Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wherever You Go, There You Are

by Celeste Zolezzi 2014 AND
On the day the house citizenry watched the Familia Stavala armies march along the tops of faraway mountains, a message was sent for me, Qui’tilly, to come before the Coalite Throne. I was in the middle of a practice session when I received the news, and feeling defeated by the trickiness of a post-Crossing number, I didn’t think twice about the invitation, nor that I would bring along my bass-flutier. I might have been a reluctant member of the royal family, but I at least possessed enough purpose to play along.

I emerged from the hideouts of pipe-works near Deadbody Pool and, as I remember, I felt as if I had stepped into the light and out of those dark environs of the near brush, my preferred place to be. For I liked it on the boundaries, and this metaphor would prove fitting. Not all trusted my duplicitous character, and nor should I really trust them; they were family after all.

Felinoux’s suns were alternating in their luminosities, both with degrees of their familiar warmths, despite the cloud cover of the year's blue showers. Fresh puddles had formed in between the stoneways, and they steamed freshly in the westerly cools that blew upon Nichileu’s slopes. The temperature rose dramatically when I reached the tiles around the pool, and I didn’t give much thought to the painted tiles with their scenes of the myths of our planet's 'colonization.' I only felt the dual suns’ heat beneath my paws, and since I wasn’t fast -- the fault of my familia linea, not the house food bowls that I guiltily enjoyed -- I felt the full intensity of distant Procul Tigres’s heat. I imagined then, as I am still prone to do when I gaze on our world’s second sun, that the faraway white disc, even when partially occulted by the Menagerie, could still torture me. Afterall, I was born in that rare splendor when the myriad of satellites that orbited our closest sun, Proxima Tigre, did not shade Felinoux. For my first-sight memories could recall the time of the years when the rains died and the terra lay hot, dusty, and dry, and me, as my first-sight memories recalled, was nothing but a houseward orphan at the mercy of the Custodian’s round-ups.

Meanwhile, I spied the conflict within the Federalia that I continually tried to escape: Nichileu’s matted and underfed rabble spilled out from beyond the brush and loitered in their uneven, broken masses on the heated deck -- until the house caretakers emerged in their brutally efficient martial ranks and clubbed those poor, poor state ferals back into the dusty brush from whence they came...Ah, I think now, as I no doubt thought then, the eternal struggle of house citizenry against tommish-clan ferality. That day I was not involved in the fights. At least this time. Usually I was prone to risk a scruff with the Custodian’s punks. But no. I knew I would see my good ol’ uncle very soon, when I was expected to kow-tow before the Coalite Throne.

The cat-calls of wounded denizens haunted my jump-path up the stairways. Beyond the stone barriers, I could see the gardens. Or the ruination. It depended on the affiliation of one’s historicized memory. And I had a good one; I'd learned use politics, in order to survive. But for now, I recognized how the citizenry ruled the day in open displays of privilege, where house residents paraded umbrellas and slung catling-litters, braving the rains’ lulls to sit in the stone-hewn squares.

To hell with the bastards.... I felt lucky to be spared the sight of so-much cat-call leisure...I also knew that most house citizens were on the Nichileu's wayside, where the cemeterial terraces sat below the capital, not blinded by the house’s glass towers. They wanted views of the Stavalian armies on the march. I knew my leaving of this place would happen just as soon as I found out what my uncle wanted. I also knew my uncle would understand my need to escape, and I counted on it.

First Lawn's green expanded before my sight and I bounded on each and every one of the circular foot steps. It was a circuitous path to the back gate of the house, and not as difficult as one would think of a cat my size. I quickly came in sight of the patio of Back Door. The place was covered by the tile fortresses over the capital, and in the shade, lay the court in a neat semi-circle of seats. Usually the Court was covered by the capital's tents during the yearly blue showers. Not now -- not since the death of Rambiava from Familia Stavala and the hardening-up by rulerless paws formed under an unofficial regency in the absence of tommish generals: feral warlords in the brush, scourges of green pasturage below Nichileu's slopes, besiegers of the isolated colonial arbors and paddocks.

Tightly wound cloth hammocks formed the court’s perimeter, and on each seat, a guard-pile of Federalia caretakers sat wrapped around each other, until they saw me and unwound at my approach. Hisses erupted at my entrance. I had expected as much, even in my absence...especially in my absence. I immediately turned around and showed my assbutt. More hisses. Good then. I approached closer and the stinky punks plopped down on the cementum floor. They slinked and slunk, hissed some more, and slowly surrounded me. Dressed in their calico livery, I knew my colors of tiger-striped light grays and white-tipped tail, toes, and bib alerted them, clashed with them, and let them know my politics. I was not a Twen’ishi man.

The open air court would have been even conspicuously absent of power if not for a cream fat no-tom. It rose up from a weathered seat and lumbered over to me. With a flick of a tail, used to gently admonish each caretaker, the Custodian of the Federalia and Dependents touched an age-spotted nose to mine. Its blue-blue eyes were intense but humble. And friendly. Franc'e'velya, one of the two surviving parts of the Coalite Throne, met me now.


-I see you brought that instrument of yours.-

I nodded at his high-tone speech, realized my disrespect, and bowed slightly.

-If you'd like, I could play you a song. Name one. I might fumble at first, but I'm sure I'd hit the melodic narrative.-

He shook his head in an act, I recognized, that was meant to dislodge great worries. I noticed the dark black spots note tips of his ears. Responsibilities for his father's legacy had aged him, made him ill. I'd always heard he'd never been very healthy to begin with, and as if he'd read my mind, he straightened his arched-back and sternly looked at me. His Striater eyes looked mad!

-Nephew. You'll need to post aside the hobbies. Later if you stay long, I can see it Tuuts is in a waking mood. You can sing with her.-

I'd already made up my mind.

-I won't be staying long, Custodian.-

At once he recognized my attitudinal pleasures and mew-murred for the attention of the caretakers. The calicos formed a row of labor and pried open the side of the only glass tower that moved. It slowly creaked on rusty wheels but it budged, and began to roll open. When a gap was formed between the towers of glass and brick, I realized the passage was a large one, much wider than your average house citizen. Out of darkness twitched whiskers and two blackened eyes. I gulped, as the slinky form of an obese molly in Russian blues approached me. It shuddered briefly in the suns and I saw detest in its opened mouth.

-You. You look nothing like your pa. Nothing like even your old pa.-

Franc'e'velya ruffled his fur.

-Demi-sis. Please.-

Makrizu only stood on three legs, and absent of one of the fronts, her head hung low to the ground.

-Enough of the familia sniff-sniff, then. Butts to noses later. You know who I am?-

I nodded. Everyone in my familia was known to me in some form or another. I knew Makrizu as an agent of a reign of terror. For that, I could never step inside the house without fear of her punks.

-Fine. We have an errand for you, and it's a good one, so listen well, gibby scion and catling.-

I watched my uncle out of the corner of my eye. He watched worriedly as Makrizu continued, her head still low.

-You know of the approaching armies? You must know who commands them, and what they intend to do?-

I did. I knew my sire, Cobriava a' Stavala, head of the familia party, planned to lead his armies and allies along the Northern Spines and descend into Nichileu for the purposes of entering the capital.

I looked at my uncle, the caretaker of his family’s honor -- Rambiava’s legacy. His father. The Custodian nodded in agreement as I intoned the death of his world, not mine.

-This is the end of the Federalia...Twen'ishi will never share power...The Dependents will see the turmoil in the capital, and proclaim independence. Even the barns will leave.-

Makrizu rose her head up from the ground, and a great moan spoke behind her pained voice.

-That's where you can help, scion, even if you're gibby. There's a party of refugees that matches before your sire's armies. In its company, I propose an alternative to chaos.-

I returned her low gaze.

-I am a musician, archoness. I don’t follow prophecies, the barns or not. And I no longer will capture children for your play.-

Makrizu hissed.

-He thinks he can negotiate with me. This pederast. This deviation of a barbed-cock!...-

Franc’e’velya tried to wave a paw at his sister from the same mister. To stop her. But I’d already gone done it -- I'd already batted her across the nose. It was a solid one. I didn't see his reaction. Only Makrizu's. She slunk lower, prepared to meet the paw I kept raised. To remind her.

I immediately regretted my choice.

Punks in russian blue liveries shot out the back gate. Big paws and extended claws later, and I was on the ground. The whole thing only took seconds. I heard my aunt's voice rise terribly, even when I could look up at her, as she cowered behind hunched shoulders.

-Hit me, little errant gib?! You're uncle Franky won’t save you.-

Now Makrizu turned a slow, painful gaze towards her brother. She hissed in the lower tones of speech. It was also more intimate. I heard another conversation there, one they might have later, or already have had. When she returned her yellow gaze to mine, her head hung low to the ground, but her speech soared in its fires.

-In the morning I will decide which scourge of the pasturages to have play with you.-

Makrizu's punks dragged me into the house, in full sight of the caretakers and my uncle. The Custodian...

I remember then what I remember now. Franc’e’velya could look after an imperium but not a nephew who loved boys, toms, and the neutered fatties. Its blue Striater eyes looked sadly at me, and I thought then how he was merely the custodian of a stagnant society. I was glad I stuck to my politics after all and prayed to the spirits of the fellow moons of Felinoux that I would be alive to see the fall of the Federalia.

You see, when I had said earlier that the arrivals of my sire’s host would cause social chaos, I merely pulled that out of my ass. I had no idea how right I would be, though, I should've known how my family was a bunch of bigots.

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