NO GOOD CHOICES, Part One
THE COST OF POWER, Chapter One, Part One
Just in time for the new year, we start a new Martiniere Multiverse book!
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.
Enjoy! This is part one of Chapter One. There will be three parts to this chapter.
“SonovaBITCH!” Gabe kicked at the center pivot line axel joint that had pinched him, careful not to make contact with the malfunctioning joint and muck things up even more. He grabbed his hand and whirled away, bending over, inhaling sharply through his teeth. “Ow ow ow ow DAMN IT!”
A few deep gasps and he straightened up, forcing himself to breathe slowly and deeply as he stared off toward the Thunder Mountains in the distance, south of Homestead field.
It’s your own damn fault, stupid. You know the joint will slip like that. Not paying attention! Could have gotten hurt—and then what?
Another set of deep breaths. Some days…but this wasn’t just some day.
Memories. Five years ago, today. He’d been sitting in a Federal court witness stand. Gabriel Martiniere, high-flying, proud; one of the potential heirs to the privately-held Martiniere Group leadership. A leading contender to become the next Martiniere, head of the Martiniere Group and the Martiniere Family.
But his uncle Philip, the current Martiniere, operated labs experimenting with mind control programming, using unwilling indentured workers as subjects.
Gabe couldn’t—wouldn’t—condone what Philip was doing. Bad enough that as a high-level heir, he had received the same type of mind control programming as the indentureds, so he knew exactly what was being done to those workers, without their consent. At least in his case, enduring the programming was expected of him and his cousins. A means to keep any of them from getting too far out of control—in theory, supposedly.
It wasn’t meant to be used on anyone outside of the Family. What Philip was doing went beyond the original purpose for designing those programs. It almost looked like Philip was trying to create an army loyal to him alone. Something that power-hungry Martinieres had lusted after for centuries.
That process had to stop.
So Gabe went to the Feds.
Then mind control programming had been used to silence Gabe during his testimony against Philip’s atrocities. Instead of appealing to the jury, it made him look less credible. Philip evaded conviction, while Gabe ended up in a witness protection program that damn near got him killed. Distant Martiniere cousins, Serg Vygotsky and his father Piotr, head of Vygotsky Security, bailed Gabe out of that mess, leading to the path which put him here at the Double R Ranch in Northeastern Oregon, as Gabe Ramirez.
To all appearances, Gabe Ramirez was just another Hispanic ranch hand who managed to fall in love with a ranch owner’s granddaughter and earn a solid working position. Not the missing Martiniere heir.
Gabe closed his eyes.
Let it go.
Homestead line needed fixing. He needed to focus on that job and get it done, not wallow in memories. Even today.
Gabe exhaled as the pain faded. A bruise rose on his finger where it had been pinched, threatening to form a blood blister. But it was still usable.
He went back to work, moving carefully and methodically, his full attention on the task at hand instead of brooding. This time, everything went right. A systems check showed no problems. Gabe grabbed his tablet and punched in the code to start the line, then watched for fifteen minutes. The center pivot began misting the hayfield, the line rolling in correct alignment without jerking itself askew. Just like it was supposed to do.
Fixed for this week, at least.
That thought sent him back to brooding.
The Homestead line needed a major overhaul. Wired connection to operate it, not wireless, and a better pump to provide consistent water pressure. But the Ryder family that owned the Double R Ranch was short on money.
Gabe’s lips tightened. Last week, he had gone with Ron Ryder, the Double R’s owner and grandfather of his girlfriend Ruby Barkley, to ask Nathan Bonham, manager of the farm loan program at the local branch of Northwest Farmers’ Bank, for the cash needed to fix the Homestead line correctly. The Double R already had several loans with Farmers’, and Gabe hadn’t seen any potential issues when reviewing this application with Ruby and Ron.
Bonham’s sneering dismissal of Ron’s application had almost been enough for Gabe to stand up and reveal himself. Almost worth the risk to see his reaction. Bonham sure as hell wouldn’t have been as dismissive of Gabriel Martiniere. Gabe hadn’t spent his spare time during his college years working with his uncle Gerard, the Martiniere Family’s financial wizard, for nothing. He knew their proposal was valid. It had taken time to convince Ron Ryder that Gabe knew what he was doing, but these days Ron trusted Gabe implicitly, based on Gabe’s past financial recommendations.
Let it go, damn it!
Bonham’s casual racism toward him was annoying. At the very least it was enough to consider dropping a few hints about his relationship to the powerful Saldivars of the Saldivar cartel—though Gabe had been careful to save that connection for the direst of emergencies. Which this wasn’t. But being called “beaner,” or “Mexi,” or other racial epithets had been a part of Gabe’s life long enough that he shouldn’t be this reactive to it. Being a Martiniere hadn’t kept him from being attacked at Northview Military Academy for the brown skin he had inherited from his mother. He had to earn respect with his fists.
All the same, thinking about that meeting was enough to get Gabe angry all over again—time to cool off.
In more ways than one. Besides, perhaps if he immersed that finger in cold water for a few minutes, then the swelling would go down.
Like what you’re seeing so far? Please comment and let me know!
Also, we’re on the final countdown for the Smashwords end-of-year sale. Interested in more from the Martinieres? Check out my catalog. You’ll not only find the complete Martiniere Legacy, but non-Martiniere stories available as well. 25% off, and that makes some things FREE.
Go to https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JoyceReynolds-Ward to see my full catalog!