The stunning conclusion is here!
After a millennia of roaming the universe, he’s bringing his people home…
KING: Five Star Top Pick @ Night Owl Reviews: “I can reveal nothing without ruining the story but can say this; buckle up for a fabulous ride. The author paints a vivid picture of each adventure as well as drawing the reader in emotionally. There are some big reveals, secrets that are exposed and revelations aplenty. The ending is mind blowing and while this is the end of this prophecy, the seeds are planted for a possible continuation. An epic read that surpassed my expectations.” (For the full review click the image.)
Destroyer or King, which prophecy will prevail?
Rafe thought once he found all the artifacts, he’d finally understand, and the prophecy would set him free. Instead, he finds himself leading what remains of the Rhomanii clans into the far reaches of the unknown, looking for…he doesn’t know what. But the pirate in him sure hopes it involves treasure.
So much is riding on this gamble he’s taking, and the voices in his head aren’t helping matters. Compounding the problem? Not everybody wants him to succeed.
What will happen when they reach their final destination? Will this be the start of a new Rhomanii life, or the end of everything they’ve ever known?
***Warning: This is not a romance, but science fiction adventure / space opera.
Space Gypsy Chronicles:
The amulet at his chest zapped him. The electrical jolt caught his attention.
“What the fuck?” Rafe grabbed the thong it hung from and held it away from him.
The voices came in a garbled rush. Female. Find. Protect.
Emma’s in danger? The very idea galvanized. He ran from the command center, ignoring Annabelle’s query of, “Where are you going, Commander?”
He took the lift up a level and dashed to their shared quarters and didn’t immediately see Emma. He did recall her saying she planned to take a shower. He popped into the bathing chamber and noted the cubicle with its door shut. The closed door didn’t stop him from hearing the pounding.
She’s stuck inside. He didn’t panic. The unit must have gotten stuck. He slapped the control to open it. It stayed shut, and he heard Emma cry out.
Probably scared by some bug that had crawled up the drain again, but he didn’t care. If something frightened her, then it was his duty to kill it…then mock her.
He pulled out his laser gun because he didn’t go anywhere without it, and aimed it at the latching mechanism.
One quick burst melted it, and he was able to wrench the cubicle open, uncaring of the spraying water. Emma lurched into his arms, soaking wet and hot. Oh so hot and red.
“That bitch tried to boil me alive,” Emma screeched. She didn’t have to elucidate. Rafe could guess which bitch she meant.
“Annabelle!” He barked her name. “What is the meaning of this?”
“Meaning of what, Commander?”
“How dare you tamper with the shower.”
“I did nothing to the bathing cubicle. It is not my fault if the human forgot how to use it.” If a computer could sneer, then Annabelle did.
“You screwed with the controls,” Emma accused. “The temperature kept going up, and the door wouldn’t open.”
“Perhaps something in the showering unit malfunctioned.”
“I’ll tell you what malfunctioned.” Emma shook a fist, and there was an element of humor in her threatening the vessel. What would she do, punch it?
“Ignore the ship and talk to me.” He held her away from him and scanned her. “Are you injured? Do you need medical assistance?” Her skin still bore an angry, red flush.
“A few more minutes, and I’d probably be peeling skin, but you got me out just in time. Good thing you decided to join me.”
She thought he’d arrived by chance. “Not exactly.” He wrapped a robe around Emma as he replied, “My amulet and the voices warned me. Said you needed help.”
“For real?” She eyed the medallion at his chest. “Should I say thank you?”
“How about you just keep an open mind about it and not assume it’s an artifact of evil?” He knew Emma didn’t trust anything the voices said. Which was why he didn’t tell her about all the whispers. Some of those constant susurrations enjoyed telling him what to do. Who to kill.
The voices craved blood.
And Emma wondered why he kept away from the Zoll’a and its crew. He had to. Because if he didn’t, he might give in and blow it up. Blow up his mother, his sisters, his twin, everybody, because the voices wanted him to destroy anyone who might get him to stray from the path. Instead, he stayed away. He wasn’t a murderer.
Rafe spent the next bit trying to calm Emma. She wasn’t in the mood to be calmed. She ranted—and not without merit—about getting the computer overhauled. Since he didn’t jump in and say no, Annabelle sulked.
How the fuck did I get in this situation? Better yet, how could it get any worse?
Already on the way to the planet, he wasn’t surprised when the Zoll’a hailed him.
“The commander’s biological donator wishes to speak with him,” Annabelle said stiffly.
Mother? It had been a while since he’d spoken with his dyi. “Put her through.” She probably wanted another attempt at getting him to meet with the priestess. Best to stifle that idea before she thought to ambush Rafe on the planet.
“About time you answered. You have to help.” His usually unflappable mother sounded flustered.
“I am letting you follow me. That’s help enough.”
“I am not talking about the path to home. I am talking about helping your brother.”
“What about Mikhail?” He made a moue. Ever since his twin had jumped ship to the Zoll’a, he’d heard reports of his antics. Mostly tales of drinking and debauchery. Sounded like something he used to do before he’d met Emma.
“He’s gone missing. And he’s not the only one.” Apparently, a few people who’d gone to the surface had vanished. A couple who’d probably wandered off for illicit lovemaking—because their parents wouldn’t approve a match. Probably nothing to worry about. Just a pair who’d lost track of time. Some workers who went to fetch some rock samples. Their equipment was found, but no trace of them. But what caught Rafe’s attention was the fact that Mikhail was missing, too, and, according to Fred, had fallen down a hole no one could find.
Bet I can. If he had any interest in looking. Mikhail was a big boy. He could take care of himself. If the crew on the Zoll’a wanted to spend time looking for him, then they could go right ahead. Rafe was visiting the planet for the fresh air and the biological matter he could snare.
And that was what he told his mother. Then she played dirty.
“Please, Rafe. You have to find him.” His mother pleading?
Sigh. There were times he really wished he could be a dick and tell her to fuck off. To tell them all to fuck off, yet there was still a little boy inside, a boy who wanted the love of his mother, the warmth of a family. That weakling wouldn’t let him do the right thing.
“While I’m there, I’ll keep an eye open for him.” But he’d make no promises.
With shuttles flitting all over the single landmass only a few miles across in size, there weren’t many places for them to go. Rafe chose a spot by the seaside. A sea quite toxic if they decided to swim in it—the acid levels in it weren’t friendly to Rhomanii flesh—but he had no plans to skinny dip.
Unlike the massive Zoll’a, the Belle could land on the planet, a planet he secretly named Atlantis. The single tiny land mass, with the spotted mounds of rocks, made him think of the Earth legends. The only thing missing was a city.
The Belle landed with hardly a bump. It truly was a state-of-the-art vessel. Thank you, JD. He should send another thank-you card to the Myko and dig the knife deeper.
Dressed in practical canvas slacks and a matching shirt, paired with thick-soled and toed boots, Emma stood by his side inside the pressurization chamber. She had a knapsack on her back. So did he, plus a large dagger and a pair of guns strapped to his body. Emma got the galactic version of a Taser on purpose because, if she accidentally fell on it, she wouldn’t die. The clumsiness was very real.
“Are you sure it’s safe out there?” she asked, shifting from foot to foot.
He clasped her hand. “Very. Did you not see the people foraging the surface?”
“Yes. But there are also people missing.”
“They found the couple.”
“And the workers?”
“Looks like they didn’t heed the warning and went for a swim.” A deadly one.
“What of Mikhail?”
“What of him?” He couldn’t help the cool query. He and his brother had problems. Emma being one of them. While she might claim no interest, Mikhail couldn’t hide his. Rafe might have to share his mother, might have seen his youth sacrificed to his twin, but Mikhail wouldn’t get his woman. My woman.
“Don’t be a douchebag. Even if you don’t get along, he is your brother.”
“Will you stop harping about it? Like I told my mother, we’ll keep an eye open.” But he wasn’t putting himself or Emma in danger for Mikhail. He also didn’t plan to look too hard. The only thing Rafe really wanted to explore was the treasure between Emma’s legs. He wouldn’t deny there was something invigorating about outdoor sex.
The portal to outside unsealed with a hiss. It slid open, and a ramp extended with an electronic whir.
She didn’t reply but took a few steps forward, her movement tugging at him through their linked hands. He followed, turning his face to the distant star that acted as a sun for this planet, the rays warming his flesh. Crisp air filled his lungs with his next breath.
Aaah. Emma was right. A moment spent off ship was just what he needed. How could I forget the most important rule when traveling in space? Always make time for off-ship endeavors. It kept a man sane. And I need all the help I can get with that.
Emma’s foot hit the ground, and she turned to give him a smile. “It’s firm and not vibrating.”
“Sounds like something else I know,” he quipped as he hit the ground beside her. The amulet at his chest heated.
“Is that all you think about? Sex? You could be human.” She shook her head.
He took offense. “I can’t believe you compared me to your barbarian species.”
“I can’t believe you think you’re going to get sex after calling me a cave woman.” Emma released his hand and took a few steps away from him. She stared out at the still ocean. No waves marred its smooth surface.
“Don’t touch or drink the water. It’s hazardous to our flesh.”
“Good to know. What of the plants and stuff?” She pointed to a tube that extended from the Belle, digging into the dirt, siphoning at the soil. On the other side of the vessel, a pair of drones, their metallic surface dull, went off to harvest vegetative growth. The more building blocks the replicator had to work with, the wider variety of meals available.
“Any poisons will be removed in the replication process,” he reassured.
“So what’s our job?” she asked, planting her hands on her hips. “Do we have to like shovel or mow anything to help the ship?”
The laughter came from Annabelle, not Rafe. “The crew member is amusing. As if she could achieve anything of worth.”
“At least she’s nice enough to offer,” he said to his AI. More and more he wondered what to do about Annabelle. He’d noticed her growing independence before, even learned to not mind it. But since her return, he’d noticed a change in her, a mouthiness that brooked on disobedience. Even more worrisome, he noted her intent dislike of Emma.
Was the shower incident really faulty equipment? That was what the diagnostics he’d run indicated, but he found the timing suspicious. Two separate controllers, one for the door, the other for the fluid’s temperature, both malfunctioned at the same time?
Is Annabelle trying to kill Emma?
Not good if she was.
“Since your ship doesn’t want our help, then how about you and I go find a nice spot? To have sex.” The last bit was shouted at the vessel, not him.
He almost sighed and shook his head. Perhaps Annabelle’s reaction wasn’t entirely out of place. The two of them did seem to antagonize each other on purpose.
Emma headed away from the beach to a rocky hill.
“Are you planning to climb that thing?” he asked.
“Yup. I want to see the view from up top.” Who was he to argue with the butt waggling in front of him? Besides, the voices whispered, Follow her.
He actually passed her at the halfway mark. Though he did stop and offer her a hand.
She replied with a glower. “I can do this myself.”
Human women had a strong independent streak. With a shrug, he left her behind, clambering to the top and emerging onto a plateau.
The view was striking from up here. The ocean still smooth as glass. Not a single ripple to mar it. Pivoting, he took in the rather flat plains of the land mass. The fronds of foliage stood straight in some places, trampled in others from the passage of people and razed to the ground in large swaths.
Panting hard, Emma made it to the edge, and he tucked a hand behind his back, lest he offer it to her. She glared anyhow.
Sometimes, a male just couldn’t win.
“You were right; the view is excellent from up here. Although the surface might be rough on your back.”
“Said by the man who thinks we’re still having sex.”
He couldn’t help but flash a smile. “It’s called optimism, wench. And if not for sex, then why come up here?”
“Because, unlike you, I think we should look for Mikhail, and Fred said the last place he saw him was on top of a big rocky hill.”
Manipulated. He frowned, but he couldn’t get too mad. He had, after all, intentionally landed them near where Mikhail had disappeared. “Well, he might have vanished from around here, but I don’t see any sign of him.” Nothing marred the top of the plateau.
“Could he have fallen off?” She walked to the far edge and looked down. “How come the water doesn’t move?” she asked after she’d stared a moment.
“Unlike the Earth, there is no moon to pull and create a tide. Nor is there any wind.”
“What of fish?”
He shrugged. “The scant information on this planet doesn’t mention any.”
“Could anything even survive in that ocean if it’s poisonous?”
“It’s poison to us. Ambrosia to others. You should know by now that our flesh is but one permutation of life.”
“Speaking of life, what’s this?” Leaving his side, Emma moved to the center of the plateau and knelt.
“What did you find?
“It looks like your symbol.” She reached out and traced something on the rock.
“Don’t do that,” he said and lunged for her. He grabbed her arm to pull her back.
The amulet at his chest flared, radiating heat and light. A matching light came from the sigil on the stone.
The ground opened up, and Emma shrieked as they plummeted. Rafe, however, didn’t. One, it wasn’t manly to scream like a woman. And second, why would he when the voices said, Welcome to the first marker.