Here’s an excerpt from the first story in the HeroNet Files anthology, “Argent and the Cobalt Rose” by Wayland Smith. For the record, these two are the duo pictured on the cover. If you enjoy this excerpt, consider clicking on the link above to find the book on Amazon, also available on Kindle and most other eBook formats.
Argent walked over to the door and once more flipped open his “Exterminator” as he had called the wristband earlier. Rose followed and watched him punching buttons for what seemed like a longer time than usual. “Problem?” she asked.
“Lot more security on this one. Take the surveillance first, then the alarms, then the lock…” he muttered to himself and the now familiar sounds began coming from it.
“So when do I get one of those?” Rose asked, half teasing.
“Ask the Doc. I didn’t really ask for this, we were just talking out ideas one night when I was on a really long stakeout and she was on com.” He shrugged. “She had it for me in about two weeks, and she’s been playing with it ever since. I dunno, ask her, or come up with your own toys. She likes making this stuff work, putting it together, all that crap. Good thing, too, since I don’t get much more complicated than replacing fuses.”
“What’s her name, anyway?” Argent looked over at her. “Doc Lydia. I’m guessing she has a last name?”
Argent shrugged and went back to his work. “I would guess so.”
“You’ve worked with her for a long time, from what I can tell, and you don’t even know her last name?” Cobalt Rose sounded surprised.
“Hey, I respect her privacy. If she wanted me to know, she’d tell me. All those HeroWeb folks take a pretty big risk helping us out. What I don’t know, I can’t tell someone if I get captured, hit with telepathy, or that kind of stuff.” He paused. “Besides, I don’t know your name, either. And I haven’t pushed you on it.” The Rose looked a bit defensive at that, so Argent turned his attention back to his gadget. “C’mon, already.” He looked at his wristband again. “It never takes this long. Either we’re in the right place or we’re tripping over some government black-ops crap. Again.”
“What do you mean, again? I’ve never had a problem with the feds.” She looked at him more closely. “Does that happen a lot?”
“Eh, depends. Sometimes I run across some spook types who are good guys. Sometimes some sub-division of some damn three letter agency gets a really bad idea and does something really dangerous and stupid. Most of ‘em are just like everyone else, doing their jobs and not really thinking about it.” The wristband beeped and he looked at it. “Never heard that one before.”
“What’s going on?” Rose looked up and down the hallway. It felt like they’d been standing there forever.
“Got everything else, can’t get the lock. Someone paid for some really fancy toys here. OK, plan B.”
“What’s plan–” she broke off as he backed up and kicked the door “– oh.”
He shrugged. “Hey, the alarm’s down, the cameras are down. We should be fine.” They moved in through the doorway and saw two figures walking towards them. “Or not.”
The pair approaching were a man and a woman. The man was a huge behemoth, well over seven feet tall, with a costume of mostly black, bared arms, and wristbands that went almost to the elbow with metal spikes all over them. The woman was average height in a costume of skin tight leather, also black, with a long whip trailing from each hand. She displayed a generous amount of cleavage, a spill of blonde hair, and a black headband which matched the knee high black boots.
Argent shook his head. “Great, Brute and Lash, the bondage twins.”
“We’re not twins!” they both yelled.
“See, that might be more convincing if you didn’t say it together like that. What is that, the twin telepathy thing I keep hearing about?” Argent mocked them.
“I’ll kill you, you asshole!” Brute roared as he charged forward. “I’m stronger than you are, than anyone is!”
“Stronger than me? Sure.” Argent grabbed one of Brute’s outstretched arms by the wrist. “Than anyone? Not likely.” He pivoted so his back was against Brute’s chest, shot his leg back to kick one of Brute’s legs out, and then bent forward, throwing the larger man to the floor. The force of Argent’s throw added to the momentum of Brute’s rush, hurling him to the floor with a crash. “Of course, I fight better than you do, I’m smarter, and I’m much better looking.”
Brute shook his head, groggy, struggling to his feet. “Kill you.” he panted.
“Get some better dialogue at least. I’m sure someone could write something down for you. You can read, right?” Argent kicked Brute’s chest, driving him back a bit.
With a wordless roar of rage, Brute staggered forward, swinging wildly. Argent blocked the blow, caught his arm again and spun, sending his foe face first into the wall. The tell-tale shimmer of his powers in play surrounded his right hand as he drove it into Brute’s kidney, eliciting a howl of pain. Brute clapped his left hand to his kidney and swung wildly behind him with his other hand. Argent dropped to a low crouch, then dropped back on his hands and pistoned his feet, also surrounded by the faint shimmering of power, into the back of Brute’s left knee. Brute fell backward as Argent rolled to the side and up to his knees. As the giant smashed to the floor again, Argent cocked his fist back and slammed it downward into Brute’s face. The villain twitched and lay still.
As Brute charged Argent, Lash shook her head. “Typical. The guys go hide in the corner and hope to watch some girl on girl action.” She swung her arm and her whip cracked through the space that Cobalt Rose has been standing in, but Rose was moving, jumping forward diagonally, landing on the wall and pushing off, launching a strike at Lash’s head.
“You’re so not my type,” Rose shot back, as Lash managed to barely evade the blow. Her whip cracked again, and sparks crackled from the wall where she struck. “Great, electric whips,” Rose thought, dodging another whip strike. The narrowness of the corridor cut two ways, limiting her ability to dodge, but making it hard for Lash to use her weapons to their full potential.
Lash struck again and again, her whips snapping and crackling just behind where Rose was as the heroine dodged and spun. Finally slowing, Rose felt one of the whips graze her left arm, and it went almost completely numb.
There was a crash from behind Rose, and Lash shifted her gaze for a moment, saying “Brute?” Rose stepped forward quickly, her insulated boot pinning one whip to the ground as she raised her other leg in an arc and kicked Lash solidly in the chin. Lash reeled backwards, and Rose landed two more kicks, finishing with a strike down onto the edge of Lash’s neck. Lash stumbled, managed to get out, “Bitch,” and fell to the floor. Rose heard clapping behind her, and spun in a fighting stance, to see Argent applauding.
Happy October! We have a treat for everyone. We’ve dropped the Kindle price of In the Service of the King, the first Crimson Hawks Adventure, to $1.99. The eBook price will be falling in other channels as well over the next few weeks. The story of James Markson and the Crimson Hawks is a fun swash and buckle adventure, with several twists and turns along the way.
Author Harry Heckel has been focused on his other projects this year, including work with Harper Voyager under his pen name of Jack Heckel (with his co-author John Peck). If you enjoyed Once Upon a Rhyme from Harper (on sale currently at 99 cents!), you may enjoy the drier humor of the Crimson Hawks. We’re in discussions with Harry on the second book in the Crimson Hawks series. Check in for excerpts.
Additionally, we’ve also reduced the price on Harry’s black powder dark fantasy series, the Krueger Chronicles. The eBook prices of Souls of the Everwood and Balefire and Brimstone have already gone down to $1.99 on Amazon and should also fall soon on other channels.
All three books are available in print from Amazon, but those prices will remain the same.