I posted the query below here this morning. I've already gotten some really good and useful feedback, and I realize that it's by no means ready, but I wanted to keep track of my progress on the damned thing on this blog. So, without further ado...
Jav Holson is one of the Viscain Empire's elite soldiers, given immense power by the Emperor's gift of an Artifact. But his Artifact, the Ritual Mask, was never meant to last, and when it fails, Jav is a dead man. Unless, that is, he can win a new, permanent Artifact in a competition to be held in five years.
To have any chance of success in the competition, Jav must train in the Eighteen Heavenly Claws. With the Ritual Mask sealed away to conserve its power, Jav practices long past dark every day, enduring senior student Mei Pardine's abuse and outright attacks. His only distraction is carving stone flowers for Lili Farina, still in a coma by his hand. But, when Mei's half-sister, Mai, takes over Jav's training, her beautiful performance of the Eighteen Heavenly Claws overwhelms him, and he feels for a moment as if he's known her forever. He can't help but start to have feelings for her.
Together they have a lot of work to do. Besides first raising Jav to Mei's level, they have to survive a vacation turned deadly and be ready for the qualifying preliminary match. Jav unwittingly earns the hatred of one of his teachers and stumbles onto a nest of alien pirates all on his own. Every step forward is a hazard, but Jav has to make it to the competition. He has to master the Eighteen Heavenly Claws if he's to have any future at all.
THE ARTIFACT COMPETITION is a 76,000-word science fiction novel. I chose to submit to you because blah blah blah. Thank you for your time and consideration.