Satsi was going to goddamn scream.
In the space of the hour since she’d left her office — moving on the grace of what was probably nearing lethal levels of stimulants alone — she’d encountered one random Tyris brother and a jailbreaker from the recently-razed Tarentum that she’d had to put down named Blackhawk; had six different calls about various urgent matters, including one about Rrogon frakking Skar being in her city and one from her gang lieutenant saying that their little escort guard had been mistaken for attackers and now they were in a firefight with the relief ship instead of distributing supplies; and just been notified that the Gfika Power Station down in west Capac had blown, which just made the riots starting in the area SO MUCH BETTER.
As if she’d needed to be told of that; she’d caught sight of the explosion from a frakking window.
The woman twitched violently, eyes rolling back briefly, but she stayed upright, only leaning on the corridor wall for a moment instead of crumpling.
“Are you alright, ma’am?”
“Peachy, Bly,” the War Consul answered, trying not to vomit. She couldn’t have if she’d wanted to — the stims had her stomach all but shriveled up — but the nausea was strong like the faint ringing in her ears. “Did your men pick up Kordy?”
“Checked in from the field, they’re securing the subject now.”
“Good. Now…ahh, what now?”
“We’ll need a call on what to prioritize, ma’am. The rioting is spreading from sectors six and nine to ten and five, and we’re estimating they’ll grow before we can get enough troops down to subdue. I’ve got a request for use of force.”
“Didn’t we already release arms this morning?”
“Only in regards to warning shots, ma’am, no actual contact. It’s getting worse, though.”
“Defensive purposes only, nothing lethal.”
“Confirm. However, on the prioritizing…”
He was pushing the datapad back into her hands and for a moment, she checked out completely, her thoughts turning to white noise while she stayed against the wall. Her vision blurred on the screen, unfocused, staring at nothing.
And after a moment, it wasn’t just woozy emptiness. Words are came to mind, ones she’d read two dozen times since the Invicta II was blown half-open and Atty along with it: the letter she’d found waiting in her message bank when she’d looked later, the letter she’d raged and railed about, the letter that had sent her into that summit meeting to declare herself the new frakking Consul.
Satsi, it had begun.
Let me start by saying this much: I am sorry. I am sorry for the ways I have failed you as a friend and a sister and a godmother. I am sorry for the ways in which I have hurt you and Uji. I know you think me — now and, let us be honest, from the beginning — to be the only thing worse than naive or foolish: cowardly. That you think I am in denial of my faults and cannot see where I may have erred, or that I may be wrong. That is untrue. I am not blind, Satsi. I merely believe. I did what I think is right, and I carry with me every soul that my choices have cost us for the sake of that. Still, so said…I mediate often on my time as Consul, and while I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too aware of my humanity not to think it probable that I may have committed many, many errors. I hope somewhat that you all and those who come after us will view them with indulgence, and that those mistakes will be consigned to the Void with some forgiveness, as I myself will be.
I do not have many friends left here anymore, Satsi. I have lost you, and all but lost Uji. I have had daggers at my back every moment of the last two years, and I have loved every person holding them, whether or not they loved me. I am not oblivious to how many of my own would see me dead or deposed. The Arconae, and any number of our people, not to count of those outside our own borders. I trust Marick with my life, and I trust that we can still trust him, and must forgive him, but that is not a sentiment widely shared, and he cannot help us, nor should he. We are surrounded by enemies and friends, here, in the other clans, on the Council, and the worst of it is that they are each and every one of them one in the same under the right circumstance. People are just people, Satsi, and they will do what they must to live. Never begrudge them this. Love them, because they all deserve it.
Do you know why I trusted Uji as my Proconsul? It wasn’t just because he is my family, and I have loved and relied on him, or because I knew the content of his character would be enough to make up for my own weaknesses. It was because he is selfish. He wants a world he doesn’t belong in, yes, in all his honor, but the fact of it is that he still wants the world. He wants things to be by his design and control. He wants better for what he cares about, like Samantha’s tomorrow and your tomorrow and his Clan’s tomorrow, yes, so long as it is his. He would not let us be destroyed, even if he had to betray any one of us to ensure that. And I admit, in my own selfishness, I feared what the Throne would do to him if he sat it. I trusted, but I feared. Those who actively want for power are doomed by it, and I do not want him to fall when he has risen so far.
I trust that same selfishness in you even as I despair at it. You do not want power. You want peace. Don’t laugh — I know better than you do. Leave you alone, and you will be content because you are free. Intrude on what is yours, and you are all fight and fury. You have always been so predictable, Satsi. You’ve never been wrong about my using you, no matter how little I like to admit it. You are misguided in many things, my dear, but not in that. You are who you are, and you will do as you will, without repentance and with far too much stubbornness to ever be made to do otherwise. It always made you a very safe bet when your brother was too clever by half.
That is why I am doing this, Satsi. That is why I am making you my heir, and why you will find all our systems keyed to your biometrics and no one else’s, why the DIA and our armed forces have all been put under your command. I need you to protect Arcona like you would protect your family, and I need to motivate you to do it when you would rather do, I expect, quite literally anything else. So, I leave you with one simple plea.
Do not let these people make an orphan of your daughter. Put the weight of all Arcona’s resources and powers between her and anything you would shield her from. Fight for what is yours, as I have made this clan yours.
You’re good at that, dearie.
Go with my love, and know that everything will be okay. Have the faith I know you do, Satsi. Ashla and Bogan watch over us all.
May the Force be with you. Always.
It’d been months, and still all Satsi could think was, you bitch. Atyiru was like an infection; she got to you and suddenly you’re fever crazy, wanting to rise up to what she saw in you, be better because she thought you could be. Satsi had thought she’d been able to resist that banthafodder, all these years.
But right then, as she shook herself and her head stopped spinning so bad and she got back the sense in Bly’s words, she thought, I can’t anymore. She thought right then about how many times she’d fallen asleep standing up in her shower lately and thought, frak this.
It’s too much. She’s not Atty, never was, never tried to be or said so, but the fact is she’s not and this thing, this thing needs an Atty. Someone who gives a shit. Someone whose priority is the clan, actually willing to run themselves into the ground until there’s no blood left to bleed, and that’s not Satsi. She gives every thing she has for her brother and their daughter and the family they’ve picked up along the way. Arcona? Arcona could burn for all she cared.
I did what you wanted, she thought of the Miraluka, remembering her smile. The memory comes with anger. Anger at Atyiru and anger that she wasn’t there anymore to be angry at. I did what you frakking asked. I got these frakker through the war when nobody else could and dammit, Pigtails, damn you, that’s all you get. I’m done.
She didn’t want this one more second. She was sick of being late for this, late for that, late for love, all her life. She wanted to go home. She wanted caf for her and Uji and berry juice for Sammy in the mornings, sitting watching holos, swimming in the ocean and messy castles in the sand. She wanted talking late at night, taking walks, little games, reading holos together about bunnies and tookas and rancors and teaching Sammy everything from her alphabet to holochess to how to cripple someone who tried to touch her without her permission. Speeder rides with the stain Sammy had left in the back seat on her booster and the millions of pairs of socks the toddler just kept taking off. She wanted that before it was gone, gone, gone.
“I worked hard to make this me,” she muttered to the stones, feeling her eyes burn. Bly cut off whatever he was saying to stare at her questioningly. “I ain’t gonna waste it now that I got a home to go to at all. My kid’s not gonna grow up without her mom and daddy. I’m done being away from her, and him, and I’m done trying to fix anything from up here. I’m gonna get down there in those goddamn streets and make her a home she can care about. And you can’t stop me.”
Atyiru wasn’t there, but somehow, she was still arguing with the damn girl. Like her frakkin’ conscience or something. It really frakking figured.
“I can’t…what, ma’am?” her Guard Captain asked, and Satsi shook her head again, pushing past all her aches and straightening up to stand.
“Wasn’t talkin’ to you, Bly. Listen, you’re gonna have to get the Ryn up here fast, and you’re gonna have to put all that advising of yours to use, and point me in the direction where the fighting’s worst. I’m done, Bly. I’m done trying to be something I’m really not, and I think you need to be done trying to manage me. Let’s both do what we do better, yeah? You get your new Shadow Lord settled to hold down the fort for a little bit, 'til we got someone invested, and coordinate the men, and I’ll go blow up whatever you tell me to.”
The wily captain was much more dangerous and clever than anyone ever gave him credit for — which was sort of the point — and he gazed back at her with appraising eyes. Slowly, a smile cracked at hiss lips. It was miniscule, more a twitch, and last just a second, but it was there.
“Justs get down to Capac Ring. You’ll find something to help with, I think.”
He didn’t say ma’am. Shadows, she loved this frakker.
“Aye, aye. And Bly? Thanks,” replied Satsi, turning around then and moving for the armory instead of the meeting rooms. She could play at politician all day, but really, she was a fighter. She thrived when she had a war.
And it was about time to go find one.