HERE ARE THE TALKING points I drew up for you for the campus rally to support new immigrants this evening?” Shyloh said. “You need to get up to speed.”
Judith had returned from a weekend visit with Taalia, their three-year-old daughter. Shyloh hadn’t seen her in two months and was eager to ask about her, but knew Judith wouldn’t tolerate it. He was concerned his frustration was showing.
Judith glanced at the paper on the table and took a drink from her stainless steel water bottle.
“Aiya’s taking the lead on this. No one will ask me anything.”
Shyloh sensed reluctance and if he did others would as well. There could be no cracks in the Triumvirate. “What is it, Judith?”
“There are legitimate concerns, Shyloh.”
“And we’re addressing them.”
“Not the way some would like to.”
“Judith, this is not the time. The people aren’t ready. We’re not ready.”
“We could miss our chance.”
“Right now first and second generation citizens account for just over one-half the population of the province. There is no them or us. We’re all British Columbians, and at least for now all Canadians. We need to support them not demonize them.”
“I’m not talking about the second generation,” Judith said. She picked up the paper and scanned it. “We can’t accommodate any more first-generation immigrants, legal or otherwise. There is not enough affordable housing, there’s no money for settlement services, the province has a huge deficit.”
“Yes, and it will only get worse,” Shyloh said. “We know this, the three of us have discussed this. We have to let it play out, hopefully with a no violence. It will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. We need to stick to the plan.”
“Aiya’s got this one. It’s her crowd.”
Judith was right. The rally was in response to the recent surge in racist activity cloaked as regionalism implying new immigrants were responsible for eroding Christian and national values, taking away jobs, and overwhelming the health and welfare system.
Aiya’s InterFaith Group was sponsoring the action, Judith, as the president of the university’s student government was on hand for support and Shyloh was running the show behind the scenes.
Shyloh always looked for ways the members of the Triumvirate could engage students through non-partisan means. They’d declared no affiliations though they’d all been approached and coaxed with promises of power and prominence once they graduated next year, but to Shyloh the current landscape was too undefined. Timing was everything in politics and this was not their time.
“This evening we promote tolerance, suggest positive alternatives and as the voice of reason and we’ll solidify support,” he said. “The only concern are right-wing groups who might try to disrupt the rally.”
“Don’t worry,” Judith said. “My people can handle any disruption. Aiya’s members will be safe.”
Shyloh believed her. In charcoal denims, a black turtleneck sweater and mid-calf military boots, she looked like an urban street fighter.
Judith had recruits. Aiya had followers. Judith commanded. Aiya persuaded. Judith spoke to your inner hero and aroused a need for action and results. Aiya appealed to your better self and encouraged compassion and tolerance. Both demanded sacrifice, loyalty and commitment to the cause, a new and better world.
Shyloh’s job was to channel this dichotomy of will and passion. At times he felt like the field between two powerful magnets, crushed when as opposite poles they collided, and at risk of disintegrating when as similar ones they repulsed each other.
Judith picked up her leather jacket. “After this, Aiya will have to police her own rallies, at least for a while.”
“Come on, Judith.” Rallies without security invited violence. Just knowing Judith’s people would be on the perimeter discouraged it. Shyloh was tired of explaining what was self-evident.
“Well, I can’t run security from Ottawa,” she said.
“You’ve been accepted to the Royal Military College?”
“Full scholarship with consideration for my training.”
“Judith, that’s wonderful.” The Royal Military College of Canada had been Shyloh’s idea. It was a fast track to becoming a senior officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and a great opportunity for his friend in her career of choice.
By the time Judith was fifteen she was a Master Cadet Level 5 and had more training and military expertise than many professional soldiers. She could be dropped in the barren tundra with only a map, compass and minimal survival gear and would be the first to make it to the rendezvous point and be no worse for wear than when she started out.
She had the tactical skill to operate with stealth day or night in all weather and any kind of terrain.
As a squad leader she could select good firing positions, lying-up positions, camping positions, and deploy effective camouflage observation posts. She knew how to use counter-surveillance to enhance information of battlefield details, infiltration and escape routes, construction and employment of hiding positions. Before any exercise or drill, she researched her enemy force doctrines and equipment.
The only thing she lacked was combat experience, but Shyloh had no doubt about how she’d perform under fire or her ability to kill. She’d be exemplary.
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