Erianda Rensler’s world, and apparently the fate of the Human race on the colony world of Rensler, changed just a few Lunars after her twenty-third birthday. The change started simply, innocently enough. Crises had arisen, drastic enough for the Council of the Central Allied Worlds to call a meeting that included the governors of the colony worlds. Her uncle, Governor Eryk Rensler, had been suffering from some illness that wouldn’t go away, and changed symptoms on a semi-regular basis. He sent his younger brother Edrian, Randi’s father, because his physician didn’t recommend Wrinkleship travel, with strain on every major organ.
Her mother Aura, who usually acted as hostess for Government House, went with Edrian. That left Randi the task of looking after her uncle, double-checking his security, and running a few discrete tests to make sure the physician was still a friend and not in the pay of some new enemy. She accepted her assignment with minimal grumbling. She was needed at home; she just didn’t care to be saddled with the onerous duties of acting as hostess.
“On the bright side,” her uncle said, when she grumbled to him over an after-dinner game of Strategems, “with the way I’m feeling, you won’t have to suffer through any ridiculous parties for a while.”
Randi knew she had been acting and feeling like a child. She let her uncle win two of their five games, to make up for her attitude. He felt bad enough by the end of the evening that he didn’t seem to notice, and retired to bed before his usual midnight.
The reprieve from social obligations was short-lived. Less than two days after her parents’ ship left orbit, a Council starship slid into orbit and the Honorable Inspector General Asmondias Kreeng shuttled down to the colony.