Over five years ago, certain friends suggested that I ought to make readings of my books. I obliged readily, without stopping to think just what this would entail. Now, 21 books, 571 episodes and almost 6 years later, I am done, at least as far as Chetwin’s Space is concerned. To you who have helped along the way – you have already been thanked over and over: Yosua, who designed and built this space to make the readings possible; Briony, ...

” …That knife was aimed directly at my back. He moved aside and took it for me.” “And why would he do that?” “Because—” Hesta halted. Looked to B’hoc Lunan. Her friend stood as turned to stone. “I don’t quite know,” she said. “Because I am sworn to protect the hesta, at the cost of my own life and that I have done and ever will do should need arise.” Gudric. And there he was, within arm’s length of Brocan, fa...

“But you—are you so sure that you can manage that Konder? Are you sure he will do as you say?” Gudric laughed aloud. “Most certainly, when at each shoulder waits a knife set to carve out his lights if he strays but one word from his brief.” Meyren looked sharp. “Each shoulder? Who’ll be at the other?” “A merciless B’hadgazane. Come, let’s get that sleep. We have but four spaces left.”...

The afternoon rolled on, clouds flocked together, blocking Demiel’s last low rays. Night dark came sooner than usual, without even Ao’s sliver to mark it. One space, two. Then suddenly came a stirring. The men were getting up and preparing to move. Gudric calmed his breath, and stood ready to follow on their heels....

No wonder Father was so distracted. He was late getting the season started, was the rumor he’d put around the howdh, and that was partly true. One comfort: if Vokar was lurking out there, at least his mother was in full public view under Harobadt’s royal roof....

Brocan opened his eyes, looked up. Came slowly to his feet. His voice came in a hoarse whisper. “Tahinay.” The radiant figure approached, cast such a smile on them both. And was gone....

Brocan did not come. But Hesta did not fret. Or pester to know why as she would have done back in the old days. She and her old nurse had shared many helaks since then, on the most important levels had reached an understanding beyond mere words. Content for now that things would come when they should, she sat, quiet, drowsing in and out, content to be with Rakia, home at last....

Hesta huddled into her cloak as they sped on, winding along a road growing gray with early morning fog. Suddenly, the coach lurched, began to go down, quite steeply, along a road that set the coach wheels bumping and bouncing as perilously as they had ever done across the plains. They were crossing the Wash, as Rakia had said they would. The warehouse quarter. In Kond, you must sink before you rise, the old woman had been so fond of saying with h...

He stood her off, looked into her eyes. “Call Bors. Start evacuating now. Everybody. Non-stop. No holdouts now, you hear me? You have twelve hours. Take off the moment everyone’s aboard. Hengst… He’s…” The Hesikastor’s voice went out. His image flickered. “… blanket-bombing the entire globe, he’s… ” He vanished. “No! Grandfather—no!” Shira stood rubbing her arms. Too much! Her mind kicked in. She hit ...

When she checked back into Main C&C, the Eaglet was down, crews were aboard, already at work. MacAllister was still there with a tech team. Auxiliary C&C was fully activated, and Gunther was in his quarters, finally crashed....

In that cold infirmary light he looked like a corpse. Ellisen eyed the blanket under the straps. What did it hide? Something bad, else why the tube? Goddammit, someone come and talk to me! Skeleton crew fully engaged on flight deck. Bullshit. Hell, could they even fly this thing? He paced to the door, banged on it. Paced back to the screen. And back and forth, stopping every now and then to watch Sven. Would they ever pay for this!...

So she stood, watching the cascading sequences, decompressing the tightly packed hieroglyphics into symbols that she recognized, watching those symbols detach, spritz out into a single line, the line resolving into stark spare text: -begin ellisen off end stealth team off end pioneer ship secured end gunther sven stand by end out-...

Dang those people in the lift! (Ord) stamped hard up onto the first step. Too hard. Its edge broke off under him. He snatched for a non-existent stair rail, fell forward onto the stair, smacked his head on a step’s sharp edge, and went out. For an instant, his limp inert body lay sloped at an angle over the stair, then slowly it started to slide, bumping and gathering speed until he was rolling over and down....

“Have we a deadline yet, Hesikastor?” (Matthew.) “Yes. We evacuate when that ship lands.”...

Though he was braced, he started as they cracked and split apart. Figures burst through, six goons, plasmers ready. As the last passed through, he slid out, and along the passage to the stock room. Stepping close to the wall, he found the plate, pressed, and dashed for the hatch. He half-fell clumsily down the companionway and activated the fans. Then collapsed, trembling, took off his helmet to sit with his back against the passage wall....

“You know who fired that shot? The one Katz took for you?” “How would I?” Ellisen said angrily. “They were all taking pot shots at us and if you hadn’t got us strung out like birds on a phone wire it would never have happened in the first place.” Sol shook his head. “You poor, dumb bastard. I saw who got off that shot, and the one before, the one that nearly clipped your ear. I saw his face quite clearly.” “So?” “It was yo...

“Whatever, that Great Cavern, that ramp, and the plateau comprise the staging ground for our exodus. No one knows of it, of course, except for those involved in its preparation those many years ago.” “You foresaw all this, Hesikastor?” A bright smile lit the old man’s face. “Not specifically. But every foxhole ought to have a back door. That deep place is ours. It’s been ready for dire emergency since Bourg life began. Through it li...

The intelligence took many forms, all of which flowed into the Bourg data system through various subsections. Right now, signals from Gunther’s ship had top priority. Which was fine except that they’d stopped coming in. Junghalt called MacAllister over. Stood with him, pointing at the screen. MacAllister shrugged, came back. “Nothing,” he said, looking wry. “Stealth has its downside.”...

Somewhere, a siren shrilled. The space filled with fiery vapor, engulfing the ship. The silo cleared. The pad was empty. Really empty now. There was a roaring as giant fans sucked out the ship’s exhaust. Red light switched to amber. Amber to green. Green winked out. The plate went dark....

The problem with synopses is that they are potential spoilers for some readers, so I will assume that you have read/listened to the three earlier books in the series. If you come to this one straight as you read all should become clear. I have prefaced each book with part of an aria from Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes” There is an eerie parallel between Peter’s mad ravings and the unfolding of this story. Here, in the se...

Chapter 15 – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 25, 2021

Over five years ago, certain friends suggested that I ought to make readings of my books. I obliged readily, without stopping to think just what this would entail. Now, 21 books, 571 episodes and almost 6 years later, I am done, at least as far as Chetwin’s Space is concerned. To you who have helped along the way – you have already been thanked over and over: Yosua, who designed and built this space to make the readings possible...

Chapter 14 – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 22, 2021

” …That knife was aimed directly at my back. He moved aside and took it for me.” “And why would he do that?” “Because—” Hesta halted. Looked to B’hoc Lunan. Her friend stood as turned to stone. “I don’t quite know,” she said. “Because I am sworn to protect the hesta, at the cost of my own life and that I have done and ever will do should need arise.” Gudric. And there he was, within arm’s length of ...

Chapter 13-pt-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 17, 2021

“But you—are you so sure that you can manage that Konder? Are you sure he will do as you say?” Gudric laughed aloud. “Most certainly, when at each shoulder waits a knife set to carve out his lights if he strays but one word from his brief.” Meyren looked sharp. “Each shoulder? Who’ll be at the other?” “A merciless B’hadgazane. Come, let’s get that sleep. We have but four spaces left.”...

Chapter 13-pt-i – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 15, 2021

The afternoon rolled on, clouds flocked together, blocking Demiel’s last low rays. Night dark came sooner than usual, without even Ao’s sliver to mark it. One space, two. Then suddenly came a stirring. The men were getting up and preparing to move. Gudric calmed his breath, and stood ready to follow on their heels....

Chapter 12-pt-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 11, 2021

No wonder Father was so distracted. He was late getting the season started, was the rumor he’d put around the howdh, and that was partly true. One comfort: if Vokar was lurking out there, at least his mother was in full public view under Harobadt’s royal roof....

Chapter 11-pt-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 4, 2021

Brocan did not come. But Hesta did not fret. Or pester to know why as she would have done back in the old days. She and her old nurse had shared many helaks since then, on the most important levels had reached an understanding beyond mere words. Content for now that things would come when they should, she sat, quiet, drowsing in and out, content to be with Rakia, home at last....

Chapter 11-pt-i – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / February 1, 2021

Hesta huddled into her cloak as they sped on, winding along a road growing gray with early morning fog. Suddenly, the coach lurched, began to go down, quite steeply, along a road that set the coach wheels bumping and bouncing as perilously as they had ever done across the plains. They were crossing the Wash, as Rakia had said they would. The warehouse quarter. In Kond, you must sink before you rise, the old woman had been so fond of say...

Chapter 10-pt-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 28, 2021

She opened her eyes, saw the stars streaking across her screen. As she watched, they slowed, floated down off the screen to hover right above her head, bright specks hanging in the dark of space. No. Not space. Deep night sky. And the patterns that they formed were as familiar to her now as the Plough and Orion’s Belt. . . ....

Chapter 10-i – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 25, 2021

He stood her off, looked into her eyes. “Call Bors. Start evacuating now. Everybody. Non-stop. No holdouts now, you hear me? You have twelve hours. Take off the moment everyone’s aboard. Hengst… He’s…” The Hesikastor’s voice went out. His image flickered. “… blanket-bombing the entire globe, he’s… ” He vanished. “No! Grandfather—no!” Shira stood rubbing her arms. Too much! Her mind kicked in...

Chapter 9 – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 21, 2021

When she checked back into Main C&C, the Eaglet was down, crews were aboard, already at work. MacAllister was still there with a tech team. Auxiliary C&C was fully activated, and Gunther was in his quarters, finally crashed....

Chapter 8-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 18, 2021

“While the captain’s ashore, his bosun is at the helm. No one boards without official leave. It sure gives one pause for thought.” Shira stared down at the wristic. Now what was that about? MacAllister was joking as always, but as always there was something behind it. “You mean I can’t go up that gangplank without permission?” “That’s right,” MacAllister said. “Not without the captain’s approval.” She logged off,...

Chapter 8-i – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 14, 2021

In that cold infirmary light he looked like a corpse. Ellisen eyed the blanket under the straps. What did it hide? Something bad, else why the tube? Goddammit, someone come and talk to me! Skeleton crew fully engaged on flight deck. Bullshit. Hell, could they even fly this thing? He paced to the door, banged on it. Paced back to the screen. And back and forth, stopping every now and then to watch Sven. Would they ever pay for this!...

Chapter 7-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 11, 2021

“He warned me. Shira—is it final? Shall I never see him again?” Her voice wavered. “Who can say?” Shira took a stab at crispness. “He’s been popping in and out for a while. He’s like the Cheshire cat only he goes in and out all at once.” “Shira, this is not amusing. Where does he go?” “Nowhere, Aunt. He’s likely here with us now.” Aunt Marita sat down abruptly, pulling her shawl more tightly around herself. ...

Chapter 7-i – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / January 7, 2021

So she stood, watching the cascading sequences, decompressing the tightly packed hieroglyphics into symbols that she recognized, watching those symbols detach, spritz out into a single line, the line resolving into stark spare text: -begin ellisen off end stealth team off end pioneer ship secured end gunther sven stand by end out-...

Chapter 6-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf , Top Shelf / January 4, 2021

Dang those people in the lift! (Ord) stamped hard up onto the first step. Too hard. Its edge broke off under him. He snatched for a non-existent stair rail, fell forward onto the stair, smacked his head on a step’s sharp edge, and went out. For an instant, his limp inert body lay sloped at an angle over the stair, then slowly it started to slide, bumping and gathering speed until he was rolling over and down....

Chapter 5-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / December 28, 2020

Though he was braced, he started as they cracked and split apart. Figures burst through, six goons, plasmers ready. As the last passed through, he slid out, and along the passage to the stock room. Stepping close to the wall, he found the plate, pressed, and dashed for the hatch. He half-fell clumsily down the companionway and activated the fans. Then collapsed, trembling, took off his helmet to sit with his back against the passage wal...

Chapter 5-i – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / December 24, 2020

“You know who fired that shot? The one Katz took for you?” “How would I?” Ellisen said angrily. “They were all taking pot shots at us and if you hadn’t got us strung out like birds on a phone wire it would never have happened in the first place.” Sol shook his head. “You poor, dumb bastard. I saw who got off that shot, and the one before, the one that nearly clipped your ear. I saw his face quite clearly.” “So?” ...

Chapter 4-ii – And the Meek
and the meek , Top Shelf / December 21, 2020

“Whatever, that Great Cavern, that ramp, and the plateau comprise the staging ground for our exodus. No one knows of it, of course, except for those involved in its preparation those many years ago.” “You foresaw all this, Hesikastor?” A bright smile lit the old man’s face. “Not specifically. But every foxhole ought to have a back door. That deep place is ours. It’s been ready for dire emergency since Bourg life began. Thr...