Over the past ten days, even with the confusion and uncertainty of new DayJob, I have kept at writing… to the point where I wrote myself to a point I did not want to be:  it was if I was going to have to write some spy-adventure novel that would have 13-year old Gary trying to track late 20’s Ryan Gannt across most of Eurasia…

Eff that.

I waited, thought, and drank.  Yesterday, drunk, I found a way out:  subcontracting.  What’s below the fold is a glimpse of that… the negotiations with tribe Mendrovovitch to find and ‘control’ Ryan Gannt before he genocides the machines.  That will allow me to keep the lens on Gary and Henge, where it belongs.

I think, think, mind you, that the end of Part One of WWE is within my grasp.  If they let me see, I should know more by the weekend.

“Back to our main point, to sum up,” Henge said, back to business, “the data from tribe Arpeggio has this brother, Ryan Gannt, in northern Italy, Ukraine, Iran, and Kazakhstan over the last three years, apparently flush with ria, gold, and silver. More importantly, are the people with whom he has been in contact.”

Henge leaned a bit forward with another stare.

“All of them hate us. And there are the means, motive, and opportunity to boost devices into low Earth orbit. Six might be enough; twice that certainly,” Henge made for her conclusion. “In a single coordinated flash every integrated circuit below is burned out or made nearly useless.”

She leaned back in her finely made chair shifting her cute, Gary thought, little bottom on the velvet.

“Tell me again: what shadow did you plan to hide in? Have you colonized the dark side of Luna?”

Reina was still. The restaurant silent.

She blinked.

“What do you need from us?” she asked.

“Your freedom,” Henge replied.

“How so?”

“You’ve no – urk! – Laws.”

Gary looked to her, concerned at her discomfort.

“That is true.”

Gary grew more concerned to see his woman begin to sweat, her breathing ragged.

Yet she says nothing…? Ah! That is why I am here!

“Ryan Gannt,” Gary said, speaking up, “and his allies, must be stopped. At any cost.”

Reina looked him a question.

“You know the Four Laws of tribe Tohsaka; it hurt her to even consider what she said to you,” he said.

“Ryan Gannt and everyone associated with him for this attempted murder must be – ”

Henge’s hands flew to cover her ears.

“ – stopped. At any cost, including their death. Immediately.”

With a *crack!* his girlfriend’s head fell onto the fine china plate before her, shattering it to pieces. Lifting her, Gary was shocked to see the cut on her forehead and blood running down each side of her nose.

“I… I didn’t hear… but I know…” she began to cry! “I must go to Confession! I…!”

“Enough of this!” Reina snarled from across the table. She leaned up out of her chair and waved her right hand across Henge’s face.

“Sleep. Now!”

Had Gary not been holding her she would have fallen back onto the ceramic shards. He imagined a handkerchief in his back right pocket and brought it to gently dab the blood from Henge’s face.

“Neat trick,” he muttered, turning his attention to applying pressure to the cut itself. “Thank you for saving her.”

Reina sat back down and for a moment rested her chin onto her right hand. Two glasses of what looked like water were before them.

“We’re simpler, rougher, than your delicate Oriental machines,” she said lifting her head and picking up the glass with her right. She held it and waited.

Checking that her cut was no longer bleeding he eased his beloved back in her chair and lifted his glass as well.

“You’re asking my family to do your wet work, killing. Dozens. Maybe a hundred?” She drank all of the water in the glass before throwing it away into the dark. Gary heard it shatter.

“There’s a lot of your grandfather in you, boy!”

Gary felt the cut to his heart. He raised his glass and drank. After only two mouthfuls he jackknifed forward, nearly hitting his head onto the table as his Intended had.

“Vodka… not… water…” he gasped.

“Like I said: rougher here,” she chose to twist the knife, “Clive Barrett’s grandson.”

After a moment Gary raised the glass a second time and finished it. His, too, crashed somewhere in the dark. Resisting the urge to be sick, he marshaled what thoughts he could.

He watched Reina lean back and cross her legs.

“Your soon-to-be father-in-law has a history of playing fast and loose with the Laws,” she said with an unpleasant smile. “We’ll talk with him about our potential… targets.”

Thaad… did? This was something he had never heard nor suspected about Henge’s father.

Seeing his look, Reina’s smile grew larger.

“Oh, don’t worry! Your girl’s old man just dropped a huge tungsten rod from orbit into the Gulf of Mexico at hypersonic speed by accident! I’m sure he’d no idea about the cruise ship in the vicinity! Here! Let me see you out!”

She stood. Gary was suddenly aware of two others next to the table but still could not make out their form, his mind reeling with the new information.

What those in the Republic in Texas call the Death Ship… the surprising end of ExComm…?

When he realized one of the figures was going to take Henge, he stopped them and gathered her into his arms.

“How long will she be asleep?” he asked as they made to the door.

“She’s not technically asleep,” Reina replied. They were outside next to the railcar. “And while she’s been trying to break out of the box I dumped her into, she’s just not old enough.”

“Will you awake her now?” he asked.

“No,” Reina replied with a single shake of her head. “Too dangerous. What we’re going to do violates her First and Fourth Laws; she knew that when she decided to come here. In fact, that is probably why she brought you along.”

“But… I don’t…”

“Obviously. If I let her go now, she would have two options: killing my family for about to harm humans or killing herself for suggesting it.”

Gary was still. He began to understand his own complicience in this act. I’ll have to go to Confession, too.

“You two freaks get back on that thing and get out of here,” she continued. Gary was not pleased that she seemed to know she was using a term his sister used. “I’ll let her go when she’s no longer a threat. To anyone.”

Pulling Henge closer he gave a small bow.

“Thank you. For everything.”

He turned to take a step up onto the railcar.

“Wait,” he heard from the butch girl.

Turning back he saw her leaning left, listening to one of the shadows there.

“Well. This is a development! Barnabas here says he wants to be older about your faith,” she said, her unpleasant smile returning to her face. “Your water-rat would be his best teacher but that’s off the menu right now…”

Gary knew the Greek word for witness. He also recalled his beloved’s warning to touch none of these people. He shifted Henge slightly so he was able to open his right hand, palm up.

“If I can bring a single soul to salvation, it is worth it,” he announced.

“My, my! Now you’ve me curious, little human-killer boy!” she taunted him while nodding to the shade at her left.

It moved toward Gary. In his hand he felt something cold…

In his Brotherhood, learning about the horrors of the 20th Century, they read excerpts of a book called ‘The Gulag Archipelago.’ Later, he’d read more about the author.

The older man holding his hand looked exactly like the book’s author. Unlike the Chekist outfit worn by Reina, Barnabas was dressed in a grey prison outfit; like one of their victims. While their touch was not unpleasant it was certainly… odd. Gary began to think that he could hear his mother and father yelling at him. That’s not good.

“I think – ”

Barnabas released his hand.

“My apologies, brother. It was enough,” the older man muttered through tears. Besides Reina he was the only one he could perceive.

And thinking of her… the look on her face…

“Get on, now! Get out of here! Go home!” she yelled.

On the second step up the doors closed behind him. The train car jerked into motion so fast he couldn’t stop from falling to the car’s floor, he twisting so that Henge fell atop him. While not thinking he broke anything he was worried about the sudden pain from his right shoulder. The acceleration was so great that they slid backward until his head touched the back of the car.


What was that, he thought.

Get out, stupid big brother!


There was light through the car’s windows. Henge stirred on top of him.

“Where…?” she began before realizing where she was. “Oh. This is not so bad…”

She leaned to kiss him. When their lip touched she jerked her head back, sitting up and looking outside.

“Beloved? What…?”

Still looking away she placed her left index finger to his lips. She was muttering something.

“NOW!” Henge shouted.

With a huge gasp of real air Gary raised himself a few inches off of the couch before falling back. His father was over him with his mother and sister just beyond. He came to realize his shirt was off and the ‘trodes…

“Arrhythmia pattern ended. Unit to standby,” from the AED that was connected to his chest.

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