Excerpts From: The Supreme Commander

“Please,” he pleaded. “Do not throw us out. We have nowhere to go. You consign us to certain death, if you do.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Great Chief Vraan said with a notable lack of sympathy. “You have been resourceful enough thus far. We will even put a vehicle of your choosing at your disposal, so that you may go. And you may go anywhere you wish, so long as it is outside our borders.”

“But there’s nowhere to go!” Taaben again said.

The Great Chief only grunted. “Think about it, but think fast! I am sure that if you set your mind to it, you can come up with some place to go; but go, and do it soon!”

“How can you do this to us?” Taaben sadly implored. “We have done you no harm, my sister and I. And we would be willing to do just about anything for you, if you would but let us. Why must you do this to us? What have we done that is so awful, that you would kick us out like this? Have you no heart?”

If silence was consent, then that was the answer that he received. His plea went unheeded, and the Council said nothing in return.

It was in the ensuing silence that Miaaca spoke out for the first time, using an older inflection:

“My brother, ye do err greatly now, for ye are expecting too much from these so-called Chiefs. Ye ask for blind men to see, and for cowards to act brave, and that is not a fair thing to do.”

Her words, clearly spoken with a seeming utter lack of fear, made her brother marvel in terror. She could have been suicidal to speak so recklessly, but he would suffer the same fate. As expected, the entire Council took umbrage of her talk, and Vraan was quick to express it.

“Are you mad, you stupid woman?” he angrily demanded. “Do you think I will not punish you because you are crippled?”

Her words were not conciliatory, as she continued in her persistent contempt of the Great Chief. She did not limit her attitude of disregard just to Vraan this time, but encompassed the entire Council of Chiefs of Maukaraae.

“No, you would punish me because I AM crippled,” she coolly replied. “You are not afraid of a cripple; but like the cowards that you really are, you will knuckle down to the Bully of Coree, and sit on your thumbs before you lift a finger to do anything about him.”

That accusation infuriated all in the chamber, and Vraan jumped up from his seat in a fit of rage.

“You ARE mad!” he roared. “You are totally insane!”

The other Chiefs also roared in ferocious disapproval, and even her brother leaned back, astonished at her painfully frank, outrageously undiplomatic remark.

Had she gone mad, as Vraan had just suggested? At first glance, the fiery look in her unblinking eyes might make one think so. There was something different about her at this moment, something so strange and foreign that he stepped away from her seat.

She looked like she was possessed- but possessed by what? Through the din sounding through the chamber, she sat bolt upright in her seat, with her hands resting upon her cane’s top, and did not move a muscle. Only her dark eyes, which sparkled with some unearthly force, moved to follow Vraan as he reached out his arm to point at her.

“Another word out of you, and I’ll have you EXECUTED!” he loudly warned.

To that threat, which was in his power to complete, she just raised up her chin, and peered over her nose at him. She still expressed no fear, and viewed her opponent with obvious deep disgust.

“Kill me if you will, Great Chief, but I have a prediction for you that you must hear first,” she warned. “You may believe it, or not, if you wish; I do not care; but you will hear it, anyway. When it comes true, then you will know that there is something in this life greater than me, or thee, and you will dearly regret that you ever crossed it.”

Her words melted some of Vraan’s anger, as he first stared at her in disbelief, and then with skeptical amusement. He gave an incredulous laugh as he threw up his hands.

“I don’t believe this woman!” he said to his fellow Chiefs. “Here she sits before us, a helpless cripple, one word away from death, and she still has the nerve to threaten us! Can you believe this thing? Can you believe her gall?”

He turned back to her.

“Woman, you truly are mad; but just to prove that I can give lenience to an obviously demented cripple such as yourself, I will ignore your insults, and will even allow you to make your prediction known to us; not that we will believe it, of course, just as we did not believe about the eagle or the barren duchess; but we will let you speak. And after you are through, you will leave us.”

Vraan was not finished, though, as he opened a drawer, and began to bring out some items within it. He obviously had put them there specifically for this moment, as they were symbols of the very thing that he was now mocking. There were two stacks of special cards that he set out on the table, a handful of colored beads, rune=like pebbles, several different kinds of dice, and a pouch of pollen. After he set them in line on the table between himself and Miaaca, he opened his hands to wave at them in open invitation to her.

“All right, Miss-Genuine-Psychic-Who-Can-Really-See-The-Future,” he addressed her in scathing tones. “How do you wish to guide us, O Great One? Would you use the mystic cards, that see all; or toss the beads to read the pattern that they make? The mystic dice might be more to your liking; or perhaps you would press the mystic pollen in your cup, and read the dregs that they make? Which way would you guide us? Come forth, and make your pick!”

The Great Chief’s ridicule was unsurpassed, but it was impossible to tell how Miaaca actually took it. There was a disturbing bit of a smile on her lips, as she pushed her hands on her cane to stand up from her seat. As she did so, her brother had a brief second to catch his wits, and tried to whisper a very quiet, discreet comment to her.

“Ah, Miaaca, I don’t think. . ..”

He meant to plead to her not to continue in this destructive breakdown in relations, but one glance from her made him reflexively draw back from her. There was something here about her, something that he could not explain or see; but it made him instinctively shy away from it. That odd look in her eyes, that wasn’t his baby sister, it just wasn’t her!; and even after entering Corrazi’n’s hold and coming back out again, he felt honestly afraid of that uncanny look.

He had no idea what was within her right now, but he knew to leave it alone. It was too bad, that he was the only one present, to sense that there was something here that ought not be crossed!

She slowly got to her feet without any assistance, and used her cane to take her few faltering steps to the part of the arced table where Vraan had laid out the items. There was still that unnerving half-smile on her lips, as she stopped before the table, then in one unexpected sweep of her free hand, threw all the stuff off the table. The cards and beads, dice and powder went flying across the room with amazing force from a woman so physically impaired, and the act caught her opponents off guard.

Even before the tossed items had ceased rolling about on the stone floor, she set her unnerving gaze on Vraan, and gave him a look that left even him mute with sudden dread. She leaned over the table, and peered at him, with her nose nearly touching his.

“So, you dare to belittle me with these parlor toys, do you?” she spoke as though he were a contemptible child. “Your planet has not seen one such as I in centuries, and you will be long dead; all of you; before another might come this way again. I need no such toys to see thy fate.”

She stood back up straight as she reviewed the other Chiefs’ expressions before continuing.

“So! Now the Grey League has done your dirty work for years, because you will not dirty yourself with the task that needs to be done. And now, you have a real chance to do something positive against The Supreme Commander that you fear so much; but you are afraid to do it, yourselves. You are cowards, all of you! And Renara… your beloved city, Renara… will burn to the ground because of it!

“Mark my word, Great Chief,” she continued. “This year will not be out before this great, ancient city will fall under the Commander’s iron fist, and you will have naught to blame for it, but yourself!”

Her prediction was met with total, stunned silence. Despite its brevity, her brother thought it interminable, as he desired with all his heart to find the nearest hole to crawl into. That moment was thankfully broken when Vraan recovered his wits, and addressed the two of them in an oddly calm tone.

“Kindly leave the chamber while the Council makes its final deliberation on your outcome. The decision process should not take too long.”

That, Taaben suspected, was a promise that would be kept. There was definitely no further point in talk. After what his sister just said, anything else would be simply anticlimactic. Whatever had driven her to speak and behave this way, was gone as quickly as it had came. Now recovered from that- what was it, a trance?- Miaaca, too, independently reached the same conclusion, and made no sound as she turned around toward the main double doors.

It came as no surprise that when they did not stop outside the doors, but kept on going, that none of the guards in the place tried to keep them. Although the Council’s decision was not yet officially announced, it was already expected that the aliens would leave at the earliest possible moment. They quietly walked back to Miaaca’s former suite to recover whatever would be needed for their unplanned departure, and in the privacy of her suite, Taaben finally asked her the question.

“Why, Sis?” he mournfully asked. “Why did you have to say what you did, and get us kicked out of here?”

He dared to ask, because that eerie expression was now gone from her face. That sweet disposition that was far more characteristic of her had returned. When he asked, she looked a bit sad, but voiced no regrets.

“I am sorry, Brother, but when the Spirit fills me, I am but a mere vessel,” she explained. “What came through me just then was not within my control, nor would I try. What just passed through my lips was the Truth, and the Truth had to be made known to everyone. Besides, we were already fated to leave. My words really had nothing to do with it.”

“That, I can understand- I think,” he responded. “But what came over you to talk to them like they were errant schoolchildren? I’m your brother, and I grew up with you, but I’ve never seen you like that before; I never dreamed you could be like that. Why did you act that way?”

She gave him a sideways glance, with just a glimmer of that strange mood he had seen in the Council chamber, and only spoke two words of warning:

“Don’t ask.”

Emory Carroll Wyatt

P.S.–
Yes, I know, this is only one excerpt, but there will be more soon.