Sunday, August 3, 2014

Coming Soon to Print: Critical Mass!

Good day, fellow castaways.

It is with immense pleasure I announce to you that I've confirmed with  MuseItUp Publishing's rockin' editor-in-chief Lea Schizas, the coming print release of my third novel Critical Mass.

Now, I do appreciate everyone's patience in waiting, as the delay has been longer than what everyone involved was anticipating. But believe me, Lea has been working her little Greek tuchus off keeping up with a hundred different things, and she also was working hard getting our print books to compare in appearance and quality with the top-line editions on bookshelves (cause that's where we all dream of ending up, you know...well, not just on the store's bookshelves, but on readers' bookshelves, where they can be read over and over by awesome fans).

So, to celebrate the upcoming release (sorry, no firm date yet, but it's COMING, I promise!), I'm posting this, from Critical Mass (if ya wanna see more, click the book cover!):

Jenna Paine is a super spy, genetically enhanced to be more than human. Nadia Velasquez is a living weapon of mass destruction. When the secret organization who built them both decides they are no longer useful, two enemies are thrown together for the only purposes they could have in common: survival and revenge.

There's only one way out of The Pinnacle, and that's on a coroner's slab. Jenna lives through a treacherous attack vowing to exact her vengeance on the people who trained her to be the most deadly agent on the planet. 

Wounded and on the run, she turns to the man who's sworn to make her face charges for her involvement in The Pinnacle's nefarious schemes.

After years spent hiding from The Pinnacle, Nadia runs into the one thing she never counted on: Shelf life. As her body breaks down, she realizes it's only a matter of the short time she has left to redeem her existence and give her daughter a chance to live free.
In the final showdown, the two transhumans join forces against a common enemy, and The Pinnacle come to know the deadly significance of…

Critical Mass


 It had been dark for some time. The rain had moved on, leaving the pavement
with a sheen that whispered with every passing car. Scud clouds overhead trailed
the thunderstorm like remoras behind their shark. The moon cast its wan light
between them, a pitiful challenger to the flickering neon of the street below.
The city’s diurnal population was at home and in bed. That left the nighthawks,
those who thrived in the hours between sunset and dawn. They worked, played,
lived, and loved in dark hours. And some of them died there.

The crowd at the Tap Tavern began to thin out about one in the morning. By
ones and twos, they filtered through the front door and into the street, fanning out
to home, to work, or to other purposes known only to them. By two o’clock, only
the closing crew remained, a couple of vague shadows moving beyond the frosted
glass of the large windows flanking the door.

A small brown coupe sat parked across from the alley mouth in the dark of the
early morning. Traffic was lighter now than it was at eight o’clock, but was still
busy enough to conceal the lone occupant seated behind the wheel. With stubborn,
unhuman will and deadly purpose, the figure waited for the rest of the lights to go
out in the tavern. At ten minutes after three, patience was rewarded. The glow
behind the picture window extinguished. A side door opened and shut, and a
shadow separated from the building and shambled down the alley.

The coupe’s door opened, and a compact, athletic figure emerged into the
dimly lit street. The young woman glanced both ways and trotted across, following
the figure up the alley. With silent skill enhanced by superhuman agility, she
sidestepped cardboard boxes and cats alike. Despite the deeper darkness, she could
see as if the way was lit by a full moon. Her hearing, finely tuned on top of her
superior talent, picked up every whisper of paper, every scuttle of tiny feet, every
rustle of a wing. She didn’t have to see her quarry; she should be able to hear him,
as long as he didn’t suspect—

Halfway down, she stopped. Something wasn’t right. She turned her head,
tuning, homing—there it was! Someone breathing—

He broke from behind a dumpster and took off at a dead run, scattering rats and
garbage across the wet pavement. Even with Jenna’s enhanced reflexes, he had a
modest lead before she could take up the pursuit.

Block after block he led, dodging and darting to avoid her grasp. But she
wasn’t that eager for a fight. Not yet. She would wear him down a bit first. She
changed her breathing to maximize endurance and followed for a while, not
catching up but not falling back, either.

He showed some gumption, that was for sure. That, and training. She gave him
a little more room to test his evasion technique, and no surprise, he showed her
some tricks that she already knew, most likely picked up from the same instructor.
She lost view briefly, twice, but picked him up again just as she had the first time,
flushing him like quail from a thicket. No human could have picked him up, but
Jenna was no human; she was better. The deadly chase went on, block after block.
The man breathed in ragged gasps as desperation overtook him. A hand clutched at
his side. There was no way he was getting away again.

An angry flash came over her at the thought of the betrayal that put them both
in this situation, and Jenna put on a burst of speed. After three years, every
suspicion was confirmed. This was the man who’d tried to kill them. Time to play.
Drawing a telescoping baton from her pocket, she caught up to him as he tried
to duck down another alley. He spun with a snarl, a hand darting for his pocket.
She closed in before he could draw his pistol, and went to work with the baton.
Jenna broke his wrist with the first blow, and the second knocked him senseless.
Stabbing out with her free hand, she grabbed his shirt and hauled him down,
dragging him into the shadows.

He lay panting, whimpering in pain and fear as Jenna brought her face down
close to his and hissed, “Let’s talk about Tahiti, Hamet.”

His eyes shot wide, and he began to gibber in a Middle-Eastern tongue. She
placed a knee on his broken wrist. His complexion paled and he fell silent, teeth
clenched in agony. “In English. I know who you work for.”

“I didn’t know it was you,” he blurted, a grimace pasted on his features. “None
of us knew. We just had orders—” He moaned as a spasm gripped his broken arm.
She grabbed it and gave it a light twist. She was rewarded with a howl as the man
bucked off the pavement.

She shoved him back down, brandishing the baton in his face.
“Orders from whom?”

“You know as well as I.” He moaned. “You get orders. You follow them. You
don’t ask questions.”

“Is that right?” She snapped the baton down on his hand. A satisfying crunch
echoed off the wall, accompanied by a shriek which was cut off by her wadded up

It got worse before it got better. Jenna didn’t like that part of the job, but two
things drove her on: justice, and vengeance. Jenna had to find out why The
Pinnacle wanted one of their own dead, and Anna Spielberg deserved payback.
Now, after three years, she was damned well going to get it. Occasional shadows
drifted by the end of the alley, but at this hour and in this neighborhood, no one
was going to get involved.

Hamet was tougher than she gave him credit for. By the time she got the
information she wanted, there wasn’t much left of him. But the answers came.
They weren’t what she wanted to hear, but the truth needed to be told. When she
finally snapped his neck with a sharp twist from a rear naked choke, it felt anticlimactic.

The trail she’d followed on her own for the last three years had finally
come to its end. And with that end came the realization that Jenna had been trying
to avoid for longer than that. Not all was well with her employers.

There were divisions among the Council. Not on the surface, for outwardly
they still seemed to operate as united as ever in their cause for world peace. But
underneath the placid veneer were machinations and plots. Whispers of sabotage
and power plays chased each other through Jenna’s mind as she strode from the
alley and back up Seventh Avenue.

Somewhere in the power struggle, someone upline had made a mistake. They
issued a kill order on the wrong person, and not just because of who Anna was. Dr.
Spielberg had dedicated her life to the purpose of world peace. She saw it
happening within just a few more years. It wasn’t even that they tried to wipe out a
seven-year-old girl as well. Sofi was as harmless as they come, a sweet, shy little
thing with as much deadly potential as a pink frosted cupcake. Their worst mistake
was in messing with someone assigned to Jenna Paine’s protection.

As Jenna stalked away from the body, one thing hung in her mind: she would
find out who on the Council issued the kill order on Anna. And when she did, they
would face the full fury of a woman scorned.

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