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

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