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Catherine Asaro exploded onto the science fiction scene in 1995 with the publication of her widely acclaimed debut novel, Primary Inversion, which introduced readers to the vast and intricate far-future Saga of the Skolian Empire. She won widespread acclaim for her innovative blend of cutting-edge physics, interstellar intrigue, and passionate romance. Over the next few years she garnered nominations and awards in both SF and romance. Then in 2002, Catherine Asaro won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for The Quantum Rose, the sixth installment in her Saga of the Skolian Empire.
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Her son was going to start a war.
Roca paced in the starport lobby, trying to ignore the hail that battered the glass wall to her left. Outside, a storm raged in the night. She felt like raging herself. She had eluded her bodyguards and escaped their trap, only to be caught on this backwater world by something as absurd as the weather. Most ports could easily operate under such conditions, but this one gave new meaning to the word "dilapidated." All ships were grounded until the storm cleared. If she could have used normal travel lines, she wouldn't have had to come through here, but the same modernization that made most ports so convenient also made it that much easier for Kurj's guards to catch her.
Roca stopped at the window and pressed her palms against the glass as she stared into the storm. Its driving force reminded her of Kurj. Strangers often assumed he was her uncle or a much older brother, but in fact he was her firstborn son, her sole child. Although he was only thirty-five, he had already become a modern-day warlord, commander of the J-Force in the military. He had earned his rank by being the smartest, hardest, most versatile pilot in the J-Force. Roca had no doubt he did his job well, but neither the ambition nor the aggression that drove him were moderated by the wisdom of age.
Restless, she paced to a waist-high column with a holo above it that listed departures. No ships were leaving, not even freighters. The reports scrolling below the display predicted the storm would last for days. She couldn't believe that, in this progressive age, such an ancient problem could stop a port from sending out vessels.
Thunder cracked and a burst of rain pounded the window-wall behind her, as if to mock her thoughts. Frustrated, she crossed her arms. She had to get off this world. Soon. If her layover lasted much longer, she would miss the upcoming session of the Assembly. Her presence there shouldn't have mattered; Kurj had her proxy to cast her votes.
But it did matter.
In this session, the Assembly would vote on whether or not to invade the Platinum Sectors. Roca's people claimed that region in space, which abounded with ore-rich asteroids, but the Eubian Traders had taken control of it and refused to negotiate.
Roca wished now she had stayed on Parthonia, the world where the Assembly met. But it hadn't been unusual when she received an invitation to the inauguration of a premier on the world Irendela. As Foreign Affairs Councilor, she often represented the Assembly at such events. This wasn't the first time she had asked Kurj to cast her votes; he attended almost every session, more than her parents even, and though she and Kurj didn't agree on some issues, she had always trusted him. He was, after all, her son.
She wasn't certain what had made her suspect Kurj arranged the invitation so she would miss the upcoming Assembly session. She had no reason to believe he could have foreseen that the Irendela premier would request Roca stay longer to help mediate a political dispute. Whatever spurred her intuition, she had delved deeper into the tangle of links between Irendela and Parthonia. Her son had left no hard evidence, but she recognized his methods; he had deliberately manipulated events on Irendela to delay her return. He wanted her to miss the Assembly session because he intended to cast her votes for instead of against the invasion. To cast them herself, she had to appear in person; Kurj could block any web signal she used. And with the ballot so close, her votes could be the deciding factor.
Now, after all her work to escape Irendela, she...
SkyfallBy: Catherine Asaro