Chronicles of the Uprising
Peace is an illusion. Blood, violence, and death follow Mira like shadows.
Battle lines have been drawn between human and Otherkin, and a bloody war is on the horizon: one that will end in either a shift in the world’s balance of power...or ultimate destruction.
In spite of their strength, powers, and a rage known only by the oppressed, the Otherkin are evenly matched by the superior numbers of the human army. To tip the balance in their favor, the Otherkin need more soldiers – and their only options are the Gladiators of New Haven city.
Mira is sent across enemy lines to recruit any able-bodied vampires to her cause. But what she discovers along the way will blur the lines between friends and enemies. Seeds of doubt weaken Mira’s allegiance, and she finds herself torn between the old masters who used her as entertainment and the new ones who consider her as nothing more than a weapon.
As the war draws near, Mira will have to decide what she is truly fighting for.
Copyright © 2014 by Katie Salidas
Silvery moonlight bled through the sheer curtains above Mira’s head. Cradled in the warmth of the pillowy mattress, Mira could have stayed in bed for all eternity. She could hardly remember a time when she’d been so comfortable. Thirty years in a dirty cell had made her forget the simple comforts of a warm bed and soft clothes. The breeze drifted in, picking up the curtains and sending them lazily dancing. She reached up, letting them tickle her fingertips, and noticed something she’d ever seen before. Well, at least something she hadn’t seen in a very long time. Her hands were clean. Truly clean… and soft. No caked-on blood and grime, or gunk embedded into her nail beds. They even smelled of lemongrass and sandalwood, and were smoother than she’d ever known, thanks to the oils and lotions Stryker had provided her. This was how things were supposed to be. Life was not supposed to be dirty and ugly. Life was meant to be lived, and small comforts like this enjoyed, not ended by the swift stroke of her sword at the order of her masters. Though she missed the comfortable weight of her weapon, she’d gladly give it up if it meant never having to fight again.
She sighed contentedly and let the squishy mattress hug every inch of her body. This was heaven.
If she could somehow stop time, make the moment last forever, she would. Not being a very devout vampire, Mira still silently prayed – begged really – to the gods for more of this blissful peace. Hope kept the dream alive, but Mira knew the truth. This was only a brief peaceful interlude, one she so desperately needed, but it would be short-lived.
Mira was a warrior. Fighting was her life, try as she might to deny it, and the looming dread of what was to come weighed heavily on her heart.
She should have been up and moving, sunset having long since passed, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the window. So many evenings lost. So many missed opportunities to take in the breathtaking majesty of the starlit sky. Thirty years of imprisonment deep underground had robbed her of everything she’d once taken for granted, and now that she was finally able to see and appreciate the twinkling stars, Mira wasn’t wasting one second of it.
In less than forty-eight hours, she’d be back on the road to almost certain death.
She pulled a soft knit blanket up to her shoulders to ward off the slight chill in the air.
Everything comes with a price. Caldera Grove. Beautiful, mystical, and earthy, it promised that longed-for freedom to Mira, and a life free of prejudice. But that did not extend to the humans who’d accompanied her. Lucian, Sarah, and Curtis’s fate depended on Mira. She’d already paid dearly in the struggle for her own freedom, but it had not been enough to ensure her friends’ safety. The price promised to cost her more than she would be able to pay… a trip back to New Haven, behind the Iron Gate.
Hardened warrior as she was, thinking of returning to that dreadful place made her cringe. Silver-coated bars. UV torches. The lightbox. Thirty years spent trying to escape from within those walls. Enduring unbearable tortures and being forced to kill for the entertainment of her masters.
Anger turned to bile in the back of her throat, threatening to sour the peaceful moment she’d been enjoying.
It was best not to think of such things. Live in the moment. Enjoy the comfort. Savor the delectably squishy mattress at her back, and the chilly breeze blowing in. These luxuries deserved to be cherished.
“Mira, are you up?” Lucian’s voice, muffled slightly, penetrated the thick wooden door of the room she was using for sleep. “We’re scheduled to meet with the Council.”
The root of her latest set of problems. The Otherkin Council. Mira grumbled, “Bunch of pompous asses. Self-absorbed and out of touch...” Other choice descriptions came to mind, but name-calling wasn’t going to change the fact that she owed them a debt that had to be paid. And she had to at least make the effort to play nicely until she left the walls of Caldera Grove. She was just as much on their good side as they were hers. But, it was by their good graces she and the humans had been allowed within the boundaries of Caldera Grove, and she had to cooperate, much as it annoyed her to do so.
Lucian must not have heard her grumbling. He knocked on the door and waited a moment before saying, “Mira? Can I come in?”
She wanted to say no. His very presence reminded her of the duty she must perform, and all she wanted to do at that moment was forget her troubles. Heaving a heavy sigh, Mira reluctantly tossed aside her blanket and stood. “Yeah, get in here!”
Lucian pushed the door open but did not step inside. “Making yourself at home, I see.” His mossy eyes spoke more than words about his discomfort and deep-rooted anger.
“Shouldn’t I be as comfortable as possible while I can?” Damn his silent judgment of her. She deserved a little rest and recuperation after all she’d been through. “It’s not often I get to enjoy such luxury.”
She could see the words forming, but Lucian did not speak them. Nothing about this place was luxurious to him, nor was he happy with their situation.
“Have you been mistreated?” she asked, wondering if she’d missed something beyond their hosts’ prejudice.
“Quite the contrary.” Lucian folded his arms and leaned against the doorframe. His posture might have looked relaxed, but she saw past the ruse to the Elite within him, rising to the surface. The pampered prince throwing a temper tantrum, but desperately trying to hide it. “Stryker’s pack has been quite congenial. But we’re quarantined here. Only allowed to leave with your escort. I’d have loved to explore the city.”
“You will in time.” Mira tried to hold back the smirk. Thirty years she’d been imprisoned in a tiny cell, and he was daring to complain to her about having to stay inside the wolf-pack’s large den all day? In some ways, though she dare not admit it out loud, she felt a little vindication seeing Lucian’s discomfort. After all, he had enjoyed his Elite status and all that entailed while she’d spent all those years as a gladiator.
“Yes, of course. I’ll be able to explore after the suicide mission.” Sarcasm made him sound petulant, but she decided best not to call him out on it yet. “Assuming, that is, I make it back in one piece. Speaking of that, we should head to our meeting about our impending death. The Council is waiting.”
“Don’t sound so positive, Lucian. People will think we’ve swapped bodies.”
His eyes narrowed slightly, forming tiny creases at the corners. “Are you not bothered by the fact we are going to die?”
Mira shook her head. Death threats had been her way of life for so long they’d become white noise. Of course she was not ready to die, but there was no point in acknowledging those fears. “Everyone dies eventually. Enjoy the ride and make the trip worthwhile.”
Katie Salidas, author of the Immortalis series (Urban Fantasy), Consummate Therapy series (Erotica), and the recently released Chronicles of the Uprising (Dystopian) is a Jill of all Trades. She’s a Super Woman endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of other mortals. Katie can get the munchkins off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons; put hot food on the table, assist with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, she still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.
And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…
Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother to three, Wife to one, and slave to the craft of writing, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.
Places To Find Katie-