Hundreds of years into the future, mankind has been enslaved. The earth has been taken over by aliens that humans only call buzzards: vultures who picked on humanity until they were forced into servitude.
Tanner Jacobsen is just a gladiator trying to make a living in a cutthroat world when everything he knows is thrown off-kilter by a man he meets in the arena.
Arad Mizrahi is an ex-gladiator. When he won his freedom from his arena, he first sought out the Resistance: a group of humans intent on finally breaking free from alien oppression. But now he’s back and on a mission to find more soldiers for the Resistance. But then he meets Tanner, and both their priorities shift.
Caught in each other's orbit, Tanner doesn't know what to make of the world he now finds himself in, but what they feel for each other is becoming realer by the moment. The question that now hangs in the air is whether or not these emotions can help him pass through a trial by fire or risk losing Arad and a chance at happiness forever.
The roar of the crowd was deafening.
Everywhere Tanner Jacobsen looked, he saw the crowd going wild. The lights were bright, blinding him almost, as he clenched tighter on the weapon in his hand. In the other, he grasped his shield even more tightly. He could feel blood and sweat dripping from his temples. His breathing was ragged. Still, his eyes were trained on the man laying prone in front of him and the sounds of shouting and screaming all around him.
“Knock his ass out!”
“Kill him already!”
A feeling of deep, dark, creeping cold swept over Tanner’s body. In this arena, it felt like the spectators were the monsters. That gleam of fear that appeared in their eyes whenever they crossed paths with him in the outside world, felt even more hypocritical than it ever did now.
Was this what they were reduced to?
Spectacle. This was all just spectacle. Blood, flesh, glory—all for the sake of the people screaming at him. Entertainment was becoming rarer and rarer, especially as he looked up at the night sky, through the flooding lights of the stadium, and saw hundreds of ships moving to and from their atmosphere.
He grasped his mace and felt the current of electricity thrumming through it. He’d made this himself. In fact, even the two-handed glaive his opponent used was of his own design. Tanner knew they were both weapons made to kill. But that wasn’t the point of these gladiator games. Not anymore.
It was a sport, like when his grandparents used to talk of their grandparents and their grandparents before that, playing in stadiums, just like these, in teams where they passed a ball through goals. A much more peaceful time that seemed like a relic of the past.
Funny what can happen in a hundred and fifty years.
As he looked down at his friend, prone on the ground, his chest heaving up and down as he coughed. Blood spattered out of his mouth. He looked up at Tanner, and gave a quick, imperceptible nod.
Do it. End it.
Tanner replied with a quick, slight nod of his own. He brought his mace-wielding hand to the air. The crowd screamed even louder.
“Yeah! Do it!”
“Fuck him up!”
“I got a thousand credits riding on you, man!”
He schooled his features. On his face, only a deep frown remained.
And when he brought his mace down and the sound of a fizzling current of electricity thrummed through it, as well as the crack of something heavy and blunt hitting the body, the horns blared all around him.
Tanner looked down at the body before him. As the crowd’s shouts exploded with excitement and jubilation, the gate slid up and the stadium’s medical crew rushed in to get the other gladiator out of there.
The crowd was going wild, chanting his name. Confetti was blown out from these makeshift little cannons, blowing out strong bursts of air on all sides of the stadium. Pieces of colored paper began to rain down on him, all while the people hollered for him in victory. With their lust for blood sated, and the soft blip of credits being exchanged was heard, Tanner shook his head.
Assholes, the lot of you.
He felt bile start to rise up in his throat in disgust. Taking a deep breath, he turned briskly and started walking into the gate on the opposite side of the stadium.
With the adrenaline rush gone, and his heart quieting down, he felt the ache of his bones and the throb of his new wound. Tanner probably had a concussion of some sort.
As soon as the doors opened and closed behind him, he wobbled over to one of the walls and sat down on the ground. Taking another deep breath, he closed his eyes.
Goddamn, did his head throbbed like a motherfucker. Then again, he was bleeding.
“Ya did good, kid.”
Tanner opened his eyes and looked up to see his handler. Hamilton was a nice guy. A big guy, who had a large belly but kind, brown eyes. The worry lines on his face was clear as day. He held out a tube of medi-gel and a soothing pack for Tanner.
Hamilton probably wouldn’t have been a gladiator handler in another life. He was a great person, who genuinely supported and cared for the people underneath his supervision.
Unfortunately, people didn’t really have much of a choice of their lots in life anymore. Being a gladiator handler was certainly better than having to scavenge for a living out in the wasteland.
“I’m twenty-eight years old, Hammy. I’m not a kid anymore. Haven’t been one in a long, long time,” Tanner replied. He took the medi-gel and quickly popped open the tube, squirting the light green-colored toothpaste-looking substance onto his palm and rubbing it right into his head wound. Tanner grimaced. He felt his wounds begin to close themselves up quickly. It was always a little uncomfortable to have your healing accelerate like that.
“Stop thinking,” Arad said. “You’re the one who pulled me out earlier and now you’re overthinking. This is all yours for the night, remember? It’s my reward.”
An excellent point. Tanner shouldn’t be overthinking this. He should be grabbing the rather large tube of lubricant from the satchel he’d brought earlier. Well, lubricant was a bit of a misnomer—it was more like a mixture of fragrant oils, since that was the only thing available for humans nowadays—but it did the job well.
How long had it been since Tanner last used this, anyway? He definitely remembered that the last time he’d used this was on a guy much smaller, much less muscular, and much less tall than Arad.
He’d been a bottom ever since he started having sex, though, which proved a little difficult when one was as big as he was. So finding Arad, who was even bigger, was a godsend.
Tanner generously coated his and Arad’s cock with the makeshift lube, gently rocking his pelvis up and down, sliding his shaft against Arad’s, to help spread the slick all over.
Arad groaned so low, it almost sounded like an animal growling. Tanner gave a mischievous smile. He curled one arm around Arad’s neck for just a moment to pull him closer, drawing their bodies together until there wasn’t an inch of themselves that wasn’t touching.
Arad was so warm. Tanner couldn’t help the little shudder of need that coursed through him as he felt those well-built muscles against his own, hairy chest abrading his tattooed body.
“Don’t make a mess just yet. We haven’t gotten to the fun part,” Tanner said softly, his breath hitching. “I have to focus on your reward, after all.”
“Damn right,” Arad replied, his voice a little more guttural than earlier. “We better hurry, though.”
Tanner tilted his head, making a little show of bringing the oil up to one hand, slicking his fingers, and then slowly inching his way back “Why is that?”
“I can’t wait to sink myself inside you,” Arad answered in between soft shudders. “I haven’t done this in a while.”
Tanner smiled. He kissed Arad’s lips, trailing down to find one of his nipples hidden against the springy vest of hair he had on his body. He darted his tongue out, dabbing against the little nub and gently swiping at it, before looking up at the man he was seated on. “You and I both.”
Arad suddenly grabbed at Tanner’s rear, slowly prying apart his ass-cheeks and pulling him up just enough for his cock to slide in between his thighs, and up the valley of his rear. Tanner gasped as he felt the leviathan length press up against the fingers he’d been using to trace around his pucker.
“Hurry,” Arad whispered. “I can’t wait any longer.”
“So impatient,” Tanner said gruffly. When he was good and sure that he’d at least applied a good amount of slick in his rear entrance, he nodded at Arad, pulling his fingers free and grasping onto Arad’s shoulders, perhaps a bit too harshly. He could see Arad’s tanned, caramel skin “Let me take the lead. You just lay back. Can’t have you working into a frenzy and accidentally hurting yourself even more.”
Arad laughed out loud at that one. He then gripped tighter onto Tanner’s rear, kneading his ass gently, rolling in concentric little circles. “Don’t worry about a thing. I know how to deal with a little pain.”
Without saying anything more, Tanner pressed his body down firmly, pushing the tip of Arad’s cock against his pucker. He had to take a deep, long breath, relaxing his muscles just enough for that helmet-like tip to push in. When it did, a dull ache started coursing through his body—it was an exquisite mix of tingling pleasure with the slightest thrum of pain.
“Shit,” Tanner cussed under his breath. “You’re even bigger than I thought.”
Arad let out a soft yelp, as though he was in pain even though one look at him and Tanner knew his face was contorted into an expression of pleasure. Arad opened his eyes. Their gazes met, and that’s when the bigger man started to speak. “Don’t strain yourself. There’re other ways—”
“Shut up and lay back, gladiator. I’m doing this.”
Tanner, as if to emphasize his point, pushed down a bit more. He wasn’t some blushing, teenage virgin. He was a man pushing thirty, built by the fire of a forge, and the danger of the arena! He could take this.
That didn’t keep him from feeling like he’d bitten off more than he could chew, though. But he also wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything else in the world.
He pushed down a little more firmly, sinking lower and lower, until he let out a soft sigh in satisfaction. He’d taken Arad right to the hilt, and the man was so large, it’s like he was being split open. Those large balls rested against his ass-cheeks, and Tanner could’ve sworn he could feel every vein on Arad’s giant cock pulse inside him.
Thank the heavens for lube.