Next morning Najé met with Raika inside the Council Meeting Hall. Two equ. hours later, she told him that the Cawa Federation Delegate agreed to have lunch together.

     Mr. Jeolan Nendem, the Delegate of the powerful Cawa Federation, was a middle age man in his sixties, medium tall and rather plump, with blond hair and pale blue eyes. He was cordial in behavior and quite perceptive, since he was a lawyer by profession. Jeolan represented the strongest voice in the Council, because the Cawa Federation also was the most advanced technologically, and the wealthiest Republic of the Allied Worlds Confederation.
     Unfortunately, Jeolan belonged to the group of Delegates which was not quite pleased that there was an Observer Delegate in the Council, particularly because the Xallas Republic functioned from within the Cawa Federation borders, and it was siphoning away far too much Revenue.

     They met in the cafeteria reserved for Delegates on floor forty-two.
     “Mr. Xallas, thank you very much for your invitation,” started Jeolan with a faint, ironic smile.
     Najé replied also smilingly, “Mr. Nendem, thank you for accepting my invitation.”
     They ordered their choices, then they looked at each other, both smiling rather sarcastically.
     “To be honest with you, five equ. days ago I would have been greatly honored to have lunch together, Mr. Xallas. Now, however, it seems so . . . common,” confessed Jeolan while increasing his ironic smile.
     “Nothing makes more pleasure to me than an honest man, Mr. Nendem. May I call you Jeolan? I would be very glad if you called me Najé.”
     Jeolan agreed, “Oh, go ahead, Najé. Formalities are useless now; even vulgar.”
     Najé asked simulating surprise, “Shall I take it, Jeolan, that you do not believe anymore in the victory of our glorious Defense Forces?”
     Jeolan replied amused, though after he looked briefly around for any curious, accidental listeners, “Ha! You know better than I do, Najé. Frankly, I am very curious about what you have stashed aside.”
     Najé admitted, “You are right, Jeolan, I do have something—”
     Highly stirred, Jeolan interrupted him, “I knew it! Please, tell me, Najé: what is it?”
     Najé watched him attentively for a few moments. He smiled, then said in a relaxed tone of voice, “All in good time, Jeolan. First, I want to know what is the position of the Cawa Federation.”
     Jeolan reported in a rush whispering, “They are all scared to death! The big bosses started to flee already, although that is completely futile.”
     “Do you foresee any possibility for victory, Jeolan?” asked Najé, still smiling, though also in a whispered voice.
     “Not in a million years! We lost it in the moment it all started. We were not only taken by surprise, but we are not even capable to resist.”
     Najé turned to a serious attitude, then he asked with concern, “How did we get here, Jeolan? I missed too many meetings in the Council, therefore I cannot draw any valid conclusions.”
     Jeolan was well determined to be sincere with Najé Xallas. He knew very well that Najé had technologies and secrets beyond imagination; therefore, in that dangerous situation Najé was the only person capable of escaping . . . somehow. He explained, “For the past four equ. years everything was dragging through the Council, and particularly the plans to improve our Defense Forces. There was always something unexpected and urgent that needed immediate funds, so the money for Defense went to other directions—not to mention a total lack of interest from some Delegates.”
     “That sounds rather strange to me, Jeolan . . .” said Najé thoughtfully, in his normal voice.
     “Please, tell me, Najé: a man of your profile must have, for certain, a safe Heaven of some sort, an escape route—” asked Jeolan with hope in his eyes, and he let his words unfinished as an invitation for comments.
     Najé replied while watching Jeolan attentively, “I always have a safe Heaven, Jeolan, but now I want to fight back and I need your help.”
     The Delegate leaned forward and whispered, “Are you crazy? I say, let’s get out of here as soon as we can. It is going to be a massacre with those little ugly monsters. You know, they hate us for being too tall!”
     Najé replied in a whispered voice, “Look, Jeolan, I can arrange a safe transport for you and your family to a totally empty Planet. However, think that you will have to work very hard, brute work, to provide your own food, and you are not a young man anymore.”
     Jeolan remained stunned by the news for a few good moments. He recovered, then he rushed to assure, “I shall do anything you want me to do, Najé, if you help my family out; anything!”
     Najé smiled indulgently at him, then said, “Thanks, Jeolan, but listen to me for a few moments. Leaving is always possible. I have a few empty Planets with more than sufficient land for all the Allied Worlds citizens. I could have proposed the leaving alternative to the Council, and we could have started the evacuation by now, but I didn’t do it. Do you know why?”
     Jeolan replied perplexed, “No, Najé. Please, tell me.”
     Najé leaned forward and said, “Because it may be we do not have to do it, Jeolan. Think of what you leave behind: you have a position, some wealth, you have everything done for you—and it is done very well. Everything we have achieved up to now is the work of thousand equ. years of Civilization. We cannot just send it all to the drain and start from the very beginning again; not if we have a chance.”
     Jeolan replied, “Do not misunderstand me, Najé: if you have a viable plan, I shall fight with you, but I am scared to death for my old Lady!”
     Najé promised, “I shall take care of your Lady, Jeolan, but I need you to fight with me: here, now.”
     Jeolan replied greatly troubled, “Give me some courage, Najé; tell me something—”
     The cafeteria steward who brought the dishes interrupted Jeolan. They set about eating, though it was obvious that none of them cared too much for food.
     Najé said, “Jeolan, send your family to Gorkun City whenever they are ready. I shall talk to my people to take care of them.”
     Greatly touched, Jeolan replied, “Thank you, Najé, thank you so much—”
     Najé interrupted him firmly, “But I need you here, to fight with me, Jeolan.”
     “Anything you say Najé . . . Yet . . . I still need to know something . . . right?” asked Jeolan timidly.
     “Of course, Jeolan, you need to know. Let’s finish this lunch, and then we shall talk about it.
     They rushed to finish the meal as if it was a necessary evil, then they went inside the Lecture Hall and took seats in a remote corner.
     Najé whispered, “Jeolan, I have a good chance to defeat the Hurrans. I mean, totally defeat them.”
     Jeolan drew closer to Najé and asked, also whispering, “How, Najé?”
     He explained, “I have a few technologies nobody knows about. However, technologies alone are not sufficient, Jeolan. This Invasion took me by surprise, just like everybody else, and I am not yet ready for fighting. In addition, those bloody Hurrans are too strong. Anyway, as I said, I have a good chance to win, and I need your help.”
     Jeolan confessed timidly, “Najé, what bothers me is, you say ‘a good chance’, not ‘a very good one’.”
     Najé watched him thoughtfully for a few brief moments, then confessed, “I do not want to deceive you, Jeolan. The enemy is very strong.”
     “Tell me more!”
     “What I want you to do is, help me to lay a trap for the Hurrans.”
     “Sure . . . Is that all?”
     “No. I have suspicions regarding an inside job in the Council—”
     “Are you serious, Najé?” interrupted Jeolan in a loud voice, surprised.
     Najé answered, continuing to whisper, “Why do you think I talk to you here, instead of presenting my plan to the Council?”
     “Who do you think it is?” whispered Jeolan.
     “Must be someone from a very small Republic.”
     “Well, very small it’s you, Najé, and then . . . the President?”
     “Yes. Who’s next?”
     “It’s the Delegate of the Grada Republic . . . The rest of them are all fairly well.”
     “Now, correct me if I am wrong, Jeolan. My suspicions are based on psychology. We deal here with the Delegates of people who are very poor, and in a distinct minority. To me, this is the perfect ground for corruption via money, power, or both. The rest of the Republics are all well enough: they have good development perspectives, and they have only to lose from this Invasion . . . What do you say?”
     “It makes sense to me, Najé . . . I wouldn’t let myself corrupted for all money in the Universe because I have enough and, as you said, I have a very good living.”
     Najé said, still whispering, “Jeolan, I could be wrong, but it doesn’t matter because what I want to do is to get the Presidential nomination.”
     Jeolan watched him in doubt a for few moments, then replied, “That is not easy, Najé.”
     “I never said that things are going to be easy, Jeolan. We shall have to wait for the defeat at Ancen, and then we need to make certain we have all the necessary votes. You should start discussing with the other Delegates; promise them anything you can think of, including what I offered to you.”
     Jeolan turned his eyes down, then he said appearing to be troubled, “Najé, if you had told me about your intentions first, you wouldn’t have had to bribe me with anything—”
     Najé interrupted him, “I know it, Jeolan. You are the first Delegate I decided to talk to because I knew I could trust you. I do understand the situation with your Lady, since I have a family too—my mother. She, together with many other Ladies, is in a safe place—just in case. We are decent, intelligent people, and we should help each other as much as we can. You and I, and somebody else, shall remain here to fight and, if it has to be that way, we may even die fighting.”
     Jeolan Nendem was not a coward; therefore, he felt greatly touched by Najé’s last words. He extended his hand and shook Najé’s vigorously, saying, “Thank you, Najé! This is exactly what I needed: a true leader to take me to a glorious death!”
     “On the other hand, it is quite possible we may win, Jeolan,” replied Najé smiling amused.
     “I shall follow your leadership to victory or to the grave, Najé Xallas!” confessed Jeolan, still very emotional.
     “Now, cool down, Jeolan, and listen carefully. Your mission is to contact the other Delegates, and try bringing them to our side. You are very capable, and I know you can do it. If there is someone who is hard to convince, do not insist, and let me know immediately. What we need is minimum eight votes.
     Meanwhile, Jeolan, we are not friends. Do you understand this? If you have something to tell me, or if you want to meet with me, talk to my Secretary, and I shall do the same. Agreed?”
     “Thank you, Najé! You give me the courage to fight, and the hope to die for. Agreed!”
     Najé didn’t return to the Council Meeting because there was nothing interesting there to him. He went to his suite. He opened his personal commgate, then he contacted Gebd Noraieb. Soon, Gebd’s face appeared inside a small 3D frame.
     “Do you monitor this connection, Gebd?” asked Najé.
     “Yeah . . . It’s all clear. What is it, Najé?”
     “First; how are things there, Gebd?”
     “Couldn’t be better. Jekka has discovered twelve old ships of the Laboratory Class HT4, all in a good condition, in a hangar on the four hundred twenty-six asteroid. I had them brought here, and we started upgrading them. I was thinking we could use even some of the courier ships, if we have the time. Everybody works here under full power, and it looks really well! I still cannot believe how fast we solve things in this emergency production mode—”
     Najé interrupted him, “Excellent news, Gebd. Now listen . . . You are going to receive some special visitors to Gorkun City: old Ladies, nieces, and family. Take care of them as we did with our families.”
     “Next, increase security at maximum around the Island. You should call some reliable workers from our production enterprises: those that are closer—”
     “Done. Anything else?”
     “I need a small team to work on data investigations regarding a person named Bundabe Angude from the Ancen System—” started Najé whispering.
     “The Prez—” slipped Gebd perplexed, and he left his words unfinished.
    Najé agreed in a sad tone, “Yes, Gebd. Be very cautious! As you can see, the dangers are right here, close to us, and they are way too powerful.”
     Gebd turned to a serious, concerned attitude; he replied, “I shall increase security first thing. Anything else?”
     “There is another person of interest: the Delegate of the Grada Republic.”
     “I shall look into it.”
     “Thanks, Gebd. Keep in touch,” said Najé. He smiled at Gebd’s 3D projection, then he closed the connection.

     For the rest of the afternoon, Najé made plans for his next actions. Everything seemed to be working very well, even better than expected, yet he felt that something was missing . . . something very important . . . something more important than Hurran Invasion . . .
     After a while he thought, “Raika!



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