As the Council waited for Counselor Gorwold to recover, reports started coming in from equatorial settlements that generators, motors and other equipment had started appearing overnight. Apparently Proust had decided it was too dangerous to openly deliver equipment during the day. Even more troubling were reports that people in the equatorial settlements were now beginning to think of Proust as their benefactor.
“They’re starting to think he’s Santa Claus,” muttered Mason as he heard the reports.
“Santa Claus?” asked Claridee.
Mason put a hand to his forehead, frustrated with himself for forgetting that he wasn’t on Earth anymore. He tried to explain. “Santa Claus is a person who brings presents to children at Christmas. He does it at night and no one is supposed to see him.”
She still seemed confused. “And Christmas?” she asked.
“That’s one of Earth’s holidays,” he explained.
“Oh I’ve heard of those,” she answered with a smile. “Myscreth used to have them before the war.”
Gorwold remained in a coma for nearly two weeks. During this time, there was always a member of the Council outside his door, but Proust made no further attempts against him. Within a few days of coming out of his coma, the doctors deemed Gorwold strong enough to appear before the Council.
Counselor Anklin and the other Council members were seated on the stage at the front of the chamber while Mason and Claridee sat at the end of the front row. A strong sense of anticipation pervaded the room.
Everyone looked to the back of the room when the door opened. An attendant pushed Gorwold’s wheelchair to the front of the chamber. He was still covered in bruises, and a large bandage covered the top of his head. Once the attendant had delivered Gorwold, he bowed to the Council members and left.
Gorwold sat rigidly in his wheelchair looking at his hands, seemingly unable to face the Council.
Speaking in a low voice he addressed the Council.
“I know words may not mean much, but everything I did, I believed was for the good of Myscreth. I now realize that I was wrong. I deeply apologize for everything I did.”
He struggled to continue.
“I’ll tell you everything I know about Counselor Proust’s plans.”
“Please begin,” instructed Counselor Anklin and giving a pointed look at the other Council members added. “We’ll do our best to not interrupt you.”
“During the second year of my training,” began Gorwold. “I worked a great deal with Counselor Proust. He was always friendly towards me and told me of his frustration with how slow the rebuilding of Myscreth was progressing.” He broke into a fit of coughing and it was awhile before he could continue. “He’d often tell me how sad it was that so many had to die because there were some on the Council who were too afraid to do more. At first I didn’t say anything when he expressed this opinion, but in time, I told him that I was starting to feel the same way.”
Breaking into another fit of coughing he asked. “Could I have a glass of water please?”
Taking a pitcher from the table Counselor Anklin poured some water into a cup and brought it down to him. Gorwold took a few sips while struggling to control his coughing. Once his coughing was under control, he looked up at Counselor Anklin and let out a weak. “Thank you.”
He resumed his statement. “After this, Counselor Proust started to make allusions to certain ideas he had that would quickly revive Myscreth’s former greatness. Without revealing any details, he said he knew a way to get much-needed equipment and workers to expedite the rebuilding of Myscreth. When I asked what it was, he responded, ‘All in good time, Gorwold, all in good time.’”
As he spoke, his voice grew hoarser. “One day when we were alone, Counselor Proust told me that he had exciting news, but made me promise to tell no one. The year before he’d found a young orphan girl named Darnia, who possessed the ability to manipulate relativistic physics. I told him how pleased the Council would be to hear this, but he laughed and told me, ‘they’ll never accept her because she’s only seventeen years old.’”
Gorwold’s brow appeared furrowed in pain, but he still pressed forward with his tale. “I asked Counselor Proust what he intended to do and he replied ‘Intend? I’ve already started training her along with a few others.’ I was shocked and told him what he was doing was against our laws. I thought he’d be angry with me, but instead, he gave me a look of pity. ‘My dear Gorwold,’ he said, ‘you’ve been tricked by Anklin and the others. Don’t you see, they’re keeping Myscreth from achieving its former glory just because they don’t want to share their power. I’m the only one truly fighting for our people.’” He looked down and in a low voice confessed, “and I believed him.”
There was a long pause before he could continue. “About nine months ago Counselor Proust told me he’d finished training Darnia and the others. He mentioned nothing else about this until the night after I’d become capable of manipulating scientific laws. That night he came to my quarters and ordered me to come with him. I followed him to the old storage area where he led me to one of the vacant rooms. There he introduced me to Darnia. Before I could say a word, the wall behind me burst into a bright purple light and Counselor Proust told me to go through. I found myself in the middle of a small settlement. It was night, so I couldn’t see much, but it was definitely in a valley and must have been near the equator since it wasn’t bitterly cold.”
“What else can you tell us about this place,” demanded Counselor Tranlee.
Gorwold cringed at the ferocity of Counselor Tranlee’s question. “Not much. It was made up of about ten buildings near the entrance of a large cave.” He broke into another fit of coughing as he finished.
Counselor Anklin looked over at Counselor Tranlee reproachfully. “No need to be so rough, Gorwold has willingly offered to tell us all he knows.”
Counselor Tranlee glared at Gorwold. “As if he has any choice.”
Counselor Anklin turned back to Gorwold, waiting until his coughing had subsided. “Please continue.”
“I asked Counselor Proust where we were. He said that Bendroff would be too confining for his plans, so had arranged for those loyal to him a build the settlement of their own. Inside the cave, I couldn’t believe what I saw; stacks of generators, motors and other equipment. When I asked where he’d gotten it all from, he smiled and said. ‘Earth. After all, why should the sons and daughters of Myscreth suffer while Earth has plenty?’ He then pointed at the equipment and told me, ‘this is just the beginning. To rebuild Myscreth more workers will be needed and the people of Earth, although inferior in many ways, should make excellent laborers.’”
Mason seethed when he heard this. It wasn’t workers Proust wanted, but slaves. Now, more than ever, he knew Proust had to be stopped
Gorwold continued speaking while Mason dwelled on Proust. “… there. He told me to perform the required thermodynamic modifications to the generators so they could be delivered to our people. I didn’t see any harm in doing that, so I set to work. As I had just obtained my abilities, I couldn’t modify many generators, but Counselor Proust seemed satisfied with my efforts. Before returning me to Bendroff that night, he asked me to look over the equipment requests sent to the Council and inform him of which settlements needed equipment.”
After taking a few more sips from his cup, he continued. “Over the next few weeks, Counselor Proust would intermittently show up at my quarters and take me back to the settlement to modify more generators. After Counselor Proust fled Bendroff, I had no idea what to expect and was afraid that my helping him would be discovered. Three days after he left, I found a note on the floor of my quarters which read, ‘Same place, after dinner. Proust.’ I waited in the same room as always when he and Darnia appeared. Without saying a word, Darnia opened a doorway and Counselor Proust pushed me through.”
“Once in the settlement Counselor Proust apologized for his abruptness, explaining that he couldn’t risk being caught. However, I was starting to doubt whether or not I was doing the right thing by helping him.” He cocked his head to one side as if suddenly realizing something. “Thinking about it now, he must have sensed my doubt because he asked me if Counselor Anklin and Mason were all right. When I told him they were, he seemed relieved and told me he’d never meant to hurt them, only keep them from following him.”
Gorwold paused to catch his breath and it was clearly a strain for him to go on. “As I was modifying some additional generators, I realized that if the Council determined that the generators started being delivered right after I could manipulate thermodynamics, I’d be discovered. When I expressed this concern to Counselor Proust, he explained that he’d already delivered some Myscrethian equipment to settlements so it would look like the deliveries started before I could use my abilities.”
He broke into a coughing fit. As the coughing subsided Counselor Janice, looking uncomfortable, asked. “Is there anything else?”
“Just one more thing.” he continued in a resigned voice. “Before I returned to Bendroff, Counselor Proust asked me to keep him informed of the Council’s actions in searching for him and I did as he asked.”
Counselor Janice followed up her previous question, her tone now hard. “How did you get Proust the information he requested?”
“We’d always meet in the same room and each time we met, he’d set the time for a future meeting. He told me if I wasn’t there on time, he’d leave immediately.”
“And your last meeting?” asked Counselor Halrous.
His voice could barely be heard as he responded. “I finally realized that Proust had been deceiving me and what he was doing would not help Myscreth. I told him that I would tell the Council everything I knew. Last thing I remember after that was waking up in the hospital.”
The long discourse had exhausted Gorwold, but the Council still had further questions for him.
“What can you tell us about the others that Proust has trained?” prodded Counselor Tranlee harshly.
He seemed taken aback by Counselor Tranlee’s tone as he struggled to answer. “In addition to Darnia, Glorine, and Thurold, there’s Nornol who can manipulate structural mechanics. The two newer trainees are Betrine and Klarth, whose areas of science are thermodynamics and electrodynamics. They’re the ones who accompany Proust when he delivers equipment to the settlements.”
The Council had more questions, but Counselor Anklin held up a hand. “I think that’s enough questions for now.”
“I agree,” responded Counselor Janice, “but we need to decide what’s to be done with Gorwold.” She didn’t look at him as she spoke. “Even if he were stripped of his Councilship, he can’t be allowed to move freely among the population. Our only option would be to send him into exile.”
Seeing how miserable Gorwold looked broke Mason’s heart. He could think of nothing crueler than forcing someone to leave everything they’ve ever known.
“Wait!” he cried standing up. He walked over to Gorwold.
“You can’t do this to him, it’s not right. His only mistake was trusting Proust. All he wanted to do was help the people of Myscreth. I heard him stand up to Proust and tell him he was going to tell the Council everything.”
Gorwold looked up at Mason, gratitude evident in his eyes.
“I think what Trainee Mason said makes a great deal of sense,” declared Counselor Anklin. “Gorwold’s remorse is evident. He made a mistake, a serious one, but I believe he can still be a useful member of the Council.”
“How can we trust him after what he’s done?” argued Counselor Tranlee.
“We all make mistakes,” countered Counselor Anklin. “Should we trust no one?”
“But he betrayed us,” yelled Counselor Tranlee, pounding her fist on the table.
“Because Proust convinced him to, Tranlee,” reminded Counselor Halrous in a subdued voice.
Counselor Tranlee looked at the other Council members. “Well, it seems the Council has made their decision and who am I to disagree?” she declared sarcastically.
“Very well then,” noted Counselor Janice. “It is the Council’s decision that no further action will be taken against Counselor Gorwold. When his injuries permit, he will be welcomed back as a lawful member of this Council.”
Mason could see Counselor Gorwold’s countenance undergo a wonderful transformation as the decision was announced; misery and guilt were replaced with gratitude.
“Thank you for having faith enough to give me another chance,” declared Counselor Gorwold in a suddenly strong voice. “What I did will live with me for the rest of my life, but you’ve given me the opportunity to make up for the harm I’ve caused.”
Mason and Claridee stood and applauded as Counselor Gorwold finished his statement. Counselors Anklin, Janice, and Halrous joined them. However, Counselor Tranlee remained seated, glaring as the newly reinstated Council member was returned to the hospital.
- Parker T. Allan
An engineer who enjoys writing something other than technical reports. Writing let's me share all the ideas floating around my mind. I hope my writing jump starts your imagination as so many books have done for me.
If you enjoy physics, check out https://physicswithcats.com/ for some fun stories which explain various physics topics.