Day of the Damned (Death's Head, Book 3)
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Fueled with high-octane testosterone and noteworthy for a kill rate more customary in computer games than in works of literature, David Gunn’s novels take no prisoners and make no apologies. Like war itself, they are raw and violent, horrifying yet mysteriously moving. These qualities also characterize Gunn’s hero and narrator, Lt. Sven Tveskoeg, a killing machine whose DNA marks him as less–or perhaps more–than human. Whatever he is, he is always as enthralling as he is lethal.
Sven has survived everything a hostile universe can throw at him. But he’d be the first to admit that it isn’t smarts that have kept him alive for so long. And it’s not luck, either. Because luck wouldn’t have seen him plucked out of obscurity to serve in the army of Emperor OctoV, a machine-human hybrid who appears to be a teenage boy but is actually immeasurably older. Maybe Sven has survived out of sheer orneriness–although his artificially intelligent, unmistakably sarcastic, and more or less sociopathic sidearm might argue otherwise–but Sven isn’t one to ponder such questions.
In Day of the Damned, Sven and his band of misfit auxiliaries have arrived at Farlight, capital of the Octavian Empire, for a little well-earned rest and relaxation. Sven visits his old friends Debro and Anton, whom he liberated from the prison planet of Paradise, and their teenage daughter Aptitude, whose husband he assassinated and who now has a major crush on him.
But what begins as a respite quickly turns into a bloodbath as civil war erupts. And behind the double crosses and Byzantine betrayals threatening to topple OctoV from the throne he has held for thousands of years are the United Free, a galaxy-spanning empire with the technology of gods and the morals of schoolchildren.
As usual, big trouble seems to be following Sven. Which is all right with him. He isn’t that fond of vacations, anyway.
who they really are. And if that second identity is a lie, the SIG digs one level deeper. I don’t bother Aptitude with any of this. ‘Keep it turned on,’ I tell her. ‘Keep it close. And do what it suggests, unless you have good reasons for thinking it’s wrong. Even then, check it’s not the other way round.’ ‘You think the furies will attack?’ ‘You’ve got food, you’ve got power. They can sense things like that. And the furies aren’t your only problem.’ She looks at me. ‘You heard the crowd.
genotype. Unravelling enough of Aptitude’s DNA to lock down her identity. ‘Human/Post human,’ it says. ‘High Clan 3, tailored for trade. Interesting mix . . .’ ‘It’s yours until I take it back.’ She must know what parting with the SIG-37 is costing me. Doesn’t mean I’m going to let it show. ‘Keep the battery pack charged. Sleep with it under your pillow. And if you feel it shiver get yourself somewhere safe.’ ‘What about you?’ ‘I’ll be fine.’ ‘Sven,’ says the gun. ‘Tell me you’re not going
Farlight, near the cathedral. Serenity, says the plaque on her base. No idea if that’s her name, or why she’s supposed to be peaceful. Sitting around naked by a stream with a body like that can only attract attention. As Leona stands she sees me watching. ‘Shit,’ she says. Having clicked her fingers to stop the shower, she grabs a towel and wraps it tightly around her. She wears it like armour. ‘Sergeant . . .’ ‘ Yes and no,’ she says. Her feet seem small for the boots she’s been wearing.
building, Sven.’ ‘A scaffold,’ I say. ‘They’re going to hang you.’ ‘Behead me,’ he says. ‘I have that right.’ ‘To be beheaded?’ My voice is louder than I’d like. Don’t know what the others heard, but my scowl is enough to make them look down again. ‘General Luc intended to shoot me.’ The colonel’s voice is calm. ‘Through the head, obviously. He doesn’t want a bullet ruining my heart. But I’ve insisted on the sword.’ He nods, his blue eyes meeting mine. ‘And I’ve demanded he wield the blade
anxious. ‘Wait,’ the man demands. The ADC does. ‘Interesting question.’ I have his attention back. ‘Until his death, certainly. After that? Keeping parole would show respect.’ ‘But personally . . .?’ He shrugs, turns to go. Then looks back. ‘Personally, we both know it’s a crock of horseshit. It ends when you decide so.’ ‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘That’s what I thought.’ He returns my salute with a smile. Our boots ring on the stairs as we go up a level. Officers that outrank me move aside. Must be