War Wolves Books 1 and 2 now available on Amazon!
CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!
Ketrick and Rizzo raced to finish the twenty-ounce glasses of beer they pressed to their lips. Amber liquid ran down each of the corners of their lips as they gulped large mouthfuls of the alcohol.
At once, the two men lowered their mugs to the table, trying to be the first; the sounds of the glasses striking the circular wooden table in the bar came in unison.
“It was me!” Ketrick looked over at Vet and Riot for confirmation. “I was the first to claim victory!”
Rizzo shook his head emphatically, waving a finger at Ketrick and pointing to a milliliter of beer still in his mug.
“I don’t know, there, Prince,” Riot said with a nod toward Ketrick’s glass. “It doesn’t look empty to me.”
“No matter,” Ketrick said, slapping Rizzo on the shoulder. “I love this game. Let’s do it again!”
Riot couldn’t remember smiling as much as when she was around Ketrick. The Trilord prince was like a kid. Ever since he had come back with them from Hoydren as an emissary between his people and Earth, Riot felt happy.
From his genuine fascination with things like elevators and jeeps, to the way he spoke with strength and determination. After the War Wolves had completed their mission and returned to Earth, Ketrick was kept in the Bulwark for observational tests. Today marked their first run outside of the top-secret facility.
Riot and two other members in their unit had decided to take Ketrick to a bar where he could try to fit in. Riot, along with Vet, Rizzo, and Ketrick wore civilian clothing—jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts. The fabric felt strange on Riot, with the weirdest thing being not having on her combat boots that usually hugged her feet so tightly, they nearly cut off circulation.
Ketrick wore a pair of dark sunglasses to hide his red eyes, and a mouthpiece that fit onto the upper part of his jaw that camouflaged his abnormally long fangs. Wang and Doctor Deborah Miller had fashioned the mouthpiece for him, allowing Ketrick to walk freely among the rest of humanity.
Wang and Deborah had stayed behind, despite the offer of a night out. Wang was deep into his next sci-fi novel, while Doctor Miller simply said she had work to do. When she was prodded for more information, she had stonewalled them.
So it was left to the three humans and one Trilord to go out into the Southern California sun and relax. They had decided on a bar called “The Derelict” and had ordered three beers, along with an energy drink for Riot.
Her long past with alcohol abuse was still too fresh to even think about taking a sip. The memory of drinking her worries away while on Hoydren haunted Riot. She’d thought she was stronger than that. What had happened?
“You okay?” Ketrick’s six-foot-seven frame leaned on the bar next to her. “You look like you are disturbed by your thoughts.”
“Yeah, well, you’re not too far from the truth on that one, Muscles.” Riot lifted the orange energy drink can to her lips. The carbonated chemicals tickled her throat as they rushed to her stomach. “How’s Vikta holding up with you being gone?”
Vikta was Ketrick’s dragon who could control her size, ranging anywhere from the dimensions of a horse to a house. The dragon had been friendly enough on the ride back to Earth, and thus far, had behaved herself in the Bulwark.
“She’s patient, but she’ll need to spread her wings soon,” Ketrick said, adjusting the dark glasses on his face. The long hair tied behind him, and his short dark beard, made him look like a cross between a barbarian and a hipster. “I was going to speak with you, see if you could talk to General Armon about allowing Vikta to fly at night.”
Riot cocked her head, weighing what she thought the general’s answer would be. General Armon was the new head of SPEAR (Special Purpose Exploration and Recon). The secret organization’s former leader, Warrant Officer Harlen, had been sent to Hoydren with a platoon of scientists to act as emissaries to the Trilords. Their mission was to learn and share whatever they could. A tit-for-tat that could prove the best way to protect humanity in an increasingly dangerous universe.
“Maybe.” Riot shrugged. “I don’t know him that well. But seeing as how you’re a prince of your people and all, I think it would be hard to deny you. As long as you took Vikta high over the ocean, I can’t imagine you would be sighted easily.”
“So it’s a date?” Ketrick wagged his eyebrows above his sunglasses.
Riot took a deep breath. The memory of their kiss on Hoydren and the feelings she had for Ketrick couldn’t be denied, but neither could her position as the leader of her unit. “Listen, what happened with us on Hoydren was … great, I’m not going to lie, but…”
Riot looked around to make sure Vet and Rizzo were preoccupied. To her delight, a pretty brunette had strolled over and had begun making conversation with the men. They were more than preoccupied for the moment.
“We can’t do this.” Riot tried to imagine the look in Ketrick’s red eyes past his dark sunglasses. “No matter how we feel. We both have duties to attend to. You, to your planet; and me, to the Marines.”
“And you don’t think an opportunity exists for these two ideas to coexist?” Ketrick took a seat next to her at the bar. The stool he sat on groaned under his muscular form. “We can have both and be better for it. We have a saying on my planet. It would be hard for you to pronounce, but it means ‘two are better than one.’”
“Yeah, we have that saying here, too, Romeo,” Riot said, feeling a flutter of panic race down to her stomach as she found herself actually considering the idea of pursuing something with Ketrick.
“Who is this ‘Romeo’ you speak of?” Ketrick pounded his hand on the bar with a wide smile. “He sounds like a wise human. I would meet him.”
“No,” Riot said, and she rolled her eyes, laughing out loud. She found herself laughing a lot these days. “Romeo is a fictional character. He’s a—”
“You eyeing my girl, Cyclops?”
Riot and Ketrick’s conversation was broken by a wide man with inflated muscles and a nonexistent neck, yelling at Vet and Rizzo. Apparently, the pretty brunette that had strolled over to the Marines was not unaccompanied.
“Leave them alone, Stan,” the brunette said, placing a hand on the large man’s chest. “I was just talking to them.”
“Answer the question, you one-eyed freak.” Stan ignored his girlfriend’s petitions to turn away. “Were you talking to my girl?”
Everyone in the bar quieted to see if the confrontation would escalate into a full-on fight. Riot already knew the answer. Rizzo wasn’t going to let anyone talk to his friend like that. In the Marines, there were ties stronger than blood, one of which was you never let your brother be singled out for verbal abuse. Plus, Rizzo liked to fight.
Riot took the lull in the events around her to examine their surroundings. The meathead had at least four friends sitting at a table to their right. The bartender behind her was already reaching for something under the bar. Whether he would use the weapon to end the confrontation or he was one of Stan’s friends still remained to be seen. Either way, Riot wasn’t going to let him draw a bead on her friends.
The powder keg was lit, the fuse already burning. Vet decided to speed up the process.
“I don’t see any livestock around here,” Vet said, peeking around the massive man in front of him, squinting with his one good eye. His left eye was made up of a steel plate that looked like an eye patch. “So, no, I guess I’m not talking to your girl.”
So much blood rushed to Stan’s pale face, Riot thought his head was about to explode. A vein the size of a rope pulsed on his neck.
The next moment, the bar erupted. Vet took the big man down, while Rizzo launched himself at the group of Stan’s friends who came from their table, running to help.
“Oh, good.” Ketrick bolted from his seat, already sprinting to throw himself into the fray next to Rizzo. “I love Earth!”
The bartender brought an ancient-looking, double-barreled shotgun up from behind the counter. As soon as he cleared the muzzle over the bartop, Riot vaulted over and landed next to him. A look of shock clearly written across his face.
Riot swatted away the barrel of the gun while delivering a hard strike to the man’s wrist, then to the side of his neck. The bartender’s grip on the shotgun loosened enough for Riot to rip it free.
The bartender stumbled back, stunned for the moment. Fear lit his eyes as if he thought Riot was going to turn the shotgun on him the next second.
The bartender must have been a local favorite, because there were other members in the bar who were already moving in on Riot to help their fallen friend. Riot pointed the shotgun at them as they tried to scramble over the bartop.
“Easy there, muchachos,” Riot said, cocking back both hammers on the shotgun to lend emphasis to her words. “I’m not looking to add to my body count tonight. No one has to be shot in the groin.”
The bartender scrambled back on his hands and knees until his back hit the end of the bar. His bad combover and stained shirt made him looks so pitiful, Riot almost felt bad. Still, she kept the weapon trained on him and the handful of bar patrons who looked to one another with indecision in their bloodshot eyes.
Behind her, Riot could hear yells and grunts as her Marines and Ketrick finished the fight. Riot chanced a glance over her shoulder to see pretty much what she expected. The big man named Stan was unconscious on the ground below Vet. Rizzo wiped blood from the corner of his mouth with a grin. The two men he had dispatched lay in various states of borderline semi-consciousness. One was crawling for the door.
Ketrick held the last two’s heads, one in each of the crooks of his elbows. They looked as though they were rag dolls caught in the arms of a monster.
“I love this planet!” Ketrick lifted his chin to the ceiling and roared.
FROM JUSTIN >>> Book 2 starts off with a blast, right? That’s what you should expect from the series! As the reviews have been saying, it’s lots of fun!
And on that note, PODIUM has listed the Syndicate Wars boxset of our audiobook for preorder on Audible 🙂 You can grab it now (Audible or Amazon). Enjoy – and the boxset ebook is only $0.99, so you can grab that and the Whispersync deal for only $7.99 or so, I believe. That’s a good deal, for 18+ hours!
Quinn was a Marine sergeant hell-bent on ensuring that her young daughter had a world to grow up in. Now that an alien armada known as the Syndicate has invaded, that seems like a distant dream that will never be realized. But rather than accepting that the world she wanted was over, Quinn organizes a ragtag group of Marines and resistance fighters who take the fight to the aliens, even as they discover that things are not as they appear to be.
The world is on fire and Quinn and her small band of freedom fighters are the extinguisher.
The alien invasion is over and an occupation has begun. Trying to reach her mother, Quinn’s daughter, Samantha, has been stranded in a no-man’s land of shattered cities, broken dreams, and refugees. Already wise beyond her years, Samantha is forced to grow up quickly in the face of numerous life-or-death encounters, and soon links up with another group of guerrilla fighters to kick some serious alien butt.
It’s not a matter of if mother and daughter’s worlds will collide, but when … and once they do, the revolt against the alien invaders will never be the same.
The Syndicate leader, known as the Potentate, watches over everything, biding his time, working feverishly to manipulate the actions of Quinn and the others in the present and in past loops of time. Quinn and her daughter must stop the Syndicate by any means necessary, even if that includes magic and time travel.
Get ready for the thrill ride of a lifetime, because it’s going to get bloody messy.