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Here's a Sneak Peak at Some of the Novels
The rotten-toothed leader was a little shorter than me, but he pushed his face up, nose-to-nose, so there was no escaping his vile breath. Then he expectorated the same command he had been repeating before. Despite the stench, I smiled to myself when I realized he was probably yelling, “Get on the ground.” I was starting to learn this language. The smile didn't impress the commander. He screamed the command again and wound his right hand back like a whip to deliver a backhanded blow with his leather-clad fist.
That was his last mistake.
My right hand came up and checked the back of his elbow so he couldn't move his arm to strike me. My left hand reached across his body and pulled the dagger from its sheath on his waist. As I drew the weapon, I turned its point inward, cutting past the leather of his armor, the silk cloth underneath, and into his soft belly. The blade was sharp, and it sliced the inside of his stomach open in a long red streak.
The dagger spun sideways as it left my hand in a throw, spinning drops of crimson blood lazily on its fifty-yard journey, before embedding itself into the soldier's neck on the far left. The man choked out a panicked gurgle from the impact of the dagger, and reached up with his left hand toward the hilt coming out of his jugular. I guessed that it would take him a minute to die, but in the meantime he might not be able to aim his crossbow at Paug and his friends.
My left hand returned to the waist of the commander. I took a fistful of belt, armor, and cloth, while the blood from his stomach wound began to gush over my clenched fingers. I lifted with both of my arms and pulled the commander's body off the ground. He somehow seemed lighter than a feather, but would serve my purpose.
I charged the other men with their leader’s body shielding me.
One arbalist to the right took a shot when his commander began to scream in wet horror. The bolt went wide over my head. As I took three more steps, a second weapon twanged, sinking a quarrel into the back of the commander and choking off his cry.
Four more steps and I had made it to the left of the semicircle. A few more bolts whispered past my head as the soldiers tried to kill me without injuring their commander. They should not have bothered trying to spare him. He would die when I finished with them.
The left most soldier tried to draw his sword. His palm had hardly brushed the hilt when I pushed my pointer and middle fingers together and drove them through his eyeball and into his brain. He had a dagger, but to draw and throw the weapon I would have to spin around the body of their commander, temporarily exposing myself to potential crossbow quarrels. These men seemed inept, so I decided to gamble and drew the long dagger out of the dying man's belt before tossing it.
Gyle got out of the Humvee and started walking slowly to the line of cars ahead of him. Even though his vehicle had its headlights on full power right behind him, he could only see the faint outlines of the other cars. The lead car looked like a light truck with an improvised recoilless rifle mounted at the back. As Gyle looked inside, he noticed two corpses on the driver and front seats. The bodies had no clothes on and looked mummified, drained of all body fluids with their mouths open in silent agony, it looked like they were flash burned alive. As he went to the second vehicle, he saw it was a minivan packed with corpses that looked just like the ones in the previous car. Examining the vehicle more closely, he noticed that whatever burned the occupants miraculously hadn’t affected the cars themselves, other than the dust that caked the van. Looking down at the wheels, Gyle noticed that all the tires had no rubber on them. Shining his flashlight further down the road, he could see at least a dozen fainter outlines of cars ahead, with no end in sight. It looked like this convoy was on its way south from the city, as if they were all fleeing from something.
As he turned to face the Humvee and started walking back to it, Gyle saw hazy flashes of lights and heard the sound of gunfire and explosions towards the south of the road. Quickly breaking into a run, he realized the light show and the noise must have been coming from Bravo Company’s perimeter. They were under attack.
“Go, go, go!” Gyle said as he got in and slammed the door shut.
Matt heard the sounds too as he quickly made a U-turn and started to accelerate southwards before slowing down again due to the minimal visibility ahead. “I’m sorry, I can’t go any faster. I’m afraid we might collide with another vehicle if I go faster than this.”
Gyle said nothing as he merely nodded and then climbed in the back of the vehicle, stood up, and opened the turret hatch. The automatic grenade launcher was caked with sand as he wiped some of it off the barrel, then he racked the massive bolts on both sides to ready it for firing. Gyle pulled at the lever near the turret ring to rotate it. Although it traversed slowly because of the fine sand seeping into its ball bearings, the turret could still rotate a full circle. Gyle adjusted the sights as the sounds of fighting got closer.
Within a few minutes, they had arrived to the edge of the security perimeter.
It looked like a scene from Hell. Gyle could see that the desert plains at the sides of the highway were glowing with some sort of illumination, it was as if the sand of the surrounding desert was on fire. He could see a smashed MRAP, it was as if some giant hand of God had grabbed it and tossed it on its side by the road. A few soldiers were outside of their burning vehicles and shooting wildly in all directions, their faces contorted in fear and hysterics.
As he traversed the turret to the right flank, Gyle noticed some sort of movement at a nearby sand dune. He quickly zeroed in on the sights of the grenade launcher and was ready to fire when his target finally came into view.
For the first time in his life, Gyle finally saw what it was they were fighting against.
He screamed in terror even as he pushed the trigger.
I slither backward into the Crematauto, and twist my head around to peek through the half-open driver’s door. The third guard is kneeling behind the checkpoint, gun trained on the back of the Crematauto, waiting for us to emerge. I weigh my odds. It’s an awkward shot, straining from a semi-prone position, wedged sideways between the seats. I count to three and take it anyway.
The Schutz Clone quivers for a second and then topples to the ground. I swallow hard. There wasn’t a better option than to take him out, but it doesn’t change how I feel inside, like I’m icing over. I exhale slowly, and then flick the switch on my gun to safety.
“Quick!” Sven reaches a hand into the Crematauto to pull me out. “He called for backup. We gotta go.”
I shove Tucker out of the vehicle first, then place my hand in Sven’s. A shiver runs up my arm when his huge hand closes over mine. So different to Jakob’s touch.
“Why can’t we take the Crematauto?” I ask.
“Once the Sweepers pinpoint the tracker on it, they’ll implode it,” Sven replies.
Mason drags Rummy out next, and tosses him over his shoulder. Sven pokes Lyong in the ribs with his M16. “Out!”
The doctor mutters something unintelligible and scoots himself forward a few inches. Sven grabs him by the scruff of the neck and hauls him out. I wish we could leave him behind, but we might need him as collateral.
“Which way?” I ask, glancing in both directions.
Sven motions in front of him with his weapon. He moves off down the corridor, hauling the disgruntled doctor after him with his free hand. Mason falls in behind, Rummy draped across his shoulders. I take up the rear, glancing behind me every few feet. At least my hands are free so one of us can get a round off quickly if we come under attack. Mason’s at a huge disadvantage with Rummy’s dead weight on his shoulders. Reluctantly, I send Tucker up to flank him. If nothing else, he can alert him to any ambush from a side tunnel.
Alone with my dark thoughts, I question what I’ve done. The stench of death is on me now, and nothing will ever be the same.
The crushing words sear my conscience. I’ve taken a life, no matter how I define that life, or how many units that life was destined to be.
The dimly lit tunnel stretches out in front like a black hole winding its way to the earth’s core. There’s no sign of movement up ahead, but I’m afraid even to blink in case the Schutz Clones attack. I’ve been counting on Tucker to forewarn us, but I’m still not sure clones have a scent he can pick up on.
I open my mouth to ask Mason about it. It’s the last thought I have before a calloused hand closes over my lips.
Your Chance to Win!
Ends November 7th 2016
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