A CONFLICT GENERATIONS IN THE MAKING
It all started with an 8mm film reel. That was the original inspiration for Fate’s Mission. I found some old 8mm film with home movies from my grandparents. Having never seen what was on it, I was curious, but there was a problem. I didn’t have a film projector that would play it. That got me thinking about all the changes in technology over the decades. We’ve seen 16mm, 8-track, vinyl records, cassettes, VHS, and floppy disks fall by the wayside. If you don’t convert formats along the way, it can become nearly impossible to recover what’s on that old film or disks. Now imagine the technological changes heading into the future.
In Fate’s Mission, a disk is uncovered that contains information from one of the founding leaders of Reinn’s religious Order, the Fortunates. This happens right at a time when sensitive political negotiations are going on and a rival Order, the Fatalists, are claiming the historic leader was a fraud. A history buff, Reinn is sent to investigate the disk. Except the disk is so incredibly old that there’s no device available to read it. One has to be built, but several attacks, mysterious ship failures, and a bombing later, it becomes evident that someone doesn’t want Reinn to see that disk. What’s on there? What lengths will some people go to bury the truth?
Fate’s Mission is a sweeping sci-fi romance with multiple subplots revolving around politics, economics, human rights, faith, destiny, and intrigue. And the catalyst is a single historical disk discovered in an old table. Reinn’s mission carries him on an adventure across space and brings him to his destined soul mate, who has an important mission of her own.
by LAUREL RICHARDS
A love that was fated. A truth that can destroy a man’s faith. And a conflict generations in the making.
When a historical discovery threatens his religious Order, Brother Reinn jin Domarr is sent to investigate. What he finds is a hotbed of political intrigue, assassination attempts, and religious warfare. Someone doesn’t want him to uncover the truth, and he or she is willing to kill to protect a terrible secret. In the midst of danger, he finds his soul mate. Isibel is a woman on a mission to save her people from enslavement, and she has her own enemies. Soon their fates collide, and they face a battle that has been brewing for centuries. Will love and faith be enough to save them?
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This station was huge and so busy it appeared frenetic.
Their party slithered like an outland basilisk through the dense crowd. Traversing a straight line was impossible, as was walking more than three abreast. When they drew closer to what appeared to be the main entryway to the terminal, one voice rose above the cacophony.
“Your journey is not over, brothers and sisters. We have so much farther to go. Paradise is out there waiting for us, a gift from our beloved Goddess. Will you not follow the path?”
The speaker, Reinn was surprised to see, was a boy no older than Niall. He was dressed in two-toned robes of white and saffron and waving his hands in a dramatic fashion. So this, then, was the face of the Fatalist Sect. At least one of them.
Reinn recognized the exact moment the boy noticed their procession. His voice trailed off mid-sentence, and he stared. Underlord Kori and most of his people ignored him completely, although a few turned to sneer.
Far from feeling any kind of hostility, Reinn was struck with sadness. The boy was so young. He was obviously searching for something—some missing piece to his life—and had been convinced that the hunt for a planet that had already been found would fulfill him. This was just the sort of impressionable youth who could be easily twisted to a darker purpose. If the Fatalists were behind the attempted bombing of his temple, had the perpetrator worn such an innocent face?
Reinn wished he had time to talk to the boy and offer a few words of advice. His purpose here, however, went beyond saving one lost soul. He’d have to discuss this with Brother Enq.
In the next instant, sensory overload struck, forcing Reinn to concentrate on his surroundings. If he’d thought the terminal was crowded, then the station proper, when they reached it, was absolutely mobbed. Their presence only added to the press of bodies. It was obvious their arrival wasn’t a secret, and they garnered a great deal of attention.
“I’ve never seen the station like this,” one of the older guards said off to his right.
“How many times have you been here?” Niall had to raise his voice over the hubbub.
Reinn didn’t hear the answer.
Geirr groused beside him. “This is turning into a damn parade.”
Which wasn’t an exaggeration. Security officers formed a loose human barricade, motioning the spectators back to make room. The result was a gauntlet of onlookers—a channel they had to pass through at their own risk.
Playing his part, Reinn adopted a beneficent smile and inclined his head to those who made eye contact. He did not make any more lavish gesture for fear of stirring them up, although several people waved at him in welcome. It was heartening to see that not all of the devout had strayed to the Fatalist Sect.
Next to him, Geirr covered the earpiece clipped to his lobe and scowled in concentration. The device resembled a large crystal stud. It had multiple frequencies so that the security team could speak to each other or to the ship or station as needed.
“Station officers are trying to clear a path to the glide now.” Geirr’s gaze remained alert as he surveyed the crush. “You’d think we were celebrities on tour.”
“We are,” Reinn pointed out. “Few people have seen this many nobles together, let alone a member of the royal house.”
“I was talking about you. The Potentate himself couldn’t generate more excitement. We should have stayed on the ship.”
Reinn didn’t bother arguing. Instead, he took in the faces of the crowd, trying to get a feel for the demographics here. He saw young and old, male and female, and a variety of skin tones—a testament to their mixed heritage. Admittedly, the women caught most of his attention, largely because there were so many of them. He was used to the male majority on Siv and hadn’t expected such a large population of females.
He saw several blondes and brunettes, a rare redhead, and some teenagers with artificial spikes and curls of yellow and green. An older matron had braids of pure white, and next to her was a young woman with mixed tones that reminded him of tortoiseshell, except with more contrast.
The latter made his gaze dip lower, and he had a split second to take in gray eyes and delicate features before his view was blocked by other bodies. There were more and more people—an endless stream pushing and shifting for a better view.
The shot came out of nowhere.
One second Reinn was smiling at the crowd. The next, hot pain lanced through his left side, stealing his breath. Instinct carried him to the floor before his brain could catch up. Geirr was right on top of him.
“Down!” Geirr shouted the warning to the others. His weapon was already in hand. “Where are you hit?”
Reinn fought to overcome the shock and pain enough to speak. It felt like he’d been seared right down to the bone, although the brutal agony was gradually receding.
“Left side,” he answered.
He must have taken the hit directly below his shoulder. His breath locked in his throat as he straightened his left arm, which he held cradled to his chest. What he saw made him feel as if he’d been shot all over again.
Except he hadn’t been. Shot, that is. There was no singed hair or charred flesh—the usual damage of a pulse blast or laser strike. Instead, there were dark veins of gold spreading down his arm, forming an intricate pattern around his bicep, forearm, and wrist all the way to his palm.
Reinn’s widened gaze collided with Geirr’s.
“Blessed Fate.” His friend rasped the words under his breath. “You’re soul-bound.”
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