Image acquired without permission from (multiple) Facebook postings
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Gods, I cannot believe what a bunch of losers you guys have become.” Donnie waved with the hand not holding his beer, encompassing the group sitting throughout the upscale living room where they had collapsed after an exhausting evening of interspecies political wrangling. The rant went on and on about the old days and how everything had changed since his friends started pairing off with “the girls,” finally ended with, “We’re monsters for crying loud!”
The host adjusted himself on the arm of the cream and maroon striped settee to better watch his wife as she bustled around the kitchen. “Just because I have chosen to hand the reigns to someone does not mean I am tame.” He nodded happily as Ketzal gave him a wave before she opened the refrigerator. With her hidden behind the stainless steel door, Ebon returned his full attention to his guests, smiling with his canines exposed.
“Get real, the ring on your hand is like a ring through your nose,” Donnie sneered. “Dude, you are so pussy whipped I can’t even hear the crack of the leather anymore.”
Ebon moved faster than even the vampire of the group of immortals could observe. One moment Donnie was leaning against the sofa with Maria and Lorenzo, the next the shifter was holding him at arm’s length with Donnie’s legs swinging nearly a foot above the floor. Black hair sprouted along Ebon’s elongated arms, rock-hard muscular arms ending in claws around Donnie’s neck. The back of the dark elf’s head lay gently against an undamaged silk wallcovering.
Everyone stopped moving, and those that could held their breath.
“Do not think my marriage makes me any less dangerous.” Black eyes glowed red in the centers. Ebon stepped closer to the wall, bending the arm without effort while keeping the elf suffocating mid-air. He brought his short snout and full set of glistening teeth closer to the Wild Hunt rider face.
“Dinner is ready in ten…Ebon, my heart, put Donnie down.”
“Dead or alive,” he growled unmoving, staring into the eyes of his trembling prey.
Ketzal’s sweet voice replied. “I don’t really care, but if you kill him, you will need to dispose of the body after dinner.”
“What are we having?”
An exasperated puff came behind him. “What do you think?”
“Something tomatoey,” her husband replied after sniffing the air close to the elf’s neck.
If anything, Ebon’s toothy grin grew wider. “You live.” He opened his left hand.
Donnie fell to the floor gasping, rubbing his neck.
“And if you have a minute, can you fetch some wine for the meal?” The brunette swung her waist long hair behind her as the shifter stalked closer to her to give her ear a quick bite.
Whispering into it, which did not obscure the communication to anyone in the room because of their heightened senses, he said, “I will need to give it a taste to choose the right match.”
The goddess of flowers and ephemeral things giggled softly a second before turning her lips to his. “I just sampled the dish.”
He kissed her a long moment.
“The Sidewood Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, should do.” He opened the small door between the living room and kitchen for the wine cellar stairs.
The satisfaction of Ketzal’s sigh left no doubt about the happiness of the couple’s relationship, even as it moved into its second decade. “Dinner is ready for seating as soon as someone helps me set the table.”
Tykevius and Carissa glided from where they had been hovering near the ceiling toward the dining area.
“Oh, and Donnie.” Ketzal’s musical tones carried the bass throb of power.
The elf snapped his head toward the Aztec goddess.
Her sweet smile looked even scarier than her husband’s. “I wouldn’t have seconds if I were you.”
(words 636, first published January 15, 2017)
Book Cover from Amazon
BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON
Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.
The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance―an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they’ve invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn’t obvious or easy.
Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won’t be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning…and a brilliant “B Team,” centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you’re struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.
Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man’s War universe, plus―for the first time in print―the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn’t part of the digital serialization.
Old Man’s War Series
#1 Old Man’s War
#2 The Ghost Brigades
#3 The Last Colony
#4 Zoe’s Tale
#5 The Human Division
#6 The End of All Things
Short fiction: “After the Coup”
Mr. Scalzi attempted a new format of releasing 13 episodes as mini-ebooks; similar to the old method of serializing a story in newspapers or magazines (everything that is old is new again). A format option popular with self-published authors. After the episodes were all released, his publisher put together the whole thing in book format, adding two extras.
I did not read this during the episodic releases, and discovered the hard-copy book did not work very well as a straight read-thru. The characters’ lives had ebbs and swells that needed a break every three or four episodes. After getting about half-way through the book, I needed to set it aside for a week. Since my work was asking for 60 to 80-hour weeks during the time I was reading this book, it actually functioned well. Every Saturday I would set aside time to read three more episodes.
The writing is typical, brilliant Scalizi – a combination of humor and observations that are just too much fun. He continues to create a new character voice for each book. I love that his characters are unique – Zoe’s Tale had a teenage girl voice; The Human Division had a combination – each episode had a different POV (point of view) of diplomatic approaches. As such the diplomatic-POV did not have the pure snark factor of his first book of the universe (Old Man’s War).
I should note the uniqueness of the universe is beginning to wane simply because of familiarity of the World – now in book five – but the universe hasn’t reached comfortable glove status. So, in places, this book felt … awkward… like a teenager – no longer a cute, shiny baby to ooh&aah over, but not fully mature like a George R. Dickson Dorsai! universe story.
This story is essential to the ongoing Old Man’s War Universe. It clearly sets up the conspiracy for the next story.
Worth the read, just do it in chunks for maximum enjoyment – the way it was originally published on the Internet.