Saffron's Space

Steel Gods of the Arena

February 2, 2014 | 2 Comments

SurvivorA little while ago I introduced my new character Nova. She’s a butt-kicking, future-living, bounty hunter… and she’s back.


Please enjoy the following short story and let me know what you think. If you like what you see you can sign up to become a Bounty Hunter (left of the screen) and receive Nova’s first book for free.


Steel Gods of the Arena

By Saffron Bryant

Nova licked the sweat from her top lip and flicked a wayward strand of blonde hair from her eyes. She stared across the dusty arena at the metal monstrosity waiting to crush her. It was just her and her opponent. The cheering crowd, stomping feet and flashing neon signs faded into oblivion as she and her metal casing became one. She couldn’t even feel the tight straps which held her into her steel carriage.

Nova stepped forward and the metallic leg of her mech suit moved forward with her. The other foot followed and so on until she was running full-tilt across the ring. Her footsteps lifted more dust from the dirt-packed arena.

The man in the mech suit opposite her grinned; his entire arm was encased in steel, complete with a clenched fist. He crouched as Nova ran forward and when she was within reach, he punched upwards.

His suit was painted with red designs. The triangles and lines blurred with the motion of his swinging arm.

Nova ducked but she wasn’t fast enough. The merciless blow connected with the side of her helmet and the clashing metal sent her flying to one side.

She curled into a ball to protect her body from the landing. The metal suit took the impact and she leapt back to her feet as fast as the animatronic system would allow.

The man was already on her. His fists rained down in a flurry.

Nova sidestepped and whirled. She spun one leg around and it connected with the man’s steel stomach. The force made him stumble and he lost momentum.

She took the chance and slammed her metal fist into the back of the man’s head. He collapsed to the ground.

Nova stepped forward, victory assured. She raised her foot over her opponent’s head. She would end this thing with a satisfying spray of blood. The bell sounded.

“End round,” said a booming voice.

“Grishnak!” Nova cursed and stomped back to her corner.

The man on the ground struggled to his armoured feet and glared at her before moving to his own corner.

Nova’s robot, Cal, hovered up until he was level with her head.

“How do you feel?” Cal asked.

A panel opened in Cal’s spherical body and a whirring mechanical arm extended out holding a jug of water. He had been with Nova for a long time, a Class 4 Labourbot. He was outdated but Nova refused to upgrade. Cal was sturdy and dependent, unlike the new models which were sure to break after one year and needed a hundred different special attachments, each sold separately.

“Good,” Nova puffed.

“Confident?” Cal asked.

“Yep. Plus, we need the fuel to get off this trash pile.”

Cal opened another panel and a thin arm extended holding a white towel, or at least it had probably been white at some point, now it was a stained brown colour.

“Thanks,” Nova said.

She used one of her large mechanical fingers to press the green button next to her neck and the helmet of her mech suit retracted. She dabbed at her face and neck with the towel. Her sweat evaporated leaving cool traces on her cheeks. It was hot in the battledrome. They were fifty meters underground. Fighting underground was the only way to make a living in mech fighting—unless you wanted to hand over all of your winnings in taxes.

There was always a crowd in the battledrome. It attracted gamblers, drinkers and others who just needed to burn some frustration. The pits were a place for spilling blood. The mech fights resembled the old dog-fights but were far more brutal. A fight without a broken bone was considered poor form.

‘The pits’ was an accurate name for the mech fighting arena. They were set low into the ground with the stadium rising up on all sides. The fighters were locked inside for round after round until a winner emerged. There were no rules and no mercy.

“How’s the other business going?” Nova asked.

“We’ve got a couple of potential jobs. Got their details, you can look them over when we’re finished here.”


Nova’s ‘real’ job was as a deep space bounty hunter. If someone wanted something—or more often, someone—Nova would get it for them, but business had been slow and so here she was back in the pits.

The bell rang again.

“Get ready for round two,” the booming voice said over the loud speaker. “In the red corner we have the local favourite, Bust ‘em up Bob!”

The crowd cheered at the name and coins rained down from the stadium.

Bob stood and held his hands up to the crowd. He had apparently forgotten that his face had nearly been ground into the dirt by Nova’s boot only minutes before.

“And in the blue corner, all the way from Nowhere we have One-hit Wanda!”

Rule one of fighting in the mech pits, never use your real name. The crowd erupted into boos and hisses. Nova casually saluted them with one finger.

“Take your positions,” the booming voice said.

Nova lifted herself and her mech suit off the bench and stepped several paces into the ring. She slammed her fist into the button at her neck and her helmet slid back into position. Bob stepped forward to meet her.

“You’re not bad for a girl.” Bob sneered at her.

Nova ignored him. A scantily clad woman was let into the cage through one of the gates and began to strut around the edge holding a large card with the number two written on it.

Nova kept one eye on the girl and another on Bob. The rule was simple, as soon as the wire gate closed behind the girl, the round began.

“You know you’d do better as one of them,” Bob said and nodded towards the girl. “Yep, whorehouse is where you belong. I mean you couldn’t charge much with a face like that but it’d be more than you make here.”

The woman had made it half-way around the cage. Nova’s heart beat like a drum. Her veins pulsed with adrenalin. She enjoyed the fight, almost as much as she enjoyed the money which came with it.

The girl had a third of the cage left. She took time to wink up into the stadium. Nova couldn’t help but snort. Obviously, the girl had chosen the other way to make a living. Just like Bob suggested.

“I’d visit you, if you gave me a discount,” Bob said and puckered his lips.

Nova’s memory went back to her old orphanage and the mistress who ran it.

She had been reading books again and Mistress Roxy caught her.

“No point in pretending to read,” Roxy said. “You don’t come from no rich family. There are only two ways for a girl like you to make money in this world. You either learn to spread your legs or you learn to fight.”

The gate clanged shut behind the woman and Nova’s fist slammed into Bob’s jaw. Nova’s steel blow crashed straight through the thin metal around Bob’s face and caved in his left cheek. Bob fell to the ground like a heap of trash cans.

Nova looked down at Bob’s unconscious body, “Spreading legs was never for me.”


If you’d like a deeper look at Nova’s adventures sign up to become a Bounty Hunter. You’ll receive book 1 for free as well as a bunch of other cool stuff!!

2 Comments so far

  1.    Larry McCl on March 25, 2014 7:23 am      Reply

    Very good story. Good little slice of Nova’s life. Very descriptive writing. I could see very clearly what was happening. You are a very talented storyteller. Keep up the great work. I will seek out your work in any form I can find. Very best wishes. I am very glad I found you and your work. Larry

    •    saffron on March 25, 2014 9:00 am      Reply

      Thank you Larry!
      I’m really glad you liked it. If you’re interested feel free to join my mailing list (promise not to spam you with random emails)… and you’ll get book 1 of the Nova series for free 🙂

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