Reconciliation Skype Group
October 15th, 3764. Time Instance 597A.
Sayph sighed as she stepped into the auditorium.These last eight years had been tough. The physical demands weren’t a problem for her; rather, they had been emotionally challenging. Her instructors were… Not good people, to say the least. In the eyes of the law they were clean, as their position was, of course, above the law. She’d been told to do things that she didn’t agree with, and she’d done them—she had no choice.
Today, that was all over. She and her sister, Mani, were graduating from the Academy. She fleetingly hoped that she would be partnered with Mani, but didn’t spend long on the thought; there was time for that later.
She turned and walked down the rows of seats, towards the front, where the graduates were to sit. She was dressed in her dress uniform, which amounted to little more than a simple suit; the Reconcilers had one thing going for them: their uniform was, quite literally, whatever the person in question was comfortable fighting in, and their dress uniform maintained that simplicity, with just a touch more formality.
Sayph located a seat in the mostly empty front row. There she sat, deep in thought, for quite a while. On a whim, she retrieved her phone from her pocket. She quickly flicked through the news reports for the day—something she’d gotten used to doing, as a true Reconciler needed to be up to date on current events. One article in particular caught her attention; “Cration Pop-Star Killed in Extremist Attack.”
“Hiya, sis,” a voice called from her side before she could dig into it further. Sayph turned around in her seat and found herself face to face with her sister, sitting in a seat behind her. “What’re you reading?” Mani was dressed in a virtually identical suit, however, she wore a blood-red ribbon on her wrist. Her hair hadn’t changed a bit since that first day; she still wore it long enough for it to reach her waist. The only difference between then and now that Sayph could see was her eyes—they’d lost a lot of the innocence they had once held; they’d… hardened. They conflicted with the rest of the younger girl’s face. The innocence of her features bellied a new… something, and whatever it was unnerved Sayph.
Sayph shrugged as her phone vanished back into her pocket. “Just a news article,” she replied. “Nothing important. What’s up?”
“What’s up?! It’s Graduation Day, Sayph! That’s what’s up!” Mani exclaimed, loud enough to turn heads on the other side of the (rather sparsely populated) auditorium. “Eight years we’ve been training,” she continued. “Eight years of combat training, critical thinking exercises, studies in Uvoswelian law, governmental structure, and on and on it goes.” The younger girl leapt over the row of seats before her to stand in front of her older sister. “The biggest day of our lives is today! Don’t you see that?”
“Of course,” Sayph chuckled at her sister’s antics. “I just hide my emotions better than you do, Mani.”
“You didn’t the day mom and dad drop-”
“Don’t talk about that day,” Sayph snapped, her face going from amused to deadly serious in an instant.
“What is it about that day that you don’t want to talk about?” asked the younger girl. “Every time it’s mentioned you get, well, pissed off.”
Sayph merely sighed in reply, and a moment of silence passed between the two of them.
“...Okay,” Mani mumbled. “I guess you’re… still not ready to talk about it.”
The room had begun to fill up, with lower level recruits taking seats towards the rear, and guests in the middle. The layout had been used for years to discourage the guests from doing... well, anything. Being in a room filled with Reconcilers tended to inspire discomfort—despite the Reconcilers being revered, the citizens of Uvoswela knew they were dangerous. The sisters sat in an uncomfortable silence for the next few minutes. Eventually, a speaker ascended the stairs to the stage—a stage which forced one to tilt their head a significant distance upwards to see the speaker—and the murmur which filled the room slowly began to subside. Sayph recognized him as her class’s instructor, Ezer.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we gather here today to wed—no, I’m sorry, that’s the wrong script,” He said, getting chuckles from most of the room. “This day comes but once a year,” he continued, pacing slowly across the stage. “Graduation Day. The day we send forth the newest generation of Reconcilers to protect our country. A day we feel just a little bit safer.” A chorus of applause came from the recruits and the graduates, and even a few of the guests. Ezer let them continue for just a moment before motioning for silence once more. “But, as is traditional, let us hear a few words from the Chancellor,” he concluded, sounding less enthusiastic.
A screen flickered to life on the wall behind Ezer as he stepped to the side of the stage. The Chancellor was a bald man with a round face covered in wrinkles, and a pronounced nose. It was a face that belied his true nature, a face that inspired trust. “Ladies and gentlemen, our mutual friend Ezer has already explained why you have gathered here,” he said. “However, he has not told you of the special circumstances regarding today’s graduation. You see, two graduates here today must undergo a special test. To… ensure their loyalty is to the right government.”
Two guards emerged from the side doors of the room, pushing two figures with bags over their heads towards the stage. “These… traitors have committed treason of the highest order against our beautiful country,” said the Chancellor. “Remove the masks.”
The guards, having arrived upon the stage already, did as they were told, revealing two faces Sayph definitely did not want to see. Not here. Not like this.
Mani gasped beside her, awkwardly looking about the room. “Come up to the stage. You know who you are,” said the Chancellor. Sayph and Mani wasted no time vacating their seats, and ascending the same stairs their parents had only moments before. The guards—who were probably Reconcilers in the upper echelon, truth be told—handed the women a handgun each. Sayph immediately slid the magazine from the weapon. Already loaded… thought Sayph. The weapon itself was a familiar model—standard issue for Reconcilers in the field, though this one appeared to have been modified slightly, likely the guard’s personal sidearm.
“You know what is required of you,” the Chancellor continued.
Sayph looked over at Mani, who had already placed the gun against their father’s head. “Mani, please,” he pleaded. “You don’t have to do this.”
“But I do,” she said. Her eyes had… changed, somehow; where before they were simply hard, they were now filled with malice. “We follow orders, or our country is taken by anarchy. That’s just how it works.”
Mani pulled the trigger, eliciting a handful of screams from the guest rows. Sayph had to look away from the resulting mess. “Sayph, take care of our dear mother, wouldn’t you?”
Sayph looked down at the weapon in her hands. She needed a way out. There were certainly too many Reconcilers in the room for her to take them all with one magazine—not to mention she’d have to protect her mother the whole way out.
“Sayph…” Mani warned. The pressure of a gun being pressed to her head told Sayph everything she needed to know about her sister in that moment. About what had changed since that day, eight years ago. There was a reason the innocence had vanished.
The young woman she’d known was gone.
“Mani…” said Sayph. “I’m sorry.” She lashed out with her leg, toppling Mani to her back, and quickly followed up by kicking the gun from her hand. She spun, seeing the two guards going for their spare sidearms—as they’d given the sisters their primary firearms—and put a bullet in each of them. The guests in the center of the room began to scramble for the doors, and Ezer had already vanished.
“Sayph,” warned the man on the screen overhead. “You don’t know what you are doing. Follow your or-” The offending screen was silenced as Sayph fired another shot, this one directed at the screen.
“Mom, are you okay?” Sayph asked, bending down to undo the binds on her hands and feet.
The woman nodded. “I think so,” she replied as she wrung out her wrinkled hands and brushed a lock of gray hair from her face. Aside from a few wrinkles and her graying hair, the woman looked the same to Sayph as the day she’d dropped the ex-graduate off at the Academy. “Sayph, look out!” her mother yelled, but it was too late.
Sayph was thrown to the side by Mani's strong hand on her shoulder, sending the unprepared woman to her knees. “You never were very good at making sure someone wasn’t a threat,” said Mani. “And now mother is paying for it.”
Time seemed to slow down for Sayph as her sister brought the gun to bear on their mother. She couldn’t do anything from here, not now; her gun, Mani, her mother, all were out of reach. If only I’d paid more attention in the magic classes… I only ever remembered the one spell. Her eyes connected with her mother’s and…
Sayph looked around, suddenly finding herself in an empty space. There was nothing; no chairs, no tables, no screens, no podiums, no wall decorations, no walls; frankly, it was as if she’d been teleported into a void.
“Sayph,” she heard her mother’s voice say behind her. Sayph turned to look and saw her mother, standing on her own two feet, looking none the worse for wear. “We don’t have long, so I’ll cover the basics. Telepathy magic, my mind, speaking about ten times quicker than we could otherwise, and in private.”
“What’s going on?” Sayph asked. “Why do they want you dead?”
Her mother sighed and looked away. “If I had time, I would tell you. As it stands, we’re already pushing it. Sayph, you know by now that the Chancellor is an evil person; every Chancellor has been; it’s the power of the position, it… corrupts people. He’s up to something. Your father and I, we… tried to stop him. You need to finish our job. But for now, leave the country, wait until this blows over.” Sayph’s mother walked forwards and cupped her daughter’s face in her hand. “Stay safe.”
“I’m always Sayph, Mom,” she replied with a sad smile.
“You know what I meant. Goodbye, Sayph.”
Sayph almost immediately found herself back in the auditorium. Mani was still standing above the two of them, entirely unaware of the conversation that had taken place. “Any last words, Mother?”
“Sure wish I knew enough about magic to leave right now.” said the woman in question. Is she… Hinting at me? As Sayph looked around, more Reconcilers started to flood in, securing the room despite Mani clearly having the situation under control.
“Hmm,” was the only sound from the younger woman before she pulled the trigger, sending their mother’s limp body to the floor. “And you, Sayph,” she asked. “Any last words?”
“Yeah, one,” replied Sayph. “Aeotepka!”
In that instant, Sayph existed everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.
Sayph rematerialized in an alley somewhere. Off the top of her head, she didn’t recognize it, but that didn’t matter.
She collapsed onto a pile of discarded clothing, and there she remained, tears flowing freely down her face, the dam holding them back finally having broken.
The dam that had been there for eight years.
* * *
Mani growled as she paced back and forth through the waiting room—which was really more of a security center, truth be told—outside the Chancellor’s suite. Was that a failure? she asked herself. Am I about to be shot? The room wasn’t very large; it was around ten feet square, with a door on each end of the room, and a security desk along one of the walls. The walls were pure, spotless white, and the room was lit by a hidden source—potentially magic in origin.
“Ma’am, if you could quit pac-” the security guard began, before being cut off by a throwing knife landing in the wall beside his head. “Actually, you know, I heard pacing is good for your health. Keep it up.”
“You are an idiot,” replied the pissed off woman.
“And you’re impatient,” a new voice sounded from behind her. Mani turned to look, but saw nothing. “Behind you,” the voice spoke again. Mani spun and came face to face with a black haired woman, about a foot taller than herself. She didn’t look much older than Mani, perhaps a year or so. She wore a simple black jumpsuit, with what was probably a tactical vest worn on top. No identifying marks were visible anywhere on the fabric.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say this woman was here to kill me, Mani thought. “And… you are?”
The woman sighed, obviously displeased with being questioned. “I’m here to fix your mistake,” she said with an edge present in her voice. “The Chancellor is ready for you.” The mysterious woman turned and walked through the door that led to the Chancellor’s office.
“Today just keeps getting weirder…” Mani muttered as she crossed the room. She stopped briefly to pull her knife from the wall, before continuing through the now open doorway. The guard visibly relaxed as the women exited.
The rooms inside were quite lavish, much more so than the rest of the building—which was really saying something. There were tapestries and niknaks, rugs and furniture from across Akkeria strewn all around the office. The furniture was all made of exquisite wood from a species of tree, which had been made extinct at least a hundred years prior, known as an Akkerian redwood. Akkeria was the first civilization since the beginning of recorded history, and as the population grew and expanded, Akkeria simply came to refer to the entire planet upon which they lived.
Normally someone would be glad to be invited into a beautiful suite such as this. Mani, however, was not. Before her, sitting at his desk, was a man that nations feared.
The Chancellor of Uvoswela. No one knew his true name, as he had expunged it from the records upon his ascension to his present position. Anyone who had known it were sworn to silence… Or put to death.
The mysterious woman walked over to the Chancellor and stood by his side. Who is she to him? Bodyguard? Friend? Lover? Mani asked herself. Bodyguard seems most likely. A man like him would never have a ‘friend’ who didn’t serve some other purpose. And as for lover… She’s a bit young for him.
“Please, sit,” the Chancellor said. The words came out sickeningly sweet, and told Mani that this was not a social call; but she did as she was told, and as she did so, the Chancellor stood and began to walk around the room. “Mani, do you know why I’ve had you brought here?”
The woman shook her head. “No sir.”
“Yes you do.” said the Chancellor as he walked around behind her chair. He leaned down next to her ear and whispered, “Try again.”
The Reconciler took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Stay calm. “Because I failed to do my duty at the Graduation Ceremony.”
“That, my dear, is only part of it.” The words shocked Mani, who had to keep an incredulous expression from her face as the Chancellor stepped away. “While you failed to prevent your sister from escaping—a serious infraction, though one that could have happened to any number of more experienced Reconcilers—due to your lack of experience, I am willing to overlook this incident.” The man stepped over to one of many bookshelves and withdrew an old, worn tome. The cover was a dull red, bordering on brown, with golden pinstripes running across the surface in a strange pattern. Something about the book made Mani uneasy. “Of course, this forgiveness comes at a price,” the Chancellor continued as he returned to his chair and sat once more. “I have an assignment for you, Mani. Kaige, here, will fill you in on the details. Dismissed.”
Mani blinked. An assignment? She thought. But you don’t feel like telling me what it is? Great, I love surprises. “Yes, sir. I look forward to making it up to you.” She stood, and spun on her heel, before vacating the room.
“An assignment, sir?” Kaige asked of the Chancellor. She hadn’t been informed of such…
As he returned to his seat, the Chancellor smiled. A malevolent expression if Kaige had ever seen one. “The Book, Kaige. It’s time.”