Game: Nova

As seen in

by J. I. Rogers

by J. I. Rogers

by J. I. Rogers

For those who have read the series, but don't remember instances where Nova was referenced, here is a reminder from book 2.
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~ The Korpes Agenda - Chapter 5: “Not in the Cards”

The multi-faceted spires of Riva Cluster glittered like jewels as they reflected the light of the setting sun. The spectrum of the dome added a warming tint making the vista even more spectacular. Jacob Ason found the view inspiring; it reminded him of a decadent, metal version of the Painted Dunes of Ankoresh. The city still hid its decay well. All this could be lost in my lifetime if I don’t do something. He drew a deep breath and resigned himself to his duty. Jacob retreated from the balcony and entered the penthouse suite, taking his place at the small card table. The consort had poured him a drink in his absence, which he acknowledged with a gentle nod of his head.

“Shall I begin, sir?” The young woman asked the other man in the room.

“Of course, Anika.” Kaspar Isoldrun poured himself another drink before he checked the cards he’d just been dealt. He covered his disappointment with a cavalier grin. “She’s bringing me luck, again.”

“We’ll see.” Jacob discarded two and accepted the replacements; he didn’t bother to check them. His eyes were drawn back to the fading sunset.

“Feeling bold, I see. Shall we double the bet?” Kaspar added a handful of chits to the collection between them.

“Hmmm?” Jacob drummed his fingers on his cards; his trademark vague smile crossed his lips. “What was that?”

“You seem distracted tonight. Don’t tell me crime isn’t lucrative anymore?” Kaspar’s expression became predatory.

“Crime always pays… unless you let someone bury themselves too deep in your pockets.”

It was said. A charged silence built between them as the council member and the crime lord studied each other.

Kaspar took a swig of his Klyste then set the tumbler down with a heavy thunk. “Nonsense. I don’t owe you that much.”

“When was the last time you tallied? You’re only solvent because I haven’t called in your debts. I’m afraid I can’t afford your extravagances anymore. I have other business ventures that require the capital to move forward.”

“You can’t afford… who you think you’re talking to, Ason? Whose family acknowledged yours, gave your by-blow mother Rank and breeding rights? Your whole family line only exists because of mine.”

“It was by your father’s grace that the Ason family thrives, not yours. Still, I haven’t forgotten that duty is owed; blood is blood after all—”

Kaspar’s expression soured. “Enough. We’re here to play Nova.”

“The game can wait. For the good of Riva, you must get yourself on track. I offer whatever support I can as family—”

“Family!” Kaspar grimaced with distaste.

Jacob pushed all his chits to the center of the table. “Let me speak to you in a way that you value then. Let’s let this single hand decide the matter. If you beat me, I’ll forgive all debts and let the subject drop, but, if I win… things change.” He tapped his fingers on his cards twice. “Igni.”

“You can’t be serious?”

“The evidence is on the table before you.”

Kaspar tallied the chits with a practiced eye and tapped his fingers on his cards twice. “Igni.” He flipped them over with a flourish.

“Three dark and two… low solari,” Anika announced softly.

A hush settled over the room as Jacob turned his cards over, one at a time.

“A stellium; five bright. Mister Ason has the high hand.”

Jacob raised an eyebrow as he locked eyes with Kaspar. “Your cards, your dealer, and your game, yet it seems fortune sides with me.”

“Anika, leave.”

They waited until the courtesan had closed the door.

“How dare you embarrass me like that in front of her.”

Jacob shrugged indifferently. “She didn’t hear anything she didn’t already know. Half of Korlune is aware you’ve let your addictions get the better of you. You need help; accept it.”

“This ‘help’ you suggest I get would take what form?”

“A full detox at a clinic to start. I give you my word that I’ll forgive your debts if you do this… Once you’re clean, we can set about rebuilding Riva, together.”

Kaspar’s face reddened in outrage. “I will not check into a clinic—”

“Why not? Others have; even those with bloodlines that go back as far as yours—”

“They are not Isoldrun. Our family will never be perceived as weak as long as I’m alive.”

“Then bring someone in; it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s the result that counts.”

“No. Things shall continue as they have… with your family’s patronage. That is my final word on the matter.”

“You’re not honoring the terms of the wager then?”

“I recall no bet.”

The crime lord finished his drink and stood. “Good night, Kaspar.” With that, he turned and left.

The council member slowly stacked the chits in piles of ten then made a call.

by J. I. Rogers
by J. I. Rogers
by J. I. Rogers
by J. I. Rogers


Cover image: by J. I. Rogers

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