Fear not. It’s true. The Urban Samurai series is alive and kicking.
First introduced almost three years ago with “Ichi”, N.S.Kelly (aka Stacia D. Kelly and myself) is under a month away from releasing the follow-up, “Ni”. The Urban Samurai series follows Shia Ronin, a thousand year old samurai who hunts all things supernatural and dark. Her travels have taken her to Washington, D.C., where she uses the cover story of a medical examiner to get close to death and the causes normal humans can’t explain.
She tracks a demon infestation, a rare breen known as the Rissu, and her investigation runs her right in the path of homicide detective Ryan Calder. It isn’t long before she begins to recognize that he is seeing a part of her world, a piece that normal people shouldn’t be able to see. The odd pair have to learn how to work with one another. Failure will result in the release of a swarm of demons bred to feed on humans and overtake the city.
“Ni” finds Ryan and Shia dealing with a new threat. While they try to figure out their own dynamic (and deal with Ryan’s exposure to Shia’s sisters), a new supernatural threat emerges in the heart of the city. They must decide on a path to containing and eliminating the new demon while hoping to save innocent lives.
Here’s this week’s #teasertuesday bit from Ni –
Portable LED floodlights filled Franklin Square with more brilliance than a pro football game. Sprinkles of snow peppered the spotlights and melted once they touched down. From his perspective, Ryan could see the vic’s body spread eagle on the ground beneath the statue of Commodore John Barry.
Once he got a clear view of the victim, he knew why the regular beat cops hadn’t hesitated to contact homicide. The vic was a caucasian male, probably late teens. He sported ripped up jeans, white Converse sneakers, and a spiked leather jacket, all the rage among modern high schoolers. His shoulder length hair and black eyeliner would have been easier to recognize if his skull was still attached.
The vic’s neck had been all but severed. His skull was pulled back, nearly touching the back of his jacket. His mandible was still shot forward. Ryan thought of the scene in Alien, where the extraterrestrial life form rips out of Harry Dean Stanton’s chest. This something, whatever it was, had erupted out of the vic’s mouth, breaking his neck and splitting his skull in the process.
The ME on the case sported a full parka. At the moment, he was hovering over the body, snapping images with a high definition camera. Ryan approached from behind, pulling his collar tight to his neck. “Wow. Quite a mess, huh?
The form before him tensed slightly, and then continued with snapping pictures, “Yes, Detective. Quite the mess. And, quite the power. Please don’t step on my crime scene.”
Ryan recognized the voice, and the movement of the form before him. He mentally cursed for missing it earlier.
“Shi…” he started, then stopped.
Shia Ronin, medical examiner, samurai, warrior who saved him from death more than once. He’d last seen her, a few days ago, in Little Falls Park battling the large lobster like creature, the Mother Rissu demon. He’d been shuffling around for the last few days wondering how he was going to reach out to her after all the upheaval. He coughed, shifted on his boots, then fell back on the emotionless cadence he’d learned in the Air Force, and later the Police Academy.
“Dr. Ronin, what have you found so far?” He asked.
The form before him stilled before moving to another angle to snap another picture. Low to the ground, she shifted, almost dance in motion.
“I’m still processing. Detective, why don’t you tell me what you see while I’m gathering data,” she said.
Ryan shook his head, moving his eyes from her form to the victim. She caught him looking, as usual. If anyone could have eyes in the back of her head, it was her. She had the uncanny ability to be looking away from him, yet seeing every little thing he did. He looked back at the disfigured victim, trying to center his focus, and training, on the corpse lying in the frosted grass.
“Caucasian male, maybe eighteen. Cause of death looks like mutilation. Acute stress to the neck and spinal cord resulting in asphyxiation. Someone tried to and managed to take part of this kid’s head off.”
“Agreed – jaw ripped from his head – let’s not sugar coat it.” Shia answered and shifted her position.
She had no reason to hide, cover up or change what so many could see. Too many eyes here now, he knew she couldn’t even if she wanted to.
She finished up with her camera and turned to her medical bag and pulled out several syringes. Ryan watched her. She never looked up to face him. That wasn’t by chance or on accident. He could reach for her shoulder in an attempt to get her attention, but he wasn’t keen on getting his wrist broken.
“If you were going to separate my jaw from my skull, you’d take the jaw, right? Why keep the jaw in place and sever the skull from the spine?” He asked instead. He stopped, still watching her ignore him. “And how the hell do you even make that happen?”
Shia stopped snapping pictures, “You are correct. It takes a powerful force or …”
“Or a very targeted strike,” Ryan replied. “I’m thinking we need to start targeting local dojos. What’s your expert opinion?”
She tilted her angle, “Let’s take a shot at both? I can’t tell you if it was rage, a crime of passion or anything else yet.”
“I’ve studied plenty of techniques aimed at the throat, or the nose, but never any move meant to drive the skull backward so hard. You know more…of more arts than I do. Ever seen or read something like this?” Ryan asked.
Shia slanted him a look. “Someone very strong with a very powerful intent.” He knew she could have said more, but left it at that. “I’ll need to analyze the samples.”
Her phone buzzed, loud enough for them both to hear.
“Funny, I turned that off.” She glanced down at the screen and nodded to herself.
He watched her take a deep breath before she stepped closer and flipped the screen so he could see it.
A dark map with heat signatures glowed up at them.
Ryan frowned. “That what I think it is?”
“Yes,” she said. He noticed she bit the edge of her lip. Red dots danced around the scene, the blue showed the corpse. What stood out was the faint orange glow surrounding the blue corpse which trailed away, faintly, very faintly, but there enough for Jace to have picked it up and sent it to her.
Apparently, by her body language, not an aura she could visibly see.
“So, we’re dealing in your realm, after all?”