Posted to my blog for the first time, Hard Stripes is a novella that explains how Kyrie Devonai, Chance Richter, and Evangeline Adeler first started working for the CIA. It is set in May of 2003, five months prior to the events in Reckless Faith. My plan is to expand this story into two episodes, and after putting it through the typical feedback/editing process, publish it for the Kindle. This current version has been significantly modified and cleaned up. I hope you like it!
Episode one is six chapters, approx. 17,000 words.
Hard Stripes: Episode One: Guardian Angels
It was a beautiful, mild late spring night in San Diego, and a man with a machine gun in a helicopter was trying to murder Devonai’s friends.
Over a wind-swept hotel rooftop, the gunner in the iconic Huey was shooting at a man named Richter with a FN M240B, a thirty caliber belt-fed weapon, from a flexible mount. Devonai watched in horror as rounds streamed toward Richter, the latter man firing his pistol in return even while trying to take cover behind a large conduit. His other friend, a young girl named Evangeline, cowered in fear underneath an air conditioning unit nearby.
Devonai took a knee and aimed at the gunner with his recently acquired Colt carbine, and tried to concentrate on hitting him. If his rounds missed his mark, his friends would almost certainly die. He considered using the AT-4 rocket launcher strapped to his back instead, but it would take too long to get into action, and he couldn’t risk sending a flaming wreck crashing down on the police officers gathered on the street below. Even as the enormity of the situation threatened to send him into a panic, Devonai couldn’t help but resent his sudden involvement in it.
“This is not what I imagined myself doing tonight,” he thought, and opened fire.
May 25, 2003 – 20 Hours Earlier
In his mind was an incomprehensible jumble of images, too indistinct to be identified but compelling enough to manipulate his emotions. Kyrie Devonai was pleased when he awoke, taking a deep breath and stretching his arms. The low hum of the airplane was relaxing, but his subconscious seemed reluctant to let him rest peacefully. He glanced out of the window, securing yet another view of the featureless night. In the background he could hear the voice of a flight attendant doing her job. He realized the drink cart was going by again, and he considered ordering another drink. The martini from a couple hours earlier had created a fantastic haze around his worries, even if it was too heavy on the vermouth. A quick mental checklist of alcoholic beverages allowed Kyrie to make a choice, betting on the fact that they couldn’t possibly get it wrong. However, one couldn’t be too careful. Kyrie raised his hand when the attendant approached.