It Only a Dream Can Be

Chapter Thirty-Two
(Jelnaya)

Coming back to camp, Krachern stepped up to take the load of meat from me while asking, “Did you have any problem, Jelnaya?”

I had to ask, “Do you really not know, or do you have another reason for asking?”

“You left your bow with Lossurp.”

Since he took the load of meat from me, I was able to take something else from my back.  As I pulled the strap over my head, others came to me.  I proudly released the clip and showed that it was almost completely full.  While Krachern set down the load of meat with an expression of wanting to speak to me, it was Makinor that asked a question.

“Did you hurt anyone?”

I replied, “They were wearing body armor, so I probably would have needed to kill them.  My intention for rushing them however was not to attack them.  Again seeing them simply hold their positions, I darted upon them, did a quick move to steal this rifle, then shot the missile.  When it exploded, I kissed the one I took the rifle from, then ran off with it.  They now have a reason to come to our camp, so I plan on staying up.”

Inchell asked, “What was their attitude, Princess Jelnaya?  Do you think they wanted to kill you?”

“They were watching me when I made my move.”  I had to chuckle as I said, “They however were easily distracted.  Throwing a rock at a tree limb was enough to get them to take their focus off me for a moment.  No shots were however fired when I ran off, even taking into account my time to gather the meat.”

“Well, I have heard stories about how playful you can be.  Not all of your stories speak of you as being deadly.”

“Thank you.  You want the rifle?  If I wanted one, I could pick one up while with my father.  I do have some Kallotech items, but my type of fighting is close and personal.”

While I had proven that I could use the weapon effectively, I freely turned it over when Inchell held out her hand while saying, “I would rather one of us ladies have it than the men.  I believe it would just be good for appearances.  Of course, with my military training I can use it.”

“Not a marksman?”

“I am accurate, but not when put under any pressure.  You handle response time, Princess Jelnaya, and you will find yourself with support.”

Feeling a need to move the conversation along, I said, “The border is over twenty miles in that direction.  The missiles aren’t being fired over the border.  They aren’t that type of missiles.  The things coming at us might have a maximum range of barely over ten miles.”

Krachern said, “That would agree with my assessment, Jelnaya, although that also says that it is the military firing at us.”

“No, it doesn’t.  There is no law preventing people from having or using the missiles.  Actually, they are sold to those wanting to move in the mountains to blast snow accumulations to eliminate any fear of avalanche.  Yes, they are not sold to be used on people or wildlife.  We are caught in one of those strange dilemmas where my acts to disrupt the missiles prevents any damage.  No harm, no crime.”

Inchell replied, “There is intent.”

“We could make that accusation, but then we would have to prove it in a court of law.  Do you want to wait for that to happen?”

I was glad to hear Master Lossurp ask, “Who is firing it?”

“Not the military.  They believe some illegal mining operation.”

Krachern asked, “And you know all this, how?”

“While dressing my kill the group I ended up stealing the rifle from came up asking about my actions.  I stalled by talking to them.  They really did not have the authority to arrest me, especially after verifying my hunting permit, but were attempting to put on a show.”

“If that is true then when they come for the rifle they should do so nicely.”

“Our problem is that we don’t care.  We just want to complete our mission.  Whatever else is going on, is something we would rather not deal with.”

Makinor asked, “Why is that our problem?”

“Because we are going to have to deal with it.”

Inchell asked, “Is there anything we can do to avoid any confrontation?”

Krachern added, “We do not worship He-Who-Fights, Jelnaya.”

I had to say, “You don’t fight with advanced weaponry, but simply annihilate.  That is why those that work for my father fear me.  Some have seen me when I came upon my father in contested areas.  Those that tried to challenge me got a fight or they died.”

Inchell decided, “We can get to work cooking the meat, and I will see how we might change our route.”

I heard what she said, although spoke wondering if she forgot why she wanted me to join her.  “Don’t go into Negredell afraid.  Wiping those that come out might be for the best.  Just like if a dragon was living on the edge of the place.  You go against it to remove the threat, then stride into Negredell triumphant.”

Krachern countered, “But I thought we were no longer thinking of Negredell as simply a place of repetition.”

“Whatever it is, we need to face it with a positive attitude.  Trying to run and get there scared of somebody sending a missile at us or the military running us down is not how we should do it.”

Inchell said, “We’re still a number of days away at the best.  We are on a world with airplanes, missiles, and mobile military.  Attacking now will just have things escalate.  Give me time to plan, Princess Jelnaya.  We can discuss things later, and hopefully between the two of us we can have us going into Negredell with the right attitude.”

Just as I was telling her it that sounded like a good thing, we turned hearing a motor fire up.  I gave a number of instructions with none in the group arguing with me.  I did not know how good of a cook Makinor was, but I considered it a positive thing to see him and Krachern put up no resistance to setting up things to work with the meat.

I saw the decorated uniform of an officer in the vehicle that drove up.  I scanned the surroundings to check for others.  Master Lossurp told me that he saw nothing suspicious.  That gave me the confidence that there was nothing wrong with the expectations of a native, so I held my place hoping the officer would not get on my bad side.

“Honored Duchess Jelnaya, let me acknowledge that you have demonstrated a style of behavior that has us accepting who you claim to be.  With that said, let me thank you for not killing my men.”

I replied, “Your thanks might be premature, as Inchell and I were about to discuss doing just that.”

“Yes, well, my reason for coming is to request that you allow us to work with you.”

“I don’t know why we should.  Do you know where Negredell is?  No.  Could you protect us from the missiles?  No.  Would your men know how to properly cook venison?  I doubt that as well.”

The officer smiled while saying, “Actually, Honored Duchess Jelnaya, I can claim to know my way around a campfire.  You wouldn’t have any special sauce or anything?”

“I’m not a cook.”

I said that turning around.  While I did not spin with any speed, the dagger left my hand and zipped to sink in the trunk of a tree.  I turned back to the officer to let him know something.

“We have not made any truce between us.”

The officer pulled a communicator, warned his men about making any threatening move, then said, “There is enough meat there to feed the men with me.  Do you think we might have a truce by the time it is cooked?”

“I don’t see any reason for a truce.  I don’t see any reason for you to even be around here.”

“This is our country, Honored Duchess Jelnaya.  We don’t need a reason.”

“This is your country, so you can just allow missiles to fly toward innocent travelers?”

The man stepped out of the vehicle, bowed, then said, “We don’t understand any of this.  Will you accept that I am getting conflicting orders?  Let me however tell you that I know the laws, and you are not breaking any.  Further, I got orders from the local governor to protect you.  There is then the fact that you have not attacked my men, even when you clearly could have.”

Krachern said from where he was starting the meat to roast, “But the truth is that you could get orders telling you to change your behavior.”

“But if I did, Honored Duchess Jelnaya would kill my men.”

I said, “Inchell and I were going to plan killing your men this evening, but you knew that.”

“Yes.”  The officer went quiet as if waiting for one of us to say something, but hearing nothing he went ahead and said, “Sergeant Nagroth, go get Honored Duchess Jelnaya’s dagger from near Corporal Hoblaiy, then come and tell her what you said about her.”

I kept myself from smiling as the officer traded statements about cooking the deer with Krachern.  I saw the movement of a soldier.  Seeing his expression when he needed to use his strength to pull the dagger from the tree had me want to smile, but I kept my expression even as I waited.

The soldier came up and bowed.  Seeing him afraid to touch the blade I showed him how to hand over the small weapon.  He bowed again, then said what he had been ordered to.

"You killed the deer with a stick.”

“Oh,” I replied not really expecting him to say that.  “Lossurp had made a good attack.  The deer would not have survived, but I only wanted a way to stop it from running.  I saw the fallen limb, and felt like taking on the challenge.”

“Is that what you do, Honored Duchess?”

“I am a champion of He-Who-Fights.  I am not the champion of He-Who-Slaughters or simply He-Who-Kills.  I try to have fun even when simply getting something to eat.”

Lossurp had been quiet next to me, but now he asked, “You killed the deer with a stick?”

“I just said that you had killed it.  I simply used the stick to disrupt the flight of the animal.”

The sergeant said while making movements to help his description, “She came upon these fallen limbs, pulled one, spun to break it off, then with leaves and all still on it she launched it into the air.”

“The leaves actually helped stabilize the flight.”

“You must be strong.”

“Not really.  I just don’t hold anything back.”

The sergeant looked at Lossurp as he said, “She’s fast too.  The stick hit the deer on the flank, and when it reacted she caught it and killed it with her hands.”

“Used my jump to power a twist of the neck.  When I landed, there was a rock, and I used it to knock the animal out.  By the time it might have regained its senses, I had it skinned.”

The soldier turned and saluted the officer before saying, “Sir, I would recommend not having her on our bad side.”

Krachern said, “We still face the problem of the officer receiving orders of another nature.”

The officer asked, “What if I proposed a solution to that problem.”

“We’re listening.”

“Have Master Lossurp call his father.”

Remember that Lossurp was told he was not alone.