Protector of the Realm

Synopsis

A space adventure filled with suspense and a daring intergalactic romance.

With the fate of entire civilizations at risk, the galactic battleground makes for unusual alliances and unexpected passions as two women from very different worlds join forces.

When Commodore Rae Jacelon of the Gamma VI space station apprehends the alluring but decidedly dangerous Kellen O’Dal, it is the start of a breathtaking love story as well as a dangerous rescue mission. When against all advice, Jacelon decides to trust the mysterious O’Dal, risking her career and her life, a daring intergalactic romance ensues, set against the backdrop of a space adventure filled with suspense and intrigue.

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By the Author

Course of Action

Coffee Sonata

Sheridan’s Fate

September Canvas

Fierce Overture

The Supreme Constellations Series:

Protector of the Realm

Rebel’s Quest

Warrior’s Valor

Protector of the Realm

Supreme Constellations Book One

© 2005 By Gun Brooke. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-382-2

This Electronic Book is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, New York 12185

First Edition: December 2005

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Credits

Editors: Jennifer Knight, Shelley Thrasher and Stacia Seaman

Production Design: Stacia Seaman

Cover Image: Tobias Brenner (http://www.tobiasbrenner.de/)

Cover Design By Sheri ([email protected])

Acknowledgments

Supreme Constellations, Book One: Protector of the Realm
would not have become a novel without the assistance and support of the following people:

Pol, my best friend and the one who saw a potential in me and my writing, first of all. Thanks for beta reading, for letting me pick your brain, for helping with tactics, action, and anything science fiction. You’re the best!

Glynis, my New Zealand beta reader who goes over everything with a fine-tooth comb and offers constant support and advice and finds logic gaps like no other. Thank you for your conscientious efforts to keep me in check! http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/glynisgriffinswriting/

Snowolf, my very good friend and beta reader hailing from Australia. Your humor, your candor, and your friendship, together with your beta reading, have me looking forward to your remarks in hot pink! http://www.wolf-fic.com/

Koile, my German friend, read and commented upon every chapter with a special European take on things. I found your views immensely helpful, dear friend. Your support and friendship mean a lot to me.

Jay, you read everything I write with such enthusiasm and always willingly discuss it when I need to.

Other people offered support and/or advice too: Elon, Lotta, Malin, Henrik, Mom, Ove, Wendy, and Åse!

At Bold Strokes Books

Radclyffe, publisher—for your passion, your drive, and your belief in your authors. Thanks for daring to take this journey with me—and for making it fun!

Dr. Shelley Thrasher, editor—editing with you is not only most informative and inspirational—it is fun too!

Jennifer Knight, book doctor—thanks to you, I now know much more about adding insight!

Tobias Brenner, artist, and Sheri, graphic artist—the cover is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for sharing your talent—Tobias, especially, for seeing my commodore the way I see her.

Stacia Seaman, editor—nothing escapes your Argus eyes. That makes for quality, and it makes my book look great!

Dedication

All the men and women who risk their lives to live the adventure and pave the way to the sort of space travel that I have described in this novel.

Space Shuttle
Challenger—
January 25, 1986
Space Shuttle
Columbia—
February 1, 2003

Elon
Who loved science fiction even before I had heard of it

My children
Miracles that outshine any scientific breakthrough

Joanne
My best friend

Lotta
My best friend

My mother, Lilian
You’ve seen so many miraculous discoveries take place since you were born
You still claim my brother and I are your only true miracles

My brother, Ove
Best brother ever

Chapter One

Rae Jacelon felt the frigate
Ixis
reel as a new blast from the smaller spacecraft’s torpedoes hit it, making her and all the officers on her bridge hold on to their computer consoles so they wouldn’t lose their balance.

“Open comm channels! Unidentified space vessel, this is Commodore Rae Jacelon of the
Gamma VI
Space Station. By not responding to hails by a SC Fleet spacecraft and committing an act of blatant aggression, you are in clear violation of our space.”

“So you claim,” a woman replied in Premoni, the intergalactic language of the Supreme Constellations sector. She sounded unimpressed. Her low alto voice revealed a faint accent, a soft slur of consonants that suggested she hadn’t learned the language within the SC.

“Take out their weapons array and propulsion system!” Rae seized the bar next to the captain’s chair to keep her balance when the alien vessel fired a new round.

“Shields down to seventy percent, ma’am.” The honey-skinned ensign at tactical clenched one hand around her console and punched in new commands with the other. “Firing torpedoes one and two now!” The space between them and the alien ship lit up.

“Report!” Rae ordered.

“Their weapons are down. The vessel’s dead in the water, ma’am.”

“Reestablish comm channels.” Rae rose from her seat in the center of the bridge and tugged at her short black leather jacket, its tall collar adorned with rank insignias. She kept her anger in control as she spoke.

“Unidentified vessel, examine your computer readings and look at the identification seal on our transfers. It confirms our identity and our capabilities. Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded.”

“We have video, Commodore,” the ops ensign reported.

The large screen on the far wall of the bridge flickered, and a woman’s face came partially into view. “This is the private vessel
Kithanya
. We have no intention of surrendering. Our shields are fully operational…”

Rae bristled and felt like kicking the wall with her tall black boot. She had suffered through an endless series of boring negotiations for the past two weeks and was in no mood to be diplomatic. If this woman was foolish enough to acquire outlaw status by firing her ship’s full array of weapons after being hailed, she would be sorry.

Impatient, she smoothed down her short red hair and said, “Yes, but you cannot win. Nothing in your arsenal can prevent me from tractoring you in. You are not above the law.”

“We have broken no laws.” The woman’s tone was dismissive, almost disdainful.

Seething at this unexpected insolence, Rae replied brusquely, “As a matter of fact, I can think of several. This is your last chance. Lower your shields.”

“No.”

“Congratulations. You’ve won a free trip to the
Gamma VI
Space Station. Enjoy the ride.” Rae bent down, straightened the knife-sharp crease in her blue trousers, and gave the next order to her tactical officer. “Reel them in. Let’s go home.”

*

“You and the boy in your care, Armeo M’Aido, will remain in custody until--”

Rae broke off as a transparent blue teardrop ran down Kellen O’Dal’s cheek. So the blue tears really existed. She had heard of them, but never seen them firsthand. Crystal clear, reflecting the light in her office, the solitary tear left a damp trail on her prisoner’s face.

“I understand if you are upset, Ms. O’Dal, but…”

“I am not upset,” Kellen O’Dal hissed. “Do not mistake my tears for signs of fear. I am furious!”

A security guard moved closer, but Rae motioned him back to his post by the door. She stared at the tall, proud Gantharian woman who stood before her in her office aboard
Gamma VI
. The expression in her prisoner’s brilliant blue eyes was impossible to read. Rae had never seen anyone go from volatile to complete blankness so quickly. It was like putting a lid on a volcano. And although she knew this woman was physically stronger than she was—in fact, stronger than any human, due to a denser, more tractile muscle tissue—she merely shrugged and circled her desk. She had stared down taller, more physically imposing individuals than Kellen O’Dal.

“I was trying to be civil,” Rae said forcefully. “The boy is in custody, awaiting his relative. You are a prisoner, waiting to stand trial for kidnapping.”

Kellen apparently tried to stay calm by clasping her hands behind her back and standing at strict attention. She breathed deeply and with obvious forced consistency. “I am
not
a kidnapper. His parents are dead, and his mother entrusted him into my care. He has lived under my protection his entire life, and I have raised him since he was five, when his mother was killed.”

“The Gantharian ambassador sent files less than an hour ago, stating you’ve kept the boy from his father’s relatives for seven years. It’s your word against that of a diplomat.” Rae folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the corner of her desk. She was curious to hear the other side of this story since she’d detected arrogance and a hint of threat in the ambassador’s messages.

“Commodore, you cannot trust Ambassador M’Ekar’s version of the facts. He is not from Gantharat. He’s an Onotharian.” Kellen spat the last word as if it tasted foul.

Rae scrutinized the impressive woman once more. Gantharians were blue-blooded in the truest sense of the word. Their blue-colored blood cells shimmered just beneath the skin, and the unusual tint enhanced the woman’s statuesque appearance. According to her file, Kellen was thirty-two Earth years, young for her race. Their life span was about thirty years longer than that of humans. A striking woman, she wore her blond hair in a long, strict braid down her back. A tight black leather suit accentuated her lean body.

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