“Ha! As if Dad would let me do anything of the sort,” Myassa al-Thurayya laughed, racking the bolt on her sniper rifle. She lined up a shot and tore open the head of a Vyaeh who had peeked out of cover, spraying the area with ichor. “No, I had to learn all of this myself.”

“How, if I may ask, did you do that?” said Jai Chandrakant. He rattled off an accurate burst of suppressing fire to force the assaulting Vyaeh to keep down.

“Suitors.” Myassa aimed and fired, cursing loudly as she missed.


“Suitors.” Myassa adjusted her aim. “I had many of them–or more accurately, many of their parents wanted me to marry their sons. Only daughter of a well-off man from a good line and such. But, to his credit, Dad never forced me to do anything. He’d just chaperone me on dates with them. Actually, ‘dates’ is probably too strong a word. More like ‘activities.'”

“Sounds familiar,” winced Jai. “I wasn’t allowed to meet any girls without a chaperone too, only boys.”

“I always said that the practice of forcing ladies to only congregate with each other through adolescence is a recipe for unchecked lesbianism,” Myassa added. “But yes, I made a point of checking–thoroughly checking–the backgrounds of those suitors. If they had a skill I wanted to learn, I would practice it with them. Lots of Army men, naturally.”

“And your father was okay with that?” said Jai.

“Not really, but it was the closes to being obedient and submissive as I had ever been, so he took it. Once I’d learned all I wanted, I’d reject the suitor on some trumped-up pretext and choose another. I lost count of how many, but I learned how to shoot, how to do basic field medicine, how to strip and clean guns, and how to repair your simpler kinds of machines. Not bad for someone who was barely allowed to go out in public, eh?”

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