Excerpt: The Turquoise Bones

Here is an excerpt from my current work in progress, “The Turquoise Bones.”

“In preparation, we give Cor Hydrae a taste of her enemy’s blood.”

Turquoise lost her balance for just a second as the bronze sword flashed through her belly skin, making a shallow cut. Before she righted herself, she noticed the pulsar had slithered into the ring. It was tiny by comparison to Sagittarius, but its black body stretched past many poles. This creature was bigger than the one she’d fought before.

Now that her blood was falling, it became eager, slithering forward with all its might. Yet for all that it moved clumsily, as if it were wounded or–no, it couldn’t be. Cor Hydrae was pregnant.

If she killed this beast, its children would eat their way out and attack within seconds. A dozen or more of the animals, small, fast serpents would emerge, eager to destroy every living thing in range of their teeth–including each other. Only the strongest few in any given pulsar litter would survive.

Tycho jabbed her again, and she stumbled. Blood ran down her leg and dripped to the rock platform, making it slick beneath her feet. Perhaps it was not their intent to let her fight again, to have a chance to kill the pregnant Cor Hydrae.

Another pulsar shirt stepped onto the platform with a thistlevine rope. He roughly grabbed Turquoise and threaded the rope across her back and beneath her arms, making a wide loop. She watched as he tied a knot with quick practiced movements. When he was finished, he knelt and adjusted the rope that hobbled her legs, then stood and roughly shoved her backwards from the edge.

Turquoise had resolved to be brave, to show no fear and to avoid crying out. Yet in that moment, when the small rock platform that separated her from the animal was taken away, her resolve slipped. Her arms tightened to her sides, clinging to the rope. Her mouth opened to scream, but she caught sight of Sol, and the sound died in her throat.

Sol watched her, silent, angry, the hunter waiting for his moment. Suddenly she knew he had a plan. It was the inspiration she needed, and after she fell the short distance the rope allowed, she looked up and bared her clenched teeth. It was the fiercest expression she could think of, and Tycho watched her quietly.

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