Saturday, August 21, 2010

Primal - Book 2 (Sample Chapter)

For those of you who wanted to know about a follow-on for Katie and PRIMAL, here's a draft of the opening chapter.

Comments are welcomed and encouraged.


Katie looked out the window of the limousine at the shoppers and businessmen as they rushed through the wintry weather. The mix of snow and rain reminded her of the pack’s territory in the mountains west of Bear Lake Lodge. Adam and Pup were there, probably in the lower valley regions.
The chattering of her co-passengers intruded on her thoughts of home. The women complained bitterly about the weather and how they had to bundle up in heavy coats to survive. One even gave the wolf woman a jealous look. Katie was dressed in nothing more than leather shorts that were graciously called skimpy and a leather vest that was worn as an accommodation for the local social mores than anything else. The only concession she had made to the weather were ‘boots’. They were much like the foot coverings she wore to keep from slipping on hard flooring, but came further up her legs further to protect against the wet.
Katie mentally shook her head at the complaining women. ‘You waste effort complaining about things you can do naught about.’
Reaching out, Katie found her mate snug within their den watching over Pup. Adam growled his displeasure at her being so far away and in the middle of so many honorless humans. Mentally she caressed his head and reminded him that she would be home as quickly as she could. Adam grumbled that it would not be soon enough.
She let the connection go as the limo turned and passed through the west gate of the White House. Driving up the slight rise they were treated to a view of the beautiful and expansive lawn along with the ugly defensive measures that had been implemented around the President’s residence. It was plain that they were afraid of MORFS survivors who had grievances and the methods they might use to petition for redress.
When the vehicle stopped, a smartly dressed woman opened the door and directed them through a set of double doors, guarded by a pair of Marines in their dress blue uniforms. Adam had good memories of the Marines he had worked with in desolate places doing things that he wished he could forget. Together the group was passed through security without a problem. Katie felt the tickle of a telepathic scan as she passed through a second security station.
Since there were no alarms and no one stopped her, Katie assumed that the artificial public persona she had created was all that the security scan had detected.
Katie garnered more than passing glances by staffers as the group was led down a long hallway and into a large reception room. It was plain that the staffers were not used to her size or her primitive form of dress. Leather, either real or faux, had become socially unacceptable over the years. Meat, real meat, had come off the menu at many upscale restaurants in the Capitol Region, including the hotel where the wolf woman was staying. It had been replaced with ‘textured vegetable protein’, something that just didn’t sit well with her. Katie was glad a butcher shop was not too far up the street.
Large framed oil paintings hung on two walls in the reception hall while large, almost floor to ceiling windows made up the outside wall and a large stone fireplace made up the fourth. A chamber music group played quietly in the corner by the windows. The women who had entered with Katie immediately headed for the refreshment table set near the windows. Katie circulated around the outside of the various clusters of people. There were about thirty people at the reception and all were MORFS survivors. Most were hybrids of one form or another. A pair of water elementals showed their skills by tossing blobs of water between them like a pair of jugglers with bowling pins.
Several she recognized from her time at the ‘camp’. They spotted her and slight nods from each of them acknowledged the others’ presence. Ingrained habits, that had been enforced with immediate and severe punishment, were hard to overcome even years later. The guards in the camp had not allowed the ‘residents’ to communicate with each other during their stays. Three years later, the inhibitions remained.
She felt the psionic suppressor field ratchet up in intensity just before the chamber group struck up an abbreviated version of ‘Hail to the Chief’. Katie and the others in the room turned towards the door to watch as President Iris Pratt stride into the room with an aide. A number of people applauded as the President swept in and starting shaking hands and speaking with her guests. Katie watched the woman as she circulated around the room then moved so that she was positioned in an open area in the President’s path.
The aid whispered into the President’s ear as they approached. Katie could see through the professional mask the aide wore and saw the woman’s contempt hiding underneath.
“Miss Miller, how do you,” President Pratt said, a friendly smile on her face.
“I’m well, Madam President; it’s Milner.” Katie said. “I want to thank you for your actions in pardoning all of us who were held in those so call ‘education camps’.”
“I was my pleasure, Miss Milner. It was a short sighted program that my predecessor believed would solve the problem of MORFS victims who believed they were outside the laws of civility. I understand that you weren’t a resident when the blanket pardon was issued.”
“Resident; I see that the proper term for us never made it this high.” Katie said. “Put simply Madam President, we were prisoners. As you said, it wasn’t of your making, but I know we are all glad that you corrected it.” she said reaching into the pouch hanging on her hip, “I have a little something to remind you of the ‘residents’ of those prisons, something that reminded us, every day, of what the government thought of us.”
Katie brought out a leather wrapped package, bound with a rawhide thong and handed it to the President. Mrs. Pratt took the package and tugged the wrapping off.
“Very interesting covering,” the woman said pulling it open. “Leather?”
“Elk hide, Madam President,” Katie replied. “My mate and I brought the animal down about four months ago. My bag and clothes are made from the same skin.”
“There are no elk in Georgia,” the aid blurted out.
“I don’t live in Georgia, Miss Kates,” Katie said looking at the aid. “My mate, our pup and I live in the Tetons, west of Bear Lake.”
“The Tetons?” the aid repeated, “That’s all wilderness. Guns aren’t allowed.”
Katie chuckled.
“We don’t use guns to hunt, Miss Kates, only fang and claw. It gives the prey a sporting chance.” Katie gave the woman a toothy grin.
“That’s barbaric,” the aid said quietly, looking slightly queasy.
Katie smiled and laughed quietly.
“That’s Nature, Miss Kates,” Katie said staring into the eyes of the woman.
Katie turned her attention back to the President who had unwrapped the box and lifted the wooden lid. The woman looked inside and lifted out the battered leather and metal collar.
“That’s what I wore, every day, for three years, Madam President.” Katie said her voice dropping almost to a growl. “Everyone here wore something like that. It has a transmitter so the ‘keepers’ could find us; spikes on the inside to shock us if they thought we needed it and it could explode to decapitate us. Over thirty people were killed by a device like that during my confinement.”
Miss Kates looked as if she was going to be sick.
“That, Miss Kates,” Katie pointed to the collar, “is ‘barbaric’.”
A number of people at the reception had gathered around the trio. Several murmured their agreement.
“You were a danger to the public,” Miss Kates hissed, “you had to be locked up.”
The President turned towards the aide, a surprised look on her face. She thought she knew her staff better than this.
“According to whom?” Katie replied quietly. “I wasn’t tried in a court; no evidence was presented against me. When I was kidnapped by the military, the court had just dismissed charges against me for killing a man who was attacking a member of my church.”
“That just proves that you’re a danger.”
“It proves nothing, Miss Kates. I didn’t know until a year after my escape that I never touched him. The brother of the infant who was being baptized vaporized him. I was caught in the blast and knocked unconscious. I have a feeling you can find the video on Furtube.”
“We have a right to our existence, Miss Kates,” Katie said, looking the woman in the eyes. “It’s written in the Declaration of Independence of this Nation; ‘that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’.”
“My Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness doesn’t include being locked in a cage and beaten like an animal.” Katie said evenly, staring at the aide, her expression hard.
A few people in the group applauded and there were several ‘amens’ as well. The aide swallowed nervously and looked away.
“My apologies, Madam President,” Katie said, turning to the dark skinned woman. “I seem to be standing on a soapbox.”
President Pratt and a number of people standing around them chuckled.
“No, no, your feelings are certainly justified, Miss Milner,” Mrs. Pratt said, “We all need to be reminded, at times,” the President gave her aide a pointed look, “of our basic freedoms and that we in government serve the people, not the other way around.”
The President moved past Katie to greet other guests until a second aide came in and whispered something. Automatically, Katie focused her ears on the pair.
“… they could be anywhere by now, Madam President,” the new person whispered.
“Find them and be quick about it. We don’t need the press telling the world that two children outsmarted the Secret Service,” the President said hurriedly.
The aide nodded and started to walk away. Katie cut the woman off and bent down to deliver her own message. “Start in the kitchen.”
The woman looked at Katie, who just nodded.
By the time the reception ended the aide was back, working past the other guests who were being led back to the public entrance of the White House. The aid walked directly to where the President was standing and whispered into her ear. They both glanced over at Katie and the President nodded. The pair walked over where Katie stood alone by the window.
“I assume the children were found?” Katie asked quietly as they got close.
“Yes,” the aide said, “right where you suggested. How did you know?”
“Its afternoon, about the time most kids would be getting home from school. Snack time.” Katie said simply.
Before either of them could say anything, the door to the room was pushed open and two children hurried in, closing the door after them. The children were giggling mischievously then turned to see Katie and the other women looking at them.
The President and the aide were forgotten as the children focused their attention on Katie. Their mouths dropped in surprise or shock, Katie couldn’t tell which, but she had seen the look often enough from children in the past. Dropping to all fours, Katie approached the young boy and younger girl stopping when she was nose to nose with them. She gave each one a sniff then licked both of them which got the typical little kid reactions, ewwww’s followed by laughter.
Katie sat down on her haunches and stared quietly at both of them for a moment before reaching into her bag and pulling out a couple of small boxes. She handed one to each child who quickly opened them and pulled out beaded necklace inside. Hanging from the necklace was a stone carving of a running wolf.
They had just put the necklaces over their heads when the door opened and an agent walked in followed by a woman. It was obvious from the children’s reactions that they had been caught by their mom, again.
The mother, a tall, leggy woman dressed in a business ‘power suit’ and wearing expensive high heels looked down her nose in disgust at Katie then snapped her fingers at the children. Katie got up and stretched herself to her full height. She looked down at the woman and gave a faint growl. It was only seconds before a look of fear flashed over the woman’s face and she dropped her gaze.
Katie motioned to the children and they carefully walked to their Mom and took her hands. They both waived as the woman led them out into the hallway.
Once the door was closed, Katie let loose with a rumbling growl.
Katie turned and saw the President and aide giving her surprised looks.
“Some people should not be raising children.” Katie said quietly, gathering up the discarded boxes.
“Excuse me?” the President asked.
“Oh; Ms. ‘I’m the assistant diplomatic liaison to BFE’ who just left.” Katie motioned with her thumb over her shoulder. “She was making plans to beat those wonderful children once they got home for embarrassing her on the tour.” Katie said looking weary. “I ‘explained’ to her what would happen if she did.”
“How will you know if she did, or not?” the aide asked.
“Miss Carrolton, if I can reach Tenkie from Yellowstone, I can reach Georgetown from my hotel room.” Katie said, then smiled, “Once I get out from under this psi field,” Katie thumbed her temples.
“You’re that powerful?” the woman asked, her eyes betraying her alarm.
Katie nodded.
“But that’s not what gets me into trouble.” Katie replied chuckling. “My wolf gets me into trouble, not my psi.”
“Eh?” the aide remarked.
“I don’t just look like a wolf, Miss Carrolton. Under all this fur is the spirit of a wolf that won’t be tamed. That’s why I live in the wilds of the Tetons with my mate and pup. We live as we need to, instead of how others think we should.”
“Is that why you were so much trouble at the camp?” the President asked.
“It’s not in my nature to submit willingly, Mrs. Pratt, except to my mate.” Katie said evenly.

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