Monster hunter memoirs s.., p.1

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners - eARC, page 1

 part  #2 of  Monster Hunter Memoirs Series

 

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners - eARC
 



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Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners - eARC


  Table of Contents

  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  PROLOGUE

  CHAPTER 1

  CHAPTER 2

  CHAPTER 3

  CHAPTER 4

  CHAPTER 5

  CHAPTER 6

  CHAPTER 7

  CHAPTER 8

  CHAPTER 9

  CHAPTER 10

  CHAPTER 11

  CHAPTER 12

  CHAPTER 13

  CHAPTER 14

  CHAPTER 15

  CHAPTER 16

  CHAPTER 17

  CHAPTER 18

  CHAPTER 19

  CHAPTER 20

  CHAPTER 21

  CHAPTER 22

  CHAPTER 23

  CHAPTER 24

  CHAPTER 25

  CHAPTER 26

  CHAPTER 27

  CHAPTER 28

  CHAPTER 29

  EPILOGUE

  Monster Hunter Memoirs

  Sinners – eARC

  Larry Correia

  John Ringo

  Advance Reader Copy

  Unproofed

  Baen

  A NEW NOVEL IN THE MONSTER HUNTER MEMOIRS SERIES. TWO AUTHORS, WHO COMBINED HAVE OVER FOUR MILLION BOOKS IN PRINT AND 10 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS, TEAM UP TO EXPAND LARRY CORREIA'S MONSTER HUNTER UNIVERSE!

  NIGHTMARE IN THE BIG EASY

  With New Orleans out of control, Chad Oliver Gardenier, one of Monster Hunter International’s premier hunters, has been dispatched from Seattle to reinforce the beleaguered members of MHI'S Hoodoo Squad in their fight against the darkness.

  Chad had once taken a werewolf while wearing only jogging gear. With half a dozen or more loup garou appearing every full moon, mysterious shadow demons, houdoun necromancers, fifty-foot bipedal crocodiles showing up every couple of months and more vampires than a Goth concert, New Orleans in the '80s gives a whole new perspective to the term “Hell on Earth.” In fact, more monsters are popping up than crawfish at a fais do do! Chad may be able to collect enormous bounties for the monsters he kills. But there’s one catch: he has to stay alive to do it!

  Baen Books by Larry Correia

  The Grimnoir Chronicles

  Hard Magic • Spellbound • Warbound

  Monster Hunter International

  Monster Hunter International • Monster Hunter Vendetta • Monster Hunter Alpha • Monster Hunter Legion • Monster Hunter Nemesis

  Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge (with John Ringo) • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners (with John Ringo)

  Dead Six (with Mike Kupari)

  Swords of Exodus (with Mike Kupari)

  Baen Books by John Ringo

  BLACK TIDE RISING:

  Under a Graveyard Sky • To Sail a Darkling Sea • Islands of Rage & Hope • Strands of Sorrow • Black Tide Rising (anthology, co-edited with Kelly Lockhart)

  TROY RISING:

  Live Free or Die • Citadel • The Hot Gate

  Legacy of the Aldenata:

  A Hymn Before Battle • Gust Front • When the Devil Dances • Hell’s Faire • The Hero (with Michael Z. Williamson) • Cally’s War (with Julie Cochrane) • Watch on the Rhine (with Tom Kratman) • Sister Time (with Julie Cochrane) • Yellow Eyes (with Tom Kratman) • Honor of the Clan (with Julie Cochrane) • Eye of the Storm

  Council Wars:

  There Will Be Dragons • Emerald Sea •

  Against the Tide • East of the Sun, West of the Moon

  Into the Looking Glass:

  Into the Looking Glass • Vorpal Blade (with Travis S. Taylor) • Manxome Foe (with Travis S. Taylor) • Claws that Catch (with Travis S. Taylor)

  Empire of Man:

  March to the Sea (with David Weber) • March to the Stars (with David Weber) • March Upcountry (with David Weber) • We Few (with David Weber)

  Special Circumstances:

  Princess of Wands • Queen of Wands

  Paladin of Shadows:

  Ghost • Kildar • Choosers of the Slain • Unto the Breach • A Deeper Blue • Tiger by the Tail (with Ryan Sear)

  Standalone titles:

  The Last Centurion

  Citizens (ed. with Brian M. Thomsen)

  To purchase these and all Baen Book titles in e-book format, please go to www.baenebooks.com

  Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners

  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2016 by Larry Correia & John Ringo

  A Baen Books Original

  Baen Publishing Enterprises

  P.O. Box 1403

  Riverdale, NY 10471

  www.baen.com

  ISBN 13: 978-1-4167-8183-9

  Cover art by Alan Pollack

  First printing, December 2016

  Distributed by Simon & Schuster

  1230 Avenue of the Americas

  New York, NY 10020

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: t/k

  Printed in the United States of America

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Dedication

  As always

  For Captain Tamara Long, USAF

  Born: May 12, 1979

  Died: March 23, 2003, Afghanistan

  You fly with the angels now.

  And

  Keith Berdine

  Born: June 18, 1964

  Died: September 21, 2013

  Miss you, buddy.

  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  On the “how you shoot from a helicopter” thing, I had to go back to my buddy Emil Praslick, recently retired long-term NCO in the US Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). You might recognize the name as one of the sniper instructors from the Paladin of Shadow series. I figured if any of my various contacts had experience shooting a Barrett out of a helo, it would be Emil. Yeah, yeah, he did.

  And I’d like to belatedly congratulate USAMU for beating the pants off of the Marine Corps at Camp Perry lately! Fun part? Army’s primary shooter is SSG Sherri Gallagher (female bad-ass, one each) who Emil specifically recruited from civilian shooting then “dialed in.”

  Now, if they’d just put Emil in charge of Army’s football team…

  Most characters are based upon someone. They may be “super-characters” but they generally have some basis. As Hemingway said, “Good writers create, great writers steal.” Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes you don’t even realize it.

  It took me until this book to realize that Chad is based in part on a friend of mine from “Back in the Day” named Keith “Duck” Berdine. I first met Duck picking up some jeeps that were being redeployed back from Grenada. Pick up in Wilmington, drive to Fort Bragg. Total shit detail and a very long story why. I truly got the big green weenie on that one. God, I was pissed! But on the other hand, got to meet Duck and make friends, so not all bad.

  (Being left behind when even the NCOIC went home, guarding a stupid piece of electronics when I had a twelve-hour drive ahead of me was part of the shit detail aspect. Stupid piece of “secure” commo! I could have cut the lock right off but NO it was a “secure lock” and had to be…Aaaagh! I had to wait two hours for the stupid Duty Officer, idiot lieutenants, to find the fricking KEY…Which turned out was in the box RIGHT BY HIS STUPID LIEUTENANT HEAD! Then there was the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend and a freaking day off for the entire rest of the battalion since we’d been in Grenada for Columbus Day…Gah! Never mind. Army shit. Most of you get it. Yes, people, been there, done that, still pissy about it.)

  I ended up riding with Keith in an M151 doing road guard. It was a particularly dark night, black as pitch, back roa
ds of North Carolina. We’d drive up to an intersection and block it to let the convoy pass through. Then Duck would put the hammer down and pass the entire convoy, in the left lane, on curvy two-lane back roads, at night, with the speedometer more than pegged, carrying on a conversation the whole way while waving his hands and paying NO and I mean NO attention to the road!

  The looks, the crazy, the perpetual joie d’vivre. That was Duck. Wasn’t the cock hound that Chad is admittedly.

  After years as an Air Marshal he died, really suddenly, of leukemia of all things. He left behind a wife and two children and many many friends who remember him for his universal bonhomie and kindness.

  Miss you, man. But in a way, through Iron Hand, you get to live again.

  —John Ringo

  * * *

  We told the story of how the MHI Memoirs books came about in the acknowledgements of the first book. These are John’s stories unfolding in a world I created. My main role was to edit them to make sure everything fit what had already been established in the series.

  I want to thank Mike Kupari, Whit Williams, and Peter Grant for some fact-checking help. And special thanks to Toni Weisskopf for being an awesome editor.

  Most of all I want to thank John for writing these. Personally, my favorite thing about a Ringo novel is the contagious enthusiasm. You can tell that he had a lot of fun writing these, and that comes through on the page. The man is one hell of a story teller.

  —Larry Correia

  PROLOGUE

  Hell’s Bells

  A church bell was sounding midnight, wet as a marsh and still hot as the hinges of hell, as I prowled the deserted cemetery. I could hear my harsh breathing, the distant rumble of thunder and the incessant buzz of the fucking mosquitoes in this hell spawned city. The cicadas were silent, a bad sign for sure. There was hardly any light with the moon stuck behind billowing banks of cloud.

  Sweat was pouring down my face from the heat and situation. My body armor was stifling and I didn’t dare take my hand off my weapon long enough to take a drink from my canteen.

  I was all alone and being hunted by a werewolf that had already killed a half dozen people.

  The elevated tombs of the cemetery crowded around me, blocking my vision and line of sight. All I had was my ears and nose and I was up against a hyper-advanced predator with ten times my ability with both senses.

  Then the howl of the loup-garou broke the stillness, an inarticulate cry, half-human, half-wolf, all bad news.

  I was tired of this. I was tired of the heat. I was tired of the mosquitoes. I was tired of being the hunted instead of the hunter. I was one of the best MHI had to offer. That was why I was here. I once took a werewolf this bad in a pair of running shorts with a 1911. I was fucking Iron Hand and no fucking devil wolf was going to get my heart pounding fucking with me in the dark of this fucking cemetery.

  I jumped onto one of the lower tombs then up again onto a higher one.

  Standing up there I had a view around. But this loup garou was cagey. It wasn’t going to just to walk into my sights. I caught a flash of moonlight off dark fur and fired a burst in that direction. The silencer on the Uzi muffled the rounds to a dull thup, thup, thup. The ricochets and sound of the action working were louder than the rounds.

  I reloaded without thinking about it and did a three-sixty. The thing was circling around me and could come from any direction. It wouldn’t be bothered by the few feet of height. A jump like this was nothing to a loup garou. But I might be able to spot it from up here.

  No, it was slinking from tomb to tomb. It sensed I was a predator as well. Maybe because all the innocent people it had murdered had a racing heartbeat and mine was slow and regular. Innocent is not a description anyone would use for me.

  I was tired of this. I decided to press the issue.

  I raised my head to the full moon and howled. I couldn’t get the full timbre of a werewolf howl but it got the picture. I was challenging it. Come out and fight.

  I barely caught the skritch of claws on stone and spun as the loup garou flew through the air and impacted on my left arm. Somehow, it had gotten behind me. Its teeth sunk into my armor, just under the opening to my vest, but the teeth didn’t penetrate. The claws, though, those damned claws. Like nothing on anything natural, they were as long as daggers and tore my armor and legs to hell as I fell off the tomb.

  It was too close for the Uzi. I reached down, pulled my 1911, stuck the barrel into its ribs and fired seven plus one into its body in one continuous thud, thud, thud.

  It let go and rolled away, whining and licking at the wounds on its side. That put it right in the direction of the barrel of my Uzi. I dropped the 1911, clamped the trigger and walked the rounds into its head, riddling it from stem to stern.

  I automatically dropped the Uzi magazine and inserted another, then picked up the 1911, reloaded and holstered.

  “Good doggie.” It returned to human form as it died. The guy was skinny as a rail, probably a crack addict. Well, his problems were over. Absent having really fucked up he was going to the Summer lands where it was always green and the temperature was perfect and, I dunno, maybe for him the crack was free and didn’t have side effects.

  “Go to God, kid,” I said. “Surely your sins are forgiven. God understand curses. He sure allows enough of them.”

  I hadn’t been bitten, but I might have been scratched. Scratches weren’t often infectious, but bites always were. I pulled out my canteen and took a swig of sacramental wine. That might help stave off lycanthropy, or it might just be a wives’ tale, but it couldn’t hurt. I needed to bandage my leg then call the coroner.

  There was a rush of grinding claws and the second loup garou charged out of the darkness.

  I had neither firearm in my hand. As the werewolf flew through the air the canteen hit the ground, spilling my wine, I stepped backwards between two of the tombs and Mo No Ken, Sword of Mourning, flashed up from the scabbard and down. I didn’t even think about it. Just acted.

  Which is why I’m one of the best of the best and had lived through the worst this damned town could throw at me while my buddies were going down the shitter every hellish day.

  The werewolf’s body continued for another ten feet and its head kept rolling, stopping when it hit a tomb.

  I flicked Mo No Ken to clear the blade of blood, took out a formerly white silk cloth, it had already been used that night, and wiped the blade clean carefully. Then I pulled out another cloth from behind my left arm and wiped the blade down, carefully, with holy oil blessed by the Rabbis of Jerusalem.

  Ritual complete, I waited to see if another loup garou was going to appear out of the darkness. Probably not. The cicadas were starting their incessant whining again. Fucking bugs, fucking heat, fucking humidity. Fucking City of the Fucking Undead. I loved and hated New Orleans. Loved the food. Loved a lot of the culture.

  They called it The Big Easy. The only thing easy in this town was death. And half the time you ended up working overtime as a zombie or ghoul.

  I got up on the tombs again, bit harder this time with my left thigh cut to ribbons, and looked around. I howled a couple of times. I could swear I saw movement but no more loup garou appeared. I sat down and bandaged my wounds as best I could with the small first aid pack I carried. I’d need to do more when I got to Honeybear.

  I climbed down and started working my way out of the maze. Somewhere, there was a road through the cemetery and a gate.

  I finally found both, unlocked the gate with the big skeleton key I’d been handed, and walked over to one of the NOPD cars parked outside the gates.

  “Done!” I shouted through the rolled up window. The cop didn’t have the window rolled up just for the undoubtedly pleasant AC. He had it rolled up ’cause the NOPD had a deathly fear of loup garou. They’d lost too many officers on details just like this one. They weren’t getting out of their cars until they were sure Hoodoo Squad had cleared the area. “Call Coroner! Got it?”

 
The guy made an “Okay” sign and picked up his radio. With any luck Tim would be on his way in a few minutes. Until I’d finished providing security for the Orleans Parish Special Incident Coroner’s Squad (SICS) we weren’t done. Part of our contract with the Parish and in this town it made sense. Coroner’s teams had lost people just doing pick-up.

  I limped over to Honeybear, my personally rebuilt 1976 Cutlass Supreme, opened the trunk, rummaged, got out the big first aid kit and finished bandaging my thigh. Fucking loup garou. I made a mental note to call General and tell them to have my coffee mug ready. I made actual notes on the action, limped back to the squad car and got the incident number.

  I took another drink, refilled my canteens and magazines, closed Honeybear’s trunk and limped back into the cemetery.

  I started the process of finding the bodies, again. Another maze.

  I rounded a tomb and knew right away I’d found the kill site ’cause it was covered in ghouls, ripping the first loup garou’s body apart. The headless one was entirely missing.

  A blast of wind hit as the storm reached the cemetery, the heavens opened up and water poured from the sky.

 
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