Tentative title: “The Frost on Jade Buds”
On the comms-image, Chi looked much as Thuy remembered her: tall and thin and dour, almost skeletal, as if what had had happened to her in her youth still stifled her metabolism–and, in truth, perhaps it did. Neither Thuy nor any of the family–or, indeed, any inhabitant of the Scattered Pearls Belt–really knew the full extent of what happened to her, or how to reverse it.
“You look well, elder sister,” Chi said. The words would have suited the imperial court; would have been appropriate for an elder of Chi’s generation. There were other, more familiar ones, more suitable for the sister’s of one’s blood; and Chi could have used them. She could have pretended to care. But of course she no longer bothered.
With two mindsships–and orbitals–and horrific weapons!
And why, yes, I procrastinate by writing Xuya mindship stories (well, OK, not quite procrastination, it was a commission). Now to clean up the mess of the first draft…