Protocol One – Alex and Virtue on Dahmin

Protocol One. Alex and Virtue on Dahmin.

By nature, Virtue was a manipulator. By training, he was a psychiatric surgeon. He served the Nation as a redactor, an intelligence officer who fit history to policy, and so a man who, in essence, recreated the Nation almost daily.

Protocol One

Excerpt | Protocol One

Virtue touched Alex’s skin, red from his slap. “You don’t realize the risk. You’re lucky the Ministry didn’t get you. Do you realize what they would have done to you when they found out you belong to me? And as for the Protectorate, well, this is already out of my hands. Father Rowan has decided you’re an unrepentant Resurrectionist. What you’ve done—”

“What I’ve done?”

He recalled her utter disbelief the night she learned permission was a compromise. When a dangerous urge inflamed his heart, he pulled her close, his hands squeezing her arms as his nose brushed against her cheek. He emitted a fierce sigh.

“One day, you’re going to regret that,” she said, pushing him away. Her nostrils flared and her lips sneered, but her eyelids flickered.

She was a defiant child, words blustering but eyes uncertain. He smiled indulgently. “Not much I can regret about that night, darling. Next time—”

“Next time? You think I’m going to let you do that again?”

“Let me?” He laughed. “You have no idea what you’re going to let me do.” The fear in her eyes was satisfying. He took a deep, clarifying breath. “This won’t continue. You will come back. These people are using you, and the minute you become inconvenient, the minute it becomes a choice between you and one of them, you’ll be sacrificed.”

“You have no legal standing here. The law won’t protect you.”

“You should realize by now that I am the law.”

“We have a Constitution. And Protocol One.”

When he felt a bland condescension creeping into his expression, he ruthlessly restrained it. “Tell me what’s so important that you had to run thirty-thousand light years this time, that you surrounded yourself with sapiens and put yourself in the middle of a war.”

“I left because of you, Virtue.”

“You will call me ‘Father’.”

“You’re not my father in any sense of the word.”

“We’re not having that discussion again.”

“No one will help you here.”

“I don’t need help. You do. I’m here to help you, Alex.”