3013; Unity – Laurie Roma

THE WORLD HAD changed in the year 3013. Earth rebuilt their civilization after the Alien Wars ravaged the planet and an unknown virus nearly wiped out the entire population, but nothing could ever bring back what once was. A new age of mankind was born, but some of the edicts set forth for humans to survive have become obsolete in the ever-changing universe. What fate has in store is uncertain, though, one constant is clear. In a cosmos filled with endless possibilities, love is the ultimate prize. Warriors from every species search the stars for love, and they will risk all to fight for those who hold their hearts. But danger is always present when worlds collide. As new challenges arise, all the known races must adapt and learn from their allies. However, not all desire peace, or to live in harmony. And as a new year dawns, the battle for the future has only begun… CHAPTER ONE “WAKE UP! WE’RE almost there!” Lyrica Snowden shouted as she raced across the sleeping quarters of her best friend and most loyal guard. “We’re heading toward the last space station right now, which means we will be arriving on Earth much sooner than expected.” Alden Cloudspear let out a low groan and burrowed deeper under the covers, trying to ignore her. That didn’t stop her from pouncing on the bed next to his still form. When that didn’t get a response from him, she playfully poked him until he finally slapped her hand away. She let out an exaggerated gasp.


“You dare strike your Vasera?” He turned and opened one amber eye to glare at her. “Only when you interrupt my sleep. Even if we are a little early, we still have several hours until we get to Earth,” he complained, his voice muffled by his pillow as he burrowed in again. “Go back to bed.” Ignoring his order, she scooted down until she was lying crosswise on the bed and rested her head on his back. To be honest, he had every right to be annoyed with her for waking him up. The long journey from Xenthian had been quite difficult on his system, and he needed to sleep as much as possible. Neither of them had left their home world before, and they hadn’t expected for Alden to suffer from such a severe case of space sickness. He was doing much better now, but those first few days of travel had been especially brutal on him. She knew she should leave him alone, but she couldn’t help it. Her excitement and nerves were too much to contain. She had been driving herself crazy, and since her personal attendant had a fear of space travel, Alden was the only other person on board the space cruiser, he had to deal with her. After countless years together, Alden was used to dealing with her moods. He had seen her through the good times and the bad, had witnessed her joy and sadness, and everything in between. He had been the royal guard assigned to her since her birth, but he was more than just her protector.

He was family. While Alden’s hair had once been as black as hers, over the years, his had changed to a lighter bronze color. His watchful amber gaze had never missed any of the mischief she had gotten into as a youngling. However, instead of forcing her to conform to the life of a typical royal female, he had encouraged her curiosity and her love of learning. Although it broke with tradition, he had taught her how to fight, how to hunt, and beyond the basics to more advanced magic. While she liked the physical demands of training, she’d never want to face a real enemy in battle if she could help it. Though she was no match for Alden’s skill with weapons or hand-to-hand combat, she had surpassed his abilities using magic. That was something she never got tired of teasing him about. Spellcasting came easy to her. The call of power could be addicting, so she remained careful not to overdo it, especially when it came to tapping into the dark. While most Xenon avoided having anything to do with dark magic, Alden had taught her enough to ensure she could protect herself against it, or at least the basics. Those lessons became even more vital after the deaths of her mother, father, and sister. The only blood family Lyrica had left was her twin, Lynx. As united as they were, she and her brother were complete opposites when it came to their personalities and temperament. Unlike Lynx, she had never felt as if she were meant to rule the Southern Isle.

Instead, she had longed for a life filled with travel and adventure. She’d dreamed of visiting distant worlds to learn about other races but leaving the planet had been prohibited by the rules governing all Xenon. Now that those rules had changed, she was finally getting her wish. Sighing, she rested her hands on her stomach and tried to relax and embrace the silence. Alden’s hard back wasn’t a very comfortable pillow, although the thick blanket made it a little more tolerable. She didn’t feel like returning to her own quarters just yet. Perhaps being a twin made it difficult for her to be alone, or maybe she was having trouble sleeping because they were so far away from home. Either way, she knew she had to get some rest. It wouldn’t be wise to arrive on Earth exhausted and cranky. Since Alden had left the wide windows unblocked in his sleeping quarters, Lyrica stared out at the black abyss of space beyond the glass. She knew they were approaching the Alliance space station since she had seen it on the navigation system when she had been on the command deck a few minutes ago. They were still a good distance away from the space station, but she was hoping for a glimpse of it before she went back to bed. Alden’s loud sigh broke the silence. “You’re nervous.” Because he knew her so well, she didn’t bother trying to deny it.

“A little,” she admitted, knowing she could be completely honest with him. “What if Earth is a horrible place? What if we hate it there?” Giving up on sleep for the moment, he grumbled a bit as he shifted over on the bed. Even though he was annoyed at being woken up, he shoved a pillow under her head, making sure she was comfortable. “Then, we’ll leave and explore another planet,” he said simply. “But before we go, we need to deliver Elder Blue’s gift to the Dragon Warriors, or we won’t be able to return home.” That made Lyrica shudder. Elder Blue was the very last individual she would ever want to make angry. She’d been surprised when the powerful elder had entrusted her with his gift for his Dragon Warrior friends’ new youngling. Then again, it saved him from personally making the journey all the way to Earth, which seemed like something he would rather avoid if at all possible. Lyrica didn’t mind delivering the gift since it gave her the perfect excuse to meet the mysterious Dragon Warriors. It also gave her a reason to travel to Earth. The humans she had met so far fascinated her, and she wanted to learn more about them and their home planet. She figured the best way to do that was to go directly to the source. There were many things she admired about the human race, like their diversity and how innovative they were when it came to technology. What she didn’t understand was their complete reliance on their military structure, but perhaps not having magic had made them more concerned about potential threats.

Xenthian was a relatively peaceful world. Part of that was due to the fact they had hidden their planet for millennia. Since they had revealed their world again, the Xenon had slowly begun to interact and integrate with other races. However, just because they had closed themselves off from the rest of the universe, that didn’t mean Xenthian had always been free of conflict. The Xenon had experienced their share of treachery and betrayal over the years. While those occurrences had been rare, they had recently suffered a few events that had cost a number of lives. Lyrica still felt the pain of losing her father and mother, and more recently, her older sister, Lasha. She missed them every day and knew she always would, but she was eternally grateful she still had Lynx and Alden. Now, her brother had taken over the role of Vesere of the Southern Isle. Although the twins were both adored by their people, Lynx was the best choice to rule. He was happiest when he was at home, and unlike her, he had no desire to travel or explore other worlds. Even so, she felt bad for leaving him behind. “Stop it,” Alden ordered. “You have nothing to feel guilty about.” She narrowed her lavender eyes at him.

“What, can you read minds now?” He gently tapped her forehead. “I’ve always been able to read yours. Lynx is pleased you are finally able to travel. He would never stand in the way of you doing something you love. We all know your heart has been in the stars. Now, you are finally getting a chance to experience it.” “How can I not feel guilty about that?” “Do you think your brother is weak?” Alden demanded suddenly, his voice changing to an impatient snap. “That Lynx isn’t capable of ruling without your help? Then, stop making it sound like he doesn’t know which end of a sword to pick up without you there to show him. You can still help your people without being chained to the palace. As for Lynx, he is happiest when he is on the Southern Isle. It would have been torture for him if you had forced him to come with us on this trip, and he would have made us pay by complaining the entire time.” “That’s true,” she admitted with a laugh. “I know you’re right, and he would be very angry with me for feeling guilty. Still, I can’t help feeling like I’m leaving him with the burden of all the responsibilities while I go have fun.” “My idea of fun does not include flying through space inside a metal container.

” “You will be on solid ground again soon, my friend. In the end, I do hope this trip will benefit all of our people. I would like to learn more about the mating dynamics of all of the races to understand what it could mean for the Xenon.” Alden let out a low groan. “By the gods, you are trying to do that mate-matching thing.” “I think the term you are thinking of is matchmaking.” “So, you admit it,” he accused. “You are trying to mate-match all Xenon.” She didn’t bother correcting him again since she sort of liked his phrasing better. “Of course, not.” At least, not at first, she silently amended. But he didn’t need to know that was her plan just yet. “I do not believe you.” “Several of the outsiders who have come to Xenthian have turned out to be soulmates to our people. And you have to admit it’s very interesting that two of the Moonmist siblings found their soulmates on Earth during their recent visit.

” “What I find interesting is that they didn’t start a war while they were there.” Since she and Alden were good friends with the Moonmist family, that made her chuckle. “The humans wouldn’t have been able to develop the cure for their fertility issue if it wasn’t for Jael. And we should be grateful to the Moonmists. Without them, we wouldn’t have known we needed these for our magic to function properly on Earth.” She lifted up the clear, glass pendant attached to a length of black chain she was wearing. A mazika leaf, the emblem of the Southern Isle, had been engraved into the glass. When the Moonmists had gifted the pendants to Lyrica and Alden, the emblem had pulsed with a soft green light. Shortly before they left, Elder Blue had done something to the glass, and now, the entire pendant glowed with a deep green and silver light. Alden lifted his own necklace to study it. “I wish I knew what Elder Blue did to this, but I wasn’t about to question that male. I enjoy living too much.” “Wise choice.” “It’s going to be very strange visiting a world without magic. People fear what they don’t understand, which means we must be extra cautious while we are there.

The treaty between our worlds is still fragile and new, and there is still potential for a lot to go wrong.” “There is the optimistic, cheerful attitude I admire about you,” she teased as she reached up to pinch his arm. “Ouch! Stop that. I’m just being honest.” There was a long pause before he asked, “Did you inform Vasili Blackthorn about your mission to mate more of our people to outsiders? He must have faith in your diplomatic abilities if he is allowing you to be an ambassador for our race on this crazy quest.” “It is not crazy, and I did mention my plans to both Kai and Ivy,” she said, mentioning their king and his human mate. “They were both completely supportive of what I’d like to do.” He simply grunted in response to that. “If more of us continue to find soulmates from other worlds, we need more information about the other races,” she insisted. “We also need to educate their people about our customs.” Alden was quiet for several long heartbeats before he asked, “Do you believe your soulmate is from another race?” “I…” Startled, Lyrica realized she hadn’t even thought about that possibility. She should have considered it, but truthfully, her own happiness hadn’t really been a factor in her immediate plans. She had been so focused on helping everyone back on Xenthian, especially those who had been waiting thousands of years to find their mates like Alden and Elder Blue. She had also been thinking about her brother, who she believed with all her heart deserved to find a soulmate who loved him above all else. Answering honestly, she said, “I believe many of us have soulmates out in the universe just waiting for us to find them.

” Alden was quiet for a long moment before saying, “I think I might have missed my opportunity to find my mate.” “Don’t say that,” she pleaded, turning to face him. “You should never give up hope.” He shrugged. “We were defying our destinies by staying hidden for so long. Lifespans of other races are not all the same. Added to that, it’s hard enough to find one’s mate on a single world. Finding one unknown individual is virtually impossible when you factor in all of the other planets and space stations that exist now.” “Perhaps if two people miss each other in one lifetime, they might be reborn to try again in the next,” she countered softly. “And fate is like a beacon. With a little guidance, even the smallest object can be found in the vastness of space.” She gestured toward the wide windows and the space station that was now visible in the distance. “Fate can be fickle.” She rolled her eyes, then realized he couldn’t see that action. “You get more morose with age.

Should I start calling you elder from now on?” “Do not make me push you onto the floor. Now that you’ve finally seen the space station, go away and get some sleep.” “Fine.” With a sigh, she slid off the bed and flung the pillow she had been using at him. Without looking, he caught it before it hit him, then shoved it under his own head. Damn him and his quick reflexes. When she was halfway across the room, he called out a warning. “You better not try and matematch me while we are on Earth.” A wide grin spread across her face. She wasn’t going to make any promises. In fact, she had a feeling mate-matching was going to be her favorite new hobby.

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Updated: 8 May 2021 — 09:45

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