Chapter 44 snippet (new writing)
Watching the people around him, he felt like chuckling. This time he had assumed the identity of high-flying gambler. It couldn’t be further from his true personality. While he had to pretend he had a devil-may-care attitude, his real personality was cold, calculating and professional to the hilt.
Passing by the clustered Black Ice dealers, it took all of his self-control to keep from sneering. It there was anything he detested more then drug dealers, he hadn’t found it yet. People like them, he mused, caused legitimate criminals to have a bad name.
He checked his chronograph for the twentieth time. Their ship should be arriving soon, he told himself, and hopefully that damned foolish Games Master hadn’t killed Almir. For it he had, the punishment that the Syndicate was going to reek upon the unfortunate Master made even him shudder.
I still don’t have any idea why they’re so interested in Almir, he thought. But they’re willing to kill to keep her alive. There has to be something special about her for them to take that kind of risk.
Everything on Necko was crowded, he realized, and noisy. If people weren’t gambling, they were partying; and all of it was done in drunken orgiastic behaviors. It didn’t surprise him that drug dealers would be on the planet; their presence made for freer gambling by their guests and conversely more money went into their pockets.
Doesn’t mean that I don’t find it distasteful, he thought. Give me the hunt; at least the person you’re hunting has a fair chance of surviving. Here, the odds are stacked against them and everyone is betting on how long it will take for them to die. How barbaric!
He heard a commotion and he looked up. The sight of the black and gold uniformed guard’s broke him out of his thoughts. They must be here, he mused, or almost here. There is no way that the Masters would make this kind of scene otherwise. They want everyone to know that great Kate Almir was back!
But she won’t be here for long, he thought, chuckling. If my plan works like it should, she will be out of here in two days…after that she’s on her own.
Moving along inconspicuously, he followed the guards. Once he reached a good place, he stopped. The key to tailing someone, he reflected, was to not do it too long. The longer you followed them, the greater the chance of being spotted. Thus, he always found a nice place to observe from and sat still.
Waiting for Almir to arrive wasn’t going to bother him; after all, it was what he was best it.
The light from the sun made her squint her eyes. Looking over at Brooks and Paul, she noted they had done the same thing. If there was one different between Necko and Haven, she mused, the skies on Necko were always clean!
Surrounded by Ferini’s guards, she felt the disgust rise in her stomach. If things weren’t bad enough already, she mused, they were going to get worse. Now, he was going to expect her to fight in the arena, and the risk of dying in her present condition was high.
As if he didn’t get enough fun raping me again, she thought, gritting her teeth.
“Move it,” the lead guard said.
She stepped down the ramp and out into the sunlight. Licking her lips, she looked at the door before her. My God, she reflected, they had known that the Games Complex was luxurious, but nothing like this!
She stared at the doors before her while walking toward them. They had to be twenty-four karat gold, she mused, with the handles being made out of rubies and diamonds. All of this opulence paid for by the blood of people like herself. It made her sick.
The guards approached the doors and stopped. Brushing past her brusquely, Ferini walked up and opened them. Waiting for them inside were another contingent of guards.
He certainly isn’t taking any chances, she snorted, beginning to walk again.
“Come on, Katie,” he said. “You don’t want to keep your public waiting.”
She looked at his with raised eyebrows. Her public? What he hell was he getting at? Then a sinking feeling settled into her stomach. If it were anyone else, she would say he wouldn’t dare. However, she knew he would, and all she could do was to sigh in resignation.
“What’s he meaning ‘your public,’ Kate?” Brooks whispered.
“He’s going to put me in the arena as soon as we get there,” she shrugged. “I should have seen it coming.”
“He has this much of a grudge from your escaping?” Brooks’ eyes were wide.
“Not exactly,” she said, as they entered the main concourse. “He’s mad at me that I can’t have children anymore. It means he couldn’t use me as his brood mare for warriors.”
With that Brooks fell silent. Kate took the time to look around. Everything she saw just made her sicker on the stomach. The hotels were beyond words with their opulence. Lining the entrances to them, Black Ice dealers plied their trade. Drunken and stoned patrons stumbled away towards the arena seating.
“Black Ice,” she said, shaking her head. “I’d never thought you would sink to that kind of a low, Ferini.”
“Happy people bet more,” he shrugged. “That means more money in our pockets.”
“All drenched in the blood of the people who die in the arenas,” she said, mocking him. “Nothing better then blood money.”
“You should know,” he shot back. “You’ve made more for me then anyone else has before.”
“That’s so comforting,”
“And you’re going into the arena today too,”
Brooks and her traded glances at that. She shrugged at the engineer as if to say ‘I told you so.’ There was really nothing that was out of the realm of possibility with Ferini.
As they passed the hotels she noticed a man. Looking out of the corner of her eye, she pursed her lips. She had seen him somewhere before, she mused, and she was pretty sure it was Haven. Who was he and why was he here?
While she was looking at the man, she should have been looking the other way. A maid looked at her, an expression of pure hate on her face. Watching the guards move on, she kept her eyes on Kate the entire time.
“Come now,” she said. “You want me in the arena as soon as I walk into the building?”
“Why not?” he said, holding her scabbard in the air. “You have a sword; it’s not like your friend. I will have to have one made for her.”
“Don’t you think the fans would like to see me fresh?” she asked. “Not half exhausted?”
“Your condition doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “Because you’re going to make money for me alive, and even more dead.”
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