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In The Name Of The Mother

Part Seven

City of Divisia, Elysium Habitat, Planet Motavia

Finally, something was happening.  At long last, the boredom was lifting.  Cille could hardly believe her luck.  A bright light streaking out of the sky and coming down in the west, and she had been the one to see it!  Astronomy was more of a distraction than a hobby for her.  You couldn't see the other worlds in the sky, but she always enjoyed picking out brighter lights and imagining they were the legendary Dezo.  But the distraction was paying off now, and in Laconia at that!

It must be a traveler from space.  It just had to be.  From Dezo?  Could be.  She already had her 'advisors' scrambling around to dig up whatever they could on the Dezo people.  References to lying and cheating were worrisome, but Cille knew anybody picked to travel to another world would be on their best behavior, just like dignitaries from other cities had to be on theirs when they came to Divisia.

What if it was from someplace else?  Another sun like Algo, maybe one where three worlds still circled it.  A brand new race of people.  She wondered what they'd look like.  And guess who was going to be the first to introduce it to Mota?  Princess Cille, ruler of Divisia.  She'd felt like she'd had a big stupid grin on her face the whole time she'd been in meetings with her advisors, and maybe she had.  At this point, she couldn't care less.  It was all about to be worthwhile.  History was being made in her backyard, and Cille fully intended to be there every step of the way.

The only thing wrong was the length of time it was taking to get some action out of her people.  A princess couldn't just pack up and go off to investigate strange lights.  It had already been a full day since the light, no, ship, had come down.  For all she knew, the people inside had already left.  But even if they had, she'd find them.  They wouldn't have left the land.  They might have gone to Aerone, but that wouldn't matter.  Aerone wasn't a part of the so-called Kingdom of Divisia, but the town was out in the middle of nowhere, with no connections.  History wouldn't remember Aerone.

"Princess?" came a voice from behind her door.

Cille checked the mirror to make sure she had a properly regal expression on her face.  She sat down at her desk quickly and tried to look busy.  "Enter."

"Princess?  I am sorry to disturb you," said one of her advisors, peeking around the edge of the door.  "We have the town.  They want to talk to you."

Cille could actually feel her heart miss a beat.  "Where do they say they are from?"

The advisor looked nervous.  "Some are from the town of Aerone, to the west.  All but one man, in fact."  He fidgeted.

Could it be?  Could this man have traveled who knows how long from who knows where to meet her?  She could hardly breathe.  She knew almost exactly what the answer to her next question would be, but she had to ask it, and she had to ask it calmly.

Almost glacially clam, she spoke.  "And where is this man from?"

"From the planet Dezo, Princess."  Yes.  That was what she'd expected.  The man ducked out of the room.  Lucky for Cille.  She'd have died from terminal embarrassment if he'd seen her throw her papers into the air and dance around the room.

City of Landen, Landen Habitat, Planet Motavia

The coronation ceremony was being held over Bran's strenuous protests.  Orakio and the woman who had headed up the majority of Landen's citizens, who had finally introduced herself to him as Kara, were acting as his advisors, and their advice was an elaborate ceremony.  He'd said no to that one right away.  The last thing he wanted was to make a big fuss about his appointment.  A large group of Landen natives had left to follow Alec to the Rysel tunnel and wherever he was ultimately headed, and Bran had no wish to drive even more people there.

Kara protested, saying that a more elaborate ceremony would confirm Bran's authority.  "I must concur," Orakio said.  "Your people put great stock in symbols and shows of power."

"Well, I cannot concur.  Not everyone is happy with these changes in Landen."

"Including yourself," Kara murmured.

Bran ignored her.  "I won't alienate the people who remain by acting arrogantly."

"You've got it backwards, Bran." Kara said.  "The people who remain are those who want change.  They are looking to you and Lord Orakio to lead us.  You've got to show them you are willing to, and that you'll be a strong leader.  We're tired of the squabbles of councils."

"A strong show of leadership will save you trouble later," Orakio added.

Bran didn't say anything.

"All right, then, what about the crown?" Kara said, changing tactics.

"I'll wear a circlet, nothing more."

Kara threw up her hands.  "Lord Orakio, perhaps you can talk some sense into him.  Half a crown and half a ceremony don't add up to a whole king."  She left.

"If you do not wish to alienate those who do not support you, why do you wish to alienate those who do?" Orakio asked.

"I don't," Bran sighed.  Getting up, he went over to one of the windows of what had formerly been the council building.  "I don't.  Kara risked a lot to help me.  I don't mean to make her angry, but this king business...I just don't know.  I'm really not cut out to be a king."

"I cannot help you with your emotional problems, Bran.  But I can tell you that they are an impediment to your efficiency."

"No kidding."

"You are not thinking logically.  You should understand that Kara and I are attempting to help you secure your power base.  The benefits of this far outweigh the risks."

"But is it right?"

"I do not understand the question."

"Well that's the whole point, isn't it?" Bran said, spinning away from the window and advancing on Orakio.  "You're not like us.  You don't make your decisions based on morality.  You don't have any morality."

"No, I do not.  I make my decisions logically, and for the good of the many."

Bran frowned.  "What?"

"In this situation, by uniting your people, you can guide them down the proper path.  You can stop their mindless drift and move them forward again.  You refuse to, because you feel badly about it.  You will not sacrifice yourself to help the rest of your people.  I do not agree with this morality of yours."

"I don't believe it," Bran said softly.  "I really don't believe it."

"I assure you it is true."

"No, that's not what I mean.  I mean that you're absolutely right.  I'm sorry about what I said.  I've been struggling with this the whole time.  I didn't want to be king.  I didn't want to be king.  Somehow I didn't appreciate that everyone else did.  I guess I really misjudged you, Orakio.  You do understand us."

"I have lived with your people for centuries, even if they did not know it."

You've opened up lines of communication with forces we didn't even know existed.  You're the most valuable man on the planet.  "Orakio, you've talked about this command center of yours before.  Will you take me to it?"

There was a long pause.  Bran had realized that Orakio normally made decisions unhesitatingly, and that whenever he paused, it meant the decision was an extremely complicated one. He could appreciate that Orakio might not want his command center's location revealed.

"I think it's important that the people of this world be aware of you," he said, to fill the gap.  "I don't think we should lose touch with you again."

"When we have corrected the current situation, I will take you there.  You are right, in your turn."

"Thanks, Orakio.  I think learning about you will help my people."

Orakio cocked his head.  "You have never referred to them that way before."

"Well, I'm going to be king, aren't I?"

"Are you?"

Bran nodded.  "Yes.  I am.  But I'm sorry, I still don't believe we should have a big fuss.  A ceremony with you, Kara, and some of your people in attendance should be enough.  And a circlet is really all I need.  This isn't me being selfish.  I need to show the people what kind of king I intend to be.  A king who's one of them, too."

"If those are your reasons for choosing a simple ceremony," Orakio said, "I believe it will have achieved its purpose."

"Good."  Bran turned to leave.  He had a new optimism.  Down in the tunnels, in the dark, speaking of the dead past, Orakio had seemed menacing.  But in the light, with a little logic, the big android seemed more like a wise teacher or mentor, someone who really was dedicated to guiding the people of Mota down a brighter path.  And Bran had finally heard what people had been telling him since this whole thing had started, that he could do a lot of good for people as a king.

"One moment," Orakio said.

Bran turned.  "Yes?"

"There is a note in my cultural database.  It seems that kings in the past have adopted the names of their more famous predecessors as a way of proving what they stand for to their people."


"You could proclaim yourself Lassic II."

Bran's optimism vanished in a single instant.

City of Mystoke, Frigidia Habitat, Planet Motavia

It had been everything Lune had promised, and more.  From the moment Alair had stepped out onto the firm snow and breathed in the crisp, clean air, she'd felt she was home.  It was so close to Dezolis she could almost hear the hoots of the owls and the faraway trumpet of the mammoths.  She could still hope to run across some.  The people she'd brought from Aerone were miserable, of course.  They were unused to the harsh land Alair found so enjoyable.

Things had gone well in the city, too.  Mystoke was full of quiet people who went about their business with a will, and who were fascinated by the arrival of people from another land and a girl from another world.  They were only too glad to listen to what she said, and even though Lune had kept the holographic projector, Alair had been able to get the message across.

She'd simply told them that she was a messenger from Laya, the ruler of Dezo (she'd picked that one up from Aerone.  That was seemed to be the best way to explain things) and that she thought the walls around the lands were harming the people.  What did they think?

The Aerone people had been full of praise for Laya's work and for her servants Lune and Alair, which puzzled Alair no end.  How could they possibly know Laya?  Yet they referred to her as the one they had waited for all their lives.  It just didn't make any sense.  Still, they encouraged the people of Mystoke to voice their opinions, and in the end Mystoke seemed to have been impressed with what the others were saying.

Alair had gone on to tell them about Orakio.  It was a lot easier than Aerone, because she was able to point to the perpetual snow and tell them that he was the one responsible for it.  The Aeronians had shook their heads at that and muttered.   It was really amazing how unhappy people were as a result of Orakio's 'orders.'  Even the people of Mystoke had seemed angry at him.

They reminded her so much of the Espers.  They too were Palmans, descendants of the only survivors of the terrible accident that had wiped out their fellows on Dezolis.  Thanks to their unique powers, they had escaped or survived the gas and had gone on to create their own society on the ice planet, dedicating themselves to the study of those powers.  Mother Brain's network had never reached them, and they alone among all the races of all the worlds still had knowledge of ancient ways and super technology.  Espers were quiet and thoughtful people, just like the people of Mystoke.  It was enough for Alair to decide she would stay here for a while.

The people accepted her graciously, and the few from Aerone had suggested that she would need her own home.  Alair had tried to protest, saying she didn't need much, but the idea had caught on and you could see the result quite clearly out of the window of the hotel room that served Alair currently.  The people of Mystoke and Aerone were building her a palace like the governors of old had lived in.

They were such nice people.  They seemed to like her.  And at long last she was out of the baking sun and away from the dry, crumbly ground.  Alair promised herself that she wouldn't fail the trust the people had put in her.  When the time came to confront Orakio, she'd tell him that her people wanted the walls gone, and if he didn't listen, well...

He'd just have to listen, that was all.