Davis Spratt Benton had a face made of equal parts bourbon, entitlement and ham hocks; and the self-regard of a man who has always had things go his way. Albeit, the way a ventriloquist's dummy had things go his way, but Carson had to admire the artistry of the face. That Which Lives Within had made the Honorable Mr. Benton a picture-perfect Speaker of the Legislature.
Carson was the State Senator for New Boston, and That Which Lives Within—Twill, as people called him—didn't hold any sort of elected office. But Twill held most of the cards in the state house, including the speaker.
"The next order of business," said Benton, "is LB 844-233 S, concerning the disposal of medical wastes."
A spasm of rage caused a film of bubbles to rise in Carson's tank, and threatened the delicate psychic control of his optics. Sooner or later, he'd beat Twill (an unleashed intelligence against a maggot-spawning rodent was scarcely a fair contest), but until then, there was the steady stream of harassment from Twill's puppets.
Twill didn't have the votes for it to be anything more than harassment. He had Benton in his pocket, and there were fifteen other senators with full grown mind-slugs, and that was about his limit. Sure, there were lesser spawn, but when it came to those, Carson had countermeasures.
"The district of De Queen," said one of the lesser spawn, the one in the junior seat from De Queen, "supports the efforts of the great state of Texarkana to regularize—"
Carson calculated range, strength, and relativistic loss, and sent a coded burst of information up and out.
He tried again, and the jackass from De Queen kept going on in favor of the bill. Could be that there was some sort of interference, or something wrong with the satellite. Carson dialed the power up, tried again. Again … nothing.
Benton looked over at Carson, and gave the faintest hint of a wink. Son of a bitch. Twill had done something to his satellite. Carson did a quick review. There were a few walking trees, sasquatches, and others who were resistant to Twill's spawn on the floor, but even if Carson got all of them to oppose, LB 844-223 S was going to pass. Which meant that human organs that were not part of a living human would be destroyed, and as he had shed his birth system years ago, that meant him.
Theoretically, he could try to get the governor to veto. But that wasn't how Texarkana worked. Bills crossed the desk of his Late Excellency, Mr. Teach, and bribes went to Mr. Teach's Caribbean bank accounts with a perfect, dreaming regularity. Going up against Twill was one thing, but crossing Teach . . . safer to be destroyed as medical waste.
Hell with it. Twill had gotten a jump on him, but Carson wasn't going to sit still and take it. He activated his walker attachment, and headed out. Benton started banging on his gavel, but he was too slow. Besides, the bill hadn't passed yet. Carson was still the state senator for New Boston, and was allowed to leave the floor if he wanted.
Off the floor, through security, into his car, and then they were off. If Twill had been quick enough to keep Carson in place, he might have won, but That Which Lives Within was always too slow. Came from spreading his awareness too thin, and from years of barbiturate abuse. There was a direct line to the drone driving the car, so no satellite problems there. They pulled out, and Carson checked his video feed of the State Senate floor. A dozen of the neutrals and four of Twill's sixteen had left.