Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Science Fiction Opera, #Paranormal, #Shapeshifter, #erotic Romance
Invisibility is a state of being, but the winged charmer that flirts his way into her heart makes her want to show him everything.
Iridia has grown up invisible. To family, friends, co-workers, she is barely there. They haven’t noticed her in so long that the Volunteer project seems like the best method to deal with her issues. They see the potential in her and welcome her with open arms, basic training in combat and weapons, as well as etiquette for dealing with alien species.
Chosen to be a Guardian on a newly re-waking world, Iridia finds that she is the second Guardian chosen and the only girl on the team.
Zanthan has been waiting for her, so has the world beneath him. Tharos Prime swore never to have an Avatar again, but he never said he wouldn’t take two.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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Terran Times Second Wave
Four hours had passed since she had found the seat in the corner. If she got the nerve up, she was going to hand in the application, but for now, the people of the Volunteer Centre were busy with all the traffic coming in and out of the building.
She kept waiting and kept still in her corner of the waiting room. Shock rippled through her when one of the male receptionists came up to her.
“Miss, would you please come with me?”
She clutched the clipboard. “I haven’t handed my application in.”
He smiled. “I will take care of it. Please, come with me. The recruiter would like to speak with you.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
His expression became gentle. “No, miss. You are just what he has been looking for.”
She got to her feet and followed him through the milling crowds and behind the desk.
He carefully herded her through the back halls until they entered a meeting room with a silver man sitting at the table. He was petite, his head was large and his eyes were solid black.
The receptionist handed him the clipboard, and the man read it quickly.
“Miss Graves, thank you for coming in. We noticed you on the security cameras, and your ability to blend in is remarkable.”
She cleared her throat. “You noticed me?”
The recruiter shook his head. “No, we noticed where no one was for several hours. When that many people are waiting to sit and no one chooses that spot, there is either something on the chair they can see or some
on the chair that they can’t.”
“I would be the second kind. No one notices me in an average day; they just pass me by.” She shifted in her chair.
“Why didn’t you hand your application in?”
She hunched her shoulders inward, “I was still deciding.”
“Your name is Iridia?”
“That is an unusual name for your kind.”
“My father is a geologist. He named me after a mineral.” She sat quietly.
“Why do you want to leave Earth?”
It was the question she had been dreading. She decided to be honest. “No one sees me; no one notices me here. If I could bring that out into space, I might see things that I could never see here and no one would be the wiser.”
He nodded. “Could you wait here a moment? I will be right back.”
She inclined her head, and he got to his feet, showing his diminutive height at just over four feet. Alone in the room, she sat still and looked around her, watching the applicants being ferried past the open door.
Some were women, some were men, several flirted with their escorts and others were jumping with nervousness. She counted them in her mind and observed their behaviour. It was an hour later when Recruiter Norz reappeared with a smile.
“What did you learn, Iridia Graves?”
“I learned that many people want to come home without serving their time, the women in this area just want to see an alien up close and the men were looking for alien woman with multiple breasts.”
Norz snorted. “There are quite a few of those, but the faces are not in keeping with the Terran preferences. Too many eyes and large teeth.”
Iridia grinned. “Ah, I wish they could meet one of them.”
“Based on your traditions, the monster would be hunted.” He shook his head. “We have no illusions as to the psychology of the majority of your people. That is why we screen the volunteers. You have to be able to see what is out there and not judge, merely observe and adapt. You have a skill for observation, do you not?”
She twisted her lips. “I suppose that it goes along with the ability to remain still.”
“If I may ask, why did you develop it?”
Iridia looked at his features, and she guessed that she was reading genuine interest on his face.
“My father’s work required a lot of attention, so he asked me to be quiet and still, so that is what I became. Anything else that I do my mother blames on my father’s penchant for carrying radioactive samples of rock in his car and his pockets.”
He lifted a tablet and nodded. “I believe we can offer you a position as an Unseen—a bodyguard that is famed for its ability to blend in with its surroundings and remain innocuous to those around it. It will involve quite a bit of physical work on your part and a lot of combat training, but I believe that you would thrive in that position.”
Iridia scowled. “I don’t think I am cut out for combat.”
“It is a requirement of the position, but your actual assignments would be to accompany dignitaries and negotiators during their postings. You would see things and worlds that you cannot imagine.”
“So fitness and combat training is a job requirement?”
She nodded and closed her eyes, creating a decision web and working out the pros and cons. Seconds later, she nodded. “I accept if you are making the offer.”
“When can you leave?”
“Two days. I have to go home and notify my parents of my decision.”
“Excellent. We have a shuttle leaving at the end of the week. This is the address to appear at, and you will be driven to the launch site from there.”
Iridia smiled. “Good and thank you.”
“No, thank you. Your talent is very rare. I have only met one other since I have been posted here. She was in the first wave. You will be given the training you need to gain mastery over your situation. Sign here and place your thumbprint here.”
He turned his tablet around and showed her the contract for three years in service as one of the Unseen
The contract was renewable at that time, and she would not have to remain out in space if she did not wish to.
“It says here that my work training will take six months, so I will only have two and a half years in space?”
“There are plenty of new experiences and peoples to see at the moon base above us and the Alliance training centres. You will see all you wish to see, and if you like it, you can see some more.”
He smiled, and she saw the jagged teeth that his tight mouth contained.
She grinned back and signed with her finger, sealing it with her thumbprint.
Iridia walked into her parents’ house, dusting her fingers off on her jeans. Her mother was in her workroom, mathematical problems on every surface.
“Mom, I need to speak with you and Dad. I will be in the kitchen.”
Her mother didn’t respond, so Iridia left the room and walked to her father’s lab at the other end of the house.
Her parents agreed early on to split their interests in the house. They each had work and research areas separate from the other, and they only got together for one meal a week.
Iridia had become used to being invisible early in her life because she was. She was the contractual obligation of the marriage, and once their only child had been born, both parents had lost interest, farming her out to a number of nannies and grad students.
She had grown up watching people, new people constantly coming into her life. They were all happier if she was out of the way and quiet, so that is what she became. Watching people was her self-defence mechanism. Not all of her babysitters had been pleasant, but if she was careful, she could avoid them.
It had been a strange way to live, but it had forced an evolution inside her that may never have happened. It had changed her into what she was today.
She opened her father’s lab. “Dad, I need to talk to you and Mom. I will be in the kitchen.”
He didn’t even twitch.
She hadn’t expected much; she walked to the kitchen, made tea for three and wrote one letter to each of them, putting one on each side next to the teacups. They would come in and find their notes eventually. She suspected it would be after she was already on the moon.
She poured her tea and sat in the familiar space and looked around, reliving every memory she had. The student who had baked her cookies when she was four, the nanny who took care of her skinned knee and the tutor who helped her with fractions. It had all happened in this one place, the place she existed but never truly lived.
She finished her tea and went upstairs to pack her duffel. If she could find a life, it had to be amongst people and places that were new and exciting. With very few exceptions, humans were very disappointing.
Iridia Graves worked on her physical fitness with intensity and focus. This was her key to getting a foothold on her new life, and she took all education seriously.
Norz was right. There were a variety of species on the moon base, and Iridia studied them all.
Her combat instructor was a Selna. His species were known to be a little on the trampy sided, but he had given his heart to another one of her kind. He was in love and the object of his affections was missing in action. It was sad, but it made him devoted to his work. Iridia took full advantage of his focus to learn as much as she could.
“I believe you are ready to move on to weapons training, Iridia.” Ikvaro grinned.
She paused in her attack. “Are you sure?”
He used her opening to attack again, but she blocked him.
“I am definitely sure. You are competent at everything I can teach you, though I would urge you to take advantage of opportunities to learn that come your way.”
She waited until he dropped his arms and backed away, bowing slightly. She bowed in return. “I have never passed up an opportunity to learn, Ikvaro. Even if the process is painful, the result is usually worthwhile.”
“What of those times when it is not worthwhile?”
“During those results I still learn. I don’t like it, but I get a little smarter.” She grimaced.
A new voice interrupted their conversation. “Good. I hope that that will come in handy while I am training you. I am Master Yentak. I will be instructing you in the ways of weapons.”
She turned and met a strange creature made of broad muscle and dark rainbow. “Master, is it?”
“It is my trainer rank, as Ikvaro is Master Ikvaro. He rarely uses the introduction when meeting women, though. It gives them the wrong ideas.” Yentak grinned, showing flashing canines.
“It does ring with a certain promise for human women.” Iridia winked at Ikvaro.
Ikvaro sighed. “I am spoken for, or I would be if she could be found.”
“She will be found. I have no doubt of that. If the women of our first wave were any example, Terrans don’t go down easily. Your second wave lady will be fine.”
Ikvaro smiled softly. “I am counting on it.”
Yentak grinned. “As long as we are all on the same page, I would ask that you now accompany me to the firing range, Recruit Graves. You will learn the first steps in accuracy.”
Iridia smiled. “I look forward to it.”
She stepped off the sparring platform, and with one more bow to Ikvaro, she turned to follow her new master. Weapons’ training was about to begin.