Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Word Count: 89,000
Is Your Main Character hot or cold:
Kira presents cold, but inside she's a hot mess most of the time. As a professional gunfighter, she has to stay calm under pressure. When the pressure comes off, though, things can get weird. So, put her down as cold, but be ready for a sudden thaw.
Kira White has three choices – kill, die, or spend a lifetime in servitude. For a corporate gunfighter, that’s just another Tuesday.
Like millions of others in near-future America, Kira owes big. She borrowed against a “lifetime services contract” for her education, and if she defaults, her creditors will control every bit of her personal and professional life. When her acting income doesn’t cover her payments, she takes up the well-paid position of professional gunfighter. On the corporate dueling fields, where legal questions are settled with deadly finality, she becomes the most feared representative of TKC Insurance.
When she defeats a naive young woman desperate to enforce her family’s claim on their mother’s life insurance policy, Kira’s ability to rationalize dies along with her opponent. She’s a killer of innocents, and she knows it. TKC offers the opportunity to fight another professional for a huge purse, and Kira sees it as a chance to buy a new life or die trying. Instead, the match leaves her wounded, jobless, and facing enslavement.
With the foreclosure clock ticking and her guilt metastasizing into suicidal self-loathing, Kira becomes lead plaintiff in a group lawsuit against the bank holding her contract. She could accept a modest settlement that would cancel her debt, but if she demands a duel she could free thousands of people, render the bank insolvent, and unravel the financial underpinnings of debt slavery. Shattering the institution might relieve Kira's guilt, but evil institutions don’t go down easily. With the courage of sheer desperation, Kira overcomes abduction by old enemies and betrayal by allies. To win, however, she must prevail against an opponent backed by enough money to corrupt anything — even the dueling fields where she once reigned supreme.
First 250 Words:
Kira White stood alone in the midst of the neutral carpet, beige walls, and bought-by-the pound corporate artwork, preparing for a transaction that would probably end in death—either hers or, more likely, that of her opponent.
She was less than an arm’s length from the double doors of the Central Iowa Dueling Arena’s Waiting Room Three, but she made no move to open them. The bright blue numbers on the digital clock above the entrance gave her ten minutes before she faced default for failure to appear.
She timed her breath by count, using twice as many seconds to release a lungful of air as she had used to take it in. As her first acting instructor had promised, her heart slowed, her muscles relaxed, and her mind cleared.
Her mental preparation complete, she checked the sleek, black rectangle of the handset on her belt, pushed her short-cropped blonde hair into place, adjusted her cloak, and changed the angle of her hat. She considered removing her gloves but decided that was better done inside, where the task could demonstrate her speed and dexterity for the man who had to outdraw her if he wanted to leave the field alive. It would give him another reason to quit before the match started.
She focused on her role, visualizing the way she wanted her opponent to see her. She spoke softly but intently, words audible only to herself: “I am death. I am terror. I am blood.”