Summary: Kato Ozark, crown prince and soldier, has just been chosen to pilot his family’s queenship. He’s trained his entire life for this honor, but it comes with a catch. It seems that First Engineer Mas’ud Tavana has also been chosen as the queen’s pilot. Mas’ud has no formal training, and they both believe a mistake has been made. But when an attack on a distant Ozark queen forces them to work together, it’s clear their minds are better as one than apart.
They might even go on a proper date. Through mission briefings and politically required offspring, the mental link their queenship forges between them only grows stronger. Within this bond they find strength in each other. Then a rogue AI attacks their ship, ripping the queen open to the core. The two pilots feel it all; the assault destroys their connection and tears them adrift into open space.
Kato and Mas’ud wake up in the medical bay of a rival family with no memory of their queenship or each other. Hailed as a war hero, Kato retrains as a kingship pilot, preparing to defend Earth against the AI. Mas’ud, dismissed as permanently broken, struggles to rediscover his own truth.
Their queenship is out there, waiting for her pilots to come home. The future of their family depends on it.
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s”Love is an Open Road” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
Sentient ships? Oh, yes please.
I wasn’t lured in by the prospect of pilot/ship relationships; I dove in.
Maiden voyage of the queenship Selvans, who is awakened and selects her pilot–Kato Ozark. From a long and distinguished line of pilots, even though he’s young, it’s not a surprised. But… what happens next is. Ma’s Tavana is First Engineer when the ship demands his presence. Following orders, he proceeds to the bridge where the reality of situation becomes clear immediately. Two pilots. Unheard of.
Strategy, ship design, and allegiances are all big contributors to the story. It’s definitely plot or action based than character and romance focused. Katy and Ma’sud face challenges. The battlefield isn’t just the traditional one and as the games are played out the costs become apparent as does the abuse of power.
The cast of characters is deep and extraordinarily diverse in sex, gender, and race. There are many and the nuances of the interactions as the story progresses and the various machinations makes it a tad bit intense to follow–no slacking while reading. It’s time’s like these that I miss paperback books because not being able to access indexes easily in ebooks sucks. Additionally, it is placed at the end so I never know until it’s over at which point I’m always exasperated–Now, I have it. Tip: flip to the end and read it first.
So, there is this overarching play for the galaxy going on, who has what to offer whom and how trades go down. There’s collateral damage and trading that seems so emotionally detached, almost diplomatic and unvested even though the players clearly are that rubbed me wrong. The emotional sterility was unsettling for me, as were reactions to it. Not lobotomized unemotional, but if you enjoy the crisper end of the spectrum of expression then this is a good fit.
Needless to say from my rating, I enjoyed this. The end was a bit subdued for me, but it suited the characters. Recommended for science fiction lovers because there is some fun stuff here.