An “Interquel” for Cold Welcome

What, you ask, is an interquel?   I made it up, for a segment that isn’t exactly a story but fits between earlier and later books.    I was trying to use this as the end of a short story, where it did not fit.  The location in “Story-timeline” is right, but it’s not a good ending for a short story.  So the bit below comes after the Vatta’s War group, and not too long before Cold Welcome–sequel to one, and prequel to the other.  Thus, interquel.   (I might’ve called it a side-story but it’s not a complete story.)

Why now?  Because I finished the main run-through of  the page proofs earlier today.

Location: Space Defense Headquarters in Greentoo, a station orbiting the Moscoe Confederacy’s second habitable planet (for some definitions of habitable).

Characters: Ky Vatta, whom you know already.  Ky, as you know already, is short, dark, very athletic, and intense, originally from Slotter Key, about 29 years old at the time of this fragment.    She comes from a trading family with interstellar connections.  Jen Bentik, to whom you are about to be introduced, is taller,  light-skinned, in her forties,   native of Cascadia Station, daughter of one of the Commissioners of Cascadia, spent 97% of her life on Cascadia Station, with only short visits down to the planet.  She was in the Cascadian military.  Now…


Ky walked down the hall to her office, dreading the piles of paperwork that would be waiting for her. Messages pinged her skullphone: invitations, questions, demands. Surely they knew she’d just arrived. She hadn’t even had time to get to her desk. She turned into her office suite, nodded to Pat at the reception desk (how ridiculous to need a reception desk!) while holding one finger to her ear, universal signal for an ongoing skullphone call. Pat made a hand motions that meant something, but she didn’t stop to find out what. On into her waiting room, and then into her own office.

To find an older woman in a crisp new Space Defense Force uniform sitting in her chair, working on her files. Ky stopped short. The woman looked up, but did not rise. Reddish brown hair, perfectly coifed. Pale skin expertly made up, but the woman was older than Stella–forty-something, Ky guessed. Gray eyes. Before Ky could say anything, the woman spoke.

“Ah, Admiral Vatta, you’re back at last. I’m Commander Jenaaris Bentik, Commissioner Bentik’s daughter, re-assigned from Cascadia’s militia to Space Defence Force as your aide. I have your workflow all organized now.” Enough emphasis on “now” to be a discreet insult. “These are ready for your signature.” A graceful hand indicated which stack. “These need an immediate decision.” Another stack.

“I didn’t ask for an aide,” Ky said, as mildly as possible.  “Who appointed you?”

“But it was clear you needed one,” Bentik said, still sitting in Ky’s chair. “And I was available when the request came through.  I have the paperwork and the filing system under control now.” She rose from the chair, finally. She was taller than Ky, like most Cascadians. “We should be able to clear much of this by the end of the day.” She waved an offer for Ky to take the chair.

Ky blinked: the sheer effrontery of the woman. Maybe this Bentik woman was older, and her father might be whoever he was, but that didn’t give her a right to treat Ky like a naughty child who hadn’t done her homework. Ky was, after all, the boss here…the admiral. “I have other duties at the moment,” she said. “Calls it would be rude to leave unanswered.”

Bentik’s brows rose, her mouth opened, then closed again.

“I will work on these papers when I’ve finished with the calls,” Ky said. “If I have time to complete some of these before the end of the shift, I’ll let you know, so you can put these in the mail sack.”

Bentik didn’t take the hint; she stood there looking annoyed.

“Excuse me,” Ky said, with an edge to her voice.  “The first is to Cascadia’s head of security and he has indicated it must be a secured line. I will let you know when I need you.”

At last Bentik moved to the door, slowly, as if being dismissed was something that happened to other people. When the door closed behind her, Ky let out a long huff of air and sat down; the seat still warm from Bentik’s occupation. This, she thought, is not a good start to a smooth working relationship.

19 thoughts on “An “Interquel” for Cold Welcome

    1. Ky was 22-23 when she didn’t graduate from the Academy, and there were several years of war (I think she was 26, maybe 27, at the end of it, but all that faster-than-light travel is hard to add up) and then she’s had 3-4 years as a Grand Admiral (a title that embarrasses her, but the Cascadians like it) afterward, with a diminishing number of interesting adventures. So she’s 29-30 at the start of Cold Welcome and about a year or a little less younger than that at the incident of the interquel. The mindset natural to those ages is different, but not discernibly so for one year, in my experience. That’s chronological age, but she’s packed a lot of experience into the earlier part of her post-Academy life, so she’s more mature *in some ways* than someone who’s gone from college to a desk job in a relatively safe city (for instance.) OTOH, disasters like having her family all blown up often cause some regression in areas not needed for survival, so what you have is slowed maturation in other areas.

  1. Very good short-short story! This could have been a prequel or prologue for the “Cold Welcome” story which I just finished. It does help the transition from the last of the other Vatta stories to the new book, which is a darn good read. Thanks for writing it.

  2. First let me say that I love Vatta, both the first series of books and so far this second series seems to be falling right in step. I wonder, has anyone in Hollywood approached you about doing a movie or mini series? I Hope they do! I volunteer to do the music or even make the CG models for it !

    (I have experience doing both with an eye to making movies for Hollywood one day. -Good luck at age 52. But I can still dream!)

    I am also a fan of the Serrano series as well! The character, Heris Serrano- I have always imagined was based on you. Am I right?

    Unfortunately I have not been able to get into your fantasy novels at all, I guess I am not really a major fan of the genre. Keep writing though! You are a wonderful talent in a world of mediocrity.

    (You and a few other authors have also helped inspire me to do some writing as well!)

    Yours Truly
    Rick King

    1. Nobody’s gone for Vatta yet, though of course I hope they would. Lots of writers have fans who prefer one series to another…and as a reader I’m the same way. For people who do both fantasy and SF, some of their readership will strongly prefer either the SF or the F side of the force. For people who do both mystery type A and mystery type B…the same is true. The writer sees the continuity from one to the other, and some readers do, but others don’t.

      Characters. No, Heris Serrano is not much like me (she never did get horse crazy; I was born that way.) She’s pretty much a mix of people I’ve met (I often take the physical “build” of one, the coloring of another, a few personality traits taken from four or five other people, and then stick the character in the first chapter petri dish and see if she/he lives and grows in interesting ways.) The cover looked like I looked at one point, which startled me (surely I’d never shown the editor *that* picture!) but Heris had grown up in a numerous and powerful military family who had specific expectations for her; I didn’t. Heris in earlier life was more conformist due to her family’s general culture and the sheer number and power of them. Both Esmay Suiza and, later, Ky Vatta, went against family expectations fairly early even though their socialization was shaped by the family. Heris doesn’t have the kind of widespread intense intellectual curiosity that I have; she’s very focused on the mission, one mission after another. More practical than I am, more organized than I am, too. I don’t imagine Heris, even on a planet, becoming fascinated with its botany (for instance), let alone ecology. If we were working in the same kitchen, we’d bump into each other a lot. Nonetheless, a good character to write. Esmay had more bits of myself (that flyaway hair thing…oh, yeah. Bane of my youth, when everyone was supposed to be sleek and permed.) Confidence problems, etc. Ky, if we’re going with this, has the tendency to barge in and “fix” things without thinking through all the consequences…also bane of my youth. Once having “fixed” a bully problem, first grade me wanted to go on fixing bully problems whether the victims wanted help or not. Rescue fantasies–wearing the red cape and flying in to the rescue.

      On the horse side, I would’ve been a Cecelia if there’d been money for a horse when I was younger. I rein in my horse madness as much as possible in the books; the fantasies let me at least *mention* horses more often and occasionally (as with Arvid’s black he was so proud of) let a horse do something plotworthy. In my youth, when I could get a ride on someone’s horse, speed across open ground was always the best thing ever. In fact, I remember most of the horses I’ve ridden, from the boring pony at a pony ride in Houston (too slow!), the ones rented in San Antonio (special treat), the friends’ horses, lesson horses, and of course the ones I’ve had the honor to own or take care of for awhile. Ky, Blue Moon, Jezz, Macho, Kuincey, Cricket, Bananaface (nickname), Mac. And soon (I hope) there’ll be new one to fill the hole left by the last to depart.

  3. I started a long time ago with Paksenarrion, but work and family wandered in until recently in my local shop spotted Elizabeth Moon Cold Welcome.

    That was it!! – Ky Vatta!! I was instantly hooked; now have the entire series.

    More please.

  4. I had recently re-read the original five books of the Vatta series when I discovered you had written “Cold Welcome.” Over the years I kept looking for a sequel to the last book in the “Vatta’s War” series. I just knew you couldn’t leave Ky’s story at that point. Thank you for continuing her story. I just finished “Into the Fire”. What an exciting read. I couldn’t hardly put it down until I finished. Hopefully more to come.

    I have been a fan for years. The Serrano series as well as the Sassinak books on which you collaborated.

  5. Thanks for the “interquel” between the series. I was happy to see the latest installment out. I noted as I scanned the notes that you’d said that one was harder to write. Will you be writing another in the Vatta’s peace series? I would appreciate another in the saga after the events of Into the Fire. Thanks again for your work, do appreciate it!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I’m taking a year off to try to get some health issues sorted. I don’t know quite what I’ll be writing or how it will come out (the health issues involve things that affect speed and difficulty of writing and the concussion in February didn’t help) but I, too, would like to see more about the Vattas.

    2. Thanks for the update!
      Concussions/TBI’s are a very difficult; I’m still in recovery from one last March (it’s a LONG road) and know how that can be… I’ll send some positive thoughts your way!

      1. I know someone who had multiples within a short period and it took years to achieve 80-90% recovery. I’m very lucky that I’m not in as bad shape as many, having had three (but separated by years, not a month.)

  6. From Old Sifi Dawg (77):
    I am the one that writes dull reviews. I read both Sci-fi and Fantasy with “I Robot” my first. I became an instant fan after reading Sheepfarmers Daughter and have read most everything you have wrote. You are almost unique, in that you are able to write about the mondaine and turn it into a page turner.

    I since I have all the early Sci-fi authors, would like to know which authors inspired you the most.

    I hope you fully recover from your injury and greedy look for more tales from you.

    1. Hi, and welcome to this space. What started me writing SF were the first stories I read in it (I was already writing, so anything I read and liked I tried to write. This meant horse stories, dog stories, sports stories, and war stories at first, then SF.) The first three writers I read were books by Heinlein, Norton, and Asimov, closely followed by Sturgeon, Van Vogt, and others. I was a fast reader, and soon had read all the SF in our junior high library and began working down the narrow (but several shelves) SF section in the public library. I think the first Heinlein was The Door Into Summer, but I’m not sure. It was recommended to me by the friend who introduced me to SF, along with the other two. From there…I gulped them in as fast as possible, so it’s hard to remember what came first.

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