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They had been through it all, including the Syndicate invasion and the world that waited for them at the other end. But what he had just said couldn’t stand.
“That’s disgusting,” Riot said grimacing. “Is that why you haven’t asked to pull over in the last six hours?”
Vet looked at her, arching the eyebrow of his one good eye. The other eye was completely gone, covered now by a steel eye patch that latched into the skin around the vacant hole. His Indian heritage spoke for itself with his dark hair and brown eye.
“Think about it. It’s the most natural, efficient way to travel,” Vet said, adjusting the seatbelt over his compact, muscular chest. “This is a perfect example right now. We’re almost there, but you have to pull over to piss. I’m just fine.”
“No, you’re not fine.” Riot shook her head, concentrating on the road in front of them. Their jeep hit a road bump, causing the vehicle to swerve on the broken asphalt. “You’re sitting in your own poop and piss.”
“Wow, wow, wow.” Vet put both hands out in a sign for Riot to calm down. “I’m not an animal. I draw the line somewhere. Piss only, no poop. Wearing adult diapers while traveling on the road is the only way to go. No stops. The fastest way from point A to point B is a direct line with no room to deviate.”
“Yeah, well, we’re deviating now, because I’m not peeing myself.”
“You’re the boss.” Vet shrugged, looking at the ocean that ran parallel with the road to their left.
The two had been traveling most of the day, starting at the Mexican border and working their way up the coast to the refitted military base they were to report to. The base, code-named Bulwark, was where the unit they had joined up with had set up shop. Since the invasion by the alien force known as the Syndicate, numerous government and non-government entities had appeared all over the world. There were various elements on the east and west coasts, including the Bulwark in California, and something called the High Mech Command on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., which, if the rumors were true, was partially overseen by an infamous former tech billionaire named Vidmark. This man was busy coordinating with other countries to build some kind of global defense force.
Order was something read about in history books. With pockets of Marines and freedom fighters popping up like pimples on a preteen, it hadn’t been easy for Riot to decide who to trust. The only reason she had decided to attend this meeting at the Bulwark, with the group known as SPEAR, was because of the person heading the project, a captain she had learned to respect during the Syndicate wars.
Now, the deserted road opened in front of them. The California sun bright overhead, Riot and Vet were on their way to a sit-down. The only thing to make them deviate from their plan was the water and cola Riot had chugged down on their way.
Riot pulled the jeep off the side of the road near a patch of sand with tall bushes. A low hill promised concealment for the deed that was about to take place.
“You should take your weapon with you.” Vet motioned with his jaw to the back seat of the busted-up jeep. A pair of M16A4 infantry automatic rifles lay side by side. “Just in case. I know we haven’t seen much trouble yet, but the world’s gone to hell in a handbasket. There’ll be desperate people roaming around.”
“Thanks for your concern.” Riot hopped out of the jeep. Her tan fatigues that set her apart as a Marine should be enough for anyone to second-guess themselves before they messed with her. “I’m a big girl, I can handle it.”
Riot walked around the dirt-colored jeep. Her bladder was overflowing at this point. She speed walked over the sandy ground, the ocean breeze playing at her shoulder-length brown hair. Riot rounded the small hill and squatted in a patch of waist-high bushes.
Now able to see what the small hill had concealed from the road, Riot looked at a group of four men standing around a burned-down gas station. They were gawking at her as if they were still trying to figure out if she was real or not.
“Great,” Riot said out loud as she relieved herself. “Vet’s not going to let me live this one down.”
The four men who looked at Riot, then to one another, grinning, were definitely not on their way to attend the town’s next prayer meeting. Dirt streaked their faces, and each of them had hair that was a disheveled mess, something between bedhead and a severe case of lice. One man carried a handgun, another a long hunting knife. The other two appeared to be weaponless.
The men talked in low whispers among themselves for a moment before beginning their walk toward Riot.
Riot took the time to finish peeing before buckling her pants. She kicked herself mentally for being so lax. She knew better than that. It seemed the need to urinate had temporarily fogged her senses.
Riot thought about running for the jeep, but she wasn’t exactly the running type. Instead, she walked toward the men with her hands in an open, non-threatening gesture. Her boots crunched on the sandy ground beneath her.
Her muscular, five-foot-eight frame would ensure she would still be outweighed by the lightest of the men by a good thirty pounds, but that had never stopped her before.
Gun first, then knife, a voice checked off the order of operations in her head. Maim, but try not to kill them unless you have to. We’ll need every human we’ve got if we’re going to survive as a race.
“Hey there,” said one of the men with crooked teeth and a scar above his right eye. He waved a hello that looked anything but friendly. “Where did you come from, sweetheart?”
“That’s the first time anyone’s ever called me sweetheart.” Riot grinned at the men. She intentionally put herself in front of the big man with the gun. He was close enough now that she could tell the handgun he carried was either a 1911 or a Beretta. It didn’t matter much at the moment. “What do you want?”
“Well, for starters, to see you out of that fancy uniform.” The man’s eyes lit up with ill intentions as he grinned to his buddies. “Got anything valuable on you?”
“I mean, I have this fancy uniform, here, the Marines gave me for joining up. It was the main reason I enlisted, you know. You get to wear all the latest fashion trends.” Riot dusted off the right sleeve of her tan military fatigues. “Listen, I don’t normally do this, but you seem like a nice group of girls and the world is short on humans at the moment. I mean, since we’re going through an extermination event and all. Why don’t you four walk the other way, and I’ll do the same?”
The men looked at one another before they began to laugh. The noise was sure to bring Vet out of the jeep if he wasn’t already inching his way up the hill behind her with his M16A4. Vet still didn’t understand the ironic ideology behind humans killing humans. It was pointless, now more than ever, because they would all need to band together. The Syndicate had already wiped out a large portion of the world, and what was coming next would kill them all if they didn’t work together.
“That’s cute.” The man with the gun raised his weapon and caressed Riot’s left shoulder with the barrel. “What’s that patch you got on there? It looks like a wolf or a—”
Riot was trying to be overly nice. She saw her moves in her mind before she began. She struck out with a right fist to the face of the man in front of her. She could feel his jaw unhinge. Even as her victim began to crumple to the sandy ground, Riot relieved him of his handgun with her left hand.
Beretta M9, Riot’s mind registered the weapon’s familiar feel in her hand and put a name to it. Nice.
She went after the man with the knife next. He was still processing what had taken place right in front of him. Riot pistol-whipped him across his temple, once more moving in to take his weapon from his hand as he fell.
The last two men were over the initial shock and began their charge. Riot threw the knife. Flipping end over end, it buried itself to the hilt in her target’s left quad.
The last man came to a stop right in front of her. Riot pressed the barrel of the Beretta against his head hard enough that she knew it would leave a round indentation in his skin.
He looked at her with eyes so wide they reached from his eyebrows to his cheeks. He hesitated before a stupid look came over his face. The man who had taken the knife in the leg was screaming in pain. Despite his wound not being life-threatening, he writhed on the ground like he was going to die.
“I’ve seen that look before.” Riot pressed the pistol so hard into his forehead, it made him lean back under the pressure. “You’re thinking about doing something stupid. I don’t really want blood all over my uniform, but I’ll do it if you make me. Look into my eyes and understand I’m telling you the tru—”
Riot broke off her warning. Something glistening against the California sun had caught her attention. In one of the windows of the rundown gas station the men had come from, the barrel of a rifle stuck out through a broken pane.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Riot witnessed the glass surrounding the area where the rifle barrel stuck out from shatter into a hundred pieces. Without waiting to see what the man in front of her would do, Riot lowered the weapon and head-butted him so hard, she heard his nose break.
He sank to the ground, moaning along with his friend who had managed to get a handhold on the knife sticking up from his leg, but was still mustering the courage to actually pull it out.
Riot looked up to the sandy hill behind her where Vet still aimed down the site of his M16A4 with his one good eye.
“Shooter down. We could have avoided all of this.” Vet swept the area one more time before lowering his weapon. “This is exactly why I wear adult diapers when I travel.”
FROM JUSTIN >>> There’s the introduction to BRING THE THUNDER, War Wolves book 1. We had a lot of fun with these books, and Jonathan Yanez came out swinging! It you haven’t picked it up, you’ll want to soon! The thing is – Podium just signed up to do the Audiobook! (Same group that did the Martian). So that’s going to be huge.
And book 2 is already out! I’ll post another snippet of this book, and then some of book 2 – to give you all a taste. But, if you’re hooked. Head on over and grab your copy.
If Deadpool and Thor: Ragnorok had a despicable, yet lovable baby, this series would be it!
ALSO… I like to share other people’s books, and if you liked this one, check out Richard Fox’s newest book:
Roland will face the truth behind the Ibarra rebellion and decide if his loyalties are to Earth, or his ideals.
While the Iron Dragoons recover from their last battle, dark forces are at work. Gideon is called as a witness to New Bastion, where the treaty that opened the stars to humanity may force all-out war with the Ibarras or turn the rest of the galaxy against Earth.
Beyond the edge of known space, an old enemy readies a vendetta that can only be ended with humanity’s extinction.
The Dragon Award-winning series continues in the action-packed The True Measure!