I’ve got some essays bouncing around my head, but they’ve been a little delayed by prep for RT. YES! In just over 2 weeks I’ll be in LA at RT! Come see me!
At any rate, here’s a snippet from the as-yet-unpublished XLI. Tell me what you think!
“Ok, last bit of my price. Ready to sign away your soul?”
”My soul belongs to God. All else I freely give to defend my people.”
”Ooh. Yummy. That’s third then. You.”
”I beg your pardon? I don’t understand. Me?”
”Did I stutter? As the third price for saving your people and world, I want you to do with as I wish for as long as you last.” Her boot came off of his head. “You will obey any command I give to the best of your ability, without hesitation or sophistry.” Her fingers laced themselves into his hair and lifted his head from the ground. “You will strive in all ways to anticipate my desires and to fulfill them as completely as you are able.” Her other hand cupped his jaw, and with a strength that startled him she began lifting him to his feet. “You will continue to do so as long as you draw breath. You will be mine.” She set him on his feet, having to reach up to do so. He realized with some surprise that she was at least a full head shorter than he was. “You will belong to me.” There was a question in his eyes, and he was relieved she guessed wrong. “Tenly will own Tidbit. Capice? Versteh? Do you understand?”
”Understood, but… Why would you want me?”
”You get no questions at this point, Tidbit. You answer yes, or you answer no. You answer yes, your people walk free and happy under whatever colored skies you’ve got. You answer no, and you go starve on the street. You answer anything else and you go back onto the street with whatever damage I see fit to inflict.”
Tram stared into her eyes, and despite the caustic mockery in her voice, he felt himself slipping again. He closed his eyes, and considered her words, considered the tone of her voice, considered the absolute confidence in her bearing, considered the look in her eyes that said without words that all that was saving the invaders from gory death was his word. He took a deep breath, considering. In that moment, it was the faint smell of burnt plastic, spent cordite and powdered concrete which decided him.
Opening his eyes again, he let himself fall into her eyes. “Yes.”
Somewhere outside the world of her eyes, ivory lips curved into a grin he could only have described as impish.
”Kris, new orders.”
”Prep the lander for launch. Pack for sustained voyaging, fill in the corners with my gear. Toss in suitable gear in Tidbit’s size as well, I’m sure you can find something.”
He began to sag, but her hand was still twined in his hair. Wincing, he straightened. One of her eyebrows raised just a touch.
”Good. Give me a ten minute warning on launch. Other than that, don’t bother me unless something you can’t deal with is interfering with the launch prep.” The grin widened, and the tongue flickered over the lips again, like a snake taking a scent. “I’ma play with my new toy now.”
Tram hadn’t time to register surprise. Her lunge carried her into him, and carried him into the observation window, and his world went black to match the eyes at the center of it.