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Chapter Six: A Spark of the Gift

“You want us to what?” Ryan asked, his eyes bugging out.

“Just relax, kiddo,” Goose said. “I’m not so sure about this idea either, but Nalya insists it be you two.”

“You see what happens when you volunteer me for something?” Ryan barked at Terra. He threw his arms up in the air.

“Hold on,” Terra interrupted. “I’m not sure I understand this exactly. What’s going on?”

Goose sighed and leaned back in his chair. The conversation with Nalya had opened his eyes to a few things. While there was still the chance she was lying her pretty little face off, Goose thought himself a good judge of character, and Nalya didn’t seem to be the lying type.

However, he’d been wrong before.

“Look, you spent more time with her than I did. Did she mention anything about Vector?”

“Yeah,” Terra said. “I think so. Most of what she was saying made no sense, but then again, nothing’s made much sense lately.”

“She mentioned some guy… Aggro something-or-other, said that he was some big general.”

“And that they have an army of around ten thousand people camped about three days away from here. When they find out we’re here– they’re coming. They’ve got things I don’t think we’re very prepared to deal with,” Goose said. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Frankly, I see no other choice, and I’ve already talked it over with the rest of the Committee. Nothing is concrete yet, but we’re holding an emergency meeting in two hours. I want you to be there, because I can tell you that the plan will be receiving a yes vote.”

Terra worked her jaw, searching for something to say. Ryan just looked back at Goose dumbly.

“You’re not even going to give us a choice in the matter?” Terra asked sharply.

Goose put his hands up. “Whoa, ease up there,” he said. “Of course you have a choice in the matter. But look at it this way– it may be the only way we can get this problem dealt with, and focus on getting us back home.”

“Goose,” Ryan said. “Look. I know you. You used to work with my mom, you’re a good man. You’re a smart man. But I have to say… sending me and Terra on this… mission isn’t a very smart move. There have got to be people more qualified than us. More experienced in these matters. If you don’t remember, I was the guy always getting into fights in school, I’m not the most diplomatic of people.”

Goose sighed. “Trust me, I’ve taken that into consideration,” he said. “Butter me up all you want, but it’s Nalya that insists it be you two.”

Terra blinked. “What? Wait. Why?”

“You’ll have to talk to her about that. She’s got her reasons,” Goose replied.

Before another word could be spoken, there was a knock at the door. Sergeant Boone poked his head in.

“Hey, Goose? We got the switchboard operational,” he said. “They’re setting up the system as we speak– we should have phones any minute now.”

“Excellent!” he looked at the time. It was nearing eight o’clock. At ten, the emergency committee would meet and decide the course of Dunsmith’s fate in the Disputed Lands. “Four hours, and we’re almost back up on our feet.” He looked at Ryan and Terra. “Look, I’m going to leave the decision up to you. I can’t force you to go, but I’d like you to. Talk to Nalya.”

Terra and Ryan just looked at each other.

“Come on, you two. He’s got work to do,” Boone said, then shooed them out of the room.

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Lily sat back on the couch and stared at the ceiling. She’d gotten home only minutes earlier from walking around with Justin and the gang who’d been knocking on doors to make sure everyone was up to date, but by the time the power had come back on, they’d found they no longer needed to do it. Word of mouth was beginning to carry the news of the town’s new location around quicker than their feet could carry them. Justin declared the wake-up committee officially disbanded, and everyone had gone home to take care of their own issues.

She’d also, in her travels, stopped at her boss’s home. Carla Meriweather had already been woken up, seeing as she was a member of the town’s Emergency Committee, and she’d told Lily quite plainly not to bother with opening up the shop. Chances are they wouldn’t be doing any sales that day, with the town not being where it was supposed to be.

She had considered going back to sleep, hoping that the whole event was nothing more than a dream that she’d soon wake up from, but even those thoughts were dashed when Lily heard the jangle of keys at the front door. Terra was back, and from the sounds of it, she wasn’t alone.

Lily turned her head as Terra emerged from the hallway, a look of surprise on her face.

“I didn’t think you’d be back yet,” Terra said.

Lily shrugged. “We were no longer needed,” she said. “How were the logging roads?”

“I take it you haven’t heard yet,” Ryan said, coming from behind Terra. Lily looked as more figures appeared behind the two. People she didn’t recognize. When Lily caught a glimpse of what they were wearing, she twisted her face up into a look on confusion.

“Who’s that?” she asked.

“Lily,” Terra said. “This is Nalya, Bayne, Keltz and Arie.” She pointed to each of the four in turn. Lily merely nodded slowly, as if that explained everything. Although their names admittedly went through one ear and out the other, their dress was what made them stand out. Especially the Arie girl, who was dressed in dirty rags. The others wore an assortment of chest plates or leather vests, capes and colorful pins. Whoever they were, they weren’t from Dunsmith. Lily started to get a strange feeling in her gut.

“Pleased to meet you, Lily,” the blond woman, Nalya, said.

Lily merely nodded slowly. She looked to Terra.

“They’re locals,” Terra explained.

Locals.” Lily repeated. She looked back to the other four.

“Aye, but we’re not local,” the older man, Bayne, said. “We’re no blasted Freemen.”

“I’m sure they mean we’re from the Pactlands,” the younger man, Keltz, said to Bayne.

“Well, of course!” Bayne exclaimed sarcastically. “And why didn’t I think of that?” He shot Keltz an annoyed look.

Lily kept blinking. It had become a regular habit as of late.

“Lily?” Ryan asked. “Are you okay?”

Lily looked back at Ryan. “They’re locals,” she said, and nodded. “No disrespect, of course, but… umm… why are they here?”

“Well,” Terra began. “Uhh, we had to bring ’em here cause… well, there was nowhere else to bring them. But that doesn’t matter. They won’t be here for very long.” There was a moment’s pause. “There’s an Emergency Committee meeting in an hour.”

Lily could sense Ryan’s tone. He sounded almost grave…

Terra took a seat on the couch and invited the rest to come and sit. Bayne chose to stand, taking a spot near the window and admiring the view of the Harbor. Keltz sat in the chair nearest to Bayne while Arie and Nalya took a spot on the couch next to Lily and Terra. Ryan sat in the last available seat.

“I’m sorry if I seemed rude,” Lily said. “I… just hadn’t expected guests.”

“Hey, don’t look at me!” Ryan said. “It was Terra’s suggestion. We need to talk to them in private, and she needed a doobie.” He motioned over to Terra, who was already uncorking her glass jar, where she kept her pot.

“Why? What’s going on?”

Ryan took a few moments to relate the story of how they met, and about the situation they were in. Each of them, in turn, introduced themselves and offered points of fact to Ryan’s flawed explanation. Especially on the points of magick, rock-men (or, Elementals, according to the newcomers), and some massive army somewhere to the south that was going to overrun the town any day now. All of which caused a massive blinking spasm to completely overtake Lily. She found herself having to sit down.

“And there’s more,” Terra said, as she finished rolling her joint. “We have to go with them.”

“We do?” Lily asked. She looked around. “Where?”

“Not you,” Ryan said. “Just me and Terra, and we’re going to… Where?”

“Cilasia,” Nalya said. “To speak with Nadus Hillbreaker, and garner some military support for your town.”

Lily looked back and forth between Ryan, Terra and Nalya. “You’re joking,” she said. “Military support?

“No joke,” Ryan said. “But, that’s still no guarantee that we’ll go.” He looked over at Nalya. “That’s what we have to talk about. Why us?”

“Aye, I’ve been wonderin’ much the same meself,” Bayne said. “Ye’ve mentioned nothing of this, Lass.”

Nalya shot him a cold stare. Bayne started to look a little uncomfortable.

“Well?” Ryan asked.

“It is difficult to say,” Nalya said. “It must be you because… I feel it must.”

“You feel it must?” Terra asked. She had already finished rolling her joint and set it between her lips. It bobbed up and down as she spoke, and she set the lighter to it. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know if I can explain it properly,” Nalya replied. As an afterthought, she motioned to Terra’s joint and asked, “What is that?”

“It smells like Sweetflower,” Bayne said. “But stronger.”

“This,” Terra said, holding up the burning joint, “is K-2, the ultimate high.”

“It’s pot,” Ryan said. “Don’t mind her, she smokes it all the time.”

“I think it is sweetflower,” Arie said, distracting herself from the hum of machinery. “But obviously quite a bit stronger. The smell filled the room almost as soon as she started to smoke it.” Arie reached for Terra’s glass jar, then placed it up to her nose. “This is definitely sweetflower.”

“That’s awesome!” Terra exclaimed. “There’s weed here! They have weed here!”

Arie nodded. “It grows naturally around the Halen-Rasza Borderlands,” she  said. “Many of the villages around there cultivate the plant for use in ceremony and festival.”

“That’s all fine and good,” Ryan said. “But you still haven’t explained why we have to go.”

Nalya sighed. “I’m afraid it’s… difficult to explain it satisfactorily. But, sufficed to say, I feel it must be you two. I feel that this plan would only work if you come along.”

“Whoa, whoa,” Ryan exclaimed. “I don’t understand. Why us? I’m sure there’s plenty of other people in town who are far more suited for this kind of thing.” He sighed. “I mean, for Christ’s sake, I put up drywall for a living and she tucks fliers into newspapers! We’re hardly the diplomatic types.”

Nalya nodded. “I understand your point,” she said. “But you must understand that I must insist it be you two to come along.” She looked to Bayne and Keltz. “I’ve spoken to Goose Payne of what I was told by the Blue Seer.”

“The Blue Seer?” Keltz asked. “Mika Sephalon? He spoke to you of this?”

Nalya nodded.

“Okay, I’ll bite. Who or what is the Blue Seer?” Terra asked.

“The Blue Seer is the Prophet,” Keltz explained. “It is he alone who can ride upon the waves of time and tell us of what is to be.”

Terra only looked at Keltz. “Huh?”

“I get it,” Ryan said. “He’s like a fortune teller. He tells the future.”

“Not exactly,” Nalya said. “He cannot see the true future, only certain details of it.” She sighed. “I spoke with him before we had departed for the Disputed Lands, and he related to me a tale.”

“A tale?” Ryan asked.

She nodded. “He told me the tale of a young woman who came across a disturbing sight. He told me how she witnessed an event that swallowed the very land. A great halo of dark light which appeared and devoured that which was there and replaced it with something else.”

“Lady, is this true?” Keltz asked. His eyes were wide.

Nalya nodded. “I did not know at the time, but he was speaking of me.”

“So what, this Seer guy knew we were going to be here?” Ryan asked. He looked to Terra. “Maybe he knows how we can get back.”

“I couldn’t say,” Nalya said. “But he told me that there would be some who would alter the fates of all of the Pactlands. He said that two are to be brought to the Hillbreaker’s Palace for an audience with the King.” She looked to Terra. “They were identified as a girl with hair that flows as blood, and a man bearing many, many eyes.”

“Hair that flows as blood?” Ryan asked. He whipped his head over to Terra. “That sounds like you. Which means I’d be the many eyes guy.” He made a show of counting his eyeballs. “One – two. Just two, looks like I’m off the hook.”

“Ryan,” Lily said. She pointed at his shirt.

Ryan looked down at himself and immediately let his shoulders slump. He forgot he’d been wearing his Tool shirt. It bore a particular piece of psychedelic artwork that resembled hundreds of skewed eyes looking out at the world.

“Okay, fine,” Ryan said. “So this seer guy thinks we should go with you.”

“Hold on,” Lily began. “Just hold it right there. I can’t believe I’m listening to this. Seers? Prophets? It’s ridiculous.”

“As you can understand, I don’t have all the answers myself,” Nalya said. “But I’m certain that Mika Sephalon will have some for us.”

Terra looked over to Ryan and took one last puff of her joint before putting it out. She shrugged. “Up to you,” she said.

“Oh, sure,” Ryan grumbled. “Now I get to make choices.” He regarded Nalya and the others for a moment. “This Sephalon guy,” Ryan said. “Where is he?”

“Arronay, near the southern border of Halen. Just over a day’s journey before Cilasia,” Nalya said.

“And we are… where? The Disputed Lands?”

Nalya nodded. “Along the Aegel Coast, several hours journey from Stone’s Mouth. Perhaps six days or so from the border.”

“Six days?” Ryan asked. He whistled. “So we’re looking at roughly a week there, a week back?”

Nalya nodded.

“That’s a hell of a hike,” Ryan said.

“I’m doing it,” Terra declared.

What?” Lily and Ryan chorused.

“Why not?” Terra said. “When else am I going to get an opportunity like this?”

Ryan merely stared at her.

“You’re not serious,” Lily said. “You don’t know what’s out there.”

“No,” Terra replied. She pointed to Nalya. “But she does.”

Nalya nodded. “I’m well aware of the dangers of the Disputed Lands,” she said. “And of Halen. I will take it upon myself to ensure you safe passage to and from Cilasia.”

“They speak truly, lass,” Bayne said. “I don’t know if it’s for the same reasons, but ye can’t just up and leave your command! You’ve been given a task by Hillbreaker, and if you don’t complete it, you’ll–”

“I must,” Nalya said. “I must do this, regardless of the consequences.”

“What consequences?” Ryan asked.

Nalya shook her head. “It’s of no matter right now,” she said. “Know that you must trust me. I will spare nothing in ensuring that you are both safe. I give you my word.”

There was an air of silence for a moment, until Ryan spoke.

“Fine,” he said. “But we have to talk to this Seer guy. Find out what he knows about us coming here.”

Nalya nodded. “Agreed,” she said, smiling.

Bayne rolled his eyes. “Aye, but this lot is going to be my end.” He sighed, then paused. “D’ya mind if I ask. What is that?” He pointed at the television.

“Oh, awesome,” Terra said. “You guys have never seen a TV before, have you?”

The newcomers shook their heads slowly.

“What’s it for?” Arie asked.

Lily stood up and walked over to the TV. “It’s a television,” she said. “It’s… hard to explain. We watch things on it.”

“Watch things?” Bayne asked.

Lily nodded, then bent over and started to turn the TV on. That was when all hell broke loose.

An arc of electricity burst out from the screen, shattering the glass and causing every person in the room to yell out in shock. The arc struck Lily square in the chest, and sent her sprawling to the floor. Bayne leaped over the back of the couch, poking his head up just enough to see.

“Jesus!” Ryan leaped to his feet and knelt next to Lily, checking to see if she was all right. She stared with open eyes at the ceiling, breathing heavily. At least that much was a relief. The television spat sparks out until Terra pulled the plug out from the wall.

Lily just blinked and looked at Ryan. “What the hell just happened?” she asked. She sat up.

Ryan couldn’t believe his eyes. After a shock like that, Lily should have been dead, or at the very least, unconscious and in need of medical attention. Her clothes were charred where the bolt had struck her, and the smell of burnt clothing filled the room. Lily checked the spot and gasped.

No wound. It hadn’t even hurt beyond the initial shock of being pushed back. “Oh my God,” she said. “I… I’m okay.” She tried to get up, but Ryan kept her on the ground.

“Don’t move,” he said. “You just took a direct hit.”

“I know,” Lily said, ignoring his instructions. “I’m fine. It just ruined my shirt.” She rubbed her head, then looked to what was left of the TV. “What happened?”

“You were electrocuted,” Terra said. “The TV blew up, and then… it’s like it struck you with a lightning bolt. You shot up into the air and the hit the ground.”

Nalya and Arie were standing over her, too. “Do you feel all right, Lily?”

Lily nodded. “I.. feel okay.”

“That was the weirdest shit I’ve ever seen,” Ryan said. “Not even a mark on you. You were electrocuted and there’s not a bloody mark on you.”

“I think she’s a magi,” Arie said.

“A what?” Lily asked.

“A magi,” Nalya said. “It appears you have the gift, which is a welcome surprise. You may have more defense against Vector than I had originally surmised.”

“Hold on, how does that work?” Ryan said. “We don’t have magick in our world.”

“Though it would appear you have magick in our world. Isn’t that enough for you?” Keltz asked.

“Okay,” Lily said. “So I have magick. That’s all fine and good, so what do I do now? I don’t really feel comfortable about exploding TV’s everywhere I go.”

“You have little control of your ability now, it’s always that way at first. Many people have their gift for years before they actually realize that they have one. It always manifests itself as an uncontrollable event. Don’t worry, control comes with practice.” Arie said.

“Normally, you’d have been identified at an earlier age, and brought to Shavi for training upon discovery of your power,” Nalya said. “But that’s a little out of the question right now.”

“All you have to do is find the center of the power within you,” Arie explained. “And channel it through a part of your body. Hold up your hand and try to focus it there. Relax, and be calm while doing it.”

Lily did as she said. The look on her face was so severe, and her concentration so focused, her hand began to shake.

Within a moment, small sparks shot off from the tips of her fingers, and her hand began to crackle with energy.

Lily’s eyes went wide, and she shook her hand. The sparks traced a path through the air, and then dimmed.

“You know where the power is within you,” Arie said, smiling. “In order to prevent things like that from happening, you only have to realize when the power grows, and force it to be calm.”

Lily looked up to Arie. “This is weird,” she said.

“Yeah,” Ryan agreed. “What if other people have the gift here? They won’t know what to do.”

Arie thought about it for a moment. “Mastering control of your abilities is the first step,” she said. “There is much more to it than that. Most people take up to four years to learn to use their gifts with any degree of accuracy. Fortunately, the older you are, the faster you learn.”

“I think the Committee should be aware of this,” Ryan said. “So they can take steps to make sure people can learn to control it.” He looked over at Arie.

Arie nodded. “I’d be glad to help,” she said. “If your committee accepts me.”

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Goose looked out into the crowded hall. There were so many people there that there was barely room for the Committee. Some people had taken it upon themselves to set up seats outside and rig up a loudspeaker to the indoor PA system. All ears in the town were going to be on him and the rest of the Committee. To be truthful, he was surprised that no riots had started. He’d heard of a few altercations as people realized they were separated from their loved ones, jobs, or worse yet, money. But still, nothing that could be categorized as rioting.

Thank God for small town life.

He turned back to the rest of the Committee. Each of them were, in turn, chosen for their skills in various areas. Some of them were town aldermen, like Goose himself, but most were from the private sector. Business owners and experts in certain fields. Each were chosen for their ability to get the town back on its feet in an emergency. Unfortunately, since three of the twelve members were out of town when it happened, that left only nine.

Thankfully, even before their first emergency meeting, the town had already been well on its way. Phones were back on, giving access to emergency numbers like the police station, fire department and City Hall, and the folks at the switchboard were working hard at getting residential lines up and running, but certain things took priority.

“I don’t get it, Goose,” Brad Renfrew said. He was a middle-aged electrician. The man responsible for getting the lights back on so quickly, and a valued member of the Committee. “I can name ten people better suited for this than those two kids. Christ, the girl’s a bloody pothead! Look at the way she dresses and dyes her hair!”

Goose merely put his hand up and shook his head. “You’ll just have to trust me on this, Brad,” he said. “It’s their way, their custom.”

“Their custom is to make the weirdest looking one of us an ambassador?” He threw his arms up in the air. “Why not just send the High School Ambassador? At least she won the title! To hell with this, Goose. I’m voting no.”

“I’m inclined to agree with him,” Boone said. He was a member of the Committee as well. “I don’t think this sits right, either. But I’ll vote yes, as long as you’re sure about it.”

Goose blinked in surprise. “Gerry, I’m honored. I didn’t know you had that much faith in me.”

“Yeah, well. You’re a smartass most of the time, but when it comes down to it, you know what you’re doing.” He looked over at Renfrew. “Vote however you want, Brad. The point is that if it even has a chance of saving the town, I’m all for it.”

“How do we know they’re even telling the truth?” Brad demanded. “The could be liars! I’ve seen no proof of magick, have you? Has anyone?”

“That Rasmussen girl,” Boone said. “The one that lives with Terra Murphy, she had an episode. And that skater kid, what’s his name– Walsh. Story is he burnt up his skateboard on First Avenue this morning. Literally. The thing burst into flames while he was riding it.”

Goose nodded. “Nalya’s story checks out so far. Only even she hadn’t realized we’d have gifted people among us.”

“I don’t buy it,” Brad said. “Why couldn’t they use their gift before?”

“It’s this place,” Goose said. “The Pactlands. Magick just works here. Once we arrived, it probably turned on some dormant genes in some of these folks, and poof. Hocus pocus, abracadabra and all that.”

Brad leaned back and crossed his arms.

“Look, if it’ll make you feel better, we’ll write up a speech for them or something,” Goose said. “Nalya said the King’s a good man, and it’s obviously important it be those two, so why not?” He looked back at Brad. “Besides, are you up for a two week hike through unknown, uncharted territories?”

“Are you two still bickering?” Carla Meriweather asked. She was another member of the committee, brought on for her connection to the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s almost ten. And if you hadn’t noticed, the natives are getting restless.”

“Yeah, we’re all here,” Jack Johnson said. He was the chairman of the Hospital Auxiliary Board, and another valuable member of the Committee. “Let’s get this show started. I’ve still got to track down a couple of doctors.”

Goose nodded. “Look, you’ve all heard what I have to say on the subject. I think we should go for it, but I’ll leave the final vote up to you.”

“No shit,” Brad commented.

After a few moments to gather themselves, they walked out and sat at the table on stage.

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“Folks,” Goose said into the small black device on the table in front of him. His voice made Nalya jump involuntarily. She hadn’t expected it to be amplified. She realized the source of the sounds were large black boxes that were hanging from various points across the large auditorium. “I realize that a lot of you have questions, and we do plan on opening the floor to address them, but first we must go over the priorities.” He shuffled a few papers around in front of him and took a deep breath.

“As some of you may have realized, there are only nine of the twelve of us here, this is because the mayor, Jesse Whistler and Marcus Oldman were not within the radius of the Blacklight when we crossed over so far as we know.” He shuffled the papers some more. “Which brings us to the first order of business. Official knowledge of what happened.”

He picked up a piece of paper and started reading aloud. “At approximately four-fifteen this morning, June fourteenth, something that we’ve started to refer to as the Blacklight Event happened. It effectively formed a radius approximately three and a half kilometers from the center point, from as far north as the airport, to as far south as South Davies region, and east to west as well. This blacklight radius then scooped the earth from under us and transported us somewhere else.” He sighed, then made eye contact with Nalya.

“We have since learned that we have come to a world that is populated by humans, but is very different from Earth. This place, which they call the Pactlands has a very different ecology from what we’re normally used to– including a creature that seems to resemble an actual Tyrannosaurus Rex–” There was a wave of chatter within the crowd when that subject came up “–and, that the physical laws of this world are very different from our own. Magick is real here. We’ve had a few reports from townspeople to verify the phenomenon.”

If the crowd’s chatter had been a wave before, now it was a hurricane. Nalya briefly had a dark thought that Goose hadn’t even shared the bad news yet.

“People, please!” Brad Renfrew exclaimed. “If we have to keep telling you to be quiet, we’re not going to get anything done!”

The crowd started to quiet down.

Goose rubbed the bridge of his nose. He looked out over the crowd. His eyes again fell upon Nalya, seated between Bayne on one side, and Arie on the other. They were in the front row.

“There’s one final piece of information that you should be aware of,” he said, then took a grave tone. “and I have to ask that people do not panic, and please listen to every word of what I have to say.”

He sighed. Nalya could feel the tension in the air.

“We have also received information of a large, likely hostile army amassing somewhere to the south of us. They currently have no idea we’re here, but I’m told once they learn of our presence, they will stop at nothing to destroy us because we represent a threat to their campaign to capture the lands we’re in.” He paused and waited for the crowd to stop roaring. People were shouting questions and obscenities. He honestly didn’t blame them.

After a number of admonishments from Brad, the crowd finally died down to listen to some solutions.

“I’ve already conferred with the committee on many of these subjects, and we’ve already started some preliminary plans to counter many of the issues presented,” he looked down to Nalya.

“Earlier this morning, I was introduced to a young lady from the Pactlands, and she offered the town of Dunsmith just under a thousand men to help protect the city– men trained in the arts of war, and men that were born and raised in the Pactlands. She’s promised us their full cooperation. I’d like to put forth the motion that we allow these soldiers into town, and have them use the High School field as a staging ground,” he said.

“I second that,” Boone said.

“All for the motion put forth?”

“Aye,” chorused from the stage. Goose wrote down some numbers.

“All against?”

Two of the committee members said “Nay.” Nalya had to admire their conviction, in the face of the odds against them.

“That’s seven for, two against,” he looked down at Nalya. “Motion passed,” he said. “That being said, I’d also like to nominate Gerald Boone to head the formation of a local military force.”

“I second the nomination,” Carla said.

“All for?”

Even Boone was for it. Nalya suspected they had discussed many of these things before hand.

In short, there were eight for, and one against. Brad Renfrew seemed to be voting his own way.

“Motion passed,” Goose said. “There was another young lady that came with the group from the Pactlands,” he said. “As I understand, she is one of the local people who were born with the gift of magick. As I also understand it, she’s requested she and her brother be accepted as citizens within the town of Dunsmith. I’ve spoken with the other members of the committee, and the idea came up that we allow her to stay on, provided she assist us with helping our own citizens to control their own abilities as they manifest.” He paused for a second. “I have three reports in front of me that say they’ve already started to manifest in our own citizens.” He paused.

“I put forward the motion that we allow citizenship within Dunsmith, along with all the rights of a Canadian citizen to Arie and… Tam Boas,” Carla said. “Under the condition that she help spearhead the Dunsmith Magick Society project.” She looked back at Goose and shrugged. “I’d also like to nominate Lily Rasmussen for the project, as she is one of the people who have displayed evidence of being able to use magick.”

Lily shifted uncomfortably in her seat a few chairs away.

“I’ll second both of those motions,” Goose said. “All for?”

This time, it was five to four. The motion passed, but just barely.

“Good, that’s settled. I have here in front of me an estimate– with the number of farms and goods that have crossed over, which are still being tallied, we estimate we’ll have enough food to last us a few months. Still, we’re not sure how the crops are going to be reacting to the local atmosphere, which as far as we can tell isn’t much different from our own. Therefore I’d like to put forth the motion that we impose a temporary food ration to prevent hoarding and to make sure our food stretches out, at least until we can be sure our food sources won’t be adversely affected, and I’d like to nominate Carla Meriweather to head a council for the task of taking inventory of our food supplies.”

“I’ll second,” Boone said.

It passed, unanimously.

“I’m told that there is a small village, not far west of our location here. I’d like to suggest that we nominate Brad Renfrew to act as an ambassador to this village, and set up relations with them. Their knowledge of living in this region could give us a valuable insight on how to live, and I’m sure we’ve got a lot of toys they’d want,” he smirked.

“I’ll second the motion,” Carla said.

That one was passed easily, six-three.

“Finally, there’s one more thing before we open up the floor. The young lady who is offering the service of her men has suggested another option for dealing with the foreign army to the south of us. She has offered to take three of us to visit their nation of origin, which lies to the north of us, called Halen. She has offered to take them to see the King, to petition his assistance and secure an ally in this strange place. I am told he is a fair and just man, and that our interests coincide on this matter, and therefore I personally believe it to be the best course of action. However, it is at her insistence that these three people be Ryan Stills, Terra Murphy, and Constable Cale Shephard. Would you three please stand up?”

Ryan and Terra stood up from nearby. Terra seemed to be looking across the crowded hall with an unsure look on her face. Nalya followed her gaze and saw Constable Shephard standing near the back of the room. He looked different without his strange uniform.

“I nominate that we give our full support to this mission, and supply them with whatever they might need to get to their destination, and back home again safely,” Goose said.

“I second,” Boone said.

There was a deep sigh from the entire committee before Goose asked who had been for and against. But eventually he did. The committee made their vote, and even Nalya found herself holding her breath.

“We have five for, four against,” Goose announced, then looked straight towards the group. “And have you all decided whether or not to accept?”

Ryan nodded. “I have,” he said. “I’ll go.”

“So will I,” Terra announced.

Goose looked over to Shephard. He received a curt nod from him.

“Then it’s settled,” Goose said. “Godspeed and good luck, guys. You’ll be leaving first thing in the morning.”

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Published inChildren of the Halo
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