I was creating chapter books for a book-signing in Mt.Dora on the 13th when it occurred to me I might as well transfer some of that effort to this week's Mosaic Moments. I have previously mentioned characters from Rebel Princess and plan to use some of them to elaborate on "unexpected" character development in my next blog, so here are cover, blurb, and Chapter 1 of Rebel Princess, Book one of four projected books in the Blue Moon Rising series. The genre: Futuristic Paranormal.
The Princess Royal of a peaceful planet inhabited by a psychically gifted race spurns her pampered life to attend the space academy of an aggressive warrior race. But when her supposed new friends invade her homeworld, she is thrust into solitary confinement far from home, with nothing but fantasies to keep her company. Until news of a rising rebellion and its dashing leader become the focus of her days. A rebellion she will finally make her own.
Grace Note: "Futuristic" implies SyFy with strong romance. And the "Paranormal" is primarily for gifts of the mind. With a dash of shape-shifting. No vampires.
“Captain’s on the bridge.”
Talryn Rigel scanned his bridge crew as they shot to their feet, their dark gray uniforms contrasting sharply with the huntership Orion’s white walls and gleaming viewscreens. Today, every bridge station was double-staffed, one Orion crewman and one Academy cadet at Helm, Nav, Tactical, Engineering, Comm, and Watch. For the war game about to be launched, the cadets were in charge.
“As you were.” Officers and cadets resumed their battle positions. “Status, Kiolani.”
“Alpha and Beta squadrons in position, sir. Archer at Mark 10.”
As Tal stalked toward Tactical, Cadet Kass Kiolani’s back stiffened to rigid. Even though her gaze remained fixed on the glowing tri-dimensional hologlobe in front of her, there was no doubt she knew he was there. Tal Rigel, captain, practically breathing down her neck.
He read the hologlobe’s icons at a glance—Orion in the center, the Tau-20 fighters, four in each squadron, doing lazy circles to port and starboard, and Orion’s scout ship, Archer, hovering near the edge of the globe, ten marks out. All in position, but he’d let Kiolani sweat a little. Too full of herself was the little Psyclid. So slight of body he could snap her neck with one hand, and with the face of a fairy princess out of some ancient legend. For the hundredth time since the cadets came aboard for hands-on training, Tal wondered how a Psyclid, a female Psyclid, made it into the Regulon Space Academy.
Most likely by sheer merit, he conceded grudgingly, answering his own question. Kass Kiolani was the most outstanding cadet he had ever seen. Her very first time on Tactical, her cadet squadron had trounced his battle-hardened crew. Disbelief deepened when she’d done it a second time. And now, two days before the cadets were due to leave Orion, he was giving her an opportunity to do it again. Bets were laid, cadet faces eager, Orion regulars grim. And, by Omni, this time Tal Rigel was going to figure out how she was doing it.
He took his seat in the captain’s chair, for a moment allowing himself the luxury of enjoying the star-sprinkled black void on the other side of Orion’s broad viewport. Playing war games with children had been a restful downtime for his crew, but the spice of moments like this one were few and far between. They all needed to get back into deep space and set Orion to doing what she did best—exploring the Nebulon Sector for new worlds to conquer.
Tal activated his own hologlobe, confirmed all the players were still in their proper places. In today’s exercise the armored scout ship Archer was designated the enemy, the much larger Orion allowed to use only weapons comparable to Archer’s. In addition to its missile array, each ship would be defended by four Tau fighters. Team Alpha, chosen from the squadron’s most skilled men, was assigned to Archer. Team Beta, cadets all, were set to defend the massive huntership.
“Kiolani,” Tal ordered, “commence exercise.”
Her first time at Tac, the little Psyclid had taken out his four Tau-20s and the scout ship in twenty minutes. The second time, with the cadets assigned to Archer, Kiolani’s Beta Team had triumphed in eighteen minutes, thirty seconds. Today . . . ?
A scant nine minutes later, Tal was already glad he’d refused to place a bet.
“Got ‘im!” A cadet pilot’s triumphant shout echoed from Comm.
“Beta One splashed Alpha Three, Captain,” Kass Kiolani reported in carefully neutral tones. “ That’s two down for Alpha Squadron.”
Tal sat steady in his chair as another red icon winked out. Mallik! She was doing it again. He had no difficulty detecting the smug satisfaction beneath the cadet’s oh-so-proper military façade. From his bridge crew, only gloom. Most of them had bet against her. Of course they had. She was Psyclid.
“Archer starting her run, aft, five-o’clock,” Cadet Kiolani intoned. “Aft battery, prepare to fire missiles Five and Six. On my mark, lock on. Betas, look sharp. Sting her before she gets to us.”
Tal stifled a wince as the four cadet fighters easily eluded his two remaining pilots and zoomed in on Orion’s scout ship. Fortunately, the light beams raking Archer only looked like lethal lasers, the hits and misses instantly recorded by Tactical’s complex comp system.
“Aft battery, lock on,” Kiolani ordered. “Wait for it . . . wait. Fire!”
Pok! The girl had the confidence of an officer twice her age.
“Incoming!” At Tac Two, Orion’s First Officer, sitting shoulder to shoulder with a Psyclid cadet, didn’t bother to hide his glee as the Fleet regulars on Archer fired two missiles at point blank range.
“Shields up!” Kiolani’s command rang clear in the sudden tense quiet, Orion’s crew and cadets caught up in the illusion of imminent disaster.
The missile exchange was going to be close. Would Orion’s shields hold? Tal locked his gaze on the hologlobe and waited for the ship’s sensors to record the hit. Heads lifted from viewscreens . . . puzzled looks as nothing happened.
Except Archer’s icon on the hologlobe exploding in a shower of sparks.
Cadet Kass Kiolani—the only Psyclid in the Regulon Space Academy—let out a small yip of triumph.
Orion’s bridge crew groaned. The cadets cheered. Tal Rigel suppressed an audible sigh.
“Captain, do you wish to continue the exercise?”
“Bring ‘em in, Kiolani. Well done.” But way too easy. Every time Kass Kiolani took a turn at Tactical, no matter what war game he chose, she made his crew look like they belonged to a merchant fleet on the outer rim. Cadet pilots and cadet gunners, some barely old enough to shave, outmaneuvered and outgunned his best men. Even today, when Archer fired two sure strikes, Orion continued to sail through space, miraculously untouched.
“Shield strength, Kiolani?”
“One hundred percent, Captain.”
His suspicions, however incredible, were justified. After repulsing two missiles at point-blank range, Orion’s shields should have registered as down by fifty percent or more. The scout ship missed. But it couldn’t have.
The hologlobe was still spinning at Tactical, showing Alpha and Beta fighters returning to the ship, closely followed by Archer. One last look, a tiny smile, and Cadet Kiolani shut down the holo and turned her attention to the exercise wrap-up on the flat viewscreen in front of her.
Tal Rigel lowered his voice, speaking to his personal comp unit. “Copy hologlobe record to Ready Room. Add copies of previous exercises involving Cadet Kiolani at Tactical.” The little cadet was good, but she wasn’t that good. No one was.
But she was Psyclid, and that’s what was wrong with this whole batani mess. “Kiolani?”
“Report to the Ready Room at nineteen-thirty.” Maybe that would keep the cocky little Psyclid quaking in her boots for a few hours. Now all he had to do was figure out what skill she possessed that made her the scourge of Regulon’s fastest, most successful huntership.
And the Nemesis of Captain Talryn Rigel.
Not possible. Tal had studied the three holos until his eyes crossed. They all the said the same thing, and he fydding well didn’t believe it. Trajectories did not glitch. Trajectories did not zig, nor did they zag. Beams of light did not dash off into space like meteors streaking the sky. And in the last holo, those two missiles from Archer should have hit dead on. No way could they have missed. And yet they had.
Tal groaned. The little Psyclid was playing with his mind. But isn’t that what Psyclids did? That’s why they kept to their own planet and kept out of Regula’s way. During the centuries while Regulons were developing their bodies and their weapons, Psyclids were developing their minds, many said to no good end. Some even muttered of witchcraft and sorcery. Tal had steadfastly ignored the rumors, but now . . .
A soft knock on the Ready Room door. Not so bold now, was she? Scared she was in for all the “buts” that would inevitably follow his earlier “well done”? Well, good. Sometimes he wondered if Kass Kiolani remembered he was captain.
Tal swallowed an inadvertent hiss of breath as the Psyclid cadet entered. Gone was the little warrior who had commanded Beta squadron to victory. Playing with his mind again, was she? Long hair hung black and straight well below her shoulders, appearing almost too heavy for her elfin face and slim body. So slim the smallest Regulon uniform was several sizes too large, effectively concealing the figure, or lack of it, beneath. But she’d made up for it with facial enhancements. Full bright lips, a hint of color in her cheeks, and eyes deeply ringed with shadows darker than her silver gray cadet uniform and emphasizing the sharply intelligent amber eyes of a feline predator.
Did those usually glowing eyes show a touch of wariness, as if this time she remembered who was boss? Probably his imagination, and yet her regal nose, small and straight, managed to appear custom-made for looking down at the rest of the world.
She saluted smartly. “Captain.”
“Sit, Kiolani.” He indicated a chair. “I have something to show you.”
She blinked, long black eyelashes brushing her cheeks. In that instant she knew she’d been caught. He could feel it. She sat.
Tal activated the holo record of the day’s training exercise. “Let’s watch the whole thing,” he told her, “and then you can explain the anomalies.”
“Certainly, sir.” With no further sign of tension at his implication that something was wrong, she focused her entire attention on the hologlobe. They watched in silence as the cadets, led by acting Tactical Officer Kiolani, put down Alpha Group’s attack in fourteen minutes, twenty seconds.
When the holo winked out, Cadet Kiolani’s gaze dropped to the hands clasped in her lap. A classic portrait of female subservience, waiting for her master’s voice. Little witch.
“The anomalies, Cadet. Can you explain?”
She looked up, eyes wide and limpid, deep pools of innocence. “Surely a comp malfunction, Captain. We both know trajectories don’t do that.”
“Not without help.”
Mallik, but she was good. “Someone else is bound to notice, Kiolani. Someone less flexible than I. You can’t be unaware that relations between Psyclid and Regula have deteriorated. If you were doing what I think you were doing today—though I haven’t the slightest idea how—then stop it. It could not only get you bounced out of the Academy, it could get you killed.”
“But, Captain . . .” She paused, frowned, returned her gaze to her lap.
“Speak your mind, Kiolani.”
Her head came up, setting long shimmering black strands waving around her face, over her breasts . . .
Concentrate, Rigel. Psyclid. Cadet. Anomalies.
Batani witch. She’d worn her hair down, added enhancements so she could charm—
“Try to be objective, Captain.” He could feel her willing him to understand. “If—and I emphasize if—I have any special gifts, they could be helpful to Fleet.”
Tal tapped a button and the hologlobe disappeared, leaving him a clear view of Cadet Kiolani’s elfin face. Since the afternoon’s exercise, his goals had shifted. He was curious about her suspected powers, yes, but talk overheard in the last few hours had overridden the puzzle of malfunctioning trajectories. He had twelve more years of experience than this all-too-bright cadet, yet finding words to penetrate her self-confidence, her certainty—her oblivious certainty— that all was right in her world was more of a challenge than he’d anticipated.
“Listen to me, Kiolani. People fear what they don’t understand. And the fear of Psyclid powers grows stronger every day. Logic has no part in it.” Tal fisted his right hand, dropped it to within an inch of the tabletop. “What I’m saying, Cadet, is that you need to watch your back. Not all the mutterings I heard after the exercise were from my own officers. There are cadets outside your own squad who are beginning to talk, maybe turn on you.”
“You aren’t . . . you can’t possibly be saying I should leave the Academy.” The little Psyclid looked horrified. “I’ve wanted to go into space my whole life. In ten months I’ll be an ensign.”
“And I’m saying that even if you graduate, it’s doubtful they’ll assign you to the fleet. Maybe a desk job, researcher or something like that. A ridiculous waste of talent.”
“Or it could be worse.”
She seemed genuinely puzzled. Foolish girl, she truly didn’t understand. Must be all that Psyclid nonsense about peace and love and the Psyclidian way. He’d just have to spell it out.
“It could come to war.”
She laughed out loud, right in his face. “War is a joke. You can’t make war on a planet that owns nothing more than a few armed escort ships to guard our merchant fleet. We have no battlecruisers, no hunterships. We are boringly peaceful. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to attend the Academy. I thought it was time at least one of us learned how to fight.”
How could someone so bright be so unaware? The concept of personal enmity seemed beyond her grasp. “Your bravery isn’t in question, Kiolani. Nor your brilliance as a cadet. But you’ve stepped on toes, made a lot of people angry. Psyclids aren’t supposed to beat a warrior race at its own game. I want you to be aware trouble is coming. I’m almost certain of it.”
Pallor leeched color from skin the shade of the honey produced on his uncle’s farm on Regula Prime. “Genocide?” she murmured.
“I hope it won’t come to that, but I don’t like some of the things I’ve heard.” Particularly in the last few hours since she’d made fools of them all. Again.
Huge amber eyes looked straight into his soul. Pok! Tal was nearly as angry with her as his crew was, and yet he’d swear she’d just branded him. Made him hers. No matter what happened to the stubborn little Psyclid, those eyes were going to haunt him for the rest of his days.
“I refuse to believe it,” she told him, head high. “I can’t give up now, sir. I can’t.”
“Then watch your back, Kiolani. Watch your back.”
“Yes, sir. It hurts, but I’ll remember.”
Tal watched her stiff shoulders as she walked out, wishing the uniform fit her better, wishing it revealed a bit more . . .
Now there was a sure way to find himself captain of a supply ship on the run to the outer rim. A Psyclid. He might as well lust after a Nyx.
Nonetheless . . . Captains had privileges. Perhaps when Kiolani graduated, he would have her posted to Orion , where he could keep an eye on her and . . .
No. Tal frowned as scraps of high-level intelligence briefings played through his head. Odds were, Kass Kiolani wasn’t going to make it to graduation.
~ * ~
Rebel Princess is published by Kindle Scout. For a direct link to Rebel Princess on Amazon, click here.
BOOKS by BLAIR BANCROFT
available online at
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords
& other online distributors
The Regency Warrior Series (in order)
The Sometime Bride
Lady of the Lock
The Harem Bride
A Season for Love
A Gamble on Love
The Temporary Earl
The Courtesan’s Letters
Brides of Falconfell
The Mists of Moorhead Manor
The Demons of Fenley Marsh
The Welshman’s Bride
Tangled Destinies (Fall, 2016)
The Aphrodite Academy series*
Romantic Suspense, Thrillers & Mystery
Death by Marriage (GB)*
Orange Blossoms & Mayhem (GB)
Shadowed Paradise (GB)
Paradise Burning (GB)
The Art of Evil (set in Sarasota)
Florida Knight (GB)
Love At Your Own Risk (Cape Cod)
*GB - Set in “Golden Beach” on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Rebel Princess (an Amazon exclusive)
(Blue Moon Rising series, Book 1)
Future books in the series: Sorcerer’s Bride, The Bastard
Prince, Royal Rebellion
Note: Sample free reads are available at
~ * ~
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For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.
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