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CHAPTER ONE

 Adrenaline and History Lessons

Date: January 16th, 2048

Time: 6:00 P.M.

Location: Los Angeles, CA: L.A. Convention Center

Under the bright lights in the center of a large auditorium, a simple ring was drawn on the floor. Onlookers, whom had their eyes locked on two fighters slowly approaching each other from opposite directions, filled rows of stands on both sides. A referee stood in the center welcoming the fighters. The men donned thick, black pads, and fencing masks.

One of these fighters, Mark Bowen, relished the feelings rushing through his body. A sword handler approached from the right and extended the hilt of a simple, steel longsword. Mark slid his fingers around the handle. A sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it— too lightly and it flies away. He used the perfect grip he had honed during years of training. As was customary for fencing, the blade was blunt and had been designed like longswords of the late Renaissance Era—broad near the hilt, and tapered to a fine point. Something about the sensation of a solid steel weapon in his hands, and an opponent in front of him, gave Bowen a high adrenaline rush. He savored every drop.

The referee shouted, "Fight!"

A surging thrill ran through Bowen when he and his opponent moved to the center of the ring. The eyes of his opponent behind the mask glared fierce as his own and just as hungry to win. Despite the exciting sensation flowing through him, he remained calm and peaceful, analyzing everything about his opposition. His adversary stood a few inches taller and more muscle heavy.  Speed will be my advantage and reach my disavdantage.

He and his opponent pressed the flat of their blades together. The contact lasted for two seconds before the opponent shoved the longsword aside and attacked with a horizontal strike aimed at Bowen’s throat. He took a retreating step and leaned back enough to dodge the blade with less than an inch of separation. Adrenaline rushed through Bowen’s veins and muscles, but the event seemed like it happened underwater. The point of his adversary's longsword swept under his chin, then Bowen’s fighting nature compelled him to advance with a vertical strike.

The other man pulled his sword back to block. Steel slamming against steel rang in the air as the blades connected; the sound that was orgasmic to Bowen's ears. After several ruthless and skillful exchanges, Bowen waited for the moment his opponent made a mistake, leaving a strike and recovering into a guard too slowly. With lightning quick speed, Bowen thrust his blade beneath the opposition's guard and landed a perfect hit in his adversary's ribs.

The referee blew his whistle and called three points for Bowen. Six more to win the fight. The next rounds repeated the thrusts, blocks, and contacts resulting in Bowen's victory. When the last round ended, the referee brought Bowen to the center of the ring and lifted his hand with the longsword. In victory, he remained calm and collected.

***

Date: January 17th, 2048

Time: 1:30 P.M.

Location: Orange County, Anaheim Hills High School

After lunch, Mark Bowen walked in and stood in front of his class. In his late-twenties, he was young for a teacher. Aware his skin shade resembled a perfect caramel tan, and his facial features betrayed his mixed heritage of European and African-American parents, he ran a hand through his short, black hair. Standing at six feet, he scanned the classroom with his piercing dark brown eyes. His vision glazed with growing cynicism toward the job of teaching. Despite this, something in him tried to fight the feeling.

Several young high school students sat in meticulously aligned desks. They wore clean and sharp uniforms purchased by families belonging to the upper-class of society. The kids’ heads titled down absorbed in their cellular devices.

Bowen stroked the top of his left forearm twice, and his iSkin reflected the screen. “Okay, class, let’s get back to finishing our lecture about the major corporate bailout.” He tapped icons lit under his skin and pulled up a display.

The class put away their cellular devices and stared at him .

“Who can tell me what happened in 2021?” 

When a student raised his hand Bowen pointed to him. “A private corporation established the first colony on Mars!”

Bowen nodded his head. “Yes, but that’s something relevant later, John. Let’s stick to the corporate bailout.”

A female student raised her hand, and Bowen turned to her. In a know-it-all voice as if read straight from the textbook, she responded, “The global economy that the governments of the world established collapsed. Major corporations bailed out the failed governments around the world, and this resulted in the major multinational conglomerate, Aether Megacorp, taking control.”

“That’s correct, Megan.” Bowen moved about the classroom. “Now what happened as a result of their take over?”

Another student raised his hand. “They took any measure necessary to control all matters of economic flow including, but not limited to, rights of practically all citizens around the world.”

“That’s right, Cory,” Bowen said with some disdain in his voice, though not aimed at the student. He rotated to the student who spoke of Mars earlier. “Now, what happened to the colony on Mars?”

John spoke fast with enthusiasm. “The colony on Mars discovered a new fuel source after drilling, called ziberium, that could burn cold and had limitless potential. Aether Megacorp expanded Martian mining operations on an industrial scale, terraforming the planet’s atmosphere and establishing colonies all over it. Private corporations assisted millions of people migrating to Mars to mine the planet in hopes of getting rich. Aether treated them like slave labor camps. After a few years of suffering, the colonies revolted.”

Bowen nodded. “And who won the war, and how did they win it?”

Megan raised her hand. “The colonies won. One of the colonies had discovered the secret to genetic engineering on Mars, giving them the ability to become some sort of supermen that Aether forces could not compete against. Once they defeated Aether Megacorp, they formed their own empire called the Soloran Kingdom, and shut off all communication with Earth.”

“See? You’ll all get an A on the upcoming test,” Bowen quipped with a tinge of pride. He made his way over to his desk and sat. “Damn. Am I a good teacher or what?”

A few snickers came from the class.

“I want all of you watching the news this weekend, by the way. If you’ve been keeping up with your social media, like I know you kids never stop doing, you know that tomorrow is the first time in sixteen years the Soloran Kingdom has decided to send one of their ambassadors over to reopen a bridge to Earth.”

Megan spoke in a rapid, loud tone. “I heard she’s a Princess.”

“That’s true,” Bowen said. “The Soloran Kingdom’s government is formed in a way that’s similar to a feudal society in the Medieval Ages.”

“Why did they make it like that?”

Bowen leaned forward in his chair, grabbing his students' attention. He looked directly at his class and spoke with meaning in his voice. “Before the corporate takeover, we had a government system called democracy, where people would agree in a voting system who was the best candidate to represent them. Democracy was a government that was made with the belief that man is not perfect and should be allowed to pursue his own interests as best as possible. However, the Solorans were modified with genetic engineering. They are all stronger, healthier, and far more intelligent than men on Earth like you and me, since they have achieved the maximum potential the human body can possess.”

“I don’t get it,” one of the young men in his class responded.

“In a world where every man is perfect the ideal form of government is to have an all-powerful king rule over everything. If things were perfect the king would be the wisest, most moral, and most intelligent person in the kingdom. The Solorans think they've achieved this. Even so, as good as genetic engineering is, it still is not possible to make any human perfect.”

***

Bowen locked up the classroom and walked out to his pickup truck. A familiar voice called his name. He pivoted to the speaker.

The school principal waddled after him like a penguin with his ill-fitting suit stretched across his midsection. Above his double chin a stern scowl darkened his face. In a voice of restrained frustration, he growled, “Bowen, I got a yellow flag on the censorship monitor. Did you talk about democracy in class, again?”

Bowen nodded. “I teach history as it was,” he said as if it were an obvious matter-of-fact.

“You know that I have to give an explanation to the Aether admins every time I get a flag," he scolded. "Your class camera went off because it thought you spent more time than is necessary talking about that old form of government. I want you to get with the program. Aether wants teachers that teach history and gloss over the politics of the old era. They don’t want ideas of those obsolete delusions clouding the heads of our youth. This is the third time your class cam has yellow flagged you—”

Bowen tuned out most of the harsh words. A cynical attitude toward authority was something he had developed over the course of his life time. He shut off the listening side of his brain then turned back on auditory senses once his ears picked up, “…do I make myself clear?”

“Crystal,” he replied with a calm exterior.

The principle eyed him for a few moments.

 Is he expecting a better response or is he attempting to look strong through his prolonged direct eye contact? When the staring went on for too long, he turned and walked away. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got another longsword competition to fight in.”

The principle's eyes lingered on him like two coals burning his back.

"You're a damn idealist, Bowen. You'd better stay in line before someone slams a hammer down on you."

He climbed into his pickup truck, started the engine, and drove off toward the auditorium where he pursued his passion.


“You can sacrifice and not love. But you cannot love and not sacrifice.” ― Kris Vallotton

***

CHAPTER TWO: "Resolute Kingdom"

Date: December 16th, 2047

Time: 3:30 P.M. (Martian Zone 1 Time)

Location: Soloran Kingdom on Mars, 1st Colonial Establishment

Princess Elaina walked down the hallway of the royal court. Through the windows she gazed at the Martian horizon. Once a hazy brown and reddish color, the sky was now green in the present day. Both of Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, reflected the light of the sun. Her violet colored eyes’ scrutiny drifted from the horizon to the land, and there they looked with sadness.

The land, once fertile and lush, flourished when covered in green plants and trees. Terraforming attempts in the early stages of Mars’ colonization had changed the planet from the red, dry rock it had been into something green and comparable to Earth. Lower, on the Martian surface, rows of dying crops filled the distance. The Martian men and machines worked outside harvesting the fruits of their labor and looking upon their results in despair. The green on the Martian surface had become less lush and was disappearing altogether. 

Princess Elaina approached the large, elegant, double doors of the King's court. Her reflection in the gold plating provided a few more seconds to make sure she looked as presentable as possible for the upcoming ceremony. She looked every bit as royal as her title in an elegant white dress with stylishly designed lines of gold laced into the edges. Her natural silver hair was elaborately braided and wrapped around her head like a tilted halo, bangs fell over her eyes, and a single, long strand cascaded to her chest on one side. She straightened her dress and opened the door.

Horrifying screams came down the short hallway leading to the throne room. Elaina walked forward then hesitated at opening the doors a crack. A scene that had become a more common sight played out. Two men in the storm grey uniforms of the Royal Guard dragged a woman out who kicked and screamed in desperation. 

"Not my son. You're not taking my son away from me," she cried. "He'll be a productive worker. He's smart. Don't put him on ice. Nooooo…"

Her screams muffled behind a pair of doors leading to an exit into the city.

Elaina opened the door a little further. A boy stood in worker’s clothes before the King. The boy appeared skinny and physically weak. The King sat in front of a large glass window that offered a perfect view of the Martian sky. With the sun behind him, his face stayed shadowed when he motioned to three guards in the corner. They wheeled a glass tank forward and presented it to the boy who looked stricken with terror. 

"Get in the tank," the King commanded.

The boy took a slow step forward. His body trembled when he climbed in and lay inside the tank. The guards closed the door and pushed a button on the side. Ice crystals formed in the tank within seconds. The boy’s screams made Elaina’s gut tighten into a knot. Steam vented from the sides of the tank as all the heat expelled. Seconds later, the boy turned blue and stopped moving. 

Elaina opened her eyes wider and covered her mouth to hide a horrified gasp. The guards wheeled the tank away with the boy frozen in suspended animation in the middle of his terrified scream.

"Hey, you made it," greeted a voice behind her. 

Startled by the voice, Elaina jerked and turned to find her friend, Joanna. Unlike sixteen-year-old Elaina,  her friend looked in her mid-twenties. The Princess’ skinny and frail looking body held no comparison to Joanna’s athletic and fit frame. She was clad in armor.

Beneath the armor, she wore a black, skintight tech-suit visible at her joints, neck, and the palms of her hands. Non-reflective, advanced alloys, never on Earth, were plated over the rest of her body. Despite all these plates, the armor was tailored specifically for her body and form fitting. Ornamental Celtic designs had been elaborately carved into the plates. Joanna stood almost six feet tall and towered over the Princess. All of her sandy blonde hair was tied into two boxer braids that ended at the back of her neck, leaving only a few tiny bangs that remained clear of her bright blue eyes. 

"Hey, Joanna." The Princess responded, trying to forget the horrific scene she witnessed in the throne room. "And of course I made it. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"It feels so good to be knighted finally. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," her friend told her with excitement in her voice.

"I'm so happy for you! You've definitely earned it. Gosh, sometimes I feel like you're so awesome you make me look like a clumsy idiot." She confessed with a slight laugh. 

"That's not true. You've always been clumsy,” Joanna teased.

"Gee, thanks."

"But you're not an idiot. You're my best friend, and I'm glad I have you in my life," Joanna said and put a comforting hand on Elaina’s shoulder.

She gave Joanna a quick hug and, gripping her shoulders, said, "Now let's get you knighted."

Together, they entered the hall.

The King smiled. "Ah, finally something to look forward to." 

Joanna's eyes budded with pride as she looked upon her King. "Your Highness, it's an honor to serve you."

The King’s gaze moved behind them to the doors as if expecting more people to enter. "Is there anyone else you would like to witness your knighting? Friends or family perhaps?"

Joanna paused, glancing at the floor. "No, my family was killed in the mines. I don't have many friends, save for the Princess." 

His brow furrowed. "What about your fiancé?"

Joanna smiled lightly. "The Prince is away right now, but he has assured me he'll make it up to me by other means." A slight blush pinked her face.

With a slow nod the King motioned for her to step forward before him.

She obeyed. With her right hand, she reached to her belt and grabbed a steel rod about 13 inches long. An ornamental Celtic design decorated the shaft. She kneeled and held the rod forward. "My King, I pledge to you my spear—"

The doors burst open, and two members of the Royal Guard stormed in dragging a man who looked as if he had been beaten to near death.  They threw him down behind Joanna. "We found the insurrection leader!" One of them declared.

King Baldwin’s lips flattened.  "You disrupted the knighting of my daughter's friend.” He glanced at her and his face relaxed. “Take him to a cell, and we'll deal with him later."

"No..." the beaten man whispered, in a strong bass tone. "...you'll deal with me now." The prisoner pressed his hands against the floor and lifted himself upright. His bloodied, beaten face did nothing to hide his intense blue eyes. They looked upon the King with a disdain that came from the depths of his soul.  "I want my daughter back."

The King crossed his arms. "You know everyone must sacrifice. There's not enough food for the Kingdom. The crops are dying and our animals along with them. Freezing those that have the least to offer is the best way for our society to continue on."

"And you keep choosing the weakest of us.” The man’s voice raised in a rapid delivery of accusations. “The poorest of us. I haven't seen my daughter in two years." His voice grew stronger, raging with anger, but showing signs of a man about to break down. He pointed an accusing finger at Elaina. "You would never put your daughter on ice."

Guilt wrapped around Elaina like a warm banket on a hot summer day. I know this man, whoever he is, is right. On the inside though she felt torn. My father is genuinely looking out for the best interests of the Kingdom. But, I’m highly privileged and the odds of me getting selected for freezing are non-existent. Families on Mars had many members put into a state of suspended animation against their will and would lose time they could never get back. Many hated the royal family for this, and Elaina could see that her privileged life style was not helping.

"That's enough," the King said waving his hand. "Take this man away."

"You're right about one thing, Your Highness," the insurrectionist spat the words "your highness" with venom. He pressed against his wrist and revealed a sharp piece of metal. He gripped and pulled out a four inch blade from deep in his own skin. "It has been enough."

"He's got a knife!" Elaina shouted.

The two guards reached forward grabbing at him. The man stood, using adrenaline and desperation to find a second wind of strength. He pivoted left thrusting the knife into heart of the first guard. The second guard took a step back and went for a pistol at his waist. With expert precision, the prisioner threw the knife and sent the point of its blade right through the guard’s eye socket. 

Elaina’s muscles clamped. She held a hand pressed to the side of her head. Her gaze moved from one fallen guard to the next then up to her father who sat statue like, wide eyed, and grimacing. Joanna’s legs spread, her fingers splayed from one hand, and she griped the rod in the other. Movement of the insurrectionist caught her attention and sent a new surge of adrenaline pounding in her chest. The insurrectionist reached down and grabbed the pistol from the first guard's belt, turned, and leveled it at the King. Joanna pressed a button on the rod. Liquid metal shot out of both ends; one end forming a long shaft and the other a shaft with a spearhead. Both hardened at once with a sound of ringing metal. The spearhead looked to be the shape of a long four-pointed star with a double edged blade.

Joanna swung and sliced off the insurrectionist's wrist. His hand dropped to the floor gripping the pistol. A squirt of blood shot out from the severed limb, and the man screamed in pain. Joanna put him out of his misery with a thrust of the spear through his head, rupturing his skull and brain. The form of her thrust was perfect and her aim precise. She pulled the spear from his head and allowed his lifeless body to drop to the floor. Elaina gasped and lowered her hand from her head. 

The spear dripped blood from the sharp point. Joanna stood over the carcass, and Elaina felt slight fear of her friend. The look in Joanna's eyes was cold and professional, with no emotion at completing a task she was trained to do many times over. Aware of Joanna’s training with a spear as a professional warrior, Elaina had no idea that her friend was capable of taking a life with little effort.

The guards’ bodies raised the hair on Elaina’s arms, and brought bile into her throat. She searched the majestic ceiling tiles with her gaze to avoid further feeding her serious phobia of blood.

"That was unfortunate, but well done, Joanna," the King said, piercing the silence.

"Thank you, My King."

"I don't want to knight you while this hall is stained with blood. Would you prefer to be knighted somewhere else or at a different time?" 

Joanna answered without hesitation. "To the contrary, I think of this blood as a mark of service. I'd still like to be knighted now."

Elaina mustered up the strength to turn to her friend, trying her best to avoid looking at the blood. Her father made brief eye contact with her. He wants to make sure I’m okay. I admit not understanding the mind of a warrior, but the brutality and coldness Joanna displayed is surprising. It was as if she couldn’t care less at all that she just killed someone and only cared about her service to the Kingdom.

"Very well," the King responded showing mild surprise in his voice. He drew the hilt of a sword from his waist. He pressed a button on it and liquid metal shot out of the handle and hardened into the form of a long, elegant blade. “Joanna, do you swear loyalty and service to the throne of the Soloran Kingdom and to serve its interests here and abroad, even at the cost of your own life?"

Joanna got on one knee and bowed before her King while presenting her fresh blood stained spear. "I do, My King. I pledge loyalty, service, and my life to the kingdom."

"Now, for your second oath. Do you pledge to be a loyal personal guard to the royal Princess and to defend her with your life without hesitation?"

Joanna responded with a clear sense of purpose. "I do."

The King tapped both of her shoulders with the tip of his longsword and said with pride in his voice, "You will now be known from this moment on as Lady Joanna. Arise a knight and carry forth your service."

"As you wish, My King." Lady Joanna stood seeming filled with pride and withdrew her spear.

Elaina walked up to her father, avoiding the blood in the center of the room, and stood next to Joanna. The Princess' eyes lingered on the body of the insurrectionist a moment as his words had struck a cord. 

Her father's eyes leveled on her and he smiled. "Yes, Elaina?"

She took a deep breath, and focused on his face."Father, I want to be the one you send to Earth."

 

"A leader is a dealer in hope." — Napoleon Bonaparte

***

CHAPTER THREE: "Royal Affairs"

Date: January 17th, 2048

Time: 6:30 P.M. (Martian Zone 1 Time)

Location: Soloran Kingdom on Mars, 1st Colonial Establishment

In a vast and intricately decorated hall rested a long table with seating for thirteen. The room’s design was reminiscent of the vast churches from the medieval era, but had a tinge of many other cultures as well.

The occupants at the table wore royal attire and formal uniforms that were mostly white. At the head of the table sat a man in his early forties. He was tall in stature and had a complexion paler than vanilla. The skin around his eyes made him look tired and his gaze seemed dull and void. His eyes stared in a bizarre color of royal purple. His black mane tinged with grey but was cleanly kept and well groomed.

On his head he displayed a platinum crown with a large ruby carved in the image of Mars on the front. Several gridded lines went around the outside of the crown—clear impressions from technological devices built into the expensive metal. Four inward spires were on top of the crown hosting four jewels cut in the shape of playing card suits: a ruby heart, a ruby diamond, a black sapphire club, and a black sapphire spade.

The royal company ate their meals in silence.

“My daughter is leaving for Earth,” the crowned man broke the quiet, his voice both powerful and deep. “I know this vexes many of you, but we cannot survive without Earth. You can rest assured that I am more frustrated by this than all of you.”

One man slammed his white gloved fist on the wooden top. The table quaked causing all meals on the table to shift toward him. Some of the royal eyes widened at the outburst. His bright green eyes grew more intense. He had flaming red hair that matched his temper and a clean cut beard with no mustache. The man appeared to be in his mid-thirties. “King Baldwin, they practically enslaved us to produce Ziberium sixteen years ago! We’ve been preparing for war with the filthy gaian scum ever since we won our freedom. We should return back to them as conquerors, not pleading for help.”

Most of the royal members shouted, “Here, here!”

After the cries settled down, a new voice was heard in the dining hall that was spoken calmly, but sliced right through the settling cries. “None of us have forgotten that, Ramsey,” replied a feminine voice in a flat tone with a French accent.

Eyes shifted to the woman who wore the same white uniform with minor modifications to accommodate her physique. Like most of the royal company, her skin was pale and fair. In stark contrast to her skin, her hair was raven black and kept in a long silky pony tail. Between her fingers rested an ornamental cigarette holder—tobacco lit and smoking. With her long legs crossed over and her other arm propped up on the arm rest of her chair she appeared as if she didn’t have a care in the world. Her cold, royal blue eyes gazed emotionless and unmoved. “I grow tired of seeing your temper worn on your sleeve. An archduke should conduct himself better than that.”

“Watch your tongue, Jacqueline. You’re only a Countess. Don’t ever forget that,” Ramsey responded.

“And yet I have more self-control than you can ever hope to possess.” She took in a drag of smoke from her cigarette.

Ramsey trembled. Veins swelled in his forehead, and his face turned crimson.

The King’s voice filled the hall. “Enough from both of you.”

Everyone at the table fell silent. King Baldwin continued to speak in a strong tone. “Unless any of you have a solution that can restore the Martian eco-system, I don’t see any other way except peace with Earth.” His violet purple eyes made contact with those of everyone in the room as he looked around the table. A few moments passed before he added in a softer voice, “and our eventual return to it.”

“I believe the current course of action is best,” said a voice with a deep base.  Eyes in the room turned to the owner of such a voice. At the corner of the table sat a Japanese man. He had distinguished, sharp, straight eyebrows and a long scar running from the side of his neck down into his uniform. His face lit with a calm and polite smile.

“Baron Takashita, if you’re going to give us an ancient proverb or something, please spare us,” said Ramsey.

“Not a proverb this time, but a warning. Let’s think for a moment. We shouldn’t be overconfident in our abilities. While it’s true that our scientists and industrialists have been enhanced through genetic engineering, and have been able to give our military order, the Solar Knights, weapons and abilities far superior to anything of Earth, we still don’t have the advantage in numbers. Earth has a population of almost six-and-a-half billion, while we have only twenty- million in our military. Of those numbers, only one-hundred-thousand are knights—”

Jacqueline tapped ashes in a disposable container and interrupted the barron. “Are you saying you don’t think our military could win? Because we’ve run the simulations and they still don’t seem to stand a chance. Every Soloran soldier would take over a thousand gaian men with them, and Solar Knights such as you and I, would be like gods on a battlefield with them.” Her voice, though flat and cold, oozed arrogance.

Takashita’s tone remained calm. “I’m not saying we can’t win. I’m saying that if we wanted to wage a war it would take a long time and cause much bloodshed on both sides, especially if we plan to win it without using weapons of mass destruction, which we must do if we want to have the planet habitable when we return to it. It’s in the best interest of our Kingdom to avoid a long conventional war.”

Ramsey roared with fire. “I’m more than willing to fight a long war after what the gaians did to us. My father worked in the mines and paid with his life for it.”

“I grow tired of this.” King Baldwin spoke causing the voices at the table to go moot. “My daughter will reestablish our diplomatic links to Earth, and that is final.”

***

Date: January 17th, 2048

Location: On board a shuttle craft 25,000 miles from Earth.

Princess Elaina bided her time walking back and forth in her cabin. She paused to stare out a viewport with her violet colored eyes that resembled her father’s. She smiled and leaned in closer. Space filled her vision wide and eternal.

As the blue planet came closer her lips moved into a smile. “I’m so excited! We’re finally going to see Earth, Joanna.”

With her arms crossed and a serious expression on her face, Joanna looked unamused. “Your Grace, if I’m going to be your Knighted Shield Maiden, I’m going to need to know your real route.”

“Right,” Elaina said remembering something. “Seriously though, stop with all that ‘your grace’ stuff. We've known each other since I was five. Besides, aren’t you even a little excited to finally see Earth?"

The serious expression on Joanna’s face eased somewhat as her gaze turned from Her Highness to the glass and the blue planet. "Yes, I am. It's a beautiful sight." Her cold blue eyes narrowed. "It's a shame it's ruled by those filthy gaians."

Elaina's face muscles tightened, and sadness compressed her at hearing those words leave her friend's mouth. In a dreamful voice she said, "I don't understand why we can't all just get along."

"You weren't there," Joanna said, her voice hardening like it always did when she spoke of the memories. "Their corrupt corporations acted as masters and made us their slaves. I still remember what they did to us in the ziberium mines."

The Princess stared at her shield maiden's face, taking note of the deep-seated bitterness it emitted. She paused for a few moments. "Joanna, I don't know what your memories are like."

The Maiden Knight moved her gaze from the planet and looked at her friend. “In your eyes I see a great deal of hope and naïveté that is somehow both refreshing and worrisome at the same time.”

The Princess smiled. "Our Kingdom is depending on us. We need Earth to survive. So no matter what, we have to have hope that there are people on Earth who want peace as much as we do and believe that we can work with those people to achieve it."

Joanna’s face softened. “Your hope puts me at ease... almost.”


"Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean." ― Maya Angelou


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I am a graduate of the US Naval Academy and a former US Navy officer. I'm also a competition swordsman in historical fencing with the European Longsword and I've studied longsword fighting in both the US and Russia. I've traveled abroad and visited many parts of the world, including some dangerous ones, which gave me plenty of experience that I now use for writing. Now I write novels more on the dark and gritty side featuring themes of dystopia, war, and enemies-to-lovers romance.

Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I started writing short stories when I was ten years old. I made stories of genetically modified turtles that got in all sorts of trouble. When I hit junior high I was introduced to Fanfiction.net and started writing my first fanfiction there. That's the site that really turned me into a writer.
Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Saturday morning cartoons, swordfighting competitions, and military experience. I loved superhero cartoons about teams with dynamic characters united in one goal. Each hero brought something unique to the team but also had their own weaknesses that forced them to rely on the others.
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
I wanted a take on everything bad you see in the present getting worse. In the near-future corruption is the rule and the law. Democracy is outlawed. History is censored. Far away, people who are the epitome of perfection and high on hubris think absolute destruction of the corrupt is their right.

Next in:
Ending Soon
Sistah of the Isle
Family, Strength and Love creates Life!
The Hunter's Den
Blood, the only thing sweeter than revenge.
Vanished
Obsession can be deadly.