Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Snippet!

I'm going with the next section of the chapter from last week. Right now I'm in the midst of working on nonfiction and rewriting short stories, so neither would really work.

Besides, Vita's Vengeance is a fun story, and I've edited a couple bits even while I fix it up to go here. Every little bit helps!

So, Chapter 1, Part 2:

"Call Madame President!" the man shouted.

"No!" Alsandor caught the ankle of another who had started to pull his commlink. The touch hurt like hell, sending pain radiating in waves through his body, but he didn't let go. He had to fight to speak. "No! She'll come here. Don't tell her! Assassin might... want her. Someone -- Trine --"

"Get the port's medtech!" another ordered. He heard shouted orders about sealing off the building, but Alsandor knew they were already too late to catch the man. He'd been good, quick, professional....

Soldiers swiftly moved Alsandor into a small, cluttered office. The movement made him ill. By now color and sounds began to blur. Someone brought the medic. After a quick scan he pushed an injection into San's neck, followed by another scan before he started to look less worried.

"Damned lucky," the man said. Alsandor could already hear better, and the room colors had stopped melting into each other. "You've already taken Anticol recently, didn't you?"

"Y-yes," he said in a gasp for breath and words. "Two doses, earlier."

"You'd be dead without them. Trine has a chemical make-up very close to alcohol. With the proper flavoring added, most people can't tell the difference, and if there's alcohol already in the blood stream, it acts as a catalyst and speeds up the reaction. Anticol, praise God, is the best antidote we have. You were hit with an extremely strong, concentrated dose of Trine."

Alsandor barely nodded, the world still too bright and painful.

"Here, this will help deaden the nerve fire." The med carefully pulled off Alsandor's jacket, and gently pushed up the shirt sleeve. He placed an injector against Alsandor's wrist below an ugly red and brown spot where the stranger had touched him.

Someone had tried to kill him?

The door slid open, startling Alsandor, though he nodded with relief at the sight of Micah -- and then worried again when he saw his brother-in-law's frantic appearance. Nothing ruffled General Micah Taren, but there he stood without his uniform cap, brown hair looking wind-blown, and his jacket unbuttoned.

"They called me as I was getting ready for Council," Micah breathlessly reported. "--and said you'd taken Trine Poison --"

"Not taken," the medtech corrected so brusquely that Alsandor felt chagrined. He didn't realize he needed defending on a charge of suicidal tendencies. The doctor indicated the discolored spot on Alsandor's bare right arm. "Someone tried to kill him. He's lucky he survived."

"Oh damn." Micah abruptly sat down on a chair. He put a hand to his mouth and away again, a gesture San knew reflected agitation. "Why didn't someone call Elisa?"

"Told them not to," Alsandor said, taking short breaths, hoping to ease both the pain and the panic. "Didn't know where the assassin went. He might have tried to kill me just to lure Elisa here."

"That makes sense. You aren't important enough --" Micah stopped, and looked horrified. "I'm sorry, San. That was a damned impolite, and thoughtless, thing to say!"

Alsandor managed to lift a shaking hand and wave away the apology. "It's all right. I was thinking the same thing."

"That's not fair to you. You are important. Why do you think Ranifyn spends so much of his energy trying to convince people you should be removed from Council?"

"Because he likes easy targets."

"Then why do you make it easy for him? No, never mind. I'm being unfair again. You're obviously not in condition to be badgered."

"He will be better as soon as the poison works its way through his system. Probably by tomorrow -- though it may take longer. It's hard to say." The medtech started packing up his equipment, glancing at Alsandor and then at Micah. "The amount of Trine would have killed him within the hour if he hadn't already had the Anticol, which immediately neutralized the worst of the poison. There would have been damage no amount of regen could have fixed in time." He stopped and looked at Alsandor. "Be careful. It doesn't matter why this person tried to kill you. He wasn't playing games."

"Thank you," San said, and carefully shook the man's hand, though his fingers still tingled with a latent hint of fiery pain. He had to fight to keep the panic from showing as he watched the man leave.

"Tell me what happened," Micah said drawing his attention. The General looked more himself again, at least.

Alsandor related the incident as best he could. Micah listened and nodded. The vidcams, both in Port Authority and from the reporters, would probably reveal more.

With the tale done, San carefully pulled the shirt sleeve back down over his arm. The skin looked discolored and puffy from wrist to elbow. By the time he finished he realized Micah had been quiet for far too long. Alsandor looked up to find his older brother-in-law staring at him again.

"This is a hell of a way for you to come home, isn't it?" Micah finally asked.

"I --" He stopped short of telling Micah he'd considered not coming back. "I'm rattled. I'm sorry."

"You needn't apologize to me. What you do need is to see the family medic and have an escort home --"

"No, no. I'm going to Council. I received a message from Elisa to get there as soon as I came in."

"Don't be ridiculous, San. You're pale as a ghost, and shaking. I don't think you really want to sit through a meeting, do you? And for a little extra incentive to go home instead, Ranifyn has already announced he will make an important speech today."

San winced at the thought of listening to one of the senior Councilor's special important speeches. Councilor Ranifyn loved to hear himself speak. San didn't want to sit through it -- but then considered the alternatives.

"Better Rani then Idela. I'll go to Council. I don't want anyone to make points on this one, Micah."

"You weren't listening to the medtech. This isn't a game."

"Did you tell Elisa what happened when you left? What you thought happened?"

"No," he said with a grimace. "I didn't really think you had done it on purpose, San. You wouldn't do that to Elisa. I was just so rattled and scared when I saw you -- you looked like you were going to fall over dead at any moment."

He hadn't expected Micah to sound so emotional about it. "Elisa will know you were called away. She'll probably know you went to the port, and suspect it has to do with me. She's going to be worried," San said. "I'll go to Council, sit through Rani's speech -- what is it on this time?"

"A statement of vast importance is all we've gotten. Elisa and I think he heard you were on the shuttle, and --"

"He has a spy on the ship," San suddenly surmised.

"That's what Elisa thought, too. Amazing how much alike you two think. And it's why Elisa ordered the ship's captain to make certain you were stone-cold sober when you reached landfall."

"And saved my life." He rubbed at his sore arm, and winced. "So, I have Rani to thank for being alive."

"Unless he's the one who sent the assassin." Micah shook his head before San could protest. "No, the last thing Rani wants is for you to look like a martyr."

"Exactly. Let's go to Council. It doesn't matter of I'm not drunk, Micah, if I'm not there anyway. And I really don't want to go home to Idela yet. Yes, I'd much rather face the entire Council and a speech from Councilor Ranifyn instead."
"You should divorce her."

"Not until Elisa says so."

Micah's head came up with a start. Amazing to see General Taren startled twice in the same hour. "Is that what you've been waiting on? Good God, Alsandor Vita! 'Lis and I have spent months trying to figure out what the hell was stopping you!"

"Well you could have mentioned it to me," he said and knew he sounded cross this time. "Elisa is the one who suggested I marry her, you know."

"Oh, damn. I'm sorry, Alsandor. That's been a stupid mistake from the beginning! She hoped to bribe Jarak with the promise of a claim to the Vita Fortune until outside protests against his other aggressions finally slowed him down. Unfortunately, no one outside really gives a damn."

"I know. I came back from a very graphic exercise in learning how little they cared." He carefully pulled his jacket into place.

"And you went along with the marriage," Micah said.

"Absolutely. I don't want Jarak to take Dasan, either. A shame it didn't work. I think all Jarak really wanted was an heir to the Vita fortune."

Micah tilted his head as he looked at Alsandor. "And you've been damned careful he doesn't get an heir, haven't you?"

"This something else you and Elisa talk about?" San asked, feeling unexpectedly amused by the thought.

"Oh yes. Your sex life is such a nice diversion from the threat of war."

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cherylp said...

San absolutely needs to get his head out of his behind. He has a nice brother-in-law.

Gabriele C. said...

I like that. Want to read more.

That last sentence made me laugh. :)

Jean said...

Oh, yes. Sex life or war. The topics on many people's minds.

Anticol as the antidote to Trine. Wonderful!

Good exchange with his brother-in-law -- and so typical. One family member wondering why the other doesn't do something so very logical only to discover they were keeping them from it. Very good.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Me too, that last exchange is priceless. Well done!

Carter said...

Just goes to show we don't understand each other as well as we think we do.

Good stuff! The General's character comes across very well.