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The Twelve Systems Trio: The Cartel, Bright Star & Transgressions
The Apprentice, Volumes 1-3
Volumes 1-3 of The Twelve Systems Chronicles
by EG Manetti
Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Space Opera
Where duty and passion collide.
The first three volumes of the awarding winning Twelve Systems Chronicles.
Life within the Serengeti Cartel is perilous, riddled with malice and intrigue that can threaten the mightiest of warriors. For Lilian – brilliant, despised, and one misstep away from execution for her father’s crimes – all that stands between her and destruction is the powerful warrior Lucius Mercio.
THE CARTEL: The Apprentice, Volume 1
Lucius Mercio commands one of the most powerful Cartels in the Twelve Systems. As clever and ambitious as he is ruthless, Lucius' wealth, influence, and power place him among the elite of the warrior caste. It is not enough. Lucius intends to take his Cartel to unimaginable heights with the aid of Lilian's brilliance. He faces only one obstacle. Lucius must keep Lilian alive.
BRIGHT STAR: The Apprentice, Volume 2
Lilian’s enemies are more determined than ever to see her destroyed. A visitor from her past will endanger her future and threaten to destroy Lucius’ slowly developing trust. To survive the next set of challenges Lilian will need to find new reserves of courage, wit, and determination.
Milord? Lilian considers the empty desk chair in momentary confusion. Where is milord? Pivoting slowly, she scans the expansive chamber, seeking milord at the crystal conference table in the corner, on the scarlet sofa facing the wall-size reviewer, in the comfortable seating area. There is a slight sound, and then a shadow by the windows coalesces into a man.
Garbed in gray almost the color of the exterior mist, milord was invisible until he moved. His sudden appearance from the shadows sends a brief frisson of shock through her, increasing her barely contained excitement.
Lilian knew when she sealed her bond that Monsignor Lucius, at the impossibly young age of thirty-eight, succeeded his father as Serengeti preeminence in the midst of the worst societal unrest since the Anarchy. Through brilliance, ruthlessness, daring, and uncanny prescience, milord salvaged Serengeti and moved it to new heights. She is now certain those traits have not lessened over the years.
Milord holds out his hand, a smile softening his harsh features. Milord is pleased. As Lilian reaches him, he pulls her close. His large, strong hands grasp her shoulders and then move to cup her head. His thumbs gently trace her jaw. Milord’s dark gaze holds heat and a spark of dark humor.
I am the sum of my ancestors. Milord’s amusement can prove very disconcerting. Mesmerized by his touch and intimidated by the hint of mischief, she attempts to hold on to her control.
Milord’s mouth is on hers, demanding, insistent. Releasing her reserve, Lilian yields to his embrace. Her lips part and milord’s tongue sweeps in, challenging, taking. Large, strong hands mold her against his length. Her breasts are pressed against milord’s chest, her thighs to his. As her senses swim, his mouth retreats, his embrace ceases.
Relief and disappoint mingle as he ends the contact and moves away. Eighth bell is for status; midday is for milord’s pleasure. She finds it difficult enough to maintain her balance and contend with milord’s often inexplicable will without the added confusion of disruptions to the established routine.
TRANSGRESSIONS: The Apprentice, Volume 3
Determined to raise Serengeti to the pinnacle of power in the Twelve Systems, Lucius has ruthlessly exploited Lilian’s brilliance to achieve his ambitions. Within seasons, he will lead Serengeti to new heights with the launch of Bright Star, the first stellar exploration venture in over two centuries. With each new success, Lucius’ rivals multiply while a traitor stalks the halls of Serengeti, determined to thwart Lucius by any means. As the viciousness of her enemies escalates, Lilian is forced to confront the past and choose between betraying her oath of loyalty to Lucius and protecting the deadly secrets of her father's dark acts.
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The Apprentice, Volume 4
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 4
a year and a half, Lilian has endured the hostility, spite, and
deadly violence of those who despise her for her father’s crimes.
If not for the protection of the powerful warrior Lucius Mercio,
Lilian might not have survived. Without Lilian’s courage and
brilliance, Lucius might have lost the Serengeti Cartel to a vicious
traitor. Instead, Lucius has total control of his Cartel, and few
within Serengeti will risk his wrath to torment his
Determined to advance his ambitions and reward Lilian for her role in his success, Lucius prepares for the voyage to Fortuna in the Fourth System. There, they will oversee the next phase of the first interstellar space exploration in two centuries. Lilian’s anticipation soon turns to dread as dark dreams haunt her nights, increasing in frequency and force as they journey to Fortuna. On a distant world, cut off from her few friends, Lilian will face dangerous intrigues as her nightmares take form.
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Lucius tosses his jacket on a chair and drops onto the oversized couch. “What think you, Lilian?”
Lilian’s expression closes. “The accommodations are very fine.
At his narrowed gaze, she adds, “Much nicer than the utilitarian accommodations of a militia stellar transport.”
As he suspected, evil memories of her protocol review haunt his apprentice. Although Lilian does not know it, he owns the only recording of Remus Gariten’s Final Draught and the ugly scene it included. The vicious militia corporal who allowed Lilian’s abuse no longer lives. Trevelyan’s operatives eliminated that particular threat to his apprentice with their customary efficiency. It occurs to Lucius that the pervert might not have been the only one. Media reports of prisoner abuse are common enough. Reaching out a hand, he pulls her down next to him on the couch, encircling her shoulders with one arm. “Were they cruel to you?”
Raising startled eyes, she shakes her head in denial. “No, milord. For the most part, the militia officers were indifferent. Prisoners are but cargo to be transported safely, free of damage, and with as little effort as possible.”
A shadow flickers across her face, and she adds, “There was one very nasty corporal. Fortunately, I was no longer a prisoner when I encountered him.”
With a gentle squeeze, he encourages Lilian to continue. If there is aught of the corporal Lucius does not know, he will know it now.
Her features lightening, she says, “He came to a violent end some months gone. It was in the media. I admit, I pray regularly for the well-being of his murderers.”
Stunned and amused, he pulls her in for a kiss. Releasing her after several enjoyable moments, he notes with pleasure her wide eyes and red, swollen lips. A heartbeat later, sharp intellect replaces Lilian’s bemusement and a hint of wariness. “Should I be naming Seigneur Trevelyan in my prayers?”
Demon shit. She is well aware Trevelyan’s services are often less than legal, and she is beyond intuitive.
At his silence, her eyes darken. “Milord has viewed the recording.”
Lucius wonders at her distress. The man was a threat to Lilian, and she was pleased to pray for his killers. “I have.”
Lilian drops her eyes, her fingers nervously tracing the weave of her cheap linen skirt. “Milord is not . . . my behavior . . . I . . .”
Provoked by Gariten’s verbal abuse of her mother and sister, Lilian put her thorn to her sire’s throat and compelled him to swallow the Final Draught. Cupping her chin, he tilts her face to meet his gaze. “Peace, woman. You have no cause for shame. The corporal should never have permitted Gariten’s tirade. It was the corporal’s duty to administer the Draught. You did naught but what was necessary.”
Lilian’s eyes brighten with emotion. Lowering her lashes, she turns her face into his hand to kiss his fingers. Her murmured ‘my thanks, milord’ is felt as much as heard. The gesture sends a familiar stab of lust to his groin and a curious warmth to his heart. Unable to resist, he asks, “Will your prayers add my name to Trevelyan’s?”
“Milord’s name has long been included.”
Both lust and the odd warmth ignite into heat. Lucius drags Lilian close, claiming her mouth.
The Apprentice, Volume 5
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 5
passion and duty collide - The Twelve Systems Chronicles.
Ruthless, devious, and ambitious, Lucius Mercio has elevated the Serengeti Group to the third wealthiest cartel in the Twelve Systems, cementing his place among the twelve most powerful members of the ruling warrior class. With Lucius’ rise, his enemies increase in both number and subtlety. Few will dare to attack Lucius directly, instead they will move in secret, targeting the most vulnerable aspects of his empire including his disgraced and reviled apprentice, Lilian.
As Lilian begins the third and final year of her trial by ordeal, she is more determined than ever to survive and repay Lucius’ protection and trust with loyalty and diligence. Expecting only the meager assignments reserved for apprentices, Lilian was stunned to receive the conservatorship of a valuable Vistrite Crevasse—an honor reserved for proven and trusted warriors. When a lethal disaster strikes Desperation Mine and Refinery and imperils Lilian’s conservatorship, hidden adversaries seize the opportunity to plot the downfall of Serengeti.
The Apprentice, Volume 6
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 6
Where duty and passion collide~
With only a season and half left to her bond, Lilian's enemies are becoming desperate, and those who would see her fail seek any infraction, no matter how minor, to deny her bond proof. Haunted by the memory of the Serengeti fallen and her actions in eradicating the Despoilers, Lilian struggles to retain her discipline for the final five months of her apprenticeship. With her actions in the battle of Serengeti proving her valor and loyalty beyond doubt, only the honor proof remains – adherence to the rigid and complex Apprentice Protocol. Although few within Serengeti will challenge her bond proof, throughout the Twelve Systems, those who wagered against her are facing penury and will stop at nothing to keep her from surviving.
With Damocles and Despoilers defeated, Lucius' power with Serengeti and the Third System is uncontested. Determined to advance his ambitions, Lucius lays plans for a triumphant launch of his revolutionary stellar exploration vehicle, the Nightingale. As he prepares to depart for Fortuna, a new threat appears in the form of a charismatic prelate who rouses the populace against Bright Star and Lilian’s role the venture. The prelate will prove but the first among many determined to thwart him through any means, including his notorious apprentice.
When thousands gather on Fortuna for the historical launch of the Nightingale into orbit, Lilian finds herself treading a blade’s edge as she attempts to adhere to the Apprentice Protocol among adversaries who are increasingly desperate and bold. Planned as a celebration of Serengeti achievement, the Fortuna voyage becomes a nightmare where she is faced with deadly opponents intent on her destruction.
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“Whore of anarchy’? Impalement?” Milord scrolls through the queue. “Entrails devoured by crevasse-crawlers? Who sent these?”
“I know not, milord. They are anonymous. Do I find aught of a credible threat, I will turn it over to Mr. Stefan.”
“Credible?” He sets aside the slate to capture her wrist. “How many have you received? How many were credible?”
“For the past year, there have been naught but two or three each sevenday.” Lilian searches milord’s expression and finds more concern than anger. “None were credible. Since the battle, they have increased, and several were alarming.”
“Despoilers?” He tugs her into his lap. “You feared they came from Despoilers?”
“I dared not risk it,” she says, curling into him. “Most are naught but the hostile works of dark souls with no will or ability to act. But I have not had time to update the filters to seek evidence of Despoilers, so I have reviewed them all. As it happens, some appear to be from Newtonites.”
His arms tighten. “Whore of anarchy. I thought it familiar. What is this of filters?”
“When I entered the cartel, I lacked the bells to review them, but I could not ignore them. I developed filters to identify those with threats specific enough to be credible.”
“Sinead’s Keeper added shrine guards to Maman’s escort after one. I transferred Katleen’s race training from the Garden Center to the River Quarter after another.”
Milord strokes her back. “At least now you can refer them to Mr. Stefan. But you should not review them at all. It is no wonder you cannot sleep.”
“I plan to update the filters on Seventh Day. I will add parameters for Newtonites as well as Despoilers. Even if the threat is not credible, the Seigneur Trevelyan may wish to trace them to the source.”
“Turn your filters over to Trevelyan and have one of his operatives update them. They can update the filters on my alerts at the same time. I doubt the Newtonites will be aught but a bad jest in another two sevendays, but any hint of a Despoiler must be investigated.”
Raising her face to his, she nods. “As milord wills.”
His lips are tantalizingly close, a mere fingertip from hers. His hand slides from her back to her hip and lower. His mouth descends and teases along hers in a gentle kiss. Lilian’s eyes drift closed as her hands encircle milord’s neck. The delicate caress becomes insistent, his tongue dancing at the seam of her lips. She parts her lips, inviting him in, senses swimming under the sensual onslaught. Milord turns Lilian in his lap, freeing one large hand to roam her from thigh to breast, warming her flesh and firing her blood.
The Apprentice, Volume 7
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 7
defiance of the odds, Lilian is within a month of proving her bond,
driving desperate Odds Managers to ever increasing bounties on her
life—every step beyond the security of the cartel is perilous.
Within the cartel, she must put aside her fear, giving all her
attention to her duty and the decorum demanded of an apprentice.
The success of the Nightingale launch has brought Lucius and Serengeti into the center of Twelve Systems commerce. As the Nightingale Command Crew is gathers on Metricelli Prime to prepare for the dangerous voyage to the Thirteenth System, whispers of pirates emerge from the Eleventh and Twelfth Systems. A decade before, pirates almost to toppled Serengeti, their reemergence so close to the Nightingale launch endangers all Lucius has achieved. When a group of free-traders arrive from those distant systems, they threaten to resurrect an ancient Mercio scandal that could undermine the honor of Blooded Dagger and Serengeti, and imperil all Lucius' values.
In the final days of Lilian’s apprenticeship, danger lurks in every shadow. It will require all Lucius’ power and Lilian’s courage to achieve her bond proof.
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Thornraven Volume 1
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 8
three years of trial, Lilian is free and Monsignor Lucius Mercio's
protege. Her triumph comes at cost. Fearful of Lady Estella's wrath,
Lilian has refused to continue her liaison with Lucius, breaking her
heart and straining her relationship with Lucius. She is stunned to
discover that Estella is entering her final days and wishes Lilian to
return to Lucius and help him through his grief.
Lilian and Lucius' relationship has only begun to repair, when duty demands she travel to the distant planet Desperation. There, she will confront her deepest fears when the theft of dangerous technology forces her to descend into the depths of Desperation Crevasse. In the frigid wastes at the bottom of the Crevasse, Lilian will discover an ancient legacy of the Five Warriors and Adelaide.
The worst of Lucius' grief at Estella's loss has barely passed when his world shatters again. Lilian has disappeared into Desperation Crevasse. He cannot lose them both. Determined to rescue Lilian, no matter the cost, he races toward the Sixth System and deadly danger.
Author's note: This is the eighth book in the Twelve Systems Chronicles and a continuation of the story that begins in The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1.
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Heady with success but weary from periods of unrelenting social graciousness, Lilian follows Monsignor into a windowed alcove where they can observe the exuberant crowd without being approached. “Monsignor, may I be permitted to know how it was designed that Monsignor Hercules would have Monsignor Persia so well positioned?”
“Hercules’ task was to have the most conservative monsignor he could locate engaged with the governor when we arrived. That it was Persia was the Luck of the First. I am aware that she and Lady Tobi insulted you in Jonathan’s Museum.”
What says he?
Monsignor’s eyes hood. “Katleen said something about it to my son. It was not difficult to discover the whole. We can do little to answer the past insult, but I do not believe you will be subject to such again.”
The evening has been beyond her expectations. Had she remained a warrior she would not have been better received. Monsignor’s care for her sets off a warm glow that morphs to desire, muscles contracting low in her abdomen.
Master desire. Lucius’ sex throbs in response to the combination of admiration and desire in Lilian’s gaze. He forces his attention to the throng. A handsome blond warrior passes them, his eyes wandering over Lilian’s form before rising to her face. With a start, and remarkable speed given the packed chamber, the man forces his way to the nearest exit. Hidden from the chamber, Lucius runs a hand between Lilian’s shoulder blades. “Know you that warrior?”
Lilian arches against his fingers. “That is Patrick Volsted.” Three years prior, Patrick Volsted capped his campaign of torment and insult against her with assault and attempted rape. “Did Monsignor note the length of his hair? He keeps his ears covered.”
“The piece you took was lost and could not be reattached,” Lucius recalls, dropping his hand to cup one buttock.
Lilian’s shoulders twitch with mirth. “It was night and there was much confusion.”
“What know you of that lout’s ear?”
“Naught for certain, Monsignor.”
Tightening his hand on the silk-clad mound, he warns, “Woman, do not try me.”
She wriggles in his grasp, her flush indicating pleasure. “Mr. Hidaka has a mongrel dog with a regrettable fondness for street debris. In the confusion of the militia’s arrival, she wandered free for some moments.”
“Are you giving me to understand that Hidaka fed that lout’s ear to his dog?”
Lilian protests with mock shock. “That would be a serious transgression. I assure Monsignor, Mr. Hidaka is the most upright of citizens.”
Thornraven Volume 2
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 9
Where duty and passion collide. ~
Within days of being rescued from Desperation Crevasse, Lilian must return at Lucius’ side as his shield bearer. Together with their guild allies, they will confront the Despoilers and end their threat to Blooded Dagger and the cartel. In the savage battle, Lucius is injured leaving Lilian to protect him, Blooded Dagger, and the cartel.
Stranded on Desperation until he recovers, Lucius gathers his allies to protect his interests from rivals determined to exploit his weakness. With the aid of ancient guild lore, he and Lilian will seek to uncover the remaining Despoilers and penetrate the mystery of an ancient prophecy. Before he can return to Crevasse City and his center of power, one if his inner circle will challenge his preeminence and threaten Lilian’s survival. It will take all his cunning and Lilian’s courage to counter the betrayal before it endangers the Nightingale’s voyage to the Thirteenth System.
Across the Twelve Systems, from Desperation to Metricelli Prime, and Fortuna, Lilian and Lucius will battle to protect their love and forge a future for themselves, Blooded Dagger, Serengeti, and the Twelve Systems.
Author's note: This is the ninth book in the Twelve Systems Chronicles and a continuation of the story that begins in The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1.
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Thornraven Volume 3
The Twelve Systems Chronicles Volume 10
years ago, Lilian left the First System ruined, indentured, and in
peril of execution. Now as the Nightingale flies
toward the Thirteenth System, she returns to the glittering spires of
Pinnacle City, triumphant and soon to be consort to the ruthless and
powerful Lucius Mercio. With her dreams within reach, she discovers
disturbing clues to the identities of the Despoilers, a vile sect
bent on returning the Twelve Systems to bloody anarchy. Beset by
ominous prophecy and dire Guild revelations, Lilian must set aside
her desires to accept a thorn bearer's duty—a quest to uncover the
leaders of these ancient adversaries of order.
With his cartouche and cartel weakened by his kinsman's betrayal, Lucius must let Lilian complete her quest alone. Resolved to protect her from afar, Lucius will utilize every resource at his command. But even his considerable shadow may be too small to save her from a web of deceit and corruption that exceeds their worst imaginings. With their enemy's reach far greater than they feared, Lucius must race to forge new alliances and exploit old ones before the Despoilers lay waste to the Twelve Systems.
In the uncharted expanse of the Thirteenth System, Lucius and Lilian will risk all to defeat the forces of darkness.
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Dazed with wonder, Lilian half listens to Lucius’ children chatter about the Nightingale’s flight. A day gone, she was wretched with the knowledge that Lucius’ love for her had made him vulnerable to attacks on his preeminence and that his mother and sister detest her.
While naught has altered either woman’s opinion, the meager nature of Jurian’s challenge was apparent during the Nightingale’s flight. The Twelve Systems elite offered naught but courtesy and admiration when she took the place of honor at Lucius’ side.
Even more dazzling, he wishes her as consort. He shifts in his seat, a faint scent of the sea reaching her. Relaxing into the scent, she gazes unseeing through the transport window, the passing city fading to mist.
She shivers. . . her manacled hands unable to reach her shoulders to warm and comfort. Bound and on her knees, she stares into Benmyn’s hate filed countenance as he spits on her.
Lucius presses his knee to hers. “Lilian?”
His dark eyes capture hers. His compelling features fill with concern. “Are you well?”
Well? Shaking off the mist, she nods. “I beg pardon. I believe I dozed off.”
He glances down at her hand gripping the thorn. “An ill dream.”
Relaxing her fingers, she attempts a reassuring smile. “More a memory. It was naught.”
Award winning author, EG Manetti has always enjoyed a vivid imagination and occasional scribbling. In 2010 she was struck by the inspiration for The Twelve Systems Chronicles. The draft of a single novel soon became three, and then more. In 2012, after several hundred thousand words, The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1 was published, followed by nine other volumes. The tenth and final volume of The Twelve Systems Chronicles, Thorn Bearer, released September 21, 2021. To date, the four volumes and the series have received Reviewers’ Choice Awards from the Paranormal Romance Guild, and volumes three and five, and seven, and nine were finalists for the prestigious InD’tale RONE Award (Reward for Novel Excellence), and Shield Bearer (Volume 9) received the 2021 RONE for Science Fiction.
A former information technology project manager, EG writes as often as possible, cooks exceptionally, and gardens adequately. She resides in Florida with her beloved (and often confounded) husband and their severely OCD Jack Russell Terrier.
The Twelve Systems Chronicles are epic science fiction romance that blends elements of space opera with the intrigue and suspense of a political thriller.
“With characters that jump off the page, love that is forbidden yet unstoppable mixed with top-notch worlds and technology, sci-fi has never looked so good or become so addictive!” ~ InD'Tale Magazine, February 2018.
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