IV

"—And to that I would say the mission was a success. Hm? Fourth Princess. Captain Roskavna. I am happy you two are able to join us," General Zoost announced, lowering his hand before gesturing for the lights to illuminate the control room. Paeosfu shuffled deeper into the room that held a few other Tayans with mixed expressions from tired, guarded, and upset. General Ginyin stood out to her the most. If the Tayan had eyes, they would only accentuate the hard-pressed lips creased into a flat line, thick eyebrows furrowed in knowing, and large hands fisted to resist the temptation of flying across the table and erupting in anger. Roskavna's heavy steps behind her were the only comfort in the suffocating room.


The speaker's forced gentle smile even came off insincere. Everybody could be doing something more productive, yet it was her mistake that convened this meeting. Once the two were seated, she between two other rebel captains and Roskavna beside Ginyin, the lights dimmed again, and the speaker continued.


"Before you two arrived, we were reviewing the reports collected on the battle real time and compiled after the battle," he said, circling around the table and allowing the data to be in full view of everyone present. Zoost flicked his hand to slide a new screen onto the projection. The data expanded into a 3-dimensional view of the field and rotated as he walked. "We should applaud ourselves. All of the civilians have been saved. The only ones to engage the Third Ruler's soldiers were our own. Had we have rebels to spare—"


"They would have been killed too!" Ginyin pointed out. The Tayan was very stocky and had a thick tube looping from her right shoulder to the middle of the back that made her even more intimidating.  After tapping her thick wrist and gesturing toward the center of the table, the statistics were pushed aside and a recording of the battle began to play. The sound startled everyone in their seats, causing a wave of Tayans bobbing in their chairs. Zoost was the one to turn down the volume.


Paeosfu felt General Ginyin’s energy resonating through her core. She hesitated to look up, stole a glance in Ginyin’s direction, and hurriedly stared down at the transparent table. The image of her furrowed brows shaking with anger seared itself in the princess’ mind.


“They would have been killed too,” Ginyin repeated, slower this time. Lifting her large stature from the chair, she walked around to Paeosfu and picked her up by her hair. The small Tayan’s eyes burned, and her throat seized up. Suddenly it became harder to breathe. She just came from the medical bay, but the princess felt her body burning up. If she breathed and relaxed and allowed it all to spill out…perhaps that would be better.


“Well?” Second Ruler's ex-general demanded. “No. Don’t look at me. Look at them!” she growled, tossing Paeosfu onto the table. Her form disturbed the projection, and a tear dropped onto the glass as she hit the surface.


“I’m glad we didn’t send anymore rebels because it wouldn’t have been worth it!” The large Tayan swung a fat finger toward Paeosfu. “Because your intel was supposedly from inside the castle, it was deemed more trustworthy than our own intelligence!”


“Ginyin,” the presenter said quietly.


“Where was the Imperial target?” Ginyin boomed, spinning around to the others present. “Where was this ‘Otekai’? Like I said before we went senselessly into battle, if this Tayan was truly so important, why was Otekai a mystery to us until now?” With another flick of her hand, the roster of the civilian Tayans populated the screen. “Either Otekai slipped through the registration or this Tayan doesn’t exist at all. It was a trap!” She slammed her hands on the table and really caused the platform to rock. The motors strained against the force to reposition itself. Paeosfu slid down towards Ginyin and slipped between her legs.


“Now where are you going? Returning back to safety to report on how you managed to weaken the rebel forces? I won’t give you the satisfaction!” she spat.


“Ginyin, stop!”


“Let go of me Zoost !” she roared, pulling at the reins casted upon her. Fifth Ruler's ex-general Zoost was struggling to keep the angry Tayan from advancing forward. “For our heads, we’re coming for theirs, but we won’t be so sneaky. We’ll go after them full force!” Ginyin announced. Paeosfu stopped making her way towards the exit and looked at her. “And if you happen to be in that throne room when we come busting down the doors, I will personally RIP that core from your body!” she threatened, nearly pulling Zoost down to the floor. “We’ll rescue the other Tayans my way from now on. Entire buildings will be torn down, and the Third Ruler will no longer be a stain on Tayavon!”


“You can’t possibly be serious!” Paeosfu choked with tears coming down her face. “You propose to take down the Third Ruler through brute force? Are you insane? Look what happened when we ran into the mining transportation site without a clear plan. Only fourty-three of us made it through. You plan on going to the heart of the kingdom and doing what exactly? Have you seen the Third Ruler and those powers?” she cried, struggling to remain on her feet. “I had to transform to keep my head from spinning. There are only a handful of Tayans in that castle. Everyone else is a droid or a cyborg, so you’d be wasting precious lives!


“And don’t forget that Third Ruler has enough energy to power Tayavon! Do you really want that directed at our people? How many do you expect to be caught in the crossfire? How many innocent lives are you willing to risk? I want nobody to become empty husks. We need to think smarter and not rely on muscles to get us through.”


Paeosfu’s voice trembled, but her hands were clenched. She faced Ginyin exhausted,  ashamed, and embarrassed. “Because, Ginyin, if you haven’t noticed I managed to kill a good portion of strong Tayans, and now they are all cores at risk in becoming tasaio! Do you think that makes me feel any better? No! I’m disgusted with myself that we didn’t commence that operation tactfully. I will not stand here and allow you to make the same mistakes I did.”


“And what do you propose then, princess?” Zoost asked.


“We continue to look for Otekai," Paeosfu breathed, thankful for the general's openness to reason. "Third Ruler is still looking for the Tayan--”

“We don’t know that!” Ginyin interrupted with a huff, turning to look at the Tayan less than half her size. “Otekai doesn’t exist, Princess! Never did. And never will. Think about it. It was all a ploy to get rid of you. Third Ruler will wipe us out to kill you with no hesitation. It would just look convenient that you happen to be where the rebels were. Third Ruler hates our cause! The Tayan will like to squish us out, but not without reason else Third Ruler would lose that shining halo proving competence as a good ruler.”


“Give me a team, and we’ll look for Otekai." Paeosu promised, glancing to the other captains present. "By the next Shiu Moon, if we don’t find the Tayan, we move on your plan. With adjustments.”


“That sounds like an excellent idea, princess,” Zoost interjected.


“No, it does not,” Ginyin countered, “We do not know when the Shiu Moon will next rise!”


“Then it’s as much as a hurry for us to find Otekai,” Princess Paeosfu pointed out. She could only hope that luck was on their side. Only a handful of Tayans thought they could predict the visibility of the Shiu Moon.


“How about we open this to a discussion since we cannot make the final decision now.” Zoost cleared the screen. “Let’s lay out the pros and cons of both ideas and—”


“Inbound message from the Fifth Ruler, svan,” one of the secretaries announced as the crest of the Fifth flashed on the large screen and was transferred to the projection on the table.


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© 2019: Operation: UGAWTS || Princess Paeosfu: Journeys of the Abstract Princess || Conflicting Views

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