September 2020 Archives

Since I'm working on the third novel in this series, might be a good idea to bring people up to speed on the set up

Grace and Asto have been married about twenty-five Imperial years (17 Earth) at the beginning of this series. They enlisted in the military together, and now Grace is coming to the end of her enlistment, while Asto still has another forty Imperial years in his term of service, but Grace nonetheless wants to start their family now. The overarching theme of the series is that Grace will be raising that family while becoming more aware of the situation she has thrust herself into by marrying into House Scimtar.


Later, Asto and I were in our quarters. He's a tall, thin Guardian; the body type sometimes known as 'hound' on Earth. Six feet six, broad shoulders, long legs, and thin as a whip, except for tiny little bulges here and there, intended to give him a reserve of energy if he needed it. He'd changed his skin color, darkened it slightly and added a touch more bronze than when we married, so it looked rather more like what my Earth family would think of as pure indio rather than mestizo, but his face was still on the aristocratic Northern European mold, hawk-faced and sharp, with eyes that were always alive with light whenever I saw them.

That was amusing, love, he told me, watching Whelsed try and talk you out of something you've had your mind set on for most of twenty years.

It was a tribute to my resolve, of sorts. Ending my commitment at twenty years had been part of our agreement with each other to work as Eyes. They might move him to solo work as a Finger, but he wasn't so much as going to hint at me changing my mind. We kept our promises to each other, always.

You do seem amused, I observed.

We've been in rapport for twentyfive years now, love. I know better than to try to wiggle out of an agreement, but I do confess I was less than fully convinced you wouldn't agree to what someone else pretended to need from you. You do sometimes let yourself be led astray by others' expectations.

Guilty as charged, I said. Of course, if I hadn't been, my life would have been completely different, and much poorer. I would never have met my wonderful husband, for instance. I take it I passed the test?

Can't ask a better score than perfect, he replied. The mental subtext was playful, and I gathered he'd changed his mind about starting early. If you still want to, how about adding one to the head of the line? he asked.

He hadn't wanted to before. He'd been concerned I might change my mind when they tried to persuade me to extend, and then I'd be pregnant with more time to serve. I could always transfer the baby to artificial gestation or halt development - I was a Guardian and just as capable as any other healer - but both had their drawbacks. We had four fertilized eggs in storage, just in case. In the Empire, it was standard to use artificial gestation, but being a barbarian from Earth I didn't think I could look my sisters in the eye and call myself a mother if I hadn't done it the same way they had at least once. Besides, I'd like to surprise Anara and Gilras (and Helene and Scimtar) with an extra child to the four we had planned and in frozen storage.

What else could I do? I attacked him before he could change his mind.

Afterwards, we lay there in happy communion making certain the newly fertilized boy would be healthy, adding the last little touches to what he would become. When we were satisfied, we made love again, slow and passionate, each possessive of the other in a way that said both 'mine' and 'yours' simultaneously. We belonged to each other in ways that no Earth human would have understood before Imperial contact. We might live separate for years at a time - given that he was remaining in the military and I wasn't, we'd have no choice on some occasions - but for me, 'home' was where Asto was. And vice versa. We weren't necessarily all demonstrative about it out in public, but we didn't need to be. Our rapport, a constant mental connection to each other, left no doubts. Not that we shied away from demonstrations, either.

The ideas for this character and another associated one have been in the back of my mind for a while. I thought I was going to do a viewpoint shift in my Work-in-Progress, but I've decided to do something different. Nonetheless, I'm probably going to do something with this character eventually


"We have an Empire-wide alert. The fractal demons have begun massive assaults on Imperial systems throughout the Empire. The Empire is now in a state of war. There are no protected areas in this war, and Earth is one of the most exposed planets. The demons have a major marshalling point only seventeen years distant. Be prepared, be alert. We will do our best, but our resources are limited and demonic nobles can appear anywhere and bring troops with them. Your best defense is yourself."

-Announcement made by Brigade Ensign HoshTeremas, commander of Sol system defenses


It caused an almost planetary panic.

Despite the Empire's brutally frank acknowledgements that war was coming, and that it was likely the Earth would be the target of an invasion force the limited numbers of troops in the system would be unable to contain for a century prior to the war, the actual start of hostilities caught almost everyone unprepared.
The hollowed-out brigade assigned to Earth was more than we should have had, by a strict accounting. Even a group - one fourth the troops - would have been generous. But that didn't mean people were ready for what happened.

I was better prepared than most. I'd spent thirty years in the Imperial military. When separated, I'd used part of my savings to purchase my combat suit from the Empire. I'd been strict about keeping it up to maintenance standards in the time since, too, and kept a full load of expendables on hand. When I'd settled near San Onofre, in the old Camp Pendleton Enterprise Zone, I'd even found a group of like-minded veterans and we'd practiced together in the simulators a few times per Imperial year. It was what we had time for.

I had good reason to keep myself in shape, too. I'd become a prostitute.

Pick your damned jaw up off the floor. For that matter, courtesan was probably more accurate. I was born on Earth, and I liked Earth, but I'd learned some of our attitudes were... provincial. By the time I'd been discharged, I had no qualms whatsoever about ignoring them. I wasn't going to be so careless I got pregnant, and a session with a healer could kill any disease known to the Empire - and Momma was a Guardian even if I wasn't, as well as my mentor in 'the business'. If anything had come up, she'd have been happy to heal me - not that it ever did. When first I returned to Earth, I'd had to keep physical side of my operations to the Pendleton Zone and the Channel Islands Military Reservation or south of the border in what used to be Mexico, but when the old United States finally voted to disband, I no longer had even those minimal concerns.

I was valued, too. My base rate was forty luc per Imperial hour, and it was a rare customer I probably wasn't going to see again that didn't volunteer more. I even enjoyed the 'work.' Since Earth was still dirt poor by the standards of the rest of the Empire, my clientele consisted mostly of off-worlders, I lived well on a couple hours 'work' per week - I had a ten prime ififths squared condo on the third-highest level of one of the San Onofre highrises, a four-seat Starbird of my own even though I was only an in-system pilot, and other investments totaling over forty fifths - perhaps nothing special in most of the Empire, but here on Earth I was the equivalent of a billionaire. Most of my customers were here because they were assigned or passing through for some reason either business or charitable. The native churches didn't care for us much, but Imperial Viceroys didn't answer to voters or elections, so those who would have made trouble had seen their power evaporate as thoroughly as all the other old splinter special interest groups who'd thrived off the threat of making fifty-one percent into forty-nine. Served them right. Momma named me Uhura, after a character on an old entertainment before contact. She told me it meant 'freedom,' and I was damned if I was going to fall short of that name. Great-Grandmama might have been an enslaved 'comfort woman' but I chose to do what I did. It suited me for now. Maybe someday it wouldn't - but I had plenty of other skills, and the Planetary Surface forces would be right glad of an experienced Squad Private anytime I wanted - especially now.

So despite over three prime of warnings from the Empire that war was probably going to hit Earth, most of the planet was still dreaming that nothing would ever happen. They said a good definition of humanity was 'an otherwise sentient species known for its unwillingness to plan ahead,' and the reaction proved them right. Near as I can tell, roughly three fifths - two billion plus by the old numbers - tried demanding free passage offworld on Earth's one commercial run that might have held a cube or even two - if they'd jammed 'em in with a shoehorn. Never mind that the destination systems would have been just as liable to get hit. Both the transport company and all the Viceroys laughed at them, of course.

Most of the rest of Earth's fourteen fifths - eleven billion - tried the old adage, 'when in danger or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout.' It was not a pleasant experience for those few of us more inclined to solving our own problems. But I suppose that's why they weren't all rich, and why Earth still absorbed way more charity than planets with four times the people. Close on two Earth centuries since Imperial contact, and the planet was still working through all the crap I remembered from my youth. Damn but we were crazy back then! Almost made the rotten bastards that had enslaved Great-Grandmama in Korea look sane! Least they were willing to work at what they wanted, instead of having it handed to them! Maybe it would've been better if the Empire had just let the old folks die off, instead of healing them all and giving them another life. But since that saved Momma and got her training as a Guardian, I'm just as glad they didn't


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