11. Prefect

March 31, 2007

Parliamentary Templar rushed the Altar Room and, for their own security, ordered Rachel Angela and her sister clairvoyants to vacant. They were to be corralled in rooms off the pronaos.

Once sufficiently evolved, an oracular reading could not be suspended without dire consequences. The reading summoned for the day’s session of The Parliamentary continued to cascade increasingly alarming algorithmic patterns. Protocol demanded the program be allowed to work its course.

While the other oracles of the Faithful were hurried out a side entrance, psiSadewa Rachel Angela remained to secure the oracular program she’d began unto a portable interface. That way, she’d be able to monitor remotely.

As the Reverend Sister locked the final commands she shuttered to see the paneled doors that opened unto the assembly chamber’s orchestra floor draw apart and The Archangel led into the room by a young Templar disciple of Michael. Through the opened doors she spied a Templar disciple of Paul and her matron the Reverend Cardinal Mother zetaPetriss Katrina. They conversed with a holo-image, the avatar of a Faithful male in apostolic dress.

Surveying his new surroundings from across the Altar Room, the Archangel turned and his pulsating gray eyes locked onto the sister oracle.

Rachel Angela went numb.

Her thoughts stampeded with the memory of her commencement months before. The Celestial Collective subrogated her and through her heralded the Divinity’s exile to Aideena. The sensations of that moment rushed back—losing control of body while her own will was swept aside, yet still occupying her mind while also sensing she was elsewhere, everywhere—and for a moment she swore it happened again.

Coming back to herself and returning The Archangel’s mesmerizing stare, Rachel Angela vaguely perceived that she knew the meta-terrestrial. Harboring an emotion like the remnants of a fading dream, she felt as though they shared a common intimate experience. What she grasped, however inarticulate, terrified her. He terrified her. He embodied an awesome cataclysmic threat to Aideena, to Creation itself.

He stared back as though he recognized her and understood the source of her fear.

Parliamentary Templar came to collect Rachel Angela. She gathered the configured portable interface and let them take her away, never stopping to break the Archangel’s gaze until she was out the room.

“Your orders where clear. The Divinity was not to interact with anyone, under any circumstances. The Parliamentary was never to know He was there,” berated the avatar whose simmering image invited one to step into an entirely different space, an office overlooking the Acropolis with The Parliamentary’s distinctive architecture rising in the distance. “Brother xiDuang, I expected better.”

Sebastian, disciple of Paul, inflated himself larger at attention. “I accept full responsibility, your Honor,” he dutifully acquiesced. “I let the situation get out of my control.

“As we all knew might be the case. Yet, we agreed anyway to permit Divinity to observe The Parliamentary,” spoke up the silvered haired woman standing next to the Templar.

Bowing his head properly, the disciplined Templar added, “For my dishonor I deliver myself freely unto the judgment of the Faithful. Before The Goddess and my Ancestors, I am surrendered.”

“Divinity is unpredictable. Your Reverend Sergeant, Prefect, handled Him as well as anyone. It’s done. We’ll all suffer the penitence. Let us focus on how to regain the day’s footing,” the Reverend Cardinal Mother summarily pardoned and dismissed Sebastian’s attempt at self-sacrifice.

Paul Sebastian xiDuang heard his partner Michael Constantine seal the paneled doors to the Altar Room, signaling he and The Archangel were safely isolated within. He decided to save a sigh of relief until they were all sequestered far from The Parliamentary.

“What evident is there that our security’s compromised?” asked the holo-image of Matthew Valentine alpha Cervantes judiciously. As Reverend Prefect Apostolic, Cervantes commanded the Garrison-at-Court-at-Columbia and held charge over all the city’s Templar. “Can you corroborate there is an assassin or other criminal element inside The Parliamentary?”

“No, Your Honor,” Paul Sebastian answered. “The premises are now locked down. No one enters or leaves. On the Cardinal Mother’s authority, I’ve ordered a room-to-room search. We are holding everyone in the vestibule outside and double checking credentials.”

Mathew Valentine strained a scowl. “The thing is I don’t doubt that among the rival matrons and guildsmen who are either delegates, privates, or staffers that there isn’t a couple dozen ready to stab, shoot or strangle someone in The Parliamentary,” he assessed. “We’re dealing with a volatile group here on any given day. Today being what it is, the fact Divinity senses murderous thoughts is not exactly a revelation! By Creation, this is The Parliamentary, not the provinces. No one dare violate its neutrality. It’s inconceivable!”

“Our immediate concern is securing the Assembly and resuming parliamentary proceedings. I want your Templar as quickly as possible to segregate the delegates from their entourages so they may return to session and finish their work,” petitioned zetaPetriss.

“I have already instructed the Captain of the Guard, Your Grace,” nodded Valentine. “As a precaution, we’re expelling all but essential personnel who are properly credentialed and voting delegates. Damn the complaints. But still, I want it on the record that I protest resumption of Parliamentary. Under the circumstances, we should shut down entirely, sent everyone home and regain total control of the situation before trying to continue the vote.”

“I represent the Seraphim in this matter, Prefect, and we are not prepared to concede that today’s session is a failure,” Cardinal Mother reproached with measured diplomacy.

“Half the media congress is sitting at our doorstep. The Sisters omegaMarat have organized thousands of demonstrators and millions more are watching. We dare not suggest there is the slightest risk of danger. The Twelve Houses and the Guild Brotherhood must feel secure that their delegates are above harm at the Parliamentary. And Aideena must see the Parliamentary as free from violence or the threat of terrorism. That Faith is in control. Or we risk sending a message to every criminal coven wishing to tax us and any militant resolved to use violence to address a grievance.”

Mathew Valentine drew in a bitter strained breath. “What if we don’t provide adequate security now and there were an incident?” he reasoned. “It would legitimize the Twelve Houses reinstating private militias. Instead of a limited security force of privates, they would again build armies. Old rivalries would not be settled in courts of law, but on the streets of our cities. Aideena would become a blood-sea.”

Petriss nodded thoughtfully. “I share your apprehension, Prefect,” she agreed without conceding.

Valentine’s avatar modulated unsatisfied, “You talk of protecting the credibility of Faith, Cardinal Mother. Do we honor our covenant with the Houses and the Guild or do we tempt embarrassment?”

“Brother,” she answered, not hiding her empathetic frustration. “I can not believe our Guardian Ancestors would have us choose either path.”

Paul Sebastian railed silently.

He found the sparring between his politic superiors dreadfully civil and he struggled to understand what it had to do with him. He prayed that he’d never advance high enough to suffer such intellectualizing over every decision.

Give him an order he can execute, by Creation, thought xiDuang, and don’t bother him with the why and what-for.

He imagined that Constantine, were he present, would be impertinent enough to argue his opinion with the Prefect and Cardinal Mother. But Cervantes and Petriss best have the patience of a Gaia winter should they expected him to weigh in so.

Then Katrina cautioned the disclosure, “The truth be told, there will be tragedy this day, my Brothers. The Sisterhood has foreseen it. The path was set long before The Parliamentary convened. What shape it may take has yet to be revealed and no action we three may determine will avert the inevitable.”

The Cardinal Mother paused to weigh the chilled expressions on the faces of the men. She suspected that she miscalculated in holding the information from them this long, but like them, she too had her orders.

“It falls to Faith—to us here—to ensure the integrity of this institution and ensure it delivers the reforms promised,” she resumed “We must control what we can. We must give Aideena some hope when the darkness descends.”

Valentine resided to acceptance quickly, “I have extra Templar assigned to Parliamentary. I have Templar around the demonstrators. I have Templar around the media. Brother xiDuang, you‘ll remain with Divinity and monitor his moods for anything that may advantage us. Upon my ancestors, we Templar will answer any eventuality.”

It was then a roar erupted from one of the vomitories.

Rachel Angela and Templar bolted into the Assembly, swept by a collective panic.

“There’s shooting,” the young clairvoyant gasped. “Someone’s tried to assassinate Consul etaSade.” ”Said Paul Sebastian absently, “My ancestors be damned…”



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