Chapter Four

Turning off the baton, he gripped the handle tightly as it shrunk to a third of its size. Clipping the small bar to his hip, the young man drew his heels together with a click and, back straight, saluted the Risen as he had been taught in his training days. Looking straight across, he watched as the small figure was faintly reflected in the dark, impenetrable mask standing across from him as they – the enlightened one – passed through the streets of their city to the Hermes Line.

Years – sometimes even decades – passed between each ceremony, so it was with great pride that Suzaku hailed the newly Risen. Exhaustion, thirst, and heat were barely noticed as he witnessed the child’s ascension to the Estates Tower, where they would join the rest of their brethren and watch over their people so that they could never again stray from the path of Justitia.

He of course hadn’t been a victim of that Godforsaken era, but he had learned of the history just as any other child had in their schooling days. And though there was little he remembered from his time at the desk, the descriptions and accounts of corruption, of selfishness and prejudice, of the immense impoverishment of the soul, remained with him. Why, it was because of those very lessons he strived so hard to improve society! The reason why he, upon his interview with Vocations, prayed for a position in the Disciplinary Committee and – years later – in the Mantis Program.

Silence overcame the city as everyone watched with bated breath the child approach the waiting carriage. The delicate silver mask, unmarked in its purity, gleamed in the light of the morning sun as they turned and faced their constituents. Even the gentle spring breeze seemed to defer to this holy time as it ceased to play with their blessed white robes.

“Blessed be our Republic!”

It began with one voice, but one was all that was needed for the crowds to stir. Elation swelling up behind him, Suzaku felt the warmth of exultation as the people rejoiced. So contagious was the excitement that, if not for his rigorous training, he nearly joined in the cries of his brothers and sisters.

And it was to this song of chaos and euphoria that the Risen was concealed behind the emblem of the lotus, the manifestation of all that was good and just, and their one saving grace. 

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