No Confidence

10th October, The Peoples Palace, Morning

Josiah sat glowering at his reflection in the broken mirror. His office was a mess, a splintered wreck telling the story of his uncontrolled fury. He had propped the mirror, a recent casualty, up against the nearby drinks cabinet, and for past hour he had been sipping whiskey and studying his shattered reflection. The battle at the compound had been a disaster.

He glanced down absently at his knuckles, raw and bloody and his mind was drawn back to a simpler time. A street thug, a brawler, that's what he was truly. He had always possessed a silver tongue and balls of solid brass. That had got him the attention of the Clockwork King and through his sponsorship a shift from champion of the people to a politician and leader. It had been a meteoric and unexpected rise. The First Citizen drawn from the ranks of the city populous. There had been resistance of course but money and a certain amount of violence had seen it quelled. The transition had been something to behold.

Once in power he had wasted no time putting the memories of his former life to bed. Again his underground connections had proven useful with the cost of a blind eye here and a favour there he had managed to reinvent his past and build a new reality for himself in the halls of power. But some would never forget his low beginnings and though they would not speak openly there were ever murmurs about his "fit" with the City elite. He would never truly be one of them.

Josiah studied his reflection with care, taking a long pull on his whiskey and immediately pouring another. It was their fault! They had pushed him to be hard with the people, to prove himself. They had clapped their hands as he had given order after order, ruthlessly putting down the people and enforcing their system. He had owned the role of first Citizen down to his very core and made himself their monster, and for what?

The mirror shattered into a hundred pieces as he launched his glass into it with a snarl.

"Fuuuuuck!" he roared as he got up from his seat and began to pace the room.

They were meeting right now in the hall below. An audience of the council, called in private to discuss his future as their elected official. A vote of no fucking confidence! It was not quite the end of him, but close to it. Right now they were pouring over his actions. Gathering evidence from his staff! Questioning his decisions! His hands shook with rage as he glanced towards the broken window, patched up now with boards. Silently he wished for the treacherous little bitch to be in the room so he could push her out again. So far there had been no word from Elesium regarding the loss of their messenger, but it would not be long in coming and then then fun would truly begin.

The door opened with a creek and Josiah turned to see the simpering Mr Herman peeking inside. His trademark grin was back showing that he had made himself some new friends in high places. For the first time he wished for the return of the late Mr Hanton. At least that crippled bastard had some backbone. Mr Herman looked around the room and his eyes widened as he took in the devastation.

"They er... they are ready for you sir."

Josiah stalked towards the door and the Inquisitor nearly fell over himself getting out of his way. Fuming he marched through the hallways of the People Palace his mind filled with a red haze of whiskey fuelled rage. The doors were before him, soldiers of the Militia armed and standing ready as he approached. He barely looked at them as he barged through and entered the chamber with no pause for announcement.

The hall was full, every member of the City council and every conceivable hanger on had been gathered for this. To see the show! The soft din of the hall continued for a moment and then... silence. All eyes were upon him. He took a deep breath noticing with relief that his seat, the seat of the first Citizen remained empty he stepped towards it. He was almost there when his way was blocked.

He looked up into the stern eyes of Benjamin Montclaire and saw that his fate was sealed. The Councillor gestured to an empty chair before the Council seat and when Josiah did not move towards them he gave a brief nod and said in a low voice,

"Very well, you take this on your feet."

"This is treason." Josiah growled and Benjamin laughed before turning to take his seat.

It was Councillor Spink who broke the silence then, standing to address the hall. Josiah glanced over at the ageing aristocrat bought and paid for to support his cause ten times over since he came to office and for the first time he felt fear. Spink was visibly shaken and refused to meet his eye.

"We have heard the evidence..." he started to say and a sudden commotion outside of the hall like the sound of some great machine interrupted his words. He tried to continue and once again his words faltered as a vast shadow passed by the high windows of the grand hall. It was unmistakable, the roar of an engine. An airship of some size was landing in the courtyard without.

"We... I think that..." Spink tried to continue as he glanced nervously up towards the windows and then towards the doors where raised voices could be heard.

"What is this?" Benjamin called out towards the Militia posted within the room and several of them darted out to investigate. Josiah glared around the room with interest.

There came a loud crack of weapons fire followed by a sharp scream as the doors burst open. The gathered Councillors scrambled back from the open doors as smoke poured into the room. A Militia man staggered inwards clutching his face and was roughly thrown across the room to make way for the newcomers.

Two huge machine men like those used in the Delve marched in with heavy footsteps and between them a troop of heavily armed soldiers in strange garb. They wore helmets making it impossible to see their features. Bedlam broke out as people tried to leave the hall through any exit available, but more of the strange soldiers began to enter through those doors effectively sealing the hall. Screams of terror and angry demands were met with stony silence as the invaders secured the room and all the time Josiah watched mesmerised.

He turned to find Benjamin standing as his side looking worried. "What is this?" he hissed looking from the disgraced First Citizen to the armed men and machines.

"It is a vote of no confidence." Josiah breathed as he saw a tall woman dressed in flowing white march between the soldiers to stand before the cowering hall. She had dark skin and violet eyes. Utterly mesmerising Josiah thought as he studied her exotic beauty. She stared imperiously around the room and raised a small white disk to her mouth before speaking.

"BE STILL... BE SILENT!" The sound was deafening and many of the halls occupants raised their hands to their ears, but the command had the desired effect. She lowered the disk and went on in a normal voice.

"I am Ines Valkarian, Second Speaker of the White Hall and Savant Elect on the Elesium counsel." She looked around the hall in disgust allowing her words to sink in.

"Why may I ask are you here?" Councillor Spink asked, his voice trembling.

The woman stepped back as if slapped. Her face was an image of fury as she gestured towards the Councilman and three of her soldiers were suddenly moving. They dragged the Councillor forward and pushed him to his knees before her. She did not look at him but rather addressed her answer to the hall.

"I am here." she said, "Because you have become complacent. You have become incompetent, and above all."

"YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN YOUR PLACE." The sound was unbearable this time as the sonic device she carried amplified her voice to the point where the high windows of the hall cracked. With a sudden movement she thrust the disk onto the side of Spinks head causing him to scream in agony before slumping to the ground with blood pouring from his ears. His body twitched for a moment and was still.

She stepped over the body of the Councillor and walked to the empty seat of the First Citizen. "I am here," she announced as she lowered herself into the seat, "To rule!"

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