After I check to make sure that a beam round is primed and the safety’s on, I stow my XH-130 directed-energy pistol in a holster under my trench coat. The end of my cigarette glows cherry red as it dangles from my lips.
“We going Earth-side, boss?” The question is asked by Bitefighter, my loyal buddy and cybernetically enhanced 10 lb. Terrier Extraordinaire. He’s also my deputy.
I shake my head. “Staying moon-side. Too much bullshit happening in Neo-Tokyo.”
You’d think that this being the year 2530, and that after all the advancements in quantum tech and Omnidimensional printers, that people would have chilled out. Not the case—nearly every day, I’ve gotta lock up some idiot who’s trying to disrupt the gravity regulators, or raving on about how his wife’s cheating on him with some Reptoid he-beast. There’s always something.
Bitefighter and I walk outside and hop in our zoom-scooter. Probably a sexier name for it, but this EM-drive powered baby is Bitefighter’s pride and joy, and if I were to suggest a different title, he’d probably rip my pendulous nuts off and use them for a rope-toy. I’m only half-joking.
The cheery, lifeless neon of Neo-Tokyo pass across the windshield, making it gleam with empty dreams and false promises. One of them is an ad depicting Synthetic Man Whores, Kent Wayne model. (I’m proud to say I meet the requirements to be used as a mold for a robotic gigolo). Bitefighter—like the hard-boiled terrier detective he is—sticks a milk bone into his mouth as he swerves us down a mess of decaying anti-grav tracks and Synthoid red light districts. It all smells like old, wet cement.
The milk bone makes a dry, acerbic crack as he chaws on it. He asks, “What’s the case?”
I take a drag off my cig and page through a well-worn file. Various deviants flitter through my vision. Swiftettes, rogue soccer moms, grammar nazis, rabid vegans…I pull a sheet and hold it up so that Bitefighter can see it in his peripherals. “Here we go: Exes.”
He cocks a furry eyebrow and clamps down on his milk bone, making it angle up toward his snout. “Maybe we should wait on that one boss. Or call moon-side tactical. Exes are no joke; we should get some heavy hitters in there to—”
I take the cig out of my mouth and give my partner an easy grin. “Come on Bites; it’s Exes—how dangerous could they be?”
Bitefighter gives me this still, knowing look—one that says, “I love my goofy human but he’s an idiot.”
I clear my throat. “Anyways, moon-side tactical is busy breaking up a ring of stim-ed out Douchebros. We’re the only ones available to handle this one.”
His eyes flick across my face for one more second, then he settles back in his seat. “I don’t like this,” he mutters.
I say something noncommittal but inside I’m thinking the same thing:
I don’t like it either. Not one damn bit.
We pull up in front of a hydrazine warehouse and get out. Make sure our badges are showing (mine’s clipped to my belt, Bitefighter’s is stuck onto his chest), and recheck our weapons. The warehouse looks abandoned—cracked glass windows, a few birds’ nests, and rat shit everywhere. I brush my trench coat back with my right hand and lay it on the butt of my pistol, just in case I need to execute a quick-draw.
My left hand bangs against the rickety steel panel that serves as the warehouse’s front door. “Moon-side police! Open up!”
When no one answers, Bitefighter and I exchange a look. I click on the Surefire illumination setting on my gun, and use the butt of it to break a glass panel on the front door. It shatters with a loud tinkle, and I reach through it to unlock the entrance.
We enter the warehouse, slowly plodding forward. My wan circle of light shines across old shipping containers and metal-shop equipment. It’s all covered in dust; doesn’t look like anyone’s been here for at least a couple of years.
“What do you think?” I ask Bitefighter, my voice ominously loud in the quiet gloom.
“I don’t know boss. This is kind of weird.”
I say nothing and slowly keep walking forward. Suddenly, there’s a skitter to our right. I swing toward it, my Surefire light dancing across abandoned stacks of storage containers. Bitefighter snaps a forepaw up, the laser sights on his weaponized wrist-gun meeting with my Surefire. The quiet groans and mutters of the settling warehouse seem extra loud.
Another skitter. We twitch our bodies toward it—it comes from the left this time.
Bitefighter says, “Boss, let’s come back later with moon-side tactical, this is—”
A croak from above. Bitefighter and I glance up and see what look like craggy-looking eggs, each one maybe three feet long and suspended from the ceiling. They yaw open in slimy petals and we find ourselves staring at a score of hot women, but mostly an assortment of different-sized dogs.
Exes. Not just any exes.
Bitefighter reacts first: “AROOOOOOO!!!!!” He points his wrist-gun up and starts laying down a storm of fire. My scream is barely audible as I start unloading on these vampirized creatures. They open sets of bat-wings and drop toward us, snarling at us with crimson eyes and sharpened fangs.
I’m about to be tackled by the first one so I snap-roll to my right. Bitefighter goes left. The whole time we keep unloading, trying to stave off the horde of undead women, poodles, labradors, chihuahuas…a thought occurs to me and I scream at Bitefighter, “JESUS CHRIST! HOW THE HELL CAN YOU BOFF A LABRADOR? YOU WEIGH TEN GODDAMN POUNDS!”
Bitefighter shoves a schnauzer off him and yells back, “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH A HOG BETWEEN YOUR LEGS!”
I can’t help but smile.
It quickly becomes clear that we’re about to go down. We’re both enveloped by bat-winged females, desperately fending off a sea of fangs, claws, and lurid red eyes. No options left.
Well…that’s not exactly true; there’s always ONE option left.
I reach in my pocket. Open my eReader to Echo. Magic flash.
The air between me and Bitefighter dimples (it looks like a distorted sphere, as if someone compressed a globule of space into a circular lens that refracts light like a fun-house mirror), then erupts with blazing glimmers. At its edges are swirling chains of iridescent mandalas. A heavenly voice says, “Kent. Bitefighter. We’ve been waiting for you.” A gorgeous mix of eighties classics drifts out from the portal.
Bitefighter shoots two snarling poodles right in their friggin’ faces. He kicks free of his pursuers and runs over to me. I’m currently struggling with a club-goer redhead and a soccer mom. I throw a terrified glance at him.
“Leave me here, dude! I’m done for! Go and—”
He grimly shakes his mustachioed face. “Wolves’ balls, I don’t think so.” He laces into my attackers with his wrist gun and blatters them across the face with a whirlwind of tiny forepaws. They back off. I scramble up, snatch him to my chest, and dive into the portal. Reality hazes and warps around us. Luminous streaks of light, symbols that aren’t just alive but dancing, a blast of colors that are beyond sight, beyond comprehension….
Suddenly we find ourselves mounted on pterodactyls, flying over a lush stretch of verdant forest. Below us are unicorns and wood elves, prancing about and laughing heartily in British accents.
The Enchanted Booty Forest.
Bitefighter and I exchange a delighted grin, lean across our pterodactyls and give each other fives. He licks his mustached lips and glances avariciously down at the ground.
“Gonna get me some unicorn hiney. Mmm mmm MMM!”
I sigh. This might take some getting used to.
Are you a grizzled cop walking the beat in Neo-Tokyo? Perhaps you’re sick of living on the moon and desire a stay in the Enchanted Booty Forest! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle #kindle #kindleunlimited