As Book 2 begins it’s final editing stage and pre-production. I offer an exclusive NEW chapter that takes place before the events in Book 1 “The Death of Eve” It involves two characters known in book 1 who share a mysterious past. Witness their original meeting now.
THE DEATH OF EVE
It made no sense to Daniel. He watched the timely rain drizzle from the artificial grey sky, above. The armored jeep, he sat in, roared over a large muddy hill, down into the outer ring. The rain hit his fuzzy bald head, lightly thumping it like cold dull tacks. The rain made him think.
“It’s fake. All of it,” he whispered.
“You say something?” the driver yelled.
Daniel ignored the question. He changed his focus to the long warehouse buildings they were quickly approaching. There were several, all scattered throughout a specific area of the outer ring beyond the center of Stark City. The intel Daniel received explained the firepower, hidden within one of the warehouses, was massive. He just didn’t know which one housed the illegal firearms.
“Get off the road, here,” Daniel ordered. The driver nodded. He quickly turned the wheel, jerking the jeep off the muddy trail onto a rocky path. The vehicle bounced over the rough terrain stopping just short of the first warehouse in the outer ring.
Daniel hopped out just as the jeep skidded to a halt. He landed with his knees bent, the dark coat he wore whipped into the wind and rain.
The rain made no sense to Daniel. It was like dull sweat pretending to soak the inside of the world.
“Why’d they send only one of you?” the driver asked putting the jeep in reverse gear.
Daniel turned his head toward him.
“One is all that is needed,” he answered. The driver looked at Daniel noticing the sword handle sticking out of his open coat by the waist. “You can go now,” Daniel added, carelessly.
“Are you sure? I thought my orders were to—”
“I said go,” Daniel interrupted. His face read like iron. When the driver reluctantly agreed to leave, Daniel disappeared around the nearest warehouse corner.
The rain intensified like clockwork. Its sudden downpour helped shield any sounds of footsteps Daniel made across the mud and rocks. Still, the rain made no sense to him. People who ran the government inside Stark City always insisted on realistic weather indigenous to the outside world, back before everything went to hell. The government had all the choices in an endless bowl and they chose to make the inside like nothing had ever happened.
Daniel stealthy passed another corner. The rain came down so thick, nobody could see past ten feet. Daniel hardly thought of it as an inconvenience. If anything it meant his true abilities to hide unseen would not be tested today. Still, a job was a job.
From a distance he heard the yells of angered men trying to keep their small cargo units from getting drenched. Daniel couldn’t make out the words specifically, but it did allow him to guess the range at which they stood. He hugged the wall of the central warehouse until he came upon the outer entrance. The long door swung open just near his shoulder. The men ran out, ignoring Daniel completely.
“Get that shit in here, on the double!” a gruff bearded man yelled through the rain.
Daniel vaguely heard the words, but understood its meaning.
Boots sloshed through puddles as pairs of men grabbed large crates, hauling them inside the large central warehouse.
Daniel silently waited for the right moment. His mission had been made clear.
Locate the illegal arms, destroy it and leave no survivors. At least leaving no survivors was an addendum he added of his own accord.
The mission couldn’t have been simpler. Letting the onslaught of rain mask his sight and sound, Daniel snuck into the warehouse undetected. Moments later, the last of the wet crates were placed inside. The warehouse doors closed soon after.
More rain clashed in thumping splats over the aluminum rooftop. Voices overlapped in disruptive confusion. Among the disarray, one of the men whistled for attention.
“Alright shut up, everyone!” the man yelled.
Daniel hid in the dark surveying the interior as every man shifted their views.
“Partly due to the annoying element this dome offers us on such short notice, we will not be moving our merchandise to our new location, at this exact moment.”
“No shit, Frank!” a voice hollered in the background. A few laughs rustled.
“Hey, pipe down! This only delays us until the ride gets here. I called it in ten minutes ago. Everything’s fine,” Frank assured his men.
“Yeah, right. Why are they here then?” another man asked. He pointed his thumb to the rear of the warehouse. In the back was a small room with one large dusty window. Three men in black business suits conversed inside it.
Frank held up a hand. “Don’t sweat those guys. They supervise their own trades all the time. It’s business. Everyone will get paid, I promise.”
Daniel removed his coat revealing his curved katana blade and scabbard attached to his waist. With the water weighing down his coat, he’d be less effective dispatching his targets. Carefully, he watched the men continue to talk to Frank out of the corner of one eye, while simultaneously observing the business men across the way. Vanguard had warned him that certain mafia members would be present. The jobbers wouldn’t carry any firearms. It cost too much to fire bullets. These mafia finites, however, were certain to be concealing their own guns. The priority of death didn’t change, just the order.
Enough crates and boxes filled the warehouse plenty for Daniel to shift through undetected. For a moment, he grasped at the tense decision to prove one skill over another. He wanted to fight them all at the same time. Once, he witnessed Vanguard perform wildly against a dozen men and bested them all. Another time, a story of Vanguard’s stealth proved to be a stellar feat. The Sashurai had told Daniel that Vanguard infiltrated a government facility and stole a data module containing information the general required. Vanguard never tripped any alarms. The Sashurai even accused Vanguard of putting bells on his shoes just to decrease his chance of success.
Daniel wanted to prove strength and cunning together. He opted to take this assignment alone, knowing full well the consequences if the general found out. Failure meant dishonor amongst the Sashurai. Failure was the furthest obstacle from his mind.
Daniel watched the three men from the shadows, just a few feet from the window. They appeared huddled, arguing about something too faint to understand. Their words muffled within the room. Daniel couldn’t hear them out. The door to the room was closed. His three options were to enter from the window or the door. The third option meant waiting them out. For the moment, stealth won over macho heroism. He would wait to slice them within the darkness.
With the henchmen worrying about pay and time, there were no other open distractions to keep Daniel from reaching his goal.
One of the businessmen moved to the window. Daniel got a clearer picture. An obstacle appeared after all. A woman sat in a chair in-between the three businessmen. Judging by the rope around her and the distraught worry in her eyes, Daniel guessed fairly that the woman was being held against her will.
“Interesting,” he whispered. The data he received was incomplete, or maybe it was an additive test the general sprung on him. Finding a woman during a mission meant only one thing, a priority override.
The window of opportunity came quickly. One of the men opened the door halfway, his head still concentrating on the conversation amongst the three. Daniel sprung into action. Staying low in the dark, he charged the door. By the time the man turned his head into the doorway, it was too late. A single swipe from the darkness split the man’s neck wide open. Blood showered over Daniel as he flew forward into the room. The other men pointed their guns wildly, firing in Daniel’s general direction.
The men were slow and pathetic. They lacked any precision or care it took to fire their outlawed weapons. Daniel, on the other hand, carried a weapon of much greater value and skill, the blade of the Sashurai.
Two bullets spiraled out at Daniel. In a flash, he pressed a trigger on the handle of his sword. The bullets twisted in the air colliding instantly with the blade as if a force pulled them to it. The men’s astonished faces gave Daniel as much free time as he needed to dispatch them in short order.
Blood caked over the window, painting a gruesome red finish on the pane. As perfectly executed as it was, Daniel did not prevent those shots from firing. The workers would be on top of him in seconds.
Looking down, he noticed the woman staring at him with casual glance. Daniel tilted his head in wonder.
“You’re not surprised by my actions,” Daniel stated.
“Yer an idiot, ye know. I didn’t need savin’ from ye,” the young woman huffed out.
“Is that so?” Daniel ran his eyes up and down her restraints unconvinced of her bravado.
“Clearly. Just what do ye plan to do about the hired help out there?”
Daniel didn’t need a refresher.
“Hold still.” He raised his bloody sword and cut, with pinpoint accuracy, the ropes binding her. The woman never flinched. He reached down and pulled her up under the shoulder. “Stay behind me,” he ordered.
“Sure, until yer dead,” she answered.
Daniel wasted no time. They left the room together finding the nearest stacked crates to hide behind. The hired workers came by the litter.
“Gonna kill all of em?” she asked.
“Shut up.” Daniel didn’t like this. Priority overrides happened in the least likely of places and when they did, it threw everything off. It made no sense. Still, there was no denying the change in his mission now.
Some men, who heard the gunshots, immediately ran outside the warehouse. Others stood in place. Only a few gathered enough courage to try and find out what happened. As they approached, Daniel let them know what transpired personally. He cut them down, leaving no man alive within his reach. The ones standing in place witnessed his barbarous acts and ran with their lives.
Daniel sneered at their cowardice. He couldn’t care less if they stayed and fought with their bare hands. What greatly annoyed him was that he’d have to chase down the ones that fled.
“Let’s go,” Daniel ordered.
The woman stepped out from a crate immediately screaming. “Look out!”
Daniel felt heat from behind. He turned just in time to see a large fireball ignite straight toward him. The blast of fire came from a larger man holding a flamethrower the size of a man.
It was Frank who held the breath of fire.
Daniel dove forward into the woman causing them both to fall to the ground hard. The fire continued over them, engulfing crates nearby.
“Move!” Daniel yelled. The woman crawled as fast as possible, away from Frank and his menacing flamethrower. It was clear Daniel was going to have to distract his enemy long enough for the woman to escape. The gamble was high. With two direct threats in front of him, he was going to have to make short work of the imminent threat. With a strong leap, Daniel lunged away from the woman. Frank chased with fire after the Sashurai. The gesture had worked.
“Goddamn Sashurai think you have it all figured out, don’t you?” Frank yelled, spewing a stream of flame across the way.
Daniel launched into the air. He stuck one foot out to stop his body from merging horribly into the wall. The momentum sent Daniel in the opposite direction, as he landed crouched. Never losing sight of the woman, Daniel surveyed the floor for his long coat he had dropped earlier. It was only a few feet away.
Frank gripped the trigger on the flamethrower tightly sending wave after wave of vicious flames against his murderous attacker. The fire wasn’t fast enough to catch the slippery Sashurai. As Daniel slipped behind cover, Frank flipped a switch on the long barreled gun.
“Taste this now, sucker!” Frank yelled. He pressed the trigger hard, blasting a mighty fireball from the nozzle into a dozen crates setting them all on fire.
Daniel emerged, leaping across a flaming crate. The coat wrapped around him shielding his body and arms from the burning heat. He watched Frank try to lift the nozzle high enough to reach him, but Daniel was effortlessly faster. Another fireball shot out. Daniel screamed while falling forward, his sword aiming straight for the center of the nozzle.
The sword, as if empowered by force of nature, split the fireball in two. The nozzle fell instantly, sundering into two pieces. The flamethrower turned useless in an instant.
Frank was defenseless. He tried to move backward, but Daniel was over him, like the falling rain.
Daniel’s sword found all the straps around Frank and cut them all. Unlucky for Frank, the body parts hooked to those straps went along with them. The last of the workers fled the warehouse. Nobody wanted anything to do with Daniel, the lone Sashurai. He looked over and saw the woman watching from a corner. Oddly enough, she didn’t appear scared in the least.
“Interesting,” Daniel said to himself. As he started to walk over, he felt a hand jostle his boot. A part of Frank’s hand, still connected to the living half of his body, tried to hold on.
“You’ll answer for this…they’ll find you.” Frank spit up blood. It dribbled down into his eyes.
Daniel tilted his head. The sheer will of the man fascinated him. But the damage was distinct.
Frank died within two more breaths.
Daniel wiggled the man’s fingers off his boot as he continued toward the woman.
If it weren’t for her existence, he would have been well off searching for the men that brought the illegal weapons to the facility, and dispatching them. As it stood, she was now the number one priority.
“Why are ye staring at me like that?” she asked.
“What were you doing with those men?” Daniel ignored her question.
“That is none of yer business, man in black. As ye can see, I was simply at the wrong place and very much at the wrong time.” The woman smirked.
Daniel didn’t buy it at all. He didn’t even need his extraordinary training to gather the obvious. Maybe she was lying obnoxiously to prove a point. It didn’t matter. The only concern was to take care of two messes inside the warehouse.
“You’re coming with me,” Daniel ordered, reaching for her shoulder.
“Coming? Where? I don’t think so.” The woman backed into the corner.
“You don’t have a choice. Our orders are quite strict,” Daniel replied. He stood in her way blocking any chance of escape. He shallowly hoped he wouldn’t need to knock her out and drag her through the fake rain.
“Orders ye say? And what would those orders be exactly?”
“Any women found are to be brought and held at our facility for transportation.”
“Transportation? Where?” she asked.
“Somewhere else,” Daniel answered.
The woman sighed as he reached for her again. She didn’t oppose him. Instead, the woman flew into Daniel’s arms. It caught Daniel off guard. She was lucky his blade wasn’t sticking out for her to run into.
“What’s yer name handsome?”
Daniel stared at her for several seconds. What is wrong with this woman?
“Daniel,” he finally answered.
“I’m Mionne,” she said back grinning.
“I don’t care.”
“We’ll see Mr. Fuzzy Head. We’ll see.”
Daniel maneuvered Mionne outside the warehouse. The thick heavy rain continued to pour relentlessly. The mission was a success, albeit with a margin of unexpected error. Finding the woman would prove to be a bonus either way. A mission was a mission. When the jeep returned, he would be rid of her. the last thing he wanted was for a woman to be witness to the slaughter he would have to carry out to the ones who got away.