Hi, everyone! I've managed to get this down to about 1,700 words. It isn't bad, but I will be happy to consider any and all suggestions for improving it.
Draft attempt at summary for HONOR
On the planet Telanan, several kilometers outside the city of Dry Rivers, two teenagers declare themselves dead. They are about to commit a crime, and hope to protect their family by renouncing them.
Ten years earlier, when the boy, KIRIL (pov), is six, his father wins a servant woman gambling with MARAKIS, a powerful nobleman. Like all his people, Kiril believes slaves are inferior, lacking courage and honor. The indigenous Arimi people are slaves because they would not fight; the Telaka, on the other hand, would rather die in battle than be taken prisoner. HELEN, an alien from Terra, is a prisoner of war. But Kirilís mother is dead, and Helen begins to act as a second mother to him. She tells him stories and teaches him fencing, as his own mother would have done had she lived. Gradually he comes to respect and love her. His cousins, SKEL (pov) and THANIKE (pov), learn from Helen as well. Thanike (Niki for short) is a bright little girl who dreams about traveling among the stars, and Helen sparks her imagination. Skel practices fencing with Kiril, and comes to respect Helen, who coaches both of them.
In the spring of her second year on Telanan, Helen becomes pregnant by Kirilís father. That autumn, as she struggles to give birth, Kiril bargains with a healer to come and tend to her. Helen delivers a son, and Kirilís father accepts the child as a member of his clan. Helen, however, dies of childbed fever, in spite of the healerís efforts. Before she dies, she asks Kiril to take care of his brother. Kiril promises that he will always look after Kennet.
As Kiril grows up he, becomes aware of tension between his father and Lord Marakis. Marakis often gambles with Kirilís father, who believes it would be impious to refuse, especially since Marakis, a noble, is deigning to game with a commoner. But Kiril worries about what will happen if his father loses.
The spring the boys are fifteen, a messenger from Lord Marakis comes to the farm and insists that Kirilís father give Marakis a little Arimi girl. Kirilís father refuses. When the servant presses the point, Kiril speaks up for his father. As the son of a noble woman, he has the right to duel Marakis, and he tells the messenger to convey his challenge to the lord. If he wins, the gods will have proven that his father was telling the truth.
That afternoon, Kiril and Skel go to Marakisís house in the city. When they announce themselves, Marakis first attacks Kiril without warning, and then attempts to assassinate the boy by stealth. Kiril manages to win the duel. But, although Marakis is forced to concede, he threatens Kirilís family.
Later that summer, Kiril begins to teach Kennet fencing and to tell the little boy some of his motherís stories. When the three teenagers leave for high school in the port city, all seems peaceful.
But that peace is shattered by late autumn. When Niki visits the farm after returning from high school, she finds that everyone is out looking for Kennet. She spotted glider tracks in the snow on the way, and deduces that the glider chased the little boy. Kiril agrees; he is sure the glider belongs to Lord Marakis. But, other than an overheard conversation and one footprint, they have no proof. Marakis is one of the high nobles, so Kiril cannot duel him without proof and witnesses. Niki persuades Kiril that the best way to rescue Kennet is to hack into the Net and embezzle funds from Marakis so that they can purchase the little boy back. But, if they do this, they will be criminals. And their family will be punished for any crime they commit Ė unless they renounce their clan and declare themselves dead before the gods.
While the teens make these plans, their elders are attempting to rescue Kennet in their own way. They lodge a formal complaint with the high nobles, who will hold court in the spring. Skel is certain that they will win their case and get the little boy back, and, as the three cousins head home for the midwinter festival of the New Sun, Niki becomes hopeful. She knows one of the chief nobles is a good man; his daughter is a friend of hers. Perhaps they will really be able to rescue Kennet by legal means.
But, as she and her parents travel to the farm for the festival, they spot an Arimi slave boy who has been blinded in one eye and who is missing one arm at the elbow. When Niki and her mother talk to him, they learn that he worked carrying explosives in Marakisís mines. Suddenly Kennetís danger is overwhelmingly real to Niki. She realizes that she and Kiril must carry out their plan. Three days later, they slip out of the house and film their declaration.
The next month, as Skel is waiting for his cousins to travel home with him, he sees the declaration on the government holo channel. Now he understands why Kiril and Niki have been keeping secrets from him. Heís angry and upset that they didnít trust him enough to tell him what they were planning. The next day, the police come to the farm and use a truth serum on the entire household, including the Arimi servants. But no one can tell them anything about Kiril and Niki.
Niki has managed to hack into the Net and to purchase Kennet back. At the market place in the Port city, she takes delivery of him. Then Kiril smuggles Kennet, Niki and himself into a loading tube designed to carry live plants into space. They make it safely onto a Terran ship, where Kiril immediately surrenders to the man who finds them. Though shocked and bewildered, Niki and Kennet follow his example.
The man who discovers them brings them to the captain, who asks if they are seeking asylum. Kiril tells her they are. Understanding that the two teenagers will be severely punished if they return to Telanan, the captain agrees to take them to New Terra.
Meanwhile, on Telanan, Skel and the rest of the family try to cope with their loss. Skel deduces that his cousin has gone to the Terrans. Later, when he goes to the market, he sees Kirilís father challenge lord Marakis and demand that the man return his sons. Marakis is furious and strikes and insults Kirilís father.
Later that winter, the family receives permission to hunt in the Emperorís reserve. As they wait in ambush, Kirilís father is shot and killed. A horrified stranger apologizes repeatedly for the tragic accident. This man is a member of Marakisís group, who were hunting nearby, and Skel notices that Marakis is pleased. The teen and his father are certain that it was actually Marakis who killed Kirilís father. But, as with Kennetís kidnapping, they have no proof.
As he conducts the ceremony to send his uncleís soul to the gods, Skel tries to plan how he will get word to Kiril. He is still thinking out his plan when he returns to school at the port city. During a half-holiday, as he and his classmates watch Marakis being honored by the emperor, they see the man choke to death. The gods have punished him for his crimes. Skel is more determined than ever to get word to his cousins. He decides to send two servant children to the Terrans bearing the news from home, and also Kirilís sword, his inheritance from his dead mother.
Helenís brother has taken Kennet to live with him on Terra, but, as enemy aliens, Niki and Kiril cannot go. They must remain on New Terra. The teens struggle to adapt to their new environment. Both of them long to return to Telanan and take their punishment. That would make things right for their family, but the Terrans will not allow it.
While the teens are still in limbo, Kiril gets a message from the spaceport; he is to go there at once. Kiril is astonished to see a young Arimi serf from the farm. The boy tells Kiril the news from home. He is deeply upset because he no longer has the sword Skel entrusted to him: the Terrans took it from him and will not give it back. Kiril, for his part, blames himself for his fatherís death. He had a chance to kill Marakis when he first dueled him. Had he done so, they would all be safe at home and his father would still be alive. Everything that has happened is his fault.
Niki tries to get him to see things differently. She explains that he cannot be responsible for Marakisís actions; she is relieved because she now knows, from the young servant boy, that her parents have forgiven her and Kiril, and that no harm has come to them. She still hopes to see them, if the gods allow it, and she tells Kiril that he should think of the mercy of the gods.
At this juncture, Niki and Kiril get permission to attend classes at the junior college. Niki discovers that there is a fencing club, and tries to get Kiril to join, but he is not interested. Some days later, his guardian brings him his motherís sword. Kiril performs the first exercise he ever learned with the sword, and tells his guardians the story that goes with it, a story of the justice of the gods. Then he goes outside, empty-handed, and continues practicing the five blows. As he works, Kiril understands that his cousins are right. The gods are just, but they can also be merciful. Although he did not expect to live after rescuing his brother, the gods have granted him life, and he resolves to accept that gift, as he accepts his cousinís forgiveness. Kiril is no longer frozen with grief. He can start to mourn his losses, and begin to make a life in this new world.