This post first appeared on Pauline B. Jones’s blog…
The opening for LANDON is quite dystopian, with heroine Mandy trapped as a prisoner in an alien scientist’s lab, along with many other humans, and it seems plague is raging amongst the alien captors. I always try to make each Badari book different, so I thought it would make for an interesting beginning to have Mandy in this situation and what she’d do to escape. I’ve been building the spread of this epidemic among the Khagrish (my bad guys) since the fourth book, DARIK. I think it’s safe to say the enemy will continue to have trouble with the disease, which they themselves might have created (you’ll have to read DARIK to learn more on that subject).
And then of course she rescues Landon, who’s also trapped in the nightmarish situation.
One of the key points in this series is that the Badari and certain humans are fated mates and to be part of a pair is the happiest state for a Badari to achieve. So I asked myself what would happen if there was a situation where something in the heroine’s past prevented her from agreeing to the mate bond?
And then, pulling on the threads of what Mandy suffered in the lab from the Khagrish scientist, there are other factors involved in the smooth progression of the relationship between Landon and the woman he loves.
A lot of this book deals with themes of the past, both her personal past and the overarching Badari past. Since they were genetically engineered by the Khagrish to be super soldiers, technically they only have about 800 years of history as a group, but a portion of the DNA the aliens used carried with it a gift of a powerful ancestral memory. I wrote some emotional scenes for Landon as he goes deep into the past…
I really enjoy layering in elements like this, even if they don’t play a huge part in moving this particular novel forward, because they serve the overall series and make the worldbuilding richer and deeper.
There’s also a wedding…
And a huge wildfire. A word about that. Being a Southern Californian, I’ve had my own brushfire experiences and it’s terrifying, even to the limited extent I’ve seen personally. I also had been watching the Netflix documentary “Fire in Paradise” about the terrible fire up north of me in Paradise, California, where some of my own worst fears actually happened, as far as people not being able to escape. So while I was writing this book, there was a logical place to have such a fire occur and I wrote it, because the subject was on my mind.
The terrible and sad Australian fires began happening after I’d already written that portion of LANDON and I want to send my condolences and best wishes to everyone affected on that continent. Tragic, the loss of life, wildlife, domestic animals, homes….and very scary.
Getting back to the book, several reader favorites (and characters I love too) make an appearance, from Sandara the chef (who has quite a passionate following I’ve learned) to Yonn the alpha-born.
Before I move on to the blurb and the excerpt, let me just say I’m currently working on a Badari novella for Jill and Aydarr, which I plan to follow with full length books IVOKK and then TRATUS. (I may write something in one of my other series in between – it’s always up to the Muse!). I think, although I’m not a planner/plotter in any deep sense, that after TRATUS I’ll do the story of what’s going on with REEDE out in the Sectors, trying to bring help home. And then I have a number of other Badari stories I might tell. I do have the plot for the final novel in the series roughly in my head but I’m in no rush to get there. I’m very much enjoying writing about the Badari Warriors and as long as the readers agree, I’ll keep going.
Of course, there are occasions where I wake up with a book in my head and HAVE to write it, so all plans subject to change. That’s the joy of being self-published.
The excerpt, from the start of the novel:
No guards had come to check on the prisoners in three days.
Seven days ago, the situation had been normal, as far as anything was normal for a human captive inside a Khagrish lab.
Six days ago one guard had been coughing but the three daily meals of mush and moldy bread showed up on time and two humans were taken away in the mid-afternoon for an experiment. The prisoners never returned.
Five days ago only two guards made the rounds instead of three and one of those Khagrish had been pale and coughing. Three meals were delivered, one late.
Four days ago there was only the morning meal provided, brought by one guard and the robos. There was no bread.
Two days ago the water stopped running in the cell’s sinks and bathroom.
Today people were dehydrated, desperate and terrified of dying.
All the scraps of food were long gone.
Mandy Rennegar staggered to the front of the cell to take her shift as a watcher, ready to scream for help if anyone showed up. The humans had been yelling and pleading for help through the force barrier for days with no response.
Could all the Khagrish have died? Could the guards, technicians and scientists have just decided to walk away from the whole place, leaving their human captives?
The aliens were certainly despicable enough to commit such an act but the fact the guards had been ill argued for the first scenario.
Either way, we’re doomed.
Numb inside, with increasingly confused thoughts, Mandy shuffled perilously close to the barrier, craning her neck and trying to see the end of the corridor, where Peter on the night shift swore he’d seen a body but she couldn’t see anything. Maybe he was having hallucinations. No one was exactly in their right mind here in the cell—captivity in the Khagrish lab system seriously messed with a person’s reality. Dizzy, she slid down the wall and sat. She was supposed to be yelling but she doubted anything would make a difference. Her throat was parched anyway.
They were all going to die, a miserable, painful death.
Yesterday the prisoners tried to either short circuit the force barrier or draw the Khagrish to respond, hurling chairs and pieces of the beds at the glittering energy field, but to no effect. Her fellow prisoners had also tried to pry the grate off the ventilation shaft and gotten severely shocked. One woman died of her burns and was lying covered on the floor in the back corner. Mandy thought the deceased would have company before the day ended.
She could count the days because the lights went on and off as normal, signaling the day and the night, which she guessed meant the automated systems still functioned. Too bad the Khagrish hadn’t cared to automate any failsafes for their prisoners’ survival in case of disaster.
She wanted to live as much as anyone but she was out of ideas for what else to try.
A scraping sound echoed down the corridor. Mandy shook her head. Great now I’m having hallucinations.
The sound came again and she heard a protracted cough. She pulled herself to her knees, trying to see more of the hall. “Please, is anyone there? Can you let us out? We’re dying in here!”
More coughing, which sounded as if the person was hacking up their lungs.
“Lords of Space, there’s someone out there,” she whispered. Mandy glanced into the rear of the cell, where her fellow humans were lying in their cots or sitting at the table and decided not to arouse hopes which might be false. Please, please, please let this be real. Raising her voice, she yelled again. “Hello? Who’s out there? Will you help us?”
A Khagrish lab tech staggered into view, literally holding herself up by clutching at the wall. Her green coat was stained and she was barefoot. Her pink hair was lank and hanging to her shoulders, framing a shockingly pale face where her eyes burned like coals, sunken into her head. Mandy held her breath. This woman had been in the lab when she was taken for bizarre surgical tests, done without anesthesia and then reversed after the scientists made their notes and Mandy screamed and screamed.
Surely this Khagrishi wouldn’t use her dying breath to help the humans. Was she here to taunt them? Or worse?
Mandy screwed her eyes shut against the nightmare visions of her time in the medlab and hugged herself hard trying to quell the shakes.
The scuffling sounds of the Khagrishi’s faltering steps came closer, audible over the faint buzz of the force barrier. There was a thump and Mandy’s eyes flew open, to see the tech crumpled on the floor outside the cell. “Oh, no, no, no!” Her voice rose with each syllable and she reached out instinctively to the fallen tech. “You have to help us.” She wanted to cry but her eyes were too dry.
The blurb: When unexpected circumstances give her a chance to escape from an alien scientist’s lab after she’s been tortured, Mandy Rennegar knew she should run for the hills with the other prisoners. There’s one more special captive who hasn’t been freed, however, and she decides to risk everything to help him. Mandy’s not leaving anyone behind.
Captured by the enemy on a scouting trip, Landon of the Badari has been pushed beyond his limits of sanity and strength by the Khagrish experiments and waits to die…until the human woman sets him free and takes him into the wilderness with her on a desperate trek to freedom. If he could only regain his memory, he’s sure there’s a sanctuary on the planet where his people could help them both.
As Mandy and Landon flee the pursuing Khagrish new challenges arise, including secrets from the past which could destroy the growing attraction between them. Difficult choices have to be made, putting Mandy’s life at risk and Landon discovers the Khagrish have left a lasting mark on his mind.
Will they reach the Badari sanctuary in time? Can their love survive Mandy’s revelations? Will the Alpha of the Badari give them a chance to be together or will he allow her to die when Landon risks everything to save his fated mate?
A word about the series: These books can be read as standalones, although there would be mild spoilers for earlier books in the award winning series. There is also a box set of the first three books, if you want to try the series that way!
BADARI WARRIORS (SECTORS NEW ALLIES SERIES) Timeline:
TIMTUR (IN THE STARS ROMANCE label, not numbered)
BADARI WARRIOR’S BABY: MEGAN AND MATEER
Books 1 through 3 are available in a box set…
There’s no new material included, other than a brief recap of why I wrote each book (which appeared in previous blog posts) But I thought it was time to put the books together!