The feature match was called and two terrified beings carried out the cage of the Scarlet Xypaca, who raged and tore at the bars fang and claw. They set her down and immediately jumped away.
A moment later the second cage emerged and was carried to the far end of the ring. It contained the green Xypaca, who was smaller, but no less fierce. She attacked the cage, crazy to get at her scarlet enemy.
Sten looked over at Venatora. To him, she seemed like she was on fire. Perspiration glistened on her ebony skin and whole body trembled with excitement. The full force of Xypaca fever was upon her.
Meanwhile her female entourage was so stirred by the boss’s mood they could barely contain themselves. Pacing about, growling indiscriminately at anyone who dared to come close, clinching their fists and flexing their muscles, aching for a fight.
Venatora turned to look at Sten. She sneered at him, as if saying, you just wait and see, you little piece of drakh. You just wait and see.
Sten blew her a kiss. He turned away as if he hadn’t a care in the Empire. Although he had to push away the strange aura of eroticism emanating from her like an odorless perfume. Even so, he didn’t need eyes in the back of his head to know she was ready to explode at his casual manner.
The Fightmaster called for action. The cage gates swung open. The crowd roared. The green Xypaca hopped out. On the other side of the ring, the Scarlet Fury exited her cage, shrieking a challenge.
The Green Xypaca returned the shriek.
The Scarlet Fury took half a step forward, then stopped. Hunched over. Abdomen squeezing in and out. Jaws gaping. Choking. Choking. Like cat trying to rid itself of a hairball.
And then the beast spewed an enormous mound of red, quivering jelly-like soy steak. And it spewed and spewed and spewed.
Until the green Xypaca fell upon it and bit off its head.
Sten turned away from the scene and casually walked toward Venatora, wearing his best Cheshire grin. The closer he came, the angrier she became, and the angrier she became, the more her guards were affected.
By the time Sten reached her they were ready to swarm him and tear him to pieces. She raised a hand, stopping them, but not calming them. If that were even possible. Their blood was well past simmer.
Venatora spoke. “Is that your work?” she demanded, pointing at the ring, where, no doubt, the victor was feeding on the late Scarlet Fury.
Sten looked hurt. Hand on breast. Me?
Then he said, “They didn’t tell me you were a sore loser.”
Venatora said, “It looked to me like the fix was in.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to protest the fight,” Sten said. “Renege on the bet.”
She didn’t like that one bit. Almost blew. But then she remembered her gambler’s pride and pulled back.
Venatora looked him up and down, then said: “Are you the law?”
Sten laughed. “I’m just a poor soldier on leave,” he said.
Venatora scoffed at that. “A soldier who can wager one hundred thousand credits? Somehow…”
Sten said, “I have a sideline.”
“And that would be?”
“I sell things?”
“What sort of things?”
“And who do you sell this information to?”
Another Cheshire grin. “To people like you.”
Venatora covered her surprise. But couldn’t help a little blush of pleasure. She was starting to enjoy this game.
“And who might I be?”
“A pirate,” Sten said.
Venatora touched her breast with slender fingertips. “Me? A pirate?”
“Not just a pirate,” Sten said. He motioned at her bodyguards, who flinched and growled. “But a pirate queen.”
Venatora barked laughter. “I’m no queen,” she said. “Just a boss lady.”
“Then it’s settled,” Sten said. “You’re a boss lady pirate. Just the kind I like to meet.”
Venatora looked him over. Light shone in her eyes. She seemed to approve of what she saw.
“Maybe we can do business someday,” she said. “When you have something of value for sale.”
Then, catching Sten by surprise, she abruptly motioned to her guardswomen and started away. He tried to follow, but they blocked him.
“Wait,” Sten called after her. “How can I get in touch with you?”
“Don’t worry,” she called back. “When you have something I want I’ll know how to find you.”
Sten laughed. The woman was a delight. Then the laugh turned to a scowl as she vanished around the gaming rooms. He suddenly felt let down. Chilled. As if someone had turned off the hot water in the fresher. The erotic atmosphere that surrounded Venatora was gone.
Alex rejoined him. Caught his mood. Slapped him on the back.
“Come on, wee Sten,” he said. “There’s lassies everywhere in case you hadn’t noticed.”
Then he fetched mugs of Stregg off a passing barbot and handed one to Sten, who drained the mug and grabbed another.
Once again the mood restorative did wonders. He saw a particularly attractive Joygirl giving him the eye and smiled. Encouraged, she started toward him.
But then a hulking security bot shouldered its way onto the scene, blocking her path. It was humanoid in shape, half again larger than a man, made of mottled steel, with an oversized face sporting a single, glowing red eye.
That eye fixed itself on Sten. It raised a commanding hand and beckoned with a long, metal finger.
“Lieutenant Sten,” it rumbled. “Come.”
The eye moved to Alex. Again, the finger beckoned. “Sergeant Kilgour,” the bot growled. “You come too.”
And it started away, the crowd scurrying out of its path. Sten and Alex did not immediately follow.”
“What do you want?” Sten shouted after it. “What’s going on?”
The answer came rumbling back: “Mahoney! Mahoney say come!”
Sten and Alex looked at one another. What the clot?
“Doesn’t Mahoney know we’re on leave?” Sten said, getting a little hot.
“Course he does,” Alex said.
From out of the crowd came the security bot’s demanding voice: “Come.”
Sten sighed. “Best not keep the colonel waiting,” he said.
NEXT: ORDERS FROM ON HIGH
Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:
A True Story About A Boy,
THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions.
Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.
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A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS:
A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA
LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher.
He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.
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Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
- "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
- "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus.
- "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan
After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.
BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization.
TALES OF THE BLUE MEANIE
NOW AN AUDIOBOOK!
Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is "The Blue Meanie," a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.