QSFer K. Aten has a new FF sci fi/steampunk romance ou, book one in the Mystery of the Makers series: The Sovereign Of Psiere.
Psiere is a world of intrigue where old ideology meets new. The Makers built massive pyramids on each continent and filled them with encrypted texts and advanced technology. The two suns, Archeos and Illeos shine down on a mostly undiscovered planet with a psionic race of people living on land, and violent sea people below the water. The Queen seeks to make the world a better place for all Psierians but her daughter, Royal Sovereign Connate Olivienne Dracore, seeks only to solve the Divine Mystery.
The connate makes her living as a historical adventurist and wants the answer to two important questions. Who were the Makers and where did they go? Because she is the heir, Olivienne travels with a security force and resents it every moment. Every one of her captains has either quit or been injured trying to keep up with the risk-taking woman. That’s where Commander Castellan Tosh comes in. Capable, confident, and oh-so-dashing, she is forced to switch career corps to take charge of Olivienne’s team. Sparks fly from the moment they meet and things only get hotter as they chase down the clues to the greatest mystery of all time.
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Castellan’s hair had wet enough that a lock fell down into her eyes. She took a sec to slick it back off her face, then she clasped Rep. Gordy’s hand in her own. “Lieutenant Commander Tosh, and behind me are Royal Sovereign Connate Dracore, Doctore Gemeda Shen, and the Connate’s Shield unit. It is Lieutenant Savon who is responsible for this stop. Your plans to wait will not work since he had a precog of a flash flood coming down from the mountains. I’m afraid your children are not safe where they are.”
Rep. Gordy didn’t know which shock to respond to first. The fact that the royal heir was soaking in the rain in front of her, or that danger was at their doorstep. She bowed toward the sovereign. “Connate Dracore, it is an honor to meet you!” She turned her attention to the man that had accompanied her. He was young and had a similar look about him so Castellan thought maybe he was Rep. Gordy’s son. “Gevin, take the moto and go round up your papan and the rescue crew. And hurry! Have them meet us at the dock.”
She turned back to their group. “If you’ll follow me, the dock isn’t far from here.” She gestured down a path that ran perpendicular to the railer tracks. Nearly twenty yords farther down the railer line there was a bridge that crossed the Mir Ataq. The river wasn’t very large but the bridge itself was quite high, a testament to the fact that spring floods were not that uncommon in the region.
The group took off at a fast jog down the slippery path. Castellan glanced at the Connate out of the corner of her eye, surprised that the royal was keeping up with no effort. Dre. Shen had no problems but Castellan knew that her friend kept up a strict exercise regimen that started back when they served on the east coast of Endara together. Gemeda acted as though she were a hundred rotos old with her proper seriousness. But in all actuality they were the same age and had come through the academy in the same class. They both went to officer school together then on to serve in the Psi Defense Corp. But when the Psi Medi Corp was low on members, they recruited Gemeda and she left with the chance of faster advancement rather than continue along the military track. She had more opportunities and better appointments through the Psi Medi Corp as well.
About five meens after they started out, the path brought the group to a park. Rain and wind lashed at them, soaking Tosh’s shirt and causing it to stick to her skin. The dock itself was on floats, another indicator that the river rose up and down with some frequency. Castellan could immediately see why they decided to wait on rescue. The water was both fast and deep, running from right to left. On top of the hazardous current, there was also a lot of debris in the water, including entire trees. Any boat attempting to cross would be on a suicide mission. Olivienne was thinking the same thing and turned to the Representative of Vesper. “Does your town have a high telekinetic or teleporter?”
Rep. Gordy shook her head regretfully. “No, our last high channel went off to Academy this past spring.”
“So you have no hard channels that could help?”
The older woman grimaced. “I’m sorry, Connate Dracore, but no we don’t.”
Castellan looked at the Connate curiously. “You’re a royal, and you mentioned being high Psi. What are your channels?”
Olivienne frowned but listed them off anyway. “Awareness, telepathy, pyrokinesis, and apportation, and low channel teleportation. I’m afraid none of those could help this situation. I could wish a million times over for my teleportation channel to be higher, but unfortunately I can’t pull more than a small animal if it’s something alive. I’m stuck primarily with the inanimate.”
Lt. Commander Tosh straightened, a determined glint in her eye. “Don’t be too sure that your channel is so useless, Connate Dracore.” She peered across to the island, driving rain impeding her view. “Do you think you could apport float vests over to the island?”
Olivienne gazed out over the tumultuous water. “Do you have a spyglass?” Castellan pulled one out of her pouch and handed it over. After a few secs of struggling to peer through the wet gloom, the Connate collapsed the device and handed it back to Castellan. She could just make out the shelter on the small island and the huddled children inside. “Yes, I could do that.”
Tosh looked around and spied a boathouse. She removed her pistol holder and her ever-present leather pouch and handed them to Gemeda then addressed the Connate. “Come!” She broke into run, knowing that every single sec counted. Seeing her intention, the Connate handed off her own gear to Savon and made haste after her. She was followed closely by her Shield guardians. When they reached the boathouse ten yords away, Castellan found it locked. She abruptly pulled up and gave a great kick to the door, splintering it open. Inside they retrieved the only five float vests stored within. It would do. She handed them one by one to the Connate and just as fast Olivienne apported them out to the island. At the same time Castellan reached out with her mind to make contact with any of the children in the group.
She found one mind with the telepathy channel and pushed slightly to make her presence known. The child, a boy on the cusp of puberty, responded. “Hello?”
“Do not be frightened. My name is Castellan and we will get you to safety. But you must put the float vests on just in case the water rises further. Okay?”
Castellan didn’t have the empathy channel but the colliding thoughts in the boys head indicated relief. Indistinct words like happy, sad, scared, and cold bombarded her through their connection. “Thank you, and please hurry. Water is almost to the shelter!”
“We will hurry. Tell me one thing, is your boat still there?”
“No, the river took it.”
She pulled out of the connection and turned to the Connate as they jogged down to the floating dock. “Did you hear?”
Olivienne nodded. “What is your plan?”
“There is only one thing I can do. I’m going to have to go get them. I will levitate across the river to the island with a boat, load them up, and bring them back.”
The Connate looked Castellan up and down with surprise. “You can do all that?”
Ever the unflappable professional, the lt. commander responded with confidence. “Of course. I’m a five channel high Psi. My telekinesis is rated a six, I think I can manage a few kids and a boat.”
Olivienne’s eyebrows rose with the commander’s words as they joined the rest of the group at the edge of the dock. “You! You’re the Hero of Temple Beach?”
“Yes she is, why do you ask?” Of course Dre. Shen only heard the Connate’s question, not the preceding conversation.
“She’s going to levitate a boat out to the island to get the kids and bring it back.”
Gemeda looked like she was going to protest but Castellan held up a hand. “This needs to be done, Gem, damn the consequences.” The sense of unease she had been feeling since being on the railer increased and she knew she had to act. Without another word to the group, she jogged over to the nearest boat that looked like it would hold five kids and cut the line with a knife on her belt. It was the only item she hadn’t removed when she stripped her tools and devices. Then before the river could rip it away from the dock, she lifted the boat into the air.
As the boat rose above the river, so too did she. It was harder than she thought it would be. Though her strength had long returned to her depleted channels, using her telekinesis felt a lot like touching a hot brand with an already burnt hand. Castellan’s channel throbbed sickly and pain flared through her temples. Her face a study in concentration as she went, all the group on shore could do was watch and wait.
Curiosity niggled at the back of Olivienne’s mind and she addressed Dre. Shen. “What were you going to say to her when she stopped you?”
Gemeda clenched her fists, knowing exactly how much pain Castellan would be in. “Her actions at Temple Beach strained her telekinetic channel yesterdae, practically burned it out and depleted her reserves at the same time.”
“What? Is she insane? If the pain overwhelms her she’ll drop them all!”
Dre. Shen shook her head. “She’ll drop herself first, unconscious into the water if need be. We should stand ready just in case.”
The entire group moved to the top of the hill nearest the dock as rain continued to lash at them. Lt. Savon gave warning when another precog hit. “Connate Dracore, we only have meens until the flood. Perhaps we should move back to a safer distance—”
“No! We will stay here and wait.” Mentally she sent warning to Tosh. “Hurry, Savon says we only have meens ’til the flood!”
“We are on our way.”
Sure enough, within the next meen they saw the small boat appear through the gloom, floating just above the water. Castellan and the boat barely cleared the frothing waves below. The pain of her strained channel was preventing her from expending the amount of effort that a greater height would require. The salvo team and medicans, arrived while they had been waiting. The trained men and women were ready to swoop in and tend to the kids the meen the boat landed. Much to the dismay of them all, the boat full of children and Tosh stopped about ten yords out from the shoreline. Even from that distance in the rain, Castellan’s face showed the agony she was in.
“She’s not going to make it…can’t make it…” Olivienne wasn’t sure who said it, but she hated the words. It was Gemeda who countered them.
“She’ll make it or die trying. There is no can’t in Castellan’s lexicon.”
A great roar sounded upriver to the right. Castellan’s face turned toward the sound and with the motivation of fear for the kids she gave a great mental shove that sent the boat halfway up the side of the hill. Unfortunately that push stole her consciousness, plunging her into the icy water below.
Olivienne didn’t even think about the consequences of her actions. She apported two of the float vests from the kids that were safely ashore and sprinted toward the water. Savon called out to her just before she dove in. While the Connate was an excellent swimmer, nothing had prepared her for the raging and abusive current. When she broke the surface, she saw Castellan’s head pop up as well, the plunge having brought her awake again. She screamed into the other woman’s mind. “Catch!”Then she apported the other float vest into her hands.
Olivienne took valuable secs to secure her own vest, ever conscious of the wall of water that she knew was coming. She winced when a small tree limb glanced off the back of her head but she didn’t take her eyes off the lt. commander. Tosh had only succeeded in draping the float vest around her neck, but it was not secured. The Connate swam as hard as she could, angling toward the barely conscious soldier. By a stroke of blind luck, she made it to the lt. commander and wrapped her arms securely around the woman just as the flood hit. She held on as tight she could, not only to Tosh, but to the strap of Tosh’s vest as well. It wouldn’t do to lose the one thing that was keeping her afloat.
Castellan roused slightly, struggling in the unfamiliar grip as they were tossed about. “What…?”
Olivienne soothed her mentally. “It’s okay, just don’t let go.”
The soldier twisted her head to look upon the Connate with dismay. “If something happens to you the Queen will kill me—look out!”
Award winning author and Michigan native, K. Aten brings heroines to life in a variety of blended LGBTQ fiction genres. She’s not afraid of pain or adversity, but loves a happy ending. “Some words end the silence, others begin it.”
Author at Regal Crest Enterprises
Reviewer at The Lesbian Review