Before work this morning, I sent Liga a reminder message about the photographs. I tagged all of the ones I took of Aneti with Liga’s name.
This is a risk considering my ongoing fight with Liga. Hopefully, less biased minds within the Kohjenya will prevail and I will have the support from them to complete this mission the way it must be done. Suka is behind me. I urgently need information, and so do they.
Most of the religious face paint came off successfully, but I wore long sleeves today because pumice is not a universal cure for temporary tattoos. Aneti cannot see me naked until the designs have disappeared completely. I look like myself again now that I have the gyena. Of course, after I marry, I will look very much like that woman I became for a day. I will not wear the gyena, and I have not decided whether I will wear a wig or keep my hair natural. I have spent a long time on my dreadlocks and will mourn them when they are shaved for the marriage ritual.
There is a hurricane on the coast, so we have wind, some rain, and broken branches on the streets. Some of the clouds overhead made funnels intermittently, but my comm band didn’t tell me anything about a tornado threat. The Skyrail wasn’t very packed.
Aneti and I walked through Senatorial Square during lunch, ill-advised due to the winds, and we debated the political implications of a divorce within the royal family. The current Deimo’s aunt wants one, and le has lived abroad for decades due to a political visiting marriage. Liga called me on my band, and I didn’t answer because Aneti isn’t an idiot and would know that we were talking about lim.
Liga followed up with a message: Do you understand how dangerous that was?! What if le had SEEN YOU?!
Of course, le doesn’t realize that I took proper precautions. I reasoned that someone from the Kohjenya would see me in person if they thought I had done something untoward. As the hours ticked away, that seemed less and less likely.
After lunch, the Progressive Movement closed the office due to the severe storm warning. The city closed the Skyrail in the mid-afternoon due to high winds, and most businesses and offices in Galasu had to accommodate for that. I didn’t go home directly because I saw Aneti looking at a message on a piece of paper. I had not dressed in Shiji clothing, but in the frantic crowds, it didn’t matter.
Le went to the same family home as yesterday. I wrote down its address and left abruptly when someone opened one of the curtains to look out. That person may have seen me. Aneti limself doesn’t frighten me because le doesn’t ever twist ler head to look back. Ler lack of experience could condemn all of them.
I need more information about the home where Aneti has gone, but the Kohjenya may be the best route for that. I plan to visit Deo in the Galasu Knowledge Foundation for another reason — that the name Kuresa has been bothering me — and it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask so many questions at once.
On the final Skyrail train before the closure, I barely found the space to cram myself in. The downpour started halfway between my neighborhood stop and the apartment. I ran into a Temple of Likhera to wait for a lull in the rain. Others had taken shelter, too, and we all made offerings to Likhera.
I sat on one of the cushions and contemplated the divine icon. In the smoke, the geometric figure seemed to move, and I considered ler relationship with the Ịgzarhjenya Divine Twins, Anumga and Sayimga. Likhera presides over friendship, and the Tveshi call lim the goddess who brings things together. Le is thus the goddess of the jomela, who transcend male or female, but also of foreign diplomacy, rhetoric, and any situation along the boundaries where things are mixed. Our twins are a lot like lim.
About half an hour after the rain started, Deisurås entered the temple. We locked eyes, and my heart sank. Le made an offering and came to sit beside me. The priest looked the other way.
Deisurås whispered, “I have been looking for you. Liga traced your comm band here.”
“I don’t want to talk to Liga.”
“I know. Le doesn’t completely understand why.” Deisurås smiled. “Le has lost perspective with this. It is always complicated when things involve one’s family. We want lim to focus on providing documentation for the Menarki assassination case right now.”
“Are you involved in that?”
“No, I spend most of my time working with the government in Galasu. Karatau Meiyenesi has a team specifically devoted to Menarka and its politics. Le won’t visit Menarka because le has a disagreement with Namgyatzi, and Namgyatzi loves the Narahji Ịgzarhjenya. It’s complicated.” Le shook ler head. “I was on the team in Menarka, but things became unbearable for me, and I shouldn’t involve myself in the politics there. Shija is much better for me. Akah Nitañi, may I address you less formally?”
“Salus Niksubvya, I know that what is happening must be stressful. Liga described ler perspective.” Deisurås’ gaze followed the fine curls of incense in front of Likhera’s icon. “When the rain lets up, we can go to a restaurant and have something to eat. One of the neighborhood places is still open. I think that you need something to take your mind off of these things.”
“Did Liga tell you what I think?” I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. “I can’t do it in that slow way. I need results now, and I want to come out of this unscathed and unscarred. When Kelis died, I was beside myself. I cannot let that happen to me again.”
“You must be very close to the information. Liga thinks that you are.”
“Every time I think about Aneti, I realize that I love lim. I think about whether anyone in that organization cares about Aneti as much as I do. Le trusts me. Le has opened up about ler family and ler past. Does le even have someone to talk to within it? Do you think that its members care if le lives or dies as long as they reach their organization’s goals?”
Deisurås said, “That may be the case, but le volunteered to be a part of this. You volunteered to help hunt them down.”
“Why is this so slow?”
“Because it has to be if we want to get it right.”
“Liga is too cautious.”
“You are too brash.” Deisurås clicked ler tongue and grabbed my right wrist. “You need to think carefully about what you do. Otherwise, you could endanger yourself.”
“Are there positions within the Kohjenya that are not Liga’s?” The question was just meant to unsettle lim.
Le answered with what appears to be honesty: “Yes.”
It caught me off guard. Why did they pick Liga to be the person to speak with me directly? Why can’t I be in contact with someone who more closely shares my view?
Deisurås kowtowed in front of the icon as the incense ran down, and I followed suit. When we sat back up, Deisurås said, “Karatau Meiyenesi shares Liga’s ethical concerns, but is willing to entertain your proposal. Liga does not want it to happen this way at all. Karatau Meiyenesi went to the Temple of Likhera in Iturja to seek guidance.”
“This is not something that concerns gods,” I whispered. “What is more important to all of you: Doing something ethically or preventing a tragedy? It sounds like you already made a decision in Menarka when you used hacking to uncover a plot for which there is no Tveshi legal precedent in resolving.”
“I’ll put that forward for you. Now, do you want to have something to eat? Let’s not talk about this further in public.” Deisurås sighed. “I recommend not following Aneti like that again. It bothers Liga.”
I’ll put that forward for you. Not, “No, Salus, that is unethical,” not, “But you will be hurt,” not, “Think about my daughter and ler marriage.” This is what I need from the Kohjenya. What I want will be taken to Karatau Meiyenesi, and if that jomela with the infectious smile can be persuaded, the door will open. I hope that le receives confirmation from Likhera that it should be done like this. Despite the uncertainty, it’s better than hearing no.
And if they say no, I will do this anyway. The Kohjenya could be like the Daybreak Movement. They could spit me out at the end of all of this and leave me broken to drown in the salt marshes. Karatau Meiyenesi knows my grandmother. Le might not do that.
Suka cannot have connected me to an organization that would seek to do me harm. If all else fails, I can invoke my friendship with lim.