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Chapter 39 It starts getting messy

“It's vid showtime Ben, get a fresh cup of cafe,” said Celeste. The Marshal slipped into the room with more than a little trepidation and stood uncomfortably in the back corner thinking the room felt too warm. Elder Franko looking florid and pale joined him shifting his weight from foot to foot. The Marshal leaned over, “Are you alright Elder Franko?” “I'm not feeling well Marshal. If the Senior Elder hadn't demanded my presence, I would be in my bed.” Davin, pacing at the head of the long table stopped suddenly. He wiped his clammy hands on his robe, grabbed the table edge, and leaned forward loudly pronouncing. “Eauland is under attack by that godless whore from the starship. This must stop now.”

The roomful of old men stared blankly back at him. “Senior Elder, with apologies I don't understand. How are we being attacked?” asked weazened Elder Sims. Looking incredulous Davin struggled for words, “Can't you idiots see what's happening around you. Twice now we have had a fungus growing in the tractor's fuel tank, and Ungar disappeared just before the second time.” “Are you saying Ungar is poisoning our fuel? Why would he do that? We all know he needs his carriage more than most,” said Transport Elder Nitz. Davin flushed with anger, “There's much more. The whore made it look like Marshal Banner stole the money. She somehow snuck into his office and used his computer.” The Elders sat speechless gawking at Davin. “She personally attacked me in the Sacred Chamber with some sort of demon. That power failure wasn't an accident. She caused it,” he screamed in an ear-piercing pitch.

Elder Franko urgently whispered over to the Marshal, “Senior Elder or not I have to find the jakes now,” and started to depart. Davin yelled out, “Elder Franko, I didn't say you could leave. You go out that door, and I will  knife whip you to death in the square.” Elder Franko froze with a wild panicky look in his eyes. The entire room heard the spurting gush as his bowels let loose. A foul brown puddle flowed out from under his robe filling the small room with its stench. Pandemonium broke loose. Marshal Jorn's stomach flipped at the horrific smell and held his nose running from the room. The Elder seated next to the oozing puddle looked down, turned white and puked on the table. Elder Nitz reeling from the odor spewed vomit soaking several others. Davin looked stricken and fled in a stained wet robe leaving oily brown droplets behind him. In frantic seconds the room was emptied. The puddles of liquid discharges continued their slow spread.

Ben shook with laughter. “Celeste, I don't know if that is absolutely the funniest or the worst thing I have ever seen. Maybe it's both. I could smell it from here. It will take a week to clean that room, and I didn't know the human body could even make some of those sounds.” “This performance will give the Elders something to talk about,” said Celeste. “Davin was acting like he was losing it, and maybe he is. The downside is this might make him more erratic and even more unpredictable.” Ben soberly considered this. “I agree. We definitely need to keep a close eye on him.”

Just before first light Lora awoke and dressed.  She went outside, headed down the street and turned into an alley and stopped. Looking carefully in both directions she opened the door of an abandoned building. In few minutes her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. Sitting down with her back to the wall a loose floorboard was lifted, and a tablet was removed. She started to read.

“Only two loaders here today, and one of them doesn't look so good. They are both sitting at their lunch table,” said Dona. Lim nodded to Mora who climbed the ladder, cracked open the roof hatch and looked out. She whispered, “There are ten bags up here. I'll drop them. Someone needs to catch them.” Mora climbed out and the women clustered next to the ladder. One by one each bag was caught. “We have to hide these now,” said Lim looking around and pointed to an empty corner. “Stack them over there, and we can build a wall of boxes in front of them.” Bags are moved, and boxes stacked filling the corner. 

The Marshall sat at his desk digesting the scene he had witnessed. He had to change his clothes to get rid of the foul smell and told the cleaners to boil them. Davin at his worst has never been this unhinged and so dangerous. Some Elders had looked ill, and he didn't feel all that great himself. About a quarter of his troopers were sick and in their barracks. Several tractors stopped working this morning making it harder to get troopers to their patrol jobs. “Something is going on, I can feel it. I just don't know what it is. Could Davin be right about the starship attacking us, but to what end?” Looking up at a knock his aide stepped in and handed him a note. “This arrived by a messenger from the Senior Elder.”

The Marshal opened the envelope and pulled out a small piece of paper. The Senior Elder had scrawled, “Have Bard shackled in the square. I will execute him in an hour. Attend personally.” The Marshal winced and left his office to make the arrangements.

As he entered the square, things seemed quieter than usual. A stalled tractor and trailer was being towed away, and the crowd was smaller than usual. Several street vendor stalls were boarded up. Ex-Marshal Bard was hanging limply between posts with glazed eyes and filthy clothes. “It's merciful he's still stinking drunk.” he thought. A gilded carriage crossed the square and jerked to a stop. Davin climbed out with his knife whip, walked over to the Marshal and stared at him with yellowed eyes. “I thought you may need some incentive. Stay and watch and then bring me, Ungar. Am I clear? Report to me first thing in the morning.” The Marshal nodded. Davin climbed the platform. With three vicious strokes, it's clear Bard is dead but Davin continued to flay at his body. The Marshal stared over at the long lines at the public jakes. “I can wait until I get back to my office,” he muttered under his breath.