Sunday, 23 December 2012

Xmas in Eden: Deleted Scene 3

It’s almost Xmas (Happy Xmas to anyone reading this!), and first a very quick update on Eden’s Revenge. I’m going to be editing it all over Xmas and New Year, and by early January will have a better idea of when it will be going to press. Since 3am I’ve been working on a new Prologue, since that was one of the major editorial comments on the manuscript, concerning how to remind people of the story so far, or at least part of it, without doing a big ‘info-dump’. The new Prologue goes back in time around five hundred years, to when Alessia has made a pact with the Q’Roth and is at war with the Sentinels, seen from the point of view of a certain young woman named Esma…

Next – here is the third deleted scene – a short one – from The Eden Paradox. If you haven’t read the book, stop here, as it won’t make any sense anyway. It’s a precursor to the scene where Kat has just interfaced with the Hohash on Eden, and has witnessed the Q’Roth culling the spider race. She’s pretty cut up about it. If you remember this part, Blake takes out a small piece of paper and gives it to Kat, saying Zack told him to give it to her in her hour of need, and she asks him to read aloud what it says. So, this scene shows where the piece of paper came from. The last part of the scene is about Blake and Zack, and is best read after the second deleted scene (Zack's Interview) which I published a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I should publish a 'Director's Cut' version, LOL. Anyway, enjoy. 

Three Months Earlier – Cape Canaveral
Zack’s lunch was getting seriously cold, while he sat waiting for Blake in the canteen. It was their last meal Earthside, before heading to Zeus I where they would board the Ulysses. His meal of honest-to-God real steak, mashed potatoes and sprouts sat untouched – his appetite had deserted him. 
As he stared down at it, he noticed a young woman walking towards his table for two. He looked up as the girl with flawless skin calmly took the chair destined for Blake and sat down, facing him square. Zack heard the ambient conversation level decrease – more than a few people were discreetly watching. She tried to smile, but looked as if she might shatter at any moment. She pushed a small white notebook in front of him.
‘Autograph. Please.’ She had an East European accent.
He stared at her a while, then bowed his head to read the page. He shoved his plate to the side, and placed the notebook, like it was dessert, in front of him. The page wasn’t blank. He read it. I promise to bring Katrina back home in one piece. She held out an expensive black-lacquered pen towards him.
‘Sign. Please.’
He studied the young woman, while her arm holding the pen remained outstretched in front of her. It wasn’t very steady. The canteen noise level was reduced now to distant sounds of plates and cutlery being washed in the kitchen. Still, he waited. Her eyes didn’t once unlock their target. Determined, he thought. He accepted the pen. But he didn’t sign. Instead he turned over to a fresh page, and began writing. He swivelled the notebook around, and pushed it back across the table towards her.
‘You first,’ he said. He offered the pen back to her.
Nonplussed, she looked down at what he had written, her palms flat on the table-top, not yet accepting the pen. Then, without looking up, she reached out, and he placed the pen in her hand. As she signed, he watched a single tear fall and splash onto the paper, quickly absorbed, leaving only a smudge. She pushed the notebook back to him. Even the kitchen was quiet now. He carefully tore out the page she’d just signed, folded it and placed it in his jumpsuit shoulder pocket. He took the pen from her limp hand, and dutifully signed where she’d asked him to. He then wrote a sentence underneath his signature. She reached out and grasped the book, turning it round smoothly. She read it, met his eyes once, nodded, then in one fluid motion got out of the chair, clutching the notebook, and headed briskly to the canteen exit. All heads turned in her direction as she did so, reminding Zack how ears of corn twist in the wake of a wild deer running through a cornfield. After the doors swung behind her, chatter immediately flooded the canteen.  
Blake appeared in front of him. ‘What was that all about?’
Zack leant back, and clasped his hands behind his head, grinning. ‘Oh, you know, the usual – fans, autographs, all that jazz.’
Blake bent closer. ‘So, you want to tell me what you wrote, the bit she took away with her?’
Zack, let out a sigh, and looked upwards, as if reading from the ceiling. ‘I hope one day my son finds someone who loves him the way …’ – he quickly changed what he had almost said – ‘… the way you love the person you love.’
Blake cocked an eyebrow. ‘Hmm. I’m not even going to ask what you made her sign. You going to eat that steak, or is that another unrequited love affair?’
Zack laughed. ‘We two –’ he prodded the steak with his fork – ‘were having a teasing moment.’
Blake smiled, then his face turned more serious.
‘I just wanted to say, Zack, before we leave Zeus tomorrow – it means a lot to me having you with me on this mission. I know it’s not easy, with Sonja and the kids…’
Zack’s mind locked up – he didn’t hear the rest. He hadn’t realised how much he’d needed to hear Blake say the words. The last traces of his anger flushed away. He felt a tension he’d not known he was carrying slide out of his neck and down his back. He’d never been one to hold grudges and resentment for long periods anyway – quick to anger, quick to forgive, Sonja had told him once. The smell of his cooling lunch finally reached his brain.
‘It’s okay, Blake. It’s where I belong. Now, go get your meal, Skipper.’
Blake nodded and headed over to the kitchen area. Zack picked up his knife, feeling better than he had for days. Even cold, the steak tasted good.

Okay – so that you don’t have to go and find the passage in the book to remember what the note said, here’s the scene from Chapter 31 – Hohash:

As the others left the compartment to make preparations for their tasks, Blake and Kat were left alone. She was trembling.
            ‘Sir, there was something else.’
            Blake approached her, eyes sharp. ‘Tell me.’
            She took a deep breath. ‘The only way the Hohash could let me see these things was to connect with its master’s memories. Well – you see… I was there when the Q’Roth came. The spiders knew they were coming, and had decided as a group – as a people – to retain their pacifist mode of life through to the end, though it meant they would all die. They had no space-ships themselves, since they never travelled – the Hohash did it for them. They’d resigned themselves to their fate, very much in control of their emotions you see.’ Kat folded her arms tight around her. ‘But when it happened – the carnage, the pain – some of them wavered – including the one I was ‘inside’ – that’s why he disobeyed his society’s agreement and sent his Hohash out into space.’
            Her legs shook, threatening to give way. ‘I – the spider – ran. I ran for my life, when others stood tall and were slaughtered. I knew it would do no good, and I was not alone to run, but suddenly I couldn’t accept this fate, neither mine nor that of my species. So I ran in blind fear and one of them chased me. It caught me and slashed at me, cutting my hind legs from under me, then it’s mouth bore down on me, sucking my life force away.’ Her eyes brimmed with the memory of it, but she sniffed the tears back. ‘Captain – I was killed. I bloody-well died with it. I shared its terror, its grief for its kind.’
            Blake steadied her, hands on her shoulders. ‘Kat,’ he said, ‘every soldier in battle goes through what you’ve been through – maybe not as far, for sure. But you’re through it, and you’re alive. And you’ll fight when the time comes. These spiders – noble creatures for sure – while I can respect their culture and their choice not to fight, it won’t be our way, I can assure you.’
She nodded, and steadied herself.
Blake reached into a pocket in his jumpsuit with his right hand. ‘Zack told me to give you this when you really needed it.’ He pulled out a crumpled, folded piece of paper. ‘Someone gave it to him on Zeus. Said it was to be opened in your darkest moment. He wouldn’t tell me who, but he left it with me. ’
            She stared at it. ‘What is it?’
            ‘I don’t open other people’s mail, Kat.’
            Her lungs seemed too full to breathe except in shallow gasps. ‘Read it out to me. Please.’
            Blake unfolded it, and read out loud. ‘Let me see. It says – To Kat– I promise –’ He paused, shifted uneasily, and cleared his throat. ‘I promise I will wait for you, no matter what, no matter how long. All my love. And then it’s signed – Antonia.’
            She gaped at the piece of paper, and then took it gingerly, as if it might break or crumble into dust. Blake left her alone. She sat down, cradling the note in her hands. Zack had written something on the outside in his large scrawl. Happiness is knowing that someone, somewhere, really gives a shit.

Merry Xmas one and all, from me, Blake, Micah, and the rest of the Eden crew.

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