Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #romance, #sci-fi
Powerful, alone and far from her family, Wia has found a path of her own but she is surprised to find it leading her to the arms of an Avatar.
Born to a star, Wiali faced fifteen hundred years of stasis followed by ten years of work in the Citadel. While frozen, the entire Archive of the Alliance ran through her mind, her education was controlled by her whims.
When her father went nova, she was finally and definitely alone until the moment Suek’s last Avatar came to tell her she was transferred from Citadel Aria to Citadel Lowel, the adjunct to Sector Guard Base Udell.
Braenar knew that Suek had chosen him for Wiali, but the mechanism by which they would meet again was a mystery until she walked into his life with a group of students trailing behind her. From that moment on, he kept tabs on her until the day he could tell her that she was stuck working with him in deadly and dangerous situations.
Planets, power and infinite peril…What girl doesn’t want that sort of thing in her life?
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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 © 2012 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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Tales of the Citadel book 14
Wiali smiled as she took her students through the dig site on Halash. “This is the last city of the Hirn Empire. They scattered from here, out to the stars.”
The professor running the dig came up and took charge of the group, directing them through the site and into the place they would work and learn. They had less than a year to absorb every detail of the cities and the dead civilization before the sun completed its cycle and went nova.
Wiali wandered through the halls of her home and touched the walls. She hadn’t been back on Halash since the day her father’s newest Avatar had tucked her into the stasis chamber and sent her off to the next star system.
Fifteen hundred years of Alliance information, data and current events had run through her skull until the day Suek’s Avatar, Sovalli, woke her with a smile and told her that she was entering the Citadel.
Wiali walked through what had been her family home, watching the archaeological crew documenting everything and taking the images of her mother and father, packing them away for the Alliance Archive.
“May I help you, miss?” One of the team members spoke before he looked at her face.
Wia looked at him with a bland expression, knowing that he was taking in the mask colouration on her face and comparing it to the portrait that he had just wrapped and stored in a crate. “I just came back to see my home before my father burns up and scorches everything in his path.”
A voice behind her made her smile. “I am not going so easily into the end, Wia. Don’t be so flippant, this is the end of a solar system.”
Wia turned with joy surging in her chest, and she faced a man she did not recognise. She knew the brilliant purple swirl in his eyes, but the body her father was using as his Avatar was unknown to her. “Father?”
He extended his arms and the purple became solid.
Wia ran to him and embraced him. “How many since Danyer is he?”
“He is the second. When Danyer’s body died, Sovalli stepped in to help ship you off for safety, and he remained with me until last year when Braenar offered himself for my last days.” Suek’s voice was the same.
If Wia closed her eyes and ignored the intriguing scent of the man she embraced, she could almost feel her father, Danyer-Suek. Her mother’s life had been bound to Danyer, so when she lost one parent, the other followed within a week. At the age of fourteen, it had been quite a blow. Suek’s replacement Avatar was a man named Sovalli, and he had gently explained what was about to happen before Sovalli-Suek tucked her in the stasis chamber and froze her for fifteen hundred years.
He was the same man who woke her ten years ago, and now he was gone as well leaving this strong, fit male who was decidedly interested in her embrace.
She pushed away. “I am sorry. That was inappropriate.”
He grinned, the purple still denoting that Suek was in charge. “It is never inappropriate to show affection, Wia. You know that. My body may change, but my soul will always be that of your father. Danyer was a wonderful Avatar, and Wiska was a good woman. You are a credit to both their species.”
Wiali sighed. “I can’t believe you are dying.”
“It comes to all of us, child.” The new Avatar wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and they walked in the dusty remains of the gardens that Wia remembered as full of wonderful blue-green plants and scarlet flowers.
“At least you had time to get the Alliance to archive the history of the system. I am glad that the Suek system won’t be forgotten.” She smiled but could feel her eyes darken with tears.
“And you are my legacy, Wia. Don’t ever forget that. When Danyer asked for a mate and Wiska ended up being the proper choice, I was sceptical, but the moment that my Avatar held you in his arms, I knew that you carried a part of me within you as well.”
“It is peculiar to be having this conversation with a face I do not recognise.”
“Braenar is a good man. He has Hirn in his biology as well, so you two would be a good match when I am gone.” There was amusement in his tone.
She was a little surprised at his comment. “You are fixing me up with your Avatar?”
“He volunteered to help me through the last days of my star system when Sovalli failed, and so, he will keep command of the power in his body after I have burned my last.”
They took a turn around the gardens as if the shrubs were still in place. Wia remembered her laughter and the exhilaration of running on her chubby legs through the gardens, hiding from her parents while Suek watched from above.
She had been ten before it occurred to her that the purple colouration of her father’s eyes was related to the sun in the sky. The mask in his skin had been a lovely frame for the bright purple swirl, and from that moment, she knew that when the man with the purple eyes spoke, her father was not the one behind the words.
“How did you find him?”
“Sovalli was dying, his body had lived dozens of generations past his life span, and he was tired.”
“Yes, like Danyer. Braenar was here on assignment, working to record my history and store it in the Archive. I asked him, and he agreed to be my Avatar when Sovalli breathed his last.”
“Is he happy?”
“He is busy. Happy will come later.”
“How old is he?” She bit her lip. It wasn’t like she wasn’t going to be older than all the men she was attracted to. She was one thousand five hundred twenty-four years old. It was unlikely that she would find a man her own age.
She shook her head for considering the thought of mating with her father’s choice. “It doesn’t matter now. I will return to Citadel Aria, and Braenar will engage in his own life once you have burned bright.”
“So cold, little one. I wonder what made you so cold?” There was a change in the tone, and she jerked away from the man who was no longer speaking for the star that had spawned her.
“Braenar, I presume?” She moved a few feet away and had a problem looking into his frank and open gaze. His eyes were crystal blue, and they seemed to see far too much.
“Wiali of Suek. I have looked forward to meeting you. Your father has told me much about you.” Braenar stepped forward and kissed her hand.
Warmth unrelated to the fluctuating sun ran through her. When he released her fingers, she folded her hands in front of her. “I was aware that there had been a transition, but not that Suek had called another Avatar.”
“I was assigned to information gathering and was interviewing Sovalli-Suek when Sovalli faded. Suek asked me to take over, and knowing that there would be an end to the position, I gratefully agreed.”
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not everyone can be a star-born power.” The full curve of his lips was hard to look away from.
“I do not consider myself a power.”
“You are working with the Citadel, are you not?”
She frowned. She was an excellent ancient studies instructor considering that she had access to the entire Archive in her memories. “I suppose I am, but it was the method of my storage that created the desirable talent, not my bloodline.”
“May I question you about your family? Get additional details for the archives?” His hopeful expression made her remember where she was.
“Most of my family is dead, and the last member is dying. This is not the day to talk about it.”
She looked around at the garden and remembered it as it was, her parents standing arm in arm while she played with the flowers and stacked rocks in the centre.
Wia swallowed and tried to put on a smile. “I promise you that one day I will tell you what you want to know. Everything in my memory will be offered to you, but not today. Today, I am here as a representative of the Citadel and an instructor with her students. I will be here for eight days, and then, I will leave Halash for the last time. If you are still interested after that, you can come to me.”
Braenar inclined his head and offered to take her to her students, so the subject was successfully closed.
One year later
Wiali dropped the dish she was drying and clutched at the edge of the sink. Tears started in her eyes and fell freely.
“Wia? What’s wrong?”
Tally was a great roommate, but she had a tendency to be in the wrong place at the right time.
“My father just died. The ball of gas and power that was Suek has gone nova. He will not speak again.” Wiali wiped her hands and walked to the couch, sobbing into her drying towel.
Tally placed a hand on her shoulder and pulled it back just as quickly. “Ouch.”
“Sorry. There are a lot of emotions involved here and most of them defy description.”
“An empath should always ask before touching. I know that.” Tally rubbed her hand.
“Thanks for trying, Tally. And thanks for being my roommate.” Wia wanted to keep the friend she had near her and verbally seemed safe.
“Thank you for offering. It is hard to find radiation-resistant rooms in this Citadel.”
Wia chuckled. They had made the suite just for her, and when others began to request them, they had been made aware of how prevalent radiation emitting and resistant species were.
“I think I am going to leave. Have a nice flight to clear my mind.” She bit her lip and left the room. It was a good thing her mask was made of naturally occurring skin pigments, because otherwise, it would have been smeared and distorted by her tears.
Several Citadel members paused as she passed them, but she kept forging forward until she reached the upper level. The roof was quiet and the night was still, no wind, no noise, only icy air and starlight.