This omnibus edition of the Hunter Wars contains the first three books: Eve of the Hunter Wars, Heaven Meets Hell and Army of Angels.
Gears, Pax and TL are brothers and soldiers in the US Army when the world comes to an abrupt halt. Thrust into the apocalypse, they decide mankind deserves another chance. Their ruling puts them at the centre of an epic battle between good and evil, and they uncover the hidden truth behind the Devil in the land of the undead. Along the way, they meet a woman they name Ip and their true role is revealed.
Eve of the Hunter Wars
Forming the first of their bases, they call survivors to their side and unwittingly make enemies of the undead and the living. Determined to succeed, they take drastic steps to secure safe havens for those left alive.
Heaven Meets Hell
New friends are found, but the face of evil makes its presence known in the safety of their bases. Pax makes a mistake and Ip pays the price, but Gears refuses to let his new enemy rule the day.
Army of Angels
Determined to fight fire with fire, Gears offers the survivors the choice of infection. Mackenzie does the unthinkable, creating a remarkable outcome that makes Gears question everything he knows about life.
Hunter Wars, Part One of The Hunter Wars series is available in six complete novels. Eden Lost, Part Two of The Hunter Wars series will continue to be published throughout 2015/16. The series is an exciting, fast-paced and unique take on the end of the world, and the way the universe really works. Packed with great characters, humor and wild situations, it’s a ride that you won’t want to end.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always loved post apocalypse, zombies, paranormal and epic stories with tough problems to solve. In The Hunter Wars I wanted real people to deal with crazy situations in a practical, no-nonsense kind of way. I hate stories that skip bits, so one book always follows the next and there’s no unexplained jumps or characters that disappear without explanation.
My inspiration was to write a story I knew I’d loved to read. Every twist and turn happens for a reason and the whole tale bolts together in a way designed to keep the reader guessing. ThIs story would hook me in which is exactly what I wanted to give my readers – a compelling story with great characters, cohesive plot, twists and action to keep them entertained and guessing.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Characters always start as a little bit of you, exaggerated to make them realistic and engaging. I had the four main characters in my head, but over the series they’ve developed and evolved into complete people that don’t resemble me anymore.
Character development is something I love to do and none of mine remain static. They learn and grow, becoming well-rounded as the story progresses. A lot of people comment they’ve become like friends and I know what they mean. I’d love to meet them – I’d buy them a drink then sit back and watch what mischief they’d get up to!
CHAPTER ONE: Another day, another screw up (Gears)
Gears adjusted his gunsight. His bulky body looked even heavier in his loaded tactical vest. Hidden behind a dust-covered car, he was watching the three men circling a woman in an open area of the parking lot.
“Well what have we got here?”
“Hooowheee, we got ourselves some sweeeeet assssss!”
“Hey baby girl, come play with papa.”
They were taunting her, and he wondered why she seemed so relaxed. Didn’t she know they were going to hurt her? Earlier that day, he’d witnessed the three men shoot a man and a young boy for no reason, and he had no doubt about what they were planning to do to her. They’d tracked the men for several hours, trying to work out if they were alone, or part of a larger group. Glancing to his left, he saw Pax move, and he looked across at him from behind another car. TL was to his right about twenty yards away, with his gun also trained on the men.
He sighed. This is not going to end well, he thought, but what are we going to do? They couldn’t leave the woman. These men were killers, and he was damned sure the woman wouldn’t die easy at their hands. In his opinion, they were the sort of irretrievable vermin who wore out their right to live in the civilized world, although what little civilization they had was well lost now.
Running a weary hand over his eyes, he remembered he was wearing hard knuckle assault gloves, and it only added to his discomfort rather than relieve it. His hands were roughened so badly after years of hard manual work, he wondered why he bothered with the gloves at all.
“Whatdaya wanna do?” He asked, not caring which of them answered first.
All three wore radio microphones and earpieces. They joined the U.S. Army together aged eighteen in ‘92 when none of this technology existed, but they all agreed the radios beat the hell out of waggling fingers and pulling faces at one another in combat.
Pax replied first, and said in a relaxed tone, “Drink beer and enjoy watching some ass, or better still get some.”
“Shaddup, Pax. You’re a bad guy in the making,” TL replied abruptly. “Gears, we gotta help her. She doesn’t seem to understand what’s going down here.”
He agreed with TL, and he already knew his brother wouldn’t abandon the woman. This was the end of the world, and he still thought he could save everyone. TL had always thought that. The three of them met when they were ten years old and were sent to the same foster home. Since then, they’d never been apart. They might not be brothers by blood, but they were brothers by choice.
The woman didn’t seem too with it, and he wasn’t sure how they were going to get her away from the men safely. He said to his brothers, “Problem is, she’s not helpin’ herself. These guys killed that man and his kid without hesitation. I’ve no doubt they’ll do same to her.”
In a decisive tone, Pax said, “Shoot ‘em in the head. They’ll be no problem after that.”
TL voiced his objection equally as decisively, “That’s a little extreme, Pax.”
Pax argued. “They killed that young boy and they’ll kill her too. You hesitate, she dies. You give these assholes an inch. She dies. Who do ya think deserves to live more, TL? Them or her?”
He looked over his scope at the situation that was rapidly unfolding. The men were taking their time, but the woman was well within arm’s length of them. It would be a matter of moments before one of them grabbed her, and it might be too late to save her.
He made a decision and said, “The woman’s done nothin’ wrong. We take ‘em down. The tall one in the middle is mine.”
Pax confirmed his shot. “I got the runt on the left.”
TL confirmed his shot. “I’ve got the shot on the one on the right.”
At any other time this was no way to solve a problem, but a month earlier the world had ended, and he wasn’t sure what the definition of normal was anymore. He settled into position and eyed the man through his scope. They each confirmed their targets, and fired almost simultaneously. Nice clean shots. Targets down.
Pax snorted in disgust. “Goddamn desk jockeys with guns.”
Pax is right, he thought, it should never have been that easy. Looking up from his scope, he saw the woman still hadn’t moved. She hadn’t even looked in the direction of the gunfire, much less dived for cover. He watched her lean forward slightly, tilt her head, and peer at the bodies that now lay bleeding at her feet.
“Hey!” He called to her. “Whatcha doin’?”
She turned at the sound of his voice, and catching his eye, she broke into a stunning smile.
Woman thinks: Their minds were bad I could tell. I read their thoughts and they would kill. I see the man who kept me safe. If not for him, I would be dead. He gave me life, I am in debt.
He thought the woman looked to be in her late twenties, or maybe early thirties. She had shaggy, dirty blonde hair, and a finely sculpted, heart-shaped face, with high cheekbones and a rosebud mouth. She was wearing a filthy, torn, baggy looking tunic that reached below her knees, and tennis shoes that looked too large for her feet. As he drew closer, her blue eyes didn’t look quite right, but he couldn’t work out what was wrong with them.
The woman beamed happily as they approached her from their hidden positions behind the parked cars. Pax ambled towards the woman, and called to his brothers, “What’s wrong with her?”
Watching her, he narrowed his eyes, trying to work out why this woman looked so blissful at the sight of the three huge, filthy, well-armed men striding towards her.
Trying not to spook her, TL asked gently, “Hey hon, what are you doing?”
The woman looked at TL, and then back at him, but continued to smile and said nothing. Trying to understand her odd behavior, he suggested, “Maybe she doesn’t speak English.”
They’d all done the ‘keep the civvies happy’ training in the army, and he dredged up an image of the earnest trainer who told them to always wear a smile. Immediately he frowned at the memory of the preppy asshole in a uniform, who’d clearly never been on the wrong side of a gun, and then remembered he was supposed to be smiling. TL had a great smile, it literally transformed his face from average Joe to handsome, but he had a deep scar that ran down the right side of his face from his eyebrow to his chin. He’d been told repeatedly by Pax his relaxed and friendly ‘resting face’ was that of a homicidal killer. The scar didn’t help, and it made his smile look strained even when it wasn’t, but he looked directly at the woman and smiled. The woman’s face lit up with delight, and she squeaked gleefully, “Ip.”
Woman thinks: These men are strong it can be seen. They want me safe and to be free. I am happy with these three.
Surprised, Pax asked incredulously, “What the hell was that?”
Immediately losing his poor attempt at a smile, he growled, “Ya know what I know, dumbass.”
Before he could remember any more of his ‘keep the civvies happy’ training, he heard the sound of trucks roaring towards their position. Pax raised his M4A1 towards the trucks. The M4A1 is almost three feet long with a telescopic stock, and fully loaded with the M26 shotgun attachment and flashlight, weighs over ten pounds. Pax was a huge man with an untidy mop of grey-speckled, sandy brown hair, a large rounded lower jaw, and a body shaped like an ape. He moved the weapon with ease to cover the incoming truck, as he pulled back to get behind a parked car.
They were in an open space in a parking lot of a shopping mall. The trucks navigated towards their position, and even before they came to a full stop, armed men were spilling out of the vehicles, and taking cover some one hundred and fifty yards away. With so many abandoned cars, there was plenty of places to hide, but behind them was a low, steep hill. It wouldn’t be easy for them to retreat from what now looked like eight or more heavily armed shooters.
Grabbing the woman by the arm, he dragged her behind a car with him. She didn’t seem concerned by the ruckus of the trucks, the shooters or her new friends. When he glanced behind him, between the hill and the mall, there was an alley. Unfortunately the alley was a dark corridor, which meant it could be home to more than a few hunters. They could shoot out the doors and escape into the mall, but that place would definitely be crawling with hunters, and it was a not an option.
The hunters were the latest evolution of the walking dead. A month ago, people started biting one another like rabid dogs on PCP. Once bitten, the victim would instantly turn and attack the living, but when they didn’t have a living target, they would shamble about aimlessly. A shambler rotted away, stinking and disintegrating, slowly falling apart, until although still moving, it presented no threat. The less the shambler fed on the living, the faster it rotted.
Some of the shamblers didn’t rot. They evolved. They lost all of their body hair, fluids and fat, and became so lean their skin dried to a leathery brown hide. This evolved shambler became a hunter. Hunting the living would excite them so much their heads would rock from side to side, and vibrate back and forth so fast their features would blur. The hunter moved rapidly with fast jerky movements, and they never seemed to tire. A shambler could shuffle about all day and night, but the hunters were almost blind in the daylight and had exceptional night vision. Being blinded by light was a small concession to an otherwise perfect evolution.
Like the shamblers, the hunters could only be stopped by detaching the brain from the brain stem, and even then they didn’t entirely stop. The head and body kept moving, but once the stem was destroyed, the brain no longer controlled the body. A hunter, once down and unable to feed, eventually starved, but it could take weeks or months. It was common these days to see a downed hunter. Once the brain couldn’t control their bodies, they collapsed, but didn’t stop moving aimlessly until they starved.
He looked around and saw there was no easy escape route. He was about to suggest to TL that negotiation might be the better part of valor today, when the shooters opened fire. Pax immediately returned fire while roaring through his mike, “What the hell are they doin’?”
Tucking behind his scope, watching for any movement worth shooting at, he returned fire shouting, “Ya know what I know, dumbass.”
This was turning out to be another really bad day.
He sighed. Having done their twenty-five years in the army, they’d been about to retire. None of them had ever married or had time for a family. They’d lived cheaply, often sharing quarters, and between them, they’d saved a tidy sum. With that, plus their military pensions, they’d planned to go back to the Ranch. Their foster parents, Mom and Pop, were now in their sixties and needed help running the place. All three felt a strong tie to their foster parents, and considered the Ranch their home.
For the past three years they’d worked as military trainers in the army. When they returned from their last assignment, their plane touched down into hell. The base was on fire, people were running everywhere, and the sound of compounded gunfire was deafening. He never understood why the pilot landed at a base that was under attack. They escaped, and since then they’d been moving from one insane situation to the next.
This was just another day in the lunatic asylum the U.S. had become. We’re really screwed, he thought grimly, and they really were. The shooters were heavily armed, using sensible enough tactics by remaining well-concealed, and firing in their direction with annoying accuracy.
They each carried about two hundred and forty rounds for their M4A1s, plus another sixty rounds for their handguns, and another thirty rounds for the M26 MASS shotgun attached the M4A1. Their weapons and ammo were usually more than enough to win a firefight with the clerks turned gunslingers in this new Wild West. He lived by the motto of ‘live to fight another day’, and standing down a bunch of bad shooters long enough to haul ass didn’t need anywhere near the arsenal they carried.
He thought they were wasting ammo and needed a decision. Shouting loudly enough to be heard over the sound of the gunfire, he asked, “Whatdaya wanna do? Shoot through ‘em or risk the alley?”
He heard TL say optimistically, “Alley might be lucky.”
Pax countered jovially, “Seriously, ladies? When are we ever that goddamn lucky?”
“We’re outgunned and wastin’ ammo.”
He was right, but he knew close combat with the hunters was risky. They were fast, and getting in a brain stem shot was never easy. Blowing their entire heads off did the job, but with their jerky and vibrating movement, any shot was difficult. Glancing back at the alley, he tried to guess the length of the dark corridor. All they had to do was clear the tunnel. Ducking, he dug around in his pack, while the car continued to take fire for him. He found his headlamp and his shotgun shells. Both Pax and TL saw what he was doing and copied him, while automatically timing their actions, so they continued to return fire.
TL, who was closest to the alley, cracked a flare, and moving low to the ground, threw it deep into the alley.
He asked, “What’s it look like?”
“I can see two hunters, but there’s probably more.”
Irritatingly, Pax started singing. “I’m so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.” It was a bad rendition of an already bad pop song.
In unison, they both shouted, “Shaddup, Pax!”
Pax laughed, and then said in a conversational tone, “Ladies. We can only go in one at a time.”
He cursed. Pax was right. They’d need to give one another cover from the shooters while they each ran for the alley.
As if he was telling the old Abbott and Costello baseball joke, Pax intoned, “Who’s on first? What’s on second?”
He shook his head at Pax’s antics and growled, “You’re such a dumbass, Pax.”
Woman thinks: Why do they stay with danger near? Why is it they have no fear? It is our deaths the bad men seek. The road is there that they must take. I will lead for I am weak. They must follow and safety seek. I cannot fight, but I can run for I am fleet.
TL ignored their squabbling and shouted, “Cover me.” Then he half ran and half crabbed towards the alley. Before he could reach the alley, the woman took flight from behind their parked car, and disappeared into gloomy corridor. He figured the woman must be crazy running into the alley unarmed, but it was too late to help her now.
He roared at Pax and TL, “Go! Go! Go!”
TL ran for the alley and attracted more fire from the shooters. He saw his window to go, and launched himself back towards the alley, without breaking his rate of fire. The shooters must have thought there were only two of them, and they ceased firing. Pax saw his opportunity, and managed to clear the ground into the alley before the shooters had time to react.
The dark alley was about eight feet wide and eight feet high with about six feet of daylight at the entrance, which dissolved into pitch black the deeper he looked. He was directly behind TL, flattened against the wall, and he couldn’t see the end of the tunnel. Pax flew in behind him, and threw himself against the wall.
TL muttered grimly, “This isn’t good.”
Peering into the darkness, he hoped to find the woman in the entranceway to the alley, but he couldn’t see her. He figured she must be dead, and already a meal for the hunters.
Still breathing heavily, Pax suggested, “Maybe we could jus’ stay here?”
“Oh yeah, ‘cos the sun does not orbit the earth, dumbass,” he replied bluntly.
As the sun moved, they would lose their little patch of light, and be plunged into darkness where the hunters were. It was not an option, but it quickly became a moot point. They might have found a small footprint of safety between the shooters and the hunters, but their enemy could move and then they did. Having repositioned themselves, the shooters were now trying to fire directly into the alley where they were standing.
As bullets thudded into the wall in front of them, Pax muttered through gritted teeth, “Determined assholes.”
They were out of options and he shouted, “Gotta go! Gotta go now!”
All three of them launched themselves into the alley, shoulder-to-shoulder, firing buckshot into the darkness, and moving swiftly to avoid the gunfire behind them. Despite the flickering light from the flare, he couldn’t distinguish any single shapes in the surrounding gloom, but he could see a lot of movement deep inside the alley.
Early on in their military careers, the army decided the three of them fought best together, and often assigned them to work as a team. Over the years, they’d gained complimentary specializations. Pax was by far the best shot, TL had medical training, he knew guns and explosives, and all three of them were mechanically minded. They usually fought in combat using few words, and today was no exception. He knew they had to clear the alley quickly. If they were lucky, and he didn’t expect them to be, there would only be a few hunters. As usual, his expectations were fully met, and the alley was teeming with them.
They fell into formation with TL shouldering the left wall, him against the right wall, and Pax following behind, preparing to cover their six, but also able to step forward to shoot straight ahead if he had too. It wasn’t a great formation, but there weren’t too many plays to be had in the tight space. Their best chance was to stay close together, covering as many angles as possible without shooting one another. With most of the problem in front of them, they put more firepower going forward. He knew later that might not be true, but in this kind of situation, you only survived one moment at a time.
The shotgun was a bad choice. They had limited shells, and they were going to need a lot of firepower to clear the alley of hunters. He quickly swapped weapons to his M4A1. Switching it to full auto, he aimed straight ahead, firing left to right at roughly head height working on the assumption a hunter was directly in front of them. TL and Pax immediately understood what he was doing and switched to their M4A1s.
He shouted, “We gotta shoot our way through!”
TL shouted, “Try not to shoot me in the ass, Pax!”
The sound of gunfire was deafening in the confined space. Tracers lit the alley, and as the tunnel lit up, he saw he was right, and there was a deep cluster of hunters in front of him. Their heads were exploding, and their bodies pushed back under the barrage of firepower spewing in their direction. He quickly ran out of ammo. There was no way TL could hear him call to reload, but the fact he ceased fire was enough for him to take up where he left off.
As they fired, they carefully paced forward. Pax monitored their feet using his headlamp to target anything left moving, and they started to slip on the black greasy goo the hunters leaked like blood. The barrage of bullets was ripping them open, tearing limbs from their bodies, and leaving an ungodly mess in its wake. If they slipped and fell onto the greasy floor, it was unlikely they’d ever stand up alive again, and Pax was making sure no hunter was able to grab them from the floor.
They reached the end of the alley, and it turned them left under the hill they’d been trapped in front of in the parking lot. Over the endless firing, he thought he could almost see the end of the, alley and it was the distance of six lanes of road. He assumed the alley was an underpass for the main road in front of the mall.
“Shit!” He muttered to himself, as he reloaded for the third time. He realized if they were going to make it out alive, they would need every bit of ammo they had. The rest of the tunnel was filled with hunters, and they were pushing towards them like a fast moving wall of vibrating teeth. He and TL fired simultaneously, unloading massive firepower into the tunnel. The tunnel was filling with body parts and slimy gore, and moving without falling was becoming almost impossible. The stench of gunfire, smoke and oozing hunters was suffocating. His gun was so hot, he decided he was grateful for his heavy gloves after all. Hands not calloused enough for this kind of shit, he thought absentmindedly, as he maintained his rate of fire. TL dropped low, and reloaded for the fourth time, while Pax maintained the rate of fire over his head and expended cartridges fell on and around him.
“I’m out,” he shouted, and then realized it was pointless. No one could hear a damned thing.
He was out of ammo for his M4A1, and he flattened closer to the wall, allowing Pax to move forward to take his position. Pulling out his handgun, he took over from Pax, monitoring the ground for anything that was still moving with a ‘fire first and ask questions later’ approach. When he ran out of bullets, he switched to his shotgun. It wasn’t as effective, and he could only fire behind them, but at least it cleared the alley on their six.
Sliding their feet forward, and using the wall to hold themselves upright, they inched forward, hardly able to breathe. They were running perilously low on ammo, and he felt rather than saw hands grabbing at his legs. These hunters were down with massive damage, but still clawing at them. Despite the physical destruction, their brain stems were still connected inside their broken bodies.
By the time they almost cleared the alley, all three were down to their shotguns. Pax and TL were taking turns firing their shotguns into the alley ahead. Although dumb like dogs, the hunters were smart enough to cling to the walls, and each shot had less effect. When they ran out of shells, they switched to their handguns. They were even less effective, but they slowly inched towards the daylight at the end of the alley. As they cleared the alley, Pax and TL turned around and continued to shoot behind them. There was always the risk an overexcited hunter might launch into the daylight in search of its lost prey.
Having put enough distance between themselves and the end of the alley, they stopped and looked at one another. They were half-blinded by the tracers, with grit in their eyes and on their faces. He wanted to rub his burning eyes, but thought better of it. There was simply no clean part of him to use to wipe them. He briefly wondered if the shooters would know where they were and decide to chase them.
Craning his neck, he scanned across the main road to see if he could spot the shooters, and his face creased as he frowned in disbelief. Sitting on the low wall next to the alley watching them, was the woman, and although he couldn’t see too well, he thought she was smiling.
Woman thinks: The three are here, but they had fear. What did they see? Why did they flee? The man is here and he is relieved. Relieved for me, I can see his mind and what it tells. Why does this man care for me so well?
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