Once A Warrior... - Page 2


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  1. #11
    Hello Notquitexena, thanks for reading, and thank you for the encouragement. I meant to post another segment this past weekend, but family matters prevented me. I will make the attempt again this morning now that the house is quiet!

    To Allanmt: I meant to respond to your 'forced dialog' comment in my last post, but it escaped me. After reading it again (for the umpteenth time) I now see what you mean. I think some of it may be attributable to my desire to avoid a narrative info dump and attempt to get the reader the information through dialog. I also think that 'royals' would probably speak a little more formally than the rest of us, which may lend a 'forced' sound to their conversation. I think. Your thoughts about that would be appreciated!

    Best regards to all!

    CB

  2. #12
    Well, life just gets in the way of things I want to do... finally getting around to posting another segment of chapter 1.

    *************************************

    Shannon Beth Coogan and her husband, Duke Jon Coogan waltzed across the ballroom floor, she in her finest evening gown, he in the Coogan House uniform, consisting of black trousers with a thin gold stripe down the side of each leg and a heavy, double breasted black tunic with a gold eagle poised to strike embroidered across the left breast. Shannon became painfully aware that her husband’s mind was on things other than where his feet may land at the next step. “You peasant,” she said with a laugh, “where is your mind tonight?”

    Jon seemed not to hear, as he stumbled through the dance like a blind bull. “Jon,” she purred, “are you with me tonight?” She squeezed his hand, trying to gain his attention.

    “Yes, yes, dear, what is it?” he said absently. Shannon saw that his eyes were focused elsewhere, still.

    “What is troubling you, Jon?” she asked, irritated with his preoccupation.

    “Hmm, oh, you know, this thing with the Tlingali. The possibility of war is real, my dear.”

    “It wouldn’t bother me any if we drove them out of the galaxy.”

    “Shannon! We have had good relations with them for some time now. You know a war will be counter-productive.”

    “I can’t help it. I hate them,” she said, her body going rigid.

    Jon softened. “I understand, my love,” he said sympathetically. “But we must put the past in the past. Besides, the new ambassador will be here tomorrow for the banquet. I expect you to be civil.”

    “My plan is to avoid him,” she said coldly.

    “Shannon…,” he chided.

    She sighed heavily. “I’ll do my best, sire.”

    Jon gazed around the ballroom in search of his daughter. She was seventeen and considered herself grown. Her independence troubled him and when he spotted her with a man he couldn’t quite make out, his heart sank. Shannon winced in pain as Jon’s foot came down on hers. Again.

    “Jon, maybe we should sit out this dance,” she groaned.

    “Probably. You need to have a talk with our daughter, anyway. It seems she has suddenly gained an interest in young men,” he grumbled. Jon could be quite disagreeable when Chanté asserted her autonomy.
    Shannon glanced around until she spotted her daughter on the mezzanine. “Well, look at that!” she said, surprised. “She’s with Nicholas!” Jon was constantly amazed at the acuteness of his wife’s senses. She could smell the slightest scent, see the most distant object, and hear the faintest sound. Shannon looked up in her husband’s face. “I wouldn’t worry about that, Jon. An alliance with House Jovanovich can only help us.”

    The Duke looked at his wife for the first time since the dance had begun, his attention landing squarely upon her. “I will not use her that way, Shannon. Ever.” The scowl on his face would have melted steel.

    “Of course not,” she said, flinching at the rebuke. “But you have given her free choice rather than an arranged marriage. I don’t think we should hinder. Let things take the path that they will take.” Shannon noticed Jon leading them closer to where Chanté and her partner were. She decided to forego resistance. “She’s getting older, Jon. And it was your idea to bring her this time. Did you expect her to go through life with absolutely no interest in men?”

    “We had to bring her, but I would have preferred further delay. I think we have sheltered her quite well until now.”

    “Maybe too well, Jon,” she said, hoping he noticed her reproach.

    He thought about it before his response. “Well, probably. I doubt she has any idea how to handle these young bucks. It does bother me that any man with smooth words might have his way with her.”

    Shannon gave her husband an incredulous look. “I do hope you know her better than that! She is not some weak minded little girl, subject to the silly whims of emotion.” There was a smoldering in her eyes that betrayed her growing anger. Jon ignored the warning signs.

    “Don’t be so sure, Shannon. She is still only seventeen years. Hormones rage at that age.” Jon smiled for the first time. “Or have you forgotten?”

    The Duchess considered a moment before speaking again, her anger cooling as she remembered. “Okay, I’ll talk with her. And I won’t play the match-maker. I promise.”

    Jon grunted his consent, but his steps grew no better. He saw that Chanté and Nicholas had now joined the dance. The Duke maneuvered near enough to the pair in order to get a good look at the young man. On close inspection, he could see the boy was a mirror image of his father. Jon remembered Stephan Jovanovich from their Academy days together, years ago. Like Stephan, Nicholas’ blonde hair was cut short, as a fleet officer’s would be. His deep blue eyes displayed a sharpness of mind with just a hint of mischief that disturbed Jon. His conditioning was evident by well muscled arms and thick, sturdy legs. It was obvious why his daughter might show some interest in the young man. Nicholas had a confidant, controlled manner that spoke well of his upbringing.

    As the waltz ended, Jon bowed low to Shannon and excused himself. She watched him go, on his way to some business that had been signaled by an Imperial servant. Now, what’s he up to? she wondered. The Senate met with the Emperor earlier in the day. No other meetings were scheduled, which meant that Jon was summoned to a private meeting. She scanned the room for her two sons and found Joshua, the youngest, tucked away in a corner with some pretty thing, but Jonathan, the oldest, was nowhere in sight.

    She made her way to a bench on the sideline and waited for Chanté to look her way. When she finally caught her daughter’s eye, she signaled her to join her on the bench. Shannon watched as Nicholas took Chanté’s hand and kissed it before disappearing into a crowd. Chanté came across the ballroom floor, stopping here and there, greeting several of her friends along the way. Finally, she sat beside her mother, and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

    “What a change from this afternoon, Chanté!” Shannon said happily. “I thought you would pine away the rest of your life only moments ago.”

    “Eigenburg is not so bad, I guess. And we’ll be going home soon. I’m beginning to feel better.” Her eye’s, however, said that something still troubled her.

    “I saw you on the mezzanine. Something caught your eye. Tell me what happened.”

    “Nothing. I was just admiring the ballroom. It’s beautiful from up there.”

    Shannon could sense that her daughter was hiding something, but knew it would be futile to pry just then. “Yes, it is, really. I think the ancients had an eye for beauty. Now, girl, tell me about this young man you danced with.”

    Chanté brightened again. “Well, I am sure you know who he is,” she began.

    Shannon smiled, nodding for her to continue.

    “He’s nice enough. He has been at the Academy for the past six years, studying navigation and weapons systems along with traditional command courses. He graduated today and now wants his commission to the Imperial Fleet…”

    Shannon chuckled at that. “His Majesty will never allow it. The Emperor is terrified of space travel since the accident. He will never let Nicholas go, commission or not.”

    “Well, Nicholas did say his father would probably refuse to sign. But he told me he will get his commission one way or another, even if he has to forge his father’s signature.”

    “Does he think he can pull that off?” Shannon scoffed. “It’ll take more than a signature.”

    “Nicholas seems to be a determined man,” Chanté said, convinced that Nicholas had a better than even chance.

    “Maybe, but that is a trait he shares with his father. We’ll see who wins that one. Do you like him?” Shannon asked with a grin.

    Cutting to the chase, eh, Mother?
    Chanté thought. She smiled impishly at her mother, who nodded wisely. “Maybe,” Chanté said hesitantly. “We have only talked for thirty minutes or so. He could be an awful person for all I know.”

    Shannon looked deeply into her daughter’s eyes. “So you say, but first impressions are usually correct. I saw you two dancing. Both of you are smitten.”

    Chanté silently cursed her mother’s perceptiveness. It was one of the disadvantages of having Shannon Beth Coogan for a mother. Nothing is easily hidden. But does it matter if I am ‘smitten’ as Mother says? she asked herself. If Nicholas joins the fleet, when would I see him again? After a war? If he survives. If any of us survive! “Even if we are, it will make no difference.” Chanté said. “We’ll be going home in a few days, and he may be on a frigate on his way to God knows where. I’ll probably never see him again.”

    “If he’s interested in you, he’ll find a way to see you. They always do,” the Duchess said knowingly, remembering how Jon had arranged to have her near him by simply hiring her as his personal secretary. The marriage was inevitable, in spite of his mother’s objections that ‘She is not from any noble house, and a bookkeeper at that. How much more common could you find?’ ‘Mother,’ Jon had countered, ‘As a woman, she is most uncommon.’ Shannon had heard the entire exchange between mother and son. Jon’s reply had endeared him forever to her. She never told him what she had heard.

    “What about Father?” Chanté asked. “What does he think? Or did he even notice?”

    Shannon laughed. “Oh, he noticed, and I have the bruised toes to prove it. Your father is always so blasted difficult where you are concerned. He thinks you are some porcelain figurine that should be kept on a shelf somewhere, completely protected from breakage. Well, I promised him not to be the little match-maker.” A hint of mischief glimmered in the Duchess’ eyes. “But I won’t hinder things, either. We’ll let whatever happens, happen. Now, off with you and go have some fun.”

    Chanté hugged her, and gave her another kiss on the cheek. “I will, Mother. I do feel better.”
    The Duchess gave her a wink and watched her daughter as she began to mingle with the crowd, obviously searching for Nicholas. She laughed to herself. Yes, she is smitten, no question about it.

    **************************************

    I hope you find this segment enjoyable. Your critique, of course, is welcomed and encouraged. This will probably be the last segment I will post, as I need to finish polishing the final chapter.

  3. #13
    Having a moral speech pattern for royals is a perfectly valid convention. It makes sense to me.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by alanmt View Post
    Having a moral speech pattern for royals is a perfectly valid convention. It makes sense to me.
    Hi Alan, I think you meant 'formal'? Although a 'moral' royal might be rather unique...

    Thanks again for the feedback and best regards!

    CB

  5. #15
    lol yes. formal damn these fingers!

  6. #16
    Member Notquitexena's Avatar
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    I liked the bit with the father distracted while trying to dance. A couple of minor things:

    [Jon remembered Stephan Jovanovich from their Academy days together, years ago. Like Stephan, Nicholas’ blonde hair was cut short, as a fleet officer’s would be.]

    This is a bit awkward. Perhaps something like "The boy's father had looked just the same during his Academy days. Even the cut of Nicholas' blond hair was just what was to be expected of a fleet officer."

    [“Nicholas seems to be a determined man,” Chanté said, convinced that Nicholas had a better than even chance.]

    Perhaps a little more about Chante's frame of mind, like: "Chante toyed with the idea of saying something snarky about Nicholas having a better than even chance, but changed her mind and simply said, 'Nicholas seems determined to make it to space.' "

    JMHO

  7. #17
    Member josh.townley's Avatar
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    I'm really liking this.
    Just one thing, though. Would they be talking about the possibility of war out in the open like that where everyone could hear? It seems like the sort of discussion that should be kept behind closed doors. If there were any journalists there (I'm assuming a similar media system here, of course), something like that getting out could cause a panic and a lot of embarrassment for them.
    Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more
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  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Notquitexena View Post
    I liked the bit with the father distracted while trying to dance. Thanks. I drew that from real life. My wife has promised never to dance with me again! A couple of minor things:

    [Jon remembered Stephan Jovanovich from their Academy days together, years ago. Like Stephan, Nicholas’ blonde hair was cut short, as a fleet officer’s would be.]

    This is a bit awkward. Dang! I thought I had gotten most of the awkward stuff out. But you are right, this should be revised for clarity. Thank you for pointing that out. Perhaps something like "The boy's father had looked just the same during his Academy days. Even the cut of Nicholas' blond hair was just what was to be expected of a fleet officer." I will definitely consider your suggestion.

    [“Nicholas seems to be a determined man,” Chanté said, convinced that Nicholas had a better than even chance.]

    Perhaps a little more about Chante's frame of mind, like: "Chante toyed with the idea of saying something snarky about Nicholas having a better than even chance, but changed her mind and simply said, 'Nicholas seems determined to make it to space.' "

    Snarky? SNARKY?!?! I love that word! I am not sure that would fit here, though Chante does get a bit snarky later on in the story.

    JMHO
    Thanks for reading and sharing your opinion.

    Best regards

    CB

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by josh.townley View Post
    I'm really liking this.
    Just one thing, though. Would they be talking about the possibility of war out in the open like that where everyone could hear? It seems like the sort of discussion that should be kept behind closed doors. If there were any journalists there (I'm assuming a similar media system here, of course), something like that getting out could cause a panic and a lot of embarrassment for them.
    Thanks for reading, Josh!

    Well... I guess I owe you a little background... some of this is exposed later in the story... everyone present at the dance would already have heard the rumor of war, since this is strictly a gathering of the nobility. All were present because the Emperor had convened the Noble Senate to discuss the possibility of the war, so no one was really in the dark except perhaps Chante and a few others.

    I had not thought about the media, but this story is basically about a future where most modern conventions have been abandoned and ancient customs have been embraced, especially concerning warfare. It gets bloody a little later in the story.

    You know... writing is hard!

    Thanks for reading, Josh! I appreciate your comments.

    Best regards

    CB

  10. #20
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    I like it. I'm not a big fan of fantasy, but you brought it alive to me. I look forward to reading more of yours

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