The Action Thriller Renaissance Has Begun

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The AKM up in the low ready, J.D. and Ivan flanking me a step behind, I flowed toward the back door. I kept the muzzle generally pointed toward the far corner of the building, except when I had to cross a window. There were two before we reached the door, and I quickly pied them off, covering every angle inside with my muzzle as I walked past, before snapping back forwards when J.D. moved up to take over for me. The maneuver was mostly pointless, since the interior was pitch black. But old habits can be a hell of a thing to break, and that’s one that’s saved my life a few times.

Getting to the door, my focus narrowed. I pointed the AKM just above the door handle, even as I reached forward to test the latch.

As we previously reported, the Action Thriller Renaissance has begun. It will come as no surprise to most Breach-Bang-Clear readers that we’re voracious readers here, enjoying book topics that range from old pulp Conan (Crom!) to modern military sci-fi, respected classics to military leadership treatises from the World Wars, and stuff by Kahlil Gibran and the Dalai Lama.

In the spirit of the Action Thriller Renaissance, here’s the excerpt of something you can read for free. It’s written by Pete Nealen (a Breach-Bang-Clear contributor and author of the American Praetorians series) set in the world of Mike Kupari‘s world with Larry Correia (Kupari is a Breach-Bang-Clear contributor, and author of the Dead Six series).

You’re welcome.

Rock, Meet Hard Place (Part I – an excerpt, continued from above)

Peter Nealen

It was unlocked. I carefully turned the handle, and tried to ease the door open. I wanted to stay soft for as long as possible.

The door creaked loudly, as if the hinges hadn’t been greased in years. There went staying soft. I flung the door open and stepped through the threshold, stepping aside as fast as possible to clear the way for Ivan, even as I triggered the flashlight taped to the rifle’s forearm, scanning for threats.

The back hallway was empty. Flashlights played over bare plastered walls and a stone floor. There was no sound except for our own movement and harsh breathing.

Now that we were inside, we didn’t dare stop moving. Hallways are deathtraps, and I had no intention of staying in that one for more than a few seconds. I swept forward, gun up and watching the three doorways ahead.

There were curtains over the one to the front and the left. So I went right, pausing just long enough to get a bump from either J.D. or Ivan behind me before charging into the next room.

It was a kitchen, dominated by a large hearth with iron racks for cooking bolted across the deep fireplace. There were hooks set into the wall above the hearth, and there were shelves made of old wood and brick along the far wall.

There were also two Russian 152mm howitzer shells sitting upright in the fireplace in a tangle of wires and det cord, with a cell phone sitting on top.

“Avalanche!” I bellowed. It wasn’t original, but it was the standard code word in the U.S. mil that we’d all trained with for, “There’s an IED, get the fuck out!” I suited actions to words by promptly diving through the window in a shower of glass and broken window frame.

Well, it was sort of a dive. It wasn’t nearly as graceful as the word makes it sound. I kind of went through the glass shoulder-first, cut myself, lost my balance, and fell out of the window. I hit heavily and off balance, knocking some of the wind out of myself, only made worse when Ivan’s big ass landed on me, followed by J.D.. J.D. wasn’t as heavy as Ivan, but it still hurt.

Both of them rolled off, and I levered myself to my feet, painfully, but probably a lot faster than I would have under different circumstances. I wanted away from that bomb disguised as a farmhouse, right fucking now. Wheezing, favoring my side, which twinged painfully when I tried to take a deep breath, I started jogging away from the house, with Ivan and J.D. on my heels. I wasn’t moving that slowly, but between the pain of my rapid exit and the desperation of having a whole lot of high explosive right behind me, it felt like I was swimming through tar, even as we plunged into the trees.

Just because we were running for our lives, though, didn’t mean I’d dropped all semblance of situational awareness. I’d survived too long in too many dangerous places. So I saw the figures moving up through the woods even as we ran toward them, and instinctively slowed, bringing my rifle up. Then the house blew up behind us and knocked me on my face.

Fortunately most of the blast went up, throwing cement, stone, wood, and sheet metal high in the air. We were still close enough to catch a good bit of the shockwave, though, and more fragments were flying through the air and smacking into the tree trunks. It was momentarily raining debris, bark, and shredded leaves, and my ears were ringing as I picked myself up off the ground, feeling like I’d just been hit by a truck. I’d still had my AKM’s sling around my neck, so I hadn’t lost it, though I still had to grope for the controls as I got up, pointing it vaguely toward the team that had been coming at us. I didn’t know who they were, but the odds were good that they weren’t on our side. The only person on our side who wasn’t within arm’s length of me at the moment was Carlos, who wasn’t exactly in a position to intervene, being some two hundred yards away on the wrong side of the farm.

I couldn’t see much in the dark, especially with the pall of dust and smoke from the explosion that was settling over the woods. But I could just make out the shapes picking themselves up off the ground, a little faster than we were managing. We’d been closer to the blast. I didn’t want to just start hosing down the woods without knowing what my targets were, but we were not in a good place. I brought the rifle to my shoulder, trying to focus on the sights, though this was going to be point shooting more than anything else.

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