(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Lysis was written by Kyleen Valleaux.)
Being summoned in the mid-morning by Leader Dessalen had not been the high point of General Lysis’s day. The Exalted Leader of the Garlon T’zen flicked his golden eyes over the General a few times before a small smile twisted on his lips.
Wonderful, Lysis thought to himself. Given that look, he had to wonder what torture or madness the man had in mind for him today. “You’re not serious?” Lysis asked after being told. But that only made Dessalen’s smile widen.
And that’s how the General ended up in a small side garden off the Manor House’s main dining room. Something like this should have fallen to General Tamarik, as he was the Commanding General of the Special Earth Preservation Division. But Dessalen had a mind that he wanted Lysis to do this thing, rather than the older general.
There was a full tea service set out and the steward was standing nearby while the General waited for his guest. The patio table was made of metal with a glass table top. Everything in the Manor House proper was modeled on Earth Standards, rather than Garlon T’zen. It was one of the many ways that the house and town were made home for their six princesses, who were born of this planet.
The General let out an irritated breath and nodded politely to the servant with approval at the setting. Seemed there had been a request for an interview by one of the Earthers that had made it up through the right channels. Lysis couldn’t guess how the woman managed that, but he did plan on making his business to find out.
The request had come for Leader Dessalen himself, or perhaps even Princess Kiku. But the two held too much standing to be interrogated by some strange woman from a country they were barely in diplomatic relations with. After the incident with Devon Blackwood a week ago, Lysis doubted the Garlon T’zen would be any time soon. Never, if their willful young princess had anything to say about it. Not that Lysis blamed her. He didn’t care the young man was dead, but that it happened in Manor Town itself, endangering Kiku and young Princess Mary? Oh yes, that did not sit well with the general at all.
It was mid-afternoon now, and the sun was high in the sky for another perfect day. Even though the task at hand was annoying, the setting of it was far superior that being trapped aboard a heavy cruiser in deep space for months at a time. He knew well this was one of the small revenges Dessalen would play on him for the General’s interest in the pursuit of Princess Kiku. And for now, Lysis was willing to participate in such games if it kept him close at hand.
The roses in the garden were in full bloom and Lysis stood facing out to look farther into the gardens. He wore the solid black uniform of the Garlon T’zen. He raked his fingers through his short brown curls in frustration and tightened his jaw. Crossing his arms with a light scowl he worked his patience as he waited for his guest.
Wearing a simple black dress and her hair swept up, which gave her the appearance of professionalism, Kelly followed the servant through the house until she was brought to a room with the voice of the garden. The sound of footsteps had alerted General Lysis of her approach, and when they locked eyes, Kelly could tell his patience was growing thin.
She bowed her head to him respectfully. “General Lysis, my apologies for keeping you waiting, but thank you for meeting with me.” She lifted her gaze once more to fix her eyes on him.. “I trust you are well today?”
“Well enough,” he inclined his head slightly, and then moved to pull a chair out for her. “Please sit. Would you care for tea? We have a section from the Targis sector. But we have your Earther coffee if you would prefer.”
Kelly sat and gifted him with a smile. “I am well, thank you.” She paused to observe this man. He seemed rather annoyed, but at least he was being polite—for now. “So, I see you got stuck with the unfortunate privilege of being interviewed by me.” She chuckled. “What did you do to deserve that?”
General Lysis’s lips twitched with slight amusement. “It’s the Exalted Leader’s notion of fun,” he told her as he moved to take a seat across the table from her. “There’s also the fact there is more than a little unease of our presence here, even after eight of your months. This could help… public relations? Is that the word?” Lysis’s command of English was good, but not near perfect.
“Sir, even though I’m from Earth, I’m not from this Earth.” At the perplexed look Lysis gave her, Kelly shrugged. “More like Earth from a different realm. It’s complicated to explain. In other words, I have absolutely no idea what has been happening here. What happened here eight months ago?” She furrowed her brows.
Lysis paused and drew his brows together, then shrugged. If she wanted to play this sort of game, he wasn’t necessarily adversed. He moved an poured himself a cup of the steaming tea and poured her a cup as well. “Eight Months ago,” he said. “We extended our protection of this sector and made the planet a preservation zone. Many fear this is a conquest, but I can assure you, it is not. We are only looking to protect your lands and resources from less scruplesless races. Unfortunately, many of this planet’s governing factions don’t trust our motives.”
“Well, some things never change, I suppose.” Kelly nodded but then focused once more on the man before her as she sat back in her chair. “So, obviously you’re not from Earth. Where exactly are you from? And how did you get involved in the Garlon T’zen military?”
That was a surprising tactic to take, Lysis thought to himself. But there was little harm in that information. He offered a smile. “I was born on the Garlon T’zen Capital world,” he said. “It’s very far from here. My parents died young, but I came from a Military family. You see, we have a .. caste type system. We have the major and minor civilian houses and then we have the military. There was little question to where I would be.”
Kelly nodded as she came to understand this. “And you are a general. Quite impressive. I also understand you have a unique standing with General Dessalen in that you are one of the few people who can call him on his….decisions. How did you achieve *that* status? Have you known him for a very long time?” She raised her brows, observing him.
“Leader Dessalen,” Lysis correct with a faint smile. “And I suppose, yes, I am young to be a General. I came in the Exalted Leader’s service when we both young men.” He wasn’t sure where she would have gotten some of this information, but he and Dessalen’s arguments were hardly of a secret nature. More than once the older generals made their frustrations about his familiarity with Dessalen known. It wouldn’t have been that difficult for her to have gleaned such information. “Leader Dessalen’s word IS law,” he said. “But he’s hardly infallible. He’s intelligent enough to know that and listens, occasionally, to better reason.”
“Leader Dessalen—my apologies.” Kelly bowed her head once more before lifting her gaze to fix on his. “But why would he listen to you?”
Lysis met her gaze, uncertain of what she was asking. If she was asking what he though she was asking, he had no intention of answering. “Leader Dessalen has many advisors,” he said. “I am hardly the only voice. Many of the older Generals, speak as well. General Tamarik is actually the commanding General of this Sector. And he’s Princess Kiku’s guardian as well. He served Dessalen’s mother before him. He should have done your interview to be honest. But Leader Dessalen thought differently.”
Kelly smiled. “Oh, I might be able to pull a few string to make that happen yet.” However, Lysis had mentioned Kiku, so Kelly decided to seize this opportunity. “He is guardian of Princess Kiku, you say? And I understand she’s from Earth.” She paused furrowing her brows, trying to determine how best to ask her question. “What exactly is the Leader from another world doing being the guardian of a princess from Earth? I am sorry. I’m not totally informed of everything, so I’m confused.”
“Kiku is,” General Lysis agreed. After the last incident that lead to the death of Devon Blackwood, that had become common knowledge. That didn’t thrill the General, but it was little to be done about it now. “Kiku and her sisters are all from Earth. We only found Princess Mary after we came to the earth.”
His tea was cold by now and he pushed the cup away. “Leader Desslan is actually the guardians of all the other princesses, including Mary Blackwood now that her brother is dead. Kiku-hime is Tamarik’s headache because Leader Dessalen is courting her.” Lysis frowned making that statement. As much as he disliked that particular truth, there was no denying it.
Kelly noted the frown. “And that displeases you.” It wasn’t a question, but she wanted to see how he’d respond.
“It’s bothersome,” he smoothed his features. “But it doesn’t matter. Even the Exalted Leader has to obey the laws. It’s no secret that I’m speaking to Tamarik to be a suitor as well.” If Kiku would have me, he thought to himself. So far she hadn’t been entirely receptive, but she hadn’t told him to jump in the sun either. Not yet, anyway.
Kelly noted his dismissive attitude to this subject, but she wasn’t ready to leave it quite yet. She shifted in her seat to get a little more comfortable and tilted her head to a side. “Tell me about the first time you saw Princess Kiku.” A small smile played on her lips.
Lysis stiffened and dropped his eyes. Then nodded. “Discovery is our highest holiday,” he told the woman sitting across from the table. “That was when we found Kiku and four of her sisters. They’re not sisters by blood in truth, but rather by bond. They were slaves being used in games outside of the Empire. It was a prophecy that we find them. She was… fierce, and beautiful. We took them and made them our own. I was fortunate enough to have been on that mission with Leader Dessalen. She and the others are everything to us.”
Kelly sat in silence for a moment, watching the man. Finally, she decided to change the dynamics of the conversation by leaning forward, resting her forearms on the table, and looking into his eyes. “She means more to you than merely duty or prophecy or her being a princess, doesn’t she? I can see that.”
Lysis arched an eyebrow at her and let out a short laugh. “She is a pain in the ass,” he told her. “But yes, I suppose she does.”
Kelly chuckled. “Okay, and how is she such a pain? Give me an example. Because I’m visualizing these princesses getting tired of their guardians and sneaking out to have a good time.” She smiled. She wasn’t sure if that was entirely true, but it’s what first came to mind.
Fair enough of a question. “Princess Kiku wasn’t content at being a Princess,” he said. “She took it her in head that she wanted to be in the Military. And Leader Dessalen and Tamarik allowed it. She is reckless and takes too many changes. I’m sure most of Tamarik’s white hair is due to her antics. She is a full Lieutenant right now. I’m sure she’ll earn more rank in very stupid ways.”
Kelly had to chuckle. “Well, she sounds quite interesting.” She still didn’t fully understand how everything worked, but Kelly worked with what she did know. “All right, now I’m going to ask some more probing questions about your past. You mentioned your parents died when you were young. What happened? Or is the family unit that not that important where you are from?” She hesitated asking this because she knew it could be taken wrong, but she was curious and hoped he saw that.
“My mother died when I was very young,” he said. “I don’t remember much about her to be honest. My father was a commanding General in the far frontiers, so I didn’t see him much either. He was killed in an engagement when I was eight, and spent most of my time in … probably what you would consider a military boarding school. Nothing really terribly exciting or interesting about it.”
Kelly nodded. He was a hard one to open up to her, but she respected that although it was making her run out of questions because he wasn’t giving her much to go on. Instead she tried to focusing on something different. “And for your future, where do you see yourself in ten years or so?”
“Gods,” he muttered. That took him by surprise. “Probably dead. I am a Garlon T’zen officer, I lead a dangerous life. My ambition is simple, I serve the empire.”
Kelly had to laugh, but when he gave her a look, she tried to stop laughing. “I’m sorry. Just….your reaction…” She shook her head. “Okay, but duties aside, if you weren’t an officer or anything, what would you do? Who would you be?”
Lysis paused, that had never been a possibility, so he hadn’t considered it. He took a moment to pause the conversation to drink his cold tea. His family had been in the military for over 10 generations. He couldn’t see himself as one of the house nobles, fine lot of rats they are. A priest? Gods, no, no that either. “Probably a trader,” he said. I can’t imagine staying on one planet that long. I enjoy the freedom of the stars. They make a good life for the most part. If pirates don’t get them.” He shrugged. “But that’s all conjecture. I doubt I will ever be out of Dessalen’s service.”
“You’re quite loyal to him.” Kelly rose to her feet to meander around the room and take in the view of the garden. She turned back to Lysis. “Why is that? Is it because he’s such a great Leader? Or something else?”
Lysis nearly said something flippant, but decided against it. “Leader Dessalen holds the Empire with the power of his will,” he said. “He is a… solid Leader. He is who the Empire needs him to be. That doesn’t really make him popular. I am loyal because I know it’s what the Garlon T’zen need.”
“We are…friends, but rivals too. Especially where it comes to Kiku,” he nodded. “But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t die for him if necessary. But I’d rather kill for him.”
Well, now this was interesting, so Kelly nodded but then sighed. She felt she hadn’t even scratched the surface with Lysis because he seemed to be a man following orders and refusing to open up, but Kelly understood he was reserved, and she respected that. “Unfortunately, our allotted time here is coming to an end.” She gave him a gentle smile but then grew serious. “But one other question: what is it that you fear the most?”
Lysis threw a sharp frown in her direction. He knew what he feared the most. And he worked very very hard to make sure it never happened. If Leader Dessalen died, the Empire would be thrown in to chaos. He couldn’t even count the number of systems that would fall to darkness before they could restore order, under Kiku. Lysis lived for him, but breathed for her. “Death,” he said flatly. “But not mine. If we lost either Kiku or Dessalen, I…don’t know what would happen. I will do anything to prevent that.”
Kelly nodded, and she saw how determined he was. The question seemed to have struck deeper than he wanted to admit, but it was now time for their interview to end. “You are a good person, Lysis. I’m sure you are a fantastic general and excellent fighter. I know you’re in love with Kiku but are ready to deny yourself her because, perhaps, you feel Dessalen has more right than you, but…don’t become so duty-bound that you miss the very thing in front of you. I knew someone who did exactly that, and…” Kelly paused, lowering her gaze for a moment before looking back at him. “Let’s just say, it was a very sad moment when he realized he could have been free to love the woman he loved, but by that time he was dying on the battlefield.” She shook her head then gave Lysis a tight smile and offered her hand for him to shake. “Thank you again for your time and for all your answers. I hope you the best in your endeavors.”
Kyle Vallaeux’s story ‘The Chronicles of the Garlon Tzen’ is published on her site: www.garlontzen.com Book 1 ‘Manor Town’ is scheduled to be released soon. Follow her on social media for more updates because she had many more books she has planned to publish in the near future!