Friday, March 25, 2016

Tense scene from "Reactivated"

Here's one from last year, a little something I wrote for Kindle Worlds: Reactivated, the first volume in a series. (Which means I really need to get off my ass and write the second story. :P)

A short excerpt:

"Okay, Marvin, try it now." Diamondback waited for a reply, but there was only silence in the maintenance bay. She waited a few more seconds for her coworker to try to start the engine, then she frowned and slid out from under the combat car. "Marvin?"
No answer.
She glanced around and couldn't find him. The bay was empty aside from the vehicles they were working on and the half-dozen cars and mini-tanks in the "waiting line" along the wall opposite the elevator doors.
Huh. She tried to shrug off the sudden unease that had begun creeping up her spine. Maybe he's in the bathroom again. He really needs to cut back on that wheat cereal he loves so much.
She slithered over to the workbench and packed up her tools. It was past lunchtime, anyway; if the car still wouldn't start, it could wait until afternoon. She headed for the nearest wash basin and cleaned the grime off all four hands. She stared into the mirror to check for smudges on her reptilian face and found none. Her scales glistened as she turned her head one way and then another. Red eyes with slit-shaped pupils gazed back at her through wire-frame glasses custom-built to fit her human-snake hybrid features, framed by shoulder-length, wavy black hair.
The people running the lab all those years ago had intended to use her as a weapon, but fortunately they hadn't been allowed to complete their plans, and she'd made her own purpose in life. And, for a living weapon, she'd been told many times that she was kind of cute. Or, in Marvin's case, "adorable." She laughed softly at the thought.
Once she'd dried off, she grabbed a clean towel and wiped the dust and dirt off her glasses. She returned to the car, inserted her torso through the open door, and pushed the ignition button.
The engine started right up and quickly settled into a soft whir. She grinned, let it run for a few more seconds, and shut it down.
"Like it's brand new. Damn, I'm good." She chuckled, slid around the front of the car and turned toward the restroom door on the opposite side of the shop. "Hey, Marvin! Been eating too much of your high-fiber cereal again? If you're not careful with that, you'll start passing wicker furniture."
Again, there was no answer. She let out a nervous chuckle and shrugged again before making her way back across the shop toward the elevator.
That was when she caught it in the corner of her eye – the unmistakable shape of a pair of legs sticking out from behind one of the other vehicles scheduled for minor repairs.
He didn't reply. Didn't even move.
A cold sensation surged through Diamondback's chest and for a moment she couldn't breathe.
"H–hey, Marvin, quit screwing around!" Even as the words left her mouth, she knew her friend wasn't just having a bit of fun at her expense. He had a sense of humor, alright, but in the four years she'd known him, he'd never pranked her or gone any further than a bit of verbal teasing every now and then.
Could he have hurt himself without me noticing? Knocked himself out, somehow? Could I have been so absorbed in working on that car … ?
Yet she knew that wasn't it. There were several things that could be happening now, but somehow … she knew.
She raced toward him, slid to a stop, and hovered over his body. His eyes stared up and to the right, at a spot near the corner of the shop. Holding her breath, Diamondback turned his head slowly and recoiled at the sight of the exit wound in the other side. She cried out and flung herself away from the body.
Get hold of yourself! Whoever did this is probably still here. She covered her mouth with her upper hands and fumbled in her pockets with her lower hands. She dug her comlink out of her cargo skirt and checked it to be sure it was turned on.
Then she froze.
Someone's behind me. She held her breath. Both hearts pounded hard enough to shake her whole body. Right behind me.
She exhaled slowly, silently, preparing herself to erupt into the speed-burst ability that had been built into her bioengineered body.
Movement … air shifting … something moving into position at the back of my head.
She boosted herself and her sense of time slowed down.
She whipped herself aside and spun a split-second before a suppressed pistol discharged. A muzzle flash expanded slowly and propelled a slug through the space her head had occupied less than a heartbeat before. She clamped her upper-right hand around his wrist, twisted it and yanked him forward, while at the same time bracing her upper-left hand on his shoulder and pushing him, and snapping her lower-left hand out to grab the Bowie knife from its sheath on his belt.
The man pivoted, wrenched his arm out of her grasp, and swung his gun around to point it at her face. She blocked it with both right arms and passed the knife from her lower-left hand to her upper.
His finger tightened on the trigger as she forced his arm upward, and he popped four rounds into the ceiling. She pulled him off-balance again and hilted the knife in the side of his neck. His fists clenched and his finger clamped down on the trigger, firing round after round into the ceiling and walls until the clip was spent.
He fell to his knees and slumped over sideways.
Hands trembling, Diamondback picked up his gun and searched the body for fresh clips. After finding three, she reloaded the gun and shoved the other two into her pocket. She glanced at poor Marvin and looked away quickly.
She took a slow breath, pulled herself together, and slithered over to the elevator.
She gasped and zipped into a U-turn. There was no one else in this small facility, so who the hell was in the elevator?
She glanced over her shoulder as she slid behind the biggest vehicle within reach, an armored van, and caught a glimpse of a huge rifle through the still-opening doors. She ducked out of sight, coiled her body up, gripped the pistol awkwardly in her inhuman hands, and tried not to hyperventilate.

Reactivated is available from Kindle Worlds for $1.99.

Other books and stories ...

Fifteen Minutes (Sequel to Load)
Game Over
Uncharted Territory (Sequel to Game Over, work-in-progress, free to read on Inkshares)

For free samples of my writing ...

Enemy of my Enemy

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