice when Indira goes white as a sheet and starts stammering out questions. “I’m…sorry, Ma.” Quietly and sincerely spoken, eyes awash with distress. “Little Bit, she…” casting another look down to Ahnika as if seeking strength from her before inhaling, squaring his shoulders and forcing himself to go on, “She’s in Tillek. Ahni’s right. Her mother’s a nasty piece of work and we need to get her away and here to the Weyr where she’ll be safe. But it ain’t gonna be easy.” Accent slipping in and out of thick northern climes in his distress. A tentative step is taken closer to the desk and he slips silent, hands shoving into pockets as he states softly, “I ain’t never seen her, Ma.”

A soft reassuring smile is sent Max's way when he looks at her … and that's about when Ahnika goes quiet, either for a loss of words or just to give the mother and son a chance to make that exchange of looks and words and body language without the distraction of someone else drawing their attention. Plus, well, there's wine. And the weyrling takes a sip as she looks between Indira and then Max. There's a pregnant pause after Max's last, allowing that monster of a pitiful fact sink in for the sake of some sympathy in his direction, hopefully, and then Ahnika leans back in the chair, basket still in lap and cup of wine in her hand, "He's right. It's not going to be easy." And she's never been to Tillek hold. How the hell would she know? "It will have to be a very precise and delicately managed affair for all involved, and most especially the baby. She's and her secure future here is all that matters. We can't forget that. Sweeping up into that tunnelsnake nest and stealing her away won't cut it. It will only end up putting her in more danger. This will require … finesse and cunning. And all the more reason for us to bring our plan to your attention, ma'am, with your skills and resources and cool head …" okay so maybe a little ego-stroking. "Tell her about your agents there already, Max. She needs to understand the security and resources we already have there in place before she can help us with our plan."

Its a few moments of mother and son staring each other down before Indira takes in a shaky breath, her gaze now going to Ahnika. “You…knew about her all this time?” She’s still a little too shocked for there to be much of any kind of accusation to be in those words. And then something seems to occur to the Headwoman and her expression sets bleak, attention still aimed at the weyrling, “He cheated on you with this other woman and…you’re…pleading his case for him?” Trying to put the puzzle pieces together through the onslaught of information she’s suddenly being presented with, this tasting all too keenly familiar in parts. As to Max, well, she’s not quite sure what to do with him just yet. Standing there looking all sorry for himself as he is. And so it is that Indira finally takes up that mug of wine poured for her and throwing near half its contents down her throat stands and moves away toward the shelving in her office, staring blankly at the items neatly stacked there. At least she’s not yelling and screaming, right? Perhaps the ego stroking works for slowly she turns a considering look over her shoulder back onto Ahnika and then lifts it to her son, the expression in place now one of empty humour, “So that’s your ‘new’ interest up there that you have Lazerne and Elia guarding? You played that hand well, Lomaxin. I’ll give you that.” The apparent words of praise hollow.

Cheating? Pleading his case for him? Max can’t help but do a double take at those words, his jaw setting into a tight line as he too takes up his mug and then steps back to Ahnika’s side. Dark eyes fix heavily onto his mother from behind his raised mug as she effectively excludes him from this part of the conversation. Swallowing a mouthful of the wine he growls out low, “I ain’t him!” His father, the cheating bastard he’s now apparently been lumped into the same category as. The redhead’s words cleverly designed to stroke Indira’s ego and draw her into the plan to retrieve his daughter rather than take him apart at the seams, draw a long and silent look down onto her, marvelling at some level at how she was keeping it together and maintaining her calm while he…while he was quite obviously fucking it up. And then his mother is finally addressing him and his chin goes up, challenge set in his eyes as he answers simply, “Aye.” Knowing better than to take those words as any kind of truce flag being run up the pole.

The 'cheating' accusation actually catches Ahnika off guard, too, and it shows with a sharp, narrowed look from her grey eyes and her jaw working a little before she shakes her head, "Not the whole time we've been together, no, ma'am. I would have thought you knew I had more self-respect than that. The baby's conception happened before we arrived at Eastern," her timbre a carefully modulated tone and done so with effort and it shows, "Max hasn't been back with that woman since he's been here." She sets the basket down out of her lap and onto the floor and rises, showing Max her support as he steps back and sliding her free arm around his waist if allowed. "Max is smart," Ahnika says firmly of his sending those agents up there and playing that hand well, "but he's been tore up plenty since he found out his daughter needed his help. Conflicted over how to help her best. Maybe he could have brought this to our attention sooner, I don't know, but it doesn't matter does it? He's sharing something deeply sensitive for him to share, something I suspect is very hard for him to do so." Beat pause as Ahnika steps away from Max and sets her wine down on the desk, looking at Indira imploringly, "There's a little baby who needs us to focus on getting her out of a tough spot. Let's not waste time assigning blame or getting angry and dwelling over a past that can't be changed. Let's change the future. Her future."

Back to the pair of them as she puts those shelves under apparently close, though blank study, Indira’s jaw flexes tight and then looses again when she throws the rest of the wine back, so she misses that narrowing of eyes coming off of Ahnika. Her response however, that comes through loud and clear and has the tousled blonde turning slowly to fix weyrling and beast manager with a narrowed look of her own, attention taking in the manner in which the redhead quite literally joins forces with her by the way in which she fits herself to his side in the physical. Silent throughout and then she’s executing a slow nod of acknowledgement, lips pressed into a thin line and her words go to Ahnika first, “I presume then, you give this your blessing.” A statement more than a question. The Headwoman eventually seems to reach a decision as displayed in the small lift of chin, “You make good argument, Ahnika. She is our kin, no matter how she came to be,” finally setting agreement to the redhead’s words and then continues on, her tone carefully devoid of whatever emotions might be streaking through her as she pushes them down to deal with the matter at hand. “I’m going to assume her mother isn’t just some dock whore whose skirts you flipped, Lomaxin,” that directed to her son a touch sardonically. “What I want to know is why you left her behind in the first place?”

With Ahnika stepping into his side as a show of solidarity, Max’s arm in turn goes about her waist, hugging her briefly into him in silent appreciation for being his strength where he’d failed. That coming out with the faint smile that manages to briefly break through the tense expression he wears and then it’s gone again for the question put to him by Indira. Grim his tone as he forces himself to answer, “Garnalla of Tillek Hold.” The child’s mother. Refusing to add the title of ‘Lady’ for to his mind she was anything but. And then Ahnika’s stepping away from him, leaving him as ‘man alone’ in the room. Hands shove back into pockets and a frown lingers as the redhead pleads his daughter’s case, his tone gruff as he adds in at the end reply to his mother’s last query put to him, “Didn’t have no choice at the time, Ma. Kelarad was on my tail and closing fast.” Alluding for the first time to the older woman of the trouble he’d had in Tillek before joining up with her on the road to Nerat.

Judiciously, Ahnika chooses to refrain from responding to Indira's statement about this having Ahni's blessing. Especially as she follows it with the comment about Ahni making a good argument and Max's daughter being their kin. There's some little part of her inside that gets all warm and fuzzy at the turn of phrase of 'our kin' since, well, she and Max are neither married nor weyrmated (yet). She steps back then, taking her wine with her, and having another sip while Indira questions Max a little more, presumably (in Ahni's mind) to get more of the facts and be better able to help with planning Lil Bit's rescue. As Max mentions the Lady Holder's name, sans title, Ahnika has the humility and awkwardness to look down and away, briefly, and takes another sip. Then looks back at the Headwoman and braces for her reaction, moving to stand in beside Max once more if allowed. "It's only been the recent grab of power Max has made down here, as I understand it, that's allowed him to begin to lay the foundation to help get his daughter out of there. Fortunately, she's been well looked after so far. Things are changing though up there."

For Indira, it matters little that her son and Ahnika are neither married nor weyrmated. Ahnika is family, end of story and thus the inclusion given in her recent choice of verbiage. The fact that Ahnika doesn’t answer her, draws a long look the now silent redhead’s way with the Headwoman likely making mental note to take her aside at another time and truly find out where she stands on the whole affair. So when she does speak up, she gains the older woman’s full attention, expression turning wry, “Why am I surprised that you’re aware of that too?” It does however have the effect of mother turning a vaguely approving look onto her son for apparently keeping no secrets from his chosen. With a sigh she moves back toward her desk, the last of the mug drained and set down at one edge, “You don’t do anything by half measure do you?” that query directed at the both of them with the beginnings of wry amusement in place to suggest she’s slowly starting to come to terms with it all. “Do I at least get a name to go with my change in status?” The one that would have likely had any of her younger would be suitors backing the hell away from a woman that is now…a grandmother.

It’s Max that notices when Ahnika glances away at mention of Garnalla’s name, his mouth twitching about a frown brought on by guilt for the situation her relationship with him has thrust her into. Perhaps because it’s Indira didn’t ask that he’s prepared to offer forward, “S’why I did it, Ma.” His bid to stake claim on Southern. “For Little Bit.” Among other reasons he’d thought worthy at the time. With Ahnika returning to his side once he slings a possessive arm about her waist and utters a soft snort in response to his mother’s words, “S’what happens when ya teach ya son to go big or go home, aye?” Obviously starting to relax enough to dare a tease or simply at the point of not giving a shit anymore. Her last question, that draws a deep frown, “I ain’t got one for her, Ma.” And he hasn’t pressed for one either from Auren, deeming it safer not to do so just yet.

This time, Ahnika has very little to add. She smiles some to Indira's first, a bit wryly all its own. But she remains quiet and simply attentive at the exchange between the mother and son here. When Indira drains the last of her wine, Ahnika gives Max a little squeeze and then sets her own drink down again and retrieves the bottle, moving around the desk to pour Indira a refill. Then she moves back around to Max and checks his own cup to see if he needs a topping off, looking up into his face with that question in her eyes, but keeping it unspoken. "We're hoping the agents he sent up there will be able to catch her mother," not Garnalla or Lady Garnalla, "making a critical error and exploiting it, revealing her infidelity and enabling Max to getting Lil Bit without any … Holder-tie issues."

When Ahnika approaches to refill her mug, Indira shifts a hand to lay it upon the redhead’s arm if she doesn’t pull away, the look she sends her deeply approving and more than a little less impressed with the manner in which the young woman has conducted herself this day. “You do us proud, Ahnika.” Sincere in that assessment. She does do a little double blink when Holder-ties issues are touched on and finally sets name to Hold to…Lady. “The Lady Holder?” without awaiting confirmation a brow arches upward, “That’s…going to take some doing.” And then to Max, “Have you gotten any reports back from Lazerne and Elia yet?” The filled mug lifted and an appreciative look following Ahnika as she moves back to the beast manager.

Max’s mug is still half full given that his attention has been elsewhere but one can be sure that he’s likely to be abusing a whiskey bottle later on. The silent question coming from Ahnika has him frowning a little, probably unsure as to quite what it relates to given all that has transpired in the last little while. Dark eyes follow her as she refills Indira’s mug, pride and warmth showing clearly in his expression for the praise given her by his mother. Yup, that’s his girl right there. And then he’s looking distinctly uncomfortable again as the Headwoman slots the final puzzle piece into place, simply giving a mute nod in response. As to the two he has up in Tillek keeping an eye on the situation, lips press into a thin line as he hands out news that he hasn’t told Ahnika yet, “She’s pregnant again. They say the Lord was away too long for it to be his.” History repeating itself much?

Ahnika doesn't pull away from the contact with Indira, and smiles more warmly and earnestly toward the Headwoman for her praise, even flushing a little. In reality, she doesn't think she's done much, or at least in her mind she's only done what someone with any sound sense should do. But she is gracious and doesn't flout it. "Thank you," she says simply, humbly, but genuinely. Since Max doesn't indicate if he wants a topping off of wine or not, Ahni does so just to be safe, and lapses quiet as the business of getting Lil Bit back is dug into more seriously. Nodding a little to hearing Garnalla is pregnant again, Ahni puts the bottle back in the basket and retakes her own cup up as she muses things over, and then finally asks, "Do they have any suspicions as to how she is going to try and resolve the matter? I'm guessing it's too late for her to go Between if they know."

Anyone else might have risen to the bait or the heat of the touchy situation. Ahnika had not. Thus earning her further high favour in the Headwoman’s eyes for having rather given calmly spoken input and suggestion. Which more than likely is what has been Max’s saving grace and why he doesn’t currently find his mother’s boot up his ass. Either way, confirmation on the identity of her granddaughter’s mother draws Indira once again silent for a moment or two, sipping at the wine as she contemplates the various possible angles and pitfalls. Sloe eyes lift to her son for the revelation of the Lady Tillek once again being in the family way and then settle onto Ahnika a slow and cunning smile making an appearance but she pays whatever the thought was that had brought that on, no voice. Leaving conversation to fall between beast manager and weyrling, her scheming mind is already in full swing.

Ahnika taking to topping up his mug despite his not having indicated that she do so, draws a corner of Max’s mouth to lift in appreciation. It being the little things that add up and count in the end. At least as far as he’s concerned. Dark eyes narrow onto Indira when that crafty smile fits into place, “Ma…” his tone taking on a warning note, “you don’t go doin’ nothin’ without my say so, aye?” All too familiar with the ways of his dam. Back to Ahnika’s question his free hand palms over his face and a sigh expells, “Aye, it’s too late. They reckon round about another three months or so and…the Lord’s only been back for goin’ on just 3 and a half months.” A quick swallow of wine and then a cold note creeps into his tone, “Elia reports that the new stable manager’s a big dark skinned fellow outta Ista. She’s puttin’ her marks on him bein’ the sire. Says when the Lord got back, the Lady had him fired for stealin’ an’ he was sent packin’.” Anger for yet another being used and tossed aside by the cold hearted Lady Tillek flickering in and out of his expression.

Ahnika misses the cunning smile from Indira as she is putting the wine bottle back into the basket, her own comparatively less-than-practiced scheming mind is turning. It's Max's first that draws out a comment from Ahni, "You've a right to be concerned, my Heart. This is a delicate matter, and there's a lot at stake, and we all should agree to be open with each other about our thoughts on what to do and work together as a team, but your mother's not a fool. I'm sure she won't do anything on her own when it could just end up getting tripped up on any plans and agents you already have in place, Max." Gently putting to bed Max's worries? Or gentle reminder to Indira the importance of doing this as a team? Perhaps both. With an affectionate stroke along Max's back, Ahni settles back in the chair again, her grey eyes focused on the front of Indira's desk in concentration. "If I were such a selfish, cruel Lady Holder in that kind of predicament, I'd be getting desperate, perhaps even sloppy, looking for a way out to save face and my life. If our agents have earned her trust there, they could present her with an easy way out that she'd not suspect was really a trap, and then tip the Lord Holder off to catch her in the act—whatever it is. Hmm. I don't know if that would be enough to get Lil Bit back, though. And I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to the newborn in the process." She takes another sip of her wine.

Indira tosses a brow up high as her son as the audacity to reign her in and is about snap out retort when Ahnika interjects as she does. She knows exactly what it is the young woman is doing as it's a tactic she herself would use, and so her expression paints slightly amused and she lazily points a finger in the redhead's direction, "What she said." Her? Interfere? Never! Riiight. She sets her attention instead to what gets said next, "If the stable manager that has just been let go, is indeed the sire, we'll need to do little but sit back and watch when the babe comes into the world declaring to all and sundry of its true lineage, aye?" Cue the cold smirk there. Yes, she's rather liking the idea of trying to picture the Lady Holder trying to explain that one to her Lord. "However," leaning forward a little in her seating, "we can't take the risk that he is. What you say has merit, Ahnika."

Max narrows a look onto his mother when she gracefully wriggles free using Ahnika's words to cover her ass. Yeah, he's not buying that but he lets it go for the time being. Perhaps it's the touch of her hand to his back that keeps his tongue in check and has him focussing on the matter at hand rather than calling the woman out on it? Probably, for next he matches Indira's cold smirk with one of his own and then it slips into a frown as he mulls the redhead's words over, "She's just cold enough to do something crazy like try to sell Little Bit and the new babe off rather than face the truth of her deception." And then he blinks, an idea turning a sly grin out onto his face for the first time since stepping into the office. Without a second thought he bends and presses a triumphant kiss to Ahnika's lips, murmuring as he breaks away, "My little genius!" And then completely unapologetic for that spontaneous display of affection explains for both their benefits, "We can have Auren, who is already trusted by Garnalla drop hint that she knows of someone who could make her little 'problems' disappear. Elia and Lazerne pretend to be sympathetic to the bitches cause and set up a kidnapping for her. Of course, the kidnappers will be our own people but it will provide us with evidence enough to take to her Lord." Back on track and feeling more in control of the situation as a whole now that they may have a potential plan to work with, his northern accent eases up back into the more carefully spoken twang he's adopted over the turns.

Nodding first to Indira's comment about the stablemanager's sire, err, the more recent one, Ahnika leans over to pick out a cookie each from the basket and then leans forward to set one on Indira's desk before handing the other to Max, and then she herself taking the last one. Scooby snacks? Well, if so, Ahnika is lumping herself in for deserving a treat. Before taking a bite, she says in response to both Max and Indira's comments, "I'd not only worry about taking the chance that he wasn't really the sire, but also worry that she might not just smother the baby shortly after birth and call it stillborn and have it taken away before the Lord Holder can see the babe." Midwives can be blackmailed or bought off just like anyone, though Ahnika doesn't voice that aloud. She's just about to take that bite of cookie when Max bends down to kiss her so soundly, and reflexively it is returned, but as he turns away and calls her a genius, she blushes and grins a bit at him, in mock-chiding tone, "Eat your cookie," instead of his pie. Ahem. Then nodding, "That's a great idea. They should make sure to get hard evidence too, so it's not just their words against hers. She's a Lady Holder, after all. It'll take more than just a he-said-she-said to get justice served, and even more than just the Lord Holder crashing the gather; I'm sure she is used to talking her way out of trouble and making things look like she's the victim."

The cookie set on the edge of her desk draws a faint look of amusement in Ahnika’s direction but Indira says nothing, merely taking the offered treat up with a nod of thanks. That amusement however deepens when her son claims a kiss from the weyrling. Having started to nibble on one edge of the cookie, brows draw down into a frown and she temporarily sets it aside, “Any woman that could smother a child at birth deserves to be staked out for Thread.” A little more vehemently spoken than intended. It’s covered over by a lift of brow and she sends a craftily pointed look in Max’s direction, “Time to start putting all that Holder Conclave law you’ve been studying to good use now, aye?” Giving a nod in the redhead’s direction, “Ahnika has a point. You’ll need hard and fast evidence. Perhaps even…a midwife in your pocket to attend the dear Lady in her hour of need?” Deep the cunning smirk that patterns into place as she takes the weyrling’s observation and turns it to their advantage. That having been said, the cookie once again appears to become the focus of the Headwoman’s attention.

Max looks a little green around the gills for the comment made about smothering babes at birth, not putting such a heinous act passed the Lady Holder. Exceedingly grateful that Little Bit had not met with such a fate. The teasing chastisement from Ahnika pulls him from the brink of such dark thoughts in time to flash a telling wink down to her, meant to convey he’d rather have pie but that a cookie will do for now. And so he consumes the treat in two bites, dark eyes narrowing onto his mother as she calls him out over the harper tome he’d borrowed. Chewing and swallowing, his tone is sardonic, “Next time, try coming to me yourself instead of sending Jaya.” Tone mildly reproachful. Attention turns next to the redhead, a long contemplative look settled onto her, “I wouldn’t normally ask, love. But…would your foster mother have any contacts in her profession that we could call upon?”

"A hundred times over," Ahnika agrees sternly over what a woman deserves for infanticide, which of course is impossible as once is usually all that's needed. But it's meant for emphasis. At the mention of Holder Conclave law Ahnika blinks a little and looks up at Max, slowly smiling and looking more than a little pleased and impressed. Though she voices nothing over it specifically, and even with Indira's comment the redhead's mind is already thinking about her foster mum, Seren, a midwife Healer of many turns and experience over. Her contemplation is done over another bite of her cookie. She doesn't look to Max right away as he asks the favor of her reaching out to her foster mum, "Yes, she has contacts," her voice drifts a little through the pause, "the trouble would be finding one not burdened with responsibility of patients who could go. Few would want to leave when they have babies they are expected to deliver and they are the only midwife in the area. But I can write her and ask. I'm sure some of those contacts are at Fort itself, teaching apprentices in the Healer Hall, and could probably manage to get some leave." Now she lifts her gaze up to Max first, and then Indira and nods, "I'll get a letter written tonight, before I go to sleep, and ask Nara to do me the favor of taking it to her tomorrow morning." Such matters shouldn't be left up to the standard postal service time.

Oh yes, Indira knew that the redhead’s foster mother was a Healer specializing in the field of midwifery. Had she had the girl investigated due to her relationship with her son or had the beast manager passed the information on during a conversation at some time? Either way, she doesn’t appear to be particularly surprised when Max puts his question forward to her. Leaning back in her chair, elbow of one arm set to the arm of the chair and chin resting upon its fist she watches the younger pair closely, a faint smirk being all response to her son’s rebuke. Her silence is broken with a slightly wary look set upon the weyrling, “How far can we trust this Nara person you’re intending entrusting with such a…delicate message?” Silently preferring to send one of her own trusted draconic messengers but curious to hear Ahnika’s reply.

Max mirrors that smirk coming from his mother in like silence before turning back to Ahnika in time to catch that look she sends him, a small smile given in response before turning to the matter at hand. His expression turns distant as he mulls what she says over, concern threading into his tone, “I don’t want to be putting her or anyone else in a compromising position, Ahni. Attending the birth would be a legitimate assignment for which the midwife would obviously be paid. Perhaps Seren might through her contacts, know of a midwife already working out of Tillek?” Wanting as far as possible for the plan they’re putting together to appear above board. Especially if the evidence collected is going to need to be presented to Lord Elisser himself for consideration. He can’t help the faint grimace that comes on the heels of the redhead suggesting that Nara deliver the message for her but his mother’s already put voice to his concerns there so he says nothing of it for the time being.

For Ahnika's part, either she's forgotten that she has never shared her foster mum's position with Indira, or she just assumed Max had told her long ago, for she doesn't seem alarmed over it. It's not like Ahnika has tried to keep it a big secret at the Weyr. Even Jonavan knows … and she doesn't like Jonavan. To the question, she pushes down the mild indignation she feels on behalf of Nara and simply shrugs, frowning a little, "She won't read it or deliver it to someone else, if that's what you're asking. What would she have to gain? But if you'd feel better using one of your own riders, that's fine. Just tell me who so I can have Jhath bespeak him or her in the morning and hand off the letter with directions to the cothold up there." Then a nod and another bite of her cookie, finishing it, while Max speaks, "I'll be sure to ask." She obviously has no idea who her foster mum knows or doesn't know up at Tillek, so can't speak to that.

Indira is torn between being absolutely sure of the safe delivery of that message and wanting to give Ahnika a chance to prove herself and her contacts. She’s seen the markers pointing to a few very valuable traits in the girl and so with a short smile followed by a dip of head she concedes, “The job is yours to handle in any way you see fit, Ahnika.” Thus handing her the responsibility of procuring them a midwife. Welcome to the family, darlin’!

Watching carefully, shoulders tensed for the possibility of his mother trying to downplay Ahnika’s involvement in the retrieval of his daughter, and prepared to fight her on it, a breath he hadn’t known he was holding exhales and a smile laced with pride is sent over to the redhead with a small nod of encouragement. Welcome to the family, indeed! With there being little else that can be planned until she’s heard back from her foster mother, Max holds out a hand to the weyrling as silent gesture for the meeting to be considered concluded and for them to be making their departure. Whether or not she takes his hand a long look is sent to his mother and then one corner of his mouth turns up in a crooked smile, relief bringing on a mischievous glint, “Congratulations…Granma.” Yeah, he’d better duck.

It's times like these that Ahnika can be a little more than obtuse. If there was a moment of induction or initiation into some family circle of vigilantes, Ahni missed it. The junior-headwoman in her is all about practicality and just getting whatever it is that needs to be done, done. Jhath probably understands the more symbolic aspect to Ahni being given her own part in the plan better than Ahni does. "Very well," Ahnika says simply and even somewhat breezily in return to Indira bestowing her such an honor, that is until she gets a mental nudge from Jhath, and she adds with a smile, "Thank you." Taking Max's hand with her now cookie-less hand and rising to her feet with a final draught of wine (who knows when she'll have another opportunity to enjoy such a taste), Ahni sets the empty cup into the basket at her feet, "Enjoy the rest of the sweets and wine, ma'am." Goosing Max in his side with her now free hand for his remark, "Hush, you." Don't taunt the lioness.

Indira misses the fact that Ahnika doesn’t quite get the unspoken induction and as such is somewhat impressed by the breezy way in which she accepts the task handed her. An approving nod of head in acknowledgement and then she’s standing to her feet and moving toward the pair. With most of the shock having worn down from hearing she has a granddaughter, her expression is a mixture of pride and small reproach for his not having told her sooner as she tops in front of Max. A hand lifts and she taps at the side of his face. Not quite as gentle as a pat, but certainly not hard enough to be a slap either, “You look after them, son, or you’ll have me to deal with, aye?” Despite the gesture, there’s fond warmth in her tone as slips her arms about the young man and hugs him briefly to her. Turning to Ahnika next, her mouth fits around another warm smile, and although she seems to tease there’s sincerity in her words, “You keep him in line, you hear?” And she’ll step in and offer the younger woman a brief hug too before stepping back and lending her a smile of appreciation for her foresight in having not only brought the basket of goodies along, but also for leaving it behind, “Thank you, love” Fingers then make a flickering gesture toward the door, “Now go on and get out of here. Us Granmas need our rest.” High amusement dancing in her eyes suggesting the exact opposite for where this woman is concerned.

As for Max? Well forgive him for currently wearing a rather shaky smile of relief. This had not gone the way any one of the hundred ways he’d expected it might. His hand tightening about Ahnika’s as she comes to her feet, the prod to his side drawing a crooked smile from him. And so when Indira steps around her desk and stops in front of him laying that overly firm pat to the side of his face and delivering those words, it’s met with a wry smile, “Yes, ma’am.” The form of address given in such a manner as to suggest this was the normal and expected response from a son often chastised by his mother and not given in mockery. Slipping his free arm about Indira he hugs her close to him, a quietly spoken, “Thank you, Ma,” given to her. And then chuckling and shaking his head in amusement as she effectively shoos them out of her office, “Next turnday…it’s a walking stick for you.” And before the Headwoman can retort, he’ll try tugging Ahnika out of the office with him, laughter left on the air behind him if she’s followed him out.

Ahnika smirks faintly as she watches the exchange between mother and son, her own thumb resting atop his as their hands are together starts to stroke a little in warm affection and encouragement. "Tall order, ma'am," Ahnika grins ruefully, hugging in return before saluting with her free hand, "But Jhath and I are up for the challenge." And as if in show of her words, her first duty to keep him in line is given on the heels of his last as he steps to the short tunnel outside her office, and Ahni is heard to mutter at him, "That walking stick will find its way up your arse if you don't behave." Though it's laughter that punctuates it, echoing down the corridor with the couple as they depart.

Pat Benatar - Hell Is For Children

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