Excerpted from Eclipse, The Girl Who Saved the World, now available from Smashwords, Third Millennium, and Amazon.
“The North American champion,” Krystal North said. ”The Visitor. That’s Kurchatov and Hornpiper. Speaker Ming. Mayhaps the Supreme Gamesman. I’ll provide mentalic support, to keep people honest. We’re ready in an hour. However, it’s up to you to agree or not.”
Janie caught Krystal North’s nod and broke the link. “Daddy, mommy,” Janie said, “I could hear what was behind her thoughts. She thinks something bad probably happens to me very soon now. Tonight, even. Unless I agree. I get to ask a friend to our house. Someone to protect me. When they question me. Daddy knows Professor Lafayette. That’s a good choice of champion.”
“Not your coach?” Abigail Wells asked. “Lafayette? Who is he?”
“Champion?” Brian asked. Janie glowered. Brian had listened to Sunssword explain about champions. Janie reminded herself that Brian was a boy, so he wasn’t supposed to pay attention to things that he didn’t care about, even when they were important. And he hadn’t cared about champions. Boys! She thought.
“She,” Patrick corrected. “Morgana Lafayette. Works at Rogers Tech. In biochemistry. She showed up at the back door, right after Janie and Trisha were kidnapped.” Abigail looked perplexed. “Human female, tall, gold-blonde, blue eyes, not nearly as pretty as you are, dear.” Abigail broke into giggles. Patrick was describing the persona Sunssword, but using her private persona name, the name Abigail had never heard.
“But, Janie, why didn’t you just say Sunssword?” Abigail asked.
“Sunssword doesn’t want her public persona to be tied to me,” Janie said, “She’s real careful where she coaches us. We have a coach. No one knows it’s Sunssword. We never name her public persona. I thought you knew who she was, Mom. But Daddy knows Professor Lafayette. They both work at RTI. No one is surprised to see Professor Lafayette being my champion.”
“In particular,” Abigail said, “Sunssword never told me who else she was, and has that garb that doesn’t let you see most of her face. And you were polite to Sunssword, not telling me who her private persona was.” Sunssword, Abigail considered, had done mentalic checks that Janie and Trisha had not been hurt when they were kidnapped. Now Sunssword was coaching the three Wells children on using their gifts.
“Besides being a persona,” Patrick said, “Morgana Lafayette is also one of the country’s leading biochemists. She gave up trying to keep her public persona a deep secret. She’s a member of Stars Over Boston. Or was, anyhow. They had another stupid argument about theology. OK, opinions on the Speaker’s request?”
“I think we’d better,” Abigail said. “If it makes Janie safer.”
Trisha shrugged. “Sunssword is a nice person. We go flying sometimes. But I’ve only met her public persona. To me she’s Sunssword, just not wearing garb. She taught me cloud-diving. In fact, Janie, you knew she was Lafayette, but you never told me. That’s you being gifttrue.”
“Bragging rights!” Brian announced. “Grandmasters come to Medford to learn City of Steel from my sister. The guys will never top this. Not even if they get home runs off the Boston Doves’ lead pitcher.”
“I think we agree,” Patrick said. “My Federal research support is about to be reviewed. Having Speaker Ming remember me favorably is desirable. Unless Janie has really strong objections.”
“Just so they don’t ask me about my other variants on that move.” She paused, thinking. “No, I can tell them about the variants. And champion,” Janie explained, “means a government persona shows up to talk. You get your own persona to watch your back.”