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ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES Part Four
The Cost of Power, Chapter Five, Part Four
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 four of Chapter Five. There will be five parts to this chapter.
Piotr returned with a tattered leather briefcase and set it on the table in front of Gerard. Gabe swallowed hard as he recognized the Martiniere coat of arms on its side, realizing what the briefcase contained. One of the Family’s oldest artifacts, carefully preserved and protected over centuries.
How on earth—only Philip is supposed to have that—if Gerry has it—oh my God, the Board is rebelling.
His uncle Gerard had been the informal Martiniere-in-waiting for years, since Saul’s death, even though he repeatedly declined any suggestions to make the position formal, claiming to hold the place until Gabe or Joey could assume the role. A means to avoid confrontation with Philip? Quite possibly. And now—confrontation was apparently no longer a concern, if Gerry was openly carrying that artifact. How had he gotten his hands on it? With Philip’s consent—or not?
Gerard popped the briefcase open to reveal its contents, an elegantly engraved Damascus steel poniard with an emerald set into the pommel. He extracted the dagger from the padding and raised it high.
“Gabriel. Justine.” Gerard took a deep breath. “Once we do this, your programming will give you the vocal tone powers of the Martiniere-in-waiting. You will need to have future reprogramming so that your control words will not affect you—but at this point, it will be more difficult for someone to control you. They will need to use your words, not just tones.”
“Wait. Tine’s also had the Martiniere-in-waiting pre-programming?” Gabe asked.
Gerard nodded. “A fancy of your grandmother’s. Philip was not—in agreement—but we overruled him.”
“And your vocal tones?” Justine asked.
“They pass to both of you.”
Gabe exhaled. “Then let’s do it.”
This is it. Gerard is swearing us in now, not waiting for a formal investiture in Paris.
That just emphasized the urgency of this action.
Gerard gestured to them. They went to Gerard and knelt. Gerard lowered the poniard, the point nearly touching Gabe’s lips.
Gabe’s mouth was dry as he swore the oath required to become the Martiniere-in-waiting, then kissed the blade. Heat washed over him, then an all-too-familiar resonance that he recalled from the programming sessions during his teen years. He stifled a shudder as the vibrations zapped through him, making his tongue numb, then warm.
He remained kneeling as Justine swore after him. Once she was finished, they both stood. Gerard replaced the poniard in the briefcase, then knelt, placing his hands first between Gabe’s, then Justine’s, to vow his loyalty.
Piotr was next, then Kendra, then Serg. Gabe’s hands tingled with each oath, testifying that he was, truly, the Martiniere-in-waiting. From Justine’s expression, the same thing was happening to her.
Once that was done, Kendra collected her phone.
“I will send this video to the Board,” she said.
It’s real. It’s—truly happening.
But there was one more thing. He turned to Justine. “Kendra, please continue recording.” He waited until she nodded at him to confirm she was ready. “Justine. I vow on my honor as a Martiniere that I will not betray you or strive with you for power. When the time comes, if you choose to be the Martiniere, I will either serve next to you, or continue as the Martiniere-in-waiting.” He weighted his words carefully, focusing on positive intent.
Justine’s eyes widened. “I swear the same, Gabriel. On my honor as a Martiniere, I will not betray you or strive with you for power. And I will tell you now that I do not seek a higher position, but am content to continue as the Martiniere-in-waiting, until your heir replaces me.” Her words resonated with him, attesting to the truth of her statement.
“Are you sure, Tine?” he asked in a low voice, gesturing to Kendra that they were done.
She nodded. “Gabie, I have my reasons.” Justine took his arm and guided him out of the dining room, into the living room where they were private. “I understand yours for wanting me to serve with you. But my marriage—”
“Serg said you and Donald were having difficulties.”
She shook her head. “All surface, all a façade.” Justine closed her eyes tightly for a moment and he thought he saw tears glimmering. What was this? Justine was like Ruby, rarely crying. “Your return has simplified my life, Gabie. There are—many things going on. Donald has had colon cancer. January 2031. On top of his Crohn’s. The cancer is in remission now, but the Crohn’s is flaring.”
“Oh, Tine.” He took her hands.
“And there’s more.” She took a deep breath. “I had to end my public involvement with my mother-in-law’s Real Lives for Women organization last year, at our damn father’s insistence. Donald—is very much a major participant behind the scenes of RLW along with his mother, not just financially but operationally. We’ve taken it further. There’s a reproductive rights organization called the Rescue—” She let her voice trail off.
“The Rescue Angel.” He was grateful she avoided that word now that Justine shared vocal tone powers with him, although without the priming word broken in front of it, and said in the proper neutral tone like most people used it, angel by itself wasn’t triggering.
He knew about the Rescue Angel. A means for women to find contraception, abortions, and pregnancy care. Highly secretive. Focused on poor women and those who were in threatening situations. Flirting with the law by transporting indentured women out of danger.
Justine nodded. “We’re the principals behind it. Operationally and financially.”
Now things were really starting to come clear.
God, if Philip and Joey knew this—especially Joey if he’s in as deep with Braun as it seems—
“I see. Between Donald’s health and politics—Tine, did you really want to divorce?” He had wondered—late last night he had wakened after another godawful different life dream and couldn’t get back to sleep right away, so he had pulled up the news stories about Justine’s latest activities, to update himself before seeing her. There was a lot going on, including Justine’s apparent flirtations with other men. That had caused him concern, because the Tine he had known loved Donald too much to look elsewhere.
Dampness formed in her eyes, definitely tears this time. “No. But I have to keep him safe. I couldn’t do Rescue and stay married, not in the position I’m holding. I’m too vulnerable as External Affairs.”
“So those media reports of you seeing Eliot McNaughton when you’re in LA are—” Gabe let the sentence dangle.
He knew who Eliot McNaughton was, and had a few dealings with him before US vs Martiniere Group. McNaughton had worked for the Group for years. A decent man, if ambitious.
“Eliot knows what is going on.” Justine bit her lip and wiped her eyes, pausing before continuing. “I’m covering for him as well because he’s involved with a man. Nick Reitman. You know how our father and Joey feel about that. And the reports of Donald with those women? Mostly another façade. They’re medical staff. Private, boutique practice, Atwood family exclusively.”
Gabe sighed. Twists within twists.
Welcome back to the Family, Gabriel.
“I’m surprised Philip hasn’t been penalizing you for stepping out with Eliot, given his religious inclinations.” Philip had spent the past few years involved with a fanatical evangelical cult, the Electric Born, that restricted women’s behavior while allowing men to do as they pleased.
Which Walter Braun was also part of. Is that how he got control of Philip? Manipulating Philip’s women so they controlled him? Oh, shit.
“Hah! Daddy-damned-dearest has his own harem,” Justine said, confirming Gabe’s sudden suspicions. “Oh, the coverup is that they’re Joey’s women, but a bunch of them? Especially Mariah Meyers? They’re our damned father’s concubines, on hidden indenture contracts. And that bitch Meyers—Gabie, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s working for Frank Braun and Zingter, keeping Daddy-damned-dearest under control. I hate her. And she’s not even true to Daddy-fucking-dearest, which makes me think she’s Braun’s agent.”
“Fuck.” Gabe exhaled. “Tine, Walter Braun was part of that cult. I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank Braun is involved as well. That’s how they managed to manipulate Philip. You didn’t know about that connection?”
“What? No. I didn’t know. Damn it. That makes sense. Joey’s into it as well—fuck.” She exhaled. “Then—thank God you’re back. I understand your reasons for wanting to share the role. I embrace them, because your stance makes it easier for me to be less visible. To—stay with the man I have grown to love, while protecting the Family and helping women in need.”
“Aw, Tine.” Gabe took her into his arms. Much as he wanted to check into this new piece of data about Philip—need to tell Ruby, this means I may not be at risk once the power of my words is taken away—Tine needed him because she truly was caught in a mess. Justine leaned against him, shivering. “Can you slow or stop what’s happening with the divorce?”
A soft, choked laugh against his chest. “Gabie, I swear to you that nothing has happened between me and Eliot, or me and Nick. The time hasn’t been right. Donald and I were planning to start escalating at Christmas, with divorce filings next March.” She raised her head, blinking. “Now, maybe—”
“Justine?” Donald entered the living room.
She smiled weakly at him. “I’ve just told Gabie everything.”
Gabe shook his head. “You two.” But he couldn’t help the smile coming to his lips. “It sounds as if Ruby and I need to sit down with the two of you and make some plans. Sharing the load.”
Justine moved from Gabe to Donald. He wrapped an arm around her.
“That would be helpful,” Donald said quietly. “If we can avoid the Inevitable—”
“That’s what we’ve started to call this whole divorce charade,” Justine interjected.
“I would prefer it.” Donald smiled at Justine.
Gabe exhaled and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’ll do what I can, but damn it, I also want to protect my family as well. If we can work together that would be great.”
“I’ve already established a precedent of not spending much time in Los Angeles, and working remotely” Justine said. “One week a month. We can’t avoid some overlap because of Board meetings, but otherwise, if you can be there for a week when I’m not, that would be a huge help.”
Ruby entered the living room, raising her brows questioningly at Gabe.
“Strategy discussion, darling. I’m glad you’re here,” he said. “Tine. Donald.” He glanced toward the dining room. “I don’t know how much of this you want to discuss with the rest of the Family around.”
“I’d prefer we don’t,” Justine said.
“Later, then.” He thought. “How long were you planning to be here? There’s a lot to do.”
“We have suitcases for an overnight on the plane, just in case. Standard for us because we never know for certain, especially with our—activities.” Justine frowned. “Kendra and Scott were planning to fly back to Scotland once we were done here. Piotr always carries his things, like us. Uncle Gerry was also planning to leave.”
“I need to have you two and Uncle Gerry around today, not just for reinstating me financially but other priorities. Amongst other things, there are several big loans on the Double R that I want gone once I have full access to my financials. I don’t trust the local farm loan manager as far as I can throw him. I want to have Donald and Gerry present when I go in to pay them off, because he’s likely to give me a hard time. Gerry can leave tonight, but if you two can stay for at least one night, we can talk further. We should talk further.”
Justine eyed Ruby. “There’s also a wedding and those legalities to plan. I don’t think you two will be able to get away with eloping like we did, but a small, quick ceremony with Family present—”
Justine’s phone buzzed. “Philip Martiniere.”