This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

The woman rolled over towards the short man, tossed her head to move her blonde hair out of her face, and kicked her bound bare feet into his groin. He clutched at his crotch, screaming as he doubled over.

She squirmed up into a sitting position. A bruise was starting to form on her cheek and Adar had caught a glance of a bloody leg underneath her dress when she had made contact with the short man. She scowled and yelled something Adar didn't understand.

Adar stepped back from the bed and hoped that the woman didn't try to attack him as well. She might be afraid that he had saved her while planning to take her for himself. That sort of thing was known to happen, and any careful woman knew to expect it. Distance should discourage any fear she might have of that possibility.

He turned to the door as it swung open.

So much for hoping to have the situation resolved before the turncoats found me, Adar thought, as he pulled up his blaster and pointed it at the Hunwei turncoat in the doorway. The human eyes stared back at them through the visor of the Hunwei helmet. The turncoat's blaster was pointed at Adar.

Adar pulled the trigger of his own blaster while dodging to the side. He should not have bothered. The Hunwei had been focusing on the woman with a hungry look in his eyes and now looked down in surprise when the blast tore through his abdomen. A scream escaped from the man's lips, and he grabbed at the spot where he'd been hit, his gloved hand unable to cover the large hole that had formed there.

It was the first noise that Adar had heard come from a turncoat that sounded human.

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This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar must have surprised the Hunwei turncoats when he stood up wielding one of their own blasters because all three of them froze. They weren't used to people that fought back, much less those that used their own weapons against them. From where Adar stood, he could make out the body of the last turncoat that he’d shot. The blast had taken the man in the head and then moved through the top of his back. The ghastly sight caused a small whisper of remorse that he pushed out of his mind. It wasn't his fault the Hunwei had raised a generation of humans who fought for them.

It wasn’t the fault of the turncoats either.

Raindrops hit his face as he looked back at the Hunwei turncoats, blinking through water that trickled down his forehead and into his eyes. It hadn’t been raining before he’d come out of the alley. It must have started right after he spotted the turncoats. The action had kept him from noticing the rain, and he was surprised to realize that he was already quite wet.

The all too human eyes that stared back at him from the alien armor caused him to growl quietly. It was wrong, very wrong that he was fighting humans that were armed like Hunwei. The moment lasted for several heartbeats as they all stood looking at one another. In the next, everybody moved.

“Bloody Melyah!” Adar muttered as he twisted, running for the closest building, a two-story home that was less than ten feet away. He ground his teeth when he realized all of this was getting in the way of him catching up to Tere. The hesitation of the turncoats was gone, and blasts from their weapons tore through the spot where he'd been mere moments before. One of the Hunwei must have anticipated where Adar was heading because a blast flew right by his face, the heat of it burning his nostrils.

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This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

Soret cried out when the doorway of the arch reappeared, cutting her off from her father, Barc. The door had opened out into an alley in Zecarani, now it was just a wall of brick.

Even though the Hunwei had been rushing towards the door moments before, she tried to push towards the arch. She intended to learn if swiping her thumb across the top would open the door for her. She couldn't just leave her father behind without trying something.

Karn got to her first and held her back.

“What are you doing?” Karn was usually a quiet and even-tempered man, but his voice was strained and had an edge to it. His tone gave her pause. “Have you lost all sense? Or just gone suicidal?” His voice rose as he spoke and while it barely approached above a loud conversation for somebody else, for him, it was as good as yelling.

“My father’s out there still!” Soret said. “We have to get him.” Even as the words left her mouth, she realized the futility of what she was saying. The Hunwei would be on the other side of the doorway now, trying to figure out how to get to them. There hadn’t been much space in the rock where the door had been located on the Zecarani side, so she supposed that they were miles away by now, if not on the other side of the earth.

Or in the middle of it, she thought.

She shivered, goose flesh running up and down her arms as a cold sweat broke out all over her body.

“The man that stabbed Jorad in the back. That was your father?” The disdain in Karn’s voice was evident, and she arched her neck, intending to stand up for her father. Barc had been in a difficult position. It killed her that despite Jorad’s actions, she had had no other choice but to stick close to him because of the Hunwei. She’d tried to get her father to see reason but hadn’t been able to prevail.

Karn stared down at her, and she became afraid that he would hurt her. His stoic face was pulled back in a small frown, and his eyes had narrowed slightly. He held her gaze, his jaw working.

Your precious Jorad just killed two boys I grew up with, she thought, but couldn’t force herself to say.

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This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Adar let out a sigh as he left the dead Hunwei turncoat, he had waited until the boy had stopped breathing before turning away. When his eyes rested on a nearby group of Ou Qui, he frowned. He had entered into a truce with one of the Ou Qui chiefs, but he wasn't certain the truce extended to the other Ou Qui tribes.

As they disappeared, he wondered if all the Ou Qui here in Zecarani represented just one tribe or many. He was hesitant to approach them because it was difficult to predict how they would react.

He was glad they were more concerned with killing the Hunwei than doing anything else. Based on what he knew of them, if the Ou Qui wouldn't have had the Hunwei to deal with, they would have been fighting one another.

He tried to locate an Ou Qui chief, but their method of disguise left little with which to distinguish them.

They all looked like walking bushes.

There were some subtle differences in their camouflage, but he wasn't sure if it meant anything. Markings on a face here, feathers on hands there. It was probably clear as day to the Ou Qui, but he couldn't make any sense of it. He made as if to head over to the closest group but came to a stop when he saw they were now heading the opposite direction. He considered trying to catch up to another group, but it was preparing to leave as well.

As he looked over the grounds, he realized there wasn't a metalman in sight. He had only seen them when they'd hurled themselves off the roof of the town hall, but he'd been too preoccupied at the time to spend much time studying them. What he wouldn't have done to get a closer look. It annoyed him to think that the Ou Qui had had metalmen in their midst all this time.

He shook his head and hoped that the forgotten secrets of their fathers would be enough to defeat the Hunwei, or at least, make them leave again. Assuming they could figure all of the secrets out, of course.

He didn't go far before he stopped to collect another blaster from the remains of several dead Hunwei and was surprised that he could see blackened skulls inside of their helmets. He had expected that at the temperature the Hunwei had been burning there would be nothing left. He hadn't been able to come within twenty feet of them when they had been on fire.

It was a wonder the Hunwei armor appeared to be unaffected, but that might have just been an illusion caused by its dark color. When he had a chance, he would see if the armor had maintained its integrity. It wasn't a good time investigate because he could still feel the heat emanating from the armor as he leaned over one of the bodies.

The Hunwei's blaster was underneath the remains, and it broke in half when Adar tried to kick it free. The place where it had been touching the Hunwei had melted. The blaster of the other Hunwei had melted as well and was almost unrecognizable.

Cursing, Adar moved to the next group of dead Hunwei and went from body to body until he finally found a blaster that had fallen far enough from its owner that it hadn't been destroyed.

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This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

A piece of gravel crunched under Adar Rahid's foot as he twisted and scanned the town square while looking for Hunwei through the smoky yellow haze that hung in the air. It was starting to dissipate in most places, but it was still dense where the Hunwei had been congregated before the tower had done its work and burned them to death.

Adar spotted a mound of Hunwei where they had collapsed on to some people. He looked away without examining it too closely. It wasn’t a pretty way to die and had likely been quite painful. He tried to avoid thinking about how many people had died in that spot but found he couldn’t help wonder if there had been children in the still burning mass.

He frowned, a low growl rumbling in his throat. He supposed he should have been glad for the people who had been saved by the tower, but it didn’t make the thought of those that had died any more palatable.

When the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, the smoky haze gave the area below it a brownish tint, causing him to squint. The burning mass wasn't the only such pile of Hunwei and humans.

Movement from a pile of dead Hunwei caught Adar’s attention. One of the dead Hunwei’s legs had moved. The body lay on the ground, but the leg had twitched.

Another Hunwei lay next to the first. It was easy to see by comparison that the first was considerably smaller.

Humans in Hunwei armor, Adar thought, I thought I was prepared for anything, but I never considered this. He didn't know what to call these humans, but he supposed they were as much Hunwei as those who were a couple of feet taller. Still, he wanted to distinguish between the two.

Turncoat was as good of a word as any. It was difficult to think of the turncoat humans as Hunwei, but he’d get used to it with time.

The implications of these turncoats were still beginning to dawn on him. He guessed these traitors to humanity were descendants of those whom the Hunwei had taken captive. A thousand years was enough time for the Hunwei to raise a whole society that had been turned to their side. He clenched his hands at the thought, wondering if any of his ancestors had been among those who were kidnapped.

The turncoats would likely have a hard time blending in with other people or even communicating. Their language had to have become corrupt during the intervening time, but he figured it was best to act as if they did know how to communicate until he knew otherwise.

In the area surrounding the turncoat, Adar saw other dead Hunwei. He could tell by the size of their helmets they weren’t human. He figured the Hunwei turncoat’s armor must have protected the turncoat from the flames of his fellow Hunwei as they had died.

The turncoat moved again, this time lifting up its head.

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This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Neare Paler ducked behind a cart as thunder rolled through the sky. He could feel its reverberations in his chest and shook his head in confusion because there hadn’t been an accompanying flash of lightning. He didn’t normally feel thunder unless a lightning strike was close.

He doubted it had been caused by the storm and wondered if one of the Hunwei bombs had gone off while he’d been watching Thon pummel Jorad.

Neare tried yelling to get his son Erro’s attention, but it wasn’t a surprise the boy didn’t hear him over the din of the Hunwei invasion. It would have been too easy if Erro had heard him. Or better yet, just come to his senses and got off the open road.

It's not my fault, Neare thought as Jorad plunged a knife into Thon's chest. The sentiment didn’t help. The confounded bloody fight was happening because of him. The absurdity of the situation was almost enough to make him laugh except for his own son Erro stood close by as Jorad and Thon tried to kill each other.

Never mind all the Hunwei swarming around! Neare thought. Stare at them instead of running towards cover like any person with half their wits would do.

If it hadn't been for Erro, Neare wouldn't have moved. As it was, he was still hesitant to go out into the open and took his time to check the way was clear before leaving the temporary safety of the cart.

The full force of the wind hit him once he was in the open. He squinted, baring his teeth against the storm. It was better to face that than deal with the Hunwei, but not by much.

It is all too likely that I'll have to contend with both simultaneously soon enough.

The closest group of the hell-stricken monsters was several blocks away corralling a large number of people before them. As Neare approached, Jorad pushed Thon off.

Erro put his sword to Jorad's neck.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty Four of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

I turned up the volume on the television when I saw Peck’s face. He’d managed to strike an appropriate balance between mourning and confidence. He had just come from the funeral of Ronan Wright who—as I had suspected—had died in the explosion at Diggon tower.

Bruce Andrews. Jason Kurt, Lisa, and their parents. Lane Vargo. Ronan Wright.

Thor and Peck had a lot to answer for.

Peck had played the media magnificently. There had been a camera recording when I killed Larry and Beltran. The heavily edited footage had been seen by millions and, of course, didn’t come with audio. That would have caused too many questions.

“Mr. Peck,” the anchorwoman said. “Congratulations on your new promotion. How does it feel to go from being a college professor to the CEO of one of the largest and most influential corporations?”

“Well, as you can imagine,” Peck said, “it’s been quite a change. But I don’t want to talk about that today. There has been a lot of death and tragedy. My company has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks. I’d like to take this opportunity to announce a new partnership between Diggon and the federal government. We’re creating a citizen watch program called Spectrum.”

“And just what will Spectrum do?” the anchorwoman asked.

Peck help up his phone. “It’s an app that people can voluntarily run on their phone, tablet, or computer. The app will monitor what is going on around the user and report a live stream of data back to our servers. When alarming events take place, we’ve developed technology that will recognize what is happening so that local and federal authorities can be alerted.”

“I understand there is a unique feature to catch the person behind all these attacks on Diggon,” the reporter said. “Care to comment?”

“Yes,” Peck said. “We have programmed a special alert for Sam Chever. Or Jake Ramsey. Or whatever name he’s going by these days. Our system is designed to alert authorities the moment his face or voice pops up on the system.”

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This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty Two of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Even though the sun was setting, there was still enough light to make out where Shannon stood several hundred yards away. She was in the open and slowly turned in a circle with her rifle up and ready to fire.

I took as much time as I dared to make my approach, keeping an eye out for Martinez and his men as well. By the time I had almost reached her, I decided they were gone. I didn’t know how they’d been able to disappear so quickly, but I figured that Martinez had used a hidden passageway somewhere on the grounds to make his escape. He seemed to know this place better than anybody else. 

In the distance, I spotted a lone figure that had his back to me and was walking away at a normal pace.

The light was getting dimmer by the minute, but by the height of the man and the back of his head, I would have bet money that it was Thor. I’d spent a lot of time hiding from him and had gotten pretty good at recognizing him from a distance. What was he doing here? I squinted, wishing for binoculars, and thought about going after him. Lisa’s screams haunted me as I remembered Martinez’s claim that Thor had been behind the death of the Kurt family. I decided against chasing after Thor because there would be time enough to deal with him later. 

“I was too slow,” Shannon said when I reached her.

“We can chase him another day,” I said, neglecting to mention my theory for Martinez’s escape. I didn’t want to spend the rest of the night while she went from exhibit to exhibit looking for hidden passageways.

We didn't speak as the sun set. I wanted to reach for her, to take her in my arms and comfort her, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

“I’m sorry,” Shannon said at last. It was the first time I ever heard her apologize and it caught me off guard. “I shouldn’t have let Beltran convince me to break up with you.” It was hard to tell if she was sincere because it was dark and she was covered in shadow, but I suspected her words were genuine and I wanted to believe that she meant it.

“This isn’t really the time—”

“If we don’t get another,” Shannon said. “I wanted you to know.”

I didn't know how to respond.

“You guys trying to get caught?” Kris asked. I hadn’t noticed her approaching. “There's at least three corpses back there. We need to split.”

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This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty Two of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

When I awoke the first thing I saw was one of the expensive chandeliers in Diggon's lobby hanging directly over me. I must have taken quite a knock to the head because I thought that it was falling and going to hit me.

I tried to roll out of the way and ran into something—a person by the feel of it. Blinking, I looked back at the ceiling. After determining that it was my head that was spinning and not the chandelier falling, I tried to collect my wits. There was a huge lump on the back of my head, but other than that I was fine and I was surprised to find that my hands and legs were free.

After several labored breaths, I sat up and immediately wished that I hadn't because it made me dizzy.

“They're starting to wake.”

I didn't recognize the voice.

Shannon was beside me, and she was out cold. I might have thought she was asleep, except the gash on her head and the blood that had dripped down her face told a different story.

Kris lay to the other side of me. Cherry and Tom were nearby as well. They were all unconscious. Where was Beltran? There had been other people in the conference room, what had happened to them?

Martinez was with a group of people nearby. All of them had gas masks pulled onto the top of their heads. I did a double take when I recognized Ronan Wright among the men. He didn’t have a gas mask and was talking to Martinez while gesturing animatedly. They were too far away for me to make out what was being said.

What did Wright have to do with all of this? As he spoke, he became more agitated, and he started gesturing towards something I couldn’t identify because a lavish garden was in the way. 

I searched my pockets. They’d taken away my pistols and ammo magazines. I cautiously moved my leg and hid a sigh of relief. I was still armed with my subcompact pistol. It wouldn’t be much good against so many people, but it was comforting still the same.

“Don't move,” said a voice from behind.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty One of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Kris and I parked in the closest parking garage for the new Diggon headquarters. It was almost a ten-minute walk from there to the main building. As we passed the grizzly bear exhibit, I examined it, trying to decide where Martinez had come from the other day. If there were secret passageways here, it would be useful to know about them. There were several doors into the enclosure, but I couldn’t tell just by looking at them which one he had used.

A few minutes later, we walked by a crowd of people that were looking down into a lion habitat. I shook my head, wondering if there was another corporate headquarters in the world with its own zoo and aquarium.

Kris gasped when we entered the building, and I did my best to keep my jaw from dropping. It was hard not to gawk. The lobby was six stories high and lavishly decorated. Chandeliers that were several stories tall hung from impossibly small cables. It was the most ostentatious display of wealth I’d ever seen.

I remembered reading that Diggon employed a full-time staff of over two hundred people to take care of the aquarium and the zoo.

The aquarium circled the reception area and in the middle of the room was an alligator display with bridges crossing over to where security officers waited to clear all employees and visitors. A modern-day moat. I would have snorted with laughter at the petty imperial symbolism, but it didn’t feel like a joke, especially with Peck positioning to become CEO. 

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