“We have an assignment, Evelyn.”
My superior officer pulled out a red folder and laid it on the glass table.
I glared at the folder, already knowing that this job went into enemy territory; the color gave it away.
“You’ll be escorting one of our Chiefs to the Summit.”
I blinked. I hadn’t expected this. It was time already for the gathering? The Summit was held every year on the anniversary of the cease-fire. Every year, the two Empires hoped that we could reach a peace agreement, but it never happened. Over the past several years, the arguments increased, and the Chiefs stopped trying to settle on peace, but scores. The last Summit I attended, our Chief pulled out a hidden laser gun and assassinated the opposition before I could stop him. The foe’s guards, the ones that escorted their appointed leader, opened fire on us which ended in an all out battle that only had two survivors, including me. Both sides walked away with one person still alive; there was me and then they had a secretary who lived as she scuttled behind reinforced iron crates in order to avoid the bullets and the ricochets. I only escaped because bullets and ray guns don’t harm me. In the end, it was a total catastrophe. I honestly didn’t think there’d be one this year after that fiasco, but it seems that they planned on gathering again.
I tore my eyes away from the red folder and stared into the dark brown eyes of the officer. “What if it ends like last year?”
He tapped his fingers on the desk. “I think both sides agree that if we can’t find a way to settle peace between us, then we’ll destroy each other.”
It was just as bad as I thought. At the rate they were going, I would be the only person left alive. Well, excluding the Dwellers that I learnt of recently. I figured they would survive this as well.
“But, after what occurred two seasons ago, neither side will try to pull another sneak attack. They know you cannot be harmed, and they know you’ll be there.” He eyed me.
“That never stopped them before,” I scoffed. Our rival Empire enjoyed the chance of testing a new weapon on my skin. Luckily for me, they never penetrated my defenses.
“Well, it might this time. There’s a new player in our cease-fire.”
I froze. Did he know about the Dwellers?
“The Ilverettel family will be present, as well as the O’Vrell’s.”
The first family I knew nothing about, but it was the second that caught my attention. I knew who the O’Vrell’s were. They were the ruling family behind the other Empire, Domestian. They were famous, just about as famous as the Anean leaders. Anea was ruled by a council of about five people, called the Senate. However Domestian was ruled by a King and Queen, but it was more of a dictator kingship than a monarchy from the Old Age. As to the other family, I had never heard of them.
“Who are the Ilverettel’s?”
The officer grimaced. I could tell he didn’t like to talk about them, but he spoke nonetheless. “The Ilverettel’s have existed before our two Empires ever came to be. They have hidden themselves among our people, watching and surveying our actions. They have a kind of power over the leaders that no one’s ever really had before. They’re kind of like the watchers of the watcher. With their presence, we could finally accomplish a peace treaty of some sort or be on our way to one. They know both sides of the story and all of our faults.”
So the family survived the wars and the damages, but that didn’t make me any less secure. I was more wary of them now than I ever was. “How come they haven’t tried to settle negotiations before this?”
“They figured we could do it on our own. With the aftermath of last year’s tragedy, they appeared before us and started negotiating with the other Empire behind the scene. Finally a date was conceived, where the leaders and the families would convene to talk, peacefully.”
I crossed my arms. Peacefully…Yeah right. “How come I get the feeling that this won’t be peaceful?”
He sighed. “We hope it will be peaceful, but we’re sending you as our only armed guard.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. Before I had time to think about what he was suggesting, he was explaining again.
“With the peace meeting and the family’s presence, there will be sensors deactivating lasers and ray guns, plus they’ll be holding back anyone who’s carrying weapons of any kind. Therefore, no one in the room will be armed with a device that could harm someone else.”
Well that was a step up. They should’ve been using those scanners and sensors long before last year’s Summit. But then I wondered why me? If they weren’t allowing in armed guards, then they knew that I couldn’t be armed with weapons. But that didn’t stop me when it came to attacking people. I froze. I realized why they wanted me in there. If things went sour, I could kill whoever attacked us and safely get away. I could harm the royal court of the enemy Empire, thus weakening their regime. I was the weapon here, a walking weapon.
“Are you serious?” I stammered out, raising my voice an octave.
My officer grimaced. “It’s only a failsafe. We think you could settle things down, if it got out of hand.”
I leaned forward, upset by this action. “And how do you know they’ll let me into that room when they know I can’t be harmed?”
“Because you don’t attack without cause.”
He had me there. It was true. I didn’t attack anyone, until I knew for sure that they were there to attack me, or the person I was escorting.
“And you want us to come to a peaceful decision,” he added. “The Senate asked for you specifically to escort Young Pierce Halansworth.”
So I was escorting the son of one of the Senate members. If any of those men were to die, which could be any day in the world that we lived in, then the next heir of the family would take his or her place on the council. Pierce; that was all I needed. He was arrogant and charming, though that was all superficial. Underneath that shiny exterior beat the heart of the most boring person I had ever known. When he wasn’t in session with the Senate, he memorized speeches his father and the other council members composed in the past. Pierce was nothing but a tool and a spokes-figure.
“They also requested that you bring him back alive.”
I rolled my eyes. If anyone was to die whether in the past or present or future from the attacks of the Empire, it should’ve been him. The other Senate members we lost to the war were actually good at their jobs. This guy was horrible. I racked my brain trying to think of any excuse not to be there.
“You can’t get out of this one, Evelyn.”
I gritted my teeth in frustration. After ten years my commanding officer knew when I contemplated an excuse. “Where is it and when do I leave?”
He smiled, knowing that I didn’t want to do this job but accepted it anyhow. He completely understood my frustration about the entire situation. If it were any other member, I’d have their butt’s out of the room and into safety in the blink of an eye. But Pierce… it would take an effort on my part.
He put the red folder back into the cabinet next to his desk. “Be at the loading dock at 1600 hours. The tram leaves at 1630, but they want you to be acquainted with his personal cab. The Summit should only last a day or two. We’ll have your clothes in a luggage bag when you arrive. Just make sure that he stays alive. We don’t care about the rest.”
I didn’t like this situation one bit. I stood up to take my leave.
“One more thing,” he added. “The Summit will be held at the Divide.”
I nearly stumbled. He had to be kidding, but the expression on his face told me otherwise. I really didn’t like visiting the Divide. That was where I lived when the bombs hit the city. I knew the territory extremely well, but I had never been back to ground zero. “But, the air…”
“They’re constructing a chamber over the pillars. The air should be fine once you both arrive there.”
This whole situation was becoming more and more obscure and dangerous, with every revealed detail. The Divide wasn’t in enemy territory, nor was it in friendly territory. The Divide used to be a neutral city, serving as a trade community and transport service. After the war began, it was the first city to be bombed, and I was right in the middle of it serving as a nurse practitioner in the top hospital at the time. The injuries from the inhabitants and armed forces who arrived by Airvac, overwhelmed the area, and those memories were implanted onto my memory. It wasn’t the blood and gore I remembered, but the sores and boils and other horrible maladies that plagued the individuals who inhaled too much of the toxic fumes. It was in that city where my body changed, once the devastating bomb demolished the entire space it occupied. Everyone I knew in that city died; everyone, except me.
No one had ventured into the Divide since that day, especially because there were huge amounts of radiation. Plus the toxins in the air were at their worst there, no matter the time of day. But now we were about to go there, hopefully to not repeat history.
I turned around and headed for the door. I wanted it to open so I could return home and get some sleep, but it didn’t upon my approach. The officer walked up behind me and whispered into my ear. “If it comes to a fight, don’t harm the Ilverettel.”
I glanced over at him, just by turning my head slightly.
He nodded at me. “Safe journey, Price.”
I turned my head back forward and stalked out of the open door. At least he didn’t want me to harm the neutral family, though I didn’t know how I should feel about that. I honestly didn’t know who they were, but one thing was for sure, I might be using my body as a barrier instead of a weapon at this gig. I was dreading the journey already.
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