Behind my forced smile, teeth grinded together, making a low scrapping sound in my ear. Muscles were almost painfully tense under my uniform. My doubtful thoughts poured into my lungs, ready to be released into the world. I desperately wanted to revile my fears and uncertainly, to let them all hear my guilt.
This was not how I used to be. I never before had been so shaky in my actions. Never felt so much regret, so much shame. Yet, I feel I could do nothing about it. It's far too late to question, but too bad to ignore. When they asked me to join her revolution, to change the world, I could not refuse. If only I had known what I was signing on to. If I knew that my actions would mean the imprisoning of every man in the world, including the ones I cared for and loved, I would have arrested them. But, I didn't know, I didn't ask. It was the first in a long list of mistakes that would slowly turn me into an almost mental mess. And now I am one of them.
I am their ally, their trusted companion, one of five who call themselves the Leaders. Leaders of a scandal they called a revolution, a suppressing crime they called salvation. I'm at the core of this horrific deed and wish for nothing more than the end to this so called 'Woman's Age'.
This was support to be a dream come true but taste more like a nightmare. Six years ago a great man governed us, but now replaced by his once female advisor. She goes by the title and name of Empresses Alert of all Siran, the queen who put men in chains, locking them to the command of a female overseer who will do with them however she pleases. This sudden slavery will not, cannot, and already is not going over well. No man likes it, most women don't either, but carefully planned efforts have almost completely stopped all resistant.
My attention returns to the meeting. I sit in an oversize pillow that is identified as a chair. The other four Leaders also sit in similar chairs around a large, circular glass table. Around each of them are the 'slaves' that received in all of this. We each take turns expressing our loyally to Empress Alert and her order while bragging about what we did this past week.
Alert always starts the meeting with lengthy speech on how happy she is to be with such faithful and talented people and how grateful she is that we are on the edge of a great new era. I start the meeting by zoning her out. I look at the crowd around her, mainly our old leader, King. Correction: 'Kid', can't be calling a slave King. He looks more and more ill every time I see him. Skin paler, eyes darker, body weaker and thinner, it hard to think this fragile man once was the most respected and admired man in the world. He was once a great leader but now is holding a tray of 'treats' for Alert.
Black starts speaking now. She, as the Science Leader, starts rambling on about some sort of break though that someday will guarantee the end of all rebellions, namely the group called Liberty. I quickly stop listening to her as well. Around her are former science officers that came from all fields from medicine to weather. Beside her stands the old head of science, Perceived, holding a handful of folders filled with some sort of data or statistic that is sure to impress Alert. I permit myself to muse about some of the many memorable conversations I have had with him in the past when we were friends, before all this.
Slip, the Military Leader, speaks. Twin brothers, Flame and Storm, stand on either side of her. Flame holds a bottle of wine while Storm holds a plate of food. They stare at the table, frowns clear on their faces. They were so young, only nineteen, but there is only a six year difference between us.
Ace now speaks. She is the Temple Leader; the high Priestess of Siran, her job is to maintain goodwill and hope within the people and to help them accept this new government. Beside her stands three people; Speed, Zap, and Length. None of them hold anything like food or wine, they only stand around her, like body guards. Last I heard, Ace and Length were married.
It is now my turn to speak, the Citizen Leader. I deal with the people. I see to it that schools are working, streets are fixed, homes are built, and that the general population is provided for. I have little to add. The people are suppressed in to content state. And West Catalin needs more buses. Overcrowding has caused six incidents this past week, one ended with two people in the hospital. Alert approves my request and then continues the meeting as it turns into a social gathering. We now talk like we're old friends at a tea party. My acting skills are near perfect. I smile, laugh, clap all on cue. I say the right thing at the right time and have convinced them that I am one of them without doubt or fear. If only they could read my mind, then they would know.
I suddenly start thinking of the four servants I have taken. I call them servants because calling them slaves would mean I've accepted all of this. Three of them are brothers: Tooth is the eldest and the largest, nearly twice my size, Horn is the middle and the strongest, he can carry Tooth, Wing is the youngest, and the smartest, mainly in card games like black jack and poker. My fourth is Blade. He is my older brother, my friend, and the only one who knows why I can't see in color. All four of them are my eyes and ears. I send them into cities to help me understand what is happing out there, this trip usually take five or six days.
Neither Tooth, Horn, Wing, nor Blade is with me. I never bring them. This once early on was the reason for a debate among the others until I came up with the excuse that because they leave the palace that I didn't want them hearing or talking about anything they heard in here. It was an acceptable lie and no one pushed it farther.
Alert closes the meeting. We all stand and leave in the same order we spoke. Black exits first. Perceived looks at me and offers a small smile before following Black. Slip leaves then but the twins only stare at the ground. Ace goes and Length looks at me for a moment before he looks away.
It is now my turn. I bow deeply to Alert. As I rise, I catch King staring at me. He shows no anger or hate towards me, only regret and helplessness. A look of pain stains his face in the fact he could do nothing to prevent this, powerless to help anyone. He looks away, I rush for the door. Practically running, I head for my room. My guilt I close to unbearable making my sick.
I could stand for a good game of poker right now, Wing always wins.