“In spite of his rough manners, forged by the life of a warrior, he was in fact wise and fair. He exacted justice where justice was due and showed mercy when mercy was the better option. The Migichinan people could not have asked for a better Lord Chancellor.”
From “The Book of McKenna” - Destiny.
Lord Chancellor Zendista McKenna finished moving into his new office, the same one previously occupied by his mentor Awrann. He chose not to remove many of the artifacts left behind: swords, statues, and the extensive library of legal and religious books. Most notable of the collection was the huge painting of the Lord Prime Callivare, and a volume of her journal stored under glass.
McKenna looked at the ancient book. It was opened to a specific page, and one passage caught his eye.
“In my many years as an admiral and later as a Lord Prime, I had never met a man like Awrann: kind and gentle, religious, yet practical. Last night, he woke me up, saying he’d had a vision, a vision of a man who would be the future of the Alliance, a man with fiery red eyes, and hair that looked like a dark night fractured by lighting.
“I didn’t think him to be crazy, as he was my best friend, as well as Lord Chancellor Xiang Ti’s. I love him, with all my heart, but how can I tell him. Our lives are not our own, and they cannot belong to each other, can they?
Awrann, if you ever read this, I hope you can understand how I feel. Maybe someday...”
The passage ended, dated the same day Warlord Skathach Slann challenged and defeated Callivare in a Rite of Ascension. McKenna made a note that the book should be moved to the former Chancellor’s residence, which he would turn into a museum to honor Awrann’s memory.
The doorbell chimed, bringing the Lord Chancellor out of his reflection. Dakkoth Starkiller entered.
“Chief Marshal Dakkoth Starkiller, reporting as ordered, my lord.” McKenna looked up.
“Drop the formalities, Dakk. We’re still friends.”
“Sorry Mac. The way things have been lately...”
“I know. Look, we’ve both been through a lot lately, and your part in all this is finally over. This is only the beginning for me, and I won’t get a chance to rest for a while, but you need some badly. Rhaine’s expressed concern with your present ‘emotional’ state, and I’ve taken that under consideration. I want you to take advantage of that leave-time you’ve been saving up. Seems I owe you about a year’s worth.”
“Boss, you need me...”
“I need you rested and in peak condition. We’ve got Slann by the balls right now. Eventually you’re going to have to go after Branwyn, and right now you’re in no condition to do it. I’ll order you to take a leave of absence if I have to...”
“No sir, I’ll... I respectfully request a leave of absence, sir, for a period of one month.”
“Granted. The next time I see you, there’d better be no bags under them eyes, and I want to see a smile on your face. Understood?”
“Yes sir!” Dakkoth reported. The marshal turned on his heals and left. McKenna sat behind the desk and smiled. Dakkoth was certainly stubborn, but with that stubbornness came a loyalty he knew he would be able to depend on for a long time. His intercom chirped.
“Sir, the tribunal is preparing to convene. Your presence at the proceedings is officially requested.”
“On my way.” McKenna stood and walked to the closet. He drew the traditional sleeveless long-coat of the Lord Chancellor and pulled it on. He placed his sword inside and left the office.
Slann shifted in his seat as he waited for the tribunal to come to order. He looked around, recognizing some of the officers on the panel, though none he could recall ever having had dealings with. This would not be easy for him to get out of.
The last person to enter the hall was Lord Chancellor McKenna. As the guards announced his presence, all rose. Slann did so as well, knowing that any display of contempt would look very bad. Once at the podium, McKenna motioned for all to be seated.
“This tribunal will now come to order. The Alliance vs. Riskhad Slann, of the house Slann. The office of the Lord Chancellor sites Riskhad Slann with contempt of court, conspiracy, and direct involvement in open acts of terrorism. The Dept. of the Navy sites Riskhad Slann with the destruction of the MNV Aramys, and the abduction of Lord Admiral Winter Ventrosia. It is also to be noted that a number of Slann’s men have been charged with war crimes, reports pertaining to that are to be appended to this results of these proceedings. Are there any objections to this opening statement of the office of the Lord Chancellor?”
No one replied, not even Slann’s own attorney.
“Very well.” Continued McKenna, as he shifted to the next page. “My department has investigated the actions of Riskhad Slann, and has determined that General Slann was acting under the influence of external forces of a ‘magical’ nature. It was discovered that General Slann’s top aide, Maxaa Branwyn, was in fact a Meridian national and was determined to be responsible for several assassination attempts against myself, including one against the Lord Admiral, the death of an Alliance officer, and several additional acts of terrorism against the Migichinan Alliance. It is the determination that in light of this, Slann be absolved of any charges of terrorism. Does the defense accept this?”
Slann’s attorney rose. “The defense does accept this, Lord Chancellor.”
“Very well. Admiral Okona.” McKenna sat as Vice Admiral Okona took the podium.
“The Navy charges Slann with hiring pirates with the intention of using them as a method of flight from Migichinan space. In turn, Slann used their ship to attack and destroy the MNV Aramys. The Navy orders that the house Slann make proper restitution to the Navy and to the houses and clans of all lives lost as a result. Does the defense accept this charge and resolution?”
Slann’s attorney again rose. “We accept the charge of hiring the pirates, but object to the military action taken by them. Slann did not order the Aramys to be attacked.”
“Do you have proof to back your objection?”
“Logs have been recovered, and I believe they are currently being deciphered.”
Okona looked to the Lord Chancellor. McKenna took the cue.
“The tribunal shall suspend those charges pending further investigation.”
Accepting this ruling, the attorney took his seat. Okona went back to his review.
“On the charges of abduction of the Lord Admiral, the house Slann is ordered to pay restitution to the house Ventrosia.”
“No objection.” The attorney responded.
Finished, Okona turned the podium back over to McKenna.
“In observance of Migichinan tradition, the tribunal finds that all other actions taken by Riskhad Slann were acceptable in consideration of the Rite of Ascension. Riskhad Slann is hereby censored for his actions that were deemed unacceptable, and is required by this tribunal that Riskhad Slann make a satisfactory redemption of honor. The warlord will be notified what will be required. Are there any objections to this?”
No objections were voiced, and McKenna closed the file and handed it to the clerk in waiting. With a crash of the gavel, McKenna brought the proceedings to a close. He looked at Slann.
“My office, thirty minutes.”
“Understood sir.” Slann replied.
With a knock at the door, McKenna allowed Slann to enter.
“Have a seat.” McKenna said. Slann did as told.
“Slann, we’ve got to bury the hatchet, here and now.”
“I agree.” Slann replied.
“You and I both know that if we keep on fighting, it’s only going to serve to destroy the Alliance. If I can’t trust you to the point where I don’t have to constantly watch my back, then your penalty of honor will be to commit suicide. Frankly, I need you alive to protect the Alliance. Contrary to the popular belief of many, the Alliance needs you to survive.”
“Really, McKenna? I thought you were only keeping me around for my charm and good looks.” Slann retorted.
“Stow it, mister! You are the most experienced general we have. No body can run a ground war like you, and I don’t have any suitable replacements lined up... yet. I’m giving you one last chance. Screw this up, and you’re outta here.”
“And my redemption?”
McKenna sat back and pondered. Slann was a warrior, inside and out. This would have to be suitable for him.
“I want you to go to Palarius Confederacy. They have requested a mediator in their struggle for world peace. It’s come down to two factions that currently control the confederacy, and both sides are willing to talk peace. I want you to help them find that peace. If you are successful, then I will consider your honor restored. Anything less and the deal is off.”
“Lord Chancellor, I’m a warrior, not a peacemaker!”
“It was once said in an alien religion: Blessed are the peacemakers. You want your honor back; prove to me that you deserve it. Dismissed.”
Slann stood and bowed. As he went for the door, he turned to McKenna. “You surprise me, McKenna. Awrann would have sent me into battle, into a fight he knew I would not have been able to win, no less come out alive.” He then left.
“You surprise me as well, my son.” Came a familiar voice from behind the curtains.
“I was beginning to wonder when you would show up.” McKenna said curtly. “Looks like you got your way after all.”
Migichina stepped out “Not really, I wanted Slann dead.”
“Like I told him: I need him alive. It’s part of the plan. I’ve brought the Slann’s house down in disgrace, and I intend to rebuild it for the better. Deep down, I know Slann’s a good man, and he is capable of much more. The only thing that will keep him down will be the petty differences that he seems to think are so important.”
“That will be a difficult task, my son.”
“I know, but if I’m successful, the Alliance stands to benefit.”
“And what of you and Winter?” The Goddess asked as she sat on the couch.
“I’ve already proposed to her, and it will soon be time to make the wedding plans. I want things to cool off politically, though. People need to settle in after what’s transpired. This will probably backfire if done too soon.”
“You are wise beyond your years, Zendista McKenna. But remember this: You are only at the beginning. The road I have put you on is a long and difficult one, and sometimes the people you trust will be the ones you have to defend yourself against. Do not fear though, for I shall watch over you, as will the Avatars.