12: God Emperor of Kathoom VI
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Konaar, capitol city of Kathoom
Timeline: 3,946 years A.R.
Tags: Rita Bulikaya
Sighing, N’Ryssa the God Emperor tried to figure out how best to proceed from her weakened position, defaulting to what she had grown accustomed to while having to serve as her petulant nephew’s advisor. “Much will need be done in the agricultural ring to adjust, and we must ensure there is no flooding in the city. Magistrate, inform the council that we will need to dispatch architectural teams to evaluate this new… situation.”
“Pending the Great Ritaris allows us.” She said flatly, looking over to RIta.
Studying the woman, Rita Paris assessed her character. It was said, on her own homeworld, that one should not judge, lest ye be judged. But so far from home, she still carried with her the innate sense that she was willing to be judged, as she came in peace, with the open hand. This was a bureaucrat, a schemer, a politician. One who spent their life lying, trading favors and desperately trying to climb over her fellow being to achieve a security that would forever remain beyond her grasp.
Still, hopeless and irredeemable as the woman might be, Rita was obliged to try. However, before a pupil could be taught, the first lesson they had to learn was that they had a lot to learn.
“The sluiceways and water canal systems run throughout the city. There will be some water damage, of course, and people will have to adjust to the idea of running water. But those paths for the water were carved millenia ago, and only closed off a few centuries ago. The city knows what to do with the water,” Rita Paris declared, and her suit’s sensors confirmed that while the initial waters were causing chaos, that chaos was being met with exhilaration and joy.
“Right now, it looks like we need to work out a new system of government, based on proper distribution of resources to serve the greater good. Because this theocracy exists to serve the glory of one, not the needs of the many. That changes right now,” Paris said in no uncertain terms, as her armor vanished, to be replaced by her gold minidress uniform. “Come with me. Let us meet with the people, and let all have a voice for a change. Let the people be heard, and their needs be met.”
Extending her hand to the God Emperor, Rita sought that connection, that concession to something greater than oneself. The lecture of responsibility of power, of how one had that much greater a responsibility when others looked up to you. When the position was elevated, what was needed was not to remove oneself from it, but embrace those common people, for they needed to live not in fear, but in love. Respecting and dignifying those beneath, to uplift them to where all shared equally... it was the way of the Federation. It was the lesson she had needed to teach the goddess Hera, which she had forgotten aeons before. It was the command style of Commander Rita Paris, as she judged... for she was prepared to be judged.
Looking at the offered hand, N'Ryssa pursed her lips and took in a sharp breath. There was a cool breeze rolling across the plaza as the sun began to get lower in the sky as the woman who had been working to wrest control from her nephew for so long realized that she may now have to give it up. It was not a realization that did not sit well with the aristocratic woman who had become quite comfortable with power.
Glancing across the plaza, the soldiers that had amassed had lowered their weapons and the people who had been huddled, frightened, in the makeshift archway were walking slowly forward. She could not overpower the woman in gold before her, and she could not win a war of words with her without completely dismantling the belief system that the people clung to, which in turn empowered her over them. It was a no-win situation, but she realized that in this case, survival would mean losing the day.
Steeling her resolve, she reached forward and took the offered hand. “The old ways. The ways that failed once before. We must learn from that if this seed is to bear fruit, Great Ritaris... but I am willing to try.”
“For the people. This is the way.” She finished, doing her level best to express sincerity even if Rita could tell that the woman was working to believe her own words in the moment.
“That’s a good start,” Rita said softly, and led the God-Emperor to meet her people.
Hours passed in the sun as they spoke, at length, and Rita Paris laid down a few rules of basic society. Education for all. Compounded knowledge. Irrigation systems throughout the land, not just in the city. Magistrates would serve and protect, not oppress and enslave. Crops would be grown in all levels of the city. All would share equally, for the quality of a society’s mercy was to be found in how they treated the least amongst them.
All these and more, Rita Paris spent hours combing over, discussing, debating, engaging with the people of Kathoom. Through it all, she remained calm. She chose her words carefully, knowing the effect they would have, and that they too would echo through the ages. She included the God-Emperor, who eventually admitted that her name was N'Ryssa, the pronouncement of which brought thunderous cheers from the people.
The God Emperor was dead. Long live the Council of Seven.
The specifics of how delegates would be chosen and how they would be elected were logistics to be worked out yet, but by the time she was done, Rita felt she had hammered out a halfway decent system of governance that would serve the people, rather than the other way around.
Conversations that began in the plaza made their way into the great cathedral where citizens from the city, the Magistrates, heads of the farming guilds and more all sat together and spoke. And while Rita worked with all of them, an ever present smile and the spirit of compromise on full display, N'Ryssa watched it all.
Interjecting where needed, offering suggestions that served their purpose, rather than her own, and finding herself engaged in the process, she found her eyes coming back to the pale woman in gold at the center of it all. This wasn’t her arrogant, petulant nephew... whom she was not looking forward to releasing or explaining this all to… nor her sister who was Empress before him, who ruled because she had been given the power. This was a woman who reminded N'Ryssa of Kathoom of someone she had forgotten, many, many years ago.
This was a reminder of the woman that, once upon a time, a young girl named N'Ryssa wanted to grow up to be. Not a God-Emperor- just someone who did what needed to be done because she could. Because it was right.
There was a look of quiet reservation on her face as she tried to quiet the voice of the child that used to believe. The voice that was suddenly speaking up again for the first time in decades. The voice that had been slowly quieted, stone by stone, hidden behind a wall of cold choices and self-serving, political maneuverings. N'Ryssa didn’t like what this woman was making her feel about herself. She also knew that she needed to remember who it was that she once had tried to be, if she was to survive in this brave, new world. It seemed she would have to remember how to care.
Eventually, there was a quiet moment aside, where the two had shared a drink of water and some fruit, as plenty had been brought from the agricultural ring, to feed the multitudes. The Ritaris ate sparingly, and drank little, trying to leave more for those who needed it more than she. But N'Ryssa could see that, possessed of powers and abilities she may be, but the goddess was weary as a mortal after her labors. A smile for everyone, a kind word, a clasped shoulder, she ceaselessly gave of herself. But in this private moment, she could see the weariness, and somehow it did not lessen her opinion of the woman.
“I believe you have something of mine?” Rita declared, holding out her hand, exposing the bronze bracers that she wore, which looked no older nor newer than those set uncomfortably upon the wrists of the recently self-declared God Emperor. “If you wouldn’t mind?”
Looking down at the bracers on her wrist that had been little more than ceremonial elements of the office that she had put on for the first time in her life that afternoon, N'Ryssa sighed ever so slightly. They were symbols of a world that they had killed that day, and it was best to be rid of them and the temptation to return to those ways that would already be so impossibly strong in the days ahead.
Slowly, she pulled them off and handed them to Rita, her eyes low as she did. “Indeed. It is… for the best.”
“Ohhh, don’t be so negative,” Rita sighed. “As you look to me for guidance and wisdom, there is one I look to as well. It was she who gifted me with these, and by Hera’s will that they function for me. I just wanted to see if there is something I left in here for the future,” she explained as she took off her own bracers.
“Being one who is looked up to is a responsibility, not a privilege. To be looked up to in such a manner means that you serve all those supplicants who seek you... that’s the way responsibility works, you see. You have to be worthy of it, and that’s a constant challenge. But in the end, if you do it right, you might just make the galaxy a better place for having passed through it.” Sliding on the bracers, Rita searched the inventory, seeking what her counterpart had left behind. Her armor, of course. Rather than summon the entire armor, Rita summoned the wrist comm unit her counterpart would have recorded her logs on, for all those years.
Improbable as it was, Rita wanted to give her counterpart a chance to give her final report.
As the ancient device popped onto her wrist, making connections and powering up, she was pleased to note, she continued assessing the inventory. There were personal mementoes, or so she assumed them to be. Weapons, of course, and her armor. All of the Starfleet weapons could potentially be recharged, and used someday. While she knew she should remove them from this reality, she wasn’t positive that she could... or that she should.
“Once I reminded her that gods must serve their followers, and today I have been reminded of the same.” Removing the bracers, she handed them back to N’Ryssa. “Someday, a champion will rise. Who can wield the bracers as they were meant to be used, and perhaps that will lead to a dynasty of champions, who knows. But one who is wiser than I will watch for them, and she will know them when they clasp the bracers of the sun and moon upon their wrists. Because if there’s one thing Hera knows, it’s a hero.”
Taking the bracers, N’Ryssa looked at them for what felt far longer than it was before turning to Rita with a thoroughly confused expression. “You… would trust these… with me?”
“Why should I not?” Rita Paris replied simply, with a shrug of her shoulders that was rather seismic given her ample endowments. “I think you’ve learned a lot today. Your world has changed, despite what you had planned for it. But in this brave new world, you met me. You worked with me. You spoke with me. I think you are as qualified as anyone to determine whom should next bear the artifacts I left behind. I think you’ll make sure whoever inherits them understands the responsibility of being a servant to so many.”
When the golden goddess smiled, it did seem to light up the room, and in it, N’Ryssa found something wholly unexpected. Forgiveness. Pure, honest trust in her- trust that she would do the right thing, forgiveness for her past choices and actions. The belief that she would be a better person, simply for having been shown a better way.
“Great Ritaris?” C’Ress poked his head into the side chamber, the excitable young man having adjusted to the situation well, and was currently running messages to keep the gathering organized. “I know that you said that all should have a moment, but sometimes you needed a moment, but- there is someone here who has come a very long way to see you. He says he is a friend of yours, he and his father?”
That smile, if anything, grew wider and brighter, and the Earth woman rose from the pew upon which she had been seated with a quickness. “B’Jen?!?”
From behind the slightly anxious Magistrate, the young boy came running forward. “RITA!”
While the boy ran across to the goddess he had befriended those many hours ago excitedly, N’Ryssa seemed slightly confused as she took the bracers and held them close to her chest. Today was, it seemed, a day for confusion.
Standing at the doorway with C’Ress, B’Jen’s father B’Jin smiled, but looked extremely weary, sharing little of his sons boundless energy and enthusiasm after what was a walk of many long, hard hours under the brutal sun of Kathoom. “I hope our visit is not a disruption, Great Ritaris. But… B’Jen was… insistent.”
“The first to extend the hand of friendship, who tried to save me from the patrols? The one who showed me that I had to overcome those who opposed me with words, not force? My guide to modern Kathoom? I am overjoyed that I get to see you again!” Kneeling to the boy’s level, she hugged the slender peasant tightly, genuinely ecstatic to see him. “Please, sit, rest- you made the whole day’s journey to Konaar, you must be so thirsty and exhausted! Drink some water, there’s fruit here as well...”
“You… as always… have my thanks Great…” The weary father said with a gentle smile before B’Jen cut him off with wide eyes and a somewhat comical tone, “Father. Her name is Rita. Rita Paris, remember.”
“Of course, my son.” B’Jin smiled as his young son talked to him more like the father in the room for a moment, with all the enthusiasm of any child enjoying spreading newfound knowledge. “You have our thanks, Rita Paris.”
“My thanks to you and your village, for opening my eyes, and showing me that the people of Kathoom needed me once more, B’Jen,” Rita Paris declared, rising and clasping the exhausted man to her. He was sweaty and dusty as was his son, but it was clear that the gold-clad commander cared not at all.
Looking around, the young Magistrate noticed that the jug needed a refill and nervously interjected with a smile. “I shall get your visitors some food and fresh water.”
“Thank you, C’Ress,” Rita offered with a smile, gracious as always.
Watching it all, N’Ryssa was thoroughly taken aback at how quickly the barriers between the people who only a day ago would have never even interacted for their different classes, quickly dissolved in their equality. A magistrate whose first thought was to provide. A child hugging a god. Her, simply watching quietly as an unguarded smile found its way to her own lips in spite of herself.
“I am glad to see you as well, Rita.” B’Jen said, looking up at the buxom traveler. “I… I was worried. I thought… if I could help that I should try.”
“That’s what makes you a good person, B’Jen,” Rita smiled, tousling the dusty hair of the lad. “If we can help, then we should try, and that’s exactly what you did. It’s good that you are here.... the new Council has a lot of ideas, and they could use a voice from some of the outlying villages. Why don’t you come sit in and add your perspectives?”
“M...me? You want me to… sit with the…” B’Jen asked, his eyes a little wide with wonder until he stuck on a specific word. “There is… a council? But… the God Emperor?”
“Sits with the council, neither god nor emperor, little one.” N’Ryssa said, offering a smile at the remarkable child. “I am N’Ryssa, and I second the Ritaris’ suggestion. Any who could have so moved one such as she, is a voice I would hear as well.”
The former ruler looked at Rita, deferring to her in the moment. For her part, Rita smiled knowingly, nodding her approval.
“Take some rest, and refreshment- it has been a very long day for all of us. But yes, you and your father’s voices are just as valued as any other, and just as needed at the table. Cisterns will have to be built, and I happen to know two experts in the field,” she grinned at them both, as she felt the first tingle of the now-familiar Bulikaya particle within her. Which was rather an enormous relief to her. After all, with the time differential here, she might have had to stay for the hours in realtime, which would likely be the rest of her life.
While she loved this world and its peoples, she did not want to become the next Ritaris to die alone without Sonak on Kathoom.
Taking the father and son and sweeping them both into a hug, she then pulled back to smile at them both. “Thank you... for everything. I am so happy to have met you, to have been a part of your lives, and hopefully I have made your world better for my visit.”
“Thank you, Rita!” B’Jen said with a broad smile, not quite understanding that it was a farewell he was hearing. “You have!”
“Indeed.” B’Jin said, putting his hand on his son's shoulder and nodding. “You have given our entire world a tremendous gift. You have given children hope for a better future than seemed possible.”
Turning to regard N’Ryssa, the extradimensional explorer who had not planned to transform a world this morning looked at the local woman meaningfully. She said nothing, because no words she could add would define the situation better than a father’s love, and hope for a better future for his beloved son.
“I’ve not much time, and I need to say goodbye to the people,” standing, Rita Paris faced the woman who would be God Empress. “But I want you to know... I trust you, N’Ryssa. Be wise and humble. Make this world the paradise it was meant to be. Let them record in the history books of your grace, your kindness, your compassion... and your will to make this world a better place, for everyone. I believe in you.”
Laying her hand on the woman’s shoulder, Rita was there for a hug if needed, although she was smelly and dirty after so many hugs of so many dirty, sweaty people today.
Looking at the woman before her, N’Ryssa was beginning to realize that for all her power, ‘The Ritaris’ was just a woman as well. Neither perfect nor divine, but simply a mortal woman in extraordinary circumstances trying to help. Not a god to be feared or obeyed, but an example to be followed. “I will… do my best. I will listen.”
“Your best is all I ask. Thank you, N’Ryssa... I suspect your first challenge is going to be educating your nephew. But if you can change his mind, what chance does the rest of the world stand, eh?” Laughing musically, Rita Paris did not envy the task, but there would ever be challenges.
Challenges N’Ryssa was weighing in her head that felt more than intimidating at the moment. But if the Ritaris said she had little time left, then that time was important. “I do not look forward to that task, but it needs attending for certain. But so too does what you need to say.”
“The people will need your inspiration if any of this is to work in your absence. That fuel that will keep us going in the days ahead that will also be difficult.” N’Ryssa added, gesturing to the great hall where the chosen representatives were still assembled, talking.
“I’d best hurry then,” Rita Paris declared, before stepping out into the main cathedral, where the multitudes were gathered. Some were here to witness events. Some were here helping, running water and food and messages. Some were working to try to figure out the future, and the logistics required to get there. But all heads turned as she stepped into the room. Summoning her EVA armor, Rita activated the anti-grav pack, which would let her float above, to be seen by all, and heard when she spoke.
Now if only she knew what to say.
While Starfleet training had covered a great many possibilities, what to say when departing a planet where you are considered a living god had not been covered. But she’d done her best in the hours allotted to her on Kathoom, and tried to steer them back on course, for a better society. Which in turn inspired her speech.
“People of Kathoom, I see that you are all working together to find a way for all to be cared for, all to be equal, and for the safety and security of all to be safeguarded, fostered and nourished. I have faith in you- in you all,” Rita spared looks for the Magisters who had come to her side, to the citizens, to N’Ryssa and B’Jen and B’Jin.
“Rule yourselves wisely and well, and remember my teachings. I love you all, and I know you will make me proud.” As she spoke, she considered her next words carefully.
But there would be none, as the floating golden figure vanished, as if she had never been there at all.
A gasp went out in the room at the sight of their god leaving them, after defying gravity to address them all. A few faces welled up with tears of awe. Others put their hands on their left breasts and prayed to themselves in silence.
Looking at the place where she had been, young B’Jen squeezed his father’s hand. For his part, the man had a nervous expression as he looked around the room he suddenly felt extremely out of place standing in, but the child looked up and smiled at B’Jin. “It’s alright, Father. We know what to do. She told us… she showed us. We do what’s right. We do what’s right for everyone, just like she did.”
The words echoed around the cavernous chamber for all to hear. At the council table, the assemblage stopped and looked at the boy for a long moment, and the brief tension that had begun to build as Rita vanished, began to fade again. There was hope, and in the boy, the future for their people.
“B’Jen… would you walk with me a moment?” N’Ryssa said, looking down at him and smiling warmly. In her hands, a piece of her silk robe removed and used to bundle the bracers she had been given to decide what to do with. Whom to entrust them. Who could possibly be Kathoom’s champion, in the years to come.
Looking down at the young boy who had inspired their goddess, whose words spoke with a wisdom beyond his years, and who commanded the room of elders and leaders with a simple proclamation from his heart…