Architects of Destiny (Cadicle #1): An Epic Space Opera Series

By Amy DuBoff

Sci-Fi, Young adult

Paperback, eBook

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4 mins

Chapter 1

I must leave tonight. I can’t stay here any longer— Cris Sietinen ducked to avoid the electronic rapier swinging toward his head.

“Stay focused.” His tutor jumped to the side as he stabbed at Cris’ torso.

Cris parried the blow, a challenging glint in his cobalt eyes. “You haven’t hit me yet.”

“You haven’t struck me, either.” His tutor circled him, steel-blue eyes locked on Cris. “Get inside your opponent’s head, just as Marina taught you. Movements can deceive, but what’s in the mind can’t be faked. Trust your intuition.”

Clearing his thoughts, Cris prepared for a telepathic assessment. “It’s not intuition, Sedric. Science has told us that much.”

Sedric Almar sighed. “Telepathy, clairvoyance, call it what you will. You are one of the few with the gift. Use it.” He took a swing toward Cris’ right leg. Though decades past his prime, he still possessed the same youthful vigor as the day he joined the Tararian Guard. Now a trusted Captain, he remained a formidable opponent in any close-quarter combat, gray hair or not.

With his mind cleared, Cris reached out to read the thoughts grazing the surface of Sedric’s consciousness—catching a glimpse of his next move. Before his instructor could complete his swing, Cris deflected the attacked. “If it’s such a ‘gift,’ then why does everyone treat it like a curse?”

“Don’t be so dramatic.” Sedric jabbed toward the main sensor on the chest of Cris’ training jumpsuit.

As he dodged the attack, Cris brought his own blade to Sedric’s collar in one fluid motion. The sensor lights illuminated red. A kill hit.

Sedric held out his hands in defeat and nodded his approval. “Next time I won’t go easy on you.”

Cris took a step back to rest. “I can’t solely rely on telepathy to win. There must be a reason the Priesthood condemns the use of such abilities.” His covert lessons from Marina were defiant enough, flirting with the boundaries of legality.

Sedric reset his jumpsuit using the controls on the sleeve, and the sensors returned to blue. “It’s not our place to speculate about matters regarding the Priesthood. Not even yours, my lord.”

“But you have to wonder,” Cris pondered. “On Tararia and most of the colonies, there’s nothing but anti-telekinesis propaganda. Yet, an entire division of the TSS is dedicated to honing the abilities of those rare ‘gifted’ individuals, and the Priesthood does nothing.”

“The Tararian Selective Service is unique in many ways,” Sedric replied, dismissing the dispute with a shake of his head. He gripped his sword and took an offensive stance. “Now, we have a lesson to finish.”

Cris was resolute, determined to finally get an answer to the questions his teacher was always so eager to dodge. This is my last chance before I leave. “You spent a year with the TSS, didn’t you? You must have seen so much—”

A single crease deepened between Sedric’s dark eyebrows. “My lord, with all respect, your father doesn’t appreciate discussion of the TSS.”

Cris’ restraint slipped. “Of course he doesn’t. He wants me to ignore my abilities, just like he did. Why should I listen to someone who wants me to live a lie?”

“I’m sorry, I—” Sedric brought his slender sword to a resting position with the illuminated tip on the ground.

Cris fought to maintain composure, but his serene façade shattered. “You don’t understand what it’s like… to have all the privileges of being born into this family, and yet it doesn’t mean anything. He’ll never be happy with who I am, not after the son he lost years ago. Me? I’m just his replacement heir to the Sietinen Dynasty—a tool to perpetuate our familial empire.” A disappointing shadow of the brother I never knew.

“You mustn’t think that way, my lord,” Sedric said with a gentleness that belied his hardened exterior.

Stars! Just a few more hours… Cris swallowed, his throat tight. Then I can get away from Tararia and stop being compared to the impossibly perfect memory of Tristen. “Shite, it’s no wonder he and Mother avoid me. I guess by now I should be used to seeing my instructors more than my own parents.” Cris met Sedric’s gaze for a moment before looking down.

Sedric put an encouraging hand on Cris’ toned shoulder. “You’re true to yourself, and that’s the best thing you can be.”

Like that’s done me any good so far. Cris undid the collar of his dark gray training jumpsuit, extinguishing the subtle blue sensor lights. “I’ve had enough for today.”
Sedric nodded, but his jaw was set in a frown.

Cris stepped from the black rubberized tiles covering the training arena onto the veined, white marble found throughout the estate. He set his sword in its rack along the wall next to the other training weapons. As he removed his jumpsuit, he stared out the window at the clear sky above the manicured grounds. He couldn’t wait to be out among the stars.

To Cris’ disappointment, when he glanced at the time displayed on the viewscreen integrated into the wall, he saw that it was only halfway through the scheduled lesson time. He sighed.

Sedric rested both hands atop the hilt of his sword. “Why the sudden interest in the TSS?”

Cris returned to the arena, wearing only the gray t-shirt and black workout pants that had been beneath his training attire. “It’s a significant institution, but all I ever hear are rumors. You were actually there. What was it really like?”

“Very different than anything here on Tararia,” his instructor replied after a moment.

“How so?”

Sedric scowled. “You’re trying to get me in trouble.”

“This is just between us, I promise.”

The Captain eyed him, still on edge. “First off, nothing of anyone’s life outside the TSS mattered. You could come from one of the High Dynasties or from the streets—everyone was treated the same.” He paused, but Cris’ pleading eyes drove him on. He smoothed his light gray uniform as if reliving a morning muster. “Though I was just in the Militia division, I had a few chances to meet the Agents. They have this presence that can quiet a room. Such power. I was always awed by their abilities. It was something timeless.”

Cris was captivated. Unrestricted telekinesis… What can they do? “So why did you leave?”

A grimace flitted across Sedric’s face, barely perceptible. “Many only attend for the first year. It just wasn’t the life for me.”

Cris examined his instructor. “If many leave after the first year, it must be easy to join. How do—”

Sedric let out a gruff laugh. “Oh, I see! I never should have said anything. Now you’re getting fanciful ideas.”

A disarming smile brought out Cris’ natural good looks. He ran a hand through his chestnut brown hair. “Please, Sedric? I’m only trying to broaden my knowledge of the outside world.”

His teacher scrutinized him. “There’s an open application process for Militia, but most Agent slots are by invitation. However, it is best if you permanently remove such thoughts from your mind.”

Cris composed his face, but the mischievous smile never fully left his eyes. “I was just curious.”

The old guard was not convinced. “You have a duty, my lord. Whether you like it or not, you are the Sietinen heir and will one day be in charge of SiNavTech and the Third Region of Tararia. That is an extraordinary responsibility. I only hope that you will embrace that power.”

“Oh, I will, eventually.” Just as I will embrace the power that I have within. “But I’m only sixteen—that’s still a long ways off.”

Sedric was about to respond, but was interrupted by the door opening.

Cris turned to see who had entered. His gaze rested on Marina Alexri, one of his father’s Court Advisors; the intrusion did nothing to improve his mood. Marina was in her mid-twenties and pretty, but she had a frigid demeanor that could silence a room. Her station as his sole telepathy instructor was the one redeeming element of their relationship. He instinctively bolstered his ever-present mental guards, careful to bury his plans for that night. Stars! What does she want?



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