An excerpt from Re-Coil by J.T. Nicholas

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Risingshadow has an opportunity to feature an excerpt from Re-Coil by J.T. Nicholas. This excerpt is part of the Re-Coil Blog Tour.

About J.T. Nicholas:

J.T. Nicholas is the author of the upcoming science-fiction novel Re-Coil and the neo-noir science-fiction series The New Lyons Sequence. When not writing, J.T. spends his time practising a variety of martial arts, playing games (video, tabletop, and otherwise), and reading everything he can get his hands on. He currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife.

About Re-Coil:

Carter Langston is murdered whilst salvaging a derelict vessel — a major inconvenience as he’s downloaded into a brand-new body on the space station where he backed up, several weeks’ journey away. But events quickly slip out of control when an assassin breaks into the medbay and tries to finish the job.

Death no longer holds sway over a humanity that has spread across the solar system: consciousness can be placed in a new body, or coil, straight after death, giving people the potential for immortality. Yet Carter’s backups — supposedly secure — have been damaged, his crew are missing, and everything points back to the derelict that should have been a simple salvage mission.

With enemies in hot pursuit, Carter tracks down his last crewmate — re-coiled after death into a body she cannot stand — to delve deeper into a mystery that threatens humanity and identity as they have come to know it.


The door to the medical bay opened, and I turned, expecting Dr. Parsons, or one of the medical techs, coming to take me for yet another round of testing. Instead, a slim, athletic man wearing a coil of Asiatic genetic makeup slipped into the room. He wore a neatly pressed suit of deep black silk, black shirt and tie, and a pair of thin black gloves. Something glinted in his right hand, which he held tightly against his leg.

“Who are you?” I asked, stepping into the doorway of the small bathroom to get a better look at him.

His eyes locked onto mine, and something in them made my blood run cold. He didn’t say anything, only regarded me with those black, soulless eyes as he raised his right hand, revealing the four-inch mono-blade.

We stood that way for a frozen moment, sudden heart- pounding fear making it impossible for me to think straight. A slow smile curled his lips, as if he were savoring the moment and he took a long, gliding stride forward.

I stepped back and slammed the bathroom door shut, hitting the magnetic lock plate as I did.

Sarah, alert the doctors, or security or someone. 
I’m sorry Langston, but the Net access in the area is being disrupted. “Wonderful,” I muttered. An impact shook the door, rocking it in its frame. A shoe or shoulder being put to it, no doubt. And it wasn’t exactly going to hold for long. I glanced around the bathroom, looking for anything that could serve as a weapon. Nothing. A different sound came from the door, and I turned my attention back to it just in time to see the point of the mono-knife punch through. The edge, far sharper than any razor, began slicing toward the handle, seeking the circuitry that kept the magnetic lock sealed.

I had scant seconds to make a decision. There was no way out of the bathroom. And, given that the nameless assassin on the other side of the door still hadn’t said a single word, negotiation seemed to be out of the question. I was going to have to fight.

I moved, putting my back against the wall beside the doorframe, the side that had the latch, my eyes locked on the steady progress the knife was making along the door. There was a flicker from the magnetic lock, and the display on it went from green to red, indicating that it had disengaged. I had time to draw half a breath, and then the door exploded inward on the power of another well-placed kick.

The assassin came right behind the kick, rushing in with a speed that would have been overwhelming had I been standing in front of it. The knife came first, and I acted on instinct, smashing down with the edge of my right hand, aiming for the small bones of the wrist, and dropping as much of my body weight into the blow as possible. It was a move I’d had to use before, in my old coil, though in far less dangerous circumstances. I hadn’t counted on the increased weight and strength of my new body, though.

The jarring impact coursed up my hand and arm, numbing and tingling. But I heard the crack of bone from the assailant’s wrist, and the knife flew from it, clattering against the tiled floor and sliding beneath the sink. The man grunted in pain, but never slowed, turning toward me with a short, vicious punch from his uninjured hand.

The blow hit high on my cheek, snapping my head back and making a brief kaleidoscope of light dance before my vision.

I reacted on instinct, bringing both my hands up before my face. More pain blossomed on my left forearm as it intercepted an elbow intended for my head. A knee thudded against my ribs as I staggered back the meter or so left to me, ending up in the corner of the bathroom. The assassin surged forward, relentlessly kneeing and elbowing. I couldn’t slip or dodge the onslaught, only cover up as best I could, taking as many of the shots as possible on my arms or legs, protecting my head, ribs, groin, throat, and stomach.

A dozen blows fell in those first few seconds, and I silently thanked whatever chance or fate had put me in a coil protected by thick slabs of muscle and heavy bone. But it couldn’t stand against the onslaught forever, and I knew I had to make something happen. I brought my right leg up behind me, planting my foot against the bathroom wall. With a roar, I surged forward, shoving off the wall like I would in microgravity, bowling full force into the much smaller coil and bearing it to the ground.

Even on the way down, he managed to keep throwing those short, heavy elbows, and I grunted as I felt a rib finally give way from the force. But then I was on top of him, punching down with hands much larger and more powerful than they had once been.

The assassin twisted beneath me, somehow managing to free his legs and get them wrapped around my waist, locking his ankles behind me. I had been raised in microgravity, one more hab-rat in the bowels of Selene, where the station admins had scarcely bothered with the power expenditure to run the artificial gravity. I’d had my share of tunnel fights in a place where combatants had little choice but to physically lock together in order to exchange blows, so I ignored his legs and concentrated on driving my fists into his still-expressionless face. He somehow slipped past one of the punches, and lunged upward, wrapping one arm around the back of my neck, and shoving the other under my chin, pushing and pulling, closing my airway.