MERCY [NOVA AFTERMATH], CHAPTER 13: COUNCIL

M13-0
     Qualosa Guild Council was presided by Great Hurda in a huge empty Hall—known inside the Suta Palace as the “Restricted Council Hall”—having only one rectangular table in the middle and five chairs around. The table area was flooded by nine light beams coming from places lost in the height of the ceiling, while other hidden lights marked the enormous perimeter of the Hall. Given the open space around, the table appeared to be just a lost spot in the middle of an empty arena.
     Four persons had seats around the table, while another one was an invisible presence, somewhere nearby: each of them represented one power of Qualosa Guild. With the exception of the immediate proximity, the voices at the table were highly distorted due to the strong reverberation interference.

     “. . . the preliminary examination of the evidences indicates that your fears were justified, Dr. Velkon. It is obvious that we deal here with one of those famous Imperial Investigators of the Science Division,” concluded Great Hurda with his face hidden under the brown hooded robe, the official uniform of the mentalist Suta Priests.
     Only his hands protected by soft brown leather gloves could be seen on the table, and he kept them with the fingers interlaced in a relaxing “Sull-touch to Volme-mental balance” position. His voice was of medium timbre, melodious, perfectly controlled in tone and inflections, and that was an unambiguous indication of a strong mental equilibrium for Great Hurda. The calmer, clearer, and more melodious his voice was, the better was his mental status, achieved after long and painful meditation sessions.
     He occupied the presiding chair at the table as a simple gesture of courtesy for his host quality, because all Qualosa Guild powers were equal in rank, as it was stated into the Guild Formation Act.
     Dr. Velkon pointed out in a worried voice, “What is frightening is, we do not know what he did during the past three i-std. years.” He was wearing a black Imperial Guards armor, and he was equipped with a few additional mental shielding inventions of his own. Dr. Velkon knew for certain that his devices protected him perfectly well against mind reading from people like Great Hurda, but he had no clues if they were efficient enough to stop Gray Master, or his sister.
     He was permanently testing his inventions during each meeting, therefore he spoke little at the table since he preferred to listen, and to monitor his concealed instrumentation.
     “For the time being there is nothing we can do about that. What I suggest now is, we should analyze together all the information we have about him,” proposed Great Hurda.
     “Aah, we are going to waste the entire night discussing,” commented Korta Mortek in a bored tone of voice. He hated those useless logic discussions which led, after long i-std. hours of mental juggleries, to an obvious conclusion: Ghethe Dakka had to be killed. He was dressed in his usual Imperial Guards Commander uniform, and the dark-red mantle, and he was equipped with an excellent mental shield switched to “ON”.
     “If you want to leave the Council, you are free to go, Commander,” proposed Gray Master. His figure was also hidden under the hooded, gray, Dolg-Djaben cloak, therefore only his voice could be used for speculations about his state of mind. Gray Master’s voice had a strong alien accent, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. The remarkable aspect was, his voice was low, calm and soothing, and it inspired terror to everybody present!
     “I do not want to leave, but I think you grant too much importance to that man. Do not forget that I broke his arm once. As for his powers, there must be some technological tricks. We could easily eliminate him, and I volunteer for this mission,” proposed Mortek boldly, trying to demonstrate the sharpness of his action-based logic.
     “Is that all, Commander?” asked Gray Master in a bored voice.
     “Yes,” replied Mortek.
     “Then shut up and speak again only when you are asked to. Please continue, Great Hurda.” Gray Master’s voice was still calm and soothing, though it struck Mortek with such fear that his face turned instantly paler.
     Great Hurda said, “Thank you, Gray Master. We know that this man, Ghethe Dakka, comes from out of the blue, and he gets in contact with Zelhane sisters. He helps them with money, he buys for them a luxurious apartment—because he appears to be very rich—and then he becomes their Legal Representative.
     Ghethe Dakka is called to a meeting with Commander Mortek where he allows his forearm to be broken, in order to read as much as possible from—”
     Mortek protested furiously, “Nobody read my mind! I had the best mental shield equipped with the most sensible contamination sensors and no alarms have been triggered!”
     “He tricked you, Commander, because he is an exceptional man in physical and mental powers, in self control, and in logic. Can you understand this, or you still consider you have overpowered Ghethe Dakka?” asked Great Hurda, and he ended his words in a vaguely sarcastic tone.
     “Yes, I am certain I overpowered Ghethe Dakka,” replied Mortek decisively.
     “Have you seen the door evidence, Commander?” asked Great Hurda obviously bored.
     “Yes,” answered Mortek after a short hesitation.
     “Could you do something similar with your ‘enhanced technologies’, Commander?” continued Great Hurda to inquire in the same bored voice, plus with a bit sarcastic note.
     “No, but I suspect he has better technologies,” motivated Mortek defensively.
     “We are wasting time. Commander, you may leave,” said Gray Master also very bored.
     “But I—” started Mortek.
     “LEAVE!” The word lashed violently, at least one octave higher than Gray Master’s usual voice tonality.
     Mortek jumped from his seat as pulled by strings. He started departing hastily, while noticing perplexed that all his mental shield alarms had been triggered by a forceful mind intrusion. Moments later, he began feeling a terrible headache having a specific pattern, which he knew it was going to last for a few i-std. days. That particular headache was a personal gift from Shadow, who never missed a good opportunity to torture someone a little, though Mortek had no idea it was provoked by mental suggestion.
     Back at the table, everybody was waiting for the sound of Mortek’s steps to die, and some of them were hoping that Gray Master’s anger would also die.
M13-1
     “Please continue, Great Hurda,” invited Gray Master in his soothing voice.
     “Thank you, Gray Master,” said Great Hurda, then he went on with his logic analysis, “The fact that Ghethe Dakka did not kill or capture Commander Mortek tells us that he did find out something about us. Now, I would like to ask you, Gray Master: have you ever tried reading Commander Mortek’s mind when he was equipped with his mental shield and had the contamination sensors activated?”
     “Yes, I did. I tried once . . . I was not very careful and the alarms were triggered, but I am confident I can do a lot better next time,” replied Gray Master in a relaxed voice. He had made his subsequent successful attempt a long time before, only it was not his intention to let the others find out the true level of his enormous mental powers.
     “Now, tell me please, Gray Master: can you do what Ghethe Dakka did? I mean, could you allow Commander Mortek to break your forearm and, in the same time, search through his mind without triggering the alarms?” asked Great Hurda.
     “That is indeed very difficult, because the instinct to respond to the pain stimulus is overwhelmingly strong. That shows, beyond doubt, exceptional self control . . . Then, the fact that he managed to penetrate Commander Mortek’s mental shield without triggering the alarms means, he is either familiar with those alarms, or he is, undeniably, very strong,” answered Gray Master, and his voice did reveal some embarrassment.
     “Thank you, Gray Master. For now, let’s consider that Ghethe Dakka is a man capable of an exceptional psychical control, and having very strong mental powers—therefore, he is very dangerous. There is a small problem here, about how much he managed to read from Commander Mortek’s mind. Could you, please, estimate, Gray Master?”
     “It depends on his power of penetration . . . I cannot answer to your question, Great Hurda. Please, indulge us in a logic conclusion of yours instead,” replied Gray Master.

     Those logic analyses of different, various life situations were the most important lesson Gray Master had learned in the Gentle Empire. He had understood that the power of logic was the real most important weapon in politics, therefore he tried to benefit as much as possible from his unique life experience. Even more, he had discovered that ordinary people were far more efficient in their logic actions if they had their minds free of any mental influence.
     Gray Master was delighted to follow attentively the discussions developed around Guild’s table. He felt that each meeting made him stronger, wiser, and better prepared to accomplish his future goals.

     “Thank you, Gray Master. The first logic conclusion is, Ghethe Dakka read enough to find out something about us, but not too much, and that was the reason he spared Commander Mortek’s life. Let’s follow his actions: once his meeting with Commander Mortek is finished, Ghethe Dakka takes the Zelhane sisters and leaves the Herral System. That means a need for action, as a direct conclusion to what he read from Commander Mortek’s mind. The questions are, what kind of action, and why he needed the Zelhane sisters. Please come with little input here, Gentlemen,” said Great Hurda while looking ostentatiously towards Dr. Velkon.
     The Doctor started in a modest attitude, “Aah . . . Ghethe Dakka takes the Zelhane sisters, and he goes to a place, somewhere at the periphery of the Empire. It is clear to me that he is looking for something, and Zelhane sisters help him find what he wants. I suspect he is looking for some hidden technologies, or for important data.”
     Great Hurda replied in a bit sarcastic tone of voice, “That is exactly what Commander Mortek told us that Ghethe Dakka told him, when they met. However, you are right Dr. Velkon: Ghethe Dakka’s actions prove that he did not lie to Commander Mortek. It is clear that Ghethe Dakka is looking for something, which could be either data or technology, or both. Now, the new question is: where is that data or technology coming from? Do you know anything about that, Dr. Velkon?”
     Barely annoyed by Hurda’s sarcasm, Dr. Velkon answered, “In fact I do. There were a few old stories told by the Scientists at the Subatomic Research Department about the Enlightened Emperor. It is possible he has concealed somewhere very advanced technologies.”
     “Could you, please, estimate how important those technologies might be, Dr. Velkon?” asked Gray Master politely. That topic was particularly interesting to him.
     “I say, extremely important, because the stories were about the instant travel to any distance, about extraordinary E-Fields applications, and about incredibly advanced fusion experiments,” answered Dr. Velkon while wondering if it was wise to disclose that many details. He replied to himself that the most important thing was to get rid of the Investigator, and he needed all the help he could get for that. He decided to cooperate honestly for the time being—well, almost honestly.
     “How credible are those stories, Doctor?” asked Great Hurda concerned.
     “I estimate a minimum of thirty-five parts per unit credibility. Note, however, that any technology unknown to us could be very dangerous,” warned Dr. Velkon.
     “That is not good,” concluded Great Hurda in a controlled, sad voice; he added, “and we need to get all those technologies if they do exist. We cannot allow anyone to own technologies superior to ours. Any more details, Gentlemen?”
     “No,” said Dr. Velkon.
     “No. Please continue, Great Hurda,” invited Gray Master.
     “While traveling towards an unknown destination, Ghethe Dakka faces an incident in Kalanda City, Horje System. Some alien people attempt to kidnap the Zelhane sisters, and that event triggers Ghethe Dakka instantly into action. We have many records of the incident, due to the large number of cameras installed in the hangar enclosure, and on the damaged ship, therefore we can summarize his actions as follows.
     First, he flies up to the ceiling to observe the activity in that hangar. How did he do that, Dr. Velkon?”
     “He used very powerful micro reversible-gravity generators build into the soles of his boots, and we can easily duplicate his technology. There is, however, a particularly unusual aspect there: the fact that he uses a mental interface to control the generators—and he controls them exceptionally well!
     I know nothing more about this ‘Telepathic Enhancer to Controls Interface’, because all neuro-telepathic technologies had been studied and built under the most stringent secret possible, only at the Neurophysics Department.”
     “Thank you, Doctor. Ghethe Dakka discovers that an alien ship was leaving the hangar. Can we say that he knew, at that moment, the Zelhane sisters were inside the ship, Gentlemen?”
     “I cannot tell,” confessed Dr. Velkon.
     “No idea,” added Gray Master.
     “All right, let’s suspect the worse: he did not know the sisters were in that ship. Ghethe Dakka puts his gloved hands on the command window of the alien ship, and we assume he attempts reading the minds of the people inside. Could you do the same, Gray Master?”
     “Yes, I suspect I can do it.”
     “I need a definite answer, Gray Master: yes, or no,” pushed Great Hurda.
     “Yes,” replied Gray Master relaxed.
     “Thank you, Gray Master. Let’s continue further, Gentlemen: the breaking of the command window. Could you, please, explain that, Dr. Velkon?”
     “Yes. The analysis of the broken fragments indicates that Ghethe Dakka used a Molecular Bonds Disrupting technique. The generators could be embedded in his gloves, and they are controlled by his mental interface.”
     “Again, I need a clear answer, Doctor. Can you build this technology without mind control?” asked Great Hurda.
     “I can build something similar . . . in a couple of i-std. years . . . but not that powerful,” replied Dr. Velkon hesitantly.
     “Aha! Note this, Gentlemen: ‘not that powerful’! Let’s suppose that Ghethe Dakka did not use only technology; he used an amplified mental technique, as a strong psychokinetic action. Could you do the same, Gray Master?” asked Great Hurda with a veiled personal interest.
     “No. I have no idea how to break molecular bonds as a specific action . . . the way Ghethe Dakka did. I could disrupt them violently and locally, such as puncturing the glass although . . . due to the special nature of that ceramic glass it is very difficult since . . . it requires enormous concentration efforts,” answered Gray Maser hesitantly.
     “Thank you, Gray Master,” said Great Hurda in a slightly joyful tone of voice. He felt an unexplained inner satisfaction in Gray Master’s embarrassment. He continued, “It seems that Ghethe Dakka is well ahead of us regarding particular technologies, and in specific mental powers. Our man broke that command window in one hundred eighty-three i-std. seconds, which is an extraordinary performance beyond our actual powers, Gentlemen.
M13-2
     We have tested the window sample we got with a powerful Molecular Bonds Disruptor instrument. The resulting conclusion is, the energy required to break that ceramic glass, the way Ghethe Dakka did, is enormous. It is almost nine hundred times over the power level of the mobile energy units commonly integrated in Imperial Armors. That tells us that Ghethe Dakka must have used his mental powers, in addition to technology.
     Let’s go further, Gentlemen. Ghethe Dakka enters the navigation control compartment where the occupants are injured by the pieces of broken glass, as we have seen in ship’s recordings. He paralyzes all the people, then he takes a plasma rifle and starts firing at the control panels in order to stop the ship and the automatic departure sequence. Alarms are on, throughout the ship, therefore Ghethe Dakka takes the second pilot with him to access the codes of the hermetically sealed gates.
     On the way to the cargo area he kills eleven people, but we have seen that he is also touched by a plasma charge in the left shoulder area. We suspect he is injured, possibly very bad, though the wound doesn’t seem to bother him in any significant way. It is interesting to note here that he kills by severing the nervous center of the heartbeat control. Is that a fast way of doing it, Gray Master?”
     Vaguely embarrassed, Gray Master admitted, “Aah . . . I never used that technique. It is very fast.”
     “Could you do the same?” insisted Great Hurda.
     “I need training,” motivated Gray Master evasively.
     “Where do you think Ghethe Dakka got his training, Gray Master? I do not believe he ever had living people as test targets,” continued Great Hurda to press with the subject.
     “Yes, I understand your point, Great Hurda. I do not know how he did it, but I can do other things having similar effects.” The truth was, Gray Master was deeply impressed by the precision of Ghethe Dakka’s mental actions. Nevertheless, he was confident he was incomparably stronger than Ghethe Dakka, and he would defeat him if they met in a face to face confrontation. In addition, he had no doubts that even his sister was a lot stronger, and she was also capable of killing the man without problems.
     “Let’s move further, Gentlemen. Ghethe Dakka arrives at a metallic door, only he doesn’t have the codes to open it. Therefore, he starts pushing his fingers between door’s edge and the wall, and we have the imprint of his fingers into the metal of the door. How do you explain that, Dr. Velkon?”
     “I cannot explain it. Advanced technologies could have given him some powers, but not that much,” answered Dr. Velkon, and his face revealed that he was very scared.
     “Gray Master?” asked Great Hurda.
     “Mentally, it is possible to enhance the power of the muscles but, same answer: not that much,” answered Gray Master in a relaxed voice. Physical, brute force failed to impress him in any positive way.
     “Thank you, Gentlemen. That imprint is another proof of Ghethe Dakka’s powers, and he is again well ahead of us. Now, he starts his incredible action of pulling out the door. He could have used lasers or plasma to cut it, though he decided on that fantastic pulling out action which proved to be, undeniably, way faster.
     Please do not forget, Gentlemen, that he is also injured—possibly, very bad. We have studied the locks, the fittings, and door itself. Based on the position of his legs and arms, we reached the conclusion the man is a true phenomenon in terms of brute force. We cannot do that! Do you agree with me, Gentlemen?”
     “Yes, Sir,” said Dr. Velkon.
     “Yes,” added Gray Master.
     “Ghethe Dakka discovers his women, then he takes them outside the ship one at a time—we assume that his reversible-gravity generators cannot handle too much weight. Next, he commands his ship via a mental interface, and I suspect we have no idea of how he does that—” said Great Hurda, and he deliberately left his words unfinished to allow Dr. Velkon to explain.
     “We know very well how he does it, but we cannot duplicate that technology. The neuro-telepathic amplifiers had been built exclusively on Naxel,” specified Dr. Velkon slightly annoyed.
     “Thank you, Doctor,” replied Great Hurda in his melodious voice. “Ghethe Dakka’s ship cuts an opening into the air tight gate. Important to note here is his threat to destroy the entire Kalanda City—which is enormous. Was he referring to his powers only, or to the combined powers with his ship? This is difficult to answer, though we should take his threat as true.
     Now, his ship is an extraordinary one. It uses TL fifty-six energy batteries, and it is capable of reaching the speed of seventeen points, or maybe even more. Particularly important is, his ship is built as an old worn out wreck, although it is a Self-Unit Intelligence! It is clear that the ship is an exceptional design meant to deceive. Can you tell us something about the man and his extraordinary ship, Dr. Velkon?”
M13-3
     “The only people in the Empire allowed to use the most advanced technologies were the Investigators of the Science Division. What is worse is, in addition to having the best technologies of the Empire, the Investigators had fantastic mental powers. They were the highest level of power and justice of the past Empire, and I cannot imagine anything that could stop them. If Ghethe Dakka is one of them, then we are all in deep trouble.
     The Investigators are totally incorruptible, and they have such a strong moral sense that they will punish us all no matter what. If I found out that he knows about me and the Nova action, I shall kill myself,” explained Dr. Velkon with the attitude of someone who lost all hopes. In fact, he had no intention of killing himself, though he wanted to disappear, somehow, and let the others deal alone with Ghethe Dakka.
     “Get a grip, Doctor! We need to think first, and then we shall decide on the best course of action,” advised Great Hurda with a trace of irritation. He continued, “It is clear that Ghethe Dakka has a ship which only the Imperial Investigators of the Science Division could own. Now, since the ship IS a ‘Self-Unit Intelligence’, that means he IS the owner of the ship, therefore he IS an Investigator.
     Let’s go further, Gentlemen. Ghethe Dakka manages to push the cut piece out—which is extremely heavy—then he exits the airlock and takes both sisters inside his ship. He gets out again, only this time his armor stands to the fire of twenty-four plasma throttles, and forty-nine pulsing-laser guns. Amazingly, Ghethe Dakka has two strange pieces of equipment mounted on his shoulders which fire themselves automatically, therefore he manages to destroy all the gear aimed at him. What are those weapons, Doctor?”
     “I have seen that technology before. It is named ‘Automatic Tracking Liquefiers’, and it is one of the latest discoveries of the past Empire: it liquefies crystalline molecular bonds. Each of those two units is about nine hundred times more efficient than a similar size pulsing-laser unit, on short ranges, and about ninety times more powerful than a proportional size plasma gun. They are defensive weapons designed to respond automatically to fire, while working behind the plasma and laser shield, and they are very advanced technologies, but not a threat for us.
     The only thing remarkable to me is, his armor has a laser and plasma shield a lot more advanced than anything I have ever seen or heard about,” explained Dr. Velkon, and he ended his words in a sad voice.
     “Thank you, Doctor. Ghethe Dakka takes Hira Otora inside his ship where he suggests him to confess to his crimes. Next, Ghethe Dakka does a few things to Otora’s brain. Could you, please, explain that, Gray Master?”
     “Yes. Hira Otora has lost the use of his legs, hands, eyes, and he cannot articulate words. In addition, Hira Otora has a timed suggestion implanted: after one i-std. year, he is going to become a frightened animal. I can easily do the same.”
     “Could you, Gray Master, undo Ghethe Dakka’s mental suggestions?” asked Great Hurda appearing to be concerned.
     “They are strange and incredibly specific . . . I need time to study his techniques . . . Yes, I can undo some of them.”
     “Which of them?” rushed Great Hurda.
     “Mostly the ones working on perfectly defined centers inside the brain, as is the use of speech,” explained Gray Master.
     “How much time do you need for that?” asked Great Hurda.
     “Ghethe Dakka’s suggestions are extremely accurate. I have never seen anything that clean and so precise. I need about twenty-seven local days to study them. Actually . . . I already started,” confessed Gray Master hesitantly.
     “Thank you, Gray Master. We see that Ghethe Dakka punishes very hard and without hesitation, meaning, he is well accustomed to doing that. To continue with our analysis, he threatens again with the destruction of the entire Kalanda City.
     It is important to note his departure speech about a new Empire. Thanks to Commander Mortek, Ghethe Dakka is well aware about us, and I suspect he knows our intentions. However, he talks about rebuilding the Empire as if he doesn’t care of our existence.
     Now, it is possible he doesn’t care about us because he has even more formidable powers than what he revealed during the incident in Kalanda City. All that he did, Gentlemen, is based on what he had to do, given the existing circumstances. However, if things had been more difficult to rescue the Zelhane sisters, I have no doubts, Gentlemen, that we would have seen way more incredible things.
     Anyway, it is of capital importance to note that either Ghethe Dakka loves the Zelhane sisters, or he needs them badly. That, Gentlemen, is his only weakness, and the only lever we have to deal with him into the future.
     To continue with our analysis, Ghethe Dakka lures the ships assigned to follow him to a particular point in space, at equal distances from three populated Planetary Systems, then he disappears. That tells us that he knew from the very beginning he was being followed, and he fooled us.
     I sent additional ships in that region of space to locate him and, today, I received a report that an unidentified ship having a speed vector of twenty points has been observed seven i-std. days ago. Note this: twenty points, Gentlemen!
     The vector of the ship has been traced up to Giola System, and I suspect it must be our target because, until we met with this terrible Ghethe Dakka, we couldn’t even dream about ships capable of reaching more than sixteen points. Our agents in Giola System are working hard to locate him. In addition, we know that Ghethe Dakka has visited Planet Kolta in the Weyla System for four local days, therefore I dispatched a small escadrille there to investigate his activities. Any comments, Gentlemen?”
     Dr. Velkon replied hastily, “It is clear to me that Ghethe Dakka is very dangerous, so we should better kill him from distance whenever we have the chance.”
     “You are rushing, Doctor. Try to imagine that he is not alone. How many Investigators of the Science Division were in the past Empire?” asked Great Hurda.
     “I do not know. That information was highly confidential. Only the Council knew the identity of the Investigators. Besides, I tried to avoid them as much as I could. There were maybe four, maybe forty, or maybe even four hundred Investigators. The only thing I know is, there was a team of Investigators of the Science Division led by a Chief Investigator with the code name Mercy.”
     “Mercy! Why Mercy, Doctor? Do you have any idea?” wondered Gray Master. To him, the abstract name of “Mercy” used by a person having mental powers had an alarming resonance, as if it was hiding a terrible, inexorable threat . . .
     “The Chief Investigator was a man unlike any other,” started Dr. Velkon, then he quickly changed his mind thinking that it was better not to scare them too much. His intention was to incite Gray Master, Shadow, and even Great Hurda to fight with Ghethe Dakka. It was possible they won, and that result would have created all conditions he needed to finish with his partners. He continued, “and he was stronger than all other Investigators, but his code name had no particular meanings: it was just a code name.” Dr. Velkon thought of the possibility that Ghethe Dakka was the Chief Investigator himself, and he started feeling the beginning of a maddening fear. He performed a quick analysis of his own, and he assumed the Chief Investigator spent most of the time in his office: in that case, he had perished during the Nova. Then, he remembered that Ghethe Dakka looked too young for a Chief Investigator, and even for an experienced Investigator, and that thought relaxed him a lot.
     Great Hurda presented his conclusions, “Our main problem is, Ghethe Dakka may not be alone, Gentlemen, because we do not know what he did during the past three i-std. years. Now, if he is not alone, things are very bad. We cannot kill him until we have sufficient information. Moreover, he owns technologies which we must have, if we can. My conclusion is, we need more information about him, and about the technologies he owns, at least to prevent other people from getting them.
     Should we kill him, others like him could come, better prepared next time. If we let him live, he will find us, sooner or later. But, if we capture the Zelhane sisters, we could maneuver him into doing anything we want.
     Now, please decide, Gentlemen: should we kill Ghethe Dakka, or should we try to get more information about him? Dr. Velkon?”
M13-4
     “I am not certain, Great Hurda. Personally I would feel a lot safer if we kill Ghethe Dakka, though getting information is extremely important . . . I say . . . let’s try to get information,” voted Dr. Velkon. He was thinking, if there were more than one Investigator, or if by some odd chance Ghethe Dakka was the very Chief Investigator, then the best thing for him was to take the fastest ship available and run away as far as he could.
     “What do you vote for, Gray Master?” inquired Great Hurda.
     “Ghethe Dakka appears to be very dangerous, but I know that we, together, are stronger. If we capture the Zelhane sisters we could force him to do anything we want . . . Let’s get information,” voted Gray Master. He was not much impressed by Ghethe Dakka’s powers, because he knew he was a lot stronger. Besides, he needed advanced technologies, and the ones Ghethe Dakka owned were the best. He felt a strong inner drive to master all technologies that Ghethe Dakka possessed.
     “May we hear your vote, Shadow?” asked Great Hurda.
     The air near Gray Master started to form a gray shape, then a distorted, broken, vaguely feminine voice said, “Let’s kill him. He is too dangerous. We shall deal with the others one at a time.”
     Great Hurda had anticipated Shadow’s vote for death, as always, therefore her answer was no surprise. He said, “My vote is to get information from Ghethe Dakka. Unfortunately, we cannot ask Commander Mortek for his opinion, but we already have a majority.
     Well, Gentlemen, it is decided: Ghethe Dakka will live, and I shall personally take care of abducting the Zelhane sisters,” concluded Great Hurda. He was well satisfied with the way he had presided the meeting. As for Ghethe Dakka, Great Hurda was confident that once they capture the Zelhane sisters they would find a way to tame, or to destroy the man.
     He had volunteered to supervise the abduction in order to have sufficient time, in isolation, to build future plans. Great Hurda was well aware that, as soon as the Ghethe Dakka crisis was over, all his partners would start biting each other ferociously for a piece of advanced technology—and he wanted to be ready!

GREEN LEAVES




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