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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 89 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"I am your security while you are planetside..."

"...and I take that responsibility more seriously than you can imagine." Colonel Roshak explained, "So I would appreciate it if you would show some sense, Baroness...for example, I would appreciate it if you would stop trying to give my people the slip."

He was so polite and sincere about it, that Elizabeth felt bad. "I understand colonel. It's been over a year since I've been in the system, never mind on the surface...I got carried away?"

"Among the things your brother has tasked me with, is protecting your Dignity, Lady Ngo." he explained patiently, "sitting on the edge of a safety barrier over a two kilometer drop 'to enjoy the view' is neither safe, nor is it dignified. Please, come to this side of the barrier?"

She thought about it. Fifteen year olds should not be making these kind of serious decisions. a tremor in her arms as she tried to swing her legs back over the barrier started a side-back tumble toward the drop.

Nathan moved fast, catching her before she went over the edge. "..and THIS is why we stay on the inside of the barrier, Milady." he told her gently, as he helped her to her feet on the 'safe' side of the meter-tall mortared stone fence.

"Thanks." she said.

"You are welcome, it is all part of the service." he told her. "Shall we go inside now?"

"yeah...I guess." she said.

"How was Tharkad?"

"Frustrating." she confided, "Working under Max at the Exchequer has been educational, but I think I might be learning all the wrong lessons."


"'s really easy to rip off the realm." she said, "and it takes forever to untangle it, thousands of nobles don't even know what they pay, never mind what they owe, and there are a ton of laws that need reworking or repeal."

"For efficiency?"

"No, not for that-they need to be reworked because they regulate things that no longer exist, or they regulate industries in ways that strangle production and hurt the economy, just to keep someone in a position of holding a monopoly, which strangles innovation-we're breaking like fifty national laws just with the Rockjacks, if you interpret the laws literally. I mean, there's regulations on mining ventilation that you wouldn't believe, we'd have to bring air to pump through vacuum to comply!"

He chuckled, "Do you think the intent of those laws was to...'strangle' production then?"

"that would require believing in conspiracy theories." she mused, "Which fits WAY too many things. Part of the homework Max gave me, is writing up proposals to repeal some of the dumber ones. I'm supposed to have it ready by Her Majesty's Christmas celebrations..which means missing another summer here at home."

"It is, I am sure, part of your duties as a titled noble." Colonel Roshak commented. "There is a and Prince Arthur?"

"Ah. No." she shook her head, "Arthur and I are very good friends. He's seeing Penelope Doons, which has his Mom in a lather."

"No jealousy?"

"Why would I be jealous?" Liz scoffed, "Arthur's a great guy, and I'm not gonna live long enough, so I'm glad for him finding someone who will, and Penny's a total sweetheart, they're so cute together it's almost nauseating!" she grinned, "When Her Majesty gets used to the idea she'll even realize it makes total sense!"

"A note of triumph there." he observed.

"I hooked the two of them up...." Liz confessed, "and they're like, totally adorable!"

"What about you?"

"No kid of mine will have what I'm dying of, so no kids, which means no husband." Liz asserted, "The last try at 'fixing' me wound up leaving me open to an almost-harmless meningitis bug that normal people shrug off because their immune systems aren't compromised. Her Majesty has, at least, backed off on making me play lab rat four to six times a month since then."

"Seems like you are surrendering too easily." he frowned.

"I fight the battles that I can fight." Liz stated, "It's not giving up to recognize we're so far regressed there's not even a chance. I can prioritize-do what I can and if I can't, I have elected to not care!"

"There may be other options, is all." Nathan told her. "Clan medicine did not regress-they have advanced..."

"What, make a bet and take people as prizes?? Colonel, the sole-and-only reason I accepted the existence of bondsmen, is that Her Majesty stepped in and told me it was the safe option when handling what amounts ot a reinforced brigade, they didn't have facilities to HOLD that many POWs."

He chuckled, "I know. But there ARE options. My Commander, General Clees, is with your brother, she agrees with me-there is a benefit to these talks succeeding, one of those benefits, is opening the possibility of technology transfer through honorable means."

"What kind of means?"

"Challenging the Clans for possession of medical knowledge and information, or arranging trade that will accomplish the same thing." he explained, helping her up the steps of the Ia Drang cabin. "If we manage to get the trial, I will lead the forces trialing for the knowledge."


"Aidan lost the Trial of Position." He said.

"You threw fifty ton war machines at each other??"

"No, we played poker." he said, "Aidan Pryde has no poker-face at all, your brother Henry and Marthe tied on total winnings for the same mission. we have a team that can win, and the rewards will be significantly beneficial to your world and the realm."

"I'm not okay with it." Liz stated.

"take a chance, Milady, there are some advantages to how my native people do things, advantages you can use."

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