First Draft Excerpt from Measure Of Adulthood

| | Comments (0)

It's about 13 years Imperial since the events of The Price of Power. Grace has publicly admitted to being middle grade Fourth Order, while in reality she's near the threshold of Sixth. Her children are nearing official adulthood. The Empire is still at war, and showing some strain.

Copyright 2022 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved


Official Imperial Time had nothing to do with planetary cycles. Right now, family dinnertime was in the predawn hours for Sumabad, and the wide band of Indra Habitat One stretched across the sky, barely two seconds distant, shining with a light that exceeded thirty full moons on Earth. Indra's planetary day was slightly shorter than the Standard Imperial Day, so every official day was a little more advanced in terms of planetary day than the one before it. People who needed to synchronize with planetary day were few; I'd be getting ready for work about the time the sun came up, but that was just coincidence. The angle of the window was wrong to see the almost equally bright arch of Indra Habitat Two - we'd had a crossing just four days previous and the best view was on the other side of Residence Arcology. But ten ithirds below, the lights of private water-going ships dotted the Strait of Sumabad, once the busiest commercial artery on Indra, now simply a place for people who liked watercraft to sail. Goods traveled by portal or by starship now. The massive spherical bulk of a size six capital hull reflected lights off its dark gray hull descending in the greenbelt between arcologies off to my right as I took my place next to Asto's splinter at the table. Fortyfive ifourths in radius - call it three and a half Earth kilometers diameter - it was nonetheless dwarfed by the arcologies that towered over the greenbelt. From my previous profession as a pilot, I knew more than most about the intricate dance that kept goods flowing into and out of imperial planets.

But for the past twentyfour imperial years, I'd been an Imperial Investigator. These days, my warrant came from Scimtar himself as I was strong enough to hunt most noble-caste enemy on my own. I still didn't want to face any basileus, and I stepped carefully around jopas as well, but the two top castes together were only a tiny fraction of contacts. Even spraxos were less than four iprime of the total and these days I didn't hesitate to take on two of those at once. The fractal demons were hard pressed, most of their agents had always been nephraim, and they'd begun using even terostes.

Tonight the family meal was something I'd never had before. Had no idea what it was called, but it tasted like I imagined a too-spicy rat stir-fry would. One of Helene's rare misses. From the way Scimtar ate, though, I'd guess it was a childhood favorite. I had a few bites to be polite to Helene, then got a double cheeseburger and fries out of the converter.

I won't say the mood was grim at dinner that evening, but it was restrained. It was a common mood these days. The major offensives against the fractal demons were over - successfully. Every demonic holding we'd known about when the war started, and many we'd discovered since then, had been eradicated. But it was a big cosmos, and the demons could reproduce faster than we did. We had to keep the pressure on - or everything we'd won would be in vain - but major battles were getting fewer and further between. Meanwhile, they were still dangling out the prizes of false operancy to induce turncoats, and they'd adapted their strategy to raids that were intended to kill people and destroy industrial capacity, rather than conquer and hold territory. A nephraim would lead a few prime of manesi on a raid of an Imperial planet or habitat, kill a couple square humans do a couple fourths of damage, and be gone (usually with captive humans for later consumption) before organized resistance could respond. It took the Empire at least thirty years to produce a new citizen, and a lot of opportunity cost. The demons could toss off an adult manes much faster and for almost no opportunity cost.

When we could find a demonic holding, superior Imperial tech would enable clearing it at casualty and expense ratios that would be conclusive in the setting of a direct war with another human polity. But the fractal demons didn't work like that. Bottom line was they were born with everything they needed to wreak havoc. Humans weren't. We were winning the war, but it wasn't as one-sided as you'd think, and the Empire was under a noticeable strain. This showed in the social atmosphere, here more obviously than most - many of the family were directly involved, and everyone knew the issues.

Corella and Anara were talking about the issues with building a detection array, enabling the Empire to locate demonic holdings directly.

"It seems you want to build something like the fixed tachyonic network that connects First Galaxy and a lot of our more thickly settled holdings," Imtara asked, "Could you please explain why you can't make them mobile?"

"It's not that we can't make them mobile," Corella explained to her, "It's that it adds a lot of expense to a given unit. The array range is dependent upon physical size."

"Wouldn't it drastically cut the number of units required?" Imtara asked, "It's not like a new demonic holding is going to be dangerous in an hour or even a day, and if they're mobile, each array can cover many such locations. Do we really need continuous monitoring at all station posts?"

"We haven't got anything big enough to move the sensor arrays intact."

"Do they need to be intact to move? Even if the answer is 'yes', Mom told us about how she was working mass haulers for a while." That had been all of three days, ending with a duel that had damned near killed me and Esteban as well.

"I need some time on this," Anara broke in, "Mounting the arrays on a ship would help us ameliorate a production bottleneck. But I need some time to program simulators." Anara was the multispacial specialist between them; she and her husband Gilras had participated in the patent that made Interstitial Vector commercially viable. Corella was more of a talented production engineer. For all I knew, Anara already had one of her other splinters working on the idea, but so far as I knew, Corella couldn't make splinters any more than I could. She might have a couple of para working the problem internally, but no external splinters.

Right there in the middle of dinner, a priority message came into my queue. Thinking it was from one of the support types I worked with over on the military side of the Residence and could simply deal with it via one of my para, I accessed it. But it was a much bigger bomb than that, from Adulthood Services back on Earth.

It seemed my bastard child had lost his adulthood and named me as a potential parent.

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!
Please be civil. Avoid profanity - I will delete the vast majority of it, usually by deleting the entire comment. To avoid comment spam, a comments account is required. They are freely available, and you can post comments immediately. Alternatively, you may use your Type Key registration, or sign up for one (They work at most Movable Type sites). All comments made are licensed to the site, but the fact that a comment has been allowed to remain should not be taken as an endorsement from me or the site. There is no point in attempting to foster discussion if only my own viewpoint is to be permitted. If you believe you see something damaging to you or some third party, I will most likely delete it upon request.
Logical failures (straw man, ad hominem, red herring, etcetera) will be pointed out - and I hope you'll point out any such errors I make as well. If there's something you don't understand, ask.
Nonetheless, the idea of comments should be constructive. Aim them at the issue, not the individual. Consider it a challenge to make your criticism constructive. Try to be respectful. Those who make a habit of trollish behavior will be banned.

Leave a comment


Buy My Science Fiction Novels!
Dan Melson Amazon Author Page
Dan Melson Author Page Books2Read

Links to free samples here

The Man From Empire
Man From Empire Cover
Man From Empire Books2Read link

A Guardian From Earth
Guardian From Earth Cover
Guardian From Earth Books2Read link

Empire and Earth
Empire and Earth Cover
Empire and Earth Books2Read link

Working The Trenches
Working The Trenches Cover
Working the Trenches Books2Read link

Rediscovery 4 novel set
Rediscovery set cover
Rediscovery 4 novel set Books2Read link

Preparing The Ground
Preparing The Ground Cover
Preparing the Ground Books2Read link

Building the People
Building the People Cover
Building the People Books2Read link

Setting The Board

Setting The Board Cover
Setting The Board Books2Read link

Moving The Pieces

Moving The Pieces Cover
Moving The Pieces Books2Read link

The Invention of Motherhood
Invention of Motherhood Cover
Invention of Motherhood Books2Read link

The Price of Power
Price of Power Cover
Price of Power Books2Read link

The End Of Childhood
End Of Childhood cover
The End of Childhood Books2Read link

Measure Of Adulthood
Measure Of Adulthood cover
Measure Of Adulthood Books2Read link
The Fountains of Aescalon
Fountains of Aescalon Cover
The Fountains of Aescalon Books2Read link

The Monad Trap
Monad Trap Cover
The Monad Trap Books2Read link

The Gates To Faerie
Gates To Faerie cover
The Gates To Faerie Books2Read link

Gifts Of The Mother
Gifts Of The Mother cover
Gifts Of The Mother Books2Read link

The Book on Mortgages Everyone Should Have!
What Consumers Need To Know About Mortgages
What Consumers Need To Know About Mortgages Cover
What Consumers Need to Know About Mortgages Books2Read

The Book on Buying Real Estate Everyone Should Have
What Consumers Need To Know About Buying Real Estate
What Consumers Need To Know About Buying Real Estate Cover
What Consumers Need to Know About Buying Real Estate Books2Read

Dan Melson's San Diego Real Estate and Mortgage Website

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on December 20, 2022 7:00 AM.

Wherein the Author Pleads Illness. Excerpt from Working The Trenches was the previous entry in this blog.

Exerpt from Preparing The Ground (Preparations For War 1) is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.21-en

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Copyright 2005-2024 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved