Skinwalker is the working title for the second novel in the Military P.A.C. novels.

Here’s an excerpt:

Frank reached slowly to his wallet and undid the chain, then he dragged the pig hide from his back pocket and tossed it to Jackie’s feet. “You don’t want to do that?” Frank itched to have a gun right now, or the knife strapped under his jacket, but that would take too long. Mostly he just wanted to back away from anything that smelled of gas. Too bad he couldn’t back away from himself. “You’re not ten feet from all that gas. It’s had enough time to build up a nice cloud of vapor. In all this cold it’s hanging around real good.”

“You know what a Cylon is?”

“Yeah kid, I do. Surprised you do.”

“F off then. I don’t need advice from a dead man.” He struck the flint-like cap of the roadside torch he held. An old one.

Frank started running in the opposite direction the sweet smell of gas clinging to him.

The torch flared up in a blaze of heat. Jack averted his eyes and threw the stick of fire.

Heat, thick and explosive welled up in a wall that drove Jack and the boys back from the motorcycle and the scream that ripped through the cold winter air.

Jack stared. He couldn’t move now that he had stopped. The heat felt like it was peeling the skin back from his cheek and the only thing cooling him down were the tears streaming over his face.

Something rolled into his leg as he wiped his nose with the back of his hand. Jack looked down. A toy motorcycle, its engine revving in a chaotic symphony of sound like a scream. So much like the scream rattling out of the burnt leathers on the road twenty feet away.

He picked it up. It was warm to his touch, then cold, and then warm again, as if it was shivering. He’d heard that burns made a man shiver like that, as if the nerves couldn’t figure out what was going on. A sob escaped his lungs, but he buried it before the boys behind him could see. Then he wiped at his face again, the motorcycle in his hand making his skin tingle as its Nano-fibers slid under his skin and a flush of chemicals followed.

He turned around and faced the two boys. “I got family now, right?” His hands hung at his side, he’d clenched them into fists not noticing the toy motorcycle was no longer in his hand.

“Yeah, Jackie, you got family.”

“Don’t call me that anymore.”

“Why not kid, it’s your name?”

Something slithered against his wrist, warm and cold, warm and cold, and it rumbled like an engine, or the shock pad of a gaming system. “No, it’s not. It’s Jack, and if you can’t use it right, I’ll find family that will.” He picked up the wallet and snapped the chain into place.

The two boys didn’t know where the steel in his voice came from but they listened real hard as they backed away from the crashed cycle and the wail of a police car in the distance.

Soon they were running away. Back to the area they called home and the leader of their gang. He called them his pack and that fit, because his name was Wolf.

 

 

Node Four: Name, Marlon. Primary Interface: Sergeant Frank Jackson Huer: Immolated.  Adapting. Primary Systems: Nominal. Organics Engine: online. Behavior and Emotional files: Abnormal. Command Structure: Missing.