Maiden’s Day

May 12, 2007

A celebration that coincides with the spring equinox, Maidens’ Day recognizes the passage of all sixteen year-old girls to womanhood. Several days of prayer, fasting and communal activities culminate in a crowning ceremony. Several days of community-centered festivals typically follow. After Maiden’s Day, girls (new women) leave their mother’s homes and move into domiciles set up by matriarchs in their area and are accepted as equals.

13. Edmund

May 6, 2007

Faithful Book One Chapter 13
His deputies liberated a chaise for him to recline upon. They waft Diazepam incense under his nose and brought him a soothing liquor to drink. But Edmund etaSade could not arrest his body’s nervous shutters.

“I am a hero to my people,” he muttered aloud absently. “Have I not rescued desperate millions from poverty? Brought jobs to the jobless? Have I not found a way when others have abandoned hope?”

The Guild Consul replayed over and over again the terrible horror. He and the other members of his party queued for their turn to be escorted into chambers secured for Parliamentary delegates. He saw the young eta boy step toward him out the corner of his eye. He did not know him, had not noticed him before, and dismissed him as a page for Groupo Textilis Guild or another constituency.

The taeson he pulled from beneath his clothing barely registered at first, Edmund recollected. The murderous intent only jarred him aware when those around the boy descended on him and in the struggle the taeson fired. EtaSade felt a rippling hot gust roar pass his head like an invisible thunderbolt. After that, events blur.

“That boy was from the tenement, wasn’t he,” etaSade kept repeating. “He was eta and wanted to kill his clansman. After all I’ve done, the ingratitude! I am a hero to my people!”

Edmund struggled to push Nadsar and the firing taeson from his mind. Familiar eta Guild brothers encircled him like a castle moat. His private guards were curiously absent. House eta matrons hung close, whispering among themselves and visibly panicked.

His brush with morality quickly circulated the chamber.

The Guild Consul appraised unflattering stares on the faces of the other Parliamentarians. They studied him with more righteous indignation than concern for a colleague and alarm that the security of world government had been breached.

Vultures! The contemptible lot of them relished seeing him taken down! He–a man–darned wheel popularity and power above their collective and they resented it as much as desired to share in his favor, Edmund imagined.

A deputy rushed the rampart of Guildsmen protecting the Consul. The eta boy died, he announced. Edmund, elated at the news, leapt to his feet. But then, the deputy told him about The Archangel. Suddenly weakened, etaSade grabbed the nearest body for balance.

“What did He do to the boy?”

“Nothing. He just looked at him.”

“Into his eyes?”

The well-manicured aide nodded, bewildered at the Consul’s panicked interest.

Edmund’s color reddened.

He huddled House eta matrons and his Guild brothers close, mindful of the other House and Guild Parliamentarians nearby. “Get me a transport off-world within the hour! I don’t care what kind or whom you have to pay!” he fumed.

The matrons looked at one and another. The eldest protested, “You think our matriarch, your wife, will just let you abandon the Parliamentary? At this hour? What, to frolic on a Free Township? Are you insane?”

“Damn the Parliamentary! Our matriarch would not want House eta scandaled before the whole world! Transfer my accounts to a Township and if you have an ounce of intelligence, you’d escape now just the same.”

“What do mean, you insolent little man? The spay is dead now. What has House eta to fear from this abominable woman-skinned man-thing?”

“We’re exposed! It’ll all be exposed! Leave everything and get me off-world! Now!”

TO BE CONTINUED

12. Pronaos

May 6, 2007

Barricaded behind an entourage of deputies, under escort of a Templar detail, Consul etaSade sped passed the Reverend Cardinal Mother zetaPetriss Katrina and Templar Faithful Paul Sebastian.

Faithful Book One Chapter 12Harrowed faces ushered etaSade away, into chambers sequestering other Parliamentary delegates. Physically, the former Guild Boss appeared unharmed. However, the rotund politician’s colorless expression betrayed mortal terror and confusion.

At the other end of the great hall, Parliamentary Templar surrounded an entangled knot of excited arms, legs and heads. Paul Sebastian extended his Discipliner and used the charged baton to threaten a path through.

At the center eta Privates—bodyguards to their officials at world government–tumbled against the crowd and Templar trying to manage the melee. The Privates trapped a teenaged boy beneath their numbers, boots and fists pummeling the hapless prey. Nadsar suffered bloodied on the unforgiving marble floor.

Unholstering his pulson, Paul Sebastian revved the sidearm over his head and fired. The discharge made a brilliant, under-charged and harmless flare. The polarizing shock of light arrested the brawling hostiles.

“Let him up,” demanded xi Duang.

Weakly, Nadsar raised himself as best his could. Immediately, the eta Privates closed around him, blocking the boy from reach of Parliamentary Templar.

One eta Guild deputy reared up to the defense of his House compatriots. “Had this boy been a better shot he might have killed our Consul,” he blustered at an ever-increasing volume, calculated to play at political indignation and sway the favor of those gathered. “This was an assault upon all Guilds and the House of the eta. He should be remanded into the custody of the eta.”

“Brother,” challenged the Reverend Cardinal Mother in no certain terms. “You have no diplomatic authority outside your embassage. This is clearly the jurisdiction of Faith. Step down or I’ll have you arrested and anyone else who interferes.”

No sooner said, the Parliamentary Templar formed ranks aside Paul Sebastian with Discipliners extended. The crowd shrunk far back. Suddenly, the eta found themselves without a favoring audience, alone on stage and naked beneath the spotlight.

“Step aside,” ordered xi Duang.

For a moment, the Privates remained defiant, but then their armor quickly gave way and they broke formation. Sebastian spied Nadsar shutter relief and then a sly exchange of looks among eta closest to the boy. In a breath’s exhalation, the pronaos rang with a distinct pwa-toosh. The air reeked suddenly of burnt flesh.

The Templar rushed forward as one eta Private threw away a taeson derringer and put up her hands. “I thought I saw something in his hand,” she feigned innocence. “Swear, he had another weapon.”

All eyes locked unto the boy Nadsar.

A single tear escaped the horrified realization in his wetted blank gaze. A thumbnail-sized burn smouldered the center of Nadsar’s chest and grew and grew until it become as large as a fist.

“Sh’karee!” he cried with wisps of smoke threading phantoms through trembling lips. Then, his legs gave out and he crumpled.

The sound of his own body colliding with hard marble deafened and protracted in Nadsar’s ears. He stared up at the pronaos’ many-storied, ornately vaulted ceiling, unable to move or feel or breathe. He sensed people closing on top of him and he strained to look for his mother among the faces fighting for space in his line of vision. But, he did not find her.

Then, enormous black velvet-feathered wings brushed them back. A pair of pulsating grey spheres transfixed him and he stared into warmed welcoming pools more beautiful and transporting than anything he’d imagined.

Having appeared from nowhere, The Archangel lowered Himself beside the wounded teenaged assassin and bent close. For seemingly long pained minutes, He gazed into the young eta’s eyes.

The few dozen gathered in the pronaos stood by silently, both awed and terrified, and bewildered as to what they were witnessing. Oracle psi Sadawa Rachel Angela and the Reverend Cardinal Mother prayed. Privately, Templar Paul Sebastian angered and minded the eta that brought this tragedy upon what should have been a great day for all Aideena.

Michael Constantine slipped beside xiDuang. The younger Faithful tauValez had followed after the Divinity when a mysterious new awareness drew the meta-terrestrial from their Altar Room sequesterium. He could not be more fascinated by the mystery unfolding in from him and moved by what he saw as majesty.

Then, the boy expired.

The Archangel stood like a shot.

His darkened incriminating glare sweep across the expectant and fearful eta and repelled those gathered around the scene. Only Paul Sebastian xiDuang did not shrink.

Fellow Templar Michael Constantine tauValez stepped forward. The Archangel grabbed him under either arm and pulled close the young Faithful. “You must come with me,” he demanded of the stunned soldier-priest.

Constantine felt himself lift into the air. Sebastian reached for tauValez’s belt and stayed his ascent. The Archangel cut him a reproachful glare, filled with hidden urgency. But xiDuang did not back away. “Hold,” the Templar said. “Keep an open channel, brother.”

Michael Constantine nodded, understanding his partner was not about to abandon him to the Divinity. Suddenly, for the first time, the young Faithful felt a sinking terrible fear tingling at his core–that there was something menacing about the Celestial Collective exile after all. Sebastian released him and tauValez watched the other fall away.

The crowd let out a collective harrowed gasp as the dark entity and his captive Templar vanished through the ceiling as though specters. The rev of a pulson cut short the moment of awe.

Paul Sebastian leveled his sidearm at the eta. “Take them,” he barked to the Parliamentary Templar. Red and black uniforms drew their weapons and closed on the Privates.

Paul Sebastian menaced a smile. “By the authority of Faith, before thy Ancestors and Creation, I remand thee into custody,” he recited with relish. “Thou hast violated the laws of Holy Union. Thou hast the right to confession. Thou hast the right to judgment before a court of Faith and thy House…”

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