(This just went live over at the publisher’s site so I thought I’d cross-post here, too: www.NiftyEntertainment.com)
by Mat Nastos
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!
Cover By: Mat Nastos and Thomas “Orc Girl” Boatwright
Synopsis: The most dangerous man on the planet must get a secret out of his head…before they remove it.
With a hole in his mind, Malcolm Weir must retrace his steps for the past year–fighting his way through a nearly endless horde of super powered mercenaries and assassins sent by the government to reclaim the secrets locked in his head.
Review: “With The Cestus Concern, Mat Nastos crafts his most daring and imaginative work to date. Thrilling and action-packed, Cestus moves at a breakneck pace. Nastos continues to show why he is the next great voice in sci-fi. —Rob Liefeld, Creator of Deadpool, Cable, Youngblood and X-force, and founder of Image Comics
“The Cestus Concern kicks off in a bold fashion the refuses to relent. Weaving between The Six Million Dollar Man and Universal Soldier, Mat Nastos sculpts a story of high-tech science fiction that rivals masters of the genre and adds yet another successful story to his already impressive body of work.” —James Ninness, writer of Dust: Withered Earth and Macabre Rising.
“Nastos delivers visceral sci-fi action from the very first page, and never lets up.” —Tyler James, writer of Red Ten and co-creator of ComixTribe.com.
“Equal parts Terminator, Frankenstein and Universal Soldier, Nastos reinvents the classic motifs, creating something truly exciting.” —Adam Lance Garcia, author of Green Lama: Unbound.
It has been said being born is one of the most painful and traumatic events in a person’s life. For Malcolm Weir, being reborn was far worse.
The first thing Mal noticed as the warm, floating feeling only an especially heavy dose of morphine can give started to fade was the tell tale itch in all ten of his toes and the balls of his feet.
Strangely enough, the itch didn’t reach his hands. From the middle of his pecs, into his shoulders and down through both arms, there was an odd buzzing feeling, almost as if the Army Ranger was holding a faulty power cord in his hand – not quite the pain of electrocution, but an uneasy feeling that lay just below the surface and culminated in a pinprick discomfort in each of his fingers.
As consciousness returned, a number of other tidbits of information began to register in Mal’s brain. The most troublesome being that his head felt as if a thick railroad spike had been inserted into it, just below the base of his skull, and whatever caused the ache seemed to steal away his ability to move his head freely.
His mouth was dry. So dry, it felt as if Mal had been sucking on cotton balls and Brillo pads for days, his tongue was cracked and devoid of even the slightest hint of moisture. Mal couldn’t remember the last time he’d had anything to drink.
Panic and worry struck with the force of a hammer between his eyes as the man realized he couldn’t remember anything at all. Mal had no idea where he was or how he got there. The worry quickly turned to fear as the soldier found himself unable to open his eyes.
Where am I, thought Mal, as his darkness seemed to suddenly swirl with chaos and terror? What happened? Why can’t I see?
Frantically, Mal reached up with his left hand to touch his eyes, barely noticing the feel of metallic and leather arm restraints tearing apart from his movement. His outstretched finger struck his face with more force than he intended, the tip felt numb, almost as if his hands were wrapped in a wet sock. A shaking hand traced the outline of the tape cover his eyelids as the sounds around him returned all at once as if someone had switched them on like a radio.
A woman’s voice near his right shoulder caused him to jump and to rip out half of his eyelashes along with the sticky substance that robbed him of sight.
“Oh, my God! He’s awake!” came the startled throaty voice of the woman. Mal guessed she was middle-aged. He could also tell from the way her words echoed out across the room that it was a fairly large area with tall ceilings.
“He should have been out for at least another four hours while the upgrade was being processed,” the voice sounded annoyed more than concerned. Directly into his ear, and louder than Mal would have liked, he heard, “Designate Cestus, please return to diagnostic mode. Medical override five-two-six-alpha-nine.”
For a split-second, the strange words took control of Mal’s befuddled mind and he dropped back down to the position he awoke in, flat on his back, with arms calmly to his side. The urge to obey was quickly dispelled by an increased electric-shock sensation flowing from the back of his head into his chest and down into Mal’s hands.
He had no clue why her command affected him so and didn’t want her to try it again. Mal flapped his arm in an effort to shoo the woman away from him.
“Let me up,” he whispered.
“Shit…he’s ignoring the override,” the annoyance transitioned into audible and obvious worry. “Monitors show the AI has been corrupted. We’re going to need to restrain him!”
“I’m on it!” snapped another, much deeper male voice, this time from somewhere down near Mal’s left foot.
Mal’s eye finally came unstuck, but the lights in the room were too harsh, too bright for him to be able to see properly. Everything was a painful white blur. A shadow fell across his face, blocking some of the light, for which Mal was most thankful. Two large hands began pressing down on his eerily numb shoulders, trying to stop him from rising. In spite of the reduced sensation his back and arms were experience, Mal could tell he was lying on a hard bed or table of some sort. The cold touch of metal along his spine suggested it was probably the latter.
“Hold him down!” screeched the woman. Mal decided she sounded like his Aunt Nancy, an even more disquieting fact than waking up on an operating table, blind and numb. God, he hated his Aunt Nancy.
“Damn it, I’m trying!” yelled the Southerner with increasing agitation. The man pushed harder, trying to keep Mal on the table. “Hit him with a shot of Midazolam, quick!”
Mal fought against the power of the man attempting to hold him down. With a quick twitch, his right arm came free and started to push his body into an upright position. As the motion caused his head to tilt out of its supine position, a new pain exploded in the back of Mal’s skull, threatening to split it in half.
“Got it,” the woman shouted from across the room!
Not wanting to wait around and find out what exactly “Midazolam” was, Mal’s shot his left hand out in an effort to get his male captor away from his body. From Mal’s perspective, it was only a half-hearted backhanded slap. However, a grunt from the man and a loud crash a long distance away revealed it to be something more.
The woman screamed as she observed whatever Mal was unable to see, “Bradley!”
Mal ignored the sounds of the woman’s footfalls heading for the body of “Bradley,” and reached up with now-freed right hand to figure out what was holding the back of his head down to the table. Groping blindly, the confused man felt wires leading into a solid casing of some kind – it was hard and warm to the touch, and pulsed with the same shock of electricity Mal felt in his arms.
Most disturbing of all, however, was that the whole thing seemed to be attached to a metallic plate mounted on the back of his head! Mal screamed in horror and pain as his hand gripped the slightly vibrating rod and yanked it from his head – he could feel the tip of it sliding out through the rear of his skull and his entire body jerked upright as he nearly retched from the experience.
“What have you done?” Mal howled. <end excerpt>