[identity profile] copperbadge.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] originalsam_backup
Twenty-Five

Jack had almost expected to be rescued the night before his trial. He had decided to sleep while he could, in case he had to run at midnight or something ridiculous like that. When he woke in the morning, therefore, at least he had the consolation of being well-rested.

They let him wash and shave before his trial, and then they put the shackles on him again and loaded him into an automobile that was little more than a dark cube of metal with an engine on the front. He would have complained about the aesthetics of it, but there was nobody to hear him.

He was brought into the Parliament building when light was still just dawning over Canberra, and he wondered why he was so early until he saw the people hurrying about at the front of the room, setting up an apparatus. Then he began to really worry.

"I see our star has arrived," Bell said, stepping out of a row of chairs and facing Jack, though keeping well back from him. "Impressive, isn't it, Mr. Parsons?"

Jack looked beyond him and wondered if it was a torture device, or just meant to look like one.

"New technology," Bell said smugly. "You claim to be an engineer; you might appreciate it. Do you see that box there, on the pole? When you speak into that box, anyone with a receiver within ten miles of us will hear you."

Jack blinked at him, and then his brain caught up with him. "Really?" he asked. "How does it work?"

"That's not something you need to know," Bell assured him. "Guards?"

He stepped aside as Jack was shoved roughly forward. When Jack got to the front of the room he leaned over to study the machine with interest, only to have his arms jerked backwards as the chains were strapped to a horizontal bar behind him, which was bolted to the floor at either end.

"Excuse me," he said to a man fiddling with another metal box near the one on the pole. "Bell says if I talk into this people will hear me ten miles away."

"S'right," the man said, clearly terrified.

"Well, how does that work? I mean, the people in the room aren't going to go deaf from the noise, are they?"

The man chuckled, relaxing. "Don't work that way. See, your voice goes in here," he pointed to the receiver, "and gets turned into a signal, and then it goes down here," he pointed to another box, "and then up to this big tower they got, top of the building, and flies through the air and gets picked up again by a bunch of receiver boxes way out there in Canberra."

"How's it work?" Jack asked.

"Well," the man said. "Radio waves."

"What?"

"See, there are magnets..." the man started, then stopped. "Dunno if I should tell you," he said suspiciously. "You're on trial for treason."

Jack laughed. "Well, if I'm guilty I'll be killed, so that won't matter. If I'm not, then I won't be using it for any kind of nefarious purpose, will I?"

The man frowned.

"Come on, I'm an engineer. Satisfy my curiosity."

The man glanced over his shoulder and caught Bell watching them. "Can't. Tell you later, if there's time," he said, somewhat regretfully. Jack sighed and stepped back, leaning on the bar he was chained to. He watched the "radio" men in silence as they continued to set up and check their equipment, until they left and the Members of Parliament began to appear.

They took their time coming in and seating themselves, with lots of coughing and rattling of paper, lots of furtive looks at him. He smiled at them whenever he caught them doing it. There weren't any women in the assembly, though women and men alike were pouring into the audience seating above the main floor. The audience stared more openly at him, which only made sense. They weren't deciding his fate.

After a lot of fussing and delay, someone called for order and Bell stood up officiously.

"We are convened," he said solemnly, "to examine a young gentleman accused of egregious crimes against our nation. These crimes are so great that they cannot simply be presented in a courthouse; we believe in good faith that they require the collective wisdom of Parliament to provide a solution."

There was a loud stomping of feet and lots of cheering. Jack rolled his eyes, which caused a few of the audience above the chamber to giggle.

It occurred to him that if he had been here with people he trusted less -- loved less -- he might now be worrying that they'd abandoned him. He'd never considered the possibility that he might be left to be executed. He didn't now, either, though he wasn't sure at this point how he was going to be saved.

Still, whether he was going to die or escape, he might as well make it worth the cost of admission.

"I will read the charges now," Bell announced. Jack sighed. "Mr. John Parsons, on this day and in an orderly court of examination, is charged with several grave offences, to wit: Treason against the nation of Australia; Fraud for the purpose of Treasonous acts; deception or attempted deception of government officials for the purpose of criminal gain; deception or attempted deception of government officials for the purpose of treason; and several minor offences including impersonation of an engineer, theft of goods and services, corruption of government services for personal gain, impeding a criminal investigation, and assault on an officer of the peace."

Another wave of foot-stamping. Bell turned to him dramatically.

"Mr. Parsons, do you have anything you wish to say regarding the charges before we begin the examination?"

Jack grinned at him.

"Well," he said, dropping into his own, true New England twang, "for a start, you got my name wrong."

A slight ripple of noise ran through the room. Bell frowned.

"Do you claim that you acted under an alias, sir?"

"I claim that I did, sir," Jack answered.

"What is your real name?"

"My name is Jack Baker," Jack announced, grinning. "I am a student of Engineering and Mechanical Design at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That's in America, by the way."

This time the ripple was more like a wave.

"Mr. -- Baker, is it? -- We really don't have time for games," Bell said.

"Good, I'm not playing any."

"You claim to be an American. The accent is very good, but honestly, Mr. Baker, the ports have been closed I daresay since before you were born."

"Oh, I didn't really bother with the ports," Jack said. He was starting to enjoy his time on the stand.

"How do you claim to have arrived, then?" a man shouted from the gallery.

"I will have order here!" Bell announced.

"I built an airship," Jack called back to him.

There was a long silence.

"An airship," Bell said finally, sounding skeptical.

"Mmhm. It's a ship that flies," Jack said. More laughter.

"To what purpose?" Bell demanded.

"Well, obviously, to come here," Jack said. He was met with snickers not just from the audience, but now from the floor as well.

"And why, Mr. Baker, were you so eager to come to Australia?" Bell asked.

Jack smiled, leaned forward, and announced, "I'm a spy."

There were a few moments of uproar; the sergeants-at-arms banged their staffs on the floor for order. Bell took out a handkerchief and wiped his face. He gave Jack a thoughtful look.

"You claim to be a spy for America?"

"No, for Great Britain," Jack said. The roar increased, so he shouted, "It's kind of a long story."

"This is preposterous," one of the other members yelled.

"Hey, don't tell me," Jack said, rattling his chains.

"ORDER!" Bell roared, and the sergeants-at-arms stamped again until everyone fell silent. He looked at Jack with narrowed eyes. "You cannot expect us to believe this nonsense."

"Well, I can't prove any of it, but then you can't disprove much of it either."

"And your companion, Mrs. Parsons -- should I say, Mrs. Baker -- "

"Oh, she's not my wife."

"Mr. Baker, your scandalous arrangements -- "

"It's not particularly scandalous," Jack said. "We're not lovers. Kind of a dirty mind you've got, Bell."

"I will not be addressed in this fashion!" Bell insisted.

"You did ask," Jack said. There were a few quiet 'hear hear!'s from the assemblage. Bell turned and glared. Jack decided to grab the advantage of Bell's momentary silence. "Anyway, I don't think it's treason if I'm a foreigner. It's espionage, right? Maybe sabotage if you can make the financial end stick. Fraud though, that's good and solid. You should probably go with fraud. Do you execute spies?"

"Mr. Baker, you will remain silent until spoken to," another man ordered.

"What are you going to do, throw me in jail?" Jack asked. "I'm standing handcuffed in front of Parliament on capital charges. I don't think contempt of court's really that frightening."

"You will be silent, Mr. Baker!" Bell insisted.

"Nah," Jack said. "How about I tell Parliament what your wife says about you and the Tribal servants?"

"Honestly, Bell, control your prisoner," another man called. Bell's face was bright red.

"Or, let's see...oh, let's talk about America!" Jack added brightly. He barreled on through the shocked silence, wondering how long it would last. "America, see, it's really big. I don't know when you last heard about us but America is huge. We're all the way out to the California coast now. So -- Great Britain might be kind of annoyed by you if you execute me, because I'm working for them. But I was born in America, and when America finds out that you killed me? They're going to be really angry. I wouldn't be surprised if it started a war. And we may not be as technologically forward as you are, but believe me..." Jack's grin widened a fraction. "We'll catch up quick. And then we'll crush you. Now," he said, turning to Bell. "You were going to ask me where my fellow spies were?"

Bell was gaping at him, open-mouthed, totally bereft of words. Jack glanced up into the audience and saw that people were watching him with grim, pale faces.

Which was when they all heard it -- shouting outside the building, and a loud booming noise.

"Ah," Jack said. "I think that's probably them now."

***

When they reached the steps of Parliament, a cheer rose out of the crowd -- not just those who had come from the Res, but dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who had joined during the march as well.

Murra -- she had to think of herself as Murra, had to be Murra -- knew that not all of the people following her were even Koori anymore. When they'd come down from the Res, Ellis had been the single white man among them. Some from the Res and from the outlying areas had been half-Koori like herself, quarter-Koori, some with white blood further back, but now in the crowd there were white men and women who'd been pulled into the march, who'd joined willingly or been touched and seen...something, some shred of their suffering. She was glad of it.

"What do we do now?" Mem asked in her ear, holding her hand tightly. She gave it a reassuring squeeze.

"Well, if the door are open," she said with a smile.

"Murra..." Ellis said from behind her, his voice worried. "Let me go ahead. They're less likely to shoot a white man."

She turned to him and nodded. He was carrying a light, broad shield at his hip, one of many the Kooris were carrying, and as he went up the steps he held it across his body. He looked faintly ridiculous, but better absurd than dead. As he no doubt would have observed. He tested one of the ornate doorknobs of the big Parliament doors, then the other.

"Locked," he called. "Probably barred too."

He pounded on the door and everyone within earshot could hear the sound of rifles being cocked inside. Ellis backed slowly away.

"There's the side-entrance," William offered softly to her. "But -- "

"Kooris no longer resort to servant entrances," Murra said firmly. "We will come into Parliament through the front doors. We'll batter them down if we must."

"Give me the loud-talking thing," William said.

"Make one yourself," Murra answered with a grin, taking his wrist and moving his hand up to his throat. He smiled and closed his eyes; when she let go of his wrist, he held the smooth little loud-talking device in his fingers.

"To the Parliament of Colonial Australia!" he said, and she saw Ellis cover his ears, wincing. "The Assembled Indigenous Tribes of Australia demand access!"

The zip of a bullet whined in her ears and its impact, in the stone stairs in front of them, threw up chips of stone. There was a wave of color as shields were raised in the direction the bullet had come from.

"Sniper," Ellis said, pointing to a roof. "There."

A bird rose out of the crowd, brilliantly colored, and shrieked angrily. It darted through the air, and there was a clatter as the sniper's gun tumbled from his fingers, falling from the roof. The bird began circling, and a few others joined it.

"They must think it's the utter end of the world," Ellis observed.

"It's the end of theirs," Murra answered. "People are usually afraid of new worlds, isn't that what you told me?"

"You're pretty far beyond my teaching now," Ellis said, "but if you'd like some advice on getting those doors open, I have a few thoughts."

"Oh?"

"Well, they have locks on the outside," he pointed out. "And gaps at the bottom. A little well-placed fire ought to get everyone on the other side back for long enough to get a skeleton key in the door."

"William, keep talking," she said, and pulled Mem forward with her.

"We don't intend to harm you," William continued, as Murra knelt and pressed her fingers against the gap between door and stone walkway. "We wish only for proper representation in the houses of Parliament. We have peaceful grievances to bring before you. If you do not wish to hear our grievances willingly, however, we will force them upon you."

"This is the most brilliant thing I've ever done in my whole life," Mem said, keeping the fire going under the gap as Murra fashioned a key for herself and began fitting it into the locks.

"It's at least in my top three," she agreed. There was a click in one lock, and the door shuddered slightly. Then the other lock clicked as well. "Mem, no more fire."

"You got it," he said, standing up and stamping out a few stray licks of flame. Murra took a breath, put her hands to the doors, and pulled.

They swung open easily on well-oiled hinges, and a shield was in her hand almost before she saw, through the smoke, the guns aimed at her from the entryway beyond. Mem darted behind her with a yelp, and then Ellis and William were there on either side, shields raised as well.

"Don't come any closer!" one of the guards snarled, but it was too late; there was a surge of bodies from outside, pushing Murra and the others forward. The guards didn't even manage to shoot before they were overwhelmed. One of them at least was embraced by a Koori man and burst into tears -- Murra saw that much before she was swept through another unlocked door, into a narrow hall.

"This way," William said, grabbing her hand and pulling her ahead of the crowd, up half a flight of stairs and into a larger reception hall. "They'll be in the general assembly."

They were ahead of others as he wrenched open a set of double doors and Murra found herself face to face with two large men, armed with stout clubs. One swung at her and she dodged back; Mem ducked and then darted nimbly between them, laughing as he went. Murra held her shield up to deflect another blow, then shoved forcibly past them, letting the rest of the marchers crowd them into submission.

She broke away down the central aisle of Parliament alone, Ellis not far behind, and saw Mem dodging through Ministers deftly. He leapt up onto the stage when she was still halfway there and gave a whoop of triumph, and Clare stopped short, breathlessly.

"Look at that," Ellis whispered in her ear, as the politicians struggled towards the aisles and were met with the dead, impassive wall of shields forming as Kooris poured into the room. "There they are, Murra. Look at your brothers."

Mem was bent over Jack's chains, unlocking them, grinning at him as they spoke too quietly for her to hear. Jack looked stunned for a second and then his eyes drifted up, scanning the room for her. When he saw her, his face lit up.

"TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH!" he shouted.

"STAY THERE!" she shouted back, and started forward again. Mem, seeing her struggle to get through, made a tight fist and then blew into something inside it.

There was a single moment where everything was suddenly sound -- a deep bass roar that shook the dust from the rafters and knocked Jack sideways against a rail for a moment. When it was over, the silence in the room was overwhelming.

In the stunned, dazed quiet, Murra pushed her way to the front, past the long rows of men and women holding shields against the exits to the aisle, past a bewildered MP Bell who stood surrounded by them. She reached the stage about the same time William did, and Mem bent down to help her up onto it. Jack ran forward and swept her up in his arms, holding her so tight it was hard to breathe.

She felt herself pulled away and then Purva was throwing herself against Jack, knocking him backwards. He staggered and straightened, and Murra heard Ellis snort as they kissed.

"Look, see?" Purva said, forehead against Jack's. "We came to save you. All is well."

"If you keep this up I'm going to just expect it," Jack said.

"Oui -- I will always save you."

Murra glanced at Mem, who was rolling his eyes. She felt a tug on her arm -- William, jerking his head at the front of the stage. She nodded and came forward, shield still slung protectively across her body.

"I'm sorry for all the fuss," she said, "but we did warn you that if you didn't listen to us willingly you'd listen to us anyway."

Silence. Not even so much as a request for their demands. The men of Parliament were staring at her in terror, and those who had been able, in the upper audience levels, had fled.

"We don't intend to hurt you," she continued, "and we hope you won't try to hurt us before you've heard what we've come to say."

"This is an outrage!" finally, a reaction -- Bell, of course, shoving ineffectively against the shields surrounding him. "Some tinpot dictator with a few Tribals -- "

"Tinpot dictator?" Ellis drawled, interrupting him. "Bit rich coming from you, Bell, don't you think?"

"And we have more than a few," Murra added. "Besides, it isn't the numbers. It's what we have, and what we can offer to you."

"May I?" William asked in her ear. "I speak the language of bureaucrats rather well."

She gestured for him to take her place, but Jack came forward.

"Here," he said, picking up a box on a stick and offering it to William. "It's a Radio Box. Talk into it and people outside the building will be able to hear you."

William lifted his eyebrows, amused, but he put the box squarely in front of him.

"My name is William Libris," he said. "I stand before you today as a representative of the Assembled Indigenous Tribes of Australia, also known as the Koori People. In this room I am the voice for all Kooris -- and we have been without a voice for too long."

Several of the men and women pounded sticks or shields against the ground.

"Today we have a voice, and we will not allow it to be silenced. We don't intend to injure anyone, or we would have come with guns," he added, even as a man she recognized as a Wiradjuri elder wrestled a pistol from a Member of Parliament. "As you are unwilling to hear us, however, we have taken the liberty of securing Parliament for our own ends. We have both a presentation of our grievances and a demand of our rights."

William had an actual list, which he'd scribbled down on the train that morning, and Murra listened as the demands rolled over the silent hall. The right to vote; the right to own a business; the right to equal pay for work; the right to the public dining rooms of restaurants; the right to legal retribution for injuries done, and the right to serve on a jury or as a judge; the right to own land, if fairly purchased; the right to respect, and the right to legal retribution if denied it; the right to equal pay grade and opportunity for promotion in the military; the right to admission to education in all schools; the right to hold a degree and practice professionally.

"These things will all be dealt with," he said, "immediately, and without delay. Some of you will be removed from your office -- not with due process, not with legal proceedings, but today, and by force if we must. The Wiradjuri have appointed Elders of our tribe and of others to replace you. Any military leaders we deem unfit will be replaced by Koori soldiers, and those who object to Koori commanding officers are entitled to immediate release from duties. Those who object and refuse this release will be dealt with legally as mutineers."

"You can't!" one white-haired MP stood up, finally finding his voice. "You'll bring chaos down on us! The people won't stand for this, boy!"

"I am a man," William said sharply. "My name is William Libris. You may address me as Mr. Libris, sir, or you will be the first to be removed."

"As to your grievance," Ellis said, and every head in the room turned, "It is -- "

"Traitor!" the man shrieked.

"I'm an Englishman, I can't be a traitor to Australia," Ellis said smoothly.

"Traitor to your race!"

"Gladly, if this is how my race is expected to behave," Ellis snarled. Murra put her hand out and touched his, and he glanced at her before his face settled into more peaceful lines. "Believe me, all of you want to hear what I have to say. If the people don't care to accept the conditions of the assembled tribes, there will be chaos. You see, Mr. Baker here was on trial for a swindle -- a land speculation that would have fallen through. Loans were made from many banks, all over the country, and gold poured into Canberra. You may think that gold is secure, but it was brought to the Lake Cowal Reservation long before the fraud was discovered. When you open your bank-boxes and find them full of bricks, your banks will fail. Your government will fail, and commerce will cease. Your money will be devalued and your economy destroyed."

"He's bluffing," Bell shouted.

"Am I, Bell? Send for the bank boxes, if you don't believe me, and you'll find them full of bricks. The gold is in Wiradjuri hands. They don't have any real use for it, considering they're about to be admitted to a much more potent form of power, but they can just as easily hold onto it while your banks fail and there are riots in the streets. So if I were you I should listen to Mr. Libris. Nobody wants to see Australia destroyed because of a little land deal, I promise you that."

"You have to forgive Mr. Graveworthy," William continued. "He's a guest in this country, and he forgets a few things sometimes. For all the wrongs we've suffered, we're willing to forgive -- we want to see the cycle ended, here, today, and we don't want to stand at an impasse. Which is why we are also bringing you a gift," he continued, his tone gentle and almost paternal. "Creationism has returned to Australia. What you see here is not the result of arms or manufacture. Creationism was taken from us and from you, but that is not the land's fault. Now it is given back to us."

He held up his hand and a small bird appeared in it, squawking and flapping away after a second. Every eye in the room followed its movements until it found a high open window and disappeared through it. Murra grinned and stepped forward. William took her hand.

"The Assembled Tribes are offering you the power to Create," she said, pleased at how clear her voice sounded in the high, echoing chamber. "We can open your borders to outside trade. I was an expatriate when I was sent away from Australia, but I came back. Your expatriates can come back too -- they can come home. Your children don't need to be taken from you. You can rejoin the world -- you can offer the wealth of Australia to any country you choose."

"You should listen to her," Jack said. "They'd pay a lot for automobiles in America."

William looked at Jack and chuckled.

"Today, you will learn to live as equals with the people who were custodians of this island long before your ancestors knew it existed," William said. "In Canberra, as in Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane and Adelaide, you will learn that we don't intend to take what is yours from you -- only what is ours by right. We don't want to rule you. We want to rule with you."

There was a long silence, until a man in the second row of seats stood up. He looked young, much younger than most of his colleagues, and very frightened.

"Excuse me," he said, carefully. "Mr. Libris."

"Yes, MP...?"

"Oh, I'm not..." The man winced. "I'm an aide, Mr. Libris. My name's Barton."

"Mr. Barton," William said politely. "You have a question?"

"Well, it seems to me that this is pretty sudden," Barton said, and a murmur of agreement passed through the seats behind him. "But I'm for free trade, Mr. Libris, and your big talk of opening the borders is pretty tempting. And, well...nobody else seems like they're going to stand up and talk with you."

"Barton," a man hissed nearby. "Sit down!"

"Don't think I will, sir," Barton replied, without turning around. "What I want to know, Mr. Libris, is how you expect to get anything done now. What I mean is...do we vote to accept your offer, or how is this done? I beg your pardon, it's only that I've never been part of a coup before."

"Me neither," William said, and glanced at Murra. She nodded.

"Mr. Barton," she said. "Would you like to come up here?"

"Why?" Barton asked warily.

"Because courage is rewarded," she replied, and crouched at the edge of the stage, offering her hand to the young aide. He eased past a row of chairs and desks, stepped onto one near the front, and took her hand for balance as he jumped lightly from desk to stage. She patted him on the back when he'd regained his footing, and didn't release his hand.

"See?" she said to him. "It's easy. You show us respect and we can show you the world, Mr. Barton. What do you think?"

"I've never shaken hands with a Tribal before," Barton said, glancing down at their hands.

"Koori," she corrected gently.

"Not everyone's going to agree," Barton said.

"Fear fades," William told him, and turned back to Parliament. Murra let go of his hand, still smiling.

"Any man or woman who accepts the rights of the Assembled Tribes and agrees to their grievances and demands is welcome to come forward," William said. "We are more than happy to greet you as equals."

At first there was no movement, and then another young man -- another aide, from the look of it -- stood up and offered his hand to a woman holding a shield nearby. She looked at it, looked at him, and shook it.

"This isn't what I expected," William muttered to her, as aides began to stand up all over the hall. Most of them were young, some not even fully grown -- some had to struggle out of the restraining grips of their elders. One, who looked more like an errand boy than an aide, yelled in protest when he was grabbed, and two more young men pulled his captors off of him so he could dart down the row of chairs and into the protective embrace of a Wiradjuri woman.

"Look," Murra said, pointing, as a trio of MPs pushed past their aides to shake hands first.

"It's going to work," William replied, watching. "Murra, it's really going to work."

She felt Ellis behind her, close enough to touch, and then his hand twining through hers. He leaned forward, lips brushing her ear.

"You did it," he said. "You're nineteen years old and you just brought down a government."

"They did it," she corrected. "And I didn't bring anything down, Ellis."

"We raised them up," William agreed, as another handful of MPs, looking terrified but resolute, shook hands with Saturday, who leaned up and kissed one on the cheek.

"This is great and all," Jack remarked, "but I'm starving. They didn't give me breakfast and almost being executed sort of gives you an appetite."

Murra laughed and pulled away from Ellis, meaning to walk over to Jack and hug him, but as she moved two shots rang out, and someone screamed.

A small knot of men had shoved through the barrier surrounding Bell, and two Kooris lay bleeding on the floor. Even as she watched, helpless, one of the men raised a revolver and shot a third between the eyes.

"Stop!" she shrieked, as they knocked more shields aside. "Stop it, you're hurting them!"

"You'll ruin everything!" William bellowed. He charged forward, only to jerk back as a bullet zipped past his head and buried itself in the wood behind him.

"No!" Murra shouted, when the nearby Kooris began to move forward. They stopped as if they'd hit a wall, anguish on their faces. She tried to run towards the bleeding wounded, but found herself stopped as well, the barrel of a gun leveled at her head.

Not more than fifteen feet separated her from Bell, who was standing free now, looking rumpled and holding a revolver. Behind him, three more men had guns aimed at her, or at William or Barton, still frozen on the stage.

"You're savages," Bell said. "I'd be within my right to shoot you where you stand. Tell your little army to back down."

"I won't," Murra retorted, even as cold fear trickled through her.

"Please," Ellis said, somewhere behind her. "Put the gun down, Bell, you can't win this."

"I can kill you from here," Bell snarled. "Send them away and you might live to stand trial."

"You can't stop them if you shoot me," Murra replied. "You can't stop us no matter what."

"It's pointless to shoot her, Bell," Jack called. One of the men shifted his aim as Jack edged into the periphery of her vision. "All you'll get is a trial."

"I will see you stand trial for treason," Bell said. "I will see you hanged!"

"Don't!" William snapped, as more Kooris moved to come forward. "Don't let one stupid little man ruin it!"

"Murra," Memory's anguished tone was almost enough -- she didn't want him to lose his sister. Not when he had lost so much.

"I can shoot them from where I stand," Purva said confidently. "Probably all of them. Bell at least."

"That won't solve anything, Purva," she said.

"It will make me feel much better," Purva offered. "And they will be dead. They've already killed. Law of piracy. You kill, you are killed. Simple. Politics begins to tire me."

"Put the gun away, Purva," Ellis said.

"Tell them to withdraw!" Bell shouted.

"NO!" Murra shouted back.

At that moment Bell flinched at the force in her voice, and apparently everyone saw their opportunity. Ellis and Barton were past her in an instant, running for the small group of rebels. Not fast enough, though -- there was the sharp bark of gunfire, and she heard Jack and Memory shout denials in unison.

She felt a sudden pressure, a jerk against her shoulder, but no pain. And then she was falling.

***

Address by the Rt. Hon. William Libris
To the Third Australian Assembly
Regarding the Adelaide Memorial Resolution (3AT-445)
March 9, 1881

I have been asked many times why I am opposed to this resolution, and I have given the answer many times. As we appear to have some among us who no longer see fit to read the newspapers, however, I have asked to address you en masse, and I appreciate your attendance today.

It must be resolved -- it is resolved -- that the fallen of Adelaide, Colonist and Koori alike, be remembered. No less the fallen of Canberra, among whom I counted friends and Elders of my tribe. Their names are writ in the hearts of all the assembled tribes. To understand your grief is to understand our own.

But I cannot countenance, nor should you, the erection of jingoistic, vengeful, and brutal reminders of their deaths. On the day of the revolts we were not interested in death or revenge, and I speak with the voice of the Assembled Tribes when I say that we do not wish for death or revenge now. There are some who would even tell you that there should be repercussions, but if there are to be repercussions for those deaths beyond the trials of the murderers -- how many more will there be for the treatment of Kooris when colonists came to this country?

My grandfather was a white man. My grandmother was raped by him. My mother was killed by an automobile and no one was ever held to account. My father came to Canberra with a young son and his books, and that was all. But I have chosen -- I have chosen -- to set these things aside because I do not want to see history repeating itself. Ten years ago we were Tribals and Whites, and terrible things were done. But I stand here before you today to say that we are all Australians. Our memories are too long and our dreams too big for even one generation to capture. We will remember these names, a catechism of loss and sacrifice, but we do not need stone or steel to tell us what we have lost. You do not need stone and steel that will become a rallying point for a minority of small-minded people who would seek to tear down what we have built, because we have given up too much -- lives, blood, sweat, and even hate and fear -- to build it.

I don't want the names of my friends and Elders who died in Adelaide and Canberra engraved on a statue, especially one whose sole purpose is to stir up old feuds. Australia is a bigger place than that. I want, for all time, that their names may signify and represent the love they had for this land. Love is not something one can carve in stone. Not even a Creationist.

As one of you, and as the voice of Kooris in this place, I beg you not to build monuments. We don't need them. We have our memories, and memory is the most powerful fuel for our shared dreams for Australia.

***

When Ellis and Barton ran forward, Jack saw Bell's hand tighten on the gun. He moved at the same time Memory did, but the other man got there first, shoving Clare -- Murra, as she was apparently calling herself? -- to the floor. Jack found himself in front of an empty space where she had been a second before, and realized too late what that meant.

He felt the bullet rip through him, a stab of pain and motion, and only just saw Ellis tackle Bell to the floor before his legs decided to give out from the pain. His knees hit the ground with a crack that spoke of a lot of future pain as well, but the burning, twisting feeling in his chest was like nothing else he'd ever felt and there was little room in his body for more than that.

There were scuffling noises nearby, and throughout the hall he heard cries of pain. He turned his head, struggling for breath, and saw that people were watching – some were holding others back, but nobody was fighting. And that was...good? Probably good? Hard to think, with the feeling of blood running down his chest and back, and the sluggish pulse in his veins.

Someone's hands were on his shoulders. A voice in his ear was yelling for Saturday, but he didn't know where she was. He tried to gesture, found his arm wouldn't work, and lifted his other arm to see why. When he brought his hand away from his shoulder, it was streaked in blood.

The pain was fading. That was probably just as well. The whole world seemed soft, and the voices were very distant --

And then he screamed as someone pushed him to the ground and pressed their hands directly over the wound, screamed and screamed in pain at the white-hot stab of agony. And fire, too, God, he was burning --

"Stop struggling, you stupid bastard!" someone said. "I've got to cauterize it!"

Cauterize meant fire, more fire, and he redoubled his efforts to get whoever it was off his chest so it would stop hurting. He screamed again when he felt his skin crackle, smelled the sick odor of burning flesh.

"Jack, breathe in," someone ordered, and Jack almost resolved stubbornly not to until they stopped hurting him, but then they held his nose closed and he gasped in a breath instinctively.

"Good, the lung's not hit and his heart's fine," the same voice. "Blood's stopped. Murra!"

"I..." Jack managed, gasping for air again as the pressure suddenly eased. The pain was still there, but someone was holding his head in something soft and at least they'd stopped twisting the knife or whatever it was. No, a bullet; he'd been shot, hadn't he?

"He's not dead," a voice said, and Jack was able to identify it as Saturday. Well, good; she was a doctor, she ought to know.

He turned his head slightly and his nose bumped the rough, dusty fabric of Purva's trousers. Oh, Purva; that was good too. She said something in French, but he was focusing beyond her -- to where Ellis had Bell in a choke-hold, pretty impressive actually. Although there was a body beyond them, a horrible body with the top of its head missing.

And Clare, taut with rage, face incandescent with it, blood -- oh, probably his, sad thought -- on her shirt, standing face to face with Bell.

"You shot my brother!" she raged. Jack smiled, pleased that she thought of him that way.

"Then kill me," Bell sneered.

"You'd like that!" she shouted. "And don't think I can't. I could reach into your chest and pull your heart out still beating. Any one of us here could kill you before you knew you were dead. Don't think we can't, if we want to."

"Murra," that was Ellis, looking worried. Well, Jack would be too if he were that close to Clare when she was really, truly angry. Not Clare. Murra?

"But the difference between us is that we choose not to," she said, and for a minute he thought she was going to prove herself wrong because she did put out her hand. But instead of ripping his heart out, which would actually have been pretty satisfying to Jack, she pressed her palm flat over his chest. "You want to kill? Find out what you've done."

Jack watched through narrow eyes, his blood still roaring in his ears, as Bell stiffened and a look of horror crossed his face. He started breathing fast, the way Jack felt like breathing, and then sagged down, almost dragging Ellis with him.

"Feel that?" Murra demanded. "Do you feel my grief? If he dies, believe me, you'll feel more."

Bell began to sob. "Make it stop!"

You said it, Jack quietly agreed. Every inhale brought with it a jolt of nerve-rending pain.

"Clare," he croaked, and she stepped back and left the weeping wreck of Bell to Ellis, who eased him to the ground and stood over him.

"Hey, Jack," she said, kneeling on the floor -- she was going to get more blood on her clothes, he thought wildly. "Howya doing?"

"I'll live?" he ventured. She gave an almost hysterical laugh.

"Yeah, you'll live, I think. Saturday's going to take you to a hospital, okay? Saturday and Ellis. ELLIS!" she called, and soon there were hands helping Jack up -- oh, that really hurt.

"Right," Ellis's voice. "Jack, I'm going to have to carry you. Saturday's gone to find an auto. This is going to hurt, trust me, I know."

Jack laughed hysterically. "We'll have matching scars."

"Good man. Ready? One, two -- "

Agony ripped up his body and Jack had only a brief second in which to register his vehement objection to being shot before the world went black.

***

TRANSCRIPT
LECTURE VI, INTRO TO LUMOCOMPOSITION IN JOURNALISM
CANBERRA COLLEGE OF JOURNALISM
Lecture given by: Dina Wiradjuri, Professor of Lumojournalism

There were a lot of Lumeras in the city on the day of the Canberra Revolt and many quick-minded people who used them to document the beginning of the Revolt. I assume you've all done the reading, so you'll have seen the pictures of the interior of the Parliament House and the "Day Of" compilation covering reactions in the city, and you should also be familiar with the emotionally shocking images from Adelaide. But I think you all -- even our international students -- will be intimately familiar, from your history textbooks, with the most famous of the Lumos taken that day on the steps of Canberra Parliament House.

Now, there are some, and nobody knows this better than I do, who still say that it is ironic or even objectionable that this lumo represents the day. A white man, shot in the chest by another white man and being carried by a third, is perhaps an inappropriate icon for a day that is celebrated for the emancipation of the Assembled Tribes. This is a composition class, however, so we're not going to argue about politics here. As with many Wiradjuri of my generation, I was in Parliament that day, and I'm not interested in debating whether or not it should be a picture of me or any other Koori who was there.

I want you to study the positioning and the use of contrast and light in the lumo, as well as the inadvertent reference to European Christian iconography. Note that we have this figure here, Graveworthy, at the absolute center of the composition with a near perfect symmetry of the steps on either side. There's a slight asymmetry here, where one of the doors above is positioned only half-open, but if you'll remember our discussion of the Mona Lisa, this background asymmetry can be very compelling.

Have a look at the shape of the man he's carrying, now. We have Baker's head cradled on his rescuer's shoulder, with his legs interrupting the line of Graveworthy's arm on the other side. Focusing on the figures, note also the contrast on their chests -- two very light white shirts, with this chaotic spatter of blood down the arms.

We see a parallel to this in our next slide, in Christian imagery of the Madonna, in what is called the Pieta pose. Here you see Mary cradling her grown son across her lap, and if we can reverse slide briefly you can see the similarity in the way Graveworthy and Baker are captured by the Lumera.

The lumo moves from the realm of static imagery to the realm of story when we see also this detail in the corner, here, which is occasionally cropped out but I feel vitally important to an understanding of the piece as a whole. There is an uplifted hand rising out of the lower right of the frame, quite obviously the hand of a Koori, most likely belonging to Saturday Wiradjuri, the doctor who attended Baker at the scene.

So we see in this image something more than simply one man carrying another. This becomes the story of an injured man being taken from the place of his attack to a place of safety and healing, illustrated by the hand waiting to receive him. Moreover, the fact that it is a Koori hand extended in comfort to a white individual expresses an uneasy combination of racial tension and harmony. We will see this over and over again in lumos of the era: the significance of Koori hands and Colonial hands outstretched towards each other or grasping each other during important moments in the civil rights process.

Finally, examine the expressions on their faces. The art of the lumo is equal parts timing, skill, and luck: consider whether this piece would be as compelling were it not for Graveworthy's expression of anguish and the contrasting expression of peace on the unconscious Baker's face. Especially in the days after the event, when it was uncertain if Baker would survive, this was a cathartic image on a number of levels -- fear for Baker himself, fear for the future of Colonial Australia's power monopoly, and fear for the future of Australia as a whole. This image touched off emotion in the country, which is what brought it so often before the public eye, and that in turn has made it a work of extreme historical significance.

Now, let's move from this chaotic, disturbing image to a more positive and controlled companion image. This is a portrait of Murra-Clare Fields, taken about two months after the Canberra Revolt. As a formal lumo, everything in it is carefully chosen, from the masculine Colonial clothing -- note the waistcoat, which no middle-class Colonial woman of the day would dream of wearing -- to the scroll in her left hand...

***

In the days after they took Parliament, Ellis didn't remember sleeping much. There was too much to do, and though he had only a peripheral hand in most of it he was still required to be present. Libris, he knew, was using him; using a white foreigner to quell the fears of Koori violence, using a white supporter of the Koori cause to imply a certain amount of racial cooperation where it didn't necessarily exist. At least, not voluntarily. Ellis didn't mind; Libris needed him, and he'd played worse parts before.

Libris himself gave speech after speech, especially during the terrible hot afternoon of the Revolt, when word arrived from seemingly every city in Australia that Kooris had taken and held, without violence, the hearts of each: banks, merchant halls, meeting-houses, local government seats --

Except in Adelaide. In Adelaide, there had been riots.

There was fear and tension humming in everyone, Koori and white alike, fear that violence would break out (and he knew that one thrown bottle, one punch, was all it would have taken). When the news arrived of the rioting in Adelaide, he thought Libris would never hold Canberra. But the white population seemed paralyzed by the strangeness of it all, and William Libris was not a man to let go lightly.

In different circumstances, the Assembled Tribes might have resorted to violence; non-violence was a choice, even after Murra had forced memories of the Battle of the Pyramids on them, and they could have tried to take lives to avenge the Wiradjuri dead who lay in state in Parliament. But Jack's defense of Murra on the stage that day, and the surprising speed with which he himself and young Barton had reacted to the assault, had made an impression on the Kooris present. They were willing to take a chance that words could resolve things faster than weapons.

When Ellis could have slept, he wrote instead: page after page, documenting what he felt and saw, what others told him. He had never seen a revolution so bloodless, even for the three dead in Canberra and the nineteen in Adelaide. When he ran out of words he could have slept, but instead he visited Purva and brought her food as she sat by Jack, who lay feverish and unresponsive in a crisp hospital bed. She never once cried, but the one time someone tried to take her from Jack's side she almost slit their throat. They left her alone after that.

While Libris spoke himself hoarse – eventually giving up to rest his voice, writing speeches for others to deliver -- Murra was everywhere at once. When Port Darwin's military revolted, she sent Plater north to take control of the Koori soldiers and put down the mutiny; when the banks demanded their gold or threatened failure, she set people to work unearthing the buried gold and transporting it from the Res back to Canberra. She found empty houses for Koori families who had come from outside the city. And half the time, when Ellis slunk in late at night to see Purva and Jack, she was there as well.

"How are you staying on your feet?" he asked, sitting down next to her in a hospital chair while Purva slept on a cot next to Jack's bed and Jack himself slept on, unheeding. It was ten days since the shooting; Jack's fever was only recently broken, and evidence of it remained in his sunken cheeks and the pallor of his skin.

"I don't know," she answered, leaning against his shoulder. "It has to be done, so we do it. If we don't, it all slips away. For that matter," she added, looking up at him, "you look like you're about to fall over yourself."

"Well, let's not make it a race," he drawled, and she laughed.

"No, I won't race you to exhaustion, you're old and liable to collapse," she teased, threading her fingers through his.

"Not so old," he answered. "Though I do feel it just now."

"No, not so old," she agreed. Her hand tightened briefly. "Not too old, Ellis?"

"Too old for what?" he asked.

"Well," she said. "Not too old for me."

"For you?" The sleep deprivation must be affecting him; he couldn't fathom what she meant.

"In another few days," she said, apparently ignoring him, "Parliament's going to reopen. A few days after that there will be ships leaving Australia's ports, bound for the world outside. Letters to expatriates will be leaving in the first official international post from Australia in decades. Merchants are sending out offers of goods for sale. Diplomatic letters are being sent to other governments. I almost think it's too soon."

"No, I think not. If we don't change everything now, while people are too confused to understand -- you're right, it'll slip away from us."

"I need to ask you for a favor," she said.

"Oh?"

"Someone needs to take the news ahead of the ships. It'll take them ages to reach Europe, longer to reach America. Someone needs to tell the world. I need to send you home, Ellis."

"Home," he said. "England. You need to send me home on the airship."

"That's right. Maybe...maybe Jack too, so he can rest, away from all this. But I don't want you to go."

"Of course you don't," he said. "I'm splendid, after all."

She laughed. "You are, Ellis. It's just...I can't go back. They need me here. And I worry if I send you home and stay behind, I'll never see you again."

"Of course you will."

"I know. But I don't want you to go. I love you, you know."

He had thought, if he ever heard it, that it would be under more appropriate circumstances and it would be...earthshattering, life-changing. He'd thought he'd have a clever reply.

Instead he just said, "Ah."

"Ah?"

"Not too old for you," he said. "I see now."

"And?"

"You're young, Murra. And this has all been...exciting. Romantic. Dare I say, sweeping and epic," he said. "But I wonder if you know your own heart, or if you simply think -- I don't know."

"Don't know what?"

"I don't know if you love me, or if you love what I've given you," he said. "Which is to say, Australia."

She smiled. "I'm pretty sure it wasn't yours to give in the first place, and I don't remember asking your permission. I'm currently in the process of leading a revolution, and if I can run a country I would think that I know when I'm in love and when I'm infatuated. And the proper response to what I said," she added, leaning back so she could look at him, "is either I'm sorry or I love you too."

"Well, thank you for that lesson, Madam Fields," he said, leaning forward. "What about this?"

As kisses went, he had to admit that the setting was proper: in a hospital ward in the middle of a revolution, late at night and aching with tiredness, was precisely how he would have written it. In the moment, however, all he could think of was Murra's hand on his cheek, the small noise of surprise she made when he kissed her, the way she kissed back. Not the fleeting, confusing kiss on the Res, what seemed like ages ago, but a real and proper one, singing with promise.

"And after all that," he said, when she broke the kiss, "you want me to leave you and go back to England."

"Well, I don't want you to," she answered. "But you're becoming a little useless to me here."

He laughed and kissed her again, and would have kissed her a third time but there was a moan from the bed.

"Holy hell," Jack croaked, and when Ellis looked over his eyes were open and bright. "You couldn't find anywhere else to pitch woo but my deathbed?"

"Jack!" Murra shouted, and Jack winced and Purva woke up, knife at the ready, and then she shouted too, and after a moment Ellis wisely left him to their relieved fussing and went to find a doctor.

***

To my own dear brother Gregory Anderson, London, England,

Well! Australia has been in an uproar these past weeks thanks to your friend Fields, and no mistake. I can't even begin to tell you the chaos we've seen and the uncertainty we've felt, but fortunately we seem to have pulled through unscathed and I wanted to tell you we were safe, before you saw the newspaper reports. I imagine you're a fretter -- father was.

I am so sorry to have to tell you of our father's death. Please don't be sad, though; he lived a long life marred only by losing you, and our lives here have been good. I hope that, grief aside, you will be happy to have this letter. I only wish father could have seen the letter you wrote to him.

I was so very glad to receive that letter myself, and to know that you're well. You have always been in my thoughts. I never hoped to see you again but to have a letter made me nearly cry for joy, and every time I think that I might actually get to see my own big brother I start to cry again. It's very upsetting to my husband, Richard. He sends his regards, as do your nieces -- they are two little girls who would very much love to meet their uncle, and I am enclosing a lumo of them so you'll know what they look like.

All fuss aside, it is exciting to know that Australia will be taking her place in the world and as liberals we quite support all this new development, so we are happy to see our country moving forward. I'm sure we feel very patriotic about it, but all I can think of when I read about the ships preparing to leave our ports is that you might be allowed to come home. I know you probably think England is your home now, but you should know that you have a home here, as well, and our spare room is all prepared should you decide to visit. I don't know if you can be spared (Mr. Graveworthy tells me you do very important work for the government there) so if you are unable to make the journey we will come to you. It makes no difference to me.

Write as soon as possible and tell me if we may expect you or if we ought to buy tickets on the next ship departing for England. I know it will be months before I see you either way, but Australia is full of hope and soon I think all our scattered children will come home again, even if it is only to visit their sisters who love them.

I am sending this letter with your friend Graveworthy, who seems to me the most decent kind of man even if he's responsible for a good deal of trial and tribulation just now. Be kind to him; he looks like he could use a little kindness. I am also sending a small tin of sweets of the sort you used to like, though who knows if they'll still be any good by the time you get them.

Your sister, still,

Elizabeth Jackson (nee Anderson)

***

Jack decided, on the day they touched down in England, that Graveworthy's butler couldn't possibly be human.

It had been a long few weeks, but the HMA Clare Fields (Purva wouldn't let him rename it, saying it was bad luck) was still faster than any ship Australia could send, and as soon as he was well enough to travel they set out again for England. They left the same day as the first ships leaving port at Sydney and after several ships delivering to Port Darwin had already left with news, but he pushed the airship's engine to its limit and -- he later found -- beat the fastest ship to Europe by an entire week.

They landed with much less fuss than the last time he'd landed her, and Purva wouldn't even let him help prop the ship, not that he could have done much with one arm still in a sling. It was probably just as well, since he still tired easily, but his shorter shifts in the pilot's chair meant that Ellis and Purva had to take longer shifts and that took its toll too.

He followed them up to the house, Ellis's house in Cambridge, unreal and so green after the heat and dust of Australia. When Ellis knocked on the door, his servant Nicholas answered.

"Mr. Graveworthy," the man said, utterly unsurprised. "Glad to see you home, sir. Shall I draw a bath?"

"Three," Ellis answered.

"Ah..." Nicholas looked past him to Jack and Purva, standing together on the step. "I hope Miss Fields -- "

"Oh! Hell. No, she's fine," Ellis said. "We...well, Nicholas, Purva de la Fitte; Purva, this is Nicholas, my butler. Miss Fields had other matters to attend to, she won't be joining us. Miss de la Fitte is a guest of Mr. Baker."

"Very good, sir. This way, sirs, ma'am."

"Don't bother with a message going to London -- we won't be here long. Bath and a meal and then -- "

"Three tickets to London on the next train. I'll see to it," Nicholas said.

"Has there been anything about Australia in the news?" Ellis asked.

"No, sir."

"Good -- we beat them home, Jack," he said with a grin.

"Course we did," Jack said. "Someone mentioned a bath, didn't they?"

Ten minutes later Jack found himself once more in one of the glorious bathtubs of Ellis's house, soaking carefully so that his bandage wouldn't get soggy. Thirty minutes found him in the kitchen, eating, and an hour found them all in fresh clothing, waiting at the train station for the ten o'clock to London.

"Are you worried about Murra?" Jack asked, as Ellis fidgeted on the platform.

"Of course. But we won't have any news for days, I imagine, and if something goes wrong we won't know for weeks after," he replied. "I'm a professional; I have news for my country."

"I am not worried," Purva said. "And if you are, you're a fool. She is fine."

"Thank you, Purva, for that wholly unencouraging remark," Ellis sighed.

"She is strong and fast, and very smart. Fine," Purva repeated. "The danger is over. Now is all...boring," she said, making a dismissive gesture. "Talking. I think," she said, turning to Jack, "That we'll go back to Australia, oui, and you will see she is fine, and then you will take me to Barataria, like you did promise."

"Let's just get to London first," Ellis said, as the train came in to view. There was no more time for talk while the train roared in and they began gathering bags that had been packed for them, Ellis's mainly full of notebooks for his editor. Purva took Jack's from him and slung it onto the train, then followed it up; Ellis gave Jack a look that clearly said he'd asked for life with a pirate, and then followed her.

Jack lingered on the platform for a moment, drinking in the sight of it: a big old greasy steaming smoking train, pulling paint-chipped, iron-wheeled wooden carriages filled with people. The very first love of his life.

He put a hand to the side of the carriage and leaned in close.

"Hiya," he said softly. "Just wait till you see what I have for you."

Then he gripped the step-rail and climbed aboard, and was still standing in the aisle when the train jerked to life and began the rattling journey to London.

Epilogue
From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

The Original Sam Backup

May 2012

S M T W T F S
   1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 1516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 18th, 2017 09:57 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios