From the first story in the forthcoming Cat Among Dragons collection, to be released in early August.
Cadet Daze or “Through Other Eyes”
<<You look especially chipper this afternoon>> Zabet observed, sarcasm dripping from her mind voice. She tipped her small, round ears back, whiskers fluttering up and down beside her delicate muzzle.
Her House Pet, Rada Ni Drako, took off her weapons belt and hung it on the stand beside the desk, made certain that none of the servants lurked in the corners, and stomped over to the window seat before she replied in Trader. “I’m about ready to tell roughly a thousand Azdhagi soldiers, courtiers, and a certain King-Emperor to shove their tails into an uncomfortable place. Stupid reptiles!” She glanced over her shoulder, adding, “No offense, boss.”
<<Since I’m not stupid, none taken,>> the reptile in question replied. The silvery-blue True-dragon shifted so she could see her business partner better. <<Is generalized idiocy finally overwhelming you or is there a specific cause?>>
“Yes.” Commander Rada Lord Ni Drako folded her arms across her chest and glared out over the courtyard and gardens toward the far wall of that part of the palace-capitol complex. “This generation of Azdhagi seems more lazy, foolish, or just plain stupid than their predecessors. Granted, it’s been a while since the last attacker set paw, limb or foot on the soil of Drakon IV, but damn it, that’s no reason to get complacent! Things are warming up again at the borders of the Empire and the geniuses don’t see it. And the troops have absorbed that attitude from their lords and officers.”
Rada reached back and unpinned her hair, letting the long braid swing free down her back, then rubbed the scar tissue below her missing eye. “It’s like the Traders—they assumed that their monopoly on trans-temporal travel would last forever, and didn’t see the loss of their business and markets until it was shoved in their faces.” It was still a sore point with the Traders and Rada wondered with a spare brain cell if it contributed to their continuing hatred of her.
And I am sooooo tired of seeing nothing but Azdhagi and Zabet, Rada sighed to herself. Granted, it’s nice to be taller than everyone for a change, and to be waited on forefoot and tail, but arrrrgh! A servant poked his muzzle into the room. Rada glared at the low-slung, thick-tailed quadrupedal reptile. He gulped and retreated, leaving her in peace for the moment.
Zabet snorted and Rada turned to look at her boss and “concubine.” <<Sounds like a good time to go on vacation,>> she suggested, whiskers and tail tip twitching. <<Let them have a nasty scare and you won’t have to lecture or plead for a few centuries.>> She cocked her head to the side, << Or battle with <i’ve got=”” some=”” business=”” contacts=”” we=”” need=”” to=”” go=”” visit=”” and=”” cultivate,=”” it’ll=”” be=”” nice=”” not=”” fool=”” with=”” the=”” <span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”the ” data-mce-bogus=”1″>Azdhagi tariffs for a decade or two.>> The partners had been taking turns losing their tempers with the government of the Empire recently, or so it felt.
Rada’s eye narrowed. “You have a point there, boss. A leave of absence would force my officers to suck up and put in some effort, and as nervous as Defender Shainee is, he’ll call me back before any scares turn into debacles.”
© 2014 Alma T.C. Boykin All rights Reserved