Chapter 40 The Marshals choice

“Ben, please wake up. Someone is approaching the ship from Eauland.” Ben opens his eyes and checks the time. “It's the middle of the night. Do you know who it is?” “No, but he or she is standing near the edge of the meadow just inside the woods.” Jumping up Ben grabs his robe and heads to the salon. The vid image shows a fuzzy red outline of a human figure standing still. With an unsteady gait, the figure starts to walk towards the ship and stops near it. “Ben, that's Marshall Jorn.” “I should find out what he wants. He could be armed so please stay here. Turn your head away for a moment. Ben looks away and Celeste said, “Thank you, Ben, it's good now.” Looking back at Celeste Ben saw she is now wearing her Captain's uniform and has long blond hair.” “You look both powerful and beautiful at the same time.” “Thank you, Ben,” she said with a soft smile. The ramp deploys and a soft light turns on bathing the area under the ship.

Celeste walks down the ramp and over to the Marshal. “Marshal Jorn, it's nice to meet you. I'm Celeste, the Captain of this ship. This is too late at night for a social call.” The Marshal was stunned, “You know my name?” he stammered. Celeste smiled, “I know much about Eauland and how ugly the Elders have made it. Why are you here?” “A colleague of long association has disappeared. Before he left he suggested if I felt imperiled I should look to the stars. I'm in much danger, and hopeful he was referring to you.” “Ungar is safe Marshal and out of your reach. I know if you don't find him shortly your life will be forfeit.” “We can offer you a choice and help you, but we need help from you in exchange. I believe you are a decent and orderly man who never wanted to be the Marshal. Your predecessors all had short lifespans all with ugly endings at Davin's hand. I will tell you a few things and ask you some questions. I will know if you are lying, so please don't bother too, it's very late.” 

“In three days time, Eauland will be a different and better place for everyone. The Elder's and the security forces will be captured and confined. The false religion of the Oneness will cease to be. Women will be the equals of men, and initially in charge of Eauland. Control will shortly afterward be passed to new a government of both men and women. Could you accept and be happy with this end result?” The Marshal nods his head.

“Your security forces will have to be rehabilitated. This may not be possible for some including all the Elders who have preyed on Eaulander's for generations. These people will need to be segregated and managed to keep others safe. Someone must in charge of this. Would you be willing to undertake this task?”  “Yes,” said the Marshal.

“This is all you should know at this time. You will recognize what is happening when it occurs. Help at that time as you can.” The ships lift descended and a small bot rolled over with a tray. Celeste pointed at the two pills and the glass of water. “Almost everyone in Eauland will keep getting sicker. You're already ill and it will get much worse. Swallow these. They will keep you from getting any sicker and you will feel better soon.” The Marshal picks up the pills and sticks them on his tongue and washes them down with the water.

Celeste points at the coin. “Put this in your pocket. It will let me know where you are and identify you to others that only I could have given it to you. This is very important. Keep it with you at all times, your life may depend on it.” The Marshal takes the coin and drops it in his pocket. “Go home now. Change out of your uniform into worker's clothes and go into hiding in the city. Tomorrow is likely the last day anyone will be able to look for you and it will take some time for the Elder's especially Davin to figure out you're missing. I will do my best to keep you safe. We will meet again shortly and you can help make this a better world.

The Marshal wakes long before first light in his modest but very tidy home. Rummaging through his dresser he finds a coarse pair of pants with a few holes in them along with a tattered long sleeve over shirt. He puts on an old pair of shoes that need new soles. He looks in the mirror and the Marshal stares back. Frowning he goes out to his shed and finds an old container of jet black used tractor oil. With distaste, he pours some into his hands and rubs it into his hair, face, and arms. An old cap is found in the bottom of a box and pulled on. 

Looking at his image in the mirror again the Marshal is no longer looking back at him. He shoves a couple of rags into his back pocket and grabs a handful of coins. From the top of his dresser, he picks up a single coin and places it carefully into an empty pocket. His stunner is shoved into his waistband under his shirt. Slipping out the back door in the dark he slowly walks down the lane heading for the industrial section of the city. The only thing I'm sure of,” he thinks, “Is how little control I really have over my own life. This unexpected path is better than the one that would surely lead to my death and it's my only option.”