DeWitt returned to her Executive Committee.
“More campaign donations?” Ricardo Sanchez asked hopefully. “I’ve been on the horn all day, phoning our regulars, telling the that if the vote carries we’re going to need a ton of campaign funds in a hurry.”
“More votes?” Daphne Mueller asked. Her eyes had rings around them. “It took a while, but all of the Independent Union cabinet members did resign and hand off their responsibilities to the next in line. There was a bit of a fuss for Cornelius Shaver. He was supposed to hand over Defense to Pauline Ashworth, the National Front Senator…she actually knows what’s what in that area. This woman I’ve never heard of, one of Drummond-McLaren’s cronies, crashed into the office, and demanded to be given the keys to the kingdom, well, in any event to the Vice Ministry. Cornelius and Pauline refused. Matters almost became violent. Did you know that Cornelius’s secretary is also one of his bodyguards? This woman found herself looking down the barrel of a handgun, and went away.”
“I see,” DeWitt answered. “Daphne, would you be so kind as to phone up Ariel D’Angelo and ask for Senate Security on Cornelius, Pauline, and their offices? Please tell him your tale, then say the request is from me.”
“Done,” Daphne answered.
“No,” DeWitt continued as she turned to the rest of the Committee, “not more money, possibly more votes, and I will take it as a courtesy if you wait till tomorrow to find out. It doesn’t bear on what we’re doing. Same target, way different line of approach, and once again better to spring this with less notice.”
“We didn’t find out last time,” Joseph Fenstermacher grumbled. “But it worked! Let’s trust Elektra this time, too. We already have enough on our plate. And, of course, dear, if it turns out to be a disaster, it must be completely your fault, and we can always move to a vote of no confidence here.”
“I vote no!” Ricardo shouted.
“I expect that I do, too,” Fenstermacher answered. “It’s not the time to change pilots in midstream.”
“Give ears! Give ears!” The Bearer of the Union Mace stood in the Forecourt of the Senate Hall, resplendant in scarlet robes, the three Bearers of the Senate Records standing two paces behind him in their fox-fur capes. The morning sun shone through the eastern windows, diffused by a layer of ivy, bringing out the color in the dark-stained oak walls. He pounded the mace thrice on the hidden drum behind his lectern. “All rise for His Excellency, Speaker of the Senates and Lords, the Honorable Ariel D’Angelo.”