*Please refer to this post for Treasure Hunt Giveaway details.
Format: Kindle (.mobi)
Number of Prizes Available: 3
Lane is a bounty hunter for Erebus’ corrupt government, his life a constant battle against past demons. Framed for murder, Lane is offered one option to avoid the death penalty: rejoin the army and partake in a covert operation to the apocalyptic world of Hemera, Erebus’ sister planet.
A century after the nuclear conflict that ended mankind’s third age, Hemera has now sent a distress signal to its sister: the president has awoken, and he’s calling for aid. Early intelligence reports indicate the mission will be straightforward, that Hemera is a vacant shell with all forms of life and hostility extinguished.
They are wrong.
Bandits control the dead lands, but there are things much worse waiting for Lane and his squadron once they enter the city walls. Having lived with the nightmares of his shattered past, Lane must now face the mutated horrors of mankind’s future in the toughest battle of his life.
Then, they came—out of doorways and windows, through holes blown in buildings by a century-old apocalypse.
In the light of day they appeared even more menacing than what he’d witnessed from the hotel earlier in the morning. Skins red and blistered from the sun, the divested bodies were toned and muscular. Apparently descendants from Magna’s cursed populace, the creatures retained some semblance of a human façade. Yet their eyes were slits and their nostrils flared; mouths agape to reveal sharp, uneven teeth. Some scrambled on all fours, a primeval state of feral hunger etched onto gruesome faces.
The charging horde threw up a myriad orange flags in his visor, almost blocking his view of the cityscape.
He squeezed the trigger, exhausting the third grenade from Maya’s Woofer. Tossing the weapon to the dirt, Lane dragged his Woofer from its scabbard. Firing, he pumped another shell into place and squeezed off another round; then he launched another grenade into the advancing crowd. The explosions scattered them, tore some to pieces, but the surge was unrelenting.
Pushing the Woofer back into place and activating his Berserker, Lane was already running before Johan gave his order.“Move!”
Scattering like panicked animals, the squadron broke ranks and sprinted up the street, desperate to avoid the wave of attacking mutations surging from gaps in the shattered metropolis.
The street erupted into an orchestra of screaming Berserkers spitting plasma.
The occasional Woofer popped in symphony, explosions echoing off the district’s remains.
A chorus of barks and clicks rattled from the charging creatures, their cries laden with bloodlust and primal desire.
Johan’s labored voice hissed through his headphones. “Up ahead, a church of some kind. Everybody head for it and we’ll regroup.”
A church? Lane doubted they’d find much refuge there, the building probably filled with the tortured souls of those who had entered its doors in a final quest of forgiveness. He had no idea what kind of god the people of Hemera had once worshiped, but he suspected the deity had long since abandoned this place.
Expending magazines, soldiers fired into the scampering mutants with an unrelenting stream of white hot plasma. Sunburned and cracked flesh split easily, muscular bodies pirouetting under the onslaught. Exploding plasma shells tore some of them in half, severed limbs, and imploded heads, but the stream of creatures never wavered.
Fresh monstrosities scampered over the devastated, smoldering remains of their dead kin.
Lane suspected most of them were related, distorted, and animalized by disease and a century of inbreeding.
The building loomed ahead, its stonework fractured and worn. The steeple lay in ruins across the steps outside, cracks running like dried veins along its weathered skin. Darkness settled deep inside the building, its large arched doorway standing open.
They were running towards it, desperate to escape; yet they had no idea what they were escaping into.
Lane expended his latest magazine into the chasing horde, appendages and blackened blood ballooned from the plasma hits. With one smooth motion he ejected the clip from his Berserker, hauled a new one from his belt, and slammed it into place. Reese sprinted ahead of him, laying burst after burst into the mutations. He hoped she’d make it into the church.
Blades of steel spiraled through the air, making their route treacherous. Panic and fear made it hard to focus as he tried to direct his fire while dodging twisting shards of sharpened metal. Their screams of terror and determination mingled with the hoarse barks of a frenzied clan of chasing mutants.
Curved steel, exiting the blue heavens in a perfect arc, caught Lenz just below his chin. The blow altered its course and the blade spun away into the far side ruins. Lenz stuttered in his step, head jackknifing upon his shoulders and deep red arterial blood spraying down his uniform. Legs and arms flailing, his corpse slammed into the street and the man’s tumbling head turned a circle in dust coating the asphalt.
Treasure Hunt Question:
Who does Lane hope will make it into the church?
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Now living and working in Norway, Dylan J. Morgan was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions.
A member of the Horror Writers Association, he has published 8 books, all available on Amazon.