Blood of a Thousand Stars (Empress of a Thousand Skies #2)

Blood of a Thousand Stars (Empress of a Thousand Skies #2)

Rhoda Belleza

For Dad



Rhiannon Ta’an:

Princess, sole surviving heir to the ruling Ta’an dynasty Kara:

Contested Ta’an princess and sister to Rhiannon Tai Simone Reyanna: Governess to Crown Princess Rhiannon Nero Cimna:

Kalusian ambassador to the Crown Regent’s office


Alyosha Myraz:

Former UniForce soldier, former DroneVision star of The Revolutionary Boys Issa:

Medic for the Wraetan Fontisian Coalition



Rogue warrior, associated with both the Order of the Light and Wraetan Fontisian Coalition Lahna:

Soldier on behalf of the Order of the Light


The Fisherman:

Outlaw in the galaxy’s Outer Belt



Most populated planet in the galaxy and ancestral home of the ruling Ta’an dynasty



Terraformed asteroid


Larger moon of Kalu, the site of a nuclear plant before the Great War Tinoppa: Tiny asteroid equidistant from Kalu and Nau Fruma, home to the sacred crystals Chram:

Dwarf planet allied to Kalu FONTIS:

Largest planet in the galaxy



Decimated planet, destroyed by a Kalusian attack ten years ago during the Great War


Nau Fruma: Smaller moon of Kalu

Portiis: Outlying planet


Domed city on an asteroid in the Bazorl Quadrant

Part One:


“An organic memory is an act of creation, of re-creation in fact—and by definition an imperfect copy, corrupted by emotion and an overload of sensory details. A memory recalled via the cube, however, is the exact memory perfectly preserved. It’s argued such recollections are less visceral, or that something essential is lost. But it seems little cost for the truth in returning to the same moment, countless times, unchanged.”

—G-1K Summit Appeal to the United Planets, the year 858



IF Kara was hot up here, it must’ve been hell down in the packed square. All of Nau Fruma was on a labor strike, and from her vantage point, the protesters looked like a single living organism—angry, undulating. For a historically neutral moon, Nau Fruma was not exactly peaceful these days.

Sweat stung Kara’s eyes as she scanned the crowd below. She wiped it away with the back of her hand, smearing the moondust that had settled on her skin.

“Test,” she said to Pavel, the small droid who sat beside her. The heat made everything shimmer in the distance. “Six o’clock.”

A bright white light flashed across the terra-cotta brick building directly behind them. It was gone in a split second. Kara scratched at the surface of the rusty coin, the one she’d carried around always. It hadn’t been anything more than a good-luck charm until Lydia told her otherwise.

This binds you to your family. There’s history in this coin, she’d said with her dying breath.

Kara blinked away the memory. “Again, Pavel: nine o’clock.”

Pavel swiveled west and used a small mirror attachment to reflect the sunlight.

“Again: two o’clock—”

“All right, all right, take it easy,” Aly said as he climbed up the wire ladder that led to the roof. “You’re more intense than half the souls I came up with in basic.” He crouched down next to Kara, half-hidden by the ledge.

“Just trying to prep,” she said, pocketing the coin. He had no idea how militant Lydia had been. The woman Kara had thought was her mother had a consummate work ethic. Language testing. Survival training. Ways to smuggle credits, and how to get a good read on a person. Kara had thought it was absurd and paranoid, which showed how much she knew. It had paid off, in a way. Kara had survived, even if Lydia hadn’t.

“You keep ‘prepping’ and someone down there might notice our little operation.”

“They’re too busy watching the picket line.”

It had been two days since Kara and Aly had gotten to Nau Fruma, and just one day since Empress Rhiannon Ta’an had come forward to announce she was alive. Since Nau Fruma was a moon of Kalu, news of her return home was all over the holos. Kara would have been relieved about her sister’s safe return, but the holos were also buzzing with the newest speculation: where Josselyn Ta’an was. Rhiannon’s older sister.

If anyone in the universe knew the answer to that question, it was Kara.

Because Kara was Josselyn. Or she had been once, even if she didn’t remember.

After informing the galaxy that she was alive, Rhee had outed Kara, offering a reward for her safe return.

Actually, she had offered a reward for Josselyn, the missing royal sister and rightful empress, the one who everyone believed had died all those years ago in a spacecraft explosion, along with the rest of the Ta’an family.

Rhoda Belleza's Books