It’s not been a fun week, but I have some new content for The Last Angel: a new short story set in the universe, featuring Adrianna and one of the many people sent to bring her in, but this capture effort hasn’t gone according to either of their plans. Marooned on a hostile (more than one of them even knows) planet, hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest shelter with both of them now considered loose ends to be tied up, they may have to work together to survive.
Or they’ll end up killing one another. Either outcome’s possible.
Below is an excerpt from the opening scene, in the middle of the – shall we say – inciting incident. Enjoy, and for the full work, check out the links above.
The damaged radio fritzed and spat static. Harper repeated her urgent orders. The missiles were getting closer. “Repeat your last,” she said. “We are friendly, I say again, we are friendlies with high-value assets on board. Abort your targeting immediately!”
More static. She couldn’t make out the words. It could have been a request for authorization codes. It could also have been a string of curses hoping that she and everyone on this shuttle died badly. God damn you, abort the launch! “This is Special Agent-”
Gunshots rang through the cabin, then screaming and the agent’s priorities suddenly shifted. “She’s loose!” someone shrieked. “She-” A crashing, wet crack rang through the comm. Harper didn’t have to guess what that sound was. She’d heard less than an hour before. A man’s skull had just been pulverized against a bulkhead, crushed like a melon on pavement.
“Keep us in the air,” she told the pilot and co-pilot as she swung through the cockpit door, her cybernetics compensating for the lurching shuttle’s unsteady deck. She had her sidearm out, rushing towards the aft compartment. This new situation was just as likely to kill everyone aboard the shuttle as those missiles were.
More shots, screams, and sounds of struggle came through the radio, or echoed from the rear compartment. She’d had half a dozen agents watching the prisoner. Two thirds of the strike team had already died to secure the target. Those that were left had been on their guard, ready to burn their captive down if they so much as twitched wrong.
Unfortunately, a shuttle taking fire made an excellent distraction for even the most dedicated agents.
“Abort your launch,” she continued to say, still connected to the comm, still trying to get through to local command, or the SAM sites that had locked onto her. “This vessel is friendly, I say again we are friendly.” In her head, a timer was rushing to zero as the missiles closed in. The second engine was starting to die. She swiped her palm across the locked door’s code reader, the device registering her implants. Even on one engine, they could make a safe landing. “This is Special Agent Catros, Compact Intelligence Services,” the door opened obediently, allowing Harper into a scene of carnage.