Office of the Ambassador of the Sovereign Tribes, Legislation Hall, Republican City
United Republic of Provinces
Nasai, White Moon 3303 – September
“Do you mean she’s there? With you?” Rebecca asked through the VisionComm screen mounted to the rear wall in Sekel’s office.
“Well, not with me at the moment, but yes, here in the Republic. Hijaz walked her over to the sleephouse nearby,” Sekel answered. “She looked as though she hadn’t slept in a while and said that she’d run out of coins. I’m pretty sure that she walked to Republic City from the Complex.”
Rebecca’s eyes widened in alarm.
“She appeared to be fine,” Sekel reassured his cousin. “There’s a bruise on her face, looks like it was from a blow of some kind, but she didn’t volunteer anything.”
“My goodness! Thanks be to the Creator that she is ok, and thank you for contacting me, Kel; and for keeping her safe,” Rebecca responded emotionally. “Maryam and Sarai will be glad to know that we’ve found her.”
“Is she related to Qasim al Akhad, from the Wards?” Sekel asked, more than curious about the girl, especially after the jolt she’d given him.
“Yes, she’s his niece,” Rebecca responded and waved someone from beyond the scope of the VisionComm away with her hand.
“Niece? Then that would make her Amere Al Akhad’s daughter,” Sekel replied, confused. “But Amere’s daughter died in the strikes.”
Rebecca remained silent and held Sekel’s gaze for several moments, waiting for him to come to the right conclusion. Sekel stared back and thought for a moment: she did look very much like Amere: caramel colored skin, the same blue eyes, black eyebrows and lashes indicating the same black hair must be under the hat she’d worn. High cheek bones . . .
“She didn’t die during the strikes?” Sekel questioned.
Rebecca shook her head no.
“Explain yourself,” he demanded, leaning back into his chair and crossing his arms over his chest
“Maryam and Sarai have been caring for her since Amere and Naiya’s deaths. Amere and Naiya assigned guardianship to Maryam and Uncle Nakar the year before the strikes, they apparently feared for their lives and did not trust that Safiya or her brother would be safe with them gone. The children have been in hiding since right after the attacks and a few years ago, when Maryam realized that Safiya was an empath, she contacted me and told me all about it. I’ve been sworn to secrecy by the Order and can only tell you this now because the edict has been lifted. Safiya has nearly mastered the healing arts, Kel. Her gifts are quite extraordinary. She had nearly completed her schooling at the Academy when she decided to stop coming to classes at the beginning of Orange Moon. She ran away from the convent two weeks ago and we’ve been looking for her ever since; she is one of the most gifted students that I have seen to date,” Rebecca enumerated.
Sekel was stunned. He’d only been 16 summers in age when Amere and Naiya had disappeared but he remembered them well, as well as the tragic circumstances of their deaths. His family had truly mourned their passing and Sekel fondly remembered nights spent drinking tea around the tables at Amere’s café. Amere had also possessed gifts, Sekel remembered, and wondered if the jolt he’d felt from Safiya’s hand could have been from some kind of power. Rebecca began speaking into his silence.
“The brother survived as well. Amir. But only a very few people know that the two of them are alive. Mikal says that Amir is in U’mtek with Uncle Nakar. Safiya has mastered Amharic already and she might have the Sight,” Rebecca stated excitedly. “Kel, I’ve seen the sacred mark upon her, on the back of her neck, and I’ve had a spirit dream about her. The signs are all there. I believe she may be Al Sahifah.”
Rebecca’s green eyes were shining with fervor when she paused and Sekel openly frowned but allowed her to continue without interrupting her.
“A few months ago, Rabia Masoud, the Sahyun Master from Ward 3, contacted me after having a vision of Safiya too. Um Rabia said that the Wind Spirits had instructed her to contact me,” Rebecca said as she lowered her voice to a barely audible whisper. “They have found the Cipher Key. I have it in my possession.”
“Wait a minute, Rebecca,” Sekel finally interjected irritably. “You cannot be serious right now?”
Rebecca looked hurt and confused.
“Of course I’m serious. I wouldn’t joke about something like this,” she said, wounded.
Sekel shifted in his chair and demanded, “So why are you telling me all this, Rebecca?”
She leaned closer to the camera, enlarging her image upon the screen, and whispered, “I have proof that the CEC has been listening in here at the Academy for the past two months. Emi saw a satellite probe one night so I borrowed a scanner from Wi’shaw and we picked up a Republican frequency. I think they’re looking for something in particular, but I have not been able to see what. I’m afraid for the girl.”
Sekel could not believe what he was hearing and stared incredulously at his older cousin. Was she really admitting this to him now? Knowing full well that his office transmissions were recorded?
“And why on earth would you borrow a scanner?” he demanded.
“Why?!” Rebecca cried, emphatically. “Well, one, because the Republic has proven again and again that they do not care about the Urnahi people, and two, because I have put years of hard work into this school and I will not stand by and let them plot to destroy it or to take it away from me.”
Sekel sighed, exasperated. He recognized her tone – she had been talking with the MFDT.
“Please do not tell me that you have been conspiring with the MFDT,” Sekel demanded and removed his eye glasses to massage the bridge of his nose. This week really could not get any worse.
Her face flushed and she became angry as she replied, “And what would be wrong with that if I had? The Urnahi have the right to defend themselves. And conspiring is an awful word, Kel.”
Sekel interrupted her, “The High Chief of the Urnahi has that right, not the MFDT, Rebecca. That’s the Law.”
“And Safiya is a direct descendant of the High Chief,” Rebecca declared.
She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms defiantly over her chest.
It all came together with that statement. Sekel did not need to have her admit that she had met with the MFDT, it was clear that she had. She had been reeled back into that mess about re-establishing the Chief hood and now, she had practically declared war with the URP by making her announcement while talking to him within URP borders. He replaced his reading glasses upon his face and put his mind into gear: he would do what he could to deflect as much as he could from his cousin and knew that he was going to have a lot to answer to in chambers once this transmission was acknowledged.
Have you spoken to my father about this?” Sekel questioned angrily; just the thought of having to explain her actions to his father, Chief Amel, was enough to make him want to shake her.
Rebecca looked uncomfortable and at least had the sense to be embarrassed.
“No, but I wanted to speak to you about it first. I haven’t even spoken to Mikal about everything yet; not about her possibly being Al Sahifah,” she confessed, her defiance diminished.
Sekel inhaled and exhaled deeply and shifted impatiently in his seat again. The URP was not overly religious and the government practiced separation between religion and politics, but they had a committee for everything, including a committee for observing and limiting religious extremism. The moment he was back in Am’maah he would run her through the wringer for admitting so much of her involvement with the MFDT but for now he would have to think for the both of them.
“This is serious business, Rebecca. Let me start by saying that it was stupid of you to initiate contact with the MFDT before speaking to the Chief, or at least to your brother, the Commander of the Waliyun, who has the means to investigate claims of this nature,” Sekel stated. “I can just imagine what you must have gotten yourself into. The URP has the MFDT on a watch list and you saw firsthand what happened with Zakai.”
She lowered her gaze and said nothing.
“Listen,” he continued with less fervor. “Whatever the MFTD has been up, you should not have gotten involved. Hu’saan Province is a neutral zone. To lean one way or another is a breach of the treaty. I mean, c’mon, Rebecca – what were you thinking?”
He stared at her intently to get his point across.
“Can you please stop calling me by my full name? I get it,” she finally snapped huffily, her defiance returning. “And we are talking about Al Sahifah, Kel. The rise of a Sahifah would make all treaties obsolete.”
Sekel shook his head incredulously and Rebecca’s eyes were hurt when they met his.
“So you don’t believe me,” she said and looked down at her hands.
She was frustrating beyond words with this emotional display.
“Of course I believe you; it’s a matter of agreeing with you,” Sekel replied. “Give me some time to process everything, please. I’m going to have to check into this and make sure that you are not in any danger, especially if the CEC is watching you. As you must know, this transmission is being recorded, so I’m going to have to answer for you in chambers and report your findings to the Sovereign Chiefs, beginning with my father, and we’ll have to take it from there. Once I’ve secured the exit papers for the girl, I’ll personally escort her to Natar and we’ll talk again then, ok?”
She nodded silently, but Sekel could tell that she was beginning to see the predicament that she was now in. Sekel looked at her and understood why she had been meeting with the MFDT. It was because of her school and the work that she was doing there; and because of Yahya. Not many of the students at the Academy were Urnahi, but the school was making a difference in the lives of the clans on the Wards by providing work, education and a sense of independence for them; a renewed sense of sovereignty that she and Yahya had been dedicated to cultivating. Sekel knew firsthand how earnestly Rebecca believed that everyone deserved to be free and he agreed wholeheartedly, he wasn’t sure, however, that the means that the MFDT espoused was the best solution.
“You do know that I get it, right?” Sekel asked her, not caring at the moment who was listening in. “Why you’ve chosen to support the MFDT. I get it. And I totally agree with you, Becca: the Urnahi deserve to be free, but there are ways to help them achieve their freedom without resorting to violence. Just because Yahya is gone doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in harm’s way to prove that you love him or that you care about the cause that the two of you were fighting for.”
She smiled sadly and replied, “I’m glad you understand. And you’re right. I realize that now. I should have tried to help in a different way, but it’s too late now.”
“It’s never too late,” Sekel responded. “I’ll do my best to take care of this, don’t worry.”
“Love you, Kel,” she said and he knew that she was no longer upset with him.
“Love you too,” he answered. “Talk to you soon. As Salaamu Alaikum.”
“Walaikum As Salaam,” she replied and the screen went black as she disconnected.
Sekel sat back in his chair and swiveled around to pull up to his desk. He wasn’t gifted with Eseeri, not like Rebecca and Mikal were, but he knew people and this sell was not going to be easy: not to his father and not to the off-worlders. A Sahifah upon Sahyun at this point in the negotiations with the off-worlders was going to delay a decision allowing for the off-worlders to join the Council which could only be bad for the exiles. He needed to speak to Mikal in order to make sense of this and the sooner he could reach his cousin the better.
Read previous chapters here on our blog at the Sahyun Chronicles page . . .