The basic premise of the Badari Warrior series: Featuring genetically engineered soldiers of the far future, the Badari were created by alien enemies to fight humans. But then the scientists kidnapped an entire human colony from the Sectors to use as subjects in twisted experiments…the Badari and the humans made common cause, rebelled and escaped the labs. Now they live side by side in a sanctuary valley protected by a powerful Artificial Intelligence, and wage unceasing war on the aliens.
I’m about to release my eleventh book in the Badari Warriors world, DAEGAN, and it’s a bit of a follow-on to KIERCE, which was the sixth book (but they can be read as standalones). In KIERCE I established he was from a completely different pack, from the southern hemispshere of the planet, which had been kept isolated and raised under different rules than my primary characters.
With DAEGAN, the new book, I’m about to take the readers to visit that other pack and Kierce reappears to some extent. So I thought it might be a good day to talk about KIERCE.
I think the first thing I need to say is that I really try hard to tell a different story with each book in the Badari Warriors series. Yes, at the center of each novel will be the love story between a genetically engineered soldier of the far future and a human woman, but I want the circumstances and the action and adventure to contain new elements each time. I can’t imagine telling the exact same story over and over! I also have to advance the series plot arc at least a little bit with each new book and I want to bring in the characters the reader has met in the earlier books to some extent.
The original kernel of an idea for Kierce was actually to write a story where the hero and heroine were kept apart by well-meaning people who didn’t understand they were actually good for each other. The Badari are all about people being fated mates and falling in love, and are usually totally supportive of a couple finding each other, so I set myself the task of figuring out under what circumstances the pack would not be on board. Although I wanted the reasons to be something external, not that either my hero or my heroine weren’t good people who deserve each other!
The Badari are also totally devoted to taking care of each other, after centuries of being little more than lab animals for the alien scientists’ experiments. So I had to set up a situation where Aydarr, the pack Alpha, wouldn’t see the positive aspects of allowing the human, Elianna, to be with Kierce.
Turns out Kierce has been subjected to a particularly unusual experiment and when we meet him, he’s been forced into the form of an alien predator. (It’s always interesting to me how the Muse solves my plot dilemmas.) No one but Elianna really understands what Kierce is and she’s sworn to keep his secrets. I had fun going from there and unspooling my story.
The one scene I had in my head from the getgo was where Aydarr and his soldiers are liberating the lab and first meet Kierce (in his alien form) and Elianna. Then I kind of worked backward (how did the couple get to that point?) and forward (what next?). I had the chance to work in some details about how the pack is handling new arrivals to the Sanctuary Valley and a few other details of the world building.
I included my very own Jake the Cat in the dedication this time because I used close observation of Jake to help with some of the details of Kierce’s alien form. And of course Jake regards himself as a deadly predator on any world!
I also indulged myself a tiny bit by giving Elianna, who is a technical genius, some dialog straight from my own days doing root cause analysis, which I was trained on at NASA/JPL as part of the Lab’s Lean Six Sigma program. I’m actually a NASA Black Belt in that business process area! Not to worry though, what she says is only a few sentences and not too geeky or tech-y!
The blurb: Elianna McNamee, spaceship engineer, is far from her home in the human Sectors, kidnapped along with all her shipmates to be used for horrifying experiments conducted on a remote planet by alien scientists.
Her captors decide to toss her in a cell with a ferocious predator, expecting him to kill her…but Kierce, the Badari warrior in question, has too much honor to mistreat a human woman. The trouble is, he’s trapped in a form drastically different from his own as a result of twisted genetic meddling and hiding dark secrets to save other Badari lives.
Able to become a man again briefly with Elianna‘s help, he and Elianna bond over their mutual hatred for the enemy but when rescuers finally arrive, the pair are separated by well-meaning Badari authorities.
Kierce struggles to overcome flashbacks from the torture and drugs the alien scientists inflicted on him. He and Elianna despair over whether he’ll ever be able to regain his rightful place as a man and a soldier in the pack, much less be ready to claim a mate.
Elianna accepts a risky but essential assignment far away from where Kierce is being held, working with another man who’s more than professionally interested in her. Her heart belongs to Kierce and she can’t forget their two nights of shared passion but will that be enough to lead them to a happy reunion?
The excerpt – Elianna has been thrown into the cell of a massive alien predator. She escaped to the animal’s outdoor enclosure and took refuge in a tree. She refers to the beast as a tiger because it has stripes but we’re not talking about an actual Earthly tiger.: She sat in the tree all afternoon, growing tired, hungry, and thirsty. Eventually, one Khagrish guard appeared, staring from the cat to her then running inside, presumably to report.
Did the Khagrish mean to leave her there until the cat got hungry enough to eat her? Elianna sighed. The aliens were unpredictable and cruel so maybe they didn’t care how long it took for their oversize pet to finish its task and kill her for the bootleg vid.
Eventually, the tiger rose as if response to a signal and went inside the cell.
The sun was beginning its descent for the night, and Elianna shivered, goosebumps pebbling her flesh as the breeze grew stronger. She startled as the tiger reappeared, butt first, half carrying, half dragging in its huge jaws a bowl full of what resembled kibble, which it brought to the base of the tree then backed away from. Making the guttural sound deep in its throat, the cat put one massive paw on the bowl, gazed at her blandly, and then retreated to the wall, sitting with its tail curled over its paws.
“You’re kidding me, right? Trying to lure me out of the tree with cat food?” Despite her dire predicament, Elianna laughed. But her mind was racing. Could this huge predator be a higher level sentient? Kidnapped from its own planet perhaps and brought here for experimentation? Was it trying to make friends with her?
“I must be insane.” Decision made, Elianna descended and then dropped from the tree, freezing for a moment to see what the tiger’s reaction would be. The beast merely sat, golden eyes watchful. The tip of its tail flicked once or twice. She scooped up a handful of the kibble and took a sniff. Vaguely fishlike but not unpleasant. “Like dried nutrient rations.” She put one in her mouth, prepared to spit it out. The taste was salty but not off-putting. “Thank you,” she said to the watching cat. Elianna crunched her way through the handful of nuggets, wishing for some water to wash them down. She probably couldn’t live on these, but the dry fare did allay the hunger pangs.
The tiger rose and made his way inside again. Now what? Elianna waited by the tree, hand on the branch, ready to ascend if needed. When the cat re-emerged, he was dragging a haunch of raw meat, clearly from some kind of hoofed animal. Elianna took a deep breath of relief because for one horrified instant she’d feared the meal might have come from its Khagrish victim of earlier. As she watched, the cat tore strips of the meat from the offering with its claws and laid them on the grass to the side, making soft sounds as it did so.
“For me?” she asked. “Thanks, but I’ll stick to the kibble. I don’t eat raw meat.”
The tiger picked up the rest of the meal as if to say “suit yourself” and moved off to the side of the enclosure, where it laid down again and devoured the meal with ruthless efficiency.
Elianna shivered as the sun disappeared below the horizon. In her torn clothing, which was thin to begin with, she doubted she could survive the night outside.
The tiger padded to the flap door leading inside, pushing it open with one giant paw then turning to stare at her. The beast uttered a soft sound.
Not really having any other choices, she walked slowly to where the tiger waited. He retreated a step or two, allowing her to pass in front of him. She forced herself through the tight opening, tumbling into the cell. Rising quickly to her feet, she was glad to see the floor was bare and unstained, a bit damp. Evidently the Khagrish had come at some point to retrieve the remains of their dead companion and washed the floor.
As the animal bumped into her with his cold nose she shrieked and jumped. She faced him with her hands raised in self-defense.
He made the soft sound deep in his throat again and padded to the far corner of the cell, where a nest of blankets lay on a shelf raised off the floor. The tiger made a small leap onto the crude bed and lay in an elegantly casual curved position on his side. His eyes were warm jewels of color in the darkened cell.
Self-pity and resignation swamping her like a heavy blanket, Elianna sighed. Her only choice was terrifying, but she couldn’t see herself making it through the night shivering on the bare floor in a corner. She was already numb and lethargic from the chill. Slowly, she walked to where the beast waited and sat gingerly on the edge of the platform.
Portions of this post first appeared on Pauline B Jones’s blog…
DAEGAN: A BADARI WARRIORS SCIFI ROMANCE NOVEL
Ex-Special Forces soldier and mercenary Flo Michetti is bored with her assignment as a pilot for the genetically engineered Badari pack in their fight against the evil Khagrish scientists. She jumps at the chance to take a dangerous undercover mission. She infiltrates a group of human prisoners on their way to a secret lab in the southern ocean, where the Badari believe many more of their own kind have been created and are being experimented on. Once Flo has located the lab, found the Alpha among the Badari there and sent a report back, the plan will be to attack and rescue all the prisoners.
Arriving at the island Flo learns the true nature of the horrific experiment for which the humans have been brought to this remote location. Time will be perilously short to escape before it’s too late for all of them. She has to locate the Alpha of this captive southern pack, who conceals his identity to escape death at the hands of the Khagrish, and get him to join with her and her allies.
Daegan feels an instant attraction to Flo when the Badari and the humans are forced together by the Khagrish scientists, but there are mysteries and questions surrounding her. Before he reveals himself as the incognito Alpha she’s seeking, he wants answers to allay his doubts. He also wants Flo in his bed…but can he risk his heart to claim her as his mate?
Complicating the situation is a dangerous rival for Daegan’s position as Alpha, an oncoming hurricane and Flo’s resistance to abandoning her life as a soldier of fortune…as the Khagrish scientists prepare to initiate the experiment, the clock is ticking for humans and Badari alike.