Wind howled through the empty courtyards, small whirlwinds formed making his clothes to swirl delicately. His hair seemed to float in the nothingness, casting strange shadows on the pavement. His body was protected from the chilly wind by a thick, black coat; the hands were kept warm by those tight, thin gloves that had been worn too much over the last years. His mind was far away; his gaze was lost in the void. He was walking hurriedly towards the entrance of the Senatorial Council, the most important building on the planet. The entire Council had been summoned, all the senators had to assist, no questions should be asked.
The building was a huge sphere made from reinforced steel and a secret alloy developed by the High Department of Defense and Security; it was an engineering wonder. Surrounded by an immense garden, that included all vegetal species on Earth, it represented the magnificence of human civilization and the unquestionable power of Earth over all the planets. Also, the building of the Senatorial Council was a spaceship. However, it had not been used as a space station for more than two hundred years, since the last war between humankind.
He passed the great buttresses that held the huge sphere firmly onto the ground and found himself at the great atrium which surrounded the Council. Giant black marble cobblestones decorated with beautiful pictures were used as a monumental floor for humanity. Each picture carved with intricate detail, each one telling a different story, from humanity's dawn to the promising future, although it didn't look so promising right now. He pushed his personal entrance door, which recognized his bio-signature right away and found himself inside his cozy office, which was not that cozy at all when he acquired it. The door made a muffled sound as it closed quietly behind him. Soon enough, warmth filled the room making his coat and gloves useless, he left them on his desk and stood still in the middle of the room, thinking. The meeting would start in half an hour; he had time to meditate his current situation.
He was Enar Ferzoa, Junior member of the Head Council, senator of the Assembly and a promising candidate for High Chancellor if the right time came, he was also head of one of the most ancient and powerful dynasties on Earth: the Ferzoas Dynasty, he was the only one left in the whole universe, though.
Five years ago he had been sent on a diplomatic mission to Gritia City, the capital of the Shigon system. No one except the Senatorial Council, the Assembly of Shigon and his family knew where he was. He was struggling with an imminent rebellion and was trying to negotiate his way through it. Trying to maintain a low profile his family moved temporarily to their getaway mansions on Europe, the frozen moon of Jupiter. He was losing the negotiations; it was frustrating that none of his proposals were taken into account he only waited for the day when Shigon declared its independency, starting a civil war. And so, it came the day when he was summoned with the utmost urgency by the Assembly, just then he knew something was wrong, the rebellion had begun he thought.
He ran through the dim lit corridors of the Assembly building, trying to get to the main chamber as fast as his legs would let him. He arrived to the huge metallic doors and they opened with a light whoosh sound recognizing him and letting him in. There were only two people in the chamber to his surprise, the President of Shigon stood in the middle of the room, his face filled with concern and was talking hurriedly with a man in a black uniform. The eyes of the President met with Enar as soon as the doors closed behind him.
"Mr. Ferzoa, I'm glad you came on such short notice", the President turned to the man next to him. "This man has just arrived from the Federation... and I'm afraid he has bad news for you... I'll leave you two alone for a minute."
The President moved towards Enar and grabbed his shoulder.
"I'm sorry", whispered the President. He squeezed his shoulder lightly, looked at him one last time and exited the room.
The room was silent and Enar moved quickly to salute the soldier.
"Sir, Lt. Reg Gauch from the Alpha Guard of the Senate", he said standing attention in the usual military introduction.
"As you were lieutenant" Enar replied, anxious to know what would be the message of this man who had just traveled through five systems to get there. "What is the news you have for me?"
"I was sent by Lydia Herat as soon as we got the information", the lieutenant was nervous, he avoided eye contact. "Sir... it's about your family... thereīs been an accident..."
Silence instantly ruled over the room. Enar's face didn't show any emotion, probably from the fear and shock. He stared at the lieutenant for a couple of seconds, and then very slowly he opened his mouth.
"What happened?" he said with a slightly shaky voice.
"Sir, there was a malfunction at the power generators in your family's mansion. They exploded before anyone could be evacuated"
"So... ev-everyone is... dead?" his voice wasn't calm this time, it was quite shaky. He knew the power of those generators, not only did they provided energy to the mansions, but to a small industrial colony as well. His hands trembled and his eyes were swelling with tears.
"We sent rescue missions above and below the surface, no survivors... the colony was also destroyed", the soldier didn't know what to do. He moved a little and stood close to Enar. "Sir ... I'm afraid I'm not finished"
Enar couldn't talk, it was way too much for him. He stared at the soldier; a silent tear was running along his cheek. He wondered what could be worse than that. After a few seconds he pulled himself together and managed to talk.
"Go ahead lieutenant"
"Believing you were on Europe when the accident took place...", the soldier paused trying, not knowing how to finish. "Mr. Xero Magleon tried to commit suicide"
The new hit hard and pushed Enar over the edge. He let himself fall onto the nearest chair, looked down at the floor and began to cry. That couldn't be happening to him, it wasn't real, he was sure it was a dream or a really twisted joke. But it wasn't, he could feel the truth piercing through his heart like a cold sharp knife, his chest was heavy and it was difficult to breathe. He had lost his family and the love of his life in less than an hour. He hadn't had the opportunity to say goodbye to his father, his mother, his brothers... they were dead, and Xero... his lover, his partner, his everything.
From the day Xero interviewed him in a press conference he fell for him, his green eyes, his dark brown hair, the way his lips curled when he smiled, those bulging yet discrete muscles, his long strong legs covered with a very light brown fuzz of hair, the smell of his neck. He loved him... but he was...
"Did you say `tried to' lieutenant?", he quickly realized what the soldier had said and suddenly stood up and grabbed the man by his jacket.
"Sir?", the soldier looked confused
"Did you just say `tried to commit suicide'?" , he shook the soldier a little bit, as if by shaking the man he could get out the information he wanted.
"Oh... yes sir" , he tried to pull away but the grip of Enar was strong. "I'm sorry I didn't elaborate. Mr. Magleon is not dead... he jumped off a building, he took a lot of damage from the fall but the doctors were able to stabilize him. When I left earth, he was in a coma... Sir, would you mind?"
The lieutenant pointed at the firm grip Enar had over his jacket. Enar let the soldier pull away. If he had told Xero he was going to be in Shigon instead of saying he was forced to be on Europe for family issues, he wouldn't tried to commit suicide. He imagined Xero jumping off the building, Enar shuddered. Tears began to form again.
"I'm sorry sir... I really am...", the lieutenant tried to understand him... the news he had brought were an extremely hard blow. He had heard about Enar and his political career, he was the champion of the people, and everyone loved him. His family had been the most powerful and generous Dynasty the Terrestrial Federation had ever seen. Their work could be seen in several colonies outside the Solar System, educational systems, human rights, health care programs... they worked hard on everything. He also knew about Enar's lover, almost everyone knew, they weren't private about it; he remembered the interview that had been done to Enar a few years ago when he first ran for senator. The reporter had asked if the rumors about his sexuality were true, Enar looked back at the reporter and calmly accepted everything. The people took it quite well and a few months later he was elected senator. Since Enar and Xero were together, they were the couple of the year in most of earth's magazines, even he considered the couple to be perfect. But now, Enar seemed helpless and vulnerable. He approached to Enar and gave him a little hug. "It's all right sir", he said in a shaky voice, surprisingly he was moved by Enar's vulnerability.
They stood there, Enar crying softly onto the lieutenant's shoulder and the soldier trying to calm him down. Slowly, the sobs stopped and also did the tears. Enar pulled away, his eyes were red and puffy.
"Thank you, lieutenant", Enar said softly flushing a little by what he had just done. "I'm sorry... I-I just needed..."
"I understand sir"
"Is there anything else you might need to tell me?"
"Yes sir, you are ordered to return to earth as soon as possible to begin the succession, now you are the Head of your Dynasty"
"Oh... ok ... I mean, yes of course... anything else?"
"That will be all then", Enar said as he saluted the soldier.
"Yes sir" replied the lieutenant as he saluted back.
The soldier began to walk towards the doors. When the soldier was about to exit, Enar called him.
"Lieutenant... Thank you", a weak smile crossed Enar's face as he looked at the soldier. His face was still covered in tears.
"You are welcome sir...", he liked Enar. He smiled back and flushed a little. "Is there anything I could be of assistance sir?"
"No lieutenant, you are off duty now. Go have some fun in the city"
"I will", he replied and exited the room. As he walked out the Assembly he wondered why he liked so much the Senator.
As soon as the soldier left, he sat down again and got lost in thought. Everything was falling apart, his family, his lover, and returning to earth would jeopardize his mission on Shigon. He was completely sure there was going to be a civil war soon. He couldn't believe it, he felt tired, useless and depressed. He left the chamber of the Assembly and went straight to his room. He got undressed and leapt onto his bed, he quickly fell asleep.
A week later he was back on Earth. The news had spread like fire through all the systems. Most of the properties the Ferzoas had were covered with flowers all around earth and the fifteen planets that formed the Federation; some governors even had begun the construction of monuments in memory of the lost Dynasty. People cried on the streets as the news were transmitted, people wore black and the government insignias were all covered in black as well. The loss had been a fatal blow throughout the Federation.
So it was a shock when Enar appeared in a press conference that was being transmitted to all the Federation, no one could believe it, he was supposed to be dead, it was a miracle. He was cheered, applauded and in some extreme cases even worshipped. He was the martyr of the whole Dynasty, a beacon of hope. Once again he was the ultimate champion of the people. His whereabouts at the time of the accident were revealed as well as his mission in Shigon, and some news were shared: the Assembly of Shigon had voted for the unification of their system with the Federation and they had named the Ferzoas Dynasty their representatives. At least no everything was bad news. And so the final question came: "Where is Xero?" A silent tear ran down Enar's cheek. Fifteen planets held their breath as the story was told. Xero was in a deep coma, the doctors didn't know what to do they had tried everything and still couldn't get him out of the coma. They had even suggested pulling the plug but Enar was totally against it and told them that as long as he lived Xero would be alive. As the press conference finished, he knew everything had changed, the rules were not the same he had lost everyone he loved, and so he turned to the only thing he had left: the people. He made of his work, his life.
A buzz made him jump, he had drifted off and lost track of time. He got up and went to his black desk, he put his hand on it and it became transparent. Folders appeared and organized quickly on its surface as the desk began its initial sequence. With a swift move of his hand he put aside all the folders and reached for the orange light that was shinning on the upper left, a message board opened. After a few seconds he got up, he put his hand on his desk again and slid his finger across the surface, the desk shut down, becoming black again. Most of the senators had arrived, they would begin the session right away, there was no time to lose. He went to the mirror, adjusted the senatorial insignias and watched his reflection.
He was tall, about 6', his hair was light brown and he had it shortened often, his skin was white but lightly tanned, his lips were juicy and sexy he remembered how Xero loved to bite them, specially the lower one. He used to say it was `irresistible'. He flinched at the memory of Xero's kisses. He was well built but still had a slender aspect, he had broad shoulders and a well defined waist, his legs were strong and you could see how some of his muscles flexed as he changed position. He looked at him and he met with his own eyes, they were sad, they had been like that since the accident, but before that they were quite expressive. He was 28 years old, handsome and the youngest person ever named Junior Member of the Head Council. He took one last glance at the mirror, smiled and walked towards the door on the other side of the room.
As soon as he was out of his office and into the lobby of the Council a voice assaulted him.
"Sir! Where have you been?" a young man that was sitting on a couch near the entrance said sounding a bit upset. "I've been looking for you like a mad man all over the place"
Enar rolled his eyes with amusement as he watched how the young man made his way towards him. Nathan Luhe had been his assistant for the past four years, he was an ex-student of the Central Federation University, and had recently graduated with honors from Political and Administrative Sciences when Enar met him. He liked Nathan from the beginning. They met during Enar's fifth senatorial campaign and Nathan had asked a fierce question to him during his visit to the University. He still had the image of Nathan in his head as he raised his hand and asked the question.
"We all know your work has been outstanding but your proposals arenīt new... they are the same old shit we've been dealing with for the past twenty years", a young man said receiving disapproval looks from almost everyone in the room. He didn't care. "We have a withering relationship with our colonies and the situation with Mars gets uglier by the minute. We also have a huge population problem here in Earth. We need to send to `relocation programs' at least fifty million people from earth to other planets each year. The basic health and sanitary programs are each time more difficult and expensive to implement, and so on. So how exactly are you trying to convince us that you are the best person to solve all these problems?"
Enar stood there, shocked for a moment; he had never been questioned this way before. His campaign advisor was nervous and he stood, probably with the intention to finish the session. He stopped him with a movement of his hand. He took off his glasses and stared directly into the eyes of the young man, he reminded him of Xero.
"Mmm... a very good question Mr....?"
"Nathan Luhe, sir"
"Nathan Luhe it is", he smiled to Nathan and the young man blushed, he had this effect on people, and he loved it. "No one has ever been so fierce with their questions you know?" he winked at him and Nathan blushed even more, a wave of quiet laughter swept the whole crowd. "However, you have asked a vital question and I'm going to answer it. Your first concern: Our diplomatic relations with the colonies and Mars." He sighed and took a quick glance at the crowd. "As you know, we've been dealing with separatist movements in Mars since its foundation more than eight hundred years ago. We have struggled to maintain order and peace within the borders of our own government. We have also fought to give each and every colony full privileges and rights; I think we should be more aggressive, though. As your senator I would make a motion to reform the fundamental articles of Colonial Law so that we can give equal representation to all of them. However, Mars is an exception and I've been thinking of it for a long time. I think it is time to finally put an end to the problem from its source", everyone in the crowd was silent; they knew from experience that his words had a lot of influence. "I've been making a new project with Lydia Herat so we can finally abolish dynastic domination over the planet", the crowd was astonished and the reporters went crazy asking questions. Abolishing dynastic domination was a very big deal; it had only been tried twice but was never approved. Enar raised a hand and the crowd went silent again. "Mars has become a beacon of new ways of thinking; I like to think of it as a new earth. We need Mars on our side; it shouldn't be an enemy of the state but a friend. As for the other points in your question... would you like to discuss them in private?" with the shocking announcement about the political change everyone had forgotten about the daring Nathan Luhe. He was speechless; he was made an offer he couldn't decline.
"Su-sure sir", was the only thing he could say.
"Wonderful, my advisors will talk to you." Enar signaled two men and they went directly to Nathan so they could arrange a meeting. "Well, as usual, it has been a pleasure coming here. Thank you all for your support"
Since then, Nathan had been his personal assistant, he was the only one who had the guts to speak to him directly and with no restraints when they were alone. Some even said they were lovers.
"I've been in my office, waiting for the Council to arrive", he looked at Nathan and gave him a childish smile. "I see someone... missed me?"
"No sir, I just was worried because you haven't paid me", Nathan said sharply, with a faint smile on his lips. He was the only person with whom Enar joked around and laughed; to the outside world he was politically correct.
Nathan handed Enar a large white folder as they walked towards the main entrance of the Council. He opened it and began flipping through the content.
"So this is it? And the complete report?"
"It was delivered three hours ago to the Chancellor, Sir" As usual, Nathan had done his best." it was all I could gather on such short notice. I included the military reports at the end and all the intel I could get by infiltrating the system"
"I see" Enar gave some last few glances at the documents and sighed. "It doesn't look good Nate, I'm afraid we will have to give them what they want..."
"And if we don't?"
Enar stopped walking. How was it possible? Why didn't he see it coming? He had gone through all the details for years and yet there was something he was missing, he sensed it. He raised his eyes and enjoyed the starry night that was projected on the synthetic ceiling.
"Civil war" he said finally.
Nathan shuddered at the mention of those two words; he knew Enar wouldn't joke around with such matters. He looked back at his boss, he was angry.
"Shit!", Enar muttered angrily" I've been trying to avoid this for five fucking years, we've worked our asses off for nothing!"
He handed the white folder to Nathan and began walking again. He needed to think. How was he supposed to react? What was he supposed to say?
"Have you talked to Lydia?"
"No sir, she was too busy activating the emergency protocol", Nathan looked down at his wrist watch. "The protocol must be active by now sir"
"That means we only have three days... four days at the most", He looked up and his eyes met with Nathan's. There were only five years separating them, and still those grey eyes looked for leadership in Enar. And he knew those eyes weren't the only ones looking up for leadership in him. He sighed. "Stay calm Nate, we cannot afford to panic in a situation like this, ok?"
Nathan nodded. He thought of the situation, the report was not good news. But, if Lydia had activated the protocol then he knew what to do. Enar needed to act quickly, he had just one chance.
"Ok, now listen; I need you to do something for me..." Enar looked around and lowered his voice to almost a whisper. "I need you to go to my office and relax."
"Excuse me sir?"
"Listen carefully" he looked directly into Nathan's eyes and whispered him. "You might want to read something. Top shelf, blue book, 709X-HST67-P2041, send it to Shigon, Litia, Crescia and Huio."
Enar winked at him and patted his shoulder lightly. Nathan looked confused but he seemed to understand and as he walked away and entered the office, he entered the Senatorial Council. Almost everyone had arrived. The work had just begun.