Come The Revolution – Snippet 05
“No argument from me. Gaant gave us some possibly-useful information. For one thing, it’s obvious they don’t know we’ve seen the draft. They think they’re blindsiding us, so whatever your source was, it’s still secure.”
“Good,” he said, “but after this insane attack against your shuttle we have to assume he and his political allies will move at once. The situation becomes unstable, hence unpredictable. Do you believe him — that he is behind the edict?”
Marrissa and I exchanged a glance and I shrugged.
“Sasha and I aren’t certain,” she answered. “He is more inclined to believe the claim than I am. Although I don’t know Gaant well, I have met him several times and seen him in meetings, both large ones and small working groups. He never impressed me as a particularly . . . deep thinker. He is the sort of glib spokesperson you expect to see on news feeds and giving keynote addresses, a person most comfortable in a holovid, but not actually working hard behind the scenes. You know exactly the sort I am talking about, Gapa.”
Marr had never gotten comfortable calling e-Lotonaa The’On, and so she used Gapa, the diminutive form of his first name, Arigapaa.
“Oh, certainly,” he said, nodding at her assessment of Gaant’s personality. “But that may be a look deliberately cultivated. He moves in the highest levels of society and among many of the e-Varokiim there is a stigma attached to having to work too hard. Whether Elaamu Gaant is a figurehead, or works on behalf of a political faction, or the other e-Traak heirs, or perhaps follows a personal motivation. . . ”
He tilted his head to the side and didn’t finish the sentence. There was no need to. There was no shortage of possible motives for this guy, or for anyone else lining up against Tweezaa and us, up to and including bat-shit-crazy anti-Human. What did their motives really matter? The move itself was important, and what we were going to do about it, nothing else. I’d rather have gone on talking about this Gaant guy all day, but sooner or later we had be adults, had to swallow hard and do what came next.
“You’re sure this will work?” I asked him.
He sighed. “Who can really say? It will throw everything into the courts at first, and not simply the uBakai courts. It will almost certainly end up before the Cottohaz Wat, unless I am mistaken.”
“And what are Tweezaa’s chances there?” I asked. Maybe there was an edge in my voice because Marr leaned over and put her hand on my arm.
“Whatever they are, Sasha,” she said, “they’re better than just taking the uBakai edict as written and giving up.” I knew she was right, but I still didn’t like it. “I’ll still be her fiduciary guardian until she reaches her majority,” Marr went on. “We’ll still be her Boti-Marr and Boti-Sash.”
All that was true, but it didn’t do much for the lump in my throat. I looked over at Tweezaa, the object of this whole exercise, and she looked as miserable as I felt. When she saw me looking at her she looked away, then got up and walked toward the rear of the apartment. After a few steps she began to run and I heard the balcony door slam. The’On’s expression suddenly changed to surprised, and then stricken, color flashing across his skin.
“Oh. . .” he said, and the word had the sound of despair in it.
“I should –” Marr started, but I shook my head and stood up.
“Nope. Better let me.”
I found Tweezaa on the balcony, Sakkatto City almost a kilometer below us, sprawling away to the north and east. On clear nights we sat out there and saw the glowing, impossibly thin structure of The Old Tower, the elevator to orbit rising from the southern horizon two hundred kilometers away, rising up and up until it faded into the blackness of the sky. Sometimes we saw the tiny bright light of a capsule climbing the needle to orbit. Now Tweezaa leaned on the railing. She wasn’t crying, but she wouldn’t look at me. Instead she stared out at the circling birds.
“This sucks, Kiddo” I said in English as a preliminary.
“Why can’t I just change my citizenship on my own?”
“You know why. You aren’t of age, so Marr would have to do it for you, as your guardian. There’s no plausible reason for her to do so except to avoid the effects of the uBakai edict. There’s this thing — deceptive transfer I think they call it. They could void the change. But if The’On adopts you, you take his uKootrin citizenship as a matter of course.”
“They can’t say the same thing about that?” she asked, her gaze still on the sea birds way out there over the water. I turned to face her.
“They can try, but The’On’s a pretty big guy in the Cottohazz executive bureaucracy, and he’s been close to you ever since our time on K’Tok.” Close was hardly the right word. In truth, The’On loved her like a daughter. That devastated look on his face, that sense of heartbreak when he thought Tweezaa might not want to be his daughter after all, spoke volumes. Tweezaa hadn’t seen it, and I didn’t tell her now. I didn’t want to just beat her down with guilt or pity. This was her life we were rearranging.
“Besides,” I went on, “he’s been working on the adoption, quietly, for four months. There’s a document trail which pre-dates when they think we learned of the edict.” All of a sudden I knew Gaant and his friends had out-smarted themselves keeping the edict secret. Anything we did after they could prove we knew about it would be deceptive transfer, in reaction to the news. They’d have been better off telling us right away.
“Tweezaa, look at me,” I said.
She hesitated but then turned to me, her eyes defiant and angry, but only in front. Back behind them I knew she was holding back the tears.
“This edict will invalidate your inheritance.”
“Is that all you care about?” she demanded, anger and grief struggling for control of her face.
“No. All we care about is you. Once you’re of age, you can do anything you want with your wealth. Give it all away to charity, buy a planet somewhere and turn it into a sex palace, give it to your worthless shit-head relatives who are trying to steal it from you now — I don’t care. But it’s your decision, and it’s Marr’s job to make sure you get to make it, not them.
“The uBakai Wat can pass all the edicts they want to about the property of uBakai citizens. If you’re an uKootrin citizen before the edict is ratified, they can go pound sand, and it’s as simple as that. The paperwork’s ready, all three principles are here, and we have a secure link open to the Prefecture of Vital Records. All you have to do is walk back in there and say yes, and all the plans your thieving relatives and that Gaant creep, and whoever else is behind this, have been hatching for the last three months, all that goes right into the crapper. ”
She nodded and turned back over the city, her face under control again.
“Yes, I know,” she said. “Boti-On is only thinking of me. And you and Marrissa will soon have a child of your own — a Human child. Then you can stop pretending to be parents to the little lizard girl.”
The words left me dizzy.
She turned and walked back toward the house. There were only two people left in the world I cared enough about to willingly die for. One of them was walking away from me, and I didn’t know how to stop her.