Empress Aina - an ordinary day
As usual, she woke up in full awareness a little after six in the morning. Her brain almost never needed a long start-up as opposed to her body. She liked to think that her stomach and intestines preferred to sleep in. She sat up on her bed and grabbed a mobile holo with reports from last night.
Blah, blah, blah and then bleh, bleh, bleh. She wasn’t very interested in reports about the country’s income or the world of local celebrities that, for some reason, she had to tolerate. Nothing interesting, ho-hum. She skipped right to the security report. A few minor incidents, some bigger crimes, even a murder. Having skimmed the report she didn’t find any place or name that would catch her attention. Finally, to avoid disrupting her routine, she read only one note all the way through. It was about a night action of Mercenaries in some forgotten warehouse.
Squaks, those damn squaks again. They had a small nest somewhere under Stratoline. She hated them almost as much as she hated that midget Ardun. They were a damn remainder of emperor Justod I’s play. They kept springing out like cockroaches in poor neighborhoods. Luckily, Aeva en Silanni fixed it in time and threw in something extra for the Mercenaries to completely get rid of that filth from under the city. Aina always remembered the names of those who solved problems that annoyed her. If they were effective and didn’t even have to wake her up it was double-good. In her mind, she added another plus by Aeva’s name.
Aina got up and went to take a quick shower with real, not recovered, water that was about to enter the circuit for the very first time. Even though she could afford it she didn’t like wasting good water. She always thought that instead of taking long baths she was only using up ten-minutes worth of water and setting a good example for every resident of her empire.
When she was in the shower, her personal orderly entered the bedroom and prepared her official gown for the morning. Aina left the bathroom and put on a long tight red dress with straps, silver earrings and a set of silver bracelets on each arm. The bracelet on her left hand was a little too tight. Her outfit immediately connected with her implanted communicator. She put on white high-heeled shoes with red undersoles. Finally, she placed a pair of delicate silver glasses on her nose.
Aina didn’t like this part that began every official day in the palace. But PR was PR and appearances had to be kept up. Each day one person from the people had a right to an audience with the empress and had the right to present a complaint or request in person. Of course, all of the visitors were screened thoroughly and Venera Leatiti, the ombudsman, personally selected a case for each day. Of course, it was a case that would present Aina in the best possible light.
She entered the throne room with her head held up high and proud, like always. She walked past the guards and officials bowing to her. She walked up three steps and sat back on her throne. She ran through the case she was going to take care of displayed on a holoprojector fitted in the glasses Venera slipped her.
- Let the imperial audience begin - she said to the chamberlain.
A moment later, the guards ushered two women, an adult and a teenager, into the room. They both walked to a line traced in front of the throne and bowed.
- Mother Aina - the woman started speaking - my name is Erena Braver and this is my daughter, Anabala. We come from Meading.
- Good morning Erena and Anabala - replied Aina and smiled vibrantly.
- My husband, Hedeor, died in an accident in the Franxo empire’s shipyard a month ago. Unfortunately, he didn’t have private insurance and I devoted my whole life to housekeeping and raising our daughter - the woman pointed to Anabala and Anabala bowed deeply again.
- Unfortunately, my husband was our only source of income. Recently, I was forced to sell our apartment so we’re homeless at the moment. Her whole life, Anabala dreamt of going to high school and studying to become a cybervisagist. Unfortunately, in Meading there is no free high school with that major. I beg you, mother Aina, great empress, help me and my daughter get back on our feet so we can fully enjoy life in your empire again.
Aina did something she didn’t do very often. She got up from her throne and walked down to the women standing in front of her. She approached them and put her arms around them. The claimants didn’t know how to react so they were just standing there frightened with their heads down.
- Raise your heads and look into my eyes - said Aina.
Both women looked up timidly. They were standing right next to the empress herself who just a moment ago was hugging them. It was such an electrifying experience for them that tears welled up in their eyes.
Aina got down on one knee in front of them. Bristling hair on Erena’s hands could be seen even on holovision that broadcast each audience.
- I bow my head in front of you, Erena, because you’re a mother. As a mother of the empire, I know how hard it is for every woman in the empire to dedicate herself to motherhood and taking care of the household. I pay homage to you and I’m grateful that you carry out your duties so attentively - Aina got up and looked straight into Erena’s glassy eyes.
- Thank you, Erena. I’m sorry about what happened to you. Let me thank you in a way I can.
Aina summoned the chamberlain and talked to him for a while. All of that was just for show because thanks to Venera’s report she knew exactly what she should do in terms of formalities.
- Erena, as the ruler of the Empire of Revived Blood I’m offering you the following gifts. For you and your daughter, a free basic apartment with two rooms in a city of your choosing for the period of three years. You will both also get basic sustenance and vouchers to basic stores. In addition, you can choose any two-year training course to prepare for a profession you pick in any school on all of Xome. This is so you can become independent and, before that happens, you won’t have to worry about everyday life.
Aina turned to Anabala.
- And for you, young lady, I have access to any school of cybervisaging in the entire empire. If you choose a fee-paying school, I’m offering to finance the starter kit and the first year of school without any conditions. I’ll finance further years only if you achieve results over fifty per cent in all your professional majors. Regardless of which school you choose, if at graduation you achieve results over ninety per cent in all your professional subjects I guarantee that I’ll finance full equipment for a one-person cybervisage parlor. You’ll get the best equipment available at that time. You want to become a star and stars deserve the best work tools.
After hearing that, tears of happiness streamed down Anabala’s cheeks. She hesitated for a second. It looked as if she wanted to throw herself at Aina and hug her but she restrained herself at the last moment. Aina noticed that and she stretched out her arms towards her and embraced her. The teenager’s genuine tears left wet stains on Aina’s dress but Aina was smiling brightly.
- Thank you, my empress, thank you - Erena got down on her knees and hid her tearful face in the palms of her hands.
- Get up, Erena. We’re both mothers and we both know how valuable it is.
Aina slid off one of the silver bracelets from her left arm and put it on Anabala’s forearm. She was standing rooted to the floor.
- And this is for you, as a souvenir of our encounter. If you ever feel sad, think about the person, who has the second bracelet from this set. This shall give you strength and courage. Remember, both of you, that until I rule this empire you’ll never be alone. Mothers have to be there for one another. Thank you for your visit. Now you have to excuse me, matters of the entire empire are calling.
Aina bowed in front of the women once again and returned to her throne. The women were delicately walked towards the entrance by a female guard.
Aina glanced at the report from the holotransmission of the audience and noticed that offering an apartment and sponsoring school caused less growth in popularity than a symbolic offering of an ordinary silver bracelet. This meant that ordinary people of the empire were still emotional and sensitive to gestures like that. She was going to analyze it with Venera later. She was going to move on to doing what she liked the most.
She returned to her private quarters and called Andreas, a trusted liaison with the criminal underworld.
- How are preparations for the assassination of this midget Ardun going?
- Very well, my empress, we’re almost ready - said Andreas and smiled.
Aina smiled back, sincerely for the first time today.
- I keep imagining his face when he’s forced to explain why he wasn’t present on his own birthday, especially since he has recently activated a new clone and now he’ll have to do the same thing only in emergency mode this time, ha ha.
- My empress, you’re unparalleled when it comes to giving your enemies the needle.
- Enough with the flattery. If your plan goes swimmingly maybe I’ll let you slip your needle right here - Aina smiled flirtatiously and looked down between her thighs exactly like she practiced a million times.