Thank you for the messages you sent earlier, Liga. I am happy that you have not been ignoring me on purpose. “This is not the only murder plot, and the others are now more time-sensitive,” did not completely convince me. The documents that you sent along with it did. I understand what you mean now. As a warning, you need to give me more things like this. You cannot coast on Suka’s opinion of you forever, and I need answers.
I am intimately — and sexually — involved in this investigation. I am nearly at my limit. We need to have information that can be verified by the police unless you and your associates would prefer that we acquire illegal evidence. And — and then, I cannot help you there. I don’t know how to do so many things that are common to those who work on dark nights.
I brainstormed the following list that contains what I don’t know (and would like to know):
- How to make Aneti feel safe enough to discuss ler political plot in Shiji while I am present.
- Who will die if we do nothing.
- Why Tsemanok saw fit to have me on that train.
- How Karatau Meiyenesi is connected to Adviser Tenes.
- What happened to Daybreak after the Occupation that made it this cancerous thing?
- Does Aneti love me and what will happen to that love when I betray lim?
- How are you connected to Okiyot?
- Does your connection to Okiyot mean that you are bound on the same path?
- Have you ever used illegal eye color contacts?
I am going to push back against you, and I am about to explain my rationale for transparency. Today, I went into the cold archives to work with the new archivist on Akah Kara’s papers. I know ler work intimately at this point and have made notes describing this collection of ephemera. Akah Kara never kept a journal. The spaceports closed so early after the Occupation, and Madhz only started blasting us with cultural programming in the 1840s. I have had anxious internal deliberations while leafing through pages of Akah Kara’s meeting notebooks. I have seen anxieties about ler impending wedding written in the margins of reports alongside prayers to various Tveshi gods for support and hope.
Later this month, we will celebrate the anniversary of the new spaceports’ opening. So much has already changed in these three years. Kelis even wanted to visit Laseå, and we both saw that documentary about how horrific space travel really is.
The archivist paused to take in some documents from a Progressive Movement official who just died. Among the documents, le had a journal. It was a plain, well-bound book. When the archivist went out to eat something, I stayed behind and skimmed it.
Everything I have written here — everything I will write here — will be read by other people after I die. That is, unless someone commits to burning it. My family could censor it. It could become part of an archive like this, waiting for a future researcher to find it. People could publish it like they published Akah Gysabala’s Private Essays on the Art of Imagination, which le shared only with close friends during ler lifetime. This all depends on my life achievements.
When it comes to uncovering this plot, I know that this is dangerous, and I know that I will be judged by readers if everything goes wrong. I have decided that I must now hold you accountable, that I must now push back and request information, and that you are endangering the mission by withholding everything from me.
You will hear a confrontation between myself and Akah Kara while skimming through today’s audio logs. Today, I solved part of a mystery — the one in which everyone above a certain age in the Progressive Movement looks at me as if I were a ghost.
While going through Akah Kara’s photographs, an old-fashioned one fell onto the floor. I crouched down to my feet and turned it over. The back read, Upper-level Progressive Movement members share drinks and conversation in honor of Akah Kara, the 4th Shakhin of Hoiekol 1846, a memento for Akah Kara.
It shows six people seated around a table at the Wide River Kuaićo, and historical data tells me that a Cradle radical burned the building down sixteen years ago.
In the photograph, I see Adviser Tenes and Akah Kara. Adviser Tenes looks slightly older in the photograph than le does now. Akah Kara, young and happier here than in most of the other early Progressive Movement stills I have seen, has ler arm around a woman I recognize, yet cannot identify. Akah Khera and a man, Akah Shuyesė — now one of the highest judges in the nation — have folded newspaper hats on their heads, and they are leaning in towards each other with their hands over their mouths.
The final person sits left of center. Ler face has perfect symmetry, and of everyone here, le must be the most beautiful, even if ler skin is too light to be beautiful. The camera catches every glint of the elaborate hairstyle le wears, a combination of locked hair and braids, and le is trying not to laugh while holding a spoon in ler mouth. The fingers of ler right hand curl around some news publication, perhaps The Long-Count Journal. Only on further inspection did I see the familiar formatting of Notes from the Senate. Le, like me, must have had one non-Tveshi parent, or several generations of non-Tveshi parents. I can guess, based on the year: Īpa, or Atara, because le could have been descended from one of the Atarahi who slipped in before the spaceports closed in the early 1830s like my grandfather.
Le looks so much like me.
I took the photo back to Akah Kara’s office and dropped it on ler desk. I asked lim, “Do you have anything to tell me?”
Le looked down at the photo, minimized one of the windows on ler screen, and tapped ler fingers against the table. I counted to fifty-seven before I broke the silence.
“I found it in the archives,” I said. “It fell out of one of the items I was describing for the archivist. Do you know who this person is? Le looks like me.”
Le shook ler head and said, “I don’t remember.”
“Aren’t you in the photograph? It’s for a celebration honoring you.”
Le picked up the photo and turned it over. “That was so long ago. I cannot remember everyone I’ve met — that is impossible. Now, I remember that night. Adviser Tenes left early, and this woman had a gift for lim. I would see lim the next day, so le passed it on to me.”
I am so sick and tired of everything, Liga, that I said, “I don’t believe that. You must know who le is.”
“My wife went into labor shortly after I arrived at home, and I had my family obligations to consider. I don’t remember.” Pressure from Akah Kara’s fingertips warped the center of the photograph.
“My wife had a difficult pregnancy, and le nearly died from complications,” Akah Kara said.
“The woman never asked about it afterward?”
“Not that I remember. Le could have, but I spent a month away from the Progressive Movement.” Le set the photo back down and steepled ler hands. “Don’t worry about it. Akah Nitañi, are you all right?”
I stood in silence in front of lim until I worked up the courage to say, “I’m fine, just tired. May I have the photo back? It needs to go into the archives.”
Akah Kara shook ler head. “No, I can bring it down. It’s actually good that you came here because I was going to comm you. I need you to check with the advertising department to see if they have the proofs yet.”
Le really just wanted me out of that office. I spent the remainder of the day running between various departments for information. I saw no sign that the photo had been returned when I checked this afternoon. I can all but guarantee that le destroyed it.
Perhaps I should have brought a copy of it and not the original. I can be so careless sometimes! However, it makes me less anxious to know that so many of the older members of the Progressive Movement look at me with fact-based anxiety and not for some other reason. I can look at that woman and blame their reactions on lim.
This is all I can write. Kati has a formal performance in Galasu, and about five of us from the family satellite will go. I need to dress. It’ll get my mind off of things, at least.
Please think on what I wrote earlier. This is your final warning. I mean it when I say that I am tired, Liga. How can I expect to do anything when I am being pulled in so many different directions? How long will it be before I fracture apart?