Authors: C.G. Coppola
Tags: #romance scifi, #scifi action adventure, #war action adventure, #war between planets, #fantasy 2016, #arizal wars
C. G. Coppola
* * * *
C. G. Coppola on Smashwords
Crusade Across Worlds
Copyright © 2016 by C. G. Coppola
Cover images courtesy of marusja, tolokonov, and
Cover by Joleene Naylor
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to
persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely
coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s
imagination and used fictitiously.
“All my writing is God Given.” – Ray Bradbury
I am blessed to have such an amazing support team of
family and friends, all doubtless that I will succeed in this
dream, but I can’t take the credit. I put in the time and energy
because it’s what I love to do, and it’s a gift that I’m even able
to do it. I could’ve been born with anything else, but I was given
words. And they are only a percentage mine. Everything I do,
everything I have is because He gave it to me. And that should be
one of the strongest women I know..
Other Books in the
Escape from Harrizel
, Book 1
Plague of Mybyncia
, Book 2
Discovery at Nerwolix
, Book 3
Crusade across Worlds
I can smell them.
Horrops have that odor—dirt mixed with
something sour and stale. Like too much raw meat. Or death.
I don’t remember them smelling this bad. On
Nerwolix, I’d been mostly concerned with their size and the
sharpness of their fangs, but without that distraction, all I can
concentrate on is their odor. Rotten, like trash. I tighten my
blindfold, itching to wipe the sweat from my face. The Horrops’
stench drifts closer and I inhale.
There are five of them.
Like the other times.
Two are in front. Three round behind me,
creating a perimeter maybe ten feet out. I inhale again, breathing
in the other clues. They’re hungry. Famished. As if they haven’t
eaten in days. This is a rouse, of course—something the Lost
Princesses have made them believe. It amps up the aggression, their
need to win. I sniff, drawing their scent further into me. There’s
something else there…
I sniff again. Fury that I’ve
taken their young. The Lost Princesses used both this time.
They must be getting desperate.
I’ve been on Arosin eleven weeks. They
probably expect me to be able to do this by now, but how can you
learn to fight five Horrops at once? Tucker barely managed one. And
he could see what he was doing. I’m blindfolded, alone, and on a
foreign planet laden in red rock and dry desert heat, so very
different from the nectar-scented forest I left behind. Everything
is different here. More intense. More extreme. I had no idea what
to expect when I arrived. But it wasn’t this.
Concentrate. You’ve done this ten times. You
know what’s coming.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Listen. Listen to
it all. Listen to their feet pounding and for their labored
breathing as they get closer. Inhale their musk. Trust it. Use it
as a map.
You’re ready. You’ve
This is just like every other time. Once you finish this, you can
go home early. You can go back to Nerwolix today.
Breathe, Fallon. Just breathe. Feel all five
of them. Feel their rage and hunger. Feel it pulsating through
their bodies, commanding them forward and forcing them to answer
the call. They want to kill you. They want to destroy you. Take
their energy inside of you and use it. Use it against them.
I solidify my position. My legs are slightly
parted and I hold my arms out in front of me, protecting my core.
In my right hand is the whip I was given the day I got here. It’s
my only aide of defense. And it’s optional. If I really wanted, I
could battle all five Horrops with just my hands and the combat
knowledge I’ve been given. But that seems suicidal. And although
I’ve been assured time and again, I know the Horrops won’t actually
kill me. The Lost Princesses will intervene before that happens,
but any bruises, cuts or broken bones are real. Very real. And
since it took me over five hours to heal from my last broken bone,
I’d rather not do without the whip.
The closest one is right behind me.
Fury pounds in its blood, starvation joining
its need to crush and consume me. I jet to the side and send the
sharp length flying. It catches one of the fangs and wraps around
with a jolting slap. I know because the sharp sting of pain
vibrates through me. It lights my body and for a moment, I forget
my training. I can’t react to their pain. My enemy will always have
some when we fight, but I can’t react to it. I can only use it. Let
it fuel me and feed me. A true warrior can do this. Dismiss the
distraction and focus on the battle. But I’m not there yet. I keep
trying to be, but the pain always takes me unexpectedly. Maybe
that’s why I’m kept blindfolded. To get me used to the feeling so I
can deal with it.
I rush the oncoming Horrop.
I know its precise location because I hear
the pincers crushing into the ground. They send rock fragments
crumbling to the side and jumping off from them, I race up the
creature’s body. It’s prickly and jellied but I’m moving too fast
to feel it. I just need it for leverage, which I get as I swing
myself onto its back. I stumble at first but then focus on my
stance. On my balance. If you don’t have good footing, then you’re
done from the start. Positioning my feet, I grip the prickly hide
and steady my body. Feel it. Utilize its strength.
You are in command
The other four Horrops are confused. They’re
not sure how to get to me, so they start attacking the creature
beneath my feet. Ramming into it, they slice through the hard body
with their fangs, impaling it over and over. The Horrop screeches
an unholy, merciful tune. It’s been blinded in more than half its
eyes and its body is giving out. Pain ripples through me, begging
me to succumb to numbness but I focus on keeping my stance and
reiterating my mantra.
You are in command
I feel it die beneath me. Immense agony and
then… nothing. An empty shell. It collapses but just before the
thing slumps over, I spring onto the next creature, stumbling
again. Gathering my balance, I yank back on the whip and send it
flying ahead with a loud crack. I feel it slice through two other
Horrops. The pain comes but I focus on the whip, on slashing and
gutting and causing more injuries so all this suffering will end
and they can die like the first one. Then this battling test will
be over and I can return home. That’s all I’m focusing on. Home.
Just get home.
But my arm is tiring and my own body is
screaming for release.
There is where I mess up.
The three attacking Horrops are still highly
energized. They’re blind at this point, but still willing to fight.
The creature beneath my feet is nearly dead, or will be soon from
the other three impaling it, trying to get to me. Another few jabs
and it collapses to the ground. I’m able to swing onto the third
Horrop which is under attack from the final two. I do the same
thing. Crack the whip. Crack it again. And again and again as I
slice into the Horrops, blinding them, cutting them down. But my
arm is growing tired. So tired. I manage well enough with my left,
but it’s my right arm that does wonders, so I need to keep at it. I
need to kill these last three.
Kill these last three and you can go home
today. You can see everyone.
You can see Reid.
I slash and slash but my arm is burning and
my body is glowing in pain from the stabbings and slicing.
It hurts! It hurts!
I hit the ground.
All air rushes out in one hard gasp. I’m
rolling over the cracked surface, its rough abrasions peeling skin
from my face, arms and legs. I try slowing myself to a stop but the
pain is taking over. It’s all I feel.
Make yourself stop, Fallon.
A gust of wind whirls under my feet and I
spin myself off the ground, landing on my toes. I’m in my original
stance, legs slightly apart and arms locked in front of my chest,
protecting my core. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Need to gain
focus. Need to gain control. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
Focus on your body. Focus on your
Deep breath In. Deep breath out.
Sense your enemies. Know their weaknesses.
Know their desires. Stop them before they can succeed.
The final two Horrops charge me.
This is where I always fail. Here. Right
here. I’m just too tired. Too exhausted. This is when I need to
call a break or timeout. But there is no pause. There is no break.
I have to finish this… or they will. Focusing on holding my posture
steady, I wait until the Horrops get in whipping distance and then
let them have it. Left! Right! Left! Right! Slash after slash after
slash. Oh God, the pain they’re feeling. I can feel it coursing
through me. But they’re not quitting. Their determination glows as
fierce as their starvation and fury. Left! Right! Left! Right!
They’re not slowing. They’re racing faster. Faster. My arm is about
to tear itself off. Just hold on a little longer! Left! Right!
I stumble backwards and land on my butt
hard. Another bolt of pain jolts through me and the Horrops are
here. They never stopped. They’re still going and I can’t catch my
Just breathe, Fallon. Breathe
. They’re right in
front of me, on top of me. It’s too late. Just as a scream tickles
my throat, the closest Horrop clamps down on my foot with its army
of red legs. It lifts its fang and then nothing.
Everything is quiet.
Everything is numb.
My body still aches, but it’s my pain.
Nothing else’s pain. There is nothing here but me.
Next time you must believe
, a voice
rings in my head.
Believe you can survive and you will
Getting to my feet, I fiddle with the knot
at the back of my head. It’ll feel good to see again, to not be in
constant combat mode. Pulling the fabric down, I instantly bring a
hand to shield my eyes. The bright yellow sky blinds me every time.
I should remember by now that I need a moment to adjust.
Why do you believe you cannot conquer all
I send a mental reply, trailing
the blindfold all over my face. I dampen it around my ears and
lips, and then bring it up to wipe over my forehead.
I got three
of them. That’s over half
You must conquer all five Horrops.