Wednesday, March 6, 2013

1400 old words #Snippet from the new #PhoenicianSeries #novel

The following snippet (after the jump-break) was material written in 2008 and posted to Authonomy but removed to be edited then set aside when I focused, instead, on completing Conditioned Response. Raif is such a great character. I'm loving writing his book and I do love reading my own work. I hope you do, too.

These 1400 or so words fall at the beginning of a new chapter near the beginning of the book, right after Dramond and Raif and the rest of Dramond's Proctor team have returned from "collecting" Shayla (she's only 14 years old back then, remember) and she is the "prisoner." During the excursion to get her, a greenhorn Proctor was killed. This is the aftermath.

In the hangar of the Council Office building, Azzi, the last member of their primary team waited with Ronen, two gurneys hovering between them. Ronen supervised Lawrence and Collier, escorting the "prisoner" up to the second floor, Security, Room Four. Azzi tried to help Raif with the body of the young Proctor but met with enough opposition, he settled for simply providing Raif an escort down to sublevel one, Medtech.

When the doors to Medtech slid apart, the smells hit Raif hard. The room wreaked of death, a mixture of anti-septics with blood and sweat. He would have thought he'd be used to it by now, but with the greenhorn lying dead next to his hand, the human effluvia was too much to dismiss. He allowed Azzi to help guide the gurney into an open spot in a row of six gurneys, each with a dead body on it, all wearing grey uniforms. There were likewise half a dozen men in long white lab coats milling about the gurneys, but only the sounds of clanking equipment broke through the deathly silence in the room. Raif knew it wasn't out of deference to the dead or attentiveness to the work. It was an attempt to get through the unpleasantries more quickly by not tarrying in conversation. A Medtech learned the routine of autopsy by rote after a few weeks on the job.

There was one live Proctor here for purposes of receiving medical attention, sitting with a Medtech at the far end of the long room. Raif noticed the attending Medtech was his friend, Jared, the Drug Lord of the building. He'd need to talk to him later today, to get some kind of assistance for the prisoner, assuming Dramond held true to form and authorized none himself.

Raif stood over the gurney with the fallen greenhorn while Singh, the senior Medtech, came over to check it in and start the paperwork. Singh pulled up one eyelid on the body and scanned the retina, then held the display out to Raif.

"Identity confirmed?" Singh asked him.

Raif glanced at the display and took in the number identifying the as-yet-unnamed Proctor. He whispered, "Rene-Michel." It was Councillor Dramond's first name but from this point forward, in Raif's mind, the name would always belong to the dead Proctor in front of him.

Singh looked up at him accusingly. "What did you just say?"

"He had a name. Rene-Michel."

Impatiently, the man in the white coat asked, "Is this his number or not?" Raif gave the Medtech a dirty look then looked back at the dead greenhorn without giving an answer. "Look, Sergeant," Singh persisted, "I've got a full house here, in case you didn't notice. Can we move this along?"

Raif snapped at him, "Singh, if you want to speed things up, you'll stop arguing with me. His name was Rene-Michel. Do you actually need me to spell that name for you?"

The Medtech shook his head and tapped at the display in his hand. "Identity confirmed. C-O-D?"

"No good reason." Raif mumbled.

"So, you just felt like it?"

Now Raif glared at the Medtech. "What? I didn't do this!"

"That's not how I heard it." Singh told him in flat tones.

"What are you--"

Azzi stopped Raif and turned his back to the Medtech to whisper, "That's the report Dramond filed, Raif."

"What are you talking about?"

Azzi leaned closer to Raif. "Dramond's pinning this on you. He filed the report before you even got back. Just call it insubordination and let the doc close his file."

"Whose idea was this?" Raif turned to Singh, "Yours?"

The man in the white coat held up a hand and shook his head. "I just take the orders as I get them, Raif. I need a cause of death. You got a preference?"

Raif started to move towards the man in the white coat and Azzi pushed gently at Raif's shoulders to stop him.

Raif spoke around him at the Medtech, "Yeah, I've got a preference. He was pushed off a cliff after willingly submitting to torture. How's that C-O-D strike you, Singh?"

Without missing a beat, the Medtech tapped at his pad and went on in businesslike fashion, "And the cause for the disciplinary action?"

Azzi turned around and told him, before Raif could answer again, "Singh, just put insubordination, and give us the damned pad."

"I'm not signing that." Raif told Azzi and went on to the senior Medtech. "You can't do that to him, Singh. You can't enter it that way. You're supposed to be a Medtech. You haven't even examined him."

"Well, I'm just a record keeper today. No time for exams." He gave his display a final tap and pulled another pad out of his pocket, clicked it onto the side of the display and held the pair out to Raif in both hands, expectant look on his face. "Signature, please?"

Raif glanced down at the display. Singh had recorded the greenhorn's number--no name--and put "Resisting disciplinary action for insubordination" in the block labeled "C-O-D."

When Raif kept staring and didn't move to put his hand out, Azzi moved to put his own hand down on the large pad to be scanned. "I'll sign it." Azzi said quietly.

Singh pulled the dual pad back before Azzi could press down and insisted, "No! I'm supposed to get his signature."

Azzi withdrew his hand and told Singh, "Look, if you know what's good for you, don't be so picky--or you won't live to regret it."

Singh didn't offer Azzi the signature pad. "Councillor Dramond was very specific, it's to be your signature, Raif."

Raif grabbed the two-piece unit and turned his back to Singh as he started revising the record. The Medtech tried to reach around him to retrieve it and Raif's right elbow came up into his solar plexus then his left fist cut across the Medtech's jaw, knocking him to the floor. Raif turned his back again and resumed his quick tapping on the datapad. The Medtech, on the floor, was trying to move his jaw while giving Raif's back a cold stare. Azzi crouched down in front of him.

"Don't push your luck," Azzi warned Singh quietly, "it would've been easier for him to just break your neck and kill you to change the record. Don't worry. I'll witness your effort to Councillor Dramond."

Raif annotated the number with the name and revised the C-O-D to read "Fall from height of approx. 500 meters after sustaining extended application of shock stick. No aggressive action observed prior to fall. No physical evidence to suggest legal cause for stun by Councillor Dramond. No witnesses to alleged assault on the Councillor's person." It wasn't quite the full truth but it was as close as he dared make it for today. He put his own number and those of Ronen and Lawrence into three of the slots for eye witnesses then pressed his hand onto the large pad to sign the report. He tapped a few more times, locking the record and filing it, then turned around and looked down at the Medtech. Singh was still on the floor, holding a hand across his torso, still trying to catch his breath.

Raif pulled the two units apart and tossed them into the Medtech's lap. "There you go, Singh. All signed, sealed and delivered. And don't you ever try to railroad me again."

Raif started towards the door and Singh called out after him, "You and Dramond deserve each other!"

Raif stopped in the open doorway but didn't turn around. He shook his head and continued on into the hallway. Outside, he took just a few steps from the doorway and leaned back against the wall of the dark hallway. Azzi was on his heels.

"So what did you end up putting down, Raif?"

"The truth--or most of it."

"You know Dramond's gonna let you have it for that? He wanted you to sign it the way Singh wrote it up."

"Why doesn't he just kill me now and be done with it?"

"You can't mean that."

Raif looked up from the floor and glared at Azzi. "What do you care? You've been waiting for a promotion. With me out of your way, you'd have it tomorrow. I know there's no love between us, Azzi."

"I don't want your job, Raif. I'm just trying to keep my own."

"He told you to see to it that I signed that lie? And you were ready to sign it yourself, weren't you?"

"He just wanted it filed the way Singh had it. He didn't specify who should sign it--or not to me. Maybe he told Singh it had to be you. I dunno. It wasn't in my orders. Look, Raif..." Azzi took a deep breath and went on more gravely, "you're due upstairs. He's waiting for you."

Raif checked the time on his comm unit. Thirteen fifty-five. "He's got an appointment at fourteen hundred."

"Yeah, you. You're his appointment at fourteen hundred."


Azzi sighed this time. "If you didn't sign it or wouldn't let doesn't matter. You're on report as of right now. He gave me those orders before you even got back into the hangar. I'm supposed to take you up to see him now--and please don't make me use force. We'll both end up hurt."

"Or one of us dead, more likely. You really have no conscience at all, do you, Azzi?"

Azzi tipped his head back defiantly. "I have a stronger interest in living. It's nothing personal, Raif. I'm just following orders."

Raif stood up from the wall. "No, you'd have to be a person for it to be something personal."

"I thought you said these names made us a person." Azzi wasn't quite hateful but made his resentment clear enough.

"Apparently, it doesn't work on everyone. Well, let's go, Proctor. After all, you've got your orders."


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