Many of you have given your thoughts after reading Angry Ghosts, for which we are *immensely* grateful. Please keep them coming!
We noticed a common thread among the comments:
“What becomes of Maiella?”
Because the next book takes place entirely on Earth, and we don’t see Maiella again ’til book #3, it seems cruel to make you all wait.
What follows is a brief statement on Maiella’s time, written out by the author to ensure continuity, yet was never intended for publication. Possibly as an appendix in future editions, but certainly not a part of the Angry Ghosts arc. The narrative is dry. To the point, no flavor sort of writing. It addresses the question, however.
If you have not yet read Angry Ghosts, we do not encourage you to read further, as this will make absolutely no sense at all.
But then, the author is without any verifiable sense, anyway.
So here you are, folks: a quick capsule look at Maiella’s time while Thompson, Beckert, and Argo endure the vicious trials of their exile.
–Continuity Draft, Colonist and Cadre activity during Team Forestall’s deployment–
Naked revulsion has no other focus. Maiella is reviled by her peers, a vilified non-person. A shame on the Cadre Legacy. The only thought which pulls her to the next day is the imagination of Thompson’s and Argo’s return. For that happy day, she will outlast the sudden hushes at her approach, the turned backs, the exclusions, her obsolescence.
The Counselor talks with her at length, returning often to the meanings of life. He suggests the possibility that life may be more than service to others, that there are enriching pursuits one may enjoy privately or with chosen friends.
The talks routinely turn to the topic of Thompson, and Maiella struggles to describe the varied thoughts and sensations. The Counselor easily recognizes the symptoms of deep attachment, separation anxiety, adoration, camraderie, and desire. He sums it all up in a single word.
This one word, a short word, which describes such a bewildering range of personal experience proves to Maiella she is not insane/defective. Rather, the Counselor explains how rare and special she is among her kind. Such thoughts *belong* in the hearts of young women, he explains, as natural as breathing. It is innately human, something the med-techs have managed to squelch, yet still innately human.
The last identifying ties to the Cadre are severed, and Maiella is liberated by the Counselor’s ministrations. She finds she is capable of accepting the severance, supported by her discussions with the Counselor, and the traces of her once infallible confidence are resurrected. She is drawn into the Colonist culture of work, games, bonding, and entertainment. Even though her HDI was partially restored, she no longer uses it, and for the first time ever, she allows her hair to grow.
Without the rigorous Collection Rotations or the hormone enriched Cadre diet, her features round slightly and become more feminine. Fearful of losing her strength and conditioning, she works out compulsively.
More than a few Colonists notice the blooming beauty among them, made irresistible by her phenomenal physique. While appreciative of their attentions, she politely knocks every one of them back. Her heart is elsewhere, she explains. Nothing more does she say.
Gregor, in his loneliness, finds common ground with Maiella; and they frequently share company. As their friendship grows, so does their honesty. Soon, the topic of *that* day comes up, and Maiella finds that she cannot restrain her sobbing. She knows she is the one who cut Iskra down.
To her immense surprise, Gregor takes her hand and pulls her into an embrace. Together they cry for the dead, at last mourning them, at last letting go so Iskra can rest in peace.
Keller, Sharon, and Ortega have never been so busy administering affairs aboard Europa. Many of the cryogenically suspended crew are awake, their pool of labor supplementing the Cadre work rotations, easing the load on the sparse collective.
With the extra labor and resources from Europa, O’Kai temporarily suspends Operator Collection rotations. The General would never permit his Operators to remain idle and possibly lose their edge, however. He implements a new training regime on the largest of their captured ships devoted to the tactics of seizing larger, hardened targets. He is convinced the imminent news from Earth will precipitate intense action, and his thoughts are bent to preparation for that action. All possible contingencies are explored.
Outside the simple schedules, the differences in habit, the similarities, the microcosm of industry, three operators explore the ancestral planet of Earth. Every mind, Cadre and Colonist alike, waits for the first message of what the three have found. It hangs like a specter on the horizon, both anticipated and feared.