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12: God Emperor of Kathoom V

Posted on Sat Aug 15th, 2020 @ 11:45pm by Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox
Edited on on Wed Aug 19th, 2020 @ 9:52pm

Mission: The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Konaar, capitol city of Kathoom
Timeline: 3,946 years A.R.
Tags: Rita Bulikaya

As the section of the inner wall fell in, Rita got her first look at the center of the massive city. The outer rim’s slums were, in many respects, an assault on the Starfleet officer’s senses. There was filth in the streets and the sights, sounds and smells of decay and rot. The second ring was far more orderly, but in that order was even clearer signs of the oppression the people had been living under. But here, in the innermost perimeter, were the sights that were perhaps the most offensive to her eyes.

Along the interior of the great, 30 meter tall inner wall, the aqueducts flowed in towards the center of the great palace, but here they opened up, allowing the life-giving architecture to work itself into a lip on the wall that created a massive waterfall effect that flowed along the entire interior of the wall.

Looking around, countless gallons of water were being wasted in what amounted to an ostentatious display of wealth used as a rich person’s meaningless water feature. Pouring down into a shallow fountain basin that ran along the inside of the wall, for no reason other than aesthetics.

Stepping through, the entourage of what was now a few thousand huddled citizens mixed in with converted Magistrates, factory and farm workers, kept tightly behind Rita. They all collected closely in what was the freshy carved 10 meter wide archway she had cut in the wall with her phaser. Looking around, the difference between the squalor of the slums and the agricultural ring stood in stark contrast to the opulence before them.

Around them, were rings of shorter, marble walled buildings with smooth, flowing lines and clean, well-kept streets. Windows held shining glass in them, and the walls were a bright, clean alabaster that shone in the sun.

As they were standing next to what was once the main gate, an extremely broad road lead directly towards the massive, multi-tiered palace. The aqueducts lead directly into the base of the tall walls at the exterior, flanking the great marble steps to the doors of the halls of power on Kathoom. Flowing up from the street almost organically, the palace and almost all of the inner city of Konaar seemed designed with a distinctive, Art Nouveau style. Sweeping arcs and curves of golden filigree and turquoise capped rooftops felt like a slap in the face to the Starfleet officer witnessing the heights of the disparity on the world that worshiped her.

Looking up, Rita Paris saw clearly the sight she had seen from afar, before she had even reached the city. Which only served to anger her the most in the moment. At the top of the tallest spire of the great palace that looked like it could comfortably house thousands, but likely only catered to the comforts of a select few, was a 25 meter tall, gilded statue. A stature of HER.

The likeness wasn’t perfect, of course. Thousands of years had elapsed here on Kathoom from the last time she had been here, but it was still clearly her. The woman who, long ago, had liberated the people and led a revolution. The Ritaris. Rita Paris, herself, almost felt sick for the comparison.

There was little time for such concerns, as the sounds of boots falling on stone in synchronized marching could be heard echoing to where she and her band of faithful followers stood on the interior of the holding wall. Looking down the path, Rita could see dozens of armored soldiers with shields and swords at the ready, forming a skirmishing line midway between them and the palace.

Along the outermost wall of the palace itself, between them and the palace itself, row upon row of archers took their position along the battlements. The city’s defenses were being brought to bear for a single woman and the hungry, tired people who followed her.

Leaning in, the second gate Magistrate named M’Raan, who had abandoned his own weapon to follow Rita, spoke as they watched a group of guards in dark gray armor, wrapped in blue robes, step to the head of the phalanx and kneel. In front of them, they placed what appeared to be some kind of portable cannons, not unlike a mix between a bazooka and a mortar canon.

“The Thunder Battalions…” He muttered to Rita. “Their power is… is terrible, Great Ritaris.”

Turning to address the crowd, Rita spoke loudly and clearly. “The God-Emperor fears the people he was sworn to serve and protect. He brings violence to bear upon you, because he fears your voice. These are not the actions of a ruler, but a tyrant. We will not have it!” Speaking to the Magistrates, she issued quick orders.

“I will deal with this, but I need you to keep the people back. There will be a moment when the time is right to come forward, and you will know. Until then, I will do my best to defend these people... but I need your help. Will you stand and defend, as was ever your purpose?” It was an order, but true to form, Rita Paris made it not only a question, but a request. A call to duty to the Magistrates who had seen the light, dropped their weapons and joined the groundswell movement she was once again beginning on the harsh desert world.

Behind her stood M’Raan and C’Ress, along with another dozen or so Magistrates that joined them all in the middle ring of the city. All of them looked frightened for a moment as M’Raan looked back at the people that they had been trained to keep out of the city. The people they had sworn to protect while being trained to defend against for years. And only now, was the hypocrisy of that becoming apparent.

There were swirling emotions in all of the former soldiers who had laid down their weapons, but their conflict was short-lived. Turning to his counterpart who had dreamt of greatness in battle, M’Raan nodded. “How’s this for high adventure, friend?”

“This…” C’Ress replied with a smile… “This… will be something to finally be proud of.”

Then, the younger man turned to Rita with determination on his face. “We will, Great Ritaris. On our lives, if necessary, we will fulfill our oaths at last.”

Turning to the other magistrates, C’Ress was a man possessed and his voice was stronger. “Magistrates of the people. No harm is to befall any in our charge! Our purpose is defense. Shields at the ready.” As he spoke, he pulled a flap off of the back of his armored chest plate and unfolded it. Tucking his arms into the straps, it was a crude leather shield with simple metal plates sewed in, but it would serve.

“Form a defensive line. Nothing gets past us! THIS IS THE WAY!” He called back, as the Magistrates that now served Rita Paris’ cause spread out, forming a semi circle in front of the people, shields up at the ready. As they did, they all stomped their feet in unison once and repeated the chant. “‘THIS IS THE WAY!

“You make me all very, very proud,” Rita declared before turning back to the Thunder Battalions and the archers. Amplifying her voice through her EVA armor’s speakers, it boomed out forward from her, so as not to deafen those behind.

“My name is Rita Paris,” her voice boomed out impossibly, echoing off the stone rotunda of the inner ring of the city.” I’m Starfleet. I represent the United Federation of Planets. I came here many, many years ago, and I helped your people liberate themselves from the Masters, the slavers who pitted one against the other, all for their own benefit and entertainment. We brought them down, to build a better society. One where all would be free, all would be equal, and water and food would be shared by all.”

“This is NOT what we fought for. This is NOT the way of my teachings,” she emphasized. While she refused to address scripture or any specifics of their religion, as the wellspring of the ideas inherent within them, she was confident about what she had taught the ancestors of the people here today. “This is stealing from all, to benefit a few; and it ends today. I do not wish for there to be violence, for that is not the way.”

“But I have returned, and it is time for you to amend your ways. It is time to be better. I give you this opportunity to stand down, and to see reason,” she explained, speaking to the archers and the Thunderers as if she were addressing them individually. For in truth, each of them had their own mind and conscience, and if their hearts were not hardened by greed or hatred, they would hear her. “You know ruling over these people and hoarding all of this resource for a privileged few is wrong. Search your hearts, and look at these people. We are all people, we are all worthy, and we are all equal in my eyes. Lay down your arms and see the light, I implore you. Follow your hearts, and do not harm your neighbors, but help them.”

There was a long moment when her voice echoed across the pristine plaza until only the sound of the rushing waterfalls remained. Across the distance, it was impossible for normal eyes to see, but with the heads up display augmenting displaying the sensor readouts, Rita could see indecision beginning to take root. Battle trained soldiers looked fidgety and nervous. To them, she was GOD. And God was telling them to stand down.

But they were also soldiers trained to obey orders, and stepping up to the side of the first kneeling line known as the Thunder Battalion, the battlefield commander unsheathed his sword. His face was covered by a golden mask mimicking a calm, strong face that his own beneath did not match as he shouted to his men. “First battalion. Prepare to fire. Archers, on my mark.”

Hesitantly, the soldiers lowered the business ends of their antiquated mortar canons as the battlefield commander aimed his sword across the field at Rita. “I Implore you, false god… she who would deceive these people with your lies of divinity… stand down NOW. Or lead those good people to their doom!”

“You would fire on unarmed helpless people, merely to assert that divinity I have not claimed is false?” Rita called back, incredulity in her voice. Without awaiting a reply, she leapt, high into the air, higher than any mortal being could, bridging the distance between them rather spectacularly. Then she drifted down, alighting on the earth once more, there on the street before the commander of the Thunder Battalion.

“If you wish to kill me, then you may try your hand. But I will NOT have you threatening innocent lives merely to ‘follow orders’. You want me dead, do it yourself. Or... recognize whose side you are on in this moment in history, and stand down.” A wry smile settled on the golden-clad avenger’s face. “History has a way of painting these things, and don’t imagine for a second that your choices here and now will not echo for eternity.”

Her hands held no weapon, although her gleaming gold and black armor was somewhat formidable, as was her height and her mass. Her words were still those of a parent attempting to convince a child to make the right choice, and still, she offered the open hand to the Thunder Battalion Commander. There was no fear in her eyes, nor in her voice. She did not plead with him as she had others- but then, others had not been willing to fire upon the citizenry with mortars.

“READY!” the commander called to his men, as the brows of Rita Paris came down.

“This is NOT the way,” she stated plainly.

“AIM!” he continued, and she strode purposefully toward him, stopping a mere meter’s distance apart from him.

“If you attempt to give voice to that command, it will be the last command you ever try to give,” the woman promised as she flicked her wrist, and an archaicType 2 phaser appeared in her right hand, which she then pointed at the Commandant.

“Choose your next words very carefully,” the Starfleet savior declared.

Some 50 meters behind them, the liberated Magistrates held their shields high in anticipation of a rain of iron and arrows, sweat dripping down their brows as they all but held their breath.

Standing, his sword still raised at Rita, looking down the business end of a weapon more powerful than he could comprehend, the battlefield Commander swallowed dry as his mind raced. This cannot be the Ritaris! It is impossible! I must fulfill my duty! I must protect the city… from…

Gnashing his teeth behind the still facemask he wore as part of his helmet, his voice was broken and weak as he raised his sword above his head. “F….”

As the word began to escape his dry lips, another echoed across the plaza from the top of the steps of the Great Palace. HOLD!!!!!

At the strong and commanding voice, the troops locked up, freezing in place. All but one, who in his overwhelming anxiety, pulled the firing mechanism of his mortar. There was a single thunderous boom that caused the crowd of onlookers to gasp in horror as, with a flash of gunpowder and a plume of black smoke.

Lobbing high into the air, the single iron ball flew up high, and as it reached its zenith, vanished in a stream of golden light. A phaser beam set on its widest setting from Rita Paris, averting disaster for all to see.

The nervous soldier fell backwards in shock at his mistake. At what might have happened but for the impossible golden clad woman standing there. “She…. she IS the Ritaris…” He muttered as others among the troops joined in.

From the steps, came a calm older woman’s voice. “Indeed. Truly we are blessed this day.” Stepping down the stairs, was N'Ryssa. Her aides robes exchanged for the robes of a God Emperor. Flowing red and gold silks and finery. On her brow, she wore her nephew’s Starfleet Delta crown. On her wrists, the true mark of the God Emperor: the sun and moon bracers, identical to the ones Rita wore.

“Let us not mar this event with any further violence.” N'Ryssa said, putting her hand on the Commander’s trembling shoulder. “This is a day of Glory, Great Ritaris. One I would be honored to share with you if you would speak with me within the palace. It’s clear we have much to discuss… to safeguard our people and their futures.”

Her lined face had a smile upon it, but that smile hid something beneath that Rita could clearly see through those eyes. The sugary words were a threat to the onlookers, and the lies were unctuous and came naturally. This was an elite, someone accustomed to privilege, who firmly believed it was owed to them..

“YOU are the God Emperor? YOU are responsible for the plight of these people? The crushing poverty, the deep inequality, the slavery you have instituted in my name? This is all YOUR doing?” When Rita Paris spoke, her voice was still amplified. This was theater, and it required all to be able to hear what was said. This was not the dry Coliseum, with the blood of her friends in the dirt and the cheering crowds. Yet in it’s own way, it was just as dangerous- and barbaric.

Because Rita knew this woman, on many worlds, in many guises. A backroom deal to be struck. Some quid pro quo. Everyone wins, and those peasants needn’t be a concern, a small concession and they would return to their lives of labor once more, the status quo preserved.

Which was absolutely not going to happen. The woman had no idea how badly she had miscalculated, but she had just painted a very, VERY large target on herself. The robes and accoutrements of office did not lend her gravitas- only responsibility for all Rita Paris had witnessed on this harsh, dry world.

“I am responsible for a great many things, oh wise Ritaris. My decisions have kept the populace safe as my sister did before me, and our Father before her back through the many, many centuries since you last chose to visit us.” N'Ryssa replied, a thin smile on her lips and narrow eyes taking in the woman in front of her.

“Safe? I think not,” Rita snarled, letting the woman continue.

“The weight of that responsibility has fallen to us for all of the time that you were not here.” She continued, a bit of edge in her voice now. “All that time we fended for ourselves in the wastelands, working to build this city. Working to best support the rim villages that spot the great deserts and protect them from the beasts of the deadlands and the great city-states across the mountains that would take all that the people have worked to preserve.”

“I am the God Empress that has been here for her people. That is here and will be here when you vanish again. Where have you been?” N'Ryssa glared, her voice rising and echoing through the city.

“Trusting you to treat one another fairly, as one does with children when one has devoted her life to them,” Rita responded. “I taught my lessons, then I left you to embrace them. This is what you felt was the way? To hoard the water from all of the outlying villages, to bring it all here to the city, and for what? To starve the populace and parch them with thirst while you let the life-giving waters cascade here for your own entertainment?”

“While you make them grow the food they are not allowed to eat? While you hoard the wealth of a world here for yourself, and those you deem worthy? You make me sick,” Rita spat, literally, on the ground- the wasting of precious fluids was the highest insult on Kathoom last time she’d been here, and she suspected having your savior denounce and literally spit upon your words might have some effect.

“Where I have been is not your concern. I taught my lessons and they should have been sufficient, Yet here I am, and while the people can see through your lies, you cannot. I wonder how well you would fare in the wastelands, having to live as you have condemned these people? If the life-giving waters were denied you... after all, you certainly do not look as though you have known thirst nor hunger in all your days,” Rita mentions. Fat shaming was wrong, but pointing out that the rather pudgy matron who was trying to outmaneuver her was clearly not suffering certainly drove home her point.

“I left a council in charge, of seven, who would represent the people,” Rita declared, as she had read in the tomb of the Rita who had never escaped this world.”You wanted a figurehead, a god-emperor, which was never my wish. The people should govern themselves, and be represented fairly. You lie and twist religion into a tool of fear to cow the populace. Which works well unless someone happens to come back and see what has been done in her name, and is MOST displeased.”

“And that we should be concerned with?” N'Ryssa said with a scoff. “What will you do? Deliver a mighty lecture and vanish again, leaving with all your great power? Never once returning to see your council of seven break up into feudal clans arguing over every resource until there were none? Did you return to end the wars of the deadlands that all but destroyed this civilization as the city states splintered off, all with a different way they were convinced was YOUR way? Were you here with the fire from your hands to stop the Warlords of the North from sacking the villages and demanding their tribute to keep us from more war and death?”

“No. I think the people would have remembered that.” she said through curled lips. “So what now will you do? Make more decrees and leave us to obey your words with nothing but promises and platitudes? I and those before me have done everything we could to keep our civilization alive, and you dare judge us for not being you?”

“You speak as though YOU did all of those things,” Rita observed, unwilling to be confounded by bureaucracy and the lies that religion told itself to comfort itself. “So, did YOU wall off the inner city to keep all these people in crushing poverty? I suppose YOU did. I suppose YOU are the one who called for troops to be deployed against your peaceful people. You wear the crown, and here they all are, Thunderers and archers all armed for war against peaceful citizens. So I suppose if the walking talking symbol of divine authority has to listen to doubletalk, lies and blame from the God Emperor, then I suppose you can fix it all, right here and now? Clearly you have been working your fingers to the bone to help all of these people. Cleeeeearly.”

As she spoke, Rita’s armor sensors were calculating the stress points in the wall to accomplish what she was after. It was clear that words would not sway the woman, but Rita was more than prepared to back up her words with actions.

Leaning in, Rita said the words quietly, but amplified as they were, they were clear to all. “You’re so great, fix the problem you have shown no interest in for clearly a very long time. Here’s your chance. Show me.”

Looking at Rita, N'Ryssa realized that half the eyes of the great city were watching her. In her wildest imagination, she hadn’t believed the words from her magistrates that the invader was, indeed, the Ritaris returned, and she was attempting to argue with a god. A god she had helped reinforce the divine right among the people. A god whose authority she was attempting to undercut even as she fought to preserve her position, which was rapidly crumbling beneath her.

Changing course as she tried to work through the rapidly deteriorating situation, N'Ryssa bowed slightly as she replied. “What I have done, Is work to maintain the peace. Maintain the security of those that would threaten the people. Our walls were being breached by fire unlike anything but what is spoke of in legend, so I deployed our cities finest soldiers in its defense.”

“There are threats beyond these walls that pikes and cannon fire can only slow, Great Ritaris.” N'Ryssa said, a softer voice now. “I built not these walls. It was not I that ended the wars of the past. It is only I that have inherited those responsibilities to maintaining the peace and security of the people of Kathoom.”

As she had wrested the throne from her nephew earlier that day, she saw it being pulled from her own grasp just as easily and nervously, she adjusted the sleeve of her robe where those bracers that served no purpose for anyone for millenia, felt heavier than she could have imagined. She could double down and keep arguing, but she had also seen the power the woman before her wielded, and she now feared unleashing it should she push too far.

“Our problems are many, Great Ritaris.” N'Ryssa said, raising her hands above her head, in what seemed to be an act of contrition, betrayed as the sensors of the EVA suit picked up the sound of tightening bowstrings immediately after the hand gesture had been made, “I can only help lead the people. Yours is the way… can you show us?”

“As a matter of fact, I can,” Rita Paris replied, and with a flick of the wrist, the type 2 phaser she was carrying vanished. Then, in its place materialized a Type 3 phaser rifle. Adjusting the settings, Rita turned to regard the people.

“Water is life, and it is a right of all. We help our neighbors and uplift one another- we do not give up our lives to serve the church, nor serve the vanity of one person. WATER FOR ALL!” she declared, then shouldered the phaser rifle, and fired low at the wall, below the waterline..

The sensors had showed her where the holes needed to be punched in the walls, as they indicated where the sluiceways had once flowed to all three circles of the city. Sluiceways that had been sealed centuries ago, which she now took it upon herself to reopen. The waterways were still there, converted to roads long ago. There would be some chaos and some livelihoods would likely be washed away, but it was a small price to pay.

Firing a rather protracted burst from the phaser rifle, she shot out a hole through the wall, allowing the precious waters to flow to the rest of the city. Pivoting, she fired again, then again, before bounding into the air like an improbable golden grasshopper, to gain firing resolutions to continue holing the basin which collected the waters here, freeing them to flow to the rest of the city.

The group of citizens that were collected in the archway that Rita had cut gasped in shock watching their goddess work her miracles again. Some covered their ears as the great wall burst where Rita had fired. From the steps of the great palace, N'Ryssa watched, realizing that nothing in the arsenal at her disposal could even hope to match the display of power before her. As Rita finished her last blast, the new God Empress brought her hand up again and lowered her fingers slowly and the archers, who had been attempting to follow Rita’s frenetic leaps, lowered their bows.

Half of them, at least, as the other half had already done so as they watched in awe. From across the city and miles around, cheers could be heard echoing. It was a sound that did not sit well with N'Ryssa, who took a breath, trying to work out her next step in her head.

“Water for all, indeed,” she said, with a raised brow and slightly pursed lips as the great, ostentatious waterfalls, now with FAR less fueling them, began to slow to a trickle.


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