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For Luck

This part originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Part 1

188th of 2024 (014-93): The Battle of Rurur

I really didn’t want to be here, but my parents had insisted. I looked down, my knives neatly arranged in order of size and function. I’d spent ten years in the Iadtlu1, I knew a knife should be used. I was a 4th degree adept of eeniag, a master with the lysh, more than competent with the wubar, asint, and tiesamr2, as well as pretty damn handy with a gun. But here I was, one day past my dorlia3, looking at my knives and longing to be just about anywhere else. My parents had insisted I follow a proper career, not the ‘fanciful’ dreams I had. I’d spent the last four years at school taking electives designed for this. So here I was, ready to begin. The whole morning had been taken up with instruction in the safe handling, care, sharpening and storage of knives. I was just so bored. Now it was time to actually use a knife. The instructor was looking at me, her expression grim, arms folded in front of her. She spoke “Ariaryn, I get the impression you don't want to be a chef.”

204th of 2024 (030-93): Ecole des arts culinaires Daramm, Daramm

It was lunch, I was sitting with Sheska, she wanted to be here about as much as I did. I liked Sheska, I liked her rather a lot, actually. I’d been trying to work up the courage to ask her out. Two months older than me, long brown hair, a figure to die for. She was intimidating. “Cooking.”

She looked at me “Cooking?”

“Yes, this afternoon, we move on to actually cooking something.” Two weeks we’d been learning basic skills. Food safety, hygiene, first aid, nutrition. It was more boring than I could have imagined. I’d spent four years a school learning all this, my life had been pretty much planned for me. But here at the Ecole, they assumed you knew nothing.

She sighed “Yes, I know.”

“I learnt all this at school. My parents insisted.”

She laughed “A proper trade? Something respectable that would serve you the rest of your life?”

I smiled “Yep, something like that.”

“Mine, too. It was this or a choice between kulfi4 and archæology at university” She was fiddling with her food.

Kulfi, I couldn’t think of much worse. But… “Archæology?5 Get all the boys with that.”

She laughed, “Can you imagine me as an archæologist? Posters of me in my scanties next to Liasha and Astronic6.”

I gulped, I’d like a poster of her in her scanties. I took a breath, time to ask her. “So, Sheska, tonight, I was wondering…”

She looked at me, her smile, those lips, eyes twinkling “Yes?”

“Errr… would you… errr… if you’re… err…”

I froze, my mind suddenly blank. She was just staring at me. She sighed and glanced at her food, then looked up again. “Look, dumbarse, are you going to ask me out or not? I’ve been dropping hints for two bloody days.”

I turned bright red, I must have sounded like an idiot as I stammered “You er… want to um… go out? Somewhere er… If it’s uhm… okay, if you don’t mind, you know.”

She shook her head and laughed “Why yes, what a surprise, that would be lovely. Dumbarse, took you long enough.”

I breathed again. “So where’d you like to go?” There was loud dramatic music from the viewscreen in the corner. It had been playing pop vids before. We both turned, the words 'FLASH, ALL CHANNELS!!!' were scrolling across the screen.

Sheska giggled, “Three exclamation marks and capitals. It must be important.”

I sniggered, “Yep, likely the Council has passed a new resolution on something, you know, important, like what shade of yellow to use on street signs.”

A man appeared on the screen. Sheska chuckled ,“Lord Protector McCloud himself, nope, not the shade, the actual colour probably.”

I laughed, maybe a bit too hard, at her joke. McCloud spoke, he did look grave. “Peoples of the Protectorate. On 188th a large Imperial fleet entered our territory at Rurur and engaged our forces there in an act of unprovoked aggression. We are at war. Our forces under Sherin Adtmral have successfully defeated this, initial, Imperial incursion, but a long struggle remains ahead of us.”

I turned to Sheska, the Lord Protector was continuing. She was sounded as stunned as I felt “War, Ariaryn.”

220th of 2924 (036-93): Protector’s Guards training camp, Verasaryn

We both signed up, Sheska and I. The day the war was announced, we’d gone straight to the recruiting office and signed up. We were on Verasaryn7, training. My family weren’t wealthy, actually we were poor, six adults and sixteen children kind of ate into the funds. So I’d never been off world before, family holidays were maybe a week in the Lants8 if we were lucky. Not that I minded that, I liked camping in the Lants. Both of us had over six years in the Iadtlu and served in local defence, so we’d skipped basic training and gone straight to combat preparation. I thought ten years in the Iadtlu would have prepared me. I was wrong. We were laying in a foxhole, panting. The air was thick like soup. We were carrying a twenty five kilo pack and an R159, wearing a heavy combat suit, all at one point three G, it wears you down. We’d been ‘assaulting’ a fixed position for hours and we were exhausted. So we lay there panting, helmets off. I turned to her, “Bet you wished you’d picked archæology now.”

She grinned, “What, and let you have all the fun? You just want to see me in my scanties.” I smiled; I had seen her in her scanties. Well sort of, her underwear at the medical review, but it wasn't quite the same. “You know, we should be moving.”

“Yep, don’t want to be seen loafing. Just one thing,” She reached over and kissed me lightly on the forehead.

I turned red “What, what was that for?”

She laughed “Luck.”

I looked up and saw Vascaz Serganet. “A little nap perhaps?” Sheska grinned. “I am so glad you are enjoying it Eadaasa Rekhot, I’m sure the Imperial marines will appreciate it too, it’ll give them more time to aim!”

We replaced our helmets, counted “Ie, Cee, Valan10,” stood, and charged up the hill screaming.

We were both lying on the ground again. I was winded. Even with the combat suits, the training bullets still hurt. But I suppose that was the point. I could see Vascaz Serganet walking slowly towards us. We were covered in mud and grime from head to foot; he looked like he was ready for parade. I wondered how he did it. “Well, you two idiots are now officially dead. Next time, you may want to consider the value of cover.” He marked a sheet. “Now back to barracks.” A wicked grin came over his face “Oh, and make sure you get all that dye out of your uniforms.”

We stood there scrubbing; we’d been there for over half an hour. Not just Sheska and I; Barii, Sharik, Melissa, and Despi too. Only Renal and James were still out there. I felt a bit better that we weren’t the only ones and we weren’t the first. Barii sighed, “This stuff is never going to come out. How we supposed to get them clean without a machine?”

Melissa chuckled “I think that’s the point.”

“They do like making points, don’t they?” My arms felt like lead.

Sheska held up her suit. “Ta Da!”

“Show off.”

She giggled “My family are Mraiyasin11, you know, back to basics types.”

Despi looked at her. “Okay smart-arse, how do you do it?”

Sheska pulled up a small wooden board with ridges. “It’s called a scrubbing board, you rub the suit on it. It forces the soap through the cloth, much easier than with a brush.” She grinned and handed it to me “Now share the joy, guys.”

234th of 2024 (060-93): Protector’s Guards training camp, Verasaryn

Half way through, we’d made it half way through training. And as a reward, we had a twelve-hour pass. Not a lot to do near the camp, just one place to go, really, Gami’s bar. A Guards’ bar, apparently, decorated with images of Guards old and new, a few ancient weapons, an old rifle from the First Protectorate in pride of place. I wasn’t used to this. I’d had a little wine at table while I was a child, of course, and even the occasional something stronger when I was older. But this stuff, I wasn’t used to. A Verasti Dtareen drink called Lightning Ale. It smelt like paint stripper, and it tasted like I imagined paint stripper would taste. Melissa said it burnt at both ends. Well, she was right about when it was going in; I was kind of dreading finding out what it did coming out. We were laughing and singing, drinking, reliving our ‘adventures’ of the last month, recounting our tales of the horrors and humiliations inflicted by the drill serganets. We were having fun. I could actually see said drill serganets sitting quietly, off in a corner, keeping an eye on us young rekhots, but they were leaving us alone. Letting us have our fun, I guess.

There was dancing of course, can’t have fun without some dancing. I was sitting, smiling Melissa turned to me “You should ask Sheska to dance.”

I wanted to, but, well, she was her and I was me. “She’s dancing with Barii and James before that.”

“Because they asked her. You should ask her.”

I remembered the stammering idiot I'd turned into when I asked her out, a date we’d never actually got round to having “Uhmmm… Er… I don’t think she wants to.” There I was again, a stammering idiot.

Melissa rolled her eyes “Sometime you are just so thick, Ariaryn. Every time somebody asks her to dance, she looks at you. Ask her.”

She returned and sat. Melissa shoved me to my feet and mouthed ‘ask her.’ I walked over to her awkwardly. “Er… Sheska, would you, ummm. You know…”

She was sitting looking expectantly. Sharik rescued me, “All the gods, you’ll be there all night. Sheska, dance with the boy before he makes an even bigger arse of himself.”

264th of 2024 (090-93): Protector’s Guards training camp, Verasaryn

We stood, our dress uniforms pressed and neat, silver for the Luriani, blue for the Verasti Dtareen and deep purple for the Mmarislusant. We’d done it, graduated. There was always a special guest to do the presentation. In our case it was Kirsov Mrigadeer, commander of the Verasosal12. I stood at attention as the Mrigadeer stood before me, looking me up and down. He pinned the silver falling star to my Wolseley13 and saluted. I saluted back, “Thank you, sir.” I don't know why I said it, it just came out.

He chuckled, “So which is it, Piaviadt?”

Mrigadeer?” I made sure I got it right this time.

“Generally speaking, when a Guard calls you ‘sir’ it either means they think you’re being a pompous arse or they think you’re a hero. So which is it?”

I could hear Sheska sniggering. I turned red. “Er, umm, a hero? Sir.”

We had a week’s pass, time to see our families if we wanted But first, we went to Gami’s. We were drinking, laughing, dancing, telling how we were going to win the war. We’d promised we’d all meet back here, after, to drink to victory. Sheska came to me. “So what you going to do with your leave?”

“Shuttle to Daramm tomorrow, spend some time with my family. You?”

“Pretty much the same, shuttle tomorrow.” She put a lot of emphasis on the tomorrow. She draped her arms around my shoulders. “But until then…” She kissed me, passionately on the lips. I turned bright red again, she laughed, “I do so love the way you do that. But till tomorrow…” she kissed me again, grinned mischievously and put on a very sultry voice. “How about I go change into my scanties and we can pretend I’m an archæologist.” I’m not sure there is a name for the colour I turned.

269th of 2024 (095-93): Yarnar, Daramm14

I’d made a mistake, a big one. I’d mentioned to my ami that I had an eeshren15. That had been all they needed. Who was she, what was she like, what was her family like, when would they meet her, meet the family, it just went on and on. So it had been arranged, the two tami had met for dinner. It had been crowded; Sheska came from a big ami too. There was her five parents, five brothers and seven sisters. Then my six parents, eight brothers and seven sisters. Add in a few grandparents, spouses, eeshren, children plus a few favoured friends and you couldn’t move for Mmans and Eadaasas. All yabbering away about how good a couple we made, that, according to several of my grandmothers Sheska had ‘good hips’ and would make lovely babies. Also apparently, according to a couple of Sheska’s grandmothers, I was a handsome boy with strong arms, definitely a good sign. I’m pretty sure several of our mothers and fathers were already making wedding plans. Mind you, my brothers Mraiko and Sekaa were a bit annoyed at being turfed out of the bedroom. Both tami agreed we needed our privacy for the night.

We lay in bed together, holding one another. She felt warm against me. “You know we’re going to have to do it all again, Sheevia?” Lover, she’d started calling me lover now. Sheevia in private, eshal16 in public.

“Eh? When?”

“Tomorrow, dumbarse, at the sending-off party. If our tami can muster, what was it, fifty seven immediate family, imagine what eight can do, especially when you add in extended family, close friends and not so close friends. Seems they’re hiring the biggest hall in Antiavash.”

I grinned, she was right, there would be a lot of people. “Why is it in Antiavash anyway? It’s not exactly close to anywhere.”

“It’s where Melissa’s from. Her father is butler for no less than Lady Councillor Manish and she’s paying for it. Insisted, apparently. So that’s where it’s going to be held. Guess the old lady doesn’t like travelling.”

I was puzzled for a moment “Melissa doesn’t look Mmarislusant?”

She giggled, “She’s not full blood, her mother’s Verasti Dtareen. But the name, Blandii, a bit of giveaway, sheevia.”

I chuckled a bit at that. “Yeah, guess it should’ve been.” I kissed her lightly. “We should get some sleep, lover, another big day of having our lives planned for us tomorrow.”

A mischievous grin came over her face “Yes, suppose we should. Or….” I smiled and kissed her.

270th of 2024 (096-93): Antiavash arcology, Daramm

There must have been at least thousand people here. All just to see eight Guards off to war, I could see why the government restricted the actual departure to parents, spouses and children. You get a couple of thousand troops going off and you’d end up with half of Daramm at the naval base. The eight of us were very popular, you’d think we’d already won the war single handed. I had so many offers to dance, I was pretty much exhausted. So I was hiding out on a balcony. I was staring out over the sea a kilometre below us. “News says we’re winning, probably won’t be any fighting left by the time we get there.”

I turned, it was Barii. “Oh, I expect we’ll see our share of action.”

Barii was excited, his father had been a Guard, two brothers already in the line and a sister in the navy “I hope so, news says the Impies are collapsing, so it’ll probably be over soon.”

“Yeah we’ve got them beat, we’ll be half way across the sector by the time we get there.”

Barii snorted, “Hell the rate we’re advancing, we'll be clear to Sylea by the time they get round to surrendering.”

I smiled and put on my best Lord Protector McCloud voice, “Remember we don’t seek conquest, we are defending our homes.”

He laughed “Yeah, wouldn’t want all those Impies in our Protectorate anyhow, I spent a year there as a kid. My father was assigned to an embassy. None of them know how to behave.” He took a gulp of his drink “You seen how many girls want to dance? Never had so many offers. Reckon it’s the uniform, they all love the uniform.” He was beaming with pride, “Hey, I’m going back inside. You coming?”

“Nah, getting some air, I'll be in soon.”

He turned and went back inside; I turned back to the sea. Always makes you think, the sea; there was a pod of sesherin out near the shore. I heard another voice. “Always relaxing, the sea, don’t you think, piaviadt?”

I turned, it was her. I snapped to attention and stammered, “M… M… M…”

She smiled kindly. “It’s all right, piaviadt, I’m just a politician, not an officer.”

I recovered my composure. “I’m sorry, Lady Councillor.”

She smiled “I’m sorry, also, piaviadt, but it is a very pleasant night, don’t you think?”

“Yes, my lady, very.” Here I was, chatting with Lady Councillor Manish about the weather. I wasn’t sure what to say.

She looked out over the still water. “I’m afraid I believe you and your friend may be wrong.”

I was puzzled. “My lady?”

“About the war; I fear it will not be over soon, or be without a heavy toll.”

“But my lady, we’re thrashing them, they’ve got no fight in them.”

She sighed “For now, yes, they have underestimated us. But the Imperium is no pocket empire with a handful of worlds. They will not give up easily.”

“Nor will we my lady, not while there are still Guards standing, we’ll never give in.” I was convinced, we’d hold them back.

She sounded sad. “Yes, I’m sure you are correct.” She sighed again. “Piaviadt, you should not be out here. There’s a party on and I’m sure there are many young ladies who will be seeking your company, something about the uniform I believe.” There was an odd twinkle in her eyes.

“Errr… I’m errr… have somebody.” I blushed.

She grinned. “Then, piaviadt, you should go and spend some time with her. It may prove precious.”

I’d got some time with Sheska. She was as popular as the rest of us, but we were sitting this one out. We were actually thinning out now. Barii, Depsi, Renal, and Melissa had all gone off with somebody for the night. I grinned at her. “Never had so many offers.”

She sniggered. “Me either. You know, you could have your pick of company tonight.”

“Nah, I’m with you, kucuin17.”

She grinned at me “I wouldn’t mind, you know, if you wanted.”

I was a little surprised. “No, I’d much rather spend the night with you.”

A mischievous grin spread over her face. “Well, we could….” She leant over and whispered something in my ear. “You know, if you’d like.”

I was stunned now, I didn’t quite know what to say. “I didn’t know you were into that!”

She giggled, “Oh, I’m not, I mean I never have, but I’ve always been curious, you know.”

I still didn’t quite know how to take it “Errr… I’m… I’ve never considered.”

She took my hands “Eshal, we’re going off to war. Who knows what could happen? Let’s live a little, please.”

I looked at her, she seemed almost to be pleading. “Well, if you want, I’m sure we could try it. You know, maybe just this once.”

272nd of 2024 (098-93): Protectorate Naval base, Daramm

It was time to leave, we were going off to war. Not just us, there must have been at least three hundred boarding Caroline, a troop transport bound for the front. We were going to Alsuy, an Imperial world, to replace combat losses. That frightened me, combat losses, some of us could die out there. My family had come to see me off, the government had provided transport for them since they couldn’t afford it themselves. Mother Ora was in tears, so was father Orlanedt. Father Despi had given me a medallion. It was lucky apparently, some relation from the First Protectorate had worn it and it had saved her life. I could see a big dent in it; a bullet had made it, according to the story. Everyone was fussing, I could see Sheska talking with Sharik, the two of them looking conspiratorial. Barii positively glowing with pride and looking very happy. Despi with his family, one of his mothers loading him up with home cooked goodies. Melissa and her father, he looked stuffy and fierce, I noticed the ribbons on his chest though, twenty eight years long service with the Guards. James’ family all seemed to be trying to hug him at once and Renal’s were all in tears. By the time we finally boarded the shuttles there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. But we were off, we were finally going to war.

286th of 2024 (112-93): Troop transport Caroline, en-route to the front

Well if this was war, it wasn’t so bad. We’d all spent a day or two recounting our adventures after the party. Seems Sheska and I weren’t the only people who’d been a little adventurous. And we were busy, the Guards don’t let you sit around getting bored. There was training of course, a rifle range and computerised combat simulations. But there were a lot of other things to do, a couple of games of Mmialaryn18 running, keedit19 a point. Dances most nights and various short courses you could do; Guards are supposed to have a well-rounded character. People were pairing up too. Despi and Sharik spent a lot of time together, seems they’d been quietly an item since training. Renal and James, too, they’d spent a few nights together, think they’d be a couple soon.

Sheska and I were at breakfast, she was just playing with her food. “You okay, kucuin?”

“I'm bored, eshal.”

“How can you be bored? Dances most night, games, training, plenty of stuff to do.”

“After a couple of weeks, that gets boring. How about we enroll in some of those courses? We’re supposed to, you know. I looked at the list the other day, some interesting things we could do, together.”

She’d stressed ‘together’. “Have anything in mind?”

“Well…” I got the idea she might be wanting something. “Sharik has talked Despi into kamminlu20 and we could do that.”

I choked on my eggs. “Kamminlu! Are you serious?”

She chuckled “Well it’s an option, maybe studying it would make it more fun.”

“I am not spending hours learning how to thrash around like a demented lunatic! What about creative writing? I’ve always wanted to write.”

Sheska hummed and looked at her food. “Maybe, a bit pedestrian though, what about kulfi? I did some at school and it’s relaxing.”

Kulfi, that’s almost as bad as kamminlu!”

She looked up and gave me that look, the one that says you’re going to lose this argument. “Well, we can pick more than one. Tell you what, I’ll do writing if you do kulfi.”

I wasn’t convinced. “Can you see me spending hours learning how to set flowers?”

She took my hands, “Please, eshal, I don’t want to do it alone.”

I sighed, the things we do for love. “Okay, for you, I suppose I can look like a dork.”

319th of 2024 (145-93): Battle of Alsuy

We’d been assigned to our unit, all of us. Beta Sekton, Patoon lan, Kumpanee B, Ceeala Batalian, Daramm Fusileer Regaament21. We were under the watchful eye of Osidt serganet for now, but eventually one of us would take command. The 2DFR was ready in battle at Alsuy. We’d only had ten days before we were in combat. In most place, the Imperial resistance to our advance had collapsed quickly, but not on Alsuy. Here, the Imperial garrison had been made of sterner stuff; they were still grimly holding on, and now an Imperial squadron with two troop transports had arrived in-system. The garrison had launched an attack to clear a landing zone and we’d been thrown into combat early. In training you spend a lot of time in muddy holes in the ground; I was starting to see the point. Sheska and I were in a rain filled shell crater covered in mud. Barii and Melissa were in another about twenty metres off to our right.

We were panting, waiting, turns out war isn’t fun, after all. I turned to her. “I’m scared”

She smiled “I’m bloody terrified, I nearly peed myself when the first shells started landing.”

I laughed. “Good to know. Shall we do it again, yes?”

“Guess so, yes.” We counted, turned, and stood. I could see figures moving about a hundred metres in front of us. I fired off four bursts, she fired five. We ducked down again.

We lifted our visors and took a drink. She turned to me “Think you hit anything, sheevai, yes?”

“No, you?”

“Nope.” She leant over and kissed me.

“What was that for?”

She giggled “Luck. Again, now?”

We counted and stood. There was a soldier there, not ten metres away. She was young like us, pretty, dark hair, blue eyes, a slight attractive figure and a rifle in her hands. I didn’t think, I didn’t aim, I didn’t squeeze, I panicked and just jerked the trigger repeatedly. I knew people died in war, I was ready for that. I wasn’t ready for how they died. My second burst hit her in the face. I fell to my knees, lifted my visor and emptied my stomach.

Sheska knelt beside me and stroked my back, “It’s okay lover, it’s okay.”

“I killed her, I killed her.”

“Yes, and she would have killed you if you hadn’t. It’s okay, but you need to get back, there are more coming.”

I couldn’t face it all I could see was her and the bullets… “I can’t, I killed her.”

She took my hands “Ariaryn, please, I need you.” I took a breath, stood, turned and fired again.

It was getting towards dark, we’d had to fall back. Melissa and Barii had joined us. Thing about muddy holes in the ground is they’re all pretty much the same, only difference with this one is it was bigger. We were running low on ammunition and Melissa had gone to get more. Barii carefully peered over the rim of the crater “I think they’re pulling back.” There was a flash and he was gone. One moment he was there, the next not. More flashes, noise, light, dirt and shrapnel everywhere. Another flash and Sheska fell. I didn’t know you could feel so much fear. I cowered, huddled in a ball and cried. I’m not proud, but there was so much noise and light.

I don’t know how long it lasted, it seemed like forever but they tell me it was only minutes. It stopped as suddenly as it started. Everything hurt, my arms, legs, and back stung like crazy. I looked up, I saw shapes in the sky, falling, rockets firing, drogue parachutes, meteoric assault. They’d be down in seconds. I looked at Sheska, she lay there still. There was blood, so much blood. I didn’t know if she was alive or dead but I threw her over my shoulders and started running. The drop capsules were landing everywhere. I saw figures emerging, like some insect from a cocoon, encased in stiff plastic and steel combat armour. They were struggling to stand, some pointed weapons at me, some even fired, I kept running. I saw three capsules land and split open in front of me. The first was on their feet, I could see the gauss rifle22 swinging towards me. I let Sheska fall from my shoulders and ran full at them. I knocked them to the ground and fell on top. I didn’t think, just reached down and drew my combat knife. I remembered the training, the weak spot at the neck. With both hands I drove the knife up beneath his armour. I grabbed his gauss rifle and rolled. The other two were turning to face me. I yelped with pain as the skin between my fingers ripped when I jammed my hand into the awkward trigger guard. I fired, switching between the two. They fell and lay motionless. I lay panting, I grabbed the dead Imperial’s water flask and took a deep drink. I dragged myself to my feet, recovered Sheska and started to move again.

Close now, I could see our position maybe two hundred and fifty metres off. I saw something on the ground. Melissa, she’d been caught in the bombardment. I stared at her mangled body, she must be dead, I was sure. I wanted to so much to be sure of it, I was so tired. But I couldn’t leave her. I let Sheska slip from my shoulders, grabbed both their belts and began to drag. There was fire and bullets everywhere. I kept as low as I could, getting closer. I could see flashes and hear the firing. I heard somebody shout “By the gods, give them covering fire!”

I saw the firebase open up and figures scramble out. They reached me, I wanted to hold on to Sheska, but I couldn’t any more. I felt hands grabbing me, dragging me to safety. I lay on the ground exhausted, somebody lifted my helmet off. I saw a medic bending over Melissa, somebody by Sheska. I pleaded, “Please, save her.”


  1. The Iadtlu are a traditional militia in Luriani society. They serve as a reserve of trained personnel allowing the expansion of the military in times of emergency. In addition, it also acts as a civil defence force and a youth training corps, encouraging good citizenship and moral values. Children may join at age 8, though they may not transfer to regular service until 18 (though they may volunteer for service in a local defence unit at 12).
  2. Respectively, a traditional form of unarmed combat, a 45cm short sword, a 2.5 metre spear, sling, and a large bladed double handed pole arm. All taught in the Iadtlu.
  3. Short form of dorcenviajkulia, Luriani coming of age ceremony. Occurs at eighteen.
  4. A form of artistic flower arranging.
  5. Archæology was held in curiously high regard in the Protectorate. It was said to be the only place archæologists had to hide from autograph hunters.
  6. Two popular culture icons of the time. Liasha Ostee, a well known holovid star, and Astronic, a successful Verasti Dtareen musical group.
  7. The second habitable planet in the Daramm system. It is larger than Daramm, with significantly higher gravity and a far denser atmosphere. Most Luriani find its atmosphere oppressive at sea level and its population is heavily skewed towards Verasti Dtareen and Mmarislusant. It was also the site of the Protector’s Guards headquarters and main training facilities.
  8. A large natural preserve on Daramm noted for its rugged beauty. A frequent wilderness and camping holiday destination for natives.
  9. Standard issue Protectorate combat rifle. Normally fires 7mm discarding sabot ammunition with a 4.5mm armour piercing penetrator. In training it uses dye filled frangible bullets.
  10. Literally, ‘One, Two, Smallest Four.’ Guards tradition is not to use okha (three) while in combat. Many theories exist as to the origin of this odd tradition, none of which make much sense.
  11. The ‘children of Mrai.’ A small sub-culture on Daramm noted for their preference for avoiding labour saving devices.
  12. Elite Protectorate special forces, drawn from all branches of Protectorate services.
  13. Cloth covered full dress helmet worn by the Protector’s Guards.
  14. Yarnar is a large group of islands near the northern pole of Daramm. Home to nearly two billion people, most of whom live in large arcologies anchored in the shallow seas surrounding the islands. The region is noted for its conservative culture.
  15. Short form of eeshiaewalistren, romantic female friend. Can also mean eeshiaelullistren, romantic male friend.
  16. Both eshal and sheevai are usually translated as ‘lover’, along with several other words such as nuntarri, sheepai, sheenai and sheelai. However, only the word eshal would be heard in public. Nuntarri was at this time obsolete and the others were strictly for use in private situations.
  17. Roughly translated, ‘darling’.
  18. A Luriani card game, frequently involving gambling.
  19. Basic currency unit of the Protectorate, equal to 1/10th of an Imperial Credit.
  20. Not a native art form, Kamminlu originated on ancient Vland. It has since been lost by the Vilani and only survives in Luriani society. Most people regard kamminlu as exceedingly tedious and an ordeal to watch. Those who show a real liking are considered a little ‘odd.’ Despite this perception, the Protectorate takes great pains to preserve the form and attendance at recitals is close to an obligation in upper class Protectorate society.
  21. Beta Section, Platoon four, Company B, Second Battalion, Daramm Fusilier Regiment (abbreviated as b4B 2DFR). A standard Protectorate rifle company at this time consisted of four rifle platoons, a support platoon and a command element. Each platoon was divided into four sections each of eight and a twelve strong command and support section. Protectorate policy at this stage was to encourage esprit de corps by keeping personnel recruited and trained together in the same unit whenever possible. Due to the Guards tradition there is never a platoon three or third battalion.
  22. An advanced combat rifle using a electromagnetic accelerator to fire tungsten-steel darts at hypervelocities giving great penetration and extreme wounding effects.