Chapter 3 Effects and Causes
When she had heard from control that someone had to get in touch with Anira, Ailu had instantly volunteered for the task. There were many reasons for this. One of them being that Ailu and Anira had been friends for a very long time now. First they had just worked together. The handler and the spy. Their assignments being mandated by sheer chance or even worse by the planning department. Whenever they worked together they had a very good chemistry going. Other handlers had warned Ailu that Anira was borderline insane, with a tendency to give in to sudden flashes of 'inspiration' that usually resulted in rather spectacular incidents. Ailu loved it. She quickly adapted to Anira's style of controlled mayhem getting very comfortable in become the straight man to her partners outbursts. This brought the two of them closer together, helping them to get the results which convinced mission control that Ailu was able to control the outbursts of Agent Leyma harnessing her full potential. In reality Ailu was just very good t covering their tracks. Together they had become proficient to bend the rules into ever more complex pretzel shapes.
This time they had reached the limits of what they could get away with though. Ailu had been travelling for days to Anira's personal hideout as the bearer of bad news. She felt slightly guilty about this. Through volunteering she had gotten out of her office into a first class cabin in a sky cruiser followed by trekking for a day through the forest covered mountains surrounding her friends home. It was like a paid holiday. But you had to take the good things in life with the bad ones.
Anira's house was built into the side of a mountain overlooking a lake. Down the slope all the way to the shore was a green meadow covered in all manner of grasses and wild flowers. The only signs of civilisation where the house on the slope and a tiny boat house with an equally minuscule dock at its side. Three stories tall with a grass covered roof that curved all the way down to the ground it looked a bit like a startled hill with several large round windows for eyes and a big wooded door for a mouth. The boat house simply looked lost in the vast expanse of nature surrounding it.
By the time Ailu reached the entrance of the house the sun had set leaving just an orange glow behind as a friendly greeting to the fast approaching night. She was about to knock when a window above her was opened, Anira's head appeared and said: "The door is open, just come in, I am about to finish my exercises."
Ailu had been in many houses belonging to agents. While Anira's was certainly not small nor lacking in comforts that made life not only easier but out right pleasant, it was compared to all the other houses she had seen, her own included, downright modest. The furniture was of expert craftsmanship there was nothing luxurious about it. The things here were not cheap because they had been made by masters of their craft out of high quality materials but nothing inside the house was designed to impress or to be used as symbol of wealth instead as say a chair or a cupboard. The rooms themselves were also rather small. A large room from Ailu's own city apartment would have comfortably fit the three largest rooms in Anira's home. The effect this all had was that this house was incredibly comfortable and cosy.
She met Anira up stairs, in her training room. The largest covering half of the surface area of the house and two storeys in hight. It was mostly empty containing only a meditation mat and candles, a few rather unhappy looking sparring dummies and if one could count that the soft floor cover that forgave all but the most violent falls.
"Hey Ailu." Anira said working her way through the Seven Forms of the Sage's Deflections.
"Hello Anira. How are the holidays?"
"Pretty good so far. Was visiting the family in the first two weeks. Was nice even though my mother keeps nagging me about never being home. And it looks like my hopeless little brother might have actually found a woman with enough patience to see past his pathological shyness. And just before I got a serious case of family poisoning I left for home." Anira smiled. "And you?"
"Good I guess. . ."
"You guess?" Anira shot her a short questioning glance but did not break her kata. "OK what's the bad news?"
". . . er. . ."
"Don't even try to pretend that there aren't any. Why else would you come all the way out here?"
"Maybe because I want to visit a friend?" Ailu did not want to argue but when ever Anira was being a insufferable know-it-all she could not help herself.
"You are not due for holidays for at least another month and I somehow doubt mission control would let you go for a week-long holiday just to say hello to a friend of yours." Anira had finished her final form. "So?"
"You have been suspended from active duty."
"Ah. OK. Do you want a coffee?" she said as she walked past Ailu out of the room.