One in a continuing series of occasional posts talking about a personal favorite scene from each of my books. It may not be my most favorite scene, since that would probably involve spoilers, but I thought it might be fun.
In honor of TALINN (BADARI GLADIATORS BOOK 3) being my most recent release, I pondered which non-spoilery scene from this book would be my favorite. I decided to pick the moment where Talinn realizes he has a fated mate and he’s not totally happy about the idea, in part because he’s about to take part in a major fight and she’s the prize…I try very hard to vary the circumstances in each book (although of course the basic gladiatorial plotlines are similiar to some extent). I thought having the situation be such that Talinn has to make split second decisions in the midst of battle and where his entire life has just changed due to finding his fated mate to add to the pressure, would be a good challenge for me as the author and for Talinn as the gladiator.
Talinn headed straight for the obstacle course, using his Badari strength to leap to the top of the first barrier, a wall which was supposed to be difficult to climb. Not for him. He always fought barefoot in order to use the powerful claws he could deploy on his feet and he clung to the barrier with these daggers firmly dug into the soft wood. At the top, ready to leap to the next challenge—ropes hanging over a pit filled with acid-tinged water and predatory fish with fangs as big as his—he hesitated as the mysterious scent overwhelmed him again. A flash of color caught his eye and he turned his head to see what lay at the other end of the obstacles.
A human woman, bound to a pole and looking ready to collapse.
And she was his mate.
Talinn nearly lost his grip on the top of the wall where he balanced as the overwhelming, unexpected and unwelcome realization flowed through him. Now, of all inopportune moments, the goddess gave him a mate? One who had to be savagely fought for and then protected in this harsh place? What sin did I commit to bring this upon myself? Why does this woman have to suffer?
The beast wrapped around his DNA didn’t hesitate and launched them into the air toward the vines, which Talinn grabbed from pure instinct, swinging across the churning, stinking water with ease, even as another man slipped and fell to his death beside him. Landing neatly on the far side, Talinn made it two steps toward his objective when he was challenged by a Jorvathian, who’d decided to be a spoiler today, or who had been paid off to eliminate certain elite fighters. Talinn didn’t care which—he was in an immediate fight for his life, as the alien got a grip on his shoulder with its savage pincers and tried to inject him with poison from the tentacles wriggling obscenely on its carapace. Yes his system could fight off and neutralize toxins but not if too many flooded his body at once. Jorvathians could deliver a massive dose of their poison.
Talinn’s claws had been genetically engineered to pierce and rend super hard metals and materials used by the Sectors military, so he had no problem cracking open the Jorvathian’s bony chest plate and sending the fighter reeling away in his death throes. Without a glance, Talinn pressed onward, running the obstacle course as required because there was no other way to reach the main prize dais, where the woman was bound. Although he’d had an excellent head start, his brief hesitation when he saw the woman and realized what she was to him and the delay caused by the need to defeat the Jorvathian had allowed others to make up time on him.
He judged three to be actual rivals for the woman. Any one of the fighters was a deadly opponent, none would have her. Sprinting ahead at times, pausing as required to fight men or aliens who got in his way, working through the fiendish obstacles, Talinn extricated himself from the last barrier, a quicksand like bog with clinging carnivorous plant life and rose to his feet, shaking off the sparkling sands and crushing one stubborn tendril like a bug.
The woman didn’t look well and was plainly terrified. He caught her eye and nodded, even as he was moving into combat stance against a four armed alien he’d fought and bested before. The fighter was deadly with the curved knives it preferred and Talinn forced himself to concentrate on parrying the opening blows, waiting for his opportunity.
Bailey didn’t want to watch the chaos and bloodshed occurring in front of her but the sights were riveting in their horror and she couldn’t look away. Fighters from a wide variety of species thronged the arena, many struggling with the obstacle course, others battling each other fiercely. There were four who had her as their objective and the idea terrified her. One was completely alien to her eyes, insectoid, with scary-looking pincers, missing a few limbs, scarred across the face, utterly terrifying. She’d be a meal for it, there was no doubt in her mind.
Three were humanoid males although none was human. Her attention was drawn repeatedly to one who was quite handsome, although each time she checked, he seemed less human as scales spread over his body. Moving smoothly in the chaos like a giant predatory beast, he captured her attention every time she was brave enough to look at the fighters. He was battling with determination and their gazes had met two or three times already. Each time she saw him looking at her, she felt a tiny shred of comfort, although why that would be, she had no idea…
Talinn was a genetically engineered senior soldier in his Badari Warrior pack until unscrupulous laboratory guards faked his death and sold him into slavery in the galaxy’s hinterlands. Purchased by a nomadic warlord and forced to fight in games for the amusement of the crowds, Talinn has endured through sheer strength of will. He sees no possibility of escape but a Badari never gives up until the goddess calls him to the afterlife.
Bailey Kingsmere was a talented and ambitious entertainer on an interstellar cruise liner when her ship was destroyed in an accident. She escaped in a defective cryonic lifepod, which eventually drifted out of the Sectors entirely and crashed on a primitive planet. Superstitious locals decide to place her in the arena as a prize for a lucky gladiator.
Talinn needs only one look to know Bailey is his fated mate. He’ll do whatever it takes to rescue her from the other fighters and claim her as his prize but how can he ensure her safety thereafter? Since he’s not human and has alien reptilian predator DNA which gives him extra capabilities, will Bailey accept him as a mate? And can they ever escape their desperate situation and find a way to freedom? TALINN is the third book in the Badari Gladiators Series and can be read as a standalone. A steamy romance with fated mates this story was initially published in the Claimed Among the Stars Anthology (no longer available), but has been expanded here with an additional 15,000 words.