The Last Gladiator
A novella of the Steam Empire Chronicles
Daniel Ottalini's next novella another great addition to the Steampunk & Roman Alternate history series of the Steam Empire Chronicles.
A young woman appears in Rome in the last glory days of the Coliseum. Seeking a place for herself among the remnants of the once-great gladiator training schools - the ludi - she encounters dangers at every turn. Industrial technology has pushed them aside, and the new mechagladiators are more fearsome and dangerous than any human gladiator could ever be.
Discover a new side to to the industrial Roman Empire in the Last Gladiator, a novella in the Steam Empire Chronicles by award-winning author Daniel Ottalini.
She waited, kneeling behind the cutout, the end of the shattered spear in the hard packed dirt. Reaching out her senses, she calmed her pounding heart and felt the earth. Nothing. No vibration of running feet or the clatter of horse hooves.
A moment, two, then suddenly the familiar rush of feet on the dirt surface. A spatha burst through the wall of her wooden hideout, splintering the weak wood and forcing her back. She rolled, avoiding the collapsing pieces of wood, scooping up dirt with her dagger hand. She threw it behind her, hoping to delay her attacker long enough to gain an advantage.
It worked. Her attacker was a secutores, his shield useless against the flung dirt and sand. He (for Lucia could definitely tell it was a he) stumbled back for a second, before roaring his defiance behind the steel mask and small vision slits. She charged in, knowing that she did not stand a chance in a long term battle with him. His leather armor and steel greaves would protect him from most of her attacks, and his shield and spatha had equal reach to her shattered spear, much less her pugio.
Breathing deep, and fighting down the desire to cough, she charged in, shouldering into her opponent and knocking his shield aside with her right arm. With her left hand she stabbed the pugio into the meaty part of her opponent’s forearm. In a real conflict, it would have sliced tendons and arteries, leading quickly to death if not attended to by the medicae. However, in this case, it simply numbed the arm with a small jolt of electricity, and the man howled.
He swung with his spatha, but she was too close. His arm buffeted her left side, and she lost her breath as it was forced from her lungs. Milliseconds separated her from defeat now as she moved with the blow, rolling to her right side. She slid her spear down and shoved it sideways, sweeping it under his left leg.
He had anticipated that move, lifting his leg and foot to crush her spear beneath his steel toothed boot. She reversed the blow and slammed it upwards instead, right into his crotch.