Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 796, November 9, 2014

We live in a Republic, not a democracy,
so politicians have a legal right to
ignore the will of the people.

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Chapter Three: The Once and Future King
An excerpt from the forthcoming Only the Young Die Good
A sequel to Sweeter Than Wine

by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.
—Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Gazing out of his floor-to-ceiling penthouse windows, overlooking New York City's famous Central Park, the former king of Peru conversed with the most trusted of his minions via Skype. He had been born to live in the electronic age, he thought. He loved computers and fancy telephones.

He asked, "Did it give any indication of why she went to Texas, of all places?" Texas was a mystery; to him, it was completely unknown territory.

"No, it did not, your Radiance. There was some speculation about shopping, but it simply noted that she traveled there, by commercial aircraft, she spent two weeks in Dallas, mostly in large, expensive department stores, and then flew back to Colorado. She could have patronized branches of the same stores in Denver. Her companion did not go. The service was unclear about the reasons for that, as well."

They had been employing a private detective service to keep a subtle eye on the subjects of their discussion. It wasn't as satisfyng or reassuring as his own ears and eyes, or eyes and ears he personally trusted, but he had few trustworthy retainers at the moment and he had to rely on hired help. He didn't like it, but he had no choice.

He wanted that woman, he had to have her. He had absolutely no doubt she would eventually be his, but at present, his resources were limited.

Atahualpa, the last king of the South American Indians wrongly called "Inca"—it was his title; they were called Tawantinsuyu—was long accustomed to privation and powerlessness. He had endured them for nearly 500 years, ever since Francisco Pizarro had shown up at the end of their most recent civil war, against his own brother, when they were utterly exhausted, and proceeded to wreck their civilization. In the end, the invaders would use his brother's execution as an excuse to garrote him to death, in the ugly Spanish tradition.

But Atahualpa had had several other brothers, and their family resemblance was strong. One of them had sat in his place straddling the execution bench, when the rope was set on his neck and its ends wre twisted with a stick until it nearly took the poor fellow's head off.

Another of his brothers had taken what was keft of the Inca's army and headed up into the mountains, making life as uncomfortable for the Spaniards for years afterward as he could. But in the end, much like Ernesto "Che" Guevera, and for many of the same reasons, he had lost. Meanwhile, Atahualpa had let himself be smuggled out of the capital, and laid low for the next century or so before reassembling his kingship. He was a patient individual; it was, perhaps, his only virtue.

"Your Radiance?" One of the half-dozen servants in the room with him spoke, pushing the earbud deeper into his ear in a familiar gesture.


"Lunch, your Radiance. We have for you a healthy young girl. We found her on the street, a runaway, and took her, unobserved. She has been prepared, and she has been cleaned up. Afterward, we have baked hamsters."

He'd been told the blood was for the virus with which everybody in his family had been born infected, But it felt like sustenace to him.

Historians had wondered for centuries why New World cultures all seemed so obsessed with blood, but they always overlooked the simplest and most obvious explanation. Some of those cultures, the Aztecs, for example, and the Mayans had leaders who were only front-men for people who were really in charge. The Moctezuma family were figureheads for a priestly class who lived literally soaked in the blood of tens of thousands of human sacrifices. Among the the builders of mud pyramids, the Moche and his own people, Atahualpa thought with satisfaction, the leaders were the vampires. In either case, it was all about the blood.

It is always all about the bood.

Two of his personal servants brought lunch through the door. She stood on her own bare feet between them. She was a young Asian girl, naked except for the simple cotton shift of a sacrificial victim. Her hands had been tied behind her back, and her arms bound tightly to her sides. She was frightened, but she was clean, dry, warm and well-fed. She would never have guessed or believed what was about to happen to her.

They climbed up the steps of the low dias until they stood at Atahualpa's feet. He leaned over, took the girl by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. She had not been drugged. Good. He hated the taste of drugged victims, With one hand, he swiped the dress off one of her shoulders, exposing her soft, smooth neck. He opened his mouth, showing his fangs, and bit her, hard and deep, where her neck met her shoulder. Her blood was very warm and very sweet as it pulsed into his mouth. He drank his fill, then pushed her back into the arms of his servants.

"Finish her," he commanded. He might as easily have turned her, but there was no need for a random, uneducated young girl in his household. The two servants who had brought her and their counterparts stationed around the room swarmed over her, biting her in a dozen places, exsanguinating her to the last drop. She fell to the floor and died.

"And bring me some wine."

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