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What happened?


Tired from her surgery and from arguing with General Ginyin, Paeosfu wanted to meditate in peace and recollect her thoughts. She stopped in front of her room and squeezed her eyes closed.


Where would she meditate?


General Ginyin kicked her out.


Paeosfu turned to leave, but she could not step away from the door. Roskavna vouched for her to join the rebellion. It was only fair to tell her that she was dismissed.


But what should she say?


“General Ginyin thinks I’m crazy to stand up against Fifth, but you’re not adverse to the idea, right? General Ginyin and I fought, and she kicked me out. Gah! I have the greatest idea to keep everyone from dying!” Paeosfu pinched the bridge of her nose. Her shoulders dropped.


By this time, Roskavna must have heard of her dismissal. General Ginyin liked to send meeting notes out quickly, and Roskavna was always on top of those.


“You have no obligation to help me, but I will appreciate your aid,” the princess rehearsed whilst lowering her hand and lifting her head.


Roskavna’s loyalty lay first and foremost with the rebels. Her knowledge about Fifth Ruler’s trades and exports was valuable to the rebels’ plans, so Paeosfu doubted General Ginyin would allow her to borrow Roskavna until the next Shiu Moon.


That nasty woman would assume correctly that Paeosfu wanted Roskavna’s help to look for Otekai. The princess imagined General Ginyin vehemently opposing.


She had enough of the general’s screaming and hair yanking! Enough of the disrespect to the Second Ruler, no, to all the Rulers! How could one underestimate the Ruler’s military power even with evidence of defeat sent straight to the boardroom?


Paeosfu breathed to calm herself.


She needed to avoid overheating.


Think.


Can she count on Roskavna to at least keep her squad out of harm’s way? During the time Paeosfu spent with her, the commander completed missions while minimizing casualties.


Paeosfu folded her arms. Some of the names Roskavna listed on the return trip were from her squad. Including Ahblen, Ahglen, and Hie, everyone assigned to her somehow survived the fiasco. Those not on the return carrier must have been sent ahead of them to rescue the others from the mining transportation site.


As much as Third Ruler disgusted the commander, Paeosfu may negotiate with Roskavna and request her aid to move as many Tayans temporarily into his kingdom. That may prevent Fifth Ruler from wiping them all out. Roskavna could identify tactical fallacies in her plan, but Paeosfu believed it was the safest and possibly easiest way to avoid another massacre.


A soft voice hummed behind her. “Lost in thought, Princess?”


Paeosfu looked up to see Roskavna smiling down at her. “I hope Fifth Ruler didn’t rattle you. I had thought you were behind me, but when I turned around, I noticed you weren’t there.” The blonde tilted her head slightly. “Were you wishing an audience with the Fifth?”


The small Tayan shook her head. “No. I was not in a position to hide.” Paeosfu averted her gaze and held herself. Now that she thought about it, despite what Roskavna had said in the medical bay, the princess had felt alone in confronting General Ginyin. Perhaps, Roskavna wouldn’t be on her side after all.


Remembering Mynethra’s attitude towards her, she corrected, “The Fifth wasn’t in attendance. It was only her lackey.” Paeosfu glanced up at the Tayan. “Even she wasn’t expecting me to be there. She only—”


“Lackey?”


“The ambassador,” Paeosfu clarified.


Roskavna’s eyes widened then narrowed. Her small mouth twisted as if to hold herself back from saying something inappropriate.


All she asked was, “Mynethra?”


Paeosfu nodded.


Holding a hand to her mouth, Roskavna looked away. “I thought she was incoherent.”


“Make no mistake, she remains irrationally loyal to Fifth Ruler,” Paeosfu said with a roll of her eyes. She added with a sliver of hope in her voice, “But her emotional capacities were seemingly restored. I can confidently say that she wasn’t the same silent Mynethra on call the last time.”


Silence.


Although her time with the rebel faction was short, Paeosfu saw how close Mynethra was to Roskavna and General Zoost. They made a fearsome trio where their strategies were nearly foolproof and executed perfectly…Nearly. During an away mission, a handful of Tayans were captured by the Fifth Ruler’s forces. The remaining rebels had retreated to headquarters.


Roskavna and General Zoost were distraught. While the rest of the troops planned their next move, they were conspiring a rescue mission. Initially, they were thrilled when Mynethra returned to them first albeit a little disorientated and…off. When they sent her to be treated, she—


“What was it that Mynethra told you that warranted her to be a voice piece again?” Roskavna asked, tucking loose strands of hair behind her natural ear.


“Fifth Ruler didn’t appreciate that their transportation site was destroyed,” Paeosfu began. Third Ruler inflicted the most damage, so why did they—Shaking her head, she recalled the reason she was here. She needed Roskavna on her side.


“Mynethra warned us that the Fifth will be sending a team to apprehend any soldiers present at the battle. We anticipate they’d be after those still alive—in recovery or not—and those who have turned into cores.”


Roskavna stiffened no doubt also recalling how Mynethra transformed from a sweet smooth-talker to a cold, snarky ayigo. Imagining the same thing happening to more of their companions worried her.


Paeosfu felt the same.


Even if she wasn’t as close to the rebel army as Roskavna, she had a duty to protect them as their princess.


“I propose we temporarily move the base to the Third Ruler’s kingdom,” Paeosfu said. “Not the physical base, but the people. There are operatives there, right? We send everyone down in small groups, or I can send out an order to have you all taken there.”


Roskavna sighed. “Has General Zoost and General Ginyin approved that idea?” she asked with a sad look in her purple eyes.


Paeosfu casted her gaze downwards. “I didn’t get a chance to propose it.”


“Even if they did,” Roskavna said, looking behind her at the Tayans shuffling below, “I doubt we would all go willingly. It was the Third Ruler who sent a unit to attack the transportation site after all.


“It’s still unclear if they wanted to eliminate this ‘Otekai,’ destroy the facility, reduce our numbers, or kill you. Walking into Third’s territory in hopes that the Fifth will stop at his border sounds idealistic. Have you run the numbers? Created a simulation? There are far too many uncertainties.” Roskavna brushed past her and entered their dormitory.


She clapped her hands together and pulled them apart. “I expect there would be a meeting to decide the response to Mynethra’s—well the Fifth Ruler’s plan?”


Paeosfu walked into their shared space. She couldn’t give up now. No, she didn’t have any simulations or proof that the plan would be effective, but it was better than standing here and waiting for an assault.


Roskavna started, “The report dictates—”


“I can’t lose any more people because of me!” Paeosfu interjected. “I can’t, Commander Roskavna. General Ginyin wants to stand our ground.” She curled her small fingers. “I get it. This base was forged with the rebels’ own hands. It’s the most important member of this entire movement. Abandoning it might be out of question, but we can always build a new one! Tayavon would provide the infrastructure somewhere.


“We can’t replace the rebels. Once they turn into cores, their futures are uncertain! What if they become tasaio? There’s an even higher chance there will be more Mynethras if Fifth Ruler acquires them. Do you really want that?” Paeosfu pleaded.


“Effective immediately, you are no more than an outside advisor,” Roskavna said softly, lowering her hands. She faced Paeosfu and kneeled to be more at her eye-level. She was still a couple heads taller, but Paeosfu saw the sadness and disappointment in her eyes.


“What happened, Princess?” Paeosfu hugged herself and looked away.


“What happened isn’t important. General Ginyin was tired of me and—”


“Tayans are already wary of you. That never went away even after I vouched for you being an asset to us. I understand that you want to help, but this plan you’re proposing? Your current status among the resistance? Nothing is in your favor, Princess.” She sighed and touched her enhanced ear.


“You’re right. I don’t want any Tayans to become empty shells of their former selves or have cores irredeemably corrupted by the Fifth. However, we can’t leave. We all came together to fight them both—the Third Ruler and the Fifth Ruler.


“As you said, this fort is one of us. We’ll fight to defend it and the Tayans.”


Paeosfu frowned watching her ally rise. “No…Roskavna.”


“Sooner or later one of them would locate us and begin their assault. We have countermeasures in place. We have to assume that Third and Fifth are working together. Neither one could be trusted. If we could sneak into Third’s kingdom undetected, we would’ve done so. Alas, here we are.”


“Where are you going?” Paeosfu asked, watching Roskavna walk back out to base.


“I am a commander,” Roskavna answered with a trembling smile. “Despite my desire to help fend off Fifth Ruler, I have a duty to fulfill the core recovery mission. From the report, they are only interested in the Tayans who were directly involved in the battle at the mining transportation site, so changes are needed to my squad line up.”


“Wait Roskavna!” Paeosfu called out, chasing after the giant. “Promise me that you will come back alive! I need your help to find Otekai.”


Roskavna was one of the few Tayans who at least considered Otekai a key to unlocking the bigger picture, to giving them an upper hand against the Rulers. She might not have been completely convinced, but she at least didn’t dismiss the idea.


Chuckling Roskavna bounced her hand off her left shoulder. “I’ve been through too much to be offed by any of Fifth Ruler’s Tayans. Once the cores are recovered and the base is defended, I will lend aid as much as I can.


“You may be casted out as a rebel, but you haven’t been painted as a traitor.” Roskavna bowed. “I still respect you as Fourth Princess. My alliance priority may not be in your favor, but I cannot turn my back to you. Please be well, Princess.”


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© 2024: Operation: UGAWTS || Princess Paeosfu: Journeys of the Abstract Princess || Allies

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