This excerpt from The Wrath of Leviathan is from Gabriel’s point of view, and set in a Japanese neighborhood in São Paulo, Brazil. Gabriel is a former Brazilian special forces sergeant who works for a private security company now. He’s been assigned as Pel and Charles’s bodyguard. He and Kiyoko are at their neighborhood’s weekly street fair when they receive an emergency message from Pel that they are under attack.
Gabriel bolted for the apartment building. He dodged around people, trying to get through the crowds.
They didn’t always move as expected. He bumped into a man his age, who spilled a half-full plastic cup of beer.
“Filho da puta!” The man hurled down his cup and swung a fist.
No time for this. Gabriel grabbed the man’s arm, twisted, and threw him to the ground. He took off again.
I can’t believe this is actually happening, he thought. And timed while he was away—it had to be deliberate. He tried calling Pel while running. “DG, call Pel,” he commanded his augmented reality glasses.
No answer. He shoved his way through a food line blocking the street. More curses thrown his way. “Police! Out of the way!” he shouted.
Seemed to work, even without having a badge.
He kept running, the rows of overhanging white lanterns marking his progress. “DG, call SSG emergency dispatch.” His company had set up procedures in case of trouble he couldn’t handle himself.
The connect icon flashed. “Serviços de Segurança Globais,” a woman’s voice said. “Please state the nature of your emergency.”
“Da Silva. Condition Red. I need backup in Liberdade immediately. You have the address. Unknown number of assailants attempting to kill or kidnap Demopoulos and Lee. Need a helicopter team.”
He turned onto Rua dos Estudantes, their street. No tented stalls, but it was still crowded with pedestrians. Only a few more blocks, though.
“Helicopter?” the woman asked.
He abandoned the crowded sidewalk for the street. “Yes, Condition Red. Possible kidnappers, probable head start. Hurry, I am alone!”
Gabriel kept running. He dodged between groups of people bound for the fair. With luck, the SSG helicopter would arrive from their Congonhas base in fifteen minutes. They always kept at least one on rapid response, and it was only an eight kilometer flight.
He called the state military police, Águias da Cidade, next.
No answer. What was the problem? And no police visible. Where was that Inspector De Barros when they needed him?
Gabriel approached their six-story apartment building and zoomed in on his data glasses. Nothing unusual. No smoke, no noise, people walking up and down the sidewalks as if it were any other day.
Two white cargo vans were parked on the street, one next to their building and another three spaces up. Also not unusual, except for the tattooed girls standing next to them and glancing back and forth. Both wore dark data glasses with wraparound mikes, unzipped leather jackets, and bulging cargo pants. The closer one was young, with cinnamon skin and black hair tucked under a red bandanna. The further one was older with dark skin and long purple box braids.
Were they armed? His data glasses couldn’t identify Bandanna Girl, but Purple Hair had a long record, including an arrest for illegal firearms. The two women stared at him and tapped their data glasses.
Gabriel turned away and pretended to look at building numbers. “DG,” he whispered, “display feed from Pel 2SQ1BZ23.” Pel’s emergency activation streamed his security camera feeds to a Comnet site that Gabriel and SSG headquarters could access.
Swiping a finger along the right arm of his data glasses, Gabriel panned through the camera feeds. Five were out. Still transmitting but no picture.
But the hallway camera showed people emerging from Pel and Charles’s apartment. The door was off its hinges and smudged black. Seven people exited, four of them carrying Pel and Charles, who looked unconscious. The intruders wore street clothes, not uniforms, wore gloves, and were masked as telenovela stars. Three moved slowly and stiffly. They entered the stairwell through a shattered door frame.
Shit. They’re already leaving. It would take them a while to get downstairs, though.
Gabriel was outnumbered at least nine to one. But all he had to do was delay them until reinforcements arrived from SSG and the police. Should he pin them in the stairwell? Or take out their transport?
I’ll go for the transport. Gabriel strode toward the closest van, which had no windows in the back.
The tattooed women stared at him, then reached into their jackets.
Gabriel whipped out his pistols. In his right hand, a Glock semi-auto with dampened recoil and a full clip of hollow-point. In his left, a long-barreled needlegun with a big magazine of guided flechettes with explosive heads. Both guns had laser targeting systems integrated with his data glasses and able to adjust for range and wind.
Purple Hair drew a polymer submachine gun. Bandanna Girl, who was less than ten feet away now, pulled out a sawed-off shotgun.
Holy shit. Gabriel’s arms acted on reflex. He swung the needlegun toward the greater danger, the girl with the shotgun, red crosshairs in his augmented vision sweeping toward her chest. He flipped the switch to full auto. At the same time, he swung the Glock toward Purple Hair. He pulled both triggers.
Neither gun had much recoil but they made plenty of noise. Just as Bandanna Girl leveled her shotgun, half a magazine of explosive flechettes ripped into her torso and exploded in a spray of red. He hit Purple Hair too. She staggered backward.
Bandanna Girl dropped to the sidewalk, blood gushing out of her jacket.
Wide eyed, Purple Hair shot back, spraying bullets in his direction. Plinks sounded against parked cars and thwacks against concrete.
Gabriel felt a sharp pain in his upper right arm. He fired the Glock at Purple Hair again and dashed behind the nearby van.
People screamed and ran. On the sidewalk to his right, a middle-aged Japanese woman lay on her back, bleeding from the stomach. On the street, a school-age girl grasped her forearm and wailed. A lanky teenage boy tried to pull her away. A familiar image flashed into his mind, a dead girl in the Tropical Breeze dining hall, blood soaking the carpet around her.
Gabriel glanced at his arm. It burned like fire and blood dripped from his torn shirt sleeve, but it wasn’t bad enough to worry about yet.
The bystanders would most likely survive. “Everyone get out of here!” he yelled.
He glanced around the side of the van. Purple Hair was gone, either retreating or reloading. Bandanna Girl lay in a spreading pool of blood, motionless.
“Gabriel!” Kiyoko’s voice. He turned.
Kiyoko was running toward him in her pink kimono. Her eyes were wide.
I thought she was staying put. Gabriel waved his arm. Pain. Wrong arm. “Get out of here!” he yelled in English. “Take cover!”
She nodded and veered toward the minimarket where they did most of their shopping.
Gabriel peered around the van again. Purple Hair was waiting for him. He snapped back behind cover.
Purple Hair fired her machine gun again. More plinks and thuds and screams.
Kiyoko was in that direction! His heart seized. He whipped his head around and saw her just outside the grocer’s. Unharmed but exposed. Someone had pulled down the corrugated metal shutter door that graced every store in the neighborhood.
Kiyoko banged on the shutter door. “Let me in! Me deixe entrar!” She followed with something in Japanese.
“Take cover damn it!” Gabriel shouted.
She ducked behind an old Camry hybrid next to the market. Safe for now.
Gabriel looked around the other side of the van. Someone shot at him with a pistol. The bullet whizzed by his ear.
It was the driver, leaning out the window. A girl, light skinned with long dark hair.
Gabriel holstered his Glock and tried the back door of the van. The handle was unlocked. Made sense, they were expecting passengers. He whipped the door open, needlegun in his left hand.
The girl turned around, face rigid with surprise. Too late. Crosshair on her head, Gabriel fired a short burst.
Her head exploded, blood and bone fragments and brains splattering the windshield. Gabriel almost gagged but emptied the rest of the magazine into the console. Plastic and metal fragments flew everywhere. The dashboard lights went out.
One van down. He could take out the tires of the other. He couldn’t see them from this vantage, though; he’d have to cross the street. “DG, call SSG emergency dispatch.”
“Serviços de Segurança Globais,” the dispatcher began.
He interrupted her. “I need that backup.”
“On its way.”
“Patch me through.”
First good news. Nicolas Pistario was an old comrade from the special forces, team leader, damn capable. SSG didn’t have ranks like the military and although Nicolas supervised more people, he and Gabriel were equivalent in the field.
“Da Silva. Eight to ten assailants, heavily armed. Two white cargo vans. I took out one, will try to get the other.”
“Copy that. We are loading, and airborne soon.”
They hadn’t even left the base yet, and then they’d need another few minutes to get here. “Couldn’t get through to police,” Gabriel said. “Can you give it a try?”
“Copy that. Will pass it to dispatch.”
Da Silva clicked off. He slapped another magazine in the needlegun.
More shop owners closed their shutters. Lots of people would be calling the police. And nearby patrols would hear the gunshots and radio headquarters. For a shootout, they’d bring armored vehicles, maybe helicopters.
Gabriel crouched, ready to dash across the street. Wish I had a smoke grenade. He glanced around the left side of the van.
An automatic rifle fired at him. He ducked back behind the van. The shooter was another teenage girl, standing in the street with an AK-47. She was bronze-skinned, with blonde-streaked hair tied in a bun. Not the type you’d expect to carry an AK-47. What’s with this gang?
An icon of Kiyoko’s face popped up. “Are you safe?” Her voice trembled.
“Yes. Stay behind cover. Don’t stick your head out.”
“Please don’t die,” she said.
“I won’t.” He tapped his glasses arm, terminating the connection. If I try to cross the road, I’m dead. If I stay here, they might get away.
Someone peered from the glass front doors of the apartment building, just ahead and to his right. “DG zoom,” he commanded.
It was a man wearing a Tony Santos mask, everyone’s favorite telenovela billionaire. Holding a matte-gray submachine gun. He peered out the door but made no move to exit.
What was he waiting for?
The side entrance. If Gabriel were running their gang, he’d send some men out the side to flank him. He’d be surrounded. And dead.
Gabriel abandoned his position and ran back up the street toward the plaza, keeping the van between him and the machine gunners. He glanced into the side street between the apartments and the building with the grocery store, seeing two masked men with pistols. They saw him too and fired.
T. C. Weber has pursued writing and music since childhood, and learned filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics. Trapped at home during the “Snowmageddon” of 2010, he transformed those interests into novel writing. His first published book, Sleep State Interrupt, was a Compton Crook Finalist for best debut speculative fiction novel. By day, Mr. Weber works as an ecologist and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys traveling and has visited all seven continents.