UNEDITED – SPOILER WARNING  (Be sure you’ve read Reclaiming Honor 1-8 first)
Gateway to the Universe

Valerie and Robin emerged from the transport ship, following closely behind Michael as he led them into the ArchAngel II, the large ship they had seen from the ground when Michael had picked them up.

It was still almost unbelievable that she had left her friends behind, all but Robin.

The woman at her side, barely a woman at all, if you counted her actual age instead of looking at her through the lens of all she had done.

Now it was the two of them leaving the comfort of their homes behind to go off and join Michael in the fight for humanity’s survival from a different angle—from space.

Only, as Michael had just explained to them, they had signed up for more than anything than they could have fathomed before his explanation.

Most impressive, and exciting among those, was that they were about to meet the Bethany Anne, or BA, as some called her. If Cammie could’ve been here, she would’ve pissed her pants in excitement, at least just a little. Valerie, for that matter, was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t happening yet.

Everything she had heard about BA was a confusing smorgasbord of part awesome with a major portion of confusion thrown in for good measure. She was pretty sure most of the horrible parts were lies.

Valerie’s understanding of Bethany Anne was a picture painted of the legend by vampires she had been raised with back before she broke off from them to stop her brother’s invasion of America. Then she had met Michael and become his Justice Enforcer, and come to understand that much she had thought she knew about the world were fabrications…lies.

That included Bethany Anne.

She wasn’t the devil many had believed her to be, but more like a take-no-shit woman who had risen up to take control of Weres and vampires in Michael’s absence, and then taken the fight to space. Her focus was saving humanity.

At this moment, Valerie couldn’t imagine any more respect and admiration could possibly be flowing out of her and toward Bethany Anne. Her hands were almost shaking with nerves and excitement as they approached, and Michael had to even turn and give her a calming glance before they entered the great reception room aboard ArchAngel II.

“Remember,” he told them, “she is your empress now, but she is also a warrior, just like you. A woman given power beyond belief, who fights for justice. You aren’t so different, at the end of the day. I can assure you, she still puts her pants on one leg at a time.”

Valerie felt the heat rush to her cheeks. “I—I’m not usually like this…”

He raised an eyebrow, “What, like a gushing school girl from when we had boarding schools?” Michael asked. If he was trying to hide the smile pulling at the edge of his lips, he wasn’t doing a clever job of it. “I know. However – trust me, you needn’t be nervous.” He glanced over, “Nor you, Robin.”

It was only then that Valerie noticed how pale Robin was.

For her friend, Valerie pulled herself together. She stood a bit taller, chest out, jaw clenched, and nodded. At her side, Robin worked to the same.

He looked them both over and nodded slightly, “Very good.” Michael motioned for them to follow, and then led the way through the last set of sliding metal doors.

As they entered, a team of men and women turned to assess them. Each was intimidating in their own way, but all even more so because of the scent Valerie was catching—there was certainly something of vampire and Were here, though it was different. Like nothing she had ever engaged.

They slowly parted and Valerie was able to see her. She seemed taller, but Valerie noticed her boots…had heels?

Bethany Anne was speaking to a man who she had to look up at even in heels. He was shaking his head, and Valerie could hear their conversation.

“Look, John.” Bethany Anne was talking. “If we have one fucking chance of locating a cache, imagine the stories we could tell for centuries.” Her hands were animated, moving apart.

“BA, I’m with William. I can’t believe – regardless of the stories we both heard when we were here back on Earth before, that there are any Twinkies still edible on this whole planet.”

Bethany Anne sighed, her shoulders slumping just a bit. “Well, that fucking sucks.” The movement around her broke their conversation and Bethany Anne’s head turned to her left, a small smile playing on her lips as the two ladies came closer.

At the sight of her watching them, both Valerie and Robin bent to one knee instinctively.

“Empress, we are honored to serve,” Valerie stated, still not looking up.

Without even the sound of footsteps, she was aware that Bethany Anne was standing directly in front of her. A finger met her chin, pulling her up to look upon the Empress, then a nod to tell her to stand.

“Welcome to the ArchAngel and welcome to standing among those who fight for Earth. Whether from out in space,” she pointed up, “or here on the planet. You have my appreciation and respect for all you have done. Both before you met Michael, and since.” She looked over at him, “Although showing up like he did in a lightening storm with Forsaken all around and your brother trying to kill you was a bit much.”

“The timing was impressive.” Michael agreed.

All Valerie and Robin could do was look at each other in confusion, which made Bethany Anne and Michael both start chuckling and a few others seemed to be enjoying the comradery in a way she couldn’t yet understand.

It was like these two had just walked into some old members only club and had a lot to learn.

“Don’t worry,” Bethany Anne told them with a wave of her hand. “You’ll learn to fit right in. As for now,” she glanced around at the others there, “we’ll need a few minutes alone.”

The others nodded and departed with welcome nods to Valerie and Robin.


FROM JUSTIN >>> Just a quick teaser to see where this is going! Hope you enjoy 🙂 If you haven’t read Reclaiming Honor 8 yet, here it is:


RETURN OF VICTORThe future of the world is in their hands, and they will set it right.

Valerie has returned to New York in a time of reckoning. When an enemy declares war on her and her friends, there’s no holding back. The whole gang reunites for a fight-fest of epic proportions that promises to determine the fate of their lands once and for all.

Honor. Justice. Glory.

These are the trademarks of this new world. These are the lynchpins she and hers have set in place, and they refuse to let anyone try to break them down.

The princess has returned, and she will have her Victory.

Defending the Lost is part of The Kurtherian Gambit Universe.