Lake of Fire
(The Apostates Book 3)
(The Apostates Book 3)
by Lars Teeney
Lake of Fire is the third book in The Apostates series by Lars Teeney. The author stops by today to share an excerpt. Also available: New Megiddo Rising, The Apostates, and Remnants.
Archon Greta Sanchez and Strategos Evan Nubia struggle to hold together the Manhattan Union, amid Acolyte Possession Attacks, factional strife, and Database cartel crimes, while Sister Consuela Grajales tries to provide spiritual guidance to the people after she has renounced violence. But, when the Acolyte Possessions threaten all of their families directly the former Apostates consult Simon Schrubb about this mysterious threat. Simon Schrubb directs them to seek out Paradise, a hypothetical super backup server that just may hold the key to the Acolytes. And so, they set off in an armored convoy across the radioactive city ruins and dead tree littered wastelands on their perilous quest.
Little do the Apostates know that Apedemak Nubia and his Nubian Braves fight for control of their home, Sulfur Springs, which is said to hold Paradise, against the Trinity, a being that somehow controls the Acolyte Horde. As the Nubians split up to search out allies east and west, the Republic of Ukiah finds unlikely allies in the Nubian Braves, and the former Prelate Ayane Inoguchi, who struggles to reconcile her past, while helping to defend the Republic from an all-out Chinese invasion of the West Coast.
But, amid all the chaos the Lake of Fire burns deep below the Earth and threatens to undue all labors to consume the world and usher all souls to Paradise in the name of the Trinity and the Proxy Messiah.
The black Charger swerved on the highway due to three sizable craters that had recently been blown into the already rough pavement. The smart tires equipped on the Charger mitigated the shock. Ayane Inoguchi decided to pull off the ancient Highway when she caught sight of a weathered sign for Weed, California. Of course the pillars of smoke rising from just off the highway also captured her attention. As she drove down the main stretch of the town she could see that it had been sacked. Most of the structures had been blown apart, and bodies littered the street. She drove slowly along a block of shattered shanties. Ayane came upon a trading convoy with a cart and several pack mules, and it appeared their owner was scavenging for valuables in the rubble. When he noticed the Charger pull up he shot upright and pulled out a sidearm. Ayane slowly exited the Charger.
“Easy fellow, I don’t mean you any harm,” Ayane said.
“What do y’want? Get!” the weathered-faced man barked as he waved his gun.
“I just want to know what happened here. What’s your name?” Ayane asked.
“Name’s Tucker. The whole place has been blown to shit. I’m taking the opportunity to stock up. Now go find your own pile!” Tucker yelled, getting ever more agitated.
“Do you know who did this?” She asked.
“Hell if I know. Been seeing tons weird stuff: babbling cultists and men in armor blowin’ the hell out of towns,” Tucker growled as he rummaged through a pile of refuse.
“Anything else you can tell me?” Ayane pressed further.
“You’re a pushy broad, eh? I don’t know—some were displaying a red star,” Tucker muttered. Ayane knew what that meant. As a Prelate for the Church of New Megiddo, she had once pursued a target north to the very border of Chinese Alaska. There she had seen the Red Star of the Republic of China on border outposts. As she completed that thought she heard a gunshot, and the scavenging trader slumped over a rubbish pile, dead. Ayane’s instincts kicked in and she hunched down by the front fender of her Charger. The crackle of more gunfire rang out with bullets ricocheting off the armored body of the Charger.
Ayane willed the truck to pop open and she activated two of her drones via her neural implant. The drones ascended into the sky. They gathered visual data on her attackers. When the data was transferred back to her she could see that the assault consisted of a squadron of armored Chinese soldiers. She crawled to the rear of her Charger and snatched a “Zealot” combat rifle from the trunk. Then she sank back down behind the fender.
Suddenly, an explosion ripped through the debris pile not far from her. It tore through Tucker’s pack animals, sending limbs and hide skyward. Her ears rang from the pressure wave. She realized that they had a mortar and she was being shelled. Ayane could see that the Chinese were flanking her on two sides and she heard the discharge of another shell. Ayane willed the passenger side door to open and she dove in. Then she guided the car to start. The rear wheels peeled out and the Charger fishtailed as it accelerated, just before a shell impacted at the spot it had previously occupied. Ayane regained her bearings, and up ahead she could see an armored Chinese soldier readying a shoulder-fired missile. Ayane rolled the passenger-side window down and leaned out, aiming her “Zealot” rifle at the soldier. Before she could take the shot he fired the missile, which careened forward, leaving a vapor trail in its wake. Ayane willed the Charger to swerve just in time to dodge the missile, which continued onward to detonate against a tree trunk. Ayane returned fire, tagging the soldier several times in the chest and helmet. The impact was enough to knock the man back, but he struggled to regain his stance. Ayane did not give him the chance as the Charger collided head on with the armored soldier. Ayane watched the man disappear under the front end, but she felt the jolt of the tires running him over.
Onward the Charger sped. She reached the edge of town and decided to stop there, as she needed to reclaim her drones. She gathered more intelligence through one of the drones. Into her retinal H.U.D. the drone fed visual data. She could see that the Chinese soldiers were regrouping and attempting to mount another attack. Ayane directed the drones to attack. Small, multi-barreled, rotating guns were revealed on the underside of the disc-shaped drones, as they accelerated through the air. The two drones formed up and then opened fire, strafing the Chinese soldiers with thousands of rounds-per-minute unleashed against them. In some cases, the armor held up, but many of the shots found weak points in the armor, shattering limbs and tearing flesh. She thought that if they weren’t killed outright they would be immobilized.
Satisfied that the strafing attack made by her drones disrupted the Chinese assault, she recalled the drones. The flying discs came humming back to the rear of the Charger, where they landed and engaged small charging stations. She closed the truck and then sped off, taking the on-ramp back to the highway. Ayane wondered why the Chinese were invading, and more to the point, why they were killing and destroying everything in sight.
As Ayane pondered her next move, a piercing pain shot through her, and she began to hear a voice calling to her.
“You there, former Holy Warrior, the Trinity forgives you! Join us! Do the holy work you were born for!” the voice said. She could swear that she had heard the voice before, but all she wanted was for the intrusion to stop. Ayane gritted her teeth and resisted the strange force attempting to overtake her form.
“Get the fuck out of my head!” she screamed. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the presence in her mind was gone. Ayane felt relieved because she had resisted this high-tech demon’s attempted possession over her. Ayane wiped some sweat from her brow. She thought about how she had made this same trip from Portland into California some six years before, but during that time she was the pursuer and not pursued. Ayane felt a sense of hopelessness wash over her at the realization that the “possessed” were not the only threat that she faced. China had now invaded.
Ayane decided on sending out drones to gather aerial data ahead of her position on the highway. The truck flew open and two drones gained altitude and flew off ahead of her. Ayane then called up old maps which were then overlaid on her retinal H.U.D. She studied them and denoted which towns had been abandoned due to climate change or had been destroyed in wars. Having grown up in California she was fairly familiar with much of it. Ayane had heard news of a budding Republic near the Northern Coast: a place called Ukiah. She had heard that there was a thriving economy there based on trade, so she resolved that she would travel there to seek refuge, assuming that she would not be killed or possessed before that time.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Political intrigue. Intense, badass sci-fi action. A mysterious and thrilling ride. This book started out a bit slow; each chapter focusing on a different set of characters and where they were in their lives. However, by the second half of the book, things really started to pick up and this book quickly transformed into a page-turner. It was if the author kept cranking and cranking the wheel, building up to the epic climax of the book. The ending left me speechless and astounded. Truly shocked. Lake of Fire is a great read and I recommend it to any lover of Sci-Fi action/thriller books." ~ BookAddict
"Lars Teeney did an amazing job with making all of the characters seem like real people with how they all had their own strengths, weaknesses, desires, and goals. The author also did an astounding job of allowing me to create a picture in my head of what was happening in the book. I really felt like I could understand and picture almost every scene like it was a movie. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the previous Apostate books." ~ Teah Mist
About the Author
Lars Teeney was born in Montana. After going to an art school in San Francisco, racking up insane student loans and working for years as a freelance designer for the start-up culture, he became burnt out. He abandoned the Bay Area for the Pacific North-west, where he could hike and bike to my heart's content. He has worked for a variety of technology companies and has a keen passion for politics, history, science and art.
Enter the Amazon giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle edition of Lake of Fire by Lars Teeney (US only; ends 22 June).