Pin: When a piece does not move because to do so would expose a more valuable piece to capture. Pins against the king are absolute because it is illegal to move the pinned piece.
The Plot Thickens. Pin, eighth in the Metatron’s Army series, takes readers into the world of Metatron’s Army focusing more on environmental factors impacting Cirhce of Ivar than the individuals in it though there are several characters who help readers understand the challenges of trying to lead in a world of bureaucracy and broken processes surrounded by corruption.
This chapter opens with the seasoned Commander facing trumped up charges.
“Do you understand the charges?”
“Yes.” I’m being tried for something that was not my doing.
It quickly becomes evident the farce of a trial is an effort to do an end run around security policy. It is equally clear that Cirhce, an experienced mission commander, has the confidence to face down the corrupt officials.
“Perhaps you would do well to consider the ramifications of not answering my questions?”
“Ask one I can answer, and I’ll answer.”
The corruption stems from greed, a hunger for power, and apathy.
Processes have been broken for decades yet no one has made any real effort to address it.
Motivating the troops under such conditions is the primary challenge Cirhce faces.
Comfortable In Her Own Skin. We see Cirhce very much front and center in her role not only as a Commander but as being on equal footing with powerful players.
“Of course I’ll help you, Princess.”
The term was a title, not a pet name. As the heiress to the Ivaran throne, she really was a princess. However, as she told her stepfather the king, she was a soldier first.
Achilles Heel. Unfortunately, she often sees these powerful players as a threat to her command rather than allies trying to help.
“You are capable of handling any number of difficult situations by yourself or with very little assistance. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You don’t seem to know when it is appropriate, perhaps even essential, to lean on others for support.”
“So, you’re calling my judgment into question then?”
SSDD. We see plenty of hidden motives alive and well even as trust between players deepens.
“Verix, you say you want us to work together but you’re playing the same damned bullshit game.” She walked over, looked down into eyes the color of dark chocolate. “Until you are open with me I have no reason to be open with you.”
With Power Comes… I had fun showing how characters with unique abilities have unique ways of interacting.
Verix stood. Christine yelped.
“Damn it, Verix, put me back!”
They were standing in the illusionary plane. She gave him a shove. “I mean it! You know I hate it when you pull such a juvenile stunt. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re the big bad Light Being and I’m the wimpy Ivaran.”
Cheers! One of my favorite plot devices is the majestic falls at the Piya Cascata.
She walked up to the glass. “What causes those tiny bubbles?” They reminded her of champagne bubbles.
The idea of water with a mineral content capable of filtering electromagnetic smog came from my real life research into remedies for EMF Sensitivity. The idea of the water being effervescent came while I was sipping champagne one evening.
I was watching bubbles rising in the champagne flute and considering how the randomness is a function of fractal theory.
Do It My Way. We see plenty of evidence the Commander does things her way.
“Anyway, Verix is right. I was up to something. It occurred to me, in light of Verix’s comment -.”
“What comment?” Corus asked.
“We were doing a bit of clandestine communication -.”
“Even though the Council told you to cut it out.”
“Yeah, well, this is me we’re talking about.”
As a leader, she demands acceptance even as she invites and values open communication.
Corus scratched his chin. “When were you planning on updating the rest of us on what, exactly, that little project is?”
“After I’ve run some tests,” she replied, her eyes on the schematic Chestin dropped off that morning.
“Don’t you think you should -?”
“I’ve kept protocol, Corus. Trust me. It’s better to wait.”
The Time Gate Plot Thickens. Though readers have been aware of the problem of artificial time gates it isn’t until now that we see just how big a problem it is.
“Survivors. Or, maybe I should call them refugees.”
“Pulled through a gate.” He pointed at the paper. “On Urana.”
What’s interesting is the timing. Why have things heated up just as Cirhce is stepping into her command?
“It’s where they’re from.”
“They’re from Earth, Christine,” Corus said quietly, then handed her the report he’d been reading.
Under Advisement. We see the challenge of being a leader of leaders.
“What you need -,” he began but she cut him off.
“Is for you to set your ego aside and obey a direct order, Verix.”
Bureaucracy. Many challenges Cirhce and her team face will be familiar to readers as they are universal.
One side of her mouth went up. “It’s ironic. This is what happens in corporations when they grow so large and segmented that they forget they’re working together for a common cause.”
Level Set. I use touch points to break up tension and ground readers in the bigger picture.
Christine stepped off the rickety wooden crate posing as an elevator. The drum beat of the music pulsed through her blood as she made her way to the bar.
“Hello, Bale.” Did the man ever take a day off? She doubted it.
Observer To Participant. Players who til now have been on the sidelines begin taking an active role in events.
“What is the status on the time gates and their destruction?”
“What’s it to you?”
“The mercenaries are getting nervous. They don’t want to take contracts in outer systems or remote areas for fear of being sucked through a time gate.”
Apathy falls away as they see Christine walking the talk.
“I’m doing the best I can, Jaliss. We are destroying the gates as soon as they are located.”
“But you have a traitor. Maybe more than one.”
Some become leaders by association.
She sighed. “Do you have a guess?”
“You aren’t going to like my answer.”
“What’s it going to cost me?”
“I need power.”
Understanding = Trust. As Cirhce shows her brilliance – the method to the madness – she earns trust and respect.
Corus was going to kill Christine.
“When were you going to tell me about this?”
“While we were dancing,” he mocked, his voice falsetto. “I swear -.”
It’s The Big Time. Though adversity has been a front and center player throughout the series in Pin we see it taken to a new level.
“I said later!” she snapped, then continued reading the comm message. Four pilots lost, seventeen ground soldiers, all four Isolan warriors, fourteen guests, including one of the Lesser Kings sons who tried to be a hero. Three Light Beings were in critical care, one dead.
“Hey,” Corus said, tapping her nose. “It could have been a lot worse.”
What’s That On The Horizon? As competent as she is, Christine has faults that affect her judgement.
Christine took a deep breath. She wondered at the advisability of what she was about to attempt. If she divided her attention, there was a good chance she would screw up, get someone killed.
“Including yourself, Princess.”
“I’m not worried about that.”
“Perhaps you should consider why that is and examine the wisdom of taking an interest in self-preservation.”
Her team has vulnerabilities.
She turned her head. “Samira. She’s not cut out to be a fighter.”
Even as she acknowledges them she glosses over them.
“I’ll just assign Samira and Kara to the IRS and the problem is solved.”
This failure to look at the situation honestly costs her dearly.
It was no secret her army had scattered to the winds. Verix was hiding in the Menton System. Dacan spent most of his time on Catana. Even Alexander had been staying away, as if she was Typhoid Mary.
All of this serves to show readers just who Christine nee Cirhce of Ivar is.
“What are you going to do now?”
“Find out what kind of a leader I am.” It would take a strong one to put Metatron’s Army back together.
“Don’t do that!” Ryal snapped.
“If you dare disparage him -.”
“In his condition, the electrical backfeed could hurt him.”
She backed away, glared at her father’s back while he ran a scanner over the inert Light Being. “As to what I did,” she snapped, “nothing that didn’t need to be done.” She glanced up at Alexander. “You’re sure we’re safe? He’s safe?”
“For how long?” Ryal snapped. He glared at her over his shoulder. “You put me in an awful lot of danger, do you know that?”
“As did you the day you gave me that serum.”