As interstellar war looms, Fleet Admiral Catherine Romanova finds her loyalties not just tested...but also torn.
Fleet Admiral Catherine Romanova has come home to Narsai to retire. She and her second husband, her long-time comrade Lincoln Casey, have left Earth in disgust following one more sign of the growing distrust between the Outworlds of which Narsai is part and the Inner Worlds that have Terra at their political center. The last straw for them was the expulsion from the Star Service of all "scramblers"-officers promoted from the ranks of ordinary crewmembers, with whom Casey feels kinship because of his despised Morthan heritage. The couple's idyll (and unexpected) boredom is interrupted when their foster son, Dan Archer, arrives with a fugitive companion...and with a ruthless Corporate Marshal not far behind.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.66(d)|
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"This is Rachel Kane," Daniel Archer said, as he sat beside the woman who when she removed her cloak proved to be wearing a Star Service uniform that was tight in the front to a ludicrous degree. That had to be uncomfortable. Yet the woman's face was expressionless, which matched the way she moved--mechanically, and as if every use of muscle required a conscious effort. "You remember me talking about her, don't you, Matushka?"
The kitchen was warm, and it was fragrant now with coffee and chocolate and sweet hot cereals. Yet the tall woman with the fair hair and the green eyes was shivering, and she continued doing so even after Lincoln Casey went back to the bedroom and got an afghan and deftly wrapped it around her shoulders.
Unlike most Morthan hybrids, he could not sense the feelings of just any other sentient being who happened to be near him. There was only one other person whose emotions he could sense, and that connection had taken him years of constant and close association to develop. Nevertheless he had learned his Morthan mother's habit of taking care of the people who surrounded him, so he was the one who saw to it that the new arrivals were fed and that the room was made warmer when he realized that Rachel Kane was still shivering even after he brought her the afghan.
Catherine Romanova was nodding and answering her foster son, and relying on her mate to do the things he always did. "I remember," she said, and reached out to take the younger woman's hands between both of hers. The flesh she touched was cold. "You were the first officer on the Archangel, when Dan was posted to her as chief engineer."
"Yes. That was me."Kane spoke at last, in a raspy voice and so softly that if Romanova hadn't been leaning toward her already she doubted that she could have made out the words. "I'm sorry, I was alone for so long that I'm having trouble communicating now that I'm with people again. And it was so cold.... "Her shivering turned into a shudder.
Dan Archer moved his chair closer, and put both arms around the woman and held her close. He said in a voice that was as fierce as his manner was gentle, "God damn that bioengineering company that supplies the Service with gens, Matushka! I hope we do go to war against the Commonwealth, if the Outworlds form up our own service I'll join it. The way the government we've got now treats people like Rachel isn't human. Oh, hell, I'm sorry, Linc--but you know what I mean, don't you?"
Casey smiled, and set a mug of hot coffee at his foster son's elbow. He answered, "I'm part human, kid. Remember? And I know what you're trying to say, yes. But suppose you tell us just what happened to your friend here, and suppose while you're doing that we all try to get some food into us. She's never going to warm up until she eats, and she's much too thin for a woman who's carrying children."