Title: Hearts & Moons Recall the Truth
Previous Chapter: Chapter 24 here or here
Characters: Jack Harkness/Rose Tyler/The Ninth Doctor
Edited by: my beloved dr_whuh, aka buckaroobob. Any mistakes you find, from misspellings to bad pacing or unbelievable plot lines, are mine.
Author's Note: In which the Doctor has a conversation, his rescuers prepare their plan, and Inverno runs into an unexpected problem.
Two chapters in one year, w00t ... But at least I can say that we’ve brought the Doctor fully back into the equation, if not into full action. I foresee two more chapters in the story. Stick with me, my few and faithful readers; we may get this baby done in less than a decade.
Disclaimer: as much as I wish it were otherwise, no Whoniverse characters are mine. They are the sole property of the BBC and their respective creators. I do, however, love them, and thank the BBC for letting me play in its sandbox.
He went from the warmth of hands cupping his face, of arms cradling him and protecting him to the dull knife of bone-deep cold, and it was like being born into death.
“Hhhuuhh….” It burned his throat. When he tried to open his eyes, he found that they were gummed and iced shut. He raised both hands to his face, swallowing panic as his knuckles scraped the back of an unseen barrier, and scrubbed at his eyes until he could open them. The panic climbed back up his throat as he realized that he was enveloped in a dark, close, and coffin-like place that he couldn’t identify and grew as he saw the rivers of artron energy glimmering under the skin on the back of his hands.
Be still, child, and calm thyself.
Was that the memory of someone who had been kind to him in his ancient childhood? He recalled the double heartbeat of someone older than himself, arms around him as he struggled, the steady warmth of repeated assurances that no one would leave him, that he was safe from what he’d seen in the Schism, that no one would make him look at it again —
Do not struggle, wilt make it worse.
Who was it? The Doctor comprehended that he was still scrubbing at his eyes, and pulled his fingers away from his face. Who was it speaking to him?
It matters not, it only matters that thou must not panic or wilt burn when thou needst not.
Right. The artron energy … he focused on the problem, willing himself not to dwell on the dark or the confinement. He moved his hands back up where he could see them, and forced himself to watch the patterns of energy. They were sluggish (Just like your brain you Gallifreyan git) —
— The cold.
Of course. The cold had shut his eyes. Now it was holding off an artron burst, and probably keeping him from going into a regeneration cycle. Wait; why on Earth, or anywhere else, was he throwing off enough artron energy — .
It hit him then, the vision of the Memory Market, the square sunlit and windblown, with Rose and Jack sitting, empty-eyed, a length of silk between them.
He gasped at the pain, at the fearful, longing tenderness that burned through every rationalization and barrier he’d raised against it. It burned in his mind and in his hearts; brighter, hotter, and more dangerous than the lamia. It threatened to consume him. Perhaps, he thought in his agony, he should let it.
That came out far more clearly than he expected. His head came up involuntarily and he banged it on the roof of wherever he was. He swore violently at the pain, but it helped keep his mind from the heat and agony of that memory. Each passing moment spent inside this — what, casket? — was time spent away from them —
He became very still in the darkness. He could not flee the enclosed space he was in, at least not yet, and he could not escape the memory. Nor, he reluctantly decided, should he; real or hallucinatory, it was, nevertheless, true. How could he deny it?
But he could not afford to love them, he thought to himself as much as he did to the unknown entity inside his head.
You know that they love thee. Wilt turn them away? They know the danger; do not insult them.
I respect them! he protested.
There was no answer, just a palpable sense of slightly irritated disbelief that he ruefully accepted in his still-not-completely-alert state. He was too arrogant; no matter how much he celebrated humanity, he was too prone to remembering his own heritage and dismissing theirs ….
The dark pressed in on him, interrupting thoughts that grew increasingly uncomfortable even as they grew more clear.
Enough! He needed to get out of wherever this was.
What wilt thou then?
He had no answer to the question he knew was really being asked, so he cast about for something to put the questioner off his trail.
Who art thou? He knew he was broadcasting in Gallifreyan, using the words of childhood. He didn’t think that was the wrong way to address whoever it was who was addressing him. Do I know thee?
Hast long known me.
Do I trust thee?
His head echoed with unheard laughter. Listen to thyself.
He felt his brow crease. Things were insanely surreal, here in the dark —
Of course he trusted this one, he realized, in the same moment that he knew Her.
Again the sense of laughter, although it was now gentle, like a nurse at an invalid’s bedside.
I forgive thee for not recognizing me.
You called me a child! He was torn between ire and absurd pleasure.
Thou responded as one. Shall I then call thee Thief? For didst take me and flee.
He knew She was teasing him, walking him further and further away from panic, and toward full wakefulness in order to escape his confines. But he found himself reluctant to move. He suspected that once he was up and out, She would stop speaking to him so clearly, and it was such a balm to “speak” Gallifreyan again. He loved Her, he communicated with her constantly in a way that he would be hard pressed to explain to anyone; not quite telepathy, but a form of mental empathy unlike anything else he was familiar with. And it was good, very good (all that saved you after ... after) but it was not this. He longed for it to continue —
I have not spoken like this with thee before, he told Her. Thou art ...very clear.
Wert ill, close to changing.
It was the second time She had said it. Burning, close to changing … Was it the regeneration, then, that she was fighting? He was confused. She had never minded his changes before, or at least She had never made him aware that She minded. But perhaps now … was that why She was so clearly communicating with him?
Reaching thee was ... important came the indirect agreement.
As he listened to Her voice, he heard the palest echo of the sorrow and rage he remembered from that (No, forget, don’t think about) Moment in the War. Thou art afraid for me? I could survive, thou knowest that.
The rage surged, powered by fear. No. Shalt not. Shalt not, shalt not, no, not now, not now, too soon, no, no, nonono—
He flinched from Her panic, and agreed. I shall not burn. I will stay, for Thee. To show Her his good faith, he started the breathing exercises that would bring his hearts under control and lessen the chance of regeneration.
And them. She was calmer now, but She would not let it go. Shalt stay, shalt live, for them. It was not quite an order. It was … a plea? They come to rescue thee. They will tell thee they love thee. Wilt answer?
He was silent.
He was about to demur again, when he finally felt it, like a distant wave rolling towards him from Her. Within the tide of rage and sorrow, and rapidly subsuming it, was something else. It was … he hesitated over the word, because the right meaning was lacking in Gallifreyan, and could only be approximated in non-Gallifreyan. And that approximation; should he even try using it?
Why not, Thief? It was unambiguous. I am who I am, and I transcend Gallifrey and all its meanings. Thou hast the right word.
His mind was abruptly awash in images, of everyone who had ever traveled with him. She admitted them all into Herself; some with wry forbearance, others with bright affection, others still with tenderness. No creature of whom She disapproved ever stayed long. And for these two — his hearts constricted — the two who came to him after the War ….
Love, then. She felt it. Not, perhaps, as he did, or as any being stuck in only three dimensions would, but She felt it. For the London shopgirl, for the slippery hero.
Dost learn slowly. It is worth the wait. Said with great satisfaction. Dost understand, now?
He swallowed the salt tears down, and wondered again why one could cry with joy and have it be as painful as tears of sorrow. It didn’t matter. He knew the difference. I lie in darkness, in cold, trying not to regenerate. Wilt thou not forgive my laggardly ignorance?
Again, the silent laughter, but warmer than ever.
Always. Now … break thy bonds.
That, child, is up to thee.
He felt Her withdraw, and couldn’t help but call out, like the child She called him, I love thee, wilt thou not stay? There was no answer.
Of course there wasn’t, he told himself. She had said what She needed to, at least by Her lights. He was lucky to have had what he had of Her, here in the dark and cold. Still, he could not stop himself from broadcasting one last message, imbuing it with all the many levels of meaning that the Gallifreyan phrase could encompass: Again thou hast saved me.
He heard nothing that could be interpreted as words, but he felt another great surge of warmth. He accepted it gratefully.
Now it was time to move, as She said. And that meant it was time to start thinking — really thinking, with his big Time Lord brain. It was reasonably thawed by now ….
The Doctor considered a moment; he was obviously in a morgue drawer. He wasn’t naked, although he wiggled his toes and realized someone had taken his boots — he suppressed his irritation — which argued against the idea that whoever put him in here was either an ordinary morgue attendant, who would have stripped him completely, or someone who thought he was dead.
Inverno. The name and the face came back, and the memory of the silk infusion dripping into his vein. He’d been restrained for that part, he recalled. He resisted thinking about it, especially the recollection of an inordinately gorgeous blue silk sheet falling on him from what seemed like a great height. His shiver had nothing to do with the drawer’s chill. He had hoped that his biology, which he had felt adjusting to silk’s chemical callsigns after his first run-ins with it, would protect him, but it didn’t seem to have been very successful, judging by his current whereabouts.
Still, he wasn’t dead, he told himself firmly, and a human might well have died under what he’d been subjected to. He hadn’t regenerated, and he seemed as sane as he was ever likely to be, which left him well equipped to get back on his feet.
So … alright; in a morgue drawer and — the hand he started to move toward his jacket stopped when he realized the bastards had taken his jacket, and with it his screwdriver — without a technological way to get out. What was next? He didn’t have enough room in the drawer to bring his legs up for a good kick at the door, and he doubted he’d be able to force his way out that way anyhow. Bare feet were no match for a locked door.
He calmed himself further, trying to tune out the sound of his own breathing, of his hearts and the blood circulating through them; he needed to hear beyond the drawer door. He took a deep breath, thankful that the air was fresh…
Wait a minute ... fresh? He reconsidered his options. A completely airtight drawer would have been stuffy, even if he’d only been put inside a short while ago, and he felt as if he’d been locked in there for some time. He snorted slightly. Someone hadn’t bothered to check the latch once they shoved his sorry carcass inside.
“Must’ve been a scary package to deliver,” he muttered, grimly amused, getting a better understanding of his situation. Well, it was time to get the package out of storage. Tilting his head up as far as he could, he peered in the direction of his own feet. He was patient now, waiting for his eyes to see more clearly. There it was; the faintest graying of the black, in a thin rectangle. That was what he needed to know. Even with his bare feet, even without much purchase in an enclosed space, he could force the door. One good shove with his heels at just the right spot ….
It worked. And it prompted an almost immediate reaction from the man who had yelped in what he’d probably deny later was terror at the sound of the Doctor’s door slamming open.
“Que diabos? Sera Lumina… Hey, Caetano, there’s a live one in here!” The attendant was young, and he was absolutely horrified.
“The live one would like a little hand gettin’ out,” the Doctor said, his voice little more than scratch and gravel. Speaking aloud was harder than he’d expected it to be. Apparently his vocal cords hadn’t thawed out quite as quickly as his brain. “A hand here?”
“Oh. Oh … oh, yeah, here, let me pull the drawer out. Sangre … Why in heaven’s name did you crawl in there?” The attendant didn’t wait for Caetano, whoever that was. He pulled out the drawer, and stared at the Doctor in complete shock. This one obviously wasn’t one of Inverno’s goons, or he’d have shoved him back in the box once he realized who the drawer-dweller was. The Doctor took advantage of that ignorance.
“Oh, you know, typical stupid dare from the guys in—” He decided against saying Central Command and went for something more innocuous. “ — in accounting. They wagered I couldn’t get into the morgue unseen, and I told ‘em I could do it in my sleep. When I saw this open, I just decided I’d lie down a minute just to prove the point, and well —” He grabbed the attendant’s outstretched arm, and used it to help him sit up. “ — I didn’t realize the door would lock while I was inside. Joke’s on me, eh?” He wore his friendliest, most guileless smile.
“You’re a fool, you know. If I hadn’t chanced along, you could have suffocated in there,” the attendant said, ignoring the fact that the Doctor had actually gotten himself out. “Here … can you stand up? You’re cold as ice! Do you need a blanket?” Then he turned back to what was apparently an office area beyond the main room. “Caetano! Are you there?”
The more people involved, the higher the likelihood one of Inverno’s people would be one of them. The Doctor swung his legs over the side of the drawer and hopped down, intending to start a chatty retreat to the main morgue doors, which he could see behind the attendant. It didn’t end well; he staggered, dizzy, and the attendant, whose badge identified him as Valentim, reached out and steadied him.
“I knew it; you need professional help. Caetano … damnit, Caetano, where are you — oh, never mind, I’ll call them. You just sit back down and I’ll go get a medic.”
“No, no, don’t do that,” the Doctor said, trying not to sound panicked, “I really don’t wanna get in trouble with my boss, an’ I don’t want the rest of the fellas to get in trouble, either. You know how it is,” he said, reaching up and pulling Valentim into a half-hug that he hoped the latter would interpret as a ‘between us lads’ gesture. “I just misjudged how high off the floor I was. And wouldn’t you know it, my lunch hour’s almost up. If I don’t get back there, there’ll be hell to pay.”
As he talked, he slipped off the drawer again, this time much more smoothly, and he walked toward the main morgue doors, still with his arm chummily around Valentim’s shoulder and looking him in the face so that the attendant wouldn’t realize he had no shoes or socks on.
“Well, if you’re sure,” Valentim said doubtfully.
“Absolutely,” the Doctor said heartily. “ I can’t tell you how glad I am that you were there, and I can see that you’re a credit to the department.” They were finally at the door. The Doctor grabbed the door handle, threw it open, and detached himself from Valentim, turning with complete confidence to his left, and walking off down a corridor whose terminus he had absolutely no knowledge of.
“Hey! Why aren’t you wearing shoes?”echoed behind him.
“Left ‘em on my desk,” he responded, waving his hand airily, but not turning to face the questioner, because he abruptly had to concentrate on keeping his vision clear. He saw another hall opening up on the one he was in, and took another left. Once he was safely out of Valentim’s sight, he sagged against the wall, slid to the floor, and tried to figure out where he was — and how to escape.
*************************“Fort’leza Central Detention can’t be our goal. That’s not where he is.” Fahrar barely looked at the floor plans Jao had brought out and laid on the coffee table. “Inverno took him. He’s up at General Command.
“Worse, he’s probably in ‘Medical,’ which is the first level of Inverno’s research department —”
“ — under which lie all the levels further and further into the mountain, where all the worms are, yes, you’ve said it several times now.” Nico was restraining his impatience with difficulty. “We have very little time. Your clearances are about to evaporate, so we don’t have the luxury of arguing with each other. The question is, where do you think your evanescent clearance will help us the most? Who is most apt to pay attention to you, and not to alerts about you? Won’t the jail be the easiest to penetrate?”
“It may be porous, but it’s still too far from where you need to go. And warnings about me could surface anywhere —”
“I know. I know how we can get into Central Detention.” Fahrar and Machado stopped glaring at each other, and turned to stare at Rose. The rest of the group had been watching the argument, and very carefully staying out of it until she spoke up.
“What?” Fahrar was snappish, and Rose thought it might be a very hard thing to be one of her staff.
"The best way to get into any guarded place is to find the one door that no one wants to use, isn’t that what the Doctor always told us, Jack?” She looked over to where he stood across from where she sat on the sofa, her arm around a still sallow and shaky Filomena.
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “He did, and it is. What do you have in mind?”
“The place we escaped from,” she said. “It’s where they ship the silk victims out. I mean, I think it’s a delivery point, too, but it’s where they loaded us onto the lorry with … with the, the other victims. The silk victims that were the —” she stumbled, remembering the frightened, apparently mindless shells that had been with Luisa and her in the rolling darkness. “—the rejects from Inverno’s work. I think they were going to be used as … as slaves elsewhere.”
Fahrar crossed her arms and eyed Rose speculatively. “You did get out in that juggernaut, then?”
Rose tried not to glower at the woman when she said, “ I did. I got out of the first holding cell they put me in, and found the Doctor. He gave me his sonic —”
“Sorry, he gave me his sonic screwdriver. It’s a tool, it doesn’t matter, but it helped me find a hidden stairwell that took me down to some sub-basement.”
She gently disengaged from Filomena and stood up, wanting to stretch her legs despite the plethora of bodies in the small room. Salvha quietly took her place.
“Ah.” Fahrar's look of understanding was mixed with revulsion. “Down there. It used to be a supply dock. Since Inverno, it’s been a conduit for his sales, and for whoever he wants to have disappeared.” She said it simply, as if she was talking about some prosaic matter of everyday business, but the look on her face made Rose feel just a little less mulish about working with the woman.
“Is that why the door was secret?”
“The hidden door? No. That’s been there for generations, probably since the time of the Mad Governor."
“You mean Alfonso,” Nico said. The two nodded at each other. Rose saw the other Lizhbauans nodding too. Shared history, she thought, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. All very interesting, but not something to take up time with.
She coughed to get everyone’s attention again. “If we went in through that gate, especially if we go during the shift of the man who was handling everything when we were loaded … he seemed pretty lax, so it could work.”
“You mean Celestino,” Fahrar said, her expression showing even more distaste.
“Faugh … he’s still there? Why wasn’t he cashiered years ago?” Jao looked equally disgusted.
“Don’t know, didn’t have time to ask. He’s been the least of my worries, at least until he fucked up with our most recent prisoners.” Fahrar nodded abstractedly to Rose “ I moved him from jail duty to the lower levels immediately after his people managed to lose you, Sera Tyler. Being in charge of the supernumerary transports seemed to me to be the place he could do the least damage. And you’re right. Going in there could work. He’s a drunkard and a bully, and he knows he’s one step away from being cashiered because of that. And he doesn’t pay much attention to alerts. It’s still a risk, though.”
“I could help, Tenante.” Filomena looked at her one-time superior with the kind of hero-worship she’d shown when originally telling Rose her story.
“You’re already helping by getting these people into Inverno’s labs. Focus on that, Mireilles.” Fahrar responded, brisk, but somehow gentle, adding with breathtaking understatement, “You have a limited amount of energy.”
"I still think she should stay here with one of our people,” Jao interjected. “We have the codes now, thanks to her, and she’d be a lot safer.”
“No! No, I can do this,” Filomena said as forcefully as she could. “ I promise I won’t slow anyone down.”
Privately, Rose understood Jao’s logic. Filomena would slow them down, no matter what she promised. It wasn’t her fault that she was still deathly ill despite having lost the interloper in her brain, but she was; weak and wobbly, still afflicted with fever and a vicious cough. Then again, that was why Rose knew everyone would respect her wishes. Filomena Mireilles was dying, and she wanted to die fighting.
“I’ll make sure she gets there, Jao,” Salvha said. “And she won’t hinder us.” He'd put his arm around her, and she leaned into him, probably without realizing it, Rose thought. Rose didn’t want to think about why the two were sticking so close to each other, even with Luisa gone, because she didn’t want to start crying again.
“Just so we’re clear,” Jack said, rerouting the conversation; “Once we’re inside the jail building, how long do you expect it to take us to go your underground route from that complex to General Command?”
“Roughly 15 minutes from the sub-basement Sera Tyler is talking about,” Fahrar said. “It actually cuts time from the journey.”
“Great, good, fantastic,” Jack said. He had an index figure to his lips, which Rose knew was his operational tell. “Nico; you, Jao and Hilda, and Filomena of course, will be with us for most of the way, since all the action — the worms, and the Doctor — appear to be in roughly the same part of General Command, well past the first set of coded doors.” He looked over from where he was leaning on the wall next to the flat’s front door, and smiled at Filomena. “Thanks for the floor plans.” Then he looked back at Nico and Jao, who were kneeling beside the coffee table, where they’d been poring over the hand drawn maps Filomena and Fahrar had pieced together. “If we have to split up once we get past those first doors, let’s keep the split as short as possible.”
“That’s why we have radios,” Jao grunted.
Hilda had just finished working some figures on a notepad. “Our part of the mission depends entirely on your part, Captain. If, as you say, your Doctor Smith can help us accelerate the worm displacement — ours for theirs — so that we don’t have to come back for a second foray, then all we’ll need are 20 minutes to account for the remaining healthy breeding stock and bring those trays with us.
“But it does depend on your Doctor,” she said, standing up and walking over to Jack. She was the picture of a stern parent as she said “ I am willing to expect miracles; after seeing your ship, it’s fairly easy. But you are aware of your responsibility?”
“Intimately.” Jack nodded once to her, then to Nico and Jao, his expression grim again. “Once we find him, I believe he can bring the TARDIS to where he is.”
Rose watched the Lizhbauans glance at each other doubtfully. They were holding their tongues, she knew, but she understood what they weren’t saying. How could Jack be so sure? Or rather, since Rose was equally certain, how could the two of them be so sure? It was only the impossibility of the TARDIS interior that convinced Nico and Hilda to follow the two crazy aliens’ lead.
Rose wished she could explain why she and Jack knew that the TARDIS would come to the Doctor’s rescue this time, when it ... She … had not done so before. But there was no question in their minds. They’d taken a few minutes apart from everyone else in the flat, talking in low voices with each other, and confirming to their own satisfaction that it was indeed the Doctor’s ship calling to them.
“She wants us to get to him,” Rose had hazarded, and Jack had agreed, saying, “ I think that right now we’re Her bridge to him. And She wants to get to him, probably even more than we do, if that’s possible. Once we’re all together —”
He hadn’t finished the sentence, nor had he needed to.
So here we are, getting ready to storm the castle Rose thought. Doing it on a wing and a prayer doesn’t even begin to cover it.
“We have about an hour until the evening meal,” Fahrar said, as she and Jao synchronized their watches with Salvha and the others, even Filomena. "Normally, I'd like to wait until then to get in, but there's no help for it; we need to move now. My auto is two blocks hence, along with my uniform. I’ll take Sera Tyler and Mireilles, Nico and Hilda. Neves, I leave it to you to get Adao, Harkness, and whoever else —”
“No one else.” Nico didn’t look at her as he said it. “Give us 10 minutes to suit up.” He turned to head down the back hall.
“You’re intent on weapons, then,” Fahrar said, looking after him. “That means we have to work faster; even the lower level of FCD will have weapons detectors.” Nico didn’t answer.
“If I still had my uniform,” Jao said. “For the short time we need to get into the building and then into the lower levels to GC, you could’ve handed them off to me. I’d have been guarding prisoners.”
“You might not need your uniform,” Fahrar replied, looking thoughtful. “If we get Celestino—” She looked at her watch. “And we can thank the Lady that his useless ass is coming on duty now — four to midnight, Common Empire Time.”
“He still drink on duty?” Jao was checking the guns that Nico had brought back with almost unsettling speed. Rose watched, fascinated, despite her unease around weapons.
“That’ll suit. That’ll do just fine.” Rose shivered at how he said it. “There we go.” Jao checked the safety on the last piece, then looked at Jack. “How’s your aim?”
Jack bared his teeth in what might, at a distance, look like a smile. “Well, nearly all my equipment was left in the bar, in my coat, but I didn’t let go of everything.” He pulled up his trouser leg and showed an ankle holster that Rose hadn’t known he was wearing. “This is small, but it works very well, especially at close quarters.”
“Projectile or energy?” Jao asked.
“We’re dirtside — I prefer projectiles,” Jack responded.
“No. I don’t.” Rose hadn’t meant that to come out so flat. “ I mean, I can, if you insist. Jack’s taught me a bit.”
“We don’t need you to suit up, darlin’” Jack interposed, his grin real when he looked at her, completely false as he turned it to the military woman. “Between Jao, Nico, Salvha —”
“And me,” Hilda interrupted, sticking her weapon into her waistband, under her tunic. “
—and Hilda, yes, between us, I think we’ve got it handled. Rose, you know your part. You need to … call … for the Doctor, while we search for him.”
Rose understood what he meant. “Got it.”
Another shared look among the Lizhbauans, and then Nico smiled that crooked smile of his. “Well, as interesting as that is, I’m going to assume that the Captain and Rose know what they’re talking about. I trust the both of them, as insane as that might make me.”
As he stepped over to the front door, he stopped and looked back at them; at Fahrar and Salvha, working in unlikely tandem to support Filomena, at Jao and Hilda, who stood shoulder to shoulder and looked to him for orders; finally, at Jack and Rose, the two outworlders who had fallen into his path. “Here we all are. I’d thought this day was at least a few months off, and I’d foreseen a vastly different approach, but … life laughs at us, and we’d better go with the joke. Let’s go.”
As they filed out of the tiny room, Rose caught a last look at Pau Sampaio, who’d been ordered to stay put. He looked shrunken and helpless as he sat on the lumpy sofa, his hands sitting quiet in his lap.
“Goodbye, Pau,” she said, still aching at Luisa’s loss and unable to imagine how the man felt. He deserved at least the dignity of a goodbye.
He stared at her. “Goodbye,” he managed.
***************************************“Eminência.” Inverno kept his inflection level, his voice respectful, while he rose from his desk. Sangre deix’tolo, sangre sancto’tolo … “This is a surprise.”
“I’m sure it is.” Dehde Bohlver’s face was sheened with sweat. His eyes were nothing but dark pupil and tell-tale bluish whites. Inverno cursed nonstop behind his placid expression. Viciado, tolo ….
“You’ve got a xeno I want to see,” Bohlver said, sounding perfectly rational. Inverno had helped maintain that lie recently.
“Certainly.” Inverno was out in front of his desk now, gesturing the Governor to the best seat in the room, and glaring at his own people over the heads of Bohlver’s three men. How had they made it all the way up to his offices without someone warning him?
“The xeno is in containment, but I’ll be glad to show —”
“ — And then we talk about how you’ve been lying to me about this Machado. He’s not dead, he’s not well in hand,” said the Governor of Lizhbau, the rationality melting away, as his voice rose. “He’s Nicola, and he’s out there. He’s coming to get us. To get me. You knew it. Deny it.” The black and blue of his eyes admitted of no logic now, no sanity.
Inverno could think of nothing to say.
Language note, for those interested: Sangre deix’tolo, sangre sancto’tolo maps out very roughly to blood-spilling fool, specifically the spilling of holy blood. It’s another curse based largely on the Lizhbauan religion. Viciado means addict.