Kira knew the roar of bloodlust. The amphitheatre beyond rose an octave as the iron gate before her opened. Standing in the dark, dank hall of the dome, she perused the line of weapons hanging on the wall.
“You won’t need one tonight,” Darthor rumbled, his voice deep and cavernous.
Frowning, she glanced over her shoulder at the tall dark-skinned humanoid hybrid. His bald head gleamed, the firelight of the torches outside reflecting against it. “Why the hell not?”
His thick lips curled back to reveal jagged teeth. “Because you’re taking on a newbie tonight.”
Facing him, she crossed her arms over her chain link shirt. “Me?” Didn’t they understand she was a Grade One level gladiator? She didn’t take on newcomers.
Darthor crossed his arms over his expansive chest in mimic. “You.”
Glaring at the obstinate man for a moment, Kira peered at the opening. The crowd beckoned her. “Fine.”
Striding out of the hall, the light of the stage momentarily blinded her as she held her hand out against it. The mason walls that rose high above the arena were well aged and stained with algae, dirt and blood. An arena for sport. Blood sport.
The masses cheered at her arrival, and she raised her arms, turning a full circle to soak up the celebrity. Opposite her, the wrought iron gates opened, and her opponent stumbled out, falling to his hands and knees. Hair, jet black and sparsely streaked with amber, fell over his tanned shoulders. As he stood, Kira noted that his skin had a golden hue to it, his muscles rippling as he brushed the sand from his body. Shoulder length locks that fell over his face fluttered with every breath he took. His legs trembled under the weight of his body, sweat glistening on him. The fight hadn’t even started, and he was already exhausted.
Dressed in a primitive loincloth, his impressive physique was exposed to all, and Kira couldn’t help the hot lust that sent a heat wave through her body and pinged at the very central part of her. Damn it, she needed to focus on the battle ahead and not what he’d look like naked. Her lips thinned into a grim line as she analytically sized up her adversary.
He stood a good foot and a half taller than her five eight frame. Broad shoulders and a long arm reach wasn’t something she was unfamiliar with, and she knew how to get around it. Although most of her male challengers were rather bulky and slow, relying on their strength. She didn’t know which he was. Raw power, agility, or both.
The combatant tipped his head back to stare up at the semi-crazed crowd. He turned in a slow circle as though confused by his surroundings. Kira frowned. Most combatants would focus on their opponent, but he was more intent on figuring out where he was. What was he, high?
Finally the Prime of Qantic Station stood on his podium on the north end of the stadium. The white gleam of his skin stood out in stark contrast against the mauve curtains that surrounded him. His large black eyes scanned the area in a lazy perusal. The crowd roared again has the Prime raised his hands, signaling for the game to begin. The loud dong of the fight gong sounded, rumbling over the frenzied populace.
With a loud war whoop for which she was famous, Kira launched her attack. The man turned toward her, and his eyes widened and virtually glowed under the light. Eating the distance between them, she came in with a high kick, which he immediately blocked with crossed arms. Undeterred, she landed and fell into a swipe, taking his feet out from under him.
He landed with a grunt, sand scattering out beneath him. Standing, she twisted around and dropped her knee, aiming for the tender part of his ribs, but he proved to be fast, rolling away from her and onto his feet.
Pushing off her knee, Kira back flipped away from him and then landed, her fists at the ready. It was then that she saw his eyes were gold. No pupils, just irises of gold. Momentarily captivated by the color, she failed to register his knee coming forward until it hit her in the stomach. Gasping as pain slammed through her abdomen, she stumbled back, her arm striking downward in an automatic move of defense.
God damn it! Focus! Biting back against the pain as she straightened, she forced an easy smile, noting with satisfaction the way his eyes narrowed. “Is that all you got, Golden Boy?”
He tilted his head to the side as though he didn’t understand her. Yeah, right. Everyone that participated in space travel was inserted with a translation chip. He understood, the cocky bastard. Faking a left move, she watched him tense and couldn’t hold back the pleasure that rolled through her. Sidestepping around him, she searched for an opening, a moment where his concentration would slip.
Pausing, she planted her foot firmly into the sand, twisting her ankle slightly. Opening one fist, she palmed him to approach with a wink. “Come on then,” she whispered. “Come get me.”
A frown furrowed his brow, and he took a step forward. Kira kicked up her leg, a spray of sand flying high and hitting him in the face, his cry of surprise muffled by the crowd. Coming in, she kneed him in the side then turned for a roundhouse kick, hitting him in the side of the head with a crack.
He stumbled sideways, and Kira launched into the air, her fist raised high to deliver the killing blow. Suddenly, in a move that surprised her, he too launched into the air. They met in a tangle of limbs and landed with a loud thud, Golden Boy taking most of the impact.
Straddling him, Kira threw a king hit, only to have him intercept it, bumping her off balance with his obstruction. His other fist came out, aiming for her temple. Blocking it with her forearm did her little good as agony flared along the bone and into her shoulder, knocking her off him.
Dizzied, she rolled further away, but was unable to evade him as he grasped her shirt and pulled her off the ground until she was eye to eye with him.
Molten gold glared at her. “Nik oiu sal alul?”
Kira gritted her teeth, kicking out and hitting his shin, his grimace giving her a sense of renewed purpose. He might be strong and agile, but he was damn stupid. She could beat stupid. Gripping his thumb on one shoulder, she twisted and he released her, only to twist her around and force her back against his chest.
“Pika alau sol tila. Pika,” he growled in her ear, his hot breath caressing her skin.
Kira didn’t give two shits what he said and struggled for release, her legs kicking out uselessly. His forearm tightened around her shoulder and neck, stilling any upper body strength she could’ve used.
In a last ditch effort, she bit down onto his arm. Hard. Skin broke, and the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. Suddenly, a stream of images flooded her mind like a replay of life just before death. Faces she never knew, houses, landscapes, and animals. Vaguely, she noticed he released her, and she stumbled forward, falling to her knees. Images bombarded her from all sides as she screamed out at the pain that seared across her brain.
Jerking, she could do little to protect herself as Golden Boy eased her onto her back. He could end her life now. Golden eyes swam with misery, concern and disbelief, and she could only moan as blood pooled from her mouth. His or hers, she wasn’t sure.
“By the Gods. What have you done?” he mumbled in perfect English.
Then oblivion ascended on her.
© Jodie Becker
Author: Jodie Becker
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Kira is a gladiator, celebrated by the crowds, her popularity comes at a price. On a night where the kill should’ve been easy, she fights a new gladiator with a will to survive.
Lukiamo didn’t know how he ended up in an arena with this warrior woman. But one thing was for certain; he wasn’t going to let her win. When blood is spilt and she inadvertently starts the bonding process between them, Lukiamo is determined to have her and his freedom.
But before their love deepens, someone seeks their deaths to gain a power that’ll tear a planet asunder.