Kesia, Jenia’s little girl, was growing to be a quietly thoughtful, loving child. Her intense temper and stubborn streak melted at any thought that she might be causing pain. As for Sira’s project, eventually there would be papers to file, fees to pay, a campaign to run. Long before any of that could be of any use, she knew she must take a long time building up information, supporters, a clear plan flexible enough for contingencies. Most importantly, she needed to take the time to build up a reputation for being the kind of strong representative on whom voters could count to promote their interests. She has been thinking, talking about respect, appreciation. “It’s not that people don’t want to make reasonable compromises when they harden into set positions. They want their positions respected. They want voiced and palpable appreciation for what they choose to give.”
Merin and Vika were proud of Sira’s gumption, and did what they could to promote her cause with those among whom they had influence. The whole family felt proud, excited, somehow solemnly touched, each doing what they could. The seven children of this extended family, Lukin, Tela and Kesia in their city home, Noria, Serg, Safa and Tamis at the academy, were developing among themselves their own secret network to share, comfort, inform, bolster each other through the dramas and changes of their seemingly accelerating lives. The grown-ups were busy, did not need to know and possibly forbid or be concerned. It is good that they have their silent support system. It is good that they grow learning clearly, deeply, certainly, who they each are, how they can best collaborate.
It wasn’t that Sira was naive. How could she be with all her worldly experience? To some extent she was sheltered. Always surrounded by loving family, often knowing the joy of making them proud, had left her mental defenses against conscious opposition flimsy at best. She had long known how to get her way so graciously that none would find offense. She was so caught up in her inspiration and ambition to do very good for very many. She knew that there might be obstacles, stubborn loyalties to the status quo, countering ambitions of opponents, mistakes in planning, misunderstandings to watch out for and be made right. She did not, stupidly, plan on the opposition being so mean, so vicious, so entrenched, sneaky, or no holds barred. It was hard on them all.
Kesia was so proud of being a big girl, going to school. She was not prepared for this greater world in which she was not automatically beloved. Due to the trickle down of incomplete information, children thinking they knew of some fault in her family teased Kesia unmercifully. She was used to silly sparing with her extended cousins at home and several miles away. She shot back the most nasty imagery she knew, not realizing the effect she would have on these children. Frightened children told frightened parents who prevailed upon frightened authorities.
Sira was all damage control commander. The kids got dropped off to stay with Merin and Vika at the academy to keep them out of harm’s way. Sira put together a media blitz campaign showing her opponents to be using scare tactics to hide their own serious crimes of corruption. She personally calmed the local parents, children, teachers, using her special charm to move their fears into the realm of hyperbole easily released with some well placed jokes. The kids knew they were being mean, that they did so out of irrational fear, that they overreacted to Kesia’s tantrum out of guilt. They understood it all once Sira explained so warmly and clearly. Perhaps it would all be ok. Sira, finally, knew better. The family would have to come up with a plan to take the kids someplace more anonymous and safe than regally flamboyant Merin’s lair. She could feel rumors already spreading about those weird academy people related to Sira and Reag.