“Who are you?” came a demonic voice over the Duke of Oyln’s transponder as he dove his black Goshawk ship toward the sloping ground far below. The sweptback wings of his ship groaned in protest at the top of a steep dive. Holding his long pipe in his teeth, he kicked the lateral bar, lined his targets up and pressed the button.
Flashing lances of Sar Beams shot out and tore the people standing there on the ground to blasted pieces.
The people below were startled. They were deep in a Painted Cloak, invisible to all. None should be able to detect them. The Duke, however, had a bank of exotic scanners in his Goshawk ship. Properly adjusted and carefully tweaked over the last few days of searching, he had them properly tuned and dialed in. He could detect their heat and see them just fine. There they were: the gigantic, unwashed men naked as the day they were born standing guard, and the ragged, bone-thin women shuttling back and forth. All, either through fear or mindless ignorance, served their abhorred master, and many who were alive and well in the morning often didn’t live to see the nightfall.
They served a Black Hat of a cruel and deadly note. Sudden, agonized death was something they lived with.
They stood at their posts as the Duke’s Goshawk roared in on them through the purple clouds. They stood there as the pelting Sar Beams ripped into them. The naked men—the Hulgismen—clearly had no idea what to do. They had no necks to ring, no limbs to rend. Like primates, they beat their fists against the ground in agitation but left their feet planted right where the Black Hat had put them. To move would mean death at her hands.
And to stand there meant death too, as the Duke’s weapons mowed them down.
The ragged females, the Adepts who might one day become Black Hats themselves, clambered about. They ran to their emergency posts, manning their Darklights, hoping to catch the Duke’s bat-like ship in their sights and send him down in a shapeless pile of blackmetal slag. Casually, he banked, aimed and pressed the button.
Adepts dead at their posts, their Darklights shot to pieces. A few more Darklights came on and went skyward. He aimed. The lights went quiet.
And then the star of the show, the Black Hat herself, came out of her tent; the tent the Duke had been carefully avoiding. In an ironic twist, the Black Hat’s tent, where many Hulgismen and Adepts died at her hands every day, was, at the moment, the one safe area to be found.
The Duke was not going to shoot at the tent; he might hit the Black Hat, and she was his whole reason for being there.
She threw open the flap and stormed out in her scarlet robe and black, featureless mask. She was, no doubt, used to being in complete control. What was this ruckus? Who was about to die for disturbing her much needed rest? He imagined all sorts of things must be going through her evil, Shadow tech clouded head.
In his scanners, he saw her look up at his ship and, for a moment, was just as dumbstruck as her Hulgismen guard had been.
How was her contingent discovered under full Painted Cloak—that’s what she must be thinking.
“Who are you?” came her thoughts over his transponder in a demonic growl. He banked to the west and slaughtered the remainder of the Black Hat’s Adepts and the few Hulgismen who still had a spark of life left in them.
He then turned his black ship to face his prize. The Black Hat was now alone and quite defenseless, for he had picked the time of his attack well. He knew she was drained of her Shadow tech. He knew she was out of her head with exhaustion.
The Duke knew the Black Hat was quite helpless.
She turned and began running to the north, her slender arms and long sleeved scarlet robes swishing at her side. Unused to running, she quickly tired and began stumbling.
She Wafted away in a smoky cloud. He saw her reappear a good ten miles away in his scanners. Not a bad Waft. He adjusted his course and was back on top of her in just a minute or two, his vessel quickly covering the distance.
She Wafted again. Again, he followed. And again, and again, over and over; he could play this game all day, however the Black Hat could not. Eventually, she tired and fell to the ground, unable to Waft any further.
He bore down on her.
“WHO ARE YOU?” came her thoughts again as she lay there on all fours, unable to stand.
The Duke closed the distance in his ship and that was that.
Excerpted from "The Hazards of the Old Ones (The League of Elder Book 2)" by Ren Garcia. Copyright © 2017 by Ren Garcia. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.