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ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, Part Five
The Cost of Power, Chapter Five, Part Five
The Cost of Power is set in an alternative universe from the main Martiniere Legacy series. In this book, I take a closer look at the mind control technology and…the relationship between Gabe and his father Philip ends up being different.
Additionally, Gabe tells Ruby who he really is much, much earlier than in the main Martiniere Legacy series.
Most of all, I’m freeforming this story. I somewhat know where it’s going to go, but how it unfolds depend on what happens with Gabe, Philip, Ruby, and Justine once they get on a roll in this particular setting.
UPDATE, April 21, 2023 : Given where I am in this story drafting-wise (approximately 60,000 words), THERE WILL BE A SECOND BOOK. No way can I wrap up what I’m doing here in 40,000 more words. Things are gonna happen with Philip, Gabe, Ruby, and the Martiniere Multiverse, and I don’t want to cut the Multiverse elements that start coming into the story. This may be the series that resolves the entire Multiverse element of the Martiniere stories.
Now whether that book gets serialized here or not…we shall see.
Enjoy! This is part five of Chapter Five. There will be five parts to this chapter.
Gabe inhaled sharply. He put his arm around Ruby, wanting her there, next to him. This call was to be expected, but all the same, it made him nervous.
You are the Martiniere-in-waiting now. You have to deal with him. No more running.
Besides, Philip wasn’t able to effectively use mind control words and tones over the phone, unlike Gerry. Philip had tried to use them over the phone and failed with Gabe before. He had Ruby, who could project her tones, not just in person but through phones.
Justine put it on speaker. “Father.” Unaccustomedly formal for her. She usually called Philip Daddy-poo, to his face, anyway. Otherwise it was Daddy-damn-dearest or Daddy-fucking-dearest. Or worse.
“So.” Philip sounded tired—unusual for him. “You and Gabriel as the Martinieres-in-waiting.” No tone use at all.
Gerard must have sent out the video to everyone. Not surprising. Advising the Family of changes. Part of his role within the Family.
“Gabriel is right here, Father. And he knows everything.”
Gabe tightened his grip on Ruby. She slid her arm around his waist and squeezed him.
“Philip. I hope you don’t expect me to call you father.” He weighted a slight cynical twist to his words.
A moment, then a raspy, harsh laugh—evidence of his cardiac problems? Or something else? Philip always had that bitter laugh, so maybe it didn’t mean anything. “Stubborn as always, I see.” Still no tone usage.
“Looks like we know where I inherited it.” This time he kept his voice flat, no tones.
Another bitter laugh, followed by a cough. “Justine. I’m surprised you didn’t push Gabriel into replacing me.”
Gabe spoke up before Justine could. “I’ll give you the same answer I did Gerard when he brought it up—I am not ready.” He forced his voice to remain calm, matter-of-fact. No more emotion, damn it. No more tones. He was a Martiniere-in-waiting, speaking to the Martiniere in a formal situation, and tones did not, could not, come into play now. “Furthermore, I have responsibilities to my fiancée and her family that take priority over fighting for control of the Group. Until I have ready access to my accounts so that I can hire trustworthy workers, I need to be here to do the work. So does Ruby.”
To his surprise, Ruby chimed in. “This time of year, this late in the season, finding good people is a challenge. We’ll try to get help now that we can afford it, especially since in two weeks we’ll meet friends who might know of available workers who are reliable. Otherwise, we’re on the brink of second-cut haying. Monitoring the grain fields because that harvest will be soon. Just depends on moisture levels. Maintaining equipment—what we have is old, and upgrading is a pain in the ass in midsummer, no matter how much money we have on hand to throw at new equipment.”
“You must be Gabriel’s fiancée.”
“Yes.” She lifted her chin, setting it stubbornly even though Philip couldn’t see it. “And before you ask, since this appears to be of interest to all of you Martinieres, yes, I’m pregnant, and yes, it’s his child.”
Oh, those angry tones in her voice. Enough to make both him and Justine flinch—how could that be? They shouldn’t be that susceptible to tones except from Philip—now.
Zingter nanos. Must be. But what—how?
A sharp intake of breath from Philip. “How the hell did you—Gabriel, you haven’t been teaching her the programming modes, have you?” Philip sounded startled rather than angry.
“It’s a surprise to me,” Gabe said.
And Gerard. And Piotr. No one knows what this is, then, if Philip doesn’t either.
Ruby took a deep breath before speaking. “That second dose of nanos that Gabe received when he was attacked in the witness protection program. Could they be Zingter nanos and not Martiniere?”
That was entirely possible. And it explained too damn much.
“You know about Zingter’s possession of the mind control programming, too.” Resignation in Philip’s voice.
“I told them. And the Board,” Justine said.
“We’ve just been advised that there is no precedent for Martiniere nanos to be passed to a sexual partner, even one who has conceived a child,” Ruby continued. “Do we know that to be the case with Zingter nanos? Assuming they exist, of course.”
Gabe recognized that glimmer in her eyes as he looked at her. Ruby was on the track of something.
A deep, deep exhale from Philip. “I have wondered. I have encountered—minor influences. From someone that I just banished from my life. Nothing like I experienced from your voice.”
“And the Brauns have been able to influence you. Probably through that damn Electric Born cult,” Gabe said, careful to keep his voice flat, non-accusatory.
Philip sighed. “So it seems.”
Ruby frowned, staring unfocused at the wall. “It’s too bad we don’t have a means of measuring the dosage that Gabe got five years ago. Much less identifying the source—oh, it’s possible but the odds aren’t as good.”
Oh, his darling was definitely on the track of an idea.
“I don’t think they can be identified that easily.” Philip’s voice sharpened. Still not using tones, but it was enough that Ruby’s grip tightened on Gabe.
“They’re nanos. Identifiable. Give me samples and access to a top-of-the-line lab with good scanners, and I can figure most of it out,” Ruby snapped.
“My, you are a confident little—”
Damn it, he’s reverting to asshole mode. And things had been going so well until now—because she’s a woman, of course.
“Ruby knows what she is doing.” Gabe broke in before Philip finished that sentence. The last thing any of them needed was for Philip to piss Ruby off any more than she was already. If she was throwing off angry tones like this—and why was it happening now and not before? “She graduated magna cum laude from Oregon State’s ag robotics program, and you know how deep they are into nanos. I’ve been in a lab with her. Seen her at work. She can do it.”
“Huh.” A pause. “Well, you would know what she’s capable of, Gabriel. We need to discuss this. In person. Gabriel, you and Justine should plan to attend the Board meeting in Paris next week. Perhaps a visit to Arthur’s labs, Gabriel, if your fiancée can travel?”
“I think we can find ranch backup to cover for a short trip,” Ruby said. “I’ll manage that, Gabe.”
“I need emails to send necessary materials,” Philip continued.
“Go through Justine for now, Philip. I—there are many things I need to deal with in a short period of time, including setting up Group-adequate email and phone security. Meanwhile. Can I assume that Ruby and I are safe from you?”
A deep sigh. “Yes. The situation has significantly changed, Gabriel. I swear that you and yours are safe from me, on my honor as a Martiniere. I assume the same for you?” The faint trace of a sincere tone resonated in Philip’s voice.
The situation has significantly changed. Oh, had it ever—and for Philip to say that, given their past rocky relationship?
The situation was quite dire, indeed. Put that together with the Board’s actions, and—no alternative.
“Yes. You are safe from me, on my honor as a Martiniere.” He loaded his voice with sincere tones in return.
“I can’t speak for Joseph. Be very careful. I will see the two of you next week.” Philip hung up.
Gabe blew hard. This reaction was not at all what he expected from Philip.
He’s running scared because of the Zingter issues. Especially the Electric Born religious ties.
Had to be the case.
Another hard exhale. “All right then. Things to do. Don, I need to meet with you and Gerard about financials, then with Piotr about establishing secure communication accounts. We’ll talk with Nathan Bonham at the bank about paying off the ranch loans this afternoon, get rid of that worry. Ruby. Can you set up a meeting with the Trasks about prenuptials? There’s a standard Martiniere form for me that has wording enrolling you in the Family Trust as my wife. Also, I think it’s a good idea that you find out how to set up clearing me from the effects of the mind control words. Piotr and my grandmother Donna are the ones with full accesses.”
Ruby nodded. “I’ll handle that, and deal with getting some ranch help here as quickly as possible. Plus find a wedding venue and choose a date—do you have a preference?”
“After Thunder County Days, if possible. Otherwise, as soon as we can. Justine and Kendra can help with that, too. Tine—am I missing anything?”
“I’m sure there’s something, but right now?” Justine shrugged. “It sounds like a solid beginning. I’ll have a chat with Eliot and Nick about the changed circumstances. Eliot in particular will be a useful ally within the Group.”
“All right then.” Gabe ran his hand through his hair again, suppressing the shakes that wanted to take over his body now that Philip was off of the phone and they were making plans. He had to appear steady and calm. “God. Clothing appropriate for a Board meeting in Paris. For both of us. Even if I knew where my old clothes were, they aren’t gonna fit me now. We need to factor a quick shopping trip in Paris before that meeting. Marriage license.”
“And Ruby needs to see a doctor.” Justine’s voice was firm.
“Well, let’s get started,” Ruby said. “But first—” She came to Gabe and took him in her arms. “I want a kiss.”
He laughed and complied.
Thank God for Ruby.
He could take a moment and be vulnerable with her.