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Return of the Nine


Accepting

Written By: Viola Grace
Series: Return of the Nine #2
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Life on Gaia is predictable, boring, and just what Tiera needs to keep herself calm. When she is arrested and forc...
Life on Gaia is predictable, boring, and just what Tiera needs to keep herself calm. When she is arrested and forced to visit her friend Ziggy and Ziggy's new shapeshifting husband, the last thing on her mind is making a new friend in an alien fairy who looks like he works out.
Tonos has flirted his way through the universe and now that he has met this Gaian, his mind has changed from flirting to making sure that Tiera does not make a run for home. With the power of her will, he might just find his way to love.
Price: $2.99
Guiding

Written By: Viola Grace
Series: Return of the Nine #4
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Taking care of folks in the wild is her hobby, but when two of the Shadow Folk need her help getting everyone out...

…looking up at the sky, Henrietta Barrows knew that she had to leave the Earth. The tiny sliver of sky was so small, she could barely make out a single star. The moment that she made up her mind, she signed the paperwork and prepared for her journey. For better or worse, she was going to Gaia.” Teyha smiled. “And that is all for today.”

The two-dozen children groaned. They were seated in a semicircle around her chair with their faces turned up, eager to catch every detail of their ancestors’ voyage.

Teyha closed the book. “Same time next week, and we will find out how Henrietta fared on the journey here.”

The teachers thanked her and herded the children out of the Archive of Gaia. The plan had been to introduce a bit of Gaian colonist history into the classroom, but Teyha found that the children became part of the story if they were surrounded by it.

She tidied up the Hall of the Colony, smiling at the shift in shadows near the doorway. When she was finished, she turned her head, “Was there something you wanted?”

The shadows parted and Daphne Leoraki came bustling up. “Teyha. Am I glad to see you.”

Teyha had gone to school with Daphne and came forward to speak to her as the shadows continued to shift. The children had probably run right past them, but they stood out like bright candles to Teyha’s senses.

“Nice to see you too, Daphne. Who are your friends?”

Daphne smiled. “Shadow Folk. They need you to take them to the Temple of Shadows. Does that ring a bell?”

Teyha blinked and laughed. “Yeah, I know the spot.”

She walked out of the hall and shooed her guests out in front of her, putting them in the light of the atrium. They were either male or the Shadow Folk had some enormous women. Each man was over a head taller than she was and wreathed in ever-shifting shadow. It was easy to see where they earned their name.

“What do you want there?”

The shadows shifted and one said, “You do not need to know.”

She crossed her arms and scowled up at where she imagined his face was. “I do need to know. I take folks into the forests and hills so that they stay safe. Once we hit the foothills near the temple, no electronics work. We will be in a silent zone and unable to call for help by standard means. It is not a place for sightseeing.”

His head shifted, and he looked at his friend before directing the shadows back to her. “It is a religious pilgrimage. We have not been able to walk to the temple on Naccru due to our placement on the mother ship of the Nine. It is important to us, and you will be paid well.”

Teyha listened to what he wasn’t saying. The tone of his voice was urgent and not with religious fervour. There was no greed or manipulation aside from the obvious. He was lying to her.

“Fine. I am guessing that this is an urgent pilgrimage?”

“Yes.” He paused and said, “Please.”

His friend spoke, “Please.”

Teyha looked to Daphne. “Introductions?”

Daphne smiled, with relief on her face. “Ekinar Rossing, Representative of the Shadow Folk of the Nine.”

The shadow that had spoken to her bowed low.

“Nosku Sheval, biologist on the mother ship.”

The other man bowed as well but said, “Can we leave now?”

His urgency was palpable, and more than that, he was worried.

Teyha nodded. “I need to stop for a change of clothing and supplies. Do you have rations that are suited to your biology?”

Daphne nodded, “I will get them.”

“Do you have a transport to the foothills?” She started calculating the supplies she would need for the one day in and one day out journey, with some extra for unforeseen circumstances.

“We do.” Ekinar replied.

“Good. Meet me in the field nearest the embassy in one hour. I will be waiting. You will need food, water and boots. It is a two-day round trip.”

She turned and left the men staring at her with Daphne snickering between them and trying to get them moving.

Teyha checked in at the office and informed the facility manager that she would be out on a guiding tour for a few days.

Reesha smiled and nodded. “Take pictures. That area is amazing.”

“Can I use the manual cam? I am going into the foothills.” Teyha raised her eyebrows.

Reesha sighed. “Take good care of it, or you will have to make another one.”

Teyha crossed the room and opened the safe, getting the camera bag and several spare rolls of film. Since she was heading into an ancient settlement, there was no reason not to use the opportunity to take more images of the Temple of Shadows and the glyphs and markings that it contained.

The first time that she had gone to the temple area, it had been curiosity, and she had been rushed. Now, she had another chance, and she wanted to go in prepared.

With the bag over her shoulder, she waved cheerfully to Reesha and headed out to her small apartment.

As Teyha entered, she began to shed her clothing on the way to her bedroom. The wardrobe that held her expedition gear was code locked, but a few well-placed digits and it opened to her touch. Humming to herself, she tugged on her wilderness suit, stomped into her hiking boots and wrapped her wrists.

Her hair was swiftly wrapped up in a tight braid that restrained the fine tendrils from floating loose.

Whistling softly, she strapped on her knives, checked her compact bow and bolt supply, grabbed two weeks’ worth of compressed rations, placing them and water packs in her backpack on top of the flare gun and flares. She could only carry enough water for two days, but she knew where the streams were in the area, and tests had proved them potable.

Her first trip into the foothills had been to discover why the area repelled technology. Between the mineral samples that she had obtained, the water samples, and the first-hand viewing of an ancient city of the Nine, it had been a surprising and bittersweet success.

Teyha’s exploration had been her attempt at grieving. Her parents had been a geologist and a historian respectively, and looking for proof of the previous occupation of Gaia by the Nine had been her way of honouring their memory. They had died in a landslide in the foothills six months before the Tokkel attacks, and when the planet had been at risk, Teyha had found other things to occupy her time.

Taking care of folks in the wild is her hobby, but when two of the Shadow Folk need her help getting everyone out alive, her skills as a guide will be tested.
 
Teyha enjoys being a historian and educating the next generation of Gaia on how they arrived. Her weekends and time off is spent exploring the new home for humanity, bringing back information and tales of the abandoned cities of the previous civilizations.
Two Shadow Folk come to ask for her help as a guide, and with a little convincing, she agrees to head to the ancient city that their people had once thrived in.
On the way to the city, she finds that she is not taking two men on a pilgrimage, she is leading a rescue party. With one shadow keeping secrets and the other too close for comfort, she does what she was asked to do. She guides them in, and she gets them all out.
Price: $2.99
Collecting

Written By: Viola Grace
Series: Return of the Nine #5
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Collecting the tools needed for survival is her talent, but a male of the Water Folk is something she is dying to...

With the seaweed gathered into her sample bag, Emharo looked at the tempting waves and debated continuing her search for vegetation with antiseptic properties versus taking a nice dip in the waves.

Emharo looked up at the bright ball of the sun and smiled. It made her mind up for her. She carefully put her sample bag up where the shifting surf could not reach it and was slipping out of her shirt when a transport skimmed around the headland and came toward her.

It must be the specialists from the mother ship of the Nine.

The transport flew past her and up the beach. Its air cushion spewed sand left and right until it moved up to the ridge and approached the lab.

“Well, if everyone is over there, I think it is time for me to cool down.” Her parents wouldn’t begrudge her a short swim, and she might find another sample to take back to them.

She wore undergarments made of cured fish skin, and the leather made supportive and waterproof underwear. Em removed her outerwear and folded it neatly, tucking it up where it would remain dry. With a knife strapped to her thigh and a fishing spear in one hand, she went into the water to do some collecting.

Collecting the tools needed for survival is her talent, but a male of the Water Folk is something she is dying to add to her collection.
Emharo has spent her time collecting biological samples from the world around her and giving them to her family for analysis. She can find anything you need—you just have to ask.
Rivvin is a member of the Water Folk, and from the first time he saw this woman in his element, he knew that she was far more than she appeared to be and far more vulnerable than she pretended to be. She will be a challenging mate and a feisty partner if he can only convince her that she needs to add him to her collection.
Price: $2.99
Hunting

Written By: Viola Grace
Series: Return of the Nine #6
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Ancient cities and the need to hunt give Nik a few clients who are out of this world.   Niika has a lov...

Niika looked around and waited. The grass in the meadow was ruffling lightly and the trees bent and swayed as wind moved them in rhythm.

Niika crouched down and held her breath as the hoof beats of one of Gaia’s rarest creatures brought it close to her.

The beast broke free of the forest and its thudding feet brought it into the open. Niika couldn’t stop the grin on her lips as it lifted its head, shook out its mane and horn and its nostrils flared.

Niika held perfectly still as the beast came toward her. Her heartbeat was slow and steady, but he sought her out with alarming accuracy.

The horn speared through the brush and stopped an inch from her chest before it eased in to touch her. She held perfectly still until the horn retreated and the lovely equine head nudged her. “Hello, love.”

She felt the warmth of his mind in hers, and she laughed. It had taken her years of running through the Archives with Daphne, but she had found an obscure reference to a mythical beast. A unicorn was here on Gaia, and it made for an excellent companion.

Niika came out of cover and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He rubbed her back with his chin and snorted.

“Who’s a good boy?”

He made a peculiar chortling sound and stepped back into the centre of the meadow. He bounced up and down on his hooves, waving the deadly blade of his horn around.

To Niika’s surprise, another one of his kind slowly came out of the green shadows and moved to stand at his side. She was lovely, a silvery black to his blue and ivory. He rubbed his head along her neck, and Niika smiled. She sent him warm wishes, and he trotted back over to her, placing his muzzle against her palm.

His mate looked at her with shy curiosity. She came up and carefully extended her muzzle to Niika.

Moving carefully, Niika held her other palm out and let the female touch her. When the light contact was made, Niika curled her fingers and stroked the underside of the female’s jaw slowly. The unicorn’s lids lowered in enjoyment, and she leaned forward in silent demand.

A sound in the distance brought her head around, and she stared with the two beasts at her side. “I am sorry. It seems my survival group has woken up. I look forward to seeing you again when I am in your territory.”

The male shook his long, glossy mane out and steered his female back into the cover of the trees.

With the last look at their swishing tails, she turned and walked back to the campsite. Time to take her city folk back home again.

Ancient cities and the need to hunt give Nik a few clients who are out of this world.
 

Niika has a love for the land that goes bone deep. Even damaged by an old injury, she seeks out prey in the form of plants, animals and missing persons. Nik’s life revolves around her taking groups on tours of the wild and teaching them to live off the land that offers so much. Taking a group of aliens is a definite first.
The Nine need fresh supplies if they are to remain as a defense and an assisting partner to the people of Gaia. They also wish to know where their own people used to live and how. Cavos is a historian in search of the city of the Stone Folk, and he is quite surprised to find his mind turning from the past to the future when he meets the Gaian huntress who is leading him to his heart’s desire.

Price: $2.99
Designing

Written By: Viola Grace
Series: Return of the Nine #9
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

A reclusive inventor meets a man who will give her wings. Well, he will let her use his. Ula has hidden from her...

The heap of leather and metal on the table was drawing a lot of speculation as to how a primitive with limited resources managed to repurpose an instrument of torture.

“I cannot understand how the Gaian understood the tech, let alone reprogrammed it.” The head engineer of the Nine warship scowled and prodded the leather. It contracted immediately.

“She has a talent for it, much as the other men and women who have been coming to our attention. I wouldn’t put anything past the Gaians at this point. They are surprising us at every turn, Father.” Deniir laughed.

“I want to talk to the engineer who created this. This is an amazing work of design and practicality.”

“That will be difficult, Father. She has retired from active use of her talent and has withdrawn to the cliffs. She sees no one.” Deniir frowned. “She has even cut herself off from her friends.”

His father shifted his shoulders restlessly. “How do you know that?”

“I asked. Cavos’s mate is a friend of the designer. She is the one who used to wear the harness. Her spinal cord had been damaged, and yet, this woman rigged the straps to keep her friend upright and mobile for years before it failed.”

“Extremely impressive. For a primitive to take apart and reassemble Tokkel technology is a feat that deserves to be investigated. I would like to interview her.”

Deniir frowned. “She will not leave her home. Even her friends do not have permission to visit.”

“Then, you will have to convince her that she needs to take a tour of our facilities. I believe that the opportunity will entice her. She can have full run of a design station and access to all our tech. That has to be tempting, even if she is in retirement.”

Deniir looked at his father. “You can’t be serious.”

“I am very serious. A mind like this needs to be encouraged, not allowed to hide in the darkness. Bring her into the light.”

He straightened and made a formal bow. “Yes, Master Engineer Darthuun. I will bring this woman into the light, whether she wishes to be here or not.”

A reclusive inventor meets a man who will give her wings. Well, he will let her use his.
Ula has hidden from her own people in an effort to cease pressure from local government to create weapons against the Nine. When a man with wings comes knocking, she slams the door in his face.
Deniir has gotten as much information on the designer as he can, but seeing her taming some of the wild flying predators out back eases her rude dismissal of his presence. She is as wild as the beasts she uses to get airborne, and he sees the means to get her to follow him to the stars.
Offer her complete freedom and she will follow him wherever he leads.
Price: $2.99