Center Of Gravity
by Lady Grey

Grammaton Clerics work in pairs, a younger with an older. The younger learns from the older, is taught by him, whether in further variations of the gun-kata or the telltales of emotion in a suspected Sense Offender. And the older can be content (though all are content under five daily intervals of Prozium) in the knowledge that he and his protégé are making their world safe for humanity.

Preston is eager to learn. He tells Partridge so almost as soon as he joins him in the bland white car. Hešll listen and learn, he says, not even registering the sardonic gleam in the older manšs eyes, and will hope to go far under his tutelage.

So he nods and says nothing, trusting when Partridge slips a tattered paperback book or a black-and-white photograph into his pocket to take in as evidence personally. He accepts that Partridge rarely shoots rebels, more often standing aside in silent witness while Preston or the police take out a cell. He does not wonder that the older Cleric rarely watches footage of Sense Offenders being questioned or incinerated. Some do not. It isnšt a thing to be questioned.

And when Partridge firmly urges him down to his knees (car parked in a darkish corner of the Nether, no rebels to be seen), ruffling his sleek dark hair with callused fingers and directing him, soft-voiced, on just exactly what to do and where to put his lips and tongue, Preston doesnšt question. Grammaton Clerics are the law and the letter, they are obeyed, even among each other.

Viviana was taken two years ago. The other half of the bed is bare and cold. Prozium does not counteract all urges, just the extremes.

Partridge is his senior. His mentor. He can be trusted (not to leave). Something about hands and body heat and black leather that keeps Preston balanced. Balance is important when one carries several guns and knows precisely how to use them.

This is not a Sense Offense. This is a learning experience. Preston has always prided himself on being a fast learner.


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