Tomar led Scharbigot Canchorus into a plush seating area near some floor-to-ceiling windows in his office. The Minister was presumably there to talk about the Donovackia Corporation’s latest acquisition target. Scharbigot had publicly staked out a position on keeping the remaining Nine Corporations intact, not allowing any more mergers, acquisitions, or takeovers. Scharbigot knew it was only for show. Celestina had been in complete control ever since she revealed that his son, from his secret marriage, was scheduled for execution. At least, Celestina had kept her word. The young man’s execution had been indefinitely delayed.

“My esteemed Minister Canchorus, how are you today?” came the greeting from Tomar.

“Good, but let’s cut the formalities. You’re planning another hostile takeover. I know you have the means, but at some point, you have to stop. Your Corporation is bigger than any Corporation in history. It’s time to rest on your laurels,” Scharbigot asserted.

“Did you hear that Minister Hareold Wiroviana has died?” Tomar asked, completely ignoring what the Minister had just said.

“No, this is news to me. What a shame,” Scharbigot expressed. “He was a rare man, especially in these days.”

“Yes, indeed, he certainly was, and I must congratulate you also.”

“Why on the two worlds would you say that?”

Tomar smiled. “Hareold’s seat has been folded into Celestina’s. Her first act was to vote to convert your seat into a lifetime appointment, just like Hareold’s had been. Congratulations.”

The Minster sat with a stunned and disappointed look on his face. He planned to retire and completely disappear from public life when his term expired. The Ministry had become a sham. Celestina was entirely in charge and now had an unnecessarily massive military.

Tomar watched Scharbigot’s face for a moment and then looked across the room. On his desk sat a meter-long cord of rope. He had impressed himself recently with his ability to manipulate the rope with his mind. Previously, he only moved things about, but now he had discovered that he could fold paper, tie knots in a rope, and even pour a glass of water. The more he worked his skills, the more impressive and powerful they became.

He still had not revealed to anyone that he was a Transprophetic, not even to Celestina. He loved having the secret, and he now knew that it had its uses. He would reveal to Scharbigot what he was capable of doing.

“Do you personally know any Transprophetics?” Tomar asked the Minister.

“I’ve met one once, but she was a bit of a religious fanatic. She believed herself to be divine and her so-called powers to be divine in origin. Of course, it’s nothing but simple biology, anatomy, and physics,” replied the Minister.

“Yes, it is a simple thing, but it is almost divine, wouldn’t you say?” asked Tomar. “It’s the ability to do so much more than others.”

Tomar brought the rope into the air behind the Minister’s back. He tied a slipknot, leaving a large loop. As the Minster began his reply, telling Tomar that simple evolution didn’t create more divine or superior people, the loop slipped over Scharbigot’s head, and Tomar pulled it tight around Scharbigot’s neck. Tomar focused his mind as intensely as he could on the loose end of the rope. He pulled it harder and harder and higher and higher. Scharbigot scratched at his own neck, trying in vain to get his fingers under the tightening cord.

For a few brief moments, Tomar could see nothing around him, but the end of that rope. He kept pulling with his mind, focusing with every bit of energy he could muster. Scharbigot, unable to fight the force, eventually found himself hanging in the air, with the rope becoming tighter and tighter, spastically fighting for his life. His face turned red. For a moment, he looked at Tomar, not understanding why. Tomar responded with a wicked smile as he watched the Minister’s life fade away.

• • •

Chapter 21 Chapter 23

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