Arena Book 2, page 1
“This is Sparta!” I cried out right before I kicked the slobbering space ogre square in the chest, and he flew backward over the edge of the cliff into thin air. As he tumbled down into oblivion, and what I hoped would be a very painful death, I picked up the large, skull shaped key the monster had dropped, leapt the six foot chasm in the small ravine, and jogged over to my partner, the statuesque and dangerously beautiful Nova Kwark.
“We are not on Sparta,” Nova said as I sidled up to her. “This is a planet whose name no one other than its inhabitants can pronounce. Artemis went over that before we mat-trans’d in.” Then, before I could even think of a witty response, she gestured at the huge gate built into the side of the sheer mountain face in front of where we stood. It was made from a cool, shiny, black metal that oozed a clear slime in a sickly way that made me not want to touch it. “Intergalactic geography aside, did you get the key?”
“One ominous skull key at your service.” I held the key out to her, and she nodded. “So, have you solved the puzzle so we can open the damn thing?” I really hoped that she had, because after fighting a slew of space ogres I was firmly in space ogre slaying mode, not giant gate puzzle solving mode.
“It’s not really a puzzle,” Nova said with one of her patented eye rolls. “We get two keys, put them in the locks, and turn them at the same time.”
“Got it. Nuke codes. I watched this on an episode of GI-Joe, or James Bond, or maybe it was 24, I forget.” I winked at her.
“They,” she continued and gestured over at the two charred and still smoking corpses beside the gate, “did not turn the keys at the same time.”
“Okay, so timing is key then,” I said and gave her my best confident smile. Thankfully, the wind blew the sickly sweet smell of burnt flesh in the opposite direction.
“Haha,” she said. Yes. She actually said “haha.”
“Man, everyone’s a critic,” I muttered as I approached the gate and readied my key. Once Nova was ready I met her brilliant, glow-stick green eyes. “On three.”
“One… Two… Three!” I yelled, and we turned the keys. Instead of being turned into piles of black charcoal, which would have sucked tremendously, the gate let out a piercing, inhuman howl that very nearly blew out my eardrums.
“Oww!” I said with a wince. “Let’s never do that again.”
The howl faded, and the gate swung open. Instead of revealing the rest of the battlefield, as I had thoroughly been expecting, there was just a giant portal made of swirling green mist that smelled like chili cheese fries. I was disgusted and hungry all at the same time.
“Agreed,” Nova said as she glanced over her shoulder. I followed suit, but didn’t see anyone at all.
“Um, I’m gonna go with this is where we take a leap of faith and jump into the swirling chili cheese fry gateway of doom?” I asked as I turned my attention back to the portal.
“Yes.” She nodded. “That’s what worries me. I do not know what’s on the other side, Marc.”
“Well, it’s not a leap of faith when you know what the outcome is,” I said and took her hand. “With you at my side, Red, I ain’t worried one bit.”
With that, we leapt through the chili portal.
“And the team of Marc Havak and Nova Kwark are the fourth team to clear the killzone successfully!” the familiar feline voice of Chi-Cheshire purred throughout the arena as we materialized on the other side of the portal. “Some people say that Marc Havak of Earth is an unconventional champion who has survived by a mixture of bravado, coincidence, and sheer luck, and that his ultimate demise is only a matter of time. While that may be true, I have to admit, watching him in action is just plain fun!”
I glanced up at the cloud covered sky and sure enough there was Chi-Cheshire's feline visage thirty feet tall as it hung in the sky. Next to it was a large movie screen proportioned instant replay of me kicking the ogre over the edge of the cliff in a slow motion loop.
Another movie screen sized image appeared below that one, and I watched a second replay of me kicking a completely different space ogre in the nuts. I smiled a bit as that space ogre puked burnt orange covered vomit all over the head of one of his compatriots. The smile faded as I couldn’t help but be shocked by how disgusting these creatures really were.
The space ogres were all huge monstrosities with dull, brown skin that desperately needed the help of a dermatologist. Not some strip mall suburb dermatologist either. I mean a top of the line Beverly Hills miracle worker like that Dr. Pimplepop on Youtube. At the very least they needed some sort of skin care regimen. Although Proactive might not cut it since festering boils and puss filled pimples lined their faces which only added to their gruesome visages. The yellow curled tusks coming from their lower gums didn’t help their attractiveness either. No dentist in the universe, much less Beverly Hills, could do anything about those chompers.
I shivered in disgust before I returned my attention to the new battle challenges surrounding Nova and me. We were in what appeared to be a hollowed out inner courtyard the size of three football fields. A low slung stone wall ran in a semicircle from the side of the mountain face to surround the battlefield which was filled with angry, complexion challenged space ogres.
Nova and I had a split-second of peace because the ogres seemed to be focused on the only other champion I saw amid the chaos, which was pretty easy since the dude was at least two stories tall and looked like a bridge troll in some wacked out Grimm’s Fairy Tale.
What the ogres lacked in skin care hygiene they more than made up for in focus. Because of his size, just about every ogre in the place was laser focused and were flinging fireballs at him and not us. Did I forget to mention the fact that space ogre’s threw fireballs? Because yeah, evidently, space ogres throw fireballs.
“I sincerely hope that someone kills that champion before we have to,” Nova said as she gestured toward the troll while the fireballs washed over him in waves that made him giggle. Then he smashed large swaths of unhappy ogres into the ground with his tree trunk sized club.
“You know me,” I replied with a small smirk. “I’m always up for a challenge. Though, I’m inclined to keep him around since he’s occupying the ogres at the moment and making it easier on us. We could have a picnic while we wait for him to get done playing?”
“Perhaps.” She gestured at the arena and completely missed my sarcastic tone. “It is quite nice here.”
She was right. As I got a better look at the courtyard, except for the blood-stained grass and the awful stench in the air, the arena beyond the gate of inhuman howling was quite scenic. We stood at the base of a particularly tall peak within a range of purple and white mountains. Nearby, a large stream curved around a thicket of trees and snaked its way behind the battlefield.
“Only if you’ve brought tea.” I smiled as I adopted a British-sounding accent. “And scones. I do love a good, dense, scone. I have a weakness for anything dense, really.”
“Good to know, Havak,” Nova said as she shot me a rare mischievous grin. “Maybe I’ll have to put that fondness to the test when we get out of here.”
Nova was from a planet with more gravitational pull than Earth, so while she appeared to be a smoking hot five foot nine inch tall orange skinned beauty with the badass body of a fitness model or crossfit athlete, her molecules were about three times as dense as a human’s.
“It’s a date,” I said, “I’ll wear something dashing, and you can wear--” A roar from behind me drew my attention before I could finish, and I spun on my heel to find myself almost face to face with another fucking space ogre who was charging me at full speed.
“As many clothes as you have,” I yelled as I launched my battle axe at the ogre. It spun twice in the air and
I looked down at my empty hands and cursed under my breath when I realized I had just rendered myself weaponless. Grizz, my trainer, would have something to say about that, and I could almost hear the hologramed former champion, who looked almost exactly like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, screaming about how moronic I was for throwing away my only weapon.
“This whole ‘no guns’ rule can suck a big bag-o-dicks,” I huffed breathlessly as I jogged over to the felled ogre and tugged my weapon free from the putrid thing’s chest.
“While I don’t quite understand that idiom, I agree,” she replied as she swung her massive two handed longsword in a wide arc, and the blade sliced through a Shrek wannabe's belly. I glanced away as what I could only assume was the ogre’s large intestine snaked out of its severed belly and piled on the grass in front of it with a wet squish. “While this combat style is therapeutic, there is something much more satisfying about blowing our enemy’s brains out with a large bore phased plasma cannon.”
As Nova finished her sentence, she effortlessly took down another ogre by slicing off its arms at the elbows before it could wield one of its fireballs. While the creature fell back, Nova spun, twirled the massive sword over her head, and ran the mewling, handless ogre through the chest before it hit the ground. This match was set on a world that had Lord of the Rings level technology, and we’d materialized in with no weapons whatsoever. We could only use what weapons were available to scrounge, steal, or take which amounted to medieval-style shields, axes, and a variety of bladed weapons.
While no guns was no fun, on the plus side, we looked pretty fucking badass.
I was adorned in platemail that reminded me of something I’d once seen on the History Channel. The iron was a muted silver that had lost some of its shine from the dried space ogre blood I’d accumulated in combat, but it fit me surprisingly well. My legs were protected by thinner iron-like plates that both matched the coloring of the armor on my upper body and allowed for greater mobility than I’d have expected. The whole ensemble was rounded out by a pair of sweet, segmented vembrances with curved, razor sharp spikes that ran from my wrist to almost my elbow.
Nova, on the other hand, was dressed in a much different variant of armor that I had lovingly dubbed “T and A Armor.”
Nova's chest piece was made up of two parts, the top piece was a thin, but surprisingly strong, chain-mail mesh and the lower piece consisted of two half circles that cradled her magnificent breasts and pushed them up and out so that the mesh could barely contain them. And, that was about it.
The rest of her T and A Armor was pretty much just a chain mesh mini-skirt and a pair of knee high leather boots that demolished whatever will power I hadn't already spent gawking at her boobs and led me right from the curve of her amazing ass to her awesome legs.
Practical? Hell no. The armor didn't do much else but look really fucking sexy, but I, for one, was totally okay with that, and since she normally fought in little more than skintight jumpsuits, she didn't seem to mind the armor either. Plus, she had a three foot long, scalpel sharp longsword made out of some sort of alien metal that made titanium look like tissue paper.
“Come on,” I said as we ducked behind a large fallen stone. We needed to regroup and strategize about the best way to obtain the flag from the mountain top and win the challenge, but as soon as I opened my mouth to say something that witty, charming, and devil may care, a fireball smashed into the ground a few feet away. A wave of heat washed over me, and as I looked at the now slagged earth, I shivered. The flames didn’t just die on contact, but spread out to cover the surface of whatever they hit and continued to burn almost hotter than before. I did not want to get hit by one of those.
“Why does a race of people who look like they could crush me with nothing but their thighs know how to use fucking magic to summon napalm fire balls?” I groaned as another shower of dirt and burning grass rained down on our rock.
“It’s not really magic.” Nova alien-splained to me while she scanned the area for any other threats. “They have glands in their hands that secrete a thick mucus like substance with an enzyme that makes said mucus flammable when it comes in contact with air. Is there not a race of creatures on earth that can do that? It’s a fairly common ability throughout the universe.” She looked seriously surprised that Earth was not home to any fire-shooting beings.
“Uh, no. Not that I know of,” I responded after a moment, “but I did date this Puerto Rican girl for a few months, and she totally would have chucked flaming mucus balls at me if she could have.”
I peered out from behind the stone as I talked, but I didn’t see much of an alternative to brute-forcing our way through the endless supply of flaming snotball-shooting ogres that stood between us and the mountain bottom.
“Marc, we need to get moving,” Nova prompted.
“I know,” I replied with more than just a touch of trepidation in my voice. “What about the neverending mass of zit-faced assholes throwing fireballs who generally want to rip our heads off?
“It looks like we will have to just storm the gates. I see no other way to the flag other than that,” she responded as if I’d said our way was barred by a bunch of accountants.
“Again,” I started a bit peeved, “Fireball. Throwing. Assholes.”
“I know,” she said as she stared into my eyes.
“Sooooo, what are we going to do abou--”
“We are just going to plow right through them,” she replied without blinking.
“Ahh, okay,” I said and I finally got her. “So you’ve got a plan when we get out there then?”
“Yes,” she said as she tilted her head at me like a slightly confused puppy. “We are going to plow right through them.”
“I feel like I’m asking you who’s on first,” I chuckled despite the dire situation we were in.
“Who’s on first?” she asked as her eyes narrowed.
“Nevermind,” I giggled, probably because I was trying to keep my life from flashing in front of my eyes like the opening credits to The Wonder Years. “You’re the master of siege warfare, and I’m just the ruggedly handsome arm candy. If you say we’re just going to plow through them, then let’s do it. We have come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum and we are all out of bubblegum.”
“I do not care for bubblegum,” Nova said as she tightened her grip on her sword.
“I know,” I shot back as I grasped my shield. “You ready to kick some ass then?”
“Ready,” she said, and I felt a sudden wave of adrenaline wash over me.
With that, Nova and I rose to our feet side by side and made our way out from the relative safety of the large rock.
We’d been through a few battles together and as if on cue, like we were reading each other’s minds, we both let out war cries and charged toward the gates at the bottom of the mountain. I could practically hear the soundtrack music swell as we made our way into the fray with Nova running slightly ahead of me and to my right.
I saw a flash of movement to my left, so I planted my feet and raised my shield just in time to prevent my skull from being flattened.
The echo of metal striking metal rung out as a champion’s battle hammer slammed into my shield. I maneuvered to the side and lifted up my axe so I could clobber the bastard.
“Wha’ fuck?” I cried out when I saw what I was fighting.
The enemy champion before me was one of the strangest and ugliest fucking things I had ever seen. And considering how many strange and ugly things I had seen since being named Earth’s champion that was saying something. The champion resembled what I imagined a centaur would look like except instead of a horse bottom-half, he had a wolf-like bottom-half covered in mottled brown-green fur crawling with fleas. And instead of a hot chick or beefcake human looking part on top, this dude’s top half looked like big-foot after a bad nigh
“So, I have a question,” I said as I swung my axe at him. “When you guys have babies, where do they suckle from? Is it underneath or…?”
The bigfoot-wolf-centaur thing apparently had exactly zero chill because instead of replying, or taking my axe to the chest like a friend would, he bared his fangs, dodged out of the way, gripped his hammer, and then shoulder checked me to the side. Fortunately, I’d seen his attack coming as he shuffled his feet-hoove-paws, and I was able to keep my balance.
“Your impertinence knows no end, human.” He raised his weapon and pointed it at me. His voice was all growly and full of ominous baritone “But it will end here and now before the might of--”
A massive fireball slammed into him before he could finish, and he pitched sideways as blue-green flames engulfed his body and he screamed like a bitch. The dog kind. As he smashed into the rock and tumbled to the ground, I noticed he’d hit it so hard that he had actually left a dent in the stone.
“Wolf-foot McUgly Fire-Splat Face!” I finished the ugly fucker’s sentence with a satisfied chuckle.
“Marc! On your right!” I heard Nova shout over the other cries and shrieks around us, so I tore my gaze from the dying champion and spun to my right only to find myself face to face with a snarling ogre.
“Oh look, an ogre,” I grunted sarcastically and ducked the creature’s massive fist. “What a surprise.”
The ogres were huge and threatening, but their size and thick build forced them to move slowly. Before the green-brown beast could recover from the punch I had dodged, I drove my axe into his neck. Bones crunched and blood sputtered from the wound as his head came free and bounced across the battle-scarred earth like a tusked soccer ball.
Nova and her now gore covered long sword had cut a path to the gates that marked the entrance to the trail up the mountain, so I carefully followed while I stayed aware of the surrounding fights, the rain of fireballs, and screams of everyone around us.
She wielded the mighty blade with deft skill. Watching her slay swaths of space ogres, her toned body glistening with sweat, was strangely disturbingly arousing. I couldn’t focus on her sexy deadliness for long, though, as I blocked and parried blows from ogres to the left of me and ogres to the right. Somehow, we made it through the chaos, and she finished off an ogre as I met her in front of the gate.
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- Arena 5Sellsword- the Amoral HeroGod of Magic 6Arena 3Arena Book 3Skulduggery 2Evil Genius: Becoming the Apex SupervillainArena Book 6
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