Tradition, Revised & Expanded 2

Hesh or Tic-Kills, a herg bodyguard to Mister Slade, is a minor character. His role to protect Mister Slade, look intimidating, and in this instance provide details about herg culture in a way that is not solely me writing out the process. Personally, one of my favorite interludes, separate from the action, yet part of the action. This revision/expansion cleans up some of the details of what he is doing and why along with giving readers information about herg culture and Hesh as an individual.

Previous version.

A short time after the shooting…

Tradition first.

Bone weary, sore, bleeding, Hesh squatted down onto a herg-sized chair in front of a battered, but organized workbench; the center of the workbench illuminated by a single light. Tradition kept his people centered, far from his clan, Hesh honored clan traditions. His thick fingers pulled a lump of mashed metal meant for his boss from his body armor. Rotating the bullet under the light looking for the best spot to make a hole, Hesh reached across the table for a drill, leaving a bloody streak on the tabletop. Pinning the bullet to the table, whine of the drill filling the room as the drill cut a hole. Blood ran down his arm, pooling under his elbow. Setting the drill aside, Hesh picked up the bullet, watching light shine through the hole, catching motes of dust.

Tradition first.

As his Lorekeeper taught, Hesh exhaled slowly, centering his thoughts. Ignoring his pain. Ignoring his blood pooling on the table, allow the remembrances to flow like water into the world. Tilting his head forward, several braids woven with beads and other objects fell in front of his eyes. Hesh found the braid near his right ear and tusk. Slowly, Hesh undid the braid, removing each object woven into the braid, setting them on the table in the same order as he removed them; an ivory skull worn smooth from years of contact, a blood stained strip of white cloth, and a battered unadorned gold ring. The mashed bullet sat last next to the gold ring.

Tradition first.

Ignore his pain. Thoughts centered. Hesh picked up the skull running his thick fingers over the smooth surfaces allowing the remembrance to flow in; passed to him from his father and his grandfather passed the skull to his father. Hesh recalled the moment his father wove the skull into his first remembrance braid; his father’s scar etched face, his right tusk capped in gold, and the shining pride in his father’s eyes as he welcomed his son into adulthood with the symbolic act.

Ducking into cover. Shot through the arm. Gasping for breath. Pain. Sounds of warfare all around him. The remembrance attached to the bloodstained cloth flowed through him while he wove the cloth into place. The sounds of war fading into the past again with a last tightening tug of the braid.

Holding her hand. A genuine smile during a private moment. Her face in shadow. The twinkle in her eye. That twinkle fading. Weaving the ring into the braid, tears streaming down his face, Hesh relived her life and death. Pain he could not ignore.

Picking up the bullet feeling the contours, honoring the memory, Hesh relived an hour ago, setting the remembrance in place while weaving the bullet into the braid.

First to arrive at the gala, Hesh scanned the crowed before the door to his armored vehicle opened. Standing watching in front the roaring crowd of celebrity stalkers, as he referred to them, Hesh expected trouble; his boss was not a popular person.

Mister Slade’s black Zephyr Falcon pulled up to the red carpet. Keeping his eyes on the crowd, Hesh opened a rear door; Mister Slade dressed in the latest suit fashion stepped out waving to the crowd. The crowd reacted, roaring approval and trying to get closer to him. Left without cover, when the crowd surged toward the red carpet wanting to be near greatness, the gunman took aim…without thought Hesh shoved Mister Slade into the car, stepped into the line of fire, while pulling his own sidearm. The crowd screamed, scattered, or dropped to the ground at the first gunshot. The Falcon roared off, Mister Slade safe, gunman down, Hesh secured the scene with on-site security personnel.

Tightening the braid, remembrance in place, Hesh headed to the infirmary.

Tradition first.


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