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War Surf

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War Surf

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Author: M. M. Buckner
Publisher: Ace Books, 2005

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Hard SF
Avg Member Rating:
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In the 23rd century, Nasir Deepra finds fun by dropping into minor wars. High-tech gear fully protects him, but nothing can protect him from a woman named Sheeba--and her voracious lust for danger.


The Copia factory guards were using pulse lasers, and their noisy beams ricocheted down the corridor walls, drilling craters and punishing my eardrums. Across from me, Grunze waited in the opposite doorway, shaking his head. I was supposed to cross the corridor without getting hit. Picture me squatting in the subterranean doorjamb, breathing concrete dust and massaging my inflamed right hip.

Grunze yelled, "What're you doing? Taking a piss?"

"I'm savoring the moment," I yelled back.

"No time outs." Verinne's dry voice scratched through my helmet earphone, as if she were coughing the words. "You have sixty seconds, Nasir. Otherwise, you forfeit."

Her camera buzzed in front of me, a thumb-sized blur of mechanical wings. While Grunze and I raced through this underground factory, Verinne watched everything from her car, parked on the surface. I checked my helmet camera. Grunze and I were documenting, too.

Grunzie smirked at me from the opposite doorway. He'd crossed earlier, before the lasers started firing. His white body armor accentuated his massive shoulders, and the tight-fitting sports helmet outlined his boulder head. Grunze believed I wouldn't do this because, compared to him, I'm a small man, thin and wiry, and Grunze equated that with weakness. He'd bet half a million deutsch that I would freeze up and fail to run through the line of fire.

The laser barrage grew sporadic, unpredictable. Zzt-zzt. Bam! Imagine a razor-sharp reek of sweat and burnt plastic. And let's assume I felt fear. Salty, tight, deep-muscle anguish. The taste of iron dissolving in my mouth. Delectable terror. Let's imagine how I sank into it and let the shivers ride up my neck. Let's suppose I fantasized searing agony.

When and if I ran through the laser beams, Verinne would upload the live video to Kat and Winston back in Nordvik. Through the earphone, I could hear their wisecracks. They were placing bets, how many steps I would take, how many seconds, whether I would make a noise. Later, we would drink Tequila and settle our wagers, and that dick-head Grunze would pay me half a million deutsch. Because I would do this. There was no doubt. Moments like this were the reason I stayed alive

As the floor and walls erupted in shards, I caught my breath and let the fear build. My heart was hammering. My eyesight sharpened. My brain picked up speed.

"Ten seconds," Verinne rasped.

"Shit." I stood up and dove across the corridor.

The laser guns exploded. For an instant, I may or may not have seen a wall of light flying toward me. Perhaps this occurred in slow motion. Or perhaps the seconds compressed into a single flash. I landed just shy of the open door and rolled to cover, slamming my hip and laughing hysterically. Safe behind the wall, the tremendous shivering release hit me like orgasm.

"Well done," Verinne said.

"About time," said Kat.

"Okay, enough clowning. Let's get out of here." Grunze was pissed.

Though he outweighed me by a good 25 kilos, I'd proved once again he couldn't top me in sheer nerve.

Copyright © 2005 by M. M. Buckner


War Surf

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