Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all; I hope you’re having a wonderful December 25th, and in the spirit of that, here is the seventeenth installment of The Hungry Stars. In this chapter, Agent Barnswell and doctor Proctor have another heart-to-heart, though this time is a little more acrimonious than the last. That tends to happen when both sides think the other is hiding something. We also stop in at Kebrak Daun to get Jirrico and Tasho’s perspectives on the Compact’s ceasefire and what it means for their nation and to each of them respectively. Lastly, we conclude with Lakhesis’s arrival in Nibiru and the questions that it brings.
Below is a snippet from the opening scene, where Peter and Charles spar not-so-amicably. For the full scene and the rest of the story, check out the links above!
Hope you all enjoy!
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“How often were Grace and Allyria intimate?”
“Inti- what did you just say?”
“How often did they have sex?”
Proctor’s face darkened. “That’s completely inappropriate,” he snapped back. “More than that, it’s not even any of your business.”
“I work for CIS,” Peter reminded the civilian. “Everything is our business if we deem it to be.” Antagonizing the man was a calculated risk. Some people tended to clam up when they got angry, but Peter suspected that the good doctor had never learned that trick. He was a stranger to the other side of humanity, the kind that Peter saw every day on the other side of tables like this one. Or maybe not that much a stranger… “My job often requires me to be inappropriate. Let me tell you why I’m asking this question, doctor. The first day we met, this is what you told me, word for word: ‘Allyria loved my daughter’. I want to know how deep that went and if it was reciprocated.”
“Why?” Proctor demanded. “What relevance could any of that have to your ‘investigation’? What loose ends could possibly require this kind of information?”
“Do you know why the Compact discourages close relations between client races, doctor? Malcontents and self-assured talking heads like to comment on it a lot. I’ve even heard men and women sitting where you are now spit the word ‘puritanical’ at me like it’s some secret they discovered.” He shook his head. “That’s not it at all. It’s because we’re young. We’re too young. You don’t leave children to their own devices without guidance and you can’t let the young races commingle too much. That’s how you get Lord of the Flies, don’t you? Especially when one of those children is a Brute.” He paused. “Did you know that despite being only 7% of the youth population, Brutes are responsible for nearly 38% of the violent crimes committed in their age bracket? For all the good the Envoy Children program has been doing, there’s still the risk of them pulling us down. Perhaps not as a society, but on an individual level.”
“I know all this,” Charles replied harshly. “And I’m full aware of the Compact’s policies regarding client species.”
“But maybe it didn’t sink in the way it ought to,” Peter pushed. “Taking the te Neu girl into your house, helping civilize her – that’s all to the good. From the counselor and confessional records I’ve read, your family had a very profound influence on her.” He sat on the corner of the desk, crossing his wrists over his lap. “But maybe that influence ran more than one way.”