Izramith Ezmi is many things: a member of the feared, all-female Hedron guards, a war veteran recently returned from a pointless and bloody mission, and impatient, angry and above all, lonely. With her contract about to run out, she may be on her way to becoming a ruthless mercenary, since what she really wants–becoming a mother–is out of the question. Her family carries a gene that causes deeply malicious madness. Her nephew was born with it and her useless sister has left him in the care of an institute. A baby. Two days old.
She wants to ask her uncle, himself born with the condition, if he can do anything for the boy. But her uncle and his band of mad outcasts have gone missing, rumoured to be on the world of Ceren.
So Izramith takes another hired-gun contract in Barresh which is a city-state on Ceren. The job is to provide security at a high-profile wedding. Simple and straight-forward, right? No crawling in mud, no shoot-outs, no mangled bodies and blood-drenched soil. And meanwhile, she can try to find her uncle.
Except he isn’t there, and the job isn’t simple. Izramith and her team discover evidence of an extensive spying ring that threatens the entire city.
Postponing the wedding would be an admission of defeat, so it’s time for desperate measures. Izramith leads a small team in what has to go down as the most hare-brained mission to ever be undertaken in the universe. Much is at stake: peace, the lives of her uncle and her nephew, and her own.
Snippet from the book:
The ward held at least twenty beds and on the side closest to the door, they were occupied by young patients who were genuinely sick. The rest were zhadya-born of ages varying from babies to toddlers.
Her little nephew was asleep and didn’t wake up when she came to the cot. It was a simple metal structure with a bare mattress and plain sheets. None of the soft comfort and cute toys that people normally placed in their baby’s cots. No scented pillows, no fan to keep the air fresh.
She stroked his hair, trying not to see the faded stains in the sheets and the dent in the side of the cot.
The slate at the end of his cot merely said “Male” and his date of birth.
He needed a name. A strong name that would be his light in dark days, a name that was honest and good. Like Shana. She checked the population register on her comm reader to see if the name was taken. It was, but Shada was not. Shada, Shada, Shada. She repeated it a few times to get used to the sound of it. Yes, that was a good name.
She used the end of her sleeve to wipe male from slate. A pen lay on a shelf against the side wall. She used it to write Shada above his birth date.
There. That was better already.
There were a few other young boys in the room. These would be his peers, enemies and friends when he grew older. He would spend the rest of his life in this place.
Unless . . .
Unless she could find him a safe place, a place where he could be free.
She bent down and kissed the top of his head.
“Shada,” she whispered.
He twitched and his mouth curved into a smile before relaxing again.
Yes, she would do her best.