In Eden's Green Embrace
In the wake of a ship's rebellion that left the aircraft in the hands of authorities and its crew either imprisoned or hospitalized, former Captain Alberta Ramira finds herself in need of work and out of a ship while law enforcement finishes investigating the incident. She joins the "ferkeeps," a unit of law enforcement tasked with making sure expectant mothers are healthy and abstaining from substances that could be harmful to their unborn children. Although Ramira is initially unhappy with her temporary new job, she quickly becomes enmeshed with her colleagues, especially one, Turi, for whom she develops feelings. That sense of camaraderie presents a challenge when she is approached by one of the investigators offering the immediate return"”and upgrade"”of her ship if she will only testify against her colleagues for enabling drug use and trade among their clients. Meanwhile, Niagara, recovering from her physical and emotional wounds from the ship's rebellion, is whisked away at the behest of her mother, colony chancellor, on a luxury spaceship carrying diplomats to the colony's capital on Terra for the upcoming legislative session. Under constant guard should anyone threaten the chancellor's daughter, Niagara has to forget the norms of her last four years as an indentured sailor and brush up on her social graces. But when the indentured on that ship rebel, she has to use both halves of herself to strike a compromise between indentured and the captain to ensure they all reach Terra safely. As Ramira and Niagara struggle against the social and civic structures in more civilized climes, Vicky heads for the wilds of Eden, plunging into a perilous forest in search of an expert on the language and culture of the aliens who previously occupied the planets in the colony. The trees and vines are hard enough to cut through without strange and bloodthirsty animals and insects lurking nearby, and despite her most careful efforts, Vicky is seriously wounded. She finds help, though, in a commune of colony deserters hiding in the center of the forest. The expert she was looking for is there, too. Vicky must decide if she will stay safe in the commune, cut off from her family and friends but free of the obligations waiting for her within the colony's reach, or brave the forest again to return to civilization.