Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 1.23

Posted by harmony0stars on April 13, 2011

“OK,” Glory said with a little smile. “I believe you. Don’t sulk.” He flushed even deeper, but she interrupted him before he could squawk. “I just have one question then. It‘s a personal question…”

“OK?” he said, tugging on his sleeves. He sounded equal parts confused and uncomfortable.

“You’re a man of strong morals. I’m sure of that. And you don’t seem to have any doubts about Colonel Bitman and the work he does. Has he ever ordered you to do anything that made you wonder?”

“Wonder?”

“About his morals,” she said, looking him in the eye.

“This is about that girl and the safe house… I already told you we haven’t had to blow anyplace up for over a year,” he said unhappily.

“That’s just what I know,” she replied. “And that’s bad, but understandable given the circumstances. I saw the shadows and what they did to your men. You‘re afraid of this thing spreading. I don’t know what happened to Professor Scott that would make him put his own nephew and others in danger, but Bitman’s admission that this thing took his family makes him just as likely to sacrifice people to get revenge… In all honesty, the fact that you were embarrassed instead of belligerent when I caught you trying to control my mind…”

“I wasn’t…!”

She held up a hand to forestall him. “I know, I got that part. What I’m trying to say is, if there’s something morally objectionable to how Bitman runs his Company, you need to tell me now. Otherwise, he’ll end up ordering me to do something I don’t agree with or doing something to someone I see as helpless, and the situation, whatever it is, will fall apart. I can’t work with someone I don’t respect or trust. So having worked for him, with him, for ten years, do you ever find his actions and orders morally objectionable?”

“I trust him,” he said quickly, looking a little green as if he expected she’d hit him if he gave the wrong answer. “I know he seems harsh…”

The doorbell rang before he could complete his thought.

“This place is a bus station lately!” she grumbled, pushing away from the table.

“I should be going before your nanny gets back anyway,” he said, anxiously sweeping his things back into the briefcase. “I don’t think she likes me.”

“She’s just very protective of Edgar,” Glory said with a smile as they walked to the door.

Steiner nodded. “That’s understandable, considering.” He fished in his pocket, offering her a phone. “Here. If you need to contact us, just use this. I think Colonel Bitman is going to want to see that stone next time…”

“So long as it stays here where it’s safe, I don’t care.” She tucked the phone in a pocket and opened the door. “Oh, ah… hi…”

Ehecatl and Steiner gave each other measuring looks, but she couldn’t tell if the agent knew what Ehecatl was or not. “’Scuse me,” Steiner said, brushing past the serpent man. He raised a hand to Glory as he walked away. “We’ll be in contact.”

“Yeah, okay…” Glory said absently waving as she stepped aside for Ehecatl. He walked inside without a word, casting a grim look behind him at Steiner. If Steiner was suspicious, he hid it better than Ehecatl.

“That man is trouble,” he announced as she closed the door.

“You know him?” she asked, worried that she’d been careless in giving him even a tiny bit of trust.

“I know his type.” Glory watched his lip curl mirroring the contempt in his voice and wondered how the illusion of humanity could be so complete. Was it an illusion or did he actually change shape? “They’ve hounded my people nearly to extinction.”

“What can I do for you, Ehecatl? I didn’t expect to see you again.”

“I’m not welcome?” he asked, and she couldn’t tell if he was purposefully taking her comment as an insult just to be querulous.

“That’s not how I meant it, and you know it,” she said, letting a little annoyance creep into her voice. He stood in her foyer, his eyes flicking around as if expecting an enemy. “Why don’t you make yourself comfortable. Did you want something to eat or drink?”

“No…” he said, adding “thank you,” as if the words hurt his mouth. He looked from the living room with its plush chairs to the kitchen and headed for the table she and Steiner had only just vacated. He even took Steiner’s chair, settling into the ribbons of light like a warm coat. His eyes settled on the invisibility cloak with loathing. “Have some respect for the dead and let that abomination wither.”

“It… is a skin then?” Glory asked, resting a hand on the cloak.

Ehecatl moved his head as if he wasn’t sure whether to nod or shake his head. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not why I’m here.”

“Is Chusi alright?” she asked, suddenly worried Scott had somehow gotten his hands on the little serpent girl again.

He twitched slightly at his daughter’s name. “Yesss, she is safe, and I owe you a debt for that.” He reached into his coat and took out a package wrapped in what looked like snake skin. “My father and yours are not friends, but neither are they enemies.”

It was Glory’s turn to twitch, and Ehecatl was not so polite as she was. He grinned at her discomfort. “I know what you are. I didn’t, but it’s been made clear to me. If I did not owe you the debt that I do, this stone would have gone to your sister when she came looking for it.” He set the bundle on the table with a muffled thunk. “ You’ll need to collect the others before the stars are right. All but two of them are already in your sister‘s hands, and I think you have one already?” He paused, but when she made no move to confirm it, he went on. “You’ll need to go to Islay for the last. Then it will be in your hands how you obtain the rest.”

to Book 7, part 1, page 24

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 7 part 1.23”

  1. here2read said

    finally… Lori… great!!!

    • LOL I know! Yeesh, I can’t think of a villain who’s ever been stressed over more and seen less.

      But there’s a reason for that, which should be clear by the end of the series.

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