Chaser is available on Amazon from Keith Publications. Take a look here for a five-star review along with an author Q&A.We made it to the elevator at the end of the hall before the shit hit the fan. The doors parted just before we reached them, revealing four people in armor and helmets. They froze for an instant, probably not expecting to find us right in front of them. They recovered and aimed their guns at us.I grabbed Sledge, yanked him back, and threw myself in front of him and my friends, whipping my wings out to block them from the goons' view. I snapped my Glock up to draw a bead on the point man's helmet.In the corner of my eye, Otto's left hand shot out, palm held up toward the guys in the elevator. The air between his hand and the thugs rippled, and all four of them slammed into the wall like a freight train plowing into a stalled car. Bones crunched like a fistful of fresh celery stalks, the wall behind them cracked and bowed outward, and the men crumpled to the floor.Sledge leaned around me and stared at them. He turned his wide eyes back to Otto. "That was awesome!""Well, the elevator's probably hosed." Shakira waved a hand at the back wall, which had a dent big enough to scrape the shaft on the way down, if not prevent the elevator from moving at all."Better not take any chances." I headed for the stairwell, opened the door and waited for everyone to dash through it."Some of 'em are probably on their way up the stairs," Shakira said as she passed me. She and Otto took the lead and I brought up the rear.We kept quiet as we descended the stairs, all of us quite aware that our echoing voices would draw the attention of any assholes on the way up to us. We ran into them about halfway down--six more black armor-clad goons carrying machine guns, and this time we didn't catch them by surprise.I pushed Sledge, Marissa and Seth to the floor and crouched in front of them, trying to protect them while at the same time making myself a smaller target. Even crouching, I was big enough to give them plenty of cover.They stopped on the bottom of this flight of stairs and aimed up at us. Otto held his hands out again.Shakira leaped off the top step and landed right on their heads. Only one of them had time to get off a shot, and it punched through her "skin" and bounced off her metal skeleton before she crashed down on him.The man farthest from her managed to avoid the pile-up and pointed his gun at Otto. He pulled the trigger and a burst ripped out so fast that it sounded like paper tearing--only a hell of a lot louder, of course. The bullets perforated Otto's shirt, turning it into Swiss cheese in barely a second and drilling into the wall beside me.Otto's shirt and pants appeared to slide down through his body, ending up in a pile on the stairs. "Damn it," he grumbled, floating up a few inches to get completely out of them. "I still haven't quite gotten the hang of that."The thug's blank visor stared at him for a long moment as Shakira tossed one of the others over the rail, sending him tumbling to the ground floor. Otto raised his hand, making a sort of lifting gesture, and the guy launched into the underside of the stairs over our heads. After the impact, he went all ragdoll and dropped back to the floor. I took my gaze away from him just in time to see Shakira finish off the last of the goons with a punch that cracked his helmet like an egg. The rest of them were already sprawled at her feet."How the hell did you do that?" Marissa said as Otto picked up his pants and put them back on."Same way I put my arm through your body. The bullets passed right through me. Unfortunately, so did my clothes." He shrugged. "I've never managed to get it right--to let the bullets or whatever go through me, but solidify fast enough to keep my clothes on.""Let's keep moving before more of 'em come up to see what's taking their buddies so long." Shakira took the lead again, and Otto grabbed his shirt and slipped it on as he caught up with her."Those were some pretty nice moves, Shakira," Seth muttered.She winked. "Always bet on black"We got to the ground floor, going around or stepping over the body of the guy Shakira had dumped over the rail, and paused at the door leading into the lobby.Shakira watched the door for a few seconds, held up two fingers and pointed at the door. Swell. Two more of 'em, and they were right on the other side.I nudged her shoulder and she moved out of my way. I raised my right foot and rammed it into the door, snapping the bolt and slamming it into the two goons. When it had opened wide enough, I squeezed through and found them sprawled on the far end of the lobby. The top hinge, I noticed as I ran over to them, had been torn clean off the frame. Oops. On top of everything else, I wouldn't be surprised if I got billed for the damage.I grabbed one of the men and dragged him along as we headed for the exit. Once we were out of there, this motherfucker was gonna tell us who he and his buddies were. I wasn't gonna give him a choice.The other one moaned, pushed himself up on one elbow, and reached out for his rifle.Otto leaned over, pulled the guy's helmet off and touched his forehead. "Nighty-night, asshole." The guy grunted and slumped over.I glanced at Shakira before reaching out to pull the door open. She shook her head."There's more of 'em out there, but not very close. We'll at least have a chance to get to your battle wagon."I nodded and looked at my brother, Shadow, Seth, and Marissa. "Stay between us and the building." My van was parked in the near corner of the lot beside the building, so it could've been worse. At least we wouldn't have to cross the entire lot and add another ten seconds to the amount of time we'd have to try not to take a hail of bullets in the back.We got about halfway there before Shakira looked off to the left and shouted, "Get down!" She gave my shoulder a push that sent me stumbling into my brother and friends. I threw my arms around them and lunged, carrying them several more steps before a shockwave knocked us flat. I rolled over and raised my gun, then froze at the sight in front of me: Shakira's torso, only a couple yards away, pulling itself away from what was left of the lower half of her body.Shadow gasped and clamped her free hand over her mouth. Caboose's fur bristled and he hissed and squirmed, trying to slip out of her other hand. Shakira looked down at the mangled edge of her torso and her mouth dropped open. "Fuck!" Otto, laying face-down a few feet away from her, pushed himself up and shook his head. He turned, took one look at her, and let out an incoherent scream."Keep going!" I grabbed her arm and hoisted her onto my back. "Hang on!"They bolted toward my van and Shakira put her arms around my neck. Otto and I planted ourselves between them and the half-dozen armored scumbags slowly approaching us, keeping their guns pointed straight at our chests. The one on the far right was holding a mini-rocket launcher. Shakira must've thrown herself into the rocket's path to prevent all of us from ending up splattered all over the side of the building."Don't move!" one of the men said, his voice amplified by his helmet mic.Slowly, methodically, but very likely with my building rage showing clearly on my face, I checked the clip in my gun to be sure that it held armor piercing rounds, shoved it back in and strode toward the one who'd just spoken."Uh..." He exchanged quick glances with the others. "Don't! Stop right there!"I didn't stop until I was close enough for the barrel of my gun to touch his faceplate. I had no idea why he didn't pull the trigger. Maybe he was just that scared. Or maybe he didn't have the stones for it. If you threaten someone and don't follow through when they ignore you, you lose any control you might've had over them."Run," I growled.They looked at each other again."I said, run!"Another second or two passed, then the leader shouted, "Blow this bitch's head off n--"I didn't hesitate. One quick twitch of my talon and a stream of blood spurted from the back of his helmet. He dropped as if his strings had been cut. At the same moment, Otto used his mojo to yank the guns from the others' hands. They reached for the sidearms on their belts, but Otto took care of those, as well, leaving them standing there and staring at us.I drew in a deep breath and roared, "Run!"They stumbled back a few steps, flailing their arms, turned, and bolted. I had to fight the urge to shoot each of them in both ass cheeks before turning and sprinting back to my van. I handed Shakira off to Otto and he jumped into the back, joining the rest while I squeezed in behind the wheel and started the engine."Bloody hell," Marissa gasped, staring at Shakira. "Are you gonna be okay?""I've had worse, believe it or not." Shakira shook her head. "I just hope my insurance will cover this."I winced. "Damn. I should've picked up that guy I was planning to question. We could've found out all their names. Then we'd know exactly who to bill for your new body.""Eh, it's probably better this way. If those guys were just the first wave, you might've gotten blown away if you'd stopped to grab him.""Maybe." I spotted one of our attackers getting back to his feet as I headed for the street, and swerved toward him. He heard the rumble of my engine and turned around, then backpedaled. I grinned and held up my middle talon just before his helmet cracked open on the grille and his body fell under the tires. Ka-thump, ka-thump. The van rocked up and down and side to side twice in rapid succession, and everyone braced their hands on the walls. There's something deeply satisfying about knowing that the last thing the fucker ever saw was me flipping him off.Once we were on the street, I accelerated and shifted up, wondering if it was too early to sigh with relief.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Action-packed scene from "Chaser"
Getting back to promoting my recently-published novel, Chaser, after a long period of getting nothing done at all. So, here's a snippet of an action scene that takes place fairly early in the book.