p o n e e t i s l a n d s
THE TOBACCO WAR
CRY TO THE WORLD
Fraysia was in a panic. She had been pacing the rooms of her home the entire morning after hearing that Satina had been arrested. There were reports that she had been killed trying to escape. Later those reports were proved false. Satina was being held in Port Avastus awaiting arraignment. The charges would be announced soon. That was the news.
Frustratingly, Fraysia was not receiving any news from the Ludibrium and she was starting to fear for her safety. Seygonia’s plan was put into play last night and she’d heard nothing. Nothing! It was frustrating and she was near to screaming.
Fortunately, Khonet was away on business. That came with a bit of drama as he intended on bringing along the Twins. Saytee feigned illness and was able to stay behind. Fraysia knew the illness was a ruse. She must have wanted to stay to help. But Fraysia was unsure how Saytee could help now. It was falling apart fast. It was all a mess and she was nearing a mental collapse.
Then there was a knock at the front door. It was Leelee’s special knock. She hurried to the front door. She opened it and Leelee entered quickly almost knocking her over. Fraysia closed the door.
“There is trouble at the farm,” he replied in a high-pitched voice.
“Trouble. What trouble?”
“The naked lady. The men have chased her into the jungle,” Leelee said. He then ran into the library. Fraysia followed.
Leelee walked to a bookshelf and fell to his knees. He started pulling at a large leather bound book, which sat on the bottom shelf. He struggled a bit.
“Leelee, what are you doing?” Fraysia was confused.
Leelee lifted the heavy book and dropped it on an ottoman. He opened the book. It wasn’t a book. It was a case and it held a weapon. It was a strange looking weapon.
Fraysia was stunned. “Leelee. How did you know?” She was dizzy.
“I saw Sir holding it one day.” He shrugged. “I was waiting here for you but he came in so I hide in the dark. I saw him pull this book out and he had the weapon in his hands.”
Fraysia took the weapon. She’d held weapons before but this—this was beyond anything she’d seen.
They both looked at each other. Neither knew what to think about this weapon.
“How does it work?” Fraysia asked.
“I don’t know but we must go help the naked lady,” Leelee said. He pulled her hand. Fraysia followed him out of the house.
Outside Dewar Patch-08, hiding among the buildings and market alleyways, there were several Poneet soldiers waiting for the Ludibrium to arrive. They all would be arrested today or killed should they try to escape. The group was exposed and it was time to end the Ludibrium’s traitorous activities.
Hamartia Monro was the first to enter the secret meeting room. She had a slight smile on her face. She would be arrested as well to keep up appearances. She would have to act distraught. She smiled again thinking about acting out her part.
Soon her smile would vanish. She was unaware of the plot Seygonia had devised to expose the mole. She was unaware that she was exposed that night. The Ludibrium knew of her treachery.
She looked at the walls of the dark and cold room. She would never have to enter its four stale walls again. She would return to her previous life and finally marry Garon Forbodi, a very wealthy tobacco baron with the Poneet Tobacco Company. She would live in a lovely home and be able to afford anything she wanted.
Hamartia was surprised that she was the first to arrive. Then she saw a folded paper on the table. “Hello,” she called out. No one replied. She moved to the note. She opened the page. It was a short poem:
The note upon the table
The apostate stands alone
Soon they’ll be approaching
And find no one at home…
Suddenly, there was a loud crash. The door was kicked in and before she could react, soldiers unleashed a barrage of bullets into the room hitting everything from furniture to lamps. The sound was loud and the smoke was dense. Many shots were fired.
“Cease fire!” The call was screamed several times before the soldiers actually stopped shooting. Smoke filled the room. It was so thick nothing could be seen. Slowly it dissipated. The Captain waved the smoke from his view. He moved around the room. He looked for the bodies. He found only one. He knelt to turn the body over on its back. Hamartia lay lifeless. Her eyes were wide open from the horror. She was shot multiple times in the face and hands and in many other places. There was no one else in the room.
A young soldier then hurried through the door and made his way to the Captain. “Sir! There is trouble in the streets!”
Leelee was swift and Fraysia kept up as best she could. She tore her dress here and there as they made their way through the jungle. Her chest was pounding, her adrenaline firing. She could still see Leelee ahead and nearing what looked like a mob. She lost concentration and fell into the brush. She scratched her arms and face. She stood quickly paying little attention to the pain or the blood.
Leelee was first to reach the mob. He jumped on the Farm Foreman’s back and started screaming like a wild animal. As Fraysia got closer she saw the Foreman toss Leelee to the ground. The Foreman was prepared to kick Leelee when he heard a blast. One shot was all she needed. The blast sound was so odd it grabbed everyone's attention.
The men could see the weapon Fraysia held. It was a lighted weapon. It glowed blue and yellow. They looked at each other trying to understand what weapon she was holding. They could not and it frightened them.
“Everyone! Back off! Leave the girl alone!” Fraysia screamed. She was crying. Her emotions were raw. She was not built for this type of life. She could feel herself trembling and she knew then that being pampered all her life served no purpose. She was unprepared for the real world and this was it staring at her in the face.
Fraysia was pointing the weapon at the Foreman. His name was Ossald.
“Mr. Ossald. Take your men back to work,” Fraysia said. Her voice was trembling a bit.
“Work?” Ossald matched her anger. “There’s no work anymore. This witch has seen to that. She destroyed all the crops on Too Ba Koo Island. All of them!”
Fraysia looked up into a very large tree. Saytee was on the highest of its branches.
Leelee came to Fraysia’s side.
“Mr. Ossald. Go home. The Poneet Tobacco Company is no more.” Fraysia was as firm as she could be. “It’s over.”
Ossald was seething. He pointed to Saytee. “This witch,” he started.
“She gave you crops. And she took them away.” Fraysia was still pointing her weapon. “It’s over. Go home.”
Ossald lowered his head. He looked at his men and signaled them to leave. They all walked away slowly. They were all feeling betrayed somehow. Ossald walked near Fraysia.
“Mr. Ossald,” she said to him. “I promise you. There will be work. Tell your men to be prepared to return to the farms. Give us some time.”
He sighed and then bowed. “I apologize for our actions.” He looked at Leelee. “We have families to feed.”
“I understand. I will contact you in a few days. You and I will see that every worker on Too Ba Koo Island is taken care of until the new farms begin operations.”
“The new farms?” Ossald asked.
“The old farms,” she clarified.
Ossald finally smiled. “Yes Mum,” he said. He walked off with his men.
With the mob dispersed Fraysia called to Saytee. “Hello. You can come down now,” she said. Saytee was no longer in the tree. She was already on the ground and coming towards her. She was topless again. This made Fraysia nervous. She asked Leelee to go home. He ran off without protest.
Fraysia looked at Saytee and could see that she was bruised and cut in several places. “I’m so sorry this happened.”
Fraysia could only hope she was understood.
"I’m sure your sister will be home soon,” Fraysia said with a soothing voice.
“No sister,” Saytee said.
“Yes. She will be home soon,” Fraysia gestured to try and help communicate. But Saytee knew the language.
“I have no sister,” Saytee said. “No sister.”
“Yes. Leena. Your s i s t e r.” Fraysia slowed her words down to help Saytee understand.
Again, Saytee shook her head no. “No sister. She is me,” Saytee said.
Fraysia was completely flummoxed. “Dear Unc. What is it you’re trying to say,” Fraysia said to jungle. She was very tired and emotional.
Saytee took Fraysia’s hands. It calmed Fraysia down. She breathed more evenly. The color returned to her face. She calmed down.
Saytee moved very close to Fraysia as she did before in the library. “I am Saytee. I am Leena,” Saytee said. “I am Leena. I am Saytee.”
Fraysia did not understand.
“There was never a Leena.”
Fraysia turned around. It was her husband’s voice. He stood behind them. He was alone.
“Kohnet. You’ve returned.” Fraysia was surprised.
“I have,” Bregman said. He looked bewildered. He moved to Fraysia and stopped before getting too close. There was disturbance on his face.
He knows, thought Fraysia. This is where her life changes. This is where the end starts. She’d thought about this moment for years. She would leave Kohnet and it would be a painful episode. But she also imagined it as an easy transition. He wouldn’t fight her. He’d understand and take his wounds to lick elsewhere.
“What exactly do you mean there was never a Leena?” Fraysia asked.
They both looked at Saytee. She was smiling.
“I’m Leena,” said Saytee. She chuckled. “Leena vo meg. Meg vo Leena.”
Fraysia was bewildered. “What does that mean?” Fraysia looked to her husband. “What happened? Where is Leena?”
Bregman took a deep breath. “I will tell you but it may be difficult to believe.”
The Poneet Islands were in disarray. Protests broke out spontaneously after the news of Princess Koobineeva’s arrest went public. The unrest was more than the authorities could handle and government officials were in a panic. Crowds were calling for Beleedi’s head and the Poneet Tobacco Company’s property was being destroyed on every island.
Outside the Governor’s Mansion crowds were getting nasty. Inside, Governor Sadre Bahn De Beleedi was frantic.
“Why is this happening?” He was shouting at any and every staff member. “Can we not control these natives?” He was starting to insult the people working for him. “It’s those Twins. I know it. They should have been called what they are--witches. Pure and simple,” De Beleedi was still shouting to anyone who would listen.
Suddenly the Police Commissioner, Geeto Wasoo entered the office. De Beleedi pounded his fist on his desk.
“Wasoo, where on Blissdaine have you been?? They’ll be crawling in here soon. What are your men doing about this?”
“They are doing nothing,” Wasoo answered.
“Nothing??” De Beleedi voice squealed.
“Nothing,” Wasoo said. “What can they do? They cannot go against their own people. Their families. Their neighbors. You are done! I’ve ordered the release of the Princess.”
De Beleedi fell back into his chair. “The Princess is a criminal…”
“ We’re all criminals now!” Wasoo interrupted. He’d never done that to Beleedi. He sunk his head low. He looked at the Governor. “I was wrong to do nothing. My land, my life.” Wasoo stood up tall. “I cannot protect you any longer.”
De Beleedi was shocked. “Protect me?”
They stared at each other for a moment.
“I can’t guarantee that they won’t bust in here soon. We have to get you out,” Wasoo said.
The sound of broken glass erupted. They both turned. The remaining staff ran out. Wasoo looked at De Beleedi. “Time to go,” he said.
De Beleedi was breathing heavy now. “I suppose I can stay home for a few days…” De Beleedi looked at Wasoo’s reaction. “What? What’s wrong?”
Wasoo leaned in towards De Beleedi. “You and your Tobacco Barons are leaving the islands. Every single one of you.”
“What are you saying, man?” De Beleedi was near screaming.
“I have the Military waiting. They will escort you and your cronies off the islands. You’re going to Adanac Brit. They’ve agreed to give you asylum. Don’t fight it, don’t argue. Go with your life.”
Wasoo then walked to the door and barked down the hall. “Sergeant!”
A young man came to Wasoo. They spoke. The Sergeant listened. He looked at De Beleedi. He nodded.
Wasoo turned back to De Beleedi. “Get your things,” he said. "Sergeant Midzo will see that you reach home for some things. Everything else will be sent to you.”
“This is mutiny!” De Beleedi screamed.
Wasoo chuckled. “I suppose. I’ll resign when you’re off the islands.”
Wasoo looked at De Beleedi for one last moment, both men knowing it had gone bad.
“Be swift. You are running out of time.” Wasoo walked out.
Outside the Police complex Bayani Seygonia, Dayeekee and Balajz Koobineeva had gathered together along with a crowd of Poneetians, to see the Princess released from prison. She was incarcerated for three days and in those three days a revolt had started and ended. The violence against the tobacco companies, the Poneet Tobacco Company in particular, was harsh and destructive. It wasn’t just a band of misfits any longer. The Poneetians had taken to the streets in large numbers and had forced Commissioner Wasoo to give in to their demands. They wanted the Princess released and the tobacco companies off the islands. In the end, Wasoo sided with his people. It was the beginning of the end for tobacco on the Poneet Islands.
“Was this your idea?” Princess Koobaniva said to Seygonia as she walked out of prison a free person. The crowd was cheering.
He smiled. “They’re here for you. You’re the hero.”
“Really. Me. A hero,” she said with raised eyebrow.
Satina hugged her parents and then she hugged Sygonia.“We did it,” she said to Syegonia.
He shook his head. “I think you did it,” he said to her.
They headed to their carriage.
“And now we face the consequences of the court system. They will be litigating this,” Seygonia said.
“No doubt,” said the King. “But when their underhanded tactics are revealed they may rather wished they had remained silent.”
“That is what we are counting on,” Seygonia said.
Satina leaned over to Seygonia and whispered. "Fraysia?"
Seygonia forced a smile. "She is facing her destiny," he said.
Fraysia and Kohnet sat alone in their home. She looked exhausted. Khonet was equally beaten up.
Satee was off in one corner. She was still and quiet.
“What you are saying makes me dizzy. It cannot be real. No one will believe you.”
Khonet was explaining to Fraysia about Leena and what he saw. “I have no other way to explain it. As soon as we boarded our ship she vanished. She was with me. Right next to me. And then she slowly faded away.” Khonet was not himself. He was tired and confused. His world was collapsing around him and he was unable to keep his footing.
“Tell me honestly, Kohnet. Did you do something with that girl?” Fraysia asked him. She refused to believe his story.
This took Kohnet aback. He stuttered. “I? I did something? I’ve given you no reason to doubt my word. Can you say that about yourself?” Kohnet was driven to this point. He held his head in his hands.
Fraysia knew he was right. He was loyal and he never lied to her. She on the other hand had an affair and helped sabotage his position. The news had spread quickly. The Governor and his band of tobacco cronies had been expelled from the Poneet Islands. She knew the Ludibrium would be celebrating and working to bring the country back together. She should be with Seygonia. She should be there sharing in the celebration and starting the work needed to repurchase the farms. She knew she’d have to tell Kohnet this part of her betrayal. And she knew this would be the final straw. The weight from her deception would be too much for Kohnet to bear.
“I don’t understand. This is making my head spin,” Fraysia said. “How could she disappear? What does it mean?”
Saytee appeared before them. “There is no Leena. I am Leena. I am Saytee,” She said. She was smiling as if she was revealing a joke that only she knew.
“I have no idea what she is trying to tell us,” Fraysia said.
"She's telling us that they were not twins. They were not two people. She was both Saytee and Leena." Bregman looked at Fraysia. "She was both."
Fraysia started to cry. "How is that possible?"
Bregman nodded helplessly. "I don't know. But I have an idea."
Fraysia stared at him. "How?"
Bregman sighed. "Did you ever notice the inverted feather around her neck?"
Fraysia looked to Saytee.
"She is not from Blissdane Naive," said Bregman.
Fraysia's mouth dropped open.
"And neither is that weapon you were carrying today."
It happened quickly. The Governor and his crony politicians were gathered up and escorted off the Poneet Islands and straight to Adanac Brit. The Tobacco companies were forced to sell their farms and factories back to the Poneet People. The Poneet Islands government was temporarily in the hands of Princess Koobineeva and the Ludibrium. They negotiated the sale of the tobacco farms back to the original owners or other Poneet businesses.
Other countries saw this act by the Princess and her group, as robbery and protested the actions placed against the tobacco companies. Business analysts and economists wrote strong criticisms of the Ludibrium.
Princess Koobineeva and Seygonia together prepared the country for new elections. They kept things calm and didn’t worry about what was being said. They knew that it was a matter of money to most of them. They’d have to cry to the world courts.
It was a new start for the Poneet Islands. But it was not the end of tobacco…