All An Act

“Are you sure she can be trusted to act?”

Naomi looked over at the master of the query, a bespectacled older man with streaks of gray and white running through his once-dark brown hair. His name was Doctor Ezekiel Nayot, one of Naomi’s oldest supporters in her bid to obtain the title–or at the very least, puppet the title through manipulating Rebecca Sakakibara. As the attending physician, he had been present when Naomi’s father issued his dying wish for Naomi to become Holder. He was a cunning man as well as a shrewd physician, dodging attempts at silencing Naomi’s claim by maintaining the facade of a diligent family physician. In reality, he was responsible for quietly removing some of the older family members in addition to some of the youngest ones, slowly solidifying Naomi’s position against Reginald.

In other words, he was dangerously effective.

“I believe so,” She replied, glancing over her small cabal in one of the more sheltered parlors at the Sakakibara estate, “At the very least, she’s completed infatuated with me.”

“It’s a dangerous plan,” Dr. Nayot said, lighting a cigarette as he did so.

That much was true. The plan revolved entirely around Alex de’Crux being told enough to act, but not enough to begin unraveling the web of lies. Of course, it helped that the head of Reginald’s security organization–DENT–went by codename “L.” That alone made it all too easy to manipulate.

“I know,” She nodded.

The plan was far from foolproof and relied heavily on everything happening within a few degrees of deviation from the actual plan. That made it incredibly fragile, though if successful, would cripple DENT’s ability to act and therefore isolate Reginald and his new wife Katerina. It involved Naomi faking her own poisoning, then using DENT-style tactics of kidnapping and execution to draw Alexa’s kameiras out. She would be sacrificing some of her lesser supporters, but they were mere pawns in the game at best.

The centerpiece however, was the role Doctor Nayot would have to play. Not only would he impersonate the elusive “L” to Alexa, he would also be responsible for ensuring the dose of poison within Naomi’s veins didn’t outright kill her. It was easier and more effective to be poisoned than simply to act poisoned, and risking one clone was all that it would take.

“And this de’Crux, you’re absolutely certain you can manipulate her?” Doctor Nayot asked, ever the cautious man.

Naomi thought back to the kiss she shared with Alexa. She knew it had been Alexa’s very first, so she solidified the memory with a seductive use of tongue. She was certain Alexa was pouring over it whenever she got a free moment, her body most likely consumed with obtaining more sensations, of sharing additional kisses. It was that desire that Naomi was manipulating, the so-called “love” Alexa thought she was feeling.

“Yes, I just need a little more time with her. She thinks herself a guardian of the empire, so as soon as I am poisoned, she will be as a slaver hound unleashed, tearing through perceived threats with abandon. L and DENT won’t stand a chance.”

“And then?”

“And then I’ll have Reginald and Katerina on their knees.”

“And if Alexa decides to stand against you?”

“Then I shall do what every master does to a mad hound.”

“And that is?”

“Put her down.”

Doctor Nayot nodded in agreement, then snuffed out his cigarette into an ash tray. The nod meant everything to Naomi. It was the nod he had given her when he put one elderly Sakakibara into a coma from which they never awoke, the nod he had given her when he had killed a newborn child right under the nose of its mother, and the nod he had given when her father’s agony finally ended.

All she needed now was a few nights alone with Alexa–maybe even just one. After all, Alexa had requested a lesson in love.

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