Search This Blog

Chapter 42 The dawning.

Davin's tractor and carriage pulled up in front of the Security Forces headquarters and sputtered to a stop. A trooper ran over, opened the carriage door and just caught the Senior Elder as he half fell out clutching his knife whip tightly in one hand. He helped put him back on his unsteady feet. The unexpected odor made him step back in revulsion, and he wiped his hands on his pants. Davin ignored him and staggered into the building screeching at the top of his lungs, “Where is the Marshal?”

A trooper disappeared and a minute the Marshal's aide showed up and is jolted by Davin's gaunt appearance and stench. His pallid blotchy skin, damp stained robe, and wild looking sunken eyes scared him. “Senior Elder are you ill?” he asked. Fingering one of the blades on his whip Davin glared at the aide, “The Oneness gives me the strength to carry on while half of my worthless city wallows in bed. The Marshal was ordered to meet with me first thing this morning. Where is he?” “I do not know Senior Elder. The Marshal is always prompt. Perhaps he is ill as well. Many are.” “Perhaps if you value your life you should immediately go to his house with some troopers and drag him back here if need be. Bring me a chair. I will wait here but do not take long for your sake.”

As Lora and Elena walked into the warehouse, Lim locked the door behind them. “We have the stunners,” said Lim, “They're upstairs. Come and see.” Lora pulled a stunner from the box and examined it. “Let's load the bags and see how they feel when we carry them,” said Lora. Boxes get shifted, and the bags are pulled out. They are filled with the plastic ties, and stunners.

Lora runs downstairs and grabs a hammer and chisel and puts them in her bag. The long strap was pulled over her head, and the bag fits nicely against her hip. “I need one more thing,” said Lora as she walked back downstairs and returned with a staff in her hand. “How's this look?” she said holding the staff in both hands above her head. “You look fearsome Lora,” said Elena. Holi jumped up grinning and said, “Let's all look fearsome,” as she took off down the stairs to pick a staff with the others chasing close behind her.

The Marshal saw a trooper walking down the street at a snail's pace with a pained look on his face. He pulled his cap down a touch and shuffled past without even a glance from him. Mulling over his conversation with Celeste he looked at the rows of bleak gray stone worker's quarters. “She's right about the fact the Eauland is an ugly place, and no one would miss the Elders, especially Davin. How can the women overcome the security forces and the Elders? They have no weapons or transportation. Troopers are trained from youth to protect the Elders. They would have to be really sick to not do their job. The cost of failure is known well to them.”

Feeling a bit better than yesterday the Marshal's stomach started to growl. He thought, “I'll take a chance on the market off the square and at least get some bread to chew on,”  He glanced, at a public vid for a second as Davin is exhorting more productivity. Having seen this before he looked away. Most he saw looked ill, but seem to be functioning at least to some degree. A group of young women cleaners passed him all laughing at some private joke. 

As he crossed through the square, it's much quieter than yesterday. Several tractors are stalled and abandoned. About half of the vendor booths are closed, but he found a baker and bought a couple of sweet rolls. A few minutes later saw a couple of pleasure girls deep in an animated conversation, and then it occurred to him He stopped and looked around once more. “It looks like most of the younger women aren't sick at all.” He remembered Celeste's comment to him “You're already ill and it will get much worse.” Looking over at the very long lines at the public jakes, he wonders what the “will get much worse” part of her comment truly meant. Recognizing a couple troopers heading his way the Marshal turned and shuffled away from the square. “I need to find a place to safely spend the night,” he thought.

The Sargent and aide to the Marshal paused outside for a moment. “You tell him, I'm just a clerk. He needs you, and I'm disposable,” whispered the aide. The Sargent looked at the aide with disgust but nodded his head. Walking over to the Senior Elder he thought, “Better I do this than have the Marshal's fancy boy get us both killed.” “Senior Elder, unfortunately, the Marshal is not at his home and is considered as missing. I have alerted the troopers to look for him,” stated the Sargent. “What are your orders for me, Senior Elder?” Davin's fists tightly clenched. Suddenly they relaxed. “Sargent,” Davin rasped, “I want you to pick your best fifteen men. Arm them with both long and short slug throwers with plenty of ammunition. They will guard me continuously. Prepare a tractor with a long trailer. Have them both at my quarters in less than thirty minutes.” “As you wish Senior Elder, I am at your service.” The Senior Elder tried to stand, and the Sargent reached over to help him up fighting down the rising bile caused by his odor. As soon as the Senior Elder tottered out of sight, the Sargent saw the seat of Davin's chair, held his hand over his mouth and ran out a side door. Violently upchucking his stomach contents, he headed off at speed for the jakes.

The last box is pushed into place hiding the bags. “Let's meet up first thing in the morning here. We have what's left of the day and all tomorrow to make sure every woman knows where she is supposed to be,” said Lora.