The Terran Empire is at war with The Rhimodian cyborgs. The Terrans believe the cyborgs have stolen a system of planets from them. At least, that's how it started.
It degenerated into hatred and fear.
Book 1 in the Galactic Storm Series
Veta, AKA The Temptress, a feared spy for the Terran Empire, now protects the Emperor's two daughters, the only family he acknowledges in the galaxy.
The Imperial Princesses are ready to end this war. Like their mother before them, they want to broker peace between the Terran Empire and the Rhimodians.
Peace would save both species.
They arrive with a Rhimodian cyborg escort.
Now Veta, unsure of where the rest of the ambassadors escaped to, has to find the princesses and find out who attacked the envoy.
With her enormous cyborg escort whose body suit shows exactly what kind of physical assets he has, Veta has to use all her skills to get this cyborg to trust her.
Some of them, she'll enjoy.
She's sure of it.
“You know the importance of this mission.” Emperor Bron’s elevated throne appeared higher than usual. Darkness engulfed the ordinarily bright and glowing throne room, and even the emperor was dressed in dark colors, instead of his traditional gold and red.
His words echoed down to Veta, as they did when he gave a direct command. Such theatrics didn’t threaten her. Still, the way the emperor looked at her, she knew he was serious. Like he was trying to intimidate her today.
It didn’t work.
“Yes, Imperial Majesty.”
“And if anything goes wrong, you do what you must in order to protect the Terran Empire.”
She nodded. “Of course. My loyalty will always be to the Empire.”
He nodded. “Those atrocities tried to destroy us once, but their efforts brought the Terran Empire closer together than ever before. Their terror can only make us stronger.”
“Yes, Imperial Majesty.”
Veta kept her face dead of emotion, though she could not help wondering why the Emperor was sending a mission at all.
The Rhimodian had maintained this war for decades now. They wouldn’t stop, and they wouldn’t give in. It didn’t matter what the Terrans did, the cyborgs never surrendered, and they never gave up. They would rather die than be captive.
Made very few prisoners of war, which was handy, but still.
Emperor Bron stared at her.
“You think I am foolish to send a mission of peace to their homeworld.”
Veta didn’t respond.
He made a gesture with his hand. “It is merely you and I, Veta. Speak.”
“If you do not believe peace is possible, then I question the necessity of sending a mission at all. It seems a pointless gesture.”
He sighed, and looked away from her, into the darkness. “Peace is merely a ceasefire to regroup. You and I both know that.”
She couldn’t disagree.
Growing up always knowing war, it was natural for Veta to turn to military service. And at a young age, she quickly learned how to get what she needed, when she needed it, using any skills necessary to accomplish her goal. The military took notice of her talents.
Now, a decade later, she was one of the Imperial House’s most loyal officers and performed missions that occasionally required a kind of touch that many male soldiers would not be able to accomplish.
Including becoming close with the imperial princesses.
Two young women with far different ideas about reality.
However, it wasn't Veta's job to teach them the truths of reality. That was for their governess, Bianca. Veta kept them safe.
At whatever the cost.
The Emperor looked back at her, his cold eyes piercing. “But my daughter believes like her mother.” He ran his hand over his robe, his finger tracing the intricate embroidery on the lapel. “And that belief cost my wife her life. I cannot let the Rhimodian take my daughter, as well.”
“Either of them,” he said, gesturing with his hand, like it was an after-thought that he had more than one daughter. “Protect my daughters on this fool’s errand.”
“What if peace can be reached?” Veta asked.
“With them?” He laughed. “Those machines will never quit fighting. My daughters will then return home, realizing the error of their ways.”
He gestured for her to drop to her knees. “I have a gift for you.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Veta said, and took a knee, as was customary when being blessed with a gift from the Emperor.
Though her hands trembled at the thought of what the Emperor’s gift would be.
She had heard from others that gifts could range from a physical gift to demands of sexual favors.
Immediately, she steeled herself. She did whatever was necessary in the name of the Empire. She always had—for doing whatever was demanded in the name of the Empire had kept her alive for years.
What was one more moment?
The Emperor parted his robe.
She closed her eyes.
And heard a snap.
She opened her eyes, expecting to see—
A shiny, new blade, as long as her forearm, with a wicked, serrated edge on one side, the tip curved. The weapon of a warrior. One that would quickly take out any attacker, Rhimodian, or otherwise.
She accepted the blade, feeling the weight of it in her hands—not too heavy, not too light.
“Do you like it?” he asked.
“I am honored with such a gift, Your Majesty. I thank you.” Her stomach knotted over the price of such a weapon. What would this gift cost her? What part of herself would be expected for the Empire now?
There was little left.
He nodded. “Good.”
A strange smile spread over his features.
One that made Veta question his motivations, making the knots worse. She bowed her head.
And sighed in relief when the Emperor walked a few steps away, his robes swishing softly in the otherwise silent room.
“Now go. Protect my daughters. Make sure they return to me.” He paused and glanced back at her. “And keep me informed, Veta. Anything you learn that might help end this war would be appreciated.”
“As you command, Your Majesty.”
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