by Travis Perry -
“Thank you, gentlemen,” said Hobson. “If the firecrew could proceed on to deal with the blaze internal sensors say is raging in one of my rooms, I’d be most grateful. But as for this man, this Ernsto Mons, please allow me to deal with him myself.”
The firefighters moved toward the second door but the enforcers stood in place, looking confused, as if there was something not quite right with what Hobson had said. After a long moment, one said “Sure” and the lone peacekeeper in the room said, “Sounds reasonable” and then suddenly all of them murmured a chorus of agreement.
All of them except one. “No,” said a young dark-haired man in the uniform of the governor’s personal security detachment. “That’s not normal police procedure. This man needs to be arrested and processed for trial.” Ernsto recognized the young man as Officer Salzar, whom he’d met once by chance. For some reason, more than half of the enforcers in the room wore the uniform of the governor’s security detail—apparently they’d been nearby.
Hobson smiled at Salzar and gazed directly into his eyes. “Young man, I realize you work directly for the governor and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help with my personal crisis here. But I am a high government minister myself and can be completely trusted in this matter. The man is my employee; please allow me to deal with him.”
“No,” said Salzar. And then a battle erupted of sort Ernsto had never seen before. Hobson’s eyes blazed and his voice rang out words. They were not foreign or magical words; Hobson told Salzar in a torrent of words why he should relent, why he should do as he was told, why he was duty-bound to obey, but the rhythm of his speech was hypnotic and Ernsto found he could not retain in his mind anything the wizard was chanting. Salzar balled his hands into fists and stared right back at the wizard. In a low voice the enforcer muttered words Ernsto could not hear, but they reminded him nonetheless of the prayers his grandmother used to make.
He felt the angel reaching out in this fight too, somehow knowing she comforted and helped Salzar. The words from Hobson hammered on with power and Ernsto felt as if he were no longer himself. His whole being, everything about him, turned numb and he dully watched, barely perceiving, as the invisible battle before him raged. It stretched on timeless, perhaps minutes, perhaps hours.
In an instant it was over. Hobson stopped speaking. Sweat poured from the wizard’s brow and he huffed with effort. His eyes lowered to the ground.
Salzar turned to Ernsto. “Let’s go. Take the tank. I’m bringing you into custody.”
The other members of the governor’s detachment followed Salzar and all of them exited Hobson’s quarters as a group. Walking out the door, Ernsto felt an astonished sense of relief. He was still alive, even though going probably going to prison. Still alive, but better yet, free from Hobson…