ALIEN LOVER: WHAT DO I CALL THEE?

One of the challenges I’ve had writing interspecies relationships has been how to refer to the object of one’s desire.

To be honest, I had the challenge regardless of the genre.

It didn’t help that the following were no go’s:

  • Partner

It’s too sterile.  When I hear the word partner I think of business, not business

  • Boyfriend

I once dated a guy who told me he wasn’t comfortable being referred to as a boyfriend since he wasn’t a boy.  

He was in his thirties.

When I sat down to write Port In a Storm, I considered that  rock musician Clint Malek had seen a lot of life.  Though he hadn’t lost his sense of fun or adventure he was too mature to be called a boy.  

It was while writing Metatron’s Army I realized I needed a term I could live with.

  • Lover

Christine refers to the partners she’s had intimate relations with as lovers.  I like this term.  It’s edgy enough to reflect she enjoys the physical aspects of sex as well as the fact the scenes are explicit.

As time went on I found myself challenged by more than terminology.

How do you deal with a teen romance when one of the characters is 719 years old?

I needed to be creative.

From Shadow of the Gods

I had a lot of fun with Cayden and Mica, being sure to give perspective from each.

Cayden:

When he saw the very plain white bra that screamed virgin, he groaned.  He was going to kill Jake McLachlan, hunt him down in his next life, and kill him again.

Mica:

“Hello, Mica.  Okay if I come in?”

“Yeah, sure.”

He stopped after two steps.  “You okay?”

“Yeah, fine.”  Just feeling a little awkward.  How did one act after baring their breasts to -?   Well, he wasn’t a perfect stranger anymore, was he?

Age and species difference weren’t the only challenges I had with in the Dragon Core Series.  Due to a unique set of circumstances Lage, Lucus, and Clare have an interesting love triangle.

This is fully detailed in Cauldron of the Gods.

Terminology wasn’t the only challenge with Metatron’s Army either.  Try writing sex when a character is of a species that will die if they experience high emotion. 

Such as love or lust.

There are a variety of interesting relationships thanks to the number of species and complexity of plot.

Not to mention Cirhce was born in one universe, grew up in another only to later return to her home universe.

I did take time to highlight concerns of characters crossing dimensions and sexual cultures.

There are more than just human-Vetrian relationships in the series.

And there are times I  need to set terminology aside and simply write around the challenge.

From Dragon Core

“Cayden,” she said softly stepping close, “it makes sense you’re nervous.  This is your home, your place of business.  It’s you.  Or at least it’s a side of you I haven’t seen and – it’s different with me, right?  I’m your -.”  She frowned.  “What am I?”

God, he loved her for understanding.  “You’re mine,” he replied then kissed her.

From Metatron’s Army

From Adjudication, this is one of two simultaneous intimacy scenes I had going.

The other is in Promotion, Book 11 in the series.

“Well,” he drawled, drawing a finger over the tattoo, smiling when she shivered.  “I think the waiting is over because after this?  Telling you?  I don’t feel conflicted.”

“Because I understand?”

“Because you know you’re mine.”

“And you don’t share,” she replied, her serious tone belying her amusement.

“Damn straight,” he said then kissed her.  Passionately, the bulge in his pants letting her know he was about to drive the point home.

This article is cross posted on elizabethmaxim.com.

BRINGING A STORY TO LIFE: WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Metatron’s Army, by far, is the most unique writing project of my career and my life.  There is nothing about how it came to be that is normal or even typical of how I bring a story to life.

In remastering the series I drew attention to the uniqueness of this series.  But there is writing life outside of it, including other sci-fi books.

As I move on from this remastering project which included the release of Lessons From The Edge: An Author’s Guide to Metatron’s Army, I can focus on the process and how blessedly different it is from MA.

What If?  Many writers talk about stories coming from the simple question What if?  I don’t think I have ever gotten inspiration this way.

Showing You A World You Never Knew Existed.  By far the most common source of inspiration for my work is simple observation of the world around me.  As I have had a unique life filled with equally unique people and experiences, I’ve never been short on material to draw from.

Still Life.  Beginning in April 2007 as I was struggling to understand the mysterious illness plaguing my health and my ability to write, a new method for finding inspiration appeared on the creative landscape:  An image would appear on my mental screen.  

As a clairvoyant I am used to suddenly seeing things so it was instinctive for me to zero in on the image in order to better understand the message the universe was sending me.  In that particular instance it was two individuals in close proximity in a cabin.  I didn’t recognize either of them or the cabin but I was intrigued.  Why were they so uncomfortable with each other?  As I delved more deeply into what I was being shown I realized it was an opportunity to create a story and though I did end up publishing the book which was part of the Hangover series I pulled it.

I tried the remastering technique but never could get it to a point I was happy with it so I just pulled it.

Though this method for finding inspiration went on the back burner it eventually showed up again.

It took a hiatus behind – among other things – a nonfiction career focused on EMF Sensitivity.

Most recently as I was wrapping  up the Metatron’s Army remastering project and pondering what I might work on next an image appeared in my mind.  

I was thrilled as I was having a bit of difficulty getting focused on new material.

I studied the image – a male character in a very specific location – and allowed information to surface.

  • Who was he?

Not a name so much as where does he come from?  What does he do for a living?  Where does he call home?  Who are his friends?  What is his objective?  What are his strengths?  What are his fears? 

  • What is he doing there?
  • Where is there?
  • Is he alone?

Who else is in the picture and who is in the story but not in the picture?

Though the inspiration may come from something other than an image popping onto my visual screen the process of developing out the story regardless of the genre follows along that trajectory.

I fill in the details including supporting cast and subplots in the course of writing the story.

The Series and the Stories.  While Metatron’s Army as a series was written in the form where each of the 13 books represents a chapter in Cirhce’s life there are other stories connected to the series that are self-contained.  One of my favorites is Metatron’s Legacy which was written in the space of three weeks between Pin and Bind, books 8 and 9 in the main series.

Chronicles and upcoming books will also be self-contained stories attached to the series.

Sci-Fi.  Though time travel and multiple dimensions are a central theme to a lot of my sci-fi material, the other series which include Dragon Core, Ghost Games, and Colony, are nothing like Metatron’s Army in their style.

Each of the books in Ghost Games is self-contained as are those in Dragon Core though those stories which are urban fantasy/sci-fi are related.  Colony is a mix of both.

Though I enjoyed remastering Metatron’s Army and releasing Lessons From the Edge, I’m happy to get back to regular normally inspired sci-fi.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

I have to admit it’s an interesting time to be a sci-fi writer.  Especially given the nature of what set me on this path, an NDE in which what I saw and experienced was more science and technology than religious in nature.

Including technology that hadn’t yet been invented and some of which has yet to be invented.

Or, to be precise, a celestial being I encountered during the NDE who’s continued to guide me throughout my life and who instructed me to publish the story I’d wrapped around the experience.

All of which is detailed in Lessons From the Edge: An Author’s Guide to Metatron’s Army.

As I write in Lessons from the Edge, the Metatron’s Army series isn’t the only sci-fi series published as a result of my relationship with the celestial being. 

In its original form this series was conceived when I was in 10th grade and is also a result of the NDE though more indirectly.

As I write in After Here: The Celestial Plane and What Happens When We Die, my return to Catholic school after the NDE was, to say the least, a bumpy ride thanks to the fact the NDE was in no way shape or form close to what I’d been taught.

I also discuss this in the interview with Lamont Gates of Real Spiritual Talk Radio.

The stark differences led to deep theological research which immediately brought to light that there are a number of differing accounts of historical events.

Different sides of the same war, different cultural interpretations of events, translation errors, etc.

I began writing the original storyline shortly after starting my career in the tech industry.  The original series was comprised of 3 novels and was set in 10th century Gaul.

The current series draws from the earlier research and shares common concepts applied to the plot but has significant contributions from the celestial being who spent a great deal of time pointing me at current resources and historical data that supports the message he was trying to get across to me.

While I consider the celestial being I refer to as “the Dude” to be a partner, he understands that in the end, I make the decisions as to what I will or will not include in my stories.

For more information on this partnership, see pages under the Muse Menu Pick on metatronsuniverse.com.

Colony

Toward Christmas of 10th grade, with the rudiments of Metatron’s Army already in play, I was asked by the celestial guide to work on another traditional sci-fi story.  Between work, school, Metatron’s Army, and a psi avalanche, I had no time or energy to dedicate to such a project, so, I politely refused.

He circled back around to this idea about a year ago.

I have enjoyed working on these sci-fi stories and look forward to a continuing relationship with this being.

Who advised me not to worry about what may or may not be in that Congressional report and to stay focused on what’s in front of me. 

Good advice.

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.”

ANALYSIS: BOOK TWELVE

Analysis: The study of a game or a position, in order to evaluate the quality of the moves and various other aspects of the game or position

Analysistwelfth in the Metatron’s Army Series can be summed up in one word, evaluate.  This chapter of Cirhce’s journey opens with members of Metatron’s Army trying to find their way forward.

Collectively and individually.

Take a Breath.  Certain objectives have been attained but there is more work to do.  

And adversity has taken its toll.

Change Happens.  There is a renewed if unique focus on the main characters.

But that hadn’t solved things either.  It didn’t matter he’d loved her for years or that she’d begun to return that love within the last year.  It didn’t matter they had Corus’ blessing.  The truth was they were not used to interacting on such an intimate level.  Powerful soldiers who spent years fighting side by side, they were at a loss as to how to behave. 

The war has taken its toll.

 Emotionally and psychologically exhausted, she finally suggested they spend time apart, not only for breathing room but to give the crew a break from the tension that was an invisible entity in the room, right next to time.

Though there is deepened trust among the players, challenges remain.

“Look, can we file this under the Light Beings don’t understand humans category and move on to the reason you are in my apartment?”

Though drama still defines the themes in the series I took time to have fun with relationships between key players.  Especially, Cirhce and her biological father.

She curled her lip.  “That is so gross.”

Ryal sent her a look of irritation, turned the monitor away from her.  “Gross,” he grumbled.  “That’s beautiful is what that is.  My work is not gross!”

And between her father and the man she loves.

Ryal blinked then glared.  “I knew it!  I knew it was only a matter of time before you interrupted something important!  You think you have problems?!”  He pointed at his own chest.  “I am not going to get laid!”

Verix stared coolly before angling his head toward the bed.  “You managed once.”

As with all my writing characters are my focus.  Drawing attention to how key players interact helps flesh them out.

Christine sucked in a breath as a new sensation went through her.  She stared at the Energy Tracker in wonder.  “You feel good.”

Strykus shifted uncomfortably.  If the Princess was developing feelings for him, the Protector would kill him.  As would Dacan.  And Alexander.  And Omart, when it came down to it.  Worse, he did not return those feelings. 

Highlighting challenges in relationships adds depth to the characters and the story.

The longer she stood speculating, the more time she wasted, risked widening the gulf between them; a gulf formed by an inability to know how to move forward, how to be in love which was a whole different thing than loving someone.  

The nature of the relationships adds color.

“I like Jaliss.  I’m glad she came here to be with you.”

“She has a job in the morning, so this is convenient for her.”

“She’s going to go kill somebody when she wakes up?” she asked, referring to the fact the Balen was a mercenary.  

Dialogue can serve to highlight the differences that define the relationships.

“I hurt you?”

“No but you need to learn finesse.”

She laughed.  She couldn’t help it.  The way he was talking about energy work, she’d think it was as good as sex.  And her own lover, who was pretty damned good at it all things considered, talked about sex as if he was reviewing a lesson in basic jet mechanics.

Life is interesting when your teammates are leaders in their own right.

He curled his lip at the Princess.  “Just because we work together doesn’t give you the right to order my men around.”

Life is interesting when your teammate is your lover.

She prepared her modified weapon to fire when there was a flash of light to her left.  Goddamnit!

“I believe it’s Godzilla.”

Or a former lover.

“Where,” a familiar voice said from beside her, “did you learn to fight like that?”

She gave the man she was to have married a cool stare.  “What do you think I did while you were gone all that time?  It wasn’t as if I was having sex.”

As always, life is interesting between teammates who aren’t afraid of expressing their opinions.

“May I ask why you have been observing her in the conference room for the previous two hours?”

Chestin shot Verix a dark look.  “You’re kidding, right?”  

Deer in the headlights moments are fun.

“It will go easier if you lie still.  Try to relax.”

“She’s got her hand up my shirt.  There will be no relaxing, Shifter.”

As the plot thickens adversaries need to work closer.

“He’s going to need help,” Omart spoke up.  “Will he be willing to train someone at the Piya Cascata, do you think?”

“I’ll speak to him about it,” Verix responded, only slightly irritated by the prospect of yet another discussion about sexual intercourse with the man who hated the fact he was having it with his daughter.

A reminder that alliances are self-serving.

His decision to humor the Princess was far from altruistic.  Azlach despised Estan.  If Ryn’s friendship with the Princess did nothing else, it would serve to irritate the hell out of the Ivaran monarch while endearing him to his own.  As for his personal motivation.  He wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to spy on the enemy.

And some relationships are to be tolerated.

“He’s one of Harman’s people.”

“I thought they liked you.”

“I wouldn’t go that far but I’d be surprised if they’ve got a contract out.”  

Though a bit domestic in flavor, I took the opportunity to provide a bit of information about Eol outside the area where the Academy is located.

There were two other islands nearby.  One appeared covered in forest while the other, like the one they were visiting, had population, though there was a significant difference in the buildings.

 I used this opportunity to step away from the filter of Metatron’s Army.

She turned wide eyes on the man watching her.  “Clothes?”

“I thought you might like to have something other than Dynamic issued clothing to wear.”

Which shows characters do not easily step out of character.

“You know, once we get married, I’m not going to step back from Metatron’s Army or the Dynamic government.  I’m still the Commander.  I’m still that mouthy cadet you took on years ago, though I’d like to think I’ve matured to the extent I -.”  She stopped.  Recent activities more than illustrated she hadn’t changed.  “Do you know who you’re marrying?” she asked quietly, “because I’m not going to transform into some domestic -.”  She stopped speaking because he’d stood and was coming her way.

While books 9 – 12 make up the bulk of the original story, a great deal of work went into writing characters and subplots that support the series.  Analysis is about half and half.

The scenes regarding the time gate are all original and were developed while I was using a treadmill in my basement in Michigan decades ago.

Christine felt a momentary pang of guilt for not enlightening her friend as to her real objective.  She would explain herself later, if it became necessary.  For now, she had to hope he was as well-trained as she believed and would act accordingly.  If it became necessary.

She was about to activate the scanner when necessary put in an appearance.

Some of the relationship ideas were original even though the characters themselves were not yet part of the story.

He has no idea what she was up to.  I think he’s going to need help.  Your help.”

“Why me?”

“I think it’s going to take more than the word of a Light Being to convince Azlach Christine was not going to war against the Azlaan people.

In addition to humor I use outside characters to break up tension.  One of my favorites is the former RAF pilot.

“Damn, I’m sorry.  I’ll get something to clean that up.”

“You won’t and don’t you clean yourself either.  Go exactly as you are.”

“Are you out of your mind?  Azlach will -.”

He held up the bloodied hand.  “A picture’s worth a thousand words, mate.”

Another is a former Special Forces soldier.

She gave him the once over.  “I heard you held an emitter on Verix.  That’s gutsy.”

He shrugged.  “Like I said before, I don’t want to have to do that again.”

As always I keep it real.

Christine watched the two males play whose is bigger.  It appeared her life was to be overflowing with overprotective Neanderthals.  She studied her nails.  “Let me know when you guys have worked it out.”

While keeping it off balance.

“Is it medical?”

“Sort of.”

“The reason I ask is because we do have a trust clause.”

“Doctor patient confidentiality?” she replied, one side of her mouth going up.

“Father daughter privilege,” he answered.

There are plenty of reveals.

“Are you telling me you – you purposely -?”

“Corus, I had to know.”

“Why?”

She put a hand to his cheek.  “In doing so I confirmed that this war?  It’s about me.  It always has been.”  And Verix and Corus were casualties, targeted because she loved them.

Closing the distance ups the tension.

“I trust you, Christine.”

“Oh, you do, do you?  Shall we examine that trust?  Where shall we start?  The bond?  Its origin?  Or how about what you’ve been doing on Crysalis?  And just to round it all out, let’s talk about the fact you won’t tell me the truth about why I’m here?  We both know damned well you were more than capable of defeating the bastard.  Especially given half the Council suspected his identity before I was born.”

And in the midst of tension, humor.

“I’m sure that went over real well, given how you detest Kalach.”

“I do not detest him.”

“Okay, let’s not lie.”

Keeping it real.

She smirked.  “Thank you for not killing my father.”

“He is too important to the welfare of the Light Beings.”

Cirhce’s confidence as a leader has definitely evolved.

Her first officer looked well, if tired and a bit – pissed?

“Report to Cloy then find Samira and get some rest.”  When he looked as if he wanted to say something, she narrowed her eyes.  It was so not the time.  “Dismissed.”

“Do you welcome all your crew members back with such warmth?”

She pushes back.

She crossed her arms.  “Why is this my responsibility, Your Majesty, given it’s off your port bow, as it were?”

And takes responsibility.

“Christine -.”

She angled her head.

“Is it worth giving your life for?”

“That’s what it was always about,” she said at last.

And makes sure everyone knows it.

“What are you going to do?” he asked at last.

“What Xavier asked me to.  End the war.”

She shows grace under pressure.

“I told him to kick Estan’s ass to Sunday if he tried doing an end run around Ivar’s role in this through Catana.”

Doesn’t hesitate to remind her team who’s in charge.

“Well, well, well.  Seems like we have a bit of a discipline issue because I know damned well Verix, Ryn, and Chestin didn’t order this ridiculous formation.”  What’d they do, she thought sourly, put the guys least likely to follow orders near the gate?

And when all is said and done?

She wasn’t so naïve as to think she’d accomplished the impossible and put conflict out of business. 

Excerpt.

“Christine, you’re playing with fire, you know that?”

“This ship is a research ship.  Of course, we have to arm ourselves.”

“With enough fire power to take out a planet?”

“I would never -.”

“Yesss,” he said, leaning close, “you would.  You love that man as much as you love Verix and you would destroy the Azlaans if you thought they were harming him.”

“I trust Ryn.”

“As a business partner?  Yeah, okay.  With Corus’ life?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Because, Christine, someone should tell you the truth.”

“Yeah, and that’s you, huh?”

“I seem to be the only one not keeping secrets, so yeah, I think I’m the best qualified in this situation.”

“Okay, I’ll bite.  What truth?”

“If you don’t watch what you’re doing, Commander, you’re going to have that war you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.”