tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 46

Life as a New Hire Ch. 46

byFinalStand©

*Editing magic performed by KJ24 and Shyqash, plus contributions by the regular gang of brigands and neer-do-wells*

*It is selfish to believe that your family will always love you. At some point you will be asked to earn it*


*****

{7:35 am Sunday, September 7th ~ Last day}

{Right where we left off}

My rage over Aya wasn't called into question or challenged. Practicality had trumped tradition in the inevitable Amazon fashion. The only one elevated in anyone's eyes was Aya. Krasimira's apparent political adventurism was probably hard for the others to deal with. But in context, only Mahdi, Katrina and St. Marie had seen her denounce Hayden, so this seemed a new side of Krasimira to most people in the room.

Krasimira wasn't the spiritual authority - that was Hayden. She wasn't the Generalissimo - that was St. Marie. Katrina and I were both appointed officials - we retained our House status. St. Marie would die a member of House Inara and join her ancestors with pride. Her litany of accomplishments were well known to the Host.

But Krasimira? She would die a member of House Cybele unheralded. The Keeper of Records recorded the feats of others, not their own. Nearly two generations ago, a young Krasimira had joined the Keeper's House as a guardian to an un-remembered (save by her) augur. The augur passed and she took up other duties within the house.

When the old Keeper faced her final months, she elevated Krasimira to her spot. High Priestess Hayden had approved the choice without really knowing who Krasimira was. (No one outside the House of the Keeper had personal bonds with her anymore.) Seamlessly, she had sat in the old Keeper's seat and the Council kept chugging along.

For the past eight years, she had sat quietly at Hayden's side and only speaking when addressed. Mostly, she did nothing overt. The actual note-taking was done by an underling. The Keeper took her own private notes squirreled away in her mind, to be written when she was by herself. Those notes would be handed over to her successor, for the Keepers' eyes and theirs alone.

I don't think Krasimira knew me in particular when she dutifully followed Hayden into these chambers the day my death, or life in a cage, was bantered about. It was the day we first crossed paths. She would have known of Shawnee's request for the tooth of an Isharan, though she lacked the authority to ask why. (She wasn't a voting member of the Council.)

But when Shawnee made her claim ... Krasimira hadn't balked in her support, despite the oddity of Shawnee's declarations - I was indeed Ishara and my sisters could not dispose of me. The outrage of the others meant nothing to her. She pursued her obligations with true Amazon fearlessness both inside and outside of the Council.

On the night of the 2nd Betrayal, a Keeper had sat there in silence as her fellow Amazons - the Ash Men - were sentenced to an unjust death. She'd had neither the numbers nor the authority to alter events ... what else could she have done?

So the Keepers kept track of the names of nineteen 'unaccounted for' Ash Men. For what purpose? An episode of Amazon history no one would ever want to revisit? Yet in my hour of need, coming back 2,600 years was the name 'Vranus of Ishara', sitting only a few keystrokes away. No one, save a few Arinniti diehards, wanted to know the truth of the Amazon Ash Men; and even they didn't want to remember us as individuals. To them, Vranus existed as a notation on the secret Charter of the Arinniti Sons.

To Krasimira, Vranus had been a living, breathing warrior of the Host ... not even dead ... still mythically fighting the enemies of our race because his death had never been officially recorded. With my appearance, I stood in mute testimony to his death ... and that of his sons and their sons for a damn long time.

Still ... I hated playing catch-up.

With the Amazon custom of adoption, had no one asked if another possible Isharan heritage still persisted?

I would bet they had. And I'd bet they had sought for that knowledge in the Rolls of the Host, always finding that pathway devoid of hope. But if the Keeper had known, why had she kept quiet?

Pride ... shame ... Krasimira's words: we show anger when we should show humility. We are proud of our shame. We are arrogant of our weaknesses. We have heaped insult upon insult on our ancestors, yet are now aghast that they turn away from us ... I had confused her soliloquy with that of an accusation, not the long held understanding of her office.

Even staring extinction in face, the modern Host hadn't truly accepted the answer - the line of Vranus. Faced with the truth, the Amazons would have 'forgotten' the descendants of Vranus all those centuries ago in the same way they 'forgot' all the other Ash Men on the day I was brought into the Host.

...

But the Keepers did something more than maintain the rolls and records of the Amazons, more than watch over the augurs and make sure their messages made it to the proper ears. They safeguarded the truth. No matter what the Council decided and the High Priestess commanded, the Keepers remained honest stewards of the real history of the Amazons.

Why?

The Amazons were terribly practical and the truth could run contrary to the needs of political reality. Honesty wasn't a highly stressed Amazon virtue - loyalty was. So was bravery. And thus generation after generation of Keepers had lied to the Council and the High Priestesses. Every time those august personages had committed something to 'the nothingness', the Keepers had defied them and not forgotten.

The first heads of the first twenty houses had surrendered their names for the unity of their people ... but the Keepers remembered. All twenty of those women had been of the Amazon tribe of the Pala people living on the southern coast of the Black Sea when the Trojan Wars began. Over time, their true blood descendants had founded new houses and been adopted into others.

Aya was truly a daughter of Kururiyahhssi; I had no doubt of that anymore. Had she not shared the same blood as the first Amazon, Krasimira wouldn't have brought Aya and Kwen together. Resurrecting an ancient tradition in a complicated fallacious coup attempt wasn't in her; nor was such a maneuver even a necessity. The Host would elect a Regency eventually and St. Marie was handling the war in a highly competent fashion.

So Krasimira hadn't sought out the heirs of Vranus, yet when one appeared, she welcomed 'him'. And when she stepped into the President's office with Hayden while waiting for me to be brought upstairs to face judgement that night, I imagined sending Hayden to the cliffs was the farthest thing from her mind.

The rest were playing politics - gender politics - and couldn't see the truth staring Krasimira in the face. The truth was a bitch and didn't play favorites, or worry about the sensibilities of others. Krasimira had seen her sisters refusing to acknowledge the ugly reality they had created for themselves.

Krasimira wasn't an advocate for Ishara - that was my job, and my crappy performance was something between Dot and me. She wasn't an advocate for the males and the New Directive. That was what Katrina was for. No, like a hundred Keepers before her, Krasimira was the silent sentinel for the Truth and ... the Truth didn't care about anything but the Truth.

"The assassin is indeed in this room. Its name is Amazon was a rather grand pronouncement from the Chief Librarian, wasn't it? Krasimira didn't chastise Hayden. That wasn't her place. Technically, neither was she disputing Hayden's ability to rule.

This wasn't the climax of a dinner-theater 'Who Done It'. The crime before the High Priestess was High Treason and I was the pre-ordained guilty party. My 'ally', Katrina Epona, had not been an advocate for my defense. No. Again in my Hour of Need it was Krasimira.

Lacking any true authority, she had defied her sisters and made her definitive statement. What truly transpired was Krasimira staring Hayden straight in the eyes and saying 'you cannot lie your way out of this one, High Priestess. We (as in all the Keepers past and present) will not let you'.

Had she used those words, St. Marie would have gotten around to asking what Krasimira meant. Krasimira would have rather died, because once those bitches discovered their nerdy sisters hadn't erased a damn thing in 3,000 years ... they would insist they do so immediately. Krasimira wasn't about to do that. Thanks to the chaos surrounding Hayden's departure, no one had confronted her over her crucial action.

To put it more precisely, the Golden Mare had been too busy and Mahdi had been wrapped up in Hayden's Decree and the resulting pressure on the Heads of House to pick the Regency. Katrina was probably a case of I'm not going to ask you so you don't have to lie to me. The only other living person in the room when Hayden's fate was sealed was me, and I'd had my hands full as well.

I had to think about what I should and could do. I couldn't beat her up over Aya anymore than I could punish my Isharans for their misplaced arrogance. I decided to extend a 'thank you'; and not only for myself, but for every conceited bitch who had ever sat at this table, or all the other physical mediums the Council had used before this one.

We held three votes: The Council couldn't collectively decide on how to implement Aya's other likes (1), so they agreed on her suggestion for a Regency instead (2). The final vote was to set a date for the next Council meeting (3). A date within 9 days of the Winter Solstice with the Regency to decide the precise date and give the House Heads two weeks warning.

The last calamity at the meeting was initiated by a question of etiquette.

"How do we address the Princess at Council meetings?" the Head of House Hanwasuit inquired of Krasimira.

"There is no precedent for addressing the Iwaruwa alone. By our laws, she is not truly Dumalugal Aya either. She is Nasusara," Krasimira responded. Queen.

"She is a child," a third House Head declared, "not an Amazon."

"No," Mahdi shook her head. "A ... Aya is 'un-casted'. She bears an honorific presented to her by the leader of an established stronghold (Summer Camp) and confirmed by the Golden Mare minutes ago."

"Congratulations my mamētu mešeda," I winked to my past and present Princess, "you've just become a single-digit aged teenager."

"Go Aya," Daphne and Buffy whispered behind me. Aya raised her hand, waiting for St. Marie's recognition.

However, St. Marie moved steadily forward, declaring: "Until the Regency alters my decision, I decline assigning anyone to the Iwaruwa (heiress) whose sole purpose would be to stop her from sneaking off to endure her 12th Year Test. I judge it to be better we know where we placed her as opposed to failing to outsmart her as she needlessly proves to the Host she is, in fact, already an Amazon of the Host." Aya lowered her hand.

Thus,

'Yes, Aya is an Amazon of the Host' and 'Aya will take her 12th Year Test because she wants to take it, won't let us talk her out of taking it and the rest of us had better accept it'.

"So, she is our Queen then?"

No one appeared to have an answer. Aya raised her hand once more.

"Yes?" the Golden Mare smiled down at her.

"Am I in charge?" Aya's other hand squeezed St. Marie's as she spoke in a barely audible voice.

"Perhaps."

"If I was in charge, I would like it if there was a law that declared the Queen of the Amazons would be officially represented by a Regency until she becomes casted ... and antedate the law by one hour so this never, ever comes up again," Aya kept looking up at St. Marie.

"Aya ..." Katrina exhaled.

The council chamber was a mixture of awe, resentment and amusement. If Aya was Queen, she could make such a law. The Queen-ship was a Bronze Age autocratic institution designed to provide leadership to a 'state' in near-constant warfare with is neighbors.

It was guided by oral traditions and military necessity, not written laws. As long as the queens provided successes on the battlefield and through diplomacy, she was deemed fit to rule. The traditional way of choosing a House Head was the same for the Royal House - the ruling Queen chose an heir.

In the long list of Queens, less than half had been the 'eldest' child. No - those ancient War Leaders picked the bravest, smartest and most successful daughters to succeed them. Their wisdom in those selections showed in the fact the Amazons had held off a male-dominated world for over 600 years before fatally marching off to answer an ally's call to fight in the Trojan War.

"I advise against it," St. Marie shook her head. "You are young. You are also the only Royal we have. Duty demands and sisters must always answer their sister's call."

Translation: Aya WAS an adult now. It was similar to the first lesson Pamela gave me upon learning I was Ishara. We lived with bitches - it doesn't pay to play nice with bitches.

"Thank you," Aya nodded. She was 'thanking' St. Marie for the lesson, no matter how hard it was to accept. Krasimira coughed.

"Now that the matter is settled," she spoke. The matter wasn't settled. Krasimira was steamrollering the discussion. "What do we call you?" - to Aya.

"I ... oh ...," in a very small voice. Aya's brow furrowed and her tiny nose wiggled. "I wish to be known by the legacy of my Anna (mother) and Atta (me - Cáel). I will be Assiyaišhamai."

"Love song?" Daphne murmured to Buffy.

"Assiyaišhamai?" Krasimira asked for clarification. 'Love-song' was hardly the name of a 'fierce' Amazon Queen.

"The only other name I could come up with was Markappidusmene ... which seemed less auspicious," she meeped. Markappidusmene meant 'Tiny Smile'.

"Perhaps Talliyahulla would be more auspicious?" St. Marie nudged Aya. 'War Cry'.

"Oh no!" Aya balked. "That's your job."

"What do you think your job is?" the Golden Mare questioned, suddenly realizing she'd made the mistake of making assumptions where Aya was concerned.

"To go to the cliffs with twice as many Amazon daughters, each equal to the likes of St. Marie, Katrina, Oneida, Buffy, Elsa, Kohar and Tadêfi as exist today. We must not 'survive', or simply replenish our numbers.

"We must become stronger because the World is a terribly messed up place," she raised her wounded hand and splayed her digits for the others to see the two she was missing, "and has become too small for us to seek safety in hidden freeholds any longer. If we cannot hide, we must rule openly. We are Amazons. Having no equals, we must rule alone. The only people we can trust - really trust - are the sisters at our sides.

"My job is to advance my People's cause with both compassion and cruelty and I will do so alone ... because the Amazon Queen has no equals, only daughters."

Not a sound. I could count out the individual fan blades recycling the air.

"Let our enemies tremble ..." St. Marie nodded, repeating an earlier declaration.

"Assiyaišhamai," Krasimira intoned, making Aya's royal name official before adding, "Assiyaišhamai, you are mistaken about one thing. You are not alone. You have a mamētu mešeda."

"Oh," she perked up, shedding the gloom which surrounded her. She looked at me, our eyes met and we both grinned ... then she giggled...and yet again, up her hand went.

"Yes?" St. Marie looked upon Aya respectfully and then at me with much suspicion.

"Is the mamētu mešeda of my mamētu mešeda also my mamētu mešeda?" Aya asked.

Just like old times, only Katrina was ahead of the game. "Oh ... by Epona ..." the Spy-mistress snorted.

"Cáel Wakko Ishara, who is your mamētu mešeda ... oh no," St. Marie bristled.

"Ah, indeed," Krasimira nodded. "An unlooked for bonus."

"Does someone care to enlighten the rest of us?" the head of House Nemain prodded.

"Oh!" That was Elsa.

"That's right!" Oneida ... she was definitely a fan of me and my spasmodic lifestyle.

"Wakko Ishara's mamētu mešeda - other mamētu mešeda - is Temujin, Great Khan of the Reborn Mongol-Turkish Khanate and ally of the Host," St. Marie let them know. "They are bonded by Cáel risking his own life to save Temujin's. It is actually a privately understood and publically declared fact."

"In Temujin's words to the international press when our Cáel and our new Queen were kidnapped : I believe Cáel is still alive. If he wasn't, we would be seeing piles upon piles of dead enemy around him and his 'boon companion', clearly visible from orbit. Until they discover this carnal pit from Hell, I am sure they are both still alive," Oneida added. Rhada flashed ill-distilled hate her way.

"Shawnee, is your Apprentice's mind addled with the birthing hormones of their child?" Mahdi snipped. That was merely a cultural zing, not an attempt to expose my sinister erotic misdoings. Unfortunately, she was somewhat correct. Okay, she was TOTALLY correct.

"That was uncalled for," Shawnee graciously chided Mahdi - thus demonstrating her ignorance of the facts soon to be in evidence.

"Yes, I am carrying a child of Arinniti and Ishara," Oneida proclaimed loud and proud. "We share a Warrior's Love."

I wasn't really sure how anyone else reacted to the news because House Ishara exploded into violence. That is the politic way of saying Daphne and Juanita were trying to stop Buffy from beating me to death. Here was yet another Ishara-baby and it wasn't gestating inside her. I was too stunned to defend myself.

And the old refrain: 'and then it got worse'.

"Ta šah kattanda!" [OKH for 'you pig's ass'], Rhada howled. I missed her drawing her blade, vaulting to the top of the table and lunging at Oneida. Most of the Amazons in the room stood, yet held their ground.

They weren't shocked into indecisiveness, only trying to understand the nature of the conflict before intervening. This was not the first 'your Amazon did something my Amazon found infuriating' public threat they had to have dealt with. Rhada was more volatile than the average woman of her breed and station, true ... but a violent in-chamber assault?

That wasn't the 'worse' though. Oneida drawing her blade in an open challenge to Rhada wasn't the worse either, nor was her shouting.

"He loves me! He merely saved you!"

St. Marie yelling 'Ishara! Ishara!' over and over again, demanding I put my house back in order wasn't the end of my woes - nope.

Me being yanked free of my House fur-ball into the volcanic gaze of Elsa as she seethed ... "Rhada?" Oh yeah ... Elsa's people and Rhada's people had a bit of a blood feud going on ... how could I have forgotten that?

But wait!

"Not Fabiola!" gasped Messina - bizarrely assuming I slept with ... okay, not such a huge assumption.

"Gael?" voiced by the Head of House Bendis ... followed by Gael's "I'm late."

"Damn it!" I pulled away from Elsa (slightly).

"No. She only lets me ejaculate on 'safe days'," to Messina, Fabiola's Mom.

"Oh, come on! We had sex ONE TIME!" to Gael of Bendis, and finally ...

"Stop it!" to Rhada and Oneida ... (deep breathe). "Really?" with my most believable happy face plastered on. "This is great news!"

No. No it wasn't, and I could read the ugly emotional undercurrents on the faces of everyone present ... except Aya, who kept the faith.

"Ishara," St. Marie rumbled. I held up one finger to forestall her wrath.

"Oneida - Rhada and I have already decided to name our daughter Parvati. My daughter by Tadêfi, ordained by the Goddess to be the first born, will be named Shala while my first son will be called Harkišheni [White Hair - I'd call him Raider when we were in the 'outside' world]."

"My daughter by Miyako Yuri will be named Suwais-urāni - Fushichou in her Mother's tongue - in honor of Sakuniyas. My ... other relationships ..." I would have liked to say 'none of your business', except Amazon mothers, or not, those children would be of Ishara's blood and potentially their kin.

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