Novel Sample: Steel and Grit

Hey all, I wanted to share a sample from the novel I’m writing.  I hope you enjoy it.  This is an excerpt from Chapter 13: Steel and Grit.  This is about 45% of the way through the book.  To give you a little context, the book itself is a superhero novel that follows the formation of an ensemble of superheroes who are tasked with stopping a civil war orchestrated by The Owners in the year 2043.

This particular scene follows McAlistar, a legendary general who was initially tasked by The Owners to take command in the war, but is discovered to have betrayed them and started working in secret to build a team to stand up to them.   The influence for McAlistar comes partly from Stanley McChrystal, and he’s outfitted with a bunch of cybernetic enhancements used to repair his war injuries.

Without further ado, here’s the text.  It’s not the full chapter, just a brief excerpt.  I also recorded a reading of this scene on my youtube you can view here:

Enjoy!

Chapter 13:
Steel and Grit

McAlistar sat in his study, a wood brown and black room wherein everything held the lingering smell of cigar smoke. His desk was small and unassuming, made of solid oak. A small TV set sat atop space made in his bookshelf on the far wall. It filled the room with news as background noise. The bookshelf itself was full of impressive tomes on topics of geopolitics and the autobiographies of great warriors from history.

He sipped brandy from a round glass while he casually puffed a cigar. On the top of his desk was a white sheet, dirtied with black marks from oil; on top of the sheet was a small collection of handguns which the General was in the process of maintaining. Three sat on the table: a Browning Hi Power, a Ruger Redhawk .44, and a Colt M1911.

McAlistar was just finishing with cleaning the Colt. He groaned with age as he stood up and placed it on a plaque in the center of the room. It sat next to a framed photo of McAlistar as a young man standing with a group of colleagues, all in formal dress blues and was inscribed: “Dawn of Brotherhood 1999”.

He looked out onto his lawn from the window of his study. In the reflection of the window, he saw a figure approaching him from behind. As the figure crept toward him, McAlistar gave no indication of his awareness.

The figure closed the distance slowly, sliding a slender blade out of his pocket as he approached. He made no noise at all, but McAlistar felt his intent. The figure drew his hand back carefully and moved to plunge the blade into McAlistar’s side.

Just before impact, McAlistar reached back and grasped the man’s hand with his metal gauntlet and squeezed, the sound of mechanized pistons firing. All his fingers and the bones in his palm crunched and broke at once. McAlistar swung around and jammed his lit cigar into the man’s forehead, tugging on his arm so he wouldn’t fall down from the force. The man shrieked.

McAlistar released the man’s arm and toppled him over. He climbed on top of him and held his face against the ground by his chin. He grabbed the blade from the man and tossed it aside. Then, he pulled a military survival knife the size of most grown men’s forearms out of his boot and put it to the man’s throat.

“Who the fuck are ya?” he grunted.

McAlistar’s attacker squirmed slightly, and then calmly looked up at him and smiled. “Not alone,” he replied.

A bullet struck McAlistar in the bicep of his good arm. Instinctively, he threw the knife in the direction of the gunshot and heard it strike meat. He squinted as he surveyed the scene and saw four more attackers toward the entryway of the room, including the rapidly deflating victim of his knife. He grabbed the one beneath him by the neck using his mechanical arm and threw him effortlessly through the window, snapping his neck and grabbing his graduation pistol all at the same time.

He felt two bullets sting his back. Luckily, one struck the steel plating on his shoulder and the other had its impact blunted by clipping other bits of metal imbedded in his torso. He swung around and fired three more shots — three shots, three hits.

Xe Corp mercs, McAlistar thought to himself. But who’s that one? He looked outside the window to where he threw the man. To McAlistar’s surprise, he was standing up. He aimed quickly and shot him in the heart. The man casually glanced at the wound and touched it with his hand, then looked back at McAlistar.

“Good evening!” he said, trying to snap his neck into place. McAlistar could see him more clearly now: slender, slicked back raven-black hair, sharp features, black pants and a well-fitted black dress shirt.

McAlistar looked at him with mild disbelief, not sure what he was seeing was real.

“Nice work in there,” he said. “I told them this wouldn’t be easy. ‘He may be old, but he’s still the best,’ that’s what I said.” He touched the cigar burn on his head, then raised his hand and looked at it curiously. It hung limply off his wrist. He playfully lifted it up with his other hand and then let it drop again. “Huh,” he said, bemused.

He returned his attention to McAlistar. “I’m glad we get to do it this way. You know, my colleagues don’t agree with me, but I told them you deserve to see your killer coming. Face to face. You’re an honorable man, and I respect that. Overruled, unfortunately,” he said, smiling.

“So come and try, you fucking zombie,” McAlistar snarled, chewing on his cigar.

“Oh, I’m not sure. Clearly you have me beat. You know, I told my colleagues something else, as well. I told them, formidable as I am, and as much as I am susceptible to flattery, I’m not sure I can take ‘The Lion’, past his prime or not. So, I brought them with me just in case things went they way I thought they might. And they have! How exciting,” he said. He started whistling.

McAlistar shot him several more times, striking him in the chest and then reloaded his clip. The man collapsed, but after a few moments, stood up. “That’s very rude,” he said.

Five more figures, three men and two women, walked out of the foggy night and into view and stood next to the attacker in a solid formation.

“These are my colleagues. Now, out of respect, I’d like to introduce you. Carnegie, Grant, Morgan, Payne, Green, this is General McAlistar. General McAlistar, this is Carnegie, Grant, Morgan, Payne and Green,” he said.

“How’s it going, you old dead sack of shit?” said one, a larger man with a deep voice. He had two thick metal rings around his wrists that jutted out six inches from his skin and covered half his forearm.

The main attacker looked at him admonishingly, “Carnegie, be polite. As for myself, my name is Kroc. I’m so glad we get to do it this way. Doesn’t this feel much better?” he asked. His characteristic smile twisted slightly and began to look sadistic, “No more sneaking around, now it’s time for fun. The council sends their regards.”

Before McAlistar could blink, two knives slid out of the sleeve on Kroc’s good arm and he threw them straight at the General’s face. McAlistar dodged, just barely. Carnegie raised his arms and aimed the metal coils around them toward McAlistar’s position. McAlistar saw the other assassins also springing into action, and he dove behind his desk just as high caliber slugs began to tear through his study.

Dust and smoke filled the air when the gunfire stopped, and the wall of the home collapsed. McAlistar popped out with his revolver firing off shots as he retreated from his position, exiting the room. He ran with the hobbled grace of a 68 year old man down the hallway and took another position in his guest bedroom. He waited near the doorway, back pressed up against the wall, and listened carefully. He heard the footsteps of two of the assassins approaching his position.

They split up, he thought. Must be covering the exits. He heard the footsteps approach the door, then stop. McAlistar waited patiently. Then, the door was kicked in with such force that it flew across the room and crashed into the far-side wall. The first of the attackers, Carnegie, with his big metal gauntlets, started to rush in, but McAlistar stopped him in his tracks, stomping hard on his foot. He put his revolver up against the bottom of his chin, pointed toward his brain and pulled the trigger. Still caught up in the momentum of his blitz, Carnegie’s body fell forward.

McAlistar rushed out of the room, revolver still drawn, and felt a whip wrap around his arm. It electrified and his muscles seized. The revolver fell to the ground. McAlistar stayed standing, gritting his teeth. He looked at the attacker holding the whip, a blonde woman with tightly braided hair, wearing a red leather jacket. The whip extended out of her wrist.

“You killed Jacob, you fucking asshole,” she said. Surging with rage, she zapped him again. “I’m going to pry your teeth out one by one.” She zapped him again. “Then your fingernails.” She zapped him again. “Then I’m going to take a blowtorch to your eyes.”

McAlistar’s vision blurred. The woman was still yelling at him, but he was becoming woozy. Periodically the voltage struck him.

“GO. DOWN,” she said. McAlistar heard that. He pulled his energy together as best he could and tugged on the whip with all his strength. The woman went hurtling into the wall, leaving a body-sized crater, knocking off the plaster and exposing the brick below.

McAlistar opened the door to the front yard and limped outside. He saw five figures gather to confront him. He coughed blood onto the ground and pulled his second sidearm out of its holster. He aimed it toward the figures, his arm shaking. Then, he felt the whip wrap around his neck from behind him. Another jolt hit him and he dropped to his knees. The figures began to casually approach.

The night sky darkened even further as the assassins took turns beating him. After what seemed like an eternity, the pain stopped. McAlistar felt a hand lightly tapping on his face. He opened his swollen eyes as best he could and saw Kroc leaning over him.

“You really are a tough old mutt, aren’t you? I think we’ve all had enough of this. You deserve a swift ending,” he said. McAlistar felt the blade go into his solar plexus. His eyes widened for just a second, and then relaxed.

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