The Bird's Blind Queen

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She could still see one familiar thing: the dappled light along the upper edge of the aviary. So she trod the gangway with pomp and confidence, her right hand with thin fingers curved lightly on the rail, enjoying the white circles that the light shifting through the leaves mapped into her brain, and she smiled a childlike smile at the wonder of it.

Any variations at all in her failing eyesight or the dimming sounds of her daily life were something to celebrate.

She had certainly not seen the influx of requests to reside in her sector that she envisioned. Something must be done about that.

The Diamond Sector of the great MOS1, the first Mars outer station, had been built under her direction. While the design was all her own vision, it was created to please the eyes of Tang. Her vision, and Tang's eyes, combined forces to run the sector as a true civilization. Diyanna had explained this often in the early years. It was critical that visitors understand immediately that Tang could see everything Diyanna could not. Thus her blindness presented no difficulty at all in effective reign over her realm.

Her vision to build a sector of the outer station centering on plants, birds, and water production had been met with enthusiastic approval both by Funders and the Council of Architects for Mars. She would have built it all with her own money, had she not been tempered by the strength, yes, even the wisdom, of Jonas.

Her weakness was this tender love of the great birds of Earth, and so she had acquired the emerald-feathered monster named Tang. Tang resided on her left shoulder and reigned with an iron claw. His head towered above hers; his tail draped below her long dark braids. Diyanna was his Mate. None shall approach, lest they lose an ear or finger to his fast, chiseled beak. Tang, who saw every movement with cutting precision, would jack knife his enormous wings into an angular umbrella over Diyanna's shoulders at any man or beast on an approach path. His cry announced far and wide that Diyanna was his: None other shall reside.

Her problem was that she needed help. Helpers, daily required, to service the sector, serve her meals, and tend the aviary garden, to say nothing of her tidal social life. A demanding job with a demanding employer, made very dangerous by the presence of her companion the emerald macaw.

Diyanna did not make friends easily, and Tang saw to it that the ones who showed interest quickly felt a fear of such substance they never returned. Tang was a punisher of people.

But it was Tang who solidified Diyanna's rule over the Diamond sector of the Mars Outer Station. Tang spelled royalty, power, absolute rule.

What Diyanna missed in the hallways and crystal decks of the Diamond sector, Tang retained.

And Jonas was wise indeed. When he first met Tang, he was known as Brother Jonas, the tiny muscle-monk, shiny bald and drably clothed. He brought a gift to the giant bird.

Jonas showed Tang the soft golden disk, holding his palm flat for Tang to touch. He did this at tremendous risk, and Tang knew it. A small creature without a feather on his head was no threat to the emerald lord, so Tang allowed Jonas to gently place the beautifully wrought gold chain over his head, while holding one glaring round eye on the monk's deferent brow. Tang stretched his neck long, flicked at the chain with a massive talon, and rubbed his beak against the gold disk with a lyrical turn of his head, his spear-point eyes briefly closed.

Then, though few believe the story as Jonas relates, he turned that great knowing eye at Jonas and winked.

All the while, Diyanna was asking "What? What's happening," petting Tang's soft chest and feeling out at Jonas with her other hand. "What is it?" she shrieked in her special demanding tone, which always worked except when Tang had found a friend. Then, Tang turned his head over to rub her cheek with the top of his crown. Diyanna, eyes wide, bared her pretty teeth and laughed, deadly curious about what she could not see. Rubbing his neck with the flat back of her hand she felt the gold disk and said quietly, "Oh, lookie." Tang let out his proud call, which sent hands covering ears all through the sector. Diyanna laughed. "Jonas, you've got a friend here," she cooed. Jonas bowed, his strong brown hands clasped, keeping his gleaming pate first in Tang's mind.

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