DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 2 YET
What’s going to follow is a scene that I wrote and actually completely deleted and rewrote. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly, it’s just a bad scene.
I could explain why, but why don’t those of you who have read the book and now read this scene tell me why it’s a bad scene. Or heck, if you like this scene better.
SPOILERS. SPOILERS. SPOILERS.
I come back to Earth amid turmoil. Outside the City Centre building, the Yerick stand in a group. Capstan with Nelia standing next to him while flanking them are Aron and Tahar and another pair of Yerick that I do not know. Surprisingly, Xev is here in all its glory, maneuvering around in its own powered armor. Sally stands to the side too, arms crossed in anger.
Facing the aliens is a group of humans, made up mostly of the City Council and members of the hunters and butchering yard. In-between the group is a very worried Amelia, Vir and two more of the guards.
“What will you do about this?” Capstan growls, his voice so low it revebrates in my chest.
“Your accusations are unfounded and insulting,” Fred says, nodding to the butchering yard personnel as he stands there in his pressed suit. “Our men would do no such thing.”
“Lie,” Nelia intones, her voice dispassionate.
“How dare you, you cow!” Eric snaps, his insult eliciting a series of growls from the Yerick. The hunters shift the grips on their guns which cranks up the tension further.
“Put the gun down,” snaps Amelia as one of the human attempts to bring it to his shoulder. She steps in the way, putting her body in front of the barrel as she speaks. “No one is getting shot today.”
Vir on the other hand is speaking to Capstan, his voice low. “First Fist, this is not the way to do things.”
“We have been insulted. Attacked. Disrespected and now, cheated. The Yerick will not take any more of this,” Capstan snarls, his voice reverberating. “I demand these Goblin-children return the Credits they have stolen.”
“We have stolen nothing!” Eric snarls.
“Truth,” Nelia intones in that same, cold, dispassionate voice.
“There! You see, even your woman knows we speak the truth,” snaps Fred.
“Lie,” Nelia says.
“What?” Eric yelps, eyes swinging by the two as something begins to cross his mind. Capstan’s lips curl up, a low rumble beginning in his chest.
“Tell your slut cow to shut up,” Fred snaps and Capstan moves, surging forwards. It is only Vir who manages to make Capstan stop, his body braced against the larger Adventurer and glowing. Fred’s eyes glow as he adds. “It’s all about violence with you aliens.”
“ENOUGH” I roar, finally fed-up. “The next person to throw out an insult gets shot.”
“Who the fuck…” a hunter snarls, looking to where I am. I pull a small ball bearing from my hand, throwing it straight at the man and dropping him, the meaty smack of metal and bone ringing through the air.
“Who’s next?” I walk forward, letting the rage, the anger spill out of its container so that everyone can see it. “Because I will kill each and everyone of you if I have to.”
“Truth,” Nelia says.
“Aron,” Ali sends.
Thousand Steps on, I move and slam his hand down over his pistol grip with one hand while I shove the sword into his guts and then kick him off his feet. He lands hard, gripping his stomach. As Tahar shifts, I raise my hand and point the sword that appears on it at his face, the blade glowing a dark blue. Before he and Aron can move further, Capstan rumbles and they freeze. Amelia turns to me, mouth opening as well but Vir shakes his head slightly and she subsides for the moment so I let her keep her head.
“Good. Very good,” I stand there, surrounded and a part of me wonders why but another just doesn’t give a fuck anymore. I am so fucking tired of this shit. “First Fist. Inform me, politely, what this is about.”
“Redeemer,” Capstan answers as he steps away from Vir, his voice rolling with anger. “We have learnt that you humans have been short-changing us and stealing from us. Your butchering yard men have been taking parts of the kills and under-reporting what we have brought back. It was subtle at first but it has grown extremely blatant.”
“Truth,” Nelia says. Fred and more than a few humans shoot her a glare and I can’t help but flick a glance at her and then Ali.
“You got it boy-o. She’s channeling a Skill that lets her tell the truth of a statement. As the speaker knows it,” Ali explains.
“Fred, your turn,” I say.
“I don’t answer… arrgh,” Fred begins and then I break his jaw. I pick him up with one hand by his clothes. In the corner of my eyes, I see a hunter begin to raise his weapon and a part of me realises I’ll have to kill him. A part of me hates that thought but the sea, the sea doesn’t care.
Aura of the Red Queen Resisted
I feel it for a moment, the flickering fear as Laura rushes up. Behind her, the pets flow out to surround the group, hers and Richards. Mikito appears next to the hunter who has raised his gun, the flat of her blade smashing into his arms and shattering them. She kicks him to the ground and then uses the butt of the polearm into his friend, driving all the breath out of him. A Yerick shifts and Richard presses his shotgun to his head, making the Yerick stop.
“Stop,” Lana roars, red hair glowing like fire, her bossom heaving. Under the effect of her Aura and the sudden violence, everyone freezes.
“Are you joining this man?” Miranda asks, her voice shaking with fear but at least she’s on her feet.
“We’re saving your lives you idiots,” Mikito answers. “Do you think he’s lying when he kill you all?”
“Truth,” Nelia says.
I chose to ignore that byplay, taking the moment of peace to heal Fred. As his jaw heals, I smile at him wolfishly, “Want to try that again?”
“I know nothing about what these cows…” he screams when I shatter his jaw again.
“Lie,” Nelia intones over the whimpering scream.
I let him whimper in my hand for a moment before I cast another heal on his jaw. “Language.”
“You’re fucking insane!” Fred eyes are wide, wild.
“Uhhh… duh!” Ali says, shaking his head. “Everyone knows that.”
I pause, consider shattering his jaw on that and decide to give him a pass. After all, it could be considered a descriptive comment. “Very much so. So, you knew about this. Did you have anything to do with the theft?”
“I told you, they are lying,” Fred shouts, pulling at my arm futilely.
I don’t even bother listening to Nelia this time, shaking him slightly.
“Answer the question. I won’t ask you again.”
“No, I had nothing to do with it.”
“Lie,” Nelia intones. Minion by the side is watching Nelia and Fred, his eyes flicking back and forth as the questions come. Some, the scared have slunk away but others have joined the crowd. Most stay away from the centre where the puppies and Lana’s fox keep an eye on the potential combatants.
“Were you the mastermind?” I ask again, my brain spinning down all the options.
“As much as he’s got a mind,” mutters Ali.
“I said I didn’t have anything to do with it!” snarls Fred so I break his jaw again. When I heal it, he clamps his mouth shut. As I raise my hand languidly, letting him think about his life choices I’m cut-off.
“Why do you believe her?” Eric says, keeping his voice polite even if it is shaky.
“She’s a Truthseeker. Her Skill lets her know the truth of any statement,” I answer, my lips twisting.
“She could be lying,” Eric says and I nod.
“She could,” I listen to the rumbling that appears around us and I add. “I don’t think so though, but there are ways to check later.”
“And you’re willing to torture Fred till he tells you what they want?” Miranda replies, her voice growing cold and angry.
“Yes,” I reply, my eyes thinning as I hold the slimy, brown-haired politician in my hand.
“Why?” Miranda says, her breath cold. “Why do you believe them over us?”
“Because the Yerick know the System. They know I can learn the truth of this in five minutes if I want to. Because you guys have been the ones who have broken trust with them already,” I snarl and shake Fred. “And because this is exactly the kind of stupidity that we’d do.”
“Truth,” Nelia intones and I shoot her a glare. She’s been doing that each time we say something that isn’t a question which is actually becoming a little annoying.
Miranda’s lips thin, eyes hard before she jerks her head slightly. “Fine. Let’s assume Fred knew about this. I didn’t.”
“Neither did I!” Eric interjects.
I blink, not entirely surprised considering what happened before but still, surprising. While I’m dealing with that, Miranda continues. “Very well, First Fist is it? Are you willing to discuss this matter in a more relaxed setting? Something a little less… aggressive?”
Capstan rumbles slowly, looking between me and Fred and Miranda, doubt on his face. Vir speaks then, “Both Constable Olmstead and I shall accompany you and ensure that this discussion is… civilized.”
“And I’ll say out here to keep it civilized,” I shake Fred who attempts to speak, watching as his teeth clack shut. “Fred and I have a lot to talk about anyway.”
“Adventurer Lee, we do wish him alive,” Vir cautions me and my smile widens as I bring Fred close to me.
“I got this. I can see his health after all. I can bring him down, all the way to 1 and then drag him right back up. Again and again,” I say, the rage dancing in my eyes. I can hear a few people draw a breath, a few more shrink back.
“No,” Amelia pushes to me, feet apart even as she attempts to keep her teeth from chattering from the Aura. “I’m not letting you torture him. I can’t.”
“Constable…” Vir begins and Amelia shakes her head.
“No. I’m an officer of the law damn it,” she replies, eyes glinting with tears as she fights both the Aura and the rage that rolls off me without backing down.
“Oooh, she’s got spirit boy-o,” Ali says. “Anyway, you guys can go. I’ll make sure boy-o behaves himself.”
“And how are you going to do that?” I hiss at my Spirit and he smirks.
“LAAAANA,” Ali calls and the redhead walks over. Vir’s eyes widen slightly and even Miranda lets out a little cough, suddenly speeding up her steps. Capstan eyes the pair of us and then Nelia who is following after Miranda at speed and keeps moving. Amelia is torn, unsure of where to move when Lana looks at her, her eyes flicking to the council offices. Amelia slowly nods, turning away.
Meanwhile, I watch all this with growing anger. I almost consider breaking Fred’s arms for the hell of it but a small part of me, a small human part stops me. I have not fallen that far yet. Not yet.
“John,” Lana says, a hand reaching out to place itself on my arm. “Let him go. I’ll have one of my pets watch over him. You’re done here. You’ve done good.”
I slowly nod, drawing a breath and exhaling, pushing more of that anger out and then as I breathe in, locking up a little more of it. The children are talking, Fred’s role will have been exposed. And I, I… I still want to kill him.
“Oh, you’ll let a woman tell you what to do,” Fred coughs, his voice sarcastic. I look at him but before I can hit him, Richard steps forward and punches him. Fred’s head snaps to the side, blood leaking from his mouth. I look at Richard who proceeds to shrug.
“He’s not worth it John. You know that,” Lana murmurs and I close my eyes, shuddering slightly as I force the rage back down. I open my hand and Fred falls to the ground, sprawling. He gets about five feet before Lana’s fox comes up and bowls him over, fangs flashing in front of the terrified Fred’s face. “Good. Now, eat!”
I look down at the bar of chocolate she has in her hand and then I laugh, slightly hysterically. She waggles it again and I grab the bar, chewing on it as I ignore the incredulous looks of those around.
“You know Ali, the other thieves are going to get run,” I think to my friend and I can hear a mental snort.
I pause, considering that question and then laugh some more. He has a point. In an apocalypse, there really isn’t a safe place to run to.