I have a lot of writing on my plate this month, as the problems with my teeth completely jacked up my schedule and now I am severely behind.
I am still trying to finish my own contribution to LT3's Vixen anthology, but I may just have to give up and put my femslash story aside to do something else with another time. We shall see. I have a snippet of it up here on my livejournal. I was (and still am) very excited about it, because I love mermaids and this was a great chance to play with them. Ah, well. Hopefully I can still finish it, but if not, so it goes :3
Next is a fairytale I need to finish up for LT3's Fairytales serial. It's our longest running and one of our most popular. Sasha and I write most of them, but we love to get other contributions, so if you ever have one, do feel free! ^__^ I actually have started and stalled on a handful of fairytales, just because I split myself in too many directions. This is something I am actively fixing, but it's taking time and I'm making myself stick to the schedule I set. So for now, the next fairytale going up by me is The Prince of the Moon and there is a snippet of it here on my LJ.
My main project this month is Meant to Be, the sequel to Kidnapped. I started the sequel years ago, and almost finished it, but then shit happened (as it always does) and I walked away from the entire world for a long time. But Kidnapped is done and submitted to my editors, and now I am finally cracking Meant to Be open, rewriting it, and this time finishing it.
The official excerpt was added to LT3 this weekend, and I have another snippet here for peeps who are interested.
Combat Class Starship A-98147121, the Shangri La
Valendel stepped out of his shower, grabbing a towel as the water automatically shut off. He still could not believe he had his own shower—his own bedroom, his own everything. The few other times he had traveled by starship, everything had been communal and as unpleasant as that typically implied. He'd always thought combat class ships were even worse than civilian ships, but the Shangri La was the epitome of luxury.
He stepped into his cabin proper and finished toweling off, then threw the towel on the bed and picked up the sandcloth on the little set of shelves set into the wall over his bed. Starting with his arms, he began to slowly and meticulously polish his scales, wishing he had someone to help with his back but making do. When the scales that covered the majority of his body gleamed, he polished the ones on his face, then tucked the cloth back on the shelf.
Scales attended, he combed his shoulder-length hair then braided it back, tying it off with a plain purple band. From the storage shelves set into the wall at the foot of the bed, he pulled out black pants and a dark purple t-shirt, then sat down to lace on his heavy space boots—it was stupid to travel the stars in anything else. Standing up, he shrugged into a light-weight but durable black jacket, and slid his data pad its holster built into his pants.
Ready as he would ever be, Valendel drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. He lingered a moment more, wishing his nerves would settle. But, they never did, so he gave up and abandoned the safe and quiet of his bedroom and headed for the common room where everyone was gathering for dinner and a last update on everything before they landed on Telve.
Bikendi, he thought, heart kicking up several notches. After all the years of studying, reading, watching from afar … he was finally going to meet the man he most admired in all the world. There was no one more brilliant than Dr. Bikendi, no one more accomplished in genetics research—or anything else for that matter!
Valendel wasn't even certain why the defense team needed other scientists, when they already had Bikendi. He was just happy Bikendi was on their side, but if he wasn't Valendel wouldn’t support and admire him. He couldn't imagine a man as complicated as Bikendi picking to exterminate the Draconis, though.
"Val!" He jumped, half-turned, as a man who looked more like a pirate than an Auth strode toward him, clapped him on the back in greeting, then slung an arm over Valendel's shoulders and half-dragged him along down the hallway. "Enjoying yourself at all, Val? Even been this far from Coni?"
"N-no," Valendel replied. "I mean—I am enjoying myself. I've never been so far from home. The Coni … " He trailed off, because he didn't really need to say it: of all the Draconis born, he was the strangest and most frustrating yet. Draconis had been made by crossing the Coni with a special native lizard. Those lizards came in only four colors: green, brown, yellow, black, with the occasional albino.
There was no explanation at all for the profusion of blue, red, orange, white, silver, gold, and myriad other Draconis now spanning the stars. But they were not impossible. Valendel, and his pale violet scales, were a complete anomaly.
He also possessed no magics, or at best, whatever magics he had were completely dormant. He was nineteen years old by Zero Standard Time, twenty-one by Coni time, but to date no one had been able to figure out why he was so strange. He was full-blood Draconis, and that made him strangest of all.
"Oh, stop fretting. All you do is fret."
"Sorry, Captain," Valendel said, tensing. He wasn't like the rest of them, traipsing about fancy ships or dining at the finest establishments in the stars. He was still technically a student, for stars' sake. He'd been granted special leave for the trials, because he'd been ordered to the defense team as evidence and scientific support, but he was still just a student.
"Zon," the man said with a sigh. "You can just call me Zon, I have told you. Just relax, Val. I know this is all crazy to you, but if you just relax a bit you'd see we're not all so bad."
Val nodded, and tried to relax as he was told, but they were almost there and he was going to meet Bikendi but first he had to get through another aggravating dinner and pretend he fit in with the sorts of people who saw nothing strange about travelling on the High Chancellor's private ship.
He went agreeably as he could as Zon dragged into the communal room, then slipped away as someone else distracted Zon and retreated to his usual corner, snagging a cup of Vrill rose wine from the table as he passed it. The wine was a silly indulgence, because after this he would probably never have it again, but he couldn't resist. People had not exaggerated how good it was: sweet and light and fruity, like nothing else he'd ever drunk.
Sipping at the wine, he settled into his chair in the corner and pulled out his datapad, pulling up the article he'd been trying to read all day. It was about a ten term study on Danubian hell-cats and the strange venom they carried. The poison had no equal, and immunization against it was neither easy nor cheap. But the poison itself had been crafted by the Danubians who genetically engineered the feline warriors later dubbed hell-cats by other planets in the IG.
Val had been avidly following every scrap of the study that was published, but this was the first full article on the matter and he'd been dying to read it. Now, however he was so anxious about the pending meeting, the pending case, that every word he read slid right out of his mind again.
He gave up, put the datapad to sleep, and tucked it away again. Sipping his wine some more, he looked around the room at the other people filling it, and wondered if he would ever grow used to the idea that he would spending so much time around them.
The most prominent person was, of course, High Chancellor Kavalerov, nephew of the Grand Chancellor and former Commander of the Authorities. He was quiet, sitting in another corner and reviewing paperwork, his in-specs flashing as he communicated with who knew how many other people. But he never failed to smile and exchange a few words when someone else approached him, and his expression was always friendly when he glanced at Valendel.
In the center of the room, ensconced on a fancy red half-circle sofa, was Lady Jundel, whose son was a convicted murderer. He'd escaped from prison with a mutant human in tow, and no one had ever been able to find them. Jundel was conversing with Pyotr's bodyguard, Raoul, who was half-Fornarian to judge by his height and slenderness, with faintly dusky skin and dark hair that indicated his human half.
Zon, beads and baubles in his hair flashing in the light, leaned casually against a wall chatting with the Shangri La's captain. Half a dozen other personal mingled amongst them; the only ones missing from their core group were Bikendi and the defense lawyer, whom they'd be meeting on Zero. Who he was, the High Chancellor had not said, and everyone else on board loved to gossip about who it might possibly be—and it would have to be someone good, because the prosecuting lawyer was a name that even Valendel knew (and loathed).
He sipped more of his wine, head feeling somewhat light, and ambled over to another table to get some food before he made a complete fool of himself. Putting a plate of food together, he started to head back to his corner—only to nearly run into someone. He blinked at the steel-gray uniform just a hair from his nose, then stepped back enough to look up—and up. "Sorry."
Raoul smiled and waved the words away. "Not at all. How's our star Draconis doing? Still so quiet, I don't think you've said twenty words since boarding. Not that you need to, the rest of us can natter enough for fifty. I hear you're quite the student of the genetics of magics; you must be excited to meet Dr. Bikendi, unless of course you've met him before?"
Val laughed at the idea before he could catch himself. "Me? No way. Why would I have met Dr. Bikendi before? I'm only a student, and twenty years his senior." Eighteen actually, but it all amounted to the same. Dr. Bikendi would never give a student like him the time of day, when he could have the best scientists in the stars at his beck and call with the snap his fingers.
"Well, he is very interested in meeting you, I am told," Raoul said, and like Zon had earlier, casually threw an arm across Val's shoulders and dragged him off. He led Val across the room to where Pyotr worked furiously away, one of his assistants at his side now. They paused as Raoul and Val approached. "Ah, Valendel," Kavalerov greeted with a smile. Val tried to smile back, but it was hard to act casually around the second most powerful man in the IG.
He didn't generally pay much attention to politics; he really only bothered when politics and science collided—which, really, was more often than he liked in his field, given that magics capability was always a source of contention in the IG. Val would never be fortunate enough to work alongside Bikendi, but he would not lack for jobs either.
Assuming, of course, that he was allowed to finish school and seek proper employment, and was not terminated on order of the IG. But he was happier when he wasn't dwelling on that particular outcome. He just couldn't believe anyone would execute them; the Draconis had come too far, done too much, established themselves firmly in the stars.
They were no better or worse than anyone else; why would anyone want them dead?
"I hope you are ready for a great deal of work," Kavalerov went on. "Bikendi is going to have his hands full during the trial, and you'll be his best asset since he cannot take his usual assistant with him to Zero."
Val froze with surprise. No one had told him any such thing. "Me? But I'm just a—a mutant. And a student. Bikendi would never take me on as an assistant."
Kavalerov smiled in a way that always made Val shiver. It wasn't a bad smile, but it wasn't a good one either, more … that smile said I know things, and how to use them. It was a manipulator's smile, and Val had seen more of those in his life than he cared to think about. He knew he was a pawn in all of this; what else could he possibly be? And he was proud to be helping his race in a way few could. But the entire thing still left him with chills. "As I said, he cannot bring his usual assistant, for reasons you will soon learn. That aside, you are a brilliant student, Valendel. Top marks, ahead of your studies by nearly a full term, and I am told that you will be receiving several generous grants from choice universities."
"I will?" Valendel asked, startled. He hadn't bothered to really apply himself to graduate programs yet. It was something he should be considering, but his studies were onerous enough and his advisors had told him to focus on those and worry about the rest later. "But I'm Draconis, hardly a safe bet."
Kavalerov's eyes flashed, and Val almost recoiled from their intensity, except he knew it was not directed at him. He didn't really know why Kavalerov was so intent on saving the Draconis; so far as he knew Kavalerov had no personal stake in the matter. Everyone, even a nose-in-data scientist, knew he was a notorious loner. High Chancellor Pyotr Kavalerov, only living relative of the Grand Chancellor, he had served in the Authorities, then switched to being Lower Chancellor for a brief time, before abruptly returning to the Authorities and, shortly thereafter, assuming the mantle of Commander.
Rumors also abounded that he had once been, or still was, part of the infamous and much whispered about Internal Affairs, the shadowy department that kept the IG itself in line. Val did not usually listen to rumors, but he tended to believe it. "You're a very safe bet," Kavalerov replied, "And after we win this trial every university and research group in the stars will be panting to take you on. Not," he added, "that Bikendi will permit it."
Val started to ask what in the stars that meant, when a chime came over the ship-wide comm. "Captain," said a crisp voice. "Approaching Telve, presence required on the bridge."
The Captain set down his drink and, with a polite bow to the room, departed the comm area to answer his summons. A few minutes later, the Captain's voice came over the comm as he announced they were landing on the moon of Telve.
Despite his efforts to remain calm, the wine buzzing in his system, Val's heart kicked up to a furious pace. He was going to meet Dr. Bikendi. There were more important things to think about, he knew that, but all he could focus on was Bikendi.
He was going to be Bikendi's assistant. They thought he was good enough to be Bikendi's assistant. Val set his drink and plate down on a nearby table and tried not to fuss with his clothes as they all waited to land.
Lady Jundel smiled at him, and winked, and Val flushed and looked away. Why was everyone paying so much attention to him? They were always congenial, but largely they had left him to his own devices during the trip—and he preferred it. So why were they paying him mind now?
Before he could figure out how to ask, Kavalerov stood up and gestured for Valendel to follow him, Raoul falling into step just behind them. He rested one hand lightly on the stunner at his right hip, moving in front of Kavalerov as they reached the main doors and the captain opened them.
Raoul slipped outside and called out—then laughed and relaxed, calling out more congenial greetings. Val jumped as he heard Bikendi's voice, sharper and more curt than he'd ever heard it on the lecture vids, but recognizable all the same. He would know Bikendi's voice anywhere. His heart, already beating rapidly, kicked up another notch.
Stepping aside, Raoul motioned for them all to leave the ship.