Excerpt from The End Of Childhood

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This is from the first draft rough. Copyright 2021 Dan Melson All Rights Reserved.

The first warning we had was the general alarm.

I hadn't expected a marching band. The Imperial military is built on lightning strikes, and fast responses to catch those strikes before they achieve their goals. Vector Drive meant that space warfare was about concentrating firepower and directing it usefully - position meant nothing. Even planetary surface troops got used to the idea that when an opponent could rig a portal or hijack an existing one, they could be anywhere.

But it's disconcerting to get the 'all recipients' message on your datalink: "Warning!: Demonic elements have been reported in your area, and most other areas of the system! Be prepared to respond appropriately." Impersonal as hell, and no information as to how close they were, or exactly what sort of 'elements'. Were we talking about manesi, which were easy meat for anyone with modern weaponry, or were we talking about an elite corps of spraxos or basileus?

In the absence of specific information, I had to assume it was the same sort of mix generally encountered. I'd been working more than a full day already, tagging fortyseven potential traitors who'd recently interacted with demons on Sharanna. Asto's splinter had been taking care of the children, as much as they needed taking care of. I'd managed to check in for quick hugs in the breakfast hour, and then right back to tracking demonic contacts.

What was most important was clear - continuing my checks for demonic contacts. However, my uncle's old adage about trying to drain the swamp when you're up to your backside in alligators also applied. Trying to make a spak recording in the middle of a firefight would be problematic. Not to mention that I didn't care if my husband's splinter was more capable than I was, or for that matter the children themselves - I was going to guard my children myself. It wasn't that I didn't trust him, House security, or the children themselves for that matter. It was simply that I was their mom. A quick portal home was all it took.

Esteban took my arrival as a matter of course, I found a cooperative website tracking all the engagements.

Absolutely not. The five of you are protected by the fact you are legal children. It would be acceptable to defend yourselves, especially here in the residence, but if you go looking for demons you're declaring yourselves adult.

Esteban meant we could use it to track how close the demons are, Asto's splinter intervened.

Good. We have five children here who are not ready to assume adult risks.

Go on, Mom! We'll be fine! This was Ilras. You don't want to miss all the excitement, do you?

Even if 'the excitement' held any special allure for me, I would not be willing to leave the five of you unsupervised during this crisis. Especially not you, mister energy cannon, planar explosives, and automatic needler!

The others has stashes, too!

The others aren't treating this like some sort of simulator game!

Patience, Esteban counseled, I'm sure we'll all get our fill of action once we're adults.

Absolutely right! I certainly have!

Grandfather says you find enough trouble for any three people
, Alden interjected.

Just what I needed - the older generation making it difficult to manage my family. Whether he meant Scimtar or Gilras wasn't important. I certainly don't go looking for it! Yet somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice asked 'if the truth makes it difficult, does it make more sense to look at others or yourself for the solution?'

Yet if you keep finding it, doesn't praxeology tell us you must be doing things to attract it? That was Ilora, the sensitive one who didn't even like playing Natural State Survivor against 'live' opposition. I had to admit she had a point - but more importantly, if she was sniping, it was a sure bet that Ilras would do something outrageous as soon as I wasn't watching him full time.

Whatever you might think, young lady, we're going to shelter here and hope that this invasion passes us by without endangering five children who might happen to be Seventh Order Guardians someday, but for now are half-trained and not capable of understanding the risks they want to take.

You all heard your mother's decision, Asto's splinter lowered the boom. They might argue with Mom, who after all was only a Fourth Order Guardian from a little barbarian planet in the back end of beyond. When their father agreed with that kind of finality, it meant debate was over. We all have our personal weapons. We're going to monitor the situation, and try to stay out of trouble.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on June 15, 2021 9:53 AM.

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