ADJUDICATION: BOOK THIRTEEN

Adjudication:  Method to decide the result of an unfinished game

So many angles, so few pages.  

Or is it the other way around?

Sitting down to close out the Metatron’s Army Saga was beyond daunting as is the idea of writing this entry.  

How can you do justice to something so monumental and life changing?  Thanks to my experience with and around Lessons From the Edge, even this remastering of the series became a life changing event.

Of course, closing out is a misnomer because there’s more to the story.

A lot of the original story ended up on the cutting room floor.

Gone But Not Forgotten.  I have additional material that I will be publishing.  After years of intense work with Books 1 – 13 and Metatron’s Legacy I felt it best to step away for a bit and come back with fresh eyes.

Having gone through this series with a fine toothed comb these past weeks and months has definitely helped. 

Remaster.  In addition to correcting any errors that slipped through I took the opportunity to make a few changes.

Books 11 – 13 were put on a serious diet in terms of bloat, stuff I felt could be cut without disrupting the story.

I also spent a lot of time on verb tense.

Latin and advanced French were both help and hindrance.  As I’ve written before, school grammar does not generally apply to writing fiction. That is a whole other story given how styles change and the rules are fluid if not arbitrary.

My writing style developed throughout the process which made for interesting challenges, as did the fact each book needed to be on its own stylistically, a chapter in the life of the main character, Cirhce of Ivar.

Having the opportunity to write about each book individually helped put that in perspective.

I’ve enjoyed the project but am happy to see it conclude as I have more stories to write.

I’ve already started one titled The Day Before and Aton, the follow-up to Adrift is nearly finished.

As I mentioned, I have more books that will be under the Metatron’s Army umbrella.  But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll close out the series by discussing Adjudication, Book 13 in the Metatron’s Army series.

As the title suggests, the game is far from over.  Thus, additional MA books in the queue.

Now What?  With most of the offensives complete I used Adjudication to explore what’s in store for the members of Metatron’s Army.

Including those who, though not official members, were part of the large supporting cast.

I wrapped up loose ends and provided explanations.  

And, as always, had a bit of fun with the characters themselves.

Happily Ever After?  It soon becomes evident that Cirhce is as driven as ever.

“You have to be the only person I know who isn’t thinking about the weekend by the middle of the week.”

I continue to provide insight into her psyche through other characters.  Especially those truly from the outside – humans.

“The idea,” Gabriel said in his crisp British accent, “is to do something spontaneous.  Something fun.  You ought to try it.”

She shares her vision of the future.

“It isn’t the ability to wield weapons.  It’s the ability to establish and hold peace.”

And though she continues to go full bore she does realize something needs to give.

“The thought of going back to an old routine, as if nothing’s changed?  I can’t do it.”

She gives insight into how the journey has transformed her team.

“None of us is who we were before.  Two years of surviving, subsisting on meal bars and udul, sleeping on benches, on the ground of rocky planets? Like wolves in the wild.  You can’t just put us back on campus and expect us to be domesticated, all cute and happy.”

She gets a bit defensive about it which makes one wonder, who, exactly, is she trying to convince?

“I’m a hardened soldier, Verix.  I’m not the happy go lucky optimist I was in those days.  I can’t pretend.  I won’t do that to myself.”

It’s as if with the offensives complete, she no longer knows who she is because she defined herself by her purpose.  Others don’t see it that way.

“You are still you, Christine.  All of you are still you inside.  Your team.  You were all the strongest which is how you found yourselves in those positions.  You’re just wearing more of that power in the open than you did before.”

Work isn’t the only area of her life that’s challenging.

Her brows drew together.  She rips open old wounds and he has something to discuss?  Like what, a fucking tea party for the whiny fools?

Cirhce isn’t the only one facing this challenge.

“The team isn’t the only thing that needs to evolve.  If we’re going to make our relationship work, we have to evolve beyond soldiers who work together.”

Dark humor is a poignant truth here.

“Yeah,” she drawled, rubbing a hand alongside her neck, “it’s hard not to be a soldier when you’re never away from it.”  At least they weren’t having sex by the numbers.  

Music continues to act as a backdrop by which her life is given context.

“Will you dance?”

She pushed a hand through her hair, snagged her fingers in the braid.  “I’m definitely going to need more booze.”

Theirs is a unique romance.

Standing, eyes of quicksilver on those of feline yellow, she waited for an explanation.  

Which provides for unique insight thanks to her Light Being lover.

Years and a marriage proposal later, they were still stumbling like kids on their first pair of skates.

She knows how to pick and choose her battles.

“They are not lizard brains!”

She supposed she and her father would never see eye to eye when it came to the energy beings but so long as he treated them well, she didn’t waste time trying to shove the immovable object.

Cirhce’s leadership skills – her approach to getting parties to the table is – as always –  unique.  She sees their value as individuals rather than a collective.

“It might help if you set up a contract.  Especially given you’re asking Jaliss to get Balen support.”

“I’m asking for mercenary support.  Big difference.”

She keeps interesting company in her support network.

It didn’t escape her notice they had quite the interesting audience.  Two former lovers sitting at the table, one of them a former fiancé, the current one listening in telepathically.  Jesus, the gaming tables in Perm must be off the charts.  

Her ability to negotiate is on display.

“At this point, I’m thinking duct tape and emitters are my best bets.”

As always I highlight relations between team members.

“I also spoke at length with Chestin, Roddial, and Alexander.”

“And Ryn, no doubt.”

He grinned.

“With your fists?”

His grin widened.

Though books 9 – 11 are primarily from the original story with previous books threaded with some of it, much of the original plot made it into Adjudication.

“Yes!  We needed to maintain peace until -.”

“No.  You needed to maintain peace.  No until.”

While in my first apartment decades ago I realized that what was in place was working.  Why fix it if it ain’t broke?  

“What are you saying?”

“That you’ve already got the new government in place.  It’s been in place.  And it’s working.”

Of course, that hadn’t been Cirhce’s vision.

Her mouth dropped open.  “You’re crazy.”

“Felt that way a few times since getting back but no, I’m not.”

Definitely not her vision.

“I can see you’re not okay with this.”

“It wasn’t my plan,” she admitted quietly.

Cirhce isn’t the only one frustrated.

He could certainly appreciate the opportunity to set aside troubling thoughts and in the aftermath of newly won peace, there were few opportunities for anything other.  It was a problem he’d discussed with more than one member of Metatron’s Army.

She tries regaining her equilibrium but the challenges are real.

“I’m afraid our lives are going to be taken over by this, Verix, that we’ll never get a chance to be a normal couple.”  She made a face.  “I mean as normal as you and I could ever be.”

I highlight the challenges of succeeding.

“The goal was understood by everyone.  No one disputed the need to spend time and energy on the mission and no one questioned your authority to lead it.”

Whereas political goals were often more general, leaving them open to interpretation, and wherein her authority was questioned frequently by a number of combative personalities.

She struggles to define herself outside her role as Commander.

” You cannot fix everyone’s problems, nor take everyone’s pain.”  

She accepts the counsel of those around her.

She gave him an evil smile.  “You have no fucking idea so don’t even go there.”

She pleads her case.

“Come on, you know as well as I do, I was set up.  They gave me the damned responsibility expecting me to fail.”

You can take the girl from Earth -.

“I didn’t care if he helped me or not.  It was a last-minute try.  I was going to blow that lab if I had to go in there and do a Chuck Norris.”

They push back.

“Knowing what you know now would you call that good leadership or insanity?”

She pleads her case.

“I call it being a soldier.  Leadership was inferred, I suppose.”

She explains her position.

“I haven’t seen Alexander as anything but the ruthless determined Light Being he is.  I never fooled myself into thinking he wouldn’t use me if he thought it served his own agenda.”

As always I use humor as a break in the drama.

“So, he was impressed by your ingenuity?”

“Nah,” she replied, waving a hand.  “On the third visit, while he was trying to tell me off for making him look weak, I kissed him to shut him up.”  

I continue to find opportunities to give insight into the species in the systems and how they reach and relate to each other.

“I’m Eolighten.”

“So?”

She made a sound of impatience.  “Azlaans don’t like Eolightens!”

“Why not?”

“They think we’re going to invade them with our flying scooters.”

I had fun with father-daughter privilege.

She smirked.  “Are you admitting that Verix is the right man for me?”

He breathed out through his nose but didn’t say anything.  That his daughter had fallen in love with a Light Being – a lizard brain – it didn’t bear thinking about.

Fun with her relationship with allies.

Lovely, Christine thought sourly.  Of all the people she had to run into, a psychic Azlaan who happened to be her cousin which meant he probably had even more insight into a condition she absolutely did not want to discuss.  

I swing back to reality.  The reality of success.

“Damn it, Verix, it’s about time you started to truly understand the responsibility you have in being capable of feeling emotions!  You spent your life fighting for the right to give and receive love and now that it’s possible?  You push it away.”

The reality of interspecies sex.

“Don’t stop.”

“I don’t intend to.”

Telepathic communication definitely had its advantages.

“So does energetic bonding as it allows me to read what you want as you want it.”

Definitely an advantage, she decided, hissing out a long breath.

Just as with Promotion, I  was challenged by managing multiple scenes of interspecies  intimacy.

“There  isn’t a damned thing that goes on that I don’t look at through the lens of one who is living with the enemy.”

“You think we’re the enemy?”

I had fun writing intimacy with independent women who know what they want.

“What?” she snapped, glaring.  “You took me out of my moment, Godzilla!”

Love with a Light Being.

“Christine, no one would dare get close enough to watch.  I would snap their spines from the inside.”

That pesky reality.

“Please?  Let me continue my delusional little fantasy that I don’t live in a world where everyone knows everything?”

I provide an outside perspective of Life with energy beings.

“I did not invade you, but I can detect energetic impulses.”

“Uh-huh.”  It sounded like Light Being speak for don’t bother being afraid of telepathic intrusion since you can’t do anything about it anyway.

A dose of humor.

“I suppose you want me to hand over my weapon.”

“You may keep your weapons, Commander, but I ask you not to use them unless you truly feel threatened.  We frown on violence as it interferes with healing.”

A bit of Truth or Dare as more reveals come forth.

“Wait just a damn minute.  Before I go into whatever creepy mausoleum you’re about to pull me into, you tell me this.  Are you him or aren’t you?  I mean are you the same whatever that he was?”

A press for answers.

“Is the Tales from the Crypt theatrics really necessary?” she grumbled, following him inside.  

As Azlaans are part of the original story I took the opportunity to delve into their environment and their psyche.

I discuss how the Azlaans wound up as part of the original story in Lessons From the Edge.

Lots of fun when it came to Cirhce’s relationship with her father.

Ryal glanced at the ring on his daughter’s finger.

“Don’t you dare put it about that your daughter married a lizard brain or Lor’s going to be a widow,” she snapped.

Keeping it real.

“Why do I get the feeling you’ve been colluding with that overprotective Godzilla on finding a way to get around that directive?”

“Why do you get to call him a lizard and I don’t?” he said by way of an answer.  

Secrets and lies.  The foundation.

“You’ll tell her?”

“Only when it becomes necessary.”

In other words, when the likelihood she found out the truth was so high that it would be a risk not to tell her.  

Cirhce’s frustrations surface.

“I need to get the hell away from Eol, the Phoenix, and all the screwballs who make me want to tear my hair out.”

Realities surface.

“Don’t tell me you subscribe to the mercenary newsletter,” she said morosely.  She could only imagine the number of issues dedicated to the fodder of Commander Princess Cirhce Baker Sterling.

A blunt truth.

“What are you doing?” she hissed.  “People are going to talk!”

“People always talk.  If you can’t get used to that, you should find another line of work.”

I had a lot of fun developing the relationship between Ryn and Corus.

“She should be in her own bed on Eol.”

“Don’t worry, she’ll get back there.”

“When?”

“What are you worried about, that she’ll move in?”  

I had fun with this stage of Cirhce’s relationship with Kalach.

“I’m not sick, Verix.  I just tire more easily right now.  Like I said, it will all be over soon.”

“Define soon.”

“Shut up, Kalach.”

I had fun developing the relationship with the IS to this point.

Christine blinked.  “Aww, this is bullshit,” she snapped.  “Damn it, Verix, I’m in my pajamas!”

Four pairs of eyes stared blandly.

Frustrations boil over.

“A fun movie.”

She gaped at the Auspex.  “You’ve seen it?”

“I brought it back from Earth, Princess.  It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

She threw up her hands.  “Why am I not surprised by this?”

Drama interspersed with and broken up by humor.

“Since this is your doing, Protector,” Dacan groused, “I suggest you get to the point.”  He glared at her.  “I was cleaning up in Perm!”

She angled her head toward the man with his back to the room.  “Bill your losses to him.”

The reveals continue.

“What’s the matter, Princess?  Shocked to learn Sweet Dacan isn’t so sweet?  That I’m every bit as ruthless as any other Light Being you know?”

A loving father daughter relationship

“If you blow this for me,” she said quietly, the smile pasted on her features, “I will kill you.  Verix doesn’t know yet and if you tip him off because you freak out?  I will kill you.”

Another loving relationship

“And what facts would those be, Cirhce?”

“What happened to Christine?”

“Answer me.”

“Not until you knock that chip off your shoulder, Godzilla.”

Her perspective through the Earth filter keeps it real.

Oh, for the love of -.  It was times like these when she wished she could forget she lived in the land of medieval stupidity.  But it was her world now so there was no hope for it.

We see she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her way.

“How did you convince Harec?”

“Other than deplete my bank account?

“Guilt.”

“And a bit of blackmail,” she replied.

I wind the book down with revelations, explanations, and a glimpse of what lays ahead.

Stay tuned!  There’s more to the story!

Excerpt.

“I cannot help but find it the highest of ironies that you and I worked in parallel for a common outcome; the cessation of the war and the ability for Light Beings to reproduce naturally.”

“I would never have sacrificed innocents the way -.”

“Come, come, my dear.  You’re a soldier and a government leader.  Do you honestly think you can stand there in that uniform and tell me no innocents have paid the price to get you where you are?”

Don’t kill him, she told herself.  Don’t – kill – him.

“What sport would you have then?  And besides, you need me.”

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