Thanks, julieack! Empty hand does/is supposed to mean "without weapons". I hope that you wanting to know about Lili and Mai and a potential conflict there means that you'd ask for pages if you were an agent. I've gone in circles with this query and am getting to a point finally where I feel it's sendable. About the mask taking over, that's exactly what it does and I hope this latest version says so without raising too many questions or requiring too many extra details. Here is what I hope will be the final posting of my query here. But, please, don't hesitate - anyone - with feedback! Thanks to everyone who's helped and who will continue to. This forum is fantastic and everyone's input is very much appreciated!
Newest Latest Potentially Final Version - I Hope! (05/28/2010)
Jav Holson is one of the Viscain Empire's elite, super-powered soldiers. But the Ritual Mask, the Artifact that makes him so powerful, was never meant to last. When it fails, Jav is a dead man. Unless, that is, he can win a new, permanent Artifact in a competition open only to the top fighters of the Empire.
To prepare for the competition, Jav must train in the Eighteen Heavenly Claws, a deadly empty hand martial art. With the Ritual Mask sealed away to conserve its power, Jav practices long past dark every day, enduring heavy gravity training and the petty abuse of other students. His only distraction is carving stone flowers for Lili Farina, still in a coma by his hand. But, when Mai Pardine takes over Jav's training, her beautiful performance of the Eighteen Heavenly Claws overwhelms him, and he feels for a moment like he's known her forever.
In an unexpected altercation with a band of alien pirates, Jav is shot through the back, with bits of his chest blown out before him. The seal now broken, Jav loses himself to the mindless fury of the Ritual Mask as it heals him by wrenching every drop of blood from every last pirate, leaving them desiccated, leathery husks. After recovering, the thought of this happening to those close to him--especially Mai--terrifies him so he trains even harder. He's running out of time, though. With the competition still ahead, he must gain control over the Mask and master the Eighteen Heavenly Claws or risk losing more than just his own life.
THE ARTIFACT COMPETITION is a work of science fiction, complete at 76,000 words. I chose to submit to you because blah blah blah. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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