Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tense scene from Project Revenant

Going from humor to suspense, a wee bit of action, and a glimpse at the mysterious powers awakening in one of the protagonists' friends, here's another snippet from Project Revenant, now nearing the end of its Kindle Scout campaign. If you haven't done so already, hop on over to its Scout page, check out the sample, and if you like it and want to see the full book, nominate away. If it gets enough votes, it'll be published and readers who nominated it will receive a free copy.

"What about our other guest?" Shadow said.
"He's still in the lounge on the third floor." Hoshi tapped the side of her head. "I'm linked with the security system. I've got him on-camera at all times."
"Good." Shadow crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at the floor. "I hope his information is accurate. Hope he's worth protecting."
"We'll find out once Jack and the girls find those files."
"Yeah." Shadow sighed. "I can't believe I let that weasel put his dick in me."
Rocky rested her hand on Shadow's shoulder and opened her beak, but before she could say anything, Hoshi frowned and cocked her head.
"Hold on. We've got a proximity alert."
Otto raised an eyebrow. "What does –"
"The outside cameras are tracking four incoming SUVs. One is parking in front of our building, the second in the lot beside us, the third in the alley behind us, and the fourth on the street opposite the lot."
"Shit!" Rocky snapped. "The last time this happened, Ralphie got shot in the chest and our whole building got blown to hell." She nudged Shadow's shoulder and pointed at Otto, Shakira, and Hiro. "They're probably here for Winslow. Get these three out of here. We'll evac Winslow."
"I'm not leaving Lola." Hiro planted himself beside her.
"You don't work here. You're a civilian – and a kid."
Ramirez touched his arm. "Hiro, please, do as she says."
"I've been combat-ready since the moment I came out of the tank. I can help."
Rocky sighed. "We don't have time to argue. Lola, you and Enrique try to keep him from getting his head blown off while the rest of us deal with this." She turned to Hoshi. "We'll grab Winslow and head for the armory."
"Shit," Shakira moaned.
Otto glanced at her and saw her eyes darting back and forth. Uh-oh, she's starting to panic. He frowned, wondering why he wasn't on the verge of pissing himself in sheer terror. Maybe it was because this simply didn't seem like it could really be happening.
He grasped her hand and she looked sharply at him.
"Easy." He smiled. "Don't lose your head."
She took a slow breath. "Right. Sure." She pulled her hand away. "Let's go."
He took one step forward before the elevator doors parted – with no one anywhere near them.
"Heat signatures," Hoshi snapped, reaching out to grab Hiro. "They're cloaked. Take cover." She shoved him behind her desk.
The air inside the elevator rippled and Otto backed away, bumping into Shakira. He glanced up and found her staring straight ahead, trembling, a sudden upsurge of fear preventing her from thinking clearly.
"Get down!" Rocky yelled, whipping out her hand cannon and aiming it down the hallway.
Otto lunged, plowing into Shakira and shoving her out of the doorway.
A muzzle flash appeared to erupt from empty air in front of the elevator. More followed, seemingly in slow motion as she tumbled to the floor.
Something slammed into his right side and a weird tingling sensation spread through his chest before he managed to get clear of the doorway.
Behind him, Rocky cried out and staggered backward, but was still able to keep shooting.
Otto hit the floor and scooted over to the wall, flinching at each gunshot.
Several seconds passed before he realized that his back was touching the wall – his actual skin, without a shirt between it and the metal.
What the hell?
Before he could give it any thought, Hoshi backed past him, blasting away, ejecting the spent clip and inserting a fresh one in a single motion, and continued firing.
"Fall back." A bullet struck her forehead, blasting a piece of artificial skin off and revealing the alloy skull beneath. She didn't even blink.
The cell block door opened again. Hoshi twitched her head toward it. "Go."
The air beside Otto rippled, looking like heat waves. Even though he couldn’t see more than an indistinct shape, he sensed someone turning to stare momentarily at him.
He lunged forward, thrust his right hand out, and his palm contacted something metal. Another tingling sensation rushed through his whole body and down his arm, concentrating in his palm – and a black flash burst out of his hand and briefly outlined an armor-clad man. The jolt rocketed the intruder into the far wall, leaving a dent in it. The black glow faded, leaving random parts of the man's armor phasing in and out of sight, its systems damaged by whatever the hell had overwhelmed them.
"What the hell?" Otto stared, slack-jawed, and shook his head slowly. What did I just do? And how? And how did I know how to do it?
A hand grasped his arm and he jerked his head to the right, flinching and raising his other hand. He found Rocky leaning over him, hauling him to his feet and clamping her other hand over her left breast.
Blood seeped between her talons.
"Get under cover," she grunted.
Hoshi fired one last shot and her gun's slide locked in the open position. She dropped it without hesitation and charged into the hallway.
Otto peeked around the corner and found her grappling with another distortion in the air. It lifted her off her feet and slammed her into the wall, but she kept her grip. She braced her feet on the wall and pushed, ramming the cloaked intruder into the opposite wall. She spun and rammed him into the wall again, shifted her grip, turned and bent over, and the humanoid-shaped distortion flipped over her and crashed to the floor. Hoshi crouched over the rippling shape, grasped part of it, and gave it a quick, violent twist.
Bones crunched and the sigh of a final breath faded into silence. Hoshi turned, scowling, looking around, and finally stood.
"No more heat signatures detected." She picked up the rifle he'd dropped and slung it over her shoulder.
"What the hell happened?" Hiro said.
"They slipped in while our attention was on the SUVs. These can't be the only ones." She glanced around at the others. "Everyone alright?"
"I don't think the bullet hit anything vital." Rocky leaned against the wall, keeping her hand pressed over her wound. "Feels like it didn't even get through my … well …" She looked at Otto. 
Otto stared back at her. She doesn't look surprised. It's like she already knew about … well, whatever the hell’s going on with me.
He glanced around and found his shirt, pants, underwear, socks, and shoes piled in the doorway. He glanced down at himself and gasped.
"What the hell is going on? Why the hell am I naked?" He picked up his shirt and gaped at the holes in it, where the bullet had passed through.
"Just a guess," Shadow said, "but when you phased through that bullet, letting it pass harmlessly through your body, you also phased through your clothes." She picked up the other hostile's discarded rifle and aimed a shaky smirk at Otto. "You never did get the hang of that."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Trembling, heart pounding, he turned to Shakira and wondered which of them looked more horrified. "What that hell am I?"
"That can wait. We're not in the clear yet." Hoshi marched toward the elevator. "Let's get moving.”

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