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ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, Part Two
The Cost of Power, Chapter Five, Part Two
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 two of Chapter Five. There will be five parts to this chapter.
“You see why it is impossible for you to stay out of Family politics, Gabriel,” Gerard said quietly.
“We’ve underestimated Joey,” Gabe said. “Either that, or Philip is using him as a front. Do we know which is which?”
“I go back and forth between those two options daily,” Justine said. “Joey made an atrocious mess of External Affairs before Daddy-damned-dearest booted him out of that position. But Joey’s strength is not in management. Sneaky, scheming conspiracies to hurt other people, though?” She raised her hands, then dropped them onto the table. “He’s awfully damned good at doing that. Better than our fucking father? That, I can’t decide. But I lean toward fingering Joey as the more dangerous of the two. Daddy-poo has a certain degree of ethics. Joey doesn’t.”
“Joey has a particular talent of co-opting people,” Kendra said. “It’s different to what Philip does. Joey’s dedicated a lot of time to working on my brother Chris. Which is yet another piece. Chris wants to take the Group public, and Joey keeps egging him on to promote it.”
“Is Joey working for himself or for Braun?” Gabe steepled his hands, tapping his chin with his index fingers.
No alternative to getting involved with the Family intrigues again. No fucking alternative. Not with this information.
But that didn’t mean he still couldn’t negotiate what Family involvement would look like for him and Ruby.
“Frank Braun would benefit if the Group went public,” Gerard said. “If we assume that Joseph is working with him, and considering how Joseph has been networking with vulnerable Family members, then it is conceivable that Zingter—and Braun—could manage to gain a majority stockholder position if the Group went public. They could put Joseph in charge as a figurehead. Philip would oppose any of those proposals, but he has alienated too many Family members to gain support.”
“Going public, with Zingter and Braun in majority control puts them in a position to exploit mind control technology even more,” Ruby said.
“Yes.” Gerard nodded at Ruby. “As well as absorbing the agricultural technology labs. Our technology is more advanced than Zingter’s.”
“We have to stop that use of mind control tech.” Ruby’s voice was firm, and it resonated with Gabe—almost like her bellowed quit last night. “Gabe’s a target not just for Philip but for Zingter, then. I want him to be safe.” Her voice caught. “Watching that footage last night was horrific. I do not want anyone to be able to do that to my love again. Ever.”
Again with the resonances. How was she doing it? And it wasn’t just because she was his beloved—he saw similar reactions from Piotr, Justine and Gerard.
Piotr stirred. “If Gabriel becomes the Martiniere-in-waiting, then most of those mind control protocols are stripped from him and he becomes less vulnerable. It is not perfect, since Braun has apparently been able to program Philip. But we can take additional precautions.”
“How?” His darling leaned forward, her face tight.
“That information is confidential,” Piotr snapped.
“Gabe’s going to be my husband and he’s the father of my child. I want to know.”
Piotr bristled, but Gerard raised his hand. “Piotr. She is entitled. I also want to know how she can affect me with her voice.” His raised brows at Ruby’s words and his careful study of her told Gabe that his uncle had not missed Ruby’s admission.
Just postponed further questioning to deal with an issue that Gerard considered to be momentarily more important. Gabe had seen his uncle do this before.
“This ability of Ruby’s is something new,” Justine said softly. “Her voice didn’t affect me like this when we were at the barn four years ago. Uncle Gerry, how does the mind control programming process work? Would she have picked it up by proximity to Gabie? Unconscious learning?”
“It is a combination of long-duration nanos and programming,” Gerard said stiffly. “They should not have been transmittable, so I do not know. Gabriel, how long has she had the ability to affect you?”
“I—I—” He had to think about it. “Honestly, Uncle Gerry? Last night was the first time I noticed it. I think.” Gabe rubbed his face. There were those instances where he got into fistfights when drunk and partying after rodeos. Ruby had stopped him then, but—that had been her combined with others. She hadn’t stopped him with words but by restraint, at times grabbing him around his torso and dragging him away. And her voice hadn’t resonated within him during those incidents, like it did last night.
“Gabriel received a second and significant dosage of control nanos when he was attacked and nearly killed in the witness protection program,” Piotr said, heavy brows furrowed like they did when he was thinking hard. “But it has been almost five years since that happened.”
“November of 2028 was when the witness protection program failed me, to be precise,” Gabe said dryly, stifling a shudder as he remembered that attack.
“And how long have you and Ruby been intimate?” Gerard focused intently on Gabe, steepleing his fingers—a scrutiny Gabe remembered all too well from college days, when Gerard was teaching him about Martiniere finance.
“October of 2029,” Ruby answered.
“Nearly four years,” Gerard mused.
“Only for two months, and then not regularly until June of 2030,” Gabe added. “Ruby was finishing up her degree and I was hiding out here.”
Gerard eyed Piotr. “Piotr. Is it possible those nanos could have been passed from Gabriel to Ruby through intimate contact?”
“Pah!” Piotr threw his hands up. “Of course it is not! Otherwise we would have multiple Martiniere spouses with that ability. Mistresses. Lovers.”
“Even those wives and mistresses who have born children?”
Gerard had not missed that admission by Ruby.
“Nyet!” Piotr slammed his hands on the table.
And Piotr resorting to Russian that emphatically in this situation was confirmation of just how much this line of thought disturbed him.
Gerard turned his scrutiny on Ruby. “I have not seen any sign of children around this house, yet you call Gabriel the father of your child.” His words carried a weight that made Gabe flinch—and he saw that Ruby reacted as well.
How? She shouldn’t be sensitive to Gerry’s tones—
“Gerard—” This called for formality, because Gerard was now functioning in his role as the acting Martiniere-in-waiting, not Uncle Gerry.
Gerard held up a hand. “Wait, Gabriel. Let her answer.” Compulsion hung heavy in his voice.
Ruby swallowed, and looked down. Then at him. Gabe nodded, incapable of speaking—how had Gerry done this? He reached his hand to her and she took it, clamping down hard.
“I’ve missed two cycles now. And a home test this morning confirms that I’m pregnant.”