I present to you a finned asshole. Landen is getting quite old, and he constantly has fin problems. In fact, the female constantly battles his old age and fin problems trying to make sure he has a nice little fishy life.
So what does he do?
He plays dead whenever possible. He’s pretty good at this game. He nails the Wenchasaurus Rex at least once a day flopping over onto his gravel and pretending like he is no longer among the living.
He also likes standing on his nose at the bottom while investigating the gravel. He finds it fascinating. (Don’t ask me. Fish are weird.)
Speaking of finned assholes, Dylan blew his fins out yesterday, and he’s looking quite proud of himself over the situation. It turns out the bastion of sanity in the fishy foursome is Shane, who might be the dumbest one of the entire bunch.
(He couldn’t figure out food was food for several days when he was first adopted.)
So, for the fun and games portion of the day. The human’s readers’ group on Facebook has already seen this, but it’s time everyone else got a chance to see a sneak peek of Solaria Sanctum, a science fictiony novel the human is working on. It’s a play project, it will not release any time soon, and she doesn’t have a cover for it yet. That’ll be coming.
We hope you enjoy!
Day 25, Month 1, Year 2,351 A.E.
Exodus Prime, Exodus
We lived in the past, but everyone around me believed we forged a new and better future. From my perch on the top floor of the Spire, the stunted city of Exodus Prime kept to its hill as though afraid spreading its wings might bring its downfall. As far as I knew, nowhere else in the known universe built its villages, towns, and cities to mimic those of the molten planet that’d once been Earth.
Exodus Prime mimicked an Earthen city in its final days, a sterile place built of steel, glass, and stone. Given my way, I would’ve escaped to the wood and stone towns skirting the city’s borders, taken Achrainn with me, and ridden until I couldn’t stay in the saddle for another instant.
I would’ve even coped with the bulky fur cowls and chainmail the historians enjoyed foisting on me so they, too, could catch a glimpse of the past I lived. I blamed the black evolvulite hanging from my throat for my gift, if I could call the dark stone a gift. Some days, I wondered. Thanks to the black stone’s influence, I safeguarded the truths of the past. My ‘gift’ whispered the truth of the worlds on the page until I alone understood the nuances of the events that had become history.
Nothing was ever as it seemed.
“Caite?” my father asked, approaching me from behind. Lifting my chin, I turned to face him, marveling he could fit so many emotions into my name. I’d grown used to the resignation; I’d smeared his reputation as a man capable of fathering many sons, the only daughter of the Exor line born in three generations. I suspected he’d forgotten to take the little while pills meant to encourage the development of the prized Y chromosome. The rest, a mix of exasperation and annoyance, also came as no surprise. Had I been a good daughter, I would’ve been downstairs waiting for him. “It’s time.”
For one man or woman of every settlement on Exodus, life would change irrevocably by nightfall. Some left of their own free will, choosing to pursue sciences beyond those Earth had developed on their own. Had I been anyone else, I might’ve chosen that fate. I already meddled in sciences beyond what had been available on Earth. Achrainn benefitted from my work. I hadn’t been the one responsible for the stallion bonding with an evolvulite stone the match of mine, but I’d helped with the surgeries used to strengthen his body and grant him long life and strength.
His big, bulky body had been too much for his legs, too thin and weak to support him. Without me, he wouldn’t have survived long beyond his foaling.
“Is Achrainn downstairs?”
“I rue the day I’d promised you could keep that wretched horse,” he muttered.
I’d named Achrainn well, for he brought strife to my family without needing to do anything other than exist. “Rue it as you wish, Father. If I’m a candidate this year, I would rather fling myself from the top of this lifeless spire than leave Exodus without him. You gave your word.”
With him, it took ultimatums and threat of smearing the family name to bring him into line. Most days, it worked.
Today was one of those days, and my father sighed. “He’s downstairs waiting for you, tacked as requested. I even brought your ceremonial staff as I won’t have you spearing anyone today, but I drew the line at the furs. No. You’ll dress as a modern woman today. Consider yourself lucky I’m allowing the staff. It’s technically a weapon.”
“I take it my request for a sword has been denied?”
“You’re exceptionally lucky I’m allowing the staff. I’m well aware what you can do with that thing, young lady. You should have left the warfare to your brothers instead of humiliating them at every chance. You hurt their pride. You were supposed to be a scholar. A scholar. A bookworm. Bookworms do not beat the snot out of their older, bigger brothers.”
“Then they should work harder to beat me, their little bookworm scholar of a sister. Their prides can remain stung.”
“And if your behavior is to be believed, my merciless assaults on their prides won’t continue to be a problem. I’m getting the boot this year, aren’t I?”
My father had the decency to flinch. “I wouldn’t call it giving you the boot. You and that brute of a horse have been requested. Specifically requested. We can’t deny this request.”
The ‘we’ implied the planetary council had weighed in on my selection to leave Exodus and join the other men and women meant to reintroduce purer human genes back into populations of other planets. I found the efforts ridiculous.
Compatible species wed and had children, and they became new species destined to travel the stars. Some had once been human. Most hadn’t.
“Do you have anything else to tell me that I won’t like, Father?”
“Why had I taught you to be your mother’s daughter?” my father complained. “No, worse. I’ve taught you to be my daughter, all full of fire and with a mouth to match. I’ve plenty of things to tell you that you won’t like, and you’ve no choice in the matter. Be grateful I could negotiate at all. I’ve safeguarded that demon you call a horse. Had I known what you’d create, I would’ve let nature take its course.”
“You’re just upset Achrainn is smarter than my brothers.”
“However true, I beg you not to rub that in your brothers’ faces today. Please. They’re annoyed enough you’re being sent off planet as it is.”
“They are? Why? I live to annoy them.”
“That’s what little sisters are supposed to do. Despite appearances, they do love you.”
I planted my hands on my hips and stared at my father, narrowing my eyes. “I’ve seen you butter my mother up enough times to recognize when you’re trying to do the same to me. What have you done now?”
My father threw his head back and laughed. “I should’ve told them they could pay me to keep you. You’ve the pride of an empress, Caite. Of that, I’m proud. But try to curtail your wild spirit some.”
“Has my destination planet been chosen?”
“Yes, it has been.”
I waited, arching a brow until he decided to tell me where I’d be going on the next ship off planet.
“You’re to go to Solaria Sanctum.”
My brows shot up. With strict immigration rules determined by genetics, only those with somewhat pure human genetics could claim citizenship on the planet. I qualified; everyone on Exodus qualified.
Never before had the planet requested someone from our world to go to theirs.
“Well, that’s different. Why?”
“Politics. There are few eligible women for the heirs of ruling families on the planet, so they decided to solve the issue with an import from Exodus. As we’re considered the ruling family, you were chosen.”
Right. I was the only woman of the direct line available. “Well, that’s just a shit lot in life. What, exactly, are they expecting of me?”
“Whomever weds you will become the undisputed ruler of Solaria Sanctum. Try not to mess this up too much, Caite.”
“Has anyone told the idiots from Solaria Sanctum that’s an idiotic way to pick a ruler?”
My father sighed and bowed his head. “Believe me, I tried. I told them they really, really didn’t want you picking their future ruler, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They’re on the brink of civil war because of these idiot sons of equally idiot rulers vying for control over the planet.”
“Are any of them not idiots?”
“I think they’re expecting you to figure that out.”
“I’m not being paid sufficiently for this, Father.”
“You’ll become the undisputed empress of an entire planet, Caite. I think it’s safe to say you’ll be able to pick a sufficient pay for yourself when the dust settles.”
I closed the distance between us and jabbed my father in the chest. “I. Am. Not. Being. Sufficiently. Paid. For. This.”
“What part of the deal do you dislike?”
“The entirety of it. Do you know what happened on Earth when they had issues like this resolved with marriage deals? War, Dad. Even more wars. History repeats itself, except back then, humans resolved their disputes with swords instead of guns, bombs, and all assortment of lethal weapons. I’m not versed on all the modern weaponry,” I admitted.
“There’s a reason for that. If I gave you modern weaponry, you’d be ruling Exodus within a week.”
“I think you vastly overestimate my general desire to rule Exodus.”
“Please just try to leave their planet intact when you’re done with it, please. And should any of those idiot heirs convince you they’re worth your while, do bring him for a visit. I’m sure your brothers would love a chance to get to know him.”
“Using their fists?”
“That thought had crossed my mind.”
I shook my head and did my best to maintain a regal demeanor. “You know what they’re going to call us shortly after my arrival?”
“I’ll bite. What are they going to call us?”
My father smiled. “While I’m banning the fur, the chainmail, the axes, swords, and spears from the ceremony, I’ll make sure they find their way onto the ship for your enjoyment later.”
“You’re just trying to make sure I get on the ship without a fight.”
“That was a factor in my decision.”
“Why is the premier planet of humanity so desperate they’d import someone from our world to fix their mess?”
“That’s the best question I’ve heard all day. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. At least you’ll have an edge.”
“You speak every humanoid language currently spoken, a few dead human languages, and several alien tongues. You may not have been born a son, but I couldn’t have asked for a more accomplished daughter. Just try not to humiliate them too much.”
“If they wanted to avoid humiliation, they would’ve picked any other woman,” I muttered.
“While true, do your best.”
In case you missed it, Hypnos, Storm Called, and Shammed are up for preorder at the major retailers. Burn, Baby, Burn will be available for preorder in mid February. That covers all the books releasing between now and May. After that, we’ll see how life works out!
No pictures of my cute self today because the dumbass fish who likes to play dead deserves some glory for taunting the Wenchasaurus Rex.
Well played, buddy.