After our attack on the ave lab this morning, Ling found the goblins, and she dragged me to the meeting. Goblins were these monkey-demons who liked to nest at the top of skyscrapers and stuff like that. I thought it sounded pretty cool, actually. The problem?
I didn’t have the buffs to get to the nest.
So now I was stuck on the street outside, feeling like an idiot, while Ling tried to see if she could talk to Turgay, or at least get his location. He had apparently been negotiating with the goblins today, and he was the last lead on Mitchel St. John.
I could have probably let Ling go alone, both here and earlier, with the lab. But I…something about it just didn’t feel like a good idea. My guns diffused a tense situation with the aves, and I had figured I might be helpful here, too.
Of course, I had also assumed I wouldn’t be stuck a few dozen floors below the action.
After a few more minutes of waiting, my phone rang. Not Ling’s ring tone, or any of the other Paladins or the retinue, or even my mom’s. Just five simple beeps. MC’s ring tone
I nearly dropped the stupid thing as I scrambled to answer it as fast as possible. It might not be an emergency, but it usually was. And with Elizabeth still running free…
“MC? What’s up?”
“Adam Andrew Anders?”
“Um…yes?” It definitely sounded like MC, but why would she not know who she was talking to?
“Due to petitions about your local senators, South Central Senate is holding a vote of no-confidence today,” she said calmly.
Oh…I recognized it now. This was one of MC’s programs. I talked to the real one so much, I had almost forgotten. Besides, the fakes usually only called when I had asked for something before.
“Back up,” I said. “To start with, are you sure I’m even registered to vote? I’m not really sure how citizenship works in this place—”
“I registered you myself,” the computerized voice interrupted. “And you were given citizenship by Artemis Butler.”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess that makes sense.” Sort of. From a very skewed perspective like his. I scratched my head. “So…how does this work? I’m a little busy right now, so I can’t really go to a voter’s booth or whatever.”
“That will not be necessary. You can do your voting over the phone.”
I blinked. That seemed…like a bad idea. “Uh. Don’t I need a password, or anything?”
“If you like. But none is required. Do you want to set up security now?”
“No. No, that’s fine. I’ll deal with that later.” Lily, or maybe even Laura, could help me with it. Hell, I could just talk to the real MC, if she had time. “Just tell me what I’m voting on.”
“A vote of no-confidence has been called on Senator Evangel McDowell, for his handling of the screamers and the Composer.”
…huh. “What exactly did he do wrong?”
“His opponents claim that by bringing in Necessarius, he failed to coordinate the local cultures properly, leading to unneeded deaths and destruction.”
“Okay. And what does he say?”
“That the cultures would have just bickered and argued while the screamers rampaged through the district.”
I licked my lips. From what I understood of the way senators worked in Domina, the point was kinda that he should have forced them to work together anyway, and that he was being lazy by pawning it off to the ‘sarians.
“What happens if he loses?”
“The other senator from South Central, Senator Odin, will cover his duties until his replacement can be sworn in. The next election is December 10th, and the replacement will be sworn in by the end of that month.”
Right, that all made…some kind of sense. Was there anything else I needed to know? “Who’s running against him?”
“No one is running, this is a vote of no-confidence—”
“No, what I mean is, who will be running, if he gets booted out.”
“Erebus Argyris for the Iluvatar party. Gawain Jernigan is the Banyan candidate. Nahum Avner is the most likely to run for the Kongeegens. The only Granit of note in the area is Laima Ozoliņš, so she will likely be running as well.”
I rubbed my forehead. Dad always said not to get involved in politics. Said it was a bad investment, a zero-sum game. On the other hand, he also said to make sure I had all the information when making a decision. Okay, that was advice I disregarded pretty much all the time, but this was a time I could actually stop and ask questions.
“Iluvatar, Banyan, Kon…Kon…”
“Kongeegen and Granit,” MC’s fake voice finished. “Those are the four major political parties of Domina City.”
“Right. I guess I kinda assumed the cultures just ran everything.”
“The cultures tend to be too chaotic to hold actual political office. Senator Odin, the other South Central senator, is one of the few exceptions.”
Well, I could certainly understand that reasoning. I let out a breath. “Why don’t you give me the cliff-notes version of the parties. Not their entire platforms or anything, just…what do they stand for?”
“The Iluvatar are the isolationist faction. They wish to keep the city from interfering with the outside world and vice versa as much as possible. Senator McDowell is a member of this party, as is Artemis Butler.”
Huh. That was interesting. I was guessing they were the guys in charge of all the propaganda I had been hearing from my mom and security chief, too.
“The Banyan—more properly referred to as the Great Banyan—are the expansionist party. They wish to make peaceable inroads with friendly nations, who will respect Domina City’s status as an independent city-state.”
Those guys would be the ones who arranged for the treaty with Shaohao and the other space colonies, I assumed. I could check that later, but right now I was content to just let the fake MC continue.
“The social Darwinists of the city are represented by the Kongeegen party. They believe in survival of the fittest.”
…aaand they would be the guys who thought it was a good idea to let the cultures run around killing each other.
“Lastly, the Granit are the imperial party. They wish to carve out a place for Domina in the world by force.”
I blinked. Wait, what?
“Back up,” I said slowly. By force you mean—”
“War,” MC replied without any extra emotion. “Several battle plans have been proposed, but none have passed through both the Senate and the House. The most popular, which called for a first-strike attack on key military bases using modified diseases—”
“Stop. Just…stop.” This goddamned city. “I’m voting to keep Senator McDowell in.” I had known I was going to do that from the start. I might not have spent as much time with him as Derek and Laura, but he seemed sane enough, and I was friends with his niece—even if I hadn’t seen her in a while. “Please e-mail me links to the parties’ websites, and set a daily reminder telling me to study them.”
“Done and done. Anything else?”
I almost said no, before stopping myself. “Actually, yes. Can you tell me where Ling Yu is right now?”
“She is on top of the building you are standing in front of.”
Well, I was sitting, but I guess the GPS wasn’t perfect. “And is there anyone with her?”
“There are twenty-two registered goblins on or near the roof.” Near the roof? Oh, they were probably in some sort of structures built on top of the skyscraper. Ling had mentioned they liked making elaborate clubhouse things. “Would you like an individual list?”
“No, that’s fine.” I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get that much information if I wasn’t a Paladin. Those security passes were good for more than just ‘sarian checkpoints. “Who is she standing closest to right now?”
“Kolman Hoffman. He is the highest-ranked goblin in the area.”
That would be who Ling was talking to, trying to get info on Turgay. Oh, speaking of which… “Is Turgay up there?”
“Turgay Corvi’s phone has not been used or even moved in five weeks. It is assumed that he abandoned it.”
Well, of course. When you steal from an organization that employs the girl who invented your phone’s user interface, that’s pretty much your only choice.
“Ling Yu is now moving,” MC amended. “Based on her trajectory, it appears she is falling off the building. Should I call an ambulance?”
I looked up to see that Ling was indeed floating down from the rooftop, using the armor she was still wearing under her clothes to slow her fall. “No, she’ll be fine.” I thought for a second. “Do you ask that for everyone, or…?”
“Ling is tagged as capable of surviving such a fall,” the program explained. “In normal circumstances, I would have simply called the ambulance.”
“Ah, gotcha. We’ll probably need directions soon, but for now we’re good.”
“Have a good day, mister Anders.”
I snapped my phone shut just as Ling landed lightly on the sidewalk in front of me.
“Who was that?” she asked immediately.
“Just MC, calling about voting. More importantly, should you be flying in plain daylight?”
She shrugged. “No one’s really around. Besides, I told the goblins I just have a bunch of buffs and stuff, and that’s why I could jump ten feet straight up and stuff.”
I scowled. “I doubt they’ll believe that ‘a bunch of buffs’ lets you slow down your falling speed.”
“Whatever. Not really important right now.”
That made me perk up. “You found Turgay?”
“Maybe.” She bit her lip. “I found a lab where he’s supposed to be. But he won’t be there until Sunday.”
That was weird. It was still Friday. “What’s he doing til then?”
“Wandering around the city, I guess. The aves were always pretty nomadic, and a lot of them basically abandoned G’Hanir after they stole the toy box. He’s probably meeting with high-ranking aves and stuff.”
“Hm. Soaring Eagle?”
“Probably. Maybe it’s a status report.”
I had to smile at that. “’Dame Eagle, I regret to inform you we have made no progress on the toy box. Also, an old friend of mine ripped one of our labs in half. We’re going to need more money.’”
Ling punched me in the shoulder, hard. “Ass.” But she was smiling too. “C’mon, we got a couple days to kill. Let’s get something to eat.”
Behind the Scenes (scene 185)
This is one I’ve been meaning to do for a while, to give more insight into actual Domina politics. I think it came out pretty well.