I swivel my head over my shoulder and scream, “FIRE EVERYTHING!!!”
I grip the rawhide reigns of my velociraptor mount Bitefighter between my teeth, and jerk my head to the left. It causes him to rear onto his back legs and cut a sharp 90 degree turn, momentarily throwing off my pursuers and causing five of them to pile onto each other. While I do this, I swing my greatsword with my right hand and fire my thrice-blessed Dagonesti revolver with my left. A hundred yards south of us, Rentisian archers let loose with a storm of arrows, cutting down scores of Insectoids. Their mandibles chitter and buzz as glowing blue blood erupts from their thoraxes.
My lips peel back in a savage grin as I wheel my sword in a tight arc, eviscerating three more Insectoids in less than a second. As Pack Master of the Indashi Barbarians, I was worried that we might be overwhelmed by this vile horde of skittering Insectoids, but our courier pigeons were able to reach our allies, and they responded. Ten companies of Bolax pikemen, four companies of Rentisian archers, and a single platoon of Haidathi scout-ninjas. At first I was miffed by the fact that the Haidathis only sent us a single platoon, but they’ve been worth their weight in gold. For the past few days the scout-ninjas have worked around the clock, harrying the Insectoid forces with logistical sabotage, leadership assassinations, and also providing me with accurate, up-to-date intelligence gleaned from special reconnaissance incursions. Now, as the Insectoids charge our high-ground defenses, the Haidathis deploy coordinated chaos via the use of smoke devices and incendiaries.
I point my sword at one of my fellow barbarians, a bannerman, and yell, “HOIST THAT BANNER HIGH! WE’RE ABOUT TO ROUT THESE CHITINOUS SCUM!”
He gives me a grin and straightens his back. But before I can watch him raise our velociraptor-head flag, an enormous BOOF echoes through the air. I turn toward the sound, just in time to see an Insectoid cannon firing giant puffs of smoke towards our lines. I quick-holster my revolver, face back to my army, and cup my free hand over my mouth.
“THEY’RE FIRING AT US! FIND COVER, GODS DAMMIT!”
But as I prepare myself to weave in and out of a barrage of cannonade, I stop short—they’re not firing steel shot or weighted sabot. No, what comes arcing through the air is…
I shade my eyes with the flat of my free hand, staring at the ammo as it dots the smoke-glazed sky. What in Shiknokti is that? I can’t make it out…
And then it starts landing around us: hologrammed pieces of plastic, roughly the size of a child’s palm, that bear obscure names writ in cheery font.
“Pier One Imports.”
I pick up the one labeled “Ikea” and turn it back and forth, gazing curiously at it. From the corner of my eyes, I see the rest of my troops doing the same.
“PUT THAT DOWN AND RUN—RUN IF YOU’D LIVE PAST TODAY, FOOLS!”
I turn toward the voice and see Arkadi, my Chief Sorcerer, sprinting toward me, his gaze wide and panicked. Before I can reply, I watch as rips in the air appear all across the battlefield. Demurely dressed people begin dropping out from them, snarling like beasts and skittering across the blood-stained sand on all fours.
Arkadi screams, “THEY’RE YUPPIES! YOU HAVE NO HOPE OF FIGHTING THEM! NOT WHEN THEY’VE BEEN DRIVEN INTO A BERSERKER RAGE BY YUPPIE BAIT! GET THE HELL OUT OF—”
And then a dumpy-looking man with glasses and a collared shirt jumps onto Arkadi’s back, gouging out his eyes with perfectly manicured fingers. Dumpy Yuppie proceeds to rip the sorcerer’s head clean off his shoulders.
I whip out my revolver and blast the nearest yuppie three times in the chest. She staggers backward…then smooths the hem of her Old Navy blouse and resumes her charge. Ye Gods! These foul creatures are tougher than they look!
“BACK TO THE PIKEMEN!” I holler. “FALL BACK AND REINFORCE THEIR PHALANX!”
But horror upon horrors, I see Indashi Barbarians falling one after the other, torn from their mounts by yuppies intent on annihilating anything that might get between them and their gift cards. In a matter of seconds I’m the only Barbarian left, squeezing my heels against Bitefighter’s flanks, urging him to run even faster, all the while firing at yuppies on my left and using my sword to slice through the ones on my right.
This is it. No options left. Unless…
I reach into my saddlebag, withdraw my eReader, and open it to Echo. Magic flash.
AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” begins blasting out from a fleet of SUVs that crest the horizon. A horde of yuppies pull me and Bitefighter down to the ground. They’re about to start tearing into us when I see machine-gun bullets stitch apart their chests in gory red bursts. Blazing ordnance fills the air and rakes the battlefield, cutting apart scores of these Ed Hardy-adorned fuckers. Bitefighter and I look wonderingly at the SUVs and see that they’re driven by a fleet of Soccer Moms. Each vehicle is equipped with a massive gun manned by a Soccer Mom gunner. They sweep across the battlefield with expert precision, using their mobility to maximize and interlock their fields of fire. It doesn’t take long for them to mow down the yuppies and their Insectoid masters.
Then they circle me, giggling and laughing. The drivers lean out from their windows to grab my junk or smack my ass. I’m jumping around like a harassed stripper, clutching my butt or my nuts as their greedy hands cop a feel, but I can’t say that I’m not flattered. Finally, they cut their engines and their leader hops out from a vehicle. She flips a pair of dust goggles up onto her forehead and gives me a smile.
“I’m Soccer Mom Prime. I think you owe us for saving your ass, so I’m going to insist that you join us for a ride.”
Bitefighter grumbles and trots away. He’s seen this before; he knows the score.
As for me, I curl a lock of my shoulder-length Barbarian hair behind an ear and give Soccer Mom Prime a shit-eating grin.
“I charge by the hour.”
She responds with a wink. “Hope you give us a group rate discount.”
Are your forces falling under the demonic legions of gift card-crazed yuppies? Never fear! 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 #sciencefiction #scifi #books #novel #book