Megan Enraged - Book 2 of Wizard - a Love Story
Chapter 3: The Delegation
Copyright© 2013 by Misguided Child
The Ranch Hands Kitchen was built on the opposite side of the barn from the two apartments that had been built for Pappy and BB. It was a large room with a propane cooking range in one corner along with cabinets to hold cooking utensils, dishes and flatware. Several mismatched tables with mismatched chairs filled the room and spare chairs were against the wall. One corner of the room was walled off to hold a toilet and sink.
Until recently, the ranch held a round up once a year. Riders were hired from around Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico to help gather the Gordian herd for culling. Calves were branded. Steers and some cows were selected for market while the remaining herd was split up and moved to different parts of the ranch. This practice had been going on for nearly 100 years. It was how the ranch maintained the quality of its herds.
Martha had worried about what to feed the dignitaries when they converged on the ranch. She had planned to get fancy with rib eye steaks, baked potatoes, canned vegetables from her garden, and yeast rolls. The conversation with Udit concerning the goals of the Delegation changed her mind. They would need to be happy with brisket, ranch beans, and corn bread. It was good enough for ranch hands so it would need to be good enough for these high and mighty Wizards. She did add tea to the normal offerings of coffee, milk and water selections of something to drink at Udit's suggestion.
The Delegation was supposed to arrive by 11:00 AM. It was nearly 12:00 before two large, black Dodge Ram Chargers pulled into the ranch yard. The Flynn clan filed out the kitchen door as the vehicles came to a stop. They had plenty of notice because Sean had some of his friends in the air watching the roads.
The front passenger door of the first SUV opened after the dust settled and a young man stepped down. He was thin with shoulder length brown hair. He frowned as he looked around.
"Is this the Gordian Ranch?" the young man called.
"It is," Seth called back. "I assume that you're the Delegation that wanted to meet with us.
"We are," the man called back. He turned back to the open door and said something before closing it.
"That's Bret Stevens. He is the leader of the Americas Council. He's 92 years old and always seems mad or worried about something," Udit said quietly to the group.
"My," Martha said. "He doesn't look a day over 25."
"He does age well," Sheila said with a giggle.
"I'll age you well, wench," BB said smiling as he hugged his wife's shoulder.
Seth stepped down from the porch followed by the rest of the family. "I'm Seth Flynn and this is my wife Martha," Seth said as he approached Bret Stevens with an outstretched hand. Martha was walking beside him.
Bret clasped the outstretched hand and said, "I'm glad to finally get to meet you. I'm Bret Stevens. I had hoped to meet you much sooner, but other duties have delayed me. I guess you could say that I'm hosting this international get together. I do apologize for meeting under these circumstances. We will make this as quick and painless as possible."
He spoke in rapid fire sentences with a very pronounced New England twang. "Let me introduce you to my allies from the other Councils."
Seth and Martha looked at each other in astonishment, and a little concern.
"What did he mean by 'quick and painless'? Megan asked Sean silently.
"I don't know but it doesn't sound good. We need to be careful. We don't know if any of them can hear us when we talk like this," Sean thought back to her. He quickly looked at the expressions on the faces of the men and woman in the group. He was looking for any indication that anyone had heard the exchange between him and Megan.
"Introductions would be appreciated but any business we have can be discussed after lunch," Seth replied as he dropped the Wizards hand.
Bret looked at Seth sharply before nodding reluctantly and turning to the others stepping out of the Ram Chargers.
"Seth and Martha Flynn. I would like to introduce you to Dabir Tuchim from the African Council," Brett said with his clipped, nasal voice.
Dabir Tuchim was a short, thin black man with kind brown eyes and a strained smile. He stepped forward and awkwardly held out his hand to shake. "It is my honor," he said as he shook Seth's hand. The strain in his smile seemed to lessen as he greeted Seth.
"It's nice to meet you, sir," Seth said shaking the man's hand.
"I'm glad to meet you," Martha said as her hand was shaken too. It didn't escape Martha's notice that Brett hadn't tried to shake her hand. She wondered what that was about.
The strain in Dabir's smile returned when he stepped aside and faced the rest of the delegation again. It was as if he was concerned that his back was to the others in the delegation. A larger black man with thinning black hair was beside him and seemed very protective.
"Seth and Martha Flynn. I would like to introduce you to Ethan Jones of the Australian Council," Brett said.
Ethan Jones was a tall man with sandy colored hair and dancing blue eyes. He looked like he was in his early twenties and seemed to be on the verge of laughing at something. Despite that, he seemed very alert.
"G'day to ya," Ethan said smiling at Seth. He turned to Martha and said, "Glad to meet ya."
A smaller man was beside Ethan that was whipcord thin and looked dangerous without even moving. His gaze seemed to see everything. He didn't smile.
"Seth and Martha Flynn. I would like to introduce you to Lian Chin from the Asia Council," Bret said continuing the introductions. It was as if he had a formula that he was supposed to be following.
"It is my pleasure to meet you, sir," the slim, short Asian woman said shaking Seth's hand. She had an English accent with odd enunciations on syllables in her words. "And it is a pleasure to meet you, too, Mrs. Flynn," she continued as she turned to Martha and bowed.
"I would like to introduce my second to you," Lian continued. "This is Laoshin Cho, my second."
A diminutive woman in loose silk robes that had followed Lian gave a combination bow and curtsy and said, "My preasure."
"Pleasure," piped up Megan. "You should say 'It is my pleasure'."
Everyone looked at the six month old in shock.
"I'm sorry," Martha said to Laoshin. "We're teaching Megan to talk and we correct her when she uses the wrong word or mispronounces a word."
Lain and Laoshin exchanged unreadable looks for a moment then the little woman turned to Megan. She bowed very low and held the bow as she said, "I thank you for the instruction, young one. It is my pre ... pleasure to be instructed by one such as you."
"Oh, that's okay," Megan replied with a giggle. "Everyone corrects my words all the time."Why are you bowing?"
Laoshin straightened with a smile and said, "It is my way, young one."
Megan nodded in understanding and said, "Udit said people do things different in different parts of the world. You don't' have to call me young one. You can call me Megan."
Laoshin bowed lower and said, "It is my honor, Megan."
Brett cleared his throat at the interruption. "I'd like you to meet Karl Whitcomb from the European Council," Brett said. "Karl, this is Seth and Martha Flynn."
Karl was a thin man with a scowl and a paunch. He ignored the hand that Seth held out in greeting and walked towards the house. "Let's get this over with so we can get back to civilization," he said. A bull of a man followed him.
Seth dropped his hand and turned on his heel to walk towards the barn. Over his shoulder he called, "I'd like to welcome all of you to the Gordian Ranch. We'll have lunch in the Ranch Hand Kitchen because there's no room in the house that is big enough for all of us. We can discuss business after we finish lunch."
His words sounded friendly enough but Sean saw the tightening of Poppa's jaw at the European's words and actions. He patted Lightning and followed his father.
"I don't think I like that man," Megan thought to Sean.
"Shh," Sean admonished Megan silently. "We don't know if they can hear us like this. We need to be careful until we know." He looked around again to see if there was a reaction from anyone. There wasn't and he started breathing a little easier.
"Do you think we'll have horse for lunch?" Sean asked silently while watching the expressions of the Delegation. There was no reaction at all.
Megan picked up on what he was doing immediately and silently replied, "I think rattlesnake and ants would be better."
"Udit wouldn't let Momma waste good rattlesnake on this group," Sean thought back. There was no indication that anyone else was hearing their conversation. "Ants would be okay though. They're too crunchy."
"I don't think they can hear us," Megan thought.
"I don't either," Sean silently replied with relief. "That's gives us a little edge in whatever is coming."
Martha and Sean with Lightning by his side followed Seth. Liz was right behind Martha and carrying Megan. Udit, BB, and Sheila followed Liz.
Everyone stopped when a highway patrol vehicle pulled into the ranch yard. A tall black man got out with a sergeants' chevrons on his sleeves. He reached back inside his vehicle and pulled out a 'Smokey the Bear' hat and carefully placed it on his head before smiling and calling out.
"I hope I'm not late for lunch," Pete called.
"Right on time to eat, as usual," BB called back with a smile.
Pete Sandoval was Susan's husband and another member of the Flynn's odd 'family'.
"Good," Pete replied with his own smile as he walked toward the group. "I thought I'd go 10-7 for lunch and sit in on this meeting."
"Why would law enforcement be in this meeting," Brett asked worriedly.
"Pete's part of our family," Seth explained.
"What does 10-7 mean, Uncle Pete," Megan asked.
"It means 'out of service' honey," Pete replied with a smile. He had started using police '10' codes around the little girl. She liked the little game he played with her.
Brett looked at Seth in astonishment before looking back at the tall, black police officer. This was not what he had expected. There were too many things that were not what he expected.
Pappy was leaning against the door to what they called the Ranch Hand Kitchen. He was watching the introductions and actions of the new arrivals. Pappy couldn't hear the words but was a keen observer of people. The interactions between the Delegation and his 'family' was interesting. Especially the actions of little guy with the paunch. Pappy had to smile at the look of consternation that turned to anger as the little guy with the paunch turned to watch the rest of his group follow Seth. He said something to the big man beside him before angrily stomping after the rest of the Delegation.
Sean looked at the way Pappy had the room arranged. Two tables were pushed together to form one long table. They were the same height but it was obvious from the legs that they were old, scarred and not a set. Three other tables of three different heights and design formed a second long table. Covered platters and bowls filled both tables with sliced barbeque brisket, a variety of fresh vegetables, boiled rice, and fresh bread. Metal pitchers with chilled water and milk were set up on both tables. Carafes of coffee were on each table and a large urn of coffee and a glass pot of hot water for tea were against the back wall.
"We need to take control of this," Sean said quietly.
"Good idea," Seth muttered with more than a little frustration in his voice. "Any idea how?"
Sean nodded and said, "Poppa, please sit at the head of the table. Momma, would you sit at the foot like you do at the dinner table. Aunt Liz, do you mind sitting at the head of the other table with Megan? She can let me know if anything important is happening at that table and I can do the same for her from this table. I'll sit beside Poppa. Udit, would you sit across from me?"
The family knew about Sean's and Megan's ability to speak to each other silently. It was a talent that Udit was determined to investigate after Megan learned to speak better. It was a testament to his families faith in him that no one questioned Sean's instructions. They simply nodded and moved to their place at the table.
"Pappy, would you sit at the other table with Liz?" Sean asked. He thought for a moment before saying, "Both of you should sit at the head of the table." At the old Mexican's nod, Sean said, "Uncle BB and Aunt Sheila should sit at the foot of the other table. Uncle Pete should sit beside Momma. That way everyone has someone close for support and we control both tables."
"Do you think we'll need support?" Seth asked.
"I don't know, but I'd rather be safe than sorry," Sean replied.
"Agreed," Seth said nodding his head as he walked towards the table.
No one commented when Pappy placed a shotgun between his and Liz's seat. He almost always had a weapon of some kind with him. The shotgun was just his current favorite.
The members of the delegation, their seconds, and the two drivers started filing into the large dining room. There had been a brief, heated discussion in the ranch yard before they entered. The discussion was fortunate for the Flynn Clan because it gave them time to get situated.
"Please, sit where ever you want," Seth called as he took his place at the head of the table.
"Coffee is on the table and water for tea is on the side board," Martha called as she settled in her chair. She felt a little awkward because usually, she was the last to sit. Usually, she was serving food and drink to everyone before sitting herself. To have guests and not serve them just didn't fit with her notion of western hospitality. She pushed the feeling aside and continued. "Please help yourself and let me know if there is anything else you need."
Sean looked at the chair that he was supposed to sit in with a little frustration. He hadn't planned this very well. He used a booster seat in the house when he sat in a chair. He might think like an adult and function like an adult, but his body was still only a year and a half old. Pappy had brought his booster seat and a spare for Megan from the kitchen but didn't know where Sean or Megan were going to be seated so they were still against the wall. He didn't want to ask any of his family to get them because he wanted to make sure they claimed and kept their designated seats. He couldn't physically lift the booster seats and didn't want to ask their visitors to do it. Sean didn't want any semblance of debt to exist between them.
Sean sighed and reached out with his mind to one of the water pitchers. He deftly disassembled a handful of water molecules and used the released energy as flows of air to move Megan's seat to her. He could have done it with his own power but he didn't want to deplete himself in any way around these strangers.
"Thank you, Sean," Megan's little girl voice called out.
"You're welcome, Megan," Sean called back with a smile. "Anything for my favorite girl," he continued silently and was answered by a peal of laughter.
Sean grabbed his own booster seat with more tendrils of air and moved it to the chair he would occupy, facing the door with his back against a wall. It wasn't until he climbed into his booster seat that he noticed the members of the Delegation had stopped. The visiting Wizards seemed to be stunned at his casual display of power. Sean hadn't considered the impact such a display would have on them. He hoped it worked to his advantage.
"Please sit where ever you're comfortable," Martha repeated for Seth.
Her urging got the Delegation moving again. There was a brief discussion between the members of the Delegation before their seconds and drivers were sent to the table with Liz at the head. The five Wizards jockeyed for possession of the five remaining seats at Sean's table.
Bret Stevens sat beside Udit and Karl Whitcomb started to sit beside Sean. Lightning, who was never far from Sean, started a low, rumbling growl.
"Sir, um, Mr. Whitcomb," Sean said. "Would you mind moving down one seat? Lightning is very protective and you worry him for some reason."
"He is a dog. I do not move for a dog. Put him outside," Karl Whitcomb instructed, commanded.
"No sir," Sean answered calmly. "He refuses to be more than a few feet away from me since Megan was born. He is very protective and I can't promise he won't bite you if you sit beside me."
Karl Whitcomb was a powerful Wizard in his own right and his primary power was air. He was angry about being here but he had been instructed by powers, both known and unknown. To be rebuked and directed by his child was more than he could stand. He looked at the dog and wove a block of air around the beast to ensure it would stay where it was. He started to smile in satisfaction. The baby boy wasn't the only one that could show he had power. The smile faded as he felt his flows of air part and the dog stood with a growl.
Sean had battled Magdalena, a Witch that tried to kill his family. He had learned from Magdalena about using flows of air to cut another's flows. He couldn't exactly see the flows of air used by Magdalena but he somehow knew, felt where they were. Sean was immediately aware of what Karl had done to Lightning. Without thinking, he cut the flows and freed his dog.
"That wasn't nice, Mr. Whitcomb," Sean said sternly.
"What wasn't nice, Sean?" Martha asked.
"He tried to lock Lightning in air," Sean replied levelly as he tried to control his growing anger. No one attacked his dog.
Seth understood how Sean would view such an action and responded. "Sean," he said sharply. "It wasn't an attack. It was a defense. It was unwarranted but still a defense. Mr. Whitcomb, please move down one seat so we can continue this meal and our meeting." Seth had said please but it was clearly an order.
Karl's face turned red with anger but, after a moment's hesitation, moved to the next seat. His muttering and grumbling made it clear that he wasn't happy with the situation.
Lian Chin sat next to Sean in Karl's place. Her face was impassive as if nothing had happened.
Sean wondered if the little display had any kind of effect on the oriental lady. He received his answer when Lian covertly winked at him. Sean had to stifle a giggle.
Dabir Tuchim sat next to Brett Stevens. Ethan Jones sat between Dabir and Martha.
"I must say. This is a feast fit for a king," Ethan said enthusiastically as he rubbed his hands together.
Dabir looked at the various food items on the table curiously. "I don't recognize many of these food dishes," the African said with a very British accent. "Do you grow your own food here?"
"Yes we do," Martha said proudly. "All the vegetables come from my garden."
"Really?" Dabir asked in astonishment. "But, who works your fields? I didn't see anyone else when we drove in."
Martha laughed and said, "I work my own garden." Seth cleared his throat and Martha modified her statement. "Except for the help from Seth, BB and Pappy in tilling the ground for first planting. Sean helped this year too. Please help yourself."
Brett took a platter offered by Udit and moved a portion to his plate. That started everyone else getting food.
"So, Sean, how did you help with the garden?" Brett asked. He was expecting a symbolic answer like helping to pull weeds. He didn't get it.
"I tried to help her in several ways but she did all the real work, sir," Sean answered. Seth and Martha had always stressed the importance of courtesy when dealing with other adults. He figured it was especially important in the current company.
"I asked the seeds what they needed to grow stronger and told Momma," Sean continued. "She did all the work by giving them what they needed like water and fertilizer at the right times. Then I told the bugs they could only eat the weeds. They left when they ran out of weeds," Sean concluded with a huff. "I asked some earth worms to help with the deeper soil. The only part of the garden that I really did anything to was the watermelons. I like watermelons so I kind of cheated with them."
"And how did you cheat, young one," Lian asked with a smile.
"I gave them some extra energy so they would grow larger," Sean said sheepishly.
"And they were some of the best watermelon's I've tasted," Seth said with a chuckle.
"Why didn't you give all the vegetables extra energy?" Ethan asked curiously.
Sean's forehead wrinkled as he formed his answer. He could have given an easy, offhand answer and these Magi would have been satisfied. But, Udit had trained him better than that. "It's okay to give a plant extra energy when something is preventing it from getting the right amount of energy to start with, like if it's in the shade," Sean explained. "I strained the watermelon plant by giving it more energy than it would get, normally. I don't think that it's exactly wrong, but I don't think it's right either."
"Where did you get the idea that right or wrong made any difference to a plant," Karl scoffed in derision. He was still angry about his rebuke and being forced to move from his seat closer to the real power at the table.
"Udit taught me that everything has a reason and a balance," Sean explained. His tone was that of an adult addressing a very slow child. "Without balance we have chaos," he said, repeating his mentor's words.
"Well, that will certainly change," Karl spat before taking a bite of meat.
"What will change?" Sean asked.
"You will need better teachers," Karl said. "Udit will be replaced."
All movement at the table stopped at the European's declaration. Brett had a pained look on his face and sighed. Seth, Martha and Udit looked at Sean. Pete just chuckled quietly and, shaking his head, took another bite.
"Did he just say what I thought he said?" Megan asked silently.
"If you think he said that Udit would be replaced, then yes," Sean answered, also silently.
"Are you going to let that stand?" Megan asked. The anger was clear in her thoughts and the grounds trembled slightly.
"You know that I won't," Sean answered and his own anger was clear in his thoughts. "Now quit shaking the ranch. You've got to control that."
Sean carefully placed his knife and fork on his plate before saying, "Any assistance from the Councils is appreciated. Any additional training is appreciated. However, all training and instruction will be adapted to fit within the framework of Udit's plan. That goes for myself and Megan."
"That may not be wise," Dabir said with a frown.
"Not wise?" Karl asked incredulously. "Not wise?" he repeated. "It's sheer insanity. First, they both need the best instructors that can be provided. Second, they can't stay together. It's like putting all our eggs in one basket. They must be separated for their own safety."
Seth put his knife and fork down before saying, "We have a rule in this family that business is discussed after the meal. It is obvious that you are not going to abide by that rule. Very well." It was obvious that he was angry.
"The first thing you need to realize is that anyone on this property is here because Martha or I approve of them being here," Seth said softly.
Sean knew that when Seth started talking in that soft voice that someone was in deep trouble. He sent out a tendril of love to calm Seth.
Seth looked at Sean and said, "Stop that." He felt the unnatural calmness flow over his mind and knew the source. Looking back at the Wizards of the Delegation he said, "The second thing you need to understand is that our family will decide what is best for our family. None of you knows us and you are not capable of deciding what is best for us."
"I don't believe you have much of a choice," Karl said smugly. "I believe we have enough here to vote and enforce our will."
There was a loud clunk as Pete set his service revolver on the table. It wasn't cocked and wasn't aimed at anyone. It was simply lying on the table. Pete finished chewing his bite before saying, "This isn't a democracy so votes don't count unless Seth and Martha say they do." He took another bite, ignoring the stares of the Wizards.
The bull of a man, Karl's second, stood at the other table.