This is from the first draft of my WIP, so it’s pretty rough:
Ciara was relieved that the four soldiers who silently accompanied her back to the shuttle bay were Assembly regulars and not DOID Appendices. It was an irrational fear, for if the DOID had been ordered to kill her, she would never have seen them coming.
The footfalls of five pairs of boots echoed metallically off of the deck plates and the barely audible hiss of the doors sliding aside signaled their arrival at the launch bay. Without a word, she was deposited at the foot of the stairs leading into the shuttle, a winged, light-gray dove in stark contrast to the abyss-black of the massive envoy vessel she was currently housed in. The size and armament could have been a response to the constant threat of the Kaamus occupations of the local star group, but in reality, it was a reflection of the authority wielded by the Assembly’s DOIDs.
The pilot officiously announced departure from the shuttle bay and feeling like a tenuous angel, she once again fell toward the planet below.
Once in orbital space, the Representative’s jump ship loomed over her like a harbinger of death, which could still be its role. She would make planetfall in less than thirty minutes and be returned to the chateau of House Palendale two hours hence.
It had been just past dawn that morning when Ciara pulled her battered trunk from a closet in her personal chambers. It could have sheltered a small family from some of the more impoverished corners of the realm, but such were the benefits of both rank and royalty. She had again gone through the ritual of dismantling the chest, eventually reaching the hermetically sealed remains of the La-La doll. The prize had been uncovered by the revered Kekijek over three millennia ago on a frozen moon orbiting a gas giant in the Kaamus system.
“We’ve begun La-La, but our chances are not good. Yet what else can I do and still be worthy of what you represent?”
So unlike a General, Ciara held the plastic-covered stuffed toy to her breasts and strode out to the eastern balcony. There were fifty kilometers of farmland surrounding the estate and she had an unimpeded view of tender crops being watered by large, rolling arms spraying life. Her gaze, however, was directed upward toward the last stars being extinguished by the morning light.
Her brother Amir remained a prisoner of the Kaamus military governor Kenan Isom on Eirsyn, and if reports were accurate, he did rule with an iron fist. As long as Amir had value as a hostage, he would be kept alive and even treated with privilege. But he was still a prisoner in the hands of a master who played with his human possessions as a feline would with its living dinner. Agents reported that large swaths of the planet’s general population were not so fortunate. Over a million had lost their lives so far, and millions more were pressed into service in work camps.
Then there was Jepheth Shinzi who had fallen into her own powerful hands a year ago. In return for a certain freedom, they had woven an alliance that in another reality might have passed for friendship. But upon granting his wish, she used him to fulfill her own, which most likely had sent him to his death.
As the shuttle made its final approach to one of the landing pads in the military compound near the city’s edge, Ciara raised the inside of her left wrist and pressed a code sequence.
“Major Kann. Good evening, General.” Her aide’s pleasant baritone voice reminded her that she wasn’t alone after all.
“My shuttle’s landing at Pad A35. Have my transportation ready when I touch down.”
“Acknowledged, General. Anything else?”
She almost laughed, but a miracle wasn’t something even her devoted second could provide. “That’s all for the present. Ciara out.”
Minutes later the roar of the landing thrusters jolted her out of her musings. She hoped it wasn’t too late to ask for that miracle because she would need so many before this was over. Nearly a day before the DOID’s ship had jumped into the Pheothese system, Code Name Soiran had issued the go order. By now, the assault team had jumped into Eirsyn’s solar system and with any luck, they were already in position to strike. Her audience with the DOID had been perfunctory on her part. She would be damned if she’d wait for the Assembly’s nod before waging her own war.