Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise
(c) Jodi Ralston
(c) Jodi Ralston
Maha gestured me to a chair and bid me to sit.
I declined. And pulled out another special blend cigarette to replace the dying one. Lit it from it. After a deep puff, I asked, "How long have the Regulators been deceased?"
That put her out of sorts. After a moment of a recalculation on her part, she answered, "Six months after you were exiled." She eyed the cig. "Put that out. You know regulations."
I ignored her and stubbed the dead on out on my hip and flicked it into her gold-plated trash basket. Even it bore her name. "Six months. Exactly how long ago was that?"
She gave me a look. Then gave my cig a new one. Considering the damage smokes have done to my mind, eh? I tapped it on a paper-free edge of her almost entirely-paper-free desk. Her face alternately colored than paled. Then firming her look, she ponied up, "Six months ago."
A year. A year. A year. One godsdammned year. That was how they counted the time they robbed me of. One year.  My fingers crushed the cig better than my heel ever could. I pocketed it. Waste not, want not.
"You seem surprised, Walker."
And she had gone blind in the interim. Surprise was the least my emotions. Then again, she always found it easy to read what she wanted to in me.
After a moment, I managed plainly enough, "Time flows differently when you are the other side of the equation, Colonel."
Her title was like a slap. And she returned to the true business at hand, moving to slide behind her desk. Keeping her desk and duty between us. She was always good at that. "You are the current sole heir as Regulator to both Lands, Walker." 
Footnotes, spoiler-heavy. Some sections have been whited out, so that if you want know, highlight the area with your mouse.
 It will be explained later on that due to a device on Paradise, his place of exile, he has been gone far longer than one year. It was in fact, 50 years by his reckoning. How did he survive that, without aging? Well, I have a few excuses in place, but he won't learn the real reason until probably Novel No. 3. Back to story.
 In novel number one, in Romeo and Juliet fashion, the heiress of the Regulator's from the Land he calls home married the heir of the other Land. In the first novel, couriers are introduced. They can carry objects, magically miniaturized inside themselves. They can even carry souls, memory, personality. Walker is a former courier (no one know this, it is illegal for mehnsettirs to be one), and due to circumstances, he ended up carrying the heiress inside himself and having to marry the heir in her name. His too--for, in this world, there are such things as name-marriages, or in name only marriages. This is the type of marriage he has to both heirs. The main purpose of this kind of marriage is usually to marry an heir to his or her sibling. This makes it so that all children of either person can be potentially heirs, along with the sibling, without the siblings having to actually have children together. Sorry, I found the whole sibling-marriage thing of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt icky. This is how I used that penchant but got around it too for my higher-ups.