Rundles In The Jungle: Episode 13

Rundle storms into the meeting room, with a thick envelope of documents clutched in his hand. He only got the package an hour ago, and barely had time to skim it before leaving for this meeting, but it's obvious the boy's lawyer is too clever by half.

Randayl looks up from the paper he's examining with assumed ~~ innocence ~~.

Randayl: Ah, good. You're here.

Rundle scowls at his ex-son.

Rundle: I don't know what you think you're trying to accomplish with these, but you won't get away with it.

Rundle flings the papers onto the table so hard that they go flying right off the far side.

Randayl remembers that his father can't zlin his ~~ trepidation ~~, so it doesn't count.

Randayl: Well, if you'd prefer not to honor the agreement, I have other uses for the money.

Rundle: I'm not talking about the money. I'm talking about my children, and the future of my family! ~~ fury ~~

Randayl: The future of my sisters.

Rundle: My daughters! My legacy! They may not carry on the family name, but they're all I have left.

Rundle glowers at the young Sime, then stalks around the table to pick up the fallen bundle of papers.

Randayl's rough draft of his will is sitting next to it.

Randayl: Unlike you, I care about my sisters no matter what larity they become as adults. If they turn Sime like I did, they'll need that training.

Rundle is not quite so angry that his mind has stopped working. As he straightens up clutching the documents, he stares speculatively at the young Sime. The boy's strong and agile, yes, but a shotgun is no respecter of strength.

Randayl: No one else has to know they've learned a thing; it won't affect their future if they become Gen at all.

Rundle: If they turn Sime, then they're no longer my concern, though I'm prepared to pay their dowries as we discussed. But I won't have their minds corrupted, while I can still hope they'll remain human.

Rundle reflects that if they don't stay human, there are still plenty of shotguns in New Washington. He can still do his duty by his girls -- or hire it done.

Randayl: I'm sorry we couldn't reach an agreement, then. I hope you're able to find someone else to offer you a loan. Before your current creditors come calling.

Randayl hopes the current creditors are sufficiently intimidating that his father is willing to compromise rather than face their ire.

Rundle glares at the boy. Despite the curve of his forehead and the shape of his nose, this is no longer his son and he will do what he must. If he acts quickly, before the assets have actually been transferred across the border... yes.

Randayl zlins the murderous anger in his father's nager.

Randayl: Before you make any rash decisions, you might be interested in taking a quick look at this.

Randayl pushes the will draft across the table.

Rundle snatches up the document, and flips through it quickly. He notes that this is only a draft; it hasn't been signed yet. There's still time. With the boy gone, the estate will go into limbo in New Washington. There'll be room to maneuver then.

Randayl: I'll be signing the final copy before I leave today. Appropriate notices will be sent out to the beneficiaries in tomorrow's mail.

Rundle frowns. Time is really tight, then. He may have to do the deed himself, much though he hates to dirty his own hands.

Rundle: I've had too much tea. Where is the washroom?

Rundle needs to get at his luggage, where a handgun is packed away inside a bundle of dirty laundry.

Randayl points to a door opposite the one through which they entered.

Randayl: Right there.

Rundle: I'll be back in a few minutes.

Rundle's mind is working quickly, already constructing his alibi. He knows Simes can read a lie, so he'll have to have some acceptable truths to tell.

Rundle opens the far door and goes through it. He finds himself in a tiny washroom cubicle, with no other exit and no window. ~~ frustration ~~ and ~~ fury ~~

Rundle has no choice to take care of his nominal business and go back into the meeting room.

Rundle: What time is your lawyer arriving?

Rundle's mind is still considering possibilities, looking for other methods. A fall, some kind of accident?

Randayl: She's in her office down the hall, waiting for us to finish here. You might also consider that I'm younger, stronger, and faster than you, and that the receptionist has a clear view of this room from her desk.

Rundle: Ah.

Rundle is beginning to feel ~~ trapped ~~ . The boy is also too clever by half; had things gone differently, he would have been proud to have him as his son and heir.

Randayl: If you don't wish to go through with the loan after all, then I might as well go sign the final copy of that will right now.

Rundle raises an eyebrow. Is there room to negotiate here?

Rundle: But if I do?

Randayl: Then she will have to wait a few more minutes until we're done here.

Rundle: Oh.

Rundle feels another potential option vanish.

Randayl: If you want any money from Aunt Matilda's estate, you will have to abide by my conditions. They are not so bad as all that -- you'll not be harmed, except perhaps a little in your pride. But no one else will know about that part. You can tell my sisters that it was completely your idea, if you want. All I care about is that they are prepared for whatever life may bring them.

Rundle: Damn it, then why are you trying to destroy them? ~~ frustration ~~

Rundle: Listen, if they... go the way you did, then you can do whatever you like with them then. But while there's still hope... Let them have the same chance you had. To grow up normal in the world they were born to.

Rundle is ~~ pleading ~~ now.

Randayl: The knowledge won't harm them, whatever happens. And if the worst does happen, their chances of surviving it will be much better if they understand what is happening. You and my mother, not to mention the servants, will also have a better chance to survive.

Rundle: They'll be tainted, changed.

Randayl: They'll be a little closer to being grown up. But that will happen anyway, no matter what you do.

Rundle: They'll be closer to being... like you. I've already lost you. I don't want to lose them, too.

Rundle is, despite all he has done in his life, at the core a very religious man.

Rundle: I don't want to tempt the devil. I want them to keep their souls.

Rundle is aware that the boy, having already lost his own soul, isn't going to care about that.

Randayl: You've only lost me because you wanted to. And you will forgive me if I find it rather odd that you should object to tempting the devil, given the sort of activity that I suspect resulted in your current situation.

Rundle: What I've done, I've done. But the girls aren't tainted by that. Unless I give in to this.

Randayl: They'll suffer a great deal more if your creditors express their displeasure at you by harming them.

Rundle is truly ~~ torn ~~ . If he doesn't get the money, his career is over, and the girls will suffer. But the price of the loan will destroy them in a far deeper way. He stares down at the polished surface of the table for a long minute. At last, he sits down and reaches for his pen.

Rundle: I'll sign. ~~ numbness ~~

Randayl: Thank you. For both of us, and especially for my sisters.

Randayl is ~~ completely sincere ~~ in his thanks, and not nearly as triumphant as he'd thought he would be.

Rundle scrawls his name on the line, on each copy of the agreement.

Randayl adds his own.

Rundle: ~~ heavily ~~ Are you satisfied?

Randayl: I hope this will work out well for both of us. Here is your copy. I will instruct my lawyer to expedite the first payment, as soon as the money is available. I'm told it should be soon. The subsequent payments, of course, depend on you.

Rundle: I will do as I have agreed.

Randayl had thought he would be gloating at this stage, but instead he's a bit ~~ numb ~~.

Randayl: As will I.

Rundle: (sotto voce) "... for a mess of porridge."

Randayl: Which is the stuff of life, according to the proverb.

Rundle nods heavily and rises, clutching his own copy of the agreement. In the end, he has proven himself a coward, saving his own neck rather than the things that ought to matter more.

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