QSFer K. Aten has a new FF sci-fi/steampunk romance out (bi/lesbian), Mystery of the Makers Book 2: “The Lost Temple of Psiere.”
As the heir to the throne, Royal Connate Olivienne Dracore cannot escape having a Shield team protecting her wherever she goes. However, with the addition of Shield Commander Castellan Tosh, she has a team that doesn’t just guard her person but also aids in her job as a historical adventurist. Olivienne knows without a doubt that together they can unravel the Divine Mystery of who the Makers were, and why they created the great temples.
With the conclusion of their last mission, Olivienne acquired the map needed to find the mysterious third great temple of Psiere. And there is no better company on a mission than her beloved commander. But before they can leave to brave the dangers of the unknown, they must brave their own oathing ceremony. They will need each other for the coming adventure because, as with all things related to the Makers, mystery often begets mystery and danger is always just one wrong step away. Especially when the prize is something that could change Psiere forever.
THE DAE OF the oathing ceremony arrived early for Castellan Tosh. It wasn’t nerves that had her up and about before the first sunrise. It was an official missive from General Renou that pulled her from her warm bed and Olivienne’s embrace. Her lover was most displeased but knew that Tosh had a duty to perform and whatever news it was would concern Olivienne’s own safety.
“Return swiftly, my love.”
Castellan finished straightening her black uniform and slipped her pistol into the holster. Then with a little grin, she gave the reclining woman a jaunty salute with her hand flourishing at chest level. “Yes, ser.”
Olivienne apported the pistol into her own hand, knowing it would draw Castellan across the room one last time. “You’re forgetting something.”
The officer crossed the room in five long strides. “I’ve forgotten nothing.” Castellan leaned in and gave Olivienne a deeply tender kiss before sliding the pistol from her hand and holstering it once again. “I’ll be back as soon as I’m able. Until then, contact Savon if anything comes up.”
Olivienne gave her own smirk and saluted. “Yes, ser.” She continued to stare at the door for a few meens after Castellan left, then gave a great sigh and pulled herself from beneath the coverlets. “I may as well get up now as there will be no sleep in a bed gone cold.” The ceremony wasn’t scheduled until fifteen hundred oors so she dressed in comfortable clothing with the intention of getting a bit of exercise until Castellan returned. She thought about the ceremony to come and snickered to herself. “I hope she doesn’t suffer a faint.”
Across the city in General Renou’s office, Castellan was surprised to see not only Captain Torrin, but the Queen herself. She gave a quick salute to all, and bowed to the Queen. “My Queen! General, Captain. What news?”
Renou waved toward the one free chair. “Have a seat Tosh. We had another prediction, a clairvoyant one about todae’s ceremony.”
“Was it Kensata again, ser?”
The short, gray-haired general shook her head. “No. It was one of the interpretists working at the temple. She also has a four rating clairvoyant channel and happened to arrive early todae. As she opened the main door into the temple, she got a premonition of pistol fire and screaming. She reported it to her superiors right away and they called me.”
The Queen sat forward in her seat. “What is your plan, General?”
“I’ve initiated a sweep of all the public rooms in the temple. As you know, many areas are locked and require a high security level to access so I thought we would be safe to search only the public areas. I’ve made sure each team searching has either a prescient channel or clairvoyant channel specialist with them. My other suggestion is to close the ceremony to all but immediate family, Corp heads, and a few well-vetted broadsheet representatives. That way the news will still go out with the appropriate stills for the public.”
Queen Olivara pondered the changed plans for a meen. “And what of the traditional weke long oathing trip? I want to be sure my daughter is safe and secure.”
Cpt. Torrin laughed and when three pairs of eyes turned his way, he quickly explained himself to the group. “My apologies, but I’m having a hard time imagining the Connate sitting someplace safe and cozy for an entire weke.”
Olivara sighed. “It’s true. Olivienne doesn’t idle well.”
“My Queen, if I may?”
“Go ahead, Commander.”
“I thought of the Connate’s safety when I arranged our trip. Rather than head to a traditional holidae location, I arranged a short adventurist mission on the Island of Instrucia. No one is aware of our destination save my team and all supplies have been checked by clairvoyants and canid teams before locking it securely away, to be sure no tampering has taken place.”
“An adventurist mission you say?”
“Yes, General. There was a secure translation that came in from Interpretist Cadentia that she had flagged as interesting. It mentions the Temple of Antaeus, but also speaks of a cave or system of caves in the forested hills, north of Scola. While there are no coordinates for the cave, there were landmarks listed that I’ve cross-referenced with local maps of the island. Not only will the Connate be safe and isolated from potential ill-wishers, but she’ll also be happy doing what she loves.”
Torrin remained silent while General Renou sat back with a thoughtful look on her face. It was the Queen who actually commented on the plan. “That doesn’t sound like much of a holidae to celebrate your oathing, Commander.”
Castellan colored slightly. “While I was the one to set the plan in motion, I left the planning and security of it to my lieutenants. And to be completely honest,” she glanced around the small office, “I enjoy the adventurist parts of our missions. As does my team. I think it will be a welcome break for all of us from the hyper-vigilant security we’ve maintained the past few wekes in the capital.”
Renou rapped her knuckles on the top of her desk. “Very well then, as long as the Queen approves…” She glanced toward their sovereign.
“And she does.”
“Then I’d say you’re all set to go. Now you just need to make it through your Oathing Ceremony, Tosh.”
Castellan swallowed nervously. “I’ll try my best, ser.”
They all laughed as they stood and three of them made their way out of the office.
Award winning author and Michigan native, Kelly Aten-Keilen brings heroines to life in a variety of blended LGBTQ fiction genres. She specializes in speculative fiction, focusing on extra-ordinary women who are as flawed as they are compelling. She’s not afraid of pain or adversity, but loves a happy ending. Kelly’s goal with each new novel is to make people #Think, #Feel, and #Discuss.
“Some words end the silence, others begin it.”