The Empress Game
The first in a brand new gladiatorial space opera series from an exciting new voice in SF,
with a badass female lead.
Here we meet our kick- ass heroine, Kayla Reunimon, AKA Shadow Panthe, and catch a glimpse of the mysterious stranger who is to make her a life- changing offer. them, but not more than she hated herself for being Shadow Panthe. For giving them exactly what they wanted.
Angelic rolled and recovered quickly. Impressive. Kayla glanced at the wavy edge of her own kris daggers before tossing the left one away. It skittered to the limit of the pit, out of reach.
“You’ll wish you had that back,” Angelic called. A round of boos met her declaration – the crowd didn’t believe it any more than Kayla did. “We’ll see.” Kayla twirled her remaining kris. “Come.” Angelic lunged again, grabbing at Kayla’s knife hand even as she stabbed at her with her long, thin blade. Clever girl. Not a worthy opponent for Shadow Panthe, but clever nonetheless.
The fight ranged across the pit floor, as Lumar liked it to. Despite her disgust for the owner of the Blood Pit, she knew who paid her prize money and how he liked things done. Lumar wanted a show. If Kayla and her brother, Corinth, didn’t depend on the credits the Blood Pit fights brought in she would have ended the fight in a heartbeat, spat at the spectators and told Lumar exactly where to shove his “show.”
But they did need the credits, so Kayla ignored the selfloathing and toyed with the blonde girl. If inflicting half- adozen minor cuts and bruises could be considered toying. Kayla herself had almost as many injuries. The fight had to look good, after all. The crowd wanted their sport.
Kayla closed with the girl again. Her sleek, cat- like movements and micro- fine reflexes had earned Kayla the moniker Shadow Panthe long before her nights in the Blood Pit. It had taken fighting like a caged animal in front of a crowd to make her hate the title and all the skill it implied. They chanted it now, the syllables elongated, the sound drawn out. SHA- DOEPANTH. SHA- DOE- PANTH.
The crowd’s mood turned. They’d seen enough sport, now they wanted blood – Angelic’s blood, never Shadow Panthe’s. Not their infamous champion wench. Screw ’ em. She’d given them enough already, and she still had a final