Sirenna, a magical lady who had the distinction of being one of Queen Zixi's closest friends, sat under her favorite tree in the enchanted forest and spoke of misgivings. It had to be done, said the mysterious man (or woman, since the face and voice in those transmissions were well obscured) who inquired about the plans to invade Oz. He or she also wanted to know if a certain woman had arrived in Oz. Yes on both counts, replied Sirenna.
Tossing the Holonet transmitter aside, she turned to Kaliko, a former official to the Nome King, and Sirenna's partner in crime. Kaliko was no stranger to political coups; he took part in one long ago, and in another, orchestrated the in entire plot.
Kaliko was Chief Steward to Roquat the Red, king of the Nomes who was always plotting a coup against Oz. First, Ozma and her friends traveled to the underground of Nomes, after Roquat kidnapped the royal family of Ev. He transformed each person into a purple ornament, and the Ozites had to figure out which ornament was really a person enchanted. Of course, it didn't help that Ozma and company were changed into ornaments themselves. Thanks to Dorothy and her pet hen Billina who overhead Roquat and Kaliko arguing – and discovering the magic word to transform the enchanted persons. Even after that disastrous attempt to take over Oz, Kaliko, now freed from Roquat (who had to change his name to Ruggedo and was banished from his kingdom after another failed coup), tried again and again to overthrow Oz or other neighboring fairy lands. All plots were soon discovered and thwarted.
Now, in the kingdom of Ix, Kaliko found a perfect partner in crime in the form of the beautiful yet mysterious Sirenna. Naturally, both planned their misdeeds very carefully not to tip Queen Zixi's hand. Such discovery could again thwart another attempted coup against Oz. Not that Kaliko worried. That strange man or woman who ordered Sirenna to build an army to invade Oz promised Kaliko a plum position in the New Oz Order. Prime Minister at that! Kaliko, despite pledging to reform and never again engage in such nefarious plots against Oz, was a greedy sort, given to flights of fancy and illusions of grandeur.
While Kaliko enjoyed his latest assignment, his partner had misgivings. Though she admitted such to Kaliko, Sirenna never led on that she would, in time, reveal all to Zixi. It was not right, not since Sirenna learned of a certain new Oz resident and her special circumstances.
"And she's family, too," Sirenna muttered under her breath. "I can't do this."
Rising from her spot under the tree, Sirenna sighed, saying to Kaliko, "Return to the compound and get the army together. I'm off to the land of Ev to gather more recruits. Even that is off kilter. Ev and Oz have always enjoyed peaceful relations. No problems at all. And Ozma has helped the people of Ev in time of crisis."
She looked Kaliko squarely in the eyes when she uttered that final sentence. Sirenna, though she now resided in Ix, knew the entire history of the magical, fantastic lands comprising the larger continent of Nonestica. She remembered very well what happened to the Royal Family of Ev those many years ago, and she knew Kaliko's role in that episode. What bothered her was her own role in the current attempt against Oz. And, after a successful overthrow of Ozma, firmly ensconcing that "madman" as ruler, it is on to invade other lands within Nonestica. Get them all was what the shadowy person said in that last transmission. But it's Oz for now. Why? Because there are Jedi in Oz, the latest arrival in Oz being descended from a great family of Jedi.
Sirenna knew all about the Jedi, too, and that knowledge she kept to herself all these years. In fact, several of her own family were Force Masters who fled their home galaxy, finding that breach and made their home on Earth. So amazing, that breach, and each Jedi who passed through it ended up in a different time period. Sirenna's father was one of the first to pass through the breach, settling somewhere in France during the late Middle Ages. What happened to him, and how and why his daughter found her way to those magical lands remained a fiercely kept secret.
No one is to know...Not even Ozma – yet. Once the one called Madeline completes her Jedi training the planned coup will fail miserably. That was prophesied eons ago that a descendent of Ricar Tasou would defeat the last of the Dark Jedi's minions who wrecked havoc for so many innocents, Sirenna's family being one of the first victims.
Her mind made up, she left Kaliko in charge of overseeing the completion of the grand army. She had every confidence at least he would carry out the orders with no qualms, but all the hard work would be for naught, if her confession to Queen Zixi panned out enough to garner sympathy. Perhaps Her Highness would call a halt to the operation, or she would alert Ozma at once.
No, it's not that simple...Such a complicated problem needs a complicated solution...But once she hears what I've been doing, besides building an army...Oh my goodness! Zixi will certainly banish me from Ix forever!
Back in Emerald City, in the Royal Palace, Princess Ozma ruminated over the latest development in Madeline Tasou's Oz adventure. Early this morning, Maddie had gone to the valley and met with Master Jinn, and she came face-to-face with long suppressed memories. Ozma was fully aware of those memories and the astounding evidence Maddie had lived before as a baby apatosaurus named Bren, a child kidnapped by Count Dooku just before the outbreak of the Clone Wars. This Ozma learned from both Dumbledore and Major Spikeblade. The former delved into Bren's memories via the pensieve; the latter knew about Bren's kidnapping via a Holonet recording of the actual crime. How did Spikeblade get hold of a recording? Ask him, and he certainly wasn't telling from whom or where he got it.
It wasn't so much Maddie's sudden realization of a very incredibly distant past life or that she would begin her Jedi training within the next few days that weighed on Ozma's mind.
Too many events occurred simultaneously: The news of Gustave Duclos' impending death in Paris and the son Yves certain to receive a special packet containing dark secrets of the Duclos family dating back to the 15th Century. Secrets that directly involved a Dark Jedi from Dantooine who had dealings with Dooku during those shaky days before and during the Clone Wars. This man, Lorenz Kast, who fancied himself a Dark Jedi but was more of a Sith wannabe, was one of the last to penetrate that time slip and settled on Earth. Not much was known of exactly what Kast did once arrived on Earth, but his immediate and direct involvement with a medieval French family certainly had its own tragic outcomes for so many for more than five centuries.
There was also an odd message from Queen Zixi of the neighboring fairy land of Ix. That lady suspected someone within her realm has been doing the forbidden – practicing magic on others using the worst kind of spells. Zixi wouldn't elaborate other than Oz's security could be at risk, and that of several present and future Oz residents. Ozma knew the lady of whom Zixi spoke: the sorceress Sirenna.
How sad to learn the beautiful and talented Sirenna had fallen back on bad habits during her exile in Ix. A former resident of Oz, Sirenna was banished for practicing shape-shifting magic – turning people into animals a la Circe. Such magic is dishonest and can lead to damaging repercussions. Ozma herself knew the harm of shape-shifting; she was once turned into the boy Tip by the witch Mombi. All during her ordeal under Mombi, and in the guise of Tip, Ozma had no inkling her true identity or that she was Oz's true ruler. That was all in the past. Mombi was banned from practicing magic ever again, and Glinda urged Ozma to outlaw shape-shifting spell and practicing magic on others. It was for everyone's safety and to ensure peace over Oz.
Despite the damning evidence, Ozma was sympathetic toward Sirenna. She had always liked the girl, a spunky, vibrant sorceress who was truly sorry about her offenses. Upon banishment, Sirenna promised both Ozma and Zixi she'd never cast shape-shifting spells again, but it seems the girl had reneged her pledge. However, this time, and Ozma was aware of Sirenna's special circumstances, it seemed the lovely sorceress had been coerced into committing more than changing people into animals.
A carefully planned coup against Oz...Invade our happy land and oust me as ruler...What kind of army? And Kaliko is involved! Curious and more curious...
Ozma glanced about the throne room at that exclusive circle of Ozites and those friendly to Oz. In that gathering was the Wizard, Nick Chopper, Scarecrow, Professor Wogglebug, Dorothy, and Glinda. Also in the group were those whose home wasn't Oz but wanted to keep the fairy land safe from all harm. There was Charlie, Maddie's godfather and a magical man, and Albus Dumbledore who pulled himself from his own concerns at Hogwarts. Beside, Dumbledore had a specific role in thwarting an impending invasion, and to fill in gaps of an ever-present menace that spanned the centuries. Lastly, via a Holonet transmission, Major Spikeblade rounded out the gathering. He couldn't – wouldn't – leave his sparse cabin in Gillikin Country, preferring a virtual presence.
After much discussion, Ozma came to a decision: Let Sirenna go along with her tormentor's plot, but don't let Kaliko know. Ozma knew of the former Nome and his past, pathetic schemes to take over Oz for himself. As long as he was unaware that the targets of this planned coup were on to the scheme, the more likely he'll continue his master's bidding.
But Ozma still needed to know exactly what kind of army Sirenna and Kaliko were building. Enter Major Spikeblade who, via the Holonet, offered to send a spy droid to Ix.
"Spy droids?," asked the Wizard.
"Yes," replied Spikeblade. "A small droid, swift and silent. Capable of recording and transmitting crucial information. May I suggest to launch the droid tonight. Travelling across the Deadly Desert would be no problem as the droid is non-organic."
He turned to Ozma, asking, "That is if we have Queen Zixi's complete cooperation, and that of the sorceress–"
Dumbledore interrupted, "Ozma, you say Sirenna's talent is turning people into animals. Has she done this lately? Within the past...Say, ten years or so? The reason I'm asking is an unusual theory Charlie mentioned–"
"What Albus means," said Charlie Lavigne, "is there is a possibility two of Sirenna's victims may be known to me personally. If it is so, then it will clear up the mystery surrounding two local boys who simply vanished without a trace."
"And," asked the Wizard with concern, "when did these boys disappear?"
"Nearly twenty years ago, right after Madeline's friend was killed in that car crash."
Nothing more was said on that subject which deeply worried Dorothy. Who were these young men Charlie mentioned? If they indeed fell victim to Sirenna's shape-shifting spells, then is it a possibility they reside in Ix? What's more, if Charlie knew these youths, could Madeline or her mother have known them?
They disappeared the same time Maddie's best friend died...I wonder if one could be...Didn't Jellia Jamb and I discuss one of the Herd who Marbe and Kirel Tasou encountered could be...No! He couldn't be...Then again...Maybe that accident was no accident...Maybe it was all planned that way, to get Maddie where the mastermind behind the invasion wants...
Is this why Ozma and the Wizard want both dinosaur herds to come to Oz?
Perhaps it's time for me to delve into long ago memories. Something has to give...There is more to this than what appears...
She asked Ozma, "Where is Madeline now? I know she went to the valley, and that she's met Qui-Gon Jinn."
Princess Ozma replied, "She's here in Emerald City now. Having lunch at the Mendels' deli, with Jenny Jump, Jana, and Six."
Ozma then asked Glinda, "Did Hagrid deliver that score?"
The Good Witch of the South replied, "Yes, and I've hidden it in a special place. No one knows, other than Nick, where it is. Madeline will receive it after she completes her Jedi training, and after both Herds relocate to Oz."
To this Nick Chopper ventured an opinion, "I don't know if this is the right time to say this, but there is something very strange about that composition. Oh, it's music all right. Everything you'd expect to find in a musical score is there, but those odd symbols..."
Spikeblade nodded, saying, "It is true, Nick. Helmut Brück was really Bruno Dibon, a Jedi from Naboo. I can't reveal much about him as of yet. Helmut's composition is really a treatise of Jedi on Earth, including each and every Jedi and Force Master who fled our galaxy thus finding their way to Earth. Did you notice the solo passages? They are quite challenging, extremely difficult for the most seasoned musician. The cello solos are the most difficult, and Helmut composed them as he knew only a Jedi could play them expertly."
Everyone nodded in agreement as to who could execute those lengthy, technically difficult solos. However, and Ozma wanted this, it was best to let Madeline settle into routine. In time she would begin her training, but for today and the days to follow, she'll carve her own niche in Oz society. Today she is lunching with three ladies who are talented musicians in their own right. She would also meet Eli and Zelda Mendel, and that initial meeting, along with a casual mention of Helmut Brück, could very well spark an insatiable curiosity.
In closing the meeting, Ozma said, "Then it is agreed. Major, launch your spy droid to Ix. Report any and all findings to me immediately. Albus, I want you and Dorothy to research those memories, particularly of that woman who gave Madeline the woven picture. She, along with other key players, knew of the kidnapped dinosaur."
She sighed, adding, "And don't let Maddie know of this yet. Let her settle in. I don't want her alarmed or upset. Her mind must be clear before she begins her training." She turned to Nick, saying, "I presume you and Scarecrow will escort her to Quadling Country, to the ferryman Muzzy."
"Yes," answered the Tin Woodman.
"Then it is settled. Oh, one more thing. Can someone go to Ix...to confront Sirenna."
The Wizard volunteered to go to Ix, but only if Major Spikeblade could accompany him. The Major at first didn't want to leave his home, but...
"What would she say if she recognizes me?," he asked worriedly. "We haven't seen each other, not since..."
Spikeblade, overcome with emotion, could say no more other than, "I will go, but is it possible..?"
Glinda smiled, saying with reassurance, "I believe this is one time we can bend the rules. Wouldn't you agree, Ozma?"
Copyright©2007, 2008 by PRP