Hey! So, I have finally returned to the Aspects.
I love this series, but I burnt out on it for a while and it took a while to return.
But now it’s back! I have no idea when the next book is coming out, but for now, Book Six is up for pre-order, and is already available to $3+ Patreon supporters, and you can pick up the rest of the series here if you need to catch up (Book One is free!).
And if you want, here’s the first chapter to start reading now:
“Shit,” Hate said, as she realised they were about to face an attack. “Kela and I will get on bikes and head for the enemy. Pain, can you figure out if there are any ships in orbit that we need to take care of?”
Pain frowned as he looked at his tablet. “One has just arrived, but it’s small… Small enough to get to the ground unnoticed. It’s heading for the wilderness.”
Hate frowned. “Then that probably means that the ship itself isn’t going to attack. It’s going to gather some creatures to attack the city.”
Pain continued to frown. “Maybe… There are larger ships approaching, however.”
“Maybe the smaller one is gathering the creatures, while the bigger ones are going to go straight for the cities,” Kela said. “Either way, Hate is right. We need to stop the smaller ship from gathering an army.”
Pain nodded as Hate and Kela made their way onto a couple of bikes before speeding off to the edge of the city, heading straight for the small ship.
By the time they approached, however, the ship was already approaching a large creature nest.
Hate took her pistol in her hand as she saw the door to the ship open and a figure standing there.
It was difficult to make them out in the low sun of the evening, but they appeared to be wearing Rena garb, and the way they were standing…
Hate might have almost mistaken them for Jia.
But then the figure jumped from the ship, straight onto the back of the largest creature in the nest.
Hate’s breath caught in her throat as she finally recognised them.
The creature’s large wings spread out behind it as it launched itself into the air, the rest of the nest following it up as they made a direct line for the nearest enemy ship.
“What should we do?” Kela asked. “We can’t let them get to the city, but…”
“I don’t think we need to do anything.”
The creatures flew past them, appearing not to notice the two bikes so close by.
At least, not until one of the smaller creatures turned to them, cocking its head as it examined them.
“Hate…” Kela warned, her hand going for her weapon.
“I don’t think it’s going to attack,” Hate said quickly.
Kela frowned. “And how sure are you of that exactly?”
Before she could answer, the creature approached.
Hate nearly yelled out, worried that the creature’s sudden move would cause Kela to fire her weapon, but she was silenced by the creature licking her face, almost as if it were a large dog.
“What the hell is going on?” Kela asked.
Hate didn’t answer her, instead turning to watch the creatures as they made their way towards the ship.
The ship fired several rounds at them, but the creatures easily dodged the blasts before making their way to the turrets, slashing at the weakest points until the weapons were all but useless.
Other creatures made their way towards the engines, striking at just the right spots to leave the ship defenceless.
“What the…” Kela said as she watched the efficient display. “Is that what you were talking about before when you said that the creatures weren’t as effective when we were controlling them?”
Hate nodded. “Pretty much. This is what it looks like when the creatures actually want to help us, rather than us forcing them to.”
A moment after she said that, the ship’s engines went critical, and the creatures scattered with just enough time to avoid the subsequent explosion over the wastelands.
As soon as the ship was down, the creatures returned to the nest.
All but one, which carried Claire back to the tower in the city.
Hate hesitated, but Kela had already turned her bike back and sped off.
Hate sighed before following her, not sure that she was ready to see Claire again, but figuring that she didn’t really have a choice.
As they arrived back in the city, the shields and creature control disruption systems came back online. Hate sighed again, this time with relief, as she figured that the systems being offline for too long was the last thing they needed right now.
They arrived back at the tower at about the same time Claire did, though they were saved from having to say anything to her by Em running towards her sister and enveloping her in a tight hug.
Claire winced at the move and Em pulled back to reveal bandages around Claire’s middle.
“What happened?” Em demanded.
Claire shook her head at her sister’s worry. “It’s fine. Nothing. Just a light stabbing.”
Em glared at her. “A light stabbing?! What the hell happened? Why have you come back to Earth?”
Claire sighed, folding her arms. “The High Priestess finally made a move against me.” She gave a cold smirk. “It made getting out of there a little harder than I had anticipated.”
Hate couldn’t help but frown at the entire exchange. There was something about Claire now… Something cold and guarded. It was easy for Hate to see why she had mistaken her for Jia before. She was holding herself like the other woman, and she was even speaking like her.
Cool, commanding, and in control.
Not the Claire that Hate had known.
Her time away had clearly changed Claire, and Hate was left barely able to recognise her.
Hate was struck with the sudden realisation that while she did have some lingering feelings for Claire, they weren’t for this woman in front of her.
They were for the woman Claire had once been.
Hate didn’t know if she should be relieved or upset…
Before Hate could parse her feelings – before she had to deal with talking to Claire – both the small ship Claire had arrived on, and another bike approached.
The ship landed first – fitting onto the roof of the Tower almost as if it were designed to, and Hate wondered briefly if the Rena had built the Tower roof precisely for that use – and once the engine shut off, the door opened to reveal a woman, around the same age as Hate, with deep bronze skin and the silver hair and eyes of the Rena.
She was wearing the same kind of white lab clothing Rila had always been in, and she ignored the rest of them as she made her way over to Claire, a mix of awe and worry in her eyes.
“Love,” she said as she approached, giving a quick bow, and Hate’s hand tightened around the pommel of her sword.
No one called Claire ‘Love’. Claire hated going by her Aspect name.
Hate had only ever been the one to call her that.
“Your injury…” the Rena continued and Claire gave her a small smile. The same restrained smile Hate had seen Jia give a dozen times.
“I’m fine. We have bigger problems to worry about and I am not in danger of dropping dead right this moment.”
Before either of them could say anything else, the bike landed, and the rider removed their helmet as they dismounted, revealing Captain Riva, Kela’s mother and the leader of the Free Colonies forces on Earth.
“You gave us quite the scare, Princess,” Captain Riva said as she approached, looking Claire over. “We almost mistook you for the enemy.”
Claire met Riva’s gaze without hesitation. “Well, I saw that the city’s shields were down and a Dishar ship was approaching. I didn’t exactly have time to say ‘hello’ if I wanted to make sure the city remained unscathed.”
“Of course, and we are grateful for the effort.”
“I fear the effort may not be enough in the long run. I must apologise for not returning earlier, and for not being able to send help ahead of me. My plan had been to bring an army, but it appears that the Priestesses had more allies than I knew.” Her hand went to the bandage around her middle.
“As unfortunate as that is, this fight has become about control of the creatures more than anything else, making your return invaluable if Earth is to survive.”
Hate shifted awkwardly, her leg twinging. She turned to Captain Riva. “I’ll leave you to catch the Princess up on everything,” she said, doing her best to keep her jaw from clenching as she spoke. “If you need me, I’ll be in my apartment.”
Riva nodded. “Of course.”
Hate then left, refusing to look at Claire as she did so.
Claire had managed to avoid addressing her – or even looking at her – so far, and Hate didn’t want to see what it looked like when that changed.
As she reached the stairs inside, however, she heard footsteps behind her.
She turned, bracing herself, but relaxed again as she realised that it was just Kela.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Of course not.”
Kela gave her a soft smile as they made their way down to Hate’s floor.
She hadn’t really been back since Claire had left, but everything was still as she had left it.
Still full of memories, but Hate tried to ignore that as she went to sit down on the edge of her bed, her hand going to rub the part of her leg where her cybernetics began.
Kela sat down next to her. “So… Your ex is back in town.”
“How are you feeling about that?”
Hate looked the other woman over, not wanting this to turn into a problem between them, but she couldn’t make out where Kela’s mind was.
Regardless, Hate knew that the fastest way to create a problem would be to not be honest.
“I didn’t recognise her,” Hate eventually said, and she found that saying the words aloud solidified her thoughts, removing any trace of doubt. “I don’t know who that woman was, but she wasn’t my Claire.”
Kela looked away in thought for a moment before responding. “Are you sure that’s a bad thing? I mean, her coming and saving us like that… I nearly developed a crush on her, never mind you.”
The joke fell flat, so Hate ignored it, moving her hand over to Kela’s cheek. “I’m sure. I’ve seen where women like that end up, Kela, and I don’t want that in my life. Everything I loved about Claire before is gone now. Jia stripped it away and replaced it with a clone of herself.”
“So, your complaint is that your ex is too much like Princess Jia, the great hero who saved your people?”
Hate shook her head. “I don’t want a hero, Kela. They make really shitty girlfriends. I want you. No one else.”
Kela scanned Hate’s face, clearly looking for something, and Hate chose to close the space between them in a tentative kiss. Hoping to give Kela exactly what she was looking for.
As she pulled away, Kela smiled. “I want you too, Hate.”
Kela closed the space between them once more as Hate shiftedso that her leg was comfortable, and she could easily remove Kela’s jacket.
If you want to continue, the full book is currently available to $3+ Patreon supporters, or you can pre-order it from your favourite ebook stores.