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Authors: William C. Dietz

Deadeye

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PRAISE FOR WILLIAM C. DIETZ AND THE LEGION OF THE DAMNED NOVELS

ANDROMEDA'S CHOICE

“Filled with intrigue, danger, and page-turning battle sequences, and it was not surprising to find that once I started reading I did not want to break away from the story.”

—
SF Signal

“[Dietz] allows McKee a bit (but just a bit!) of softness and vulnerability, making this debutante turned army sergeant into a completely engaging three-dimensional character.”

—
RT Book Reviews

ANDROMEDA'S FALL

“[Recommended] for readers who enjoy military fiction, science fiction, action, and strong female characters.”

—
Fresh Fiction

“Featur[es] a likeable protagonist, a ruthless villain, and enough surprises and pounding action to propel the reader forward.”

—
SF Signal

“Full of action and suspense.”

—
Elitist Book Reviews

“A must-read for any fan of Mil Fic.”

—
The Archaeologist's Guide to the Galaxy

“An exciting plot and engaging characters made this novel impossible to put down. Fast-paced and action-packed with plenty of suspense, intrigue, and drama . . . [A] promising new series.”

—SciFiChick.com

“Returning to his Legion of the Damned universe, Dietz illustrates why he's a master of the genre: The battle scenes are numerous and thrilling; the world feels immersive and authentic; and our heroine, Andromeda McKee, is a tough-as-nails badass.”

—
RT Book Reviews

“A page-turner.”

—
Kirkus Reviews

A FIGHTING CHANCE

“Superb . . . An exciting, action-packed tale . . . Fast-paced.”

—
Midwest Book Review

WHEN DUTY CALLS

“The action is as brisk as ever in a Legion yarn. Standard-issue military SF doesn't get much better than this.”

—
Booklist

“Fans of military science fiction on other worlds will thoroughly enjoy
When Duty Calls
, the latest Legion of the Damned space-opera thriller . . . William C. Dietz keeps his long-running saga fresh to the delight of military science fiction fans.”

—
Midwest Book Review

WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST

“A fast-paced, deep-space military tale with enough sci-fi details to fire the imagination.”

—
The Kansas City Star

“A pedal-to-the-metal plot jam-packed with intrigue, deep-space adventure, and futuristic combat.”

—
Publishers Weekly

“This is classic Dietz, which means classic military SF for all fans of the brand.”

—
Booklist

“[
When All Seems Lost
] starts at hyperspeed and accelerates from there into a fabulous, graphic military science fiction opus in which readers will need seat belts.”

—
SFRevu

“Pleasant, straightforward adventure in space with military undertones. Dietz's characters are better drawn than in most similar books.”

—Don D'Ammassa,
Critical Mass

PRAISE FOR

BONES OF EMPIRE

“For those who enjoy science fiction that deals with lots of character-driven stories, political intrigue, and military action, I would highly recommend
Bones of Empire
and give it a five-star rating—keeper status!”

—
Night Owl Reviews

“Plenty of action, political intrigue, military maneuvering . . . The action moves smoothly and swiftly from one plot to another, never getting bogged down, yet never seeming to skimp on detail or motivations. This is science fiction for anyone who enjoys action, politics, and character-driven stories.”

—
CA Reviews

“Fast-paced space opera. Action, adventure, alien politics, and a bit of romance move the plot forward. Violent, blood-spattered scenes lead to the satisfying conclusion.”

—
RT Book Reviews

“An action-packed, faster-than-the-speed-of-light . . . thriller.”

—
Midwest Book Review

AT EMPIRE'S EDGE

“A testosterone-soaked tale of violent retribution.”

—
Publishers Weekly

“Should please his many followers as well as fans of Steve Perry's Matador series and the novels of Michael Stackpole.”

—
Library Journal

“Like
Dirty Harry
in space . . . A good read.”

—
Dorkgasm

“Entertaining police-procedural space opera . . . Fans who enjoy a blood-spattered science fiction thriller will want to read the first of a two-part saga as William C. Dietz provides an exciting but out-of-control opening act.”

—
Midwest Book Review

“An excellent novel for first-time readers of Mr. Dietz . . . The story moves at a nice clip and contains plenty of future tech and strange creatures. This novel should satisfy a wide range of readers.”

—
CA Reviews

Ace Books by William C. Dietz

Mutant Files Series

DEADEYE

Legion of the Damned Series

LEGION OF THE DAMNED

THE FINAL BATTLE

BY BLOOD ALONE

BY FORCE OF ARMS

FOR MORE THAN GLORY

FOR THOSE WHO FELL

WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST

WHEN DUTY CALLS

A FIGHTING CHANCE

ANDROMEDA'S FALL

ANDROMEDA'S CHOICE

ANDROMEDA'S WAR

Drifter Series

DRIFTER

DRIFTER'S RUN

DRIFTER'S WAR

Sam McCade Series

GALACTIC BOUNTY

IMPERIAL BOUNTY

ALIEN BOUNTY

McCADE'S BOUNTY

Sauron Duology

DEATHDAY

EARTHRISE

Jak Rebo Series

RUNNER

LOGOS RUN

Jak Cato Series

AT EMPIRE'S EDGE

BONES OF EMPIRE

 

FREEHOLD

PRISON PLANET

BODYGUARD

WHERE THE SHIPS DIE

STEELHEART

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

DEADEYE

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2015 by William C. Dietz.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-15010-2

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Ace mass-market edition / February 2015

Cover art by Gene Mollica.

Cover design by Lesley Worrell.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

For my dearest Marjorie, friend, lover, and pirate

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Many thanks to my daughter Allison for her technical advice. The college education paid off!

CONTENTS

Praise for Books by William C. Dietz

Ace Books by William C. Dietz

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgment

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

ONE

THE AIR WAS
deliciously cool as the sun rose, and the city of angels was flooded with pink light. The traffic light changed to green, and Police Detective Bryce Conti put his foot on the gas. He was driving an unmarked car. That was something of a misnomer, however, since the vehicle had been tagged so many times that it looked like a rolling Picasso. The radio was on, and Conti smiled as a patrol unit was sent to deal with a 288. That was the code for indecent exposure and usually meant that a drunk was wandering around a park without his pants. What a way to start a new day.

Conti's destination was a neighborhood that had been called Little Italy prior to being reborn as New Chinatown in 1938. As Conti took a right, he passed the charred remains of a burned-out house. One of thousands left empty after the plague.

Some of the homes in the area were occupied, however, and easy to identify because they were the ones that had iron bars over the windows. And in some cases there were patches of carefully kept grass out front.
God bless 'em,
Conti thought to himself,
and protect them from evil.

Conti found the address he was looking for halfway down the block and on the right. It was the type of four-unit building often referred to as a “dingbat.” A not-so-complimentary name that referred to thousands of formulaic three-story-high apartment buildings built during the middle of the twentieth century. A sign that read
LA BUENA VIDA
was fastened to the front of the structure's dingy white facade.

Parking places were easy to find in a city where the population was half what it had once been. Conti pulled over, got out, and thumbed the remote. The lights flashed to signal that the car was locked.

Conti had been a street cop for six years and a detective for two. During that time, he had developed habits, one of which was to pause before parting company with whatever car he was using and perform a quick 360. Someone was watching. He could
feel
it. But he expected that. It paid to keep your eyes peeled in LA—and chances were that one of the neighbors was peering at him through partially opened blinds. Conti followed the path that led past the ground-floor garage back to where the stairs led up to the second floor.

Detective Lee lived in unit 201, and once Conti arrived he saw that the words
FUCK OFF
had been spray painted across the front door. Conti smiled. It looked like the stories he'd heard were true. He pushed the doorbell.

*   *   *

Cassandra Lee was searching for someone important. An alley led to a door that opened into a dark room that . . . She awoke with a jerk and opened her eyes. Bars of dusty sunlight slanted through the blinds to etch lines on the wall. The doorbell rang again.

Lee swore, rolled out of bed, and snatched the Glock off the dresser as she left the room. She passed the bath and took up a position next to the front door. Someone knocked. “Who is it?”

The voice was muffled. “Detective Conti.”

“Who do you report to?”

“Deputy Chief McGinty.”

There were three locks. Lee opened one after the other. “Come in.”

The door opened, and Conti entered. He was dressed in a sports coat, shirt, and jeans. She figured Conti was six feet tall, give or take an inch, with black hair and brown eyes. Rumor had it that he was a ladies' man, and Lee could see why. The bastard had dimples, for God's sake . . . They appeared as he smiled. “I was starting to wonder if I had the right place.”

“Sorry,” Lee lied. “Make yourself to home. I'll get ready.”

*   *   *

Conti saw the weapon and watched as Lee placed it on a side table and walked away. As far as he could tell, the oversized tee shirt was the only thing she had on. It hung down over what he imagined to be a very nice butt. Her legs were bare and slim. He liked that.
Don't do it with your partner.
That was the rule and a good one for the most part. But, depending on how things went, Conti was willing to make an exception.

He heard a door slam and the shower come on as he entered the living room. Drawn curtains made the space feel gloomy, and the brown paint made the situation worse. Interestingly enough, there wasn't any of what he thought of as “girly stuff” in sight. No colorful prints, no stuffed animals, no flowers.

Two matching bookcases occupied the right-hand wall and were filled with cop memorabilia. That included photographs. Lots of them. Most featured a man with black hair, almond-shaped eyes, and high cheekbones. Lee's father? Yes, a sergeant, judging from the chevrons on his sleeve.

In addition to the photos there was a plaque for marksmanship, a presentation nightstick, and a display case containing three medals. One of them was a Medal of Valor. The highest honor a cop could receive. Frank Lee had been a real fire-eater then . . .

“I'm ready.”

Conti turned to look at her. He'd seen Lee before but usually from a distance. She stood about five-five and might weigh 125. A halo of black hair framed her face. She had big brown eyes, a perfect nose, and full lips. Her clothing consisted of a waist-length leather jacket, khaki cargo pants, and lace-up combat boots. Conti watched as the Glock went into a shoulder holster, and something shiny slipped into the small of her back. “What was that?”

She looked at him. “What was
what
?”

“The backup . . . What is it?”

“It's a Smith & Wesson model 627.”

Conti made a face. “A wheel gun, huh? I carry a Kel Tec P-11. I think semiautos are the better option.”

Lee's eyes narrowed. “Who cares what you think? Let's go.”

And with that she walked out through the door. Conti followed, checked to make sure that it was locked, and took the stairs two at a time. She was waiting next to the car when he arrived and extended a hand. “I'll drive.”

“Why?”

“Because I don't know you. Maybe you can handle a car and maybe you can't. Time will tell.”

He placed the keys in her hand and watched Lee pull a 360 on the sedan, even going so far as to peer under it. Paranoia? Not really—a device placed by the Bombas Gang had been responsible for the death of 1-George-12 two weeks earlier. That meant any car that was left unattended, no matter how briefly, had to be checked.

After completing the 360, Lee slipped behind the wheel, and Conti got in beside her. Lee started the sedan, eased down the street, and took a right. More cars were out and about by then. Most of them were one-offs manufactured by various fabricantes. Form followed function in most cases, but there were some especiales as well. They were sleek affairs, low to the ground in most cases and tricked out with fanciful paint jobs.

The police officers were headed south on North Main Street by then. Lee pulled over to the curb six blocks later. Conti checked his watch. “It's 6:50. Roll call begins in ten minutes.”

“You need one of Maria's breakfast burritos,” Lee informed him. “Wait here, I'll be right back.” Then she was gone.

All Conti could do was sit and fume as Lee entered a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant and soon emerged with a cardboard box. She passed it through the passenger-side window. “I stop here every morning,” she explained. “I hope you like ham and scrambled eggs because that's what you got.”

As Lee drove, both of them ate. And Conti, who was having his second breakfast of the morning, had to admit that the burrito was good. As was the coffee. Aztec coffee brought north through San Diego.

Both were still in the process of eating as they arrived at police headquarters. The building's facade consisted of two triangles. One was made of reflective glass and positioned at a right angle to the other. A real statement back in the day but not so pretty since the rocket attack five years earlier. The city council still hoped to restore the original look but hadn't been able to find the right kind of glass.

Lee drove down into the underground parking garage. After showing their ID, the officers were allowed to proceed through the checkpoint and down the ramp. Lee chose a parking spot in a row of vehicles similar to their own. “We're ten minutes late,” Conti said, “McGinty's going to have a cow.”

“Screw McGinty,” Lee said darkly. “
And
the lieutenant he rode in on.”

Conti sighed and followed her inside. Nobody liked Lee—nobody he'd met, anyway. So why was she still around? The answer could be summed up in a single word: results. She solved crimes, she caught perps, and she was so good with the Glock that the uniforms at the practice range called her Deadeye. Which was why he wanted to ride with her. To learn what she knew.

*   *   *

An elevator carried them up to the sixth floor to the Detective Bureau. After more than a half century of hard use and tight budgets, the walls were a dingy green, filing cabinets crowded once-wide hallways, and offices were crammed with tiny cubicles.

Lee could see that,
knew
that, but couldn't fully connect with it. Because the building would always be a special place for the little girl inside her. It was the place where the good guys worked, where the bad guys got caught, and justice was done.

That's why she had joined the force right out of college and remained part of it. Even if she had come to realize that some of the good guys weren't so good, some of the bad guys weren't so bad, and that “justice” was often in the eye of the beholder.

The sixth floor was home to the Chief of Detectives, her staff, and about sixty “real” detectives. “Real” being Lee's designator for people who logged more street time than chair time. All of them were housed in an open area that had been subdivided into a maze of cubicles called the bull pen.

Of the larger force, only twelve men and women were members of the elite Special Investigative Section charged with going after the city's most dangerous criminals and taking them off the street. That was the unit Lee belonged to—and the one Conti wanted to join. She led him back to the corner where half of the S.I.S. detectives were gathered around a long table. All of them were dressed in variations of street clothes and said their hellos as Lee and Conti sat down.

Deputy Chief of Detectives Ross McGinty was there along with Assistant Chief Sean Jenkins. What hair McGinty still had was military short. His eyes were the color of faded denim, his face was narrow, and his lips were thin. “Well, well,” he said. “What have we here? Detective Lee and Detective Conti. A word to the wise, Conti. In spite of what Lee may have told you, members of the S.I.S. team
are
expected to show up for roll call on time.”

Lee smiled sweetly. “Conti
made
me stop for breakfast burritos. That's why we're late.” Nobody believed that, and, with the exception of McGinty, all of them laughed.

They spent the next half hour on HR stuff, arrangements for an interdepartmental softball game, and updates on active cases. “Thanks to Detective Howe and his team, the Bradley brothers are living in the slammer now,” McGinty told them. “But our work is never done. Now there's a
new
set of assholes to deal with. They call themselves the Freak Killers, or FKs, and claim to be folk heroes out to protect norms from the plague.”

He looked from face to face. “And they
are
mutant killers. They're killing mutant merchants who enter the city on short-duration visas. There have been three murders so far, which means we need to find the FKs and do it fast. Once this meeting is over, Lee and Conti will report to my office for a briefing.”

Lee felt a rising sense of anger. The mutant thing was a shit detail . . . McGinty's way of punishing her for calling him “a jerk” two weeks earlier and for being her father's daughter. Frank Lee and Ross McGinty had been partners once. Back when both men were patrolmen. And, according to the stories she'd heard, they'd been friends. Then something happened. No one knew what led up to it, but there had been a fistfight. McGinty came out on the losing end of it and, according to departmental lore, had been pissed off ever since.

The meeting ended shortly thereafter, and the two detectives followed McGinty to his office. Jenkins, coffee mug in hand, brought up the rear.

In contrast to many of his peers, the walls of McGinty's office bore no pictures of him shaking hands with the mayor, accepting a commendation, or fly-fishing. And every item on his desk had a purpose. It was as if everything about the inner man was locked away. “Okay,” McGinty said as he pushed a pair of manila folders across the desk. “Here's what we have on the Freak Killers. They are both an underground hate band
and
a gang. Their leader is a three-time loser named Cherko. His street name is Popeye.”

Conti opened his folder. “Like the cartoon character?”

McGinty shook his head. “Nope.
This
Popeye has protruding eyes. Thus the name.”

Lee was looking at a mug shot by then. Cherko had no visible eyebrows, which served to make his bulging eyes even more noticeable. In that particular photo, he was sporting a nose stud, a “fuck-you” smile, and a goatee that was supposed to hide a weak chin. “So what have we got?”

Jenkins had black hair, green eyes, and brown skin. “Popeye has a tendency to shoot witnesses,” he replied. “But one of them survived. She was married to victim three. We have a hold on her.”

“How 'bout family?” Conti wanted to know. “Does this piece of shit have one?”

“He had a mother as of six months ago. That's when he was released from Corcoran,” McGinty answered. “But it looks like she has moved since then. Another family is living in the apartment now.”

“Or Cherko moved her,” Jenkins offered. “It's all in the report.”

“Okay,” Lee replied. “That brings us to Conti here.”

McGinty frowned. “How so?”

“I don't want a partner.”

“Nobody cares what you want.”

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