Reciprocity cover Part 1Dr Ryndeel Drinns, a biomedical scientist working in her dream job at CenBioTech, in her Lledumarian hometown of Llantan, searches for cures for Lledumarian illnesses. But in the quest for cure-alls, the unexpected is often the scientist’s first discovery.

She also lives in the shadow of treachery. Ever vigilant against being the victim of an indifferent custodian of her people, the Cuians, though it rarely happened these days, she keeps her wits about her; never gives anyone an excuse to point an accusatory finger at her.

But trouble is brewing, and when it boils over, she will need to dig deep for the strength to keep from being consumed by it. And when the waters threaten to drown her, the one person she can turn to is oblivious that he is about to become the unwitting star in a play written about the downfall of a once great and vibrant empire.

Read and excerpt below:

Councillor Dwadd Hranns spoke for the Lledumar. And she noted the boredom twist one half of a senior Cuian councillor’s bearded face, as he paraded himself in his green and brown regalia.

Two gentleman she knew the identity of – the Mainnstaad Officials, the Empire’s representatives – stood by a tall bookshelf and discussed something loudly enough for her to hear, nothing important. She recalled their names, Throuse Jafftynn and Sassan Fennman. Jafftynn was the surly looking one, Fennman looked like the kind of person found at parties but no one knew who he was. What she wondered at that moment was whether the Mainnstaad Officials built an opinion of the Cuians and their incessant need to continue repressing the Lledumar that agreed with her. Would they support the Cuians? Or would they bring a judgement in favour of the Lledumar?

As the men chatted, she watched one of them, Fennman, sported thin spiky-blonde hair, immediately dash off to a reclamation room. She assumed he was because he headed for it. She watched the other, Jafftynn, a gaunt man, sported a buzzcut (and thought his hair was brown), had eyes like a rat’s, and worked his way toward the beverages and assorted edibles spread on a large, dark wooden table at the back of the Library chamber.

She strolled momentarily, slowly meandered back and forth in the space between the opposing groups – the Cuians on the western side of the chamber; the Lledumar in the east. And the scuff of her sandals scuffed on the timber-tiled library floor followed her.

She soon stopped, spoke into her communicator at her neck, stitched into the collar of her gown. She spoke the name of the man standing opposite her, relatively speaking, in the library, and called him ‘Verntinus the sophist’. She spoke to Councillor Sonrhins Traans, her colleague and secret lover, seated somewhere behind her in the crowd of Lledumarians, their supporters, sycophants, and hangers-on. She turned to search among the faces of her supporters for Traans, and soon saw a familiar face, that of a man she both admired and despised. Alton Rhizikh. He represented the Lledumarian Freedom Forum, a recent movement on Lled, born out of anguish and frustration at the lack of progress toward emancipation, by any means. But to use his methods would be costly. His human assistant next to him, the one called Salwyn Soutuin. Another spiky blonde. What a strange arrangement, she thought; one she didn’t understand. What did the man do for Rhizikh? Other than work for CenBioTech, in Llantan, where Rhizikh was the chief director.