Ascendance: Dave Vs. The Monsters by John BirminghamAscendance: Dave Vs. The Monsters by John Birmingham

Ascendance: Dave Vs. The Monsters

byJohn Birmingham

Paperback | June 30, 2015

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For fans of Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne comes an exhilarating new urban fantasy series featuring monster-slayer Dave Hooper and his magical splitting maul.
Kids, there are no monsters under the bed. They’re in the front yard.
As a hardworking monster-slayer, Dave Hooper tries not to bring his work home with him. But nowadays it’s hard to keep them separate. Email, cellphones, empath daemons, they never let a guy rest.
The Horde has been raising hell and leveling cities from New York to Los Angeles, keeping Dave and his fellow monster-killer, Russian spy Karin Varatchevsky, very busy. But when the legions of hell invade the small seaside town his boys call home, Dave has to make a call. Save the world? Or save his family?
Not as easy a choice as you’d think, since Dave’s ex-wife expects to be saved too. And there’s no convincing her that the supersexy Russian spy isn’t his girlfriend. She’s just his sidekick—and an assassin.
John Birmingham is the author of Emergence, Resistance, Ascendance, After America, Without Warning, Final Impact, Designated Targets, Weapons of Choice, and other novels, as well as Leviathan, which won the National Award for Nonfiction at Australia’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and the novella Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. He has written ...
Title:Ascendance: Dave Vs. The MonstersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 7.51 × 4.17 × 0.93 inPublished:June 30, 2015Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345539915

ISBN - 13:9780345539915

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Read from the Book

Birmingham / ASCENDANCE01Dave’s gun dropped to the floor with a loud metallic clatter. He flinched, expecting it to go off, but it didn’t. He had removed the magazine and thumbed the safety on carefully before warping out of the under­ground garage to infiltrate the Russian consulate. If by “infiltrate” you meant put a wrecking ball through the place.“What the hell!” Trinder yelped. The dark-­suited spook flinched, too, although whether at the sound of the gun landing on the concrete or at the sight of Dave disappearing and then reappearing in the literal blink of an eye, he could not say. The agents flanking Trinder reflexively dropped into a shooter’s stance, each reaching for his or her weapon. Dave knew them from Las Vegas: Comeau and the woman called Mad­igan. They both realized what had happened at the same time, and he saw the uncertainty in their eyes. They had seen him do this before. The man, Comeau, was the first to lower his gun. Madigan followed only when Trinder gave her permission to stand down.“Sorry,” Dave said, nodding toward the pistol he’d dropped on the floor. “Told you I’m not great with guns. An uncle tried to teach me when he was sober, which wasn’t often. He did show me how to turn it off, though, and take the bullets out.”Trinder, not really hiding his disgust, was about to speak when the rumble and crash from the half-­destroyed consulate building rolled over them. Probably a supporting wall or another part of the second floor collapsing. The sound of smashing glass arrived as a tinkling counterpoint to the deep bass notes of his demolition work. Trinder looked more shocked than he had when Dave had performed his little magic trick of popping into and out of the world. A cell phone buzzed, and Trinder took a BlackBerry from his pocket and looked at the screen, not really paying attention. He turned it off. His eyes, bloodshot and a little jaundiced now that Dave looked, darted up toward the street.“What the hell did you do out there?” he asked. He sounded almost fearful.“Yeah, about that,” Dave said. “The whole sneaking into the embassy thing didn’t go so well.”Agent Comeau took a few tentative steps toward the parking garage ramp, his knees bent and his shoulders bowed as though he expected the building to fall in on top of them, too.“I think the Russians are going to need another consulate,” Comeau said when he was able to see something of what had happened up on East 91st Street.Trinder looked as though he had been poleaxed, and Dave felt a little sorry for him. He himself was still coming to terms with everything that had happened, and he’d at least had some time to get used to the idea. Enough time to sneak into the consulate, to explore the building, to track down Karen Warat, to destroy a couple of rooms—­the better part of a whole floor, really—­fighting her at warp speed. Enough time to get his ass handed to him, enough time for Lucille to save that same worthless ass—­and how she’d managed that, he still couldn’t say. Time enough to get beaten to a broken and bloody pulp, to recover, to fight to a dishonorable draw and then cut a deal with Warat or Varatchevsky or whatever her name was, and to return here to the garage under the Office of Special Clearances and Records. Or under a building these guys leased, at any rate. He doubted this was Trinder’s actual Death Star.Dave had done all that in the space between two of Agent Trinder’s heartbeats. But for Hooper it had taken nearly three-­quarters of an hour.Nothing had changed in the basement garage. Trinder and his goons hadn’t moved except for a step or two backward in surprise at Dave’s magic act. The same cars, mostly black SUVs, were still parked in the same slots. The elevator doors were closed, the car still up on the fourth floor where OSCAR had offices. But outside on the street all was violent dis­order. Screams, honking horns, the muted thunder of the Russian consulate imploding. Had to be messing with Trinder’s head. Had to be messing with all of them.“You might want to run up there and grab your mole,” Dave said. “That little girl you had holding the door open for me, if that’s what she was doing. I put her out on the street. She’s probably freaking out. Looked like one of the embassy guards had figured out she was up to no good, and, you know, since I just demolished half the building, they’re probably going to want to beat her with rubber hoses or something while they ask her about it.”“Agent Madigan,” Trinder said, rubbing his eyes. “If you would.”The woman in the black pantsuit said, “Yes, sir,” and hurried away up the ramp toward the street, holstering her weapon as she went.“Anything else I need to know, like what the fuck happened?” Trinder said.Dave shrugged and pushed gently at the gun on the ground with the toe of his boot, carefully turning the muzzle away from Comeau.“Had no trouble getting in,” he said. “That little cutie you had on the inside just held the door open for me. I wandered in, had a look around. Didn’t see anything on the ground floor, just a bunch of office workers. There were a couple of gorillas guarding a staircase down a hallway, so I checked it out. Poked around upstairs, found your spy, or, you know, she found me. There was no warping around her. She hadn’t slowed down at all. Matter of fact, I’d have said she was chock full of ’roids and amphetamines, she moved that quick and hit that hard.”Agent Comeau, a wiry-­looking Mediterranean type, rejoined them from the foot of the ramp, where he’d been trying to keep an eye on the street. He looked Dave up and down. A skeptical look.“But you’re okay now? And you don’t have her with you. So what happened up there?” Trinder jerked his thumb toward the street.“She pretty much kicked my ass, damn near killed me, in fact,” Dave said, hefting the splitting maul up into the palm of his hand. “Lucille here is the only reason I’m still alive.”“Oh, this is not good,” said Trinder, mostly to himself. He was looking at the ground, his eyes sweeping back and forth as though he might find something there to help him.“Nah, it’s okay,” Dave said. “I got better.”“That’s not what I meant,” Trinder snapped. “I understand it’s the case, Mister Hooper, that you weren’t particularly good at listening to Captain Heath. But you’re not even listening to yourself. You just told us that one of the most dangerous hostile agents ever set loose in this country had no trouble defeating you in close combat. You, the superhero.”The way Trinder said “superhero,” it sounded as though he didn’t really believe it. Dave got that a lot.“Well, I wouldn’t say she defeated me,” he said. “She just kicked my ass is all. And look, I gave her plenty to be gettin’ on with. So in the end we called it a draw.”“Where is she now?” Trinder asked, sounding very tired.“I dunno,” Dave muttered, reminding himself of one of his sons. When neither of the OSCAR men looked happy with the answer, he said, “I think she was going to go talk to her boss.”Comeau’s eyes went wide, and Trinder stared at him.“She what?” The senior agent’s voice sounded small and cracked.Dave held up his hand, forestalling the ass chewing he sensed was coming.“Look, she knew all about you guys. It’s not like I gave away any secrets or anything. She obviously knew about you because she escaped when you tried to arrest her. Remember that? When you fucked everything up?”Trinder did not look as though he appreciated being reminded of the bungled raid at the art gallery opening a week or so earlier. On the day the monsters crawled out from the UnderRealms.“Yeah, she’s got your number, buddy,” Dave said, grinning at him. “But I don’t think you have to worry about her. We had a talk. All she wants to do is go home and kill monsters for Mother Russia. Thresh. And Morphum, and Krevish, and Djinn. She doesn’t like you much, Trinder, but she doesn’t think you’re a monster. Just an asshole.”Trinder was about to say something when his eye was drawn to the ramp down which Madigan now hurried a young woman. The pretty little secretary Dave had removed from the consulate before he and Warat had torn the place down. So it looked like he had gotten at least one thing right today. Trinder waved Madigan and her young charge past, and they hurried toward the elevator, which pinged open just as they arrived. Another woman stepped out, dressed in the dark suit Dave was coming to think of as a uniform for these guys. He recognized her instantly from Las Vegas. He knew his notoriously sketchy memory had received an upgrade from his recent embiggening, but there would have been no forgetting this chick. A smoking hot Asian with half her face covered in some sort of tattoo. Dave had to adjust his grip on Lucille, moving her slightly to conceal the sudden unseemly bulge in his black combat coveralls. His memory wasn’t the only part of him that’d got a tune up.“Anyway,” he said, trying not to think about the tattooed hottie, “there’s no way you can stop her from getting home—­”Unless a sniper puts a bullet in her head, I suppose.“If you could live with fifty thousand nuclear warheads pointed at you for so long, I reckon you’ll cope with a treacherous blonde and her samurai sword. She’s going to tell her bosses the same thing about me, which you may not care about, but I do.”Both Trinder and Comeau turned their attention fully back to Dave.“You didn’t think I’d thought it through, did you? Because if you have a hard-­on for taking Varatchevsky out of the game, it has to be a lay-­down certainty that your opposite number back in the USSR feels the same way about me. Right?”“It’s not the USSR anymore,” said Trinder.“Beatles reference,” Dave said as the exotic young woman hurried up to them. “Anyway, my superfriend and I have agreed we won’t be doing any more UFC cage matches. In fact, we’re going to catch up in an hour or so, after she’s talked her guys off the ledge, and we’re going to swap information. The thing she killed, this big-­ass thresh daemon, it’s not like Urgon. It knows different things, which seems to mean that she knows different things. It’d be cool if she and I could compare notes and—­”“Absolutely not,” Trinder barked. He spoke so abruptly, so loudly, that the young woman who was jogging toward them flinched. An even more obvious reaction than the slight flush he’d seen on her caramel-­colored features, the widening of her eyes when she got a whiff of ol’ Super Dave’s secret sauce. “You can’t share intelligence with an enemy agent.”And then Trinder froze. His teeth, yellowed by nicotine, bit off the end of the last thing he had said. His nostrils flared and his eyes slitted, giving him a dangerous canine appearance.“What the hell?” Dave said as he realized that someone other than he had hit the pause button. Comeau was frowning, hands on hips. The Asian chick had been caught in midstride and was actually floating, suspended a few inches off the concrete floor of the garage. Dave could see now that she wasn’t Vietnamese as he had thought but some mix of races that had passed through Southeast Asia at some point, with a good pinch of African American stirred into the melting pot. The doors on the elevator from which she had emerged were starting to close, and he could see Madigan and the shoulder of the young Russian woman through the gap. He looked back toward the ramp, surprised yet not at all surprised to find Colonel Varatchevsky, still rocking her spanky black motor­cycle leathers, striding down from the street. A sword hilt poked up over one shoulder.Dave’s first thought was that she had come or been sent to retrieve the traitor, the secretary he had rescued.“I thought we were gonna be cool,” he said. It sounded like a protest, a weak one. He didn’t see how he could stop her from taking the girl back without an explosion of cartoon violence that would bring this building down around their ears just like the Russian one.“I heard what Agent Trinder said. That you can’t share with the enemy.” Karen smiled.She took her foot off the accelerator. It had to be her—­Dave had done nothing—­and they dropped out of warp.“Yes, he can,” she said, raising her voice, addressing Trinder directly.The tattooed female agent gave a little squeal of surprise as she landed and found the enemy in their midst. Trinder cursed and Comeau drew his weapon again, but Dave put a hand on his arm. Comeau’s draw seemed inhumanly fast until you understood what “inhuman” really meant.“Don’t, man,” Dave said, easing the agent’s gun arm back down. “She’ll kill you before you can even squeeze off a shot.”“I will,” Karen said, a statement of fact, not a threat.“Stop her, Hooper. Put her down,” Trinder demanded.“Stop her doing what?” Dave asked. “If she was going to do anything, it’d be all over by now.”“Mister Trinder, sir?” It was the Asian girl. Trinder seemed even more unhappy at being interrupted than he was at finding Karen Warat in his basement. Probably, Dave thought, because he knew he could safely shift his ire onto his underling.“What?” he snapped.“It’s Washington, sir,” said the young woman. And then she faltered in her already nervous delivery, her eyes flicking toward the Russian spy before being drawn to Dave. Always to Dave.Colonel Varatchevsky spoke before Trinder’s agent could continue. “She came down to tell you what I came to tell you, Hooper,” she said. “The monsters are back. They’re here. In the city.”