Olly simply stood before them, a wide grin on her face, while she shook John’s hand. He stood there looking flabbergasted while Olly shook the hand of the also shocked Laura. She then proceeded to look them up and down. “You look a little thin. Didn’t that commander feed you?” she shook her head. “Honestly, I don’t know what they taught about the treatment of the people you’re escorting in his day.”
John arched an eyebrow. Obviously, this was not your average ship captain. While she was calling for some food, John glanced sideways at Laura. She was looking the captain up and down, as though trying to determine her personality. John snapped his attention to the captain who was speaking to them again.
“The cook is going to start on dinner quick and before you know it, you’ll be eating chicken so good you’ll wish you knew about this ship longer.” She said this seriously, but John thought he detected a note of friendliness behind the words.
He wondered for a moment whether she would be a reliable person, being so young and yet so cheerful. He realized that if she wasn’t reliable, or a good fighter for that matter, then she wouldn’t be captaining a ship; and not just any ship. The blond girl from the escort had said it was the pride and joy of the Lions. Just by looking about, John could see why.
The ship was massive in height but sleek, and maneuverable. She had a beautiful wooden deck that was a perfect golden brown when the golden rays of the sun hit it. Even the swooping sea gulls were pausing in mid-flight to marvel at the magnificent structure.
Even the crew knew this ship was special. They held their heads high, showing their pride at being the caretakers of something so precious to the world. The navy was said to be one of the biggest military advantages of the Lions and this vessel certainly proved it, while she towered above the puny Narravi ships.
“So, would you like a story while you eat?” she asked, leading them over to a circle of chairs with a metal circle in the middle. To John it almost looked like… “A campfire. Yeah, we have a fire in that grate at night. It was built out of certain metals that don’t burn so that we don’t catch the whole ship on fire.” She seated them and they were given some food which they devoured immediately.
John looked the stranger up and down. She had a clear youthful face and John wouldn’t have placed her age over that of 25. Her eyes were lively but underneath her young energy was an indescribable sadness. From her posture, he would have guessed he had seen many more sad things in her life then she let on.
‘The story of the Narravi takeover is a sad one.” She looked at them and she then stared into the metal circle while she continued. “They are one of the most ancient families, dating back to when the Indus Valley peoples first began their civilizations.
“They became rich; incredibly rich. They had enough money to buy up the world’s government. But they didn’t. They bided their time, slowly. They gained more and more riches, until they were the richest people in the world back around the time of Christ. They kept it a secret though. Not one person knew of all the riches the family
possessed other than the family itself.
“The children were brought up learning the story of the Narravi and the ways they had used to gain so much money and power. They were taught the ultimate lesson any Narravi parent could teach. When the family had sufficiently gotten involved in everything, and had enough power, they were to take over. Quickly, to give the people no chance to recover. Simultaneously take out all the world leaders and replace them. Take over, and don’t let anyone stop you.
“These were the goals of each and every family member in the family. They also weren’t allowed to let the family become too big either. They foresaw that if this took place, the riches would be spread out and not collective enough. Only the first born son was allowed to marry and reproduce. Any other children in the family must not, under any circumstance, reproduce.”
“What if there were no males produced?” John cut in. “The first female, obviously, took on the responsibility.” She said, with a tone of ‘duh’ in her voice. But they were to keep the name Narravi. Their mates were chosen at childbirth and secretly abducted from their houses in the dead of night. They were also raised with Narravi beliefs. Then, at the proper age, they were married. A harsh, but effective method.
“In about 2023, the Narravi had built up enough power to do as their ancestors commanded. They had their fingers in everything, from food production to shampoo. They made a game plan and polished it for an entire year. Then, on August 3rd 2024 they killed all the world leaders at once.
“Most of the Asian countries were combined into one to be ruled over by a single leader. The biggest combo of countries was called Byron United, after one of the most ambitious Narravi ancestors. But, we’re getting off topic.
“All the armies of the world were under the Narravi family. More precisely, they were under the head of the family: Hero Narravi. He ruled over the entire world from his capital, Narravi City which used to be called Las Vegans in a state called Nevada. He changed the name of the U.S.A. to U.S.N. This, as you can imagine, stands for ‘The United States of Narravi.’ Probably thought it was funny or whatever.
“Everyone was too scared or too shocked to do anything about it. Until one man, James Fox, formed the Fighting Lions. They were a rebel group and only a rag tag bunch when they started, but soon James started straightening them out into real soldiers and they got organized. Soon, teens and adults all over the nation were running to the group to find out how to protect their families and friends from the Narravi soldiers who were allowed to do whatever they pleased whenever and wherever they pleased.
“I was only ten at the time that this started. But I had my mom and dad to protect me, so I thought. A while after I turned eleven, however, I knew it was the other way around. They needed me to help them. So I ran to the Fighting Lions to help protect them.”
“When you were eleven?” John cut in. Laura nudged him in the ribs. “Yes, because my parents wouldn’t just happen to be safe until I turned big enough to fight in the rebel group. They had been too close to the old government to expect they would be safe for much longer than a year when they were moving on to people connected with the government but not as directly as people like the First Lady or something.
“Anyways, James trained them all up and soon they were all master soldiers. He had his own army that was loyal to him and ready to do anything it took to bring the Narravi down. They began with ambushing Narravi soldiers on the roads and taking their supplies. Then minor skirmishes broke out, and then we were having full on battles. It was terrifying but every soldier had the driving force of their families and friends behind them.
“But in a fierce battle, James, who was by this time known simply as ‘the Fox’ and was number one enemy of the government, was shot. He named his successor was named before he died, and inherited the name Fox. No one knows who that successor was, except for the people that work with him in the capital.
“We all here, still work for the same goals that they worked for then. We fight for our families, our friends. We fight against the Narravi for hurting people. We fight to live. We live to fight.” She finished dramatically.
They stared at her; in shock at the story they had just been told. They had, of course, never heard the story from anyone outside of the views of the Narravi themselves, who had been having history books printed up by the dozen.
They had read of how glorious the Narravi were, creating this better world, and coming to bring it to justice. They told of how their intentions were so honorable and how they would clean everything while the world just got dirtier. They couldn’t see it. They had simply been blind to it all their lives.
Mental images raced around in their minds, as they tried to imagine how all this bloodshed and war must have been like but they could not. It was too horrible; they had been to sheltered from this. They tried to envision themselves at eleven, running to the rebel group, but they couldn’t even do that, not even to protect their families. Granted, they had been older at the time but they couldn’t see their lives taking any other shape than what it had.
“It’s almost time for dinner if those plates of food didn’t fill you enough.” Olly said, seeing the majority of the crew headed for the circle of chairs. John nudged Laura, who was still gazing openmouthed at Olly. “Yes, I think we’ll have some more, that is, if you don’t mind.” He said politely but with a strange tone in his voice that Olly didn’t quite recognize.
“Hope you like fish! We eat a lot of that at sea. Tonight, however, we’ll be feasting on the chicken one of our men went and got from a store in Old Boston. Our cook is excellent.” She grinned with a smile that reflected the setting sun’s light, dazzling them further.
“We love chicken. That’ll be good.” said Laura haltingly, as though she still hadn’t quite recovered yet. “I’ll inform the cook of your preferences.” she laughed and headed off in the direction of the scullery.
“What have we gotten ourselves into here Laura?” John asked, pulling her close and stroking her hair. “I don’t know John. I don’t have a clue.” She replied, snuggling close into him. “Let’s just hope we ride this thing out better than the old James Fox she told us about.”