The Plunge

The holo-display flickered to life, a various assortment of windows spreading bit by bit into a crescent pattern for full view. To the left was the typical numerical hell of notifications, stocks, and charts. The right display seemed to be reserved for communications: channels, a secure and controlled video feed, and section for quick access to mails. To the center display was what seemed an area of general workflow, easily adjusted and customized efficiently for what subject needed handled at the time. At this moment, an old mail was pinned to the corner, along with a war history report from CONCORD and Sanxing’s corporation symbol. What was most prominent, however, was highlighted text from a news story.

There have been a number of groups and individuals in the Federation who have called for the prompt resignation of Executor Hinkelmann, and the reinstatement of former Executor John Revenent as well as the rest of former I-RED leadership, including former Vice-Executor Korbin Lavius.

Julianni read, then reread the text over and over. Briefly, she glanced to the right at her mail notification flickering, letting out a small sigh. Her hand reached up to rub at her brow, closing her eyes for a brief moment. At least, it certainly felt like a brief moment, but the next thing she knew, her eyes opened again to find that some ten minutes had passed. Ten minutes wasted.

She stood, tiredly making her way to her tea set and placing her hand to the pot. Cold. Another small sigh escaped her lips and she shook her head. Though it would be another small waste of time, she knew she needed the tea to keep herself awake, and so she began to head out of her office, placing on as much of an alert and normal expression as she could muster.

The moment she opened her office door, she was met with two guards who immediately brought themselves to attention. Her brow raised. They were still here? Nevertheless, she offered a bow of her head and slowly began making her way down the hall to the lounge. As soon as she began to move, one of the guards began to as well, trailing right behind her. She paused, glancing over her shoulder.

“I’m just going to get some hot water,” she said, lifting up the pot of tea as if to show proof of her intention.

The Internal Watch member replied quickly and sternly. “Orders, ma’am.”

“I…er…I know there are orders for security. But…” She stopped herself short, simply shaking her head again. “Nevermind. I apologize.”

It was strange, really. One would think it would make someone feel safe to have such a security detail. However, to Julianni, it felt almost oppressive, especially since it had only increased over the last week. She didn’t believe for one second that I-RED’s enemies would act out against her. While she may have been a director and oversaw a number of things, there was a great deal more that she wasn’t privy to behind closed doors. She’d be useless for significant information.

The only other person that could act out was, as far as she knew, a significant distance away and she was sure he’d never be so foolish as to try anything again. He was smarter than that. No, if he had anything planned…

“Avala-haani?”

Her attention was brought back to focus and she realized her arrival at the lounge. The bartender looked at her with a raised brow, his hands held out for the pot of tea.

“Kalkiihanzu,” she answered, handing him the tea pot and then bowing deeply. “I was lost in my thoughts.”

“I noticed. Maybe you should get some rest. I can prepare some Onitseru Blue instead of your Matigu Green. I think it would do you some good.”

“Oh, no, please. It’s quite alright. I have a few more things to take care of. But I sincerely appreciate the offer,” she replied with a comforting smile.

The bartender smiled back, turning to refill the pot with hot water. “Very well. When you’re ready for rest, just let me know if you’re interested in the Onitseru.” After refilling the pot, he slipped it back across the counter. His eyes moved to the Internal Watch member, offering a dip of his head, but then looked back at Julianni with a small brow raised.

She offered no explanation, instead bowing and taking up the pot. “I’ll certainly do that. Rikaato.” Without another word, she quickly moved to head back to her office, guard in tow.

When she arrived again, the Internal Watch member took his position back up outside her office, ensuring the door was shut behind her. Each time she entered the office, the smell of lavender caused such conflicting emotions. Even though they had since been discarded, the scent wouldn’t disperse. While the memory of the flowers themselves had been a good one, it was now ruined with the affiliation to Dominius. Her stomach twisted, a familiar nausea creeping its way up. Doing what she could to shake it off, Julianni took a deep breath, setting the pot back into it’s place to let the tea steep properly.

Finding herself back at her desk, she took note of a new video request to the right, appearing to be from yet another Internal Watch member. Once accepting the request, the feed connected, showing the guard bowing. “Saisieni, Avala-haani. I’ve been asked to contact you in regards to Isoke-haani’s husband we have in holding. He is demanding to see someone about his wife’s disappearance.”

Julianni nodded, keeping her expression calm. “Very well. Let him know I’ll come down to holding by the day’s end.”

“Yes ma’am,” came the soldier’s reply along with an immediate disconnect.

Once the feed was cut, Julianni’s hand reached to rub at her face lightly, only to be interrupted by another video feed request. She’d initially expected it to be more business, but the name and the CONCORD portrait of Dominius Degario made her sink into her chair. The notification continued to blink until she stood and simply walked away from her desk, heading to her office door again.

The Internal Watch members straightened to attention as they’d done before, and her original escort then turned, ready to follow. She said nothing, and giving no protest; there would be no use. Hall after hall, elevator after elevator, she and the guard traveled through until they found themselves in front of the door to the small chapel.

Much to Julianni’s relief, the guard took up post outside the door without a word, but gave her a small nod. She mustered up as much of a smile as she could in thanks to him, then stepped inside. It was empty, as it generally was around this hour. As the look of relief washed across her face, she moved into a closed off, private prayer room to the side, shutting the door behind her.

It was a comforting place, to be sure, and probably one of the very few places she could take solace in. It was lit by candles, the soft light of flames flickering shadows across a miniature statue devoted to God. Perhaps too simple for those with expensive tastes, but it was all she needed. Slowly, she lowered herself to her knees, linking her fingers and lowering her forehead onto them. Her prayers began softly, reciting as she’d done so many times. For many minutes this went on until finally, they were completed.

Opening her eyes, she looked up to the statue and listened. One would think that a moment of peace and quiet would be cherished. In a life full of duties and busy days, a chance to simply relax and let the mind rest would of course be treasured.

To Julianni, the silence was deafening. It was a moment for her mind to pick apart each and every moment that had happened as of late. But the worst part of all, was the fact that those memories she’d once pushed away were now like a wound reopened, flowing freely with the raw emotions she’d felt from it all. No longer were her prayers in such private rooms a place of comfort. They were now a reminder of what she had to do in the past. Her head lowered and she placed her hands over her face, breaking down into tears.

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