Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cliff Ball: The IAN Interview

Cliff Ball lives in Texas, born in Arizona, is a Christian and is Baptist. Cliff has two BA's, and a Certificate in Technical Communications. He has published nine novels and two short stories so far. Cliff got his start when he won third in high school for a short story written in Creative Writing class for a young adult magazine. You can find his website at

IAN. Hi Cliff. Please tell us about your latest book.
C.B. Beyond the New Frontier is a combination of the novels New Frontier and Final Frontier, this is the story of alternate timelines, partial political thriller, and time travel, in which President Kennedy is kept from being assassinated, but there are other unintended consequences as a result.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan becomes President of the United States, declares the U.S. will plant a base on the moon by 1980 and a base on Mars by 1989. The Iranian Hostage Crisis occurs, but Reagan issues a stronger response by rescuing the hostages within two weeks of it happening. As a result, Osama bin Laden rises to power earlier than he normally would have in the prime timeline. Meanwhile, The Soviet Union decides to build a starship that will travel to the stars because they want to one-up the United States. The ship launches, but soon becomes lost, while the Soviets pretend it isn't.

In the early 1990's the U.S. and the Russians join forces to find the Soviet starship, which leads the joint venture to the other side of the galaxy by means of a wormhole. When they attempt to return to Earth, they find themselves in the past, where they try to fix certain events in the past while they wait to re-route the Soviet starship and for history in general to catch up to where they launched the joint mission to begin with.

Things go wrong as events do not play out as planned and numerous cases of unintended consequences result from the multiple attempts at fixing the timeline.

IAN. What inspired you to write Beyond the New Frontier?
C.B. I’m into alternate timelines and I wanted to write a novel where the U.S. keeps going with the Moon landings and creating bases on the Moon and Mars. It really saddens me that the U.S. currently has no way of getting into space without relying on another country.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
C.B. I used an outline, because I found that just winging it doesn’t work for me all that much.

IAN. How did you come up with the title?
C.B.I chose New Frontier for the separate novel because JFK talked about a “New Frontier.” When I combined New Frontier and Final Frontier, I decided to name it Beyond the New Frontier, because it sounded interesting. At first, I was going to choose “To the Stars,” but I don’t think that worked as a title.

IAN. How much of the book is realistic?
Since it’s alternate history, it’s based on stuff that happened, but I fantasize it and twist it around.

IAN. What book are you reading now?
C.B. I’m currently reading three books at the same time: reading a biography of Andrew Jackson, trying to get through 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and catching up on the Wizard of Oz series because I didn’t read them as a kid.

IAN. Are there any new authors that have caught your interest?
C.B. There’s a lot of indie authors I’ve read that I would’ve never heard of before if we didn’t have the opportunity to publish ourselves. Authors like K.C. May, M.R. Mathias, JC Phelps, to name a few.

IAN. Do you see writing as a career?
C.B. In this economy, I’m kind of stuck with writing as a career.
IAN. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

C.B. My parents bought me a lot of books as a kid, most of them were young adult and above when it came to reading comprehension, and I thought I could do it too one of these days, so I began writing random stories when I was ten.

IAN. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
C.B. Writing dialogue that doesn’t seem stiff and stilted.

IAN. Is Beyond the New Frontier published in print, e-book or both?
C.B. Both, but only on Amazon since Beyond the New Frontier is in KDP Select

IAN. Where can we go to buy Beyond the New Frontier? (links)
C.B. Please follow this link to

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
C.B. I actually have two works in progress. One is a prequel to Times of Trouble, which explores the Evans family and how they came to power, while a secondary storyline is about the Atwood’s, who come into contact with the Evans’ in the early 1970’s, and then the story will go until around the beginning of Times of Trouble. The other work in progress is about a young Christian who sings only in church, gets discovered by a producer of a national talent show, he wins, and we see him go through the ups and downs as a result of the consequences of wanting to be rich and famous. This is also set in the same period as Times of Trouble and Times of Trial, but won’t be political in nature.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Daniel Saynuk: The IAN Interview

Daniel Saynuk

Legally blind writer Daniel Saynuk has a special fondness for guide dogs. His own beloved guide dog helps him more easily live his life in his home town of Baltimore, Maryland. Daniel began writing stories while pursuing his Business Administration degree, and established his own company to bring the book Guide Doggie to life. He is passionate about educating others about the valuable services guide dogs provide to the visually impaired.

IAN. Please tell us about your latest book.

DS. Being visually impaired I had been around people who used guide dogs in order to gain more independence. Fairly recently I decided I would like one of these wonderful working animals for myself. After being accepted into a guide dog school and going through the process of learning how to work with my new guide dog, I began to see other people had questions and wanted to pet the dog while he was working on guiding me. This was a problem since the dog needs to concentrate on guiding while working not playing. In my opinion the guide dog schools do all they can to teach the public but to me people still have questions. I didn’t know anything about these dogs prior to being trained on how to use one so I know how people feel because I had many questions during training. I’d never even had a dog much less one that was trained to guide.

So as a result of all this I wanted to make a book that not only could teach people about what a guide dog does and things they should know when they see one, but also a book that was fun. So I added illustrations to make the book more entertaining.

Then I figured I may as well ad some word games too. And the illustrations should be able to be black line drawings so the reader can color in the pages how ever she or he wants. So as a result Guide Doggie was born.

Its Guide Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help The Blind In This Coloring Book. It's a 8.5 by 11 inch paperback that tells the story of a dog becoming a guide dog and the chores he completes on a daily basis. Each page of the story can be colored in. There is also a fill-in-the-blank portion where you use the previous pages to see what words are missing for the blank spots. That section also has coloring pages as well. A crossword puzzle, word search, and word jumble word games are also there. The games use information on guide dogs for the clues and answers. If you don’t know the answer its no big deal because each word game has an answer page also to help answer the games.

The ebook version that is just the story of the dog with no word games or coloring pages but the ebook does have the same illustrations as the paperback and in full-color. That ebook is called Guide Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help The Blind In This Brief Picture eBook.

IAN. Did you create the drawings and the puzzles?

DS. No, I had someone else do the drawings for me. The puzzles were created with software I purchased. I looked into using free options online but I preferred the puzzles produced from a software.

IAN. How long did it take to write Guide Doggie?

DS. The writing took maybe a week or so. I did a draft of a bunch of ideas. Then I had to decide how to weave it all together. For instance it the book starts with the dog as a puppy, moving through guide dog school, getting matched with a person the dog will guide etc.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. 

DS. I found it better to write down things in the evening. I think about what
I’ve got so far during the day. Then I try to add a little to it in the evening
while also rereading what I’d wrote already.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

DS. I just wrote down a bunch of ideas at first. Then I kept looking it over
thinking about what else could go in the story. I wrote some of the page titles
and wrote a description of what should be happening in the picture. Then I
wrote the sentence on each page under the headings of the pages based on
what I wanted to have in the picture for that page. That way the picture and
the heading of each page matched up perfectly.

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?

DS. As far as I’m aware there’s only been a few other books like Guide Doggie put out to teach the public about guide dogs. I don’t know of any that are told
from the dogs perspective that also include pages to color and activities other
than my Guide Doggie coloring book.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

DS. There is both a print and ebook version The print version is called Guide
Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help The Blind In This Coloring Book. The
ebook is called Guide Doggie: Learn How Guide Dogs Help The Blind In This
Brief Picture eBook. The paperback has the activities and pages to color as
where the ebook is is the story of the dog only. But its pictures are in full-

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Guide Doggie?

DS. I hope readers learn that interaction with a guide dog should be avoided
while the dog is working. Also know that when a guide dog is not working he
acts just like any other dog. There are some toys and treats that need to be
avoided but in general a guide dog acts like any other dog when it is not
guiding someone.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?

DS. The paperback can be purchased at Amazoncom

It is also for sale on Barnes and Noble’s website as well as can be ordered
through Ingram.

The ebook can be purchased on 

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

D.S. I’d like to write a fictional story. I began writing it a few years ago and have a few chapters of it already.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

DS. You may visit my website at:

John Pearce: The IAN Interview

I started gathering the material for Treasure of Saint-Lazare during my days as a journalist in Washington and Germany, where I covered economics and finance for Associated Press and then the International Herald Tribune. I developed a keen interest in World War II when I lived down the street from an immense air-raid bunker in Frankfurt and kept on top of the war literature when I returned to the United States and went into business.

I only recently found time to write, and the first thought I had (as any novelist does) was “what if”?  My what-if moment was the time I realized there was a world-famous painting by the Italian old master Raphael, a contemporary of Leonardo, that was lost at the end of the war – and was still missing. From there it was but a short jump to a story about a hellish consortium of crooks who thought they knew where to find it.

IAN. Please tell us about your latest book
JP.Treasure of Saint-Lazare is the story of one man’s grudging quest for the truth. My protagonist, Eddie Grant, is a man who life has not treated at all well. His father, his wife and his young son were killed several years before the book’s action and he has been working ever since to dig out from under the emotional and psycological avalanche that brought down on him.

I’ve been extremely gratified at how well it’s been received. I’m a first-time author publishing from a tiny publishing company, and Treasure of Saint-Lazare still has ranked in the top 1% of all Kindle books almost from the time it hit the market. It’s also been in the Top 100 Kindle historical mysteries almost all of that time, and in the Top 100 of all Kindle books for about half the time. Needless to say, I’m pleased.

IAN. How long did it take to write Treasure of Saint-Lazare?
JP. From concept to publication, three years. However, the first two years were a sort of self-imposed timeout. I began the writing but discovered pretty quickly that I didn’t know how to write a novel, so I stepped back and began a self-study program. Then I came back to the writing in late 2011 and had it finished and on the market by October 2012.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?
JP. My interest in the war, in art and in France, in no particular order. Also, I had wanted for years – decades, really – to write a novel like this. I still have notes from back in the day for a John Le Carré clone that, fortunately, I had sense enough to kill and bury.

IAN. Talk about the writing process.
JP. I worked on morning newspapers so I’ve never broken the habit of afternoon work. I get up at a reasonable hour, take a three-mile walk, have a leisurely breakfast, read the New York Times, and then around lunchtime I turn to work for three to five hours.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
JP. Yes is the best answer I can give. I don’t do a formal outline but I gather hundreds of notes using Evernote, which I’ve been using for as long as it’s been in business. I now have almost 17,000 notes, not all of them about my books. I organize those notes and construct a rough chapter outline in Scrivener, then write to that outline.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?
JP. My main market is Kindle readers, because that’s what I am and that’s where I think the novel market is headed. I also have a trade paperback, which has been very popular in Sarasota, FL, where I live, because our population is a touch older and hasn’t yet fully embraced ebooks, to put it delicately.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
JP. I hope they see a story of a man’s ability to change his life when he’s forced to step up to an unwanted task. My protagonist, Eddie, is far from a perfect guy but he knows his failings and makes huge progress toward overcoming them.

IAN. Where can we go to buy Treasure of Saint-Lazare?
JP. Amazon.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
JP. I’ve finished plotting a sequel and have begun the writing. My publication goal is third quarter 2013, but I’m willing to let that slide if another few months will give me the chance to polish it.

Treasure of Saint-Lazare
296 pages
Historical Mystery
Publisher: Alesia Press LLC. (

    For more than a hundred years, the Hôtel Luxor had stood imperiously on the narrow sidewalk of Rue Saint-Roch. Its cut-stone façade and wrought-iron balconies reflected to perfection the austere design dictated by Baron Haussmann when he razed and then rebuilt whole sections of the city for his patron, Emperor Napoleon III. Its sole distinguishing feature, other than a discreet brass plaque bearing the hotel’s name over four stars, was an immense revolving door made of dark-stained oak and brass, which the hotel staff polished every day to a mirror finish. The single doors on either side of it stood open in the glorious late-spring weather that often settles over the city in mid June. Spring turning to summer is the time all the other Parisian seasons envy, and this June day was one of the best.
    Late afternoon was a slow time for the reception manager — he was born to the hotel world and would stay at the Luxor until he died. His name was Monsieur Duval, and he believed he was at least partly responsible when the hotel received its coveted fourth star the year before. M Duval arrived at work each morning in casual dress — that is, he wore no tie with his starched white shirt, which his wife had carefully ironed that morning. In the small cloakroom behind the reception desk he changed to a dove-gray suit, adding a silk tie a few shades darker. Only Eddie and the payroll clerk knew his first name, so complete was his devotion to both his privacy and his guests’.
    He was peering suspiciously at a slightly loose button on the left sleeve of his jacket just as Eddie’s tall silhouette filled the open door, then stood aside to let Jen Wetzmuller enter the lobby. He followed, pulling her wheeled suitcase.
    “Bonjour, Madame, bonjour, M Grant. Welcome back.” M Duval said seriously, no smile. His hand came from beneath the counter holding two envelopes, which he handed to Eddie. “You have a little mail today. Not much.”
    “Thank you. M Duval, allow me to present Madame Wetzmuller, who is visiting me and my mother for a few days. Her father and mine were close associates during the war.”
    “The Luxor is very pleased to have you as its guest, Madame,” M Duval said gravely.      “Please ask for anything you need.” Surprised by his formality, she muttered a barely audible “merci,” then managed a tight smile and a dip of her head.
    Eddie bypassed the large winding staircase he normally took to his apartment on the top floor, instead leading Jen toward the elevators to its left. He pressed the button marked 7 but the elevator did not move until he entered a code into the keypad above.  “Remember the code, 6161,” he told her.
    As they rose, he reflected that Jen had retained the fresh air of youth he’d admired in 1988. She wore a traveler’s outfit of white blouse and pleated blue skirt, and had coaxed her hair into a shape he had not seen in Paris for several years. With difficulty, he brought it back from his very small store of fashion knowledge — coupe à la Jeanne d’Arc — pageboy cut, that had been its name, and it had been popular in the U.S. twenty years before. Despite the June warmth she had a sweater over her shoulders. The skirt fell precisely to the top of her knees, and her legs were as attractive as he remembered. She wore a delicate perfume he couldn’t identify, except to remember that it was different from the one she’d worn in 1988. Under the perfume there was the delicious woman smell he’d immersed himself in during their three days together.
She looked up at him and said gently, “It’s been a very long time. I never expected to see you again.”
    “Nor did I. But I could never forget those three days in Sarasota.”
    “They were memorable, weren’t they?” She smiled at him for the first time, a generous open smile that lighted her deep blue eyes and told him his disappearance was forgiven, if not forgotten. The weight of mortal sin lifted from him.
She broke the silence as they passed the fifth floor. “What happened after?”
    “Pretty much as planned. I went into the Army, served in Desert Storm, then came home to Paris.”
    “Did you ever marry?”
    “Yes, once. You? My wife died.”
    “That is sad. I married once, for three years. A big-time cardiologist who wanted a younger wife. It lasted until he found another blonde trophy.”
    “Then you’ve stayed in Sarasota?”
    “God knows why. It’s a beautiful town but no place for a single woman my age. It’s a huge, deep pool of blue-collar men looking for college-educated women and, surprisingly, finding them. I’m almost too old for that group now. I suppose I’ll sign up for the club of unhappy middle-aged divorcées and widows who understand deep down they’ll spend nights alone for the rest of their lives.
    “You’re selling yourself short. We’re only forty and you still look like the girl I knew back then. It’s far too early to start wearing black and sitting in a rocker on your front porch.”
    “Thanks for that. You haven’t done badly yourself. You still have all that black black hair I admired. And you still carry yourself like a West Pointer.” She smiled again.
They stood in silence until the elevator stopped. The door opened and she stepped out into a small lobby decorated in Second Empire style. A marble table held a large bouquet of yellow flowers, which complemented the blue walls.
    “Just one door?”
    “This floor was an afterthought some time after the building was built. It’s a little smaller than the others, which is the reason the city has winked at it. The French are pragmatic about that sort of thing. If it pushes a little over the edge of the law but doesn’t hurt anything, they generally close their eyes. It was a little risky, but I decided to turn the entire floor into my own apartment.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

David VanDyke: The IAN Interview

 David VanDyke

I grew up in California with bestselling authors BV Larson and Vaughn Heppner. We were together from junior high to college, but after that, while they were working and writing on the side, I took a detour though the US military for more than twenty years. First I joined the Army and spent five years jumping out of airplanes before returning to school, graduating with a BA in History and a commission in the Air Force. I loved the military life, and I lived all over the world – Japan, Germany, Italy, Belgium, visited many more places, and served in combat zones in Turkey, Iraq, and the Balkans.

Once I retired from the military I was casting about for something more interesting than the corporate grind. I’d always wanted to write, and after I got back in contact with my childhood friends that were now authors, it sparked my imagination, so I took the plunge, publishing my first novel, The Eden Plague, in June of 2012. My lovely wife is my publicist and proofreader, and any success I have I owe well over half to her.

My wife and I now live near Washington, DC now with our two and a half Pekingese, but we hope writing will turn from a paying hobby into a portable career so we can move back out West.

IAN. Please tell us about your book.
DVD. My latest book is titled The Orion Plague. It’s the fourth in the Plague Wars series of sci-fi thrillers that started with The Eden Plague and went on to The Demon Plagues and The Reaper Plague.

The first three books take the reader from present day through about twelve years in the future. I deliberately do not use year dates so that it won’t become suddenly obsolete (1984, anyone?). Those books tell the story of an apocalypse different from most.

The first story element is the Eden Plague, a healing and immortality virus that turns into a sociopolitical wrecking ball. It destabilizes world politics as people fight over it, resulting in sporadic conventional and nuclear war.

The next element is an alien race that has been watching Earth for many years and has become concerned about human progress, and so decides to “help” us destroy ourselves by dropping deadly plagues onto Earth.

It’s against this backdrop the stories take place as the characters struggle to cope with moral and ethical dilemmas at the same time that they must deal with the physical consequences. All the books are packed with action, tension and conflict – physical, psychological, emotional and political, and the story lines branch out and become more complex as the series grows.

Book 4, Orion Plague picks up right where Reaper Plague left off, with the main protagonist, US Marine Corps Master Sergeant Jill Repeth, searching desperately through the post-apocalyptic landscape of the US East Coast for her fiancé, Rick Johnstone, a cybernetics expert. He’s been kidnapped and enslaved for his skills, and Jill, a normally upbeat and cheerful warrior, warps ever darker as the frustration of her search and fear for his life twists her up. Most of the first part of the book revolves around this search and rescue.

As for the other main story line: In previous books, one of the extraterrestrials defected and brought information that Earth would soon be attacked by methods even more devastating than bio-warfare: in less than a year, a ship would arrive in the solar system intending to drop asteroids onto the Earth, to wipe out all human life.

Australia is now an economic powerhouse and world leader because it was largely spared the plagues and nukes. One protagonist there, covert operative Tran Pham “Spooky” Nguyen, uses his connections and growing influence to set that nation on course to build a radical space warship design before the aliens come. Many nations contribute, and the ship is launched just in time to meet the alien attack.

Of course (spoiler!) humanity is not destroyed, but there are sacrifices and there is cost, and discoveries that set up the next and final book in the series: Comes The Destroyer.

IAN. How long did it take to write The Orion Plague?
DVD. It’s taken me about two months to write each book, which range from 70K to 100K words. Then it takes a few weeks to edit, get feedback, format etc., but during that time I work on the next book.

IAN. What inspired you to write The Orion Plague?
DVD. I had always intended the series to progress from post-ap into space, and the story just seemed to go there. The second half of Orion Plague contains the first space battle – first in the series, first I ever wrote – and I think it’s a good one, a real white-knuckler.

IAN. Talk about the writing process.
DVD. Because I still have a day job, I write after work in the evenings. I usually write for 2-6 hours depending on my muse, and spend the rest of the time on “notwriting.” That’s all those other activities that support authorship – marketing, corresponding, doing interviews, *cough* – all that stuff independents have to do to keep in the game. I do this seven days a week if I can, though occasionally I’ll just take a night off and chill.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
DVD. My process is pretty organic. I think in scenes, so I start by writing the scenes I have thought of, even if there is no structure yet. For example, if I know there will be a confrontation between two characters, I will write that scene. Once I run out of ready-made scenes, I try to do an outline of the main story, sometimes a dramatis personae, and some random notes for where I want the thing to go.

Only at this point do I usually try to start from the beginning and draft my way through. Often this process has me writing one thread all the way through, then writing another thread in parallel – usually my main protagonist first, then secondary protagonists, then antagonists or side character/supporting threads.

IAN. How is the Plague Wars series different from others in your genre?
DVD. A piece of advice I’ve always taken to heart is “write the book you want to read.” I’m a longtime reader and so I try to emulate beloved elements of my favorite books.

One thing I seldom see is the genuine military culture and feel translated into science fiction. There are a few authors that do this well – David Drake and John Ringo come to mind – but many writers have never spent a day in the military and only know from Hollywood. It’s not about detailed action scenes – it’s that ineffable something, that esprit de corps and that genuine camaraderie that are hard to capture. Fortunately I lived through enough real life in the military that I believe I can.

On the flip side, I think my books strike a great balance among different types of tension, in a manner that I don’t see much. David Weber did good work with his early Honor Harrington books in this way – interpersonal conflict, both psychological and physical, set against a backdrop of political, economic and military conflict – and I aspire to replicate this feel, if not his style.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?
DVD. Right now the series is all available for Kindle ebook. We are working on getting them all loaded on the smaller sites – Kobo, B&N, Smashwords etc. – and at least Eden Plague should be on those soon. We are also in the final stages of getting Eden Plague loaded onto CreateSpace for print availability, and that should be done by the end of February at the latest. As my wife is my publicist, a lot of this has been learning curve and now that she is getting up to speed, within the year everything should be available everywhere.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
DVD. First I want them to be entertained – to say, “Wow, what a book. Where’s the next one?” Second, I hope I gave them something to think about. Some of my favorite books raise question that don’t have easy answers, and I like to do that too.

IAN. Where can we go to buy the Plague Wars series?
DVD. Amazon is the best place right now. You can always go to my website, though not all buying avenues are yet loaded – we have many balls in the air. Kobo and BestIndieBooks have book 1, The Eden Plague, available right now. We are adding venues all the time.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
DVD. Obviously book 5, Comes The Destroyer, is in the works, but I am even more excited about a novella that I am working on to be included in an anthology with bestselling military sci-fi authors BV Larson and Vaughn Heppner. This ebook will come out sometime in March or April and will feature a novella by each of us, with the theme of “Planetary Invasion.”

My piece is called First Conquest, and will be a tie-in and launch for a new pure mil-sci-fi series of short novels, set 100 years after the events of the Plague Wars series, as EarthFleet takes the war to an alien star system for the first time. Because the Eden Plague confers immortality, I am able to seamlessly bring favorite characters from the earlier series into this one.

It’s going to be a real nail-biter, full of pathos, action, danger, honor and sacrifice.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
DVD. You can contact me directly though my website.

The Orion Plague (Plague Wars series)
283 pages
Thriller, Military Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: David VanDyke on KDP, Createspace, Kobo, and others.

From The Orion Plague:

 “Lock and load,” Repeth ordered.
“Guess I'm Lock,” joked Lockerbie to Butler at the gun, “and you're Load.”
Grusky didn't laugh but instead looked askance at Repeth. “We’re kicking in the front door?”
She swiveled her head around to stare at him with dead eyes. “You got a problem with that?”
He blinked. “None whatsoever. Just want to be clear on the plan, boss. No recon means we go in blind. Doesn’t seem your style.”
Repeth gritted her teeth. What the hell do you know about my style? “It also means we go in with maximum surprise. The plan is shock and awe. Butler, use whatever kind of shells you need to cut our way in. We may end up driving The Beast straight into a building to start the extract.” She reached down between her knees and hefted a rotary grenade launcher, loading it with baseball-sized shells.
“You think Rick is in there?”
“I’m hoping. And if not, they’ll damn well tell us where he is.”
“Understood.” When Repeth faced back to the front, Grusky exchanged glances with Donovan, who shrugged.
“Let’s go.”

“I got targets, Top, want me to light them up?” Butler asked, sounding eager. His incredible weapon quivered like a live thing, pointing toward the dozen or so vehicles parked in front of the office building.
“By all means,” Repeth replied in a droll voice, “but spare your ammo.”
Butler thumbed the selector switch that chose his burst length. The electric Gatling fired much too fast for mere human control; at 150 rounds per second, he would be lucky to guess burst size within 20 shots. So he clicked on “10” and put ten rounds into each vehicle in turn. “There’s an underground parking garage,” he warned as a tunnel leading down hove into view.
“Lockerbie, as soon as we dismount, push some of these hulks to block that tunnel. Butler, I see windows. I don’t like windows.”
Butler grinned. “Roger that, Top.” He flipped the gun back to full auto and walked a stream of rounds from the building’s corner to corner, holing every window and the front glass doors as well. They didn’t come apart the way they should, though. “Armored glass. Bulletproof. Good thing these ain’t bullets,” Butler muttered.
Profligate with ammo this time, he sprayed the penetrators along the top and bottom of the window line, and great gaps appeared as chunks of the hardened crystal fell to the ground by the hundredweight.
Without windows the rooms beyond were visible, well-lit offices with computers, shelves, desks, chairs. Tiny blue lightnings popped from broken electronics. Here and there a small fire started, smoke curling up toward the ceiling to activate the suppression system. In several places inverted fountains of halon gas poured down, obscuring their view.
And a few things, once human, twitched redly in the wreckage. The hundreds of penetrators had probably sliced all the way through the building to burst out the other side, slaughtering everything in their path.
Jill’s conscience banged on its box lid, trying to get out. Shut up, she said to that piece of herself. I’m not wrong about this place. Whatever is going on here, it’s evil. The only thing I am going to regret is if there’s no one left to give me intel.
“Hurry up!” she barked as she shoved The Beast’s heavy door open and dismounted. Her PW10 snugged on its retractable sling under her right arm, and in her hands she hefted the rotary grenade launcher. “Butler, finish loading the Vixen yourself, and keep an eye on that jail. There may be armed guards in there, but there may also be prisoners, so don’t perforate it. Grusky, Donovan, you’re with me. Get moving, go go go!”
The three burst out of the vehicle and followed Repeth as she jogged toward the shattered front door of the office building. Behind them, Butler reloaded his depleted bin as Lockerbie bulldozed wrecked cars to block the underground garage.
Repeth saw movement in a gutted room and resisted the urge to fire a grenade. I need information, not revenge, she scolded herself. For now, that other self listened. She clambered over the sill into the office and through the mess.
Legs struggled weakly beneath a heavy overturned desk. Repeth pointed and the two men heaved the thing off the body while she covered them. Beneath the wreckage lay a man in shirt and tie, bloodied and dazed. She reached down to haul him to a seat in a surviving chair. Grabbing his hair to look him in the face, she lifted an eyelid. Running her half-gloved fingers over his torso, she searched for the wound that had produced all the blood.
She found a moist, bloody but rapidly-closing hole in his abdomen, and she put her grenade launcher down on the desk behind her to pull up her PW10. She set its muzzle to his head. “He’s healing. Nano or bio of some kind. That’s good, he won’t die on us. Cuff his hands, then tie his feet with that lamp cord, Donovan.” Once he was secured and his eyes were starting to clear, she slapped him gently. “Hey, you. You. What’s your name?”
They heard a burst of Vixen fire, then silence. The man looked around wildly, realizing his predicament.
“Hey you. Focus. What’s your name?”
“Bill,” he said dazedly.
“Okay, Bill, are you an Eden?”
A sly look crossed his face before it smoothed. “Yeah, Eden. It’s legal now, you know.”
“Liar.” Repeth kicked him in the stones, her heel crunching down on his groin.
“Top!” cried Grusky as the man choked and gagged in pain.
“Shut up, David. He’s healing, but he’s not an Eden. He doesn’t deserve your sympathy. I told you, what’s in here is evil.”