The three Ruklan leaders exchanged glances, then returned their collective gaze to Izzy.
“We will not rest until we are given what is owed to us,” Archbishop Geln snapped. “This war, thanks to the anonymous gift of weapons and armor, shall ensure as much.”
Izzy wagged a finger. “It’s a lot of shiny guns and ways to keep your people safe, but you didn’t once think to question where it came from? And if there’ll ever be a bill that comes due later?”
President Kelran smiled. “That is a matter we have already begun to address,” she said. “Our payment is the removal of Rigellians from power, which we find most agreeable.”
Izzy frowned. “Why’s that, though?” she asked. She turned to face CMO Carter. “You’re familiar with this. Explain, please.”
CMO Carter shook her head. “We don’t have the kind of time necessary for such an explanation, Captain Warpt,” she replied frankly.
Izzy tapped the tip of her nose with her right index finger, her eyes focused on a point well beyond the confines of the Citadel.
“Is there a comm-link in here I could use?” Izzy asked at last. “I promise this isn’t me just trying to buy time.”
The three Ruklan leaders exchanged glances once again, a muttered conversation going on among them.
“Out of the question,” Archbishop Geln snapped.
“And do you agree with that, Prime Minister Todan?” Izzy replied sharply.
Prime Minister Todan laughted, a soft and sinister sound that chilled the room.
“I will allow it,” Prime Minister Todan said, waving one of her hands.
A panel at the base of their collective thrones swung open revealing a screen and controls. It was rudimentary, and undoubtedly not the one used by the trio above, but Izzy knew it would suffice. She approached and began tapping away at buttons. The screen betrayed little of what input was being entered, and Izzy only paused her feverish typing to look up briefly.
“Sorry, total dummy moment,” Izzy said. “Any chance someone could tell me the signal to contact the Rigellian…” She glanced back to CMO Carter again.
“Supreme Leader,” CMO Carter provided.
Izzy winced. “Not a great start with that title,” she said.
“This young woman is wise, as I have been saying the same for years now,” Prime Minister Todan said. “Sol Nebula Gamma Foxtrot is the code you’ll need.”
Izzy entered the information provided and the communication link began to reach out. “Bingo!” she cried out. “Big thanks to Prime Minister Todan, the real star of these efforts so far.” She winked at Todan, and the color drained from Inar’s face.
“We’re all going to be executed for this,” Inar muttered. He leaned toward CMO Carter and added, in a whisper, “Prime Minister Todan is often referred to as Lady Death. She is quick to anger and does not allow for second chances.”
“Ah,” CMO Carter said. “This surely will end well.”
A round, anger-reddened face, framed by a receding gray hairline and a dense beard appeared on the screen. “You have the audacity to make contact as your troops storm the Palace.” He blinked as he seemed to register he was not speaking with the trio of Ruklan leadership.
“And just who the Hell are you, young woman?” the Supreme Leader demanded.
Izzy grinned broadly. “An exceptional question,” she said. “Gold star to you, Mister Supreme Leader of Rigel Six. I am Captain Izzy Warpt of the Lofty Albatross, flying under the banner of Spiral Reach Academy. We have come to de-escalate this situation.”
The Supreme Leader’s face reddened considerably more. “You should be stopping the lunatics with whom you are currently company! This is all their doing!”
“A fine thing to assert from your palace, as you continued to subdue us with excessive taxes while preventing us from voting,” President Kelran said.
“You’re not true Rigellians, and so why should you have the right to vote?” the Supreme Leader barked back.
Izzy rolled her eyes. “Listen, buddy,” she said. “Supreme Jerkface. I regret to inform you that I have an ace up my sleeve and so you should probably try to check that ‘tude at the door.”
The Supreme Leader narrowed his eyes. “Or what will you do?”
Izzy smiled. “Terrific question,” she said. “The longer answer is that nameless benefactors, which is a bonkers term since we’re talking a ton of death machines being gifted out of the blue, included an easily accessible list of the goodies they sent to the Ruklans should someone need it.”
Izzy paused for dramatic effect, leaving her crew looking particularly concerned.
“And so upon looking through that list of goodies, I found one that really grabbed my attention, pulled it in, and said it was up for a good time if I was,” Izzy continued.
The Supreme Leader leaned forward, his face looming larger on the screen. “And just what the Hell does that all mean to me? I’m safe in my bunker.”
“Party-pooper,” Izzy replied. “Short version of the answer, since that seems to be what you wanted, is that the Ruklans were provided with a secret, end-it-all kind of weapon, and it’s near here. I just happened to unlock it.”
“You did what?!” Archbishop Geln howled, leaping to his feet. The other two maintained their composure, though a hint of sweat made an appearance upon President Kelran’s forehead.
“Just in case you’re not sure why the good Archbishop here definitely just soiled himself,” Izzy said. “Sorry, by the way, I know that’s a total overshare. Where was I? Right.”
Izzy raised a finger and dramatically positioned it over a large, red button on the console’s control board. “There’s a Magnetar-Heart Warhead. I’ve got it primed and ready to go, so unless you four feel like maybe putting aside your differences for a bit I might just feel crazy enough to see what happens if I detonate this big, bad boy.”