Enjoy the following sample from

The Omega Circle

Chapter One


Rontue walked along the dirt path, his face taut with concern. He glanced up at the starlight streaming through the tall trees, the branches waving gently to and fro, the slender needles frosted by the light from a couple of Cordoan’s small moons. A deep sigh escaped his lips as he cursed at one of those distant stars. He looked down as his feet crossed from the dirt trail to the stone walkway leading to his home. Catching sight of a small rock laying across his path, he nudged it aside with the toe of his shoe before proceeding. He arrived at a large grass-covered mound which could have easily been mistaken for a natural knoll amongst the trees were it not for the dusty metallic door laid across its slope, bordered by a thick plasti-crete frame holding back the grass. The door slid aside as he approached, revealing a lighted stairway leading into the ground. He proceeded down to a second vertical door at the bottom of the stairs which dutifully opened as the first one closed behind him.

Standing nearly two meters tall, Rontue’s head barely passed under the doorframe. Pulling his jacket off, he hung it on a nearby hook, brushing off the cold night air and enjoying the warmth of his home. His face was accented with wrinkles drawn from years of thoughtful consideration. His long hair was cinched at the back of his neck, trailing down to the center of his back like a silver tail. The walls of the large hexagonal room were lined with stained wood, framed by thick wooden beams planted in each corner. The ceiling angled up to a shallow peak where a large circular light provided a comforting glow. An assortment of wooden cabinets and furniture lined the walls, interspersed with framed sketches on old paper, many of them depicting the faces of young men. A couch and some worn, padded chairs sat in the center of the room, surrounding a short, round table.

Centered on each of the three far walls was a doorway leading deeper into the hillside. Rontue headed through the short hallway on the left, walking through the library which was half the size of the main room. He continued through another doorway on the far side, then halfway down a hall before turning left into a small, circular room with a short wooden cabinet placed against the back wall. A sword rested along the front edge, with a water fountain sitting behind it, the soothing sounds of the babbling water barely audible even in the small room. Bending his legs, he knelt on the cushion placed before the altar. As he settled into position, resting his haunches on his heels, the two doors on the shrine opened to reveal an oddly shaped box extending towards him on a low shelf. Side panels unfolded from the box like the petals of a flower as a collection of holo-displays glimmered to life above the unit. The room lights dimmed, leaving his face illuminated solely by the displays.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, followed by another, and another, each breath becoming shallower than the last. He could feel his heartbeat slowing as the well-rehearsed relaxation routine calmed his mind, allowing it to connect with the communication unit contained in the shrine. Sensing the connection take hold, he said, “Elder, are you there?”

“Welcome, Rontue,” he heard the gentle voice of the Elder, the words emanating in his mind. “You are early, my friend. I hope all is well.”

“As well as can be expected, I suppose,” he said with a dejected chuckle. “How can any of us be well under these circumstances?”

A comforting hum emanated from the Elder and Rontue envisioned the old man nodding in agreement.

“I’ve been trying to come up with a solution to our dilemma,” Rontue continued, “but I’ll be damned if I can think of one.”

“Do not put the sole burden upon yourself,” the Elder said. “We have all been struggling to find an answer. Regretfully, we’ve all come up empty.”

“We wouldn’t be in this predicament if it weren’t for Drewen’s incompetence,” Rontue heard Naxum’s voice interject into the conversation.

“You don’t know that,” the Elder said, his voice grating to convey his displeasure with Naxum’s abrupt intrusion into the conversation. “And as for Drewen’s complicity in this matter, I thoroughly disagree.”

Naxum scoffed, “The Empire has lasted for over two millennia due to the safeguards put in place by Ovlour. How in blazes did Trulls make it through the screening and conditioning if not for Drewen’s… ineptitude?”

“Despite the fact that he was the newest member of the Council,” the Elder rebuked, “Drewen was by no means inexperienced. I trained him myself, so if you wish to find fault with anyone, your search ends with me.” The Elder waited for Naxum to respond, but all they heard was a grunt of resignation.

The Elder sighed. “We all share your frustration, Naxum. And as for Drewen, he was the first to be claimed by the Emperor, so I doubt we’ll ever truly know how this travesty occurred.”

As the Elder finished, more voices made themselves known and he welcomed all of them cordially. The Council usually engaged in small talk while they waited for everyone to arrive, but the Elder’s harsh tone had invoked an uncomfortable silence. After a few minutes, everyone was present, all except one.

“Why is Procka always late?” Falken chuckled.

“He probably fell asleep again,” Lars said. “He doesn’t seem to do much else these days. I think he may be suffering from early onset of millennial deterioration.”

A voice suddenly burst into the Council, “Elder, are you there?” It was Procka. “Please be there,” he said, breathing heavily.

“I am here, Procka. We are all here. What’s wrong?”

The voice of the Elder seemed to calm him a bit. “The Imperial troops are attacking Drellum! They’ve surrounded the city, cutting down anyone attempting to escape. Imperial fighters are blasting any fleeing ships out of the sky.”

There was a pause as Procka’s connection faded, then they heard him gasp, “By the gods!” Another pause. “They’re blasting the city from orbit,” he cried. “Plasma cannons, from the look of it. Very dense dispersal pattern… incinerating every kilometer.” Procka’s transmission faded, then cut back in. “Nobody will survive this.”

“Is there any chance of reaching safety? Underground, perhaps?” the Elder asked.

“No, Master.”

The Council sat in stunned silence, not knowing what to say.

After a few moments, they heard Procka weeping. “All of this—because of me.”

“Don’t be foolish,” the Elder said. “You are not the one to blame for this.”

They could hear Procka sobbing. “Do me a favor—make sure he suffers for this. He must pay for this abomination!”

“We will,” the Elder responded.

“The cannon blasts are almost to my district. I’m severing the connection before they get here. Farewell, brothers.”

“Farewell,” the Elder said, but Procka had already cut the transmission.

The Council was left in silence.

Rontue imagined the massacre taking place light-years away while he sat there in his small room. An entire city blasted into oblivion from outer space. Buildings exploding. Bodies vaporizing into atoms. Hundreds of thousands of people being slaughtered, and none of them understanding why it was happening. All while Procka watched, fully aware that all of the destruction was to get at him and him alone. All that death just to kill one man.

The members of the Council remained still, both to show reverence for Procka’s passing and to absorb the implications of what they had just heard. The city of Drellum was the third such city to be attacked by the Imperial Forces. Three cities destroyed. Three Council members killed.

“Damn the stars!” Naxum grumbled, breaking the mournful stillness. “We’ve got to do something about this insanity! Are we just going to let him destroy city after city until he’s killed us all?”

“I am open to suggestions,” the Elder said coldly.

“There’s got to be something we can do,” Naxum rumbled. “There must! If we do nothing, we guarantee the Empire’s fall. It’s our responsibility, brothers. We alone stand between this usurper and the eventual destruction of the Empire!”

“We are aware of that,” Rontue said, “but none of us have come up with a viable course of action. If you have one, please, share it with the rest of us.”

“Let me go in after him. It’d be a pleasure to get my hands around that man’s throat!” Naxum snarled.

“So, instead of having the Emperor come after us, you’d have us deliver ourselves to the castle steps?” Stratten said.

“It’s far better than doing nothing!” Naxum shouted.

“Enough!” the Elder ended the argument with one sharp word. “Naxum’s proposal is denied. It is far too risky. We need a viable course of action, and I hope that—given enough time—we shall find one.”

“Have we figured out how he’s locating us?” Rontue asked.

They all contemplated the question silently.

“Is it possible he’s found a way to tap into our transmissions?” Falken asked.

“I don’t see how,” Stratten replied. “QE communications are untraceable. He must be using some other means to find us.”

After a short pause, Rontue queried, “Who were the most recent contenders sent to Pluvia?”

As they ran down the list of the most recent students sent to the castle, it became readily apparent how the Emperor had been locating the Council members.

“He’s tracing the contenders back to their city of origin,” Falken said gruffly. “And without knowing who to target, he’s opting to wipe out entire cities.”

The Elder sighed. “Well, if any of you are currently training candidates, you should halt further instruction. Sending anyone at this point would only put additional cities at risk.”

The Council grumbled in agreement.

The Elder cleared his throat. “It’s apparent we can’t confront this man within the confines of our established traditions. If we’re to have any chance at saving our Empire, we’re going to have to do so using other means, other tactics.” He paused as the Council considered his words.

“I think we should gather some intel on the status of the castle,” the Elder continued. “Prostal, you still reside in Sol, do you not?”

“Yes, Master, at the Argyre Colony on Mars.”

“I need you to get to Earth and determine the status of the capitol.”

“Of course, Master.”

“Thank you, brother,” the Elder said, then paused for a moment before continuing. “This Emperor is a shrewd one. He is using the Empire’s own forces to destroy the very systems designed to uphold it. We must find a solution before the Empire is harmed beyond repair. The fate of the galaxy hangs on our actions.”

They muttered in agreement.

“We will reconvene in two hundred hours,” the Elder said. “Be well, brothers.”

The members of the Council all said their goodbyes and signed off, but as the last one said his farewell, Rontue chimed in, “Master, a moment if I may?”

“Yes, Rontue?”

“My last contender left for Pluvia four weeks ago.”



All content © 2021-2024 William Cary