MISC: The Girl Who Saved the World 51

George Phillies phillies at 4liberty.net
Mon Sep 19 18:39:00 PDT 2016

I have been convinced the I need to do a major rewrite.

“Ah, yes, the original agenda. Eclipse and how she escaped. Is there an 
issue here?”  The Ambassadors glowered.  “Valkyria,” Holmgren said, “Can 
you add anything to what happened afterward?”

“Rolf,” she answered, her use of the first name reminding her audience 
of the ill-kept secret that she was also Lindgren’s mistress, or perhaps 
the other way around, “there is a written report with video support, 
which hopefully all of you have had time to study.  Let me, however, 
note that the broadcast video of my conversation with the Bearer does 
not completely agree with what I remember her saying. The actual events 
appeared to be a scenario that we’d examined very thoroughly, namely the 
‘politely declines to cooperate’ option.  The plan was not perfect. I 
believe one of Markgraf Moeller’s excellent volumes on tactics treats 
plan failure.  The first failure was that the Bearer does not look like 
all the drawings we are distributing.  She’s considerably shorter than I 
am, enough that at first I thought she was not the Bearer, and could not 
imagine who she was. It did not help that the Maze was doing time 
distortion, so that my teleport to St. Brendan’s Isle took some hours to 
complete.  Based on Eclipse’s a
ctions in the Maze, we thought we had a good estimate of her gifts, 
namely close to none.  We appeared on Atlanticea with what should have 
been overwhelming strength. The ancient American aphorism is ‘If a 
company seems enough, send in a division.  That way no one gets hurt.’ 
We’ve had time to do a complete reconstruction.  Eclipse was a solid 
target, not an illusion.   Most attacks on Eclipse found their target. 
All six of my team drains were drawing at full capacity.  Lady Sylph is 
emphatically certain: The Screaming Skull hit Eclipse with his death 
command.  I hit her with the Katana of Justice. All that, and Eclipse’s 
defenses did not go down.”

“She used the Namestone?” Elizaveta Romanoff asked. The Russian 
Ambassador’s interruption was only almost a question.

“The Copper Book of Harvest Stars is completely clear,” Valkyria 
answered calmly.  “The Wizard of Mars agreed, a very expensive question 
to have had answered.  The Bearer needs several days to mesh with 
Namestone’s powers. Until then, Namestone supplies a few cosmetic 
tricks, no more. Observe that Eclipse’s garb was immaculate, and her 
face was unmarred. That was all the Namestone did for her.  No, Eclipse 
stood up to us using her own shields. If she had a team backing her, 
they did a darn fine job of remaining invisible the whole time, not to 
mention fooling six Drains and a Seer. I am less bothered that we didn’t 
take her down, and more bothered that the Screaming Skull didn’t appear 
to have discomfitted her. Perhaps I should also be bothered that she did 
not give the Martyr her private persona name. The Copper Book says that 
that is a requirement for being given the Namestone. Somehow she managed 
to dodge answering his question.”

“Someone who stands up to the Skull? Is there such a person?” Legate 
Hong asked.

Valkyria rested her chin on her fingertips. “Other Lords of Eternity. A 
few persona from ancient history.  Ambassador Featherstonehaugh’s 
illustrious ancestor, Morgan La Fey. The Goetic Knights wore enchanted 
armor, armor superior to mine.  The Marik Master of Parades supposedly 
wore the Invincible Sigil of the Eternal Procession. This Eclipse person 
is none of the above. However, manifestly, there is such a person, 
because I hit her square on with the Katana of Justice, and during the 
explosion her force field did not waver.”

“If I may?”  Prince Wang, ambassador of the Celestial Republic of the 
Han, rarely spoke. “We are not, Valkyria excepted, masters of the art of 
battle strategy. We should give those who are masters of battle our 
thoughts, not spend time chatting about tactics as the amateurs we are. 
  However, I believe I see why we missed the range of her gifts.  She 
neglected to use them.  She did not quite attain the ultimate feat of 
brilliancy ‘defeat your enemy without doing anything’, but she was 
parsimonious in her choice of methods.  While in the Maze, she never 
teleported, mostly showed human resistance to heat and cold, played City 
of Steel well but not brilliantly.  Until we attempted to kill her, she 
could have been a very well trained ungifted woman.  Twenties perhaps 
sounds young. She might have a touch of the gift of agelessness. 
Perhaps Valkyria can explain what I am missing.”

“The Copper Book explains this,” Valkyria answered.  “The Lesser Maze 
tests determination, purity of thought, cleverness, strength of mind, 
and  physical and mental training, not enormity of power.” Unless, 
Valkyria thought, you cheat by presenting the Maze with an artificial 
construct that has no mental weaknesses. Alas, the construct was not 
quite ready to enter the Maze before this Eclipse showed up. “Thus 
Cortez and Fisher, the latter’s fleet being infinitely more powerful 
than the former’s, could come equally close to victory.   Your 
description may explain how Eclipse escaped.  The capture strategy, in 
the few hours tactical support teams in Europe had to insert fine 
detail, inferred her gifts from her acts in the Maze. We hit her vastly 
harder than should have been needed, given the gifts she had shown. 
After all, everyone who has ever tried to walk the Maze, whether the two 
chess grandmasters or any of the World-Class personas, has while in the 
Maze used all of their talents to their uttermost limits.  She didn’t.”

“She cheated!” Lord Featherstonehaugh interjected.

“A different answer.” Saigo Shigetoshi, Legate of the Satsuma Daimyo, 
did not officially represent his country.  The Shogun’s Court could deny 
responsibility for what he said.  “Do not fear.  At the end, as foretold 
by the Harvest Stars, Eclipse had a choice.  She could reach out and 
take the Namestone. Or she could ask, and be given it if she was worthy. 
  I am totally confident.  She asked.  She received the Namestone freely.”

“Asked? When she could have taken it? She shows she is weak!” Markgraf 
Moeller grumbled.

“Then I must humbly pray that we never have to contend with a strong 
persona bearing the Namestone,” Legate Hong whispered.

“Thus,” Saigo continued, “as she is as worthy as the Martyr, who read 
her soul before granting her the stone, she is no danger to anyone. 
However, she may defend herself. Such acts might have less than ideal 
consequences to nearby places, for example the neighboring continent. 
Accordingly, the Satsuma Domain will not find it entirely convenient at 
this time to participate in attempting her capture.”

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