Here’s a sneak-peek at an early draft from ‘Rage of Angels.’

“We were just getting comfortable when a threat carat popped up on my display, moving left to right.  It was still behind the building approaching the intersection ahead of us so we ducked behind the ruined cars and froze.  I extended a fiber-optic periscope and a moment later the alien strode into sight.

About two-and-a-half meters tall and it walked on four legs attached to a single hip assembly with a smooth, flowing gait.  It’s torso was upright and centered between the legs with four arms and a head, or at least a mobile sensor-cluster up top.  The bottom two arms were sturdier and held a mechanism of some kind while the upper, more delicate arms made adjustments to the device.  It was covered in what looked like plates of composite armor.

The PMI suits may have been nearly invisible but you can’t walk around with a nuclear reactor strapped to your back without having a noticeable heat signature, nor are they completely silent.  I don’t know if it was the IR or noise that alerted it, but it turned towards us suddenly.

Hotrod dove out of the way as the device emitted a blue-white beam that sliced into the car he was using for cover.  Its batteries exploded a split-second later, adding to the fireworks and turning his roll into a tumble.  I braced, stuck a slave-hand under the Kia I was hiding behind and flipped it towards the ET.  It swung the beam towards the car and cut it in half but I wasn’t behind it anymore;  I had sprung into the air, leaping towards the alien and spraying it with my chain-gun.

Bullets sparked off its armor and it tried to simultaneously back away from the tumbling car and swing the beam upwards to take me out.  It failed; the bottom half of the car knocked it onto it’s back, causing the beam to swing wide. I landed on it, one massive splayed foot catching it in the chest and driving it into the ground.  Whatever the armor was it couldn’t protect it from a half-ton of angry mech landing on it; I smashed the creature inside like a bug.  It dropped the device as I hit it and the beam cut off instantly. I went into a crouch over the twitching corpse and scanned the area for further threats.

Hotrod tumbled into the side of the building on my side of the street and stopped in a small cascade of dislodged bricks, but quickly rose to scan the other direction.  We didn’t have long to wait.

Threat-markers popped on my screen as a dozen short rods came tumbling through the air from the hardware shop across the intersection.  I was already moving as they began to vanish with sharp cracks as their points came to bear on me. Two of the miniature missiles tore through the weapon-pack and my right slave-arm.  Two more hit my right leg and I felt spikes of electric pain as they breached the armor, causing me to stumble.  Behind me Hotrod spun and fired a volley of grenades at the alien as it emerged from the store.

A threat-marker screamed behind me and I spun clumsily to face it.  I was ejecting the ruined arm and weapon-pod even as my left hand swept down to draw my pistol from it’s armored holster.  The handgrip was designed for a suit’s slave-hand; you couldn’t even fire the weapon unless you were in armor.  There was nothing sophisticated about the it either- it was an eight-shot double-action revolver chamber for the old Soviet-Era 14.5mm Machine-gun cartridge.  The cylinder was about the size of a coffee can.  It was a robust, anachronistic beast of a weapon but the suit’s designers wanted us to have something potent and almost fool-proof if we lost our main weapon system.

It wasn’t all primitive though- gripping the butt activated the suit’s smart-gun link.  Internal sensors in the suit watched my eyes and pointed the gun at whatever I focused on.  In this case I focussed on the weapon in the alien’s hands as it emerged from a cross-street a block behind us and rapped off four shots as fast as I could twitch my trigger-finger.  The suit’s massive slave arm made an excellent firing platform even for so powerful a weapon and all four armor piercing bullets struck the weapon, which vanished in a flash of white that almost overloaded my vision systems…

…I smashed through the wall of a restaurant and across the room, crushing everything in my path.  I came to a stop embedded in the interior wall.  My HUD was full of red system-status markers and I couldn’t move, but I was alive.

Then the building fell on me.”

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