Valor’s Child Snippet One

Here’s the first snippet for Valor’s Child, which comes out on June 30th, 2017:

Chapter One: My Parents Are Evil

 

I lay awake atop my covers as I listened to my parent’s raised voices.  I wasn’t sure if they figured I was asleep or if they just didn’t care if I heard at this point.  For all I knew, they’d forgotten that I was even in the house.

“I don’t know what to do with her, Wayne, I just don’t,” My mom said.  She still had that tone of resentment that had set me off earlier.  That had escalated into this, but somehow it just didn’t seem fair that she could raise her voice and I couldn’t.

“It’s not like we have a lot of options,” my dad said.  “I think most of this comes back to her application to Champion, right?  You two did have an agreement.”  I felt a surge of hope at his words.  I wanted him to respect my decision, to support me.  Granted, I chose to go behind their backs only after that last fight with my dad, so in part I’d done it to get back at him, too…

“Don’t you dare take her side on this,” Mom said.  Just like her, I thought, she doesn’t like what I’m doing so she tries to make it out like I’m the one who didn’t hold up her end of the bargain.  I had… mostly.  Well, admittedly, I’d promised to apply to the Archeological Institute and Nelson’s University as well, but it was hard enough filling out just the application to Champion Enterprises Internship… and they had requested that I make my application exclusive.  They would have thrown my application out if they knew I had applied somewhere else.

“She didn’t hold up her end of the bargain,” Mom said.  “For that matter, she went behind my back—both our backs—when she filed the Champion Enterprises application.  She forged my signature on the application, Wayne.”

I winced at that.  It was true enough.  I knew she wouldn’t sign it and I knew that Dad would have wanted to talk it over with her before signing it.  The two of them were almost a hive mind with how they managed Will and me.  That was part of why I’d gotten so angry with both of them, they were too good, and it was almost sickeningly wholesome around the house.  That hadn’t bothered me even a year ago, but it did now.  I was nearly fourteen years old, which with the longer years here on Century, meant I was already seventeen in Earth Years.  Back in more civilized places where they followed the Earth calendar, I would almost be considered an adult. I’m so sick of them treating me like a child, I thought, I made this decision myself and they should respect it.

“I know,” I heard my dad sigh and that made me wince again.  Dad was big on keeping your word and being honest.  And I tried, but at the time it had seemed like my only option.  I’d done almost everything else they had required of me.  I’d taken the archeology classes like they asked, I’d done all the additional course work they wanted, I’d even stayed on top of the chores… well the ones I hadn’t traded with Will, anyway.  And really, who cared if I traded allowance money for Will taking some of the worst chores?  I didn’t have time to clean the bathrooms, I was doing all that extra work.

A quiet voice inside of me reminded me that I’d still had time to hang out with Tony.  I’d also had time to attend the Basalt Mesa Outpost school graduation dance.  Come to think of it… I ambushed that quiet voice and shut it up where it wouldn’t gang up on me with my parents.  I was the wronged party here and I refused to give in on this.  I had earned that internship and I was not going to take it away from me.

“Well…” I could hear my father hesitate, “You have to admit that she planned this out pretty well.  She didn’t apply to the other schools and it is well past the deadlines.  For that matter… it is a good position.  Champion Enterprises does train their people well and they’ve got the best engineering school on Century.”

“I don’t care,” her mom said.  “She lied to us, Wayne.  If we let her get away with that… then what lesson does she learn?  That if she’s clever enough, she gets what she wants? Because I don’t think that’s right.”  That wasn’t what I think at all, I countered in my head, though I will admit that I did think it all through very well.  There wasn’t anything they could do, not without destroying my future and I knew they cared too much about me to do anything like that.

“You’re right,” her father said.  “She does need to come away from this with some lessons… and I think I have an idea.”  I felt a sense of unease.  I thought I had considered every option.  The trimester school system had just wound to a close.  I’d graduated my secondary school in the second trimester, which meant I had just over five months until the first trimester of university classes began.  Normally, that gave kids my age a break before they started training in earnest for their careers.  Some got temporary jobs, but most kids my age would spend the time either studying for their classes or enjoying the last break before they had to buckle down and attend university.

Personally, I’d planned to spend most of my time studying.  Champion Enterprises was the opportunity of a lifetime.  Their employees made more money than almost anyone else on Century.  Their boss, Leo Champion, was one of the primary shareholders in the Century Colony Charter.  He owned something over thirty percent of the star system.  Tony had earned an internship with their logistics department last year.  He was still an intern, but he already made more than my dad did.

“There’s always her grandmother,” Dad said, his voice oddly reasonable.

“What, your mother?” I heard the incredulity in Mom’s voice.  “Wayne, she’s a nice enough woman, but I doubt that Effy would really punish her… unless you think baking her cookies and gossiping about her other grandchildren would be punishment.”

“No, June, I meant your mother.”  My dad said it in that same smug tone of voice he used when he knew he was being devious, like when he beat me at cards or when he had figured out some archeologic puzzle.

I sat up in bed and my mother and I spoke with the same voice, “You can’t be serious.”

***

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