We are headed back to the distant desert world of Carthago!
Today I’m sharing two awesome things with you:
1) The gorgeous cover of Guardian
2) Amazing custom artwork of the gladiators of the House of Galen!
In Guardian, House of Galen ally and mysterious casino owner Rillian takes newly rescued Dayna into his care. She’s now host to an alien symbiont…and he’s the only one who can help her learn to control her new abilities. As danger swirls around them, they are drawn closer together, but the danger isn’t only from outside forces…
To celebrate the cover and art reveal, I have an amazing Galactic Gladiators art print to give away to one lucky winner. To enter, scroll down below.
Galactic Gladiators #9
Release Date: Tuesday March 6th
Cover art by the awesome Melody Simmons
Excerpt from Rogue featuring Rillian and Dayna
Rillian touched the controls of his ship, feeling it respond quickly and smoothly.
Just how he liked it.
He checked the readouts on the console, before looking forward through the tinted glass to the sand flying past below them at a high rate of speed.
“Thanks for the loan of the ship,” Galen said, the imperator leaning in beside Rillian’s seat.
Rillian nodded. “It’s my pleasure to help.” He glanced back into the main part of the shuttle.
A couple of gladiators sat silently, looking tense and ready to fight. And two of Corsair’s people—the beautiful, competent Mersi and the giant Bren—took up the rear seats, looking concerned.
“The ship needed a test run.” It was an experimental ship he’d been funding research for. A ship specifically designed for travel in Carthago’s unforgiving desert. He eyed the controls, watching the engine temperatures and metal integrity.
He wasn’t sure exactly how long it would last. There was a certain mineral in the desert sand that was attracted to hot metal, and could eat through ship engines and metal like a sword through an enemy’s flesh.
“I hope we get there in time,” came a female voice.
He glanced up at Harper. In her fighting leathers, she looked like she’d been a member of the House of Galen for years. But he knew that only months before, she’d called Earth home, and survived her abduction at the hands of the Thraxians. Like so many of these brave women of Earth.
“It’s been a day since we got the message from Corsair’s people,” Galen said. “They had no idea how long it had taken the desert shrike to get the message to them. Perhaps a few hours.”
All they knew was that Corsair and Neve were in trouble.
Rillian spied something ahead. “There’s the Solitude Oasis.”
Soon, they were landing, sending up a spray of sand around the ship. Rillian powered down the engines, turning on the passive sand-repellent field. As the ramp lowered, he spotted movement.
Two figures stumbled out of a cave.
Corsair wore a tattered shirt stained with blood. He had an arm wrapped around Neve, who had a makeshift bandage wrapped around her shoulder. They looked like they’d been to hell and back. They limped across the sand toward the ship.
The House of Galen team hurried out of the shuttle, and Rillian followed. Mersi reached the pair, first.
“Drak, you two look terrible.” Mersi threw her arms around both of them.
“Are you okay?” Galen asked.
Neve nodded tightly. “We got the map to Zaabha.” She held up a stone.
Rillian felt a rush of grim satisfaction. He’d been aiding Galen in his battle to take down the House of Thrax, their crudspawn allies, the Srinar, and the repulsive desert arena of Zaabha.
“Well done,” Galen said. Then his tone lowered, taking on a harsh edge. “If you’d asked for help before running off alone, we could’ve helped you. You could’ve avoided this.” He waved at their injured forms.
“We’re alive,” Corsair said.
“And I’ve learned a few lessons on asking for help.” Neve shot the caravan master a quick smile.
Ah. Rillian raised an eyebrow. So that was the way the desert wind was blowing.
“We also found Dayna,” Neve said.
There were gasps all around. Harper pushed forward. “Where is she?”
“She’s badly hurt, and hasn’t regained consciousness.” Neve waved them toward the closest cave entrance.
The group hurried in, and Rillian brought up the rear, checking that they didn’t have any unwelcome guests around. But the Solitude Oasis was living up to its name.
Ahead, a tall woman was lying on her side on the stone floor, her brown hair matted, and her long limbs askew.
Neve crouched down beside the woman, and Galen went down on one knee. Together, they turned Dayna onto her back.
Rillian tilted his head and studied her face. She had bold features and dark brows. She looked like a woman who took no crap from anyone, and made her own choices. He’d heard she’d been in law enforcement prior to her abduction, and that seemed to suit her.
Suddenly, Galen cursed. “What the drak is that?”
Rillian shifted, following the imperator’s gaze. It was then he saw the stone embedded in the center of the woman’s chest. He hissed in a breath.
“We believe she has some sort of symbiont in her,” Corsair said sadly. “Like the desert witch.”
This wasn’t good. Rillian knew that the human women were certainly mentally strong, but they weren’t necessarily as physically strong as other species. How had she survived this?
Suddenly, Dayna’s eyes flickered open. Big, bronze orbs blinked blankly at them. Then, something orange flickered deep in their depths.
Quicker than anyone could have thought possible, Dayna lunged up, reaching for Neve.
Rillian moved fast, and got there before any of the others. He pressed his hands to the woman’s shoulders, holding her down.
“Shh. It’s all right. Ride it out, and the sensation will pass.” He kept his voice low and calm, but with the edge of authority he normally used.
Bronze eyes locked on his.
“What’s happening?” Harper asked.
Rillian kept his breathing slow and easy, and kept his gaze on Dayna’s. “Breathe with me. In. Out. Nice and slowly.” She moved her hand, her fingers clenching on his. He returned the hold. “In and out. Good girl.”
Everyone watched them, the air in the cave filled with tension.
When Dayna had calmed and her eyes closed once more, Rillian looked up at the concerned onlookers. “Corsair is correct. She has a symbiont inside her. To save her, we need to determine what species it is, and what it needs to survive. But it’s quite common for a new host to suffer from intense hunger until they can control it.”
“The witch fed off energy,” Corsair said.
Hmm. That meant it was one of the few species Rillian knew of. Dayna Caplan had a tough road ahead of her.
“We can get it out of her, right?” Harper asked. “The healers can help?”
Rillian shook his head. “Most likely, removing the symbiont will kill her.”
Harper’s face fell, and Galen heaved out a breath. “It’s best she goes with you, Rillian.”
“Why?” Harper looked between them.
Rillian caught Harper’s gaze, and felt a shift inside him. When the woman gasped, he knew she’d seen his eyes flash silver. “Because I have some experience with this.”
He looked down at Dayna. Her eyes were open again, and her gaze was pinned to his face, like she couldn’t look away. She squeezed his fingers, her grip strong.
He looked into her eyes. “I promise, I’ll take good care of you.”
Galactic Gladiators Art Reveal
I am so excited to unveil an incredible piece of custom art I commissioned from artist MyCKs. She has done such an amazing job bringing the gladiators of the House of Galen to like in sumi style.
Image by MyCKs
Galactic Gladiators Art Giveaway
To celebrate all the gladiator goodness, I am giving away a print of the Galactic Gladiators artwork to ONE lucky winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open internationally and closes on Tuesday 27th Feb. Winner notified by email by 2nd March. You DO NOT have to use every option below to enter. Just select the one(s) you prefer to do.
Galactic Gladiators in Audio
Don’t miss the Galactic Gladiators in audiobook, narrated by the amazing Vivienne Leheny.
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