Chapter Nineteen: Galra tax
She sighed sadly, the whole time discussions between Coran and Romelle had grown steadily more acrimonious as the girl's restlessness pulled her in directions other than doing housework. Directions for which Coran, a stolid man of the soil if there ever was one, had absolutely nothing to get in involve or want to get involved.
Returning the bulk container to the refrigerator unit, she placed the pitcher on a tray and hurried back to the dining room. She was not a brilliant woman but she possessed an instinctive understanding of her important position in this household.
She functioned like crystals in a cave, shining up kindness wherever she goes, especially when people needed to for release with their personal lives. As long as she was present. Coran and Romelle will boom like a mega explosion.
"I'm telling you we don't have to pay anymore"
"But nothing, but giving money thugs who steal from us. And everyone here's too much of a coward to do anything about it".
"You watch your tone, and besides they're already here"
He was right, by the time the Galra had already arrived, it was too late, Romelle didn't believe it. The Galra was here, taking advantage of them again.
The history between them have been complicated, since their priestess, Allura died, the Galra had been taking and gives nothing to return.
But the Alteans knew that one day a new priestess a new hero will rise once again and Romelle's real hope, that's why she's been fighting for this very day. Being strong enough to take back their land.
"Please end this conversation, and also Keith and Shiro are not back yet".
"No buts", he fumbled over words, unaccounted to pleading "I know life is a struggle but I need you to know that I needed you to trust me"
"All right" Romelle objected sullenly. How many times did they repeat this identical charade with the same result?
Convinced once more that Romelle had finally come around his way of thinking, Coran shrugged the objection off, "Time will change before you know it".
Abruptly, Romelle went to the kitchen, not even looking at Coran in the face. Why he couldn't understand her? Didn't he know what she was capable of?
"That's what you always say". In the kitchen, Romelle turns to her friend, Claire, who has been working on the kitchen working on the meals. The friends look at each other mechanically, eventually, Romelle broke the silence and said these words "why does Coran doesn't know there is more in me".
Claire looked at her and pointed out earnestly, "maybe because you're too rough, stubborn, skeptical a liar, and sometimes double-sided.
Listlessly Romelle replied, "thank you for pointing out the obvious"
"Coran won't change his mind" she continued firmly "you'll never be able to do it, no matter how hard you try". She shook her head slowly. "You know how much that Allura's death had affected him"
For the first time all day Romelle looking throughout as well as concerned as she gazed up the lights.
"Don't remind me, but I'm sure that Allura didn't want this".
"You're right she doesn't want that" Claire replied back. "But what can we do"
"I don't know but that doesn't mean we couldn't stop trying".
Coran stepped down from the shrine, he stood on the steps watching the tank containing Galra who was sent in to collect the taxes.
"Hello, Coran," a certain purple Galra said.
"Hello to you, Haxus," said Coran, examining his face with a reply that was bleak and bitter. "I see that you're here to collect something".
"Of course something for the war effort".
"Have I Forgotten, after all, we have chosen to remain neutral".
"Of course, but some of you were".
"Romelle is still young and strong, I'm surprised she was able to beat your guards".
"Yes it could be but Fire is sometimes so hard to control".
Coran stared at the words, could he know Shiro and Keith were fighting the Galra, that's something that cannot be done so far apart but he must do his part so he opens a small chest and passes a handful of currency to Haxus.
"You can keep the copper ones". Haxus said Haxus as he walks away, dropping four copper pieces to the floor and left with his tanks.
Silence hung Coran like a rock sinking in the ocean. How long are they going to last like this, with that much currency how are they going to pay for their livestock, their homes, and your lives? All of these have left him broken.
"Keep it together," Coran said to himself. Looking over to the Verizon, "you're always not the type to back down". With that said Coran return to the castle. Hoping the next day things will be different.
During the morning, Romelle escaped to the town, She wanted to get some air. There was so much more than just the life she's living. A few minutes alone couldn't hurt. So dress in civilian clothes of a loose pink and white smock with a mandarin collar and blue, sleeves. Combined with black arm wraps.
The smock has a tulip hem that ends at her knees and is cinched at the waist with a navy blue belt. Her hair styled in the same style as her maid outfit. It was the perfect outfit for her.
She walked quickly away from the ocean because the embankment was wide and well to the horizon. There was a tangle of the narrow street between there and the farmland, which was the only place Romelle was sure of being able to find someplace private.
With her, she goes around between the barns where fresh new grain is being reproduced and sometimes stop at the shops to get something to eat. Normally she will have her own food but the number of currency and her desire to get out of the shrine as possible, makes her unhinge and quick to lose self-control.
If only she knew Aurs as well as she knew the shrine! Then she would have known which with side waysides to avoid; or where she could score some food; or, best of all if it was a perfect day she would go to the park for some quiet and decency.
But it was a perfect day which wasn't for a certain group within the Farmers Market, where she got her meals, only to discovered that Haxus and his group of Galra haven't completed their task yet.
Two Galra approached a glass vendor. They flipped his cart, shattering the trinkets, then stole his money.
Another Galra robbed fruit stands and vegetable stands, the people surrounded them, fearfully ran away from the area. The thief was carrying two giant bags of coins, the bags were bursting at the seams and some of the coins fell out and clinked against the floor.
Haxus, the typical ringleader, threatening another one who, demanding more money. Romelle stared at them in disgust. This is why she hated them they always take things and give nothing in return.
"Why does Coran let them do this" she whispered, but she was distracted; fall to notice that Haxus certainly looked at her all in disdain. Catching that and then saw them at the same time as two men running at her, one from each side, the nearer holding a throwing net.
Romelle pivoted leaped and somehow brought down the thing who had tried to pin her in place. The other ruffian drops the cash he held and rushed.
He should have picked a fight with someone bigger. Drawing her staff from her back, Romelle clubbed and kicked him into submission for a little while.
"Get her" Haxus ordered his men. But Romelle already escaped to a hidden place only she knew about. A secret place that no one knows about.
In the shrine lab, Coran exclaimed the final adjustment to the security system.
Haxus popped his head into the room, "Sorry to come to bother you again?" He asked.
Coran gave him a look, then went back to work.
"Why are you here, I already gave you enough tax" he begged. "What's going on now" why Haxus still here, has he already done enough damage to Aurs already.
Haxus didn't budge "nothing but your concern"
Coran stared at him for a moment "what am I supposed to do I can't keep Romelle on a leash"
"But, I saw her on the marketplace," Haxus said. "I thought you said you were going to keep her contained" he continued examining the room including what Coran that's been working on.
"Look, Haxus I know you can't do anything here"
"That's not true I meant, sure our people cannot Target the mist directly," he told him, picking up a piece of tech.
"She's too strong will like someone that I used to know"
"You don't say" Haxus rolled his eyes at Coran.
"Of course! She has too much of her family" he responded, frustrated. "The place that you annihilated"
Haxus rose "Funny," he said, "You seem to have a preference for hanging on the things you want". He left and slammed the door shut behind him.
Stared in thought Coran and look at the array, so much in fact that he pushes everything off the table in frustration about Haxus said.
Romelle ran deep in the forest, to a place that she can be herself. Removing her shirt revealing a sports bra. She went to a hidden panel containing weapons she has stored here, grabbing a staff, and went a hidden tunnel.
It leads to an abandoned ship, on Aurs, wherever there was mention of Galra cruiser, glances weren't directed to the skies but to the distant lands, For if one traveled deep into the land past Aurs, that's precisely what one would find.
Jutting out from the ground like an enormous, half-buried black ship loomed the mountainous wreckage of these destroyers. Scraps of smaller starships lay littered in rows inside the crashed titans, all relics of a very bad memory for the people of Aurs.
Most avoided that graveyard at all costs. But the flora around here has made it unrecognizable, Rusty floor could crumble under the feet of unfortunate visitors, beams could teeter and collapse, old pipes could burst, spraying hazardous fluids.
Romelle was not afraid. She didn't have that luxury. If she wasn't brave such dangers, then she wouldn't be here.
She hung to the wall of a demolished cruiser and pretended that she was climbing up a huge mountain. The ship was a treasure trove of metal sheeting and military-grade tech, if used properly, could fetch Romelle a run for her money.
She was strong after all at Eighteen and this was her life. Her days she spent here was exhilarating, venturing into perilous places like this makes someone look crazy, crazy enough to try. Admittedly, she had of causing chaos everywhere she goes, sometimes by choice.
Having to complete the workout, Romelle climbed down the walls slowly and carefully. Not to cause unexpected brackets surrounding the crumbling ship.
Romelle landed on the rusted floor of the room she'd been working out, she had managed to successfully jump from the rested areas to the edge between both sides. Then she'd leaped and grabbed a pipe hanging from the ceiling. She swung back and forth wildly and she'd lost his grip.
She jumped to her feet on the other side. Where Romelle head down there to take a break in her humble hideout. She got both ration packets from a refrigerator she found and dumped the purple supplement into a small bow.
While activating a pan on the burner to cook, she mixed the brownish flour with water in a container. The chemical reaction worked its magic and a doughy load rose.
The purple stuff was food goo and it was the different kind that Alteans have, thought Romelle doubted it tasted anything like the thing, she ate from a plate that she already brought from the shrine. Through a blast hole that now was a window, she imagined saw the lines of smoke from a ship departing Aurs.
She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and took stock of her few possessions. They always brightened her day and reminded her that there was more to the world than life on Aurs.
She had a doll she'd sewn together as a young girl from the fabric of a black and purple prison suit. A canister stored jubilee flowers that she'd planted from seeds that she got from the marketplace.
Then there was the computer Romelle had built out of scavenged parts. She had loaded it with a simulator program to practice her combat, Romelle's relaxing area contained her single luxury, a blogging-feather pillow, Last, a banged-up pilot's helmet she'd found in old rebellion ship. Outside of Aurs. It was the only thing that reminded her of the outside world the day that she met the rebels of Balto and her only adventure since she was never allowed to leave Aurs's borders without Coran's permission.
Despite this, she never stops doing the things that she cared about or enjoy this homemade hang out of hers. She owed her survival to those who had donned helmets like this. The great battles they must be going through to make sure that the Galra empire doesn't declare victory in the war.
Even if the outside isn't humble but it's a great hangout non less. She took the helmet off its sheff and put it over her head, then went outlook at the setting sun. The helmet's polarized visor protected her eyes and allowed Romelle to watch the sun sink towards the horizon.
Seen the sun unleash a part of her, an increasingly large part, was growing more and more restless at remaining unfulfilled. This was not an uncommon feeling in youth under her age, but for reasons, Romelle did not understand it was much stronger in her than in anything else.
Back at Aurs, Haxus was planning to contact Sendak from his tank, a darkening space filled with high technology. One of the soldiers stood to the side of the group, playing solitude on a pad. With an intense stare, Haxus studied the man's posture, lt would be the perfect moment to accept the lucrative assignment he was about to explain himself, unfortunately, it was too late.
Haxus took the man's tablet and bop it on his head. Then using it he contacted his Superior officer, Sendak. "Haxus, report in." He asked in a threatening voice.
"I have already taxed the people but I have discovered her, the girl who took out our soldiers."
"I see stay there and wait for further instructions"
"What why is that"
"Let's just say I had a little Run with the local life and I just discovered a new soldier"
"I see I understand"
When it came to exacting revenge, Haxus was more than happy to get rid of the certain enemy against the galra empire.
Romelle finished her day of exercising, a few hours earlier before midnight, upon her return, the shrine's doorway opened, a woman in a forest-green gown, with her, piled on top of her head.
"Romelle, there you are," the woman asked "Coran been looking for you"
"He does but I don't want to see him," Romelle said. She blew a stray strand of blonde hair away from her face.
"But, he insisted" the woman urged.
"I can't. I had a busy day" Romelle replied, having to work out in a breaking ship really knocked out a person.
"Coran has something very important to share with you. Something to do about Haxus" the woman told her.
Romelle had no choice, "yeah. Sure, uh, I'll meet him later". She replied.
Satisfied, the woman nodded and walked away.
Romelle shook her head as she knew what this was all about. "Haxus here meaning I'm going to get in big trouble with Coran I mean come on why does he have to take his side it's not like he's protecting me"
As soon as she had a loaded thought, Romelle realized something, maybe that's exactly why Coran had allowed her to stay in Aurs-because he wanted her to be safe.
Romelle had begged and pleaded for time and time again to have a bigger role in resistances against the Galra and instead for a key role in fighting and being on the offensive, Coran made her do serving work. Might have possibly sent Shiro and Keith away so they wouldn't cause more trouble.
Romelle sighed and entered the hall. Why does she need protection? Only one way to find out. Unknowing to her, more surprises coming last as Haxus was on his way to complete his plan.
In the same dining area. People were setting up the table for dinner. Romelle glanced between settings because she knows that Coran told them for himself.
Since what happened to the Royal family, Coran had to grasp on his own, keeping everything together. Romelle couldn't help but feel sorry for him, especially for herself.
When Coran started to eat, "So, Romelle, don't you care to join me". He called out, he tried to sound normally but still sound furious.
Romelle had no choice, she so was exhausted and resentful. Sitting next to him who face was cold as he stared at Romelle.
But Romelle quickly pushed it back on her head and say what she needs to say. "It wasn't my fault, it was Haxus he was the one that attacks?"
"That isn't about Haxus" Coran replied. "Is it because of what happened, I know you weren't the cause of it" he stood as he gathered his thoughts? "I know life isn't easy especially always able the man from the leader. Separating when the other is even more difficult especially when you're doing the right thing"
Coran exclaimed the ceiling, encouraging himself to continue while Romelle was ready to escape.
"Sweetheart, I know life here isn't easy, especially dealing with the Galra empire and I'm sure sometimes you could just wish to get out there and fight back"
Fight back! The irony made Romelle almost joyful in back. "Coran we talk about this? I know what you're going to say?"
Coran reached out and took her hands in his "I know you're right but the world can be full of darkness and it takes one spark of hope to face it again. Not only do I want to keep you safe from that danger and evil in the world but there comes a Time in point that everyone must face them as a leader when the time comes"
Coran looked earnestly at a father looking at his daughter and then continued. "There were times and kept thinking about my methods at times may seem strict or unfair".
"Does that mean we don't have to deal with haxus taking advantage of our hospitality? And not dealing with him breathing on my neck". Romelle asked hopefully.
"I meant he did see you at the farmers market today but that doesn't mean I'm willing to reconsider those methods, I make no promises"
Romelle knows it was as close in the second but she never got a compromise as he would give her, "I can work with that". She said, smiling.
Without all the way, Romelle got up t
the dinner table. "Well, I have got to go," she said, arms reaching up. "Well I have been through a lot and back, so I better be going"
"That wasn't what I was about to go there but," Coran said with a sigh. "But I'm glad you see it my way".
After that encounter, Romelle thought that she was never allowed to leave anywhere anymore except ask for permission. But she was glad none the less.
Scraping off everything, Romelle laid rested in her bedroom, before reaching out to her bag, filled with contempt. She took out a picture of a family of Alteans.
"I'm trying properly, it's like you wanted me today, this time," Romelle said to the picture, "anyway. What's the deal" before putting the picture in her journal and head straight to bed and went to sleep for the night.
The next morning, Romelle when into the shower and got dressed in her maid outfit. Continuing to do her morning chores like mopping the hall and doing the dishes. Something like that. But yeah.
And when did they're done she retreats to her room? Repairing to train in secrecy, sooner or later she going to be in the biggest surprise of her life.
On her way to her secret location out there in the woods. She notices the marketplace was completely empty.
"That's strange" She wondered as she was walking around through the area. Maybe business was never open, right now. But she was wrong, very wrong indeed, when a group of Galra surrounded her, senseless.
"What's going on," Romelle said to herself.
"Playtime is over" a voice cried from the back of the area. Romelle instantly recognized the voice so many times that she could count. "Haxus?" He said in surprise.
Haxus's band of Galra villains drew their guns and batons. Frightened people who have hidden away, behind their stands.
"What did you want? This place already pays their taxes" Romelle demanded.
Haxus stormed toward her. "What's the matter, Girl! This is more than just taxes?"
Romelle stood near him, "what are you talking about?" She asked in confusion.
"Sendak, he wants to get even with you"
"For what," Romelle said, site.
"Everything" Haxus grasped Romelle's shoulders. "You see after your untimely disappeared, Sendak felt embarrassed by your defiance to accept your punishment, but instead you attacked our guards like it was nothing" he sneered. "I saw soldiers getting beaten up by a little girl" he pulled out his sword and walked in front of the frightening shopkeepers. "So I came to return the favor".
His expression was pure evil as he pointed his sword at the farmers, just then, one of the soldiers drove the tank through the area.
"Load 'em up, men," Haxus told his crew. The farmers and shopkeepers climbed into the tank, their heads hanging low. Once they all inside, Haxus turned to Romelle "Your turn".
"You think I'm going to follow your commands then you are sadly mistaken," Romelle said in Defiance.
"Oh I wasn't talking to you, I was talking to him," Haxus said.
Romelle turns around and sees Coran behind her. "Oh, come on, you didn't think we'd leave our fattest pig in the pen, did you!" Haxus snickered.
Two dangerous men dragged Coran to the tank.
"Coran no!" Romelle called out.
"Romelle, stay back", Coran warned her.
"No!" He shouted. "There is nothing you can do. As your leader, I command you to stay put!". The tank door shut with a bang.
Almost all the farmers were now trapped inside the tank but a few people were still free-including Romelle, she tried to step forward but was immediately blocked by two men with batons. "Don't be a hero, little girl", one warned.
But Romelle looking The mice, they both knew what he was thinking and nodded.
"Sorry, Coran," said Romelle. "I have to do this".
"Romelle No!" Coran shouted as Romelle removed her shirt revealing her sports bra and a slight lean muscle body.
"Oh, she's hot," said one of the galra men.
Romelle stepped forward. "Let them go!" Her expression glowing with power, like a woman expressing her dominance.
"It's amazing on who can hide given the chance?" Haxus laughed and turned to his men. "Come on. Let's move out!" He jumped on the side of the wagon, ready to make his getaway.
"Hi-yah!" A Certain person shouted as she whipped her whip across the hall, it snared the tank door and tore it from its hinges. Surprising Romelle.
"Looks like you're going to need some help," she said, in a blue and purple outfit.
"You're not the only one who wants to defend Arus"
Haxus leaped down from the tank. "Oh, now you're just making me angry".
"Good. I'm just getting started" Claire replied, pulling back her whip and readying herself for battle.
The captives quickly climbed out of the tank.
"Get those people back here! Now! Haxus screeched.
Coran rushed to Romelle, shouting "Romelle, are you all right"
"I know", she told him. "There's no time to talk about this" she helped a woman cross the area, then turned back to him. "Please get somewhere safe, I've got this!"
"Romelle!" Coran called out, but quickly realized he couldn't stop her.
Claire was standing between soldiers "that's my cue", she said and slammed their heads together-hard. So hard.
The soldiers cornered everybody in the Farmers market, "Leave them alone". Romelle tossed her staff and knocked out the weapon, then knock the men off and toppled him to the ground.
Coran moved forward to fight with Romelle. But he was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see a woman in the hood looking intently at him.
"Just wait," said the woman.
Romelle and Claire were fighting back to back.
"So, you sure you can handle yourself?" Romelle teased her.
"Oh, I'll manage" Claire replied. She unleashed her whip on to the world. Especially on the soldiers, who run for their money. One of the men had his feet knocked off, then deftly took down a second.
Romelle continue battled two on her own, holding them off with her staff. She swiftly disarmed one of the bandits before using her staff to knock down another. Then she got down on one knee, preparing to face a third.
Suddenly, something knocked out the third during the chaos. Surprising Romelle and guess what it was Coran "I know we'll talk about it later," he said, quietly.
Two of Haxus's men were closing in on a few of the shopkeepers. Claire swung her whip over the rafters to catch them by their waists then she jumped down and the men went flying up to the rafters and out of the fight.
Romelle faced Haxus, who was armed with a sword, while Romelle still held her ground.
Haxus snickered at her as she faced him, who was armed with a sword, while Romelle still has her staff after weapon.
"Cute", he snorted, then knocked Romelle to the ground, when Romelle got up, Haxus continue to whip out his sword and swiped it dangerously at her.
On the other side, Claire swung around on a strand of her whip and knocked down two thieves. When one caught hold of her whip, she got help from The unexpected: Coran and the farmers. He grabs it from the soldiers and begins using it. "I never felt so alive" he shouted.
Coran then flung the weapon back to Claire who just been disarmed.
"Thanks, Coran!" She said, tossing it like a cowboy and knocked out three bad guys. "Now, this feels good!"
Claire and the farmers had defeated most of the galra soldiers, but Romelle was still battling Haxus, the man was a wicked opponent but Romelle finally managed to knock him to the ground.
"Stay down!" She demanded, pinning Haxus to the floor. Coran hurried over to help his friends. "You have on idea who you're dealing with". Haxus growled at Romelle and Coran.
"Believe me I've done with it, especially what happened here". Coran replied.
Suddenly, Haxus freed himself from Romelle's and did a series of backflips to the tank door. He grabbed the end of the tank's handles.
"You think this is over?" He sneered "men retreat" and soon under his command, the Galra men retreated. Away from the Farmers market.
It was over. Romelle stood proudly, Around them, the farmers clapped and cheers.
Romelle glanced up just in time to see her friend rush toward her with a giant smile on her face, Claire wrapped her friend in a huge embrace. Thanks to Romelle and her friends, everyone was safe.
Later, in the aftermath, everybody started to help one another. After Haxus and his army had left. Romelle went to see Coran helping with the cleanup while been deep in thought.
She stood before him, feeling small and a little afraid. Then she began to tell her story.
"So, I am trying to understand this", Coran said, speaking slowly. "Haxus try to take the farmers as payback what you did"
"Yes," Romelle answered.
"He was trying to get you obedient?" Coran replied.
Romelle avoided the question. "Look, I know get involved in the war. But look at what happened, can you see that?! Our people almost got kidnapped and enslave, actually I-"
"Romelle", Coran interrupted. "There is something I need to tell you". He rises to her level. "On the day Allura died, part of me died, the best part of me, for many years of agonizing and never-ending pain, I swore that it never happens again" he reached out to Romelle's shoulder. "And that was the reason that I would that will allow the galra to do the things they do. I'm not saying then I'm allowing them to do terrible things or allowing to do this but".
"Ugh, we talked about this a million times" Romelle stepped forward, ready with him.
"I know we did and I was hoping that you would come to my way of thinking" Coran went on, taking a book from a nearby stand and handing it to her. "But it's clear that I cannot stop you but I can hope that things will change, give the right chance, hope can begin anew"
"I don't understand" Romelle was in absolute shock as she took the book, did Coran understood her or perhaps? Did he know what she was capable of? Did he already see there's so much more in her than she didn't think of? "I should probably help with the cleanup," she said, then she ran out of Coran's view.
Back in her bedroom, Romelle turned to the one thing that had always cheered her up: writing in her journal about the events of the last few days in the journal, it helps not feeling alone, Romelle considered what Coran has been telling her, meaning he did care about her and seen her fight like a warrior.
Curious she looked at the book that Coran gave her, she saw the inscription of the well, the same one that Shiro came from.
A spark lit inside Romelle, she stepped out onto the terrace and looked down at Aurs. There was so much more in this world to see. Romelle promised herself she wouldn't miss another moment and there was so much more inside her waiting to be discovered. This was just the beginning for her and everything.