Everyone joked about the end of the world, but when it finally happened, no one was laughing.
December 21, 2012.
Mankind’s final day had been predicted for years, but no one had believed it would ever come. Why would they? There had been so many dates labeled “the end,” and none had yet come to pass.
When the sun rose on that fateful day, everyone made their little jokes. Just one more hoax. Street merchants started selling “I survived the apocalypse… again” T-shirts. Everybody looked around, shrugged their shoulders, and got back to what they’d been doing. The world moved on.
But the day starts at different times across the globe. This particular prophesy — this doomsday prediction — had been made by the Mayan people. It wasn’t until the sun rose in South America that the destruction began.
Previously docile fault lines began to quake. As if waking from a slumber, the earth rumbled from deep within like some ravenous beast scenting its prey, to be satisfied only by utter annihilation.
Volcanoes that had lain dormant for hundreds of years suddenly sprang into action, erupting with centuries of pent-up pressure, spewing hot geysers of acrid smoke. Rivers of magma belched out from the mouths of these angry mountains, scorching the land and devouring everything caught in their deadly flow. Thick clouds blanketed the sky, choking out the sunlight. Searing chunks of pumice rained down upon the land, burying entire cities and all their occupants in a rocky grave.
For decades — centuries, even — the Earth had been beaten and bruised, scratched and bitten by her inhabitants. It was only natural that she would fight back. And her retribution was merciless. Whole continents fragmented as fault lines deepened and separated. The surface of the earth ripped apart while its terrified inhabitants futilely attempted to escape the destruction. Nowhere was safe. Giant waves of destruction beat down upon every coast, swallowing islands whole and obliterating coastal cities on mainlands. Never before had the loss of life been so devastating.
No one was laughing now.
It was truly, utterly, the end of days.
In the aftermath, the few that remained alive were forced to band together for survival. Food was scarce; shelter was even harder to come by. People who had never conceived of a life without electricity, running water, and fast food were faced with the ultimate choice: to live, by whatever means possible... or to die.
In the ragged days that followed the destruction, many more lives were lost — or taken — in the name of survival. Those who remained were few and far between.
And not all survivors were human.
Supernatural creatures — vampires — once thought to be the stuff of myth and legend, were forced from the refuge of the shadows. With no place left to hide, their only choice for survival was to reveal themselves to those few humans who remained. Immortality gave vampires the ability to weather the storms, but their weakness to sunlight left them vulnerable and in desperate need of shelter and protection during the harsh days following the great cataclysms. Only through collaboration could both races stand the slightest chance for survival.
It was an uneasy truce at first. The vampires’ need for blood, no matter how small a dose, made them objects of hatred rather than companionship; but their ability to protect the former city-dwelling humans against other predators in the night counted greatly in their favor. Eventually, human and vampire learned to co-exist.
Slowly, as they always do, humans adapted to their newly reshaped home. Society rebuilt itself. Life continued on planet Earth and even began to flourish. Over the next hundred years, eight thriving cities rose from the ashes, and humans once again took their place as masters of the Earth.
And with that power came hubris.
Formerly friends and vital allies, the vampires quickly became targets – victims of the humans’ drive to be top of the food chain. Rumors and lies spread quickly about what vicious and cold-hearted demons the vampires truly were. Human deaths, even when the cause was not loss of blood, were blamed on vampires. Long forgotten was the help the vampires had given to their human brethren in those early days of reconstruction.
The human race came to see vampires as nothing more than criminals and outlaws. Vermin. Using the vampires’ vulnerability to sunlight and starvation, the humans turned their once-helpful protectors into slaves. Hunted down and brought to so-called justice, vampires were faced with the same brutal choice the humans had confronted a century earlier: Succumb to the will of humans, or end their days on Earth.
To live by whatever means possible… or to die.
August 25th, 2179
Iron Gate Prison, New Haven City
Cold and alone, Mira barely slept on the dirty patch of concrete in her prison cell. Days of torture and starvation had her jumping at every unfamiliar sound. The events of her recent capture haunted her. Only days before she’d been a free vampire, traveling with her love, Theo, on the way to Sanctuary.
No matter how hard she tried, Mira could not push away the pain weighing heavily on her heart. “Broken” felt too light a word; her heart was well and truly destroyed. Watching the light fade from Theo’s eyes—nothing could have hurt her worse, though the humans had tried. Unspeakable tortures… Those memories played out moment by painful moment in her mind as she sat, awaiting her fate.
Only days before, Mira and her group had taken refuge in a rocky encampment outside the redwood forest, hoping to avoid the human patrol and wait out the day. The coast was still another evening’s run, and if they hoped to flee the country and find Sanctuary, they’d have to make it to the West Ocean.
Tears fell unchecked down her cheeks. If she’d known that would be the last time she’d see Theo, Mira would have been damned sure to tell him how much she loved him. He’d been her world in the short time they’d known each other. She knew his deep green-brown eyes would haunt her dreams for the rest of eternity.
Human soldiers had invaded their campsite just before dawn. In the aftermath of their fight, she’d been the one to find Theo’s lifeless body drenched in blood.
That was the beginning of the end, and now she carried the weight of a broken heart, widowed and imprisoned, awaiting her own final death just for being a vampire.
The humans called this place the Social Reassignment Facility, as if that would make it seem any less frightening. It was prison, pure and simple, and Mira knew it. Vampires taken into the human city were never seen again. This prison would be her home for as long as she lived.
Other vampires milled around in their cells, some mumbling, some snoring, a few crying, everyone awaiting their time to die.
A small part of her wished she’d been killed with the rest of the group. Maybe she should have counted herself lucky, but at that moment, it seemed the farthest thing from the truth.
Loud booted feet stomped toward her. Nerves on edge, Mira jumped at the sound. The last time she’d heard those footsteps, she’d been taken to a box filled with light. Burned off and on for hours, human soldiers had questioned her on how to find Sanctuary. After passing out from the pain, Mira had woken back in her cell. She’d rather die than live through that kind of torture again.
Sucking in a deep breath, she chanced a look up to see if the guards were in fact coming for her.
Two men wearing helmets, dressed from head to toe in heavy black uniforms and carrying long flashlights and guns, stopped just outside of her cell. “On your feet, 8254-A.”
Her heart stuttered, skipping more than a few beats. Not again.
The guard butted his gun against the bars of her cell. “On your feet.”
On edge as she was, holding her tongue wasn’t as easy as she’d have liked. “I have a name. It’s Mira!” Smarting off would only get her more painful torture, but she couldn’t help herself. The least they could do was use her name.
The soldier responded with a fast click of his light, shining it straight into her eyes. “On your feet, 8254-A.”
So, it’s going to be like that, she thought, shielding her face from the burning light. “Okay, I’m up.” She winced as fiery tongues of light seared every bit of her open flesh. She took an unsteady step toward the cell door.
“Stop! Come no closer.” The warning in the soldier’s voice was clear. He was not going to put up with anything except utter obedience.
Mira held her hands up in surrender, squeezing her eyes shut against the burn. “I’ll do whatever you want. Just get that bloody light out of my eyes!” She didn’t mean to shout, but the pain was intolerable.
“8254-A, you will stand with your arms where I can see them.”
What little bit of civility she had was spent. “I’m already doing that. Will you shut off that damn light?”
The light clicked off and blissful darkness enveloped her. It took a moment for the sting to subside, but Mira let out a sigh of relief anyway.
The faceless guard, hidden behind his black helmet and shield, spoke again. “8254-A, you’re to report to the arena for placement.”
She’d heard rumors of what happened to vampires, but hoped that was all they were. “Am I allowed to ask what that is?”
“You fight to the death.” The guard’s tone was nothing short of mocking. “If you live, you’ll be put up for auction and earn yourself an owner.”
Things were getting better and better by the minute. First all of her friends had been slaughtered, then she’d been brought in and tortured, and now, she was meant to fight to the death.
Maybe, if she was lucky, death would come quickly. “Well, then, let’s get this party started.” Mira stood as still as she could, not wanting to invite more light as she waited for the guard to step inside the cell.
“Turn around. Hands behind your back,” the guard ordered.
Rather than taste the heated beam of light again, Mira did as she was told. The guard cuffed her with something equally annoying, pinning her arms behind her back with silver-coated shackles. She groaned with the sting but did not speak out.
“Walk slowly, and follow him.” The soldier’s tone, though loud, was more bored than authoritative, as if he really had no fear in transporting a vampire through the cell block. He pointed her toward the other guard waiting outside the cell.
With a heavy breath, she took slow steps toward her destiny. She followed the silent guard through the corridors, twisting and turning so many times she completely lost track of where she was, until they reached a large hall of a room, lit with overhead fluorescent lights and filled with benches.
“This is the stable,” the guard barked at her. “You’ll wait here until called.” He shoved her down on a bench and walked over to a counter, tossing a key on top of it.
Watching his every move, she noticed what lay behind the counter…an extensive weapons closet. Two other guards sat behind the counter. Despite their bored expressions, their eyes were riveted on her. Even if she were at full strength, she’d never be able to steal a weapon and make it out alive, but the thought of doing just that tempted her.
Time crept by while other vampires were ushered into the room. Each was just as unceremoniously shoved onto a seat and told to wait, as she had been. Ten in all. Mira kept her face straight, not allowing fear to betray her as she sized up her potential opponents.
Others did not mask their fear.
“Ten of you entered, but only five will find owners today.” One of the guards behind the counter spoke while checking off a list in his hand. “Fight well, and you will be one of those lucky few.”
Not truly wanting to die, Mira hoped to be paired with one of the smaller vampires. The only girl among them, her chances of survival were already diminishing, though she did feel she’d fare better than the skinny man crying across the way from her. He looked as if he’d missed more than his fair share of meals as a human, and turning vampire had not done anything to help the matter. If she were partnered with him, she might do well.
“8254-A, approach and pick your weapon.” As ordered, Mira approached the guard in charge of the weapons closet. With so many weapons to choose from, Mira was at a loss. She’d never fought with anything before. She’d had a few fist fights in her day, but nothing as deadly as this. Spotting a large axe, she considered it for a moment. Surely with her strength she could do some damage with it. Next to it was a row of swords in various lengths and widths. Swords were faster, easier to swing, and definitely sharp. She spotted a short thin one that looked a perfect fit for her petite hand. “That one.” She nodded to the guard.
The guard retrieved her weapon, checked it off his list, and then walked around Mira and slipped it into her belt.
“8316-A, approach and pick your weapon.” The handler checked off his list. Mira watched as a large vampire stood. Not the skinny waif she was hoping for. He walked to the weapons counter and chose the large axe she’d been considering.
Mira suddenly wished she had a shield to use with her sword. But wishing would not make it happen. She did her best to shove down her apprehension. No good would come from showing fear.
A gruff bark from the guard told Mira it was her time. She walked to the arena doors. The large axe-wielding vampire, her opponent, joined her. “I’m Brian. You?”
Mira wasn’t sure how to answer. He was going to be her enemy in mere moments. “Seems strange to be exchanging pleasantries when we’re about to kill each other.”
“Better now than never.”
“Mira,” she blurted.
“Well, Mira… it’s a good night to die.” He shouldered his axe and looked forward.
Mira didn’t know quite how to take that. His tone did not hold any clue to his true meaning. She’d have to find out in the arena.
A cage dropped around the two vampires. Mira held out her hands toward the bars, waiting for her restraints to be removed. She’d have no hope fighting with her hands cuffed. Her heart pounded with anticipation. Once those bars lifted, she’d need to be ready to fight…to the death.
The guard narrowed his eyes as he reached toward her cuffed hands. “When you exit the stables and enter the arena, you will pay your respects to the leaders of the Iron Gate. You will say ‘I fight for the honor of the Iron Gate and the pleasure of its people, and salute our great Magistrate.’ Is this clear?”
“Thank them for the pleasure of dying, right,” Mira whispered under her breath.
“What was that?” The guard shouted at Mira.
“Nothing.” When was she going to learn to hold her tongue? She was well and truly screwed here, and her mouth was going to make things worse.
“Remember what you’ve been told, or you both will die in the arena today.”
Both vampires nodded.
Without a word of acknowledgement or glance of recognition to each other, Brian and Mira stood together while their guards worked to remove their restraints. The front of the cage lifted as the doors to the arena opened.
A flood of fluorescent light washed in through the parted doors. Awestruck, Mira was rooted to her spot, seeing the arena in all its glory. More than thirty thousand seats reached up high to the domed ceiling. An enormous view screen showed images of her in crisp high definition. Her jaw dropped. Fear momentarily took over and she wondered how far she’d get if she made a run for it. Behind her the cage was still shut tight. She only had one option: step into the arena and meet her future as a gladiator, or die here on the dusty ground. Life as she had known before was truly over.
One glance to Brian told her she was literally in for the fight of her life. Where apprehension was eating away at her resolve, he smiled coolly at the crowd cheering above them.
An announcer called the first fight, welcoming the new vampires into the arena.
A packed house of humans cheered when they learned this would be a testing fight.
“Go now,” the guard behind ordered. He turned his light on Mira and her partner. Shock more than pain drove her forward. How had the fates been so cruel?
With nowhere else to go, Mira steeled her courage and gripped her sword. She walked into the arena, letting her feet dig heavily into the dusty ground with each step.
The Elite box was easy to spot, curtained in deep purple and set high above the rest of the crowd. Inside the lavish box sat a family of five humans. A tall, broad shouldered male, dressed in a plum-colored suit, sat high in his cushy armchair. Next to him a lady with a high beehive of blonde, almost white hair, sat with her three children. To her right were two girls of no more than five years, and in her lap was a tiny infant boy.
Though it shouldn’t have surprised her, seeing such innocent little children here in the arena enraged Mira. She was really starting to hate the human race. Not too long ago she’d been one, but never so inhumane. No wonder city dwellers were so cold, if they were raised on this kind of brutality. Those children, sitting there, about to watch someone die…
And when she reached the center of the arena, she would be expected to thank these humans for the opportunity to die in front of them. Everything about this was wrong. She was a vampire. Once her kind had been top of the food chain, and now… no more than a slave. Worse – a rabid dog sent to fight and die for the entertainment of the masses, hoping for a bone or two if she survived. She fisted her hand tight, letting her nails dig into her skin. Pain was real. Pain meant she was alive. No matter what happened, she needed to remember this. As long as she was capable of feeling, she wasn’t completely gone.
Above her, the announcer called out, “Combatants, it is your privilege today to display your skills for our esteemed Regent and his lovely family. You may show your gratitude now.”
Gratitude was not what Mira felt. She stared straight up to the Elite box. “I fight for the honor of the Iron Gate and the pleasure of its people.” There was more she was supposed to say, but Mira really didn’t give a damn about thanking everyone and their brother for her opportunity to be slaughtered. They’d just have to accept her abbreviated version.
Her partner uttered a similar speech, remembering to thank the Magistrate, and he managed to sound a little more enthusiastic than she.
“No point in sucking up to those that want to see you dead,” Mira whispered, knowing that Brian should be able to hear her.
If he did, he didn’t show it.
Excited or not, none of their tones and ass kissing to the Elites really mattered. The crowd was here for one reason alone—blood! A roaring mass, they called out for the fight to begin.
The other vampire wasted no time. Brian swung his axe without so much as a nod to Mira.
She jumped back, narrowly missing being sliced in two. “Guess that’s a go, then?”
Sword in hand, she held it out to block while she backed up a few paces. Never wielding one of these before, she wasn’t really sure how to manage. Holding him off and backing away was only going to work for so long.
Bloodlust drove the large male vampire to his task. She could see it in the crazy glint in his eyes. Half-starved as she was, Mira could understand his eagerness to get to the prize, but determination kept her from sinking into that abyss. She’d not give in to her savage side at the promise of a meal. She might be a vampire, but she still had true humanity, for now. And if she wanted to keep it, she’d need to do better than back herself into a wall.
“Easy now,” she said, more to herself than Brian.
He responded with another heavy swipe of the axe aimed at her legs. “You going to use that sword or just hold it like a doll, little girl?”
He was right. Though she had immense strength, the unfamiliar grip of the sword weighed down her arm. She thrust it forward at her opponent, poking at him rather than swinging wildly as he was doing with his axe.
He easily knocked it from her grip with the handle of his axe. It fell with a muffled clang as it hit the dusty ground.
Laughter bubbled up from Brian’s chest. “Stand still. I’ll make it quick.”
He lifted the axe high, ready for the final blow.
She wasn’t going out like that. Sword or no, she could still fight. Without hesitation she rushed into Brian before he could begin swinging his axe. Colliding with him, she expected to cause him to topple. He didn’t. His large body absorbed her force, not budging an inch. She did, however, stop him from chopping her in two. At least that was something.
Mira wrapped her arms around his torso and nudged her right leg in between his. Hooking her leg, she knocked him off balance and rode him down to the ground.
He let go of the axe as his back hit the dirt, and the wind escaped him with a loud oomph.
Above them, the crowd was a wild frenzy of excitement, screaming, cheering, and shouting obscenities. Not sure who the favorite was, Mira couldn’t tell if they were cheering her on or cursing her. Not that it mattered. She wasn’t fighting to entertain them; she was trying to ensure she lived through this night.
With a heavy thrust, Mira was thrown sideways. Her opponent was quick to regain his breath and rolled back to his knees. He patted the ground, looking for his fallen weapon, but Mira was quick to her feet and kicked it away. Another swing of her foot found her opponent’s head. He swayed on his knees but didn’t go down as she’d hoped. She brought her elbow down on him hard, and he crumpled with another groan of pain.
A glint of metal caught her eye. Her fallen sword lay just underfoot. She bent to grab it, hoping to be quicker than Brian. That last elbow had been painful, but not enough to take him down for the count.
He must have spotted it, too. As her fingers grazed the hilt, his body rolled into her legs and threw her off balance.
Hitting the ground with a dusty thump, she lost sight of her weapon, and her opponent was already up on his knees again. Cursing herself, Mira scrambled up, not taking her eyes off the large vampire as she found her footing.
Bloodshot eyes gave his feral gaze a more fearsome look. He bore down on her, fist raised, and hit her with the force of a wrecking ball. Weapon or no, he was deadly all on his own. The pain of the impact took her moments to feel, but the force of it twisted her head so fast she thought her neck might snap. Mira dropped to the ground, nearly tripping him with his own momentum.
Cheers erupted again. She caught the bloody sight of herself on the mega screen above. Displaying her failure in crisp detail, it was obvious she was done. Weak, starved, and punch drunk, this was how it would all end for her.
“It’s a good night to die,” Brian laughed as he dragged her up by her tunic. Lifting her effortlessly, he brought her up to eye level with him. “I’ll be quick about it.” There was no sympathy in his voice. Undertones of wickedness matched the crooked grin he gave her, and the tip of his fangs poking below his lips promised just that.
Moving with the speed of a viper, he sank those sharp teeth into her neck.
Only one other person had ever done that to her. Theo. But she’d invited him to do it. Brian, on the other hand, was not allowed to take such intimate possession of her. Pain beyond words shook off her weakness. Theo’s dead eyes stirred her courage. He died at the hands of these humans. She wouldn’t let that be her fate… even by proxy. She could still feel. Pain was her reminder. As long as she could feel, she still had a fighting chance. She had to survive. She would survive!
Brian’s teeth in her neck dug in deep. She felt every pull of his mouth against her throat. He’d drain her quickly if she didn’t hurry. Hanging in his grip left her few options, but her foot was well placed. Putting in all the force she could muster, she kicked forward, straight into his crotch.
On a loud curse, his body began to fold. He threw her with the force of a tornado down to the ground. Wild, bloodshot eyes shot daggers at her as he crumpled to the ground, cradling his balls.
The crowd roared again.
It was now or never. Mira spotted her sword still lying on the ground. She lunged forward, giving her all, throwing wild punches and kicks at him, slowly backing him away from her fallen weapon.
His axe lay dangerously close, too. She couldn’t let him retrieve it before she could brandish her own weapon, and her wild swings were losing their effect on him. Brian was no longer retreating from her.
He caught her fist mid-swing, and she knew she was screwed. He twisted her arm, causing her to spin as he pinned it behind her body.
“I’d have made it quick if you hadn’t been such a bitch about it.” Heat from his breath blew across her neck. Goosebumps prickled down her back, and an involuntary shiver rode its way back up.
Again she felt the sharp sting of his teeth. But she would not go so easily. Throwing her head back, she hit his head hard, and with her free arm she elbowed him in the chest. He cursed again and let her go. She spun to meet him again, but he was already bending to retrieve her weapon.
“Shit! Can I not catch a break?” Mira hadn’t meant for the curse to escape her lips so loudly, but she couldn’t help but feel as if Fate had finally dealt her last hand. For every move she made, he was there to counter. He was clearly the better fighter, and it seemed her death was inevitable. Still, though, she wouldn’t just stand and take it.
She watched him like a hawk. He sidestepped, and so did she. He lowered himself, crouching at the ready to strike, and so did she. Mira didn’t have a weapon, but she’d do something, anything she could.
That wicked smile returned. “Give up, little girl,” Brian said. “What do you earn if you win? A lifetime of this. You’re not that good. I’m sparing you by killing you today.”
She bared her teeth at him. His taunts weren’t worth responding to.
“What? No final words?” he asked.
She narrowed her eyes, waiting. He’d make his move soon.
He slashed the sword in front of her face. Everything inside of her screamed “jump back,” but she held her ground.
He took a step forward and she countered, taking a step back.
“Quit playing and do this already,” she barked.
“With pleasure.” He swung the blade out in front of him, more scare tactic than true attack, but Mira wasn’t taking the chance. She sidestepped quickly and turned, facing the outstretched blade. On instinct, she grabbed blindly with her left hand and found his wrist, yanking hard to get him to drop the weapon. He didn’t. His grip was iron. But to his own detriment, rather than let go, he overbalanced and had to take a few wobbly steps forward to avoid tripping.
Releasing his wrist as he stumbled, Mira danced around his body, keeping the sword in sight. He swiped at her again in a wide arc, turning to face her. She was prepared and confidently avoided the blade. Throwing her shoulder into his body, she reached up and grabbed his wrist again, controlling the direction of the blade and forcing him to twist with her. She dug her thumb into the soft point of his wrist as they pirouetted together. With a groan of frustration he had to relax his grip, and Mira was able to gain hold of the weapon.
When they came out of their spin, Mira had the sword. She thrust forward, taking no time to second guess. He avoided the point by scant inches. She stepped in and thrust again, grazing his side this time.
The scent of his blood immediately found her nose, calling out primal instincts. Eyes wide with bloodlust at the sight of the crimson liquid staining his tunic, she swung wildly at him. He dodged and ducked her every wild swing until she unintentionally gave him an opening. He stepped in close, locking his leg around hers, and with merely a gentle push, tripped her backwards. She dropped the sword to avoid coming down on top of it, landing hard on her butt.
He bent down to retrieve the fallen weapon, but there was no way she’d give him that chance. Head-butting him hard, she stopped him from picking up her sword. She pushed his body sideways, grabbed the handle of the blade, and thrust the sword into his chest.
The crowd went wild. Chants of “Death, death, death” filled the arena.
Mira wasn’t waiting for permission. She dove at her opponent’s neck, savoring the sweet elixir of his blood. She drank her fill quickly and pulled away with a sigh.
“Finish him.” The announcer’s voice boomed over the crowd. “Sever his neck and claim your victory.”
She hadn’t planned on killing him; hadn’t thought about the moment she’d have to end his life. She’d never done it before. Never taken a life.
The cacophony of noise, chanting, screaming, cheering was too much. Again, the announcer instructed her to end this. She knew what she had to do, but didn’t want to do it.
“Your life or his.” The finality in the announcer’s voice made the choice clear to her.
Mira pulled the sword from her opponent’s chest. She lifted it high and swung, aiming for the neck. One swing was all it took. Her strength and the sword’s sharpened steel severed his head clean off.
Above, the giant dome roof parted, sending a hot blast of UV light down in a square around Mira like a cage.
“Congratulations, gladiator. Your handlers will retrieve you now,” the announcer said.
Two humans approached Mira, both wearing hoods and black body suits with a wooden stake and hammer emblazoned across the chest. Handlers, she thought. Must be specially trained to deal with vampires. Among their weapons were long lights and large handguns.
One handler trained his light on Mira, ready to turn it on at the slightest wrong move, while the other held out the silver-coated cuffs she was fast becoming accustomed to.
“Time to get you sold.” He said it more enthusiastically than she’d like to hear. Once the cuffs were on, the light bars disappeared. The handler nudged her back toward a door opposite the one she’d come through.
Inside, the walls were lined with cages. The handler directed her toward the cage nearest the door and locked her inside.
“You’ll wait here until you’re sold or dead.”
She wasn’t scared by his mocking tone. She’d survived the arena. Nothing worse could possibly await her now.
Hours passed, it seemed. Other vampires, bloody and beaten but still alive, were ushered in and given cages of their own to sit in.
Finally, after all the cages had been filled, a group of well-dressed humans meandered down into their prison. Eyes scrutinized, insults were whispered among them, and outright judgments were made as they walked by each cell. A large blond male carrying a small blonde girl, who couldn’t have been more than three years old, stopped in front of her cell.
“Daddy, this one,” the little girl enthusiastically called out.
“Dearest Olive, she’s no good. You saw how weakly she fought in the arena. Why not this big brute here?” Her father attempted to direct her attention away, but the little girl grabbed hold of the bars and would not let go.
“No. This one. I want a girl!”
“No!” The little girl screamed. “My fighter. Mine! I want this one!” Her shrill voice had captured the attention of everyone in the room.
Not sure of how she felt about this, Mira tried to ignore them, pulling her knees into her chest and putting her head down. Little girls should not know about things like these arena battles. And little girls shouldn’t be allowed to talk so disrespectfully to their fathers. She’d never been so bold. But a human owner was necessary now that she was a prisoner, if she wanted to have a chance at survival. At least someone wanted her.
“You buy her for me now!” the little girl continued to scream, holding tightly to the cell bars.
“All right, dearest,” her father cooed in her ear. “If she means that much to you.” He called over to a handler, “I’ll take that girl and the big one here.”
“Very good, sir.”
“There you are, Olive. Your very own gladiator. What shall you call her?”
“You’re silly, Daddy. Gladiators don’t get names.”
“They do if you want them to. You think about it while we go get some treats for the ride home.”
The little girl giggled as she took her dad’s hand and walked out of the room.
A handler tapped her cell with his light. “Lucky you… you have yourself an owner. Let’s go.”
He directed her down into the lower levels to a small cell marked with her slave number 8254-A.
In the cell next to her, another vampire stirred, a tall man with unusually caramel-colored skin and a bald head. He stood and looked in on her. “Welcome to the Iron Gate prison. Your new home for the rest of your immortal life. Now that you’ve gotten yourself in, there’s only one way out…”
Mira looked up and met the icy eyes of her cellmate. “We’ll see about that.”
I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into Mira's world. Her journey has only just begun. Continue Reading Mira's Story in The Chronicles of the Uprising.
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