Your Move, Drago
A Portal Future Short Story featuring Commander Drago Tell Dramis.
In the Portal Future, humanity uses interstellar portals to travel between twelve hundred colony worlds scattered across six sectors of space.
Your Move, Drago is set on the planet Academy in Alpha sector at the beginning of December 2789, and takes place after the events covered in the Earth Girl trilogy. The story should be spoiler free for new readers, while offering a glimpse of things to come for those who have already read the trilogy.
“Are you counting each individual hair on my head?” I asked.
The two grim-faced Military Security officers ignored me. They’d been waving scanners at my head for the last three minutes, but now they seemed to develop an intense interest in my feet.
I gazed at the ceiling of the corridor, down at the floor, and then frowned at the imposing door in front of me. I hadn’t been given any explanation of why I’d been ordered to come here, but I had an ominous feeling that it was something to do with another promotion. I was still adjusting to being a Commander, and had absolutely no wish to be promoted to full Colonel.
“He’s clean of weapons and surveillance equipment,” announced the female officer.
“He appears to be the real Commander Drago Tell Dramis.” The male officer seemed depressed about this.
“Does that mean I can go inside now?” I asked.
They exchanged glances, as if each hoping the other would find a reason to say no. The male officer gave a sorrowful sigh, and the female officer a resigned shrug.
“Of course, Commander,” they said in unison, gesturing at the door.
I straightened my dress uniform before placing my hand on the door plate. The door slid aside, I advanced into an entrance hall, and groaned as I saw another Military Security officer waiting for me.
“I’ve already been scanned for weapons, hidden explosives, and a disrespectful attitude,” I said.
“And you are about to be scanned again, Commander,” said the officer. “I apologize for the inconvenience.”
“What’s worrying me is that I was ordered to be here at 13:40 hours. All these scans have made me ten minutes late.”
“Relax, Commander. Your orders allowed for the delay going through security screening.”
I endured another round of scans before the officer spoke into the Military lookup on his left forearm. “Commander Drago Tell Dramis is here to see you, sir.”
“Send him in,” a voice replied.
There were three doors in this hallway, and they all looked identical. “Which door is it?” I asked.
The officer pointed behind me. I turned around, and blinked as I saw a fourth, previously invisible, door had appeared in the wall and was standing wide open. I supposed that the hidden door was an extra security measure designed to confuse intruders. Either that or Military Security officers had an evil sense of humour.
I walked through the open doorway, stopped, and blinked for the second time. My mental image of the private apartment of the commander-in-chief of the Military forces of humanity hadn’t included trees in pots, luxuriant lengths of flower-bedecked creepers climbing the walls, or a pool full of tiny, brightly coloured fish.
There was a laugh from somewhere to my left. “The garden always takes people by surprise.”
I looked around for the speaker, and saw the white-uniformed figure of General Marshal Renton Mai was standing by a section of plain grey wall. I walked over to join him and saluted.
The General Marshal didn’t return my salute, just smiled. “There’s no need to salute, Drago. We’re being informal here, and …”
He was interrupted by a musical chime, groaned, and turned to speak to the wall. “Room command window.”
A large window appeared in front of us, showing a view of a room where Military officers sat at desks lining the walls. I realized the Central Command Centre was just on the other side of what had to be a window made of one-way glass. The General Marshal’s attention didn’t seem to be on the window itself, but on the list of sector names on the wall next to it. These glowed reassuring green or amber, except for one that was flashing an urgent red.
The General Marshal pointed his finger at the list, and a bank of text appeared to scroll up the window. I’d barely had time to read the first sentence before the General Marshal grunted, waved his right hand, and both the text and the window vanished again.
“Yesterday was Founders Day on the planet Hestia,” he said. “The two political factions are forced to put on an act of peaceful cooperation during the celebrations, because public opinion would come down heavily against anyone who was disrespectful during the roll call of the Military who died to make the planet safe for colonization. There’s always an outbreak of violent demonstrations the next day though.”
He shrugged. “General Mendez will flag the situation again if it escalates, or to be more realistic, when it escalates. In the meantime, let’s sit down and continue our conversation.”
The General Marshal led the way across to where two chairs and a chess table were positioned next to the fish pool. The chairs were standard, cushform seats, but the battered chess table awakened old memories.
The General Marshal and I sat down. The familiar hand-carved chess pieces were placed ready for a new game, and two small glasses of blue liquid were standing at the side of the table. The General Marshal picked one up and hesitated.
“I assumed you’d still enjoy drinking Demeter glowberry juice, Drago, but perhaps you’d prefer something else.”
I hadn’t drunk Demeter glowberry juice for eight years. It wasn’t a popular drink anywhere other than on the planet Demeter itself, because it took time to adjust to the strong taste that somehow changed from sour to sweet as you sipped it.
“I’d enjoy a glass of Demeter glowberry juice, sir.”
The General Marshal handed me the glass. “I told you that we were being informal here, Drago. You should be calling me Renton.”
I took a sip from my glass, and grimaced at the bitter taste. “With respect, sir, I’m not entirely comfortable calling you by your first name.”
He seemed amused. “You didn’t have a problem with it when we played chess in 2781.”
I pulled a face. “You were only a General back then, sir. My father is a General, and so are several other members of my clan, so I’m reasonably relaxed around them. Calling the commander-in-chief of the Military forces of humanity by his first name is a slightly different matter.”
“I see your point.” The General Marshal’s voice took on a reminiscent note. “I remember the first time I entered this room. I was a newly promoted Colonel, so awed to be in the presence of General Marshal Cara Wade that I didn’t notice her fish pool until I put my foot in it.”
He laughed. “I thought I’d die of embarrassment, but General Marshal Cara Wade very kindly pretended she hadn’t noticed either the splash or the fact my uniform was dripping water during the rest of our meeting.”
I dutifully smiled.
The General Marshal picked up his own glass and drank from it. “But we need to focus on the point of this meeting and discuss my plans for your next promotion.”
I tensed. “I assume you’re referring to a promotion at some distant future time, sir. I’ve only just been promoted to Commander.”
The General Marshal shook his head sadly. “I’m well aware of your aversion to being promoted, Drago. I’ll never forget our first conversation. As the General heading your chain of command, I’d received the recommendation for your promotion, duly approved it, and was somewhat surprised when you called me to demand I demote you again.”
I winced at the memory of what had been one of the top ten most humiliating conversations in my life, almost rivalling my first, catastrophic proposal of marriage. Fortunately, I didn’t need to reply because the General Marshal was still speaking.
“You spent the rest of that year fighting promotion. Once I was promoted myself, I wasn’t personally involved any longer, but I occasionally checked on your career progression and pitied your current commanding officer. I congratulate you on what has to be a record number of promotions, commendations, reprimands, and demotions for anyone in the Military.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said uncomfortably.
“It’s been amusing to watch your efforts to avoid the inevitable, but I’m afraid I can’t indulge you any longer. You recently told General Torrek that you’d rather be locked in a prison cell with a Zeus sewer rat than be promoted. Are you quite sure about that?”
I gave the General Marshal a wary look. In theory, the commander-in-chief of the Military shouldn’t be able to have me locked in a prison cell with a Zeus sewer rat, but I’d no wish to put that to the test. Zeus sewer rats stank almost as badly as a Cassandrian skunk.
“I feel that I need to gain more experience in my current role as Commander before being promoted to Colonel,” I said cautiously. “I’m also concerned that my talents are more suited to combat-oriented roles.”
“I agree that you’d benefit from more experience, Drago, but sadly I can’t wait around for you to get it,” said the General Marshal. “I need to make a decision on this promotion before Year Day, and that’s less than a month away.”
He looked thoughtfully down into his glass. “There’s no need to worry about your talents being more suited to combat-oriented roles though. I’m perfectly confident that promoting you to Colonel wouldn’t stop you getting into trouble. I’m reliably informed that you can’t even go out to buy ice cream without starting a large-scale Military insurrection on the capital planet of Beta sector.”
I opened my mouth to speak and then closed it again. People had been making ice cream jokes about me for months. Most of them couldn’t know the true facts behind the rumours, because every politician and Military officer on Zeus had been sworn to secrecy, but the General Marshal had the whole of Military Security to collect information for him.
The General Marshal laughed. “Don’t look so worried, Drago. The information I have on that incident is incomplete, unofficial, and anonymous, but enough to convince me that the escalation of events wasn’t entirely your fault. I’ve enough knowledge of Betan history and its clan-based society to understand why the Tell clan would react strongly to the August clan kidnapping you.”
He shrugged. “Personally, I feel that sending eighty fighter aircraft to hover menacingly over the August clan hall might have been an unnecessarily large-scale response, but doubtless your father knew what he was doing.”
“You seem to have been misinformed, sir,” I said desperately. “Possibly someone misinterpreted the ceremonial flyover to honour the birthday of Lucius Augustus Gordianus, head of the August clan.”
The General Marshal smiled. “When someone steps down from the role of General Marshal, the custom is that they should never publicly offer advice to the person succeeding them or comment on their decisions. The first piece of advice that General Marshal Emeritus Cara Wade gave me privately was that it was dangerous to meddle in the internal arguments of Beta sector. However fierce the interclan rivalries, Beta sector will swiftly unite against outside interference.”
“General Marshal Emeritus Cara Wade has great political wisdom.”
“She does,” said the General Marshal, “and therefore I am happy to accept your ceremonial flyover explanation of those events on Zeus.”
He paused. “As I was saying, I am confident that promoting you to Colonel wouldn’t stop you getting into trouble, but that’s largely irrelevant since I have an entirely different role in mind for you.”
The General Marshal was still holding his glass in his right hand. He put his left hand into his pocket, and then reached forward to drop some silver insignia on one of the centre squares of the chess board. I stared at them, first confused, and then horrified.
“You can’t be serious, sir,” I said.
General Marshal Renton Mai leaned back in his chair. “I’m perfectly serious, Drago. Consider my situation. Every Year Day, the General Marshal makes the State of Humanity speech. My speech on Year Day 2790 will be such a significant moment in history that everyone listening will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
He sighed. “I plan to limit that speech to the bare facts of the current situation because people will be too shocked to absorb anything further. Later though, I’ll be asked a lot of questions, and you must realize why I’ll need someone wearing these insignia when I answer them.”
“I appreciate your situation, sir,” I said urgently, “but there must be dozens of other officers you could choose.”
The General Marshal grimaced. “In fact, my options are extremely limited. I need someone who has played a public role in past events, so I only have two realistic candidates, and you are by far the better qualified.”
“Yes, sir, but still …”
“I only have two possible candidates,” General Marshal Renton Mai repeated. “If you refuse to step forward, then I’ll have to place the burden on the shoulders of someone who has none of your training and experience but has proved their willingness to make any sacrifice necessary in the service of humanity.”
He moved the white queen and the black king to stand on either side of the insignia. “Your move, Drago.”
© 2018 Janet Edwards. All rights reserved.
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Drago Tell Dramis is one of the characters in the Earth Girl trilogy. EARTH GIRL, EARTH STAR and EARTH FLIGHT are available worldwide. There are also several extras in the series.
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Loved what I really hope is a taster of a new story arc taking the characters from the Earth Girl Trilogy forward. I’ve been in a perpetual state of ‘but what happens next’ since Earth Flight concluded.
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Yes, this is a taster of a new story arc, walking a very fine line to avoid spoilers for both the past and the future. 🙂 I think I’d better tweak the description to make that clear.
I would say some more here, but it would duplicate my reply to the next comment, so please take a look at that as well.
Brilliant, as usual, but what’s the promotion, and what’s happening on Year Day?!
When is the next Earth Girl book coming? I love the others, particularly your Hive series, but there’s only so many times that I can reread the same 3 Earth Girl books, (and extra novellas, of course).
Hope that you had a good Christmas and happy new year.
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Please don’t take anything I say on this as being carved in stone because there are multiple factors that may influence things. My current best estimate is that the next book comes in summer 2020. It won’t be an Earth Girl book though. It’s the start of a new story arc involving some of the same characters so will have a different series title.
As Jill Graves just summed it up, Your Move, Drago is a taster for the future. There may be one or two more tasters to come, but any stories I post here on my website have to avoid spoilers for both the Earth Girl trilogy and the future events. That’s a bit limiting.
Details of the promotion would be a big spoiler for the future. I’ll see if I can message you about the Year Day question to avoid giving any trilogy spoilers.
I’m glad you’re enjoying the Hive books, and Happy New Year!
If it won’t be an Earth Girl book does that mean no Jarra?
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There will still be Jarra causing her usual chaos. The Earth Girl trilogy got its name because the theme of its story arc and the driving force behind most of the events come from the fact Jarra is an Earth Girl. That story arc is completed in Earth Flight. The next book would be the start of a new series of adventures that builds on the events in the trilogy as well as past history to tell a new story arc. If I manage to write it correctly, people should be able to read the new series whether they’ve read the Earth Girl trilogy or not.
I should really complete writing about the past events first, but I know people are eager for something about Fortuna. I may end up in the situation where two series intertwine. It’s hard to predict these things because it sometimes seems like my stories write me rather than me writing my stories.
Is the other candidate Jarra ?
And please tell me that’s not the only thing that you will post ?
And alas, that is the only thing I’ll be posting for a while. I appreciate that the story asks questions rather than answers them, but anything I post here on the website that’s set after the Earth Girl trilogy has to avoid spoilers for both the past and future events, so I can only hint at things to come.
Love your books. Love this short story. Keep on writing! I am no critic however can see the personalities growing with each of the novels.
Blessings from Australia
Thank you for the encouragement, Angela. I’m so pleased you love the books and best wishes from England. 🙂
Like the short story with Drago. Can’t wait to read a longer story. The third book Hurricane was really good. I enjoyed reading it.
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I’m glad you enjoyed Hurricane. 🙂
Totally zan!!! I love it!! Great tease to our girl and it’s great to see more of Drago and the Beta sector. They’ve fascinated me since the start. As always, a fantastic job. Avidly awaiting more of this portal future story line. Thank you 😊 x
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I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jennifer. There should be a lot more to come about Beta sector. 🙂
This is awesome! That book will be first on my list of books to buy in 2020.
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This story was awesome! I love all the portal future books and stories! Thanks so much for writing this. Is there any chance Jarra’s 3rd novella (set before the Earth Girl trilogy) will come out this year? I loved Earth and Fire and Earth and Air.
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Hi Sundae. I’m glad you enjoyed the hint of what’s to come. As for your question about the 3rd Jarra novella, Earth and Water, I’m afraid I honestly don’t know when I’ll have time to write and publish that.
My general aim is to have two releases a year. Occasionally, in the rare event of everything going to plan (which it usually doesn’t), I may squeeze in a third. In that situation, at least one of the three is likely to be a novella.
The situation for 2019, is that the two main release slots are already notionally allocated to other books. Firstly, the delayed second book in the Scavenger Exodus series, Scavenger Blood. Secondly, another Hive Mind book next Christmas.
If I did manage to squeeze in a summer release in 2019 as well, then Earth and Water would be fighting it out with two other possibilities for the release slot. My best guess is that means it isn’t totally impossible that Earth and Water will come out this year, but it’s rather unlikely.
Ok, thanks for the update. I supposed I should’ve guessed it would be titled Earth and Water; I can’t imagine the chaos Jarra will find on the water. Do you know how many books the Scavenger Exodus series will have? Will there be a Tellon Blaze series after that? Good luck with your writing. I look forward to reading your new releases.
Given the previous two titles, I feel this one really has to be Earth and Water, and there should be quite a lot of chaos.
Scavenger Exodus should ultimately have either three or four books, and there is a Tellon Blaze series roaming around my head screaming to get written as well.
My brain is a scary place with so many ideas milling around battling to get written. It’s like an overexcited football crowd!
This was really cool, I love anything Drago or tell clan related (a lot). I keep rereading the trilogy just for the moments when they are mentioned because I think that world building is awesome (also I just love the idea of their faces when they find out Jarra is helping dig out solar five, I really want to know what is going through their heads). Point is this was a really awesome read and thank you for posting it.
I’m glad you enjoyed it. There will hopefully be some more about the Tell clan at some point in the future. 🙂
And now I am even more interested. How did you start coming up with the idea’s for the different cultures? Did the plot dictate them or did they dictate the plot?
Umm. It really didn’t happen in either of those ways. This is going to sound weird, but there are two sorts of writer. Some consciously plot stories in advance. Others discover their stories as they write them. I start with sometimes an incredibly minimal amount of information, and discover the story in the same way that a reader does, with most of the creativity happening on a subconscious level. It’s literally like having the characters stroll around in my head telling me the story and information about their world.
With the Earth Girl future, my idea came from the fact that technology and inventions can change who does and doesn’t have a disability. I ended up with a concept of a future where humanity had invented interstellar portal travel, and the focus of society had moved to other worlds, but some people had an immune system issue that meant they could only survive on Earth.
I tried to write a short story. That didn’t work because the concept was too big, then Jarra walked into my head and started yelling her story at me. I knew at that point her immune system problem was an invisible disability that would become a visible disability at the end of the story. Everything else I discovered along the way, including a lot of things that aren’t included in the Earth Girl trilogy because they really belong to other stories. Hence the extra books and the many others I have planned.
With the Hive Mind series my beginning knowledge was even less. My original idea came from the stress teens go through with major exams that they feel will decide their whole lives. My concept became a future where Lottery really does decide your whole life. I had an image of a group of teens in a glittering shopping centre on the day before Lottery, started writing the story, and discovered the whole complex world of the Hive. A world that’s like an iceberg, with ninety per cent of the truth hidden behind a wall of secrecy.
I just finished re-reading the Earth Girl Series and as always I don’t want to let that world go, so am making the rounds and reading all of the short stories. I would love to read some more of Amalie’s POV, but I understand you are really busy and have so many other stories to tell and I’m sure I will enjoy just as much. This short story is a nice little teaser that just makes me crave more future Jarra stories. I wouldn’t mind reading 1 book about Tallon Blaze, but not sure that I would read a series, just my personal opinion and I am sure there are many others that would disagree with me, but perhaps that are some that agree? Thank you again for the many hours of reading enjoyment….
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Are we going to get details about the ice cream incident, or is that going to remain a tantalizing mystery (or did I miss it somewhere)?
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So far, the ice cream incident is merely referred to in this story and as a joke about members of the Tell clan in the Earth Girl trilogy. Eventually, it may appear as a short story.
It’s a great joke … and oh so true ….
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Does Drago’s first conversation with General Marshal Renton Mai (where he asks to be demoted) take place shortly after Hera 2781 ends? Does this mean Renton Mai has been General Marshal since 2782?
Also, would you ever consider writing a short story narrating the Tell Clan’s plans for finding Jarra and first contact with her from their perspective? There are pieces of this in General Torrek’s novella, but given Jarra’s limited perspective there are a lot of missing details. Also, does she ever learn that General Torrek’s posting was because of her? (Or more importantly, does Cassandra 2 ever find out? :p)
Yes, Drago called General Renton Mai asking to be demoted soon after Hera 2781. They had a series of encounters during 2781, which included playing chess a few times. General Renton Mai was promoted to General Marshal in 2782.
There will be more about the Tell clan’s side of the Jarra situation in future stories. In fact, there’s a whole lot more to come. Hopefully in 2020.
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Awesome, I can’t wait! I know you have to write what’s top of mind, but I really love the Earth Girl series and all related novellas and short stories, so I hope you return to this world and time period soon. I’ve read all the stories multiple times and am in the middle of another read through of Earth Girl. Did anyone from the New York Dig Site figure out who Jarra was before the Solar 5 rescue, especially after she took a plane up?
I think the Earth Girl trilogy is a really interesting exploration of why the “separate but equal” doctrine, the legal underpinning of segregation in the US, is such a failure. It really emphasizes the need for contact between groups separated by medical, racial, and/or religious differences in order to facilitate empathy for the other.
Thanks for writing. I look forward to future adventures.
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I am somewhat confused about Drago’s rank. I was under the impression that he had been promoted to the rank of Colonel. Did he manage to get himself demoted back to Commander?
Drago was promoted from Major to Commander in Earth Star. You may be thinking of the fact that In Earth Flight, the General Marshal announces that Commander Nia Stone and Commander Mason Leveque are both promoted to Colonel. At that point the General Marshal comments that Drago was strongly opposed to the suggest of a further promotion to Colonel, implying he was offered a promotion to Colonel and refused.
Is this, among other things that happens after the events of Earth Flight, explained in Earth Prime, or will there be more books following the release of the Drago novels set in 2781?
Your Move, Drago is set in 2789 after the events of Earth Flight. Earth Prime is a collection of Earth Girl Aftermath stories centred on the archaeologists. I should eventually release a second collection of Earth Girl Aftermath stories featuring other characters, which I plan will include Your Move, Drago.
I’m not currently planning any Drago books set between the 2781 sequence and 2788, but it’s not impossible. 🙂
Best guess: promotion/new role/whatever has to do with Tellon Blaze. That’s the only thing that makes sense given that Renton Mai needs somebody wearing the insignia when he makes the Year Day announcement. What specifically that role is or what the insignia means, I have no idea, but it’s clearly big shoes to fill, and I feel like it has something to do with Tellon Blaze. Drago will do it of course, as his desire to protect Jarra is greater than his resentment of promotion.
Anyway, I need the aftermath stories part 2!!! I’m simply dying to know how this situation turns out, as well as see the future of Jerez and Playdon’s relationship. I am also excited for Sol 2781, which I hope includes something about how Betha, Ethan, and Laird’s relationship turns out 🙂
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I’m working on Sol 2781 right now. 🙂
*dances in excitement in knowing what insignia was dropped on the chessboard* you’d better take it buddy! This is yours, not hers. No matter how much you wanna run from the responsibility this will give you at only 28 or 29 years old, this is your birthright and you are the proper person for the job just like Mai thinks you are. This is what you are meant to do Drago.
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While I’m super excited for Adversary whenever that comes out, I am also super eager to read more of this world. I can’t decide which I want to read more: a sequel to Earth Prime (from anyone’s perspectives), a book that deals with some of the POVs we’ve not gotten to see so far (like the Tell clan when Jarra has her Honour Ceremony – oh to be a fly on the wall when Riak talks with Marack! or Drago’s POV when meeting Jarra – is there anyone besides Riak who he can talk to in the clan about meeting her or does Alien Contact require secrecy even within the rest of the military?), or Earth and Water (I want to know what got Jarra chased by a Hospital Earth Truancy Inspector!). So many stories, so little time (for you to write them all, lol).
You are perfectly right when you say there are so many stories and so little time for me to write them. There are a terrifying number of books milling around in my head.
While Drago wouldn’t be allowed to mention Alien Contact to anyone not directly involved in it, he can discuss meeting Jarra with other members of the Tell clan. Officially, Drago is assigned to Earth as one of the fighter pilots defending Earth from incoming comet debris, while Colonel Riak Torrek is commanding the operation. It’s natural for the pair of them to be taking their chance to develop a relationship with Jarra.
I just read this story and now i’m dying to know what happens next could you please tell me when you are likely to release a book about it thank you.
P.S. Love your work