Into darkness, p.5
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       Into Darkness, p.5

           Patricia Scholes
 
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K’arrala cursed under her breath as she watched her daughter leave. What does that girl think she is doing, displaying her Talent like that? Once they discover she has never been trained by the Discipline, they’ll kill her, and she knows it!

  Instead of heading for the Council chamber where her advisors waited, she paced, wondering what to do. What upset her the most was that her husband had adopted their daughter years ago, making him her sole guardian. Legally, he possessed the right for all final say as to what happened to her daughter’s future, no matter what she wanted.

  No, that wasn’t quite true. Sometimes no choices existed.

  She returned to the small table and stacked the dishes and wiped away the crumbs. She, not her maids, took care of this place. This garden was a treasure, one she valued highly. No one except her family accessed this place. She made sure of it. Even the gardener needed her to escort him to care for the plants. She followed him about his duties until he finished.

  After cleaning up, she entered the elevator to one of the lower floors where the Council waited for her presence. Before she entered, she swallowed a knot of fear and dismay. No one must know her struggle. Lives depended on it.

  The Lady Commissioner K’arrala D’ey Sol entered the Council chamber, chin firm, head held high. Everyone rose. They sat as soon as she took her chair.

  “Gentlemen, ladies.” She met everyone’s eye. “We will keep business short today because of tonight’s festivities.”

  Several nodded.

  “I want a report from the Wall,” she said, with a nod to Bre’nton Vicosal, the Councilwoman in charge of imports and exports.

  “We have closed off the perimeter, sending all aircars back. We set up a parking area outside the Wall to hold them until traffic resumes. We are secure.”

  K’arrala acknowledged the report. “Just a quick question. How is the Emperor’s villa progressing? He was advised not to start building his residence until spring.”

  “They blasted a place for, I guess it was the foundation, but it was far deeper than seemed necessary to me. Then the snows came, and buried everything. The Emperor was not pleased. He made sure everyone knew it.”

  “As if he could stop the weather.” K’arrala chuckled.

  Several others echoed her humor.

  “Well, let’s do what we can to keep him happy, but surely he knows that the structure will take a couple of years to finish.”

  “In half a year they could move in, if they didn’t mind the chaos of construction going on around them.”

  “They’ll need to wait for spring, now,” K’arrala said, still amused.

  “Some say he’ll bring slavery to Sector Five,” Causwell True, Councilman for City Governance said, a frown knitting his brow.

  “He will not. He does, of course, own his own slaves, and he brings them with him wherever he goes, but Sector Five will never take an active part in that particular abomination.”

  “He’s Xantis Tey,” True said. “They get their way eventually.” He paused. “I hear.”

  K’arrala gave a grim smile. “Not here, Master True.”

  “I came across a publication regarding their people. It confirms what I just said. You might be interested.”

  “I might,” she said, a thoughtful expression on her face. “Masters, Mistresses, I need not tell you that none of us are pleased that the Xantis Tey have invaded our planet, but we must make peace, wherever possible, without betraying our City Charter and the purpose that settled this community. They ask…” She cleared her throat. “They ask too much. They expect us to change not only our Charter but our way of life.” As Chalatta crossed her mind, she realized she fought tears. “Regardless, we will do what we can to promote peaceful solutions.” She swallowed again, surprised at how difficult it was, then forced a smile. “Wherever we can,” she said.

  “We were promised out own planet.” The voice of Farlantuan Dutmi cracked slightly, his anger evident. “They take what I have worked so hard to achieve.”

  She sighed. “I’m sorry they confiscated your land to build their mansion and grounds. You have other Holdings, I believe, and they did pay you a handsome amount?”

  He stood. “I ask for permission to return to my wife who is not well. We will not be at this evening’s festivities.”

  “Your attendance…”

  “Is required, I know.” He sat back down. “We were promised,” he muttered. “We lost our planet to our errant sun, and now, it seems we will lose this planet as well.”

  K’arrala said nothing. We all have our duties, she reminded herself. Finally she spoke, with reluctance. “I’m sorry, Master Dutmi. Someone must represent your House.”

  “No one remains, Lady Commissioner.”

  “The two of you are just past middle age,” she reminded them. “It’s not too late…” She stopped speaking. If they were human, they might still hope for progeny, but both Farlantuan and his wife were sterile, a leftover hazard of their unstable sun, and the hope for a future that brought them here.

  “We were young when we left Nevia, too optimistic, it seems. Last year, when we finally came to terms with the reality that we would have no children, we petitioned to adopt a Krindarwee child, like you and your husband have, but none are available, we were told.”

  “There are always Irelli children,” K’arrala said, not explaining that Chalatta was her natural child. Most people believed that she and Del had adopted her, a foundling from the Area streets.

  “We know.” He paused, a twist of agony marring his face.

  “Your attendance for tonight’s event is required, Master Dutmi. If the Emperor arrives and no one from your House is present, he will consider it a personal affront and confiscate the remainder of your holdings. Surely you know this.”

  “I do, and yes, he will,” Dutmi said, his voice nearly a whisper. He stared into her eyes with a bleak expression. “Until it happened to me, I was unaware of what our people did to yours, Lady Commissioner. I’m truly sorry.” He stood again, and this time he walked to the door of the Council Chamber where he hesitated.

  “You may place your resignation on my desk in the morning.”

  “It’s on the table,” he said as he left the room.

  It was then she noticed that on the table in front of his chair lay a single sheet of paper.

  “Please hand it to me,” she said, addressing one of the people seated next to his.

  She read it aloud.

  To All Concerned,

  In our public protest of any Xantis Tey taking what the High Emperor promised the Nevian people, we have withdrawn all support from them. They may have our land. This Sector may have our position. But we refuse to watch as they destroy what our people hold so dear, our own minds and our freedom. Our planet’s Charter clearly states we wanted no centralized government, and certainly no emperor ruling us. Furthermore, my wife and I refuse to succumb to any Xantis Tey mind control. We would rather be dead. Since no one remains to inherit our House, Home and Holdings, we relinquish it into the care of the Lady K’arrala D’ey Sol to distribute it as she sees fit. We will no longer take any part of this mockery.

  Signed,

  Farlantuan and Mirvel Dutmi

  K’arrala stood in alarm. She raced for the door. “Master Dutmi!”

  Colonel Motz, her Chief of Security, met her, entering as she attempted to leave.

  “You must stop Master Dutmi!” she said.

  The Colonel shook his head. “We found him and his wife in the public lounge,” he said. “They took poison. I came to tell you.” He handed her a note. “We found this on his lap.”

  Better dead than living under Xantis Tey rule, the note read. This note is a public statement of what we think of the Emperor, his people and his entourage. We submitted a copy of our physical protest to the local new outlets. Our minds are our own. They will never be subject to Xantis Tey Absorption.

  Barely holding herself together, the
Lady Commissioner of Sector Five re-entered the Council Chamber. She noticed someone returning his letter of resignation to her place then withdrawing quickly. She took the letter of resignation and the suicide note, handing both to a page, her jaw clenched.

  “When the Council finishes reading these, file them in the Archives,” she said. “These are a permanent record of protest.”

  The page bowed, waiting for the now official, documents.

  Still standing, she waited until they had all read both communications. We will find a way to defeat him, she told all of them in mind speech as she handed the documents to the page.

  The page bowed, then hurried to scan and file them.

  “The Council is dismissed,” she said aloud once everyone had read both. No one left smiling.

  6

  deceptive assignment

 
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