6. Daria

February 1, 2007

Dawn broke over the Acropolis, and in nature’s way Gaia-light gave way to sunlight.

The few hundred brave souls camped in the colonnade outside The Parliamentary shook off a sleepless night. The Guild-brothers and Matrons, accompanied by regiments of husbands, sons and Household indentured males, readied for the day before them; a day of peaceful protest that they had planned for months.

The first hour of morning barely eclipsed the second before hundreds more arrived to join their fast. By Morning Constitution, their numbers swelled to thousands. And still more came.

The Garrison –at-Court-of-Columbia, ordered to alert, reinforced their barricades with more Templar patrols. Adorned in glistening red and black body armor, the priestly soldiers surrounded The Parliamentary grounds on foot and with a ring of aircycles, maintaining their own silent vigil at a discrete distance.

A battery of electronic devices flared, flashed and hummed. The media perched themselves throughout the colonnade like vultures at a feeding. Predictably, they were more interested in the spectacle growing outside Parliamentary than the one underway within.

The Twelve Great Houses and the Guild Brotherhood had come together in The Parliamentary to agree on much-debated labor rights reforms. Many industries and economies across Aideena suffered under outdated trade contracts drawn along familial alliances.

Provinces and districts under obligations to certain Guild fraternities, and the Families that controlled them, found themselves shut out of new markets as innovation and new technologies forever changed the world and fortunes of those in the best position to levy them. In many communities, right-to-labor agreements meant whole clans could not take advantage of emerging market opportunities on their own lands, while foreign interests profited. The irrelevant treaties entered into by their ancestors forbid some clans from taking more prosperous work in neighboring conclaves.

Changing fortunes fueled generations of animosity and rage. Rage ignited into violence and acts of criminality and terrorism not seen on Aideena since the Clan Wars. Those who could manage it escaped off-world, to the Free Townships, where familial obligations were less observed. For the greater majority, though, they bargained, with wavering hope, on the prospect of more equitable legislation from their Matriarchs and Guild-Bosses.

After a long difficult struggle omegaMarat Seneca had succeeded in galvanizing enough public pressure to bring the issue before the Assembly of world government. She transformed her gender-blind People’s Advocacy from care-giving activists into the marshalling voice of the average disenfranchised Aideenan. In doing so, she risked her well-earned popularity as a scholar and statesperson, not to mention considerable family wealth.

Branded an anarchist and traitor by the maternal aristocracy to which she was born, Seneca loomed courageous and fearless in the eyes of millions. The media and supporters painted her as a visionary with insight into a better future and the willingness to do something about it, an image Seneca was determined to deliver.

With the eyes of Aideena watching, and consuls and matrons on the defensive within, Seneca vowed to station herself outside The Parliamentary until the esteemed world body voted to enact reforms. She pledged to refuse food and drink for the duration. And she invited anyone who valued change to join her.

The call went out and they came. By mid-morning Seneca gazed down across a sea of thousands from her tent on the first landing leading to The Parliamentary. Many thousands more were crowding into the colonnade by the minute.

She knew some supporters were only attracted to the spectacle of the day. She did not care. They belonged to her now. With calculated rhetoric, omegaMarat incited them too into fits of chant. They were as an orchestra and she the conductor, and their music was being heard around the planet and across the Heavens.

While Seneca took center-stage, her younger sister wandered amongst the growing tide. Daria always preferred a lower profile than her much more public sibling. Carefully she planted arguments, which the crowds mimicked into shouts. Skillfully, she sowed the sentiments that gave vitality and emotion to her sister’s cause.

Daria stared across the heavy sea of bodies and spied a familiar light-skinned young male pushing his way toward her. He wore the embroidered sarong of The House of omega. They meet. Without a word passing between them, they slipped together beyond the throngs of onlookers, pass the blockage of media and Templar patrols, and beyond the colonnade.

When Daria was secure that they could converse freely, she signaled her permission to speak, extending an illicit caress over the male’s knotted exposed abdomen. He drew close and whispered, “Sade sent Enforcers to eliminate the boy. I got to him first and slipped him inside the Mosque Magna undetected.”

The younger omegaMarat allowed a slight smile to stretch her narrow face. “Splendidly done, Horus,” she purred. “By now he realizes that the man he sought for help is the very one behind his misfortune.”

Horus nodded sadly, “He keeps repeating sh’karee.”

“Then, give him what he wants,” said Daria. “See to it that the boy finds his way inside The Parliamentary. Make sure he is armed.”

The young male stifled a gasp. “You’ll be sending an innocent to his death,” Horus reproached her. “You have blackmailed eta Matriarchs. They are pressuring their Consul into undermining his own reforms. What more do you need?”

“Those eta bitches are not to be trusted. And Consul etaSade is a man, after all. He’s ambitious and not as easily manipulated as they think.”

“How far do you think this cub will get before Templar seize him or etaSade’s Privates find him? What do you think this will accomplish?”

“It doesn’t matter,” answered Daria with cold indifference. “As long as it is accomplished publicly.”

Horus fell silent. A familiar chill came over him. He looked at the crowds, at the circus of media, and at the silently attentive Templar. He wanted to shout every ugly sin Daria has forced on him.

Then in the distance he saw the news-image of Seneca holo-projected over the colonnade.

Addressing the crowd, the elder omegaMarat struck a magnificently statuesque figure amid the surrounding chaos. Her image glowed with a warmth and brilliance that transfixed him. Horus wanted to bask in that glow until the world fell away…then he remembered what the world had become.

He allowed his gaze to drift back to the dark-skinned woman beside him, whose captivating and chaste beauty was a deception. “Somehow I don’t think your sister would approve,” he muttered, deliberate but cautious.

“My sister believes she can change the world by rallying the masses, by shouting loudly… By using the system against itself,” said Daria with more than a hint of venom. “I, on the other hand, know that change… Well, shall we say, change is a more disruptive process.”

“If Seneca knew the things you’ve done–”

“Who are you bonded to, Horus? My sister or me?” snapped the younger omegaMarat. “Mind your place. You are only a man in this world!”

Horus choked down his anger. He knew that Daria was capable of almost anything. On the honor of his family, he was obligated into obedience. At the same time, however, he understood he was also obligated to protect the world from this monster. He was obligated to protect Seneca from her own sister! Somehow, Horus vowed, he would do just that.

Daria studied her beautiful young man. She recognized defeat when she saw it. “Now, be a good Affiant. Attend to the boy as instructed,” she told Horus.

Her steely gaze followed Horus as he walked away and disappeared into the storm of spectators. She knew he hated her. She would not want it any other way. In his hate Horus delivered himself unto her body and soul. Hate made him a nearly perfect instrument for her designs.

Before she was done, Daria wanted the entire universe to hate her.

Their agreement assured no interference in Parliamentary proceedings, but how does one stop an Heaven’s angels from doing what they wish?


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