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Demorn: Soul Fighter (The Asanti Series Book 3), page 1

 

Demorn: Soul Fighter (The Asanti Series Book 3)
 


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Demorn: Soul Fighter (The Asanti Series Book 3)


  Table of Contents

  Part 1

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Part 2

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Interlude 1: Of Times Gone By

  Interlude 2: We Can Take Years Off, Baby

  Part 3

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Part 4

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Part 5

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Part 6

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Epilogue

  A Reader’s Guide to the Asanti Series

  Acknowledgements

  About the Author

  Demorn

  Soul Fighter

  The Asanti Series: Book Three

  David Finn

  A Reader’s Guide to the Asanti Series

  Copyright © 2017, David Finn.

  All rights reserved.

  Ebook Design by QA Productions

  Cover design by Deranged Doctor Design

  For my always supportive parents, much love. You have helped so much to see my dreams become reality.

  More to come!

  Our Story, So Far . .

  There are many universes, composed of multiple realities. These form THE MULTIVERSE.

  The multiverse was shattered by the FRACTURE EVENT, a terrorist action by TRITON operatives that collapsed various realities and killed billions, wiping the memory of the majority of the population. Super-cities such as BABELZON and the fortress of FIRETHORN have become beacons of order and civilisation in a dark, chaotic universe.

  Some people can slide between the crumbling realities. DEMORN, the Wandering Princess of the Swords, is one of these people. DEMORN is an INNOCENT, a high-ranking member of a clubhouse of assassins and thieves based in BABELZON. She has journeyed far and wide throughout the FIRETHORN REALITY, selling her holy sword to the cause of the BARON SANTOS, the leader of CERON CITY, currently engaged in a continent spanning war against the PRUSSIAN EMPIRE.

  DEMORN journeys across the GLASS DESERT on a mission for Baron Santos . . .

  Part 1

  1

  * * *

  Iverson’s ship hung over the wrecked space station, a raven circling the dead.

  A UNITED OLYMPUS logo screamed across the side of the station, a triumphant declaration of immortal godhood at odds with the battle scars strewn across the craft’s exterior, deep ominous laser burns that set the Investigator’s stomach cold. The war that consumed the planet below was stretching sharpened claws out to the stars.

  Iverson guided his small, manoeuvrable vessel through the ruins, black solar sails adjusting as he drew close to the massive station and scanned for any sign of life. The planet was a expansive green-blue backdrop, endlessly seductive with deceptive promises of peace.

  Iverson said, ‘Everyone’s dead, all of them.’

  THERE ARE NO LIFE SIGNS? NONE?

  Iverson rolled his eyes at the querulous tone that bounced around the confines of his ship. The boys and girls back on the Order Satellites were a fragile bunch. ‘That’s what it means, Control.’

  Iverson let his vessel drift lower, guiding the craft with small expert adjustments to the solar sails. They were barely out of the limit of the planet’s atmosphere. The United Olympus was a couple of days away from burning up on reentry like so much other space junk. If he was going to extract the target, he had to do it now. Any backup Order craft were days away. The war had stretched their forces thin.

  His screen got an energy blip. A single trace. The implant in Iverson’s head was synched with Control on the Order satellite so he didn’t need to say anything. Control and his cronies were probably doing cartwheels and jumping for joy.

  Control’s voice was heightened, showing clues of extreme excitement despite Order training.

  ‘We’ve got a reading, Iverson! We’ve got a reading.’

  He smiled. ‘I see it, too, sir. Looks like about half a heartbeat.’

  Iverson punched a sequence of codes into his palm device, tracking the energy scan back. A shadowy image formed on the cockpit panel.

  ‘Humanoid. With an exotic weapon. High level artefact.’

  The image kept building details, a slender skeleton lying across the floor. He could see the pattern of a blade forming.

  Control was jumpy. ‘I think we found it, Iverson. Her tomb.’

  Perhaps. Was a floor a tomb if she died in battle and was left there, Iverson wondered. His craft drifted level with an airlock entrance. He guessed it was a tomb if the body stayed there while the space station burnt up like a Viking death ship.

  He said, ‘Maybe, Control. We’ve had false alarms before.’

  REPORT BACK IMMEDIATELY. BE CAREFUL OF CORPORATE TRITON OPERATIVES.

  ‘Will do. Iverson out.’

  Iverson shut down the implant connection, removing the sensor pads from his forehead. His chair sunk back from the ship controls. He slammed on a heavy duty space helmet, linking and connecting with the black Order jumpsuit, and sealing up for a space walk. He flexed his legs and did a weapon check. Heavy duty blaster cannon slung across his back. Glock on the leg holster. Bandolier of energy grenades around his waist. A good knife from Army days that were ten long years in the past. It had come down to that more than once.

  Iverson travelled light for an Investigator. His back clicked as he stood up, flexing his sore knee, the product of too many fights and forced marches on the war-torn planet below. Iverson could never get over the eerie peace of Firethorn from space. The war that had consumed the planet showed no signs of stopping, only moving slowly towards some grim end-game phase which in his dreams ended with neutron bombs and ghost cities. The Order was supposedly apolitical which had highly appealed to Iverson on the recruitment pitch. But there was no such thing as neutral in the middle of a civil war quagmire clusterfuck which had dragged on for years. There was just dirty politics and tired soldiers.

  It had been a long flight from the Order satellite, dragging him away from the Prussian Front and monitoring the difficult negotiations with the Ceron City reps and their Prussian counterparts. His Moth ship was tight on space but highly functional and fast. As a top ranking Investigator Iverson had tracked quarry and targets across this planet and others. The ship could ho
ld three prisoners comfortably and one more if he made it uncomfortable and piled them up in the deep freeze units.

  This time he only needed space for one passenger. Iverson ran a final scan. The life pulse had grown a fraction stronger. The target was waking.

  Iverson ejected from his ship and sank towards the ruins of the station, boots guiding the short fall. Space was silent and boring. His mind was still and ready for action. He wondered if he had found Demorn at last, so long sought by the Order.

  He wished he could remember his wife’s face. But he could barely remember her name as the station rushed toward him in agonising slow motion. His boots hit the hull of the United Olympus and Iverson forgot everything else but the mission. Her name was Natalia, Natalia.

  He slid in through the station airlocks, the locks no match for the Order decryption programs in his handheld. Night vision through the helmet illuminated the standard blank uniformity of corporate space stations. A ton of Olympus-themed logos and branding on doors and walls made him laugh. Olympus sure had fallen a long way.

  Lights blinked on off, on off. An exceptionally ugly insect-like creature lay pressed against the interior door, mandibles gaping and open. Scratch marks marred the paint. He sank his combat boots into it. The creature’s hollow shell, fragile as an egg, exploded on contact.

  Iverson prowled down the hallway, on high alert, easing the blaster cannon into his hands, taking the weight easy. He had humped far heavier packs for day-long marches down below. He’d been ten years younger and a lot dumber, too. The cannon buzzed with kill options. This was a red flag op. Top priority. Everything was secondary to the extraction of his target. He would have gunned down the the leader of Ceron City himself if he got in the way of extraction.

  Three minutes of hustle, sliding down darkened corridors, Iverson found her. She lay next to a walkway, surrounded by the dead. The target point matched in his crosshairs with the mapping system onboard the helmet. Iverson made double-time, avoiding stepping on the corpses, a mixture of Triton Corp soldiers and a couple of weird thorn-heads in suits. The helmet was mapping them as ORIGIN UNKNOWN, TRITON RELATED. Looking at the dead thorns they wore on their faces, Iverson had a couple of guesses, none of them good. Whatever had happened, it had gotten real.

  The woman was lifeless, half skeleton, ribs protruding from a torn black t-shirt. She was wearing a slick bomber jacket burnt and pocked with bullet holes. A vicious looking katana was in her right hand. Blood caked the steel. She’d gone down swinging. A Triton solider missing a head looked like the most likely recipient of that last slash. He glanced over the walkway. It was a steep drop into a chasm burning with purple energy. It hurt Iverson’s eyes even through the helmet.

  Iverson gripped her shoulder and rolled her over. She was younger than he expected, pale skin, her face bruised and cut, messy long brown hair stained with blood. Her mouth seemed frozen in a scary smile. The helmet pinged, PRIMARY TARGET CONFIRMED—DEMORN OF BABELZON. Around her neck hung a collection of small skulls on a silver chain which buzzed with low level spectral energies. Something else swam in his field of vision, cutting in and out of the implant. Iverson overrode it and dialled in on native vision. A simple steel locket engraved with a thorn marking. He tried again to find it on the Order database but came up with nothing.

  Her eyes blazed open as his gloved hand was about touch the locket, and her left hand turned to steel, thrashing for his neck. She lashed out with a balled steel fist, smashing into the helmet and cracking the screen, bouncing him offline from the Order with a single blow. Shit. Demorn jabbed again, glancing his jaw as he ducked and weaved. Iverson wondered if she broke the helmet. He ditched it with a button depress, bouncing it to the ground, trusting in the oxygen levels of the station.

  The katana swung through the air as the lithe warrior slashed from her prone position, missing Iverson’s leg by the sheerest breadth as he fell back. Demorn clambered to her feet, despite what looked like broken legs. Her ribs hung out of her side. Her steel hand gripped the walkway railing in a supreme effort of will. Iverson didn’t need any Order secondary confirm to know he had the right woman. This was Demorn and he might have bitten off more than he could chew.

  Iverson held up his hands in a gesture of peace. ‘I’m an Investigator! I’m here to rescue you, Demorn!’

  She laughed wildly at him, borderline insane, one hundred percent not listening. She didn’t need rescuing. Her eyes were a bright green fire and she was white as a ghost. Two energy stars flicked out from her wrist, bouncing into his jumpsuit, burning and shuddering. Iverson crumpled. Electrocution buzzed his body, frying through the jumpsuit’s inbuilt protections.

  She leapt at him, her broken legs healing fast. The cannon shuddered in his hands on reflex. Two in the chest, lucky shots from a few feet away, dropping her back onto the walkway, almost sliding her into the chasm. Demorn hit a railing and stopped. Jesus. Iverson looked at his shattered helmet and his target. Two huge chest wounds were gaping from underneath her blood-soaked shirt, which incongruously he noticed had a Spider-Man logo on it. Even as he watched the wounds were starting to cauterise and heal. As fatal a wound as two cannon blasts should be at that range, already her eyes were starting to flicker. Iverson guessed she was some weird genetic experiment, a well-disguised robotic unit, or something weirder, probably native to Firethorn. Either way, he didn’t need this level of insanity of her back in action. Iverson cuffed her wrists and ankles with electro-clamps before she could stir and tagged her for extraction back to his vessel.

  The implant was throbbing in his neck. Even without the helmet on to amplify it Iverson was finding it tough to ignore the Order message. He brushed the skin flap which housed the implant.

  ‘The helmet comm is blown,’ he said. ‘But I’ve got the target in the net. Ready to punch her out.’

  CONTROL OVER-RIDE OF PRIMARY MISSION—SECONDARY GOAL BECOMES TOP PRIORITY—MASTER ROOM LOCATED—MASTER ROOM LOCATED—IN RANGE

  Iverson’s eye’s glazed as Control took his mind over, the Order feeding him a chunk of raw data and new mission parameters. The Master Rooms were extremely rare and their locations were highly secretive. He knew about them only from training. Scattered across the Parallels, the Master units were plugged into the higher functional reality that had mostly been torn apart in the Fracture Event. Iverson had been in the Order for ten years and five official wars, hundreds of missions and dozens of private actions—he had never stumbled across a random Master Room. But nothing surprised him when it came to orders falling from on high. The data feed spun to a neat end.

  ‘Roger, mission accepted,’ he said with the barest tinge of resentment. ‘Evac Target One, Locker One bound.’

  Demorn phased out behind him, back into the lockup freezer on his craft. Hopefully the clamps would hold until she went under the Deep Freeze. She would be somebody else’s problem when they thawed her out. His skin smarted from the electro stars, the Order jumpsuit was fried. It wouldn’t take another direct shot.

  He would have to be fast and light and be right. Iverson ran across the suspension walkway to his new goal, the secondary mission made primary. A giant steel ball was raised a few feet in the air, suspended on anti-gravs, hovering above the mesh of walkways and the abyss below.

  His implant flashed red to green. Order codes were working on the auto locks and Control had fed him the data on the structure’s weakest entry point. These Master Rooms were half mythical but they were technological masterpieces, built by reality engineers, a precious few of whom had defected to the Order in the tumult following the Fracture.

  His implant tracked the ball as it slowly spun. Iverson waited for the open shot then lit it up with the cannon on rapid blast. It shuddered in his arms with raw power. He hit it again and again. The steel ball began to open. Iverson grinned despite himself as the blast shuddered in his hands. This was being alive. This was not running away. Demorn was secure in an Order ice cage and he was peeling back the secrets of a universe that w
as programmed to give questions not answers. This was why he had joined the Order. Natural curiosity mixed with a desire for justice. Their first pitch still caught him after ten years. Iverson dialled the cannon up and pumped it to max, hitting the weak spot again. The air around him blurred. They were hitting against the walls of reality. Pushing against what the Fracture had done to the world, to this universe, to so many Parallels. The huge steel ball dropped to the floor, metal doors opening like a petal.

  The blast cannon was shuddering, overheating. Iverson threw it on the ground, his exultation now a sudden nervous exhaustion. The implant was screaming in triumph. He had never been inside a Master Room.

  Inside the ball was a hub of computers and screens. Ambient light. Iverson glanced back at the walkway and the collection of bodies that Demorn had slaughtered. Was she protecting this place or seeking to breach the Master Room herself? Iverson didn’t know enough about her to answer that. The Order would seek and find those answers from her.

  He strode into the small space and the steel ball closed back in itself, locks clamping down. A main screen lit up, text in huge letters.

  WELCOME TO MASTER ROOM 277—FRACTURE EVENT PENDING

  The text was flashing black to red. Data was running down side screens but this was clearly the main event. Iverson touched the flashing letters. It was full immersion as his implant synched with the data flow.

  WELCOME TO MASTER ROOM 277—FRACTURE EVENT PENDING—FRACTURE EVENT PENDING—PREPARE FOR THE SITUATION ROOM

  2

  * * *

  The White House Situation Room, Date undetermined

  MASTER ROOM 277—FRACTURE EVENT PENDING

  Iverson shifted in his chair, waiting for the old man to start. The words on the huge screen in front of the seated group blurred in and out of focus. He looked around the table, a mix of the would-be anonymous. Around fifteen blurred faces. But it took more than hiding somebody’s face to guarantee anonymity. He could see Marine signet rings, an actual Defence Force employee nametag, tired office workers with their iPhones out, covertly checking their social media feeds, identifying tats on hands and arms, recognisable body language, all the thousand ways people constantly proved facial blurring software was a joke.

 
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