This story is set in the world of the novel Ship of Destiny, the March 2020 entry in Frank Chadwick’s Cottohazz series. Frank Chadwick is the New York Times number one best-selling nonfiction author of over two hundred books, articles, and columns on military history and military affairs, as well as over one hundred military and science fiction board and role-playing games. His game Space: 1889 was the first Steampunk game and remains a cult favorite. His other game writing credits include legendary fantasy game En Garde!, groundbreaking SF role playing game Traveller: The New Era, and many others. Chadwick’s SF novels include Cottohazz series novels Come the Revolution, How Dark the World Becomes, Chain of Command, and Ship of Destiny, as well as steampunk thriller The Forever Engine, all from Baen Books.
Fiction Short Story
The Estate of the Honorable Arigapaa e-Lotonaa on the Planet Hazz'Akatu, about three hundred light years from Earth
Day 11, Tenmonth Waxing, Year 301 of the Cottohazz (28 December, 2133 Earth Dating)
Alex was crying—probably hungry. Marrissa unbuttoned her blouse, picked him up, and as he fed, she walked out onto the broad balcony on the east side of the main house. This close to Hazz'Akatu's equator, there were only two seasons: rain and dry. Although they were going into the rainy season, the skies were clear today. Aurora would have a smooth flight in. Marr looked across the east grounds. Sasha and Tweezaa were running laps on the track below, the track whose grey crushed stone surface traced a long oval around the two large topiary sculptures which hid surface-to-air missile launchers—not that anyone attempting an attack would be surprised by them. The ornately trimmed trees were meant to conceal the launchers from the family's view. Everyone knew they were there, but there was no need for a constant visual reminder of their necessity.
Sasha and Tweezaa rounded the near turn and ran past her below the balcony, both waving without breaking stride. human and Varoki, running in step. Where else but here? Marr smiled and waved back. A year ago, Tweezaa had struggled to keep up with Sasha. Now she clearly was holding back, letting him keep up with her. How could she have grown so fast?
A glint in the eastern sky caught Marissa's eye and, as she watched, it grew into an atmospheric shuttle on its approach path for the landing pad beyond the tree line. A ground car was already waiting there to bring the shuttle's passenger up to the house. As the craft flared to land, she pointed to it and turned Alex so he could see.
"Look, Alex. Your Auntie Aurora is coming to see you."
At least that's the excuse Aurora had given for the visit. Marr had her doubts.Read More