Today, I’m welcoming my fellow Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology author Carol over to my blog to talk about her story in the anthology! I really enjoy her Central Galactic Concordance series — space opera with romance for the win!
My Central Galactic Concordance (CGC) space opera series has a grand, sprawling plot going on about evolutionary change and rebellion. I love all its twists and turns, but sometimes I like to take a break and visit the unexplored places in my CGC universe. Novellas, like CATS OF WAR in the Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology, give me the chance to explore background aspects and explore their implications for the galactic civilization at large.
My previous novella for last year’s Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 anthology, PET TRADE, centered on shady pet trade industry. For CATS OF WAR, the backdrop is the CGC’s Criminal Restitution Indenture and Obligation (CRIO) system.
The CGC has more than 500 member planets. Serious criminals (e.g., murder, rape, genocide, etc.) go to prison, or get mind erasure and menial jobs for life. In extraordinary cases, the CGC executes the criminal on a live simulcast feed throughout the civilized worlds. However, for lesser crimes that involve theft and property destruction, convicts must pay back the monetary damage, or be sent to the CRIO system to work off their obligation.
The CGC government partners with private industry and assigns indenturees to provide the labor. Like any other human-created institution, the CRIO system can be gamed, and there are rumors of hellholes.
One of the better CRIO installations is the setting for CATS OF WAR. The facility itself is in the middle a swamp. It filters rare-earth metals from mountain water runoff, which the government uses for building faster-than-light stardrives. On paper, it’s a win-win. Reality is more complicated.
The hero of CATS OF WAR, Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti, is the military liaison for indenturees who are veterans. He had no more choice in his assignment than did the heroine, indenturee Ferra Barray, who is doing restitution time for property damage.
Ordinarily, they’d have no reason to interact, but they are brought together by the unlikely arrival of two mysterious creatures who need their help—or might be the help that both Kedron and Ferra need when trouble comes to call.
Here’s a little excerpt from CATS OF WAR:
While Kedron wouldn’t miss the Argint d’Apa facility, he would miss the swamp. He’d disliked it at first, the same way most staffers still did, but it had grown on him. He’d spent time studying its ecology and gone with the biodiversity scientists on a few sample-collection expeditions. Living so close to untamed nature made it easier to understand how everything, from the majestic giant trees to annoying clouds of gnats, had a place. Maybe he did, too, even if he couldn’t see it.
He put away his uniform and decided to walk laps on the campus’s wide perimeter walkway, rather than spend another evening alone in the gym. Regulations restricted it to military personnel, and he’d never seen the CPS representative use it.
As much as possible, he kept his interactions with her in virtual space. As a mid-level telepath, she could read thoughts, and as a low-level sifter, she could affect brain chemicals, detect lies, and sense the use of active minder talents. Military personnel caught with minder talents earned an immediate, permanent transfer to the CPS’s Minder Corps.
Kedron’s minder talent wasn’t much, just an ability to use seemingly unrelated information to find things of interest, but he’d rather direct traffic for a city of half a billion or be an indenturee than work for the Minder Corps. Too many private family stories warned of how badly the Minder Corps treated its personnel. He’d learned to hide his talent well enough to beat the CPS Testing Center for mandatory age twelve and seventeen tests, and random ones since, but some sifters were better than the equipment. Fortunately, minder talents in the patterner class were hard for even high-level sifters to detect.
He pulled on pants and a long-sleeved top to ward off biting insects and stepped into one of his few indulgences, custom-tailored, waterproof, adaptive boots. Even with myriad modern transportation options, Ground Div gunnin, from the lowest ranker to High Command commodores, spent a lot of time walking, running, and marching. Good boots made all the difference.
He looked out the north-facing window of his quarters to check the weather and the path. Non-essential indenturees were on lockdown, and half the staff was busy, so he wasn’t surprised to see it deserted. The tall perimeter fence’s horizontal power lines beyond the road-glass pathway glowed faintly as reminders of their presence. The overhead and glass path lights blinked on and off erratically, then stayed off. Twilight and mold sometimes messed with the sensors.
Shadowed movement caught his eye. Someone carrying a shallow, rectangular crate stepped off the path toward the exterior powered fence. The figure knelt right in front of the fence and set the crate down. After furtive looks left and right, the figure slid something under the fence.
Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3
10% of the first month’s profits goes to Hero-Dogs.org
Story blurb for CATS OF WAR:
A repair technician must convince a disgraced military sub-captain to help her save two special cats before trouble engulfs them all.
Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He’s more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he’s told her, because technically, he’s her warden.
Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She’s lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she’ll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she’s running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.
Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she’s free to come for them.
When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta’s award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.
Anthology Blurb for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3
Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity.
Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders.
Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 today!
About the Author:
USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all of whom would love to travel to the stars.