Florence de Lattre
by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold
She was just a girl in the Armies of the Sun, Florence de Lattre. She would have been ordinary, save that her skin was a shade almost mauve--causing the military doctors no end of distress, solved only by dread incantations of dermatitis pigmentosa and much jabbing of needles--and she always smelled faintly of flowers.
Roses, to be precise.
Despite her name, Florence de Lattre was English. Despite her country, she spoke German like a native. Despite her languages, she served in the Armies of the Sun, those thinspread defenders of reason and human purity in a world gone to moonlight and lovers howling in midnight gardens.
(It had been true, once, that people walked the Earth under both daylight and star light, with traffic signals and street lamps to guide their way amid the armor of ordinariness. But this was no more, as any child could tell, that had not yet been stolen by boggarts or perhaps feyshot. The weapons of the Armies of the Moon were no less terrible than those of the Sun. Just different.)
Florence believed in one thing with a passion: the perfectibility of purpose.
It was a strange passion, but since her first halting steps beneath the pear tree in the garden of her birth, Florence had always craved a higher purpose, a Great Work in her life. When she grew old enough to understand why decent folk barred their doors at dusk and hung their armored shutters with silver and garlic, she knew she would find her Great Work in the Armies of the Sun. Her father had been a war planner for the forces of reason, her mother a logistician (who had ceaselessly wept from a broken heart, but that is a different story), and so she grew up infused with and strengthened in this purpose.