Trapped on Talonque
By Veronica Scott
Science Fiction Romance
Will an alien sleeping beauty awaken to save him, or destroy everyone around her?
When a Sectors Special Forces soldier and his team crash land on an alien planet, they’re taken captive and given a challenge–win at the violent ball game of sapiche and live. Lose, and they die, sending a mysterious, alien beauty to an even uglier fate. To survive, these soldiers must win the game and find a way to free the dangerous prisoner from her locked chamber.
Nate Reilly and his team are in deep trouble. Prisoners on a backward alien planet, they’re brought before an alien ‘goddess’, sleeping in her high tech seclusion. Nate is astonished when she awakes and establishes a psychic link with him. But her news is not good–he and his men must win a brutal challenge set by their captors, or they will die. She’ll give her aid, but in the end their courage and strength must win the contest.
Bithia sleeps in her chamber, as she has for thousands of years, since her own people unaccountably left her there. Viewed as a goddess by her captors, she must hide her ancient secrets to survive. But only the bravest of men may free her. Can she use her psychic powers to keep Nate and his men alive long enough to help her escape, or will her only hope of freedom die with them?
He stood on the edge of a high-tech chamber out of place on a primitive world such as this one. Ringing the room were strange displays, blinking lights, roving green beams, unknown instruments. The sophistication of the technology was well beyond anything the Sectors had achieved, let alone the dwellers of this planet. Nate spared only a second to glance at these wonders. His attention was caught and held by what occupied the center of a large alcove directly across the room.
The cubicle was lined in shiny metallic material and from the floor rose a graceful pedestal of the same material, topped with a thin platform at waist level. Neatly arranged on a layer of dark purple padding lay a woman, apparently asleep. She certainly wasn’t from this planet, nor any world known to Nate. This mysterious female had ivory skin with the palest of lavender undertones in her cheeks.
“I’ll be moon-damned.” Thom’s attention was riveted on the sleeper as well. “An Ancient Observer?”
“Can’t be—no one’s ever found actual remains,” Haranda said from the other side. “Although this room certainly suggests a high level of technology, it’s not AO. Another sophisticated, highly advanced forerunner civilization. The galaxy is a big place after all.” Roused from his state of funk, he studied the walls, apparently more interested in the devices and displays than in the woman. “I minored in AO studies at the Academy.”
“I don’t think she’s a well-preserved corpse.” Nate couldn’t take his gaze from her, not even to watch what their captors were doing now. He took himself sharply to task for the lapse. What if we’ve been brought here as a sacrifice? He had to be mentally prepared to fight, not gawk at a pretty girl. But the next moment he found himself studying her again, unable to keep himself from indulging in another view.
The woman was tall, probably his equal in height, definitely humanoid. She lay pillowed on her own hair, a thick, sweeping fall of glorious blue mixed with amethyst purple, set here and there with twinkling jewels. From his location across the room, he couldn’t see whether she was breathing, yet he had a definite sense of a living presence.
Her clothing was a simple, silvery white and lavender sheath, like finely woven metallic thread had been spun to make the dress. Thin jeweled straps held the garment at her shoulders. The finely pleated fabric clung to her curves sensuously. She lay on her back, arms stretched out a little on each side, her graceful, six-fingered hands spread open on the cushion. She wore no jewelry save for an elaborate bracelet on her left wrist, studded with colorful stones whose facets caught and amplified the lights in the main room.
Grimacing, the woman arched her spine as if in pain, moving her head on the pillow restlessly.
“What the—” Nate swiveled his head and saw the noble flipping small jeweled medallions set into one of the wall panels.
Apparently remaining unconscious, the woman struggled to raise her hands from the bedding, her face contorted. A harsh chiming emanated from the walls, as if warning against whatever procedure he’d initiated. Undeterred despite a second sirenlike sound joining the cacophony, the noble finished his task with a satisfied grunt. The black-clad priestesses seemed to want him to stop, one going so far as to touch his sleeve before being impatiently shaken off.
The lavender-clad lady cowered at the far wall, covering her ears and crouching pathetically.
Nate’s head suddenly filled with fire, and then icy cold replaced the heat, a piercing pain shooting through his entire nervous system from the top of his brain, along his spine and out to peripheral nerve endings. He fell to his knees, dragging the other three prisoners with him, exclaiming curses in their surprise. Barely hanging on to consciousness, Nate fought the alternating hot and cold waves and the associated pain in his head. Dazzling streaks and multicolored pinwheels obscured his vision, staying even though he screwed his eyes tightly shut.
“Sicondame sliquon…” came a deep, female voice from all around them.
Nate raised his head, eyes tearing, staring at the woman on the table. Is that her voice? How can she sound so calm under apparent torture?
The alarms and klaxons abruptly shut off. Nate’s ears rang with the aftereffects of the discordant noises.
Hands on his hips, the noble nodded and made a declaration to the priestesses in a tone conveying satisfaction.
Nate shook his head again as the guards impatiently yanked him to his feet. The soldiers tugged at him and the other three prisoners, indicating their time in the chamber of the sleeping lady was at an end. He twisted to catch one last glimpse of her in the gradually fading light.
She opened her eyes, looked directly at him, and in his head he heard two words.
Amazon Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “City On the Edge of Forever.”
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