Arsha was soon healed up and released from Sick Bay. She returned to the bridge of the ship and sat down in her chair. “Any news?” she asked Shalvey.
“Just a message from Rokalla,” Shalvey answered.
“What new mission has he got for us?” asked Malak. Shalvey then opened the message.
“…Erm, we’re gonna be taking Elmpam to Largandra,” she reported.
“What? Why?” asked Arsha.
“The message asked that I only tell everyone once you saw this first.”
“…All right.” Arsha got up and checked out the message. Her face fell as she read it. “…No.”
“What’s the matter?” asked Nazay.
“No. No! No! No!” Arsha hitched up her skirts and left the bridge in a hurry, repeating “no” all the while.
“…Wh…what’s going on?” asked Nazay.
“…An All-realm Royal Summit,” answered Shalvey. The bridge crews’ eyes went wide at the thought. The Rulers of the Over, Mid, and Under-realms were going to meet to discuss the future of the Realms.
“Arsha, will you three please calm down and be professional about this!?” snapped Elmpam as she and Rokalla spoke with Arsha, Lardeth, and Malnar in the conference room.
“Mama, there is NOTHING professional about this!” protested Malnar. “Every time there’s an All-realm Royal Summit, it leads to war!”
“I know the historical implications are staggering,” interjected Rokalla over the screen, “but the situation with Dr. Borg’s alliance has now escalated. If she and Oyed are taking bodies from a morgue, it’s a safe assumption that she’s building up a Revenant army out of the followers that died.”
“And our parents’ decision is to talk about sending people to die at a Revenant’s hands?!” snapped Lardeth.
“Lardeth, you know that’s not how your parents work,” reminded Elmpam.
“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation!” moaned Arsha.
“Look, the people of the Realms want the Realm Trinity Empire to be gone,” replied Elmpam. “and if you kids raise a stink over this, especially in the face of how Golems of Dr. Borg’s design were allowed onto the Endeavor to search for wayward merfolk, it’s NOT gonna look good.”
“And you think Daddy would want to talk about this?!” protested Arsha.
“Arsha, it was your father who organized this,” answered Rokalla.
“…The man who’s trying to find the most peaceful option,” muttered Lardeth, “and HE’S the one organizing this?!”
“Arsha, I trust you’re not raising a stink over this!” hissed Elgrad once the talk in the conference room was over and Arsha returned to her ready room.
“I feel like I can’t do anything BUT raise a stink!” answered Arsha. “Daddy, this is what Dr. Borg wants!”
“If intelligence reports are accurate, this isn’t EXACTLY what Dr. Borg wants.”
“Arsha, our spies in her organization reported that she’s got the firepower, but not the manpower. Now, this leaves her in a financially weak position. If she starts the Final War now, she won’t be able to pay her armies in the long run.”
“And how did our spies get into the Realm Trinity Empire in the first place?!”
“They’re the Realmfleet Revenants.”
“…You mean…Eltan’s group?”
“They disguised themselves as different Revenants and got the information during one of Dr. Borg’s rallies.”
“And they were okay with being used that way?!”
“Eltan insisted that she and her group be used that way.” Arsha shut her eyes and declined her head in frustration. “Look, I know you don’t want to put people into harm’s way, but that’s par for the course for a ruler. Like it or not, as my heir, those kinds of decisions are YOUR birthright. …Just make sure you listen to the people’s opinion as you make that decision.”
“…I’ll be there with Elmpam shortly.”
“Very well. Elgrad out.” The call ended and Arsha ran her hands down her face. What her father said was true, that kind of decision DID come with the Crown. That didn’t change her feelings on the matter.
Dr. Borg, Oyed, and the Realm Trinity Imperial Council met in their secret chambers. Several members clicked their tongues in disappointment. “Terrible,” remarked Scorpo.
“Absolutely terrible,” agreed Femfaf.
“My Lord and fellow Council Members,” addressed Dr. Borg, “I’d be a terrible scientist if I denied the facts Tormo presented to us. We’ve spent more on armaments than we should have.”
“No kidding,” muttered Tensam as his hands fiddled with his veil. The report was in front of him on the table. “We’ve only got 3 million golds for our armies’ food supplies. 3 million!” One of his legs jabbed the report for emphasis. “We’re practically starving!”
“That is true,” interjected Shefarn, “but we must remember that the Realms aren’t exactly eager to go to war against us.”
“That’s what we’re TRYING to get them to do!” snapped Dr. Borg.
“You must admit, there’s no money in peace,” supplied Tormo.
“We need a good impetus to get them to fight us,” muttered Remsu.
“What we need,” suggested Jansha, “is an assassination.”
“I’m open to suggestions,” offered Yamta. “Who’s got the weakest security that would incense the Realms into fighting us?” Yulduk then snapped his fingers as an idea hit him.
“I’ve got just the target and she’s here in the Under-realm!” he called.
“Who?” asked Scorpo.
“She?” Oyed muttered to himself.
“Why,” answered Yulduk, “the Queen of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom!”
“Andwayla Narven?” inquired Remsu. “What good will getting rid of her do?”
“Well, her kingdom doesn’t have the best security, right?” asked Yulduk.
“Right,” answered Remsu, still not following. Femfaf’s eyes then went wide.
“And she’s the one who drafted Anti-Splitter Policy, yes?” she asked.
“She did,” replied Remsu, finally getting it, “Anti-Splitter policy that took too much time and money to fully carry out!”
“Exactly!” confirmed Yulduk.
“There’s a cherry on top for that,” mused Jansha. “According to the news, Calandra’s married Elmar and current gossip is that she’ll be accompanying him on the Endeavor.”
“Barring any tragedy?” asked Remsu.
“That’s the rumor,” confirmed Jansha.
“And such an act would force her to return to the Galdredan Kingdom, thus keeping her constantly thinking about her beloved Elmar and being too distracted to effectively lead her armies,” chuckled Oyed.
“And Galdredan people are known to be the toughest fighters in the Under-realm, second only to Orcs,” supplied Jansha.
“Well, looks like we have a reason for people to give money to us,” mused Dr. Borg.
“I’ll draft up a plan,” declared Yamta. “Andwayla Narven will die very soon.”
“My followers, this pleases me!” chuckled Oyed.
Once the meeting ended, Dr. Borg headed to her laboratory. As she walked, she got a feeling of being followed. She looked around and saw one of Reb’s former pirates, a male Lightning Dragon named Rochak, standing there. “…May I help you?” she asked.
“I need to speak to you, somewhere private,” answered Rochak. Dr. Borg arched an eyebrow.
“Follow me,” she directed. She led Rochak back to the conference room.
“Always wanted to see the inside of this place,” Rochak mused. “Even when Reb was in charge of Plunder Island Stronghold, this was a private conference room, ‘trusted’ advisors only. A place where you’re free to discuss your secrets and your lies, yes?” Dr. Borg bristled at that comment.
“You said you wanted to speak to me about something?”
“‘Someone’ is the more correct term.”
“And who are we talking about?”
“Okay, enough with the riddles! Tell me what you know!”
“I know what you told us. Oyed intends to remake the Realms into one united Realm, bringing about an end to what divides us. I also know what you DIDN’T tell us! How he intends to unite us is through our love for combat! He intends to have everyone constantly fight for his sole amusement!” Dr. Borg’s eye went wide.
“Rochak, no one else must know Oyed’s real intentions!”
“Or what? You’ll have me killed?”
“I would never kill any of my followers, especially pirates!”
“Wouldn’t you? Didn’t you try to have Reb and Melgem killed?”
“It’s the same! A heavily armed island base, an army of proactive soldiers wanting to bring about change by any means necessary, if it’s not quite the same…it soon will be! Are you aware that Jansha created more robots like her?”
“She showed me the production lines, yes.”
“Did she show you their computer simulations?”
“I got a look at them.”
“Did she tell you that all the models predict that prolonged combat would kill everyone in the Realms?!”
“I won’t allow prolonged combat!”
“Not even if Oyed told you to allow the Final War to continue until the end of time?!” The silence was deafening. Rochak then shook his head. “Predestined, preordained. Life will die and Oyed will absorb his children’s power to create a darker Realm. The end of our world…inevitable.”
“Rochak, I…” As Dr. Borg placed her hand on Rochak’s shoulder, he gasped and whirled around, knocking her hand away. “…I’m worried about you. You’re mixed up. I’m not a mindless destroyer like Oyed. Those things you’re worried about won’t happen. I won’t let them.”
“…For all our sakes, I hope not,” muttered Rochak. “I won’t tell anyone what we’ve just discussed, but it WOULD be nice for everyone to know what we’re actually fighting for.” He left the room, leaving Dr. Borg to her thoughts.
“…If things go right, you’ll know by the start of next year.”