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Rules of Conflict (Jani Kilian Series #2)

Rules of Conflict (Jani Kilian Series #2)

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by Kristine Smith

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Anarchy Rules

For eighteen years, Captain Jani Kilian has been hiding from her bloody past. Now she faces trial for what she once did, what she knows now, and what she has become.

Eighteen years ago, she was saved by a radical-and illegal-medical procedure that added alien genetic material to her own. But her hybrid body is breaking down.


Anarchy Rules

For eighteen years, Captain Jani Kilian has been hiding from her bloody past. Now she faces trial for what she once did, what she knows now, and what she has become.

Eighteen years ago, she was saved by a radical-and illegal-medical procedure that added alien genetic material to her own. But her hybrid body is breaking down. And so is everything else.

Relations between the human and alien idomeni races are deteriorating as rapidly as Jani Kilian's augmentation. And Jani's reemergence has caused old wounds to reopen and new wounds to form. Perhaps it's time for a damaged soldier to stop fighting; to let the desperate architects of a vast and devouring conspiracy keep the truth well hidden; to let the universe and everyone in it go straight to Hell.

Perhaps not...

Editorial Reviews

A well-portrayed far-future society and a strong protagonist. . .Smith milks paranoid possibilities like an old pro.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Jani Kilian Series , #2

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Jani Kilian shifted her attention from her aching stomach to the admissions clerk who held her MedRec card by the comer like a dirty dispo. The woman tapped her stylus against the data-entry grid that rested on the desk in front of her, the staccato impact of plastic on polycoat sounding its get on with it song.

"Shane Averill," Jani replied, "just like it says in the card." She snatched a peek at her reflection in the highly polished counter. Chilly, too-dark eyes. Jaw tensed with discomfort. She forced a smile.

The clerk ignored the attempt at sociability. "Date and place of birth?"

Jani heard her voice quiver as she recited the information she'd memorized in preparation for this encounter. The Earthbound accents that echoed through the cavernous lobby made her nervous.

Coming to Felix had made sense after fleeing Chicago. The closest colony to Earth, it was an easy burrow to hunker down in. So obvious a stopping place was it that the Service agents who had no doubt pursued her would have bypassed it for someplace less likely. The Channel Worlds. Or Pearl Way.

But the burrow had proved to be made of quicksand. Expensive but necessary equipment purchases had devoured her finances, forcing her to remain until she could earn enough money to leave. Then her dodgy health had taken a serious downturn.

The stomachaches, I can handle. But not the nausea, the vomiting, the pounding heart. She knew she risked exposure by coming to Neoclona-Felix, but it was the only place on the planet that could treat her properly, and she had grown sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

It was a matterof minutes now. One blood study or encephaloscan, and she'd be blown.

They promised I had nothing to fear. Cal Montoya, the doctor who had saved her life in Chicago, and those he spoke for. Promises were made to be broken. Her stomach clenched, and she leaned into the counter.

"Parents' names and worlds of origin?"

Jani looked around the Neoclona facility's glass and stone lobby as she gave voice to more of the fictitious Ms. Averill's invented history. Shades of purple-the company's signature hue-shone from every surface, even the tinted glass that softened the battering Felician sun. Bathed in shafts of grape-colored sunlight, she felt as though she stood at the bottom of a filled punch bowl.

"I don't suppose you can give me the first letter of your patient string?"

Jani took a steadying breath as the pain in her gut eased. "P-seven-eight-dot-one-two-dash-four-eight-zee -- "

The tapping ceased abruptly. "You know your patient string by heart?"

Jani restrained the urge to turn on her heel, walk out of the lobby, and disappear into the Felix Majora crowds. "It's just a series of encodes. Gate Way nearest my birth planet, followed by world code, followed by sector -- "

The clerk ran the card through a scanner, then watched the disgorged data as it scrolled down the grid screen. "Shipping administrator for Felix Cruiseways, huh? Figures you can memorize forty-two-character strings." Her haggard features softened at this discovery of a kindred, data-crunching soul. She even cracked a smile. "Is Cruiseways a good place to work?"

Jani eyed the clerk's bright purple shirt. Silver caducei, every detail of snake, wing and staff visible in the holoetching, sparkled from collar and cuffs. The knowledge of what lay behind the symbols made her shiver. Or maybe it was the subarctic temperature of the lobby. "It's all right. I doubt it's any more exciting than what you do here. Besides, with the way Earth-colony relations are headed, the shipping and travel businesses are bound to take a hit. You're better off sticking with Neoclona."

The woman sighed and tugged at her dark blond bangs. Earthbound, judging by the odd twang of her Felician Spanish, and younger than she initially appeared. Mid-twenties, but her attitude aged her. "It just didn't turn out to be as exciting as I thought it would when I answered this posting. 'See the colonies! Meet new people!' " She fingered an entry into the grid. "Check in with the outpatient nurse on thirty-seven. She'll tell you where to go from there."

Jani reclaimed her record card and offered a commiserating grin of farewell. Dear child, the last thing in the Commonwealth you want is an exciting life. She waded deeper into the bowl, toward the lift bank. Trust me.

They asked her the same questions four more times as she scaled the floors to her doctor's office. Crude way to suss out potential health-care fraud, but with the field of documents forgery as advanced as it was, the human element usually turned out to be the weakest link. Something about the increasing isolation and the proximity of sharp metal instruments and blinking analyzers tripped up less-determined con artists.

But we're the few, the sneaky, the hard-core liars, Jani thought as she followed the latest in the afternoon's series of white-coated backs down a hallway lined with examining rooms. She had reached the seventy-second floor, aerie of department chiefs and other demigods -- her appointment had been made with a divinity named Tellinn. Deputy chief of endocrinology. Narrow, slumped shoulders. Shaggy black hair that needed trimming. Lapdog eyes deep-set in a drawn, pale face. Looked as though he could use a little of what he sold.

"This way, Ms. Averill," he said as he led her around yet another comer. "You're complaining of nausea?"


"And you're feeling jittery?"

"Yes," Jani hissed. Two decades of experience compelled her to memorize the locations of the nearest exits, the security desk, the dead-end hallways. "At first, it just happened after I ate, but now it's constant."

What People are Saying About This

Catherine Asaro
A fine new voice in the field of science fiction.
—(Catherine Asaro, author of The Veiled Web)

Meet the Author

Kristine Smith is the author of Rules of Conflict and Code of Conduct. She works as a process development scientist for a large pharmaceutical manufacturer and lives in northern Illinois.

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Rules of Conflict (Jani Kilian Series #2) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Almost two decades ago, Jani Killian served on a diplomatic mission to the Idomeni. Her superior officer broke regulations and interfered in the local civil war. In the subsequent dispute, Jani kills him, but almost dies too from an explosion. The doctors on board, Shroud and Parini saved Jani's life when they introduce Idomeni DNA into her body. Jani went underground so she would not face charges of mutiny and murder.

Eighteen years later, her body seems to be rejecting the foreign DNA. Desperate for help, Jani checks into an obscure off-world medical facility where her past still catches up with her. However, instead of a trial and conviction, Jani, accompanied by an intel officer and an archivist, begins to investigate what really happened on Idomeni and why everyone who was involved wants it kept buried at all costs.

RULES OF CONFLICT is an exciting science fiction tale that proves Kristin Smith's debut novel (see CODE OF CONDUCT) is no fluke. The story line is complex due to the interstellar conspiracy to hide the past. Surprisingly, and this further demonstrates the author's talent, the intricacy of the plot actually augments the non-stop, fast-paced action. Ms. Smith's talent resides with her characters who appear real whether they are Idomeni, earthlings, or the reengineered hybrid heroine. Ms. Smith takes the X-Files into outer space.

Harriet Klausner