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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Black Star Renegades

Michael Moreci

St. Martin's Press

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CHAPTER ONE

TEN YEARS LATER


The starship screamed through the sky, piercing the volatile upper atmosphere of the planet Quarry. Aerial detonations battered the assault cruiser, sending it careening off course and threatening to tear it in half. Inside the ship, the scanners were rendered useless, unable to predict the explosive squalls or chart a course to safety. The ship was flying blind through a neon-green-and-purple minefield, and Cade loved every second of it.

Cade’s brother was less amused.

“I told you this was a bad idea,” Tristan said, his arms folded over his chest as he expressed his disapproval from the copilot’s seat.

“Did you?” Cade replied, feigning sincerity. “I must have missed that.”

A nearby eruption on the port side rocked the starship. Tristan groaned. “Just try not to get us killed.”

Visiting Quarry hadn’t always been such a dangerous proposition. There was a time when it was a thriving planet and active member of the Galactic Alliance; its commitment to open trade brought its native spices to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and, with them, a small piece of Quarrian culture. But that was before the Praxis kingdom used the small planet to show the rest of the galaxy what, exactly, it was capable of.

Still, there was a way to reach the surface without incurring the wrath of the combustible atmosphere. Cade and Tristan, in fact, had a detailed flight plan that would have guided them to a small sliver of airspace that wasn’t exploding. It was a hard-won map, learned through the trial and error of previous pilots, some giving their lives to find the one slice of sky that wasn’t certain death.

They were nowhere near that sliver right now.

While Cade’s penchant for taking unnecessary risks was well-documented—the Well literally had a file detailing his recklessness—he felt that his reasoning for abandoning the mandated “safe” plan was justified. After all, his and Tristan’s pilgrimage was meant to be a clandestine one, and Cade knew how thorough the watchful eye of Praxis tended to be; if the ruthless kingdom was going to monitor any part of Quarry, wouldn’t it be looking at the one safe place to land?

Plus, Cade happily admitted to himself, the opportunity to fly his ship—which he’d named the Horizon Dawn, for no other reason than it sounded cool—through Quarry’s fabled sky of doom was too good to pass up. Cade just wished they’d get through it already. It felt like an eternity since their starship had plunged into this thunderous, life-threatening turbulence, and Cade was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, this was a bad idea after all. He acknowledged the white-knuckle grip he had on the stick, which belied his cavalier attitude. But then, as if the galaxy was in a wish-fulfilling mood, the ship began to settle. Cade waited, expecting something horrible to happen to compensate for the galaxy’s generosity, and when it didn’t, he breathed a sigh of relief. Even the sensors righted themselves, detecting the small amount of light that the nearest moon managed to capture from the flickering sun and deflect to the planetary surface.

“You see?” Cade said, turning toward Tristan and flashing a playful grin. “I told you there was nothing to worry about.”

“You’re the only person I know who can provoke death with a smile,” Tristan replied, unable to hold back a smile of his own. Cade knew that his brother enjoyed the thrill of doing things that you weren’t supposed to do, even though he couldn’t indulge in them like his brother.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Tristan leaned toward Cade and spoke quietly, sharing a secret that no one was around to hear. “You’re a good pilot, little brother. But you’re not that good.”

Cade shot his brother a wounded look. “I can’t believe you’d say that. After all, I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing this for y—”

Suddenly, the ship’s warning array bellowed to life.

“You were saying?” Tristan yelled over the alarm. He swiped through the control panel’s notifications, trying to determine the problem. “There’s some kind of pressure building in front of us, it’s about to—”

Although the viewport was coated with a gossamer residue, a gift from the atmosphere’s strange chemical makeup, Cade couldn’t mistake what the electronic screaming and Tristan’s truncated warning was all about: A neon-green fireball, large enough to incinerate the entire starship, had burst in the sky ahead and was thundering directly toward them.

Cade jammed the stick to the left, sending them barreling out of the raging fire’s path. His reaction to the explosion was instant, but its proximity left no possibility for a clean escape. As the Dawn jerked to the side, the fireball tore across its underbelly, violently whipsawing the craft. Cade flared the ship’s stabilizers as he fought the stick, which was bucking out of his grip. The dashboard spat out one damage report after another.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Cade muttered, muting the shrill sensors. He already knew what the most pressing damage was and, at the moment, had no interest in hearing about the functionality of the ice machine or anything else. The rear propulsion engine had been clipped, and unless Cade found a way to compensate for it, and fast, the Dawn was going to drop out of the Quarrian sky in a spinning free fall.

“Cade,” Tristan said, trying his very best to stifle the frustration that Cade knew was simmering within him. “We really, really need to stabilize the ship.”

At the moment, Cade knew that the only thing that would stabilize the Dawn would be the surface—and only after several bounces.

“I’m. Working. On. It.”

That pesky surface. Cade reminded himself that he had no idea when they’d get out of this minefield and, when they finally did, how close they’d be to the ground. That made it a little hard to plot a landing that wouldn’t leave parts of them spread across half the planet.

Cade fired what remained of the thrusters at full throttle and was treated to a final burst that pushed the ship in the opposite direction of its spin. That, combined with the stabilizers being stretched to their maximum limits, worked to bring an end to the Dawn’s spinning. Metal shrieked and groaned as the ship fought against its own momentum until, finally, it came back under control. The ship was still free-falling, though, and Cade knew he didn’t have a whole lot of time to solve this problem.

Meanwhile, Tristan unbuckled his restraints and carefully got up from his seat.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Cade asked, agitated.

“I actually read that damage report, Cade. Our landing gear is stuck. I know it seems futile to fix that, but I figure it’s best to have it working—just in case.”

Tristan clambered out of the cockpit just as the Dawn began to violently stutter. Cade looked through the muddy viewport and watched as the ship, at last, escaped from the minefield for good. Below, the moon’s soft light did a poor job of providing surface visibility, but Cade got a good enough eyeful to know he didn’t have all day to figure out how to get out of this mess. Opaque darkness began to gain clarity as the ship hurtled closer to the ground, revealing a long, indistinct swath of brown and green. Cade gripped the stick and pulled back, hard, though it was of no use; gravity had the ship tightly in its grasp, and what was left of the thrusters was already screaming.

Cade had an idea. It was crazy, he knew that, but crazy was a big improvement over certain death. Turning to the dashboard’s control panel, he worked his fingers over the ship’s status report, getting a comprehensive picture of its vital functions. In front of him, Quarry’s topography began to take shape: canyons, riverbeds, and valleys, every stitch of it barren. It was a wasteland just waiting to become Cade and Tristan’s final resting place.

All of the ship’s essential operations were functional, kind of, except for the rear propulsion engine, which was exactly what Cade anticipated. With a couple of taps on the control panel’s touch screen and a double confirmation that this was really what he wanted to do, Cade disabled every other engine. The Dawn groaned like an aggrieved power generator being terminated against its will, and what little bit of resistance the thrusters had offered against the free fall stopped.

Cade’s beloved Horizon Dawn was now dropping from the sky. And starting to spin again.

Behind him, Cade heard the cockpit door slam open; using whatever parts of the ship he could grab on to for purchase, Tristan climbed back into the copilot’s seat and slapped his harness home.

“What happened to the engines?” he gasped, winded from the exertion of moving about the turbulent starship.

Cade could feel the heat accumulating at the front of the ship, the atmosphere’s friction causing flames to spark around its nose. Ahead, a forest populated by black, dead trees rose from the ground like a line of jagged teeth protruding from the maw of a hideous beast. It couldn’t have been placed in a more perfect spot.

“The engines?” Cade absentmindedly replied as he mentally ran the numbers calculating the ship’s rate of descent and their distance to the forest. “Oh, yeah. I killed the engines.”

“You what?!” Tristan howled.

Cade shot open the emergency flaps and fired the reverse thruster to get the ship better angled for its approach. He then called up the engine’s manual-override screen. “You got the landing gear down, right?” He had to yell now over the noise of the ship melting around him.

“Yes, but that was when I thought you were going to avoid crashing!”

Cade ignored his brother’s comment as he prepared to punch a maximum burn to all engines, grinning at this moment of unbridled lunacy.

The very tops of the trees came blistering into view, looking charred and awful. Cade still felt that a hideous monster was just waiting to loose itself from the ground and swallow the Dawn whole. But it wouldn’t like the taste of what he was going to do next. He jammed his finger into the control panel’s override command, sending maximum thrust bursting out of each of the ship’s engines.

The Dawn heaved against its own momentum, pasting both Cade and Tristan to the back of their seats. A hostile swaying motion seized control of the ship, rocking it in every direction as if it were trapped in an ocean current, while the engines, overwhelmed by the sudden jolt of power, tried to find their level. They were still plummeting to the ground at a terrifying rate, but at least now they were flying forward. Cade just had to land before the full power burned out the engines for good. That would be bad. If those engines failed, the landing would be a lot less horizontal than he would’ve hoped for. People might even say he crashed.

As the ship fishtailed through its landing vector, Cade engaged the landing vanes—hoping they wouldn’t be torn off the ship—and braced for impact with the forest below.

“Cade! We’re coming in too hot!” Tristan yelled as he clutched the safety belts that ran over his chest.

“You think?!” Cade snapped.

The ship pounded into the forest, exploding a copse of brittle trees as it went. Metal screeched and screamed as the ship slammed into one tree after another—but it also began to slow. Cade wrenched the stick back—prolonging the time he had to rely on the rear engine to keep the ship stable—and let the path of destruction be the ship’s natural brake. A large tree struck the viewport, splintering the reinforced, shielded glass into a multitude of pieces. The stick rattled so intensely in Cade’s hands that it caused his entire body to tremble, and he accepted the fact that the ship’s current conditions—too much velocity, too little stability—were probably the best he was going to get.

As the Dawn smashed nose-first into the ground, a mountain of dirt exploded over the viewport. Blinded, Cade could only hope there wasn’t a ravine ahead, or a drop-off that flung them straight over the side of a cliff. But as the ship skidded across the ground, leaving another swath of pulverized trees in its wake, Cade realized their flight was at an end. His two modest goals had now been satisfied: get the ship on the ground; get it to stop while still in one piece. With an exasperated groan and a cathartic hiss, the ship finally came to a halt.

Cade released the stick, expecting to find his grip impressed upon the metal; his body shivered as his muscles released the pent-up tension. After all that chaos, the ship was now silent, eerily so, and Cade couldn’t resist shattering it with a victorious howl.

“You’re a lunatic,” Tristan said, throwing off his safety straps. “And just because you brought this thing down in one piece, don’t get it in your head that this landing is anything to brag about.”

Cade rose from the pilot’s seat and took a few cautious steps away from it. He was unconvinced that the ship wasn’t a sneeze away from splitting in half. Still, he couldn’t help meeting his brother with an ear-to-ear grin. “One day, they’ll tell stories about this landing.”

“Oh, I’m sure they will. Cautionary tales are the best way to learn.”

With a casual swipe of his hand, Cade waved his brother off and headed to the rear of the cockpit. There, fit snugly into a frame molded to its exact size specifications, was the ship’s remote drone unit. Or, as Cade called him: Duke. Across the galaxy, being bestowed with the title of “duke” was a mark of nobility. It signified bravery, manners, and kindness. The Horizon Dawn’s drone possessed none of these qualities. Mouthy and insubordinate, Duke never met a task he could do without resistance or complaint, but Cade knew two things: One, because Duke was connected directly to the Dawn, no one had a better handle on the condition of the ship in real time; and, two, Cade also could trust the old drone to follow orders and get the ship in working order. Probably.

“Wakey, wakey, Duke,” Cade sang. “Time to earn your keep.”

Cade activated Duke’s control panel, and his mechanical body began to wheeze and whir. Like the Dawn itself, Duke was a fossil when it came to drone evolution; drones now were far more advanced and came with way better tech, more features, and seamlessly fluid body movements. Plus, whoever did the programming on the updated models had ironed out the kinks that caused older units, like Duke, to evolve into cagey old tin cans with sour attitudes.

When Duke laboriously stepped out of his housing, he sounded like he was going to take the wall of the ship with him. His boxy, bulky limbs released themselves of his casing with noticeable exertion, and when he finally was free, there was a pregnant pause before he spread out his broad shoulders and chest. His oval eyes glowed a soft yellow. Duke was a good head taller than Cade, painted black, with long arms that hung stiffly at his sides. If Cade didn’t know Duke, he might be intimidated by him.

“Greetings, Cade Sura,” Duke said as he came fully online. “How may I be of service? It seems that the ship has—oh, my. I take it that you fought a battle and lost, Mr. Sura. How dreadful.”

“Knock it off, Duke. The flight logs are already in that brain piece of yours,” Cade said. “Just have the Dawn ready to fly by the time we get back.”

“Judging by the damage, I take it you’ll return in four months?”

“You have four hours, and I don’t want to hear any excuses. Also, set a security perimeter around the ship; if anyone or anything breaches it, let us know immediately.”

“I will kill it.”

“No. Absolutely not,” Tristan ordered, poking his head in. “We have no idea if there’s anything out there besides Praxis forces, and I don’t want you shooting up any locals.”

Duke’s voice box rattled, his equivalent of a sigh. “Fine, be that way. I will instead play hide-and-deactivated should guests arrive. You Rai have fun out there, and try not to get captured and or killed.”

Although Duke got on Cade’s nerves with his “can’t do” insolence, Cade had a soft spot for the cantankerous drone. At least it had some personality. His tolerance of Duke—after all, wiping his memory banks would take five seconds—ran parallel to the loyalty he felt for his ship. Sure, most other ships in the Well’s fleet were sleeker, faster, even sturdier, but Cade didn’t waste time thinking about that. The Horizon Dawn was his, and if all it had going for it was attitude enough to stand out from the pack, that was fine by him.

Cade patted Duke on the shoulder as he walked toward the ship’s exit. Tristan was waiting for him there.

“You know, I was thinking,” Cade said as he caught up to Tristan. “On the way back, let’s take the easy way.”

* * *

Cade was certain he and Tristan were going to be swarmed by a Praxis combat legion at any moment. They strode on a path from the crash site that, even as it zigged and zagged all over the place, Tristan swore led right to the Quarrian spire. Cade darted his eyes to the sky with every other step, checking, even though they had good aerial coverage. But Cade wasn’t about to leave anything to chance, especially when one glimpse from a Praxis scout drone was all it would take to ruin his and Tristan’s party before it even started. The trees were packed so densely together—something Cade hadn’t noticed on their descent to the surface, as he was too busy trying not to die—that their twisted and gnarled branches had grown into one another, creating a natural canopy.

Seeing the scorched limbs intertwined as they were, Cade imagined how horrifying Praxis’s invasion of Quarry must have been. One minute the planet and its inhabitants were getting along as they always had, and the next a fleet of warships came along and the biggest one sucked the energy out of their star. This was before Praxis transformed into the galactic kingdom, before anyone knew they had such designs or technological capabilities. But the entire galaxy found out both in one awful swoop.

Cade was just a kid when all this happened, so he only knew the story through history texts and the recollections of others. From what he learned, the obliteration of Quarry’s star was so sudden and so unbelievable that the myriad races living on the planet barely had time to process what was happening and respond. The death toll was staggering, as those who didn’t have the resources to escape, or simply failed to escape in time, faced the agony of life—or lack thereof—on a planet that was quickly freezing and losing oxygen.

Quarry’s government did all it could to respond from their provisional home in orbit around the planet, ultimately firing a series of atomic accelerator missiles at its lifeless star in the hopes of bringing it back to life. The payload succeeded, sort of. It resuscitated the sun to a fraction of its former power, but it also ignited the planet’s atmosphere, sheathing it in the layer of explosions that Cade recently discovered was even worse than he’d been told. The result was a planet covered in a veritable minefield and habitable only to the most resilient species.

The trees that hung over Cade’s head were one such species that couldn’t survive the extremities the planet was forced to endure. For some reason, Cade couldn’t shake the idea that somehow they knew that, and their last act was to embrace one another as their existence came to an end. While there were still some withering plants and shrubs on the ground generating the planet’s breathable air, Cade realized how badly he underestimated what Praxis had done to this planet. Back home at the Well, people described Quarry as a wasteland, but that didn’t suffice. No new life would ever thrive here. No one would ever call Quarry home again. This planet wasn’t barren like a desert; it was dead. And Praxis had killed it.

After mile upon mile of pushing ahead through the dead forest, Cade had to stop. Though he didn’t want to admit it, the crash landing left him more than a little beaten up. He was sore and bruised, and the effort it took to keep his body moving wore him out. Breathing became a chore. The acrid smell of chemical refuse in the air competed with the whiffs of putrid compost Cade caught from the ground to see which could torch his olfactory senses first. The eggheads back at the Well assured him that Quarry’s air was breathable—and now Cade couldn’t wait to ream them out for not explaining that “breathable” air could still hurt like he was swallowing shards of glass every time he sucked it into his lungs.

“Cade!” Tristan beckoned from up ahead. But Cade couldn’t answer. With one hand planted against a tree, Cade was doubled over, trying to catch his breath. Trying, and failing, to will himself to keep going.

Cade heard his brother yell again, but this time he detected concern in his voice. When Cade looked up he saw Tristan rushing toward him. “Cade!” he yelled again, and when he got to Cade’s side he put one hand on his back and another on his chest, as if he were going to pump his lungs like an accordion. Tristan wasn’t at all affected by Quarry’s air, which made Cade irrationally annoyed.

“I know,” Tristan said. “I know. This air is definitely worse than anyone thought. Just try to calm down; relax and it’ll get better. Breathe.”

Tristan was right. But, that was Tristan’s thing: He knew what to do in any given situation. Not only did Tristan possess the rare combination of genuine bravery and strength, he was able to instill the same in others. Anyone who fought alongside him knew Tristan was just as committed to making himself the best person he could be as he was to inspiring others to do the same. Tristan, by his presence alone, made everyone around him better. Even his brother, which was no easy task. But now, now it was time to find out just how good—how special—Tristan was. Was he a savior, or an unintentional charlatan?

Not coincidentally, that question could only be answered on the one planet that the galaxy’s tyrannical kingdom forbade everyone else from even thinking about. Never mind the aerial bombs that surrounded Quarry; Praxis was all over this planet. Their drones, in the skies and on the ground, were sure to be positioned between Cade and Tristan and their goal. It was just a matter of how robust of a force awaited them.

When each breath became less painful than the one before it, Cade was able to stand upright again. And he was more than ready to finish their mission so they could get off this rock and never look back.

“Come on,” Tristan said, helping guide Cade through his first shaky steps forward. “You’re going to want to see this.”

Cade shadowed a few steps behind his older brother, who was taking, by his standards, a leisurely pace. They followed a path that rose along a steady incline until it resolved itself into a ridge just a few feet ahead.

“It’s right over here,” Tristan said, and Cade detected something in his voice that he hadn’t heard from his brother in years: excitement. He was taken back to when they were just a couple of street kids on Kyysring, chasing after one another as they stole their way through the planet’s bazaar. Life changed when they left their native world, and growing up, for Tristan, meant more responsibility, more pressure, and, in Cade’s opinion, impossible expectations. Cade could only watch with a hint of mournfulness as the rambunctious boy he once knew turned into the serious and determined man who was supposed to shoulder the fate of the galaxy. Cade admired his brother and he believed in him more than anyone could possibly understand, but a big part of him still thought of Tristan as a grubby kid, constrained by nothing and answering to no one. He found himself missing those days more and more, and he wondered if Tristan did, too.

Cade inched his way toward the ridge, the path’s incline rising to what felt like a straight upward trek. Tristan eagerly waved him forward. “All right, all right!” Cade said as he steadied himself. “I’m coming!”

The trees were less dense here, breaking up the overhead canopy. Hazy beams of moonlight poked through, providing Quarry with a soft glow that was like a blistering sunrise compared to the darkness of the forest Cade had just trudged through. Tristan grabbed Cade’s elbow, yanking him to the ridge’s crest. When he got there, Cade stopped dead in his tracks. He blinked hard as if trying to focus his eyes, and his jaw dropped. There, in the distance, was the spire.

Cade expected big. He was prepared for big. But the spire was so colossal that Cade questioned whether it could even be real. It was like a thing of myth come to life. Gray and auburn rock twisted, turned, and entwined into one another on its upward march, forming the spire’s daunting exterior. Its immensity implied invulnerability, an assurance that no cataclysmic event would compromise its integrity, no ruthless kingdom would breach its walls. That spire would stand, always.

“Well … crap,” Cade breathlessly said. “We don’t have to go to the top, do we?”

Tristan rolled his eyes but then smiled. “That, little brother, is where our destiny awaits.”

That’s a stretch, Cade thought, but he nodded along anyway.

Cade knew the legend of the Quarry spire inside and out, how, many generations ago—so many there was no evidence of any of this taking place, casting more than a little bit of doubt over the whole thing—a great warrior named Wu-Xia single-handedly brought peace to a war-torn galaxy. If the legend was true, Wu-Xia was so profoundly distraught by the endless wars and hopelessness that consumed every star system that he retreated to the spire and vowed to stay there, meditating in solitude, until he could discover a way to bring peace to all worlds. He entered the tower with little food or water, humbly asking the Quarrian people to pray for his continued strength. Many committed themselves to his request, praying daily for Wu-Xia’s return, even though, weeks after his ascent into the spire, most others assumed he was dead.

Wu-Xia had been gone for months, through two Quarrian seasons, when he stepped through the snow-covered mouth of the spire and rejoined the world. And he wasn’t alone. At his side was a weapon, forged of materials no one—not even Wu-Xia’s most fervent doubters—could identify. Wu-Xia claimed that the weapon materialized before him when his spiritual odyssey plunged him deeper than he’d ever been into the fabric that bound the entire galaxy together. Its name, Wu-Xia declared, was the Rokura.

Conveniently, no details existed of what the Rokura could actually do. Shoot lasers? Cast plagues on planets? Transform despots into cute baby bothos? No one had the slightest clue. The legend only boasted of Wu-Xia’s power, Rokura in hand, to destroy or cow the dark forces of the galaxy and deliver peace wherever there was none. In short order, any wide-scale aggressions ceased, and things were pretty much okay after that.

Years passed, and with the galaxy no longer in jeopardy, Wu-Xia declared that it was time for “the corporeal phase of his life to come to an end.” Which, as far as Cade was concerned, was a nice way to say that he decided to take a one-way rocket to the beyond. But before he did, there was one final duty for him to perform: He had to return the Rokura to the spire. It would remain there, he told the people, and could only be removed when the galaxy’s peace was once again threatened by a great darkness. Then someone worthy of the mantle would rise to take the weapon. “They will be the best of all people, the ‘Paragon,’” Wu-Xia said, his final words before disappearing into the spire forever.

And now, here were Cade and Tristan, on a mission to sneak into the spire under Praxis’s nose to see if Tristan could accomplish what no one had been able to do in recorded history: remove the Rokura from its stasis. The Masters and other Rai at the Well seemed to think he could, and they were the experts. While the Well safeguarded peace throughout the galaxy, its primary function was to spiritually and physically train potential Paragons. For generations, its Masters adhered to Wu-Xia’s principles and remained vigilant for the time when an evil so comprehensive, so unrelenting, would arise and threaten the galaxy’s long-standing peace.

Praxis was that darkness.

Tristan was the light.

And Cade? Cade was his ride to Quarry so Tristan could grab the Rokura and blast every last vestige of Praxis into a black hole of the Rokura’s making. Assuming it could do something as cool as that. Cade knew his role in this mission, so when his brother said things like “that’s where our destiny awaits,” he knew it was where Tristan’s destiny awaited. Retrieving the Rokura wasn’t a game of chance; plenty of Rai had tried to remove it from its stasis, but none had succeeded. Not ever. And since Wu-Xia’s time, of course, war and peace had come and gone, and the galaxy had had to muddle on without the Paragon. But this time was different.

Praxis was different.

Other would-be empires had risen and fallen, but they’d crumbled under their own weight or been stalemated by other powers. And usually most weren’t what you’d call “evil,” but Praxis was staking its claim to be the worst of the worst—building its power slowly, quietly, until it suddenly burst out everywhere in the galaxy, not just looking to rule, but to lay waste to whole systems in a thirst for resources. Its crippling of Quarry and its sun at the start of their push cemented that they were looking to do what no empire had done in millennia: rule it all. And Praxis would tolerate no saviors rising on their watch.

Getting Tristan to the Rokura, though, was worth whatever consequences Cade, Tristan, and the Well would face should the mission go wrong and they were detected. Praxis had grown so powerful that not even the Well and its elite Rai had a chance at defeating the evil kingdom. The Rokura was the only chance the galaxy had left.

“All right, we didn’t come here to stand around and take in the view,” Cade said, even though he had to shake off a feeling of awe when seeing the spire. He unsheathed his shido—a three-foot steel staff studded with four blades protruding horizontally out from its head—and held it close to his side. “Let’s go have some fun.”


Copyright © 2017 by Michael Moreci