Ideal Insurgent

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Nayna and Bryder were the two top analysts for the Randian Empire, depended upon to provide recommendation and options when facing unknown planets and ruthless enemies. But the Empire is the worst of them all. In less than two hundred years, the Randian Empire had expanded from one threatened world to over a hundred allied or subjugated worlds.

Nayna was the best analyst in the known universe. That wasn't just Bryder's opinion, but accepted by all as fact. Behind her back, even to her face, she was compared to a machine, a computer, and even a robot so precise and detailed were her analyses, so accurate were her predictions. They thought she was as just as cold and soulless as a machine.

Bryder knew better.

Oh, they weren't exaggerating her intelligence. Her mind was incredible, effortlessly sifting and analyzing details and big picture implications and making something useful from it. But, no machine could put things together like she could and see the implications with such a dearth of useful data.

She was too valuable for the brass to piss off, as they might if they tried to manhandle her. She was too scary for the other analysts to try to get close to. Only Bryder was willing to interact with her at all, except for discussing analyses. Only Bryder wanted to be her friend. Actually, Bryder thought ruefully, he wanted a hell of a lot more than that.

Bryder was no ordinary analyst as he'd spent years working as an agent as well as analyzing enemies. No one's instincts were sharper or intelligence network better, but he didn't want to leave without Nayna. But she has never known any world but service to the Empire. What would it take to risk an escape?

And if they managed to leave, how could he convince her to help him take down the Empire?. After all, Bryder was well-suited for this task, a chaos agent with blazing good luck, a grudge against the Empire, and contacts with rebels throughout the Empire.

But Nayna was the one they'd really have to watch out for.

Cover by Brendan Smith


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