Today I've got an excerpt from Shadow Precinct by Christian Porter. He's a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C.  He has had jobs as a programmer/designer in the video game industry, and most recently as a technology coordinator for a network of charter schools in New Orleans.  He drew his inspiration for his debut novel from many different places: comic books and anime, old school kung-fu movies with awful voice dubbing, hip hop music with lots of curse words, action movies with awesome one-liners, and visionary science fiction films with awe-inspiring settings.



As the elevator lurched toward the unknown underground destination,
Cyrus’ heart was filled with uncertainty for the first time. All his life,
he had wanted to follow in his father Francois’ footsteps. Had he
known that would include being driven into the middle of nowhere
by two unnamed men and getting on an elevator to an underground
bunker, he may have reconsidered his position. His racing train of
thought was derailed by the commanding, yet endearing voice of the
“Mr. Santeaux, Mr. Everett, life in the Arms Recollection Unit
is not what you imagine it to be. By being here, right now, you are
essentially giving your life to our mission. Trust me when I say: Many
have died for this cause; the cause that President Roosevelt, God
rest his soul, passed away envisioning would lead America to greater
heights. You will be trained by some of the finest men the world has to
offer. They will make you face the unthinkable, your own countrymen.
Some people cower in the face of this concept. But any man, ANY
man, that puts the betterment of our country in jeopardy is indeed our
enemy. Rest assured, this is a war for the future of our country. The
members of the ARU are zealots in the face of this hell. And we will
emerge victorious...”
Just then, the elevator slowed to a stop. The Colonel looked over
his should at the two men.
“Allow me to introduce the men that will be training you.”
The vertical seam where the doors connected began to part and light
flooded the interior of the elevator compartment. The Colonel stepped
off the elevator first and walked down a small metal ramp. There stood
six men in a line. All were passing eyes over the new recruits, scanning
them both from head to toe. One had a smirk upon his face as if to
indicate to them that they should hop back on the elevator to avoid the
embarrassment of imminent failure. Cyrus recognized one of the men
as none other than Eliot Ness. Assuming that some stereotypes are
based in fact, he imagined the Asian man to be the one in charge of
the martial arts training. Cyrus’ eyes darted around the room, trying
to take in everything. The underground structure was massive, about
the size of three airplane hangars. The entire area was divided into
two halves, the training areas were on one side, and presumably the
barracks and other structures were located on the other. Cyrus could
see other recruits meandering about the double doors of the entrance
to the living quarters, seeking the prime position to see the fresh meat
that was about to be tossed into the grinder. There were large concrete
walls separating the different training areas. The industrial style
architecture made the under ground bunker look more like a factory
than a training facility. The ceilings were high, with huge hanging
lights that illuminated the surroundings. He could make out what
looked to be a dojo to his left. The hairs on his arm stood on end as he
envisioned himself administering many a beating to his new fraternity
in the ARU, and the uncertainty that he had felt on the elevator had
immediately evaporated from his spirit.
The Colonel walked down the ramp and nodded in the direction
of his six heads of command. They all saluted in unison, an indication
that they were as disciplined as they were loyal.
The Colonel turned back towards the two new recruits, looking
Gerald in the eyes, then shifted his gaze towards Cyrus.
“Gentlemen, the men standing behind me are tasked with
creating a force that is unparalleled in its reconnaissance, firearms,
and martial arts capabilities. The Six: martial arts supreme master
Xi Wang Xi, strength and conditioning instructor Chandler Ulysses,
academic dean Professor William Dell, onsite psychologist and
behavioral analyst Dr. Stephen Aldridge, weapons and arms specialist
Armand “Arms” Korakov, and lastly our head of reconnaissance and
arms recollection tactics, one of the famed Untouchables, Mr. Eliot
Ness. Frankly, their job is to eat you alive, digest you, and shit you
out. And out of that steaming pile of excrement will rise the finest
operatives that this great nation has ever produced. You two men
should know that the recruiters were sent out to find you based on our
own research of your backgrounds. You are also here to replace the
recently vacated positions.”
Gerald looked perplexed, and couldn’t keep silent any longer. The
remaining effects of his intoxication, most of which was left topside,
made him more prone to inquiry. He cleared his throat and spoke,
“Did you just say the heroes are going to come from shit? Shit heroes?”
Now it was the Colonel that looked perplexed. In fact, everyone
within earshot of this exchange looked perplexed. Except Chandler
Ulysses, who had a huge grin slathered on his face.
“And, Colonel, what do you mean by recently vacated positions?”
The six lieutenants collectively chuckled. “Mr. Everett, the way we
operate here is that, if we lose a recruit, we have to replace him. It is
imperative that we steadily build our numbers and we can’t afford to
lose one man before the real battles begin.”
The Colonel turned to walk away, but was interrupted by the
unsteady voice of a now completely sober Gerald.
 “Colonel, sir, if you don’t mind me asking. What happened to the
recruits that we’re replacing?”
The Colonel swiveled his head around without turning his body,
”Oh, they died. Follow me gentlemen.”
The two new recruits didn’t look at each other. They merely
followed swiftly behind the Colonel.
The party proceeded at a brisk pace towards the dojo. Cyrus
caught a glimpse of an ever growing crowd of loiterers gathering
outside of the living quarters. They passed through a huge set of
wooden double doors and entered the dojo. It was a large structure,
much bigger than the exterior portrayed. Four huge wooden beams
offered support to the high roof. The main area was nothing more
than a huge square bamboo mat. There were some additional doors
that Cyrus saw and immediately wondered where they led. An armory
of hand held weapons ranging from kendo sticks and bo staffs to
katana blades and nunchukus was on the back wall, each weapon
resting perfectly on pegs that protruded from the wall. From their
distance, it almost appeared the weapons were floating in mid-air. The
Colonel walked to the middle of the room accompanied by his Asian
Lieutenant, they turned and faced the two new recruits.
“Gentlemen, as I mentioned this is Xi Wang Xi. He is one of the
most gifted martial artists the world has ever seen. He’s been across
the globe refining his hand to hand combat skills. With his guidance,
you will become human weapons. Trust me boys, this type of training
is only to be found as part of the ARU.”
When he finished speaking, the Colonel made eye contact with Xi
and nodded in his direction. Xi was a clean cut Asian man that stood
about five feet five inches. He appeared to be thin, but this was just
camouflaging an incredibly powerful physique. He wore attire fitting
of a martial artist; black pants to match his black shoes, a robe-like
top that covered his upper body drawn closed with a black belt. Xi
stepped up to the forefront. He spoke in perfect English with a tinge of
a London accent, taking both new recruits by surprise.
So much for stereotypes…
“You two the center of the ring please.” The two men
walked toward the center of the room, where they could see red
painted lines that indicated the boundaries of the sparring area. They
turned to face their commanders and were greeted by, not only the
Colonel, Xi, and the other five lieutenants, but also roughly 25 recruits
that had jammed the entrance of the door, spilling into the dojo
behind the heads of command. “My name is Xi Wang Xi, henceforth
you will refer to me as Master Xi. The Colonel already alluded to this
fact that I have traveled across this earth learning various styles and
techniques that have made my body an instrument of death. My job
is to give you something that other branches of the military do not.
I intend to do that by beating the bloody hell out of you. Hopefully,
during this time, you will gain something of value that will aid in
you in the field. Please, face each other.” Cyrus and Gerald were too
entranced by the dojo, the Asian man with a voice that didn’t match
his countenance, and the ever swelling audience to notice their bags
had been taken from their sides, placed against the far wall as to clear
the sparring ground.
“If you two would, on my mark, begin fighting.” Cyrus looked
perplex, “Sir…Master Xi, what are the conditions of victory?” This
inquiry garnished a chuckle from the lieutenants and the crowd of
onlookers alike.
“Well chap, the next time one of you opens your eyes, you’ll
be in the infirmary...making you the obvious loser.” A seriousness
befell Cyrus. He was confident in his hand to hand combat abilities,
having received more training in his early childhood than most of
the men that were present. His gaze turned towards Gerald, who
was fumbling, trying to reach an object in the lapel pocket of his
dirty green jacket. Cyrus watched Gerald’s right hand disappear
underneath his jacket, emerging with a small flask. “Therrre she
goes.” Gerald muttered to himself before unscrewing the top and
drinking the entire contents, his adam’s apple bobbing up and down
with each gulp of the presumably alcoholic beverage. Cyrus couldn’t
help but laugh internally. “What a fucking drunken nut case,” Cyrus
thought to himself, “he might as well sign his discharge papers
now.” Cyrus was becoming intoxicated with his own self-confidence
as Gerald was achieving the same goal through different means.
Cyrus’ heart was now racing as he shifted his body into fighting
position. Xi was also observing Gerald’s peculiar pre-fight ritual,
but his perception wielded a drastically different assessment of the
situation. Xi was aware that the only men that were so brazen as to
indulge in spirits before a fight were doing so because it would help
them as opposed to hinder them. Xi Wang Xi knew Drunken Fist.
The words rang out like a starting pistol at an Olympic race.
Cyrus looked up into the glossed over eyes of his opponent.
He’s mine.
He dashed towards Gerald with three large steps, on the last step
he leapt into the air with a double jump kick aimed at Gerald’s midsection.
He was shocked when he didn’t feel the impact on Gerald’s
body, who had quickly stepped out of range. Cyrus rushed again with
a flurry of strikes that were hard for the gallery of recruits to follow
with their eyes. Gerald wobbled side-to-side, ducking or swaying
out of the way of every single strike. Cyrus could not discern if his
sporadic movements were accidental or purposeful. Cyrus feigned
a round house kick to throw his opponent off the anticipation of his
attacks, then he struck with a speed that made Xi, who was watching
each recruit’s moves intently, smile in a nod to Cyrus’ execution.
Cyrus felt the adrenaline fueling him, the sweat starting to leak from
his skin. Everything else was blurred as if a veil had been placed over
it, the sounds of the room now sounding muffled, though the recruits
were worked into a frenzy by the display that they beheld. Cyrus felt
everything moving in slow motion, his blow glanced past Gerald, who
stumbled and spun with perfect timing. Cyrus could feel the hairs
on his hand and forearm brushing past Gerald’s face. Cyrus hopped
backwards now, breathing heavily. He watched Gerald rhythmically
stagger from left to right, hands in front of his face like a boxer with
his fists only lightly clenched. Gerald slurred speech interrupted
Cyrus’ train of thought, “Shhall me continue danshing?”
Before he could process another thought, Gerald was upon
him. Cyrus was taken aback by his speed, taking consecutive steps
backwards as Gerald unleashed a series of unpredictable strikes.
Gerald’s movements were confusing. As he swung a right handed blow
towards Cyrus’ throat, he stopped mid-swing and punched his ribs
with a quick strike with his left hand. Cyrus blocked the next string of
Gerald’s offensive. He regained his footing and shot a kick toward the
side of Gerald’s skull like a rocket fired from a bazooka. He thought
for certain it would connect but he was fooled again by the intoxicated
ballet that his opponent was performing. Gerald twisted his body 180
degrees ducking beneath the kick. As Cyrus was carried around by the
force of his kick he spun back to the forward position to be hit with
a blow to the abdomen by Gerald, who was walking backwards with
his back parallel to the ground, shooting rapid fire strikes into Cyrus’s
mid-section. Gerald’s upper body weight, and undoubtedly all of the
whiskey that he had consumed, forced him to fall on his back and roll
to his feet, ending with his back turned to Cyrus. This angered Cyrus.
THIS guy!
He didn’t come all this way to be made a fool by a lush such as
Mr. Everett. He felt a sudden rush of adrenaline that was spiked with
a rage that blinded him to the fact that one of his ribs was broken. He
rushed in once more, when he was within one step, Gerald threw a
spinning elbow. Cyrus eluded the elbow by ducking underneath it and
in that instant, saw his opening. Cyrus stood and delivered an open
palm strike to the sternum of Gerald. The pain from the strike sent
Gerald stumbling backwards, a final, unequivocal, sobering remedy
for his drunken state. Gerald gathered himself, but it was too late.
Cyrus had rushed him with the same surprising speed that he was
on the opposite end of just mere moments ago. Cyrus kicked his shin,
forcing Gerald down to the floor of the dojo on one knee. An axe kick
to the back of Gerald’s head would ensure his trip to the infirmary.
Cyrus didn’t have time to celebrate his victory, nor did he feel like
he was the victor at all. He coughed blood that sprayed onto the dojo
floor. Shortly thereafter his vision faded to black. He collapsed, next
to the man that he had just bested. The raucous cheers of the crowd
that now surrounded the entirety of the square sparring area weren’t
enough to wake either man.

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Happy Reading!

Sibel XX