eBook Details

In this Night We Own

Series: The Commander , Book 6.0
By: Randall Allen Farmer | Other books by Randall Allen Farmer
Published By: MajorTransform Unlimited
Published: Feb 14, 2013
ISBN # MJRTRN0000013
Word Count: 120,000
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EligiblePrice: $3.99

Available in: Epub, HTML, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.mobi), Palm DOC/iSolo, Adobe Acrobat, Rocket

Categories: Science Fiction & Fantasy Science Fiction Romance>Sci-Fi

Carol Hancock is a victim of Transform Sickness and a Major Transform, an Arm. Established now with a territory in Houston, Carol works under orders from the senior Arm, Stacy Keaton, to gather an army to fight their major enemy, the male Major Transforms known of as the Hunters, and their boss, the secretive Major Transform known of as Wandering Shade. As she works on this project, Carol also seeks restitution from the leading Focus, Tonya Biggioni, for the many problems Tonya has caused Carol.
Tonya is on the bad side of the Focus Council for lying about her part in Carol’s rescue from incarceration. They give her two nearly impossible jobs, one to bring the Arms back under the control of the Focus Council, and the second, to take over the running of the Focus Mentoring organization. Complicating matters is the fact that Focus Lori Rizzari, a close friend of Carol’s, is running against Tonya for Tonya’s Council seat, pushing a revolutionary agenda that would upset the balance of power among the senior Focuses.
Tonya’s Focus Mentoring work will bring her into contact with a talented and idealistic young Focus, Gail Rickenbach, who she befriends. In addition, a group of Male Major Transforms named the Nobles want to prove themselves as ‘good guys’ to the Transform community, and undertake a quest to rescue a lost Major Transform Sport.
The collision of all of these forces will change the Transform community forever.
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In This Night We Own
Book Six of “The Commander”

The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilization; the factors of decadence – luxury, skepticism, weariness and superstition – are constant. The civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the next.
Cyril Connolly

Part 1
Diplomacy By Other Means

The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.
Victor Hugo

Never yell at a Crow.
“The Life of Crows”

Letters and News Reports

Dear Focus {}

My name is Carol Hancock. I am an Arm and a member of the Focus Network. I sympathize with the recent attacks on Focus Household Transforms and I wish to state that I am not involved with any of these unsolved attacks.
Recently, the authorities detained me in the CDC’s Virginia Transform Detention Center, where the medical staff and the FBI questioned and examined me against my will. Although I cooperated with the medical staff, Focus Biggioni decided my cooperation did not meet her standards and instructed the medical staff how to use juice as a weapon against me. As an Arm, like a male Transform, I require juice to function. Without juice, I go into withdrawal. Focus Biggioni arranged for a male Transform, who had volunteered his services to this Arm to avoid the horrors of withdrawal, to be placed within my metasense range while I was low on juice. I was not allowed to save this volunteer from withdrawal; indeed, the male Transform no Focus had an opening to support was allowed to go into withdrawal right before my eyes. As a fellow human being and Transform, the pain of this Transform’s suffering as well as the pain of my own suffering was enough to ensure my total cooperation with the authorities at a level not seen by a Major Transform since the days of the Quarantine. I became their slave. Then, later, due to events beyond my control or knowledge, the authorities allowed me to pass into withdrawal. The reasons why they allowed me to pass into withdrawal remain unknown to me. Later, friends rescued me from this slavery and withdrawal.
In summary, Tonya Biggioni, your fellow sister in the Network, a trusted member of the Focus community, has abused her position of authority to cause great pain to another Network member, one acting in the best interests of the Network and causing no harm to other members of the Network. In addition, her orders drove an innocent male Transform into the suffering of withdrawal.
Actions such as this damage the entire Network. When a high-ranking Network member has the ability to arrange the torture of another member with impunity, no member can consider him or herself secure. Many members find themselves less eager to serve the Network when the Network treats its own so callously, and indeed, many non-Transforms have already departed the Network for this reason.
By her abuse of her authority, Focus Biggioni has damaged the Network, and by extension every Focus in the United States. I send you this letter to ask only that you consider the damage, and consider what you best feel is the appropriate penalty for someone who violates the Network’s trust in such a way. Please let your leadership know of your concerns and your suggestions, so that your leadership might take appropriate steps to heal the damage to the Network.
Thank you for your time.

Carol Hancock

Local Focus Vanishes (St. Louis Sentinel)
Strange things are going on in the Transform Community. One of our local long-time Focuses, Focus Iris Casso, and her entire household, vanished seemingly overnight on July 29 of this year. Authorities are baffled; they received no disturbance calls and the Focus’s residence, a house and three converted sheds, showed no signs of violence or disturbance. The household left their belongings behind, those who held jobs gave no prior notice of quitting, and they left their household vehicles behind. “It’s as if they vanished off the face of the planet, abducted by one of those UFOs,” neighbor Cassandra Martin said. The ongoing police investigation has yet to turn up a single lead, and…

Dear Focus {}

Everyone wants to protect her household and her Transforms. We all have our friends we can trust, and we all have our acquaintances who we do business with but who we do not fully trust. I want to tell you about the checkered history of one of our acquaintances.
She was once the California Spree Killer, an author of murder and mayhem on a scale wide enough to make the national newspapers and news magazines. She later lost control and killed a household Transform, Frank Kensington, while he was eating dinner with his family in a restaurant. Control is an issue with this person; all who have met her report bursts of temper where this person becomes as terrifying as a cornered Monster. Similar reports have also surfaced about those in her employ.
The person I am speaking about is the Arm, Carol Hancock. Her outward reasonableness hides a powerful Major Transform with a dangerous temper. Be careful dealing with her and those who work with her. Your household could be in grave danger!

With care,

Focus Tonya Biggioni

Agitating for Change (Boston Record American article)
One of our own local Focuses, Focus Lorraine Rizzari, also an Assistant Professor of Boston College, is on a political mission. She has decided to run for the Focus Council Representative position for the local Transform community. Although, as always, the politicking among the Transforms is highly opaque, the main thrust of Focus Rizzari’s complaints appears to be issues of corruption. “Too many of the decisions the Focus Council makes for the Transform community are made without any input from outside the Council. Those of us who pay our dues to the Focus Council would like to understand where our money is going, but no financial accounting is ever made public.” Joining with Focus Rizzari in her reform movement are Focuses Florence Ackerman…

Dear Focus {}

I am saddened to hereby announce my retirement as head of the Focus Council’s Focus Mentoring Program. I am retiring from public life, and can no longer carry out the responsibilities of the office. The Focus Council has appointed Focus Tonya Biggioni, East Region Representative, to be the head of the Mentoring Program. Please give her all the cooperation she needs to continue the program in the style in which it deserves.

Focus Faith Corrigan

Carol Hancock: August 3, 1968 – August 8, 1968
Houston was mine. I leaned against ‘Bubba’ the neon roach as he towered over the Southwest Freeway advertising Holder Pest Control, and marveled at the thick humid air and the endless streetlights lighting up the low cloud deck. My city. Mine. Nobody to challenge my dominance and ownership. Hell, the local Focuses and Crows even knew me and loved me.
I remembered the last time I tried to claim a city, and the misery of that failure. This time, I knew happily, would be different. I had support this time. Lori Rizzari, beautiful, capable, and a talented senior Focus. My boss, the Arm Stacy Keaton, guiding me and providing cash. Stopping me from stupid mistakes as well – let’s not forget that. Crows, multiple Crows, providing information and standing their eternal watch. I breathed the fragrant air of success and I loved it.
Below me and about a mile away, a nurse parked her car in an apartment complex parking lot and dragged her tired body up to her apartment. Late, because one of her co-workers had called in sick and she stayed late to cover the gap. I knew. I had been the one behind the co-worker’s drunken bender. As she opened her apartment door with her key, I started my slow jog in her direction. I figured my cue would appear in about 15 minutes.
I heard the voice of the boyfriend a whole minute before I arrived, angry, drunk, and offended because she had not showed up to make him dinner; he drank to kill the time while he waited. By the time she showed up, his miniscule abuser’s brain held little by way of intelligent thought. Yup, I thought to myself, right on schedule. When he moved from angry words to angry punches, I positioned myself at the door. When the nurse curled on the floor and started screaming, I recognized my cue and moved in.

My name is Carol Hancock and I’m an Arm, one of the eight known varieties of Transforms, and as all Transforms, a victim of Transform Sickness. As a Major Transform I’m rather important these days, both in the Transform community and to the FBI, who had expressed their respect by granting me a position on their famous most wanted list. I’ve been an Arm almost two years, and in that time I had been extensively medically tested, shot, tortured, attacked by other Transforms, raped, captured, sent into juice withdrawal and nearly killed…oh, and to survive, killed about two Transforms every three weeks. These days I had my own territory, a working relationship with my Boss Arm and former sadistic teacher, Stacy Keaton, a Crow partner in crime, Gilgamesh, my own pet researcher Hank Zielinski (who thought he owned me), a newly minted alliance with the Crows as my responsibility to corral, and not enough recruits to satisfy Keaton. On the 20th of July I had taken down a rogue Focus we deftly nicknamed Rogue Focus, a bitch who had been terrorizing the Houston Transform community, and sold said bitch to one of the first Focuses for good will and private accolades. The local Focuses and Crows now loved me, or, well, loved me as much as any other Major Transform could love a violent juice-sucking Arm.
I knew nothing this good could last. That didn’t keep me from enjoying the good life now.

Jeannie Zimmerman, my nurse, was twenty-nine years old, worked in Houston’s med center, and had a history of bad relationships. What she wanted was security, in the person of some strong male to take charge and to protect her. What she got, repeatedly, was some not-so-strong man who boosted his ego and masculinity by beating on her, and an endless series of night shifts due to performance issues related to the beatings. Today, she had been working the day shift to fill in for another nurse on what was supposed to be her day off and had instead found herself working a double shift.
“That’s enough,” I said, as I entered her apartment. I gave her bottom of the barrel boyfriend enough predator to chase him off without a fight, and had a short talk with Jeannie.
“Ma’am,” she said, fifteen minutes later. “I’m yours.” As her knight on the white horse, she thought I was wonderful.
“Yes, you’re mine,” I said, taking her hands in mine and completing the circuit that allowed me to tag her. I was her protector now, firm and strong. I would never, ever, hurt her.
She wouldn’t need to worry about the night shift anymore. She would now work days, as Hank’s medical assistant. Mostly. Except for crises, which I fervently hoped would be rarer than my history would predict. In any case, Jeannie eyed Hank suspiciously when I dropped her on him, but I suspected she would warm to him eventually, because he backed up his doctors’ arrogance with real brilliance. He had once taught surgery at Harvard Medical, and even if he never talked about his old career, his attitude sure did.
By the time I sauntered out of Hank’s moldy excuse for an office into the rising Houston sun, I was already plotting out my next recruitment. A researcher this time. The detective’s report had come in on Dr. Bertram Chesbit, a research professor at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. He had been a Network member for a decade before giving up in disgust after the Arm Flap (which warmed my heart, thank you very much). I needed a mob contract on his life as a contingency for betrayal, and a lever to control him by, which the detective report offered in the form of a three-year-old granddaughter he loved to excess.
Bald threat, pure and simple. Don’t knock the simplicity. It works.
I looked forward to some happiness from this one, though. I would be giving him a chance to do research on a real Arm. Me. I could be most persuasive.
Recruitment. One down, one on the table, hundreds more to go.

I spent most of the plane trip home, after recruiting Chesbit, planning my next set of activities: more recruiting for Keaton’s army, firming up the Arms’ alliance with the Crows, and some work on my cash supply. I wanted to do some more to Focus fucking Biggioni, but that would have to wait. I was too damned busy.
Instead of handling any of the items on my long list of worries, I found Hank chatting with Ying Tien and Greg Petroski in my living room. Handing off more of his least favorite responsibilities to Ying. Real estate purchases this time, complete with instructions for managing the less than legal financials.
I had been up to Chicago a couple of weeks prior to extract the salvage of my old organization. Dick Svetsrichen the mailman had managed to hold himself together despite my absence, so I picked him up and gave him an operations manager job in my new Houston organization. The Tiens were in mostly good shape but weren’t exactly mobile, so I left them and their restaurant and some of my money in Chicago. I picked up Greg, and much to my surprise, Ying came as part of the package, engaged and everything. What’s more, she bossed him around like Madame Mao, which made him substantially more sensible and functional. He loved it, too, and her. Seemed when he said he didn’t like strong women, he meant physically. She was delighted to see me, and eager to work for me, which hadn’t been what I intended, but she had already proved her worth in the last two weeks. She certainly had Hank wrapped around her little finger.
They all looked up at me when I came in and I sighed. “Your lab equipment came in?” I said to Hank. I really needed to be off with the Crows, but that would have to wait, along with all the other critically important things I really needed to be doing immediately. There just wasn’t enough time in the day.
He nodded happily, and so we left Ying and Greg and went to his moldy second floor office, where he and Jeannie ran me through the most amazing and complete examination I had ever gone through as an Arm. When I was done, he sat on his little rolling doctor’s chair and looked at me with evaluating eyes as I dressed.
“Okay, cough up. You’ve been sitting on something since the Rogue Focus fight,” I said as I decided to skip binding down my miniscule boobs. If someone managed to correctly decipher my gender through the male suit, more power to them. Maybe they would be a good candidate for recruitment.
Hank pointed to the chart in his lap, but I watched his eyes, not his papers. “You still have a point of extra Fundamental juice inside you, actual sludge dross, worse than the gristle dross you’ve already had removed. I suspect this sludge dross is behind your difficulties with composition.” My composition skills resembled that of a sloppy fifth grader, one of the few still lingering effects of my trip into withdrawal. “Based on my extensive albeit chaotic conversations with the Crows, this is a problem that’s out of their league,” Hank said. “You know about our only other option.”
I grimaced. Running myself down to near withdrawal and burning off the extra Fundamental juice just wasn’t high on my list of things to do. I weighed options and risks. “It’s on the list,” I told him. “It’s not at the top.”
Hank looked unhappy, but he nodded.
I left him to his worries and his new aide and headed off to my real top priority. The Crows.

Gilgamesh, alas, was already off on his next bit of Crow business. I understood his thinking – he was as serious and as professional about the Cause and his Crow career as I was about being an Arm, and he could no more afford to hide under my shadow than I could afford to hide under Lori or Keaton’s shadow. That left me with Midgard, a Crow too skittish to meet me, save in the presence of other serious Crows. He was my guard, at least as the Crows defined such things. From my perspective, he functioned as an excellent extra set of eyes and another Major Transform with whom to talk.
So: the phone. I sat on my new couch in my new house and picked up my new phone. White. With push-buttons instead of a dial. I felt very cutting edge.
“Hey, ma’am, what’s up?” Midgard said, answering his phone.
I looked through the message log. “I see there’s a new Crow in town.”
“Uh huh,” Midgard said. “Two, actually. The older Crow’s name is Talisman, a magician follower of Merlin. He’s got four years of experience. He’s here with his lover, another Crow named Mercado.”
According to Sky, about a quarter of all Crows were homosexuals. Zielinski had a similar prediction about Arms. Me? I wasn’t so picky that I restricted myself to one sex. Keaton was equally undiscriminating. “Any hope I could get to talk to either of them?”
“Talisman looks bribable,” Midgard said. I repressed a sigh. My preferred term was ‘donations to Crow well-being’. Midgard was nowhere near as politic as me. “He’s a bit of a show off, but he’s under orders not to get seduced into your personal service.”
Everyone I worked with was under orders. Again, I could sympathize. There were times when I thought the only reason I was near the top of the Arm heap was the fact that there were only three of us, and the third was a student. “I can live with that.”
“Unfortunately, ma’am, Mercado is a shadow Crow. The only human he’s willing to deal with is Talisman.”
I had heard of shadow Crows from Gilgamesh. He believed we needed some psychotherapist Focuses on our payroll to deal with these dysfunctional Crows. Right now, we had nothing. “In that case, I’ll make sure that Talisman gets an extra-large donation.”
Midgard grunted. He was unhappy with my largess, only mollified by the fact that I kept the scale small.
“I’ve got an idea I want to pass by a Crow to see if it sounds tacky,” I said, leaning forward and sifting through papers on the coffee table. The Houston Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Also Guns & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, Newsweek and the Economist, plus three medical tracts Hank wanted me to read, two papers on eastern bloc brainwashing techniques I had gotten from the Network, and a first draft of Gilgamesh’s new book I was supposed to be reviewing. Of the set, the only ones I wasn’t behind on were the brainwashing papers and Gilgamesh’s book. I found the legal paperwork under a New England Journal of Medicine article on cortisol rates in Focuses. “I’ve just put together a lease on my nascent research facility,” a nearly abandoned tiny office building, “and I was thinking that I might put a petty cash bin there for any and all Crows to use. Is this too crazy an idea?”
“Hmm. That sounds like a very good idea, but it’ll need protections. I’ll bet I can arm-twist Hephaestus into providing them, though,” Midgard said. Hephaestus was the local top Crow, an actual Crow Guru. We had a good, but distant, working relationship. “If I can arrange the protections, you won’t need to worry about misuse. If anything, you’ll have the opposite problem.”
I wasn’t willing to even ask. I had a theory that among the Major Transforms, Crows’ thought processes were the least like normal humans.
“That would work,” I said. “So, any feedback from Hephaestus’s students?” Before I found and recruited Jeannie, I had a talk in Memorial Park with Hephaestus about our proposed Crow-Arm art gallery. His students were scheduled to get close enough to talk, if they wanted, but I hadn’t heard a thing.
Midgard sighed. “Pork Belly, the youngest, panicked himself crazy, and the other young Crows caught it. Sorry.”
“I understand. With experience they’ll get better.” I hoped. I didn’t understand Crows well enough to have a good feel for them at all. I was starting to put some credence into Sky’s wild theory that there were over a dozen Crow varieties, each as different from each other as Arms were from Focuses.
Next on my list was some more thug recruiting. I took a deep breath and plowed on.

In this Night We Own

By: Randall Allen Farmer