by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Extinction Cycle Book Six
A new monster emerges…
Newly christened as the leader of Delta Force Team Ghost, Master Sergeant Joe Fitzpatrick arrives in Normandy over seventy years after Allied Forces joined the fight against the Nazis. The war to free survivors and eradicate pockets of adult Variants and their offspring is underway by the Unified European Forces. But as the troops push East, rumors of a new type of monster spread through the ranks… Fitz and his new team quickly realize the fight for Europe might be harder than anyone ever imagined.
They thought the war for America was over, but the war, for some, has just begun…
Captain Reed Beckham and Dr. Kate Lovato are settling into a new life on Plum Island. Across the country, the adult Variants have all been wiped out and the juveniles are on the run. But survivors soon realize there are other monsters left at home. And they may be human.
Genre: Sci Fi Thriller
Content/Theme(s): Genetic Engineering, Medical, Military, Post-apocalyptic, Horror, Dark Fantasy
Release Date: October 6, 2016
Excerpt & More
A summer breeze rustled Master Sergeant Joe Fitzpatrick’s shaggy red hair as he crossed the deck of the USS Iwo Jima. The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship cut through the rough waters of the English Channel, paving the way for the USS Mesa Verde and the USS Ashland. Together, the three amphibious vessels made up what was left of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the USS Forrest Sherman, was hours away from joining the MEU.
Fitz touched the handle of the hatchet he kept in a sheath on his duty belt. It wasn’t regulation, but he kept it to honor the bravest woman he’d ever known. All the losses over the past seven months had weighed heavily on him during the lonely ocean journey, making for long days and restless nights. Without Captain Reed Beckham and Master Sergeant Parker Horn by his side, he felt more alone than he had in a very long time.
He thought about the friends and brothers he’d never see again: Sergeant Jose Garcia, Staff Sergeant Jay Chow, Staff Sergeant Alex Riley, Lieutenant Colonel Ray Jensen, and so many others. But the one he missed most was Meg Pratt. She had been like the sister he’d never had.
Stroking the handle of her favorite weapon helped ease some of the loss. Part of her still remained with him, even if it was just wood and steel.
He approached the warning line on the edge of the deck and peered up at a red sunset that looked like a gunshot. He smoothed down his uniform, fresh from a supply locker on the Iwo. His hair whipped in a gust of wind. It was far too long. His black carbon blades and black fatigues weren’t regulation either, but he no longer had a commanding officer breathing down his neck about little things like polished boots or facial hair.
Now that Fitz was the new non-commissioned officer in charge of Team Ghost, he operated mostly independently of the other soldiers. He reached down to scratch his second-in-command behind the ears. Apollo sniffed at the salty breeze, his ears perked as if ready and waiting for orders.
Those orders would have to wait.
They were still an hour away from making landfall in France. Over seventy years ago, the Allied Forces had stormed the beaches of Normandy during Operation Overlord to take back the country from the Nazis. Now Fitz and his team were about to repeat history to take France back from the Variants.
Fitz was ready to do that legacy proud. More than ready. After a nearly three-month hiatus, the 24th MEU was going to join the fight for Europe. President Jan Ringgold and Vice President George Johnson had answered the call from the new European Unified Forces, only to have their help delayed due to bureaucratic red tape and military commanders who decided not to follow orders. They had insisted that the United States Armed Forces needed to prioritize their own country’s safety. Their argument sounded a lot like what Colonel Zach Wood had said before Fitz blew his head off.
America wasn’t safe by any means, but rebuilding was underway. The Variants had been almost completely wiped out, and the juveniles were on the run. But the rest of the world wasn’t so lucky. Rumors of new types of Variants were popping up all over—creatures with monstrous mutations.
Team Ghost had spent nearly two months with the 24th MEU, helping with recovery efforts along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The next three weeks were spent clearing the Pacific of derelict ships and raiding Navy destroyers whose crews, infected with the Hemorrhage Virus, had managed to escape the deployment of the bioweapons designed to bring them down. Fitz had lost several new friends on those missions. He had no doubt he would lose more in France.
Like they had so many times before, the Marines were prepared to fight evil wherever it emerged. Only this time, the Marines were fighting at a fraction of their original forces. Only five percent of the Marine Corps was left. The 24th MEU consisted of around two thousand men and women. Many of them were volunteers that Vice President Johnson had requested to help rebuild the shattered ranks of the American military. Hundreds of the new faces were already gathered on the deck, helping load M1A1 Abrams Tanks, LAV-25s, Humvees, Assault Breacher Vehicles, MTVR heavy trucks, and Fitz’s new ride, an all-terrain version of the heavily armed MRAP vehicle, the MATV, that took a crew of six plus an additional twelve in the back.
The pre-combat sounds sent a phantom chill up the legs Fitz didn’t have, and adrenaline emptied into his bloodstream. He spat over the railing.
A full moon rose over the bloody horizon. For a split second he saw the silhouette of what looked like a dragon moving across the moon. He had seen a lot of monsters, but he knew that was impossible. Regardless, he still reached up, rubbed at his eyes, and focused on the moon. The silhouette was gone.
He turned to check on the Mesa Verde and the Ashland, still trailing the Iwo Jima. Final mission briefings were underway on the decks of the other ships. Armament specialists were carefully loading weapons systems while pilots checked their instruments. Everyone had a duty.
A trio of Black Hawks passed overhead. The choppers soared toward the rising moon, buzzing away like bugs toward a floodlight. He pushed his earpiece in and listened to the radio chatter. It was difficult to hear over the clank of machinery and raised voices of combat troops on the deck behind him, but he could vaguely make out the transmissions.
“Command, Rogue 1 . . . Echo 4 and Echo 5 report Variants on the shore. Adults in the vicinity.”
“Come again, Rogue 1. Didn’t get your last. Confirm…adults? EUF said the area was clear.”
“Copy that, Command. You heard right. EUF must have been wrong. Echo 4 and Echo 5 confirm Variants on the ground. We got ourselves an adult problem.”
A hand on Fitz’s arm startled him. Sergeant Jeni Rico flicked a pink-tipped lock of hair from her face and smiled, dimples deepening in her cheeks.
“Fitzie, you hear that shit?” she asked. “Sounds like the French didn’t do a very good job of bug spraying. Kryptonite must not have been deployed everywhere.”
Fitz sighed and bent down again to stroke Apollo’s soft fur, catching a glimpse of the brace still on Rico’s injured leg. She was lucky she wasn’t in a cast.
Apollo whined, amber eyes searching Fitz’s face. He knew something was up with all the activity on the deck.
“It’s okay, boy,” Fitz reassured him. He stroked the dog’s head gently. Fitz guessed it wasn’t fear making the dog uneasy. He probably missed Beckham and Kate. Fitz had promised them the 24th MEU wouldn’t be gone this long, and Beckham had reluctantly allowed Apollo to come to keep Fitz safe.
That had been three months ago.
Fitz sighed and stood. He missed his friends too, and being so far away from Plum Island made him feel anxious. How could he protect them if he wasn’t there?
“You’re not going to say anything about my new hair color?” Rico asked.
Fitz shook his head like he hadn’t noticed. “Is it different?”
She twisted a pink strand. “It’s not blue anymore.”
He examined her from the corner of his eye. She was cute, smart, and fun, but he’d only ever had time for one relationship—the Marine Corps. Rico might have been flirting, but Fitz wouldn’t know how to flirt back if he tried.
Rico changed the subject with a frustrated huff. “How fucking hard is it to replicate Kate’s bug killer?” She chewed her gum furiously as she spoke, one hand on her hip. “I mean, all they had to do was launch that shit into the air and sit back in lawn chairs and watch.”
Fitz managed a nod. He wasn’t sure exactly what to expect in France. No one was. The EUF had finally taken a section of Paris back, but intel was hard to come by. General Vaughn Nixon, the man in charge of the invasion, had planned Operation Beachhead without much to go on. Not long after the final briefing, Colonel Roger Bradley, the commander of the 24th MEU, had pulled Fitz and the other leaders into a meeting and dropped a bombshell. Fitz still hadn’t figured out a way to tell Team Ghost.
“Fitzie, you listenin’ to me?”
“I told you not to call me that,” Fitz snapped.
Rico stopped chewing and glanced down at the deck.
“I’m sorry. I’m just sick of waiting to get off this damn ship. Clearing derelict vessels and performing recovery operations is boring as hell,” Fitz said.
A pair of Ospreys took off and climbed into the sky, engines zooming louder than a fleet of riding lawnmowers.
“You’ll get to fight soon enough,” Rico said. She pulled the strap of her sawed off shotgun tighter around her shoulder.
More Black Hawks joined the Ospreys on the horizon.
“Shit, we really got an adult problem, don’t we?” Rico muttered.
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Be on the lookout for Nicholas Sansbury Smith's future release(s): Trackers coming Jan 2017, Trackers 2 coming Mar 2017, Ghosts coming Jul 2017, and Extinction War coming Summer/Fall 2017
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