Service

3rd October - Peoples Palace - Afternoon

Josiah sat brooding over the peoples manifesto that sat on the desk before him. There came a knock on the door and he rubbed his knuckles against his tired eyelids before answering.

"Come in."

The door opened and Mr Herman of the Inquisition stepped into the room. His usual grin faltered as he took in the scene before him. Josiah had allowed his anger to get out of control earlier and his office was now in dire need of some maintenance. Mr Herman licked his lips and appeared to be considering a safe course of action. Josiah glared over at him,

"The summons was for Edward, not one of his lackeys." Josiah growled, "Where is he?"

"He erm..." Mr Herman stammered, "After he left the hall earlier we lost track of him, he seemed to be in a hurry. There are reports that he assaulted two council officers on his way out of the building."

Josiah waved the information away, "You will have to do. I will deal with Edward when I have the time. I grow tired of his constant distractions. At least we know it was not the Corbet woman this time." He shook his head and got to his feet.

"How can I serve you sir?" Mr Herman asked, a glint in his eye after hearing the criticism of Edward. Ambitious bastard.

"Read that." Josiah pointed down at the parchment on his desk. Mr Herman looked down and started to read the demands silently, "Read it out loud." Josiah ordered and the man coughed then began to read,

"Equal share of resources among all the population of Dusk
Council seats to be selected by suffrage and not hereditary
All men to have the right to vote
Voting should take place by secret ballot
Council elections every year
The Districts to have equal representation
Land and property ownership to be abolished
Members of the Council not be paid
Higher wages for all workers with an establish minimum
No work shifts to be longer than 12 hours
Abolishing all Workhouses and unpaid work
Free Education for all children of Dusk
No child under the age of 9 to be employed"

Josiah paced the room as he listened to each demand. His fists cracked with the tension as he fought the urge to lash out. At last Mr Herman was done and he laughed,

"They cant be serious, this has to be some sort of joke."

"There are twenty thousand signatures on the pages that follow, twenty fucking thousand very serious fucking signatures!"

Mr Herman gawped down at the document in horror. This was little short of open rebellion against the government. It could not go unanswered, yet what would that answer be. To meet these demands would bring the economy of Dusk to its knees, it would break the fragile system on which their lives depended. This went beyond the comfort of the rich and powerful, changes like this could bring Elesium itself to the ground. Literally! And what then? A new dark age? Everyone back into the Delve for another five hundred years?

"We can not arrest this many..." Mr Herman began, but Josiah cut him off.

"Of course you cant. You need to cut the head from the snake. Cleanse the list, most of these fools will be well meaning sprawl rats, common workers. Some will be educated, wealthy even. Find them out and bring them in. Teachers, lawyers and business men. If anyone on this list has more than two brain cells to rub together I want them in custody by the end of the month."

"Sir I will need people for as task this large."

"Use my staff. Gods use the entire staff of the Hall of Order if you must, but take the head from this bloody snake before it bites."

"Mass arrests will cause panic." Mr Herman warned and Josiah smiled.

"You know what else causes panic? Plague. The people are terrified of this new disease that has sprung up in the city and just this morning I have ordered an area of the south Sprawl to be cordoned off to house the sick and dying. The ravens are out collecting the sick even as we speak."

"I will make the arrangements." Mr Herman replied, "But this will be a death sentence sir, from what I hear this new plague is... highly contagious."

"I am counting on it." Josiah said as he walked over to the door and opened it, "Well off you go, and when you see Edward send him straight to me."

"Yes sir." Mr Herman straightened and walked out of the room. Josiah closed the door behind him and let out a deep sigh. The sound of clapping caused him to turn with sudden alarm.

Sitting in his seat was a young woman. She wore a cloak with a deep set hood that was cast over her head to obscure much of her face. It was not until she spoke that he recognised her from that night in his room. The warning from the Clockwork King.

"You are one cold hearted bastard aren't you." she said.

"You." he snarled, "How did you get in here?"

She shrugged and he caught a glint of white teeth beneath the hood as she smiled. "Our master requires your presence."

"He is not my..."

She levelled a small pistol at his chest "It is not a request." she said. He raised his hands and backed towards the door. She gave a low tut and got to her feet in a fluid motion that was almost inhuman.

"There is a car waiting outside, it will take you to him. Your security will not attempt to follow, we have made arrangements. Now run along First Citizen, she glanced down at the list of names on the desk and smiled. He will not be happy."

3rd October - Rose District - Late Evening

Josiah stumbled out of the alley his face pale. The cab driver was waiting and Josiah climbed in. The driver did not turn and he did not speak, which Josiah was glad of. Gods he was shaking, his hands trembled. He needed to wind down to forget what he had just seen and heard. There were some things the human mind was just not equipped to process. He considered a trip to the Ladys Grace, but thought better of it. He did not have his usual security detail, his protection. He was known there and the First Citizen on his own in the Rose District would cause a stir, it might even be dangerous.

His mind wandered back to a visit to Hansons several weeks ago, what was the mans name? Jonathan. That was it. Josiah had not been ignorant of the mans attentions and it would be nice to spend some time with someone who did not see him as the First Citizen. Someone removed from the politics and intrigue of the city, not to mention the horror of its darker corners.

Josiah gave the address to the driver and sat back trying to let the anticipation of his decision drive away the adrenaline that still coursed through his body. By the time he found himself standing on the doorstep of Jonathan Hanson he was starting to feel a little more like himself again.

< Prev : Summons Next > : The Wicked and the Redeemed