Kyden: Badari Warriors Gladiator by @vscotttheauthor is an Indie Reads event pick #scifiromance
Title: KYDEN: BADARI WARRIORS GLADIATOR SERIES BOOK ONE
Author: Veronica Scott
Genre: SciFi Romance
Kyden is the top ranked gladiator in the Five Systems but he’s hardly there by choice. Unscrupulous guards faked his death in the lab where he was created and sold him into slavery in the galaxy’s hinterlands. He has no idea where his home is or how many years have passed since he was condemned to a life of endless combat. Kill or be killed is the rule and a Badari never gives up. He’ll fight to stay alive until the Badari goddess sees fit to decree his death.
Elara Vasclavian is the daughter of a senator, as far removed from the life of a gladiator as a noblewoman can be until through the machinations of a political enemy, she ends up in terrible jeopardy. Abducted and given to a group of drunken gladiators for their amusement the night before the games, Elara vows to put up a fight but there’s no real hope of saving herself. Until Kyden steps in, responding to the goddess’s commandment to protect those who are smaller and weaker. And discovers she’s his fated mate.
Rescued, Elara returns to her life of privilege but she can’t forget the man who saved her life. The gulf between their places in the Five Systems is unbridgeable, no matter how much Kyden longs for even a glimpse of her in the arena audience. No matter how much she feels the pull to be by his side. As matters stand, they cannot be together…Or can they?
The stands were full today and there was actually a member of the imperial family in the Emperor’s box, wonder of wonders. Kyden couldn’t remember ever having recited the oath to such a high born personage before but he barely paid any attention because she was also here. Elara’s scent caressed his nose the moment he marched onto the sands and until he found her in the senatorial families’ box, he was totally distracted.
Touching the small leather pouch on his belt where he now kept her folded scarf as his good luck charm, he vowed to put on the best show possible and make her proud of him.
Although he’d never know if he succeeded in pleasing the lady.
The first period unfolded as expected, meant to be more of a warmup for the audience and to encourage vigorous betting after the spectators took the measure of each man and his scheduled opponents.
The trumpets sounded the end of the period and Kyden took a deep breath. The first engagement had been strictly for show, no serious injuries and certainly no deaths had occurred. He took a rapid census and was relieved to see all the fighters from his House still standing. The audience was applauding politely while the attendants raked the sand for the next session. He was to have battled a trio of men from the other House next, with various weapons, again more as a demonstration of the science of hand to hand combat than any kind of a serious confrontation. He’d been instructed as to how Erment wanted him to take out the opponents to create some suspense, rather than a too easy victory, over before anyone could make a bet.
But clearly something had changed in the plans. Ten men were taking up positions to surround him. Two of them were cyborgs, or so his keen Badari instincts told him. A gladiator was supposed to be warned when he was going to battle anyone unusual. Another was a short, musclebound alien with four arms, all holding different weapons.
Ten to one wasn’t great odds.
The other men from his House reacted in different ways. Some were clearly as puzzled as he’d been, when their scheduled opponents joined the circle around Kyden instead of lining up to fight one on one. These men tried to come to Kyden’s aid but were shooed away by the referees.
Others like Jadaxus merely shrugged and headed for the tunnel without a backward glance. He stood to benefit hugely if Kyden died, with one fewer man between him and the top rank he craved.
All right then.
Calm descended on Kyden as he made a quick circle, taking in each of the men who planned to join in killing him today. On another afternoon he might have decided to welcome death and go into the arms of the goddess with gratitude, ending his time here. Not today. Not with his mate in the audience. He would not die in front of Elara.
He cast his ridiculous weapons away, inciting the crowd to boo and stamp their feet, assuming he was displaying unforgivable cowardice, planning to beg for mercy and try to surrender. He was done with these toys, imitations of the savage weaponry from the Five Systems’ past. No, he was going to use his own weapons today and let the goddess decide.
Facing the man he believed was the leader of this ad hoc unit, Kyden grinned, threw back his head and howled a challenge at full volume as he let the great predator in his DNA come to the fore. The echoes of his rallying call rebounded around the stadium, overriding the yells and taunts of the crowd. He hadn’t fought like a Badari since the earliest days of his captivity, in the grim pits of death. Today though, they were going to meet him as he truly was—a beast with fangs and talons which would slice through any cyborg’s enhancements as easily as a man’s sinews. He was done portraying a chivalrous fiction from the past of this place.
His fangs deployed and his talons snapped into full readiness. He saw consternation on the faces of some of the opponents, drawn from three different Houses, judging by their badges. The trumpets blared and Kyden launched himself at the first of his intended victims.
Elara thought she was going to be physically ill when she saw the strange goings-on in the arena, ten men against Kyden and his own brother gladiators leaving him to his fate. She wanted to scream a protest and get the bout stopped, but knew there was no possibility of accomplishing the feat. The crowd was clamoring for blood and spectacle, delighted by this unexpected change in the program. She told herself sternly not to faint. He must know I’m here, I have to be supportive.
A voice at her shoulder startled her and she dropped her fan with an annoying clatter. An Imperial page stood there. As he retrieved the fan for her, he said, “The Emperor’s nephew wishes to speak to you.”
“Now?” She cast an incredulous glance at the arena.
The man nodded. “If you please. He asks you to join him in the Imperial box.” He held out his gloved hand to escort her and she had no choice but to slide from the seat and walk with him.
“Ah, Lady Elara, so pleased you could join me for this last match,” the emperor’s nephew said as she entered his box and made her obeisance. “Come sit beside me.” He patted the chair next to his.
“Most kind, your excellency.” Somehow she found her voice, although she felt as if she was moving in a dream, not fully present. Worry for Kyden overrode everything else.
He handed her a drink and leaned close. “I’m told you know this gladiator.”
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USA Today Best Selling Author
Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”
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