Cosmic Wars, Book 6 of the Grand Masters’ Galaxy
Violet and Athanor Griffin reunite with their baby son after escaping from the world beyond the fiery Cosmic Rift, but they find no respite from troubles. Hordes of bloodsucking Ixioth slavers threaten galactic civilization, and a new enemy has emerged from the alternate universe, an enemy immune to the Grand Masters’ psychic powers. Soon, the dynamic couple and their allies are flooded with pleas for help. Athanor swears to crush the insectoid Ixioths and expel the Nulls from the galaxy, while Violet has vowed to save the captive children of Cinerea. Can the two Griffins reconcile their divergent promises, or must they separate to rescue the prisoners and defeat the invading armies?
At home in the Griffin’s Eyrie, Violet’s happiness blossomed in lilac sparks of psychic energy. Her precious family was reunited after their tribulations in the lands beyond the Cosmic Rift. She sat on the sofa with the orange cat purring on her lap, and watched Athanor crawl around the rug with their baby son perched on his back. Athanor’s long black locks draped over his face like a horse’s mane. His short hair as jet black as his father’s, little Varan giggled and kicked his legs. Only Athanor’s psi tether prevented him from tumbling onto the ground.
Amused by their antics, she joked, “Your horsie is missing a tail.”
Shaking the hair off his face, Athanor smiled at Violet. His eyes blazing with sapphire light, the potent mark of a Grand Master, he pleaded, “Sweet Violet, relieve me of my enthusiastic rider. We must talk of the future.”
She lifted Varan from his father’s back, and placed him on the floor next to his toys. The cat, Rascal, sauntered over to rub his head against the little boy. The fluffy, Dally, scampered into the room from the patio. Soon, Varan was crawling around the room with his playmates.
Athanor drew Violet to the sofa and slipped his arm around her. “I had hoped for a respite of three or four days after our ordeal across the Cosmic Rift. However, news of my return has already reached our allies. I have received felicitations from old Hanuman Pashtari, and Amarylla Threeleaf wishes to taste my presence.”
Savoring the clarity of their psychic link, Violet leaned her head on his shoulder, and suggested, “Mother Tingu must have told them of our escape.”
“By Odin’s eye, she might have waited a day,” Athanor grumbled.
“Don’t blame her. You were missing for many weeks, and we were afraid you were dead, or as good as dead.”
“Brightness Amarylla pleaded her news was urgent, and I’ve invited her to visit us this evening. She can inform us of any significant occurrences during our absence.” His sapphire gaze flicked to Varan. “Assuming our energetic son will go to sleep.”
“Varan’s thrilled to see his father after your absence of seven weeks, and he’s stayed awake all day playing with you.” She snuggled against him. “He’ll sleep soundly after I sing his lullaby.”
Picking up their baby son, Athanor carried him to his nursery, and read a short story. Violet tucked him into his cot, and sang his bedtime lullaby. His fluffy friend, Dally, snuggled in beside Varan, but the orange cat followed the adults into their living room.
Athanor dropped onto the sofa. “Ah, we can relax until Amarylla arrives.” Violet joined him on the sofa. Rascal hopped onto his master’s knees, and curled into a furry ball, purring, “Love you, love you.”
They did not have a long wait. Athanor hadn’t even drained a glass of wine when his com buzzed. Opening the miniportal in his leather bracer, he related the message to Violet, “She’s coming.”
A column of pink mist formed in the middle of the room, and quickly resolved into the flower Grand Master, Amarylla Threeleaf. The Wistralian’s three giant petals were tightly furled in a long bud above her short stalk and tangle of brown rootlets.
She opened her petals, wafting the scent of roses. Their translators rendered her greeting, “Griffin Grand Masters, your brilliant presence sweetens sap of Brightness Amarylla.”
Standing erect, Athanor gave a formal bow, and waved his hand in a courteous gesture. “Welcome to my castle, Grand Master Threeleaf. I am grateful for your generosity in guiding the Council during my absence.”
Her petals paled, and Amarylla’s leaves rustled, “Absence of Griffin Chair sprouted thorns on Council.”
Sparking blue fire from his eyes, Athanor grunted, “Hades, I guessed as much. Tell us the bad news.”
“After Grand Master Violet blew into the Cosmic Rift, not fifteen Terran days passed before Council declared Griffin dead.”
“I might well have been killed, but Violet knew better,” he grumbled. “She sensed I was alive.”
“Advice of Grand Master Violet unheard, unheeded, lost in tumult.”
“Tumult? As dismal as that?” He barked a scornful laugh. “Did they fight for my unenviable position?”
“Choice of new Chair debated with violent winds.” Amarylla fluttered the edges of her petals.
More amused than angry, Athanor asked, “Who is my replacement?”
A faint odor of rotting vegetation hinted at the plantoid’s disgust. “Traditional combat offered for Chair. Four Grand Masters deferred to Brightness Threeleaf. Brightness declined to fight. Grand Master and Lord of Lightning, Nathan, will oppose Grand Master Baxicki for topmost branch.”
Athanor scowled and his blue aura flared. “Odin’s eye, I might have guessed those two would stir up trouble.” He paced to the window, spun around and met Violet’s gaze.
Fuming with indignation, she said, “Voids, Nathan ought to be grateful for your mercy. You refused to punish him for conspiring to destroy the portal web.”
“Mercy is rarely rewarded. Nathan claimed he repented, and I deemed Morrigu was the chief proponent of their conspiracy.” Gazing at the pink petals of Amarylla, he asked, “When is their combat scheduled?”
Her petals flushed to crimson, releasing the sharp tang of lemons. “Combat is today. Brightness agreed to hold a special meeting of the full Council at twenty hours Terran standard. Griffins must attend.”
Quickly checking the relative planetary times on her com, Violet exclaimed, “Voids, the meeting’s in one hour and forty-five minutes.” She straightened and glared at her mate. “We’ll have to get dressed.”
“What’s the rush? We’ll be ready in a fraction of the time.” Athanor laughed. “By Ragnar’s fires, the fools will tremble when I appear with Violet. They cannot overcome the joint force of the two Griffins.”
The flower Grand Master fluttered her leaves. “Scent of Griffin’s revival wafts slowly. The sweet news might not drift to their senses before the combat.”
“Excellent. Do not enlighten them, Brightness. If they’re eager to command the Council, they’ll have to challenge me.” Satisfied with his decision, Athanor returned to sit beside his wife on the sofa.
Exuding an acrid odor, the flower Grand Master said, “Brightness fears spread of rot. Ixioth slavers and ships of Nulls elude Wistralian fleet. Pleas fly from entities on outer leaves of galaxy. Fears of Ixioths netting their seedlings for food.”