The Interface - Chapter 9 (Rough Draft)

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Start from the beginning! https://steemit.com/story/@nateq/the-interface-chapter-1-rough-draft

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Dandleroy Russeldorf sighed and rubbed his temples as the feed cut from his vision. He knew exactly why Earh Dunwick wanted to see the girl- Damage control.

Propaganda was always the first thing on Earh's mind, and what was on Earh's mind was usually the first thing on Roy's mind. He himself had his own form of damage control, the type that resulted in less suffering and death. More than likely the Grand Chancellor was going to parade Thea out in front of the people, like a heroic soldier returning from the battlefield to shower her with praise for her bravery. By the last report he had bothered to open the notification for, it showed 14 dead Judicators. The reports continued to file in his HUD, but he ignored them.

It had been a good 2 years since an uproar like this. Bronze Citizens may have finally reached their breaking point, but the crowd would be inevitably swayed from violence to cheers. At least he prayed to God they would. Surely they knew the instant death they faced...

Roy stood alone in the room he had excused himself to for the call with Earh. He tried to rack his brain for the best possible outcome of the situation.

Dandleroy had long pestered Earh about the behavior of the Judicators. But everything had gotten so much worse as of late... Dandleroy needed to pick his battles if he was to keep his position. The thought made him feel terribly guilty; but convincing Earh to keep the food rations from decreasing was already hard enough. If he lost his position as Vice Chancellor, there is no telling who Earh would fill his position with and what new type of horrors would become commonplace. At least in this position he had some influence. He didn't care about his own life, but he did have a modicum of influence in this world and he had not yet found the right person to take his place.

It had taken him a long time, but he had finally figured out his own place in life. He had been born just a few years after the massive nuclear strike that had reshaped the world. Roy always said he considered himself lucky that his whole childhood had been a struggle against nature, not people.

His Earth Throwing abilities had been discovered when he was 16, and it had shaped his life ever since. One day when he was alone in the fields he became frustrated with his task of clearing boulders and rocks out of the soil. He remembered how he swiped his hand at the rocks in a mocking fashion, as if to shoo them away. To his shock and amazement, some of the rocks rolled off the topsoil. He still told that story at dinner parties.

It wasn't until he was a young man of 18 that his countryside had finally been threatened with the prospect of invasion by the Water Throwers. He had never meant for things to go as far as they did; he had just been a reliable soldier that was liked by most. This, and a few war decorations, earned him a nomination to become a Cardinal in the Earth Temple.

The life of a Cardinal was supposed to be fun and carefree, as the position was really a fluff spot to placate the people. There was no real responsibility of a Cardinal, other than to attend meetings and make public appearances. At first Dandleroy loved every second of his newfound celebrity status. The Bronze loved seeing him, and praises for his leadership showered him everywhere he went. It was intoxicating, being worshiped as an idol.

The charm of it all eventually wore off when he began to realize the true contempt the Men at the Table had for the Bronze. His childhood that he cherished so dearly was no longer an option for them; They weren't even allowed to have children. Once Dandleroy finally realized the slavery that they endured, it wore on him to no end. At some point it had all become hollow. He felt insanely guilty whenever a Bronze cheered his arrival, or called out phrases admonishing him.

He spent a few years keeping his head as low and doing his best to do as little harm to others as possible. The people had begun to love him even more for his random acts of generosity and kindness. For some strange reason, Earh Dunwick nominated Dandleroy to be his Vice Chancellor when he took over as Grand Chancellor several years ago. Roy's peers had again unanimously agreed that he was the correct man for the position, placing him at the near pinnacle of the power structure, technically 3 seats away from the Men at the Table.

His newfound power and influence made him contemplate what the actual purpose of life was. His control gave him no sense of self satisfaction, but his generosity did, strangely enough. Roy found himself doing everything in his power to make life better for everyone around him, but Earh Dunwick had slowly reigned him in and used his own authority to make it near impossible to do good.

All of this led to the exact reason Dandleroy had sought Thea before Earh could speak with her. The video had made him sick to his stomach; not for the violence- but the pure evil of the Judicator who had tried to attack the young Bronze woman. He was disgusted by the whole ordeal, and just as confused by it. Roy had no idea who had made the mistake, but Earh would have never approved the release of that video to the live stream, let alone specifically broadcasting it to every Bronze. It was like someone had deliberately tried to start a riot by broadcasting this travesty. He shook his head and turned around to walk back into the room Thea had been waiting in.

Roy had immediately called for two Silver female Doctors to come inspect Thea. The young woman was sitting in a large chair, looking slightly scared but indignant just the same. The Doctors were quietly typing away and speaking in hushed tones, both staring at the same area of space indicating they had their HUD's linked. Thea looked suspiciously at Roy.

“How are you feeling, miss?” Roy tried his warmest smile on her. Thea responded with a flat, “fine.” She folded her hands in her lap as her facial expression went completely blank. Roy could only imagine that today was the most difficult day she had ever faced. It was impressive how composed she kept herself. The Judicator that had reached her first after the ordeal was in the middle of sentencing her to death on the spot. Quite a day for a young person. To kill your rapist, then be saved at the last second from a death sentence.

“I assure you that I have nothing but your best intentions at heart, young Thea. I am also truly sorry for what you had to endure today...” Thea's furrowed brow softened a bit, then went back down into a defensive look. Earh continued, “Please let me know if there is anything else I can get for you.” He gave a small smile again, and this time Thea responded tersely.

“I need nothing more from the Men at the Table, sir. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. May I please be excused to return home now?”

What a difficult situation. She obviously didn't trust him, and who could blame her? Roy needed to convince the girl to cooperate, as it was in everyone's best interest. His nose wrinkled a bit as he tried to figure the best way to approach her.

“Are you aware that the... ahem... ordeal.... was live streamed to the Interface?”
The look of shock on Thea's face proved she did not. Roy continued- “The entire Bronze population witnessed your bravery.” He paused to let the situation sink in on Thea.

She looked confused as she processed the implications, then her face went to a picture of clarity. “So that is why the Judicator was told not to kill me.” She nodded her head as the pieces started to click together. Roy couldn't help but smile. What a clever girl.

His smile disappeared quickly as the seriousness of the situation took hold. “The Bronze are rioting in the streets over this, both Male and Female. You are a figure in a movement now, whether you like it or not.” Thea's brow shot upwards as her eyes widened at the thought. She shifted her weight for a moment as she sighed. Roy could tell how smart the girl was; she wanted nothing to do with this and to go home pretending nothing had happened.

Dandleroy gently but firmly told her the words she needed to hear. “I wish this had never happened to you, I truly do. But the fact of the matter is, it DID happen, and a lot of people are out causing trouble over this as we speak. I must insist that you address the people before you return home. At minimum, please tell them to stop rioting. There is no telling what might happen if you don't...” Dandleroy trailed off as he didn't want to sound too morbid for the already distraught young woman.

The woman's face went low for a moment. This was understandably a lot to process. Thea wasn't completely sure she could trust Roy, but she felt that he had not lied to her... yet anyways. The seemingly kind Vice Chancellor had led the way from the living room of his home down to his garage. A specialized car was waiting there, full of Roy's bodyguards in their official Earth Temple tunic's. The silver colored Earth Temple emblem on their chests perfectly matched the silver triangles on their foreheads, giving them a uniformed look.

The garage door opened, and the car immediately whisked her and Roy from the home. There was no time to waste. Official Earth Temple vehicles had been parked outside waiting for the Vice Chancellor and his guest. Each vehicle was filled 4 deep with Earth Throwers, all of whom had the same silver triangles and emblems on their tunics. The vehicles with soldiers flanked either side of Roy's car as the convoy began to work its way along the barren streets.

No words had been spoken in the car on the way to the Temple, the car was big enough to have several spacious rows in the back and Dandleroy had entered first. He sat in the rear and pulled up a blank white partition, indicating he was busy using his HUD and needed privacy for the drive. Thea busied herself preparing for the small crowd she had assumed gathered. It hopefully wouldn't be too difficult to calm them down.

Thea's eye's widened as the car rounded the corner and she saw a massive throng of people about 100 yards away. 2 Judicators were hanging by their necks off of streetposts, with their signature glass pad strapped to their left hips. Several dead Bronze laid dead around the Judicators, most likely killed in the their final throes of death as they were being hung by the vicious mob.

Luckily for the motorcade, the crowd had been pressing forward with their backs turned to the vehicles. It was not too difficult to avoid attention, and the group was able to slip by unnoticed. The small row of cars drove forward a few yards, then ducked down one of the various tunnel entrances to the Earth Temple in a single file fashion.

Thea couldn't believe what she had just seen. All of those people were rioting for her. A strange sense of emotion welled inside of her. She wanted to cry. Not because of the rape. Well partly, but she had done that. But from the strange feeling of sudden responsibility. Did she do the right thing? She had killed a man! Taken a life!

Dread clawed her down into a sad state for a moment. She thought about backing out- telling Roy that she couldn't do this. She had no idea what she was supposed to say. That was at least 300 people she had just seen! Thea tried to imagine 3 or 4 thousand people all just as angry as the small mob she had just witnessed. Fear began to sidle its way into the corners of her mind.

A righteous anger suddenly drowned out everything. No. She respected life. Vehemently. She did not kill the Judicator in anger. She did not kill that man in jealousy or rage. It was in self defense, and in no way immoral. Pure, righteous, self defense. And she would not apologize for it. No matter what happened. It started to hit her was she was going to say.

Their group was met with a specialized cart and 2 Earth Cardinals waiting to rush them through the labyrinth of the Temple. Dandleroy and Thea both sat in the back seat of the cart which started to whir down the tunnel as soon as the pair had gotten situated. A well built man, with sandy blonde hair and full lips, turned around in the front passenger seat and gave a friendly smile to Thea.

“Hello miss, my name is Pax.” He dropped his voice and like he was telling Thea a secret. “Some people call me Cardinal Pax.” He then gave a slight shrug and smiled at her. The man looked to be in his late 50's, and had a nice smile and kind eyes, much like Roy.

Thea meekly returned the smile. His goofy attempt at an introduction was slightly endearing.“Hello, Pax. My name is Thea.”

Pax's smile transitioned to a grin. “Miss Thea, I do believe everyone in the Earth District already knows your name.” He paused and dropped his tone and smile momentarily. “I am terribly sorry for what you had to go through.. Everyone feels the same way about it... But you really gave that bastard hell, didn't you?!” His wide smile covered his face again.

Thea ignored his small talk as the cart made a sharp turn down a different tunnel. Her mind had gone to the crowd of people she had seen outside. Instantly she spoke what she was thinking to the powerful men beside her. “Please do not hurt the people who are rioting. I can calm them down.”

Pax and Roy's eyebrows shot up and they looked at each other, with slight incredulity which melted into a smile. Roy responded. 'The Earth Throwers are under strict orders to harm no Bronze who are rioting right now, all Temple Officials have been told to stay indoors.” He tried to place a well meaning hand on Thea's in a reassuring manner, but she jerked away instantly, warily eyeing him up and down for a split second.

Thea gathered herself and sat up straight defensively. She felt that these men could be trusted, but who knew if she would ever be able to trust a man again?

Roy instantly apologized as he also jerked his hand back. “I am extremely sorry Thea, I admit you remind me of the daughter I once had, and I lost myself for a moment. I assure you I will not touch you again, as will no one else under my strictest orders. You have my personal guarantee.” The seriousness of Roy's face made her feel like he meant well, along with Pax solemnly nodding in agreement. She became slightly embarrassed at her own jumpiness, but showed no further emotion and simply nodded herself.

She felt deep down that she needed to govern her emotions with the strictest discipline. Especially when she spoke to the Bronze Citizens soon. Her nerves started to tingle as real adrenaline and nervousness began to make her thoughts race. It was strange, having a real problem to confront and be nervous about. Instantly she stopped thinking about how she felt, and focused on everything around her. She wouldn't let herself think about the consequences of this speech failing. Failure was not an option.

The cart whirred around another bend in the tunnel and Thea began to see Earth Soldiers lining the hallways. All eyes were staring at her while they drove down the tunnel. What a strange feeling. She chose to ignore it, there much more pressing matters to attend to. The soldiers on either side of the tunnel began to thin out as the cart approached the end of the tunnel they were traveling down. The cart stopped and everyone immediately exited towards the lone doorway at the end of the hall.

It was a short walk down one last hallway before the Trio of VIP's made it to the room Earh was in. A tremendous roar could be heard outside... This crowd sounded much bigger than a few thousand.

“Ah! The hero has arrived!” Earh clapped his hands jovially. “Let have a look at you!” He walked up and eyed her up and down, quite deliberately. Thea's skin crawled but she stood stoically. “Ah Thea, is it? Well I can see why the Judicator got so worked up! I think you will find this experience to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Are you ready?”

Thea gracefully gave a small nod and curtsy while smiling sweetly, appearing serene and gentle on the exterior. Inside she instantly loathed him, and quite honestly felt like taking a curtain rod to him as well. This man definitely could not be trusted.

Earh clapped his hands together once in a dramatic fashion and pointed his finger at Thea while looking around at the various faces in the room. “Now that, is a good woman that can follow directions. All of you Cardinals are lucky she has no Earth Throwing ability or I'd replace one of you tonight! HA! Maybe I'll have to take you on a date myself, Thea. Who wouldn't want that at your beck and call?” He turned and bowed towards her, mockingly returning the courtesy she had just shown him. “Please lead the way. I'd like to watch.”

Pax and Roy both stood with their mouths open at the disgustingly brazen sleaziness Earh Dunwick had just displayed. Thea was incredibly surprised at her own reaction, her composure had gained with the man's nastiness. It became slightly comical to her, really. Maybe she would feign interest in him and kill him in his bedchamber. A chill rushed over her that her mind could even think that thought, but her face remained a picture of serenity as she calmly brushed past him and pushed open the doors to the balcony. Earh looked slightly taken aback that she ignored him, but broke into a smile and followed behind her after a brief awkward pause.

A tremendous roar like the loudest thunder Thea had ever heard exploded from the sea of people on the streets below. On both sides of the wall, men and women stretched out as far as she could see normally, with the help of her HUD it showed that there were people for MILES. She hugged to the wall as soon as the doors had opened. The entire Earth District had gathered there. Thea shook her head for a moment as the enormity of the noise and energy hit her, trying to reorient her senses to adjust for the insanity.

Thea hung back as Earh Dunwick strode confidently forward until he was a few feet from the edge of the balcony. An intense chorus of hateful hissing and insults began to ring through the changed tone of the crowd. Earh rose his hands in an attempt to silence them. The infuriated mob just began to scream louder, and a bottle even had been hurled from somewhere off in the crowd, crashing and breaking a good 15 feet away from Earh on the balcony. He began to smile as he patiently allowed their energy to build to another crescendo. A good 10-15 seconds passed of rabblerousing, then the screaming died down slightly for a moment. Earh took his opportunity and interjected to the crowd before it could get riled again.

“I called this gathering because I agree with you. The situation we find ourselves in is quite devastating indeed...” Earh trailed off as if lost in thought about the terrible event. The crowd died down into mutters and curses. Thea stood back out of sight as best as she could. “I believe you all know the Judicator is already dead though, who else is left to punish?”

More anger exploded from the infuriated crowd. Thea could tell they wanted blood. All of this was about much more than her. The oppression and the hunger, coupled with the mind games... all of it was almost too much for anyone to bear.

She stepped forward, into the view of the crowd. Earh had begun to speak again when Thea had made it near the front of the platform. Both of them winced slightly at the veracity of the noise that exploded when they noticed her. Thea immediately recovered her posture and began to smile brightly, waving at the crowd who had momentarily been swayed to heartfelt cheers of approval. The sudden and ferocious change in energy was a marvel by itself.

That's when things took a strange turn. Earh had walked to Thea's side, simultaneously grabbing her hand to raise it in the air in a move to pander to the crowd. Thea immediately turned and tried to jerk her hand away. Earh did not let go. Thea furrowed her brow at Earh, while Earh returned the eye contact and cocked his eyebrow. The crowd hushed immediately. Thea tried to jerk away one more time, but the Grand Chancellor still did not let go. A look of anger went on Earh's face as he stubbornly held onto her hand. He was not going to let go. Thea also cocked her head to the side.

Slap

The entire Earth district gasped as Thea slapped the Grand Chancellor right across the face with her free hand. A completely shocked Earh dropped her hand and reached to rub his face, while the crowd went absolutely bonkers with cheers and screams of vindictive joy. Thea backed away, mortified at her own bravado. What on Earth had gotten into her?

Earh flashed an insanely murderous look at Thea. It was the exact same look that the Judicator had given her when he first broke down the door to the bathroom. Earh's hand had cocked down beside his waist, holding his fingers in a strange formation, almost as if he could kill her somehow if he struck. Thea immediately decided she did not care if she died. She stood up straight in a dignified manner and stuck out her chin. She would die on her feet and with pride. The entire Earth District showered her with adoration. The noise had reached it's climax here. Earh kept his horrifying gaze on her for a good ten seconds while the crowd screamed in approval. He closed his eyes for a moment. Slowly his hand relaxed and his brow unfurrowed. He opened his eyes and smiled. Earh then slowly walked up close to her, stuck his face in, and winked. He then casually turned back towards the crowd with a smile and threw his hands up in an “oops” gesture.

“Well I think she deserves one, wouldn't you say folks?” The crowd was absolutely enamored by the interaction, especially with him “playing the good sport.” Cheers of approval erupted instantly as Earh had successfully maneuvered the emotional energy of the people. The crowd that had wanted him dead 10 minutes ago was suddenly back under Earh Dunwick's complete attention. He stood with his arms out and a warm smile on his face, drinking in the praise and adoration. Patiently he waited for them to settle down. They slowly hushed to hear him continue.

“Despite her mean left hand, I was going to ask your opinion on promoting her to a Silver Citizen!” Earh Dunwick rubbed his jaw in a playful gesture as the crowd launched into deafening cheers of approval yet again. He was playing the crowd like a fiddle and they didn't care- the sweetness of seeing a righteous outcome from this terrible situation made them forget all of Earh's past transgressions in the moment.

A promotion?! Thea's eyes widened in shock towards Earh. He smiled warmly at her and gave a beckoning hand. She hesitated for a second, which garnered a prodding from the crowd. After a few seconds she walked forward, very tentatively.

“I won't bite.” Earh said, with an obviously fake smile. The crowd didn't seem to notice and was eating up every second of it. Thea stepped up next to Earh, but kept her face to the crowd and did not look at him. Earh raised his hand for a moment, then lowered it again as if remembering something. “I am going to touch your forehead now, if that's ok.” The crowd began to laugh again. Thea looked at Earh as the man did not wait for her to respond, pressing his palm directly onto her Interface.

Dandleroy had just made it in time to catch Thea as she fainted from her brain resetting. Cheers and applause rang through the streets as the live HUD cam showed Thea's new Silver Interface shining brightly on her forehead. She had passed out from the suddenness of her Interface reformatting, soon she would be up and well enough to enjoy her newfound promotion.

Earh should have given her a better warning, but he probably knew that. Two Temple Guards walked up to carry the unconscious Thea away from the balcony. Roy had whispered to the pair to take her inside and he would be there momentarily. The crowd was still going insane, extremely pleased that “Justice” had been served, and had started to chant The-a , The-a, The-a, while she was gently carried away.

Earh stood there basking in the happiness the crowd was now projecting. His voice was upbeat and pleasant as he began to speak again. “I want to take one last opportunity to profusely thank you all for communicating your concerns... Need I remind you how bad this could have been for everyone. We need to keep the peace! Make sure to address your concerns less violently next time. This outcry was understandable, but The Men at the Table are gracious to all of you.” The crowd began murmuring as nervousness began to creep through. The realization had suddenly hit them that technically they had all just rebelled and turned Objector. Some cries of outrage still rang out from among the crowd. Expletives could even be heard, and insults towards the Grand Chancellor. Most of the crowd stood uneasily, not wanting to incriminate themselves further.

Earh sensed this, and continued in a positive manner. “No punishments for foul behavior will come from this evening's circumstances, as long as we all make sure this never happens again. Is that a deal?” The crowd responded in mass agreement, cheering and clapping with as much gusto as they could manage. This overwhelmed those that were still angry, and the deafening roar drowned out the Nay sayers. Earh was beaming at them, this time genuinely. He truly enjoyed the praise and adoration, but much more than that he enjoyed pulling the strings as deftly as he had just done.

He decided to add the final icing on the cake. “Good! I am glad you are all in good spirits again. Tomorrow, as a special reward, we will be offering a Colosseum credit to every Bronze citizen! First come, first serve admission, and free broadcast of the entertainment for all!” The erupting crowd overwhelmed his final words. “Goodnight everyone!”

Earh turned and walked back into the Temple, completely satisfied with himself for how he handled the entire situation. The crowd was extremely pleased now, and the noise was suddenly drowned out as he closed the doors behind him. Everything went extremely well, come to think of it. He would definitely kill Thea, but only after a few weeks and the situation had died down. The people would forget her soon enough...

Earh called Moon through his HUD as soon as he had entered the Temple. The ugly, hook nosed face popped into his vision. “Yes, Grand Chancellor?” The greasy man was a brown noser to the highest extent, and would do anything to stay in the favor of Earh.

Earh calmly informed Moon how things were going to transpire. He truly hated this man and would have no use for him down the road, but for now he could be utilized. “Circumstances have arisen. Tomorrow you will put on an epic fight for the entire Bronze nation. Free admittance for all who come, first come first serve. I expect it to be a madhouse, make sure to have your full staff at the ready for crowd control.”

The ugly man's eyes bulged out. “FREE admission! FOR EVERYONE?!” He began to rapidly stammer out words of protest which were quickly silenced by a raised hand from Earh.

“I realize it might be inconvenient for you, but your country needs you. Put on an amazing show, Moon. Lot's and lot's of blood. The people need some violence to take their minds off of things. I am counting on you to do a good job. Do not disappoint me.”

With that final phrase, Earh disconnected the call. He glanced at his HUD and realized that the entire ordeal started and ended within an hour. He smiled with the satisfaction of knowing how easily his sheep were led, and dismissed all of the Cardinals. There would be no more use for them this evening. Confidently he walked to his personalized cart and jumped inside. There was still time to catch the ending of his favorite sitcom. Within seconds he was roaring along with the overlaid audience laugh track as his cart whisked him through the halls of the Earth Temple back to his chamber.Dandleroy Russeldorf sighed and rubbed his temples as the feed cut from his vision. He knew exactly why Earh Dunwick wanted to see the girl- Damage control.

Propaganda was always the first thing on Earh's mind, and what was on Earh's mind was usually the first thing on Roy's mind. He himself had his own form of damage control, the type that resulted in less suffering and death. More than likely the Grand Chancellor was going to parade Thea out in front of the people, like a heroic soldier returning from the battlefield to shower her with praise for her bravery. By the last report he had bothered to open the notification for, it showed 14 dead Judicators. The reports continued to file in his HUD, but he ignored them.

It had been a good 2 years since an uproar like this. Bronze Citizens may have finally reached their breaking point, but the crowd would be inevitably swayed from violence to cheers. At least he prayed to God they would. Surely they knew the instant death they faced...

Roy stood alone in the room he had excused himself to for the call with Earh. He tried to rack his brain for the best possible outcome of the situation.

Dandleroy had long pestered Earh about the behavior of the Judicators. But everything had gotten so much worse as of late... Dandleroy needed to pick his battles if he was to keep his position. The thought made him feel terribly guilty; but convincing Earh to keep the food rations from decreasing was already hard enough. If he lost his position as Vice Chancellor, there is no telling who Earh would fill his position with and what new type of horrors would become commonplace. At least in this position he had some influence. He didn't care about his own life, but he did have a modicum of influence in this world and he had not yet found the right person to take his place.

It had taken him a long time, but he had finally figured out his own place in life. He had been born just a few years after the massive nuclear strike that had reshaped the world. Roy always said he considered himself lucky that his whole childhood had been a struggle against nature, not people.

His Earth Throwing abilities had been discovered when he was 16, and it had shaped his life ever since. One day when he was alone in the fields he became frustrated with his task of clearing boulders and rocks out of the soil. He remembered how he swiped his hand at the rocks in a mocking fashion, as if to shoo them away. To his shock and amazement, some of the rocks rolled off the topsoil. He still told that story at dinner parties.

It wasn't until he was a young man of 18 that his countryside had finally been threatened with the prospect of invasion by the Water Throwers. He had never meant for things to go as far as they did; he had just been a reliable soldier that was liked by most. This, and a few war decorations, earned him a nomination to become a Cardinal in the Earth Temple.

The life of a Cardinal was supposed to be fun and carefree, as the position was really a fluff spot to placate the people. There was no real responsibility of a Cardinal, other than to attend meetings and make public appearances. At first Dandleroy loved every second of his newfound celebrity status. The Bronze loved seeing him, and praises for his leadership showered him everywhere he went. It was intoxicating, being worshiped as an idol.

The charm of it all eventually wore off when he began to realize the true contempt the Men at the Table had for the Bronze. His childhood that he cherished so dearly was no longer an option for them; They weren't even allowed to have children. Once Dandleroy finally realized the slavery that they endured, it wore on him to no end. At some point it had all become hollow. He felt insanely guilty whenever a Bronze cheered his arrival, or called out phrases admonishing him.

He spent a few years keeping his head as low and doing his best to do as little harm to others as possible. The people had begun to love him even more for his random acts of generosity and kindness. For some strange reason, Earh Dunwick nominated Dandleroy to be his Vice Chancellor when he took over as Grand Chancellor several years ago. Roy's peers had again unanimously agreed that he was the correct man for the position, placing him at the near pinnacle of the power structure, technically 3 seats away from the Men at the Table.

His newfound power and influence made him contemplate what the actual purpose of life was. His control gave him no sense of self satisfaction, but his generosity did, strangely enough. Roy found himself doing everything in his power to make life better for everyone around him, but Earh Dunwick had slowly reigned him in and used his own authority to make it near impossible to do good.

All of this led to the exact reason Dandleroy had sought Thea before Earh could speak with her. The video had made him sick to his stomach; not for the violence- but the pure evil of the Judicator who had tried to attack the young Bronze woman. He was disgusted by the whole ordeal, and just as confused by it. Roy had no idea who had made the mistake, but Earh would have never approved the release of that video to the live stream, let alone specifically broadcasting it to every Bronze. It was like someone had deliberately tried to start a riot by broadcasting this travesty. He shook his head and turned around to walk back into the room Thea had been waiting in.

Roy had immediately called for two Silver female Doctors to come inspect Thea. The young woman was sitting in a large chair, looking slightly scared but indignant just the same. The Doctors were quietly typing away and speaking in hushed tones, both staring at the same area of space indicating they had their HUD's linked. Thea looked suspiciously at Roy.

“How are you feeling, miss?” Roy tried his warmest smile on her. Thea responded with a flat, “fine.” She folded her hands in her lap as her facial expression went completely blank. Roy could only imagine that today was the most difficult day she had ever faced. It was impressive how composed she kept herself. The Judicator that had reached her first after the ordeal was in the middle of sentencing her to death on the spot. Quite a day for a young person. To kill your rapist, then be saved at the last second from a death sentence.

“I assure you that I have nothing but your best intentions at heart, young Thea. I am also truly sorry for what you had to endure today...” Thea's furrowed brow softened a bit, then went back down into a defensive look. Earh continued, “Please let me know if there is anything else I can get for you.” He gave a small smile again, and this time Thea responded tersely.

“I need nothing more from the Men at the Table, sir. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. May I please be excused to return home now?”

What a difficult situation. She obviously didn't trust him, and who could blame her? Roy needed to convince the girl to cooperate, as it was in everyone's best interest. His nose wrinkled a bit as he tried to figure the best way to approach her.

“Are you aware that the... ahem... ordeal.... was live streamed to the Interface?”
The look of shock on Thea's face proved she did not. Roy continued- “The entire Bronze population witnessed your bravery.” He paused to let the situation sink in on Thea.

She looked confused as she processed the implications, then her face went to a picture of clarity. “So that is why the Judicator was told not to kill me.” She nodded her head as the pieces started to click together. Roy couldn't help but smile. What a clever girl.

His smile disappeared quickly as the seriousness of the situation took hold. “The Bronze are rioting in the streets over this, both Male and Female. You are a figure in a movement now, whether you like it or not.” Thea's brow shot upwards as her eyes widened at the thought. She shifted her weight for a moment as she sighed. Roy could tell how smart the girl was; she wanted nothing to do with this and to go home pretending nothing had happened.

Dandleroy gently but firmly told her the words she needed to hear. “I wish this had never happened to you, I truly do. But the fact of the matter is, it DID happen, and a lot of people are out causing trouble over this as we speak. I must insist that you address the people before you return home. At minimum, please tell them to stop rioting. There is no telling what might happen if you don't...” Dandleroy trailed off as he didn't want to sound too morbid for the already distraught young woman.

The woman's face went low for a moment. This was understandably a lot to process. Thea wasn't completely sure she could trust Roy, but she felt that he had not lied to her... yet anyways. The seemingly kind Vice Chancellor had led the way from the living room of his home down to his garage. A specialized car was waiting there, full of Roy's bodyguards in their official Earth Temple tunic's. The silver colored Earth Temple emblem on their chests perfectly matched the silver triangles on their foreheads, giving them a uniformed look.

The garage door opened, and the car immediately whisked her and Roy from the home. There was no time to waste. Official Earth Temple vehicles had been parked outside waiting for the Vice Chancellor and his guest. Each vehicle was filled 4 deep with Earth Throwers, all of whom had the same silver triangles and emblems on their tunics. The vehicles with soldiers flanked either side of Roy's car as the convoy began to work its way along the barren streets.

No words had been spoken in the car on the way to the Temple, the car was big enough to have several spacious rows in the back and Dandleroy had entered first. He sat in the rear and pulled up a blank white partition, indicating he was busy using his HUD and needed privacy for the drive. Thea busied herself preparing for the small crowd she had assumed gathered. It hopefully wouldn't be too difficult to calm them down.

Thea's eye's widened as the car rounded the corner and she saw a massive throng of people about 100 yards away. 2 Judicators were hanging by their necks off of streetposts, with their signature glass pad strapped to their left hips. Several dead Bronze laid dead around the Judicators, most likely killed in the their final throes of death as they were being hung by the vicious mob.

Luckily for the motorcade, the crowd had been pressing forward with their backs turned to the vehicles. It was not too difficult to avoid attention, and the group was able to slip by unnoticed. The small row of cars drove forward a few yards, then ducked down one of the various tunnel entrances to the Earth Temple in a single file fashion.

Thea couldn't believe what she had just seen. All of those people were rioting for her. A strange sense of emotion welled inside of her. She wanted to cry. Not because of the rape. Well partly, but she had done that. But from the strange feeling of sudden responsibility. Did she do the right thing? She had killed a man! Taken a life!

Dread clawed her down into a sad state for a moment. She thought about backing out- telling Roy that she couldn't do this. She had no idea what she was supposed to say. That was at least 300 people she had just seen! Thea tried to imagine 3 or 4 thousand people all just as angry as the small mob she had just witnessed. Fear began to sidle its way into the corners of her mind.

A righteous anger suddenly drowned out everything. No. She respected life. Vehemently. She did not kill the Judicator in anger. She did not kill that man in jealousy or rage. It was in self defense, and in no way immoral. Pure, righteous, self defense. And she would not apologize for it. No matter what happened. It started to hit her was she was going to say.

Their group was met with a specialized cart and 2 Earth Cardinals waiting to rush them through the labyrinth of the Temple. Dandleroy and Thea both sat in the back seat of the cart which started to whir down the tunnel as soon as the pair had gotten situated. A well built man, with sandy blonde hair and full lips, turned around in the front passenger seat and gave a friendly smile to Thea.

“Hello miss, my name is Pax.” He dropped his voice and like he was telling Thea a secret. “Some people call me Cardinal Pax.” He then gave a slight shrug and smiled at her. The man looked to be in his late 50's, and had a nice smile and kind eyes, much like Roy.

Thea meekly returned the smile. His goofy attempt at an introduction was slightly endearing.“Hello, Pax. My name is Thea.”

Pax's smile transitioned to a grin. “Miss Thea, I do believe everyone in the Earth District already knows your name.” He paused and dropped his tone and smile momentarily. “I am terribly sorry for what you had to go through.. Everyone feels the same way about it... But you really gave that bastard hell, didn't you?!” His wide smile covered his face again.

Thea ignored his small talk as the cart made a sharp turn down a different tunnel. Her mind had gone to the crowd of people she had seen outside. Instantly she spoke what she was thinking to the powerful men beside her. “Please do not hurt the people who are rioting. I can calm them down.”

Pax and Roy's eyebrows shot up and they looked at each other, with slight incredulity which melted into a smile. Roy responded. 'The Earth Throwers are under strict orders to harm no Bronze who are rioting right now, all Temple Officials have been told to stay indoors.” He tried to place a well meaning hand on Thea's in a reassuring manner, but she jerked away instantly, warily eyeing him up and down for a split second.

Thea gathered herself and sat up straight defensively. She felt that these men could be trusted, but who knew if she would ever be able to trust a man again?

Roy instantly apologized as he also jerked his hand back. “I am extremely sorry Thea, I admit you remind me of the daughter I once had, and I lost myself for a moment. I assure you I will not touch you again, as will no one else under my strictest orders. You have my personal guarantee.” The seriousness of Roy's face made her feel like he meant well, along with Pax solemnly nodding in agreement. She became slightly embarrassed at her own jumpiness, but showed no further emotion and simply nodded herself.

She felt deep down that she needed to govern her emotions with the strictest discipline. Especially when she spoke to the Bronze Citizens soon. Her nerves started to tingle as real adrenaline and nervousness began to make her thoughts race. It was strange, having a real problem to confront and be nervous about. Instantly she stopped thinking about how she felt, and focused on everything around her. She wouldn't let herself think about the consequences of this speech failing. Failure was not an option.

The cart whirred around another bend in the tunnel and Thea began to see Earth Soldiers lining the hallways. All eyes were staring at her while they drove down the tunnel. What a strange feeling. She chose to ignore it, there much more pressing matters to attend to. The soldiers on either side of the tunnel began to thin out as the cart approached the end of the tunnel they were traveling down. The cart stopped and everyone immediately exited towards the lone doorway at the end of the hall.

It was a short walk down one last hallway before the Trio of VIP's made it to the room Earh was in. A tremendous roar could be heard outside... This crowd sounded much bigger than a few thousand.

“Ah! The hero has arrived!” Earh clapped his hands jovially. “Let have a look at you!” He walked up and eyed her up and down, quite deliberately. Thea's skin crawled but she stood stoically. “Ah Thea, is it? Well I can see why the Judicator got so worked up! I think you will find this experience to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Are you ready?”

Thea gracefully gave a small nod and curtsy while smiling sweetly, appearing serene and gentle on the exterior. Inside she instantly loathed him, and quite honestly felt like taking a curtain rod to him as well. This man definitely could not be trusted.

Earh clapped his hands together once in a dramatic fashion and pointed his finger at Thea while looking around at the various faces in the room. “Now that, is a good woman that can follow directions. All of you Cardinals are lucky she has no Earth Throwing ability or I'd replace one of you tonight! HA! Maybe I'll have to take you on a date myself, Thea. Who wouldn't want that at your beck and call?” He turned and bowed towards her, mockingly returning the courtesy she had just shown him. “Please lead the way. I'd like to watch.”

Pax and Roy both stood with their mouths open at the disgustingly brazen sleaziness Earh Dunwick had just displayed. Thea was incredibly surprised at her own reaction, her composure had gained with the man's nastiness. It became slightly comical to her, really. Maybe she would feign interest in him and kill him in his bedchamber. A chill rushed over her that her mind could even think that thought, but her face remained a picture of serenity as she calmly brushed past him and pushed open the doors to the balcony. Earh looked slightly taken aback that she ignored him, but broke into a smile and followed behind her after a brief awkward pause.

A tremendous roar like the loudest thunder Thea had ever heard exploded from the sea of people on the streets below. On both sides of the wall, men and women stretched out as far as she could see normally, with the help of her HUD it showed that there were people for MILES. She hugged to the wall as soon as the doors had opened. The entire Earth District had gathered there. Thea shook her head for a moment as the enormity of the noise and energy hit her, trying to reorient her senses to adjust for the insanity.

Thea hung back as Earh Dunwick strode confidently forward until he was a few feet from the edge of the balcony. An intense chorus of hateful hissing and insults began to ring through the changed tone of the crowd. Earh rose his hands in an attempt to silence them. The infuriated mob just began to scream louder, and a bottle even had been hurled from somewhere off in the crowd, crashing and breaking a good 15 feet away from Earh on the balcony. He began to smile as he patiently allowed their energy to build to another crescendo. A good 10-15 seconds passed of rabblerousing, then the screaming died down slightly for a moment. Earh took his opportunity and interjected to the crowd before it could get riled again.

“I called this gathering because I agree with you. The situation we find ourselves in is quite devastating indeed...” Earh trailed off as if lost in thought about the terrible event. The crowd died down into mutters and curses. Thea stood back out of sight as best as she could. “I believe you all know the Judicator is already dead though, who else is left to punish?”

More anger exploded from the infuriated crowd. Thea could tell they wanted blood. All of this was about much more than her. The oppression and the hunger, coupled with the mind games... all of it was almost too much for anyone to bear.

She stepped forward, into the view of the crowd. Earh had begun to speak again when Thea had made it near the front of the platform. Both of them winced slightly at the veracity of the noise that exploded when they noticed her. Thea immediately recovered her posture and began to smile brightly, waving at the crowd who had momentarily been swayed to heartfelt cheers of approval. The sudden and ferocious change in energy was a marvel by itself.

That's when things took a strange turn. Earh had walked to Thea's side, simultaneously grabbing her hand to raise it in the air in a move to pander to the crowd. Thea immediately turned and tried to jerk her hand away. Earh did not let go. Thea furrowed her brow at Earh, while Earh returned the eye contact and cocked his eyebrow. The crowd hushed immediately. Thea tried to jerk away one more time, but the Grand Chancellor still did not let go. A look of anger went on Earh's face as he stubbornly held onto her hand. He was not going to let go. Thea also cocked her head to the side.

Slap

The entire Earth district gasped as Thea slapped the Grand Chancellor right across the face with her free hand. A completely shocked Earh dropped her hand and reached to rub his face, while the crowd went absolutely bonkers with cheers and screams of vindictive joy. Thea backed away, mortified at her own bravado. What on Earth had gotten into her?

Earh flashed an insanely murderous look at Thea. It was the exact same look that the Judicator had given her when he first broke down the door to the bathroom. Earh's hand had cocked down beside his waist, holding his fingers in a strange formation, almost as if he could kill her somehow if he struck. Thea immediately decided she did not care if she died. She stood up straight in a dignified manner and stuck out her chin. She would die on her feet and with pride. The entire Earth District showered her with adoration. The noise had reached it's climax here. Earh kept his horrifying gaze on her for a good ten seconds while the crowd screamed in approval. He closed his eyes for a moment. Slowly his hand relaxed and his brow unfurrowed. He opened his eyes and smiled. Earh then slowly walked up close to her, stuck his face in, and winked. He then casually turned back towards the crowd with a smile and threw his hands up in an “oops” gesture.

“Well I think she deserves one, wouldn't you say folks?” The crowd was absolutely enamored by the interaction, especially with him “playing the good sport.” Cheers of approval erupted instantly as Earh had successfully maneuvered the emotional energy of the people. The crowd that had wanted him dead 10 minutes ago was suddenly back under Earh Dunwick's complete attention. He stood with his arms out and a warm smile on his face, drinking in the praise and adoration. Patiently he waited for them to settle down. They slowly hushed to hear him continue.

“Despite her mean left hand, I was going to ask your opinion on promoting her to a Silver Citizen!” Earh Dunwick rubbed his jaw in a playful gesture as the crowd launched into deafening cheers of approval yet again. He was playing the crowd like a fiddle and they didn't care- the sweetness of seeing a righteous outcome from this terrible situation made them forget all of Earh's past transgressions in the moment.

A promotion?! Thea's eyes widened in shock towards Earh. He smiled warmly at her and gave a beckoning hand. She hesitated for a second, which garnered a prodding from the crowd. After a few seconds she walked forward, very tentatively.

“I won't bite.” Earh said, with an obviously fake smile. The crowd didn't seem to notice and was eating up every second of it. Thea stepped up next to Earh, but kept her face to the crowd and did not look at him. Earh raised his hand for a moment, then lowered it again as if remembering something. “I am going to touch your forehead now, if that's ok.” The crowd began to laugh again. Thea looked at Earh as the man did not wait for her to respond, pressing his palm directly onto her Interface.

Dandleroy had just made it in time to catch Thea as she fainted from her brain resetting. Cheers and applause rang through the streets as the live HUD cam showed Thea's new Silver Interface shining brightly on her forehead. She had passed out from the suddenness of her Interface reformatting, soon she would be up and well enough to enjoy her newfound promotion.

Earh should have given her a better warning, but he probably knew that. Two Temple Guards walked up to carry the unconscious Thea away from the balcony. Roy had whispered to the pair to take her inside and he would be there momentarily. The crowd was still going insane, extremely pleased that “Justice” had been served, and had started to chant The-a , The-a, The-a, while she was gently carried away.

Earh stood there basking in the happiness the crowd was now projecting. His voice was upbeat and pleasant as he began to speak again. “I want to take one last opportunity to profusely thank you all for communicating your concerns... Need I remind you how bad this could have been for everyone. We need to keep the peace! Make sure to address your concerns less violently next time. This outcry was understandable, but The Men at the Table are gracious to all of you.” The crowd began murmuring as nervousness began to creep through. The realization had suddenly hit them that technically they had all just rebelled and turned Objector. Some cries of outrage still rang out from among the crowd. Expletives could even be heard, and insults towards the Grand Chancellor. Most of the crowd stood uneasily, not wanting to incriminate themselves further.

Earh sensed this, and continued in a positive manner. “No punishments for foul behavior will come from this evening's circumstances, as long as we all make sure this never happens again. Is that a deal?” The crowd responded in mass agreement, cheering and clapping with as much gusto as they could manage. This overwhelmed those that were still angry, and the deafening roar drowned out the Nay sayers. Earh was beaming at them, this time genuinely. He truly enjoyed the praise and adoration, but much more than that he enjoyed pulling the strings as deftly as he had just done.

He decided to add the final icing on the cake. “Good! I am glad you are all in good spirits again. Tomorrow, as a special reward, we will be offering a Colosseum credit to every Bronze citizen! First come, first serve admission, and free broadcast of the entertainment for all!” The erupting crowd overwhelmed his final words. “Goodnight everyone!”

Earh turned and walked back into the Temple, completely satisfied with himself for how he handled the entire situation. The crowd was extremely pleased now, and the noise was suddenly drowned out as he closed the doors behind him. Everything went extremely well, come to think of it. He would definitely kill Thea, but only after a few weeks and the situation had died down. The people would forget her soon enough...

Earh called Moon through his HUD as soon as he had entered the Temple. The ugly, hook nosed face popped into his vision. “Yes, Grand Chancellor?” The greasy man was a brown noser to the highest extent, and would do anything to stay in the favor of Earh.

Earh calmly informed Moon how things were going to transpire. He truly hated this man and would have no use for him down the road, but for now he could be utilized. “Circumstances have arisen. Tomorrow you will put on an epic fight for the entire Bronze nation. Free admittance for all who come, first come first serve. I expect it to be a madhouse, make sure to have your full staff at the ready for crowd control.”

The ugly man's eyes bulged out. “FREE admission! FOR EVERYONE?!” He began to rapidly stammer out words of protest which were quickly silenced by a raised hand from Earh.

“I realize it might be inconvenient for you, but your country needs you. Put on an amazing show, Moon. Lot's and lot's of blood. The people need some violence to take their minds off of things. I am counting on you to do a good job. Do not disappoint me.”

With that final phrase, Earh disconnected the call. He glanced at his HUD and realized that the entire ordeal started and ended within an hour. He smiled with the satisfaction of knowing how easily his sheep were led, and dismissed all of the Cardinals. There would be no more use for them this evening. Confidently he walked to his personalized cart and jumped inside. There was still time to catch the ending of his favorite sitcom. Within seconds he was roaring along with the overlaid audience laugh track as his cart whisked him through the halls of the Earth Temple back to his chamber.

Chapter 1: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-1-rough-draft/

Chapter 2: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-2-rough-draft/

Chapter 3: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-3-rough-draft/

Chapter 4: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-4-rough-draft/

Chapter 5: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-5-rough-draft/

Chapter 6: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-6-rough-draft/

Chapter 7: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-7-rough-draft/

Chapter 8: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-8-rough-draft/

Thanks for reading!
Find more at https://throwersbook.com

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