Snatched from a post-apocalyptic battlefield by galactic traders, Zania is sold to a clandestine ring of fighting Amazons on a planet lush with green jungles and teeming with deadly felines. She resents the gorgeous and overzealous Viking champion, Svend, who saves her life but too easily accepts his slavery. Adulated by a woman who claims to know her, hated by the jealous Amazon queen who fancies Svend, Zania seeks escape... But Svend knows the price of rebellion. And on this seemingly peaceful planet, ruled and defended by machines, nothing is what it seems... Among the rumbles of a volcano threatening to explode, insurrection is brewing, and no one is safe...
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"All sexual relations have been abolished in these parts," the synthetic voice volunteered.
"Abolished?" Zania stifled a nervous chuckle as she kept walking. "It doesn’t make much sense."
"The tendencies that bring sexual passions, or passions of any kind, also breed violence, and all violence has been bred out of the citizens of this Earth. It is the price they pay for lasting peace and safety."
The concept sounded so foreign, Zania started to suspect she had wandered into delirium. She must have lost her mind. "Did you say Earth?"
"That’s what the natives call their planet."
The natives? So her captors were from some other place? From space? Zania slowed down but remembered she had to keep walking in order to get answers.
"This Earth is different from yours. It survived. Your native planet is long gone."
"Gone?" How could a planet be gone? "What do you mean?"
"Gone as in destroyed, reduced to interstellar dust, volatilized."
Zania couldn’t accept that. The idea that Earth as she knew it was no more bothered her beyond belief. "When did that happen? How long have I been unconscious?"
"Your battle happened one thousand, three hundred and thirty one Earth years ago," the voice stated with confidence.
"What?" Zania’s legs turned to mush. Something in her gut told her it was the truth. Her father, her brothers, her cheating boyfriend, all dead... They never found her body, declared her MIA. "How is that possible?"
"You were selected and preserved for our specific purpose."
"What purpose?" Zania couldn’t stand not being in control of her own destiny. "Who made that decision for me?"
That We again. The corridor ended into a sharp turn. The sound of many voices filtered into the hallway. "What’s this place?"
"The time has come to perform your duty."
Before Zania could protest, she emerged into a brightly lit arena, with people in the bleachers, cheering and yelling her name. They all wore gray robes and hid their faces under a hood, like ghosts. "Why do they all wear gray?"
"Color is not allowed on their Earth. Color breeds passions."
"But I wear blue, and the mat is red."
"This is clandestine entertainment We provide for them. They hide their faces for fear of being recognized."
Stepping on the soft red mat, Zania raised her gaze to the highest levels of the arena and noticed a gigantic projection of herself on the ceiling.
The deep blue veils suited her well, enhancing her dazzling blue eyes and apricot complexion, and revealing much of her body. With the long flowing hair and the eye makeup of an Egyptian queen, Zania hardly recognized herself. She looked more beautiful than she remembered. Of course, she’d never been the pampering type.
The cheering suddenly stopped and Zania realized she no longer stood alone on the mat of the arena. There, in the bright light, walked a tall muscular man, young, his long blond hair framing a tan face with icy gray eyes... The visage of Adonis on Hercules’ body.
Her gaze roamed over the regular lines of his jaw, the full, sensual lips, dimpled chin, down the expanse of his hairless pectorals, and stopped on the leather cod piece embossed with Tor’s hammer. That’s all he wore.
So, he was a Viking. Zania could easily imagine him swinging a sword or a battle axe like his ancestors. He certainly had the biceps for it. His bare thighs bulged with muscles, yet his face held an almost feminine beauty. She couldn’t help a shiver of appreciation for this perfect male specimen.
"Are you Adonis himself?" If he were, Zania would have to prostrate herself.
"No, Zania. My name is Svend." His amused smile told her he enjoyed her surprise. "Who is Adonis?"
"Never mind." How could he not know the gods of the Pantheon?
The synthetic female voice interrupted her thoughts. "This is the mate We selected for you."
"Mate?" Zania realized only she could hear the voice as Svend didn’t react to the outrageous comment.
"You must join with him here, now, for the pleasure of our illustrious clients." The lack of emotion clashed with the loaded words. "In exchange, you will live another day."
"You don’t say." Mating was out of the question.
"Think before you decide. If you delight the crowd, you may be auctioned off to a prosperous patron, or even earn your freedom."
Freedom... That had been Zania’s battle cry. "This is blackmail!" As a soldier, she had no tolerance for such practices. She didn’t risk her life in combat to end up as an unwilling porn star. "I’m not mating with this..." She lacked the words. Viking prince? Golden god?
Svend smiled and walked to her with debonair confidence. "Shall we give them a good show? How long has it been since you were fully satisfied?" The deep voice caressed and enveloped her.
How long indeed! "Don’t touch me!" How dare this stranger think she’d go along with his parody of seduction. "I can only have sex with a man I love." The man she’d loved had cheated on her while she fought on the front. Of course, she’d had casual sex before, and sacred sex at the temple as well, but she wanted to make a point.
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