Chapter VIII.

15 Feb

Two articles in the “Gath Ephemeris” the next day caused Endo much worry.

The first one announced that the well-known publisher Brage Sucre had registered to run for a cameral seat in the Canthus district, where he resided.

Who was more unsuited to engage in politics than that individual, the young psychographer wondered. What impelled him to enter such a morally ambiguous arena? Endo was limited to speculation until his eyes caught the Sucre name in a political editorial leader in the gazette. The father of Paena was mentioned in connection with a new, invisible electoral force, the followers of the Velvet series and their futural thinking.

“Until now, little journalistic commentary has occurred concerning a new strategic political concept that is gaining ground within the upper echelons of the Improvement Party, which has been losing popular support in recent elections. Their plan for revival is centered upon winning bloc support from a group that has never appeared on the electoral scene before. In recent days, futural literature has received new direction and support from the Velvet novels of Endo Valino, published by the Sucre firm. Until now, this house has been involved with ordinary, mediocre literature. It’s sudden rise to literary excellence is entirely due to its excursion into the genre of aftertime, the world yet to come.

“What makes us take note of the alliance of the Improvers and the futurals is the entrance of Mr. Brage Sucre onto the electoral stage. He is a candidate of the Improvement Party in his home district of Canthus. Does his action signify the sealing of a permanent marriage between the party and the Velvet Association?

“If so, it is the start of something new and unprecedented in the history of Horae. Only time will tell whether it holds any threat to the progress and stability of our planet. For now, all of us must keep our eyes on these fans and their sudden influx into one of our old political institutions.”

Endo put down the flimsy sheet and pondered what he had just learned.

He longed to see the Sucres, especially Paena.

Why had Brage become a camerist candidate? What was his purpose?

It had to be Tado Foleg who was inspiring and instigating it. No one else would have thought of such strange movements and actions.

But how was he going to learn the truth behind these surprising events?

Paena read the same editorial that Endo did.

She left her desk and went directly into the office of her father without knocking.

Brage looked up in astonishment, to witness how his daughter tossed the printed gazette on his desk.

“You are now the target of severe journalistic opinion,” she began. “There is high suspicion about your candidature. It is believed by many that the integrity of the Velvet Association has been irresponsibly compromised by a sordid deal with the Improvers and their chieftain, Mr. Hullux.”

Brage, sitting comfortably in his spongy rubber chair, picked up the journal and perused the lead article. Coming to his own name, he grew agitated and excited. He had not expected such commentary. It was disturbing to him.

When the publisher looked up again, he saw that his daughter had taken a chair. She evidently wished to have it out with him over this attack on his entering the race for a cameral seat. Her father could see trouble approaching.

“What makes you think that you can be effective in politics?” she roughly asked. “I believe that others will try to manipulate you. Why should you become a puppet of…” She stopped before saying the name both of them had in mind, that of the Chief Editor.

There was no question over what person she meant.

Brage stood up and stepped around his desk until he was in front of her.

“My child, you do not understand. My only goal in all this is to bring closer the day that the world of Velvet becomes actualized in reality. That was my only motive in giving assent to entering my name.”

She glared back at him, her face aglow with indignation. “No, you are not a puppet. Only a periquito who repeats the words it is taught to say. And both of us know who is the person you are the parroter of, don’t we?” She gave him a scornful glance with her zaffir eyes.

Brage was about to open his mouth to refute her, when the door to the sanctum opened and Tado Foleg hurried in at a fast pace.

“Oh, I see that a conversation is in progress. Excuse me, but an important matter has come up. The Book Fair begins this afternoon in the Lapidary Pavilion. Our company has sent a representative for many years. I myself would go, but I am busy with meetings and correspondence. And you are scheduled to meet with a group of voters from your own district, sir. What can we do to have an agent of the firm there?” His bluish gray eyes fell on Paena. “Would you be willing to go there for the company, my dear? It might be quite interesting for you.”

A presentiment within her mind told Paena what to say to this proposal.

“Yes, it might be pleasant to get out of here for a while and see something different.”

She rose from the chair and made her way out of her father’s office.

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