Excerpt - Feral Queen

Feral Queen, book 2 of the Feral Starve series.

A queen is tested.

Ava Panic yearns to become the new gang queen.

But Frosty doesn’t want his girlfriend as top girl. As rivals challenge Panic for supremacy, she needs to change his mind and win support.

Spring and summer in desperate Manhattan. Panic tries to prove herself by organizing rooftop crops and more. But survival savvy and vegetables aren’t enough.

The gang wars intensify as Frosty haggles and fights to win enough food for his people.

Disease and death stalk Manhattan’s mean streets in the height of the Starve.

Does Panic have what it takes to not just survive, but rule?

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April 14, E-day plus 127

Ava licked her lip. She definitely didn’t want to spar with Hecate. Still holding her fighting stance, she backed away across the street. “Gang policy, Hecate. They’re kids, they’re white, we take them. That’s our mission. We live.”

“We. Have. No. Food. Idiot!”

“Never have. But we took you in.” Ava risked a glance over a shoulder to make sure she wasn’t about to get pinned against a car. She veered her backward progress accordingly.

Hecate took the opportunity to swipe at her. Ava saw it in time and ducked under her hand. But it was a feint, with Hecate’s knee coming at her from that side. Ava grabbed her thigh and vaulted it, knocking her back.

Hecate chuckled, evil eyes alight. “Just playing, are we? Fondling my leg?” Several of the Ballbreakers egged her on. This time she set up for a full-power round-house that could have caved in Panic’s temple if she still stood there. But she was rolling away on the pavement, under the kick and opposite the leg’s momentum to end up behind her attacker.

Ava seized her moment to run to a car, and hastily clambered onto its roof. Hecate was heavy, and she was light. How could she turn this into an advantage?

It isn’t an advantage. But it did supply a windshield wiper. No sooner seen, than ripped from its housing. Well, that gave her a little reach anyway. And Hecate couldn’t grab her feet across the car. She hoped.

“Hecate, attacking me breaks the rules. Let’s talk.”

“You fucking coward! You always think you’re better than me!” Hecate reached the car. She jumped upward, her hands on the car roof, and tried to get a leg up. Ava darted forward and kicked the opposite arm support out from under her. Hecate managed to grab hold with her fingers again, but basically slithered down the car windows. Outraged, she growled and lunged for the front hood. Sort of mini-SUV shaped, the vehicle had no trunk, and only a notional snout. She grabbed the antenna for purchase, but it broke off in her hand.

Great, let’s play swords, Ava thought, carefully stepping toward the rear. She felt with a sneakered toe so her foot would remember where she had to jump off, and quickly selected a direction. My sword is stronger than yours! Actually the thing was articulated, blade and stalk. It might be stronger than a flimsy antenna. But it would also tend to jackknife.

No sooner imagined than executed. Ava swung her wiper, not to hit Hecate, but to snag the antenna from her hand. This worked, and sent the antenna flying to the pavement.

“GAH, you bitch!” Hecate screamed. Apparently deciding weapons were a waste, she ran up the modest-sized car, the vehicle bouncing under her assault.

No, Ava couldn’t handle a tackle. And her toe was in her pre-chosen spot, so she launched back to the ground. Once there, she spun and backed toward Pixie and the kids, knees springy, still brandishing her windshield wiper. Though she didn’t flap it. No need to remind Hecate that the silly thing wouldn’t hurt if she landed a hit.

Judging from the ugly smirk on Hecate’s face, she didn’t need reminding. She levered herself down on the car roof to come to a gentle landing, and stalked forward, arms out, fists flexing.

Finally, Ava heard heavy tread rapidly approaching from the dojo direction. But she didn’t want to get bailed out. She needed to talk Hecate down. Or else who would ever believe in her for queen bitch? “Hecate, I’m not fighting you.”

“Hah! Ain’t that the truth!” Hecate threw a straight punch at Ava’s sternum. The younger girl’s wiper wasn’t nearly strong enough to block, and she couldn’t step back fast enough for the blow to miss. Ava staggered backward gasping to get her wind back, then tripped on some gravel and sat hard on her ass, bruising a tail bone no longer adequately padded with muscle.

Even completely breathless and in pain, Ava’s reflexes were well-trained. She knew from Hecate’s shifting balance that there was a kick coming, and she rolled fast to miss it.

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