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.”

PROMOTION: BOOK ELEVEN

Promotion: What happens when a pawn reaches the 8th rank. Then it must be changed for a piece: a queen, rook, bishop, or knight of the same color (player’s choice).

The World of Metatron’s Army.  There are so many behind-the-scenes reveals in this chapter of Cirhce’s journey it’s difficult to know where to start when describing Promotion, eleventh in the Metatron’s Army series.

It’s About Time.  A central theme to the series is time with multiple dimensions and the repercussions of traversing them as branches of that theme .  

As I mention in Lessons From the Edge: An Author’s Guide to Metatron’s Army, this is a theme taken directly from the NDE.

I have always been fascinated by time, long before I had the NDE.  

I share a bit about my experience and perspective under the PSI Menu Pick on metatronsuniverse.com.

Promotion was one of the more challenging books to write and not because it’s lengthier.  There are multiple scenes that took over a year to develop.

I worked on the dialogue for the ARS Verix-Christine scene every night for months.

There is more drama in this chapter in the series.  A silver lining to this is that it allowed me to explore supporting characters in-depth.

If you want to see how someone responds to adversity, turn up the heat.

I was able to highlight how cultural influences and early life experiences shaped their personalities.

A Point In Time.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, this part of the series is original.  

Books 9 – 12 are.

This part of the series evokes a number of emotions for me, all of them positive.  As I was going through this installment of the series I recalled where I was when various scenes popped into my consciousness.  

A number of scenes were developed while I was stuck in traffic driving home from work near the Pontiac Silverdome.

Time Folds Back.  A few years back while writing Promotion I found myself reading rather than writing as some of the information became a memory.

It was stuff from the NDE.

This created a surrealistic experience.

I’ve written about solving an equation seen during the NDE while working on Bind.  While working on Promotion, I was given additional information on time and our relationship to it.

All of this added up to a book I enjoyed writing even as I was truly challenged by.  

Without Further Ado.  I’ll round out a few details about this chapter in Cirhce’s journey.

As always I take opportunities to add color to physiological differences key to character interactions.

“You read my mind?”

He took a seat next to her on the bed.  “I read your emotional response.”

“Same thing!” 

“It isn’t.”

I use outside characters to provide insight thus providing context.

Pilot Tavik Zana thoughtfully studied the woman behind the desk.  He had great respect for the young leader, though he supposed young was a relative term.  She’d lived more life in her years than most – even Dynamic graduates – did in a lifetime. 

Throughout the series I highlight the relationship between Cirhce and her people.  At this point in the game – the war – we see the depth of trust that has developed.

Christine stood, followed the pilot out of the administrative building.  He was the only one who ever called her kid and got away with it, in great part because it was a term of affection but also because he never did it within earshot of others.

I show the toll events have taken on Cirhce even as the adage what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger applies.

She’d been back from her vacation for well over two months and though she’d been plenty busy, she was having trouble staying focused.  Perhaps enough trouble that people noticed and put Tavik up to finding out what was going on and whether she was still in possession of all her marbles. 

I give insight into the type of people she’s chosen to be on her team.

“Tavik Zana.  I assume your visit is sanctioned?”

“By me.”

They are on her team but they work independently.

“So, Cirhce is unaware you’re here.  She does keep interesting company.”

“How so?”

“Surrounding herself with those who act under their own authority.”

“She’s a leader not a dictator.”

I have long maintained this series like all my writing is about characters driven by passion.  This chapter allows us to see just how true this is.

“So disrespectful,” she muttered.  “I don’t know why he hasn’t had you executed.”

“You know that too,” he replied with a lazy smile.  “He needs me too much.”

In Promotion we get to learn more about the Azlaans.

A race shrouded in myth and mystery.

Ryella, an Azlaan Healer,  was one of the more challenging characters to work with.  As I mention in Lessons From the Edge, she was an unexpected addition.

“You just won’t admit it, will you?”

“Admit what?”

“That there is anything redeeming about her.”

“I have great respect for the Princess.”

“As a rival.”

Ryn, another Azlaan was originally slated for a smaller role but I ended up liking him so well he not only got a major role, he will be getting his own book.

“Do not cross me on this.  If I discover you have disobeyed me I will take such vengeance upon you, you will wish you were not a part of our family.”

I provide insight into the world of Metatron’s Army.

She let out a pained sigh.  “Apparently, Tavik took it upon himself to go to both monarchs and threaten them.”

“With what?”

“A war.”

“Can he start a war?”

“He’s Dynamic.  We don’t have to get Congressional approval for anything.”

I provide insight into the challenges of allies who are a law unto themselves.

“He doesn’t take just anybody, huh.”

“Noooo.  Even after I was accepted, I had to prove myself.  Again, and again.”  She shrugged held up her glass.  “I’m an outsider.”

And the reality of needing to keep them at arm’s length.

“What’s in it for him?”

“Back door into the Light Beings.”

“A lot of people use you for that, don’t they?”

“They try.  It’s kind of a farce.  Everyone knows I would never betray those guys.”

As always I add levity when and where I’m able..

Bring her here.”

“To this dump?”

She laughed.  “This dump has great food, but the best part is the people who come here don’t have to worry about being spied on.  Well, they are but by professional spies, so it doesn’t matter.”

We continue to see that team members aren’t shy about expressing opinions.

“Did it ever occur to you that I don’t force myself on stubborn women?”

Roddy was silent for some time.  He rubbed the back of his neck.  “That is the first honest thing I think I’ve heard anyone say since this whole fiasco started.”

“What fiasco?”

“Not what, which,” he responded.  “Take your pick among the many.”  He made his way over to see if the team needed any assistance.  Before he killed the fool standing next to him.

Theirs is an interesting relationship.

“Princess?”

“You used to call me by my name.”

“Azlach is waiting.”

“Jerk.”

“What happened to Godzilla?”

And humorous.

Christ.  Beam me up Scotty.

“I don’t think he can.”

For the love of -.  She was definitely heading to the nearest bar at her earliest opportunity.

“You won’t be alone.”

SSDD in the land of adversity.

“It would be inefficient to go into details when the Tactical Instructor is waiting for you and you need to report back to the Phoenix.”

“Jerk.”

“As you will.”

‘Ugh!  Total jerk!”

This is one of the more incredible parts of how the name came about, details of which can be found in Lessons From the Edge.

He turned down his uniform collar.  To her utter shock, a small gold ornament – Archangel Michael – was pinned there.  She’d given it to Xavier for Christmas.  On Earth.  A lifetime ago.

I really delved into the members of Metatron’s Army, their personalities and how they interact with each other.

“Au contraire, my friend.  It’s exactly where he wants to be.”

“Why?” she snapped.

“Because you’re here.”

“What?  You’re – you’ve -.”

“Feel me.  Feel my emotions.  Do I feel like I’ve lost it?”  

In addition to the Azlaans I give insight into the Isolans and other enigmatic characters.

Alexander rarely worried.  He’d lived long enough and seen enough to notice that the fabric of time, when wrinkled, eventually straightened itself out.  Of course, that didn’t mean it didn’t need a little help now and then but for the most part, with patience, one saw that events played out as they should.

There is a focus on inter-species intimacy in this book.  To support this I draw attention to the passion that defines not only the characters but the relationships.

The man looked as if he was in the most wonderful place.  “How do you do that?” she whispered.

He took a drink of wine, savored it.  “The key is to go into it with no preconceived ideas.  Allow every sensation, every flavor to stand on its own. Do not judge it for good or for bad until after the experience is over.”  

She shivered.  This was definitely a date.

I explore the complexities of interspecies perspectives.

“The bond.  It is an open connection.”

“No, it’s an open window.”

“Explain.”

“You aren’t human.  Picking up on what is inside of me doesn’t translate to understanding.”

He didn’t bother to point out that she was not human.  “I think I follow.”

I use humor to highlight the challenges of interspecies relationships.

She winced.  She hoped Verix didn’t get the book – written by a couple of Earth females – outlining rules they thought women should follow to attract and snag a husband.  She could just see him passing it around among the Light Beings as educational material.  What a nightmare.  

Excerpt.

Vetrias stared at the flower trapped within the vines.  The only reason the current wasn’t shredding the soft petals was because the web of vines was loose enough to allow some movement.  An apt visual metaphor for the situation at hand.

“I trust you to do what you feel is best, but I would ask that you delay the revelation until the Princess is used to being in a relationship with the Energy Shifter.”  Who was far more powerful than she was aware.

“Agreed.”  They needed to ensure the Princess thought the decision was hers.  

DIAGONALS: BOOK 10

Diagonals: The squares on which bishops move, at 45° the ranks and files.

Something’s Gotta Give.  Diagonalstenth in the Metatron’s Army series opens with the war going on multiple fronts and though everyone is doing their part trouble is looming.  

Pressure is stressing the system and there’s no circuit breaker.

If we consider Metatron’s Army as a parallel circuit with each player one of the component parts we start to see exactly where that trouble is likely to come from.  

Given the nature of Light Beings it was easy and fun to utilize the laws governing electricity to inspire  metaphors and plot devices throughout the series.  The Iconoclast’s symbol is such an example.

At this point in the story we have a key player acting with inductance which is the tendency for an  electrical conductor to resist change in the flow.  

The gates were fewer but the impact of those few remaining was significant.  Especially, the one they couldn’t close.  She hadn’t been able to bring herself to close it.  

As there is no real circuit breaker it’s only a matter of time before the system itself is badly damaged. 

“If I close that gate,” she said quietly, “do you think he would understand?”

Something’s Gotta Give.

He came around to stand next to her chair.  “The question is, Christine, could you live with yourself?”

Though loyal to Cirhce as the Commander the members of Metatron’s Army see the situation for what it is.

Trouble on the horizon.

Even as they search for solutions the system itself starts to buckle under. 

Verix frowned, looked from the Auspex to the commander.  “And why is this my responsibility to deal with?”

“You’re kidding, right?” 

We see this through tempers flaring.

Verix’s hands clenched.  “You would try to push her?”

 And individuals being pushed to the breaking point.

“No but hear this.  I will wait.  I cannot say the same for others.”

Electricity takes the path of least resistance.  Without a circuit breaker damage to the system is inevitable.

Christine saw the torment in her friend’s eyes.  This was her fault.  If she’d moved on, the men and women around her wouldn’t be in pain.  A pain that came from being anchored in place.  Because of her and her inability to move on.  

This is doubly true when the electrical energy in question is sexual in nature.

“No one would judge you if you decided to pursue a relationship with – someone.”  He hoped he didn’t have to elaborate on who that someone was.

This complexity sets the stage for miscues.

Just as with Xavier, the ledge served as a place of peace for the Energy Shifter.  Just as the rooftop did for her.  And oh, did she need peace.  The vultures were circling.

Cirhce knows what the problem is and even what would fix it.

She turned off the cigarette, shoved it back into the sleeve pocket.  Roddy.  Ryn.  It was only a matter of time before someone else stepped forward, though she could eliminate at least a few.  

Yet she continues to resist taking action.

“It would change us.  Once you’d been inside of me – everything would be different.”

The words resonated and he’d left off.  Thankfully.  

The funny thing about change, ignoring it?  Resisting it?  Doesn’t work.

Change happens.

Events continue to unfold around the woman leading Metatron’s Army even as she resists taking steps that would act as the circuit breaker they need.  And because change happens, her hand is eventually forced.

“How long has he been back?”

“I don’t know,” he lied.  “They won’t tell me anything.”  That, at least, was the truth.

Ironically, though major events push Cirhce to take various actions, the overall problem persists.

Setting the stage for Promotion, Book 11 in the series.

As with the other books in the series there is plenty of action.

Christine rolled across the floor, firing with both hands.  Only one of the weapons was any match against the protective suits but the second put out a brightly colored laser that blinded, making it excellent cover fire.  

And humor.

Christine dragged the rolling table, pulled open the door.  “Oh, hello you two.  As you can see, the meal was delicious.  Bye.”  Without another word, she shut the door on her father and the Energy Seer.  At least Godzilla hadn’t been there, she thought idly.

I introduce new characters to add perspective.  One of my favorites is a former RAF pilot.  His no-nonsense way is a cool breeze when things heat up.

She gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile.  “I’ll answer and then I’ll explain, so don’t panic.”

“I never panic.”

“Good trait in a soldier.”

“Especially, a pilot.”

His entrance into the story is a turning point in Cirhce’s command and in her life for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that he is human.

He smiled.  “Are you from Earth then?”

“Grew up there.”

“Not the same thing.”

He quickly sizes up the situation.

He may have just shown up to the party, but he would put it on black in Monte Carlo she was in love with the man who went down.

And knows the right course of action.

Gabriel decided saying nothing was the best course of action.

Christine recognizes the gift.

She looked at the Brit.  “It would have gone a lot worse today, if not for you.”  

His entrance is a boost when she needs it most.  It acts as that badly needed circuit breaker and not just for Cirhce.

That there is more drama in this chapter of Cirhce’s journey meant Gabriel’s entrance was a cool breeze for me as well.

As with other books in the series I delve into various physiological challenges that affect key players.

Bond this, energetic connection that.  Core.  Soul.  It tired her out.

 And sets the stage for a redistribution of power as the system seeks to absorb the changes wrought through severe adversity.

“We have handled situations in ways we felt would keep the Princess whole.”

“And in keeping the soldier and the leader intact, which serves you and your allies, you sacrificed the woman.” 

This redistribution includes outsiders who choose to exercise it by drawing attention to what needs to be done.

“You can’t let them do that, Christine.  It’s what makes you who you are.  Take that away and you really will be nothing more than a Light Being.”

Which circles back to the idea that in spite of actions taken – actions that were forced and likely because they were forced – problems remain.

The adventure continues…

Excerpt.

Christine stared at the jewel colored falls, considered how she once likened them to a Disney attraction.  Of course, that had been before, when she still associated more with her life on Earth.  After everything she’d been through in the past two years, that was no longer a possibility.  

Time travel, alternate dimensions, sex with alien life forms.  That was her world now.  

BIND: BOOK NINE

A bind is a hold on the opponent’s position which stops him freeing it. Usually by means of pawns; a severe type of restraint.

Wisdom.  It’s one thing to find yourself in a mess.  It’s another to get yourself out of it without making the situation worse.  This is the theme of Bind, ninth in the Metatron’s Army series.  This chapter focuses on Cirhce as a leader as she tries to find her way forward after multiple tragedies.

The war has come.

She has the education and experience to lead and there is much to do.  Unfortunately, circumstances have left her without players critical to the effort.

Her army has scattered.

There is no shortage of opinions about how she should proceed.

“Why don’t you call them back?” he asked quietly.

“My way is not your way, Niko.”

That was an understatement the warrior prince thought.  If his team had run off in such a cowardly manner, he would have hired mercenaries to hunt them down and kill them for their cowardice.  

Patience.  Second to wisdom it is one of the traits that serve her well as she plots a way forward.

“I do not trust him.”

“Neither do I.  Just be patient.  It’s my experience that fools love to talk so they can hear themselves speak – which he does.  Such fools give away more than they intend.  Trust me.”

Humility.  Another important leadership trait.

“I’m a commoner,” she said before turning and searching for a way through the crowd.

“You are anything but common, Princess.”

“The day I believe that,” she shot back, “is the day I no longer deserve the title of Commander.”

Maturity.  She has come to understand her actions have repercussions.

“The longer I stayed away, the more I hurt Dastin and anyone and everyone else who needs to see me getting past this.”

Compassion.  She balances compassion with pragmatism when gathering the troops. 

His mouth thinned.

“You were angry because I wasn’t who you thought I was.  You were angry because I couldn’t be manipulated or flattered into doing what you wanted.  You were irritated because you couldn’t push me where you wanted me to go.”

His nostrils flared.

“You still can’t.  I am your commander and I am not releasing you from the commitment you made to me when you became a member of my team.  

As with all the books I give stage time to key supporting characters; characters who are powerful beings in their own right.

“He threatened to explode my cells from the inside.”

“Can he do that?!”

“Yes.  He is one of a handful of Azlaans who inherited a little-known power.”

Holy shit!  She was starting to think she’d better learn a bit more about these powers.

There is plenty of action.

“What is the status?”

“We can’t launch the web until the jets -.”

“Not acceptable.”

“Well, unless you have an idea that is acceptable, we’re stuck fighting hand to hand combat in space.”

And plenty of passion as pressure builds.

“Isn’t it bad enough?” he shouted, giving her another shake for emphasis.  “Do you know what that did to me?  Damn you, Christine!”

I showcase interaction between various players.

Verix and Christine:

He’d been angry with her for putting her life at risk, had taken that anger out, alongside the fear, via a kiss that was far from romantic, even if it was passionate.  She supposed it was better than Roddy’s response, shaking her until her teeth clacked. 

Chestin and Ryn:

“Didn’t want to risk my wrath,” Chestin groused, walking up.  He put a hand to her shoulder.  “I came to make sure he did what he promised. Stick out your paw and say ahh, Ryn.”

“I’ll be seeing you in the sparring room if you continue down this path.”

“Name the time,” he retorted.

Verix, Samira and Chestin:

“Why couldn’t this wait?” Samira complained.

“Maybe he wants to test some new weapon,” Chestin mumbled.

I had a lot of fun with the complex relationship between Verix and Christine:

Satisfied?” she snapped from where she sat in bed, arms folded across her chest.  “Now go.”

He leaned against the doorjamb.

She made a sound of disgust.  “What -?”

“Christine, the minute I leave you’ll get up and start looking at messages.”

“Maybe it would help me wind down,” she offered, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“I thought that’s what sitting on the roof was to have done?”

She hissed.  The guy was impossible!

As with previous books i continue to use humor to break up tension.

With a glance toward the bedroom, Christine slowly slid open the sliding glass door, stepped onto the tiny patio, unsurprised when there was a flash of light and Dacan was suddenly beside her.  “You do realize if anyone saw that, you’ve traumatized them for life?”

I introduce new perspective through an outside character.

Over the previous three and a half weeks, he’d been given a fairly in-depth explanation of who was who in the pecking order.  What no one had been able to explain, however, was where, exactly, Christine fit in the whole thing.  Princess, Commander, non-Light Being with Light Being abilities, none of it explained why she was tasked with defeating the Iconoclast.

Wisdom.  She knows when to explain herself.

“I asked men to risk their lives.  I asked Niko to kill a man.  I better have a damned good reason for doing so.”

Patience.

“Did it occur to you that you cannot simply take beings who have spent millennia following someone else’s authority and give them their own?”

“Of course.  That’s why I took your authority away from you long before now.”

Compassion.

“You aren’t seriously going to tell us in a report,” Ryn growled.  “Are you?”

“Look, I can’t say anything until I’ve done a damned debrief, okay?”

And more compassion.

“Jaliss had to do everything,” he growled.  His hands fisted in the sheets.  “All I could do was lay there!”

“Well, that isn’t all you did.  Part of you participated.”

Wisdom.

“I heard him shouting from here.”

“Oh.  Well, listen, I think you need to -.”

“You’re awfully good at giving suggestions, aren’t you?”

“And issuing orders,” she replied.  “Comes with the uniform.”

As with the other books in the series readers gain insight into Cirhce’s journey of transformation.

Was that who she was?  An Earthling who wasn’t?  Maybe clothes made the man after all, and that man was interchangeable parts defined by those clothes.

Uniform on – Commander on.  Uniform off – Commander off. 

“Earth clothes on,” she murmured, “Earthling on.  Earth clothes off -.”  She shut her mouth because someone knocked on the door.  Given what she was wearing, she wasn’t sure she wanted to answer it.  

Bind is one of my favorites, perhaps because it’s been with me the longest.

As I write in Lessons From the Edge: An Author’s Guide To Metatron’s Army, this sci-fi saga decades in the making started well into the story.  In point of fact, it started more or less with Bind.

This is where it all starts to come together.

But it’s far from finished.

Excerpt.

Jaliss crossed her arms and glared.  “And just what is it you expect me to do, Princess?”

Christine glanced at Alexander, back at the assassin.  “I know what I’d do if the man who loved me was naked in bed, sound asleep.”

“I cannot crawl in with him!”

“You will not hurt the Auspex,” Alexander assured.  “Not in his current condition.”

She watched the mercenary calculate.  “How long will this condition of his last?”

“Long enough for you to -.”

Jaliss held up a hand.  “I do not need details.  Long enough was sufficient.”

PIN: BOOK EIGHT

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.  Pineighth 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.

Cirhce style.

 “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.”

“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?

“There’s more.”

“What?”

“It’s where they’re from.”

“They’re from Earth, Christine,” Corus said quietly, then handed her the report he’d been reading.

Earth?!

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.

“Your usual?”

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.

“Christine -.”

“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.

Excerpt.

“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?”

“Yes, Princess.”

“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.”