DOUBLETAKE: Cal Leandros Book 7 [Exclusive Excerpt]
A Note From Rob:
This excerpt takes place as Cal and Niko leave the Puck Reunion (when the lottery to choose which pucks have to reproduce takes place. No puck wants to win that lottery.) Niko was very popular there, but you’ll have to wait for the book to see that extremely naughty action.
Also, this is a never-before-released excerpt – not the same one as in the back of BASILISK… hope you like it!
Robin was equally amused and insulted by the question. “Never. There are tricksters and there are tricksters and then there is me. Losing the lottery isn’t in my future. Now thank you for the assistance and as a token of appreciation, I’ll take care of disposing of Pan. Consider it a tip. He always was a bastard. Loved watching the lions eating the Christians in the Coliseum. A definite prick and not the good kind that makes you want to whip out your measuring tape.” He waved a hand. “Go, and, Niko, feel free to keep all the dollar bills they stuffed down your apron.” There were wads of them. Pucks appeared to like blondes.
But that was a discussion for, well, not now. I took the opportunity offered and was out the door with my brother on my heels before Goodfellow had a chance to change his mind, which he frequently did when it came to physical labor. “You are splitting those tips with me though, right?” I asked Niko as the door slammed behind us.
“As frequently as I was groped tonight all for the greater good and continuance of the puck race…no. You don’t get a dime. I’m donating it to the spay and neuter program at the local shelter. It seems appropriate.”
We were still on the block the Ninth Circle was located—a decidedly nonhuman block. It was rare one wandered down this way. What they didn’t know, they sensed: here there be monsters. And with all the other supernatural creatures gone, it was empty as I’d ever seen it. “You are such a greedy bast…shit.”
I’d seen the glitter of metal and the flicker of movement all at once, leaping straight down from the top of the building we were walking past. I threw myself to one side, Nik to the other and it landed directly between us. The concrete of the street cracked into pieces beneath it.
The force and the weight to cause that…I was already loading my Desert Eagle with explosive rounds, special made for my gun and special made for this situation. I landed on my hip just as I jammed the new clip home and then I was loaded but locked? No goddamn way—never locked. It had taken barely a second and I thought that would give me time to get a good luck on what was pissed off that they hadn’t been invited to the party.
I was wrong. A second wasn’t long enough. It was already lunging through the air and about to drop on top of me. All I still saw was the sheen of metal, but, frankly, I didn’t care what it was made of except for what I could best use against it. I rolled flat on my back, aimed the Eagle straight up and fired seven rounds. I closed my eyes. At that close proximity, I had no desire to be blinded by the small explosions. The only way I knew it had worked was nothing landed on me to squash me to a thin paste on the concrete.
My face was burned, I could feel the hot tight pain of it, but that fell into the column of ‘shit that can wait.’ I opened my eyes, sat up and saw it, for the first time, really saw it as it stood. It was shaped like a man, more or less, but it was metal and not any kind I’d seen. There were scales shaped like the head of a spear but at least two feet long and one foot wide and looked to be encrusted with dried blood, and in the thin cracks between the metal plates there was a red hot substance that I’d swear was lava. There was the faintest smell of sulfur to it, but the smell of old blood was stronger. It stood nine feet tall at least, giving a boggle a run for its money. The majority of it was black metal with a face accented with what looked like dark tarnished iron, but wasn’t. That would have been affected by the explosive rounds to some extent, but it hadn’t been. Although at least it had been blown backward before it hit me, landing on its back, I didn’t see a single dent in its chest or face—only a superficial blackening of the metal. There was a type of metal cowl surrounding its head like a helmet, eyes of the same lava that ran through it and a snarl of metal lips that showed the tips of pointed black fangs.
Its claws, and that’s all it had—claws, no hands, were huge even in comparison to its size, each one at least two feet long and four at the end of each wrist.
It looked like your worst nightmare had taken a Terminator, said, oh yeah, we can do a hundred times better than this and turned it into a demon from the deepest pit of Hell. But I didn’t believe in hell and that made this simply one more monster to put down. One more notch on the bedpost, because I damn sure killed more often than I got laid.
‘Nik!” He was on the other side of it. I tossed him the Eagle. “Eight rounds left.” Niko was a master with the sword and I’d only seen him need to use a gun once, but this was going to be occasion number two. His blades would only shatter against the unknown metal of this thing.
The head of the creature swiveled completely around, the metal moving as smoothly as flesh, but the sound it made…the motion as scale hit scale was the sound of human bones being crushed. Two faces. It could watch its front and back all at once. Fan-fucking-tastic. This face wasn’t snarling. It was grinning, metal lips stretched wide, and every ebony fang showing. They were as oversized as its claws and the stench of ancient blood on them was overpowering. I preferred it when it wasn’t quite as happy. But my preferences didn’t matter right then.
I didn’t think the Eagle would do Niko any more good than it had done me or would my Glock I already had yanked from my double holster, but I had other weapons. Right now, I had only one I could think of to do now. If we’d had more time to think, maybe we could come up with something else, but we didn’t have time.
Or the need.
One weapon hadn’t worked, but I had one that lived in me and it never failed.
I’d gated -spoiler- to Central Park. I could gate anyone or anything to any place I’d been or could see from where I stood. Twice within a day at any rate. I could put this thing in the ocean, but I had a feeling that wouldn’t stop it. It might give it a long wet walk to get to land again, but I couldn’t know if water would bother it—not when explosive rounds didn’t. That left only one place I could send it and be sure it wouldn’t come back. Tumulus. The reason I didn’t believe in hell, because that was the true hell. The Auphe home away from home—another dimension, another world, a place out of synch with ours, I didn’t know or care. I did now only Auphe…or the half Auphe that was me could travel there or back. If I stuck this thing in Tumulus, we’d never see its metal ass again. Or I could open a gate inside it, but the implosion combined with the explosion—gates were tricky that way—it would send metal shards flying in a shrapnel storm neither Nik or I would survive.
Tumulus it was.
It took less that a fraction of a moment for all that to run through my head and that fraction proved why I sucked so badly at math. It was on me, faster than I’d seen any creature move and I’d seen the best of the worst. It was too fast to build a gate around it. Too fast for me to build a gate in front of it. Too fast for me to gate myself the hell out of the way.
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