A Soldier's Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why)

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9780441020638: A Soldier's Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why)

Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.

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About the Author:

The best part about being a writer is the joy of entertaining others. Whether it’s sad or scary, silly or sexy, I love knowing that one of my stories has given someone a good time. I hope this is one of those stories for you, too. Currently I live in the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to drop by my website for a chat.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Acknowledgements

 

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

 

Teaser chapter

PRAISE FOR JEAN JOHNSON AND THE SONS OF DESTINY NOVELS

“Jean Johnson’s writing is fabulously fresh, thoroughly romantic, and wildly entertaining. Terrific—fast, sexy, charming, and utterly engaging. I loved it!”

—Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author

 

“Cursed brothers, fated mates, prophecies, yum! A fresh new voice in fantasy romance, Jean Johnson spins an intriguing tale of destiny and magic.”

—Robin D. Owens, RITA Award–winning author

 

“A must-read for those who enjoy fantasy and romance. I . . . eagerly look forward to each of the other brothers’ stories. Jean Johnson can’t write them fast enough for me!”

The Best Reviews

 

“[It] has everything—love, humor, danger, excitement, trickery, hope, and even sizzling hot . . . sex.”

Errant Dreams

 

“Enchantments, amusement, and eight hunks and one bewitching woman make for a fun romantic fantasy . . . humorous and magical . . . a delightful charmer.”

Midwest Book Review

 

“A paranormal adventure series that will appeal to fantasy and historical fans, plus time-travel lovers as well. Jean Johnson has created a mystical world of lessons taught, very much like the great folktales we love to hear over and over. It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets the Knights of the Round Table, and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next. Delightful entertainment . . . An enchanting tale with old world charm, The Sword will leave you dreaming of a sexy mage for yourself.”

Romance Junkies

 

“An intriguing new fantasy romance series . . . a unique combination of magic, time travel, and fantasy that will have readers looking toward the next book. Think Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but add one more and give them magic, with curses and fantasy thrown in for fun. Cunning . . . creative . . . lovers of magic and fantasy will enjoy this fun, fresh, and very romantic offering.”

Time Travel Romance Writers

 

“The writing is sharp and witty and the story is charming. [Johnson] makes everything perfectly believable. She has created an enchanting situation and characters that are irascible at times and lovable at others. Jean Johnson . . . is off to a flying start. She tells her story with a lively zest that transports a reader to the place of action. I can hardly wait for the next one. It is a must-read.”

Romance Reviews Today

 

“A fun story. I look forward to seeing how these alpha males find their soul mates in the remaining books.”

The Eternal Night

 

“An intriguing world . . . an enjoyable hero . . . an enjoyable showcase for an inventive new author. Jean Johnson brings a welcome voice to the romance genre, and she’s assured of a warm welcome.”

The Romance Reader

 

“An intriguing and entertaining tale of another dimension. It will be fun to see how the prophecy turns out for the rest of the brothers.”

Fresh Fiction

Titles by Jean Johnson

 

Theirs Not to Reason Why
A SOLDIER’S DUTY

 

The Sons of Destiny
THE SWORD
THE WOLF
THE MASTER
THE SONG
THE CAT
THE STORM
THE FLAME
THE MAGE

 

SHIFTING PLAINS
BEDTIME STORIES
FINDING DESTINY

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

THEIRS NOT TO REASON WHY: A SOLDIER’S DUTY

 

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author

 

PRINTING HISTORY
Ace mass-market edition / August 2011

 

Copyright © 2011 by G. Jean Johnson.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

 

ISBN: 9781101529294

 

ACE
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My thanks to everyone who helped me with this. To Cindy and Ace Books at The Berkley Publishing Group for knowing I could write more than just romance. To my beta editors Alexandra, NotSoSaintly, Stormi, and my sci-fi pinch hitter Buzzy (beautiful, scary lady), who stepped in to be my fourth gem-polisher on this task. To Dr. Ivezic, the University of Washington’s Astronomy Department, and astronomers everywhere, amateur or professional—any astronomical and stellar mistakes in this book are naturally my own fault. (Alas, Triple A doesn’t make the right-sized map for my needs, so I kind of had to wing several things.)

My thanks also go to scientists of all types. Science fiction is the springboard for so many ideas; I hope my stories give each of you a lift toward new ideas to explore and things to create. Even if what I write is impossible or improbable, may it at least inspire you. In turn, may your efforts inspire new generations of writers to dream, imagine, and inspire yet others.

My thanks and my gratitude go out to all the military personnel who allowed me to ply them with verbal cookies and whiskey in congenially ruthless interrogations over the years, helping this story come to life. (Any errors are either my own or the result of futuristic-wishful thinking.) Most important, my thanks go to every single person who has in the past or currently serves their country, regardless of nationality. You stand between the innocent and the profane, putting your lives on the line for little recognition or fame. Yet you are there. You are the big damn heroes in life, and I just wanted you to know that some of us do realize that, and deeply appreciate it.

Keep your heads down and stay as safe as you can.

 

Jean

PROLOGUE

The Future is an ever-changing place, a point of transition between what is and what will be. Obscured by a veil of possibilities, it contains all the joys of Heaven, and all the terrors of hell. You may struggle to turn your Fate into your Destiny, but the Future is inescapable; it will drag you forward kicking and screaming. But, wherever you end up, it is—to borrow from Shakespeare—a place “to be, or not to be.”

That is the Future.

~Ia

JUNE 3, 2487 TERRAN STANDARD
OUR BLESSED MOTHER
INDEPENDENT COLONYWORLD SANCTUARY

 

It was horrible. Terrible. No fifteen-year-old—and barely fifteen, at that—should have had to face such a frightening, unrelenting truth. But she had to. She had no choice.

Her eyes were open. She was sure of that much. But in the grey glow of predawn, brightened occasionally by the usual morning electrical storm, her bedroom looked out of place: banal and slightly surreal compared to what she had just seen. Crowded, but banal.

There were actually two beds, a narrow one for herself and a broad one that her brothers shared in quiet sleep, with a meager aisle between them. A long counter underneath the window served as part desk, part bureau. Every toy, every book, every datachip was tucked in its place, because there was literally no room for a mess. Neat and tidy. Innocent.

Behind the evidence of her eyes, this whole building—her parents’ small but prosperous restaurant—lay in smoldering ruins. Inside her head, she could see the broken plaster boards, scorched plexi tiles . . . and the body of her birthmother, sprawled and bloodied, eyes open but unseeing.

No . . . no! Covering her eyes, elbows braced on her knees, the girl on the narrower of the two beds tried to shut out the images. She couldn’t banish them; she could only shove them aside. When she did . . . others took their place. Her elder brother fighting to survive, her younger brother dragged away by brute force, a laser bolt shaded in cruel dark orange arrowing for her own throat. No! No, no, no!

She shoved harder at the images, tried to force her way around them, but it was like wading through a muddy river, a hard, cold, murky struggle that swept her relentlessly downstream. It didn’t matter which fork she chose, the flow of Time itself dragged her inevitably to the end. To the horrific images of an inevitable end, where rapacious invaders tore whole worlds to shreds. Her world, and the others. Choked by the roiling, cold waters, she couldn’t see the right way to go, the best path to survive, a way to escape the lifeless, frozen wasteland lying ahead.

. . . NO!

There had to be a way out. She refused to accept that this . . . this vision was unbreakable. That it was unstoppable, inevitable. Clasping her arms around her knees, squeezing her eyes tightly shut, she forced her inner self to climb out of the waters sweeping inexorably onward to their ugly end. To climb onto the banks of the river—the banks of all the rivers in her mind, to stop herself from drowning in the ice-cold waters of Time itself.

There has to be a way out. There has to be.

Determined to find that way, some path that could be followed through the tangle of lives and possibilities, she searched through the stream-scattered plains. She didn’t stop to check each creek; instead, she leapt from bank to bank, looking for the point where all the rivers turned into rivulets, where all of them ran into a dried, barren, hopeless desert. It was hard to see, though the more she moved and searched, the more light there was in this dark, grey, foreboding place inside her head.

Slowly, as the grey of twilight changed to the amber gold of dawn, she found a thin trickle, a single stream . . . a thread of hope that led through a tiny hole in the barrier of the desert, expanding into an oasis of triumph and beauty beyond that frightening wall of inevitability.

Here—this is the path! This is what I want . . .

But when she looked back, the complexity of the path confounded her. It stretched well past anything she herself could affect in her own lifetime—and not just her own life-time, but her own life-place, tying into yet more rivers and streams that ran through fields beyond this single, visible plain. Cautiously tracing her way back, she found nodes of influence, little nudges, artificial canals and bolstering dykes, levees built up to prevent the flooding of failure, and aqueducts bringing in knowledge from other realms. Twists and turns, knots and braids artificially plaited into the naturally woven strands of what should have been reality.

Along every centimeter of the intertwining streams she followed, images flickered in the waters, showing her meager glimpses of the way to make that one slender stream of a chance survive. Make, not just help.

My God . . . This will take more than a lifetime to make happen. She hurried back toward her entry point, only to stumble and fall to her knees, seeing the drastic changes wrought in her own future, just to make all of it possible. No . . . no . . . No, there has to be a better way. Some side-stream I could take . . . some other option!

Scrambling to her feet, straining to see through the shifting, flowing waters, she searched the currents in the meadows stretching out to either side. Time did not have the same meaning in this place as it had out there, beyond the boundaries of her mind—she knew her brothers were now awake, that they were quietly getting dressed for breakfast and for school, somewhere out there beyond the edges of her consciousness—but she couldn’t stop searching. Couldn’t stop looking for an escape. For a way out.

There wasn’t one.

Not for everyone.

With eyes that were learning to skim the images rippling and shifting in the lengthy tangle of waters crisscrossing the plains, she saw there was no safe path for herself. No quiet life to be led. No escape from her fate; not from what she had to do, not with this radical of a departure from all of her childish dreams and expectations. No avoiding what would happen to herself, nor what would happen to her family, to her friends and neighbors if she ignored this single, meager thread of possibility.

Worse, when she turned to look back at the future, looking out across the other rivers and their subsidiary streams, the way they dried into curdled, cracked mud and crumbled into sand . . . there was no other hope for anyone else.

Not a viable one. Nothing that would bear fruit. Just the one, rivulet-sized chance to avoid that distant, inevitable, widespread desert of destruction. One chance to stop everything from turning into nothing. One chance to avoid annihilation.

But . . . if she redirected all those streams and rivulets, goug...

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