Novel Sample: Steel and Grit

“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.”

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