CHAPTER 14 – Confrontation
It was the morning of the first day of High Council. The representatives gathered for their breakfast in one of the common rooms located near the chambers used for council meetings. Then, one of the representatives who had finished eating early came back into the room and called out in a loud voice, “The doors to the Council Chambers are locked and there are guards posted at the entrance! Warriors! Lady Vanairus, what is going on?”
The people in the room all turned and looked at the regent, Claudine Vanairus, for an answer. She stood up in alarm and looked around at the participants. Some of the representatives noticed that her mate, Stephanus, remained seated looking down at his food, but with a sly triumphant smile on his face. Then, there were other representatives who just ignored the commotion and continued quietly eating their meals.
Eventually, a guard patrol led by Captain Elias showed up at the entrance to the dining hall. Captain Elias made a formal announcement, calling for all of the representatives to make their way into the council chambers. Then, the captain approached Lady Vanairus and requested that she accompany him into the chambers. The representatives who overheard the captain’s request appeared to be confused as this was not normal procedure; however, there was nothing else to do but follow orders.
As the various representatives made their way into the chambers, they were startled to see that the seat normally reserved for the Lord of the Pleiades or now the regent, Lady Vanairus, was already occupied by a tall white blonde man attired in a white padded silk damask tunic layered over finely tailored light blue trousers, with low soft beaded boots and a light blue cloak that softly draped over the rear of the chair. The cloak was secured to the man’s shoulder by a huge sapphire brooch. The man was wearing one golden earring in his left ear, a family signet ring on his right hand, a lord’s medallion, and a large crystal pendant dangling from his neck. Standing behind the seated man was a line of armed Feline warriors standing at attention, their golden eyes warily surveying the participants as they walked into the room.
Finally, Lady Vanairus was escorted into the council chambers by Captain Elias. When she saw who was sitting in her chair, she halted and shouted, “Raphael! What is the meaning of this?”
Raphael stood and spoke to the guard captain in a voice that carried throughout the room, “Captain Elias, kindly escort Mistress Vanairus to her chair in the middle of the room.”
The captain nodded and took Lady Vanairus by her arm. She attempted to break free, but the man’s grasp was stronger, and he quietly warned her, “My lady, go quietly or I will order two of my warriors to escort you. There is your seat!”
Claudine gave the man an angry look but did not protest. She jerked away out of his grasp and sat down. Her chair was directly opposite to where Raphael was now standing. The rest of the representatives were seated behind her in a curving half circle, with the exception of the representatives from the primary Worlds, which included the Lord’s chair and seven others (Serana, Maia, Airus, Morova, Medina, BerWare, Vey and Krey). Those seats were arranged in a curve that echoed the half circle where most of the representatives were now seated.
A moment after Lady Vanairus was seated, Lord Raphael stepped forward. Holding up his great crystal pendant, he closed his eyes. People gasped as the crystal lit up, coming to life, growing brighter until its effulgence entirely filled the room. Those who were sensitive felt the power of the combined energies of crystal and man as a protective shield was engendered over the council chamber. Some of those present could see a similar crystalline energetic barrier was erected around the blonde lord. When he completed this unusual procedure,
Raphael sat down again and gazed at his confused and angry sister. He spoke in a natural voice, “Good morning, Sister. If you were not aware, I have encapsulated this room and myself in crystalline domes of protection. While your power was capable of destroying a Dark Lord, Claudine, it cannot touch me. Should you attempt to strike me down, you will find the energies being swiftly returned, multiplied, towards your own body. You have been warned!”
Standing once more, Raphael began to pace in front of the smaller semi-circle. He spoke loudly in his clear strong baritone addressing the people present, “For those who do not know me, I AM Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe, adopted son of Lord Demetrius VaCoupe, your former Lord of the Pleiades and Supreme High Commander of the Fleet. I greet you today and have arranged for this little surprise for my dear sister, Claudine Vanairus, to inform her and you that she is no longer entitled to hold the office of Regent of the Pleiadian Federation.
“Now, I would like to hear from the representatives of our primary worlds as they give forth their reasoned opinions on my sister Claudine is no longer deemed fit to serve in the capacity of regent for our Heir, Master Francis VaCoupe.”
A tall, dark-haired dignified lord stood up even as Raphael sat back down. It was Lord Ricardo Mathdis, who spoke in grave and measured tones, “Lords and ladies, representatives of our sacred Worlds, we meet today to determine who will lead our Federation forward until it is time for the Heir of Lord Demetrius to assume his rightful position as Lord of the Pleiades. The heir of Lord VaCoupe is his grandson Master Francis Dino VaCoupe, son of the former commander, Esturias VaCoupe, eldest son of Lord Demetrius.
“We are grateful for the service performed by Claudine Vanairus of BerWare as a temporary regent selected by her brother, Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe, upon the death of their father, Lord Demetrius. Within days of her selection, Lady Vanairus performed a great feat in full view of her own BerWarian warriors – her take-down of the Dark Lord unto death. And within moments of the dark lord’s demise, Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe had his Aide send orders to all the Command ships and our allied fleets to immediately surround, uncloak and attack the five great fleets who had arrogantly entered Pleiadian territory. Since that day, the day members of the Command now call the Last Battle, Lady Vanairus has reigned over the High Council. Yet, there has come rumors of her insistence that she was the sole Savioress of the Pleiades, despite the universal knowledge of great battles having taken place after the dark lord was killed. If you are not aware, it was Lord Raphael who planned out the counterattack against our enemy, not Lady Vanairus. The counterattack was initiated after Lady Vanairus had accomplished her deed and it was this great space battle, spread across the entirety of Pleiadian space that ultimately won our people their freedom.
“As people who believe and uphold the Truth as the highest virtue, I now ask Lady Vanairus why does she knowingly and openly contradict the real story of the Last Battle and seek to replace it with her own version of what took place? Madam?”
All the time while Lord Ricardo was speaking, Claudine was glaring at him, her face flushed. When he framed his question, she abruptly stood up, her countenance flushed with rage as she shouted, “How dare you, Lord Mathdis, question me! I am your ruler!”
“No, my lady – no more! As for our temerity in questioning you, any Pleiadian citizen has that right… one that you seem determined to strip from any who might contradict you, my lady!” replied Lord Mathdis calmly. “Now, I would like the planetary representatives, lords and ladies to ponder this – by what right does any leader have to contradict the truth and replace it with their own narrative?”
“No right at all!” roared King Stephanus in his loud baritone even as his mate Claudine flinched at the sound of his bellow. She stared at her mate with surprise and outrage stamped on her face.
Lord Mathdis now introduced the next speaker, “Representatives, Lords, and Ladies, I give you now Lord Adamos Dino of Maia, who was recently granted dominion over one of our greatest Worlds as his father’s heir.”
Lord Adamos stood and gave a sweeping court bow directed towards the council members. He said, “Members of the Council, representatives, Lords, and Ladies, I greet you on this momentous day. As a senior member of this Council and representative of one of the largest worlds located within the Pleiadian Federation, I have recently received news of a growing discontent arising among those who interact directly with Lady Vanairus, most particularly members of her own family and people. It is also noted that members of the Command have overheard Lady Vanairus speak of her prowess in taking down the Dark Lord, all while neglecting to give due consideration to the sacrifices made by the men and crews of the ships that participated in the last battle. Lastly, there have been noted individuals who have given us recitations of their visions having to do with a possible future where Lady Vanairus resists letting go of her place to the detriment of her own nephew, our true heir, Master Francis Dino VaCoupe. For this reason, we now request a vote from those representatives who are present, to determine whether or not this woman should continue as regent or whether a new regent should be nominated by this illustrious body, granted office and title of Regent until such day as a commission of lords and ladies determines that our heir is ready to assume the Lordship. What say you, my people?”
A slender dark-haired Morovian leapt to his feet and shouted, “My lord Adamos, what candidate are you putting forth to take over the office of Regent?”
Another man, a broad-chested Seranian by his looks, also demanded, “Since you claim that the Command has taken issue with Lady Vanairus’ policies and views, can we hear from representatives from the Command itself?”
Lord Adamos raised his hand and requested for silence. When those who had asked questions returned to their seats, he spoke, “First, everyone here must know that the office of Lord of the Pleiades traditionally held in perpetuity by heirs of the ancient VaCoupe Family. We are not asking for that custom to be altered, so we are requesting that Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe, who was officially adopted by Lord Demetrius VaCoupe to be his own son, be appointed as interim leader, regent for his nephew Master Francis Dino VaCoupe. We understand that Lord Raphael is not a VaCoupe by blood, only adopted, but he has lived as a member of the VaCoupe Family for decades since his rescue as a newly orphaned child. As a member of the Family and the Command, Lord Raphael worked closely with his father, Lord Demetrius, during the last years of the great wars, as Aide to his father and Head Commander of the Alyona Command Center. Were it not for the visions of Lord Raphael and his tactical and strategic expertise, it is likely we would still be immersed in war with our Orion enemies. And, for the last decade or so, Lord Raphael has been in charge of mentoring his nephew in preparation of that day when Francis Dino VaCoupe shall become, officially, the Lord of the Pleiades!”
“And what does the Command have to tell us about Lord Raphael? Can he be trusted to listen to the voices of the People unlike the present regent?” queried yet another representative, the Lord of Canzor, one Efrem Santos.
A deep voice rang out as a uniformed commander stepped into the midst of the circle, “I will speak on behalf of my third cousin, Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe!” It was Bashar Kadish. The officer saluted Raphael and the other seven representatives and then swung about to give another salute to the rest of the representatives on the other side of the chamber. He ignored Lady Vanairus. Clearing his throat, he began to speak in a commanding voice that carried throughout the large chamber: “For those who know me not, I am Top Commander Bashar Kadish, honored to serve abroad the mothership The Golden Dolphin. As I just mentioned, Lord Raphael happens to be my third cousin through the Kantors, an ancient family from Airus. I met my cousin Raphael on Airus during a recent rebellion led by our mutual elder cousin, Lord Michael Kadish. Had it not been for a warning received from the Alyona Command Center, our great city of Ostta, may have suffered from an invasion involving enemy agents in league with our former ruler Lord Michael Kadish. Lord Raphael was present during the end of the insurrection when it was discovered that his elder cousin was intending to kidnap the young lord and hand him over to dark agents to be taken off-planet…”
There were gasps from the audience as this story unfolded. Bashar continued with his explanation of that period when the rule of his planet was in question, prior to Lord Da’vid being made second lord of Airus after the execution of his father. Bashar delineated for the representatives the part that Lord Raphael had played in seeing that the people of Airus were taken care of, especially those most gravely affected by the nefarious deeds of their own former leaders, Lord Michael Kadish and his associates.
As Bashar spoke, Raphael sat quietly with his eyes closed – he was scanning the room. Some people wondered at this, but those who knew Raphael had an inkling of what he was doing. Raphael focused first on his sister who was still sitting in the middle of the room. He felt her confusion and growing anger at being upstaged by someone whom she had always viewed as a subordinate, a lesser being. He pondered this new impression of his sister’s state of mind and realized that she had wanted to use his considerable gifts to her own benefit, not out of love or consideration for his well-being. He could feel her growing envy and jealousy directed towards him simply oozing from her body. It was a sobering realization to take in while in the midst of being observed by several hundred sets of eyes. Raphael kept his facial expression very neutral and seemingly disinterested.
Another representative, a gentleman from Krey, raised a hand and was called upon to speak by Commander Bashar. The small slender individual identified himself, “I am Lord Kreyesh, Lord of the Planet of Krey. I am here as the Voice of the sentient inhabitants of Krey, both our humans and our sentient dolphins!”
Commander Bashar gave a wave of his hand indicating the Kreyan lord could address the gathering. Lord Kreyesh nodded his head in recognition and began to speak, “Lords and ladies, I recently met Lord Raphael on my own home world where he came to visit while on a tour of our largest worlds. It was through his compassion and mercy that I was healed of an enemy implant. Lord Raphael lent me the use of his Veyan healer and his own considerable abilities to free my body of this impediment. It was a great relief to be free once more. Lord Raphael is very sensitive to the energies of the dark and was happy to assist me. I would be most pleased to see Lord Raphael granted the position of Regent to hold the office until a council deems that Master Francis is fully prepared to assume his rightful place as Lord of the Pleiades!”
Another man stood up and identified himself: “I am Chief Ramirez of Morova. I came here as representative of my people. I, too, have met Lord Raphael in the past. I regard him as a friend of the Morovian people. Many may not realize that Lord Raphael was born on Morova, not of Morovian stock, but still, he is one of our native sons. We would be honored to see that he is given the temporary office of Regent for his young nephew, Master Francis VaCoupe.”
A tiny lady stood up and asked Commander Bashar, “Commander, has a survey been taken to see if the men of the Command support the ascension of Lord Raphael to the Office of Regent?”
Commander Bashar nodded and replied, “Yes, my lady… Lady Chokama of Morova! May I present Commander Adrigus, Lord Commander of the Castle. He can give you the results of the survey. Commander Adrigus?”
The Lord Commander of the Castle stepped out from the side of the room and strode into the center to stand near where Lady Vanairus was still seated. He cleared his throat and gazed upon the representatives with his bright golden eyes. In a gravelly voice, he spoke loudly, “Greetings, Lords, Ladies, and representatives! I am Commander Adrigus, Lord Commander of Alyona Castle. My office serves to fulfill part of the duties once held by our Lord Demetrius who was both the Lord of the Pleiades and Supreme Commander of the Pleiadian Fleet. Since being stationed here at the Castle, I have had the opportunity to observe the interworkings of the Office of Regent and the general administrative tasks that are undertaken at the castle on behalf of all Pleiadians. Personally, and in my capacity as a Commander, I maintain that the current regent, Claudine VaCoupe Vanairus, is not fulfilling her proper duties as a regent, holding the office until such time as when it is determined that the true heir is ready to assume the office of Lord of the Pleiades. Instead, we and others of my acquaintance have overheard Lady Vanairus expressing aloud her desire to retain her control over the Office of Regent for at least 100 years, a period of time far exceeding that which is deemed reasonable by those men who are currently overseeing the mentorship of our young heir. Therefore, it is our reasoned opinion that Lady Vanairus intends to resist turning over the regency when it comes time for Master VaCoupe to assume the lordship. Instead, Lady Vanairus may claim full-right to the Office of Lordship, despite the fact that she is not the legal heir to Lord Demetrius!”
“That’s not true!” shouted Claudine, jumping up and making an attempt to strike Adrigus. “You’re lying!”
Adrigus stepped back and signed for a couple of warriors to come forward. He looked grimly at Claudine Vanairus and replied, “Mistress Vanairus, I do not lie! I am hereby ordering these warriors to escort you to your suite. You are now under house arrest. Any further outbursts and you will be removed to the Castle prison!”
Although a tall statuesque woman, Claudine was quite over-topped by the huge Feline warriors who appeared on either side of her chair. Each of the men gave the woman a slight bow and put out their arms to guide Lady Vanairus from of the room. She made a lunge towards Raphael in an attempt to strike him. Seeing this, Adrigus roared, “Men! Seize her!”
When Claudine’s arms were secured by the warriors, they brought her briefly closer to Adrigus who nodded and announced, “Given your resistance, I have no other choice but to have you escorted to the Castle prison!”
“You will pay for this, I promise you!” vowed Claudine angrily, as she glared past Adrigus towards her adopted brother, Lord Raphael.
“Take her away!” snapped Adrigus. The warriors half-dragged the struggling woman out of the chambers.
Raphael took a deep breath and then requested Adrigus to renumerate to the waiting representatives how many of the Command forces supported his assumption to the Regency.
Adrigus nodded at Raphael’s request, and then turned back to the representatives. Speaking in his gravelly tones, he said, “When I requested a general survey done of the Command, I soon received an overwhelmingly positive approval for Lord Raphael to assume the Office of Regent. His name is now well-known throughout the Command as the superlative tactician and strategist behind the plans for the last battle! Our men who stood on the front lines alongside our allies, know that the war was ended due to those plans and their own efforts!”
Next, Lord Da’vid Kadish stepped forward and said, “Thank you, Commander Adrigus, for informing us that the Command is behind Lord Raphael. Now, I would like to request a vote be taken of the representatives who are present. Of those representatives now present, who wants to retain Claudine Vanairus in her present office as Regent of the Pleiadian Federation?
As Lord Da’vid looked around, he saw that no hands rose up in support of Claudine’s position. Then, he cleared his throat and asked: “Will those who approve Lord Raphael being our next regent, please raise your hands!”
About 95% of the men and women present raised their hands approving the assumption of Lord Raphael to the office of Regent. Upon the vote being take, one representative who had not voted, stood up and bowed briefly to Lord Raphael and then started to speak, “Lords, Ladies, and representatives, I chose not to vote as this topic was not on the original agenda for High Council. I would like to present this topic to our people and then I will report the results at next council. I would appreciate it if the rest of those who chose not to vote can do likewise.”
Lord Da’vid smiled at the man and replied, “Dear sir, the majority carries the day. A majority of the representatives present have approved Lord Raphael being placed into the office of Regent, as does the Command. We are a democratic body. If your people have an issue with the decision of the Council, you are welcome to take it up with Lord Raphael in private. Meanwhile, with the approval of those representatives present, it is the decision of this Council that Lord Raphael should now be considered the Regent of the Pleiades. Henceforth, his office will be in the one formerly used by Lord Demetrius and lately by Claudine Vanairus of BerWare. Unless there is any other business this morning, I suggest we take a long break for tea and refreshments!”
The chamber emptied quickly except for the ringleaders of the successful coup, who gathered around Raphael. Adrigus spoke first, “My lord, the surprise went extremely well, except for your sister making a fuss. I think she will have to be exiled permanently to BerWare, stripped of her authority to make any decisions for BerWare. In other words, she will be only the mate and consort of King Stephanus!”
Raphael was still sitting, stunned that the representatives so quickly accepted his nomination. He said, “I couldn’t believe that more people didn’t speak out against my becoming regent; after all, I am not a true VaCoupe.”
Adrigus chuckled and replied, “My lord, you are probably a truer son of Lord Demetrius VaCoupe than any of his own flesh and blood! You hold by his sense of ethics, honesty, truth, and dedication to the welfare of all the people. Had it been Esturias standing there instead of you, I doubt 25% of the people present here today would have voted for him. Only difference between the two of you is the fact that he was the blood son of Lord Demetrius and look where it got him! Acting as a under-gardener at his family’s house! Congratulations, my lord! Now, you have to move your office and get a larger staff; you’re going to be a busy man for the next few years!”
Lord Ricardo Mathdis made a comment, “Raphael, you are the first Pleiadian leader to ever be voted into office. People have come to recognize your commitment to them and will support your work going forward. Frankly, I am also surprised at the relative ease of accomplishing this turnover of power. Claudine seemed totally off-balance today. Perhaps your Veyan physicians should give her an examination?”
Bashar Kadish came up and clapped Raphael on the shoulder, “Well played, my lord. When Adrigus told us about the plan to replace Claudine Vanairus, the whole crew of the Golden Dolphin was behind it! You are probably the most popular leader of the Pleiades since your adopted father passed away!”
Raphael was still stunned. He stood there silently listening to his friends talking amongst themselves until Lord Ricardo recognized that his long-time friend was having a challenging time comprehending what had just occurred. The lord of Jolf gently took hold of Raphael’s arm and murmured in his friend’s ear, “Raphael, you need some tea and to eat something… then, go for a walk outside! Your life has just changed in a profound manner, my friend! We will all have to adjust.”
A very cheerful Adamos also noticed Raphael’s dazed mental state, so the two men drew him out of the little crowd. In the antechamber, an anxious Salaniel DeAires was waiting for Raphael to emerge from the council chambers. Commander Monteras was there, too, along with four of the Eagles, Milo and Loki, Earl, and Garry.
Adamos called over DeAires, “Well, Commander DeAires, it would appear you have inherited some more work. Your friend, Lord Raphael was just officially selected as the Regent. His office will have to be moved to Lord Demetrius’ former office. Is Francis Polaño available? If he doesn’t wish to leave service, he could now be Lord Raphael’s senior assistant and you could still serve as a military aide since Raphael still holds the rank of Head Commander. And now, could you see that Lord Raphael has something to eat? I would prefer he not mix with the rest of the representatives just now, for safety considerations. Although Raphael’s appointment went smoothly, we don’t want to give anyone a chance to attack him physically if they don’t agree with the outcome of the decision.”
Commander Monteras asked Adamos, “My lord, what happened in there? The guards would not allow anyone who was not a representative to enter the chambers… except the Feline warriors who were already present!”
“Your cousin, Lord Raphael, was unanimously approved by over 90% of the representatives present to be appointed as Regent of the Pleiades. Commander Adrigus also informed the Council that the Fleet personnel is completely in favor of his appointment. I suppose there may be smaller worlds that might object since their people were not forewarned about this change in administrators, but we did not want Lady Vanairus to be able to marshal any opposition to Raphael, but to catch her off-guard,” replied Adamos.
In the end, Raphael was escorted back to his modest office so he could have some tea and refreshments… and a short rest away from public scrutiny. He decided he was going to change into his uniform which DeAires had brought to his office just in case. It was a security precaution as the metallic uniform could turn a knife in case of close-range attack. The uniform was also a signal to all of the representatives that Raphael still held an official rank in the Command. While his friends waited in DeAires office, Raphael quickly changed out of the beautiful tunic and trousers and slipped into his comfortable uniform. He attached the blue cloak to the shoulders and opened the door, declaring, “Gentlemen, you can come in, now – I still need to pull my boots on! Now, where is that tea?”
“Milo has gone to fetch it,” replied Salaniel. Lord Ricardo, Lord Adamos, and the two Morovians entered into Raphael’s small office.
Lord Ricardo looked around and commented, “Is this really where the hero of the Last Battle has been working for over a decade? You deserve better quarters than this my young friend! It is so spare!”
Raphael patted the large crystal sitting behind his desk and replied, “This has long been my preference, Ricardo. I have never been one to be much for collecting things, although I guess I will have to adjust. I am not taking this new position to make myself a wealthy man, as I already have my own fortune. I am taking it solely to protect the interests of my nephew, Francis, and that of the people throughout the Pleiadian Federation.”
“Evidently, my friend,” replied Adamos with some irony as he glanced around at the spartan furnishings. He patted the one bench and replied, “You really must get your office transferred before the day is over. This is not the proper setting in which to meet planetary representatives.”
A firm knock came on the door and then Master Polaño peeked through the door, “My lord? I came as soon as I heard! Congratulations on being appointed as Regent… something that probably should have been done from the very beginning! The staff of the castle are relieved to hear that you will be leading us from now on. I will fill you in on the details later when we can share a private word, my lord. Now, I already have some staff clearing out Claudine’s belongings and papers – her private papers – from Lord Demetrius’ old office. I think your Aide, Commander DeAires and I can have your office fully organized and ready for occupation by later this afternoon. Is that agreeable, my lord?”
“Oh… oh, why, yes, Master Polaño!” replied Raphael who was still stunned by the suddenness of all the changes… and the alacrity that people were displaying in their determination to wipe away all evidence of Claudine’s occupation of the Castle. Raphael commented, “From the way people are reacting, it would appear I greatly over-estimated Claudine’s popularity here at the Castle.”
Francis Polaño replied, “My lord, you have been away for six months and even before that, you were gone on that interminable tour of the Federation. Meanwhile the staff at the Castle have had to put up with an arrogant VaCoupe ordering everyone around like she owned the place, instead of acting like a Servant of the people with quiet dignity and dedication as did Lord Demetrius all the years he served here. Your sister’s personality and disposition were completely altered from what I had observed of her behavior prior to her participation in taking down the Dark Lord. She was suddenly overcome by pride… hubris is what it is called, excessive pride in her achievement. Her act of courage was amazing, but it was certainly not the final act of the lengthy wars. Were it not for your swift preparation of those plans and getting them out to all of the commanders in the field with the assistance of the Command Center, the day would have been lost! Our fleet was gravely outnumbered. We needed the assistance of our allies and thanks to you… we got it.”
“That’s for certain, my lord,” remarked a loud gravelly voice as Commander Adrigus and Commander Semmas strode into the crowded room. “Were it not for those brilliant plans and strategy reminiscent of those of the Ashkerian Head Commander Lord Delos… we would have lost. Our Ashkerian allies recognized the tactics as being from one of their own sons… if a few lifetimes later. The Ashkerians had no problem joining the fray upon the recommendations coming from Head Commander Strabo Diaz, brother to their Fleet commander, Lord Benjamin Diaz!”
Adrigus looked around at the cramped quarters and growled, “I hope people are moving Claudine’s things out of Lord Demetrius’ office! You need more space, my lord!”
“So, my friends tell me… now, Commander, can I drink my tea in peace? I will have to return shortly to the next session of High Council where we get down to the real agenda!” replied Raphael with a slight note of irritation in his voice.
“Yes, yes, of course, you need a moment’s peace in order to integrate the realization your life is about to change!” chuckled Lord Adamos as he began to make motions to shoo everyone out of the office except for Lord Ricardo and himself.
Raphael gulped his tea… he didn’t really have much time before the next session would begin. This time, he hoped his nephew, Francis VaCoupe, would be present, alongside his cousin, Master Gareth Vanderis Dino. Then, a sudden thought occurred to him: What about Lady Arla? Would she want to align her allegiance to Francis, as well?
Raphael shouted for Commander Monteras who was now sitting with DeAires in the outer office, “Tomás, get Master Francis and Gareth to the next session… you can use Earl and Garry to escort them there! And I will want to arrange a talk with Lady Arla, the mother of Gareth!”
“Plucking your sister’s allies from her already, my lord?” asked Monteras.
Raphael looked up from the report he had begun to read… he still had another job, and waved Monteras from the room. “Just see if Lady Arla can meet me briefly after the last session today. Thank you, Monteras!”
“DeAires! Is Adrigus still here?” yelled Raphael as another thought popped in. Commander DeAires looked through the open door, as Raphael snapped, “I need to talk to Adrigus about promoting Commander Lo’Telle to Head Commander of the Alyona Command Center. I can’t do my old job and this one, too!”
“I’ll get him, sir! Commander Lo’Telle will be really surprised, my lord – I know I was, even forewarned as we were. I didn’t think for a moment it would happen so fast!” replied DeAires.
Francis Polaño re-entered the room and announced that Raphael’s new office was now ready for him. Raphael looked up in surprise and replied, “That was rather quick, Francis!”
“Salaniel! You’re babbling! I need to see Commander Adrigus! And thank you, Salaniel!” snapped Raphael. He took another deep breath and then drank some tea and ate a piece of fruit. There was a lot to accomplish and a short amount of time in which to get things done!
Francis Polaño gave Raphael a rare quirky smile and replied, “My lord, when my people heard Claudine was being removed from office, they rushed to clean out the place of everything she had brought with her. Her belongings have already been packed up and placed, temporarily, in the BerWarian suite in preparation for transport back to BerWare. I understand Lady Vanairus will no longer be attending High Council, my lord?”
“Oh, my, Francis! You really do have a professional team! I will see that they are all well-treated by any of my staff members. I hope to become more acquainted with them, which hasn’t been the case up until now. I would like to rectify that oversight. You have been such a dedicated individual to work for my Father as long as you did. Do you have any thoughts about retiring? I would love to see you continue on for a time if you can adjust to my being in charge now!” said Raphael with a smile and a light pat of Francis’ shoulder.
Francis Polaño beamed at the praise and gave Raphael a bow. He straightened up and replied, “My lord, I have no plans to retire any time soon. You need me! My team as you call them are ready and willing to work with you, my lord. You have always been polite and kind in all of your interactions with staff and even the guardsmen. Their captain Elias likes you very much, my lord. I will be training other staff to assist me as I think we’re going to have a busy decade ahead of us while our Federation continues to heal from the after-effects of war, my lord.”
“Indeed, Francis. I want Master VaCoupe to inherit a Federation that is well on its way to full recovery and vitality. We will also continue making tours but will limit each one to one or two worlds, so we are not away quite as long,” commented Raphael. “I would like to make our first destination Morova so I would appreciate having an appointment set up with Chief Ramirez of Morova. I understand he is now the Head Chieftain… they do not have lords there, per se. Can you do that for me?”
“Of course, my lord; I’ll see to it at once… say in a couple of days when the Council breaks into smaller groups? The afternoons are left for small group or individual meetings with the Lord or in your case, the Regent,” replied Francis Polaño.
Raphael sighed and said, “I will have to get used to my new title! Well, I am still in the Command… I guess. Of course, once Commander Lo’Telle is given his well-earned promotion to Head Commander of the center, I will hold no official position in the Fleet! Instead, I am about to start functioning as the temporal head of state for the Federation, capable of making treaties and alliances with our friends and allies. Hmmm, maybe I should invite some of my Ashkerian family over for a state visit? I could do the same for any other Star Nation representatives who are interested in formally aligning themselves with the Pleiadians!”
“Now, I appreciate your forward-thinking, my lord. That is the way Lord Demetrius thought when he wasn’t busy directing the war from here and attending meetings with planetary representatives!” replied Master Polaño. The experienced assistant was more than satisfied with the recent change in leadership and was ready to work hard to assist Raphael in being able to settle into his new responsibilities. “My lord, when we have some time later in the week, I’ll go over the general schedule that Lord Demetrius used to keep. Of course, there will be quite a bit of readjustment as we are no longer on war-footing… which will give you more time to spend getting acquainted with the various lords, ladies, and planetary representatives when they come to visit.”
“Oh, another thing, Francis – I will have to have a chat with Stephanus Vanairus about his mate. Any decision regarding how my adopted sister Claudine will be handled when she is sent back to BerWare is entirely up to him and the discretion of the BerWarian High Council… many whom I know and have met on my recent visit to BerWare. I will recommend the King rescind her title and authority on BerWare but will leave the final decisions up to the gentlemen of the local Council. They are a very traditional and tribal group so I would imagine, would whole-heartily support any move to disenfranchise their lady who has in recent years neglected her own home world,” said Raphael.
“If traditional and tribal means the tribesmen do not approve of women in positions of power, my lord, well… we all know the people of BerWare are very spiritual and love the Divine Mother and her priestesses,” replied Francis.
“For certain, Francis – I learned that very well on my first visit to BerWare!” recalled Raphael. “It might be a stretch to think that Lady Arla would release her office as High Priestess in BerAir so she might join with our party here in Alyona and Medina. She would be welcome to take up the spiritual instruction of our young lord in training. Lady Arla would also be able to see her son Gareth and any grandchildren that he and my daughter, Remilla, might create between the two of them.”
“If I were her, I would certainly be tempted… but we will see how the lady views such a move, my lord,” replied Francis. He was aware that Lady Arla had played a significant role as advisor and assistant to Lady Vanairus for many decades prior. Still, such an opportunity had never been put to the priestess before. Even Master Polaño was wondering to what choice she would arrive.
Raphael tapped his chin in thought and then produced yet another agenda item for him personally… “I would like to meet with my Veyan masters, Leu and Mei Li, tonight after supper to discuss the possibility of interviewing Claudine and performing a scan on her to determine her mental stability and physical condition. When I was able to do a light scan on her during the session this morning, I could feel she has undergone quite alteration in her personality as you have also perceived. It was rather unexpected, well, perhaps not given the attitude she has displayed the few times I have encountered her in Medina since I left for home. I really have not been around her very much for well over a year have I, Francis!”
“No, my lord – you have not… being gone for that long tour and then in Medina to recover your health – oh, may I say you are looking much better than when I last saw you here, my lord!” replied Francis.
“Good, thanks, Francis – now, I think I had better make my way back to the Council Chamber,” replied Raphael. “DeAires! I would like you to attend the session with me, too; you can sit in the audience and take notes on what is presented. Francis, do you have the list of topics to be covered? I haven’t actually seen what is on the agenda for the rest of the day! And… oh, is there going to be a state dinner tonight?”
“Yes, my lord – it is tradition, although it would appear you are now going to be the host tonight. I will need to inform Lady Lorenna and the other ladies to wear their best tonight as all will be expected to attend!” said Francis firmly. “And as Regent, you can wear a regular suit instead of your comfortable uniform, my lord!”
“Yes, Francis – I understand. For a while I will continue to play two roles… although it looks like my position as military commander is rapidly dissipating…” commented Raphael. He took another sip of tea, gave a huge sigh, stretched, and left the room, with Commander DeAires trailing in his wake, along with the massive Feline Eagles, Milo, and Loki.
Master Polaño stood there looking around at Lord Raphael’s office and sighed. Now, he had to get more staff to transfer all of Raphael’s papers and belongings (thankfully there were few of those!) to his new office. Many of the papers could probably be sent back to the Command Center since they were mostly reports coming from the various sectors within the Federation. Casually he wondered whether or not Raphael would ever have to perform another system-wide scan again, then he shuddered, hoping the occasion would never arise when those particular talents of Raphael were required.
The next session proceeded more smoothly, with the Council secretary, a priest, reciting the topics as they came up and then the various representatives present who wished to speak on them, spoke. Raphael had little to do but listen and make the occasional remark if a question was put directly to him. Meanwhile, Francis and Gareth sat in the audience listening to the proceedings with some interest, their ears open to hear if any remarks were made about Raphael now being the presiding regent.
Adrigus and his men were still present, the commander standing off to the side, while the warriors were arrayed in a line behind where Raphael was seated. Occasionally remarks were made about the strong military presence, but few dared to speak out against the new leader of the Federation.
Eventually, the first session of the week finished up and the participants slowly filed out of the Council Chambers. Raphael followed the representatives from the primary planetary worlds and was met up by Commander Adrigus, Commander Semmas, Francis, and Gareth.
Adrigus was in an ebullient mood and declared, “Well, my lord, our little coup played out rather well today. Claudine seemed to be totally blind-sided, which is extremely curious knowing that, in the past, she has exhibited strong precognitive abilities like your own!”
Raphael was still feeling a little raw from the sudden elevation to a very public position and felt a need to caution his followers, “Adrigus, kindly do not use that word… coup. It reminds me too much of what my adopted brother attempted to pull on my Starship Project team!”
Gareth understood Raphael’s concern but contradicted him by saying, “My lord, this was a necessary step to ensure the future for Francis. It is not as if you were acting as an agent attempting to take down the Federation for an enemy force!”
“True, Gareth… I am just feeling somewhat vulnerable right now. I am unaccustomed to having to be on display all day in a public forum and then expected to attend a formal dinner the same evening… all week! I’m not sure if I can last the entire week, friends!” said Raphael, half-jokingly, half seriously.
“Well, we will escort you back to your office so you can hold a couple of short meetings, my lord,” said Commander DeAires, as he walked up holding a sheet of paper in his hands. “I have the schedule here that Master Polaño made up earlier today after you spoke to him. First up is a meeting with Stephanus of BerWare. I’ll recommend we have Milo and Loki nearby. Your office has now been set up in Lord Demetrius’ old quarters – all of Claudine’s belongings have been packed up and moved.”
Adrigus chuckled, “It would seem that Master Polaño and his staff were eager to see the last of your sister Claudine!”
“Apparently, so – now, I wish I had not asked her to take the regency, but…”
Lord Ricardo overheard this latest remark by Raphael and interrupted him, “My friend, you did what you thought best in a time when most men were still stunned and incapable of acting. Initially, Claudine was superb in her bid to take down the Dark Lord, but later on, she appeared to become rapidly addicted to being the center of attention and began exercising authority beyond that called for by the customs of our Federation and the protocol of Council rules. Her bragging about her being the Savioress of the Federation is what swayed the entire Fleet to desire her to be removed from the office. Right now, you were the best choice as a replacement, Raphael. You need not regret what took place since your father died as no one could have anticipated such an alteration occurring in the lady’s personality as has been witnessed by Castle staff, guards, and servants, as well as some of the representatives themselves.”
“So, I have been told,” replied Raphael, who regretted the break with his adopted sister. He knew their relationship was over, at least for this lifetime, and there was nothing he could do now to rectify the damage done. He sighed, and replied, “Thank you for your concern, gentlemen, but I best be on my way. Stephanus, first!”
Stephanus was already waiting in his new office when Raphael arrived. The office was little changed from when it belonged to Lord Demetrius, but Raphael noticed his favorite crystal was now resting on a console behind the desk. The BerWarian monarch rose and gave Raphael a slight bow which surprised him. Raphael spoke first since it was apparent the king was waiting on him, “So, Stephanus, were you at all surprised by this development?”
“No, my lord; my son Patrick informed me privately what was planned. I was even able to hold an impromptu council away from BerAir with some of our primary chieftains, many of whom have met with you. They were in full alignment with the plan as they, too, have seen a distinct and unwelcomed change come over Claudine since she took up the reins of power in Alyona. She has forgotten BerWare and her adopted people! For that misstep, she will be stripped of her title. She can still live in the palace if she desires or go into retirement in a distant tribe, but she will no longer be able to play an active part in the administration of BerWare. My daughter Robbina will be undertaking that role as she has been receiving training from Lady Arla and her mother. Patrick will also undertake a role of authority and will be, in the future, attending these meetings instead of me. As for me, I have learned my lesson. The next time I wish to mate, I will find a pleasant-tempered BerWarian lass through winning a dance contest. No more off-world mates for me!”
“I am sorry, old friend, that it has come to this… I regret having to act so abruptly against Lady Vanairus, but my visions and those of others pointed to the possibility of a major civil war breaking out within the Federation should we not make a move now. And then, to see my sister appearing to be so changed today; my heart hurt for her,” replied Raphael sadly.
“Do not weep for her, my lord; she has succumbed to hubris much like her other two elder brothers did; it was nothing you could have predicted beforehand,” replied the king in consoling tones.
“We have often been at odds with each other through the years, haven’t we, Stephanus? I shall miss seeing you and Claudine at our family gatherings. I take it you will not be allowing her to travel off-world anymore?”
“No… she will be compelled to remain in seclusion on BerWare,” replied the king firmly. “I may insist that she enter the temple as a servant, but we shall see how she acts when she realizes what she has brought upon herself. I would hope that she realizes she must needs seek redemption and forgiveness like her misguided brother, Esturias.”
“I hope so, too, Stephanus. Now, do I have your permission to have my Veyan physicians give Claudine an examination to determine her mental and emotional stability?” inquired Raphael.
“Certainly, although she may object, but still, as a prisoner she can be subjected to an examination without her permission as it is a safety issue for those who will be dealing with her in the future. I know I would hate to spend an hour inside the walls of the prison that was Esturias’ home for a decade!” replied the king.
“I, too… and I have spent an hour or more in there while performing scans on Esturias and then one on Toryn Dino, a son of the former Lord Dino, who should have become the next heir after his elder brother Adamos. Now, he is cooling his heels in the prison after being relieved of an enemy implant. That is yet another issue to be resolved before this session of High Council is completed,” replied Raphael. “I just wanted to see how you intend to treat my sister upon returning home to BerWare. Humanely, I hope, but also firmly. She does have strong psychic powers, although they appear to have waned a bit since her ego issues have taken over her personality…”
“Indeed – I intend to keep a strong guard around her person at all times, my lord, and limit her movements outside of BerAir proper unless she agrees to go into exile in one of the distant tribes,” replied Stephanus. “And now, my lord, I will rejoin my party. I know you have many other things to handle, and you are unaccustomed to your new position!”
Stephanus had been gone for just a few moments when a cautious knock came on the outer door and Commander DeAires poked his head inside. He announced, “My lord, Lady Arla has come in response to your summons!”
“Thank you, DeAires; kindly let her in, then. Could you arrange for some more tea, too?” replied Raphael politely. He rose and greeted the priestess as she entered his office and looked around.
She remarked, “I see that my lady’s belongings have already been removed, my lord. This whole development was rather sudden, but I confess to having witnessed my lady undergo quite an alteration in personality and how she has dealt with those people around her since she took up the position as regent. Now, what did you want to see me about, my lord?”
“Please be seated, Lady Arla. We’ve known each other for a long time and can speak honestly to each other, correct?” asked Raphael.
Lady Arla simply nodded at Raphael’s rhetorical question, so he continued on, “Now, since I am still responsible for seeing my nephew Francis properly mentored, I wonder if you would be willing to see to his spiritual instruction? I realize you have been living on BerWare for most of your life except while you were taking your training on Maia; however, I was wondering if you would be willing to pull up your roots and join your son Gareth as part of my extended family. I know I would be grateful to have access to your advice and wise counsel.”
“Would I be expected to travel with your family to and fro Medina and Alyona when you attend High Council, my lord? And would I be given my own suite and access to the little chapel where we met years ago before you embarked on the Starship Project?” asked the priestess.
“Of course, Lady Arla. You do know the VaCoupe house is huge. Many rooms are currently empty. I know my daughter, Lady Remilla, would appreciate your presence since you are also a priestess. She is new to being mated and might do with some reassurance if and when she becomes pregnant with her first child… your first grandchild, my lady!” replied Raphael with a smile.
“Well, then, I agree,” replied the priestess. “I know my lady will have to face many changes in her life. I fear her existence from now on will be like a prisoner without bars. I was… well, I should have spoken up earlier about the changes I was witnessing in her behavior towards servants and guards. She was beginning to act like a mindless tyrant whenever anyone began to disagree with her views. I can see that Francis Polaño saw her things taken out of here speedily once the change in leadership took hold.”
“Did you see this coming, my lady?” asked Raphael, curious as to how much of what had just occurred had been foreseen by the experienced priestess.
“Not quite in the very precise manner the changeover was executed my lord – I must commend how you and your… hmmm, dare I say, co-conspirators, managed to take command and to take Claudine completely unawares. Like her misguided brother, she had begun to fall prey to overconfidence and hubris by stating it was her divine right to rule the Federation… forever. Occasionally, she would share this thought openly with me. I was quite appalled by what I was hearing, my lord; for such a declaration was treason against the heir apparent, her own nephew,” replied Lady Arla.
“Oh, I had not realized she was so open about her future intentions, Lady Arla! Now, I begin to realize why I began to receive visions warning me of a potential for civil unrest in the Federation should Claudine be allowed to consolidate her power position more thoroughly. And I was not the only one who suffered visions… or who had observed the ongoing changes in Claudine’s personality and behavior,” replied Raphael. “Plans were being laid at the time of my daughter’s mating to your son. I would have spoken to you at the time but didn’t quite know what to say.”
Lady Arla smiled and replied, “I understand, my lord; you have had quite a bit on your mind with all those amazing matings, visiting Airus, and getting healthier… plus, starting a new life with a new mate, Lady Lorenna! Since I have agreed to work with you, could my living quarters here in the Castle be moved? I do not want to be near anyone from BerWare right now… except your magnificent Montoya brothers. This is going to take some adjustment to… everything that has been a part of my life for so long. Ah, remember the first time we encountered each other on The Golden Bee, my lord… You were so young and so old at the same time! And now… I am going to be able to share life with my handsome son and his lovely mate, your beautiful daughter, Remilla! Thank you for this opportunity, my lord! I will embrace it whole-heartedly!”
“Oh, my dear lady… I am thrilled that you wish to align yourself with our endeavors… for it is my duty as stepfather of Master Francis to secure our Federation so he will be able to inherit it whole and carry the new energy into the future,” said Raphael enthusiastically. “I will notify Master Polaño immediately so we can arrange to have your belongings moved. I am afraid Master Francis and his staff have been kept very busy with all of the alterations!”
“Now, my lord, are we done for the moment… I want to see to gathering up my things and packing them. I don’t actually have much… being rather like the military being always dressed in a similar garment or uniform!” commented Lady Arla.
In that moment, Raphael thought Lady Arla looked beautiful. The new joy suffusing her face was wonderful to see. He sensed she was quite excited to have an opportunity to share more time with her son, Gareth, and his new mate, as well as the rest of the extended family and friends revolving around Raphael and the VaCoupes. Raphael smiled and replied, “Yes, my lady… Master Polaño may be outside and can give you directions on how to reach the private wing where the family and my Aides are staying. One of my Eagles could assist you with moving if you don’t have much to carry.”
“That is very generous, my lord! Thank you!” Lady Arla rose, gave a curtesy, and left the room.
Raphael could hear other voices in the anteroom where Francis kept his office. The Veyans had arrived. A light knock informed him that his next meeting was about to start. Master Mei Li and Master Leu Tzulo entered the room, gave Raphael polite bows, and sat down on the available chairs. Raphael greeted the men with a smile and comment: “It’s one meeting after another today, gentlemen! Thank you for making yourselves available for this little discussion!”
“How can we assist you, my lord? Oh, yes… congratulations on becoming the new Regent! Word is spreading like wild fire around the Castle. I noticed the castle personnel seem very happy to have a new leader – which is a reflection on the past ruler’s attitude and behavior. The common people are often the wisest and most astute when it comes to judging a ruler, my lord,” noted Master Mei Li.
“Well, I will have to become accustomed to being called ‘a ruler’, Mei Li. This is all rather new to me, too!” replied Raphael. “I called you two here as I would like to have a scan done on my sister Claudine’s state of emotional and mental health. I performed a light scan on her during the first session this morning. Understandably, she was rather perturbed and angry to discover that her tenancy of the office of Regent was being abruptly terminated. Still, I noted some surprising changes to her overall state of mind and temperament since last, I spent much time in her company… which was months ago!”
“Ah, yes… we would be honored to attend to Lady Vanairus. We will not answer any political questions for her because she must be confused as to what is going on. Such an abrupt and unexpected ending of her career as Regent…” replied Master Leu.
“While you are there, if you can please also take a look at Toryn Dino… remember, we left him in the prison before leaving for Medina over six months ago! I would like to have a report on his general disposition and health,” said Raphael, “I am eager to have him shipped out to Maia along with his brother, Lord Adamos, so the Dino Family can take care of him from now on. The man is a failure as an officer, not unlike my adopted brother, Esturias. I have to shake my head in disbelief when I see some of the behavioral issues cropping up in these ancient families, Masters!”
“We will see how much time it will take to deal with Lady Vanairus and then will decide whether or not to arrange for another appointment to see the former science officer, Toryn Dino. I understand Master Polaño sets up all the prison appointments with the guard captain Elias? So, the appointments may not take place for a day or so,” replied Master Mei Li. “I will make one comment, my lord, that it must be a shock for one such as Lady Vanairus to find herself locked up in such a place!”
“Yes… a huge shock, I’m sure; yet it was her angry outburst that got her sent there!” said Raphael. “I’m quite sad at the outcome of my well-intended efforts to encourage her to assume the regency just after hearing the news of my father’s demise!”
“It was not your fault that Claudine’s personality has undergone such a profound alteration. And if I must say… you are fortunate, Lord Raphael, to not share the same bloodline!” commented Master Leu, echoing a thought that had occurred to Raphael as well… that somehow there was some sort of curse on the VaCoupe lineage.
“Well, I hope my nephew will not be corrupted when he finally takes his inherited position as Lord,” replied Raphael. “I will certainly endeavor to see that he is properly trained and has a strong well-balanced personality that will not fall prey to the excessive pride that seems to haunt some of the VaCoupes. Roméo doesn’t suffer from it, I know. He is a hard-working and humble instructor, hugely intelligent but not egotistical about it. We got along very well during the years spent together on the Starship Project. I had hoped Esturias would finally come around, but it wasn’t to be… and now, my beloved sister has been taken down, too!”
Mei Li sent calming energies to Raphael as he could feel the intense grief Raphael was experiencing as a result of his being the instrument of his sister’s downfall… at least in his perception. “My lord… I will say that young Master Francis exhibits a well-grounded, and well-rounded sensibility. We will also endeavor to teach him how to balance his inner energies and bodies, to strengthen his inner strength and will, develop greater compassion, and intelligence. He is an excellent pupil, my lord; you need not fear for him when he finally takes his place at the helm of this Federation… mainly thanks to the common sense exhibited by his grandfather and now by you, my lord – in separating the twins early from their father’s malign influence.”
“Thank you, Masters, for your willingness to work with me. I will require your assistance in the days to come as I adjust to this new and unaccustomed workload which involves more exchanges with relative strangers than I am used to handling. I will endeavor to keep my own balance and perceptions clear of prejudice and judgment as I meet and deal with a wider spectrum of our various races and tribes across the Federation,” commented Raphael. “And now, I will let you go. If Francis Polaño is still outside, you can let him know of my requirements for the two appointments in the prison… and yes, you will have to be escorted there by guardsmen.”
“Thank you, my lord; we give you our reports once the examinations are complete. Will we be seeing you at the dinner this evening?” said Master Mei Li.
Raphael groaned, “Oh, my first dinner as Regent! I suspect I will be expected to dazzle the eyes with my finest garments. I would really like to show up in my oldest uniform! My mate, Lorenna, would have none of it, of course!” Raphael rolled his eyes in mock dismay. “She thinks she is training me to dress more like a lord when I would rather go around in a gown and robes!”
Master Leu chuckled as both Veyans stood, briefly bowed, and left the office… with Raphael taking another sip of some rather cold tea that was left in the pot. Then, another knock on the door came…louder and firmer than the ones previous, indicating that Francis must be out on some errand.
Commanders Lo’Telle and Adrigus entered the office. Adrigus looked around with approval and commented, “Much improved, my lord! Now, Commander Lo’Telle wants to express his surprise and gratitude for the rather sudden but well-deserved promotion! Lo’Telle?”
Raphael looked up expectantly at his former second officer, “Commander Lo’Telle?”
“Oh, my lord… this was unexpected…”
“But, in my humble opinion, Charles, long overdue!” replied Raphael with a grin. He stood up and came around the desk to give his friend a pat on the back. “Now that I am Regent – that is going to take some getting used to – you will be responsible for the entire set up at the Command Center, which you already know better than I do! Now, can I recommend Commander Bakken as a possible addition to your staff unless you have someone else in mind. Bakken used to be my Aide during the Starship Project and was trained by me… and you, if you recall, during the early days of the Alyona Command Center.”
“2nd Level Commander Leo Bakken, of the Golden Falcon, sir… my lord? Commander Myka Strom might have something to say about that… you’ve already removed your son Jychondria from his staff recently,” replied Lo’Telle.
“Well, he’s had the man on his staff for over a decade!” replied Raphael. “I wouldn’t mind having another friend at the Castle and Bakken is a good man, a highly sensitive, well-trained line communications officer!”
Adrigus surveyed Raphael with a golden eye and asked, “How are you doing, now, that the first ordeal is over. It went rather well, better than I expected!”
“I am still functioning if that’s what you’re getting at, Adrigus!” snapped Raphael. Then, he wiped his face with a hand and leaned back in his comfortable chair, confessing in a quieter voice, “It will take some time… Still, the castle staff seem quite happy to be rid of my sister’s influence. Master Polaño was practically beaming earlier!”
“Well, I am sure you will find your way forward. You probably know more about running a Federation than you immediately realize my lord – remember you were a king once… of a whole people!” commented Adrigus with a toothy grin.
“Yes, and you were one of my uncles, Adrigus! Charles, I know you will do a good job… a superb job! You have been doing a superlative job in your position for decades. Now that you no longer need my assistance to do war-time scans… well, you can do without my help,” said Raphael.
“Thank you, my lord,” replied Charles Lo’Telle. He hesitated a moment and then blurted out, “Thank you for the promotion, my lord, but where does that leave you in terms of your continued involvement in the Command. Are you going to have another official title or designation?”
Raphael shrugged and replied, “I haven’t got that far, Charles. Well, Adrigus, do you think you could dream up some kind of title for me so I can continue wearing my uniform now and again?”
“Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that, my lord, and perhaps ask a few other commanders. We would like to keep you in the Command, my lord, just in case something does crop up in the future where we need your particular skills… sir,” replied Adrigus as he began to ponder the conundrum just handed to him by Raphael. “I think for now we’ll just keep your rank at Head Commander… just what of, I don’t yet know!”
“Well, think it over and get back to me, Adrigus,” said Raphael. He gave another deep sigh and looked at his comm… “I think it’s time for me to head back to my suite so I can dress for this fancy-dress dinner I am expected to attend. Will we see you there, Adrigus?”
“Yes, my lord. I am attending to make sure your safety is assured. There will be warriors on duty tonight which will probably intimidate some of the representatives and cause some consternation, but right now… your safety is more important than some lord’s sensibilities,” replied Adrigus with a decided snort.
“Thank you, Commander. Congratulations, Charles! I may come to visit you on occasion. Let me know if Salaniel and I could do any special scans for you if there is a particular area of concern that crops up in the general scans. It would be a relief to spend some time doing what I am accustomed to doing instead of pushing paper and talking to multitudes of people!” replied Raphael.
“My lord!” The commanders stood, bowed, and left the room.
Raphael gave yet another great sigh as another knock came on the door. “Yes, who is it, now?”
“Just me, my lord,” replied Salaniel as he peeked through the door. “It’s time we went back to the suites. Master Polaño has left to oversee the service for the dinner already!”
“Yes, I’ll be right there,” answered Raphael. He picked up his white tunic and trousers and laughed, thinking what some of the visitors would think should they see him carrying his clothes through the corridors of the great Castle. He thought: Well, I wasn’t going to wear such uncomfortable fancy clothes all day! That is one reason to stay in the Command – I can still wear my uniforms on occasion!
Raphael and Salaniel made their way through the Castle, shadowed by Milo and Loki. A few people were about, but mostly servants and staff, who gave Raphael a cheerful wave or two. Salaniel remarked, “My lord, the staff are clearly relieved by the change-over of leadership!”
“Apparently – that is what Master Polaño confessed to me earlier today. I had no idea that my sister was so… unpopular. I need to pay more attention to such details. Let me know, Salaniel, if I start turning into a tyrant!” replied Raphael, half-seriously.
Salaniel looked stricken and exclaimed, “My lord – that would never happen!”
“Well, let’s remain humble and make certain it doesn’t!” replied Raphael.
The small party paused before the double doors leading to their residential suite. The guards saluted the quartet and opened the doors allowing entrance. Once inside the corridor, the four men were greeted by a crowd consisting of the off-duty Eagles, the ladies, now including Lady Arla, Francis, Gareth, Commander Monteras, and the Veyan masters. Monteras led a spontaneous cheer, “Lord Regent! Hail, Lord Raphael!”
The little crowd cheered some more as Raphael blushed, surprised by such an enthusiastic greeting. He gave a flamboyant bow and loudly replied, “Thank you, family and friends!”
“Oh, my dear mate! I am so proud of you! Regent!” Lady Lorenna gave her tall mate a hug. He kissed her on her forehead and received another cheer from Francis and Gareth. The latter was hugging his mother, Lady Arla.
Gareth gave a quick bow and came up to Raphael, drawing his mother behind him. He said, “My lord! Thank you for asking my mother to join us! We have not had an opportunity to spend much time together for decades!”
“My pleasure, Gareth – I have always appreciated your mother’s wisdom and clear perception,” replied Raphael. “Now, my dear ones… I have to get dressed so I can attend the dinner tonight. Francis, Gareth, Masters… I expect all of you to attend. Lady Lorenna, Lady Ella, and Lady Remilla are also invited. Lady Arla… I will let you sit this one out… it is too soon for you to appear aligned with a totally different party tonight! Now, please… and thank you!”
Thus, Raphael had now completed his first full day as a regent, having started it as a head commander. Life was sure to offer many changes but with his friends and family at his side, he was prepared to enter the fray of being the temporal, if temporary, leader of the Pleiadian Federation.
His proud mate, Lady Lorenna, followed Raphael into their suite. Standing in the great room, she took his hand and placed it on her belly, “My dear… I thought I felt the baby moving today!”
Raphael reached inward and sank into a brief meditation touching the consciousness of the incoming soul. He asked: Dear one, what is your name?
Raphael felt an answering flare of warmth in his chest as the consciousness of the developing fetus replied, “I AM Paulos… although I will be neither small or humble when grown, Father!”
Raphael smiled and told Lorenna, “He… it is most definitely a ‘he’… calls himself ‘Paulos’. Has there ever been a Paulos in your family? I don’t remember one in my own off hand…”
Lorenna’s face was filled with wonder as she answered, “I had an Uncle Paulos who died early in the wars. I never met him but was told stories about him by Father and Mother. He was a big, brawny man, much taller than the rest of the family… almost as if he had inherited some Seranian blood somewhere in his family line. He was a very courageous commander!”
Raphael then heard the child speak telepathically in adult tones, “And so I shall be, once more, for this time I do have Seranian blood from you, Father!”
“Well, my dear… this first son of ours may be even taller than my Jychondria! Let us begin to make a habit of communing with our young giant!”
Even Lorenna felt the baby laughing as it heard his father’s words. And so be it!
❤ ❤ ❤
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