A thousand years in the future, wars and portal failures disturb the fringes of the galaxy. On Terra, twenty-two year old Violet Hunter seems an ordinary student of the Space Academy, who dreams of exploring unknown planets. She applies to serve as the pawn of one of the twelve Grand Masters, although her hidden talent of empathy makes her ineligible. Violet has defied the prohibition against psychics for half her life. Why should she stop now?
Isolation is the penalty for a Grand Master’s great power because their touch is deadly to a normal person. The Grand Master with the griffin avatar selected the girl with the star-shaped birthmark in spite of her father’s dire prophesy. He is suspicious about his disobedient pawn, yet he cannot deny the success of her missions to strange planets where she finds more than he expected.
Violet seeks the truth about the mysterious Grand Masters. Who or what are they? Do they threaten or benefit civilization? While searching for answers, Violet does the unthinkable. She makes a bargain with her obnoxious Grand Master and challenges him to meet her face to face, risking her secret to discover his purpose. She plunges into an impossible love and a world of intrigues. Will she survive the vicious conflicts?
Violet was led along the adjacent corridor to hear the instructions of her Grand Master. She was eager to meet this important person who would guide her through the missions on different planets. They stopped in front of a door bearing the heraldic symbol of a griffin. Inside was a small unlighted chamber.
“Wait for Grand Master.” The furry alien pushed her inside and closed the door firmly.
The room was so dark, that at first, Violet could see nothing. Suddenly, two blue beams emerged from the round eyes of a stone gargoyle and cast a weird light over the walls of the small room. Very faintly, she sensed a distant masculine presence. Violet blinked, and the gargoyle resolved into a winged griffin with blue eyes and a cruel beak of a mouth. She guessed the griffin was an avatar for her Grand Master, since she perceived no powerful entity inside the room. She felt a thrill of anticipation as the eyes flared to a brighter blue.
A deep, resonant voice spoke, “I am the Grand Master and you will serve as my pawn.”
“Yes, Grand Master,” Violet said, refusing to show fear at the eerie, disembodied voice. “What may I call you? Do you have a name?”
“You will call me Grand Master,” the haughty voice held an unpleasant edge.
Violet resolved to assert her independence, and asked indignantly, “Grand Master, do your pawns have individual names? Or do you call them by numbers?”
The room vibrated and psychic pressure built up against her. “You are insolent, Violet Hunter!” the Grand Master growled.
Shivering at the menace in his words, she stepped back against the wall, and instinctively shielded her mind. Had she been too assertive? Of course, he knew her name from the Academy records. His psychic power was impressive considering he was not physically in the room. Unexpectedly, Violet sensed a faint drift of amusement, the mental equivalent of a smile. She was unsure if it was her empathic talent, or a glimpse he had permitted her.
“Hunter is a good name for your vocation,” he remarked in a milder tone.
Violet stiffened. He must never learn the truth. She hunted him.
His gruff voice grew severe again, “I have taken a chance by selecting you. Remember, you are on probation. You must prove yourself worthy to serve as my pawn.”
“My qualifications are excellent,” she said, nettled by his antagonistic attitude. Surely, he had checked the records for her performance at the Academy.
His deep voice rose in volume, and resonated through the small chamber. “You will perform the missions exactly as I command. I do not permit any deviations from my strategy. Do you understand, Pawn?”
“Yes, Grand Master,” she said, trying to sound compliant. Who was he to plan a detailed strategy? He would be safe in his palace, or wherever Grand Masters chose to live, while she would be working in hazardous conditions.
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My career in science involves plenty of writing facts for research articles. But, I’ve imagined exciting adventures in weird worlds for as long as I can remember. For many years, life intervened. Now, I have achieved my life-long ambition to publish novels. My published works include science fiction and fantasy with romance and a sprinkle of humor. I was born in the UK and live in Atlanta with my husband, a dog and two cats to sit on my laptop. My hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.