Spaceships are not prominent in the universe of the Grand Masters. The majority of interplanetary transport is via the portal web. Travel is almost instantaneous and any discomfort experienced by spinning through the void disappears in a picosecond. An interesting effect is that it is faster to port to your friend on the opposite side of the galaxy than to phone them. Phone messages travel at the speed of light and will only be effective between adjacent planets, for example, Earth and Mars. Messages can be written on paper or keyed into a com chip and then delivered by portal through the Interplanetary Communications System. The Grand Masters have a type of miniportal in their coms for exchanging messages, but this advanced technology is not available to ordinary folk.
The last of the huge sleeper ships left Terra a millennium ago, although isolated human colonies can still be discovered in remote regions. Humans are tenacious. Space Corps employs a fleet of spacecraft and drones to explore uncharted regions of the galaxy. Even the Griffin Grand Master uses drones in his search for the ancients. When an inhabited planet is found, a portal can be installed by the technicians on the spaceships. The Space Corps scouts play a key role in repairing the portals during the crisis when portals fail at random.
Violet uses a shuttle to travel from the moon to the planet when she visits the dragon lords of Sythos. She also flies a skimmer, or small personal aircraft, when traveling from the nearest portal station to visit her mother or her tutor.
Spin across the galaxy as Violet and her Grand Master hunt their enemies.
Cracks in the portal web threaten galactic civilization, and suspicions fall on the mysterious Grand Masters with their immense psychic powers. Once, there were twelve Grand Masters, humans and aliens, on the Council. Now there are eleven. One was killed when the young pawn, Violet, rescued her Grand Master, Athanor, from the Red Queen’s dungeon. The Red Queen fled the fight and now she lurks out of sight, regenerating her energies.
Athanor devises a risky plan to expose his enemies on the Council and force the Red Queen into the open. His strategy will employ Violet’s empathic skills as his secret weapon. Meanwhile, she wrestles with her erratic talents and doubts about their unequal partnership. In their search for revenge, they contend with the portal crisis, psychic traps and hostile aliens. In the inevitable battle of Grand Masters, Violet and Athanor each will face their worst nightmares. What is the sacrifice for victory?
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Two men in gray uniforms entered the conference room, burly Sergeant Hepple followed by slim Private Ronyang.
The Sergeant’s broad face was creased in a worried frown. He brightened on seeing Violet and greeted her warmly, “Miss Hunter, our paths cross again.”
Ronyang threw her a quick smile before his olive face reverted to seriousness.
After briefly introducing the two scouts, Kondric said, “You remember Violet Hunter. Her companion, Griffin, exchanges information with Space Corps on planets outside the portal web.”
He waved a hand at the table. “Take a seat. I called you here to discuss our little problem.” Kondric took the chair at one end of the oval table, intending to preside over the meeting. The two scouts took seats near the door, while the Grand Master pulled out the chair next to Violet. He laid his arm across her shoulders with casual possessiveness and Violet was amused by his unconscious impulse in the presence of possible rivals.
He caught her flash of insight and sent, “You are my pawn. Would you prefer me to ignore you?”
“Of course not! I love your touch.” She suppressed a smile in deference to the glum faces of the Space Corps men.
Effortlessly exerting his superior authority, Athanor glared at the two scouts and barked. “What happened on Haven?”
Private Ronyang glanced nervously towards Kondric, who was the senior officer at the table. Kondric gave a nod of consent.
His gaze glued on the Grand Master’s grim face, Sergeant Hepple explained in a rush, “We’d parked the ship in orbit round Haven to stock up on fresh food. Our team hopped to the portal station outside the town of Muddybank. When we got the message from Major Trenet, we reconfigured the portal for bulk transport. As usual, we set a roster for guard duty. I got the evening slot. Late in the evening, red lights flared over the town and we heard explosions. Two of our men raced back from the town and reported an attack.” He paused for breath and glanced at Ronyang.
Athanor’s brows lowered in a frown. “Who attacked?” he asked.
Sergeant Hepple gestured to his left. “Private Ronyang saw what happened.” The Sergeant nodded at him to proceed with the report.
Ronyang gulped and burst into speech, “I was walking through the town when a whole bunch of giant insects dropped from the sky. They had shiny black bodies, two pairs of wings and six red eyes. The ugly critters grabbed the nearest townsfolk in their huge mandibles. Their screams were awful! Everyone else scattered, running for their lives. I did the same. In the distance, I saw a red giantess rise over the roofs of the houses. She tossed lightning at the terrified inhabitants. So, I raced back to the station to report.”
“Our enemy, the Red Queen!” Violet gasped in dismay.
“Outrageous!” Livid with rage, Athanor leaped to his feet and leaned his hands on the table top. His disguise slipped. He loomed as a grim figure of menace with the eerie blue fire in his eyes. “By the fires of Hades,” his voice boomed. “The Red Queen has gone too far. She has broken the Council treaties by attacking an unprotected human colony. You couldn’t bring worse news.”
Aurora Springer is a scientist morphing into a novelist. She has a PhD in molecular biophysics and discovers science facts in her day job. She has invented adventures in weird worlds for as long as she can remember. In 2014, Aurora achieved her life-long ambition to publish her stories. Her works are character-driven romances set in weird worlds described with a sprinkle of humor. Some of the stories were composed thirty years ago. She was born in the UK and lives in Atlanta with her husband, a dog and two cats to sit on the keyboard. Her hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like gardening, watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.
Aurora has published science fiction romances in two series, two novellas and short stories. Her first series, Atrapako on Eden, describes the interactions of humans on the terraformed planet of Eden with scaled aliens from the hostile planet of Vkani. She has published two books in this series: The Lady is Blue and Dragons of Vkani. Her second series is Grand Master’s Trilogy. Book 1, Grand Master’s Pawn, was published in March 2015. Book 2, Grand Master’s Game, is available for pre-order and release on July 17th. Her short story, Gifts of Jangalore, is set in the Grand Masters’ Universe. Her standalone novellas are: A Tale of Two Colonies and Captured by the Hawk.