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   Chapter 45 No.45

High Steaks By Christina Engela Characters: 5255

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:01


In the Governor's Chancellor's office, also newly redecorated, Chancellor McMillen stood motionless in front of a bookshelf. He was dressed in a black suit, with a red cloak draped over his shoulders, and seemed to be posing. Daylight flooded into the room through the large picture window to the side, casting a bright window-frame shaped imprint of it across the thick, richly colored carpet.

"How does that look?" He asked. Standing opposite him, a nervous-looking fellow concentrated on operating what looked like a complicated digital camera mounted on a tripod. Lurking behind him, and leering over his shoulder, General Clayne stood, casually observing.

"You look grand, Excellency!" The General smiled. "Very stately!"

"I was talking to the photographer!" McMillen replied curtly. "Mr. Fripp?"

"Very good, Prof – er, Chancellor!" Said Mr. Fripp, pointing at McMillen's right hand – which was tucked into the space between his coat buttons. "Just – er, the hand…"

"Yes?"

"Well, er – don't you think it would look better pressed against your waist – like this?" Fripp said, demonstrating.

"No." Said McMillen. "I want it like this – it's an age-old gesture of manly leadership and military prowess! If it was good enough for George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler, then by God, it's good enough for me!"

"I see, sir. Very well then." Said the nervous photographer – a man of McMillen's acquaintance. Clayne bit his tongue, and held back the suggestion that perhaps he should be posing for that portrait instead. Fripp was a staff

ne – the horror of the previous evening's ordeal still etched in his eyes. Clayne raised his to the Chancellor's, ringing the crystal-cut glass softly.

* * *

Brandon Carver was as happy as a pig in mud, as the saying goes. Not only had he survived the previous night's drama without any ill effects – other than a slight touch of nausea from the stench of cow feces that covered virtually every surface of the beleaguered Angel One – but he had made it back to the surface of Deanna alive, unscathed, and for all intents and purposes, a free man!

The room he was sitting in now, a small briefing room at the back of the Palace, across a table from a youthful rat-faced junior officer with the unlikely name of Captain Yuriel Nurris, was crowded with forty serious-faced young troopers, neatly packed into orderly rows – and looking at him. The Captain's first name was Yuriel, not Chock – and no, he wasn't rat-faced as in pickled, he was rat-faced in the sense that his nose seemed to have a life of its own, twitching just like a rat's.

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