VII

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The room went silent for a moment until the previous slides returned to the screen. The soft hum buzzed on their minds. 


Relaxing her hand so that it was flat on the table, Ginyin was the first to speak. “We should prepare for an attack. Raise the shields and charge the guns. We’ll set up a grid every few meters and arm our fighters,” she said dejectedly.


“We can’t hand them over!” Paeosfu insisted. She was willing to gather all the citizens and lead them to a safe haven herself if necessary. Once they were no longer protected by the rebels, who would guarantee their safety? Fifth Ruler wanted to put them to work. Third Ruler wanted them killed.


Standing, Ginyin growled at the interruption, “That wasn’t the plan, Princess. Fifth Ruler is not having any of our Tayans. The base may not be prepared for a relentless attack, but we’ll have fighters stationed around the base. We will guard the Incubator with all we have.”


“If they arrive we should not engage,” the princess suggested. She looked toward Zoost for support. “We should talk to them first and see if they can be reasoned with!”


“That’s not going to work!” Ginyin guffawed. “They’re after every Tayan they can capture. Do you think they would care to identify who was at the mining fiasco? We deal with the fight here, fend off the Fifth Ruler, and go straight to the Third Ruler to reclaim our own and any other Tayans seized in the past.” With renewed energy, she roared, “We will show the Third Ruler the same ultimatum: bring the cores and any captured Tayan to us or we’ll destroy the castle!”


“That is foolish! We need no more viaete spilled on this land!” Paeosfu retorted, backing up slightly as Ginyin stomped toward her. History was about to repeat itself way too soon. “We can train spies and infiltrate the Third and Fifth Rulers’ networks,” she suggested, using General Ginyin’s and Zoost’s original plan. If Ginyin was so sure that their way would’ve worked then, surely it would work now? “We will rescue prisoners and all cores civilly! No more violence!”


“If you do not agree with our plans, you don’t have to be here,” Ginyin sneered.


“Ginyin,” Zoost said quietly. Princess Paeosfu was hopeful General Zoost recognized the old strategy.


“In fact, you shouldn’t be here anymore! Ever since you joined we’ve been taking too many steps back. You form your own team to find this mysterious Otekai. We’re not waiting for the Shiu Moon to rise. Everything. Happens. Now.” Ginyin had Paeosfu backed against the wall. The general's very frame trembled in annoyance. 


“Are you kicking me out?” Paeosfu gasped. “You can’t just kick me out!”


“Why?” Ginyin scowled, her voice slightly softer now. “Because you’re Fourth Princess?”


“Y-yes?”


The general chuckled and turned away from her. “Your power has no worth here. Being a princess lost all weight as soon as Zahgonmatiste disappeared.” 


“Keep that name from your mouth. That’s the Second Ruler to you!” the princess said to the ground.


“Gods just don’t go missing, Paeosfu. If they die like the rest of us, they’re treated like the rest of us.”




~*~


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