Andria del Scorpio traded her crown for a sword.
Being an Assassin on Ares might mean rubbing elbows with the filth of the Infinite Universe, but at least she’s free. Her ability to ‘imagine’ is perfectly suited to kill, and all Andria has to do is bag the prize money and consider the next Contract on the list.
When an illegitimate Contract goes according to plan, everything goes wrong for her and her partner. They have a month before they’re put on trial and chained for murder. As time runs out and unlikely alliances form, Andria’s ready to pay whatever price to preserve her freedom.
But as forgotten nightmares surface and the demon who made her forfeit her crown for the life of a murderer crawls out of the shadows, one thing becomes clear. The past won’t haunt you only if you kill it.
And no one’s better at killing than her.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Like every sane person, I love dragons. But it's not dragons I dream of. I dream of the future, that future which we'll be long gone to see. That future has always been my greatest inspiration. Where would humankind find itself in thousands of years? Are we resilient enough to last that long? Would we still be human or something different? Something more?
These questions inspired The Imaginators. It's a novella set thousands of years in the future. Where humans are something exotic and other, superior beings have conquered the stars. But where very human things take center stage. The Imaginators is a personal, intimate approach to space opera.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Coming up with my characters was rather easy. I carry all of them in me – from their dark, questionable traits to their loyal and dedicated sides. Of course, plenty of characters I've read about in great books over the years had their influence. I knew I wanted them to be morally grey, every one of them with their drive and motives, and, of course, a dark and painful secret or two.
The imagiSword in my hand is trembling. Or is it the hand holding the imagiSword trembling? One day, I’ll go back to this moment, unable to remember.
A simple thought turns the weapon into optical refractors and space dust. But the blood stays. The blood always stays. That’s the thing about us Imaginators. We can wish anything into existence and back into oblivion, but we can’t wish away the consequences.
“Fuck, I love those gloves,” I murmur, staring at the bloodstains caking the soft leather.
“Wasn’t that supposed to be the easy part?” Twig rasps out, piercing the curtain of red haze hanging over my mind. “You done?”
I round a crate and see him bent over a dead body, wiping his blade into the garbs. He always does that, cleaning a weapon seconds before wishing it into oblivion. As if the Aether would care that it’s been splattered with the blood that’s turning my partner’s dark, slender limbs to rust. I lean against the crate, hands crossed over my chest, and sweep my eyes over the hangar bay, now still and silent.
“Yeah, and it would’ve been,” my voice’s gravel, rumbling through the high-pitched ringing in my ears. “But it was a trap.”
Twig whips toward me, black eyes pinched and confused. “Did they get you in the head, boss?”
I nudge the limp booted leg at my feet and push off the crate, hiding a groan in its creak. “Check the Contract panel and ask again,” I say over my shoulder and trudge back to the cutter.
I’m tired. It’s in my voice, in the cold tingle numbing my fingertips, pale and twitching. I reek of blood, a rib grinds in my chest in all the wrong ways. And I know, I fucking know it. I’m not getting my 1-mil intergalactics.
Three months ago, we accepted a Contract to assassinate the normieConsul of Ares, the prize on his head too big to ignore. We spent weeks researching, infiltrating, stealing information, prepping for the hit of our lives. We spent days carefully crafting our entry and exit strategies, when and where to strike with minimum collateral, and how to make it as clean as possible. We spent hours monitoring our prey, biding our time, only to have our plans blown to smithereens.
The fact that the normie had contracted the imagiConsul of Ares as his personal guard dog wasn’t a problem. An otherwise tedious job turning into a bloodbath wasn’t a problem, either. The Imaginator fleeing the scene at the last moment instead of rightfully evaporating us was. My bones hum with the thought as I limp toward the cutter. Someone set us up. Now, a perfectly legal business arrangement will look like a murder, and we’re to take the blame for it.
Twig’s gasp chases me on my heels. “It’s… It’s gone?! How the fuck does a 1-mil Contract disappear?!”
“It doesn’t.” The hangar echoes the words, cold and indifferent to our predicament and the dead bodies littering its floor. “Given that we weren’t informed of its Champion withdrawing it…”
“And both Consuls were here, unable to unanimously revoke it…”
“It was a trap, Twig.” I hover by the yawning of our ship, resting a hand on the cold metal. “A tailor-made trap we walked into as if it were salvation on a platter. Let’s go.”
But it was salvation on a platter. I dare peek at the vidFeed from our hull sensors. Twig throws a glance at the mess we’re leaving behind on the automated supply station, heartbreak furrowing his brow, pinching his lips. Not that we’re barely making ends meet. On the contrary, there’s always someone wishing someone else dead in the Infinite Universe. We’ll never be out of a job. But such a sum could buy us an asteroid in a ring or a small planet to retire to, away from the rest of the Cosmos.
I sigh and slump into the co-pilot seat. Some other time, then.
Twig boards muttering curses under his breath. I get it. Between the two of us, I’m the brawn, and he’s the brains. Missing a trap like that must’ve hurt his soft core, but he’ll recover. I’m known to sweep those around me in my momentum, and now I have no intention of brooding over a
He’ll get through it, I repeat to myself, as he mounts the pilot seat. If we live long enough. Given the circumstances, the chances are slim. We need to get back to Ares as soon as possible.
Our communicators ping in sync just as we strap in. We both freeze, but I’m quick to recover. I don’t have it in me to care about this right now, but my partner taps the transparent screen of the communicator, and the message unfurls in all its predictable glory.
“One million… They offer 1-mil each, Andria!”
“Let’s get going then. If the Contract’s out already, half of Ares will be on top of us in minutes.”
As we buckle up, the Contract’s panel floods with notifications for every Assassin crew opting for it. Cold fury locks my eyes on the list, the sheer number. We’ve assisted or saved the hides of half the Imaginators on these crews on multiple occasions. And this is how they repay us – with a space-wide hunt for the Princess of Scorpio and her butler.
It takes some effort to peel my eyes away and rest back into the seat. The imagiDrive’s needle punches at my nape as I reluctantly recognize this might be a problem. There’s no honor among thieves, but the Assassins of Ares will band together and combine their efforts and creations for a chance to get their hands on the reward. Sweet Aether, those 2-mil intergalactics can make anyone discard bonds and forget debts. They whet even my appetite.
I can’t blame them. But when this is all over, and we expose the scheme, I’ll hold it against them. When the monster lives in a glass tower and drinks expensive wine, it’s easy to forget it’s not civilized. The future holds a promise of violence, and I’m ready to set it into motion right now, but we’re outnumbered and outgunned. Vexed, I let the Aether take my mind, and as the first of the Assassin crews exit imagiSpace in the vicinity of the asteroid belt, instead of taking aim, we take a straight imagiRoute back to Ares.
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