Home > Sea of Stars (Kricket #2)

Sea of Stars (Kricket #2)
Amy A. Bartol



In the dark spaces of every residence of the Alameeda Brotherhood, the ghostly half-light of holographic projectors simultaneously flickers on. A Star of Destiny—official symbol of the Alameeda Brotherhood—appears as a three-dimensional image within the glowing confines of the projectors. The sapphire star is on the verge of going supernova. Turning in circles, its pale pink carbon dust and silver solar flares reach out with scorching color from its surface. As the transmission strengthens, silent, strobing screams of light burst forth from the image of the Star of Destiny until it speaks.

“Brothers,” the transmission begins, as a ripple of blue fire vibrates from the star, “we who comprise the strongest, bravest, and the most intelligent men in the history of our world. We stand together as a unified force of destiny. In this, our most monumental moment, we teeter upon the precipice of a new dawn: the rise of the House of Alameeda.

“Just as Black Math, the ancient plague that decimated the population of Ethar, formed the five houses of our planet known to us all as: Alameeda, Wurthem, Peney, Comantre, and Rafe, we are poised to dismantle all who oppose Alameeda’s supremacy. Like points of a star, the five clan-houses have always been diametrically opposed. This opposition is a weakness—it denies our right to rule over all inferior creatures; it makes us complicit. The time has come for Alameeda to take our place as the one true star of destiny. The Supreme Alameeda Brotherhood, rightful heirs to the kingdom of Ethar, keepers and safeguarders of the vessels of the one true race, decree that a New World Order will come to pass. It was prophesied by our race of priestesses that we are sworn to protect. The signs they have given to us are clear. The stars of fate have aligned.

“The priestess, born of two worlds and of two houses, has returned to Ethar as prophesied. Kricket Valke, the stolen daughter of our order, is a hostage in the House of Rafe. The Rafe Regent, Manus Grayson, has repeatedly ignored our attempts to negotiate for her safe return. This pretender of power has allowed for the degradation of our priestess by attaching the taint of the Hollowell name to her. His insanity has not ended there. The weakling Regent has had the audacity to think himself worthy of an Alameeda priestess, touting a false engagement to her with malicious intent to demean and deny our claim of ownership of her. He has sought to use her genetically engineered gift of precognition, a trait she inherited through our bloodline, against her creators. For this offense alone, he has earned the penalty of death.

“Last evening, the Rafe Regent’s crimes against Alameeda were met with swift and righteous justice. Our attack and infiltration of the Rafe palace in the Isle of Skye has left Manus Grayson critically wounded. We will not stop until he is dead. It is our intent to eradicate him from the face of Ethar, along with his entire house and all of his subjects. Anything short of the House of Rafe’s complete and utter annihilation is unacceptable for the grave insult they have dealt to our Supreme Brotherhood. The prophecy will be fulfilled: one House of Ethar will fall.

“The House of Rafe.

“One House will rule.

“The House of Alameeda.

“A warning will be issued to any House that harbors Kricket Valke: ‘Return her to us or you will meet the same fate as the House of Rafe. She’s our rightful property. We created her bloodline. We own her: body, mind, and soul. She is the intended consort of Kyon Ensin, Supreme Brother and heir to the seat of the Loch of Cerulean. Any failure to meet our demands will seal your agonizing fate.’

“This, Brothers, is our declaration of war.”



Before me, sunlight warms the wall-length window as it streams into Trey’s living quarters. An enormous expanse of blue sky stretches out ahead. I exhale a deep breath, assessing Rafe’s floating fortress—this Ship of Skye. Beneath the window, the levitating city hustles. Massive, glossy skyscrapers of silver alloy and glass jut upward from the base of the ship. My gaze travels with them from the two-hundred-and-some-odd floors below me until I tilt my head back and lose the edifices to the ceiling above. Hoards of skiffs, the ultrafast hovercars, bustle around the buildings on amethyst-lit tracks of air. Everyone and everything here moves at a brisk, urban pace—a sharp contrast to the Regent’s palace where I used to reside. There, sedate grace is valued over efficiency.

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