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January 30, 2023

The Council of Nine: Part III -- Insurrection

By Kevin Landis

Saam watched his planet change through a small barred window at the top of the west wall of his dank cell. He sat, his back against the opposite wall, staring up at the window, his only glimpse of the outside world. The cell was cool, sometimes dry, but when the spring rain poured down it would start to fill with water. The water was only a few inches deep but it was enough to make him always wet, and miserable.

The planet was not in great shape when Saam was first imprisoned, that was weeks ago. People nervously went about their business, careful to avoid the Ruan-Yafar standing at the street corners.

Things were much different now. People moved passed his window only in single-file lines, like children at school. They were chained together. Doctors became laborers, lawyers became workers, they demolished buildings, and built little huts. The huts were for the Ruan-Yafar.

For the first week Saam was chained to the wall, he lost all feeling in his hands. His wrists still bore scars from the iron fetters. Now he was free from restraint, he could move about the 6' by 6' cell. But the walls seemed to be closing in around him.

Saam shivered, it was quite cool, with nothing but his underclothes and some lice infested straw he was going to freeze, sooner or later, and die. That was probably the idea. He was forgotten. His previous life as the prince of a free planet seemed to fade, the way a dream faded after awakeing to the cold reality of life.

Saam heard footsteps.

The large wooden door creaked as it's bolts were loosed. The door swung wide revealing two people, a Ruan-Yafar guard and a man in a dark cloak. They stepped inside, the man in the dark cloak closed the door.

Saam stood up, not wanting to appear as weak as he felt. There was an odd moment of silence as the guard and the man in the black cloak stared at Saam, as if they weren't sure who he was. This was odd. They had no food.

"We need hurry, time short." The Ruan-Yafar guard said in broken English. The man in the black cloak nodded, and took off the cloak.

"You look much different." he said.

Saam couldn't believe his eyes.

"David?" Saam said, jaw open, eyes wide.

David smiled.

"Yes, surely you knew I'd come. Have they been feeding you?" He replied.

"No!" Saam said, "You were dead!"

David laughed.

"Not nearly as dead as some hoped, I'm a quick healer."

"We must go now!" The Ruan-Yafar guard half-shouted, looking over his huge shoulder suspiciously.

"Is he with you?" Saam asked, curious.

"Yes," David said, "I will explain on the way," David handed the cloak to Saam.

"Wear this."

Saam, David, and the Ruan-Yafar guard left the cell and made a right turn.

"David." Saam said, concerned, "This isn't the way out."

"I know." David said, "We have one more person to pick up."

David paused in front of the next cell. The Ruan-Yafar guard opened the door,

David stepped in. Saam introduced himself to the Ruan-Yafar guard.

"I am Prince Saam, ruler of Eiraithia, Welcome to our world."

The Ruan-Yafar Guard looked confused.

"I am Saxton." He finally replied, then he turned and followed David into the cell.

When Saam entered the cell he was hit by a wave of the smell of rotting flesh.

Then he saw Malcolm.

Malcolm was chained to the wall, his face pointed into the stone surface. His entire backside was covered with a fresh scab. From his neck to his heels, deep lacerations could be seen, blood still oozed from several wounds. It was obvious from his withered form that he had not eaten since he had been imprisoned.

David and Saxton stood at a distance, disturbed by the sight. Saam approached cautiously.

"Malcolm?" Saam said.

Malcolm turned his head, only slightly, and winced in pain.

Saam was enraged.

"Tell me friend, Who did this to you?" Saam asked.

Malcolm was in too much pain to speak, he let only a half breath.

"My people do not do things like these," Saxton defended, "We make war for money, but we don't torture, and we don't enslave whole species."

"Is that what's going on out there?" Saam asked, in dismay, "Is the whole planet enslaved."

David and Saxton nodded solemnly.

"Why?" Saam asked.

"The council of nine is using the Ruan-Yafar to enslave our countrymen, and using them to build a weapon of unspeakable power. The lords all surrendered to the council immediately." David answered.

"How can we stop them?" Saam asked, shocked.

"I don't know," David answered, pointing to Malcolm, "I was hoping he would."

The three of them loosed Malcolm's chains and eased him down. Malcolm collapsed to the ground, they quickly helped him back up. He could barely stand.

Saxton handed him a dark cloak like the one David and Saam wore. He put it on, gingerly, trying to avoid the pain of anything in contact with his raw back.

"Is he on our side?" Malcolm asked, his breath returning, gesturing to Saxton.

"Yes," David answered, "He doesn't approve of the things his people are doing and wants to defect."

"Welcome to the team." Malcolm said, reaching out and shaking his hand. Then he turned to Saam, "Do we have a plan?"

Saam shrugged, he hadn't had time to think of one yet, so he turned to David.

"Not a plan, per say... a goal." David said.

"Our goal?" Saam asked.

"Retake your planet." David answered.

"What are our resources?" Malcolm asked.

"Define resources." David said, taking his arm and leading him out of his cell.

"Is it that bad?" Saam asked.

David had a grim look on his face.

"We have no chance of taking Eiraithia by military force." David said.

"You're wrong." Malcolm said, holding his side and wincing from the pain of speaking, "If the Ruan-Yafar were on our side we would win."

"Yeah," David said, "and if I had a tail I'd be a monkey."

"Seriously." Saam interrupted, turning to Malcolm "How could we do that."

Malcolm paused, in deep thought, scratching his head.

"I'm not sure we could, but I am sure the Ruan-Yafar wouldn't approve of their people helping the Council build a doomsday weapon."

"We have been unable to even find the location of the weapon?" David said.

"Yes, its location is quite secret, they have been working on it for years but they need help to finish it." Malcolm said, "With the Ruan-Yafar and our people working on it, it could be done within a week."

"What exactly is this 'doomsday weapon'?" Saam asked.

Malcolm paused, frowning, as if even thinking of it made him angry.

"It essentially amplifies brain waves, imposing the thoughts of the council on everyone. Free will is replaced with absolute obedience to the council. It is the most awful weapon ever devised, once activated it is impossible to oppose them because you have no independent thought." Malcolm said, shaking his head in disgust.

"A race of zombies." Saam said.

"Not just a race of zombies," Malcolm corrected, "The range of the device is unknown, but even the weakest estimates say it would go far beyond the know universe."

David and Saam stood in shock.

"Why?" David finally managed to say, "Why would they try to do this."

"Because," Malcolm said, "They are evil."

:

Outside the prison, they stopped to rest in the empty street.

"If we could contact the prime minister of my home world, he would order the Ruan-Yafar to side with us, most of them would come." Saxton said.

"We would have to use the communications relay station for that," David said, " and it's heavily guarded."

"How heavily?" Saam asked.

"I checked it out a few days ago, and counted 50 troops." David said.

"Impossible." Malcolm said, "If we had weeks to plan, maybe. But now, no way."

The four stood, silent, in the middle of the street. The streets were empty, filled only with an eerie silence.

"We have, as I see it, one high card left to play." Saam said. "I hesitate to use it only because of tradition."

"What 'card'?" Saxton asked.

David nodded, realizing Saam's plan.

"The women of our planet are warriors, we do our best to keep them out of the fight when we can. Most of them are now enslaved with the rest of the planet. Some escaped into orbit. With their help....." David said.

"We would stand a fighting chance." Saam said, finishing his thought.

:

An hour later the giant freighter circled and landed on the soft grass just outside the city. A few seconds later a ramp deployed and soon the field was filled with women and children.

The general worked his way though the crowd and approached Saam.

"I was happy to receive your transmission, nothing against those ladies but I was starting to go crazy up there. I'm really looking forward to a little combat."

"That's good general." Saam said, then raising his voice, "Ladies and Children, I need you attention please."

Everyone got quiet real quick.

"The fate of the universe lies in our hands. This is a fight we can't walk away from or ignore. I need all of your help. Women and children over the age of 12 who want to fight stay here, the rest of you board the freighter and return to space."

Mostly young children but none of the women walked back to the freighter.

"Who will look after the children?" A stout woman in her forties asked.

"General," Saam said, "That is your assignment."

The general's eyes were wide, he looked quite afraid, and more than a little angry.

"Sir!" He said, "Surly you want me to stay in the fight, I would be of more use than any of these women."

Saam smiled.

"You are quite brave general, and it will take a brave man to head to space to baby sit that many children."

The general didn't even try to hide his distain as he turned and followed the children on board the craft.

The large freighter climbed high in the spring sky, it's primary engine engaged, launching it into orbit and leaving behind only a slight blue line in the sky.

David approached a large pile of weapons that had been unloaded from the freighter and selected a bow and arrows for himself.

"Everyone grab a weapon, the one you can handle best," David said, handing a broad sword to Saam.

"Are you implying I can't use a bow and arrow?" Saam asked jokingly.

"Let's hope we don't have to fight at all." David said.

:

"Too easy." Malcolm said, as they walked into the communications relay station.

"It's empty," Saam said, "Where are the guards? There were only twenty-five guarding the entrance."

"The only reason they would leave this station is if it no longer mattered," Malcolm said, "The device is ready."

"What are they waiting for?" David asked, "Why haven't they taken over our free will yet."

"They probably want Saam and I to witness it, it is likely they have sent for us. When they find we have escaped they will certainly activate it."

"Then time is short," Saam said, "David, you and Saxton establish contact with the Ruan-Yafar high command. Tell them to order their people to support us. Malcolm and I will lead our small force against the council. If there is even time."

"Godspeed, Saam." David said.

:

On a large stage five men in dark cloaks sat, while one stood speaking. A larger machine to the speaker's left was letting of a low hum.

The machine was spherical and as tall as a man. It was supported by three legs and above it three similar legs supported a large crystal.

"There is no force in the universe more powerful than unity." A man in a dark cloak said in front of a large mixed crowd of humans and Ruan-Yafar. "And no stronger wedge is in this universe than division."

The crowd was silent, no applause or cheering could be heard. It was a massive crowd, at least a thousand people, and no one noticed as fifty or so other humans joined the crowd and started working their way toward the front.

"This device," The man continued, pointing to the large machine next to him, "Will bring the universe together. All thought will be one, every decision will be the best for everyone."

"And who decides what is best for everyone?" A voice from the crowd asked, Prince Saam stepped forward. The crowd quickly grew loud discussing this new development.

Saam stepped up on the stage.

"Mind control and unity are quite different." Saam said, walking across the stage to the council member. "And I will not allow you to take control of my people's minds."

"You are a boy." The Council member said, "You can't defeat me."

Saam drew his sword.

"Let's just see about that." He said, swinging his sword in an upward arc.

The council member drew his blade just in time to block his blow. They circled one another, locked together like two animals fighting over a fresh kill. They exchanged blows again, Saam lunging forward and pushing his opponent back. The Council member began slashing back aggressively, sparks few as their blades met.

"You fight much better than your father." The man said, an evil grin spreading across his face.

Saam felt as though someone had sapped the strength from his limbs. He took a step back.

"You..." Saam started, unable to say it.

"Yes." The man said, "I killed him, as I will you." He quickly jabbed his sword forward, cutting Saam's right arm.

Saam snapped back to reality and blocked, blood oozed from his fresh wound.

Several of the other councilmen started shouting orders to nearby Ruan-Yafar guards.

"Halt my brothers!" Saxton shouted, stepping up onto the stage, "I have word from home."

The crowd grew silent, all eyes were fixed on Saxton.

"Our high council orders all Ruan-Yafar here to support Prince Saam."

"Don't listen to him!" One of the councilmen retorted. Then he paused, "Like it even matters," He said walking up to the machine and reaching for a lever, "You are too late."

An instant later he let out a scream. An arrow went straight though his palm pinning his arm to his own shoulder.

David stepped forward, holding his bow.

"Justice may be slow, but never too late." He said.

Saam and the Councilman battled exchanging blows it was obvious that they were both tiring.

Meantime David and the other warriors surrounded the other council members, placing them in restraints.

Breathing heavily and backing up, it was obvious the council member was no match for Saam. Saam's next precise blow landed the council member's sword on the ground.

"Mercy Prince Saam." He pleaded.

Everyone watched waiting to see how Saam would act. Saam himself wondered.

"No." he said, "Mercy, King Saam."

He raised his sword high and brought the hilt down on his head, rendering him unconscious.

"David." Saam said.

"Yes your Majesty." David replied.

"You shouldn't have trouble finding a suitable cell for these criminals should you." Saam asked.

"With pleasure." David answered.

:

Six men filled a small cell. The only source of light was a small, barred window at the top of one wall. They were silent, the stench of defeat hung in the air. Just a little over an arms-length outside the bars hung a round medallion. It would be always in their vision but never in their hands.

Article © Kevin Landis. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-02-21
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