The Sun From Both Sides (Part 2 of 3)
By R.S.A. Garcia
(Continued from Part 1 – Escape Pod episode 757)
Once, a man left his home to find his home.
It was not an easy journey, but going home never is.
He gave up all that he was, and all he knew, to experience a great many things. Genuine smiles and thoughtless malice. Shared purpose and individual failure.
And one bright day, in the middle of a river, he found peace. The first true peace in his long life. He learned that a home could be shared, and that in finding his home, he’d become another’s. That was more than enough to bury the fears and chase away the memories. More than enough to keep the world and its cares far, far away.
Until the day he came home, and the world was sitting at their table, brushing invisible dust from white diaphanous trousers with immaculately trimmed and painted fingers. The Knight rose from the wooden chair it had been seated on, the smooth white surface of its full-mask catching the evening light. A pin-hole speaker made a glowing blue circle in the centre of the lower half of the mask, and tinted slits hid the Knight’s eyes.
He froze in the doorway, instinctively putting out a hand to keep his wife from going past him into the house. Eva halted against his outstretched arm, her body rigid as she dropped the bag of paw-paw they’d collected during their walk on the swing-bench.
He glanced at her, but she was focused on the Knight, her brown eyes narrowed. Her soft, springy hair was an unbound halo around her face. He had been planning to help her wash and dry it by the fire. Heart thumping in his chest, he thought on all his plans for that day, and the next, and the next. Pointless now, like crystal smashed against the floor.
I’m sorry, he thought, willing her to look at him. She met his gaze as if she could sense his thoughts. I’m sorry I was right. I should have known they’d come when we least expected it.
In front of them, the Knight took a step forward, extended one leg and swept a bow over it. The voice that issued from the speaker was light, conversational–the voice of a friend coming upon another old friend after a long while.
The sound of it grated on his ears like a scream.
“Grandmaster Didecus Avnette Valentino Lucochin, you are called to the Greatwood for the annual Opening of the Term at Valencia.”
She tapped his arm and when she had his attention, made a few curt moves with her fingers. “Let me deal with it.”
He shook his head.
Her eyes widened as she signed again. “Turn around. Walk away.”
He took her hand in his instead, weaving their fingers together. Valencians had their own sign language, which most Septholds used to communicate silently and frustrate eavesdroppers. It was very similar to hers; a lucky thing on the day they’d met, but not so lucky now. The Knight could know what she was saying.
He faced the Knight. “How did you find me?”
He frowned. “It was…removed more than a year ago.” He had a new one Sister had printed for him, and only his wife could track.
“It was designed to ping its final location at the moment of its destruction, so the Grandmaster’s death would be recorded in the Greatwood.”
Only one person would have cared to know the moment of his death–the same person who’d made sure the implant was reprogrammed from its original purpose as a weapon that would kill him if he ever crossed into his planet’s atmosphere.
“I was exiled from Valencia and may not return,” he said, pleased his voice was calm when he’d been caught so completely off-guard. Which was their intent, of course. He put aside the thought and the cold anger it brought with it. “I must decline the invitation.”
“Not an invitation.” The Knight’s hand rested lightly on the black cylinder clipped to the utility belt on its waist–a retractable energy spear. A full-color reproduction of its Grandmaster’s geometric crest was tattooed on its bare shoulder. “A summons. Queenside.”
She flattened a palm against his cheek and turned his face to her. A frown creased her forehead and he saw the question in her eyes. The mask prevented her from reading lips and the pinhole speaker limited vibrations. She could only follow what he said. He had no doubt she sensed his inner turmoil; his fingers gripped hers tighter than they should. He released them.
“I am no longer the Lucochin,” he said, his voice harsher than he intended. “My King is dead. I have no Queen.”
“A glorious miracle, Grandmaster. As happened with you, many tempi ago, there has been a promotion. A new Queen summons you.”
By the fucking Graces. Fuck them all to hell and back.
He forced out, “Who?”
“I’ve been instructed only to bring you to Valencia with all haste. Questions must wait until we return to the Greatwood.”
“When then? How many tempi ago did it happen?”
So many tempi since he’d left Valencia. To go back now would be madness. A death warrant.
“I no longer have a seedling. The Vineyard would reject me.”
The Knight plucked at its belt and held its hands out to reveal the jeweled speck of a Coretree’s seed in the centre of one palm.
He closed his eyes, expelling a heavy breath. Turning his back to the Knight so his wife could read his lips, he said, “I have to go, Eva.”
The determination in her eyes spoke to him before she shook her head.
“If I don’t, they’ll send Pawns. Pawns that won’t care who they hurt, or what they must do to carry out their Grandmaster’s commands. At least I can reason with a Knight. If I allow it to complete its move, it won’t harm you or anyone else.”
Her eyes widened as she divined his intent. “No. We discussed this.” She hit him in the chest with a closed fist. He grabbed it, held it against him.
“That was before so much time passed. It’s been too long since I was last home. Everything will have changed. I will have no allies.”
He didn’t tell her what he feared most. That his only ally must be dead, or the Knight would not be there.
She pulled her hand away. “Try to leave without me. See how far you get.”
He gave her an exasperated sigh. She arched her eyebrows at him.
After a long hesitation, he said, “I need time to prepare,” to the Knight without looking at it. He wanted her to see what he was saying. She nodded once, her lips a compressed line of triumph.
“Those are not my instructions.”
“I am Grandmaster Lucochin and I survived the Great Game more tempi than you’ve been in service. You will give me what I ask.” He faced the Knight. “And you will prepare a seedling for my wife.”
The Knight took a step forward. “You wish to bring your wife?”
“Yes. You came here by the Vineyards, did you not?”
“So you can prepare a seedling.”
The Knight shifted its masked head ever so slightly in his wife’s direction. “She is not Valencian.”
“She is Kairi. They were enhanced for interstellar travel, as were our ancestors. She can withstand the seedling, and she goes where she pleases. Take care not to insult her.”
“Damn right I go where I want,” she added. He fought back a smile.
“If she doesn’t come, you won’t complete your task.”
There was no way to tell how the Knight took this news. All he knew was it would inform its Grandmaster and Queen. The arrival of a Primarch–a citizen of the Kairi Protectorate–in Valencia would be unprecedented. And they would know she was coming.
The Knight bowed. “As you wish, Grandmaster.”
He circled her shoulders with an arm, pulling her against his side and giving the Knight their backs. So many memories and emotions churned through him at the thought of going back–dread and adrenaline made him tense. But he couldn’t deny part of him breathed easier knowing she would be with him. Knowing whatever happened, he wouldn’t be alone in the nest of vipers that was the Greatwood.
And he was not unprepared. He’d planned for this long before he met her.
“Are you sure?” he asked her.
She rolled her eyes at his question. “I’ll send a message to Sister. She’s gone adventuring.”
“They may not allow her through the Vineyards.”
She grinned, tilted her head at him. “They’re welcome to try and stop her.”
Sister came, of course. Her primary consciousness had been traveling the Kairi networks, fighting far-off skirmishes in myriad shells, or visiting new planets with diplomats and explorers, but she returned in time, curious to see a ship and a world few had ever been invited to visit.
The Vineyard ship had been in orbit for several weeks while the Knight searched. The decision to live simply had been about not needing more than food, shelter and freedom to be content, and–once he’d met his wife–happy. But he had also considered the day his people might come looking.
In the end, all his caution had been in vain.
Sister followed on her own as they travelled to the Vineyard with the Knight in its much larger drop-ship. She landed on the polished, weathered deck of the Vineyard’s cargo hold as they disembarked behind the Knight, holding hands loosely.
His wife squeezed his fingers to get his attention before signing, “Smells wonderful.”
“It’s the Vineyard,” he explained. “The ship is grown around it to infuse it with the vine’s atoms. It gets into every part of the vessel and flowers. Even when they’re not flowering, the mirror Vineyard on Valencia, or other ships, might be, so ships end up smelling like this all the time.”
They were in the corridors now. Petrified carbon curved under and around them, the same color as his wife’s startlingly light brown eyes, the whorls and rings rippling through the surface a testament to the ship’s advanced age.
This Vineyard was one of the massive fleet his people maintained to trade and lay seedlings in space to create Arbors, so that ships could travel ever further by navigating from one Arbor or Vineyard to another. No matter how far they explored, all other ships, seedlings and Arbors, remained permanently entangled with Valencia and each other, allowing Valencians to travel vast distances in an instant and trade reliably with many other colonies.
Maintaining their ability to use the Coretrees for problem solving and space travel was the only mandate of the Greatwood and the Grandmasters that ruled it. Without the Coretrees, Valencians would lack even the basics. Their world was far from established routes, discovered by accident when several colony ships were forced to land to make repairs.
He itched absently at the crook of his arm where the seedling had been implanted as they approached massive doors that stretched ceiling to floor. The panels folded back and air spilled out into the corridor, sweet with the cloying fragrance of the vine within. It was the smell of home and victory and sorrow and pain and every waking moment of his life before his exile.
He closed his eyes against the rage that tightened his chest and the bile that rose in this throat.
She gripped his upper arm and leaned her head against it, letting him know she was there. Grateful, he covered her fingers with his and opened his eyes.
The Vineyard sparkled back at him through a tinted shield. The Knight withdrew masks from alcoves just inside the open doors–standard grey models with red pinhole speakers. Eva accepted one as a courtesy rather than choosing to tint her own hood. When he activated his, it dimmed the vineyard’s glow to a shimmer, and oxygen rushed into his lungs from the tiny pac built into the mask. They would only need it to breathe for a few seconds, until they crossed into the mirror Vineyard and Valencia’s purer atmosphere.
“You may be disoriented when you arrive. It’s a stress on the body, the sudden shift, even with the seedlings.”
She shook her head and gave him a look that said he was fussing for no reason. She donned her mask and signed, “Lead the way.”
The vines were a shimmering curtain he parted to find his way forward, his wife’s hand firmly in his. He took care where he placed his feet as the smooth floor of the ship was hidden by the ceiling to floor plants.
The scent of them raised nausea in the back of his throat just as the world seemed to tilt, then right itself again. The surface beneath his feet went from smooth to bumpy, his wife stumbling against his back at the abrupt shift. With no warning, they were pushing through not just glittering vines but knee-high blades of grass. He saw dark shapes ahead of him, against the fall of light that was the vineyard. The pac on his mask switched off, and air flooded into his lungs, heavy with vine-perfume.
When they broke from the Vineyards, it was in front of a row of opaque panels. He took a deep breath and stilled his wife’s hand as she reached for her mask. “No. Leave it.”
They walked up to the panels together and he pushed it aside for her to step through first.
He recognized the room they entered–the high square ceiling, the pale walls and stone floors, the two graceful statues on either side that represented the Navigator and the Captain, the founding colonists of Sept Lucochin.
He was home, standing outside his own Vineyards. This, he understood with a cold clench in his gut, was not proper etiquette.
Three knights, holding buzzing, activated spears, surrounded a much shorter figure that stepped toward them. Sheer white cloth danced on the air, so thin he could see slender bare legs and small dark-tipped breasts through it. The Bishop’s full mask was elaborately painted with the crest of its Grandmaster, two diamonds inside a circle, a twin to the tattoo on a bare upper right arm.
“Welcome home, Grandmaster Lucochin. You have been missed.” The Bishop’s voice was smooth, light and monotone.
“I find that difficult to believe as I was exiled,” he replied. “Let us not waste time. Explain my summons.”
The Bishop’s mask tilted in his wife’s direction. “And who is this?”
“My wife, as the Knight would have informed you.”
“I had no opportunity to speak with the Knight. I have been directed by Grandmaster Kingston to escort you to your rooms.”
“Kingston?” He frowned, the coldness in his gut now ice. “Why does the Kingston give orders in a Septhold of Valencia?”
A pitying sigh escaped the pinhole speaker. “My apologies, Grandmaster. You’ve been gone a long time. You could not be expected to know.”
“Know?” He raised his eyebrows and waited.
“Sept Lucochin has been dormant for many tempi.”
He turned his head and his wife met his gaze, but she could not see past the mask to the anguish that made his knees feel unsteady.
All those people.
Alexandar betrayed me?
No. It couldn’t be that. Never that.
“But the Game? Our Game?” he said, desperate not to believe.
“It ended, shortly after you were exiled,” the Bishop confirmed as though discussing the weather and not the clearing of a Board. The wholesale execution of a Grandmaster’s pieces–Pawns, Knights, Rooks–everyone. “With your return, a new Game has begun.”
He sat with his head in his hands for the longest while. Long enough for the golden evening outside to turn full dark. He’d thought no day could be harder than the day he’d been forced to leave Valencia knowing that either he would never be back, or worse, that he might one day have to return. But he’d been wrong. So very wrong.
Eva waited, allowing him his grief even though she couldn’t have fully understood the conversation he’d had with the Bishop. She sat at his feet, her head against his knee, her fingers intertwined with his and never once did she ask a question.
The lights in their bedchamber brightened as darkness fell. There was only the large carved bed, some chairs and two doors–one led to the dressing area and one to the baths. He’d refused the services of Sept Kingston’s servants, preferring to let them leave two trays of food on the only table in the room. The rooms had been aired, and the long hallways they walked still had dustnets over the little furniture that remained. Sept Kingston must have been directed by Sept Valencia to prepare for his arrival. With no people on the Lucochin estate, there would have been no one else.
He was lucky, he supposed, that he hadn’t been imprisoned on arrival, but he knew with certainty that had been deliberate.
It was a new Game. It would be up to him to figure out the objective. To know which of the many moves he’d planned would be necessary.
He stared at the grey masks on the table and sighed. She shifted and looked up at him, worry crinkling her eyes. Her free hand squeezed his thigh and he stroked her hair. He spoke aloud so he wouldn’t have to let go of her warm, comforting hand. “I’ll be okay. I just–need time.”
She leaned her head back on his knee, still looking up at him. “Tell me.”
He glanced out at the dark estate and the dancing rainbow colors of Valencia’s night sky–the light of the Vineyards reflected into the atmosphere, so beautiful now he saw it for the first time in many tempi.
“This is was my estate. They bought us directly here instead of the Greatwood.”
“Almost certainly. The Bishop told me the Grandmaster Valencia would speak with me tomorrow. It’s odd Sept Kingston and Sept Valencia would go through all this trouble to find the exiled Grandmaster of a dormant Sept, and yet the new Grandmaster Valencia doesn’t meet with me on arrival.”
Understanding dawned in her eyes and she took a breath. Freeing her hand, she signed, “Your Valencia. Your Sept. Both gone?”
He closed his eyes for a moment, too bone-weary and heartsick to even nod. When he opened them, she had tears in hers. “My love, I’m so sorry. You tried. You let them exile you. It’s not your fault.”
He swallowed, the tightness in his throat and burning in his eyes making him pause to gather himself. “It was my fault we lost the Great Game. I set in motion the events that led to my Sept’s destruction. Sept Lucochin numbered over ten thousand when I left. Ten thousand souls. Executed. Including my King. And the previous Valencia.”
She knelt between his legs, facing him. “When?”
“After I left.” His hands faltered and she placed hers on either side of his face and kissed him, her mouth soft, sweet and fleeting.
He leaned against the padded headrest and stroked a finger over her lips. “They didn’t deserve that. I played the Game. I thought I’d won.”
“You traded your life. Left those you loved behind.”
She kissed the tears on his cheeks, and his lips trembled as he spoke. “I love you. And I don’t deserve you. This…happiness. All this time we’ve had with each other–”
She shook her head fiercely. “No. Don’t do that. It’s not true. We’ll find out what they want, together. Then we leave. Together.”
He hugged her to him, stroking his hands over the supple armor that covered her back, watching the blinking ready light of the drone on her forearm as her hand lay against his. The Bishop had claimed not to know his wife was with him. Why would the Grandmaster Valencia not mention the arrival of a citizen of the Kairi Protectorate to the Bishop that was sent to meet them? It was disconcerting, yet probably for the best. Eva was not their focus. He needed it to stay that way.
After a while she raised her head and sat back on her knees. “Should we eat?”
He signed back. “No. Dangerous until I meet with Grandmaster Valencia tomorrow and know why I’ve been summoned. Hungry?”
“Not hungry. Tired.”
They settled on the firm bed with only their boots removed. He knew they weren’t safe. His body prickled with awareness and warning since they’d arrived, and his instincts had kept him alive for many tempi in Valencia. He trusted them enough to know he wouldn’t sleep tonight.
“You’ll take first watch?” she asked.
“You better wake me.”
“Of course,” he lied.
She snorted as he lay down, his chest against her back. She pulled his arm over her waist and he propped his head on his hand, so he could watch her sleep. Several minutes after they lay down, the sensors in the bed lowered the lights in the room and he lay in the dark, thinking, as her breathing evened out and the wind rose outside, the thick walls and windows muffling the sound to the whisper of ghosts.
*Hibernation mode activated.*
Sister pinged a query in response to the drone’s abrupt re-tasking and the loss of its live feed. She was engaged with analyzing the Vineyard ship’s primary language and systems. The ship’s technology had originated on Terra, and this shared evolutionary foundation provided her with a key to begin her decryption within an hour. She required almost half her processing power to catalogue and flag the most useful information in the enormous database, so she’d delayed her reconnoitering of Valencia until she’d secured enough preliminary data on it to ensure security protocols were met.
*Hibernation mode in progress.*
Sister flagged the pingback as unsatisfactory and retrieved another drone to proceed to her Primarch’s location and comm a live feed.
At that moment, she registered several things at once. The Vineyard ship’s engines powering up. The navigational AI implementing a new course away from her home system. A Stage Four hardware breach of her solo-ship’s security. A localized EMP that sent the unshielded sections of her solo-ship’s power core into temporary shutdown.
None of these things disrupted her operational focus as much as the sudden silence from her Primarch’s location beacon. The drone responded to all pings with the proper hibernation codes, but it remained dark to her emergency activation commands.
Hidden in the Vineyard ship’s subroutines, Sister studied its live feeds as Knights surrounded her primary shell in the cargo bay, placing clamps on her struts and erecting a dampening field.
These, she understood, were acts of aggression.
As bonded AI to the leading Primarch of the Gomez clan–and frontline of any Kairi Primarch’s defense–Sister’s mission was now clear. She would enact Caution Protocol. Secure an operating base, determine the location and safety of her sister and husband, and ensure means by which she could access them and carry out offensive missions, if necessary.
While the Knights worked on her shell, Sister hid her secondary drone in an alcove on an empty deck. She supplanted the subroutines of several mundane programs across critical decks before disguising herself as a diagnostic tool and slipping into the Vineyard’s primary AI. She would need to find her own seedling. It was clear the Valencians had no intention of giving her one, as promised.
Her Primarch, like all Kairi, was more than capable of protecting herself, but the Kairi were descended from a small Earth tribe. Every Primarch’s life was precious. She would take nothing for granted.
He is eleven and his grandmother kneels in front of him, smoothing her wrinkled hands down the front of his cream shirt. Her smile is sad, her eyes desperate.
“You know what you must do,” she says, and he nods.
“I must enter the Greatwood and pass my Presentation so I can see the real Valencia.”
She grips his upper arms. “If you’re worthy. If you learn its language.”
He doesn’t reply because it’s not necessary. He’s heard the same story his entire life. He doesn’t know what language the Greatwood speaks, but he will learn it. He has no choice. His grandmother’s gaunt cheeks speak to the cancer burning through her and his parents are long dead. He will either become Septed or become an orphaned un-Septed. A child with no skill and no caregivers will die in Valencia’s Lesser Games. And he doesn’t want to die.
She takes his hand and leads him to the entrance of Sept Lucochin’s Audience Room. He joins the line of children his age.
The room changes around him, expanding as if breathing in, and he stops to look over his shoulder. The Red Door of Failure is open behind him, letting out crying children into the arms of their silent, devastated parents.
He can see his grandmother standing at the front, watching as a Pawn takes his hand and guides him to the Purple Door of Acceptance. She’s also in tears, but he knows they’re tears of relief.
He won’t die in the Lesser Games now.
He’ll never see his grandmother again. Only healthy family members can join the newly Septed in service to the Great Game. Anguish rises in him, knowing she’ll die alone. But he’s studied with his grandmother how to never show his emotions. He relies on that training now, as they close his first mask on his face.
He is thirty and a Pawn legendary for his ruthlessness. He’s stripped the unSepted of their homes at the command of his Grandmaster. Put the spear to those who attempt to come too close to his charges. He’s turned away from the food banks those who’ve lost their ranking in the Lesser Games and watched them walk away into certain starvation when trade is slow, and rationing begins.
He’s done it all while showing none of the rage and despair that fills him at the sight of the waste that continues in Lucochin’s Halls, even when the unSepted have nothing. The Young Masters eat and drink and play the Great Game they’re born into, and he hovers at the edges.
Watching as the Lucochin’s youngest daughter pulls him down with her onto the bed.
Holding himself separate as she has her fun with him. Remaining passive as she licks his ear behind his mask and says, “If you kill him, we can be like this always.”
She thinks as they all do. That unSepted are ignorant.
Stupid. That they can be easily manipulated by base emotion.
When she sighs the question, he says yes, and she whispers a date and time for the deed.
He scrubs himself well before he meets with the Grandmaster, trying to erase the previous hour from his body. Lowers himself to the cold floor and touches his head to the ground, as all do who have bad news to deliver. He’s calm as he explains the plot, though he knows the Grandmaster could choose to have him killed instead of his daughter. He has nothing to lose but his life, and that hasn’t been his since he was a child.
“You’ve done me a great service,” the Grandmaster says to him as the youngest Lucochin Master rides away in a transport to a hastily arranged marriage. “Name your reward.”
He’s always known he must become more than he is, so he doesn’t hesitate. “I would be a Rook in your service.”
The Grandmaster turns cold eyes on him and says, “Why waste such talent at gameplay? My Bishop is old, and his strategies grow simplistic. Take his place, if you will.”
They hand him the keys to their Kingdom.
He will find a way to throw open the gates.
The Bishop is buried in pomp and circumstance, and at the graveside he sees his future for the first time. Master Alexandar is blond and grave as a painting in his white half-mask. The only Young Master left alive in the vicious Sept of Valencia–his form straight and strong as a Coretree.
The thump of his heart as he looks at Alexandar is an unfamiliar rhythm in his chest.
The Master turns away without seeing him, and he returns to his Sept–a new Bishop with a tiny crack in his façade only he knows is there.
He’s seventy and Queen and it’s his wedding day. Grandmaster Yuta congratulates him even as he apologizes for refusing the match he was offered to one of the Grandmaster’s many children.
“You’ve done well,” Yuta says. “My son would have poisoned you at the first opportunity and taken your post.”
He knows this, of course. It’s what he would have done.
He’s pressing his thumb against the contract when the new Grandmaster Valencia, now unmasked, enters to add his DNA to the seal.
His wife Rachel steps aside and dips low with the elegance of a Master whose family has always been Septed. When he straightens from his own bow, the Grandmaster Valencia is between them and the crack in his façade widens as those blue eyes remain on him, speaking of other things than the polite felicitations the Valencia utters to his face.
He’s one hundred and three and a Grandmaster, and soft lips touch his under the Core Trees of the Greatwood, sending sharp shocks through his entire body–and the Corevines in his wrists. Alexandar also forgets to remove his Corevines.
That’s when he finally learns it. The language he’s been searching for his entire life.
For the first time, he’s unable to hide his discovery–his truth–from his wife. She narrows her eyes at him as he tries to make her understand.
“You’re a Grandmaster,” she says in a voice that betrays only mild annoyance. Her hair is braided intricately in coils on her head. She’s unmasked, as they often are in private. “Why do you concern yourself with the troubles of the unSepted? You give them higher rations than they deserve, build them better houses. They’re not grateful for this and you only encourage them to believe they’re entitled to more.”
“How can you say this,” he says, “when I was one of them?”
“You are Grandmaster Lucochin, Sire to a Master of Sept Kingston. You are not them. Cease this inappropriate worry over their comfort.”
“And yet,” he says, “how many of them would be me, if given the chance?”
“Chances are taken, not given,” she scoffs. “Keep your sympathy for those who work to provide the foundation for all Valencia is and can be.”
He stares at her, resigned. “You truly don’t care.”
“Of course, she doesn’t,” Alexandar says, touching his jaw gently. “She’s your Queen. The latest in a line second only to mine. This is her world. You don’t belong in it.”
He reaches for that hand, but Alexandar is standing next to the fountain in the middle of Valencia’s Audience Room, staring into the rippling pool. He walks toward him, the fountain pulling away from him with every step, the tinkling of the water a rising susurration.
“Didecus,” Alexandar says, not looking at him, hands clenching the sides of the basin. “They must see everything. You must show it to them, as you showed it to me.”
“Alexandar,” he calls over the roaring in his ears, heart pounding, fracturing in his chest. “Wait.”
Alexandar’s lips open and Rachel’s voice emerges. “They’ll destroy us. They’ll destroy it all.”
“Alexandar.” He would cry if he could. But this part of him never does. “Forgive me.”
(Continued in Escape Pod 759, Part 3)
About the Author
R.S.A. lives in Trinidad and Tobago with an extended family and too many dogs. Her debut science fiction mystery novel, Lex Talionis, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Silver Medal for Best Scifi/Fantasy/Horror Ebook from the Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY 2015). She has published short fiction in international magazines, including Clarkesworld, Abyss and Apex, Internazionale Magazine (Italy), and several anthologies.
About the Narrator
Hollis Monroe is an award winning radio producer, opera and jazz singer and Shakespearean. He served as executive producer and also read for Iowa Public Radio’s “The Book Club” for many years and is an active voice actor, emcee and singer.