Taera walked among the delegates, but she was not of them. In spite of the form she assumed there was no mistaking her for a mundane thing of dust and clay. There were waterfalls in her eyes, soft plains of waving grass in her hair, and the shifting expanse of desert sands played impossibly across her skin.

Even the delegates who has seen her before were visibly enraptured as if they were first beholding a world wrapped into a quasi-mortal guise. Some could be heard muttering wonderingly to themselves under their breath; from the audible snatches it was clear that each saw Taera differently–as they wanted to see her.

When she reached the dais, Taera turned and spoke in a voice that was both sea-breeze and premonition of storm. “We are pleased,” she said. “Pleased at the steps that have been taken and the progress that has been made.”

The rapturous applause that followed was indicative of how her praise cut to the quick of even the most hardened delegate’s soul.

“Under our guidance, you have done much to roll back the ongoing rape of the natural order,” Taera continued. “We spoke to you once of a gun at the temple of the world. You have removed the finger from its trigger.”

Pandemonium among the delegates. Even the most hardened, grizzled veterans of the cause, men and women who had torched dealerships and sunk whaleboats, responded as enthusiastic children.

“However.” That one word brought an unsteadiness to the acclamation. “The gun still remains, pressed to the very center of the world’s being. Eventually another hand will rise up to grasp it.”

Silence. The last cheers faded and there was no sound until Weatherby cleared his throat. “What would you have us do?” he asked.

“The immediate threat has been averted, but so long as hands exist to strike flint to rock, the danger remains. The cancer must not simply remiss; it must be cut from the body.”

Murmurs of unease. “I don’t understand,” Weatherby said, voicing the sentiment of all the delegates present.

“You ask us what we would have of you,” Taera said. “We can answer only in one regretful but necessary word. Extinction.”

Taera’s eyes flashed, burning with the molten force of a pyroclastic flow as the storm suggested in her tone of voice broke with shattering force. Weatherby didn’t have time to utter a sound before he was struck by blinding green lightning issuing from the center of the emissary’s being. He instantly crumbled to fine ash.

The other delegates, panicked, began to flee. But the green lightning arced from one to another, vaporizing each before each could move more than a step. Only a handful near the outermost periphery escaped the room with their lives.

“Flight will avail you not,” Taera boomed. “In your destruction lies the world’s salvation.”

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