Fantasy Novel Snippet

This is straight out of Word. No editing, so it’s very rough but here’s a little taste:

The sunrise was beautiful this time of year. As the yellow orb slowly rose above the mountains, its first light hit the snow and glaciers, causing them to explode into a kaleidoscope of color. From the top of the temple’s spire, MulCahey could see every bit of the color explosion as the sunlight touched the straw roofs of the village as the yellow orb continued to rise.

It would hurt the village to lose their Priest, that much was for certain. However, at this point, there was nothing that could be done about it. Soon they’d arrive and no doubt the Evil One would be with them; in fact, he counted on it. She couldn’t afford to leave this action to underlings. No, she’d have to oversee it herself.

He held no illusions as to what his fate was; today would be the last day of his life and nothing would stop that. And while he couldn’t prevent that from happening, he could control whether or not he told them where Simone and Brady were located. In fact, no matter what they did, he couldn’t allow himself to give the location of the Oracle-that needed to remain a secret if only to keep the Oracle safe.

He looked down at the village below and around him and then sighed. Everything about this situation sucked and there wasn’t a thing that could be done about it. Once the evil one started to move, then it became important for the Princess to be shuffled away and insulated from coming into contact with it.

I give them two more hours, he thought, if they’re quick about it. Otherwise, it’ll be late afternoon.

A rustling below, just outside the village walls caught his attention. Moments later, a man and woman, each riding their own horse, came into view and MulCahey sucked in a deep breath. They were too early! Brady and Simone would only now be reaching the Oracle’s location!

Damn it, he thought, I guess I’ll have to stall for time. Shit.

What made things worse for him was the fact that he knew the two looking up at him. In fact, he’d trained them and taught them everything they knew. Just days ago they had hero worship of him; now they considered him a traitor and an enemy to the crown-whether that crown was achieved legitimately or not.

“You there!” The man shouted. “Don’t try to run!”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” MulCahey murmured.

As he watched the two enter the village, another group of ten men and women appeared from the woods. In the center was a simply dressed women, her clothes marking her as a mere servant. However, he knew better than believe that because if she were just an attendant, then the Intelligence agents wouldn’t be looking at her every few moments as if expecting orders.

He turned to face the snow-capped mountains and took in their majesty for one last time. The long road of life took it’s many winding roads and side paths as one lived and his was about to hit the dead end. Fortunately, not only was he an agent, but an optimist who believed his soul would live on after he died.

“Come down here,” the woman commanded as the rest of their party entered the village.

“Of course,” MulCahey said, “silly me. Can’t hold up the party.”

The narrow stair was just wide enough for him to use and occasionally his shoulders would brush against the outside wall as he made his way down. Hopefully the next priest wouldn’t be fat, otherwise he’d never make it up the stairs to the top and be able to ring the bell when needed.

Who am I kidding, he thought, I won’t be here to worry about that.

He exited the stairs and the group was waiting for him in the sanctuary. Of course they’d be like the mythical King of the past who’d had his knights kill a Cardinal in the church in order for the King to divorce his wife.

He looked at the woman. “Kimmy,” he said, “I remember training you. What are you doing in this?”

“Be quiet,” she said, “there’s nothing you can say that I care to here.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt that.”

“Mister MulCahey,” a woman said as the men and women parted to allow him to approach. Her blue eyes locked on his. “Enough of this. Where did Simone go?”

“What, no longer concerned with the Princess?”

“The Princess is not my concern,” the woman said. “Now, tell me: where is Simone.”

MulCahey looked at her and then cocked an eyebrow. “Now, why would I do that?”

“If you do, I’ll spare your life.”

MulCahey laughed. “You kidding me? We both know that’s a lie. All you want me to do is to be a traitor and then you kill me.”

“I told you I’d spare your life.”

“And I know you’re lying,” he said, “how about that?”

“Your loyalty is to your friends is touching but a waste of time,” she said. “You will tell me where they went.”

“Well, to be honest, I don’t know where they went.”

“Don’t insult my intelligence, MulCahey,” the woman said, her blue eyes turning black.

“What’s wrong?” MulCahey asked. “Losing control of yourself, Dark One?”

“Tell me where they went!” The woman’s voice started to deepen as she spoke.

“All of you, look at her! See who you’re following? See who’s pulling Leighton’s strings?”

“Enough!” The woman swung her hand, striking MulCahey with a backhand, sending him crashing to the floor. “I want know where they went!”

“I’m not going to tell you.”

Electricity crackled along the woman’s fingertips for several seconds as MulCahey narrowed his eye. So, the moment of torture was at hand. Not surprising in the least since the Dark One still hadn’t enough strength to do worse to a person yet-thank God for that. However, her power was growing and at this rate, it would only take a couple weeks before she reached her full strength.

Energy arced across the air, striking him in the chest, and pain exploded in his senses. It ramped up rapidly from mild to excruciating and he wanted to scream, oh how he wanted to scream, but he wouldn’t give her the ability to feed off his pain. Instead he gritted his teeth and refused to show pain.

“My patience is running thin. Where is she?” She asked.

“Sorry, my dear, but you’re old enough for your wants not to hurt you.”

Thank God he’d gotten Brady and Simone out of there when he did because the Dark One’s power had increased to a level that he’d never foreseen. However, it was no longer his problem; it would be up to the others to stop her and he hoped they did or the world as they knew it would fall into eternal darkness.

An invisible hand grasped his throat and then started to squeeze. “Where is she?”

The grip slackened enough to allow him to speak. “No.”

“Then I’ll take your soul,” she said before reaching down and jabbing a fist into MulCahey’s stomach.

She pulled it out of MulCahey and held a nearly invisible image of the priest in her hand. The image screamed soundlessly as she used her hand to push the man’s soul into her body and then closed her eyes for a moment.

“That’s better,” she said before smirking, “they’ve gone to see the Oracle…”

“The Oracle?” One of the men with her said.

“Is a person who meddles into my business,” she said, “Get on your horses, we’re leaving.”

“What do we tell the King?”

“That fool?” The Dark One snorted. “Tell him we’re in pursuit of the Princess. Not one word about what I did here. I’ll be watching. You open your mouth about me and you’ll die on the spot.”

“I…undestand…”

“Good. We’re leaving.”

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Kate Novel Finally

This is from the extreme rough draft I’m working on concurrently with the fantasy novel. Fantasy needs a complete rewrite, this one does too but it’s in better shape off the bat. So, just be aware you will find issues since it’s not finished.

 

 

Pale blue light illuminated the dimly lit room, creating the optical illusion of someone looking at blue walls instead of the gunmetal grey. A small walkway allowed the visitor to walk around the room without going down to the lower level. It also gave anyone who wished to, the ability to glance at the soft lit tube on the lower level.

He grasped a handrail, not because he needed to, but due to force of habit. The sound of his boots hitting the metal stairs echoed in the quiet room, easily drowning out the soft hum of the machinery to his right.

The stasis tube proved to be the biggest advancement in medicine that mankind ever achieved. Patients who were near death, or even dead, could be kept in cold, zero gravity conditions, thus preserving the body until medicine could either heal them or find ways to replace the things that were diseased or damaged.

Claudio Reyes approached the tube and then stopped short of it. A part of him couldn’t believe how things turned out in the end. After everything he’d done; all the people he’d manipulated to get his hands on this very special girl and the results of his efforts floated in space before him.

It’d be so easy to walked over to the machinery and, with the push of a button, shut it down and she’d been gone forever. And the temptation to do just that tried hard to overwhelm his intellect, willpower and training. For that reason, he pushed it out of his head and looked down at what was left of the girl.

He rubbed his upper lip with his index finger and let his mind race on possibilities. Never could anyone call him an altruistic person; in fact, most people described him as self-seeking and manipulative. And they’d be right, of course, but he took it all in stride. The job of Intelligence Chief wasn’t for a shrinking violet or anyone faint of heart. Things that happened in the shadows were more violent and extreme than anyone ever knew, and he hoped it stayed that way.

The girl possessed the best instincts, and raw talent, he’d seen during his long career. Once he had her under his control, she’d’ve been the best field agent he ever had and now, due to some jackass who didn’t even think before acting, ruined it.

However, it didn’t have to end like this, but would he be willing to risk what remained of his black book budget on her with no guarantee of success. Trained soldiers, highly decorated men and women, hadn’t acclimated to what happened and ended up killing themselves; each one taking over 200 million credits in gear with them.

If they couldn’t handle it, he thought, could she? She’s not a trained soldier.

Perhaps, just maybe, that was the answer to the puzzle before him. Something about the mental makeup of soldiers didn’t allow them to adapt to the situation they found themselves in and it created a fatal psychosis. The girl, on the other hand, spent her entire life adapting to situations that would’ve caused most people to crack under the pressure.

It was a hunch, something he couldn’t substantiate, so he couldn’t really explain what he sensed until there was more time to think about it. Until then, he’d run with his instincts, which never steered him wrong before so he had no reason to think they’d start now.

What if they are wrong? He asked himself. I will have used almost 250 million credits. The Pentagon and Congress would be hard pressed to hide another amount like that. Failure could end this program.

Had fate left him any choice but to roll the dice and hope not to get snake eyes? Soldiers didn’t work out, so they were off the list. The idea of using civilians was something he and the medical staff had thrown out but that wouldn’t work either because the was no guarantee that they’d find someone with the skills, or potential, that the girl had.

He turned around then them thumbed on the intercom. “Reyes to Doctor Thomson. Please report to medical bay four. And make it fast.”

Lisa Thomson sighed. “I’m on my way.”

Lisa Thomson was one the private little coups he pulled off that no one knew about. A medical doctor by training, the younger woman had been experimenting on cybernetics and testing on animals and with people on a very small scale. There was just one problem: her avenue of research, trying to replace parts, or an entire human body if necessary, was illegal under current law. The punishment, if Thomson had been tried and convicted was 15 to 20 years on a penal colony.

Which explained the young woman’s willingness to cooperate with him and use her talents to help him advance a black book project. Like he did now, she didn’t have any choice at the time, really. It was work for him or be jailed and she was smarter than people thought.

The hatch slid open and Thomson entered the room. A tall, but painfully thin, woman, the doctor stood nearly eye level with him, which meant it took a lot to make her back down-not that he didn’t mind the challenge mind you. Her slightly rounded face and gentle cheekbones drew attention from her thin frame and to her blue eyes. He’d learned very early on that staring into them for long periods caused one to get lost in them and the Doctor loved taking advantage of those periods.

“Damn, what a mess,” Thomson said.

“I know. I want you to fix her.”

“Fix that? Are you out of your ever loving mind?” The Doctor said as she walked around the tube. “There’s no way conventional medicine could repair that damage. Besides, she’s dead!”

Fantasy Novel Excerpt

This is an EXTREME rough draft. I haven’t even spell checked or anything because I will completely rewrite and make stuff I decided to add to the story in Chapter 5 slots into place from the very beginning.

 

“Oh my dearest sister,” Leighton said. “Scream all you want. You’re all alone, the guards are under my control. No one will save you.”

The doors slammed outwards, striking the guards in the back, sending their weapons flying from their hands as they fell and hit the floor.

A woman clothed in tan, with large sprays and patches of blood on her garment, and with black hair, rushed through the opening. She spun to her right, and ran one guard through with her katana before spinning back to her left and killing the second guard as he tried to reach his weapon.

Oh thank God! Rochelle thought.

“Princess!” Simone Silva said.

 

#

 

Simone spun her sword repeatedly as she took in the scene before her. Leighton held his sword in a relaxed but ready position as she eyed the Princess. If he wanted to kill his sister now, he’d have to do it himself and he’d have to go through her first.

If only I’d been able to save the King, she thought bitterly.

Guilt washed over the warrior, threatening to break her concentration on the task at hand. She’d been entrusted with the safety of the monarch and his family and failed miserably. The King was dead; most of the troops were backing Leighton, and the coup wanted to kill Princess Rochelle too.

“Simone!” Princess Rochelle said as she jumped to her feet and ran over to stand behind Simone.

“Sorry I’m late, My Lady, but I had some nuisances to deal with.”

“Simone,” Leighton said as he walked through the blood flowing from the King’s dead body. “I’m surprised you’re here. I wanted you dead. Oh, well, I guess it’s hard to get decent soldiers.”

“You always were arrogant, Leighton,” Simone said, intentionally dropping any respect for him or his title. “And too stupid to realize you can’t always get what you want.”

“Am I now?” Leighton said. “Look at what I have accomplished. I have a kingdom and an army-”

“Fraud,” Simone interrupted as stepped back to keep distance between her and Leighton. Who know what else the sociopath might do next. “The rightful heir is the Princess.”

“Not anymore. The Kingdom is mine.”

Don’t remind me, she thought bitterly.

“You talk too much, Leighton,” Simone said as she reached back and grabbed the Princess’ arm. “That’s your problem.”

Leighton just looked at them.

Simone spun on the ball of her foot and then started to run towards the door. Princess Rochelle gasped at the pain caused by the warrior’s grasp and a part of Simone’s heart broke. Never in a thousand years did the young warrior think there’d be a coup and she and the Princess would be running for their lives.

“Come on, My Lady!” She snapped as the entered the main throne room and then started to run towards the door to the corridor outside.

“Where do you think you’re going, Simone?” Leighton called out. “You will never leave this castle alive. The troops are loyal to me and they will hunt you, they will find you and they will kill you.”

“Not bloody likely,” Simone muttered.

One of the worst things a person can do during a crisis is start to break down, even if somewhat delayed. It did nothing but muddy the waters further, making things harder for the ones trying to put things back together again.

Simone found herself in one of those muddied situations when they emerged into the corridor. The Princess started to sob and then came to a stop outside the throne room. Tears ran down her face and she bent over, placing her hands on her knees, as her body started to shake.

Her reaction was understandable to the warrior; in fact, a part of her wanted to cry over the failure to protect the King. However, neither of them had the time to waste on it. While she couldn’t hear them, Simone knew in her heart that the soldier would’ve found the one’s she killed and would know she still lived.

“Why?” the Princess said. “Why did Leighton kill father?”

We don’t have time for this, Simone thought.

“My Lady, we don’t have time for this! Even as I speak, the soldiers are closing in. We’re going to be lucky if we escape with our lives.”

“Promise me you won’t leave me, Simone,” the Princess said.

“I will give up my own life to protect you if I have to,” she said, “but we need to move!”

Once they got moving again, Rochelle started to move stronger and more confidently, allowing Simone to let go of her arm. Getting out of the castle would be a problem in and of itself, but what to do if they reached the village below? The soldiers would have vehicles and catch them before they could reach the safety of the mountains.

Leighton couldn’t have corrupted every soldier and turned them against her and the Princess. In fact, she estimated as many as fifteen percent still remained loyal to her. If that held true, then they’d be laying low, staying out of sight and hoping for her to give them orders.

If they haven’t killed my men, she thought, then I think I have an idea for getting the Princess out of town safe.

Ever had those times in life where you just think things are going too good to be true? That you’re accomplishing something so easy that there just had to be a catch somewhere? The bad thing is; when things are that easy, you can just about guarantee trouble lay around the nearest corner.

This thought filled Simone’s thoughts as they entered the fog filled courtyard. Around them lay the bodies of the soldiers she’d killed earlier. If Leighton’s supporters found them, they certainly didn’t lift a finger to move to corpses. Of course, the fact that she still lived probably influenced those actions too.

“Stop!”

The familiar voice of her second in command Thaddeus Brindle sounded muffled due to the fog, but close enough Simone stopped running then looked around her. Coalescing out of the fog were ten soldier, with swords drawn. Brindle and Leighton followed a respectful distance behind.

“Simone,” the Princess’ voice shook. “What do we do?”

“You die, my dear sister,” Leighton said before turning his attention to Simone. “I said you wouldn’t get far, Simone.”

“I’m not done yet, Leighton,” Simone said.

“From where I’m standing, it looks quite the opposite.”

“Where your standing is full of shit to be honest.”

“Dear me, is that how you address your King, Simone?”

“You’re no more a King than I am a Princess.”

Leighton’s eyes grew wide and he made a theatrical display of thinking. “Last time I checked, I am the King. Disarm her.”

Two men walked towards Simone with weapons drawn.

“Give it up, my lady,” one said.

“Me? Give up? I don’t know the word!”

“Just kill them,” Leighton said. “This is getting boring.”

“Boring, eh?” Simone said. “Tell me how you really feel.”

Trouble Seems To Follow Chapter 1 Part 2 Revised-Serialized Novel

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The blue glow from a stasis chamber was the first thing he noticed when he entered the room. What floated inside its antigrav field could only charitably be called a human being. Muscles hung in tatters from bones and entire sections of flesh covering the girl’s chest and ribcage were missing and Claudio could see her pale red heart.

“Doctor,” he said. “How long before we can do the procedure?”

The tall, thin woman looked at her portable computer for several moments before wiping a lock of blonde hair out of the way. It was moments like this, when the Doctor seemed to ignore him, that drove the Admiral crazy. Sometimes, he reminded himself, Thompson forgot who recruited her, paid for the medical training and gave her everything she needed.

“I’m not sure if I want to do this,” Lisa Thompson said.

“Doesn’t matter whether you want to or not,” he reminded her. “I call the shots around here.”

“Yes, sir, Admiral sir!”

He chose to ignore her. “When can you rebuild her?”

“I can do the operation at a moment’s notice.”

“Then get cracking.”

Thompson sighed. “Fine, I’ll get the team together.”

One hour later, Claudio was seated in a comfortable chair while observing the operation from the sealed gallery. Thompson and her teamed moved efficiently, he had to give them that, but this procedure would take many hours, in fact it would probably end sometime tomorrow. And since it was his money, Claudio would observe things from start to finish.

Kate Almir, he mused as he picked up his portable computer and opened the file he had on her, was a dangerous woman. The youngest gladiator to make Master Champion in Arino’s history. Coupled with nearly ten thousand kills in the seven years she’d been in the arena, and he couldn’t help but take notice.

The girl proved to be both smart and a capable killer who could end a life without remorse or emotional reaction. This made her a perfect person to be a Special Ops Agent. Part SEAL, part secret agent, each operative were the most dangerous people in both Fleet and Intelligence. In fact, despite all the holovid movies about his people, they proved to be far deadlier than the public believed.

Of course if she ended up on Arino, then the girl didn’t have any family he’d need to worry about. No, she would be a perfect specimen, which proved why he’d traveled to meet with her. Instead, she’d run into a buzz saw of guards employed by her Master and Owner, Ferini.

And look what happened, he thought many hours later as he watched a pair of nurses wheel Almir’s form out of the operating room. She’s going to be better than she was before.

Thompson entered the room and then sat down before laying her head on the headrest before she closed her eyes. “Thank God that’s over.”

“That took longer than usual. Any complications?”

Thompson snorted. “Complications? There was nothing but them!”

“Will be make it?”

“You tell me. You’re the one with the plans.”

And uncomfortable silence settled over the room until Thompson spoke up again.

“Either way, it’d going to be touch and go for a while.”

“I want to be notified if there is any change,” Claudio said as he stood up. “Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Good night.”

 

#

 

The grenade tumbled through the air, a pineapple shaped symbol of death and destruction.

Time slowed to a crawl as she watched it continue to close in on her. Wasn’t any point in running, the blast would kill her just as easily as if she didn’t. Either way, things were going to come to an ending right there on the dirty, burnt orange ground of the landing field for incoming shuttles.

I can’t believe it that I made it this far only to fail, Kate thought bitterly.

A brilliant flash lit up the afternoon and Kate raised an arm to protect her eyes from the light before an invisible hand lifted her off the ground and threw the girl backwards. Pieces of metal, each burning hot, struck her body, tearing muscles, shattering bones, and a wave of agony washed over her.

The world tumbled wildly as Kate flew through the air for several seconds before she slammed into something solid. She tried to scream but no sound would come from her mouth yet the pain continued to grow…

…Kate’s eyes snapped open, and darkness was all she saw for several seconds. Panic threatened to overcome her until the darkness slowly changed to a lit room. Relief replaced the fear and the gladiator slowly worked on getting her self-control back.

 

Kate novel Chapter 1 part 2

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Now the money for his black book project was running out so all of Claudio’s eggs rested in the girl’s basket. If she didn’t work out, then he’d have nothing to show for the money spent and it’d be difficult at best to request more from Congress. This time it would, no it had to, succeed or else the entire house of cards would crash down.

Late night proved to be the one shift at Intelligence Headquarters that the building didn’t teem with life. Given the nature of both obtaining information and analyzing it, this made perfect sense. This gave Claudio the time to check on the girl before going to bed. With any luck, she wouldn’t awaken for another couple of days, which would give them the time to figure out what to tell her.

That’s going to be the fun part, he thought as he approached the door that lead to medical. But it wasn’t like I could consult her before doing things either.

The blue glow from a stasis chamber was the first thing he noticed when he entered the room. Even though the surgery had been completed three days ago, the resulting tests and monitoring of systems were best handled while the girl was unconscious and in stasis. This way Dr. Thompson and the remainder of the medical team could get baseline readings that weren’t influenced by emotion or other variables that could corrupt the data.

“Doctor,” he said, “how’s she doing today?”

The tall, thin woman looked at her portable computer for several moments before wiping a lock of blonde hair out of the way. It was moments like this, when the Doctor seemed to ignore him, that drove the Admiral crazy. Sometimes, he reminded himself, Thompson forgot who recruited her, paid for the medical training and gave her everything she needed.

“Things look ok,” the woman said finally, “but we won’t know for sure until she wakes up.”

“We need her to work out,” Claudio said, “or this program is shut down.”

“Far as I can tell,” Thompson said, “the systems are working perfectly. But you know how that turned out before.”

Yeah, Claudio thought, I haven’t forgotten. Oh, no, I haven’t.

Trouble Seems to Follow (Kate Almir Serialized Novel) Chapter 1 part 1

 

The sound of his footsteps echoed down the deserted corridor, their lonely tune matching the depression and desperation in his heart. Five years and three hundred million credits and he were reduced to hoping that a nineteen year old girl could succeed where others failed.

It proved to be fantastical, a turn of events that Rear Admiral Claudio Reyes, head of Fleet Intelligence, would never had dreamt of. Several men and women, all soldiers who’d been critically injured, had volunteered for the program, which lead to each failure eating at Claudio until a black hole filled his heart and it’d swallowed all his emotions.

Not that he was without them, mind you, otherwise he wouldn’t wrestled with the decision on whether or not to risk one of his newest bodies on a former gladiator slave. No, the question about what to do with her and her ruined body had become a priority and that’d taken over his life for the past week.

Of course, he chided himself, none of this would’ve happened if you’d not approached her in the first place.

Lord only knew how ridiculous he looked on Arino when he asked for, and received, a private meal with her. It was something almost unheard of, an event reserved for only the greatest of the gladiator Master Champions…and one that she’d earned many times over.

Micki Novel Rough Draft Snippet 2-21-2014

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They say that protocol trumps everything in the military, that respect for the command structure and everyone in it is a soldier’s primary non-combat responsibility.

This simple little fact was what Micki Brandon kept telling herself over and over as she stared at the older man sitting behind the desk. She stood ram-rod straight, waiting for the order to relax, while the minutes continued to tick past.

What does he want this time? She thought. Is there something else he wants to lord over me? Or is there a fresh round of insults coming?

How someone with the disposition of a porcupine made command of any starship proved worthy of debate between Micki and her friends. While they glowed over the Captain and his teaching style, she had only negative stories to share. To her is seemed almost as if the man went out of his way to make her miserable.

“Micki you disappoint me,” he said finally.

Make sure to look at the prescribed six inches over his head, she thought.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“I don’t get you,” Captain Alric Patton said as he rubbed the bridge of his thin nose. “I don’t get you. Command has eyes on you commanding a ship and you act like it’s the plague.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said, “but as you know, I’m serving my required two years. I don’t, at this time, wish to make Fleet my career.”

Patton closed his eyes and sighed. “You have no idea what you’re possible of.”

“No, sir,”

“You could be one of the best starship captain’s I’ve ever seen,” Patton said. “Yet you ignore your talents. Let me tell you one thing, Micki: you’d make a piss poor civilian.”

And just what did that mean, Micki thought. Just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean I want to do it for a career!

“I’m not going to force you to be something you don’t wish to be, Micki. However, if you ask me, you’re making a big mistake; one that could come back to haunt you.”

“I understand, sir.”

“Just think about it, Cadet.” He turned his chair around to look out the view port. “Dismissed.”

 

Micki spun on a heel and crossed the room before entering the corridor beyond. Several engineering cadets walked past, each of them looking at her like she was a pariah for having been summoned to the Captain’s quarters, before they continued on their way.

I can’t believe this, she thought. Thanks for nothing, Captain.

Maybe they were staring at her because she was the highest ranked command track cadet on the ship. Or perhaps they wanted to know why someone like her got reamed by the Old Man. She stood there and watched the group walk down the corridor and then around the corner.

I don’t care what everyone thinks, she thought. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I command one of these beasts.

She ran a hand through her long, brown hair and then sighed. Why did they even have a required two year stint in the Navy anyway? No one had attacked Barksdale in nearly a century, but the government refused to back down off the required conscription.

Athol Rough Draft Snippet 2-17-2014

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For the first time since arriving on Earth, I’m starting to feel a little bit of confidence start to build. While the rest of her family may not know Lacey’s current location, they could point me in the right direction. And with the damn security dickheads on my back, I need every bit of information I can get.

I know what you’re thinking: if I already knew where the Marano family operated, then why didn’t I go there already? There’s an easy explanation for that. See, until I knew whether or not Lacey had full control of the syndicate, I couldn’t risk walking into their home base. I might be crazy but I’m sure as hell not stupid!

The night was starting to turn cold as I pulled into the hotel’s parking garage. Even with the walls shielding me from the wind, I can still see my breath. Thank God things are almost done for the night and I can take a hot shower!

A coupled, bundled up against the cold, join me as we headed for the elevator. The woman complained about the cold and I could empathize with her on that one. While Darbytown’s winters didn’t compare to Greenmist’s, I still found this to be too damn cold for my liking.

While tonight proved to be one big pain in the ass, some good did come from it. It appeared no one knew where Lacey was, which meant she couldn’t be hiding in Darbytown. Unfortunately, it also left me wondering where the fuck she’d gone since she’d split town.

Problem with her family is that they have so many branches that it isn’t funny. There’s the Richmond arm, one in Williamsburg, Va. and several other cities in Virginia, Maryland and part of Philadelphia. Either way, it’d mean doing some digging when I met with the new boss.

That could wait though because all I wanted to do now was to either take a hot shower or sit in the tub for a while. After everything that happened, I’d need to relax my muscles before I could even think of getting to sleep. Otherwise I’ll just lie in bed staring at the ceiling all night.

But then, that might happen anyway regardless of what I do. See, it’s hard to sleep when your friends are in danger of being murdered. I know, I know, I’ve said before that Alex wasn’t a friend, but you know, that was a lie. The tub of lard actually is the closest thing I’ve got to a father since my dad died-and I don’t want to see him hurt.

A couple minutes later I let myself into my room and then pull my gun out of its holster. Time to take a good hard look around and make sure things are ok after the events of tonight. See, the security dickheads love to put bugs, and sometimes even hide, in the rooms of targets.

And if they think they’re killing me, they’re in for a rude awakening.

After twenty minutes of searching I’m satisfied that there’s not bugs or potential assassins waiting. That’s a small relief, but not much of one. Just because the room is clean now doesn’t mean they won’t try to make a move. Perhaps there’s someone stationed on another building’s roof, armed with a rifle, ready to gun me down. While it sounds a bit farfetched in some ways, you don’t live as long as I have in this business without having a healthy dose of paranoia.

Damn the hot water feels good against my skin as I place the gun on a shelf beside the tub and then slowly lower myself into it. After the cold and stress of tonight, this is a nice luxury and one that I don’t always give myself for various reasons. With any luck, I’ll be able to enjoy this, but I’m not holding my breath by any stretch of the imagination.

See, if there’s one thing I learned early on in this business it was never to take things for granted. Things could go to shit at any time and your best laid plans can get royally fucked. It’s when that happens that I end earning my keep because I’ve always thought fast on my feet.

Hopefully this won’t happen tonight because I’d just love to sit here and have a chance to think things over for a change. Ever since getting clobbered by Lacey, events have moved at warp speed and I haven’t been able to allow myself a lot of time to just think.

I close my eyes and let a portion of my mind start to relax while the rest remains laser beam focused on the issue at hand. Lacey couldn’t have kept that bomb inside Darbytown because the scanners scattered throughout town would’ve detected its radiation signature. So, the question now is just where the hell did she go with it?

In all honesty, it would be more than likely that she went to a smaller town where they would feel that the scanners wouldn’t be necessary. Towns like Richmond, Cumberland, Md and others weren’t considered a big enough target that they’d have the specialized technology to detect an antimatter bomb.

What doesn’t make sense in all of this is just what she wants to do with the bomb? Is the crazy bitch going to detonate it or sell the thing to some terrorist? Just having it in her possession would give her and the part of the syndicate loyal to her a major extortion card. While the money a terrorist would give for the weapon could potentially be massive, the risk it gave Lacey would be more than I think she’s willing to take. Not even a crazy mafia chick like her is willing to take that on-I think.

But, and this is the part I hate, anyone willing to kill their own father to do something this crazy can’t be counted to do something rational. So, if you asked me, I think she’s going to try to extort the government by threatening to detonate the weapon. If this is what she tries to do in a city like Richmond or Williamsburg, she’ll kill millions and it’d bring down the current Presidential administration. While I wouldn’t shed any tears over that, given what’s happened, I’d rather kill her before she could do that.

Besides, I owe her one, remember?

A sound, soft enough to almost be missed, reached my ears and my antenna perked up as I grabbed the gun. Shit, can’t a girl take a fucking bath without being disturbed?

You know how hard it is to get out of the tub full of water while trying to keep from making noise? It’s got to be the hardest thing in the world to do, and I softly curse a couple times as I make small splashes. What saves me is that whoever wants to kill me is taking their time, which allows me to put the tub between me and the door.

The door starts to open and the first thing I see is the barrel of a submachine gun. Why the hell would someone bring such an overpowered weapon into a hotel? Didn’t the dumbass realize that it’d tear through the walls around here like a hot knife through butter?

A man came into view.

“How about dropping that gun,” I said.

“Shit,” he said before slowly bending over and then placing the gun on the floor before straightening.

Water ran down my body and then dripped to the floor as the would-be assassin and I look at each other. He was middle-aged, probably close to Tom’s age, and a scar ran from an inch below his left eye across to the base of his ear. His wide spaced eyes, high cheekbones and pointed nose made him look like a combination of pirate and rat.

“Who sent you?”

He looked me over. “Interesting.”

“You fucking amaze me. I’ve got a gun pointed at your head and you’re sitting there thinking with your goddamn dick. No, no, no, no more foreplay. Now, who sent you?”

“The Marano syndicate.”

“Oh, really? Why?”

“You assisted Lacey Marano in her scheme to murder the boss and steal an antimatter bomb.”

“Oh for fucks sake! Are you guys fucking stupid? If I helped her, would I need to clear my name?”

“How would I know?”

“Here’s how this is going to work. You’re going to call the boss and then I’m going to speak to him.”

“What makes you think I’ll do that?”

“Do you think I’m averse to blowing your sorry ass away?”

My would-be killer continued to stare at my wet, naked form and a slow burn started in my gut. How the hell can someone be so fucking stupid as to question a person with a gun pointed at them? I could understand if it was someone who you thought was bluffing, but me? Anyone who’s got half a damn brain should know that I’m not.

“Now, use that nice little wrist computer of yours,” I said sweetly. “And get ahold of the Boss. I want to speak to him.”

Athol Rough Draft Snippet 2-16-2014

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The movies make it seem that everything dealing with crime and the underworld is done in the back alleys. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Events happen in restaurants, deals are made on golf courses, and casinos are hosted in restaurant’s back rooms. In fact, so many things are done in the open that people never notice is because they think it’s just normal life.

I park the bike and kill the motor before taking a couple seconds to reload my pistol and chamber the first round. Underground casinos are rougher places than even the movies make them out to be. See, someone’s always trying to fuck the other person over, which of course leads to arguments and fights. Many of the dead bodies found in city’s come from people who’ve either been in a fight or cheated someone in the casino, so they were killed for it.

And I have zero intention of being one of those. Lacey’s attempt on my life came too close to killing me and I don’t intend on letting another person put me in that spot again. So, you can guarantee I’ll be watching my P’s and Q’s while moving through the underground.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m toning my mouth down-far from it. What I will do is keep from gambling and getting near someone else’s money. Hopefully, that will keep the amount of trouble that could happen down to a minimum, but, then, I’ve never had any confidence in the human race.

The restaurant is only half busy when I enter, so I’m able to go straight to the bar and sit down. It takes less than a minute for the bar tender to appear.

“You’re too young to be served here.”

I glance around to make sure no one can hear me before I drop my voice tone down enough to keep from being overhead by anyone. “I’m looking to play some craps.”

“Aren’t you a bit young for that?”

“Listen, bub, I know you have tables in the basement, so let’s cut the shit. How about just letting me in?”

“I could get in trouble for that…”

“Trust me; the people down there know who I am.”

“Sure they do.”

“If you think I’m going to give you my name, then you can keep dreaming. Just let me in.”

“Fine, your responsibility.”

“I can take care of myself.”

The man made a subtle motion to a waitress who then led me across the room and then we entered the employees lounge. From there she took me back towards the dressing room and then opened a door.

A cloud of cigarette smoke floated out and enveloped my head and I used a hand to clear the air. I know you’re surprised that I’m not coughing since I don’t smoke, but that was one of Tom’s bad habits. So, you see, I’ve been around enough cigarette smoke to not be bothered by it. But then, while you haven’t seen it, I do like to smoke an occasional cigarette myself.

Unlike the massive casinos on the Goddess of Space or in New Las Vegas, this one is small and cramped. Two poker tables, a roulette wheel, a blackjack station and a craps table were shoe horned into the one hundred foot long and thirty foot wide room. Throw in the twenty gamblers and the dealers and staff and you got one a mess.

And it was cold as ice down here. I guess when faced with the possibility of large numbers in a small space, the owners made sure they had enough air conditioning. While I found it ridiculous in a way, it made sense because the people who would frequent the place didn’t like to get dirty.

Several of the players eye me as I walk up to the craps table. Poker, blackjack and craps were the best spots to find people in the underworld who could give me information. The higher the risk, the more criminals like to take part in it, which makes me wonder if they’re adrenaline junkies.

The dice are in the center and I place some money on the ‘come’ section of the table. “Change,” I said.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said before giving me a stack of chips.

I take the chips, place them in the rack built into the table. Thank God I took time to look over the rules of Craps one day when I didn’t have to work for Alex and was bored to tears. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do and you know how that would go.

“Twenty on eight,” I said before placing the bet on the ‘come’ section.

The dealer picks up my chip and then places it on the eight in the cash register section. After that he starts to ask people for their bets and then makes sure the money is in the right places before picking up the dice.

One thing you always do at a craps table is to make sure your hands are not within the edge of the playing section. See, if the dice was to touch me, then it becomes a losing hand and I’m guaranteed to be out of that money, and as I’ve said before: I always leave with me than I started with.

The stickman pushes five dice over to me and I select two before he pulls the other three back and then puts them into the dice bag. Once I’m done rolling, he’ll use what’s inside the bag to have another five ready for the next player.

I pick the dice up with one hand, shake them slightly and then toss them across the table. If they don’t strike the far end then it’s not a legal roll, but I don’t have to worry. They hit the rubber and then lands on eight.

Good, I just won the money folks bet, which means I caught the attention of everyone at the table. Now, it’s time to go to work and find a good person for information. And God only knows how long that will take.

It takes a minute for the dealer to get the chips together and then slide them down to me. I take a couple seconds to collect them and then place them into the slot built into the table. Once this is done, I pick up some chips and put them on the table.

“Five,” I said.

Another roll and another win, which is making my stack of chips rather tall and is also catching the eye of several people. One is a goon that’s kept in the place to make sure no one is cheating; the rest are patrons. No doubt they’re sitting there wondering how the hell a teen girl go into the place and top to things off, was kicking their ass.

A waitress appears with a tray of drinks. “Drink, Ma’am?”

“A can of Coke.”

“Here you go.”

There are times you don’t realize how thirsty you are until you take that first swig. I hadn’t drunk anything since leaving the garage and that’d been a good two hours ago and there’d been a lot of exertion getting into Banderas’ house. Looking back at everything, it’s a shock that I didn’t drop to be honest.

“You’re on a bit of a streak.”

The man who stood beside me was impeccably dressed in a hand-made suit. He made me look like a poor pauper and from a moment I wanted to make a smart ass comment but I bite my tongue. This could quite possibly be my source to pump and it wouldn’t do much to help if I got nasty up front.

Yeah, I know it’s not one of my favorite things to do, but what the hell. Sometimes you have to suck it up, like I did with Archer in Richmond, and act decently if you want to get somewhere. The old adage ‘you get more flies with honey instead of vinegar’ holds true with criminals too.

“It’s a bit unusual for me,” I lied. “So I’m going to enjoy it.”

“A bit young to be gambling aren’t you?”

“Nope. I’m actually twenty-one, folks just think I’m younger due to my baby face.”

I roll snake eyes and then lose 300 dollars.

“Looks like my luck’s ended,” I said.

“I think you made a bunch of money.”

“Meh, money’s not everything.”

“I would agree.”

Now the trick is how to bring up the subject I want to discuss without sounding suspicious. Maybe I need to make it seem that I’m looking for a job? Or perhaps it’s better just to play dumb. Fuck if I know what to do.

“Besides,” I said, “I just want to kill some time.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, what do you normally do?”

“Me?” I roll a seven and clean up again. “I’m an exterminator.”

“I hear ya.”

Those three words tell me he got the message loud and clear. Now I’m recognized as a fellow criminal-even if they don’t know me as Mareth. In all honesty, I’d love to keep my identity as Mareth hidden because the few of these fuckers know that, the better.

I subtly place a hundred dollar bill in front of him. “Can you help a girl out?”

“Sure.”

“Where can I find Lacey Marano?”

He looks at me, then the money and then at the table. “I don’t know who that is.”

You know those times when your built in bullshit detector goes off, letting you know when you’re being lied to? This is one of those times. He knows who Lacey is and is ducking the issue. Most times people do this when they want more money, so I’ll try that tack out before going in another direction.

I hand him another bill. “Do you know who I’m talking about now?”

“No.”

“How about now?”

“Sounds familiar.”

“Better?”

“Yeah. She killed her father.”

“I know that. What I’m looking for is where I can find her.”

“No one has seen her since she got back to earth. Half of the family is after her and rest is either on her side or staying out of it.”

“Damn. Who’s running the show now?”

“The Underboss has taken over.”

“Is that still Marco Picatta?”

“You seem to be knowledgeable about them.”

“It pays to know about all the people in the city.”

“I see.”

“Do they still work out of the same part of the city?”

“Yeah.”

I hand him some more money. “Thank you for your help.” I then turn my attention to the dealer. “Cash out, please.”

It takes a couple minutes for the dealer to exchange my chips into money. As usual I leave with three times as much as I came in with, which means the owners will be glad to see me leave.

Ok Lacey, I think, game on.

 

Athol Rough Draft Snippet 2-14-2014

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A security dickhead approaches and takes my pistol from me before carrying it over and handing it to the woman. She looks at it for several minutes; all the while the sweat starts to bead up on my forehead. How fucking stupid could one human being and stay alive? First I let Lacey get over on me and now I still walked in a trap. For God’s sake if I don’t get my head out of my ass I’ll never make it home.

“Interesting weapon,” she said finally. “I’ve never seen one like this before. Is this the one your uncle made?”

I just shrugged.

“No need to stay silent, Mareth, because what you do in the next couple minutes will determine whether you and your friends live.”

“What the fuck ever.”

The woman pushed a button on her wrist computer and a holographic image of Janice appeared. A pair of security dickheads had a weapon to her head and she’d turned as white as a sheet. Goddamn it, what was this woman up to?

“Now,” the woman said, “you can see that I have your friend in a precarious position. As I do your other friend.” An image of Alex in the same position appeared next to Janice’s.

Great, just fucking great. Christ on a fucking stick, how did they manage to get the drop on those two and what the hell am I supposed to do about it? There’s no way in the goddamn world I’m letting them kill my friends, so I guess I need to stall until I can think of something.

“Ok,” I said. “What are you after?”

“Well, let me tell you up front: you hold the future of you and your friend’s lives.”

“I figured that shit out on my own. So, get to the fucking point.”

“You get one big mouth of you, young lady.”

“So sue me. Now, you’re killing me. Just tell me what you want.”

“You’re not dead yet,” she murmured. “Fine, I’ll tell you. I want you to work for me.”

“Pfft, why the fuck would I do that?”

“Because if you don’t, then your friends will die. And before you shoot your mouth off, you alone are wanted for almost fifty kills. That gives me the right to execute you right here.”

“Great. What the fuck do you want from me?”

“Well, it’s not what I want. I think you’re going to have to discuss that with my boss.”

“And who would that be?”

“The President.”

“Now it’s getting deep in here. Care to bullshit me some more?”

“She’s not bullshitting you.”

I turn to face the person who spoke and my jaw drops as I recognize the President.

“As you can see,” the woman said, “there’s more to this then you know.”

“No shit asshole.”

The President raised a hand. “No need to get nasty, Mareth.”

“How do you expect me to act, fuck face, when you’ve got my friends at gun point and are threatening me?”

“Point taken.”

“So, what do you want from me?”

“I want you to get that bomb back before Lacey Marano can cause a major problem.”

“What do you think I’m trying to do?”

“Well, I want to motivate you.”

“And this is supposed to help?”

The President sat down and then crossed his arms. “Given that you’re the one who killed the man elected to be Speaker of the House, it’d behoove you to help.”

“You do know that I’m an assassin, not a fucking spy.”

“You know how to track this girl down. Our people can’t move about in the underworld. You can do that freely.”

“News flash, buddy, but if I had so many friends, would we be having this discussion?”

“Because Mister Banderas owes me.”

“Let me guess, he has to work for you or go to prison too?”

“How astute of you.”

“Don’t try to be smooth to me, asshole. It doesn’t work.”

“Working for me can be very lucrative.”

“So’s being a hooker, doesn’t mean I want to be on your payroll.”

“You’ve already taken money from me-you just don’t know it.”

“What do you mean?”

“The little political assassination? That was paid for by my administration.”

“Oh, fuck…”

“Yeah, he was a little pain in the ass from my own party. Who had ideas of trying to become President.”

“You guys fucking amuse me. You kill each other to keep a damn job. That makes your little morality speeches fucking hilarious.”

“How colorful. You certainly have a nasty mouth of you, young lady.”

“Sue me then.”

“Well, since we’re going to have this little discussion, let me explain something to you. The Doctor you went after? We paid for that. There are six more people you’ve killed that have been paid for by the government. So, you see if anything happens to me, you go down too.”

You know, there’s times in life when you just wish you could strangle someone, but can’t. That’s how I felt at that moment after hearing the bullshit from the President. So, he’d commissioned me on hits and no one told me! I wonder if Janice and Alex knew this little tidbit and kept it from me.

“I can see the wheels in your mind work,” the President said. “You’re associates didn’t know it was us.”

In a way that was a relief but it still didn’t take edge off my bad mood. If there was one thing I didn’t want to do, it was work for the politicians. The fuckers liked to send people out on jobs and then turn on you like a snake. No, it was much better just staying away from them; it would be better for my long-term health.

Still, despite the fact walking away helped me the best, there was Alex and Janice to worry about. Something happened to them and my supply of clients dried up and what’s the point of being an assassin if there’s no one to kill? No, I’d have to work with the prick to keep them alive at least.

Christ I hated being put into situations like this because no matter what I do, I end up losing in some way. No doubt there’s another shoe about to drop and it would be something that would lead to me being in a position that allows the asshole sitting in front of me to win-that’s how politicos worked.

“So, here’s how it’s going to be,” he said. “You will find Marano, get the bomb back and then do whatever jobs we send your way.”

“I don’t need you to send me after that bitch. She’s tried to kill me, so it’s personal.”

“That doesn’t concern me. Making sure she doesn’t destroy a city or sell the device to someone who will does.”

“And I don’t give a fuck about your problem, so, there, we’re even.”

“I highly suggest you rethink that, Mareth. These men are prepared to take you into custody and drop you in some prison until you die of old age.”

“Thought you were going to execute me.”

“I changed my mind.”

“See, this is why I hate you fuckers; you can’t make up your goddamn minds.”

“You will do this.”

“No shit, Sherlock. Of course I’m going to have to do it. You got my friends with guns to their head. What the do you expect me to do, dickhead?”

“Good, I’m glad we’ve come to an agreement.”

An agreement my ass. It’s more like blackmail but I’m not saying that openly. I mean, what can you call it when someone is threatening your friends and colleagues with death if you don’t help? It’s certainly not a negotiation…that’s for damn sure.