“You’ve made it Kent! The Archons’ Feast is no trivial matter—only the best get to sup in these halls.” The words are followed by a meaty hand adorned with multiple conflict-diamond-laden rings clapping onto my shoulder.
I don’t consider this guy (think his name was Upton? Xavier? One of those old money names) a “friend.” In fact, I don’t consider ANY of these Eyes-Wide-Shut fuckers my friends. They’re all tittering and throwing each other well-practiced Weighted Looks; their conversation is less about substantive subject matter and more about strategically cleared throats and tactically employed mannerisms. As I walk along the red-sheen carpet that stretches across the center of the hall, I glance down.
“What’s this stuff made of Upton?” I decide to chance it and pick the first name that comes to mind.
Apparently I’ve hit the mark, because he doesn’t correct me. “Baby pachyderm skin. Infused with state-of-the-art spider silk weave made from genetically engineered goats. The dye is actually made with the blood of third-world infants.”
I look at him in disbelief. “This is a rug made from baby elephants and dyed with the infants’ blood?”
Evil fucker Upton misplaces my concern. He waves a dismissive hand. “Oh don’t worry—we pasteurize the blood before we spin it into a dye. There’s no risk of infection.”
I don’t know what to say to that, and fall silent as I let my gaze drift across the room. There’s multiple men and women with unspeakably gorgeous bodies, all scantily clad and wearing ballroom masks. One of the men bends over and I see the CEO of a multi-centillion dollar corporation unscrew a vial, tap a line of cocaine onto the man’s backside, then snort it up with a rolled up piece of platinum foil.
Trumpets sound and confetti bursts into the air as a four-wheeled hot tub is carted into the room. In it are two super evil former members of the federal government’s executive branch making out as sloppily as I’ve ever seen two people make out: all tongues and slobber amidst wisps of gray hair and liver spots. They stop for a second, and the one on the right holds a waterproof phone to his ear. He says, “Foreclose on all of them, then cut off their heads. Do it right this time—I want trophies.” He lets his phone plop into the burbling foam of the hot tub, and goes back to making out with his evil cohort.
I look away, still in shock, and my eyes settle on Justin Bieber. He’s sitting on a sleigh, being pulled about a score of nameless attendants, all of them dressed in thongs or diapers. He cracks a whip above their heads and screams, “SQUEAL, PIGGIES!”
They all tilt their heads back and yell, “SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE!”
What. The FUCK.
Upton catches my eyes with his own and grins. “Glorious, isn’t it? Now to be fully accepted as an Archon, you’re going to have to complete our initiation process.”
I raise an eyebrow. “And that would entail?”
He slurps noisily from his glass of champagne, emits a decadent AAAHHH, then wipes his mouth with the back of his $100k tuxedo-sleeve. “Nothing you can’t handle; we’ve all done it. You’ll spend a day watching us all do wind sprints, then lick the sweat off our glistening bodies. For each drop of sweat that you allow to hit the ground, a gold truffle will be inserted into your anus. After you’ve licked us clean, you will eat every truffle that’s lodged in your rectum.”
I pull away, causing his hand to drop from my shoulder. “No fucking way.”
He clucks his tongue and a shadow of sadness falls across his face. “Kent…if you refuse, then not only will you be denied membership into our ranks, but we’ll force you to spend the rest of your life as Gary Busey’s sex slave.” He nods towards my right.
I follow his gaze. Gary Busey’s in a giant diaper, sitting in what looks to be an oversized baby-chair. A decapitated man’s head is on his platter, brains fully exposed. Gary is digging into the gray-matter with a plastic Tyco spoon. He looks up from his meal, fully extends both arms above his head, and waves vigorously at me.
“HI!” he bellows in an overly loud voice.
I turn back to Upton. “How about instead of all that bullshit, I walk out of here right the fuck now?”
He laughs and claps his hands. The room instantly goes silent. He turns away from me and starts pacing, left hand in his pocket, right holding the glass of champagne.
“We have a refusal!” he declares.
A soft sigh sweeps through the crowd.
“And what do we do with refusals?”
“GIVE HIM TO BUSEY!”
Upton takes his free hand out of his pocket, cups it around his ear, and hinges forward at the waist. “What was that?”
“GIVE HIM TO BUSEY!”
Upton thrusts both arms into the air, causing a splash of champagne to jump from his glass. “THAT’S RIGHT! NOW TRUSS HIM UP, MY FELLOW ARCHONS! MAKE THIS INGRATE PAY FOR HIS SACRILEGE! GIVE HIM TO BUSEY!!!”
CEOs, world leaders, and Justin motherfucking Bieber come galloping toward me on all fours, snarling and hissing. I see their hands clutched around scimitars, battle-axes, and dildos that could easily double as halberds. I am SCREWED unless…
One option left. I reach in my pocket and open my eReader to Echo. Magic flash.
The massive chandelier overhead flickers and dies. The room plunges into darkness. Whispers flood the air.
“Where is he—”
“Fight FAIR you little bastard—”
“Gonna make him suckle on his own severed testicles—”
I look down and my eyes widen in astonishment: a glowing line of sharply defined light circles its way around my feet. The faint illumination it casts reveals hateful faces and eagerly gripped weapons.
“THERE he is—”
“But what’s that glowing thing by his legs—”
“Another dirty trick—”
And as someone screams “GET HIM!” the light pools toward me like liquid and begins creeping up my feet, my shins, my thighs…what look like luminous chain links begin forming over my skin. They cover me in a network of iridescent scales, then begin letting off a soft hum.
A voice in my head says: “Kent Wayne. You have accessed the Mark V Interdimensional Combat Ensemble. Stand by for full-body weaponization.”
In astonished whisper, I ask, “Full-body weaponization?”
I swear it sounds smug as it replies: “Stand by.”
And then: “Commencing.”
Every metal or electronic object in the room—phones, silverware, tangles of sparking wires that rip from the walls and snake through the air—flies toward me, and I let out a yelp of panic as I’m enveloped in a gleaming mess. I stumble around, clawing at my chest and my face as I’m covered by writhing diodes and bits of metal. A series of clanks and whirs fill the air as machinery and alloy squirm across my form. All of it is accented by swirls and crackles of multi-colored light.
For some nameless reason, I touch my right knee to the floor and touch my right fist to the ground. My left hand slides onto my left knee while sleek-looking plates settle across my body. Vent-lined thrusters emerge from my back, close to both of my lats. Servos and techno-organic readouts manifest across my joints, snapping into place with meaty-sounding CHUNKS. A score of armored smart-fibers rear up like cobras and connect forcefully into the battle-ports distributed all across my body.
As I stand up, my Entradi assault helmet unfolds over my skull. The last thing to slide into place is a transparent battle visor—a highly advanced piece of see-through alloy that’s affixed to my helmet and hangs about an inch away from my eyes. It lights up with targeting information and a scrawl of data that streams down the left side of my vision.
I briskly shake each arm, and single-use missile pods jack out from my forearms.
“Come and get you some,” I rasp.
They charge at me and I charge at them, raising my arms and sending two high explosive, air-burst capable Witchblade missiles directly into their midst. Scores of them go flying upward from the detonation, and out of the corner of my eye, I see Bieber’s sleigh turn over and pin him beneath it.
I front-flip over a swinging halberd. Bullets plink off my armor as I tuck and somersault. When I land, I bring my fists together then draw them apart; a gorgeous, plasma-edged techno-katana sections out from my hands, and I flit it viciously from side to side, carving deadly, whirling circles of light into the air. They’re chased by splashes of blood as the keen edge of my energized blade slices through perverts. I hear Gary Busey’s enraged cry as he charges me from behind and I raise my left hand up and fire a repulser blast from its palm-emitter, rocketing me backward. My right hand reverses the katana’s grip as I shoot toward Gary. I lower into a crouch, and impale him on my sword while I’m still facing away from him. A few meaningless sputters emerge from his lips as he slumps against my back.
They all pile on me. I have any number of options at this point—mass electro-shock, superheat my armor, or simply just beat the piss out of them until they let go.
But I need to get out of here.
“Armor: spin up my jets.”
The vent-lined thrusters on my backs begin glowing and whining. An instant later, they sound like a high-powered jet engine at full rev. A few of the Archons begin screaming as their flesh melts from the super-heated air that bleeds off my rocketry and warps the air into a muddled haze.
“Armor: take me for a ride.”
BOOM! A contrail of fiery light trails my form as I shoot through the wall and then bank upwards, limning the sky with a brilliant streak of twinkling exhaust. Charred Archons fall away and scream as I disappear into the night. I can’t help but smile; from what I’ve heard, soccer moms are suckers for writers decked out in nth-dimensional tech.
“Armor: plot a course for Orange County, California.”
‘Cos that’s where some bomb-ass soccer moms live. 😉
Are some Eyes Wide Shut fuckers trying to get you to feast on baby unicorns or some similarly depraved bullshit? Never fear! Echo can gift you with an interdimensional assault suit that’ll reduce your enemies to bones and char! 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