Copyright © 2011 by Claudette Gilbert
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Big and broad-shouldered, no one came near the lean, scar-faced stranger who sat alone in a dim corner of the bar. His name was Jak and nothing more. He had no family name, no clan to claim, and on Shadriss that made him less than nothing. His clothing attested to his poverty—scuffed boots, work pants, and a vest worn for the sake of its pockets. Worse, his red hair and green eyes marked him as alien among the dark, slight people of Shadriss.
Shadriss had been a thriving colony once, although there were few signs of that now. That had been nearly four generations ago, when the Confederacy ruled the region. Today, all was a failing mix of old Confederacy technology and barbarism. If not for the trade in ancient alien artifacts, there’d be no starships landing here at all.
Jak eyed the crowd warily as he sipped his mug of the Regent’s ale, given free this feast day to honor the coming mating of the Twin Moons. In two weeks both moons—children of Nish, the war god—would be full in the night sky, and Leath, the male moon, would eclipse Liss, his sister, in the mating. It was easily the most important date on the calendar of Shadriss. Even more, this particular mating marked the Joining of the young Prime with the God Core and his elevation to Overlord of Shadriss.