Teaser - battle Born

Once upon a time…

Yeah, no. That’s a bunch of bullshit. This isn’t a fairy tale, and Oz is for damn sure no Prince Charming. Mayhem born and bred, he’s never apologized or excused who he is or the choices he’s made. He’s a survivor, positive of one definite truth: No fucking way is he dying in this goddamn hellhole.

Gideon Gray had transformed the abandoned warehouse into a crude coliseum. Packed to capacity, the arena stood in grim contrast to the rustic flavor of rural Pennsylvania. Rows of chairs ten deep wrapped around a square, steel cage set in the center of the massive brick building. A cloud of cigarette and cigar smoke thickened the air. Provocative, leather-clad bartenders hustled to keep up with drink orders. Statically placed bouncers maintained crowd control as a barbaric mob demanded blood from the unfortunate bastards who battled to the death inside the cage.

Never turn your back on your enemy.

Crow’s words keep Oz on his feet long after he should have fallen. His legs unsteady, he swayed and ignored the sweat that stung his eyes. He swung his arm, putting all of his strength into the attack. He cracked his opponent’s orbital socket. Shame pumped through him when he followed with another jab to the man’s mouth. His advisory stumbled backward, dazed. The man was a grisly mess, scarcely recognizable as more than raw meat. But Oz kept his fists up anyway, by now the defensive stance second-nature. He’d learned the lesson the hard way that no one’s down for good unless they’re unconscious.

Or dead.

The man hung his head, wavering, and directed his glazed stare at the crowd. A single tear slithered down his battered cheek as he slumped to his knees. He pulled in a ragged breath, the shadow of a smile tugging at swollen lips. No doubt his brain was all fucked up from the repeated abuse—and maybe that was a good thing. If the guy already checked out, he might not realize he was about to die. Not that it exonerated Oz of guilt or responsibility. He didn't put himself in the cage, but he sure as shit made sure he was the last man standing.

Revenge, a powerful motivation, helped Oz remain upright long after his body demanded he give up. He planned on tearing this place apart, brick by brick, then torch the rubble and piss on the ashes. He couldn’t carry out that vow if he were dead, so he continued to fight to stay alive.

One punch at a time.

One murder at a time.

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