Dissension – Chronicles of the Uprising: Book 1
The great cataclysm wiped almost all life from the face of planet Earth, but tiny pockets of survivors crawled from the ashes, with only one thought: survival, at any cost.
But not all survivors were human.
In the dark, militant society that has risen in the aftermath, vampires, once thought to be mythical, have been assimilated and enslaved. Used for blood sport their lives are allowed to continue only for the entertainment of the masses. Reviled as savages, they are destined to serve out their immortal lives in the arena, as gladiators.
And there is no greater gladiator than Mira: undefeated, uncompromising...and seemingly unbreakable. When an escape attempt leads Mira into the path of Lucian Stavros, the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever.
Lucian, raised in a culture which both reviles and celebrates the savagery and inhumanity of vampires, finds Mira as intriguing as she is brash. An impulsive decision - to become Mira’s patron – changes more than just Lucian’s perception about vampire kind. The course of his life is altered in ways he could never have predicted – a life that is suddenly as expendable as hers.
Can Mira prove to Lucian that all is not as it seems? Can Lucian escape centuries of lies, bloodshed, and propaganda to see the truth? Or will the supreme power of the human overlords destroy them both?
Dissension – Excerpt 1
©Katie Salidas 2014
Rising Sign Books LLC
The roar of the crowd, all twenty-five-thousand people in attendance, rose to a thundering crescendo when Mira delivered a bone-crunching blow to her opponent’s ribs. Standing only five feet tall, she might not have appeared a formidable warrior, but the thin, spiky-haired waif of a vampire could hold her weight and more when put to the test. Amplified by the superb acoustics, the sound of bones cracking echoed through the Superdome arena. The defeated, a red-headed male vampire staggered, punch-drunk, and then dropped to his knees. Dirt and sweat coated his face but could not mask the fear in his icy blue eyes. His was a look Mira had seen so many times before. Her opponent’s immortal life had finally come to an end, and he was ready to take the final deadly blow.
Above her, Mira knew the fifty-foot mega screen showed her hapless victim in brilliant resolution, ensuring that all who were attending, and those watching from the comfort of their homes, could see these last gruesome moments in crystal clear high-definition.
Mira gazed down at her opponent’s blood-soaked face. Though he was her enemy for the moment, she did not relish having to end him. No one should be forced into the arena and told to kill or be killed. It wasn’t right. But it was what was demanded of her, and given the choice between her life and someone else’s… well, there really was no choice. No matter the cost, Mira was a survivor.
She glanced up to the large private box overlooking the arena. A well-dressed man in deep-purple robes sat, enjoying what appeared to be a dinner of filet mignon and roast potatoes. Even here, in the dusty arena below, Mira’s enhanced senses picked up the tantalizing scent of very rare, bloody steak. She could hardly believe that a human could not only watch the murder about to take place, but also sit and eat the dead flesh of a once-living being while doing it. From the smell of it, the poor beast was practically still bleeding on his plate. Who was truly the more savage creature?
Over the crowd’s roar, an announcer introduced the well-dressed man, Lucian Stavros, Regent of the Iron Gate. Lucian gently and purposefully slowly set down his knife and fork. He took another moment to wipe his face clean and then smiled, acknowledging the roaring crowd.
Chants of “Death, death, death,” rang out from the throng as a single unified demand.
The Regent listened for a moment, making a show of putting his hands to his ears to hear screaming hoard’s request, and then held a hand out, with his thumb pointed to the side.
As if the next moment were the most important, the anticipating mass hushed. Eerie silence filled the arena as everyone watched for the Regent to make his decision.
From her vantage point below, Mira saw the steely look of determination cross the Regent’s face. If she didn’t know better, she might have thought he took this decision seriously; but then, he was human, and they never cared much if her kind lived or died. Lucian Stavros took a cursory glance down at Mira. Their eyes met. It was only a brief moment, but in that short time, Mira saw him waver.
Could it be true, she wondered, or was it just a trick of the light? No human actually cared about the lives of vampires. The moment faded, and the fleeting thought left.
Mira saw the Regent’s decision. He turned his thumb down. Death!
The crowd went wild.
The last hope for her defeated opponent had vanished; Mira had to finish him. “Sorry,” she whispered to the half-dead vampire on his knees before her. Though her fangs tingled at the prospect of tasting his final dying moments—her reward, if you could call it that, for living through another battle— she did not enjoy what she was about to do. Like her, he was a slave, forced into servitude to the humans as they saw fit. He had not asked for this, and neither had she. But, despite what either of them wanted, it was the will of the crowd, the humans, that had to be served.
Aiming to sever the carotid artery with her fangs, Mira dove at her opponent’s neck. His death would be quick. At least she could afford him that luxury.
Dissension – Excerpt 2
©Katie Salidas 2014
Rising Sign Books LLC
the hair on the back of Mira's neck prickled. An uncomfortable weight of unseen eyes settled on her. Dread sank to the pit of her stomach. Busted...and so close to escaping. Someone else was there, watching her. She felt it, but what was more unsettling was the fact they had yet to announce themselves. Guards would shoot first and ask questions later. Someone lurking in the shadows… there was no telling what game they’d be playing.
Mira turned around and stood next to the guard she had just felled. It didn’t take much for her to find the source of her unease. A pair of mossy green eyes scrutinized her from the opposite end of the hall.
Heart pounding, she stared back at the man attached to those quizzical eyes. Human, no doubt. But he didn’t carry a weapon. Nor was there any fear in those green eyes of his. On the contrary, alone in a dark corridor, he stood his ground, lifting his head, and stared Mira down like an alpha from some long lost wolf pack.
The strangeness of his manner caught Mira by surprise. For a few moments too long, she stood dumbfounded, trying to process who he was and what her next move should be. His face seemed oddly familiar, though at the moment she couldn’t place where she’d seen him before.
The strange man was tall and well built, but that really didn’t matter much. Mira could take down vampires larger than she with no problem. But that wasn’t the thing stopping her from making a move. Judging by the deep plum of his suit, he was a man of some power. Only the Elite – those in the ruling class – were ever permitted to wear such an audacious color. As desperate as Mira was at that moment, she needed to tread carefully. Being caught escaping—again—would earn her more time in the light box, but injuring an Elite could have her staked out in the middle of town square awaiting the dawn.
“Aren't you going to finish him?” the man asked, his tone calm, soothing, as if he genuinely wanted to know the answer.
“Why don’t I finish you instead?” She hoped the warning in her voice would be enough to deter him, but still the man remained unfazed, like some stoic statue across the hallway. What was he playing at? And why was he just standing there, calmly, giving her every opportunity to strike? Did he really place so little value on his life?
“You could kill me, sure, but ask yourself how that is going to help your situation.” Spoken like a true Elite. He had to be up to something.
She didn’t like the smugness in tone, but felt at a loss as to how to continue. She could be on him in a fraction of a second. Crush his windpipe, and maybe buy herself a few more minutes to find the exit, but she was lost and had already wasted too much time. However, her inaction was almost certain to earn her some additional reprisal as well.
The corner of his lip quirked up. “I take it by your lack of response, that you’ve decided against harming me?”
Damn him! He knew she couldn’t take the risk. “For the moment, I guess.” Mira did not let her own uncertainty leach out into her voice. She attempted to sound self-assured, as if she were the one in charge at that moment.
“Well.” He let out a little sigh. “I’m pleased to hear that.” The strange man smiled congenially. “But, we will have to sort out what to do with you. It appears you’re out of bounds here.”
Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkins off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons. She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.
And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…
Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.
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