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ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, Part Three
The Cost of Power, Chapter Five, Part Three
My apologies! I was flattened by an attack of IBS triggered by a Covid vax which left me in rather…dire straits, shall we say. So here it is, a day late.
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 three of Chapter Five. There will be five parts to this chapter.
Justine and Donald raised brows at each other. Justine leaned over to Ruby and murmured a question that Gabe didn’t hear clearly—something about how many weeks? Ruby whispered an answer. Justine nodded. Then Ruby frowned, and muttered something else to Justine.
Gabe cleared his throat, drawing attention back to him and away from Justine and Ruby as they continued to whisper to each other. “You understand why I’m saying that my family needs to be a priority.”
“Absolutely,” Gerard said. “However, the reality is that you are the most likely candidate for calming the troubled situation that the Family is in at the moment.”
“Why? After all, you clearly hold the keys to some of the mind control power of the Martiniere-in-waiting if you could shut me down like that just now, without my words.” He weighted his own words in return, funneling his growing anger into them, thinking hard about Gerry as the target, as he had been trained to do.
Two can play that game, Uncle Gerry!
Gerard flinched—and so did Ruby, damn it. Something was going on because she shouldn’t be affected by his tones in the first place, much less a targeted tone like he had used.
His uncle exhaled. “All right, Gabriel. This is why. If I am correct, you are the creator of the code that disabled many of Philip’s research files after he was found not guilty in US vs. Martiniere Group?”
Now it was his turn to exchange glances with Donald. Gabe raised his brows. Donald nodded. Gabe sighed.
“I was the primary architect,” he admitted. “But not the only one involved in writing that program. We determined that it was safest for my allies if I took the entire responsibility.”
Donald coughed. At first Gabe thought it was just a preliminary to speaking, but Donald continued to hack hard. Justine turned away from Ruby and started to rise. Donald raised one hand to stop her while grabbing his water with the other.
Justine’s concerned expression as she sat back down said a lot. Along with Don’s weight loss and paleness—he had always been thin and pale, but now that Gabe focused on him—he was more so than ever.
Is something wrong with him?
That might be another reason for divorce above and beyond the clause in Justine and Donald’s prenuptial agreement—Justine trying to protect Donald from the Family, in return for what he had done to help her. Gabe could see her doing that, especially given Justine’s current position in the Group.
I have to talk to Tine. Find out what’s going on.
A few swallows of water later, and Donald leaned back in his chair, color returning to his pale face. “Sorry. I was also involved.”
Distress tightened Justine’s face, furthering Gabe’s suspicions. “Donald.”
He smiled at her. “Dearest falcon. It’s my choice to disclose my role. Gabe’s borne the burden on his own—time it was shared.”
“How is my role in writing that program relevant to my being the best candidate to settle things in the Family and the Group?” Gabe tensed as he waited for Gerard to consider his response.
“Your role is relevant because of your reaction to the news that the technology is in Zingter’s hands. Am I correct in assuming that had you known Zingter was in possession of mind control and was manipulating Philip into using it on indentureds, your testimony’s focus would have not been on the Group?” Again with that measuring gaze from his uncle.
But it was less unnerving from Gerard than from Philip.
“Absolutely. My program would have targeted Zingter, not Philip’s files.”
His uncle nodded. “Your willingness to admit you would have changed your focus emphasizes that the motivation for your actions was your convictions, not the pursuit of a vendetta against Philip. That will convince the Family of your good intentions. And once it becomes better known that you, not Joseph, are Philip’s biological son, that will sway other elements in the Family. Especially since you have a child on the way and a future spouse with Ruby’s—abilities.”
“And the role you envision for me?” Gabe faced Gerard’s measuring gaze, dreading what he would hear.
“Ideally, Gabriel, you immediately replace Philip as the Martiniere. We can say it is for health reasons.”
“Fuck, no!” The words snapped out from something deep and visceral within him. “I am not ready.”
Gerard sighed. “I anticipated your reaction when the Board brought up this possibility earlier this week.”
How on earth did they even know I was alive? Much less willing to resurface? How much has Serg been reporting about our contacts?
Not the time to think about it. If there was ever going to be a time. Other issues took more importance. Besides, the Board had probably just been exploring options.
“How about—Justine and I share the position of Martiniere-in-waiting?”
Justine startled. “I—Gabriel—I—”
And yet, she didn’t seem that surprised by his suggestion.
“You are already performing part of the job as External Affairs, Tine. Pretty much the Martiniere-in-waiting in everything but the title. Philip has already moved beyond the hidebound Group tradition of male leadership by putting you in that position. It’s a logical conclusion. I am happy to share that load with you. I will not touch Internal Affairs, not as long as it involves responsibility for those labs forcing mind control on indentureds.”
“That would be your price?” Gerard went very still.
“There’s more. I remain here, not relocating to Los Angeles or Paris, except as necessary to perform specific tasks. But the shared position is my bottom line. I want a life that isn’t all about the Family and the Group.” He took a deep breath. “More important than my personal concerns, there’s an operational issue behind my proposal to share the role with Justine. I’ve been away from the Group and the Family for five years. Given everything that’s been discussed this morning, we don’t have the time for me to get up to speed as the Martiniere-in-waiting. Zingter is an active and aggressive threat, and this isn’t the time to put an inexperienced person in that position. Justine knows what is happening. And, all things considered, I’d prefer that she receive credit for an active role rather than be in the shadows advising me.”
Silence. Justine looked down, biting her lip. A hopeful expression rested on Donald’s face as he gazed at her.
Then, finally, from Gerard. “All right, Gabriel. That proposal fits within the parameters that the Board set last night when they gave me the authority to negotiate with you. You and Justine are the Martinieres-in-waiting. If Justine concurs.”
“I agree,” Justine said quickly. “I think Gabriel is correct and this is the best solution.”
Easy. Almost too easy. Either the Board was desperate, or—the Board was desperate. Had to be. Gabe had expected some pushback when he suggested that Justine share the role with him. They wanted him in a leadership role, bad, if this possibility had been considered and accepted before they talked to him. That said a lot.
“And we will both have the mind control programming lifted?” he asked.
“Yes.” Gerard rose. “Piotr. Kendra. As we discussed last night.”
Piotr nodded. He left the room as Kendra set her phone on a tripod. Gabe exchanged glances with his cousin, no—sister.