Sunday, February 22, 2015

Now in Paperback: Critical Mass!

Wow, has it really been a full month since I came by? I am so sorry, folks. Truth is, there are several good reasons. Life threw us a wicked curve ball last December that we had to take care of. But the issue is good now, the outlook is awesome, and I give full and complete credit to a dedicated team of doctors who saw a red flag for what it was, and used God-given wisdom and skill to slay four horrible dragons in our household. Being as these dragons were chewing on other parties and I don't have specific permission to share, I'll remain discrete about details. But suffice to say, we've been very busy for the past several weeks, and the results are very good.

However, that's not what I came by to talk about. Many of my readers have been asking when the third installment of The NADIA Project is going to release in print form. There have been delays upon delays for which I apologize to you and lay no blame on circumstances beyond control, but now, here she is... (Drum roll... Curtain rising... Brass fanfare...Release the cheerleaders...Drop the confetti!)

Critical Mass

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

And what would a rollout be without an excerpt?

A slim young nurse came in through the side door and
motioned to Jon. When he stood, she drew back, inviting him to follow. Jon looked
back at Irving, checked for the rest of the security team, and went through.

The nurse gave him a running report as he followed her down one hall after
another. “Your suspect is in recovery now. He’s waking up. The wounds were
severe, but he’s going to make it.”

Jon followed her through two sets of double doors that opened when she held a
card in front of a scanner. “In here,” she droned, “Bed 17—” She stopped dead in
the center aisle, her hands limp at her sides. Three federal officers and the staff
nurse lay sprawled on the floor in widening pools of blood. Along the wall on the
right side of the ward, a conspicuously empty spot where a bed should have been
was strewn about with the refuse of haste: blood smears on the floor and walls,
supplies spilled from their drawers and cabinets, an IV stand lying on its side.

Jon’s hand leapt to the radio microphone clipped to his collar. “Pete, Will!
Lock the hospital down, now! We have an incident.”

His shout knocked the nurse out of her shock. She sprinted to a small panel on
the wall and punched a large blue button. Before she reached the first victim, a
smooth tone sounded through the PA, followed by a female’s calm, practiced
voice: “Code Blue, Station Two.”

Kneeling down next to another of the inert bleeding forms, Jon checked the
wounds: a single, deep slash across the throat. Bright red arterial blood was still
pulsing onto the floor, though the strength of the spurts was weakening at an
alarming rate. “This one’s alive, but barely. How’s that one?”

The nurse’s voice was choked, hoarse, as if she’d been screaming inside her
own head since they’d walked into this nightmare. “He’s gone.” She looked over at
Jon. “Use your finger and thumb. Press on the arteries on either side of his
windpipe. I’ll be right there.” She stood and yanked the top drawer open on a crash
cart against the nearest wall. A second later, she was crouching next to Jon on the
floor, tearing open a suture kit. “Okay, get out of the way. Check on Susan.”

The doors burst open. In reflex, Jon rolled over. His pistol slid easily from his
shoulder rig. The group running into the ward stopped dead, their hands raised as
they saw the 9mm. Jon’s heart pounded in his throat. As he recognized the scrubs
and uniforms, he lowered his weapon, hands shaking.

Pandemonium erupted as the team flew into action. Jon stumbled over to a
wall. His left hand came up to his face to cover the tears rising in his eyes, but he
stopped when he saw the red blur. His hand was covered in Isaac Simpson’s blood.
His legs collapsed and he slid to the floor amid the voices of the crash team,
working on Isaac and the staff nurse. “O-negative over here, I need blood now!”
Another voice came from the other side of the room. “Susan? Susan, come on. Stay
with us, hon. Dammit, breathe!

The radio on his hip broke squelch. “Shots fired! Shots fired on the front lawn,
officer needs assistance!” In the background, Jon heard the bark of pistol fire.
That snapped Jon back to reality. Dammit, I’m done being helpless. Let’s get
these bastards…
He fought back to his feet. The weight of the pistol in his hand
reassured him as he walked, then ran toward the front of the hospital. Anger
spurred him on, faster and faster. His feet pounding in the halls matched his racing
pulse as he burst through the foyer and out into the front lawn.

Two agents were down, but they’d accounted for three of the enemy. Will
Houghmaster hunched behind a low brick wall, ducking down as another hail of
bullets flew from the two remaining Pinnacle attackers in hospital garb. A third
was helping a gown-garbed man into the back of an SUV.

Jon never broke stride. He dashed across the lawn, making a beeline for the
vehicle. The enemy agents turned their fire on him. He might have ducked, might
have even run away, but now, he was too mad. He ran harder, his anger turning
into a furious, heart-pounding rage. The man helping the other into the SUV was
just closing the door when Jon crashed into him. The door slammed shut on the
man’s arm. He screamed at the loud, harsh crack as the bone gave way.
Kicking back from the SUV’s side, Jon fired into the driver and ducked as
bullets whined around him.

A loud wet slap to his left caught his attention, and he turned his head to see
one of the remaining gunmen hit the ground under Will’s fire.

Jon snapped off two more shots at the lone remaining Pinnacle agent. One of
them hit home, and blood sprayed from the man’s chest as he fired back.

Something punched Jon in the thigh. A moan crawled from his throat as he
dropped to the grass. The dull pain in his thigh rose to a screeching crescendo as
his own hot blood spilled over his hands.

Footsteps hurried across the grass. More than one strike team… another attack
— Jon tried to raise his weapon, but it suddenly felt so heavy, he couldn’t lift his
arm. His vision closed to a tunnel. Hurts…

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