Tuesday, March 11, 2014
First Chapter of Moon Over Manhattan
In honor of the announcement of the partnership between me and Inbeon Studios to create Moon Over Manhattan the comic/graphic novel, here is the opening of the book. Enjoy! -Tamsin :)
Denika Petrovskii ripped a piece of her black tank top off and tied it around her upper thigh where it still bled. Seeing no further movement below, she sheathed her sword across her back and jogged across the hill towards her second in command, Cashus. With an under the breath oath, she picked up her second sword and looked out into the night, keen blue eyes scanning the shadows.
“Just surveillance, just bloody surveillance, is what you said. Why can’t anything be simple when you’re involved?” Cash said as he knelt to the ground to pick up his gun.
“Har har…come on, let’s see if we can round up any wounded stragglers who will talk, this op might not be totally blown if I can—” her eyes caught movement in the distance below. A dark figure was using the shadows to slink along without detection. He had a slight limp, which explained the slow, deliberate movement. Denika didn’t know how he’d gotten that far ahead of them but she wasn’t happy about it. “Speaking of, there’s one getting away,” she stated, tone thick with frustration as she pointed at the hobbling figure moving through the playground.
“Not for long.” Cash pulled a new clip from his back pocket and slammed it into the gun. Shoving his mess of blonde hair out of his eyes, he looked at Denika’s leg, “You still bleeding? Sure you can handle this boss? I mean, I’m sure I can do this without you if you need to sit this one out.” He stood, a wide grin filling his handsome face.
“Ha! Nice try. Now quit screwin’ with your gun and let’s go. That is, if you can keep up,” she added with a daring smirk on her face as she slid the second of her two swords into the secure back harness. Without waiting for his comment, she ran at full speed to the edge of the twenty-five foot hill and leapt into the air, landing squarely on her feet in the grass below. Without pause she ran in the direction of the hobbling man who may have the answers she needed.
Denika heard Cash followed suit, landing behind her only seconds later. After hurdling one seeding fence after another she reached the stretch of lawn leading up to the tall fence surrounding Heckscher Playground of Central Park.
“He’s heading up Umpire Rock!” Cash said to her mentally.
“No shit,” she replied mentally. Did he think his eyes were better than her’s? Arrogant ass.
Halfway to the fence a gun went off. Even using a silencer, her werewolf senses heard it and her trained reflexes saved her another wound. Twisting her left shoulder down and back as the bullet zipped past, she watch as it embedding itself in the tree behind her.
“Goddess!” Denika gasped and then saw something worse than a bullet. Two dark figures appeared out of nowhere behind her second in command. “Cash! Behind you!”
He whipped around, pulling his long sword out in the same move. She heard metal upon metal before she saw it. Reaching behind she started to pull out one of her swords to assist. Two steps into moving toward him, three more dark figures dropped from the tree branches above to stand between her and Cash. Two turned towards her and one headed for her Beta.
“At your seven, Cash!” she yelled out and then looked at the two large men in front of her. Denika knew she looked like easy pickings to these two due to her small stature. Smiling, she unsheathed the second sword from her back. They were in for a surprise. “I really have somewhere else to be. Can we schedule this for later?” They both drew swords. “Well, if you insist.”
Denika advanced on the two men with immense speed, a sword grasped firmly in each hand. Being ambidextrous had its benefits, and in seconds, both her swords collided with theirs and she was spinning about with them. Both of her swords were made of a lightweight silver-steel compound. This meant that no matter if her opponents were human or werewolf, a slice from her sword would cause a wound that wouldn’t heal right away. Much like her current leg wound. Question was, were they wielding steel or silver-steel?
Denika knew she needed to go after the primary target, not deal with these two. Not only that, but if Cash killed his attackers before she killed hers, she’d never hear the end of it. Cash wasn’t ambidextrous, but he was extremely strong and fast, so much in fact, that it almost evened them out talent wise.
Lightning fast, she blocked one man and then the other, glancing then over towards Cash for a split second to make sure he was all right. This gave one attacker the opening he needed and she felt a sword tip slice her exposed stomach and then an arm, bringing her full attention back to her own situation. Without looking, she could feel the wounds begin to heal immediately. This was the benefit of being both a werewolf and of royal blood. It also told her that the swords were strictly just steel.
Denika arced both swords on an inward then out, knocking her opponents steel out of her way so that with a swift change of balance she was able to arch, and flip backwards. Coming round, she kicked out, landing a boot in each of their faces. The two goons fell backwards, giving her the break she needed to head toward the primary target.
She bolted at full speed to the right, following the fence, hoping to get closer to the rocks. Problem was, they were still close on her heels; too close. As they gained on her, a slew of Russian curse words escaped her mouth. As strong, agile, and fast as Denika was for her height, when fighting her own kind it didn’t change the fact that her legs just weren’t long enough to outrun them without more of a lead.
Slowing down so they would be almost on top of her, she veered to a tree to her left, ran up it a few steps, and pushed off of it to flip her body up and over to land behind them. Once her feet hit the ground she didn’t hesitate to shove one sword through the back of the man on her right. He howled out in pain as the other man came at her from the left.
With the right sword stuck in her other attacker, Denika swung her left to block the second man’s sword, planting a swift kick to his midsection with both feet. The man flew backwards as she and the wounded man fell to the ground. She twisted the sword and pulled it out, causing blood and tissue to fly out of the hole in the man’s back. Denika turned to see her second attacker had found his feet and now rushed toward her.
“Goddess, I don’t have time for this!” she grunted while coming up to her knees.
Swinging both swords in a parallel motion, she pivoted out of his way at the last moment, smashing the swords into his knees. The man fell, twisting to attempt to smash his sword into her head. Denika lay back as the sword skimmed over her before he hit dirt, rolling a few times.
Jumping up, Denika grasped one of her swords with both hands and with one, swift, downward motion, severed his head from his body. With a loud exhale of relief, she turned to look for Cash.
He wasn’t more than twenty feet from her. One of his assailants was already dead on the ground while his second attacker had Cash in a chokehold. The man was easily fifty pounds heavier in muscle as well as a half-foot taller than Cash and if it had been anyone else, she’d have rushed to assist.
“Need some help?” Denika called out as she collected her other sword and ran toward him.
“Naw, I got this,” he choked out. “Stay back!”
“Well then, quit screwin’ around, we gotta go!” she yelled back, hiding a smile. Nothing spurned her Beta on like attitude.
“Do I look like I’m screwin’ this dude?” he grunted out, his hands on the man’s arm, trying to pull it from his throat.
“Well, from the right angle…” she joked.
“Oh, you’re funny. Hilarious even.”
“But really, we have things to do, so if you want help…”
He rolled his eyes, “Give me a second.”
With a guttural yell, he squatted and flipped the man over his head with a spin, causing the man to land face down in the dirt. Cash spun, grabbed his sword that was sticking out from the ground, and as the man got up to his knees Cash arced the sword, connecting with the man’s chin, slicing upwards on an angle until it exited the top of his head.
“See? All done,” he said as the man tipped over.
Denika sheathed her swords across her back. “‘Bout time! Let’s go!” Without waiting, she ran at the tall playground fence, planted her hands on the flat top of one of the posts, and flipped herself over, landing steadily inside the playground. Trusting that Cash would follow, she barreled forward, touching the device on her throat and saying, “We need clean up just outside Heckscher Playground.”
A voice came back in their earpieces, “We have a little bit of turbulence over here ourselves. I’ll call it in though.”
“Anything you guys can’t handle, Marlen?”
“We’re fine. Phin and Liam seem to be getting it under control. How many you got, boss?”
“Hell, four on the ground, possibly twice that on the rock?” she guessed.
“I’ll contact The Squad.”
Denika ran across the cement bridge that led from the playground to the large, mostly flat, rock. “Good. We’re at Umpire Rock trying to snag a straggler. Over-n-out.” Denika stopped and sniffed the air.
She could smell blood, and not just hers. It was close to her and seemed to go to the left. She motioned for Cash to go to the right. He shook his head and touched his nose as he pointed toward the trail she’d noticed. Obviously, he could smell the blood trail too and wanted to go that way.
She shook her head once and pointed for him to go to the right. He was pissed but as Beta, he didn’t have a choice but to obey the Alpha of the pack. Besides, he knew it was a better to come at the man from both sides. He turned and went around one way and she the other.
Pulling one sword out, Denika quietly and gracefully moved around the side of the rocks, staying as hidden as possible. The blood trail seemed to disappear once she was on the other side. Tucking her dark curls behind her ear to get them out of her eyes, she crouched down to get a better whiff.
The smell of blood stopped because, simply enough, so had the blood trail. Either he stopped to wrap the leg when they were fighting his fellow goons or he had jumped. If he’d cleared the rest of the rocks and picked up running wherever he landed she’d need to try and find where the blood trail picked up somewhere out there in the dark.
“Damn it, where is a blood sucker when you need one?” she whispered.
Werewolves could follow blood and scent easily, like a dog. However, a break in the trail made it hard to pick up unless you know which direction they headed, which she didn’t. A vampire, on the other hand, could follow the scent of the body’s essence itself as well as the heat trail they left behind.
The wind picked up and she put her nose in the air to sniff. Grinning, she mentally thanked Gaia for the wind as it helped her pick up his scent. Denika began to head in that direction, staying low to the ground and in the darker shadows when she spotted Cash, walking out into the open on the right side of the flat rock, his blonde hair catching the light. A shot rang out. She dropped to the ground but watched as Cash took a bullet to the shoulder, then to the thigh before he went down.
“Cash!” she screamed out and ran for him, staying low.
Another shot fired. It came from up in the trees somewhere out in front of them. They were sitting ducks on the rock. She had to re-maneuver their position. When she reached Cash, she saw he was bleeding badly, but trying to get up.
A gunshot fired off again. This time she rolled just in time, the bullet hitting the rocks near her knee, causing rock to spray her, cutting her here and there. “Damn!” Denika touched the device on her throat again. “Mayday mayday—we got shots fired at us at Umpire Rock. Beta has been shot, repeat, Beta shot! Need back-up!”
She sheathed her sword and got both her hands under Cash’s arms to pull him over to a huge crevice.
“Leave me here, go after him,” Cash said.
She pulled him a bit further. “I’m not leaving you here.”
“You called for help now go!”
“The hell I will!” she said, pulling him a few more feet to the side. A gunshot fired off, missing them again. “Jeez!”
“I’ll lay cover fire down for you—go!”
“Not till we pull those bullets out of you!” she said, and as random shots hit the rocks. Adrenaline kicked in and with one last pull she rolled all two hundred plus pounds of him into a large crevice and then jumped in after him, both now fully obscured from the sniper. Helping him sit up, his back against the rocks, Denika squatted next to him to check his wounds.
“I’m fine,” he grumbled.
“Fine my ass. Hold still.” she looked at his shoulder as panic pressed on her chest. With a quick realization that the shoulder bullet was out she took a deep breath. “This is a through and through.” She ripped off another piece of her black tank, just as she’d done for herself earlier, and tied it under his arm and around the shoulder tight.
“Ouch! Damn it, boss!”
“Gotta stop the bleeding. Must be silver rounds. Bastards.” Denika looked at his leg, ripped off another strip of material, and handed it to him. Any more wounds and she might as well take off her tank and fight in her bra, she thought first, then said, “I trust you can get that bullet out of your leg and tie this yourself?”
His green eyes flashed with irritation. “Of course I can! Now get where you can fire on this asshole.”
Denika wore two guns, one on each leg. She pulled the one from the right thigh harness and checked that it was loaded. “Cover me while I get to that tree.”
She scooted over to the edge of the crevice opening at the far side of rock, waited for him to fire a few rounds. As he lay down cover fire, Denika ran the twelve feet to the closest tree, which was directly across from the crevice.
Seeing a window of opportunity, Denika poked her head around and squeezed off a few shots herself before retaliating back behind the tree as a shower of silver bullets filled the air.
“Cash, you got those heat sensor shades?”
“Yes, ma’am, I do!”
“Toss ‘em here!”
He dug them out of his side pocket. “Ya know, last time you broke my pair.”
“Wa wa wa…toss ‘em here, big man.”
“I’ll use ‘em! I got a shot from here.”
“He’s too far to the left for you to have a clear shot. I’ve got a clean one from this angle and you know it. Now give ‘em here.”
Denika heard a grumble and then something landed on her foot. She bent down and felt them lying by her toe. She snatched them and slid them onto her face. Sticking her head around the tree again, bullets rained down on them.
“Son of a bitch, he’s got an automatic sniper rifle with silver bullets and a partial silencer! Who the hell is this guy?” Cash yelled over the gunfire.
“No idea, but silencer or no, if this keeps up someone will hear and alert the good ol’ NYPD and we can’t be havin’ that! I’m gonna end this. You ready to cover me?”
“On the count—one, two, three!”
Cash twisted himself about, slipping out just enough to see, and began to fire off a bunch of shots toward the tree, giving Denika the chance to step out from her protecting tree, take a firm stance, and aim a solid shot for the sniper without being fired upon.
Looking up into the trees she quickly spotted his heat signature, glowing at her from about thirty feet up in a tree to the left. She took aim, squeezed off a few rounds, and watched as the glowing body reacted to the bullet and fell from the tree. After the thud of body to ground, all was silent.
“Well done, boss!”
Denika let out a sigh of relief, leaned against the tree, and listened for a moment. She’d not wanted to kill him and secretly she hoped her usually perfect aim hadn’t been. She couldn’t question him if he was dead.
Since she heard nothing moving, Denika went over to Cash as she slid the glasses up on top of her head. “I’m going to go out for a look.” She looked down at his leg; it wasn’t wrapped yet and was bleeding all over the rocks. Taunting him with a grin she asked, “Do you need me to go get your mommy to pull that silver out for you?”
“Oh screw you. Been a bit busy, thank you very much.”
“Well, now you’re not. Get that silver out of there and wrap it up. I’ll be right back.” The longer the silver bullet was in his tissue the more it would hurt, the sicker he’d feel, and there was a larger chance it would do permanent damage.
His hand grabbed her ankle. “Where you goin’?”
“I need to see if he’s alive or not. I’ll be right back.”
“Wait for back up, boss.”
“He’s laying out where anyone can see him, Cash. I need to move him. Take care of your leg. That’s an order.” She stepped out of his hold and away from the rock’s protection.
“Damn it, Denika, get back here!”
She moved out into the open and saw no one else around but the shooter who lay unmoving on the cement path on the other side of the seeding fence that the tree he’d been in bumped up against. She sniffed the air and smelled no one but herself, Cash, and the guy from the tree. However, if someone approached from downwind she wouldn’t smell them. Because of this, she moved quickly to the man lying on the ground.
Denika hurdled a seeding fence, high tailed it across the grass, and over the next seeding fence to the cement path with a curse. This all would be easier if Central Park didn’t fence off their grass like it was an animal at the zoo to be stared at in wonder.
Denika crouched down and touched his neck. His pulse was slow and though injured, he was alive. Quickly she realized how many lampposts were in the area. With a grunt, she lifted the huge man to a sitting position, leaning his side against the fence.
As she finished, she noticed a couple, holding hands, walking towards them. Damn it! They must’ve been walking around the park. Who does that this late?” she thought.
Still in a squat, she slipped her gun behind her and turned to faced them. Relying on the glamour spell on her swords to work, Denika looked up at the couple with a smile. “He can’t hold his liquor even at his weight! He’ll be embarrassed tomorrow!” she laughed.
Without offering to help, they veered in the opposite direction and hustled out of the park. This didn’t surprise her. Humans may not see the danger of her world, but they could sometimes feel it. Once the humans were out of sight, Denika focused on her captive, more specifically she examined the leg and began to curse again. He didn’t have a leg wound. This wasn’t the man they had been chasing.
“Looking for me?”
She spun about. There sat a man, on the green bench, looking very relaxed. He had one leg crossed over the other like her dad use to do, his right arm draped along the back of the bench, and a gun in his left hand directly pointed at her head. This man had an injured leg. This was their guy.
Problem was he now wore a black ski mask. It had a mesh that covered the mouth and eyes as well, making it impossible to know who it was.
“Drop your gun,” his deep voice said, obviously modified by something in his mask.
“You first,” she said with a smile. He pulled the hammer back on the old revolver and she cursed in Russian under her breath, dropping her gun to the ground.
“Kick it away.”
Instead, she stood up. It was a better tactical advantage. “Who do you work for?”
He laughed. “Kick it!”
“Fine fine—” Denika said and kicked her gun across the path into the dirt of the kickball diamond.
He motioned for her to raise her hands so she did, lacing her fingers behind her neck. She figured if she could keep him talking, the rest of her team would be here in moments and they would take him down.
“You know, your friend here isn’t fatally wounded, you can still take him and go.”
The man turned his gun briefly and shot the man in the head. “Not anymore.” He turned his gun quickly back on Denika.
“You kill me and you’ll have the whole Order after your ass.”
“I wouldn’t bet on that.”
“Why? Who do you work for? I’ll pay you double what they are. We can make a deal.”
He coughed out a laugh and then stood as he said, “You talk a lot.”
A shot rang out and grazed the man’s arm. It would’ve hit him in the back if he’d not moved at the last minute.
“Tell me about it!” a voice said from behind the mystery man. It was Cash. He’d somehow gotten enough strength in his leg to totter out into the open, like the fool he was.
Cash fired two shots at the man but he dodged them both, his movements lighting quick. The third shot, however hit home as it embedded in the right side of his chest. Reeling backwards, he fired upon Cash, who ducked behind the sniper’s tree. Once he saw he’d missed, the man in the mask started to run towards Central Park West.
If he reached that road, he’d snag a cab and they’d lose him. She couldn’t let that happen. Denika headed towards her gun and stooped to pick it up when another shot rang out. She heard Cash yell out her name, but as she stood up she felt a bullet go through her chest. Another hit the left side of her head and she went down.
“Denika!” Cash yelled. Suddenly his face was above hers. “It’s just a grazing on your head—hang in there—I can hear Marlen coming with the team.” He touched his throat. “Mayday, Alpha down,” he choked out, his voice catching. “Alpha has been hit—Marlen get your ass over here now! Path by the kickball field.”
“Shit. On my way. Hang on!” came Marlen’s voice in their earpieces.
She could feel blood on her face and a warm sensation at her back that told her blood was pooling out under her onto the blacktop. She reached up to grab Cash’s glasses from the top of her head. “I didn’t break them this time,” Denika tried to grin.
He took the shades from her. “You crazy woman, I don’t care about the—”
She coughed and tasted blood as the pain finally hit her. She opened her mouth to wail but the pain was so encompassing, she found it stuck in her throat as a silent scream erupted from her, eyes wide as she curled in on herself.
Cash’s hand grasped her. “Hang in there Denika—just hang on!” He took her hands for her to squeeze, which she did until it all went dark.