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Date Posted: 18:07:01 05/25/04 Tue
Author: Lark
Subject: Fresh meat -- er... um... a Fresh Piece
In reply to: Lark 's message, "Part VII The tale is re-told -- and the gauntlet is thrown again..." on 18:01:03 05/25/04 Tue


Sara jumped, startled by Danny’s voice, and she reached out to stop Gabe from entering the elevator that would take them to the critical ward. Recovering her equanimity, she smiled at her partner, carrying a tray of coffees and… juice? “Hey, Danny, what are you doing here, bringing me refreshments?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” he replied with an equable grin, “Are… you here together?” He looked at Gabe askance, a wicked twinkle in his eyes.

Exasperated at the obvious insinuation, Sara introduced Danny and Gabe, presenting the younger man as a local merchant who had given her possible leads to Mr. Han’s attacker. Sara’s eyes narrowed slightly at Danny’s sudden stillness. “What is it?” she asked him, concerned.

“Han Lao Yuan, Pez, he’s Li’s mother’s uncle.”

“Oh, Danny, I’m sorry.” Pezzini put her hand out to him, but stopped, remembering Gabe. Politely, Gabe turned away as she laid a sympathetic hand on her partner’s arm. Balancing the tray with one hand, Danny covered her hand with his, and Sara was lost.

Yun Fok stared longingly at Cao Zhi, and the soft black depths of his eyes mirrored the love in hers. Yet to keep the peace, she felt she had no choice, the fight between him and his brother, Cao Pi, was threatening to become a civil war. Holding close to the jade bracelet Cao Zhi had found her with in the closet of silks, she gave him a meaningful nod, ever so slight, that she would do what was necessary for the peace, she would protect their people and allow his elder brother to woo her and they would take the throne—the people, she reminded herself, the people were who mattered, not her selfish desires. The slight tightening of his eyes in affirmation stabbed her to her heart as no knife could ever have.

Sima Yi stood behind Cao Pi, a calculating look in his eyes Yun Fok could not fathom, and she felt her hackles rise at the sight of his slight smile when she extended her ivory fan to Pi for him to keep. She did not have much knowledge of the elder man, except that he was a great general, but his ambitions, seemingly altruistic, she was certain were malevolent; he struck her as a man who could wait years, even generations, before his plans could come to fruition. It was an odd and confusing notion, for how could he even hope to witness the maturity of his labors if his own life was long past? She noted, too, his eyes were not on his future leader, nor on the woman who decided the fate of a nation, instead, he stared hungrily at the bracelet upon her wrist, perfect jade beads twined by white gold, the first gift Zhi had bestowed upon her so many months past, and she shivered in revulsion and inexplicable fear.

“… well, naturally, any old games are always prized for their value as a window into the mindset of our ancestors, look at Tutankhamen, and his passion for Senet. It was actually a long time after it was discovered in his tomb before anyone knew how the game was played, and even now, the mysticism of the game is hard to appreciate simply because we live in a modern world, not the ancient world of the Egyptian gods. Even the Aztecs, only a few hundred years past, played games which we may be able to decipher, but their value in terms of their faith, their meaning in terms of life—which was often lost during play—it holds only a sort of fascination that it was ever played. Most were based on wars, only those simple enough for children to hold promised no one would die.”

Sara realized with no small shock she was in the elevator with Gabe and Danny, Gabe occupying Danny’s attention as they ascended to the critical ward. The doors opened and they stepped out into the family waiting room. Li was there, with an older lady who must be Mr. Han’s wife, as well as a delicate young woman, holding hands with a young man Gabe’s age—he must be Sly, Sara thought to herself, musing it was obvious why Mr. Han preferred Gabe (he had told her in the cruiser), at least superficially, but she could see bright intelligence in Sly’s eyes, and his hands were—well, they were beautiful, the hands of an artist.

When Sara emerged, Li greeted her with a warm hug, but Sara felt her tremble. Odd that she should feel guilt for not knowing every member of Danny’s family, but Danny’s joy that his wife trusted her as much as ever he did was palpable, and her guilt was partially assuaged with elation—and immediately replaced by more guilt she should feel good about herself at this moment.

Feng-wa and Sly were filling Gabe in quietly apart as Sara was introduced to Mrs. Han, but Sara was dismayed to realize the lady spoke little English, and would be able to offer little in the way of information how events unfolded the night before. Yet she had an image of her bargaining hard, a business woman who could trade with the best, despite her language barriers. Mrs. Han was a survivor; she only hoped Mr. Han was as well.

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