Monday, October 3, 2022

The Shell and the Star - Part 33

Can you believe it's October already? And now The Shell and the Star has almost reached it's dramatic conclusion. Only one more part will be posted after today to bring this story to its close. 

If you've been following this journey as it posts each week for most of 2022, I thank you for giving Jinn and Trey's adventure the life it deserves--which is to be imagined through a reader's eyes.

If you're just tuning in for the first time today, the entire story that's been posted to date can be found on The Shell and the Star page on this blog. Just click on the title at the top right tab on the header of this blog to get all caught up on all parts posted to date. 

For those following along each week, THANK YOU, again, for following this aquatic space adventure romance novella.  

This is how and where we left Trey and Jinn last week:


Tardem gripped his spear and his gaze returned to the surface. Doubt colored every feature of his face. Then, suddenly, his eyes widened and he locked gazes with Trey.

The water above exploded in a violent froth. Jinn’s bubble sank into their midst and the Perling scattered in panic.

No.

Not her bubble.

This one was occupied.

By her father!

Twenty-two more envirospheres crashed into the sea around him, each filled with a member of the Talstar militia. The sum balance of bubbles that Talstar possessed had just invaded the sacred Conclave of the Elders! The shadow of hovering trade transports blocked the sunlight, their outlines clear on the floor and walls of the Conclave.

“Commander Arc Amalla!” the Imperator sputtered. “You dare invade Fourth City?”

______________________




Jinn could just make out her father’s answer via the speakers of his bubble. “Invade? No, old friend. This is a rescue.”

Imperator Amalla shook his head, his eyes dark with anger. “You cannot interfere in these proceedings.”

“It seems I must,” Jinn’s father replied. “For I received troubling news that my daughter was in jeopardy. That she had been sentenced to death by the Conclave of Elders. And then I arrive at Fourth City to find her abandoned envirosphere empty and adrift on the surface. What’s a father to think?”

Jinn’s heart filled with hope. Her father hadn’t disowned her then? He’d come to save her? Could he save Trey, too?

“And then,” her father continued, “I plunge beneath the surface to search for her—and find her here, swimming amongst you as your two sons engage in mortal battle? How am I to interpret such an event, my old friend?”

The Imperator waved a fin to still the throng. “This is none of your affair, Commander. Talstar takes a dangerous liberty this day.”

“I believe my breach of protocol is warranted. It seems not only is the survival of our children hanging in the balance, but our two civilizations, with it.”

The Imperator’s eyes narrowed. “Explain yourself.”

“My friend, I know my daughter loves your son. And I also know your son loves my daughter.”

“How can you know my son’s heart?”

“Because he sent me a very heartfelt message last night via a trade transport.” Jinn’s father held up a note. “Our children span both worlds and their bond was intended to strengthen our two societies, not bring us to the brink of war. This is not just a matter for the Shell. This unfortunate situation will determine the survival of all.”

“You dare challenge the sovereignty of Shell law?” the Prime Elder shouted.

“This is bigger than your law. I have no desire to see this end in war, nor the severance of a trade partnership that has endured for nearly ten thousand longtides, so I have come to offer a fitting compromise.”

Tardem abandoned his embedded spear and went to Eldelza’s side.

The Imperator swam in a slow circle, assessing the strength of his sentinels, giving subtle signals to his captain, before completing his turn to bring his scowl to bear on Jinn’s father. “Our laws are set. There can be no compromise.”

“My new trade partner thinks otherwise,” her father said.

“What is this you speak of? What new trade partner? There is only the Shell and the Star in all existence.”

“No, my good friend. Now there is also the Land. The Land that your son and my daughter have reclaimed and re-colonized, thus making them citizens of neither of our realms, and not subject to any of our laws. They are now their own nation.”

“Trey!” the Imperator roared in a cloud of bubbles, spinning to face his younger son. “Does he speak truth?”

Jinn jumped when Trey placed a fin on her back and looked into her eyes.

“It’s truth.” Trey faced his father. “We have made our own world—separate from both the Shell and the Star—and we now declare our independence.”

“How can this be?”

“You know how I’ve devoted so much of my life to Trey’s Garden, Father?”

The Imperator gave a puzzled nod.

“The real Trey’s Garden isn’t in the sea. It’s on the land.”

His father rotated slowly to acknowledge his men. “When my sentinels reported to me that they’d found you and the Commander’s daughter walking upright, on the rocks of the shore, I didn’t believe them.”

“It’s how we escaped the Razortooth,” Trey confirmed.

The Fourth Imperator gave his head a mighty shake and studied his son. “You…have returned to the land?” he muttered, eyes round.

Trey nodded his affirmation.

“It’s finally happened, my friend, just as we always knew that it would.” Commander Amalla maneuvered his bubble closer to the Imperator. “We foolishly thought our children inferior to us, never seeing their true potential. My future son-in-law tells me he has been busy building his new realm for many tides. And he is growing food there. Just as our ancestors did so many lifetimes ago. It seems the demands of our growing populations hindering our trade may now have a remedy.” He looked toward Jinn and Trey. “Our folly was in thinking the solution was the bonding of our children, when our children were working on a solution of their own. Your son has a vision, Fasaro. A wonderful vision. Given time, the infinite bounty the Land can produce will ensure that all our kind may thrive—Star, Shell, and Land, alike.”

The Imperator had no words. With the wave of a handfin, the Imperator bid his sentinels to lower their spears.

The Prime Elder signaled his Guard to ready theirs.

“The Elders of the Conclave condemn—”

“Be silent, Merrick,” Trey’s father commanded, raising his fin high. “You oversee the law in this realm, but not trade relations nor the welfare of the people. That role is mine.”

“This Challenge is a matter of law,” the Prime Elder sputtered, “and it has not been concluded!”

The Imperator looked from Tardem, who had remained at Eldelza’s side, to Trey, who held Jinn’s hand in his fin. “I think it most definitely has.”

Tardem spoke out. “I withdraw my Challenge on the grounds it is no longer valid.”

“You cannot withdraw!” The Prime Elder puffed out his chest and looked to the other members of the Conclave for support, but they shook their heads, denying him.

“Yield your authority, Merrick,” his second in command said sternly. “The Challenge has been formerly withdrawn and in consideration of the extraordinary circumstances presented here, your fellow elders consider this dispute satisfactorily concluded.”

The Prime Elder dropped his head, and stepped away from his podium in defeat.

The Imperator motioned Jinn, Trey, and Commander Arc closer.

“We will reassemble in my manor. We have much to negotiate.”

______________________


So disaster has been averted, but the story isn't quite over yet. 

Please return to read the final wrap on The Shell and the Star next Monday right here on Spacefreighters Lounge, and be sure to read my closing comments on the story.

Have a great week,





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