Kryos: Chapter 25

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Ermin Gild cursed as he bumped into the thick paneled doorframe, gently massaging his mending re-gelled shoulder as he strode to the spacious, dim-lit confines of the Reiks Consortium Boardroom where a sluggish tranquil tune wafted from the omni-directional wall-laced audio system. Lyrics vanished from mind moments after their inarticulate utterance. The Chancellor sat the head of the dark table in the wide, circular, ornately furnished chamber, the rest of the board, Telfyr Vays, Galton Raka, Ponos Akantha, Julian Salis and Garlan Hayl, in their usual positions, their visages suggestive of boredom, fear and frustration. The chair opposite The Chancellor, conspicuously empty.

Eidos Kryos was absent.

Footfalls from the recently departed secretaries reverberated upon the polished floor beyond the high, sheer double doors which adorned both sides of the silver and charcoal council chamber. Hayl shifted uncomfortably in his stiff, high-backed chair as Vays incessantly tapped his nails upon the table until a withering look from Raka cajoled an uneasy, sullen interlude, populated by anxious glaces and failing stoicism.

At length, the Chancellor sighed, massaged her temple and turned to Gild with a pleading expression. “Can you turn off that soporific dirge, please?” Gild nodded and began manipulating his left-wrist-bound affin module with his right hand with practiced ease, in short order silencing the speakers. The Chancellor stopped rubbing her brow and addressed the gathering. “We don’t have time to waste. Let’s begin.”

Salis cleared his throat, prompting a raise of brows from The Chancellor and a exasperated sigh from Ponos Akantha.

“Something on your mind, Mr. Salis?” The Chancellor inquired perfunctorily.

“This is a serious decision, perhaps the most serious one we’ve made since the incursion. We ought to wait until he-“

The great cavity’s lights flickered hastily and went out, plunging the council members into darkness. The occupants fell silent, stiffening, party to an inexplicably stifling sensation. Seconds later, power returned to the circular borealis, revealing the dark-garbed form of a lithe man, standing astutely before the table. Immaculate and pale as statuary. Wordlessly, the entrant moved to the table and sat opposite The Chancellor, heliodoric eyes unblinking, void of perturbation.

“Mr. Gild. I am pleased to see you in fair health. How’s the shoulder?”

“Well. Thank you, Sir.”

The Chancellor raised herself up in her high-backed seat, meeting the fastidious industrialist’s xanthous gaze. “Mr. Kryos. You’re late.”

Eidos Kryos adjusted his dark soigné attire and methodically surveyed the occupants, pallid skin and back-swept pitched hair ethereally glossed by the faint azure ring-lights above.

“I trust you will find the magnanimity to forgive me. I was preoccupied by the sudden detention of my colonel.”

The Chancellor leaned slightly over the table, suppressing a scowl, annoyed by the subtle chastisement. “You were afforded ample opportunity to cooperate. You declined.”

Kryos sat motionlessly, looking at the silver-haired woman before him as a biologist might a well known specimen.

“I declined only to defame my officer, who is guiltless of the crimes of which he has been convicted in the court of public opinion. A conviction which may be replicated in the court of law. A conviction you have done nothing to contend and much to bolster.”

The Chancellor’s mouth pressed to a firm line.

“You’ve seen what its like out there,” Raka employed mournfully. “The city is turning into a warzone.”

“An insane asylum would be a more accurate comaprison.” Vays scoffed.

“Maybe so,” the Security Commissioner continued. “Something must be done.”

“Detaining my men will not quell the violence, Mr. Raka. No more than a garden hose would expunge a forest fire. You capitulated to the pack. Their demands will escalate and multiply.”

“Enough of this prevarication. Chancellor, the proposal.” Ponos snapped with an exasperated tilt of her garishly painted head.

“Yes, best out with it,” Hayl declared with an arch of ashen brows.

“Very well,” The Chancellor replied gravely, “You’ve heard of the East Federation envoy’s incarceration in connection with your recent tribulation.” Kryos inclined his head in affirmation. “The Bureau is furious. They’re threatening sanctions if we don’t release him. I don’t have to tell you the damage that would cause, to our supply chains, to our reputation.”

“There could even be war.” Hayl warned with considerable animation.

“I don’t think there is much chance of that,” Salis cut in. “The federation is not mad. They’d not go to war over a minor functionary.”

“We must not disregard the possibility, however unlikely.” Vays declared firmly. “Don’t forget, the envoy’s connected to federation nobility. An old family with deep pockets and an inordinate amount of pride.”

“Quite so. Consequently, we have come to a decision that accommodation must be made with The Bureau. A peace offering.”

Kryos raised his head minutely. “The envoy’s freedom. And?”

“Your aerospace complex.”

Kryos remained silent a long moment after The Chancellor finished speaking, his eyes closed, head tilted to the side, as if in suppression of a swallowing pain. At length, he slowly opened his eyes and spoke with steely taciturnity.

“Every erg of that facility belongs to me.”

“You seem able only to think of yourself. This suffering afflicts us all.”

“Man cannot reforge himself without suffering, for he is both anvil and ingot. And steel cannot be folded with cotton wool.”

The council members listened in perplexity, whereupon Kryos paused, his brow creasingly slightly. “Ah. I understand. That’s clever.”

The Chancellor twined and untwined her fingers nervously. “What?”

“The reason I chose Central for the complex was due to the Mayoral Council’s urging. They wanted to share in the rewards they knew it would bring to their deteriorating economy. Your deteriorating economy. The facility’s success allowed me the leverage necessary to establish the KSRU in the region. To stabilize it. If I am no longer the proprietor of the Central Complex, the Council is unlikely to tolerate the KSRU’s presence, and would swiftly demand their removal, if not enforce it outright. And so, in giving my facility to The Federation, you simultaneously assuage The Bureau and rid yourself of further public relations tangles arising from my men. This is uncharacteristically underhanded of you. I induce collaboration.”

Vays broke in forthrightly, “It was Astrid Sodabrucke. My agents tell me it came by way of her advisor, Illander Rehdon.” The Chancellor shot the speaker a brief scowl and then returned her attention to the dark garbed industrialist.

“You will be duly compensated.”

“I already recieve due compensation.”

“Eidos… It would be preferable if you don’t fight me on this.”

“For who?”

“I don’t like it,” Salis cut in dourly, “I don’t like it at all. We shouldn’t be rewarding The Bureau for their outrage. What signal does that send? And, what’s to say it won’t be our property next? Vays’ refineries or my relays and fueling stations? No. I can’t support it.”

“We shall put the matter to a vote. All in favor?”

All raised voices in “aye” save for Vays, Salis and Kryos.

Kryos leaned back, surveying the grim faces of his fellow council members, his eyes narrowing.

“This facility is the only of its kind in the history of the world. The ship which it houses is the product of over thirty years of research. Men have died to see this work completed. I shall not betray their blood as they shall not betray my dream.”

When none spoke he inclined his head, as if in contemplation. The lights flickered once more. His telesoma distorting.

“Where are you going?”

“I resign. Effective immediately.”

The Chancellor’s face fell.

“You can’t just resign.”

“As if there wasn’t bad press enough,” growled Raka, tossing up his hands, “You saddle us with more!”

“Your petty way of condemning us?” Akantha queried snidely.

“Such a gesture would be superfluous.”

The chamber fell to darkness as Kryos turned toward the garish woman, who shrunk anxiously away.

“You have already condemned yourselves.”

When the power resumed, Kryos was gone.

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