This is the final section of the sixth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
Malka sat satisfied looking at the remains of the food in front of her. Basic but filling. Anything that was a change from the fish that dominated the occer post cooking was welcome. “Thank you for that”
“You’re welcome” replied Jacey.
“So I guess you’ve waited well enough for your answer. All I can say is that what I told you earlier was the truth. Now, hopefully you understand more of the background.”
“What that someone else mined the road and you watch out - as a concerned citizen - for unwary travellers coming upon it. and warn them.”
“Only I was going too fast because I was not on automatics and missed the road signs.”
“Which is a great story except for the fact that it’s convenient and misses one thing.”
“Why didn’t you disarm the bomb or just trigger it from a safe distance.”
“Because then they’d just install a new one. If we watch then we can guard for them”
“What’s to stop them from installing a new one elsewhere”
“Nothing, but we have been hoping that as long as it remained unexploded they would be tempted to come back and check on it. If we could hide well enough we might catch them at it.”
“You really expect me to believe that?”
“And if you don’t?”
“Then the next time the discussion comes up about what we should do about the bandit situation I might change my vote.”
“A wise man once said that when we hear lies we are inclined to believe them because we find the worst easy to believe; when we hear the truth we look for reasons not to believe it. Believe what you will, bring in your friends and kill who you will, I will not stop you but I will be disappointed in you.”
“What no offer to spend a day with you and your friends to see the truth of your words through your actions”
“No because a doubter would say it’s all been set up, or that we’re behaving differently. All you can judge is the actions and words of the person as you hear them and judge the soul of that man. What kind of a man am I?”
“One who thinks he knows how to use words to his advantage, but I don’t think you do. I’m sorry friend but either you mean what you say or you’re a second rate conman. Without spending years here I will never be sure and by that point I’d be accused of suffering from Stockhome syndrome anyway.”
“Then choose your friends.”
“And I like you and want to talk more, but I don’t trust myself.”
“Because I only see one side at the moment. I need to explore, and I need to rest and as you told me earlier think, so if you’ll excuse me I have some thinking to do.” with this she stood up from the table.
“Before you go, you know where the guest room is I trust. If not Nesotre will show you the way.”
“That would be useful thank you.” she waited while Nestore stood up and walked on ahead, so said her goodbyes and followed him.
“So,” asked Nestore when they were in the corridor. “Why are you setting yourself up against Father?”
“I think when people are annoyed and think they they have lost their argument or at least haven’t persuaded the other person they are more likely to show their true colours.”
“And you’re telling me this because?”
“Because I already know what I need to know from your Father.
“And that is?”
“To re-use my earlier answer, none of your business.”
“So is it still a conflict of interest now you know what you know?”
“No it isn’t. But my answer is still no.”
“Because you’re young, because you’re doing this for reasons of boredom and opportunity, and because you’ve yet to find yourself.”
“My father said that about you.”
“And he was right, but I at least do have a goal.”
He indicated that they had arrived at the guest room, but as he opened the door for her he used his arm to block her way “Which is?” he asked
“To leave the world a better place than I found it, or at least a better place that it would have been had I not been there. Which I think you may share too, but not realise it. Tell me are you a religious man?”
“What do you believe?”
“Does it matter to you which I subscribe to, I guess you think them all the same”
“Then you know what you need to know” he removed his arm “and I think so do I”
“No I think you’re guessing or trying to sound mysterious in order to save face”
He huffed slightly and walked away.
Malka tried to settle in the room and got into bed. She found it hard to drift off to sleep without the dance of light from the ocean window she had grown used to and laid awake for a while. She was finally drifting off when she was disturbed by a knock at her door.
“Yes?” she asked half asleep.
“Come in” the door opened to show Serafina there “What is it”
“Why did you turn Nestore away?”
Malka turned over in bed and tried to smother herself in her pillow, realising Serafina wasn’t going away she turned back to her. “He sent you here?”
“No, I’m just trying to figure you out.”
“It seems like everyone here is doing that.”
“So you don’t like men then,” she said dropping her dressing gown slightly “What about women.”
Malka woke up with where this conversation was going. “Not you, not anyone in your family, look just please I thank you for your hospitality but no.”
“Look are you all just trying to test me and don’t say something like all life is a test.”
“I’m just trying”
“To understand me” interrupted Malka “Yes thank you now please go. Sleep in your own bed or elsewhere i don’t care. No elsewhere here there is only your family, so please sleep in your own bed, just leave me alone.”
“Your loss” replied Serafina who turned and left the room.
Malka put her head down and had just started to drift off when she was again wakened by a sharp noise. She cursed loudly before realising it was her communicator. She picked it up to see Gwen on the other end.
“Oh good you’re awake” came Gwen’s sharp voice.
“No, but I’m here, what is it? “she asked “Sir.”
“There’s been an incident. There’s a drop ship on the way, vacation is cut short it’ll be there to pick you up in about five minutes. be ready for extraction.”
Malka leaped out of bed and started to collect her belongings “Any more information”
“Not over this device, not with civilians in earshot.”
“Oh and Malka”
“Not that I mind, but most superior officers wouldn’t be keen on you being on the screen in front of them naked or they’d get the wrong impression”
Malka realised that she had forgotten to cover herself as she had left the bed, she shrieked slightly as she grabbed covers from the bed and pulled them around herself “Sorry Sir”
“Just be glad I am the understanding person I am. Now hurry up, you have less than three minutes now.”