The Earth is dead. Humanity has taken to the moon and Mars to have a chance. On what’s left of Earth primal gangs war for dominance.
A rebel force will discover a weapon of unimaginable strength, the wealthy in the galaxy will do anything to possess. As Daniel unravels the origin of his past he’ll realize he’s not the same weapon he once was. But does redemption exist for someone like him?
For fans of Jason Bourne and the Weapon X program, this one’s for you. Grab your hand cannon and start reading now!
Release date: April 18, 2019
Publisher: Archimedes Books
Print pages: 330
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I knew they were no good the minute they tried to walk in. That was why we didn’t let them. In the time since I had taken over as head centurion of the Half Moon, we cleaned up. We kicked out the corrupt workers skimming money off each night’s pull. We handled anyone who thought causing trouble at the club would be a good idea.
Within a month, the place was already pulling in more guests than before. We made examples of anyone still stupid enough to cause trouble.
Recently, a new nightclub opened up in the city of Dome called Red’s. Usually, I didn’t worry myself about competition. I just controlled what I could control. The only issue now was that Red’s was sending muscle over to cause trouble on a nightly basis. This was the third night in a row when a group of thugs was trying to get into the Half Moon. Not on my watch.
“Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest at the entrance to Half Moon. My centurions were backing me up: Carl, Vasily, and two others on shift.
There were five of these hired thugs in front of me. They were all big guys, not necessarily muscular but large-framed and intimidating, or so they thought. A slender man with dark hair gave me a smile. He shrugged as if he didn’t know what I was talking about.
“Come on, there’s no reason to discriminate against us,” he said with a sideways grin. “We just want to have a good time.”
“Discrimination has nothing to do with it, brother,” I told him. “You could be any race, ethnicity, creed, or gender, and I still wouldn’t let you in.”
“Ahhhh, come on,” he said. His voice was calm, but I recognized the violence in his eyes.
We stood in the entrance to the club. As such, we were already drawing a crowd of onlookers both inside and outside the doors.
“Listen,” I told him, matching his easy way of speaking. “I know you work for Red’s. I recognize one of your boys from two nights ago when he started trouble here. I guess he didn’t learn his lesson.”
The thug in question was a short guy with a bulging belly. His left eye was swollen shut from where Carl had laid into him the night before last.
“Knife, left boot,” an unfamiliar voice warned.
We all looked over to see an older man with pepper-gray hair in a long brown overcoat. He looked at me then down at the boot of the guy I was talking to.
“Well, it looks like we have a problem,” the man in front of me said. Ignoring the old man, he reached into his left boot, pulling out a thick blade made from some kind of plastic. The scanner would have caught it if it had been metal.
“No problem,” I said, rolling my neck around my shoulders. “Just a mistake on our part. We let your kind walk out of here the last few nights. Now you’re going to be carried.”
I thought that was a cool thing to say, but the hired thug in front of me didn’t seem to think I was witty. His smile faded as he slashed down toward me with his knife.
I was ready. I bolted forward, tackling him with enough force to take him off his feet and carry us both through the doors of the Half Moon. I didn’t just slam into him and let him fall backward. I carried him off his feet then used torque to hammer him into the ground right inside the doors.
Patrons yelled as they moved out of our way. The outside of the Half Moon was actually just a wide hall intended to hold a line. On the far end, a row of ascent cylinders allowed our customers access to the rooftop-club.
Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see my centurions going to work fighting the rest of the thugs. I wanted to move to help, but first things first. The guy under me was regaining his breath, trying to mount an assault with the knife still held in his right hand.
No way, I told myself.
I sat on top of his chest, grasping the wrist of his hand. Holding the knife with my left, I laid five blows into his face with my right. That same warm feeling of adrenaline filled my chest. My heart beat a rapid pace. I fought the feeling of satisfaction at what I was doing.
It wasn’t like I enjoyed doling out pain, but if I was honest with myself, when I was fighting, I felt the most alive. Like this above all else was what I was born to do.
I reached back for another strike. The guy’s face was already bruising over. He lay limp beneath me.
The scream woke me from my thoughts. I looked to my right, where Carl had stumbled backward and fell. One of those plastic knives stuck out of his right leg.
I jumped to my feet, moving to help.
The guy over Carl pulled out his weapon with a twist. A manic glare filled the thug’s eyes.
Carl gritted his teeth. He tried to stand, leaving his face open for another strike.
I ran faster; it was a short distance. Still, I was going to have to throw everything I had at this jump or Carl was going to be passing for a space pirate with a patch for the rest of his life.
The knife came down on Carl just as I tackled the thug. We went down together. I underestimated my opponent’s ability to adapt to his new station. When we landed, he sliced at the right side of my rib cage.
His blade came back sticky with crimson blood. Searing pain crossed my senses. I knew I was wounded. I also understood right now was not the time to stop and look at the wound or pause to understand how much pain I was in.
I rose to my feet faster than my opponent. He tried an overhand stab this time. I caught his wrist in both of my hands. One thing that had been ingrained into me in whatever past life I led was that when you were in a fight, you controlled the weapon. I followed these instincts, twisting the arm so far around that ligaments broke and tendons tore.
The guy holding the knife cursed in pain. He went down to the ground headfirst. I twisted his arm straight back behind him before smashing my boot into the back of his skull. He slumped into the ground unconscious.
Just to be sure he wouldn’t be a future problem; I tore the knife from his limp grip.
I turned back to see the rest of my centurions cleaning up the remaining thugs. Only one was still on his feet. Vasily was taking care of that with a flurry of body blows.
The last hired muscle sank to the ground a moment later.
Cheers from those watching inside and outside of the Half Moon filled the hall.
I leaned down to give Carl a hand. “You still with me?”
“I’m better than that,” Carl said, rising to his feet with a look of shame. “I’m better than that in a fight. He took me by surprise with that blade, that’s all.”
“He missed any major arteries,” I said, glancing at Carl’s wound. I didn’t know how I knew that, but I did. Just like I knew water was wet and a kick in the balls wasn’t a joking matter. “You’ll be alright as soon as they close up that gash.”
“You too,” Carl said, nodding toward my right side where the blade found my own skin. “You need to get that checked out.”
“I’m good, I’m good,” I said, placing a hand over the wound I had already forgotten about. “It was barely a scratch.”
“Didn’t look like a scratch,” Vasily said, coming up to us and looking down at my wound. “A call’s already been put through to the local praetorians. They’ll bring a med team as well.”
“Yeah, good work,” I told the mountain of a man. “Vasily, you stay here with Carl and get pressure on his wound. Like you said, the prats will be here in a hot second.”
I moved through the gathered crowd back into the club. More shouts and slaps on the back came my way.
“Hey, where you going?” Carl asked.
I didn’t turn to answer. I couldn’t have if I wanted. I needed to check on something even I didn’t understand.
I made my way through the Half Moon, keeping my hand close to the cut. My tight-fitting black long-sleeve shirt didn’t leave room for much hope of hiding the wound.
I knew I should be feeling more pain at the moment. That knife had cut deep. The pain came when the injury first occurred but left just as quickly as my body worked on the problem.
A few seconds later, I crossed to the right side of the Half Moon. There was a second level full of offices and our own private bathroom for the staff.
I went inside, making sure to lock the door behind me. The comm unit we all wore inside of our ears was going off like crazy. There were reports of praetorians arriving on scene and a med unit on the way.
I ignored the chatter for the time being. I made my way to the wide mirror, removing my black shirt as I did so. The bright bathroom lights showed my muscular body covered in tattoos.
Right now, this wasn’t my focus. I looked at the wound on the right side of my ribs. Like I thought, it cut deep. I could see bone or maybe it was my imagination. Whatever the case, I knew I should have been in more pain. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t feel like a kiss, but neither was I in the type of agony I knew I should be in.
The bleeding had already stopped. I didn’t know why, but for the last five years, I could remember I healed fast, way too fast to be any kind of normal.
I first discovered this when working at a bar called Zero Gravity. I was one of the centurions there, and one night, a bottle caught me from behind. It shattered against my skull. There was a flash of pain, but that was it. When the fight was over, I felt the gash in my head. The bleeding stopped nearly instantly. The next morning, there was barely a scrape visible.
It was a secret I didn’t understand but one I knew I needed to keep. I had enough questions about my past. I didn’t need more people digging into it.
My eyes traveled to the one tattoo they always did. That menacing wolf on my left shoulder. The one that looked like he was going to jump off my skin and take a bite out of me. He glared at me and I glared back.
A tentative knock on the door broke me from my stand-off with the tattoo.
“Mr.—Daniel?” a woman’s voice asked.
I recognized her voice. It was Donna, the head bartender who was in charge of that side of the business.
“Daniel, there’s a med team here if you want them to take a look at you. Carl said you got stuck pretty bad,” Donna said.
“No, no, I’m okay, barely a graze,” I lied through the door. “I’m good. Thanks, though. I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Daniel,” Donna’s voice almost became motherly despite her not being much older than me. “If this is some kind of thing to prove how tough you are, I can assure you that you already have everyone at the Half Moon impressed. Or if you don’t want to get tagged in the med database because you’re running from something, at least let me take a look at it.”
“You some kind of doctor or something?” I asked.
“You don’t get to where I’m at in a bar without seeing your fair share of blood spilled,” Donna said. “I have our first aid material with me. If you won’t go see the med unit, at least let me take a look.”
“You’re not going to go away until I let you take a look, are you?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Nope,” Donna answered.
“All right,” I said, going over to the door and unlatching the lock. “But just for a second. I’ll let you see I’m okay and then we have to get back to work.”
“Deal,” Donna answered.
She walked into the bathroom with me. All six feet of her with her long red hair and longer legs that made more than one customer go crazy. True to her word, she held a sealed case in one hand. It looked like a small backpack.
Her eyes danced around my shirtless form, coming to rest on my tattoos and then my wound.
“Well, we’re not getting any younger,” I said, motioning for her to give me the med case. “Come on. Let’s wrap it up and be done with it.”
Donna nodded, tearing her eyes away from my tattoos and giving her full attention to the wound. She opened up the med case going for the antibacterial foam first and then the skin spray.
“Well, I guess you weren’t trying to be a tough guy after all,” Donna said, eyeing the wound. “It really doesn’t look that bad. It’s hardly bleeding.”
“See.” I shrugged. “Barely nicked me.”
“Well, this might sting a little,” Donna warned, spreading the antibacterial foam over my wound.
“Where’d you learn to fight like that anyway?” Donna asked as she worked on wiping dry the remaining antibacterial foam. “I mean, I’ve seen a lot of centurions come through here, but none who don’t even hesitate when a blade is drawn, much less go on the attack like you did.”
“Listen, I appreciate the concern, but if this is going to be an interview, then—”
“No, no, I’m sorry,” Donna said, reaching for the silver cylinder can of skin spray. The mist of new skin felt cold and tingly on my side. “I’m guessing you don’t want to talk about the tattoos either, huh?”
“Not really,” I said.
“You know, you remind me a lot of my dad,” Donna said in a sad kind of way. “Pushing people away, not ready to share. After my mom died, he was never the same. Always kind to me and there for whatever I needed, but he refused to open up to anyone else.”
I knew Donna only cared. She was one of the good ones. The honest fact was that I wasn’t sure if I had lost anyone. Opening up to someone now meant exposing the truth of a past I didn’t even know.
“All right,” Donna said, taking a step back. She admired her work. “I’m not going to win any awards for style, but at least it’s not infected and stopped bleeding.”
I looked down at her job. It wasn’t half bad.
“Okay.” Donna picked up the conversation again when she saw I wasn’t going to say anything. “I’ll go now. You can hide out while the praetorians finish if you don’t want them to see you.”
Donna smiled at me and turned to go.
“Hey,” I said, searching for words I didn’t have. “I’m not good with thank yous. Haven’t really had a lot of opportunities to use those words.”
“You just used ‘em. You did great.” Donna winked at me and left me to my thoughts.
I breathed a heavy sigh of frustration. Donna probably thought I was a cold jerk, but better that than get her involved in whatever I had been a part of in my past.
I gathered my torn shirt and made my way to my office. It was nothing more than a small cube with the essentials of a desk and chairs. A small closet sat in the corner where I stowed a change of clothes for this exact occasion.
I reached into the closet, pulling out a duplicate black long-sleeve shirt. I placed it over my head as I headed out the door again. I wasn’t afraid of talking to the praetorians. I was on file with the Galactic Government with a bogus identity I paid a back alley contact handsomely to create.
It was the healing thing I was concerned about. Now that that was taken care of, I could go put on a fake smile and impress the local praetorians.
Music at the Half Moon came from a band playing old-school blues on the stage opposite the main doors. Sure enough, Carl received medical attention while Vasily and the other centurions gave testimonials to the praetorians.
The conflict was one of those things where you didn’t rat out the other guy. Our boss Mr. Tomb would want to handle this his way. If he did get the praetorians to visit Red’s, it would be his decision, not ours.
“And then when they refused to leave, we made them leave.” Vasily shrugged as he reported to the praetorian. “It’s as simple as that.”
The praetorian in question jotted down notes on the back of his left vambrace that glowed golden with a holographic display.
“Really? That’s all?” he asked, looking at me as I approached. “This is the third night in a row we’ve had a call and you all have no idea what could be going on?”
I recognized the tall man. His name was Captain Asher. He was in charge of this district. I was pretty sure he was clean. Meaning he was off Mr. Tomb’s payroll but who really knew these days.
“Mr. Hunt,” Captain Asher said, looking at me. “Why am I not surprised?”
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