Well, we've whetted your appetite with the soup and pate. Time to push aside the sprouts, scrape off the gravy and tuck into some tasty dark meat.
Er, sorry. Metaphor kind of got away from me there.
Actually, I'm kinda hungry now. Is anyone else hungry? I'm hungry.
Anyway, the second instalment in our December 2009 guest-blogging event, A Very Abaddon Christmas, is a teaser for Al Ewing's upcoming Pax novel...
A Pax Britannia Story
By Al Ewing
A Pax Britannia Story
By Al Ewing
His fingers were capable of bending steel, but they gripped the stem of the wine glass gently, precisely.
“Here’s to absent friends,” said Doc Thunder, with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes - those eyes of dazzling, uncomfortable blue, that could see further and more clearly than any other human could ever hope to. They seemed clouded now, that unnatural blueness faded like a picture left in the sun. They seemed tired.
Mona looked at him, concerned, and he shook his head, groping for the words. “Sorry. I just never thought… I always hoped I’d be able to reform him. Rehabilitate him.”
Mona smiled slightly, looking down at her plate. “Well, you were the only one who did. The man was a mad dog, Doc, and dangerous enough to kill the whole world if he couldn’t take it. You had to know he’d rather die than be stopped.” She reached out a hand, resting it on his. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
Thunder shook his head. “There should have been another way.”
For a while, the only sound in the laboratory was the clicking of cutlery on china as he poked at the turkey in front of him, prodding it around the plate, making a pretence at eating.
“If you’re not eating that, I will.” Mona said between mouthfuls. “This is good stuff, Doc. Even better than last year. Maybe you should drop all this ‘protector of the downtrodden’ business and become a chef.”
Thunder smiled wryly, pushing his plate at her. “Cooking is a science, and you know how I am about science. I can’t rest until I’ve mastered it and put it to use.” He scratched thoughtfully at his beard. “Though you might be onto something there. I could lend a hand at a soup kitchen between cases. God knows I’ll have more time on my hands now…”
He sighed, taking a long sip of the wine.
“I still can’t believe it. Lars Lomax is dead. He’s haunted my dreams for fifty years, he’s caused me more trouble than N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E., Untergang and the Hidden Empire put together, and now he’s gone.”
Mona smiled. “Merry Christmas.”
Thunder shook his head. “It doesn’t feel like a present.”
“What does it feel like?”
“A waste. A stupid, useless, unnecessary waste. That man could have been a new Galileo. A Newton. A Cavor. And now he‘s nothing. Ashes floating down the Amazon.”
Mona shrugged. “That’s the difference between you and me. You always see the best in people. I love you for it, but you need to understand that Lars Lomax was never going to be anything other than what he was, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll stop being such a miserable son of a bitch and ruining Christmas for everybody else.” She smiled sweetly. “Just saying.”
Thunder laughed despite himself. “Fine, Merry Christmas.” He took a swallow of the wine, and then took his plate back, digging a fork into the turkey. “And a Happy New Year.”
But as it turned out, it was anything but.