NaNoFeed: Romance with Rayguns (untitled WIP – excerpt!)

So here’s a hot-off-the-press excerpt. POV is Hernan, 22, coming to the end of his training at the starship Academy. His guardian is having a corrective conversation with him about his career plans.

“Your parents’ wishes, in accordance with our ancestral traditions, would have had you in at least preliminary conversation about an appropriate alliance. You have made none of the connections I advised, none …”

“Tikhon can’t stand me, and the feeling’s mutual. And the others weren’t interested either. They’re having their Academy flings, and I’m not remotely on their sensors.” Hernan sat back in his chair, folded his arms over his chest, and said, “I don’t suppose you know that I passed my Jump certification.”

A raised eyebrow. “Well, that’s good. You can’t fail the Jump simulation and make Captain.” Another sip of brandy, and a lazy gesture toward Hernan’s still-full snifter. “By all means, indulge. When you’re not behaving like a child, you’re an old man.”

Hernan lifted the glass to his lips and took a token sip. Yes, the good stuff, what he was supposed to be spending his cadet’s allowance on, in the company of appropriate society.

“Though I don’t see the point of this business in the Great Yard,” his guardian continued. “Shipwright’s Apprentice … and Shipboard Engineer.”

“One must have options,” Hernan said dryly, “if one is a person of no importance.”

“But Ship’s Engineer leads nowhere, socially. Granted, it’s Aboard-Ships service, which is better than nothing, but not the ideal plan.”

The ideal plan, Hernan could recite in his sleep: fifteen years as a Captain, retire to Space Control, make an appropriate clan-marriage approved by a highly placed patron, produce a sufficient number of offspring to diversify clan-status in the next generation, spend another two or three decades in Space Control hobnobbing with other Astokka, make his children’s lives a misery over their plans and loves, retire once more to banquet-room and airship politicking, produce some indifferent poetry, sponsor a few marriages in his children’s generation, nag the resultant offspring into appropriate careers and marriage alliances, repeat a few times, tumble into the grave after a decent interval.



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