As Princess Vashta of the Vendel finishes her combat training, she hopes she will lead their forces into battle against her race’s enemy, the Verindal. But when Brandonin, the heir to the Verindal throne, comes to see her father, it’s clear he desires peace, not war.
When the Vendel are attacked by a mysterious creature, Vashta’s people blame the Verindal. When Brandonin’s forces are attacked by the same creature, his people blame the Vendel. But could this danger come from somewhere new?
Vashta and Brandonin join forces, working together to try and stop this deadly enemy that threatens both their races, but can they defeat it on their own? Can they gather together a new force of both Vendel and Verindal to destroy this menace or will it mean the end of life on Verindon?
Targeted Age Group:: 13+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I created the world of Verindon for a trilogy I wrote a few years ago. In that series, I mentioned an event that had occurred hundreds of years earlier. I decided to write more about what happened all those years ago and add more excitement and adventure to the world I'd already created.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My two lead characters, Vashta and Brandonin, were referred in the trilogy I wrote and published a few years ago. They were mentioned when people talked about the legends on the planet Verindon. No one in the trilogy was even sure the stories about them were true. I decided to make them real and write down their story to add to the excitement of the world I've created.
Vashta lifted her flier towards the Verindonian sky.
She soared above the palace, the rest of the city of Matarsiss coming into view. She could see the extensive and lush palace grounds with their wild skyflower-filled pathways and dense copses of trees. Further on, there was the city centre with its low hexagonal buildings painted white to reflect the brilliant rainbow hues of their sky.
As she flew higher, she looked beyond the city streets to the farms in the lowlands—farms for meat, for wheat and the most important ones—sugar plants waving in the breeze. Behind them was the mountain range that shielded their people from their enemy—the Verindal.
Circling back to the palace, she looked down on its four spires, the tallest barely four spans from the ground. She wondered why her ancestors had aimed so low when they’d built it. The Verindal palace was much bigger, or so her tutors had told her, their faces flushed with indignation at any superiority shown by their enemies.
But what would Father say?
‘Vashta, don’t be jealous of the Verindal. And don’t hate them. It will only cloud your judgement. I want you to be above that.’
‘But everyone else hates them. And we’re at war … again! And have been for hundreds of years.’ Possibly longer than that, but she had only misty memories from a history class where she’d spent most of her time asleep.
She knew her father too well to doubt the response. ‘It’s my desire that we would know peace. Please, try to think of how to help our people, not envy our enemy. The High Family of the Vendel must set the tone for our race.’
‘Tell Mestitha that,’ she hissed through her teeth, returning her attention to her flier and the enemy that shared the skies with her, although this ‘enemy’ was not a Verindal.
The flier coming towards her dipped and skittered to the side. That’s right, she was facing Anam. This wouldn’t take long. Not that she could take any skirmish for granted; even he could pull an occasional trick, although it was usually accidental.
The rattling around her honed her concentration. Considering how much she adored flying, she should be a little more respectful of the vehicle that housed her, but the engine’s put-put-puttering was so loud it drowned out everything else. The Verindal fliers were better. The images Erleph had shown her had made her sick with envy. They had plans to steal one but stealing a flier was a lot harder than swiping something that could be slipped into a pocket.
She glared at the gun mounted on her nose cone. Their weapons fired projectiles, rather than the lasers the Verindal had developed. And her gun was only loaded with rubber ones. Standard for a final combat assessment, but it felt like an indignity. But if she passed, she might get to lead a squadron into battle against Verindal fliers. What a challenge that would be! Far greater than facing … who was it again?
Yes. Anam. Pay attention, Vashta!
He was practically begging her to fire on the flank he’d just exposed; his standard feint—get her to engage, then accelerate so he wasn’t there to receive her strikes. She didn’t know why he bothered with it.
Instead, she rolled before looping until she was behind him. He tried to find her, but she knew the time she’d spent out of his scopes would slow his response. And he wasn’t allowed to transform in this part of the training—to go into the Vendel safe state, which made them stronger, sharpened their reactions and helped them win a fight. With a laugh, she launched a volley of harmless projectiles that left a red mark where they struck.
Her communicator crackled to life, making her jump. ‘Her Highness, the Princess Vashta, has made the first strike.’
Erleph’s voice was non-committal. Even after spending so many years studying under him, she still couldn’t tell when he was pleased. Her father had laughed when she’d told him that. ‘If you work it out, let me know. I never have.’
Anam turned, planning his own strike. You may try. If he made any points against her, she would leave this battle bitterly disappointed. He pointed his nose ahead of hers, counting on her trajectory to put her right in his path. Instead, she aimed at his flank, ready to release another volley of shots.
But although her weapon spluttered, no projectiles came out.
Her attack window was gone by then, so she slipped into the sky above Anam, trying her gun again in the air. There was noise but no projectiles pierced the sky.
Her weapon must have jammed. How could that be? She had checked and double-checked everything before she’d gone to receive her instructions from Erleph. She always ensured her flier was in perfect working order before taking to the skies.
Now what did she do? Have Erleph call off the assessment because she was no longer a combatant? She cringed at the thought of such a failure, especially in front of her family.
She gasped as Anam’s flier swooped from above, releasing a volley of shots. One skimmed her nose. Damn it. He’d made a strike. That shouldn’t be possible! She slipped under him and dived, spiralling down towards the ground, smirking at the thought of his frantic face. He would never attempt a manoeuvre like this.
Her radio crackled. ‘Princess Vashta, disengage from that manoeuvre immediately!’
I can handle it.
But Erleph was adamant. ‘Disengage now!’
She broke her descent and levelled off, again trying her weapon. Nothing. Not that it mattered, as her mentor’s severe tone broke through the stuttering sound of her engine. ‘Both fliers return to base at once.’
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