Author’s Note: This is a story about people who live ordinary lives as citizens of a vast interstellar empire. Indeed, a galactic empire. We here on the Earth are part of it — we just don’t know that, because as yet the powers that be haven’t made contact with us. We’re still a bit too backward for their taste.
This multi-tentacled entity is presided over by the Kaïna Rysha Delamona, the hereditary leader of a hereditary elite arising from the planet Varnis. Her home, a large rural estate north of the Varn city of E’o Cinorra, is called Skyhill. Most of her time and energy is consumed in continual political battle. Skyhill is occupied, maintained, and run by a large staff of slaves, some of whom work in day jobs or contract jobs off the estate (their pay is used to make life better for the servant class on the estate) and some of whom work in the house and grounds.
The Empire acquires slaves by condemning convicted criminals to lifetime servitude — those whose offenses are not deemed serious enough to merit execution. This provides a steady stream of workers, since the poor are always with us…and since at least one world, Michaia, possesses a busy underground of active, highly seditious revolutionaries.
Ella is the co-overseer of the Kaïna’s staff, working as a kind of second-in-command to Dorin, technically her boss, in practice her equal partner. Like Dorin, Ella — now a woman late in middle age — comes from Samdela, a world that is covered from pole to pole with urban development. Samdela is a center of organized crime. A vast syndicate based on Samdela functions as an inverted shadow government behind the official structure that is the Empire. As a young woman, Ella was a lieutenant in this organization, on her way up until, by a misstep or by betrayal still unknown, she was caught by the Blacksuits — an empire-wide police force and spy agency — convicted, punished, and sent off-world to a lifetime of “service.”
Ella’s Story, a kind of e-telenovela, is very much a work in progress. A new chapter appears every three weeks at our “News & Chat” blog, usually by Friday. There’s always more to come…
Table of Contents
The live links will take you to the posted chapters.
Chapter 1. She could hear a voice moaning
Chapters 2 and 3. She lay abed, wide awake long after curfew
Chapter 4. She’d been on the sale floor about four days
Chapters 5 and 6. At this rate, she was never going to get to sleep.
Chapters 7 and 8. Her feet were freezing…
Chapter 9. By then Vighdi had been her direct boss for several months…
Chapter 10. Months passed quietly…
Chapter 11. After her shift one evening…
Chapter 12. Dawn came early…
Chapter 13. Smooth, cream-colored walls embraced…
Chapter 14. She had, as instructed…
Chapter 15. Weeds cleared from the planting beds…
Chapter 16. She could hardly paint Bintje’s wagon black…
Chapter 17. Ella disliked close, dark places…
Chapter 18. Lohkeh was waiting…
Chapter 19. The dinner he had ordered up was pure Samdi..
Chapter 20. The yellow sun was dropping…
Chapter 21. Much to be hoped it was, she thought, that this one would not remain a pain in the butt as long as she herself had.
Chapter 22. The tick-sized intercom pasted to her left bicep vibrated,..
Chapter 23. He was, she reflected, the studliest man she had ever known…
Chapter 24. The late part of the day-cycle was often slow in Ethra Station’s bookkeeping department.
Chapter 25. Dorin, she thought, must have been a good-looking man when he was younger.
Chapter 26. Dorin had the new man up and walking around.
Chapter 27. It bothered her, what her boss said.
Chapter 28. It took her two days to decide to do it.
Chapter 29. There were three kinds of doors inside Ethra Port and Takrai Station…
Chapter 30. Bhotil listened silently while Vighdi described what Ella had told her
Chapter 31. In the morning . . . ah, but she loved a morning on Varnis, a real morning, not artificial lights sliding from dim to bright enough to roust you out of bed.
Chapter 32: Sigi, lithe but tall and substantially built…
Chapter 33. Vighdi called the kitchen, ordered a couple of meals…
Chapter 34. Of course. They had passkeys, only legitimately.
Chapter 35. Sigi, the personification of common sense,…
Amira: Proprietor of a cathouse and a lunchroom/bistro
Bintje: slave woman at SkyHill and thorn in Ella’s side
Bis: member of the Kaïna Rysha’s guard
Bhotil: chief overseer at Ethra
Brenny: a small child, son of Sehbad and Faisa, both blacksuits
Chadzar: a Michaian slave; head of the Kaïna Rysha’s guard
Dade: companion of Tand and aristocratic friend of Rysha in her youth
Darl: a defrocked medical doctor who is purchased by Rysha after her father dies and she takes over running the estate (and the Empire). She thinks it would be a good idea to have a healer not only for her own people but for slaves on the surrounding estates.
Deela: a woman slave at Skyhill, given to making mischief
Djetti Delamona Kaïna leh Varnisiel ch’Molendi Hededalla: Rysha’s mother, deceased some years ago
Dorin: overseer of the Kaïna’s estate at Skyhill
Eestom: Companion of Ghemma
Ella: matron and co-overseer with Dorin; oversees women and married couples.
Emarr’, heiress to the title of Yrandag’chla; friend of Rysha in her youth
Essio: member of the Kai’s guard
Faisa: a blacksuit; father to Brenny
Geffad: Chief of the Blacksuit force at Ethra
Ghemma leh PlehkNembine: aristocratic friend of Rysha in her youth, brother of Tand
Haddam: owns an academy that trains high-end servants for the elite
Hebedalla: Sahuru’s former title: Lord Hebedalla
Iteile: Chadzar’s mother; formerly a revolutionary activist
Lohkeh: Ella’s male lover during her time on Zaitaf; a Syndicato of elevated rank
Myallim leh Zsian-tinan: woman aristocrat; companion of Rysha in her youth
Narehtal: ambitious, scheming Machiavellian aristocrat
Nehdo: member of the Kai’s guard
Odine le yNoraldia: companion of Rysha in her youth; has crush on Pachilu
Pachilu besh Andona leh Ciand’paran: a young aristocrat and admirer of Rysha
Pach’Ora besh Andona leh Ciand’paran: Pachilu’s father, a powerful aristocrat and advisor to the Kai and Kaīna
Piritsi: Resident midwife at Skyhill village
Rysha Delamona Kaïna leh Varnisiel ch’Molendi Hededalla: daughter and heir apparent of the Kai Suhuru
Sahuru en Delamona Kai leh Varnisiel ch’Molendi Hebedalla: Rysha’s father; after Djitti’s death, emperor of the known universe. Kaï by virtue of marriage to the Kaïna Djetti; sovereignty descends through and to the female line
Sehbad: a blacksuit; mother to Brenny
Siji: a carpenter
Skeet: an eight-year-old boy
Syo: member of the Kaïna’s guard
Tand leh PlehkNembine: sister of Ghemma and aristocratic friend of Rysha in her youth
Treykhan or Treykam: son of Narehtal; articulate his full name
Vighdi: Ella’s overseer during her time on Zaitaf
Yiadwene: one of Vighdi’s assistant overseers at Ethra port on Zaitaf
Wilig: a ten-year-old boy
E’o Cinnora: capital city of Varnis; a large metropolis to the south of Skyhill’s locale
Ethra: colony and resort on Zaitaf
Idaemas: member world of the Empire
Kana: member world of the Empire
Michaia: an ice world; incubator of rebellion and revolution
Ondai: a humanoid species of the empire, engendered by early Varns
Samdela: fully industrialized and urbanized world in the Empire. Birthplace and center of operations for the Syndicate
Skyhill: hereditary home of the Kaïna; so named because of a set of distant, low mountains
Takrai: Mining colony on Zaitaf
Temeha: member world of the Empire
Veshia: the smaller of Varnis’s two moons
Varnis, the Mother of Worlds: birthplace and ruling capital of the Empire
Zaitaf: the larger of Varnis’s two moons