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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Downfall Chapter 2

The room was almost undefinable to the human eye.  The walls, the ceiling and floor were all near perfectly transparent.  It was as if they were crystal or diamond, but the floor was soft and warm, the walls solid and clear, the ceiling vaulted high and shining with an ethereal brightness.  Everything had a slight variation in colour, almost imperceptible.  The furniture appeared strewn about almost randomly, made of strange combinations of materials that made no apparent sense together.  The only things recognisable were a computer console and some hand written documents strewn on what must have been intended as an office table.

To Myla, the room was beautiful, to her every colour was distinct, every material complemented every other with cascades of colour and textures forming perfect gradients.  It was also practical.  No one could see inside, it was only transparent one way.  And most who entered the room had such poor perception they couldn’t walk 10 steps without falling in a heap.  Security and aesthetics in one.  Anything less would be undignified.

Standing a hand below six feet tall, with dark brown hair in a braid to her waist and green eyes, she wore a pristine white gown with sleeves covering her arms and the dress splitting down from her waist to her knees, revealing equally white skin tight pants.  Every inch of the fabric seemed to glow ever so slightly.  Imposing at the best of times, it was often said in hushed tones that she could kill with a glance.  Fortunately no one knew just how true that was.

The man standing at her door, awaiting her invitation in was clearly dangerous, even to her.  In his black, full body Guardian’s armour he stood near 8 feet tall and could readily take apart an entire space station single handedly.  The material that made up the room was her best hope of escape.  He would assume it easily destructible.  It was not.  If he wasn’t careful he could kill himself trying to shoot her through a wall or table, and he had no reason to think he need be that careful.

She stood at the largest wall of the room, looking out at the stars and the planet in the distance below and beckoned subtly with her hand, causing the door to open and admit the Guardian.

He walked in without a word right up to stand a comfortable distance from where she stood.  Most would have taken a good minute to navigate that far into the room, perhaps his visor offered better vision than she realised.  He beckoned and the door shut behind him.

“Why are you here?” Her expression and voice were entirely matter of fact, she could tell the man in the armor was angry, but not more than that.  Until she knew more, that was the best she could do.  “Your dead husband,” he paused a moment, gauging her reaction - there was none - “Tell me why he is dead.”

“Why ask me now?  He is dead because somehow a Guardian and a squadron of fighters couldn’t hold off an Outsiders attack 50 years ago.  I would have thought by now at least the Guardians would have worked out what went wrong, even if they didn’t make it known.”  She showed just the appropriate amount of offense one should show on such a touchy subject.  No one controls her emotions but her.  But this was the one topic she’d hoped he wasn’t here for, he suspects what she’s been up to.

Anger now showed through in his voice, “I’m asking you because a petty group of Outsiders does not defeat a Guardian led squadron and because in those almost 50 years a lady of your influence and alleged love for your husband has failed to make a point of that fact.”

Surely he didn’t think she was involved, imbecile.  If that was it, this would be easy.  Indignation now, “I most certainly made a point of it, I spent two years demanding the matter be looked into, and had the Emperor personally assure me…” He cut her off.  “You may have convinced everyone else that you simply stepped back and accepted his death on the word of the Emperor, but I didn’t and I know for a fact you didn’t either.”

For the first time since she heard of her husband’s death, Myla was shocked, her mouth hung open for a moment and she had to contain a gasp.  What just happened couldn’t happen.  Had never happened, must never happen!  A Guardian just told her he didn’t accept the word of the Emperor.  If anyone ever found out, they would both be killed, along with everyone who knew why, and probably everyone who knew them, just to be safe.

Her voice was weak and breathless, “What are you doing?”

“My loyalty is to the Eternal Empire and my duty is to ensure its future.  Only a Guardian could have enabled him to be killed and only the Emperor could have covered it up.  If the Emperor can no longer be trusted, there is no future.”

“You can’t say such things!  A Guardian or the Emperor would never do such things!  You’re insane!”  He wasn’t, he knew, he was trying to trap her, she was a fool, he set her off balance.  Hopefully she acted horrified enough.

The Guardian removed his helmet, revealing his face.  Myla wondered if anyone had seen the face of a Guardian in her entire lifetime.  There was no law that set any penalty against a Guardian, they were above reproach, but this… He was helpless now, without full armor on, she knew she could kill him effortlessly, before he could react.  She could do it with impunity now, he exposed himself, if she killed him in self-defence he’d be written off as an impostor and that would be that.

“I don’t care for you, your dead husband or his philosophical nonsense.  I’ve gone as far as I can without help, and you are the only other one I know who is searching for the truth.  You want the truth for your own reasons.  I want the truth to save this great Empire and all its people from corruption and death.  You don’t trust me, but you won’t get any further on your own either.  If you trust me and I am lying, you will suffer and die.  If you don’t trust me, you will spend the rest of your life achieving nothing, and then probably suffer and die.  Make your choice.”

Now she knew.  He was angry at himself for having no choice but to risk coming to her.  What he said wasn’t entirely true, she was getting further on her own, but he clearly thought she was just in it to avenge her husband.  All they ever wanted was to protect and help their people, all people.  They were both willing to die, but not for nothing.  This man was willing to sacrifice everything for the good of the Empire, the people of the Empire, not just the Emperor.

Myla looked directly at him and for the first time showed him a genuine emotion in a small wry smile.  “We need to find a better place to talk.”

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