Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Russ Home, Draw the Line

Russ is home, so I really don't have a lot to say today. We had a wonderful time at De Soto Wildlife Refuge this afternoon, but now we're back home and both of us back to work. I'm running out of days this month, and worse yet -- running out of days with Russ.

I've kept up on my minimum amount of writing, so that's good. I am almost done with the DAZ newsletter, too. I might be running late with the next issue of Vision (again!) but that's not a real problem. I'm not going to fret over it or take more time away from spending with Russ to work on it.

Here is just a little bit out of Draw the Line. It's still moving steadily forward, and I like the characters, but I really need to figure out a better structure and get the story to do something!

They had a wonderful meal, really. He almost didn't bring up the subject he'd wanted to breach from the start for fear he would ruin this evening, but he also feared he would not get another chance -- not very soon, anyway. They were heading into trouble, and they all knew it.

So, over dessert and wine, he finally charged ahead.

"There is a problem, Neva. There is someone here who is afraid to report things, for fear of it annoying you."

"We're talking about Rafael," she said, her face turning red as she held the wine glass.

"No. We're talking about me."

"That's ridiculous, Morgan!" Her voice rose and then lowered as she put the glass down, frowning at him. "You can always come to me. You know that!"

"I'd like to think so, Neva... but things are odd here. There are a lot of things going on. Ritter thinks that he's getting closer to finding a link to Xenation, and that could be interesting and dangerous. "

"I trust that you can judge what needs to be done, and will do your best to keep everything in line, Morgan," she said. She leaned forward, looking very serious. "I wanted you for a reason. I can trust your judgment."

"The Norshi are up to something, but you don't need me to tell you that. The question, really, becomes if they're doing something truly bad, or if they are just covering themselves because they don't trust us. And then we have to ask how much we trust the Kasa to be saying the truth."

"You don't trust them?" she asked, looking surprised.

"I want to trust them. I'm not certain I can trust that feeling. It might be blinding me to other things, you know. It might be blinding all of us."

"True. I've thought it myself. But I think it's important to keep looking at the actions. The Kasa have helped from the first day they arrived, while the Norishi have created problems. And that whole incident with the alien ship keeps me awake at night, Morgan. It was heading here. I want to know why the Norishi wanted it stopped. I want to know what battle they were fighting. I've sent off questions, of course, in hopes that someone else has seen something ... but even if they have, it's going to be a while before word gets back to us. And by then..."

"You feel like something is going to go wrong."

"And you don't?" she said, her eyes gone a little wide. "Granted, you've only been here for a short while, but you have to have seen that things are more than a little crazy here right now. "

"True," he said. "I've had some interesting conversations with some of the others. Rafael thinks --"

"I don't want to hear what Rafael thinks -- shit. You did that on purpose."

Her face had turned red.

He nodded and she had the grace not to start ranting, though she had to clamp her mouth shut over whatever she wanted to say.

"That's the problem, Neva. I'm sorry that it exists, but it's there and we need to do something about it. Rafael is in the thick of things. He does have things to say about it, and it's important that we all listen."

"You trust him."

"I trust him. I don't trust Xenation. How can I? We don't know what it is doing and what it wants. And because the two of them are linked, that means there are times when I will not trust everything he says without having some proof. But that's not the problem we're talking about here, Neva."

"You have a problem with me."

"We all have a problem with you. We all dance around it, and pretend that Rafael doesn't exist when talking with you. And that's an entirely different problem. Even I have mentioned things and let you believe that information came from me or someone on my team when it actually came from Rafael. We all do it. And that's dangerous, because Rafael is working outside the group, and what he sees may or may not be right. You won't know if you should trust something because you think it came from us."

He saw her eyes narrow, her mouth open -- and close again. Neva was good at her work. And while Rafael was a blind spot for her, he trusted that she would see it now that someone had told her about it. It was just that no one else dared.

"It's been a mistake," she said finally. He'd never quite heard that tone before -- the loss and the regret all rolled up into those few words. "I don't know how this happened, Morgan. I really don't."

"As stupid as this sounds, the truth is that things just happen sometimes. The trouble is always dealing with the aftermath."

"I have put so many people in danger because of my relationship with Rafael --" she began, new emotions beginning to rise in her voice. "From start to finish, I have endangered --"

"The only person you have truly endangered is Rafael, and that's because he's become a pariah, Neva, and I don't think you did that on purpose."

She had started to stand, rage there for a moment -- and then gone. She dropped back into her chair as though she hadn't the strength left to hold herself up. She looked at him, blinking several times, but he thought something saner was starting to take over that part of her brain where she had shoved everything dealing with Rafael.

"I don't trust him, Morgan. I don't. He said he would deal with Ashur. And then -- and then --"

"You really don't think he meant anything more than he would speak with Ashur, do you?"

"He knew -- he knew what was --"

"And he tried to prevent it from happening. He saved lives. He tried to get the ship to pull back but it wouldn't. Why haven't you blamed the pilot instead of Rafael."

She looked at him, saying nothing.

"Ashur was piloting, wasn't he?"

She nodded.


She nodded and picked up the wine glass again, though she didn't sip from it. Her hands shook. "Whom should I blame, Morgan?"

"No one. Rafael didn't understand what was happening and Ashur didn't see the trouble at all. No one was to blame, Neva. It's time to accept that part. And if you can't, I'm going to put in an official request that you be removed from Xenation as commander."

"Why -- why would you do that to me?"

"Not to you Neva -- for the others. Because you've let this blind spot get way out of hand and it is causing trouble, and you know it. Rafael is on the outside, and we need him in. Hell, he has more contact with the Kasa than he does with us. He's safer with the Kasa."
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