Jean Johnson—the national bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny novels—returns to the world she introduced in A Soldier’s Duty with a terrible vision of the future...
Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy—once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy’s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee...
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The best part about being a writer is the joy of entertaining others. Whether it’s sad or scary, silly or sexy, I love knowing that one of my stories has given someone a good time. I hope this is one of those stories for you, too. Currently I live in the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to drop by my website for a chat.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Thank you for letting me take that quick break from this interview. It wasn’t anything serious, just some new orders and a course correction. I do appreciate the opportunity to share some of this background information with everyone, though of course much of it is Classified and you are—ah, forgive me, I’m starting to use “military–speak” and “military–think” again, aren’t I?
During my first trip back home after enlisting, I had that same problem with my family. The military has counselors for this sort of thing, they give you lectures and advice, but . . . For a solider who’s been away for months, even years like myself, it can be a bit of a system shock to come back to civilian life. Things are organized almost down to the minute in a military setting, because they have to get done at a certain time in a certain way, or everything descends into chaos. Things don’t always get done in civilian life, because they often can be “done later” or “done some other way.”
A lot of soldiers have difficulty making that transition back to civilian life. Even those of us who merely go home for a short visit sometimes have difficulties. Both sides need to remember to slow down, take it easy, and readjust to each other. Don’t throw a pot of cold water on the cooker and expect it to instantly boil; even in this day and age, that won’t happen right away. There’s always a period of readjustment. Sometimes it’s quick, and sometimes it’s slow, but it’s always necessary.
July 18, 2492 Terran Standard
Our Blessed Mother
Independent Colonyworld Sanctuary
“This is so exciting!”
Ia glanced over at the woman settling into the next seat. The orbital shuttle was nearly full, and the crew were urging passengers to take their places. The woman who was Ia’s seatmate fished for her restraint straps. Her efforts at pulling the three–point belt into place were somewhat hampered by the added bulk of her gravity weave. Nudged a few times by the woman’s elbow, Ia rolled her eyes and held out her hand, silently offering to latch it.
“Oh, thank you. Wait—where’s your gravity weave?” the woman asked as Ia slotted the tab into its latch. “You’re taller than me!”
Ia’s rare sense of humor surfaced. Since she was clad in camouflage Browns, the speckled, mottled uniform of the Space Force Branch Marine Corps, she flashed a brief smile and stated, “I’m a Marine. We don’t need gravity weaves.”
The woman blinked, her brown eyes widening in shock.
Ia rolled her eyes. Really, some people will believe anything about the SF–Marines. “I’m also a native. Born and bred on Sanctuary. I’m coming home on Leave.”
“Ah. Um . . . thank you for serving,” the weave–wrapped woman finally offered.
“It’s an honor to serve, meioa,” Ia murmured in reply. Now that her seatmate had settled in, her mind was elsewhere, busy going over her schedule for the next three weeks. Some things would have to take place at exactly the right moment in time, while others would be more fluid. Like the problem of her tainted sword–turned–anklet.
The crew finished checking and securing the cabin. The woman at Ia’s side said nothing for a long while, paying dutiful attention to the safety procedures lecture. Then, as they detached from the space station with a slight bump, the woman muttered once again, “This is so exciting!”
Sensing the woman was one of those sorts who just had to talk or burst, Ia sighed and asked the most obvious question, rather than dipping into the timestreams. “Is this your first trip to Sanctuary?”
The woman nodded quickly and smiled. She also held out her hand. “Amanda Sutrepya. And yes, it’s my first time to your homeworld. I’m here on a missionary trip. And you are . . . ?”
“Lieutenant Ia.” Ia shook the other woman’s hand as briefly as possible. The closer she got to her homeworld, the more she feared her precognitive gift would turn unpredictable again. Plus there was the fact that physical contact always enhanced her ability to read another sentient being’s plethora of potential futures. The combination held too much danger to risk it, though there wasn’t much else she could do to avoid brushing up against someone in such crowded conditions. At least the other woman was wearing a purple, long–sleeved shirt under the lumpy web wrapping her limbs.
“Missionary trip?” The question came from the short, balding man on the other side of the aisle. He gave the woman, Amanda, a derogatory look, snorting, “Great. Another godless heathen,” before returning his attention to the reader pad in his hands.
“Excuse me?” Amanda asked, her tone and her expression both taken aback. “I am not a godless heathen, I am a Christian!”
The man gave her a look somewhere between disdain and pity. “Even worse, then. A deluded polytheist.”
The woman started to protest. Ia quickly reached over and touched her sleeve. “Don’t.”
“Just don’t,” Ia murmured again, cutting her off. “See the corona pin on his jacket lapel? He’s a member of the Church of the One True God.”
“I . . . don’t understand,” Amanda muttered. She glanced back and forth between Ia and the man, finally settling on Ia. “Aren’t they Christians, too? I thought their worship was based on the same general beliefs. One loving God, Abrahamic teachings . . .”
“So are Muslims and Jews, if you measure it by that method, but no, they are not Christians, they are not Muslims, they are not Jews,” Ia told her, flicking up one finger per listing. “In fact, if you must get technical, their dogma actually began as an offshoot of The Witan: The Book of the Wise.”
“We are not an ’offshoot’ of anything. We are on the true path,” the man across the aisle corrected tartly. His eyes were on the text of his pad, but his ears were clearly listening to his neighbors. “Not my fault if the rest of you have been misled by the sweet–sounding poison of the Devil’s books. The Bible, the Koran, the Torah . . .”
“Well, I never!” Amanda gasped, visibly upset.
Ia’s tone, more sharp than actually loud, cut across the missionary’s sputterings, and caused the Church man to look up at her once more. A few others in the nearby seats glanced her way as well, but they didn’t protest. Ia kept her eyes on the Church man. When she was sure she had his attention, she had her own say, leaning forward slightly while she held his gaze.
“I am on Leave from two years’ worth of fighting on the far side of the known galaxy.” That was a slight exaggeration, but she wasn’t going to bother with the full truth. “It has taken me three weeks of travel to get this far. I have exactly three weeks, one day, and four hours from the moment we land, precious, precious days and hours to spend with my family, before I have to go back. I would therefore like to finish this last, tedious leg of my journey in peace and quiet.”
“ You’d be better off spending those three weeks on your knees in Our Blessed Cathedral, confessing the sins of spilling blood on some godless heathen’s orders,” the balding believer retorted.
Ia gave him a not–smile. “And I say unto you in reply, from Book Nine, The Righteous War, Chapter Three, verses four and five: ’Succor the weary and wounded soldiers who claim Sanctuary and take shelter among you. Give them rest and peace, and honor them for the sacrifices they make for the betterment of all.’”
He reddened a bit, having his own holy words flung in his face.
“I am a weary soldier of Sanctuary,” Ia reminded him, speaking softly, but with enough point to cut to the bone, “and I am here to take shelter among my people. Give me my rest and peace, and honor me for the sacrifices I make . . . or spend your weeks on your knees, for failing to follow through on God’s Own True Words.”
Holding his gaze, she stared at him until he backed down, subsiding into his seat. He refocused his attention on his pad. Only then did Ia settle back in hers. Just in time, too; they hit the atmosphere with a jolt and a rattle that made her grateful for the cushions supporting and sheltering her body. A few jolts later, the cabin screens came to life, showing the smiling face of their middle–aged Human pilot.
“Greetings, everyone; this is Captain D’Sall. We are currently traversing the edges of the local early evening thunderstorm, so a bit more of this mild in–flight turbulence is to be expected. Please remain in your seats with your restraint belts firmly fastened. However, our flight will be short, as we will be landing at Our Blessed Mother Inter–Orbital Spaceport in approximately twenty minutes.
“As a reminder, all passengers wearing gravity weaves should have their weaves set to Adaptive Gravimetrics on the Low Strength setting so as not to interfere with the integrity of the shuttle. Do not adjust them back to Full Strength until we are fully on the ground and the Gravity Weave permission sign has been turned on. If you need help fighting the gravity to do so, please remain calm, press the button on your armrest, or alert your seatmates, and the cabin crew will be by to check on you shortly,” the captain added politely. “Once we land, only the flight crew are allowed to move about the cabin until we have reached the terminal, so please remain seated.
“If at any time you experience difficulty in moving, breathing, or even thinking, or feel like you are going to black out during your visit to Sanctuary, these are the primary symptoms of the onset of adjustment sickness, which can lead to more serious complications. If you suspect you are about to be ill at any point during your visit to Sanctuary, contact the emergency Nets immediately, and go straight to the nearest medical facility to be checked out for the possibility of gravity sickness.
“The government of Independent Colonyworld Sanctuary wishes to remind all visitors and returning natives that it assumes no liabilities, fiscally or legally, for the complications of gravity sickness or any related injuries. Neither does Gateway Inter–Orbital Transit, of which you were advised before boarding this flight. However, we thank you very much for flying with us. We hope you’ll have a safe time while on Sanctuary, and wish you a good day.”
The shuttle jolted again. Ia winced as the woman next to her grabbed at her forearm.
“God Almighty!” Amanda exclaimed, bouncing in her seat with the next jolt of turbulence. “This is mild?”
Prying the woman’s hand off the sleeve of her brown camouflage shirt, Ia pressed it to the armrest and tucked her own hands into her lap. “Since we’re due to arrive at the equivalent of near–sunset, yes, it’s just one of the mild, daily thunderstorms. If it were a real storm by Sanctuarian standards, the pilot would have delayed the flight. This one isn’t nearly as risky as you’d think.”
The other woman started to relax, then yelped a little as the ship bucked again. A flash of light and a not quite muffled boom beyond the porthole windows made her yelp a second time, along with a handful of the other passengers. The rest were either too busy enduring the ride, or like Ia and the balding believer across the aisle, weren’t fazed by the local weather. Certainly this turbulence wasn’t as bad as some of the planetfalls she and the rest of Ferrar’s Fighters had made, riding to the rescue of various colonyworlds.
Now I’m riding to the rescue of my own world, in a way. Though my efforts won’t bear results for a few more years at the earliest. Enduring the bouncing with stoic patience, she absently rubbed her left hand over the hard cuff hidden beneath the mottled browns of the opposite shirt sleeve. Presuming all my speculations on the trip out here are in any way accurate, that is . . .
I wonder what my brothers are going to think when I ask them literally to shed their blood for me, this week?
Thorne was the easiest of her family to spot. He stood literally head and shoulders above everyone else waiting on the far side of the Customs Peacekeepers, as tall as a local doorway and as broad as a tank. His dark brown hair had been trimmed with bangs in the front since she had last seen him in person, though it looked like it was as long as ever, pulled back in a ponytail.
She’d seen the change in the timestreams, but seeing it in person was another matter. It struck her just how much everything had changed back home. How much she had changed, even though Ia had known it would happen.
His hazel eyes met hers within moments, drawn to her thumb–length white locks and mottled brown uniform. There were other tall–by–comparison people arriving, mostly visitors from light–gravitied planets who were wrapped in gravity weaves, but she wasn’t lost in a crowd; the others had spaced themselves out so that their personalized repelling fields, now set to full strength, wouldn’t conflict and cause each wearer to stagger off balance.
The only thing that made her want to stagger was the full resumption of her home gravity, which she hadn’t felt in over two years. Weight suits and artificial gravity could compensate somewhat, but she could tell she was out of shape by home standards. Until she saw her mothers.
Aurelia Jones–Quentin had gained a few fine worry lines between her brows and at the corners of her eyes, but her straight, dark brown locks were as grey–free as her son’s. Amelia Quentin–Jones had picked up a few more streaks of silver among her lighter brown curls, but no extra lines on her face. They were clad in the same soft pastels the two women had always favored, and both their faces lit up with the same delight as they spotted her in the queue. Just the sight of her parents banished most of the annoying drag of the planet on her body. Gravity could not stop the lifting of her spirits.
As soon as she cleared the last checkpoint, Ia hurried forward. She dropped her bags to the plexcrete floor as her family moved up to meet her, and swept both of her mothers into a hug. Both older women laughed and sniffled and hugged her right back. She’d forgotten how stooping to hug them could put a crick in her back from the awkward angle, but Ia didn’t care. Given everything that had happened since she had left, the pain was an old, revived pleasure by comparison.
For a moment, she let herself be a young woman again, saying good–bye to her family before heading to her destiny. Then one of her brothers ruffled her hair; from the downward pull of his palm, it was Fyfer, too short to have been seen immediately, compared to their elder brother.
“Look at that hair, all short and ugly, now!” Fyfer crowed, ruffling it again.
“Fyfer!” Aurelia scolded.
As her mothers released her, Ia pushed his hand away, then pulled him into a half hug and rubbed her knuckles over his brown locks. He squirmed and spluttered a protest, then twisted into her grip and pinched her inner bicep in the spot she had taught him. Even toughened up by her life in the military, it hurt like hell. Grunting and flinching, Ia released him. Then oofed as he flung his arms around her ribs in an enthusiastic hug.
Chuckling, Ia hugged him back. Unlike their elder brother, Fyfer was normal for a Sanctuarian. Naturally muscular, but short and not nearly the brick–walled body that Thorne was. So she squeezed and sort of picked him up. Just a few inches, but enough to prove she was still stronger. He oofed in turn, then laughed and slapped her on the back.
“Slag, Ia! You used to pick me up higher than that! What happened to you in the Army?” he joked.
“It was the Marine Corps,” Ia...
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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Jean Johnson the national bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny novels returns to the world she introduced in A Soldier s Duty with a terrible vision of the future. Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee. Bookseller Inventory # AAT9781937007690
Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97819370076900000000
Book Description 2012. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # KB-9781937007690
Book Description Penguin Random House. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 1937007693
Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Jean Johnson--the national bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny novels--returns to the world she introduced in A Soldier s Duty with a terrible vision of the future. Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy--once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee. Bookseller Inventory # AAT9781937007690
Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Jean Johnson--the national bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny novels--returns to the world she introduced in A Soldier s Duty with a terrible vision of the future. Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy--once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781937007690
Book Description 2012. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9781937007690
Book Description Mass Market Paperbound. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 5122763
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Book Description Ace. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1937007693 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # SWATI2132140104