I noticed through my Facebook Book group one author whose work and background stood out as someone to watch and hope you all take a look at her work as she has an impressive resume along with some very interesting books!
Below is an excerpt from “Architects of Destiny”, the first volume in the Cadicle space opera series.
At this point in the story, Cris Sietinen, heir to the most influential High Dynasty in the galaxy-spanning Taran empire, has escaped his life on Tararia. He hopes to learn more about his telekinetic abilities, which the Priesthood has outlawed in the central worlds, but joining the only sanctioned telekinesis training program with the TSS is still a distant aspiration. Under the assumed identify of “Cris Sights”, he has secured a position as Navigator aboard the cargo freighter Exler. He’s tried to keep a low profile, but the heir to a High Dynasty can only stay hidden for so long.
Cris strolled through the Elarine spaceport, thankful to be on leave from the delivery routine. Even a stopover at Elarine is better than being cooped up on the Exler.
The selection of wares in the shops was limited and bland compared to those in the larger ports, but it passed the time. He wandered from shop to shop, keeping to himself. There were few travelers in the corridors, and most of the shopkeepers seemed disinterested until someone wanted to make a purchase.
As Cris came out of one of the establishments, he was startled to see two men watching him from across the hall. They were dressed entirely in black, with tinted glasses and sleek overcoats that hung to their knees—a stark contrast to the colorful merchants. He tensed. Something about them felt unusual.
He shook off the uneasy feeling and headed down the corridor deeper into the port, wanting to distance himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the men were heading in his direction.
Who could they be? He thought for a moment. Stars! Are they my parent’s detectives? Bomax, I probably gave myself away in that argument during our last stopover at Aldria. Pulse racing, Cris abruptly turned around to hurry back toward the Exler. To his dismay, the men followed.
I can’t let them take me back! Cris broke into a run. He came to the central mall of the port and darted through the crowd, careful to avoid colliding with any of the travelers. When he came to an intersection, he nimbly stepped off to the side and sprinted around a bend in the hall in an attempt to evade the two men. He took a few more turns, but he soon found himself in a dead-end passage. Shite! Where can I go?
Cris halted. He was about to wheel around, but in the stillness noticed the pounding of footsteps right behind him.
Before he could turn, Cris was thrown to the ground, tackled from behind. With his arms pinned to his sides in a horrific embrace, he fell forward. Lurching to the side, his shoulder took the hit to avoid smacking his head on the metal deck plates. He rolled to his stomach, weighted down. Someone was on his back. Cris’ hands found the floor, and he pushed up, throwing all of his weight sideways to flip his assailant to the ground and crush him against the deck plates. The attacker’s grip loosened. Cris jabbed with his elbows and broke free. He scrambled across the hallway.
Cris expected to see one of the two men dressed in black. Instead, he saw a man of average height, robed in brown with his face hidden in the shadow of his hood. Cris recognized the golden symbol hanging from a chain around the man’s neck, marking him as an associate of the Priesthood of the Cadicle. The Priesthood. Cris suddenly remembered the conversation with his father the afternoon before he left Tararia. I never did find out why they wanted to meet with me.
As the Priest recovered on the floor, the two black-clad men emerged from around a bend in the hall. There was a hint of shock on their otherwise stoic faces.
Cris was about to address the men when the Priest leaped to his feet. He pulled out a pulse gun from underneath his robe. “Give me all your valuables.”
Trembling and sore, Cris grabbed ten credit chips from his pocket and threw them on the ground. “I have nothing else.” It was the truth. His heart pounded in his ears. Why would a member of the Priesthood be mugging people at a spaceport?
“Hand over everything you have or die,” the Priest threatened.
Cris looked more closely at the figure and caught a brief glimpse of piercing red-brown eyes under the hood. The eyes contained such intense sadness that Cris felt a twinge of sorrow, despite his peril. But, the gaze was also one of complete fear. The gun hummed as it began to charge.
Cris looked back toward the two other men, but they remained at the end of the hall. He was on his own.
The Priest murmured something that Cris couldn’t quite make out. He pointed the gun toward Cris’ chest.
“No!” Cris held up his hands. There’s no escape. He felt dizzy, a buzzing in his head. I don’t want to die.
Undeterred, the robed figure fired.
It should have only taken an infinitesimal moment for the shot to reach him, but the beam halted just beyond the muzzle of the gun. There was no perceivable motion. Cris looked around, seeing the Priest holding the gun and the two people in black observing from a distance. The moment continued. I can get away. Cris dove to the side, but didn’t fully feel the movement. He was in midair, falling, but he didn’t feel connected to himself. Nothing stirred around him. He blinked.
Cris hit the ground hard. There was a flash as the pulse beam struck the empty wall.
The Priest spun to face him, mystified.
Cris could barely breathe. He felt charged, as if filled with electricity. He looked around with wonder—he was in a different place than he had been a moment sooner. What’s going on…? He shoved his confusion aside as he saw the Priest raising his weapon once more. This isn’t a mugging—it’s an assassination! “Stop!”
As the Priest was about to fire again, Cris held up his hand in what he thought to be a futile act of protection. However, the motion threw the Priest backward against the wall—slamming him into the metal plating with enough force to dent the metal sheeting. He slid into a crumpled heap on the floor.
Cris scrambled to his feet. Did I just do that? How…? He turned to the men in black who were still standing motionless at the end of the hall. “Who are you?” he stammered.
Without responding, one of the men walked over to the brown mound on the floor and nudged the Priest with his foot. Cris got a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach that the Priest was dead, but then saw that he had responded to the nudge. The man backed away, giving the Priest some room.
The robed figure rose unsteadily and looked around, dazed from the impact with the wall. When he caught sight of Cris, he backed away, terror evident in his trembling movement. After a moment, he noticed the two men in black clothing and he froze, apparently recognizing them. His eyes darted between Cris and the men. He said something to Cris, but Cris didn’t understand the language. With one more glance at the two black-clad men, the Priest passed them and fled down the hall. He didn’t look back.
The man who had nudged the Priest bent down to pick up the pulse gun from the floor. He placed it inside his coat and turned toward Cris.
“Who are you?” Cris repeated, still shaking. He took an unsteady breath. Why didn’t they help me? He looked the two men over and tried to assess their minds, but found only an impassible void. They appeared to be wary of Cris, but that was understandable after what he had just done. Stars! What do I do? I can’t outrun them. He took another breath. “Why were you following me?”
“Are you Cristoph Sietinen-Talsari?” the man finally asked.
“That depends. Are you here to kill me, too?”
The two men exchanged looks. “No, we’re not here to harm you,” the second man said.
“Did my parents send you to find me?”
“Have you ever done that before?” the first man asked, ignoring his question.
Cris was about to make an indignant remark, but stopped himself. “No.” He looked down. “I don’t even know what ‘that’ was.” What’s happening to me?
“No, your parents didn’t send us,” the other man said after a slight pause, coming to join his colleague. “If you come with us, we can explain everything.”
Cris shook his head, finding it increasingly difficult to remain calm. “After what just happened, I’m not in the mood for vague answers. And I’m not going anywhere with people who stood by and did nothing while someone attacked me! Who are you and why are you here?”
The first man nodded to the second. They each pressed their jacket lapel, which activated a projection of their credentials.
Cris examined the holographic images hovering in front of him. His eyes widened. The TSS!
“I’m sorry, we’re not allowed to intervene in matters regarding the Priesthood. We’re with the Tararian Selective Service,” the first man said. “I’m Agent Jarek and this is Agent Dodes.” He gestured to his partner and then deactivated his ID.
The Priesthood is so powerful that not even the TSS will stand up to them. Cris crossed his arms. “What do you want?”
“The TSS is here on our own accord,” Jarek continued. “We were deployed to your family’s estate on Tararia to speak with you, only to find that you were missing. Your parents probably have their own people looking for you, but it looks like we found you first. Just in time, it seems—especially considering what you just pulled off without any proper training in telekinesis.”
Cris swallowed hard. “And what was ‘it’? I have no idea how…” What if I can’t control it? I could hurt someone—Thom, myself… And why does the Priesthood want me dead? Everything was going great. I fit in, I was normal…
“We’re not the best people to answer that,” Jarek said.
“Then what do you want from me? You still haven’t told me why you’re here.” Is there anyone I can trust?
Agent Jarek studied Cris. “We’re here regarding your future.”
Cris tensed. “My future?”
“The TSS has been following you with great interest for the past few years,” Dodes said. He looked over to Jarek, who nodded. “We would like to extend an invitation for you to train with us.”
There was a time when that would have been a dream come true, but now… “I’m not sure what to say.”
“I know this comes as a surprise,” Jarek responded. “But, the TSS feels you have great potential, which is only evidenced by the abilities you’ve demonstrated today. I’m sure that our superiors can deal with any reservations you may have. If you’ll accompany us to Headquarters, our High Commander can answer your questions.” He glanced at the spot where the Priest had been. “And, we can offer you security.”
Cris looked down. He might not be so lucky if the Priesthood came after him again. I still have no idea why they would try to kill me… I don’t want to give up the freedom I have now, but I need to learn about these abilities if I want to truly protect myself. “What would I have to do?”
“Just gather your things and come with us. We have a ship waiting on the other side of the port,” Jarek said.
Cris nodded. “The Exler’s back this way.” I have absolutely no idea what I’m getting myself into.
Cris led the way to the Exler. He left the Agents at the foot of the gangway and went in to gather his belongings. He only had a handful more possessions than when he had left Tararia, but it didn’t feel right to leave it all behind. He sighed. He had to tell Thom he was leaving.
Cris found Thom in the flight deck, reviewing the ship’s inventory. “Thom?”
The captain looked up. “What is it?”
“Thom, something’s come up.” Cris swallowed, a sudden heaviness in his chest. “I’ve just been offered a training opportunity with the TSS.”
Thom searched Cris’ face. “Are you accepting?”
Cris nodded. “This is something I have to do.”
The captain sighed and stood up. “When?”
“Right now. I’m sorry.”
Thom nodded, processing the loss of his travel companion. “I understand.” He took Cris’ hand, shook it. “I always suspected you were destined for greater things. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
Cris looked down. He might not know my real name, but he always saw me for who I am. “Thank you for everything. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
The captain smiled and patted Cris on the shoulder. “Best of luck, Cris.”
“Thank you, Thom. You too.” Cris turned to go.
“Oh, and here.” Thom grabbed his Fastara deck. “Take these.”
Cris smiled. “I’ll teach everyone who’ll listen.”
Before he could change his mind, Cris exited the flight deck and hurried down the gangway to meet the waiting Agents. With only his single bag slung over his shoulder, Cris felt bare and alone.
Jarek and Dodes led Cris away from the Exler toward their TSS transport ship. The Agents were unlike anyone he had met before. They moved with a sort of elegance, as though they were one with their surroundings. Even their tailored black uniforms, which were casual compared to attire of the Tararian Guard, projected a sense of regality, making Cris feel like he would be underdressed even while wearing his finest suit. There was also an energy about them that he couldn’t quite identify—a magnetism that made him have difficulty looking away.
Over the last year, Cris had become used to blending in and downplaying the authority that had been ingrained in him through years of tutoring. Now, even in the most refined state he could muster, he still felt insignificant compared to the Agents. How long before the TSS changes me, too?
As they passed through the spaceport, passersby looked on with wonder and gave the party a wide berth. On the rare occasions Cris had been permitted to visit Sieten, he had received similar looks from the city’s residents. There’s a sense of awe, but in the same way someone admires a majestic animal that could readily kill its handlers. What will that make me, as both an Agent and dynastic leader?
Cris’ thoughts were interrupted by a glimpse of the TSS ship in the distance down the spaceport’s corridor. He had previously seen TSS vessels while visiting a Sietinen shipyard—one of the ancillary businesses to SiNavTech. The TSS vessel stood out from the other crafts in the port by its iridescent hull and smooth lines. The materials for the hull were far too expensive for everyday civilian use, but the superior impact absorption was an asset for combat applications and for minimizing the structural stress of subspace travel. At eighty meters long, this particular craft was much smaller than those he had previously seen, though it made sense that the Agents wouldn’t take a warship on a recruitment mission.
“How long will it take to get to Headquarters?” Cris asked as they approached the ship.
“About four hours,” Jarek replied.
“I didn’t realize it was located so close to the outer colonies,” Cris commented.
“It’s not,” Jarek replied. “Headquarters is located in Earth’s moon.”
“Earth?” Cris asked, incredulous. “That seems like a strange place for TSS Headquarters.”
“What makes you say that?” Dodes asked.
“Earth isn’t part of the Taran government, for one.”
“Which makes it a perfect location for training those with telekinetic abilities, doesn’t it?” Jarek pointed out.
“I guess it does.” Far from the control of the Priesthood. Like most children, Cris had learned the story of Earth as a cautionary tale. Over millennia, Taran descendants seeking to escape the perceived oppression of Tararian rule had fled to Earth and mingled with the native population born from ancient panspermia. Each group of Taran colonists had brought with them elements of the unique cultures from their home worlds, but they shared the common vision of a new start—leaving behind the advanced technologies that connected them to the rest of Tarans in an attempt to disappear. As the “lost colony” of Earth gave rise and fall to its own great civilizations, Tarans had watched their divergent brethren from a distance—but apparently from far closer than most of Earth’s population would have ever imagined. Perhaps the location is also an homage to our lost relationship.
“Headquarters is within a subspace containment shell inside the moon. Our space dock is fixed just above the surface on the dark side, so we keep to ourselves,” Jarek continued.
Cris’ brow furrowed. “Subspace containment shell?”
Jarek smiled. “A sustained subspace pocket surrounded by a really big wall. Basically, breaking into Headquarters would be extremely difficult.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Cris replied. I guess if their ships are any indication, the rest of their tech is pretty advanced, too.
“It all might seem strange to you now, but we like being a little hidden,” Jarek said as he led the way up the gangway to the ship.
It is pretty out of the way… “Wait, you said it would only take four hours to get there. Isn’t Earth in a sector that’s two or three weeks’ travel from here?”
Dodes smirked. “With a civilian jump drive, maybe.”
Is there another kind? “What does the TSS use?”
“We have a long-range subspace transit,” Jarek explained. “It works the same basic way as commercial vessels—locking onto SiNavTech beacons. But, rather than the short jumps used by cargo freighters and civilian transports, our ships can lock onto beacons at much farther intervals to expedite the jump. Since our drives don’t require cool-down, travel time is reduced by a factor of thirty.”
That puts the entire galaxy within easy reach. “I’ve heard theories about long-duration drives, but I didn’t know the technology was ever developed.”
Jarek nodded. “There are many ways the TSS is outside the mainstream. Travel technology is one of the big ones.”
They reached the top of the gangway. Inside, the TSS ship was simply appointed but comfortable. Gray carpet covered the floor of the hall, and metal wall panels were inset with tan accents. Jarek headed down the hall to the right.
The technology divide is so much bigger than I ever imagined. “I’m surprised I never heard about the extent of SiNavTech’s work with the TSS.”
“I’m sure you would have eventually,” Jarek said. “But it is kept pretty need-to-know.”
What else haven’t I been told? “I guess so.”
The hall ended at a lounge room. In the center of the space, there were four plush chairs upholstered in a matte black fabric, which circled a low table with chrome legs and a glass top. An expansive window filled the outer wall, and one of the side walls had a broad viewscreen.
“I hope this will be acceptable for the next few hours,” Jarek said.
It beats the flight deck on the Exler. “It’ll be fine, thank you.”
“Make yourself comfortable,” Jarek said and gestured toward the chairs.
Cris set his travel bag down on the floor next to one of the chairs with a good view out the window. He settled into the chair, and Dodes took a seat across from him.
Jarek remained by the door. “Excuse me, I’ll get us underway.” He inclined his head to Cris and left the cabin.
Dodes pulled a handheld out from his pocket and began looking at something on the device.
Cris took the opportunity to clear his head. He closed his eyes. I never thought I would be joining the TSS. Especially not like this. I always thought growing my abilities would be useful and fun, but now I’m scared to see what I’ll be able to do. I never wanted to hurt anyone.
After a few minutes, Cris felt the low rumble of the jump drive through the floor. Unlike the Exler, the vibration seemed muted and controlled. He opened his eyes. The stars out the window slowly became masked by blue-green light as the ship slipped into subspace.
“It’s nice to just be a passenger for a change,” Cris said.
“I’ll bet,” Dodes replied, looking up from his handheld. “Relax while you can. The TSS isn’t exactly known for easing people in gently.”
“What should I expect?”
“I honestly don’t know. You’re a unique case. The High Commander wants to meet you, and he’ll figure out where to place you.”
Cris crossed his arms, pulling inward. “Is it because of what I did earlier?” Do they also think I’m dangerous?
Dodes hesitated. “Yes, but not just that. You have a lot more potential than most.”
Cris looked down. “I didn’t know I could do those things.”
“Soon enough you’ll be able to do a lot more.”
Cris leaned back in his chair and stared out the window at the swirling blue-green sea of light. I hope this is the right choice.
“Did you really have another option?” Dodes asked in response to Cris’ thought.
Cris realized he had let his mental guard lapse and raised it again. “No, not anymore.” Not now that I know what I can do.
“We’ll take care of you, don’t worry,” Dodes said.
At least I’ll finally be around other people like me. Cris stared back out the window. Maybe I’ll finally fit in.
* * *
“Sir, we have him. It sounds like he wants to join.”
Banks leaped up from his desk and walked toward the main viewscreen to speak with Jarek. Thank the stars, finally! “Good. Did you have any trouble?”
“Yes, actually. Much more than expected,” Jarek said.
“Did he resist?”
Jarek’s brow furrowed. “No, he came quite easily.”
“Then how so?”
“He was attacked.”
No, don’t tell me… “Attacked? By whom?”
“An assassin from the Priesthood. They must have been acting on the same information about his whereabouts that we were.”
Bomax! What were they thinking? Banks was careful to hide his indignation. “How did he escape?”
Jarek looked away. “Sir, he ‘stopped time’.”
Banks tensed. “What?” How is that possible? I know he’s gifted, but that…
“I don’t know, sir. He seemed distraught. I asked him afterward, and he said he’d never done it before.”
If he really did… “It’s unheard of, pulling off that maneuver without extensive coaching.”
Jarek looked shaken. “I know, sir. I barely knew what I was seeing. I’ve only witnessed it once before. But that’s not all.”
Banks took a slow breath. “There’s more?”
“Then he threw the assassin against the wall telekinetically. I was struck by the power of it—absolutely astounding. There was a great measure of control, even though he claimed to not know what he was doing.”
“This development complicates matters considerably.” I can’t possibly put him in with other new Trainees. Not with that level of ability. “But he’s safe?”
“Yes, sir. Shaken, but unharmed.”
Banks nodded. “Good. We’ll decide what to do after I meet with him.” After all of our careful planning, we’re back to making up a strategy as we go.
“Yes, sir.” Jarek inclined his head.
To check out more of her works please see the following links.