Exclusive Excerpt from Talos
by A.G. Carothers
Bayne sat on the surprisingly comfortable padded wooden bench in one of the holding rooms below the Colosseum. His two days in the Colosseum were nothing like he had been prepared for. The city wasn’t like he had been told either. He hadn’t seen much of the human slums when they were smuggled in by fellow THRUST members who lived in the city, so he couldn’t attest to the validity of how run down and filthy he was told they were.
The first sight of the Colosseum had taken his breath. It was larger than he had imagined and shone brightly against the modern buildings around it. Bayne had had to crane his neck back to take in the whole structure. Stone statues decorated arches in the upper levels. Bayne had touched an outside column unbelieving that such a structure could exist amongst the steel and glass world around it.
When he’d entered the Colosseum with the other humans who sought out a chance to be transformed into a monster, he expected to be thrown into a cell and wait until they threw them all in the pit for the vamps’ entertainment. Nothing like that happened. They had been screened one by one, and Bayne thought his mission would end there if they discovered what laid in wait in his blood, but they passed him through.
He was then measured and outfitted in leather and iron armor. It wasn’t scale armor or anything fancy like a Roman soldier would wear but he wasn’t half-naked either. He had been told the king—even thinking of him with that title filled Bayne with disgust—was very particular about the authenticity shown in his games. The armor was high quality. He didn’t want to think about the amount of money wasted in just armor and weapons for this place. The armor he wore wasn’t new, but it was in excellent shape. They only had to make some minor adjustments to fit it to his muscular body. Next, he’d chosen his weapons. He’d been trained in several kinds of melee weapons over the years just for this mission.
Bayne went with the classic gladius and round shield. If needed, he could pick up others on the field. After he’d been given his armor and weapons, they showed him to a barracks building next to the Colosseum. He had been surprised it wasn’t under it, but it seemed they didn’t want their prospective new vampires to be shunned from the sun just yet. Like all the buildings in the city he had seen so far, except the Colosseum, it had numerous large windows.
All the cities were built like this, the windows served two main purposes besides looking out of. The first was to protect against UV rays, which the bloodsuckers were vulnerable to, and the second more important reason was to collect energy. After The Fall, a mass infrastructure change took place and over a decade, cities were transformed, small towns were destroyed, and the bulk of humanity was forced to live like cattle awaiting slaughter. Or so he was taught.
What little Bayne had seen of the human slums didn’t look very destitute. So far, he had been treated with respect and, dare he even say—courtesy. He wasn’t pampered by any means, but he had imagined far worse. They had fed them more than one meal and the foods were unlike anything he’d ever had. He was careful not to eat too much of the rich unfamiliar foods. A few had gotten sick the night before from overindulging. Maybe it was the vamp’s way of giving them all a last meal since most would not survive the games.