Fifteen days ago, Khanid space - Kihtaled IV
Carmilla sat on top of the skyscraper and looked out over the city below. The architecture of most Khanid cities she found interesting. The deviations from the traditional Amarr, subtle in some places, obvious in others. Watching the sun as it gleamed from gold and black chrome sides of the building a few blocks from her brought a lump to her throat.
Soon she would be inside, with the man who might yet be her husband, a handful of her supporters and her mother. Although she had planned much of what was going on today, there was still a large margin for error. At best, she'd get everything she had worked for for years. At worst, well, they might not give her a choice about wearing the chrome. Hell.... it was always possible she wouldn't walk out alive....
She looked over to where Orchid and Rose were standing looking over the edge. Both were in their usual geisha attire and she smiled, thinking back on their first days with her. Happier days? Not necessarily, but days to remember. Happiness was something illusive these days. Turning to the girls she picked up her datatablet and answered a flashing message and smiled.
"The last of the prelates are here. Come on, time to get this sorted."
She turned her head and looked over at Lientus, sitting on the edge dangling his legs over the drop.
"It's not too late for you to stop doing this you know?"
"Yes it is. I've come too far and burnt too many bridges to go back now."
"Actually, my dear.... I think you'll find I understand better than you think."
He stood up and held out his hand, she took it, looking at him with a smile.
"Come on... lets go get married."
Walking over to the girls she poked them playfully.
"Is everyone assembled?"
"We can't get hold of Alizabeth."
"What? I need her here! Where is she?"
"Null Sec. Fighting. Every time I contact her I get a reply that she is in a warzone."
"Goddam! I wanted her to be here."
"Who is this Alizabeth?"
"Oh... you'll find out. Come on... before there are any other surprises."
Flanked by her geisha Carmilla clad in her long serpentis cut suit walked into the lounge of the hotel. Before her there was a screen of guards. She stopped before them and bowed graciously, her girls taking one step backwards. Eyes and scanning rays covered her from top to toe and with a grunt the guards parted and gestured her in. Walking towards those inside she smiled.
"Gentlemen, Prelates, Governor. I think you for your support."
"Aaah, Carmilla, I hope you know what you are doing?"
"Why do people keep asking me that?"
"Maybe because you will shortly have more enemies that even you can handle?"
"Hated as a slave, hated as a Holder. It's all just names when someone is trying to kill you. Now, as per my request I have constructed Houses for each of you and some of my girls will run them until your own people learn how to do it properly. That means, how I want it done. Each of you knows the pleasure of my House," that brought laughter and nods from all of them, "And all of you know I am obliged to all of you regardless. So I had the deeds transfered this morning."
"You know I could walk away now and leave you without my support."
"Yes, My Lord. All of you could. You would all be richer for it, and I stand by my obligations."
"Because it's who I am, My Lord."
The Prelate looked at her, his hand caressing his steel gray beard.
"I also understand we are to be witnesses to your rather informal wedding?"
"Who is the lucky man?"
"His name is Lientus of Rixhes."
They all looked at each other.
"Carmilla... you really need to pay more attention to current events. I hope when you are a Holder Minor you will do that."
Confused she frowned and just nodded.
The Royal Khanid Courthouse in the capital city of Kithaled IV is a surprising structure of black chrome and glass. Towering above the nearby buildings it is a bastion of law and order. And to this place Carmilla, her girls, her soon to be husband and her supporters went. Ushered in to one of the main chambers she looked around as she made her way to the dias, standing before the assembled judges. She felt nervous. Behind her, the throng took their seats.
"Carmilla Deritan. You are here today to perform a decree absolute on your divorce?"
"Yes, your honour. And to marry the man who will be my husband. Unfortunately I could not do this until we were both sure it was what we wanted."
"I see.... Your wife I see is not present?"
"No, your honour. It is not required as she was the one who pushed for the divorce."
"And your matriarch blocked the divorce?"
"She did. As is her right as the matriarch of my House."
"But you are Deritan. Surely that is all that is required? Have you wasted our time here today?"
"No, sir. My house... is House Jobias, a house of some... repute that goes back many years."
There was silence as documents were handed around.
"Carmilla Deritan. Are you aware of what you are saying?"
"I am. The Matriach of my House can be verified by genetic testing. Such was performed by a Doctor of the Court and matched against records. It proves I am who I am. And she is here, should you require to speak to her."
"Speak? We should lock her up and throw away the key! She is a wanted criminal and...."
"Not by the Khanid."
"Do you dare to speak against the Kingdom?"
"I speak only against the Empire. Not the Kingdom. By revealing my position, and by the honours bestowed upon my by my wife, Ithiria Deritan I put myself forward to become a Holder Minor. My loyalty is towards the Laws of the Khanid."
"And the man you wish to marry? What has he to do with this?"
"We are in love. And the merging of his house and mine will make us stronger, and more loyal."
"Bring him forward. Let us see this man of yours."
Lientus, clad in the traditional robes of a Khanid Holder stood next to her and stood defiant. He whispered to her softly and squeezed her hand.
"I hope you know what you are doing."
"Ssssh my darling."
They both looked on as the Judges began reading the documents before them. A whispered argument was taking place before the judge spoke again.
"Carmilla Deritan, I will honour your request. The divorce is now decree absolute. You are no longer Carmilla Deritan, instead you are now known to us as Carmilla Jobias. Though that is no honour that I can see."
"I am not finished. While in your position as Wife and Slave to Holder Deritan you committed more crimes than I can care to read and take in. You have served our enemies, you have fought against us and our allies and your family is not much better. Your sister is still a wanted pirate, your mother is a genocidal maniac and your husband is a war criminal! This is not the best way to attempt to start a life as a Holder Minor in the Kingdom!"
Carmilla turned her head slowly and looked at Lientus.
"A war criminal? May I remind the court that he has fought valiently for all of us and is a hero. What care we if our enemies call him a war criminal?"
"You mistake me, Carmilla. His crimes were against the Amarr! He personally lead the attack that wiped out a major city complex on a planet in the warzone. The death toll was in the millions. They captured him and sold him into slavery!"
"Where I rescued him."
She whispered low to Lientus.
"You are so dead when we get home."
"I am not at liberty to say, My Lords, what the Amarr conisder to be a crime. I put it before you that the Amarr are not worthy enough to try a man such as Lientus. That is for a Khanid court to decide. I only know that to me, my soon to be husband is as much a patriot as I am. Yes, more Khanid blood runs in his veins than mine, but our children will be brought up properly, as loyal and patriotic as we are."
"We, the assembled Judges of the Court do not believe that you are able to fulfil the duties of what you are after. Yes, you can probably make a good wife to this man, heaven knows you are both a good match for each other, and as familes go you are all the same. But I have yet to see that you are worthy of such a title and role in our Kingdom."
Carmilla nodded and turned aside and looked at those who had come to support her.
"In that case, My Lords. I offer testamony from a council of my peers. Prelates and Governors who stand by me."
She stood back as one by one they came and spoke on her behalf, her hand a steel band on Lientus wrist. She hissed to him.
"A war criminal? You might have told me!"
"I tried to tell you you were making a mistake! What was I supposed to say?"
"God damn, Lientus! Do you know how much I have sacrificed to get here?"
With pleading eyes she looked at his face and pulled him into her arms and held him. He held her tight and comforted her, surprising himself that he meant it.
"Carm, we are both outcasts without homes. If you can make this work... then you will have a man who will be proud to have you as his wife."
"You are just saying that... without me you'd be dead on an arena floor...."
"And with you, maybe I have a reason to go on living..."
There was a clearing of throats. Carm, wiping her eyes and pulling Lientus with her returned to the dias.
"It seems, that you are an impossible woman. But, I can think of no one more suited to being the wife to this man. Your marriage is accepted and has been registered as legally binding."
"Thank you, My Lord."
"Also, it seems that although your House, Jobias, was originally an Amarr House, your husbands house is an old Khanid House, as old as your own. And given that technically you have been a Holder for the past couple of years, I have no hesitation in adding your name to the list of Holders of the Khanid. Lady Carmilla, of the House of Jobias, we welcome you."
There was cheering from her supporters and she turned to Lientus. There was a smile on her face that mirrored his.
She kissed him and melted into his arms. Now, at least, she had the power she needed.
"Dont think you are not going to get your ass kicked... But lets get out of here. Once the news hits the nets I dont know what sort of reaction we'll have."
"So where are we going?"
"Seshala. I'm taking you home."
As the shuttle landed on the pads at the Geisha House she waited til the girls had gotten out before stepping out with her new husband.
"Darling, go with the girls, let them show you around your new home. I have something I need to do first?"
He looked at her and nodded, kissing her forehead as she made her way to the beach and to the end of the pier. As she thought, Whisper was waiting there.
"I hear you are now Lady Carmilla?"
"I am Whisper."
"To me you will always be Carmilla."
"I dont want to be anything else to you, or my girls."
She sighed and wiped her eyes.
"Do you think he'll understand? Or will she?"
"My child, Ithiria will understand. Though she may rant and rave, she loves you still. And part of me thinks you would run to her if she came back. But he will understand. One day, you will return to him, but you have many years of life yet."
"He was a good husband, he treated me well."
"So will this one, you two are alike."
"You know of him?"
"You mean did I do more research on your husband than you did? Yes. But I also know that like Samual, he is a patriot, a loyalist and more like you than you realise."
Carmilla took a necklace from her neck and held it up. The small piece of twisted metal of her necklace she poured into Whispers hand and closed it.
"Take it to his grave please?"
"Carmilla, you know he was proud of you, every day you were together. And I know how much you loved him."
"I kept his name, as I said I would, til I got what we both dreamed of. I'm a Holder now, and my Mothers house has been resurected. But I will never forget him, Samual D'morenta... my husband, executed for treason. I will now make them pay, Whisper."
Whisper smiled and walked her Mistress back to the Geisha House and found the girls and Lientus. How people change, she mused.
Three days ago - Secret Training Facility - Essence
Carmilla Jobias walked up to the balcony of the building and looked out. Before here troops were assembled in ranks awaiting her inspection. Hundreds now, soon to be thousands. Looking over them, her cloak swept behind her she smiled. A judgement was coming. Those who stood against her would fall, one by one. She was no powerhouse, like Ithiria or Esna with their fleets and power. She had loyalty, devotion and hatred. And she had time to plot, time to scheme, time to win.
Walking down the stairs she was flanked almost silently by Rose and Orchid and went out to inspect the troops. In her mind a tune she had heard once before came back to her memory and she started to smile as row after row of troops stood to attention as she passed. All this was hers now, she smiled again, then laughed, a laugh that echoed around the training facility and sent shivers down the spine.