Excerpt from Danger Zone One, Volume 01: Welcome to Pallad City


       Reena hurried down the sub-level corridor as fast as her legs could carry her. Just like before, the power suit’s bulky frame had caused a noticeable path of destruction in its wake. Following the damage along the wall, Reena turned a corner, certain that she was getting close. I hope I’m not too late!

       By accident she brushed up against the wall, the back of her hand coming into contact with a pipe. A surprised yelp worked its way up her throat. She was too late to muffle the cry, despite clapping a hand to her mouth. That pipe’s freezing cold!

       Backing up, Reena felt a light tap on the top of her head. Another tap followed, then another. Glancing up, she located the culprit—water was dripping from a loosened ceiling pipe. A drop descended, landing between her lips. “Ick! That’s gross!” Reena gagged, still tasting the repulsive blend of salt and rust on her tongue.

       She could now hear a noise in the distance. She tilted her head, trying to listen. No, it wasn’t just a noise, but a voice! There was no mistake, it was Raymond Finkler’s.

       “So, what’s it going to be?” the voice boomed out from the power suit’s speaker system. “I’m open to requests, Stayroff. Do you want me to snap your scrawny neck, or should I stomp you into the ground, like the little snake you are?”

       Reena charged down the corridor. With each passing step, the voice grew louder.  She reached a wall and pressed her back against it before peeking around the corner. Sure enough, there was Finkler, inside the power suit. He stood over Stayroff, who was still very much alive—though, judging by his soiled clothing and dirt-encrusted skin, he’d seen better days.

       I made it in time! Reena thought to herself, relieved. But that relief was quickly replaced with a gnawing sense of trepidation. What am I thinking? This isn’t just crazy—it’s suicide! She believed Madison was insane for wanting to track down the rampaging suit without backup but, now, she’d topped that level of insanity by following after it alone. At least Madison had experience and was skilled with a firearm, but Reena knew her limitations. You can barely fire your gun! Her partner’s words returned to haunt her. This was her first day on the job, and it was shaping up to be her last!

       Reena gulped. Maybe…maybe I made a mistake becoming a—she stopped, banishing the fleeting uncertainty from her mind. No, Reena—you can’t think like that! Madison pegged you for a quitter, but she’s wrong! This is it, you can do this! You’re a police officer now!

       She drew in a breath, grasped the Halvok 99’s handle, exhaled, and lifted the firearm out of its holster. She fumbled with the weapon for a moment, trying to get a satisfactory grip on it. The last thing she needed was to reenact her embarrassing spectacle at the firing range and have the gun’s recoil knock her to the floor.

       Reena jumped into action before any second thoughts could inhibit her, spinning around the corner and aiming the Halvok at the power suit’s back. “H-hold it right there! You’re busted, pal!”