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by K. S. Augustin
Category: Science Fiction/Erotic Romance
Description: She knows the ways of violence and self discipline. Her rival will teach her to surrender to unbridled lust. Ebony Strike's opponent in the galaxy's most notorious underground fighting tournament is adept, focused and mysterious. While her days are spent battling for a prize that will save her starving people, her nights are filled with heady, carnal encounters with the oh-so-delicious Aldanen. Strikingly handsome with bronze skin and white hair, Aldanen is a skilled martial artist. But he is also not what he seems. He's undercover for the Fusion, sent to bring down the corrupt Prefect running the illegal tournament. But hot nights of aphrodisiac-fueled sex with Ebony leave him wondering--is this blistering attraction the beginning of a new life, or nothing more than drug-propelled lust? Caught between a criminal, the law, and her powerful attraction to Aldanen, Ebony is faced with an agonizing choice. To help him, lose the prize money she desperately needs, and possibly end up in prison. Or sabotage him, grab the money, and run. Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, some graphic language, drug references, violence.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2007 2009
eBookwise Release Date: July 2009
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [126 KB]
Reading time: 71-100 min.
The sound I heard was a bone snapping. Thankfully, it wasn't one of mine. I knew I shouldn't have thought of following through with further destruction and, at any other place in any other time, that elbow snap would have been enough for me. But I hadn't fought dozens of opponents in elimination round after elimination round, only to underestimate my enemy at this point. So, I carried through with my strike, whipping my enemy's useless arm out of the way and hitting her--hard!--in the cheek with a backfist.
Another crunch, then she was down, her head bouncing once on the hard sandy floor. She would have a headache the size of a small sun when she woke up but at least she was still alive. It was a luxury but I couldn't help stopping to take a look around while I drew some much-needed breath. There were originally eight of us in the arena. And now we were down to three ... another flurry of dust ... make that two.
I didn't have any specific plans when the fighting began--just battle my way through whoever came at me and be one of the two qualifying contenders left standing--so it was very convenient when our group spontaneously broke into two groups. Although, as I steadied my breathing and looked around, it seemed that one independent pair had managed to knock themselves out completely.
I had skirmished with three of the usual suspects, a hulking male from a low-gravity planet, an unnaturally flexible asteroid belt inhabitant and a slim pale female humanoid. The rules stated that all contestants had to belong to the same basic class. This meant that my competition was bipedal. But I heard things would change if I managed to qualify.
A deep bell-like tone carried through the air just after someone else hit the ground and I knew that I and one other person had survived to the next round. Now that we were standing still, I had the chance to size up my future opponent.
Oh, he was delicious. If there'd been men like him in Vahsoon-ya Province where I came from, I wouldn't have left Vahsoon City, much less the planet. His fists still clenched the rags of his tunic, expertly twirled around his hands to fend off any attacks, leaving his chest bare. And what a chest! He didn't have the overgrown musculature of the low-grav native I'd fought, but was perfectly in proportion. I knew without touching that those muscles would be hard and warm. The ripcord effect extended down his torso, down his arms. I let my gaze drift lower, hesitating briefly over the suggestive bulge in his skin-tight trousers and felt my groin kick in reaction. The musculature extended down his legs, too, which I knew would be as hard as the rest of him. To my surprise, his feet were bare, indicating a street-fighter rather than a professional.
He was a moving art form, already beautiful with his brown skin, made dramatic by the shock of white hair on his head, cut just short enough to avoid getting into his eyes but long enough to reward any inquisitive fingers wanting to run themselves through its silky length.
I shook my head. No, I had to focus. It may have been a long time since my last sexual encounter but I had more than myself to worry about. The future of Vahsoon-ya Province depended on me.
We turned to face the platform at one end of the arena and walked towards it. This whole place was a monument to overweening ego, and we were approaching that ego now.
My clothes, wet with sweaty exertion, stuck to my body as I walked. Sundi's World. Just two days after landing on it, I already hated it. The air was humid and still, not offering one iota of cooling comfort to my dark, overheated body. And the sun was hot and high in the sky. I'd read that most of the planet's continents were ancient and low-lying, the result of millennia of rainfall erosion. All that rainfall and soil meant swamps, and lots of them. Cold ones, warm ones, hot ones; Sundi's World was paradise to scientists who specialised in swamp-morphology. And one of the contestant-helpers had told me yesterday that, beyond the dry of the camp where we currently lived and fought, waves of sticky mud rippled apathetically against a gentle worn-down slope.
If it wasn't for my birth-province, I would have left the planet without a backward glance ... but the smiling official on the chair above us--Prefect Dinoh of Sundi's World--beaming at us as if distributing largesse upon grateful subjects, had too much power in his soft, slender hands. And I had none.
"Such energy, such valour," he declared and looked around. There were perhaps five or six thousand people seated in the covered pavilions that ringed the arena, but I knew from the fly-cams whizzing around us that he was playing to a larger audience--people on the rest of the planet, maybe even off-planet.
"This is the sixth annual series of tournaments and I'm happy to see that the quality of our contestants has not lessened. You two have fought bravely to qualify for the second round. And I'm sure you would have heard rumours about what's to occur. Let me lay such rumours to rest and tell you directly what you want to know."
I didn't understand why Dinoh was so surprised by us. The Rewards Series of tournaments on Sundi's World was one of the most famous underground events of the sector. Hundreds, if not thousands, had already been eliminated on their way to this dusty piece of ground beneath an unforgiving sun. Some fought for themselves, but most fought for their community. As did I.
And he wasn't wrong about the rumours--they circled whispered updates of the Series like vultures around carrion. I didn't know what they said in the insectoid, aquatic and drone series but in the humanoid series, there were rampant fables of group orgies and sex. I tended to discount such innuendo but, eyeing the smarmy smile on Dinoh's face, I wondered if I was surrendering to an unjustified prudishness.
"Up till now, you have fought bravely and with skill. But now, things will start to get more interesting."
Loud clapping broke out from the audience.
"Tomorrow we begin Round Two of the humanoid series."
Finally, this was what I'd gone back into training for. Beside me, I could feel rather than see the male tense.
"You will be presented with four levels, each level containing a different species opponent." A roar from the crowd indicated they'd been waiting for this moment all day. I would have exhibited my contempt for them but the truth was, I'd asked to be here and so had nobody to blame but myself.
"You will need to defeat the opponent on each level to reach the next. And, if both of you survive the four levels, you will need to battle each other for the supreme prize. But that is not enough." He paused. "As you know, the Rewards Series offers significant sums of money to its winners."
He was a sleazy piece of work but he was right. The "'Rewards Series", as Dinoh had termed it, was not only famous but also one of the most lucrative of the underground martial arts tournaments. If I won, I could buy Vahsoon-ya Province another year of life. If I lost ... I tried hard not to think about that part.
"So, if you both manage to defeat your opponents from each level, you will pleasure each other that night."
I thought I'd been paying attention to what the little rich upstart was saying but his last sentence came straight out of a wormhole.