Valor’s Calling Snippet One

Hey everyone, here is the first snippet of Valor’s Child, the second book of the Children of Valor series.  First, the blurb and the cover image, and the snippet is to be found below.  Valor’s Calling comes out on the 29th of September.  Enjoy!

The past calls you back.

Jiden made the decision to join the Century Military Academy after her attempt at a normal school ended in disaster.  She’s embraced this new chapter in her life and she’s ready to do her best.

Jiden’s best may not be good enough.  Her relationships with her friends have changed since she’s been away, her classes are harder than she expected, and things aren’t quite what they seem.  Jiden made enemies when she chose to return to the Academy, and those enemies will settle for nothing less than her death.

Jiden must fight with everything she has, not just to succeed, but to stay alive.  Jiden will prove that she isn’t afraid of the challenge, because the military life isn’t just a simple decision, the military is her calling.

 

Chapter One: I Should Have Known Better

While my parents had hardly been excited about me attending the Academy, I had expected a bit more enthusiasm from my best friend. After all, it would mean we’d be there together.

“You’re what?” Ashiri Takenata stared at me through my datapad.

“I’m coming to the Academy,” I repeated, feeling stupid. I’d meant to tell her and Alexander Karmazin the news as soon as the Admiral had accepted my application. But Mom had sort of freaked out about it and with all the chaos after my misadventures at Champion Enterprises, I hadn’t got around to it until now.

“But…” Ashiri shook her head. “I mean, the acceptance lists have already been posted, you weren’t on them, so we assumed…”

“I had a letter of explanation that I put in with my application packet, I’m accepted,” I answered. The Admiral hadn’t pulled any punches, either. Someone might assume that, being my grandmother and all, she would show me some favoritism. Of course, I’d say they were crazy. The Admiral had barely spoken a dozen words to me outside of what could be strictly viewed as professional terms. I hadn’t even met her before my fourteenth birthday… and as far as I knew, my Mom only spoke to her around the holidays, and then only in a formally stilted video call.

What can I say, my family is a mess.

“Did you tell Alex?” Ashiri asked.

“Karmazin?” I replied. I didn’t really think of him as an Alex. I mean, he was far too… imposing for that. Alexander Karmazin was almost two meters tall. With his olive complexion, curly dark hair, and handsome looks, he could have passed for an actor on one of those daytime shows.   When I’d first met him, I’d instantly hated him, he’d seemed to be everything I wasn’t: tall, confident, and his father was the richest man on the planet. Now I considered him a friend, maybe something more. He’d certainly hinted that he was interested in something more, the last time we’d talked in person, almost five months ago.

I flushed as I considered that, “No, I just had time to call you. I’ve been digging into all the course work. Did you see we have an entire research paper due on the first day of classes for Military Ethics?”

“What, yeah, I knocked that out a month ago. We… that is, Alex and I, we’ve had the past five months to do all that stuff,” Ashiri said, looking distracted. “You really should tell Alex.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” I said. “The welcome packet mentioned we can select our roommates, do you have one, yet?”

Ashiri looked nervous, “Uh, yeah, we can talk about that later, after we get in. You might change your mind, you know. Oh, I’m hitting the limit on my bandwidth for the month, got to go, see you later!”

She cut the call and I stared at my home screen for a long, puzzled moment. I’d met Ashiri at the Century Military Academy. We’d been in the same squad of Sand Dragon. We’d slept on the ground together, been shot at together, and struggled through some really rough times together. I wasn’t sure why she seemed nervous at being my roommate. It wasn’t like I was anything like her old roommate, Rakewood. I wasn’t going to dump on her or anything, I could pull my own weight.

For that matter, I had no idea why she was out of bandwidth. I sort of remembered that her family didn’t have the best financial situation. They’d come here as refugees or something, back when the Guard had annexed their homeworld in the Ten Sisters system. But bandwidth for video calls was plentiful. She’d have to have been spending eight or ten hours a day to put a serious chink in even a basic bandwidth plan with the planetary network.

It was different out here at Basalt Mesa Outpost. It was an archeological and research station, with a permanent population of only thirty. The video call had used up a lot of my family’s non-research bandwidth. In fact, I’d probably talked longer than I should have, but I’d wanted to see Ashiri. The past five months had been rough. I hadn’t really had any friends… well, none besides Ted. He’s dead now, I reminded myself. The accounting intern who’d been friendly to me had been kidnapped and probably killed by the smugglers who’d been buying stolen military equipment from rogue elements of Champion Enterprises.

Officially he was missing, but I’d talked with Ted’s parents. They planned on holding a quiet funeral after all this blew over. I felt horrible for them. If I were them, I would have blamed me. But they hadn’t. They’d actually thanked me for uncovering the corruption at Champion Enterprises… and for bringing their son’s killers to justice.

That left me feeling adrift. I shouldn’t have got Ted involved. I should have handled it all differently, should have gone straight to the Admiral when it all started, but I’d screwed it all up. I’d been kidnapped, nearly killed. Ted was vanished, as if he’d never been. I’d been able to fall back on my military training from the Academy Prep Course, which had saved my life… but I’d killed six men in the process.

I wasn’t fifteen Century years old yet and I was a killer. That was one more reason I’d chosen to attend the Academy. Someone should have been there to protect me, to protect Ted. Maybe I could prevent someone else’s family from having to hold a quiet funeral for their child.

For just a moment I felt the urge to call Alexander Karmazin. Of anyone, I felt he’d understand. He’d had to fight for his life, too. But some measure of Ashiri’s nervousness made me hesitate. Why had she been so insistent that I call him?

It can wait, I told myself. In a couple more days, I’d fly to Duncan City, and I could meet him and Ashiri there. I could talk to them in person and figure out any problems. Besides, I’d already used too much bandwidth and I had a full ethics research paper to knock out.

I flipped my datapad back over to the course material and got started.

***

 

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