The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 5: The Final Fight)

3 Realms 5-15

Arsha, her parents, her spouses, Orbak, Elmpam, Lardeth’s parents, Markulak, and the senior staff met in the conference room. “Your home’s been taken over?!” said Bashoon.

“And blockaded, it seems,” muttered Elgrad, on edge that his home was threatened.

“Why’s the robot here?” asked Thangred.

“Markulak has tactical information on the robot forces,” replied Arsha. “He’s also good at intelligence gathering, so I’m having him brief us on how to get into Largandra without being seen and how to take down the robots quickly and quietly.”

“And it seems you could use the help in scrapping them,” observed Markulak.

“…I mean, you’re not wrong,” muttered Thangred.

“So, this briefing,” Markulak was addressing everyone, “will be concerning how to effectively destroy my former compatriots, starting with my type, the humanoid.” A diagram of his type then popped up on the screen. “The basic weaknesses are as follows: a good slice at the joints, an electric spell right between the eyes, or a shot to the chest if you want to detonate our payload.” Bashoon then noticed something was off. Markulak then noticed the same thing. “Hey, where’s Dr. Vorsholstein?”

“He sure is taking his sweet time!” muttered Elgrad.

“Captain, permission to find him?” asked Bashoon.

“Permission granted,” replied Arsha. “I’ll have recordings of each robot type’s weaknesses for you to review.” Bashoon nodded and left the room while Markulak continued. She headed down the corridors and made her way to Delselii’s quarters. She rang the door chime.

“Come in!” called Delselii. Bashoon opened the door, prompting Delselii to grin. “Ah! Bashoon!” greeted the Homunculus Mad Scientist. “How’s the planning going?”

“Where were you?” asked Bashoon. “You were supposed to be at the briefing!”

“I was engaged in a project that required my attention. Lieutenant Barmek, prepare yourself!” Delselii then pulled a cloth off a machine. “Here it is!”

“…What is it?”

“It’s a thaumic pulse generator! With one blast, any cloaking device within a por range would short out and malfunction! Very low energy cost, yet very potent!”

“That’s good, but surely it could have waited? The briefing needs you there right now! Markulak is telling us about the weaknesses on all of his former compatriots!” Delselii then scowled.

“Bashoon, last I checked, you’re the commander of the Metal Melter Squadron. Unless I’m mistaken, you’re supposed to destroy all robots on sight, not talk to them.”

“…I see what’s going on here.” Bashoon then sat down in one of the chairs. “Delselii, when you talked to Markulak, could you really say that you didn’t see any similarities between him and Endea?”

“I didn’t talk to it.”

“Why not?”

“I saw no need.”

“If we’re gonna use this person’s-!”

“IT’S NOT A PERSON, DAMMIT! IT’S A ROBOT!” Bashoon simply glared at the taller Homunculus.

“…If we’re gonna use this person’s knowledge, we need to put aside our prejudices for right now.” Delselii wouldn’t be swayed.

“Just because it has a name doesn’t mean it’s a person like Endea! Just because it laughs at a Three Maidens sketch doesn’t mean it fully understands humor! Just because it talks doesn’t mean it’s sentient! It is what it is!”

“What makes that particular robot unlike Endea?”

“There aren’t any fresh breath particles on him, are there?!”

“Are there any on Homunculi?” Delselii’s eyes went wide at her counterargument.

“…You’d dare…?!”

“In this case, I had no choice. Last I checked, Homunculi didn’t get the fresh Breath of Life. You guys use the Breath particles of the corpses that were your original ancestors, yet you’re still considered life-forms on the level of everyone else. And Golems are considered life, yet the clay they were made from have even less Breath particles than you. I would advise you to talk to Markulak before you start making snap-judgements, because if you don’t talk to him, you’re going to find your decisions about his destruction harder to live with than you realize. Now, I’m going back and finishing up the briefing. I’m leaving you with a choice. You can either stay here and stew about what was said, or you can join me and get what you missed.” She left the room and shut the door behind her. Delselii scowled at the door as he thought about Bashoon’s words.

Bashoon returned to the conference room as Markulak wrapped up his briefing on robot types and their weaknesses. “All right then,” declared Arsha as Bashoon returned to her seat, “we have a plan. Bashoon, you will lead a squadron to breach the northern walls around Largandra. Review all the robot types and make sure your entire unit is up to scratch on stealth kills. Once there’s a sufficient window, the rest of us will sneak into Largandra. After that, Mama and Daddy can take over the operation.”

“Why your parents?” asked Denstra.

“Because we know the layout of the castle like the back of our hand,” explained Elgrad. “The usual Royana tradition is that after the heir finishes their tour, they have to spend time studying the layout of the castle, secret passages and all.”

“Secret passages?” asked Orbak. “Like my castle?”

“Yep. King Tundark Royana had them installed when he was in charge. The family used to think he was just being paranoid, but it looks like they’re going to be put to good use.”

“Well, this is a rare thing,” chuckled Elmpam. “Usually, secret passages are for a cowardly ruler to escape a besieged castle. It’s rare for a ruler to use them to get IN one.”

“Like you said, only cowards use them for a way out,” chuckled Elgrad. “Tundark was the BIGGEST coward in our family history.”

“Sounds like we have a plan!” declared Arsha. “We start it tomorrow morning! Dismissed!” As everyone filed out, Arsha put her hand on Bashoon’s shoulder. “Bashoon, a word with you.”

“Yes, Captain?” asked Bashoon.

“Delselii DID get the message about him needing to come here, yes?”

“He did, but childishly ignored it.”

“And why, pray tell?”

“He doesn’t recognize Markulak as a living person because he wasn’t given the Breath of Life.”

“Delselii said that?!”

“Yeah, him of all people.”

“…I don’t care what you have to do, get Delselii to drop this prejudice! Is that clear?”

“Crystal clear, Captain. He’ll put it aside by hook or crook before tomorrow.”

“I’m gonna hold you to that. Here.” Arsha handed Bashoon a data crystal containing the recording of what she missed. “Dismissed.” Bashoon saluted and headed out.

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