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See below snippets of my romantic space opera series, The Curse of Sotkari Ta.

Warning: There are some spoilers, violence, steamy scenes, and unaliving

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The Curse Of Sotkari Ta

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

One evening while Kaya and I were having dinner alone in my room, she told me something I had wanted to hear since my abduction.

“Mina, I cannot help you escape this place, but I know of someone who is in a better position to assist you. His name is Montor, and I think he is the one they plan to have you mate with. He is from a planet called Aranda and also has a complete set of embedded Sotkari Ta genes. The Lostai have complete trust in him because, although he was once a hostage such as yourself, he embraced his new lifestyle and position in the Lostai military. He now enjoys the same freedoms and benefits as any Lostai soldier.”

“Uhhh, I am confused. Why would this person help me? It sounds more likely that he would turn me in rather than help me escape.”

Kaya walked around without immediately replying. Finally, she clarified, “He also secretly cooperates with rebel factions to help them cause many problems for the Lostai military. Luckily, neither side has ever suspected the truth. He is loyal to no one...”

“Oh, I see, what we call a double agent on Earth.”

Abruptly, her pacing came to a stop, and she swung around to face me, looking me straight in the eyes.

“...except to me. He is loyal to me. I successfully trained him in all facets of Sotkari Ta abilities. He has become an extremely powerful being and is a complicated person with a complicated history. He lost his whole family during famine and wars that ravaged his planet. Similar to what occurred on Sotkar, the Lostai came in and took advantage of the situation. He was a child when they identified him as having Sotkari Ta genes and brought him to this station. I was the closest thing to a mother he had growing up here.”

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“Ah...the curse of Sotkari Ta...” she said, shaking her head.


“The curse of Sotkari Ta? What does that mean?” I asked.


“These days, every bad thing that has happened to our

people is referred to as the curse of Sotkari Ta. If you ask me, it is unfair as we, Sotkari Ta, are proof that our people are destined to evolve to a higher level. The saying originated when, as part of our evolutionary process, Sotkari Ta became predisposed to prefer each other as mates, as opposed to regular Sotkari. I suppose it was nature’s way to further the evolution of our race.”

“Oh, yes, this was explained to me, but I never heard that expression before.”

“Yes, well, some Sotkari Ta are offended by it. As I was saying, the attraction between Sotkari Ta is extreme, almost irresistible, and occurs through any skin to skin contact, especially that involving the hands. In the early days of our evolution, we did not understand what was going on in our bodies and minds. The first evolved Sotkari had not yet learned how to become disciplined with their new abilities. People became romantically involved based only on this extreme physical attraction, resulting in many failed relationships. Marriages were broken due to illicit love affairs for the same reason. As these situations became more common, people began to blame it on what they called the curse of Sotkari Ta. Later, Sotkari people coined the term to describe all of their problems in general....the divisions between our people, children born with genetic defects, the Lostai takeover of Sotkar, the persecution and exile of the Sotkari Ta...”

“Oh, I see. I guess we can say even innocent people from other planets have become victims of this curse.”

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

We waited until after dusk when the only people remaining outside were eight Lostai soldiers standing guard, two each at the north, south, east and west borders of the plaza. Looking through a long-range ocular device, I smiled seeing their forlorn expressions. The Lostai scum obviously missed the cold weather of their home world.

“They do not seem too happy. We should take them out of their misery,” I said.

“What you plan?” asked Tzarst.


“I need to get closer to them. Use the lizon, on second level only, to render them unconscious but not to kill. Take as many of them out as you can.”

During our trip, I instructed him on the use of advanced hand weapons but was still wary of his ability and how well he could handle the weapon with his long spindly fingers.

“Be careful not to hit me.”


“When?”


“You will know.”


In the time we spent together during our trip, I learned to understand his expressions, which were mainly through his body language as his facial features barely changed. When he was worried or agitated, his long fingers moved constantly. He caught himself, grabbing one hand with the other, and nodded to me. I pushed his nervous behavior out of my mind, put the cloak back on, and walked out into the clearing towards the central plaza.

The Lostai soldiers noticed me immediately, and once I was within earshot, they shouted, “Hey, you, show your face! What are you doing outside past the curfew hour?”

I raised my hands in the air and closed my eyes. When I opened them, all their weapons were strewn about and out of their reach. Four of them were unconscious on the ground. Tzarst took care of the other four. Our sudden attack prevented them from calling for help. That advantage would only last until someone in their line of command checked in on them. I sorted through their identification tags, determined which one of the eight was the group leader, cuffed him, and killed the remaining seven.

“You kill unarmed, unconscious prisoners...no remorse,” Tzarst said, bobbing his head side to side, which I had learned was a sign of disbelief, fear, or shock.

“Tzarst, unfortunately, we are at war and at a total disadvantage against our enemy. Now is no time for mercy. They would not think twice about killing you, me, or our families.”


Scanning the area, I focused on the task at hand.


“OK, we need a holding location for this Lostai piece of crap.”

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Excerpt, Rising From The Curse, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

The pain woke me up. Sharox was mixing something in a bowl. Without turning to look at me, he said, “You are in discomfort. I am preparing something to help with that.”

“How did you know?”

How did he even notice I was awake?

“You were moaning and restless.”


He walked over.
“Here, eat this. Make sure to swallow it all.”


Why is everything the Lostai ingest so pasty?


Thankfully, the thick orange paste didn’t smell bad. It had a mild, minty taste, a flavor I had never come across in the food available at the Lostai science station where I was once held hostage.

“What is this for?”


“Inflammation and pain.”


“Thank you. Have you inquired with your superiors

regarding what I mentioned to you?”


“Yes. I am still awaiting their reply.”


After swallowing the last of the medicine, I tried to

prod him.


“I can tell you are passionate about your role as a healer. It is a shame you have so little medical equipment to work with.”


“I make do. We are a resourceful people.”


Who are they anyway...these Lostai Sotkari Ta?


“Are you not even the least bit curious about what I

mentioned to you? You have the potential to do extraordinary things. Let me show you.”

He stepped away, alarmed.
“Stop. I do not have permission.”


Determined to get out of there as soon as possible, I focused my mental energy and accessed his mind to make him do what I wanted. There was a time when I thought this was the most immoral thing to do to a person. Those days were long gone.

Plus, he’s just a lowlife Lostai, right?

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds. The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

Lorret said nothing at first, but when we both sat again, she leaned over and touched my face, carefully inspecting where the chunks of hail had cut my skin.

After a few moments, she said, “Please come with me now to the dispensary so I can eliminate these scars before it is too late, and we should take advantage to get your physical done and documented.”

“Oh, so you are finally going to do that for me?”


She furrowed her brow and I laughed.


“I am joking. That is fine.”


As we walked toward her office, she said, “Mina, to be truthful, I disliked you from the moment I heard about you and even more so when I saw you for the first time. I could not understand how one of Aranda’s most handsome, eligible bachelors, the first male I had ever been intimate with, was betrothed to a weak, puny alien.”

Puny?

I pulled a face. She continued.

“Then I learn Montor has served in the detestable Lostai military for all his adult life. Because of you, he finally decided to leave all that behind and join the Arandan rebel force, something that I had begged him to do revolutions ago.” She shook her head. “Well, then my disdain for you was complete.”

Where is she going with this?

“Lorret, I thought we were finally getting on better terms with each other.”

A tentative smile crept across her face. She hadn’t smiled much since I’d met her.

“Then Kindor explained about Sotkari Ta and how you three have special abilities. He did not tell me how you came to know Montor. When Kindor speaks of you, he limits himself to talking about the time you lived with his family...He has a thing for you...Well, you must know, of course.”

She sighed and shrugged before continuing.

“Montor did not tell me much of how he met you either, and I did not care to know. I guess what I am trying to say is, I never knew until just now how much you also have suffered at the hands of the Lostai. I realize now that we have something in common, that you are not weak, and there is much more to you than meets the eye. I am ready to forget my previous opinions about you...and be a friend.”

“Thank you, Lorret. You are an important part of this crew. To be successful, we all need to be loyal to each other, and I would be honored to count you among my friends.”

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

He leaned forward, smiled, and, same as he did the first

time we met, rubbed my cheek with the back of his hand. Again, a certain sensation came over me. Last time, I didn’t have much time to think about it. I had responded with an immediate defensive move. This time, it was clear. My toes curled. It was in my hips and between my legs. I pressed my thighs together. There was no doubt; I was sexually aroused, very much so. I looked at him, and he was relaxed with his eyes almost shut. Confused that I should have this reaction from only a simple touch, I became infuriated and lost control.

“Stop. It. Right. Now!” I shouted out loud.

He sat back and pulled his hand away, lips pressed together. His eyes opened, and they bore into mine.

“Be very careful, Mina, on what you say out loud.”

Hearing his words in my mind helped me regain composure, and I returned to telepathic communication.

“How dare you! I cannot believe I have to spell this out for you, but you have no permission whatsoever to get into my head. You said you would not do that to a Sotkari Ta. Well, I am as much a Sotkari Ta as you are. In case it was not clear, you will only use telepathy to communicate with me. Nothing else, do you understand? Do. You?”

I trembled with rage and pointed my finger at his face.

He crossed his arms, sitting up straight with his legs wide and eyes narrowed.

“Mina, you are overreacting. I am not, as you say, getting in your head. I suppose Kaya did not explain to you that, over time and as part of their evolutionary process, Sotkari Ta became genetically predisposed to seek out and prefer other Sotkari Ta as mates. They have a heightened sense of touch and certain types of energy can be exchanged this way. The truth is that this is a new experience for me as well. Other than Kaya, who is like my...uhhh, who is very old, I have never met another Sotkari Ta female. I suppose this would explain our reaction.”

“Our reaction? You felt it too?”

“Yes. Unfortunately, I must admit, I sensed the physical attraction as well,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“How so very sad for you that you should be attracted to an insignificant creature like me.”

He couldn’t help but smile at my sarcasm. It helped diffuse the tension a bit.

“Anyway, Mina, I assure you that I have not and will not go beyond simple telepathic communication without your permission. So, let us be clear: any of these sensations that you might be feeling are out of my control.”

I shook my head, thinking of the predicament I had found myself in.

“Wonderful.”

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Ever since we started on the trip, Montor had wanted to prioritize teaching me how to block telepathic connections. We had not spent much time practicing Sotkari Ta skills because I had made a habit of retreating to my room in the evenings to avoid interacting with him. Now that our relationship was blossoming, we reverted to our original schedule of meditation and mental exercises after dinner.

In the beginning, the training process required him to place his hands on my shoulders like Kaya did when she first instructed me on telekinesis. We had a lot of false starts. The first few times, all it took was for him to touch me to make us forget about the lesson and move on to more pleasurable activities. We decided we’d focus better if we moved our meditation and Sotkari Ta practice from the evening to the early morning before our physical and sparring workouts.

That first morning, we were determined to make progress.

“Mina, I would like you to remember the time when Kaya was teaching you telekinesis. Put yourself in the same frame of mind as when you were learning to use your Sotkari Ta abilities for the first time. Close your eyes. Can you see my light in your mind?”

“Yes.”

“Now, imagine covering that light with the palm of your hand. When you no longer see the light, you have closed yourself off from receiving any telepathic connection.”

Of course, like telekinesis, it sounded easy but was hard to execute.

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Excerpt, Rising From The Curse, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

We stared at the bridge that swung in the wind and at the devastating precipice and drop to the gap below. The bridge, including the deck, was made of thick rope tightly woven together. It looked like a gigantic hammock with handrails anchored at each end by stone arches. The textile used in making the rope must have had some interesting properties because no ice or snow accumulated on it; a good thing since frozen material could become brittle and break. I wondered how its makers had constructed it.

“I would suggest someone test the bridge before we attempt to cross it,” Bexin continued.

There was movement in the huddle of people. Josh pushed his way to the front of the group.

“I do it,” he said.

Confusion hung in the air for a few seconds. The Arandans, with their toxically masculine hive mind, gaped at Montor, an obvious message in their eyes.

This male is trying to upstage you in front of your female. Why is he so willing to risk his life for her daughter?

Montor’s jaw clenched. In a moment, he was in front of Josh, staring down at him.

“No. That is quite brave of you, Joshwar, but unnecessary. I will do it.”

His tone was more confrontational than appreciative. Josh glared back.

“Stop,” I said. “We do not have time to spare. I would like to shorten the travel time, if possible, but I will be the one to test the bridge first. You are all risking enough for me and my daughter. Some have died already. This is something I must do.”

A cacophony of voices replied, “Mina. No.”

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Excerpt, Rising From The Curse, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

On the fourth evening of walking into our quarters long after Montor had gone to bed, I tried once again to slip under the covers without disturbing him, but this time he was wide awake and checked his tablet before pulling me close.

“Mina, it is very late. You are working too hard and not allowing yourself enough rest time,” he whispered in my ear.

“I appreciate your concern, but I am fine.”


“I miss you,” he said in a lusty tone.


His hand slid under my night shirt and caressed my breast. He shifted one of his legs between mine. The warmth of his skin was inviting, but I was so tired. I cleared my throat.

“I need to rest now, Montor.”


“That is a first.”


He was right. Our chemistry and libido were always in tune. We never rejected each other’s overtures.


“You see what I mean? Instead of getting stronger, you will overwork yourself. The body needs time to regenerate and re-energize. I think you should cut down your schedule by at least two hours, and—”

My muscles ached. I could barely keep my eyes open.

“Do not tell me what I need to do. You are right. I need rest. Can you not understand me? Shermont! I am tired, so let me sleep!”

I was never one to use curse words, much less not in my native tongue. A moment of silence went by, and then Montor turned away from me. I let out a guilty exhale.

Damn it!

I turned, pressed my face against his back, and put my arms around him.

“Oh Montor, I did not mean to be rude, but understand me. So many things in the last four revolutions since I was taken from Earth have been out of my control. My mental and physical readiness for this challenge is something I CAN control. Otherwise, I will drive myself crazy thinking about what my daughter might be going through while I am here lying comfortably in your arms. Imagine if it were Josher, instead. What would you do?”

He turned towards me.


“OK, Mina. I understand. Tell me, how can I help?”


“One of your great neck and shoulder massages would be awesome right now.”

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Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“Mina, I would like to give you something,” he said.

I bit my lip and worried about becoming too emotional as we were quickly approaching our last intimate time together for a long time or, perhaps, ever. He took off one of the two cords he wore around his neck. Each had almost identical shiny, silver-toned amulets engraved with unfamiliar markings that I assumed were in Arandan. Tiny transparent crystals encrusted in the metal sparkled in the daylight as it streamed through the bedroom windows. The burning sensation in my nostrils and eyes predicted the hot tears that would soon follow.

“Mina, in my clan we have a custom where parents give these amulets to their children one revolution from their birth date. They are worn for life, save for certain circumstances when it is deemed appropriate to gift it to someone. The second one belonged to my twin sister. Normally, upon her death, she would have been cremated with it on, but my father could not bear the idea that she was gone. So, he broke with tradition and put it on me.”

He hesitated, looking away for a moment before turning back to me.

“He said since I was her twin and we were conceived and formed together in the womb, a part of her was always with me. I am keeping hers, but I would like you to have mine to remember me by until we are together again.”

By the time he was done with his explanation, I was a blubbering mess. I wanted to tell him I couldn’t accept it, but instead of speaking, my shaking body only produced sobbing sounds. He pulled me close, his fingers entangled in my hair, and all I heard was the beating of his heart. We finally separated, and without saying another word, he placed the cord with the amulet around my neck. I looked up to him and saw one solitary tear go down his cheek. This was as hard for him or worse as he was parting with a sentimental item. The idea that he might break down and cry was too perturbing and helped me regain control.

“Montor, I will wear this with honor until the day we see each other again. Thank you so much for this and for everything.”

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Excerpt, Rising From The Curse,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

Nothing could have prepared me for the call we received that morning. Montor and I had returned home the night before from a wonderful vacation. Commander Portars’s call interrupted our breakfast. Thankfully, I hadn’t started because it wouldn’t have stayed down the minute Portars conveyed his message.

“There is an Earthian male among the people we rescued from the Lostai Coroxt prison camp who claims to be Mina’s husband. Perhaps he is having trouble with the Lostai language, since we all know Mina is widowed from her previous Earthian spouse.”

Montor’s fists tightened ever so slightly, but he remained stone-faced. Portars’s next words tore my heart in half.

“What most concerns me is that he says Zorla has Mina’s Earthian daughter. I believe her name is pronounced Aembuh.”

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“So, where did Montor say you were from?”


“Earth.”


She inspected me as if I were a racehorse or purebred dog getting ready for a competition.


“Come, let me take a good look at you and see what I have to work with. Now, I do not know what preferences you might have. I have customers from all over the sector, so no request surprises me. Some females love to change their whole appearance, the color of their skin, even.”

“I prefer to keep my skin color and pretty much everything else the same. I like more of a natural look.”

“Yes, that is fine. In fact, I love your eyes. We need to enhance that color with some accessory,” she said, twirling my curls around her fingers. “I like how your hair is almost the same color as your eyes...but my goodness, do they not supply you with conditioner at that military base? Your hair needs a trim. I love the curls, though. I am sure I can make them look shiny and healthy. Now, let me see this body.”

Colora stared at my breasts, gave my butt a light slap, and bent down to squeeze my thighs and calves. “OK, fit but with curves.”

She said Montor had arranged not only for me to get ready for the evening but also receive any treatments that Colora and I agreed on. We decided on a full body massage, skin treatment, waxing, manicure, and pedicure. She continued to talk nonstop, asking rhetorical questions but not waiting for any replies. I spent most of the time nodding and smiling.

“Very nice of Montor to look after his charges this way. Hmmm, I wonder. Do the Lostai allow romantic liaisons between soldiers? Whether or not Montor has a handsome face, I guess is a matter of taste. But that body, no questions about that, right? I am sure he makes his females sing, if you know what I mean.”

She wagged her hand for emphasis. Her wink and smile were infectious. I couldn’t help but giggle.

“Yes, I do,” I said, leaving to her imagination what I meant.

“I know if it were me, I would make a go at it with Montor. Shhh, I mean if I were single, of course. He tells me you are a widow. So sad for you at such a young age.”

It surprised me to hear how he had described my status, but it did fit my situation in a backasswards sort of way. For sure that was easier to explain than to say I was kidnapped and my husband presumed me dead.

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“Montor, what is going on? Are you coming with me after all?”

“I wish...but no...I decided it is best if we are alone at your launching location. We are going to a remote area now. I’ll tell Zorla we were following a suspicious vehicle.”

“What about your transport pod? And you mentioned you needed to appear incapacitated...I am confused.”

“I exchanged this shuttle for my transport pod. A transport pod with Lostai military insignia is of utmost value for a rebel group. I am going to have you incapacitate me before you take off. I figured the fewer people involved, the better. It minimizes the risk when the Lostai begin investigating your disappearance and will appear like they stole you and the pod.”

“But you said you needed to appear injured.”


“Yes, like I just said, you will need to help me with this.”


The shuttle landed. He stood to take off the cloak and mask, and I did the same. Taking my hand, he pulled me towards him.

 
“We only have a few minutes, but I want to hold you close.”

His hands were on my waist, and he slid one up to caress my neck. I looked up to him with my hands on his chest and we kissed desperately, like what it was, possibly our last time. We remained embraced in silence for a few minutes before we stepped outside.

“OK...OK...it is time,” Montor said, followed by a deep sigh.


“Oh...”
I tried to say something but couldn’t speak anymore as tears filled my eyes.


“Mina, I need you to pull yourself together. This is what is

going to happen. You need to strike me a few times in the face. Also use the club and zirem on me. I have the zirem on the highest setting, so it will penetrate my clothing. In my bag, you will find an injectable drug. I need you to insert it in my back so that it is clear that I could not have done it myself. Then you will take the bag and the weapons with you and launch the shuttle craft on autopilot mode, and you will be off.”

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

We met in the early evening to share a meal in the kitchen, continuing to communicate telepathically.

“Hello, my dear. Are your quarters comfortable? Is everything in order?”

“Yes, Montor, everything is fine.”

“Good. The first thing I need you to know is that I would not be surprised if Zorla has installed spying devices all over this spaceship to monitor our activities. We need to be careful of how we conduct ourselves and what we say aloud. I told him we would be communicating telepathically most of the time so that you can get continued practice. But occasionally I may speak aloud purposely. Make sure you follow my lead. I also expect he will be checking in with me often to get updates on our progress. We need to discuss how we will trick Zorla into believing we are busy making a Sotkari Ta baby. Any suggestions?”

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat with my fist covering my mouth. I had avoided thinking about this part of the mission and hated the fact that we needed to have this discussion.

“Suggestions, what do you mean?”

“Well, my dear, we must put on a show of sorts for Zorla. There are different options on how we do it. I have my suggestion, but obviously, we need to be in sync.”

The whole conversation was making me sick to my stomach, but I understood that Montor was right. We needed to agree on a plan.

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

I stood there, hail falling around me in hard clunks, hitting my body and face. The rocks were no longer being moved. I licked my lips and tasted blood.

With a tremor in my voice, I answered, “You are lying. Tell me you are lying.”

“Unfortunately, my dear, it is true. The Sotkari Ta chemistry between us is real, but love...no...not at all. How did you express it once? Ah, yes...I got into your head...to make you think you did. I hate to admit it, but I do not love you either.”

Now, my whole body shook.

“I cannot believe it. How could you pretend? Everything has been so real.”


“Yes, well, I am efficient that way. Please do not take my bad behavior out on our son. Promise me you will take care of him. Do not leave him, Mina. A boy who grows up without his mother becomes a hard person with no soul, usually without remedy. I would not mind if you married Kindor. He would be a suitable guardian.”

“You idiot, shut up! I am not marrying anyone. I am married to you. Why, why would you say such a thing?” I froze in place, shaking my head. “No. I will not listen to this nonsense. This is clearly you trying to confuse me.”

“At first, it was just physical. I desired you, and I liked the challenge of making you forget any loyalty to your husband. Then you came back with my son. I knew he needed his mother, and I wanted to make sure you would not abandon him.”

“Abandon my son? Are you crazy? I would never...I cannot believe...What?”

I was confused and incoherent and not feeling like myself. A deep loathing washed over me, as if I had two personalities. It didn’t make sense, but I couldn’t control it.

“Montor, you are an evil person with no integrity or honor. What you have done is despicable. I hate you.”

“Good, Mina, that is good. The lives of everyone on the Barinta, including our son, depend on what you do right this second. Do not be stupid. I am telling you the truth. Leave. Now!”

I heard the second pod landing. My senses dulled. Tears flowed down my cheeks and mixed with blood from the cuts on my face, creating a salty, metallic taste in my mouth. Kindor ran towards me, and the rocks flew through the air again at three times the pace they had before. It was humbling to witness the power wielded by this unassuming being. He looked at me perplexed as I walked in the opposite direction towards my pod and communicated to him,

“Let him rot in a Lostai jail cell. You were right about this creature. He has no honor.”

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Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

One evening while Kaya and I were having dinner alone in my room, she told me something I had wanted to hear since my abduction.

“Mina, I cannot help you escape this place, but I know of someone who is in a better position to assist you. His name is Montor, and I think he is the one they plan to have you mate with. He is from a planet called Aranda and also has a complete set of embedded Sotkari Ta genes. The Lostai have complete trust in him because, although he was once a hostage such as yourself, he embraced his new lifestyle and position in the Lostai military. He now enjoys the same freedoms and benefits as any Lostai soldier.”

“Uhhh, I am confused. Why would this person help me? It sounds more likely that he would turn me in rather than help me escape.”

Kaya walked around without immediately replying. Finally, she clarified, “He also secretly cooperates with rebel factions to help them cause many problems for the Lostai military. Luckily, neither side has ever suspected the truth. He is loyal to no one...”

“Oh, I see, what we call a double agent on Earth.”

Abruptly, her pacing came to a stop, and she swung around to face me, looking me straight in the eyes.

“...except to me. He is loyal to me. I successfully trained him in all facets of Sotkari Ta abilities. He has become an extremely powerful being and is a complicated person with a complicated history. He lost his whole family during famine and wars that ravaged his planet. Similar to what occurred on Sotkar, the Lostai came in and took advantage of the situation. He was a child when they identified him as having Sotkari Ta genes and brought him to this station. I was the closest thing to a mother he had growing up here.”

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Excerpt, Rising From The Curse,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

He cupped my face in his hands and looked into my eyes, his filled with regret.


“I am sorry, Mina. You are right. I have allowed these people to get under my skin. I need to get back to my unemotional military mode. The days since the bombardments separated us have affected my judgement. The thought of losing you makes me crazy.”

Sharing his well-guarded vulnerability with me always softened my heart.

Our eyes locked. Before I could whisper his name, his lips were on mine. A kiss that remained soft and sweet only for seconds, until his hands raked my hair and his hungry mouth demanded more. At times like these, it was easy to forget that others might be watching. He gathered me in an embrace, and his kisses traveled down my neck.

“Umm, next,” announced Kristom, looking refreshed and wearing his new garment, which made him look like some alien biblical character.

“I go now,” replied Josh, in a raspy voice, avoiding anyone’s eyes.

When he returned, he went straight inside the compartment without as much as a “goodnight.”

“Should I go next?” asked Komar.


Montor and I replied “Yes” in unison.


After Komar returned, Montor and I grabbed our garments and headed to the bathing area.


Montor looked around and asked, “How do you ensure

privacy here?”


“You take three large stones and place them at the entrance. People know not to enter or to continue on their way without looking inside.”

“Hmm, OK.”

We both hurried to place the three stones in the right spot and fill the pit with ice and snow. I was already wearing one of their garments, so disrobing for me was just a matter of pulling it over my head. Montor looked me over.

“Hurry, it is cold,” I said, almost embarrassed at the lust in his eyes.

He tapped the collar of his suit. It inflated, and he made quick business of pulling his legs and arms out. Now, it was my turn to take in his nakedness. I caught my breath. His height, muscular build, unabashed sexuality, and swagger...it all ignited my desire. Even though we had fooled around in our sleeping bag at the cave, we hadn’t seen each other like this since leaving the spaceship a week ago. That was a long time for us.

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

After the last few people walked in, I got a drink for Mina and me and led her to the stage set in front of the room. Before addressing the guests in Arandan, I explained to her first telepathically in Lostai,


“Sweetness, I am raising a toast to you and your stunning beauty.”

I did not expect her to say anything after I was done and was ready to leave the stage when, to my surprise, she spoke in Arandan.

“Today, I am fortunate enough to forge a union with a proud member of the Ventamu Clan. I will stand by his side with our son, and together we will do our part to help free Aranda and this sector of filthy Lostai rule!”

It was not common for Arandan females to make this kind of bold toast, especially at a wedding.

Mina, what have you done now? How will these people react?

I saw Lasarta’s smiling face in the crowd. She must have instructed Mina to say this. As a proud Arandan patriot, she lived vicariously through Mina’s ability to not be so tied down by Arandan tradition.

After a few seconds of awkward silence, Commander Portars lifted his glass and repeated Mina’s words,


“Let us free Aranda of filthy Lostai rule!”

Mina’s subtle ability to charm people never ceased to surprise me. I stood behind my bride with my hands on her shoulders in solidarity, and soon, everyone chanted,


“Free Aranda of filthy Lostai rule! Free the sector of filthy Lostai rule!”

Even Officer Lorret smiled at Mina, in spite of herself.

“My wife, you are truly a blessing. You have even won over these proud people,” I told her telepathically.

Excerpt, Broken Bonds,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

We took turns, two of us resting while the other two piloted and manned the weapons system. In the meantime, a battle ensued between the approaching Lostai ship and three smaller United Rebel Front crafts. This gained us an extra day, allowing us to take down ten thousand Lostai combat pods.

“Sir, a call is coming in from the United Rebel Front.”


“Yes, put it through.”


“Captain, I am sorry. We were forced to retreat. The Lostai destroyed our two other companion crafts. Be aware. They will arrive to Sotkari atmosphere any minute now.”

My blood boiled at the thought of the two United Rebel Front crafts that were lost.

“No need to apologize. You gained us an extra day. Be safe.”

As soon as the communication terminated, Kristom picked up the Lostai ship on our sensors.

“Sir, they are here. Should I advise Kaonto to reactivate the shields?”

“Hold on. I want to get a few more of these Lostai bastards. Give me the weapons control!”

“But sir—”


“Are you questioning my orders?”


“No, sir.”


In those few seconds, I picked off twenty more Lostai

combat pods.

“Sir, our sensors show they are powering up their weapons array!”

“OK, Kristom, send Kaonto the message. Komar, take us down at a severe angle. Cut the descent time in half! Strap in. It is going to be a rough landing both on our stomachs and on the shuttle.”

The shield was sealed with only seconds to spare before the Lostai ship released the photon blast. Although the shields protected us from damage, the reverberation knocked our shuttle off its landing pattern, causing us to free-fall to the surface. It tossed us around the main cabin, but I gathered my bearings and flipped to manual navigation. Strapping in, I took control of our descent.

“Quit dancing around and get strapped in!” I shouted to my bewildered crewmates.

Of the three of them, Damari was the one who best maintained his composure. Interesting, considering his people had not yet mastered space travel. He helped the others regain their balance, strapped them in, and told them to brace for a rough landing.

Earthians are full of surprises.

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Montor and I walked out of Zamandi’s room in silence. Once in the transport pod, we remained quiet for a while. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and asked the question that was pestering me.

“So, where did you and Ar Ona go? We were at the bar at the time you specified.”

“I took her home.”


“Well, exactly how far does she live?”


He glared at me.
“What is the problem, Mina?”


It was my turn to glare.
“Did you have sex with her?”


He was so hard to read. One minute serious, the next

laughing.


“So, you flirt all night with Gio, and now you pretend to be jealous of Ar Ona?”


He sounded incredulous.


“Well, she had her paws all over you.”


“Paws?”

He laughed harder than before. I guess the expression sounded weird in Lostai.

I’m such an idiot. After all, in three days, Montor will likely be out of my life forever.

He put his arm around me and pulled me close.

“No, Mina, I did not have sex with Ar Ona or her paws. She got intoxicated and annoying, so I took her home. Mina, let me be clear. You were the most bewitching female at that place tonight.”

I smiled at the compliment but wasn’t about to let him off so easy.

“Gio said you and she were a couple.”

“Yes, Gio was talking way too much tonight. It is true we had a brief relationship some time ago, but let us discuss something else...” His breathing got heavy, and he shook his head in disbelief. “How do you think I felt, catching you two dancing so close to each other, him touching your skin, like he owned you? I was ready to tear him apart, limb from limb, right then and there.”

I crossed my arms.

No. He doesn’t get to make himself the victim.

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

We left Sotkar early the next morning. Kaonto sent two small Sotkari rebel crafts posing as merchant ships to accompany the Barinta with ten Sotkari insurgents on each of them a few hours behind us to avoid being conspicuous.

In our morning staff meeting, Mina informed us regarding the transportal.

“The transportal itself is a laboratory inside a cave in the mountainous area on the northwestern quadrant of the planet Dit Lar where the geomagnetic energy that fuels the jumps can be harnessed. The Elder Sotkari scientists were the first to discover the rare metallic meteorites that had fallen to the planet’s surface thousands of revolutions ago and combined them with natural geomagnetic fields and manufactured technology to create a pathway to faraway star systems and galaxies. They recreated these transportals across star systems on their quest to escape the Lostai as well as embed their DNA in as many different species as possible. The equipment used to transport a person is mobile. In order to travel to the designated destination and then return or jump to a third destination, travelers need to carry a handheld device that is charged with geomagnetic energy. A jump can be initiated from any location if the device is charged, but as this energy becomes depleted, the device needs to be returned to Dit Lar to recharge.”

I took over addressing the team.

“Thank you, Mina. The United Rebel Front has developed two secret weapons that the Lostai are not aware of. The first is a special shield that allows our battle crafts to be undetectableby Lostai sensors. The Lostai will not be able to detect our crafts until they are in visual range. Secondly, we have developed long-range torpedoes that can be fired with precision from much longer distances than before. The plan is for our forces to launch a surprise attack against Lostai security and establish a perimeter around the planet Dit Lar to defend it from the Lostai military that will surely arrive to confront the invasion.”

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Excerpt, Rising From The Curse,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

Montor had Kindor’s full attention as he went through the details of our plan. When he was done, Kindor wasted no time typing into his tablet.

“So, this is simple. You want to start a war a few miles from where I live.”

He had tried to inject some levity, but the furrowed brow revealed the seriousness of the proposition.

“Not start a war,” replied Montor. “You will be ready when the shields come down. We will only need you to engage the Lostai for half a day to give us enough time to slip deep enough into Losarex territory undetected. I know for a fact you have enough combat pods to face the Lostai down.”

“It is not only the combat pods we need to think about. We would need to evacuate the Sporia region.”

“That area is sparsely populated.”

“Why do you even think this is a viable plan?” challenged Kindor.

“I also know the Sotkari government took advantage of the last border skirmish to do the exact same thing as I am proposing. That is how you slipped some Sotkari spies into Losarex to pose as Lostai sympathizers.”

“OK, although I admit that is true, we would be burning a lot of resources. To squash their attempt to come into our territory, in addition to the combat pods, we would need to mobilize additional surface-to-air missiles. It is not a minor undertaking. Kaonto, what do you think?”

“We also need to consider the soldiers that could be injured or lost in a half-day’s worth of battle,” answered Kaonto, shaking his head.

I hated that they were discussing the situation like a business transaction. Amber’s name had not even been mentioned, yet her life hung in the balance. I stared at my hands as the discussion halted, then raised my eyes at the sound of Kindor’s feet shuffling. He had approached the screen again, staring as if searching for something.

Time to advocate for my daughter.

“I know we are asking for a lot, and you are bringing up important considerations, but my daughter.” I fought back tears. “My daughter, Amber...Her name is Amber...is in the hands of that monster. I intend to do whatever it takes to rescue her.”

My trembling hand rushed to wipe away the tears. Montor’s patience ran out. He got to his feet abruptly.

“OK, we are done supplicating. Are we doing this or not? Otherwise, Mina and I need to look for other options.”

Kindor crossed his arms over his chest, walked around a bit, and stared at the screen long and hard one more time. I stared back. The equivalent of eyes locking, and then I saw it. He’d made up his mind.

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

“Sir, our shields are down by a quarter portion. We cannot sustain many more hits like that.”

“Tell us something we do not know, Mina,” growled Sortomor.

I bit my tongue and instead addressed Lorret.

“Our strikes are paced much too slow. You need to hit our targets with two quick blasts.”

Sortomor looked at me in disbelief. I knew what he was thinking.

How dare she give an order!

Lorret disregarded Sortomor and replied, “I need much more power for that, Mina.”

“OK, the moment you have the target, give me a signal, and I will divert a burst of energy from sensors to the weapon delivery system. It is risky, so you better reward me. At a minimum, I want the filthy Lostai ship disabled.”


As if Sortomor wasn’t irritated enough with me, I switched to English and told Damari, “Once Lorret does her thing, I’ll give you some extra juice too, so you can punch it and get us out of the area quick.”

We didn’t have to wait long to try out my new tactic.

“Mina, I have a target. Give me the power boost now!” shouted Lorret.

“OK, here you go—”

“Stop!” Sortomor roared, lunging at me. “Have you lost your mind? Why are you giving orders on my ship? I will have you locked up—”

Everyone froze. We paid for the distraction.

Lorret’s target, a Lostai battlecruiser, pounded us with two blasts that sent us all, including Sortomor, to the floor again. Warning lights flashed and alarms blared once more.

Damari was the first to return to his station. Foxor rushed to help Sortomor up. Sortomor pushed him away. “Leave me. I can get up on my own.”

 

“Damari, get us out of here, now!” I shouted, pulling myself to my feet and running to my station to redirect power to propulsion.

Damari shot a look at Sortomor.

“Yes, yes, of course. Do it!” Sortomor said while still getting his bearings.

Damari’s quick maneuvering saved us from being nailed again by the Lostai ship. Our reprieve didn’t last long.

“I see another one,” said Lorret.


The urgency in her voice was no exaggeration. We were on borrowed time unless we did something quick.

Sortomor glared at me. “If your plan fails, we will have no shields. It will be the end of us, but go ahead.”

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

I looked up. Officer Lorret sat across from me with her food tray. I glanced at her before I continued eating quietly. Not in the mood for socializing, I was pleased that she did not speak for a long while. Then she broke the silence.

“It seems you and Mina are close. I saw you take her by the hand yesterday morning. Luckily, Montor did not see you.”

Montor was proud of his physical strength, but I was sure my expression made it clear that he did not intimidate me at all. She chuckled.

“Have you known her for a long time?”

Lorret did not understand sign language, so I typed in my tablet and audio emitted with my replies.

“Her shuttle crash-landed near the small village where my family lived. She had intended to reach the refugee center in the capital city of Fronidia but got caught in an electromagnetic storm that veered her way off course. She lived with us for six lunar cycles.”

“Interesting. Are all people on your planet mute?”


“No, only those of us who are fully evolved.”


“Fully evolved, huh. Sounds like a pretty snobby way of referring to oneself.”


“I do not mean to be pretentious. It is merely the reality of things. We call ourselves Sotkari Ta. I am a pureblood Sotkari Ta because all my ancestors are fully evolved. If we train properly, we have the abilities of telepathy, telekinesis, healing, mind control, and, most importantly, blocking.”

She appeared more focused on her meal than on my reply but caught the tail end of it and, I believe out of courtesy, asked, “What is blocking?”

“We can stop others with telepathic abilities from accessing our minds. Some of our population is known as Sotkari Pasi because they are telepathic but can speak out loud and lack the other abilities. Others have none of these abilities.”

Lorret continued to be unimpressed.

“Really? So much power and yet your people allowed the Lostai to take control of your planet.”

She is just as annoying as Montor. Are all Arandans the same? Well, Lasarta and Foxor seem nice enough.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

By the sixth day of our trip, Montor was back to the unpleasant attitude he exhibited when we first met. Potent sexual tension built up every time we had close physical contact. It irritated him to no end. During our self-defense practices, he berated me, shouting that he was not going to be my babysitter. He became more aggressive when we sparred. I knew his training could mean the difference between life and death for me in the future, so I sucked up his bad temper. Needing a break from his crankiness, I told him that I preferred to have dinner, perform meditation, and practice mental exercises alone in my quarters.

He replied, “Fine. That is your loss.”

I wasn’t sleeping well at night. I fantasized that my husband was in bed with me.

The tenth day started off with a bit of a turnaround. Montor told me that he wanted us to take a break from self-defense drills and to have the evening meal together. I wanted a break from him, period. Alternating between constant arguing and infuriating horniness was taking a toll on me, but I grudgingly accepted. When I arrived, he had already set the table. Our place settings were across from each other, but our eyes did not meet.

I thanked him for preparing the meal. Even though he cleared his throat a few times, he didn’t speak, and we ate without any conversation. We finished our meal and picked up in silence.

This is bizarre.

I had already planned a quick getaway when he surprised me with an apology.

“Mina, I am sorry if I have been extra tough on you. I am only concerned for your ability to defend yourself.”

I took a moment to check his face and expression. He seemed sincere and didn’t look well rested either. Certain things were out of our control.

“I understand. This whole situation is stressful, and I am grateful for what you are doing for me.”

“Would you like to join me for a glass of vormey?”


“Yes, that sounds nice.”


We went to the lounge and sat on a sofa. He got a bottle of the Arandan wine and poured two glasses. We chatted a bit, making fun of Dimlet, Zorla, and other Xixsted station personnel. Soon, his lips curled into a more mischievous smile.

“You know, Mina, I am supposed to seduce you before this trip is over, and I realize that I have no idea what the mating rituals of your people are. I mean, for example, does the male pursue the female, and if so, how does he show his affection for her?”

I tried to behave as if he was asking a basic question, like what type of animals we have on Earth.

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Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“Mina, what has happened to you is terrible. For a mother to be taken from her spouse and children is unspeakable. Believe me when I say this. Any small chance you have of ever seeing your family again will depend on you taking full control of your capabilities. I have no doubt that you can move that rock through only the use of your mental strength.”

I thought it odd Kaya would say that, considering she was working for the Lostai, but was glad to hear she was sympathetic to my situation. She made a good point. Developing these abilities might be the edge I needed to figure out a way to escape Xixsted.

“OK, but I need to do this my way.”

“No problem. I am here to support you in this journey. Do you wish me to do anything in particular?”

I remembered how I was taught to believe God was present where two or more people gathered together in prayer.

“Maybe...please mimic what I do.”


For some reason she smiled and nodded. I dimmed the lights and, clasping my hands, knelt on the

floor. She did the same, after which I shut my eyes and prayed out loud.

“God, I am not sure why I find myself in this situation, but I believe there must be a reason for all of this. Please help me to learn to use the powers you have gifted me so that I may achieve your will. Thank you for always listening. Amen.”


I repeated the phrase several times and, with deep concentration, imagined the rock floating off the desk and landing like a feather on the floor in the space between Kaya and me. A vibration in my brain caused my eyelids to flutter ever so faintly, and my fingertips tingled. I can’t recall how long I spent praying, but a feeling of otherworldly conviction took over. Pure unadulterated joy replaced my doubts. Confident the rock would be exactly where I imagined it, I opened my eyes. Kaya opened hers and, noticing the rock on the floor, smiled again.

“I am impressed. Some of my prior pupils have required the equivalent of many of your Earth lunar cycles—months, I think you call them—to achieve telekinesis. It might be one of your stronger Sotkari Ta traits.”

Now out of the trance, my faith faltered. “Seriously, did you do it?” I asked.


“No, Mina. I did no such thing. This was all you.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

We arrived at the conference room. The door opened, and Josh stood.

“Mina! My God, it really is you,” he said, his voice boisterous at first and then lower as he took in the image of Montor’s arm tight around my waist, stroking and squeezing.

I prayed Montor would stop, but he continued, purposely displaying he had a right to touch me that way. My heart exploded in my chest. I couldn’t meet Josh’s eyes, and much less did I dare look up at Montor. When Josh took a few quick steps towards us, Montor placed his hands on my shoulders and moved me behind him.


I finally raised my eyes to see Josh had folded his arms across his chest and cocked his head as he asked in broken Lostai, “She prisoner?”

“No, she is my wife. It seems you intend to get too close.”

“Wife? Mina, have they forced you—” Josh started to ask me in English, but Montor interrupted in a threatening tone.

“Do not speak to my wife in a language that I cannot understand.”

“My wife,” shouted Josh, clearly frustrated by his difficulty with the Lostai language. He gritted his teeth, pointed at Montor, and then jerked his arm toward the door, gesturing for Montor to leave.


I couldn’t help but empathize with Josh. Montor could be an ass sometimes. Unimpressed, Montor looked down at Josh with a smirk.

“I think you and I should step outside so we can clear up your confusion.”

I had heard enough.

“Stop it!” I shouted in Lostai, looking up at Montor.


He raised his eyebrows as he usually did when I displayed the defiance that an Arandan female never would.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Montor went inside the mine to extract information from workers regarding the escapees and told me to wait outside. He was in there for a while, so I paced around to release some of my nervous energy. I heard a commotion. A woman was screaming in Spanish. I turned around and came face-to-face with a brunette woman. Her tattered clothing hung loosely from her emaciated body, and tears streamed down her hollow cheeks. Without thinking twice, I asked her what the problem was. I could only imagine her shock to see a human-looking woman in full Lostai uniform, speaking in a language she understood. She looked at me, perplexed, but quickly explained that her fifteen-year-old son had died earlier in the day and the Lostai soldier in charge of her group had decided to just throw his body in a junk pile. She begged they allow her to give him a proper burial and threw herself on me crying, asking for my help. A Lostai sergeant walked over and called for several soldiers to take the woman away.

“Please, she is only requesting to be able to bury her young son. They threw his body away like trash,” I said to the sergeant.

“Mind your place, soldier. This is none of your concern,” he answered.

“What is wrong with you? Are you savages?” I shouted and went to help the woman.

“You are out of line, soldier,” shouted the sergeant.

He ran over and pushed me to the ground while pulling his weapon from his holster. My mental training kicked in, and I caused the weapon to fly out of his hand and into mine. I was still on the ground but now aiming his weapon at him. He put his hands in the air. The woman and other soldiers froze.

“We should all just calm down for a second,” screamed the sergeant while looking around.

“What is going on here?”

I heard Montor’s voice. In a split second, the weapon was out of my hand and in his. He walked over with the swagger he typically portrayed at Xixsted. His face was like stone, and I jumped to my feet, adrenaline causing my pulse to race. Montor handed the weapon back to the sergeant.

“Who is this person? She disarmed and threatened me,” the sergeant asked Montor, pointing at me.

“Mina, what trouble have you gotten yourself into? Now I have no choice but to put on an act,” Montor communicated to me telepathically.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

I reproduced the same thick warm cereal that had been my breakfast for the past year. Montor walked in and cocked an eyebrow after taking one look at my bowl.

“Do you actually like that disgusting mud the Lostai call a morning meal?”


“I do not know of food options other than what the Lostai offer on Xixsted.”

“Reproduced food is bad enough. Lostai reproduced food, even worse. Here, let me introduce you to something different from my planet, Aranda.”

I pressed my lips together, preparing myself for whatever it was he planned to give me. He was right. The Lostai cereal was an unappetizing brown color and flavorless with the consistency of oatmeal that had sat out for far too long. Even worse, it smelled like cooked cauliflower mixed with rotten eggs, but at least by now I was used to it. On the other hand, I didn’t know what to expect from Montor...in general.

What if he wants to mess with me?


After all, not one Lostai soldier had ever shown me an ounce of kindness. Skepticism must have been written all over my face because he quickly clarified, “Do not worry. It is made with the eggs of a domesticated bird and mixed with cured meat and vegetables.”

He walked over to the food reproducer, spoke instructions in an unrecognizable language, and came back with a plate in each hand. His height allowed him to easily swing his leg over the back of the chair to sit. I smiled to myself.

Just like how Riker does it on Star Trek: TNG.

I was pleasantly surprised by the aroma, reminiscent of onions, potatoes, and bacon, even before he pushed the plate in front of me. What I saw looked like a quiche without the crust. He watched me intently as I tasted it.

“Mmmm...this is actually very good.”


The flavor and texture reminded me of eggs, but it also contained pieces of what looked like vegetables and salty meat. Savory, like a mix of Thai and Spanish cuisine, and yes, a bit spicy, but delicious.


“A pale reproduction of the real thing but better than that Lostai slop,” he said, after which he scarfed down his portion.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

The squadron moved on to a kind of plyometric workout including jumping squats and a type of push up that involved clapping behind the back. Of course, I couldn’t do even one of those. They also did heavy weight training and planks lasting for much longer than the two-minute ones I used to do. The squadron leader continued to deliver punishment via the wristband. Blood smudges reappeared around my wrist, and I couldn’t stop crying. Some of the soldiers snickered, and I glared at them, a slow rage seething throughout my body. I grabbed my tablet, walked over to the lieutenant, and spoke words in English that were translated into Lostai. The other soldiers froze in expectation while the lieutenant eyed me with suspicion. The arm with the wristband trembled as I spoke.

“As leader of this squadron, you are responsible for our training, correct?”

She spoke into her tablet and tapped the screen. Audio emitted on mine in English.

“Yes, of course.”


“Am I a part of this squadron?”


“Unfortunately, yes.”


“Is that any of our fault?” I gestured, pointing to her, myself, and the rest of the group.

“No.”

“So, regardless of whether we like it or not, you are responsible to make me into a Lostai soldier, yes?”

“Yes.”

“I have never done this before. Give me a chance, or we will both fail miserably.”

“Exzer said you need plenty of physical training to catch up to our military standards.”

“Yes, but I’m not a soldier. I won’t be able to do any training at all if you keep hurting me. I promise to do my best, but it’s going to take some time before I reach that level.”

She rolled her eyes. “I will take this into consideration, but if I think you are slacking, I will inform Zorla that you need an attitude adjustment.”

I walked back to my spot, and the workout continued. I tried to execute every single exercise, even if only one or two repetitions. She didn’t activate the wristband again.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

With Zorla’s approval, Kaya rearranged my schedule to accommodate what she called the Sotkari Ta regimen, which included different types of physical and mental exercises, skills practice, and meditation. I was grateful to no longer have to clean dorms. We progressed from small rocks to levitating other items in my room.

“Mina, telekinesis can be used not only to move items from one place to another but to manipulate them as well.”

Kaya showed me how to fold linen and place them into

drawers without touching them.


“Is it possible for me to learn how to do this while I am

sleeping?” I said with a laugh. “That would be a great way not to waste time tidying up, right?”


“No, that is not possible,” she replied simply.


So much for acknowledging my joke.


I shouldn’t have expected anything different. Kaya always treated me with respect and fairness but didn’t tend to deviate from the task at hand. Being so isolated, I longed for friendship. Sometimes I tried to lighten things up between us, but other than the one time she expressed sympathy for my situation, she kept our interaction professional and to the point.

As our lessons advanced, my initial enthusiasm was marred with a certain uneasiness. She showed me how to move various items at the same time. Causing the drawers to open and close and objects to fly around all at the same time spooked me.

“Oh!” I shouted, placing my hands on my head. All the objects fell to the ground with a thud.

“What is wrong, Mina? You were doing just fine.”

“I do not know. Sometimes this feels unnatural to me,” I said with a deep sigh.

“We have been through this before. You need to put these feelings aside. I know you did not ask for these abilities, but they are a part of who you are. Remember that your genetic makeup is equal to a fully evolved Sotkari. Moving things around is a minor representation of what you can learn to do.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Rising From The Curse, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

Colora knew about Arandan males. Her deceased husband, Jortan, was Arandan. She’d had a brief fling with Montor before we were married, and I suspected she had something going on with Commander Portars.

“To top it off, Montor has all this self-loathing and guilt. Mina, he once told Jortan that he should have died as a child with the rest of his family at the Lostai labor camps.”

“Yes, I know.”

“So, did you get some action before he left?”

That was a weird segue.

I rolled my eyes, but my smile gave the answer away.

“That must have been odd, Mina, your current and ex- lovers all together. So, who was the best in bed?”

“Colora!”

“I can speak for Montor.” She pretend-fanned herself. “With all that strength and stamina, I am sure he never leaves you wanting, but I have often wondered about Kindor. I could never get his attention. He was so obsessed with you. I can only imagine the explosion after keeping all that passion bottled up inside.”

“Colora!” I shouted again, but the drinks had gone to my head, and I giggled. It was the first time I had reflected on my brief love affair with Kindor without regret and anger. Still, it should have never happened.

“I must ask Lorret one day. I hear the Sotkari Ta are very good with their hands and fingers.”

“Colora, you are incorrigible.”


She was the typical Fronidian, flirtatious and liberal when it came to sexual and romantic liaisons.


“If Montor says you are free to do what you want, maybe you should try a Fronidian.” Her eyebrows rose suggestively. “We are a lot of fun, and you will always have plenty of sex.”

“No, Colora, I have other ideas.”

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

At the next day’s morning staff meeting, Sortomor showed us on the viewer images of Dit Lar, which was now mere hours away. My heart jumped as I realized Lostai battle crafts were approaching the perimeter established by the United Rebel Front.


As usual, I forgot to keep my place and shouted out, “Should we be this close? We can easily be targeted.”

“We have perfectly good defense systems, and I have volunteered to help. You females should leave to pray while we males man the weapon and defense controls.”

Lasarta and Colora gathered the children and left without argument, but Officer Lorret and I looked at each other with one shared thought. Her eyes begged me to say something. I pulled my shoulders back, steadied myself, and glared up at him so that he could see that I meant business.

“You will be short-handed if you attempt to take us into the mix with just you four males. I have military training, am familiar with everyone’s expertise here, and Montor has made sure that I can man every position on this bridge. You are putting the life of my son at risk, so I will not be relegated to a corner. Lorret has military experience and should be here in case we suffer injuries.”

Lorret barely hid her satisfaction as Sortomor was at a loss for words. His eyes blazed with displeasure, and for a moment, I wondered if I had pushed my luck with him.

Foxor chimed in, “Captain Sortomor, forgive Mina’s approach. Her people’s culture is very different from ours, but the truth is we need their help.”

Sortomor took a deep breath, covering his mouth. The air thickened with tension. With a long exhale, he replied, “Very well, you and Lorret will take charge of our defensive systems and sensors. What can the Sotkari do?”

“Umm, if I may suggest, Captain, because we can share a telepathic connection and will not waste time with translations, I think Kindor should be with me on defense and sensors. Lorret can help you on the weapons array, Foxor can monitor the ship’s operating systems, including environmental and propulsion, and Damari should be at the helm and controlling navigational systems.”

Foxor turned away to conceal his smile.

Sortomor’s lips formed a tight line before shouting, “You heard her. Everyone, take your positions.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

My biggest surprise? This strong, cantankerous, arrogant creature that I loved wrote poetry. I didn’t know he had a secret stash of poems, many of them about me, some written since the time we were separated. We sat on a boulder by the river to rest. After much insistence on my part, he stared across the river and reluctantly agreed to recite one, first in Arandan and then translated to Lostai. He said it was titled “Surrender”:

All my life I was loyal to no one
Now her supple body is the land I fight for

Her billowing hair is my flag
Her amber eyes form my crest
Her gentle laughter sings my battle hymn

Victory is her cheek against my chest
I have won and lost this war
She made me both her prisoner and patriot

Overcome with emotion, I sat in silence. No one had ever written a poem about me before, that I knew of. Teary-eyed again, I reached up to tilt his face towards me. He tried to be aloof but couldn’t hold my gaze.

Looking down to our interlaced hands on his lap, he asked, “Do you like it? It is not very good...just something I do when I am feeling inspired.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

I finished my drink and began to feel the effects of the alcohol. Getting into the tub, I watched intently as he peeled off his clothing, already imagining touching those hard muscles. He brought the bottle with him as he stepped into the tub. I took a few more sips straight out of the bottle.

“Montor, I am surprised. You do not strike me as the type of person who does bubble baths.”

“Bubble baths?”


I giggled.
“Back on Earth, it is a girly thing.”


He pretended to be annoyed.
“Really? I will show you how girly I am,” he said while grabbing my hand and pulling it towards his crotch.


I shrieked in mock fear and replied, laughing, “I am not

afraid of that little thing.”


“Oh, you think you are funny? Now you have pushed me to my limit. Mina, for sure you will pay for that.”


We horsed around, causing water to splash out to the floor. Eventually, we ended up in a passionate embrace, and I kissed his chest. He groaned, led me out of the tub, and grabbed some towels neatly stacked on a side table. We each dried up and used the towels to cover up.

“Mina, are you ready to try my bed?”


I didn’t answer. Exhilarated, buzzed, and a bit silly from fooling around in the tub, I dropped my towel and ran off to his bed. I got under the covers, tucking the edges under my feet to hide from him, giggling with anticipation. He was right behind me, his towel no longer around his waist, pulling on the sheets and blankets until he finally uncovered me.

He took in the view of my nakedness and nodded with an expression of accomplishment. I now most definitely was ready to try his bed. Tossing the bed linen on the floor, he rushed in. I squealed with delight as we tussled, and I moved on top of him. This was a position we had not engaged in. He always wanted to be in charge and have me be the one to lose control. For some reason, I wanted to turn the tables on him.

Text Body

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

To calm myself down, I composed a letter to my daughter. I had written several of these pretend letters to my husband, but this was the first one addressed to one of my children. The tone was of someone who was off on a long trip. I pretended she could really see the letter, and I wanted to reassure her that things were not so bad. As usual, I promptly deleted it when I was done.

My daughter’s eyes are like mine. According to her, we have one of the rarest of eye colors. Unlike hazel, our eyes have a solid coppery tint with no hints of other colors. Her eyes are lighter and more striking than mine are and have not changed since she was a baby. By the time she was one year old, we had nicknamed her and then officially added the name to her birth certificate.

Dear Amber,
Honey, how are you doing? I guess you’ve started your freshman 
year now in high school. Under other circumstances, I’d love for you to be able to experience this with me. My being here confirms everything we always discussed at the dinner table. Yes, there are several worlds within and outside of our galaxy with people that don’t necessarily look like us but represent civilizations that have been around for a long time and who have the ability to travel across star systems. This convinces me that one day, if we don’t destroy our Earth beforehand, we will be doing the same.

I pray to God that you are doing well. I can imagine my being away for so long has been so tough on you all. I hope this hasn’t affected your studies. You have a gift for science. Stay focused on your goals. We need more female scientists.

This will sound crazy, but I’ve learned to move things with my mind. Yes! Mind-Matter Interaction! I’m thinking if I’ve learned to do it, perhaps one of you kids might have the capability of doing the same. Someone here is showing me how to unleash all these abilities I never could have imagined that I possessed.


Don’t worry about me. Other people from Earth who were here recently left this place, so I’m sure that I will soon figure out a way to leave as well. Once I make it back to Earth, trust me, I’ll have a hell of a story to tell. I miss you so very much.

God bless, Mom

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Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Montor grabbed the bottle and took me by the hand, leading me outside to one of the many covered porches that surrounded the house. We sat side by side on one of the sofas. A slight breeze decreased the temperature a notch, and I heard the splash of the waterfalls.


He placed the bottle on a small table in front of us, took my hand in both of his, and stared up to the sky. I should have been relaxed, but the change of environment from the spaceship to Renna One provoked so many conflicting emotions: a nostalgia for Earth, a reminder that soon I would be leaving Montor and traveling alone to a place I had never been to before.

After several minutes of silence, I broke his spell and my sentiments by asking, “Montor, tell me what will be happening in the next few days.”

He was distracted, but acknowledged my question, pouring himself a second glass and replying with a sly smile.

“We should talk first regarding tonight. I will show you how comfortable my bed is.”

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Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

“I will train one of the soldiers as a backup plan, but I will continue to take the children myself unless it is a very dangerous situation. I have established a rapport with them and want them to feel safe throughout the whole process. I also want to train you.”

I did not have an issue learning how to use it, but I could tell there was something specific on her mind.


“Why me?”

“I am going to leave a hanstoric with you. If something happens while I am away and you think Dit Lar is in danger of falling back under Lostai control, I want you to promise me you will transport yourself and Josher to a place you deem safe.”

“But Mina, what would happen to you?”

“That is not important. The most important thing is Josher’s safety. You will take him somewhere where the Lostai cannot get to him. I do not want you to tell me where.”

“Why would you not want to know? How will you find us?”

“Kindor, I do not want to take the chance that the Lostai could get Josher’s location from me through torture or another medium. I do not want to be pessimistic, but it is a possibility. Remember what Larmont told us the other day.”

The conversation upset me, but she was right to be concerned. The Lostai leadership had gained approval from their constituents to spend more resources on the war. They were distributing false propaganda that rebels were aiming to take over the Lostai home world. Larmont had requested another three hundred United Rebel Front soldiers to help defend Dit Lar against any possible Lostai incursion.

I looked down, rubbing my forehead. Mina took my hand in hers and tilted her head to force me to look into her eyes.

“Kindor, promise me, if something like that happens, you will take Josher away from here. I do not want to know where. I just want to feel secure he is somewhere safe with you. Promise me.”

“Yes, Mina. I promise.”

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Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

We finished eating and cleaning up. On my way out of the kitchen, he stopped me, placing one hand on my shoulder. Shortening the space between us to a proximity that we only used when sparring, he said,


“Mina, I enjoyed making pee xa for you.”

I had to admit, it was a kind gesture on his part.

“It was thoughtful of you. I appreciate it.”


I looked down because my heart swelled with a feeling of bonding that was absurd considering our overall circumstances.

His hand slid from my shoulder to my hand. He lifted my hand to his mouth, and before I knew it, he licked my palm and the back of my hand and began nipping and sucking in between my fingers. Shock morphed into disbelief and then amusement once I realized this was meant to be a romantic gesture.

What the hell?

I pulled my hand away.

“Ewww...What are you doing?” I said, wiping my hand on my shirt.

.

“I, errr...I just thought...” He stepped away from me, his hands in the air.

I could not believe my eyes. He was truly flustered, but within moments, the familiar acerbic tone returned.

“Oh, nothing. Zorla has been asking when we are going to start the mating process. I wanted him to see that we were working on it. Come now, stop pretending. I am sure you found it pleasant.”

The mention of Zorla’s name erased any of the earlier warm and fuzzy feelings.

“So, I guess that was one of your umm...overtures? No, I would not call that...pleasant.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

Kindor’s reaction was the opposite of Hoolon’s. He stopped in his tracks.

Vadira shook her head as she said, “These Sotkari are so dry. Well, Kindor, what do you think of Mina’s look?”

“I have no words. She is beautiful,” he signed.

I smiled and checked him out. His hair was pulled up in a bun, emphasizing his chiseled features and striking eyes. He wore slim white pants and a long dark jacket that accentuated his athletic build, but the bright ultramarine shirt was what captured my attention. The color matched his eyes exactly.

There’s no doubt. The guy is handsome.

He took me by the hand, and we piled into the transport pod. The mining company set up the party in two chambers of a large crystalline cave. We arrived and were ushered into the first chamber. One of the owners gave a speech and introduced the special guests. Afterwards, the owners, management, politicians, and celebrities mingled with the crowd while everyone was served drinks and snacks.

I was about to try a snack when Kindor warned, “I would be careful with those. They are hallucinogenic.”

I threw it away.

“I want to be able to remember this evening,” I said with a nervous laugh.

About an hour later, we were invited to move into the next chamber. Tables were set in circles around a center stage and dance floor. The crystalline stones reflected the emerald green lighting illuminating the area. Green and beige settings with bright yellow centerpieces adorned the tables. Vadira became ecstatic once she realized we were assigned a table next to the town mayor with a clear route to the dance floor. The menu contained four dinner plans. We decided to each pick a different one so we could share and try everything. Waiters served us elegant dishes and kept a steady flow of intoxicating beverages coming.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“Mina, I need you to pull yourself together. This is what is

going to happen. You need to strike me a few times in the face. Also use the club and zirem on me. I have the zirem on the highest setting, so it will penetrate my clothing. In my bag, you will find an injectable drug. I need you to insert it in my back so that it is clear that I could not have done it myself. Then you will take the bag and the weapons with you and launch the shuttle craft on autopilot mode, and you will be off.”

“I will inject you, but I am not hurting you...I cannot do it.”

“Mina, this is not a negotiation! You must. Kick me in the face like you did to Gio.”

“No way am I doing that!”

He shook me violently, slapped me, pulled out my shirt, and ripped it open. He stared into my eyes, squinted his, and roared, “I am Gio, and I am about to rape you. You must defend yourself!”

Filled with rage and anger, I took several steps back and jumped high and forward to land a flying kick to his face. He did not block at all. I did it a second time, and he went down. His brow bone began to swell. Skin broke open, and he bled.

“I am Zorla. I have ordered that you be beaten with this very club, and I have used the zirem on your back. Take revenge!” he said from the ground.

I wanted to hurt him the same way I had been hurt. I wanted him broken the same way I had been broken. I struck him hard with the club once, twice, three times and then used the zirem on his chest and abdomen. When I heard him finally cry out in pain, whatever spell I was under broke.

“Oh no...Montor...what have I done?” I said, horrified.


His breathing was labored.
“It is OK...you did good...hurry, get the injectable.”


I found the syringe. He slowly sat up, blood trickling down his face. The smell of burnt cloth and flesh made me nauseous. I knelt next to him, caressing his face and kissing him where he bled.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

One morning, I received a message on my tablet that I should skip my normal boot camp session because someone would be meeting with me in my room. By then, I possessed a good understanding of the Lostai language, although some words were still difficult for me to enunciate properly. At the scheduled time, my door buzzed. I approved, and in walked my visitor.


Quite a contrast from the short and bald Lostai, she stood a majestic six feet tall. Creases in her slate-colored skin reflected her old age, but she showed no signs of feebleness. The short-sleeved garment that grazed her knees displayed strong, toned arms and legs. The whites of her eyes were barely visible, and I couldn’t discern pupils within the vivid blue irises. Thick, wavy, cornflower-blue hair crowned her head. Other than the appearance of her eyes and skin, she could have passed for human.

“Greetings. My name is Kaya. I am here for your training.”


Her lips didn’t move. I didn’t hear her voice out loud. Instead, I sensed the words in Lostai, her voice and tone in my mind. She communicated using perfect Lostai grammar, but there was definitely an accent, including a strong inflection on words starting with vowel sounds. Clearly, Lostai was not her native language. The word “training” worried me. By then, I had mastered my schedule and duties. My squadron leader and Zorla were not bothering me much anymore.

Will this be the beginning of another round of punishments for not meeting expectations?

She extended her arm in greeting, grasping my wrist instead of my hand, and pressed down with her thumb. The minute we made physical contact, a slight electric shock vibrated through my body, followed by an overwhelming feeling of well-being. She cocked her head in surprise, followed by a brief smile.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Broken Bonds,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

As I stood there looking up into his troubled yellow eyes, and despite my anger, my soul exploded with love for him. I was happy with the family that he, Josher, and I had formed, but my pounding heart also held another truth. He had hit a raw nerve. It had been two years since the Lostai kidnapped me.

My love for Montor is strong, but I’m not sure how I’ll react if I find myself back home. Why hurt him with that truth when returning to Earth is still so improbable?

Instead, I put my arms around his waist and pressed my face against his chest.

“Montor, I accepted your marriage proposal because I love you. Yes, my Earth family will always occupy an important part of my heart, but now my place is at your side. You do not have to worry. I will not leave you.”

I stood on my toes to reach my fingers around his neck, and he bent down to kiss me on the lips.

Cupping my face in his hands, he whispered, “Mina, what am I going to do? I did not expect to develop such powerful feelings for you. As an adult, I never felt fear until I met you. Now, my heart, my honor, my whole destiny is in your hands.”

Our eyes remained locked for a few seconds until, shaking his head, he checked the sun’s position again and raised his voice.


“We should get going.”

The way to the river was up a rocky hillside. Before reaching the top, I already could hear gurgling, splashing water. Once there, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The steep mountainous wall on the other side of the hill dropped at least a hundred feet to a violent rush of red, foamy liquid bordered by giant rocks and boulders extending as far as I could see.

“Montor, the view is spectacular, but how are we crossing?”


He pointed sideways to a bridge. We walked across the top of the hill for another half hour to reach it. Once we arrived, I was flabbergasted again. The dilapidated swinging bridge was a sorry sight with several of the rusty slats missing and a flimsy railing. I guessed the bridge stretched on for at least two miles.

“This seems risky,” I said in a worried voice.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

His yellow eyes held mine captive. I dared not look away.

“I can tell you this. In the short time I have known you, I have learned that you are a female of conviction. You stand by your values. At first glance, you might appear weak and vulnerable, but in fact, you are strong, a survivor. You have shown me loyalty, and I know you have a kind heart. I can only assume you were a fine mother. You are a fun person. My favorite people, Kaya, Jortan, Colora, Foxor, and Lasarta, love you already. Let us not forget that I am very physically attracted to you and I cannot get enough of your body. Seriously, Mina, what else do I need to figure out?”

I was touched by his declaration.


“I...I do not know what to say...”


“These are just simple facts, Mina,” he said, shrugging his

shoulders.

I leaned in towards him and tried my best to convey with kisses the tender feelings that his words had evoked.

“You know, Montor, I question why I find myself in this situation, too. I thought my life was set. I never expected to fall in love again, but I pray that God helps me have the faith to see that there is a reason why all this has happened and everything will eventually turn out for the best.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

“Mina, I would like to give you something,” he said.

I bit my lip and worried about becoming too emotional as we were quickly approaching our last intimate time together for a long time or, perhaps, ever. He took off one of the two cords he wore around his neck. Each had almost identical shiny, silver-toned amulets engraved with unfamiliar markings that I assumed were in Arandan. Tiny transparent crystals encrusted in the metal sparkled in the daylight as it streamed through the bedroom windows. The burning sensation in my nostrils and eyes predicted the hot tears that would soon follow.

“Mina, in my clan we have a custom where parents give these amulets to their children one revolution from their birth date. They are worn for life, save for certain circumstances when it is deemed appropriate to gift it to someone. The second one belonged to my twin sister. Normally, upon her death, she would have been cremated with it on, but my father could not bear the idea that she was gone. So, he broke with tradition and put it on me.”

He hesitated, looking away for a moment before turning back to me.

“He said since I was her twin and we were conceived and formed together in the womb, a part of her was always with me. I am keeping hers, but I would like you to have mine to remember me by until we are together again.”

By the time he was done with his explanation, I was a blubbering mess. I wanted to tell him I couldn’t accept it, but instead of speaking, my shaking body only produced sobbing sounds. He pulled me close, his fingers entangled in my hair, and all I heard was the beating of his heart. We finally separated, and without saying another word, he placed the cord with the amulet around my neck. I looked up to him and saw one solitary tear go down his cheek. This was as hard for him or worse as he was parting with a sentimental item. The idea that he might break down and cry was too perturbing and helped me regain control.

“Montor, I will wear this with honor until the day we see each other again. Thank you so much for this and for everything.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

The pounding of my heart and in my head made me dizzy as I jumped out of the pod and ran full speed to the crash site, already focusing my mind on moving rocks out of the way. I reached the craft and could hear nothing other than the sounds of crackling electricity, swirling wind, hail, and rocks crashingto the ground. It was a relief that I could make telepathic contact with Montor.

“Montor, are you OK? Kindor will be here soon, and between the three of us, we will get rid of all these rocks!”

“Mina, what are you doing here? You need to leave.”

“What do you mean, what am I doing here? Once I did not hear further from you, I realized you might be in trouble. We need to get you out of there.”

There was a strange tone to his voice in my mind, so weak that a sick feeling crept into the pit of my stomach.

“Mina, you must leave immediately. When Lostai crafts crash, they send out a homing signal. Reinforcements are probably on their way here now!”

“There is no way I am leaving you here. I will order Kindor to go back and take the Barinta away from here, but I am staying.”

“Listen to me. Not only is there danger from the Lostai, but there is seismic activity on this moon. The tremors may cause more rockslides. Also, my legs are broken and possibly my back too. I feel a strange numbness. I will not be able to run or fight.”

“You do not need to run. The pod is right here. I can help you in.”

After a few minutes of silence, I heard his voice again, his tone impatient now.

“Why are you so stubborn?”

“What are you saying? Let us not talk so much and focus on moving the rocks.”

“Mina! Leave, please. They will capture all of you and Josher. There is not a minute to spare!”

My head hurt, and I found myself gasping for breath.


“No! I will not!”


I continued to focus on removing the rocks as I agonized over whether I should have Kindor turn back or not. After a period of silence, Montor’s voice entered my mind again, stronger now, with an arrogance and unpleasantness that reminded me of when we first met.

“Mina, you are doing a terrible job as second-in-command. Listen carefully. I think I am not getting out of here, so it is time I own up to something I have done, something you most likely will not be pleased with.”

“What? We have no time for this.”

The movement of rocks slowed down. He had stopped working on them, so now it was only me. A painful vibration assaulted my brain as I alone concentrated on lifting the heavy rocks away from the patrol craft as fast as I could and dropping them a few feet away.

“You do not love me, Mina.”


“Huh? Of course, I do. Have you hit your head?”


“I have manipulated you from the very beginning, made

you think you felt things that you did not.”


“Montor, I know you are making this up to make me leave. It is not going to work.”


It took a lot of effort to move the huge rocks and keep the telepathic connection.


“No. Think about it. You have sometimes wondered

whether we have rushed into our relationship and marriage, especially considering your ties on Earth, right? I hate to disappoint you, my dear, but I manipulated you from the first night we were intimate to the day I proposed marriage to the present. I made you believe you were in love with me, but those are not your true feelings at all. I mean, I do not know who you really love. Perhaps it is your Sotkari friend.”

“Do not bring Kindor into this!”


Time stopped for me.


Could it be true?

I stood there, hail falling around me in hard clunks, hitting my body and face. The rocks were no longer being moved. I licked my lips and tasted blood.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

Gio and three soldiers took me to a holding cell with a magnetic force field that I could not manipulate and also blocked my ability to access anyone’s mind outside of it. Zorla arrived soon after. I felt a sudden increase of perspiration across my body. The memories of his punishments were still fresh, even though it had been over a year since I had escaped Xixsted.

“Mina, I must admit, I am very upset with you. Not only did you abandon your duties as a Lostai soldier, but you turned Montor, my most prized assistant, against me. On top of that, you are hiding your offspring from me,” Zorla said.

Bitter hatred consumed me like I had never felt before. I ran up to the edge of the cell and glared at him. The cuffs exploded off my wrists, small pieces of metal flung everywhere. On the other side of the force field, the three guards took a step back.

“I never agreed to be a Lostai soldier! You bastards kidnapped me!”

Zorla was unfazed by my outburst. Cold, calculating, deep-set eyes stared back.

“You could have had an illustrious future in our military, and after serving your time with us, like Gio here, you would have been free to do what you pleased. Instead, you will be our prisoner forever, and we will do with you...as we please. First, I need to know where Montor and your son are.”

Detesting the satisfied look on his face, I sauntered around the cell with a bit of arrogance and fake bravado.

“Unfortunately for you, I purposely have kept myself ignorant of that information, so there is no way you are finding that out from me.”

This was only true about Josher, but I hoped I could convince them I was also unaware of Montor’s whereabouts.

Zorla’s mouth curled into a sinister smile.

“We shall see.” He turned to Gio.

“Use whatever means necessary to get that information from her. You requested she not be scarred for when you mate with her later, so feel free to use our infirmary to heal her injuries when you are done. Also, I want her friends from the Barinta to see her defeated and humiliated. I am not convinced they have told us all they know. Let us strike a little fear in their hearts.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and walked towards the edge of the cell again to get closer to him.

“You have them? Where are they?” I asked.

“Yes, we captured their ship and have incarcerated them here so that you all will have a nice reunion.”

Cold fear consumed me.

I might be strong enough to resist torture, but can I bear watching any of them be harmed?

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

At the end of the day, Exzer escorted me to the Commander’s office. Sitting at his desk, he looked up and greeted me with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. I remained as far from him as possible, hardly any space between my back and the door closing behind me. He looked like Exzer and the others. Same round bald head, deep-set eyes, small mouth, but his brow bones protruded much more than hers. I couldn’t figure out the color of his dark eyes. Two soldiers stood by his desk. My muscles tensed as they moved closer to me while Exzer stepped forward.

Still sitting, he spoke using Exzer as a translator. I hung on her every word.

“My name is Zorla, and I am in charge of this science station. We are pleased to have acquired such an invaluable specimen. You do not have full understanding of this yet, but your complete set of Sotkari Ta genes makes you quite the prize. We acquired you at a lot of risk and expense.”

He stood and walked towards me with slow, deliberate steps. I shifted my weight as my heartbeat accelerated. For some reason, he gave me the creeps. A few inches taller than Exzer but still shorter than me, he tilted his head up to meet my eyes while speaking in slow, drawn-out syllables. Contempt crept into his expression as he looked me over. I tried to inch back, but there was no space. Our eyes locked again for a moment before mine shifted towards the soldiers now on either side of me.

“However, let me be clear. I have no tolerance for any disobedience. I hear you tried to escape this morning. Therefore, you must be punished.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book One

Montor appeared to trust Colora, so I felt free to open up a bit.

“We are different, but we both have been affected by things out of our control. He was extremely moved by that song we danced to.”

“Yes, the artists are an Arandan group that is putting a modern twist to old Arandan folk music.”

“It makes me curious about the lyrics.”


“I can tell you. I speak several Arandan languages.”


“You do?”


“Yes, sure, my husband is Arandan, one of the few

successful Arandans who were able to escape the planet with his wealth intact. Let me see, the beginning of the song says roughly:

Some say I am a good man doing evil things.

Others think I am an evil person doing good.

What do they know about me?

“Then the spoken poem follows. Of course, the rhythm and rhyme are off when you translate to Lostai:

There is no place like Aranda.
The rolling hills of Minterox, The Falls at Xendaro.

The magnificent red river that runs by my village,
The song of the Bendaru, the roar of the Masduro.
I fell asleep and had a nightmare.
Awoken by the thunderous sounds of war
I thought I was by the water.
But by the stench, I realized, the blood of my ancestors

flowed.
I am alone and my soul is empty.
I sing sad songs and try to survive.
Now all I can do is walk in solitude across the ravaged

land.
No, I can do more.
I can avenge the deaths of the innocents.
I can make good use of my rage, no matter what it takes Yes...What do they know about me?

“Then the group chorus sings:

One day, we pray all will be resolved and you can dance and sing,

One day, we pray all will be resolved and you can rest in peace.”

When she was finished, there were tears in my eyes as I recalled the enigmatic music that accompanied those tortured words and the soulful voices that sang and spoke them. I looked at her, and she was teary-eyed as well.

“The Arandans have had a tough time in recent history. War, drought, and famine have ravaged their world. The Lostai took advantage of the civil war there and are now using up any remaining resources.”

“I am no fan of the Lostai,” I blurted out.

“And yet you are training to be a soldier in their military,” Colora said.

It didn’t come across as a question, or an accusation, but as a simple fact.

“It is a complicated situation that I cannot discuss.”

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Broken Bonds, The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Two

“Mina, we need to move our bodies a bit after all this food,” Kindor said, his voice in my mind playful in a way I had never heard before.

“Oh, no. I...I do not know how to dance to that music.”

“Oh yes, you do. I showed—” He stopped himself before completing the thought, but it was clear. We had danced before. I didn’t try to remember, to avoid bringing on one of those debilitating headaches, but this notion motivated me to go with him to the dance floor.

“Mina, it is three steps to the front, three steps back, then a quick double step,” Kindor said.

“Oww!”


“Mina, are you OK?”


I waved it off, but it was a jab in my brain, another painful déjà vu moment. I couldn’t help but feel like he had said these exact words to me before.

By following his instructions, we were soon moving in sync. He twirled me around, and I improvised a few moves. His genuine smile made me confident that I wasn’t doing something ridiculous. Several songs later, we were ready to head back to the table to rest, but the band shifted to a slower tempo, and he decided to stay. He spread his legs and pulled me close. I noticed all the other males did the same.

“How does this one go?” I asked him.

“In this dance, the males do all the work,” he answered, “but our bodies must remain connected the whole time.”

The music sounded like a heartbeat with electronic sounds in the background. He swayed me forwards, backwards, and in a circular motion, his hands on the small of my back guiding me. My cropped blouse allowed his hands to touch my bare skin. The result was something very intimate as his pelvic area pressed against mine. The thumping in his chest was almost as loud as the music.

I don’t care about his customs. I don’t care if it’s appropriate. I want to kiss him.

Reaching my hands up around his neck, I pressed my lips against his. This time, he responded, parting his lips slightly, his tongue barely meeting mine. He gave my waist a little squeeze. The unfamiliar shock that flowed through me caused my hands to flail away from his neck like I’d been electrocuted. I looked up at him and saw he was equally discombobulated.

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Rising From The Curse,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

Traveling via the transportal didn’t hurt but was a jarring experience, like being forcefully awakened from anesthesia. I had traveled through the transportal many times before but never quite got over that initial jolt. For some reason, traveling across short distances caused an even more intense sensation. Once I got over the few seconds of disorientation, an adrenaline rush took control, my pulse speeding up and my senses becoming hyper aware of my surroundings.

Considering we didn’t know exactly where in the building we would “land,” we were lucky. We ended up in one of the prisoner cell blocks, the most logical place to start searching for Amber. To our surprise, the area appeared empty, with no Lostai soldiers in sight.

Perhaps this block is vacant.

The second we arrived, Montor switched to military mode, his facial expression focused and emotionless. Scanning the area, we identified five corridors leading to other sections of the building. Montor assigned one Arandan to guard each entrance, and the rest of us split up to check every single prison cell. Rooms with locked doors lined the wall across from the cells.


My Sotkari Ta telepathy allowed me to sense all living creatures in the immediate area as lights in my mind, even those not in plain sight. I could also tell whether those lights corresponded to people with enhanced abilities or not. The lights of Sotkari Ta people appeared brighter and farther away in my mind compared to lesser evolved beings. All the Sotkari Ta in our group performed similar telepathic scans to confirm there were no living beings in the rooms.

“OK, there is nothing here. Let us move to the next cell block—”

I grabbed Montor’s arm and met his eyes.


“Montor, I need to be sure.”


“OK, sweetness.”


He approached each room and vaporized the doors with his rifle so we could check inside for anyone, dead or alive. The rooms included an infirmary, a laboratory, several offices, and a conference room. We found no one.

Montor gestured to the first hallway to the right. We followed him down the corridor, which led to a similar prison cell block. This one was empty as well. We returned and sped down the second corridor. When we faced the same situation, my heart sank.

Oh no! What if we aren’t in the right place?

Snippets: Text

Excerpt, Rising From The Curse,The Curse of Sotkari Ta, Book Three

“Our best guess is that Mina’s daughter is being held in Losarex. We intend to create a diversion at the border to try to slip in undetected,” explained Montor.

Lasarta and Foxor looked at each other but said nothing.