The Courier Ch. 19bycaligula97236©
Chapter 19 -- Two conspiracies
Maria Elena woke up the next morning a bit disoriented after dreaming about her more pleasant experiences in Colombia. At first she didn't recognize where she was. Then she looked down at her cellmate, who was sleeping on the floor with her back facing the rest of the room. She sat up. Immediately felt the welts and bruises that covered her backside and the burning soreness in her vagina and sphincter. She winced as she shifted on the mattress, and then noticed a spot of blood on the sheet, a reminder of the rough treatment she had received the day before.
She again glanced at her cellmate, finding it hard to believe her forlorn companion would have been capable of sleeping on a bare tile floor. She wasn't sure what to do. She wanted to tell the young Danubian to get up and lie on the mattress, but didn't dare because she knew that any spoken conversation could get them both in huge trouble. Finally she simply decided to use the toilet and wash her hands, hoping that the noise would be sufficient. The Danubian did wake up, with an expression of despair combined with sad resignation to her fate. She was completely withdrawn and did not want to look Maria Elena in the face. It was obvious that besides being depressed, she also was stiff and sore from having slept on the ground.
Maria Elena pointed at the toilet and then turned to face the wall so the Danubian could relieve herself. The cell door opened shortly afterwards. Of course, the man standing at the door was her tormenter. Both servants immediately fell to their knees.
The man put two plates of food on the floor, kicked both servants several times, and ordered them to eat. Maria Elena noticed that the Danubian had glanced at her with total hatred. As she nervously put her mouth into the food and tried to eat, she remembered having seen her cellmate eating normally the day before. She knew that eating with utensils was a privilege that came only when a servant had completed training. It also was a privilege that could be taken away at any moment if a servant was in disgrace. According to the logic of the household, the Danubian was in disgrace because of her association with Criminal # 101025, even though that association had been forced upon her. It was a cruel psychological trick that forced the servants to blame each other for their misfortunes instead of blaming the Grand Duchess and her entourage.
Maria Elena shot back an angry look, resentful that she was being hated for something she had no control over.
Criminal # 101025 began her regular routine on the second full day she was at the Royal Residence. She spent much more of her time in silent training, learning how to serve food and drinks, practicing kneeling and standing for long periods of time, and coordinating her movements with the other servants. The Royal Servants had to rise and kneel in unison, walk a precise distance from the others, and establish a pace of walking as a group that was choreographed as a single clean movement.
Between Wednesday and Saturday, Maria Elena saw very little of the Grand Duchess except at dinnertime, and even less of the Grand Duke and his three servants. The Grand Duchess had satisfied her curiosity about the Colombian and no longer had any particular interest in her. Eventually, when the Duchess got bored, Criminal # 101025 would be called back into her room for another round of sex, or a bath, or a massage. However, the Duchess had numerous other servants and liked to rotate them. From the beginning it was obvious that Maria Elena would not be one of her favorites.
Not seeing much of her official owner was of little consolation, because Maria Elena's other tormentor, the Lord who was training her, was a constant presence in her life. From the moment she got up until the moment she went to bed, he was with her. His fascination with making her behave like a dog did not dissipate. He delighted in forcing her to go to the bathroom with him closely watching. Her hair remained loosened and her bottom remained covered with fresh welts from his belt. He was constantly slapping her across the face when she stood and kicking her when she was kneeling. All the while he insulted her and forced other servants to dishonor themselves by touching her. He also told her that she had very little to look forward to, because it already was obvious that the Grand Duchess was bored with her and soon enough she would be turned over to him permanently.
Because the Lord held Maria Elena in such low regard, he was not particularly concerned about allowing her to see details of his life that he would have wanted to keep secret from anyone not wearing a collar. For example, he made her watch while he went to the bathroom, forced her to cut his toenails and put medicine on a planter's wart, pull hairs out of a mole on his back, and help him change his clothes. More importantly, he had a tendency to leave papers around that she could see. The documents were written in Danubian or English, but she could make out a few things, such as evidence of money transfers and correspondence with numerous foreign companies.
The official's lack of caution with his servants was even more evident when he met with various associates. It was obvious he had numerous financial dealings and was ambitious about international investments and purchases. He always seemed to be on the phone talking in Danubian or English about money. Because Maria Elena spoke both languages very badly and was nothing more than dishonored property anyway, he was not worried about having her present when he was talking about very sensitive topics.
During most afternoons the two Lords hosted business meetings at a small administrative building that was separate from the main residence of the Royal Family, but still part of the property's compound. Several naked servants knelt in the room, ready to serve tea or to present themselves as foot-rests. If anyone in the room wanted to put up his feet, a servant was expected to get on her elbows and knees and present her back as a cushion. On Friday afternoon the Lords met with a group of businessmen from the US and Brazil. The men were a very sinister-looking group with briefcases full of documents. Most of the documents were in English, but some of them were in Portuguese. The discussion drifted from English to Portuguese and back, with various translations for the US members of the group who did not speak the language of Brazil. As Maria Elena knelt with the heals of a foreigner's shoes digging into her back, she listened to the Portuguese portion of the conversation, hoping to get a clue when the gathering would end and she could get out of her uncomfortable position.
The meeting meandered on, without any hope for the kneeling servants that they would be relieved of being used as human foot-rests anytime soon. However, Maria Elena listened with increasing interest to what the Danubian Lords and their guests were talking about. From what she could understand, the men were representatives of the US conglomerate Mega-Town Associates. Apparently the Brazilians worked for a division that was in charge of Mega-Town's lumber and wood products processing operations. Folders and documents casually set on the floor within the Colombian's field of vision confirmed that all the foreigners in the room were working for Mega-Town. That struck her as very strange, because she knew that the Danubian government officially had declared war on Mega-Town Associates and anyone helping the company automatically would be prosecuted for treason. It was a capital offense for any Danubian citizen to associate with an employee from Mega-Town Associates, and it also was a capital offense for any employee of Mega-Town Associates to enter Danubian territory. All of the men in the room were risking their lives if the guests were indeed representatives of Mega-Town.
Because she spoke Spanish, Maria Elena understood about half of what was being said in Portuguese. The men talked about the Grand Duchess in detail, concentrating on her relationship with her husband and to what extent she could influence his decisions. The Lords were convinced that the Grand Duke was so disinterested in anything having to do with Danubia or the government that out of sheer laziness he would comply with whatever Anyia told him to do. That presented Mega-Town with the opportunity it needed to move against Vladim Dukov's government, because with a simple Royal Decree the troublesome Prime Minister could be put out of office. One of the US visitors commented:
"This is unreal. Four years ago we lost 20 billion dollars trying to take out that fucker, and you're telling us that we can do the exact same thing with a Royal Decree?"
"Yes my friend, that is what I am telling you. All we need is the word of the Grand Duke. He will listen to the Grand Duchess. The Grand Duchess will listen to us. It is that simple. It is that simple because the people of this country love the Grand Duchess and they love the Royal Family. There will be no argument, and the government of Vladim Dukov will be dissolved with a simple stroke of a pen. You see my friends, it is tradition."
That comment was followed by a long discussion about setting up a new government and what role the two Lords would have in the project. Maria Elena understood only a tiny bit of what was said, but she understood that the two Lords would take total control of the government, financed by Mega-Town money. In exchange, they would grant exclusive concessions to Mega-Town allowing the corporation to take complete control of Danubia's natural resources. There were a lot of jokes and laughter, followed by drinks.
Maria Elena was appalled by what was about to happen; that those two hideous Lords were about to become the new leaders of the country. She was not as concerned about the fate of Danubia as she was about her own situation. Danubia she didn't care about, but there truly would be no escape from her horrid life if those two were successful in their plotting with the business leaders.
And the plotters most definitely would be successful, because the people who control the most money are automatically successful. That was what life had always taught Maria Elena Rodriguez-Torres. She saw no reason why this time would be any different.
Criminal # 101025 had lost any hope that she could ever escape from the distorted world into which the Grand Duchess had buried her and the other Royal Servants. She knew that her former Spokeswoman had no control over her. She despaired that her lover could do anything to extract her. As for the Prime Minister, it was apparent that his kindliness was totally deceptive, because has he wanted to stop the transfer, he could have done so. She was at the Grand Duchess's residence because he had allowed it. Anyhow, the Prime Minister didn't matter, because he would be out of office soon enough.
What Maria Elena had forgotten, however, was her conversation with the Priestess from the Temple of the Ancients. The Priestess certainly had not forgotten about the young Colombian, nor had she forgotten about the prospect of talking to her about what was going on in the Royal Residence. All of the Clergy's previous efforts to talk to Anyia's servants had been frustrated, but this time the Priestess had made sure that the permission to see a new servant for a confession and counseling was legally binding. She fully suspected that Anyia's assistants would "lose" the letter that had gone to the Royal Residence with the criminal's transfer papers and assume there would be no proof remaining that the Church had any claim to be able to talk with her. Several other such letters had disappeared and the Church, because it had trusted the Royal Household, did not make copies. Well, this time would be different. Not only had the Priestess retained the original with the stamps and signatures, but she had scanned it in color to create a duplicate that looked identical to the original. She turned over the scanned copy to the Royal Household to let Anyia's assistants think that, once again, the Royal Household had in its possession the only proof the Church had the right to talk to one of Anyia's servants. Undoubtedly that paper would be "lost", but unknown to Anyia and her staff, the original letter was still in the possession of the Church.
The day after Maria Elena had gone to the Royal Residence, the Priestess and her superior, Grand Prophet # 4, spoke with Prime Minister Vladim Dukov about authenticating the document. Dukov called in witnesses, including Jason Schmidt, Cecilia Sanchez, and Cynthia Lee, to verify the Priestess's claim that Criminal # 101025 had indeed requested the right to confess to a member of the Danubian Clergy. He personally drafted a letter to the Chief of Police of Danube City, granting him authority to enforce the order from the Danubian Church that Criminal # 101025 was to be escorted to a neutral location, out of earshot of anyone associated with the Royal Couple, so she could speak with her spiritual counselor. An official Church order superseded any order given by the Grand Duke.
To make absolutely sure the Church's edict would be enforced, Dukov presented it at a meeting of his ministers, most of who were perplexed that he would make such a move against his own daughter and son-in-law. However, under the Danubian Constitution approval by the Cabinet was needed to make sure the Grand Duke could not delay by appealing to the full Parliament. On Sunday the Priestess would travel to the Royal Residence and speak with Maria Elena. If the Grand Duchess dared turn her away, she would return an hour later with an armed escort and the legal documents needed to enforce the edict. Dukov's letter included another condition, that Director Cecilia Sanchez would accompany the Priestess as a translator and witness.
Dukov already was thinking past the anticipated confrontation with his daughter. On Friday afternoon he called Spokeswoman Kimberly Lee-Dolkivna and instructed her to draft a formal request that the custody of Criminal # 101025 be transferred back to the Ministry of Justice. The request was post-dated to Sunday the day of the planned visit by the Priestess, in anticipation that the Church would find grounds to terminate Anyia's custody arrangement. The Priestess would have to add her signature to the document, but Dukov was convinced that after talking to the criminal her approval would be guaranteed.
Kim drafted the letter as ordered and was about to walk it over to the Parliament Building, when she heard a knock on the door to her inner office. When she opened, she was shocked to see the Prime Minister standing alone, waiting to be let in as though he were any ordinary citizen or criminal. She immediately saluted him, and he sadly saluted back.
Kim could tell that Dukov was extremely depressed. He said nothing as he sat in one of her guest chairs. While the Spokeswoman prepared him some tea, he quietly read the draft of her letter. For a long time he sat quietly, sipping his cup. Finally he made a very strange request:
"Kimberly, I wish to ask a favor of you. I would like to sit at my old desk for a few minutes."
"Of course, Prime Minister."
Once Dukov had moved behind the desk that Kim now used, he again sat quietly. After a few moments he commented: "You know, when I sat at this desk and this was where I pursued my Path in Life, everything made sense to me. My life...it made sense...but that was a long time ago, wasn't it, Kimberly?"
"It does seem like it's been a long time, Prime Minister Dukov."
Dukov responded another strange request. "Kimberly, I do not wish to hear 'Prime Minister' for a few minutes. I would be grateful if you could call me Spokesman Dukov, just for now, just until we leave this office. Spokesman Dukov...that is what I wish to be called. I wish that...because in my dreams and fantasies...it is what I still am...a simple Spokesman...and not...what I am now...a man who works in the most dishonored profession there is...a profession that is even lower than that of a career criminal...dishonored..."
"Prime...I mean Spokesman...you're not dishonored...no one is saying that about you..."
"Kimberly...to be a politician is to live in dishonor...to be a politician is to live in duplicity, to operate in secret, to distort reality to achieve questionable goals...to plot...to conspire...and now I must conspire against my own daughter. What father would do such a thing...other than a father who is a politician and the father of a public figure such as my daughter? Who other, than a dishonored politician?"
"But...Spokesman...it's your daughter who's...doing all that stuff...not you...you didn't do anything...and...all you're doing is just trying to stop her."
"Kimberly, consider this. Had I not become Prime Minister...had I continued my life as a humble public employee...and had Anyia not met the Grand Duke...she would have not become what she is now. She would be in college...or married...and leading an ordinary honorable life. If only I had not become Prime Minister..."
"Maybe...but, Spokesman...you had to become Prime Minister...you didn't have any choice. What would have happened to Danubia if you hadn't been here to lead us?"
"I...I don't know Kimberly. I don't know what would have happened..."
"I can tell you, Spokesman Dukov. We'd have had logging companies in here right now clearing out our forests. We'd be building a super-highway with our own money to make a bunch of foreigners happy. Danube City would be full of foreign cars and all polluted. Everyone would be in debt so we could import junk from China. Our criminals would all be locked up in jail instead of working. We would still be having border problems with our neighbors instead of peace. We would have become just another dependency of Mega-Town Associates, and they'd be even more in control of the world than they are now. We wouldn't be producing anything and everyone would be going out of business and everyone would be unemployed and the country would be broke. That's what would have happened if you hadn't been elected. There is nothing dishonorable about anything you've done. Nothing. You've fought with honor and you've saved the country."
Dukov remained silent.
"This is just another fight, Spokesman. That's all it is...just one more thing you have to do for Danubia. Get Anyia under control."
"Not just Anyia. The Grand Duke as well. He has dishonored himself every bit as much as she has. If there were any justice in this world, both of them would go before this nation's courts and both of them would be condemned to 'Life without Honor'."
Kim was shocked. "'Life without Honor'? You'd actually do that to them?"
"That is what would be fair, Kimberly. A 'Life without Honor' is what should happen to a person who squanders something as precious as the trust our people have in the Crown. When the moment comes for me to confront my daughter, I will tell her that what she truly deserves is a life of serving the pig. But, I have talked this issue over with the Clergy, and we have decided what would be best for the Royal Family, for the Crown, and for the Danubian people. I suppose that what is best for our people is not that everyone is punished justly, but instead that we resolve this incident with as little stress to our nation as possible. That means that Anyia and her husband will be spared the punishment they truly deserve. They will live out their lives with their current titles, and the nation will continue to look upon them as our monarchs and the guardians of our traditions. However, I will assure that Anyia, and the Dukes and Duchesses who come after her, never again will be in a position to disrupt the peace of our society."