STONEHEART HUNT: A novel-length story of peril, adventure, and hope.

One world away from our own, in a land of metal and magic, in the charred wreck of a lonely ranch deep in the cold stretches of Tankwaste, a young woman lay spread-eagle on the cold ground. Each of her four limbs was bound fast to a rusty railroad spike driven into the ground.

Psyche hoped for death. Or salvation; but that was unlikely.

Her hands twitched, empty without a gun. She closed her eyes and imagined the tight grip of her TW .357, the slow pull of its trigger. I wish I’d died fighting, like the others. I wish those damned griefers left me a gun and a bullet for myself. She imagined the damage she might have done even with her Moonhammer derringer.

Instead, they left her bound, surrounded by death, waiting for worse. “We’ll stop by another day and see if you’re still alive,” a particularly oily griefer had told her, loose lips curling at the deranged joke. “Hang in there, girlie.” Leaving her alone with the dead, they drove away to sell the stolen merchandise they had reaped from the destroyed ranch.

Sul had been riding his dual-fuel motorcycle across Tankwaste for hours, looking for water or diesel.

Improvident was not his usual way, but he had found his bounty farther into the frozen desert than he anticipated. Now the man’s head lay in a large freshbox strapped to the bike, his body (and his furious woman and weeping children) left far, far behind.

Dead or alive, the bounty paid either way.

What was it the eldest child had shouted when Sul appeared? “Mom, a robot came!” 

With his slim physique, his bronze mechanical goggles, his precise, steady movements, and his ever-calm face, Sul might well appear robotic to a child. No doubt older people found him similarly off-putting. And their dislike only seemed to deepen when he removed his goggles and looked them in the eyes.

“You’re empty,” the bounty’s six-foot tall woman had roared at him as he rode away. “You’re heartless!”

Sul was not heartless. Not technically.

He did have a heart; but like his bounty’s head, it lay locked in a freshbox. A freshbox marked ‘George Sullivan’, stored someplace where he did not have to bear with its twisting, haunted responses. Main difference was, Sul wore a stone with a heartrune to keep him going while his ticker rested elsewhere. No rune could keep a man going without his head.

Sul scanned the horizon over and over, cataloging the emptiness. Searching for signs of life.

Wait. Is that smoke?

Stoneheart Hunt is available for pre-order, and will be shipping December 10th, from Vulgaris Media, an entertainment and literary publisher friendly to traditionalists and conservatives.

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