Monday, August 31, 2020

Wolves of Babylon Chapter 6

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Pre-Emptive Defense

Securing a property against physical assault was one thing. Securing it without being detected was something else. But creating the illusion of weakness, while still offering an invisible yet irresistible defense, now that was a mission worthy of the STS.

Karim was willing to stand watch outside the temple forever, but it would merely prolong the stalemate. It signaled that Galen had forces capable of defending his holdings, but not so powerful that they could threaten the Street Wolves, never mind the Pantheon. It would keep the wolves at bay, but only until they committed enough resources to overwhelm Karim and the temple.

The STS did not do defense. Defense was simply what you did before going on the offense, or when there were no clear threats on the horizon. Yuri had drilled that into them. If a Dark Power were allowed to marshal its strength, no defense built by human hands alone could stop him.

And if you want to start a war with a Dark Power, make it look like it was its idea.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Wolves of Babylon Chapter 5

 

Ghost Guns

Lamb jealously guarded his privacy. A locked door led to the back of the shop, where a winding staircase awaited. A holographic keyboard, authenticated by an iris scanner, secured the door at the top of the stairs. Past the stairs was Lamb’s personal workshop.

The moment she entered, the smell invaded her lungs. Oil, lubricant, gunpowder, metal, plastic, the scents that came from working with guns and ammo for countless hours. Here it was thick and pungent, a fog that permeated the world.

Precision machines occupied the room. She identified reloading equipment, a lathe, a mill, a drill, a gun safe, multiple 3D printers. Armies of tools hung on racks mounted on the walls. Even more tools awaited inside boxes and cabinets. Workbenches formed islands in the middle of the shop. Everything was neatly-organized, clearly labeled, positioned for easy and intuitive reach. At the far side of the shop, another locked door, also equipped with a keypad and iris scanner, blocked off access to the rest of the floor.

Lamb placed a black plastic box on a workbench, extended a half-dozen antenna, and hit a switch. A bright red light flared to life. Karim twitched a little.

“We are secure, as secure as we can be,” Lamb said. “So, tell me, what is this assignment of yours?”

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Wolves of Babylon Chapter 4

 

Rules of Deception

The first rule of deception was to give the enemy something he expects to see.

The second rule of deception was to act where he isn’t looking.

The Street Wolves would expect Karim to guard the temple. So would the Pantheon. Karim made a show of it, planting himself by the main entrance, Dahl’s shotgun concealed under a long coat.

Which freed Kayla to act in the shadows.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Wolves of Babylon Chapter 3

 

Between Gods and Wolves

Babylon, again.

Kayla Fox loved the outdoors, but part of her heart remained in Babylon. Here, she had served in the Public Security Bureau. She had cracked the glass ceiling and became one of the few women to join the Special Tasks Section. She’d fought and bled and killed in the streets and shadows of Babylon, more than other corner of this godforsaken nation.

Most of all, here was where she’d met the men of Team Black Watch.

And Yuri Yamamoto.

But Babylon didn’t love her back. The government might have wiped the slate clean, but humans and gods had their own rules, their own agenda. When the STS shut down and the PSB underwent ‘reforms’, she saw the signs early and fled to the heartlands of Nova Babylonia. To the fields and the forests and the mountains, still untouched by the New Gods.

She would have stayed there forever, but when a brother called, you came running.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Wolves of Babylon Chapter 2

 


Between Gods Greater and Lesser

Babylon.

Capital of the world, gateway of the gods, the most religious city on the face of the Earth. There was a god for every man, a church for every faith, a scripture for every believer. It was said that the New Gods had descended to the changed world here, after the madness of the Cataclysm and the Long Night, and never left.

Skyscrapers reached for the heavens, each of them a steeple dedicated to the dual divinities of commerce and capitalism. Roads and train tracks divided the city down into districts, neighborhoods, parishes. Temples and shrines marked the borders and holdings of gods greater and lesser. Massive billboards advertised movies, computers, makeup, mass-manufactured by megacorporations pledged to or founded by the gods. Drones and gravity vehicles soared through the sky with tech handed down from the New Gods. Down at the street, among the countless millions of anonymous cars and pedestrians, preachers competed to attract the most souls.

Babylon hadn’t changed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Wolves of Babylon Chapter 1

 



Awake

Six months.

Six months was a long time to live on the road. Even longer with the New Gods after you.

The Federal government had promised that they had nothing to fear. The men, and woman, of the Black Watch had offered their full testimony in exchange for blanket immunity. The crackdowns that followed would echo forever in the annals of Nova Babylonia’s history. Even now, six months after the Temple Commission hearings and the seemingly-endless raids that followed, the New Gods were still on the back foot, still recovering from the massive blow they’d been dealt.

But the New Gods never forgot and never forgave.

Karim Mustafa had nothing. No living family, no organization, no pack. Without a group, he was vulnerable. He was meat. If he remained static, the New Gods and their pet monsters would find him. He had to stay on the move, all the time.

The highway lights stretched endlessly into the night. Lonely taillights burned in the darkness before him. The growl of the engine filled the interior of the car, a soft undercurrent of white noise underneath the non-stop chatter from the radio. Karim kept both hands on the wheel, steady pressure on the gas, staring out into the night.

There was a time he’d have flown instead of drove. Driving was for people who couldn’t afford a gravity vehicle. But flying consumed huge amounts of energy. Fuel costs added up. Wheels were still more economical than gravity mirrors if you didn’t have to fly. If you had limited funds.

If you had no idea where the hell you were going in life.

Monday, August 3, 2020

A Different Kind of Thriller

Cyberpunk.

The word conjures visions of cyborgs and neon streets, high-tech mercenaries and corporate fortresses. A world of high tech and low life, where life is cheap and thrills are fast, where megacorps promise a silicon heaven but deliver a chromed hell.

Or, if you are Amazon, litRPGs, space operas, superhero harems, anything and everything but cyberpunk.

Having built my career on science fiction and high-intensity action, cyberpunk should come as a natural fit. Cool tech, big guns, non-stop thrill ride, it should be a perfect genre for me. Certainly when I announced my intentions to go into cyberpunk, I saw messages expressing anticipation for a non-stop action fest.

I appreciate the sentiment. But with Singularity Sunrise, I wanted to go for a different kind of thriller.