This is the rough draft of Grub Stage, book 3 in Renegade Agents of A.R.S.A. Go to the beginning here. To refresh your memory of the previous installments, click here.

The painting interested me, though, in a way it might not have before my title became ‘assassin’. Two dogs with bared teeth in the foreground, face to face and hackles raised. And two dogs in the background, visible beneath the jaws of the ones in front. These two were locked in mortal battle. Blood and spittle flying. It wasn’t evident which of the two would survive the fight.

It made me think about the nature of men. And my role in that world too. But mostly of men, because although I get to play this role in what more and more looks like a larger game that started long ago, it is still men making the decisions in my life. Maybe there are women in power out there still, but I hadn’t encountered any since my father was recalled and we left the jungle research.

When we came back stateside, it was to the nightmare in progress. Was it still in progress? I had no idea. All I knew was that my reality now meant I either accept the submissive place of servitude, or embrace this new position of aggressor.

So my observation on the painting was this. The ones who survive in this world and come out on top, the ones who get to make the rules – and break them … are the ones willing to do the awful things- incredibly vile and vicious, if called for, things- to other men in order to beat them down to submission. Then the winner backs off and plays nice, all the while watching to make sure the once submitted does not again attempt to become the dominant.

I’ve watched this behavior in dogs. Humans are animals, too, so it makes sense that this instinctive drive is what compels mankind to war with each other. We are acting exactly like dogs in a fight. If necessary, the dominant one will maim or kill, if the other won’t submit. Question is, is the US going to regain status to be the dom? Or are we going to fight to the death because the UN is so large and powerful now it won’t even dream to roll over and expose the belly and neck? OR will the US become tired of the fight at the same rate as the UN and we both roll away from each other, both living to fight another day?

Or. Did we roll over when I didn’t notice and the game is long finished? The the picture becomes messy and confusing when you try to see it with all the factions involved. Like trying to see the order in a swarm of hornets flowing out of disturbed nest. I didn’t know where I stood in that larger picture anymore.

There was no one to discuss these things with now in my renewed isolation. For a flash of a moment, I missed Dersuss. And then the sound of the nickname in my mind disgusted me and immediately the hatred returned. I hoped I’d never see that man again. But it bothered me a little that I couldn’t remember why.


Hi! Thanks for dropping by my site. I hope you'll browse around a bit and find something you like. My genre is hard to define, but it's closest to urban fantasy. Except set in the rural world, for the most part. It's a blend of soft science fiction, fantasy, and in my current work, near-future post-collapse.

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