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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:27 pm 
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I am self-publishing my story! I have no idea what to expect with this, but here goes.

Here it is on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JM1XFCI

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My book, Justice Lost, is on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JM1XFCI


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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:54 pm 
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Cool. Now I ain't buying it though. ;) I will give it a review though. (3 dollars for the review ;) )

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:36 pm 
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Hey, Blitz, thanks for the review!!!!

Oh, and I am working on the second book. :) Hopefully it will be a little longer this time. I just started writing it--don't have the first chapter yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:10 pm 
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Sheesh that is long.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:49 pm 
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Here is a rather long chapter.... I may need to fix it some, but oh well. I can fix it later if I need to. :) It's been a while since I posted a story, so--here you go.

I'm not sure about the name of this story. Depends on which direction it goes.

Chapter 1 Refuge


I flew toward the sun, my wings, metal bands on my arms, carrying me higher and higher until the cold cancelled out the sun's heat. My heart throbbed like it was bleeding out, worse than the now-healed gunshot on my chest.


I can’t go back there,
I thought. Dad’s offworld, he can’t make me, not even the burden of the Royal Marches can make me….

A twinge of guilt hit me. I felt like I’d abandoned Tashi and Lith and Varshan. We’d gone through so much together, and now I was acting like they didn’t exist, like their pain didn’t matter—

But just thinking about going back sent a wave of panic through me. I’d put it off too long, and now I’d let fear build up until it was like a physical barrier, stronger than the barrier between worlds.

I opened my eyes. The sun glared down at me without warmth, without pity.

I fled its gaze, zipping down through the clouds, mist sparking against my skin like electric current. I flew faster and faster, wind whipping into my face, danger pounding through my veins. Dark spots shot across my vision. My breath was torn from my throat. I laughed in the face of its pain, nothing compared to the pain shooting through the core of my heart—

I slowed, gasping. My skin burned from the wind. I hovered, getting my breath back. Hanging onto consciousness.

Below, a few houses dotted the landscape. Two-story buildings with red roofs made of stone or adobe. A few miles away, the beach stretched out in a long, white border. And to the north, the red cliffs stood, where I used to come with my friends, before Responsibility caught me in its trap….

Something tugged me toward the cliffs, and I flew, the fresh, seaweed-like smell of the ocean infusing the air.

There was a blindspot in the sensors out here; not even Monitors could find me. I sunk toward the earth, longing for the time when I was free and Dad didn’t expect things of me and I could enjoy the day on my own sometimes….

My boots hit the rocks, jarring my left leg where metal met flesh. Ignoring it, I walked across the wind-carved swirls and stopped at the edge.

Then I leaped off the cliff, letting my wings carry me down to the beach in front of the cave. I walked along the sand, seagulls spiraling in the air, swooping down to the sand. The waves rolled in, the rhythm soothing my mind, numbing the pain.

I tugged off my boots, and dove into the sea. Warm waves swallowed me and I swam down, down into blueness sliced with rays of gold.

Seaweed caressed my sides, wavering like green worms. A crab scuttled under a broad shelf of rock as my shadow approached. I snatched up a heart-sized shell, its golden insides shimmering. And I shot up, up toward the blue-veiled sun.

I lay back onto the sand, my chest heaving. The scar on my chest throbbed, where the bullet pierced through bone and flesh….

I gasped as if shot again. No. Think of anything else.

The sun. The sky. Clouds bouncing along the horizon. The sand, warm and smooth, massaged my back with tiny grains.

Sunlight heated my closed eyelids.

The world faded.

Blue eyes burning like shards of ice. Cold fire tearing me apart from the inside. Screaming drowns out all other sound.

Desperate for solace, for home—only darkness. Running, running only to have invisible nets catch me, sling me down onto hard, bruising rock—

Crack! Something breaks inside me but I can’t wake up—can’t fight against these bonds tying me to darkness—

A hand grabs my shoulder—I lash out, smashing it with my fist—


“Jet—Jet,” said a gentle voice. “It’s me.”

The hand touched my shoulder and I pried my eyes open, sunlight blinding me. A face blurred into my vision, brown hair and sea-green eyes—

“Sol?” I whispered, still half-entwined in nightmare.

“It’s gonna be all right,” said the voice, hands pressing me to his chest. His sun-warm, silken shirt brushed against my cheek, and I tasted the saltiness of the sea along with the graininess of the sand I must’ve swallowed while thrashing around.

My vision sharpened, and I noticed a bruise blossoming across his jaw.

“Did I do that?” I said.
He smiled sheepishly. “Well….” He swept back a curl of brown hair from his forehead.

“I’m sorry! I—“

“It wasn’t your fault.”

Shame heated my face. I almost wished it was my fault—better than him catching me in this state when I’d rather pretend the past few months hadn’t happened and we could go back to having fun, being free out here amid the sun and sea….

His gaze fell to my scar and I wished I had brought a shirt along. I slid my hand over it, then switched to brushing sand off of my stomach and arm.

“Risk and Sym are in the cave,” said Sol. “I thought I’d come out for a swim, and— Do you want to come on in?”

I nodded, although I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to see my scars. Sol seemed to sense this; he swept off his shirt in one deft motion and draped it over my shoulders. I clasped its edges over my heart.

After tugging on my boots, I made my way to the cave, but the dream had drained something out of me. I had to lean over, my hands on my thighs, my head spinning. Sol supported me for a few steps, then I walked on my own.

We meandered through the cavern, wind whispering through its hollows, stripes of purple threading through the red, an occasional shimmer of sunlight lancing through holes cut into the rock by the wind.

As we rounded the curving path that led to our hideout room, my heart thumped with anticipation. Risk and Symphony stood when I entered, and Sym let out a squeal and raced toward me, throwing her arms around my neck, pressing her cheek against mine.

“Are you okay, Jet?” She searched my eyes with her amber ones. Shoulder-length blonde hair framed her face, sunlight spinning it into brilliant gold.

I nodded. “Yeah. I didn’t know you guys were out here.”

“We were having a picnic,” said Risk, sauntering up to me. She put a hand on my shoulder, and gave one of her rare smiles, her sky-blue eyes lighting up. “I’m glad you’re back, Jet.”

I smiled. “Me too.”

“It’s been a while.”

Sym looked up at Sol. “What happened to you?”

He fingered his jaw; winced. “I ran into something.

“My fist,” I said.

Sym gasped.

“Not on purpose,” said Sol.

“It looks awful!” She stood on tiptoes and kissed the bruise.

I looked away, although I wasn’t sure if it meant what I thought it did; Sym was demonstrative with everyone.

They invited me over to the cove and I sat down on a broad shelf of rock, sunlight filtering in through a hole in the ceiling. I came here whenever I wanted to get away from sensors that tracked me, and from Monitors, huge mechanical guards that shadowed my every move. My father found out about this place six months ago, but maybe I could hide out here for a little while. Dad was off-world, after all, trying to settle a dispute among our strongest allies.

I wanted to go back to visit Lith, Tashi and Varshan, not conduct affairs of state like I was supposed to. Stay as far away from the Fortress as I could.

Sol handed me a sandwich and an orange. “We brought extra.”

“Just in case you showed up,” said Sym. Her eyes caught mine meaningfully. “We missed you, you know.”

I took a bite of the sandwich. My eyes stung; I shoved down the emotion that threatened to brim over the edge.

“I missed you too,” I managed. “So, what have you guys been up to lately?”

“Not too much,” said Risk, sitting opposite me. Her red-brown hair was spiked to sharp points, and she wore a form-fitting outfit, purple swirling with black undertones, streamlined for flying. She didn’t have wings like I did—no non-March was allowed to—but she loved flying her skyrider. She could work wonders with that thing—and fly almost as fast as I could.

“Have you been out flying?” I asked. I took another bite of the sandwich. Tangy sauce flooded my tongue.

“Oh, yeah,” said Risk. “But it’s not the same without you.”

“I’m sorry.”

She waved her hand. “You had a lot to deal with.”

“I wish I could have visited,” said Sym. “But they wouldn’t let me into your room.”

“Dad’s rules,” I said. “The Spire's basically been on lockdown since the war.”

I caught Sym’s eyes straying to my leg. “Is it…okay? I mean, I only found out about…what happened from the holocasts, and I didn’t know whether you got a new one or not.”

“I’m—“ I was about to say ‘fine’, but I knew I was not. It seemed like I had my metal leg forever, but it had only been a month and a half. A lot had happened since then. I didn’t want to hide things from my friends—there were already enough barriers between us. As much as I wished things could go back the way they were, I couldn’t move forward without at least telling them something.

I reached down and pulled up my left pant leg. Sym gasped. “But—it’s metal!”

“It’s not even orikal,” I said. “It’s a Con alloy. Dad had Con medics attach it when we escaped to Interworld.”

“But—why?”

I shrugged. “It’s just temporary. I’m getting a new one soon.” Then I’ll be able to walk without pain, I thought, but didn’t say. As much as I’d rather fly, I can’t always be in the air, avoiding the ground….

“I’m so sorry, Jet!” Sym leaped toward me, kissed my cheek. I fought the urge to slide away, keep her sympathy at arms-length. It was too much. I hadn’t wanted this when I flew out here…I wanted to go back to the way it was. Was that too much to ask?

Well, I couldn’t exactly pretend I was back to normal until I got a real leg instead of a metal one. And until my scars were completely healed….

“That’s not the only reason I didn’t come back to visit you. As soon as I recovered, Dad sent me on a mission to—“I paused for dramatic effect—“Conglomerate Central.”

“You went to Con?” said Sol.

“To get back the Channel they stole.”

“I didn’t know they stole the Channel,” said Sym.

“It was a top secret mission.”

“It looks like it was a success,” said Risk, an eyebrow raised.

“Well….getting the Channel back was the easy part. It was…getting home that was hard.” I hesitated as the memories washed over me. Then, I told them the whole thing from start to finish. I left out a few things, though. The worst parts, I couldn’t bring myself to explain, even to myself. When I was done, I leaned back against the rock wall, feeling strangely better, as if a bit of the pain had melted away.

The room was silent, just the whistle of the wind through the cracks, the distant slosh of waves on the shore.

Sym’s lips were slightly parted, a tear streaking down her cheeks, her brow furrowed.

Risk was frowning, leaning forward, her pale face drained of color. She ran a gloved hand through her hair, ruffling the spikes into disarray.

Sol’s jaw was clenched, anger in his eyes, like a storm brewing beneath the depths of the sea. His hands gripped the shelf of rock beside him. “I wish I could have been there,” he said. “Somehow…fight by your side. Stop the injustice on that world.”

“You can’t really wish you were there.”

“Well, I don’t envy what happened to you. But sometimes I wish I could do more….More than just fiddle around, work, have fun. I want to do something that means something. As a March, you can do that. You can make a difference in the worlds.”

“I…never really thought of it that way.” I’d always thought of it as a burden rather than a privilege—I’d rather just go to other worlds and have fun, not go on missions. But maybe he was right…I had liked that part. Helping the Kashadas, helping free the slaves. It had somehow been worth it, because of that. We were Marches; we were here to maintain our worlds, and make other worlds better.

“But you do make a difference,” I said. “Every day. You don’t just focus on your own happiness like a lot of people. I know that makes a difference in how this world works. Someday, maybe you’ll be able to go to other worlds and help them.”

His eyes lit up. “I’d like that.”

“Maybe you could come with me.”

“If you’re bringing Sol, I’m coming too,” said Risk.

“You’re not leaving me out!” said Sym. “I’ve wanted to go to other worlds longer than anyone! But if you’d put in a good word for me, Jet….”

“I’m not sure Dad would allow it.”

“You said he’s trusting you with more things now.”

“I don’t know if he’d let regs travel at will—but maybe. Someday. If I keep in his good graces…”

And that was another reason to obey my father. I’d never have as much influence as Glory—or Vy, or Blade—but I was finally becoming a March, accepted by my father.

I still dreaded going back, but telling my friends what had happened had sapped away some of the fear. I just had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t going to be like it was last time. Varshan was an advisor to the general in charge of the Fortress. Lapparan was in prison. The world had changed for the better. Lapparan was not going to take me, drag me back into that room and rip into me—

No. I wasn’t going to dwell on nightmares.

I unclasped my shirt and tossed it to Sol; he caught it in midair. “I’d better get back,” I said.

“No!” said Sym. “Why?”

“If I do, maybe I can convince Dad to let you come along next time. Then you can meet Tashi, Lith and Varshan.”

“What if you can’t?”

“Then we’ll just have fun here. I’ll come back, I promise.”

I stood, my heart wrenching with the realization that I was leaving them so soon after being gone for so long. I’ll be back, I thought. And I’ll go swimming with Sol, flying with Risk, exploring the beach with Sym….

I stepped toward the doorway of the cavern, and flew up through the hole into the sky, back toward the Spire.

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My book, Justice Lost, is on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JM1XFCI


Last edited by Ameraka on Mon May 05, 2014 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:20 pm 
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Ameraka you are a good writer. I love it. The suspense is great.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:34 pm 
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Thanks Blitz! Here's the next chapter. I have to admit, I'm having a little trouble with this story for some reason. So if you have any suggestions.....


[chapter erased]

It needed to be fixed I think. :)

Previous one is edited.

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Last edited by Ameraka on Mon May 05, 2014 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:38 pm 
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Interesting twist though I think it is unfair to bring back some one like Lapparan again. Hmm.... Few people treat a diplomat like that also. It is not really a wise move to hold someone hostage from anyone who you to ally, when you can't even deal with one enemy. In other words, that lady is a bad diplomat. Since I am not in your mind I can't give much more help than that.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:53 pm 
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Ha. Maybe I should go back and fix it then. I wasn't intending to write it that way, it kind of just...happened. And Lapparan--yeah it is kinda unfair. although the more conflict the better.... You're not exactly supposed to be nice to characters in stories. But then, I'm not sure if I totally like that twist either. I could bring something totally different in.... I don't know!!!!

Maybe I'll leave this chapter up but rewrite a different version. Maybe I'll do a whole different story..... Hm.
I think this story is suffering from sequelitis.

Thanks for you input. :D

Well, should I even go back to the same world or should I even make a sequel? Should I write in a totally different world (a la Helios? not that I can compare myself to her :))

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:33 am 
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Your welcome, but I have a tolly radical idea that I will pm to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:56 am 
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It's that radical, huh? Now you have me curious.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:55 pm 
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Did you get my pm?

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:22 pm 
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That's weird- no, I didn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:33 pm 
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And sent again.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:11 am 
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Is Evangeline Walker your real name?


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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:33 pm 
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No--it has the same initials as my first and last name though. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:43 am 
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Okay, I've been working on the sequel to Justice Lost. I've had some false starts....hopefully I can keep going with this one! I will if at all possible, because constantly going back, though it helps me learn what not to do, also doesn't help me get an actual novel finished.

But here is Chapter 1, tentatively (trepidatiously--if that's a word).....I am in the process of writing, and will probably revise when I am finished. So if there are inconsistencies etc...that's why.



Chapter 1

The giant sent blows flashing toward me in a flurry almost too fast for me to catch. I tried to block his next punch, but it crashed into my cheekbone and pain cracked across it like lightning. I reeled back. A kick rammed into my side, and I collapsed to the mat, my cheek against its smooth surface.

A cold blade pressed against my throat. "You're dead," said the giant's deep voice. The ringing rasp of a sheathing blade. Then, a hand grasped mine, pulling me to my feet. Pain throbbed across my face. My brother Blade looked down at me, his golden-brown eyes concerned, his bronze face blurry and indistinct. "You okay?" he said.

I nodded. "Just—give me a minute." My breaths came in quick gasps. "I'm just—not used to this."

I limped to the bench on the side of the workout chamber and sat down, leaning my head in my hands. Fire raged along the ridge of metal where my artificial leg met my upper thigh. But I was used to a certain level of exertion canceling out any painkiller, especially since I hadn't taken a medpatch for hours. My arms hurt from taking blows from a man who'd been honing his body his entire life. And my chest still had some residual soreness from being shot last month.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," said Blade. "It's not likely that you'll be in hand-to-hand combat, anyway."

"I'll never get to your level. But any way I can have an advantage, I want it." I thought of last month when I'd been stranded on another world, captured by telekinetic mindreaders. The Channel device, my way home, hadn't been working, my gun had been taken, and I hadn't had my wings. I couldn't use lightning because of my metal leg. Martial arts might have given me an advantage in such a case.

"You sure I can't fly to make up for not having lightning?" I said.

"Flying's not the same thing as electricity. Besides, you'd fly away like you did when we were kids."

"Even without your lightning, you could pound me into dust if you wanted to."

"I could do that with anyone. The only time I don't hold back is when I'm evenly matched—which isn't very often. You sure you want to do this?"

"You're the best. I need to learn." I stood. Willed myself not to sway on my feet. Blade stood there in a resting yet poised stance. A light sheen of sweat glistened across his skin, his biceps bulging, just a hint of sweat on his shirt over his broad, sculpted chest. Just looking at him made phantom pains chase over my skin, foreshadowing how he could shatter my bones in one blow if he chose. A curl of bronze hair fell over his handsome, chiseled face. He was what a March should be—strong, capable, disciplined, and obedient to Dad's orders. I couldn't hope to compete with him. Just like when we were kids, he could knock me down, pummel me until I begged for mercy—no wonder I flew all the time. Only way I could get away from him.

I smiled at the memory of Blade's bulky form wobbling after me, barely cutting through the air. I could actually do something Blade couldn't. But when my father finally caught up with me, sat me down in his throne room, he told me, "Marches don't fly away from their problems." One of the many things my father said that Marches didn't do, that I did. Well, if you were being attacked, you might want to cut your losses and get out of there. Besides, I don't mainly fly away. I fly toward—the sky, the freedom, feeling of the wind on my face, its wild free smell—

I could do this, wings or not. It's not like I didn't know pain. In the past few months, I'd lost my leg, had to learn to live with this subpar one, and been tortured. Maybe I couldn't win, but I could take a hit. Go down fighting. I'd learned that, at least.

I bounced onto the center of the mat, Blade opposite me. At least I knew this opponent. I was learning his moves, even if I couldn't hope to counter his strength.

Blade sent a combo of a kick and chop to my side and I barely ducked in time. Speed was one of the few things I had in my favor. I danced away, trying to go on the offensive. He let me get a punch past his arms—my fist hurtled into a chest like solid rock. Fiery darts shot through my wrist. I whirled backwards and he came at me, grabbing me around the waist and lifting me into the air. I felt like I was flying for a moment—then the sickening drop, like the few times I'd lost control of my wings. I slammed into the mat, the wind knocked out of me. He came for me, but I leaped up again, trying to imagine that I had my wings on. It didn't work as well as I thought—all I could think of was flying above him to the ceiling, laughing at his miniature form racing around in vain below—

His fist darted past my defenses, catching a glancing blow across my jaw. Sparks frolicked across my vision. I came at him, blindly, and he caught me, hurled me to the floor. I crawled to my feet; he waited for me, his fists raised. "Technique, Jet."

I nodded, and darted away from his next fist. Then I slammed a punch into his side; I was gratified to hear a small gasp. He whirled around, punched me in the chest. In the stomach. Quick, short blows. Holding back most of his power. Playing with me. Pain slashed across my chest where the bullets had gone through, but I tried not to show it. I leaped out of the way, but my leg twisted, sending piercing shards of pain through it. I fell to the ground, gasping. The giant loomed over me, his shadow as long as the disappointment on his face.

And then—he collapsed, like a tree felled in a forest. I sat up, my leg still throbbing, and saw that he was sprawled on the ground, his head thwacking from side to side as if invisible blows were raining down on him. He tried to get up, but he slammed back down, and his jaw jerked back, as if someone had kicked him.

A few of his punches hit their mark, whamming into something solid. A slight gasp. A shimmer in the air. Blade got to his feet, but the onslaught continued from all sides, a kick here, a punch there. He growled in frustration, rushed at the invisible enemy, but it darted out of the way, and he stumbled, nearly falling. A ringing laugh from midair.

"Cut it out, Vy!"

"What's the matter, Blade?" said a disembodied voice. "Don't like it when you're at a disadvantage?" The air shimmered, and peeled back to reveal a woman, hair as black as night cascading over her shoulders, nearly bouncing as if it had a life of its own, in sympathy with her buoyant emotions, her effervescent voice. Her violet eyes flashed. She hovered in midair, wearing a skintight black uniform. Silvery-gold metal bands—her wings—gleamed on her upper arms, making me long for my own.

She descended to earth and stood in front of Blade, regarding him for a moment. Then she waved at me. "Hey, Jet." She walked over to me. Slapped my shoulder, making me wobble a little. She wasn't as tall as Blade, but at over six feet, she was still bigger than me, her lithe, sinuous form stronger than it looked.

"How long have you been here, Vy?" I asked.

"Oh, almost since the beginning. But it got a bit much toward the end there. Blade needed to be taught a thing or two." She glanced at Blade and laughed; Blade frowned.

"You might learn some things from Blade's technique, impeccable as it is," she continued. "But throw out the idea you have to 'fight fair'. In the field, you're always going to be mismatched. Sure, you have a metal leg, and so you can't use your lightning. Bring your wings. Your goal is to stay alive."

Blade stepped over to us, his arms crossed, showing off his spectacular muscles, built from years of training in stormdance, the Royalty-exclusive, ancient art of war. I had learned the basics, but without Dad's encouragement, I hadn't kept up with it; for most of my life, I hadn't been one of Dad's priorities. Now that I had a metal leg, I couldn't even use lightning, so I wasn't really doing stormdance at all. But Dad wanted me to learn what I could from Blade, because we were going to war, and for the first time, I was going to play a prominent part in Dad's plans.

"We're not in the field, Violet," said Blade. "Stormdance is more for discipline than actual combat."

"Even discipline isn't going to be worth much out in the field. I've been there a lot more than you have."

"That's because we use spying more than war."

"And we spies are made to throw all rules out the window. You're a soldier, made to follow orders, structure. Jet's not genetically engineered like the rest of us, so he can do whatever he wants. He's more like me than you, though. He'll make a fantastic spy. After I teach him how to get his hands dirty, of course." She flashed a grin. "Okay, enough standing around. Shall we?" She unclipped her wings and handed them to me. Then she pressed the camopatch on her neck, and dissolved into the air.

I clipped the wings to my upper arms. They were Vy's, so they were a little tight, but I felt like myself again. I might actually be able to stand my ground. So to speak.

Vy's invisible fist crackled against Blade's cheek; lightning snapped across his skin. As he reeled back, he lashed out with his own lightning, a broad sheet of it spinning out from a central point. Vy's lightning shot into Blade and he staggered back, nearly falling to his knees. I hovered about a foot above ground, ten feet from the mat, not wanting to get mixed up in this. I had no desire to feel electricity burst into my metal leg again.

Blade's next volley crashed into Vy, the snap-crack of a whip, a long slash of lightning. She shrieked; her camopatch flickered, and her black-clad form became visible once again, writhing from the constant barrage. Vy staggered to her knees.

I dashed in there, heedless of what would happen to me. "Stop this!" I said, hovering about five feet from him. But he didn't let up. So I flew behind him and pressed my arm around his neck, thinking of all the times that he'd attacked me that way. I'd never been much good with lightning, even before I got a metal leg. So often Vy had come to my rescue, even though, by the time I was six, she was often off on a mission for Dad and I had to fend for myself.

His neck was as unyielding as a tree trunk. So I kicked him in the back as hard as I could. He whirled to face me. I leaped up into the air; he jumped and grabbed my ankle. His bulk dragged me down; I kicked out, hitting the side of his head, and he let go. I flew up, up toward the ceiling. I'm no fighter, I thought. I'm going to have to be in war sooner or later, but I'm out of my league against these two. Few people I face will be as formidable as Blade and Violet.

I watched from the high ceiling, as they fought in the broad bare center of the room, workout equipment and weapons glinting along the edges. This time, Vy used her camouflage to keep out of reach.

How can I hope to compete with such creatures? I thought. I might as well stick to what I'm good at. I'm one of their blood, and yet in some ways I'm more like our subjects, the regular citizens I barely know…

Their fight died down, Blade's sheer strength and controlled discipline clashing against Vy's vicious deviousness. I sank toward the floor, careful to keep out of range of their lightning, crackling against each other with dying ferocity.

Just as I reached ground level, supposedly out of the way, shocks snapped across my body, ripping into my metal wings and leg. I slammed into the floor, violent sparks raking across my skin.

Vy materialized above me.

"Wh-what you d-do that for?" I said, shaking with dancing sparks.

"Sorry, Jet. But you need to learn to never let your guard down. And never trust anyone, even someone on your side."

"Apparently I can't trust my own sister," I said, crawling to my knees, pain clamping down on my leg and back.

She grasped my arm, helped me over to the bench along the wall. "You can trust me to have your back. This is just a demonstration. I only gave you a minor shock."

"Minor?"

"I said minor, not mild."

I looked over at Blade, his arms folded across his chest, wearing his "I don't like it when the rules get ignored" face.

"If no one's going to attack me with lightning in the field, I don't really see the point. No other race has lightning."

She pursed her lips. "That we know of. Be prepared for all contingencies, Jet. It's better you get hurt now, by someone who loves you, than get hurt later. This is what a spy's life is like—dirty tricks and betrayal."

Maybe I don't want to be a spy, I thought, but I didn't say it. Now that I'd shown aptitude for leadership, war, and espionage, Dad thought that with some training I could do all three, fill in the gaps when my siblings couldn't. I could be useful, a true March, for the first time in my life. I wasn't about to mess that up. Even if it meant…unlearning some things. I couldn't fail Dad. Not when he had so many expectations of me. I had to live up to my recent successes. Fail and I'd be back to square one.

Violet wrapped her arm around my shoulder. "I'm sorry, Jet." She stroked my hair, like she used to do when I was little, after rescuing me from Blade's assaults. "Now I wish I hadn't done that. You've already gotten hurt more than anyone should." She leaned her cheek against mine. She'd always been my closest sibling, even though she was six years older than me.

The door swung open. Dad strode in, Glory flanking him. Glory's golden hair cascaded over the shoulders of her purple and gold diplomatic uniform. Dad wore a gold sash across his chest, his crimson shirt draped with a purple robe. Though Blade was over seven feet tall, Dad seemed to tower over him, his presence filling the room as if we were just satellites to his sun. Even Glory's radiance couldn't compare to his sheer power. Dad and Glory both had a little bit more of the special something that all Marches had inherited from the Winged, our long-vanished ancestors. Mom had it too, but now it was dimmed by her insanity, though rare moments of lucidity still glimmered through the cracks.

"Have you worn out him out already?" asked Dad.

Vy cleared her throat. "I was just teaching him about contingencies and betrayal. Sir." She added, as if not totally certain whether we were in formal mode or not, since Dad's ceremonial attire contrasted with his more familiar manner.

"Good." He turned to Blade. "What about you?"

"I have been teaching him discipline and perseverance, sir!" said Blade, standing at attention, his entire body rigid as a statue. Fear shone in his eyes; though Dad didn't have Blade's massive build, he could take Blade down in a second with his two centuries of honed skill. Glory didn't have Dad's ruthlessness, but she had the finesse and the cold precision of a master. I'd seen Dad and Glory practice, and it was more like a dance than a battle. If I didn't stand a chance against Blade and Vy, Dad and Glory would hardly deign to touch someone as fragile as I was for fear of breaking me.

Dad's dark golden eyes regarded me beneath sharp black eyebrows. A lock of black hair spilled over his forehead; his perfectly trimmed beard framed his chiseled jaw. Well-defined muscles rippled beneath his shirt, showing off his effortless, elegant power, like a sculpture of an ancient god. His eyes could flash like lightning, his voice could resound like thunder. His words could affect the destiny of worlds. He could order death—and had; he could provide mercy, he could make gold rain from the skies. Most of the time, I could hardly fathom that his blood flowed in my veins.

"How are your lessons coming?" he asked.

"Good," I said.

His eyes flickered. I searched my mind for something that I'd done wrong.

"Sir," I added.

His eyes softened, twinkled. I saw where some of Violet's wicked capriciousness came from. A smile spread across his lips, sending warmth tingling through me, as if the sun had come out behind a storm cloud. "We're about to commence our operation, so now your training will start in earnest. You will go with Glory to Gem and follow her lead."

My heart leaped. I hadn't seen Tashi and Lith in a month; Glory had taken care of most of the dealings with Gem since then.

Magistrate Lapparan's face flashed across my mind. I still had nightmares about how she'd ripped into my mind, my leg—her kisses pressing brands to my lips that seemed as permanent as scars….

But Lapparan was in prison; our new allies didn't want to antagonize us by setting free the one who'd brutally interrogated the son of the ruler of our world. Besides, she'd failed—"mismanaged", as the officials from the east had called it, by letting the Fortress get overrun by rebels. I wouldn't see her again. Maybe now I could put her out of my mind.

"Later, you will work with Vy," said Dad, "and take a team of M's and Nobility to spy out the Con side of Mirage. You will also work with Blade to create a mixed regiment of M's, Mirage troops, Gem telekinetics and mindreaders, and Citizen Corps. Follow Glory, Vy and Blade's lead, but I expect you to take the initiative, as you have the past few months." He put a hand on my shoulder. "I'm counting on you, Justice." He used my given name, the name that was also my grandfather's, which I could never hope to live up to.

"Yes, sir," I said.

His eyebrows furrowed.

"I mean, Dad."

He smiled, and turned with a flourish of his robe, striding toward the door. I sat there for a moment, then stood. My leg faltered. Glory snatched me up just in time, and Violet helped me to my feet. Dad turned at the door. "You sure you're up to this?"

"I'm fine."

"Take a medpatch," he said. "You're no good if you can't move." He stepped out the door, into the bright sunlight.

Tell me about it, I thought. I wanted to ask him for a new leg—a real flesh-and-blood leg that didn't jab me at every step—but it hadn't seemed like a good time. When a good time would be I didn't know.

"Here, I've got a medpatch," said Vy. She grabbed a patch from one of her numerous, nearly invisible pockets, and stuck it onto my neck. It fizzed into my skin, and the painkiller hummed into my body, meeting the molten pain and dulling it.

"How is it now?" said Glory.

"Better."

"Ready?"

I nodded.

"Let's go."

She strode ahead of me.

"I'll meet you later, Jet," said Vy, and turned to Blade. "Ready for another round?"

I stepped out the door just as Blade reached for the knife in his belt and Vy whirled to meet him with a knife of her own, metal ringing against metal.

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:33 pm 
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One thing... Didn't Glory ask her dad to get Jet a new leg in the last book?

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:07 pm 
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Thanks for pointing that out. You actually remember. :) I will address that. Obviously he didn't comply with her request. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Welcome to Ameraka
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:01 pm 
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He said he would. *Glares* ;)

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