ZION Chapter Thirteen

IVANKA’S APARTMENT, THE PEAK

Ivanka woke up the next morning, still trying to work everything out that she had read. She still did not remember that incident when she was eight. So many questions, and no answers, she thought. She had had trouble going to sleep that night because her mind kept going back to the questions. Ivanka eventually fell asleep at one o’clock in the morning.

Looking at her clock, she saw it was eight o’clock. She bolted straight out of bed. She had meant to see Petrus first thing when his office opened half an hour ago. Drat! He would be probably be preoccupied, and she would have to wait. Making her way over to the desk, she decided she would put the records and documents in a folder so she would not lose them.

At her desk, she frowned. The records were missing. Ivanka frantically searched her desk, the drawers, under the desk. Nothing. She began searching the rest of her apartment. Ivanka went over in her mind what she done with them after reading them. She clearly remembered placing them in the top right drawer of her desk. But it was not there this morning. She finished searching. What had happened to them? They’ve obviously been taken. But by whom? She decided to go back onto the site and print them again.

Turning on her laptop, she went on the site again and searched ‘Ivanka Brown Records’. “That’s weird,” she muttered to herself. “Records not found?” There yesterday, gone tomorrow. This is strange, she thought. Does someone have something to hide?

A knock on her door startled her. Turning off her laptop, she slipped on her dressing gown and opened her door. “Petrus!” she greeted, smiling. Though she did not feel like it.

“Good morning,” he beamed back. “Is it alright if I come in?”

“Sure. Come in,” she permitted and stepped aside to let him through. She shut the door once Petrus came in. Ivanka tried to decide how to bring up the subject, and wondered if she should just directly ask him, as they had always been close.

“You slept in this morning,” Petrus commented. “Tired?” he cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Yeah, after the mission in Region 64, I felt pretty tired,” Ivanka told a part-truth. She thought she would just bring up the subject now. “Petrus?” And as soon as Ivanka said that, she felt that it was not right. It just did not sit right. She reflected that if people had been covering things up and lying to her, and it appeared that Petrus had been as well, and that someone had taken the documents and records, that it probably would not be safe to mention it just yet.

“Yeah, Ivanka?” he asked.

What to do? “Oh, it’s nothing. Forget it,” she brushed it off.

He walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you sure?” he asked.

“It’s nothing.” What should I say?

Petrus draped an arm over Ivanka’s shoulders. “Come on. Tell me,” he said in a fatherly tone.

“I’m just nervous, that’s all,” she covered up smoothly. “About what if I do get chosen and muck up? Fail?”

Petrus seemed to relax. “You won’t fail, Ivanka. You’ll do just fine.” He gave her a squeeze. “Now,” he clapped his hands together. “You have to be dressed and ready. You have to be at the Court of Scarlet by nine.”

“But O’Hielder told me that I had to send in records of myself first,” Ivanka protested.

“You haven’t done anything about that yet, have you?” Petrus enquired, sounding concerned like she might have done something wrong. What’s he so concerned about? Ivanka silently wondered. Is he concerned I may have discovered something?

“No, no. I was planning on doing it this morning,” Ivanka lied smoothly. Petrus relaxed.

“Good. Because O’Hielder got mixed up about something else. She was mistaken. So, don’t worry about it,” Petrus assured her, smiling at her. But, what he did not realise, was that he actually worried her a great deal. Why are they hiding this? What’s so important – or so damning – that they have to hide? She wondered to herself.

“Oh.” O’Hielder getting mixed up? Not like what she had heard about her. “But, that’s not like Julia O’Hielder. She is one to be meticulous, cautious and shrewd; renowned for never making a mistake. So, how come she made one now?” Ivanka pointed out.

Petrus raised his left eyebrow. “You know, Ivanka, no matter how careful or how hard you try not to do it, you’ll still make mistakes. We’ve all done it.” Then he seemed to be staring past her as if he could see into the past. “I’ve done it. Wish I had not done it,” he said, more to himself than to her. Ivanka wondered what he was talking about, or what he was thinking of. Time to bring him back to the present.

“Do I need to wear anything special or…?” Ivanka asked, clearing her throat to get his attention.

“Not really. It’s not required. Though,” he put his hands on his hips and tilted his head to one side, looking thoughtfully at her. “It would look rather striking on you.” Petrus rushed over to her closet and began rummaging through her clothes. “Ah ha!” he turned and held up a white t-shirt and black trousers. “What do you think?”

THE COURT OF SCARLET, THE PEAK

Ivanka, dressed in the outfit Petrus chose, walked up the steps and into the Court of Scarlet. She looked around. Marble floor (she could even see her reflection in it), marble staircase, a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, guards on each side of the doorways and the staircase. It seemed familiar, but she had never been there before. Had she? A guard nearby looked at her and nodded up the staircase. Walking up the stairs, something started playing in her mind. A memory. One she had forgotten.

#Start of Memory#

She was climbing up the marble staircase. Petrus on her left. A woman she did not know on her right. Petrus and the woman were talking. Ivanka had a feeling of trepidation.

“Are you sure of this?” the woman asked Petrus. “Ivanka’s only five. Isn’t she a little young for it?”

Ivanka glanced out of the corner of her left eye with a feeling of hope. Please agree with her, she was thinking. But, her hope was dashed when he looked down at her briefly and then looked back at the woman.

“Hannah, the Emperor ordered it, so we’re doing it. The only thing I’m concerned about is how she’ll react to the Chair,” Petrus told the woman, called Hannah, off.

#End of Memory#

Ivanka was startled. Where had that come from? She wondered. So, she had come here at five, was scared and was going to the Chair? What’s going on? Why wasn’t that in the records? She found her palms were sweaty and her face had broken out in sweat. Her heart was also pounding. The Chair, the Chair. What did Petrus mean by the Chair? And the Emperor had ordered it? And who’s Hannah?

She found herself then infront of the big, gold double doors. She took a deep breath and pushed the memory and the questions to the back of her head. Work it out later, she silently told herself. Focus on what you’re doing. But she could not help remembering the words from the register of name change – “Original name history is now forgotten.” “Appropriate changes have been made to birth certificate.” The words echoed around in her head. What was going on? She could not help but wonder if the Court of Scarlet had a hand in the cover up of her history and what her original name was, and who her parents were. Ivanka wiped her hands on her trousers and wiped her face. Taking another breath, she knocked on the doors.

“Come in,” a growling voice said. Pushing open the doors, she stepped in and found herself in a room that was lit only by candles. There was a table in the middle and around it sat eight men in scarlet robes and all were wearing white wigs. Shutting the doors,  she made her way over to the table. Ivanka recognised the man at the head of the table, his Honour Charles E. Ville. She looked around at the others. Some she recognised, others she had just been told the names of. The Honourable William Clayton, the Honourable Patrick Godfrey, the Honourable Christopher Green, the Honourable Ramses La Magne, the Honourable Sethi and the Honourable Rowan Ward.

Ivanka arrived at the end of the table. “Ivanka Brown?” Charles said.

“Yes, Your Honour,” Ivanka confirmed.

“We are going to ask you some questions and then run you through some tests. Are you ready?” Charles informed her.

“Yes, Your Honour,” Ivanka assured him.

“Then let’s begin.” He stood up. “Patrick Godfrey!”

IVANKA’S APARTMENT, THE PEAK

Three hours later…

Ivanka shut and locked her apartment door. She put some documents and papers on her desk and sat down on her bed. Ivanka pulled out a book that she had been given by Sethi – which was a book of rules, regulations and guidelines for an agent of the Shamrock Council to follow and obey rigidly. It had a black cover and in the middle of the cover was an image of a green shamrock. It was not a large book; only thirty pages or so. She was told to read it as soon as she arrived back at her apartment before doing anything else. She was also told to show up at the Shamrock Council for work the next day wearing the required uniform of a black top with an image of the shamrock on the top right and matching black trousers and also bring the copies of the documents and papers that the Court of Scarlet had giving her showing all the tests and questions she had been put through, the results with the Court’s stamp of approval and hand them over to Julia O’Hielder.

Before she began reading and memorizing the rules, regulations and guidelines, she went over the memory that had suddenly came forward while in the Court of Scarlet. Petrus was cold and uncaring, complete opposite to the loving, thoughtful and considerate person she had known for years. The Chair? What is the Chair? Ivanka wondered. Must be something terrible, as I was wishing that Petrus would agree with that woman Hannah, she concluded. And who’s Hannah? Ivanka wondered how to find out what the Chair was and what it did. Should she ask Petrus? No, she immediately concluded. He would wonder where she had heard it from and probably remember her experience. Since he had been hiding this from her, she decided she should not ask Petrus. Or anyone else for that matter. They would all wonder why she was so curious. Look it up on her laptop? That was out of the question, as they kept records of everything everyone did – even the League’s people. They would record her researching it, and she would be interrogated.

She sighed. The only option that she could see was secretly nosing around and find out that way. She opened the book and resigned herself to reading.

COURTROOM, THE COURT OF SCARLET, THE PEAK

The judges were all gathered together, seated around a circular table. They were discussing what to do with Ivanka Brown. They had a private meeting with Petrus after Ivanka had left and he had told them that she had lied, saying she had not printed off the documents and records yet after she discovered them missing. Which indicated that she might be going to start investigating. After much deliberation, an idea occurred to Green. He raised his hand. Charles E. Ville looked at him. “Yes, Christopher Green?” Charles questioned.

“Why not have one of the Emperor’s Eyes keep track of Ivanka and let us know if she is finding out the truth? At least then we would have confirmation of whether she knows or suspects or not, and then we can safely implement whatever methods to protect our cause…and get rid of her,” Green suggested.

Charles tapped the end of his pen against his teeth as he carefully considered Green’s suggestion. The Emperor’s Eyes were a group of very highly-trained espionage agents that were assigned to spy on other League people, as there were so many that Emperor Noland and Charles could not keep track of them by themselves, to make sure they did not rise up and rebel against the League of Nations. The Emperor’s Eyes would tap into the agents phone records, emails and everything. Those watched agents were not protected from what they did to others. Only the Eyes. The agents generally were not aware of the Eyes existence; except for the odd few that secretly found out.  “Yes. That’s an excellent idea. Ramses La Magne,” he turned to La Magne and handed him some papers. “Transfer this to the Eyes and select someone to observe Ms. Ivanka Brown,” he ordered.

“Yes, Your Honour.” La Magne took the papers and exited the room. Rowan Ward then touched on the delicate subject. “And what do you propose to do about Julia O’Hielder?” he asked. “Should I send one of our hit men out?”

Charles thought about it carefully. “No. It has been our policy that a person should be allowed to live as long as they are useful or have a purpose. As soon as they’ve outlived their usefulness or purpose, we dispose of them. Julia O’Hielder still is useful to us, so we do not dispose of her yet.”

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