A group of refugees from a powerful, sophisticated Core World planet have been on the run for seven years.
The mission was to get away and give their children some time to grow up and help them carry on the cause.
The cause was to help the rebellion, win the war and go home. But things didn’t quite turn out the way they planned…
Qeya has spent her life aboard a ship adrift on heaven’s edge. Being Royal means more than being groomed to rule her home planet. Though young, she can wield a scythe blade and suck the life out of her enemy, literally. That her whole life has been planned out for her, including whom she will marry, has never bothered her…until her ship is attacked.
Forced to lead before she is ready, Qeya must find a way to put aside ancient prejudices so they can all survive. Old enemies must form new alliances if they are to last the night. For no one knows the secrets of the new world and only a few can survive the living nightmares at heavens edge.
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Ohre suppressed his wild nature while living on board Datura 3. Plucked from the bottom of the ocean as a boy, he struggled to learn the ways of the land dwellers. He never asked to live with the heaven-sailing miners. But when his adopted clan’s ship is attacked, he must give into the instincts he long fought against.
After fighting to keep Qeya and the Royal children, alive, he finds himself abandoned once more. All Ohre wants is the kind of freedom a life in the sea can give. But he doesn’t want to live it alone anymore. He wants the princess and if Qeya won’t come willingly, he’ll make her.
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Tamn has always lived by a code. After his people are exiled into Heaven’s Edge, he spends his time between Qeya and The Pioneer and doesn’t question his duty. Until his crew is stranded on a hostile alien world and he’s forced to watch the girl he loves burn in the sky.
Stripped of his duty and reason for living, the voices from his past return to haunt and guide him in a path of endless retribution. Only the strongest will survive the trials ahead and Tamn is determined to keep the family he has left alive.
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My life both began and ended with a crash.
“Strap in! Shields are down!” Captain shouted over the alarm blaring throughout the shuttle.
I barely had time to make sure the rest of my crew was secured before the second shudder hit the outer hull. “Qori, hang onto our chole packs!”
I couldn’t find my brother in the blur of shapes, could only hope the straps held fast.
Adi, the miner swung in front of me, wrapping an arm around my waist. “Hang on to your scythe, Royal,” she said with a cheeky grin. Her arm was the only thing that kept me from colliding with the pipes and gears overhead.
For a moment, we hung together suspended midair, legs flailing, as the lights flickered inside the compartment. Adi used her miner strength to curl me into her body until we were a tangle of limbs.
We slammed against the metal grating above as our shuttle impacted with the sea.
Alarms blared and I turned my head, trying to keep calm as I met Adi’s solemn eyes. She was always the one to make light of any situation with her sharp words. But we had just been shot down by an unknown enemy vessel after our brief visit to this hostile world. There was no precedent for this.
Our enemy’s ship was at least three times the span of our shuttle, more than double our mothership, Datura 3. Stood to reason their weapons and defenses would be better than a patched-up mining vessel.
There had been no warning, no terms, nothing about our attackers that we recognized. So far from the Core Worlds, we had grown used to the bands of smugglers and pirates, the dredge of society. Other worlds had been peaceful and independent, but hostile to invaders. Some had seemed totally barren and inhospitable to sentient life. When we discovered this new world, we thought maybe luck had finally returned to us. We were wrong.
Will they attack the others?
Adi helped me find my footing and pounded my chest with a sharp hit. “Chin up, Royal.” She flashed a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Let’s get the others out of here before you faint.”
Her words did the job of pulling my head out of memory and reminding me of the role I was born to fulfill.
“Right, grab the gear.” I turned to find the crew falling from their harnesses. I found Min first and pushed aside the crate pinning his leg to the wall. His eyes met mine briefly as I struggled against the weight and again after Qori helped me set it aside.
“Min!” Her hands fluttered over him in a nervous gesture.
“Just a scratch, love,” he said with a forced smile and wince. “Tamn, not even a rubbed gill again I see.”
“Ready to take on the beasties, brother?”
Min choked on a laugh as I helped him up and into a firm embrace. We exchanged a brief, meaningful glance. Qori took the moment to reel him in for a quick kiss of the lips.
“Time to assess our damage later,” I announced as I turned to the others. “Gather what supplies you can.”
Captain pressed his hand to his side but slung a pack over his shoulder. “You heard Tamn! Get it in gear, mates!”
This was what we had trained for. We had been through worse before, had lost crewmates a time or two since I Ascended and joined the Pioneer. I picked up my belt scanner and checked our position, then led the others to the leaking hatch.
No one spoke as we left the shuttle behind and swam through strange, thicker waters. The ocean covered most of this world’s surface, but we had crashed closer to the beach we left behind earlier that day. The rich sea wrapped around us like a sensitive caress as we half swam, half floated to the shoreline.
We stood together, a motley crew of scavengers and formerly royal pirates, abandoned on the surface of a hostile world. All in the quest for chole dust, our most marketable mineral on our journey to heaven’s edge.
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