Speculative Fiction—an all-encompassing genre created to describe stories of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and other stories that have an element of “What if...” in them. A story in speculative fiction is one that adds an element of the unreal, or asks, what would become of our society if history took a different direction at some important event? Fiction with a little something extra thrown in.—William D. Richards
The vast web of the teleportal system links the civilized planets, yet
wars and disease propagate from the edge of the galaxy. Are the
mysterious Grand Masters responsible for the disasters? On Avalon, the
White Mother Tingu weaves her plans for the most promising empath in
generations. Violet Hunter seems an ordinary graduate of the Terran
Space Academy with the dream of exploring exotic planets. She hides her
secret talent and her task of investigating the twelve Grand Masters.
One Grand Master took a chance and selected Violet as his pawn. On her
missions, Violet gains new powers, strange allies, and clues to the
Grand Masters. While seeking answers, Violet is hurled into conflict
with the Grand Masters, while the galaxy flies toward chaos.
Part 1 follows Violet’s mission to the Catacombs of the ice planet of Erebus.
Two blue beams emerged from the
round eyes of an ugly stone griffin, casting a weird light over the walls of
the small room. 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?”
“You will call me Grand Master,” the
haughty voice held an unpleasant edge.
Violet resolved to assert her
independence instead of retreating into her usual passive acceptance, and said
indignantly, “Grand Master, do your pawns have individual names?”
The room vibrated and psychic
pressure built up against her. “You are insolent, Violet Hunter!” the Grand
Shivering at the menace in his
words, she stepped back against the wall, and instinctively shielded her mind.
His psychic power was impressive since he was not physically in the room.
Unexpectedly, Violet sensed a faint drift of amusement, the mental equivalent
of a smile.
“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. 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.
“True, however, you have no
Violet objected again, “Grand
Master, I have more experience with aliens and other planets than most of my
He growled, “I am aware of the
reports on you. Nonetheless, every pawn must meet my high standards when
performing their missions.”
His deep voice rose in volume and
resonated throughout the small chamber, “You will perform the missions exactly
as I command. Do you understand me, 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 under hazardous conditions. Her survival might require swift action.
The Grand Master continued in his
imperious manner, “Your first mission will be to acquire the living crystals
from the cave in the Catacombs of Erebus.”
The blue beams from the griffin’s
eyes flashed on the wall of the room and a rotating planet appeared in midair.
The white surface of the planet was streaked with fine yellow lines like cracks
in a smooth ball.
“The Catacombs lie deep within the
ice planet of Erebus where the labyrinthine passages lead to the subterranean
city of Elyrium.” As the Grand Master spoke, a maze of interconnected caves
appeared within the hovering sphere, which cracked apart like a stone geode to
reveal the colorful jewel of a city. “The crystal cave is in the city. You will
teleport to Erebus and hire the guide named Rothan Rivern. Inform him that you
serve the Grand Master. You can rely on him to lead you though the perilous
caverns to the crystal cave. Do not use force to extract the crystals, or they
will lose their vital energy. Move your hands gently over the crystals until
one loosens and falls into your hands. You may take one or two crystals in this
manner. Do you understand, Pawn?”
“Yes, Grand Master,” Violet repeated
obediently, committing his instructions to her memory. She stared in
fascination at the stone griffin with the glowing blue eyes. The Grand Master
must control the holographic display from some remote site. She wondered if he
would ever reveal his true physical form.
Blue light flashed from the eyes of the griffin
and the voice of the Grand Master assumed a menacing tone, “Your mission is a
challenge. Not all survive the Catacombs.”
Aurora Springer was born in the U.K. of Irish and Polish parents,
which makes her a good American. She lives in Atlanta with her husband,
one dog and two cats. She is an avid reader and has been composing
Science Fiction and Fantasy stories since childhood. She has a doctorate
in molecular biophysics and has a day job in academia where she works
with crystals. Her ambition is to boldly discover the secrets of life
and create new worlds. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, boating and