The exciting conclusion of this great story.
Mika reached out and took the offered hand and was reassured by the strong warm grip that closed on her hand. Then her sight blurred and the room faded and was replaced by a dramatically different room. It was approximately the same size as the sleep station had been, but this room was clearly someone’s office.
“Mika, I’m sorry I had to cut it so close. All other options would have resulted in more deaths and my father’s reputation would have been damaged on this planet.
The refresh station is through the door to the right. The doors here have been coded to respond to your presence. There is a clean jump suit in the refresh station that should fit you. And the food regenerator over here will respond to you as well. Please make yourself at home, but do not leave this suite until I return and we have a chance to speak. Do you understand?”
“Yes ma’am. Thank you ma’am.”
Mika felt a gentle touch on her shoulder as the woman released her hand but when she turned in response there was no one there.
She looked around, but she already knew she was alone. Lady Seala was off to deal with the guard. Mika shivered.
Then she saw her sleeve and noticed the dark red stain on it and the smudges on her hand. It was blood. And she shivered again, that poor woman. The high councilor had killed her with no second thought just to eliminate any potential witnesses.
Mika pushed herself toward the door Lady Seala had indicated would lead to a refresh station. As she neared, the door slid open and lighting came on in the refresh station it revealed. It was a small refresh station, but well-appointed and very clean. Mika went in and quickly removed her soiled clothes dropping them in the dispose unit. She would never be able to wear those clothes again without remembering the poor woman who had died because she helped Mika.
Then she stepped into the refresh station and ran through three full cycles before she could convince herself that the blood was all gone. When she stepped out, a hidden drawer came out revealing under clothing and a jump suite like the ones she had seen in the vids of the great starships. They were all exactly her size and when she had put them on, she looked in the mirror and was surprised at how good the jump suit looked on her. Another hidden drawer opened revealing footwear and she was somehow not surprised when it also fit her perfectly.
Mika went back out to the office and made her way over to the food regenerator. Suddenly she realized how hungry she really was. When she thought about it, she realized she had not had anything to eat since very early in the day, but then she had no idea how late in the day it was now.
She looked at the menu and was astonished at the large variety of food available. There were things on the menu she had never even heard of. But nothing had a price on it and that made her very nervous. After searching for some time for prices, she finally selected a soup that was typically the least expensive thing on the menu in the restaurants and dialed it up. It would not be very filling, but should hold her over until she could get back to her gallery where she had a collection of energy restoring meal packs.
The soup was delivered and she sipped it slowly to try to convince her body that it was getting more food than it was. When the soup was gone, her stomach was still rumbling, but she knew it would calm as soon as she got her mind focused on something else.
She walked over to the desk and was amazed to find her sketch tablet and pencils laying there. She flipped it open to be certain and sure enough there were the sketches she remembered doing on that pad.
Her stomach rumbled again and she flipped to an empty page and took up a pencil. Her focus came immediately and her hand began to fly across the page as all memories and concerns fled the way they always did when she started working.
Sometime later, Mika was startled when she heard a sweet voice speak from just behind her. There was no question that was Lady Seala.
Mika lay her pencil down and tried to rise to pay her respects.
“Stay seated. You and I will be good friends, and no formalities are required between friends.
I am Seala, daughter of the high councilor RinTorl, and First Lady SalLia. But you already know that.
You are Mika, a precognitive artist and future master of the Miir order. I too have some talent for precognition, and I would love the opportunity to help you develop yours, along with your natural telepathy and several other skills I know you will master.
But we are to be friends, so I cannot take you on as an apprentice. However, I do know several good masters who would happily take you as their apprentice if you would like.”
Mika was shocked into silence. Lady Seala wanted to be her friend, and was offering to teach her to be a master, or at least help her become one. What was it she called her? A precognitive artist? That fit, it explained how she was able to do sketches to figure out whatever she needed to work through.
There was silence in the room. Lady Seala was waiting for her to speak. Mika went through her memory and searched for the right words to respond with.
“Ma’am. Thank you very much for your timely aid. I would be honored to be given the chance to learn the mastery, and would be even more honored to be considered your friend.”
“Good, it is settled then. Just one thing, I need to tell you.
You will not be able to return to your home for a very long time, and you will unfortunately never see your parents again. Please forgive me for choosing that path for you, but there is no other way to have you live and the high councilor remain in her seat, for now. It is unfortunate that she must live yet a while longer, she is despicable. If she did not play such a key role in the planet’s support of the coming struggle, I would have ended her time today.”
Mika’s head was spinning again. Never return home? Never see her parents again? How could that be? But she knew it was true as soon as Lady Seala spoke the words.
“Yes ma’am. I understand.”
“Please stop calling me ma’am. If we are to be friends, you must call me by my name. It is Seala. Not Lady Seala, not Master Seala, just Seala.”
“Yes ma…. Seala. I’m sorry; it will take some time for me to adjust. But if that is what you want, I will call you by your name.”
“Good, now let’s look at those sketches, I could not see them in my visions, but am positive they are important.”
Mika’s head was once again spinning. Jesul the Lady Seala moved from topic to topic quickly.
She looked down at her sketch pad and realized she had completed a sketch of a tall lean man with freckles standing in a field with his arms in the air facing the sun with ribbons of color flowing around him. He seemed to be declaring victory, but over what was unclear.
“Ah yes. I have seen that too. I think that is dad declaring victory once the witch hunters are vanquished. What else do you have here?”
That was when Mika realized she had used up nearly the entire sketch pad. She flipped to the previous page and felt Seala lean in close as they looked at a scene of mass destruction.
“There we go. I have not seen that before, tell me what you get from this?”
Mika struggled at first staring at the drawing with fear. Then her mind cleared and the focus she usually felt when drawing came over her. Words started tumbling out of her mouth and she was astonished at the detail she was providing.
“I knew you would be a great asset.”
“How is that being an asset, I just predicted the loss of thousands of lives. Unless you plan to try to change the future, this is just a matter of knowing that many people will die here. I’m sorry, I don’t see the benefit.”
“I understand. Here, let me explain. By knowing that we win this battle, but lose some key people to the retreating witch hunters, we can be certain to prepare those people properly to protect or simply be unaware of key secrets. Moreover we can plan to recover them quickly. Since we know now that witch hunters escape, we can calculate where they would go and plan to intercept them.
It is horrid to see the price we will pay for this victory, but the details you provided, give me information that can be used to potentially shorten the war and save lives later.
Do you understand?”
The reality of the weight of command sank in and Mika saw the pain in Seala’s eyes as she spoke of the loss of life, but there was also an iron determination as she focused on what could be used from the details to shorten the war.
“Yes, I understand. Thank you.”
“Please, let’s look at the next sketch.”
Mika turned the page and saw another scene of mass destruction. She focused and began explaining the sketch. This time she tried to listen to her own words and pick out the pieces of information that might be useful in preparing for the next battle, or taking advantage of what could be learned here.
No witch hunters escaped this battle. Fifty of their ships surrendered, and a high ranking member of the witch hunter military was taken prisoner. The price was high, but there was reason for optimism having captured one so high up in the military.
When she finished telling Seala about the battle and the results the sketch foretold, questions began flowing as well.
“Seala, have you seen this one? What do we learn from the military leader?”
“I believe I have seen some connected events. We interrogate the military leader and learn of a deployment of their military that was a surprise to our leadership. But before we can get more details, he succeeds in taking his own life. The ships are retrofitted and used in other battles to get forces close to the witch hunter battle wings before we attack with our full force. Many lives are saved by using those ships and others we capture.”
Seala discussed detail after detail with Mika patiently answering her questions and pointing her to the key details she had missed. They spent many hours going through the sketches before Seala called stop to the reviews so they could eat and tend to other pressing matters.
Seala dialed up two full meals on the food regenerator along with some restorative drinks. As she did so she made another of those confusing topic changes.
“I noticed earlier that you had only eaten soup. I don’t have anything against soup, but it will not provide the level of energy that you will need as we start your training in the mastery. I recommend you eat healthy, but full meals going forward.
We will find the right master for you to study under when we get back to Fleron, but that will be several months, so I thought I would start you with some martial arts and initial power colors training at lunar rise tomorrow. Then we can take a tour of the ship and get you introduced to the key people here so you don’t feel too alone while I go back planet side and finish my business here.
Is there anything you would like me to gather from your gallery while I’m there?”
Mika had to scramble to get her mind around what had just been said before answering the question.
“You will be going to my gallery?”
“Yes, after all, you told the high councilor that I would be going by to pick up the sculpture. I told her last night that I wanted to make a side trip to pick up a gift I had commissioned for my father.
I am quite interested to see if she tries to get the sculpture back into the gallery, or stages a robbery or something. Either way it will give me an opportunity to show displeasure at her inability to control things in her own capital.”
Mika could feel the hatred Seala had for the high councilor. She would not want to have someone like the Lady Seala as an enemy.
“I’m sorry I involved you in a lie. I was trying to bluff my way out of her dungeon.”
“You did the right thing, just with the wrong person. You could not have known she was that evil. The day will come when she will regret her treatment of you and others. I have foreseen it and take pleasure in remembering the day.
Unfortunately, for now, her influence is critical to plans we have in place.
Is there anything you wish me to gather while I’m there?”
Mika thought for a moment, there was not much there that could not be replaced. But she did have one set of brushes her father had given her when she opened the shop. It would be nice to have those to remember him by if she was never to see him again.
“There is a set of brushes I keep in the drawer nearest the painting easel. They are rolled up in a tanned Llonk skin case. My father gave them to me, and it would be nice to have those.
Everything else can be replaced and I know we cannot take anything that would be missed or we might raise suspicion.”
Seala lost focus for a moment, then smiled and nodded.
“Your brushes are still there, I will retrieve them for you. Now get some rest, the next few lunars will be very busy.”
With that she smiled and then walked directly for the door not looking back.
Mika sat down once more and tried to stop her head from spinning. She should feel despair at learning that she would never see her parents again, and that her life of quiet art studio vendor were over forever. But for some unknown reason, she felt calm and confident. This was exactly how it was supposed to be, and she was doing exactly what she was supposed to do. It made no sense, but she was certain that was true.
Moreover, she knew Seala was someone she would get along with well. It would take some getting used to, but she was certain the Lady was correct in her statement that they would become friends. Strange how things worked out. Even when everything in her world was turned upside down, she still ended up where she was supposed to be doing what she was supposed to do.
The exciting conclusion of this great story.