The Sixth Precept In 16th century medieval Japan, Yoshima Mitsu, who is gifted with psychic powers, uses her prescient abilities to send her young attendant, Shioko, into the future. There, Mitsu believes Shioko will be safe from the purges of the maniacal warlord Omori Kadanamora, his warrior monks and his half-human, half-bestial Shadow-Trackers. In present-day Pittsburgh, police Lieutenant Kim Yoshima is attacked by a creature out of someone’s twisted nightmare. In the aftermath of that terrifying struggle, Kim finds a young Japanese girl named Shioko, lost, confused and calling Kim “Mitsu” and her monstrous attacker a “Shadow-Tracker.” Wayne Brewster dreams of the costumed hero, ArcNight. But more than that, he feels bizarrely connected to the fictional crime fighter as if ArcNight and his comic book world are real. And in all of his dreams, Brewster sees one constant, one face repeated over and over--the face of Kim Yoshima. Empowered by a mysterious book, The Five Precepts to Enlightenment, Kim realizes her destiny is in the past. Using her own burgeoning esper powers, Kim, accompanied by Shioko and Brewster, travel by means of a temporal rift to feudal Japan. There they must assume different personas to fight Omori and creatures of Japan’s mythological world to fulfill ancient prophesy and modern historical fact. If they fail, history will be altered and the world will change forever.
Larry Ivkovich is an IT professional and the author of several science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novellas, published online and in various print publications and anthologies including M-Brane SF, Afterburn SF, Penumbra, Twisted Cat Tales, Abaculus III, Raw Terror, Triangulations, Shelter of Daylight and SQ Magazine. He has also been a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and was the 2010 recipient of the CZP/Rannu Fund Award for fiction. His debut urban fantasy novel, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, is now available from IFWG Publishing, Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He is a member of two local writing/critique groups, the Pittsburgh Southwrites and the Pittsburgh Worldrights, and lives in Coraopolis, PA with his wife Martha and cats Trixie and Milo.
Kim heard the shot just as she was putting her briefcase into her car. She didn’t think twice, her instincts taking over. She pulled her Sig P228 and an extra clip from her backpack, threw the pack into the back seat and headed for the lot’s exit door.
The door had a special keyed locking system on the outside to keep possible intruders out. From within the parking lot, it was essentially an emergency exit. She looked up at the security camera stationed above the door and thought about contacting Joe, Lazo’s security head. No time, she decided. Besides, there was no need for two people to be in a possible line-of-fire. Once she took stock of the situation, she’d call for backup on her cell phone. She punched the button and as the door shussed open, exited the lot.
The humidity was all over her; heavy, moist air settling on her skin like a hot towel. It had stopped raining but the streets steamed; the glow of the streetlights cast an eerie luminescence throughout the empty block. She blinked, creeping into the shadows at the side of the garage and then, quickly, opened the section of gating outside the emergency exit and jogged out into the street.
No sounds. Nothing. The street was devoid of life.
That was when she saw the figure walk out into the light.
It’s her. The Yomitsu. The Eminent Lord be praised!
The shadow-tracker felt a thrill of another kind as he saw his target, gun in hand, crouching across the street. Her scent, even at this distance, filled him to the bursting.
I can take her, he thought, his head throbbing as he blinked the spots from his eyes. I can bring her back to the masters myself! The hell with their rules! The situation had become something entirely different. She was so close! Why shouldn’t he take advantage of this? The masters would know then, that despite his miscalculation on the three gang members, despite the wound he had incurred as a result, that he had still served his purpose.
Yes, he thought, rising to his feet. He would make his mark, no matter what. He walked out of the alley.
The silhouette was tall, lean, moving like a dancer, sinuous and mincing. The muted light revealed some kind of tight-fitting garment clinging to its body. Its hair was long, knotted into thin corn rows. Its eyes reflected the light as…yellow?
Something sharp glinted from the tips of its fingers.
What in heaven? Kim raised her gun. The figure stopped, its form backlit by a wavering glow from the alley behind it.
Trash fire? This one doesn’t look like your typical street person.
The figure began to move again, loping (yes, loping was the right word) toward her, its motion controlled and precise like a gymnast.
“Stop right there!” Kim cried. “Police officer!”
The figure entered a pool of streetlight, its face briefly illuminated.
It was the face of an animal.
“Freeze!” Kim yelled, a chill running up her back. “Stop or I’ll shoot!”
The creature speeded up, suddenly charging like a sprinter on overdrive. Kim fired once over its head. No effect. It was only a few feet away now, its arms and legs moving in a whirlwind of motion. My God! Kim thought, her fear building. She aimed a kill-shot, straight at the creature’s head.
The thing shifted to its right, dodging the bullet as if the deadly projectile was moving in slo-mo. It reached a clawed hand out toward Kim, its suddenly visible face stretched into a ghastly parody of a smile.
Kim threw her body sideways. She fell, rolling on her side, the pavement smacking her hard. She felt a crunching pain on her waist.
She pulled herself to her feet, breathing fast, holding her luger with both hands extended in front of her.
Her breath caught in her throat. The creature was down.
Kim blinked. The thing was fast, unnaturally fast. It should have had her. She was positive it had dodged her bullet.
Yet, it lay facedown on the street, struggling to get up. This close, Kim could see the blood on the side of its head.
And that face. Inhuman features glared up at Kim. Man? Dog? It looked a combination of both—exaggerated bone structure, sharp teeth, high cheekbones, sloping forehead, yellow eyes.
Kim fell back a step, a sudden, unreasoning fear taking control. What is it? Both her hands shook as she tried to hold the gun steady. What—?
The creature suddenly leaped to its feet and flung itself at her, arms wide, mouth open. Kim fired and fell back, flinging her arms up over her head.
What? Kim looked wildly around her. The thing was gone. Where had it vanished to?
Have to call for backup! she thought frantically. And surely Joe saw what happened on the security cams! She started back towards the garage, hoping the gate would open again as she fumbled at her belt for her cell phone, looking over her shoulder. The fear was like a burning fire running through her system.
A low moaning floated through the night air. Kim stopped and turned back towards the alley. Someone’s hurt, she thought, licking her lips. Probably by that dog-thing.
Taking a deep breath, she jogged back toward the alley and stopped at its entrance, the skin between her shoulder blades tingling. If this dead-ends, I’m trapped. And yet I just can’t leave someone in there if they’ve been injured.
The moaning increased, a desperate sound radiating pain and confusion. Kim got her cell phone off of her belt. Got to call Lazo, she thought. Have to get—Damn! She stared dumbly at the cracked casing of the now-useless phone. That’s what I felt breaking when I hit the street. Cheap shit! The Captain’s going to hear about this!
She snorted. Listen to me. Come on, Yoshima, get your act together!
Darting another look back towards the street, Kim took a few tentative steps into the alley. “Who’s there?” she called, her mouth dry. “Are you hurt? I’m a police officer!”
A gurgling, wet sound answered her, a barely recognized imitation of speech. Gritting her teeth, Kim entered the alley.
And now, let's welcome Larry to the blog!
Hey! It’s lovely to have you on the blog today! So, shall we begin? J
My pleasure, Victoria.
For starters, why not tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
Well, I’ve been writing genre fiction for over 30 years but my first artistic love was drawing. I used to create comic books from scratch pads as a kid and put my friends and myself in all these incredible adventures. The last one I did (I was in junior high school, I think, so this went on for several years) was a story where I was sent into an alternate dimension where Batman and Robin really existed and became their sidekick, a hero name Hawk. In my novel, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, one of my characters has a connection, via his dreams, to a world where super heroes really exist so I must have been channeling my childhood when I wrote that!
What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve always loved to read, especially science fiction and fantasy. As I stated above, I used to make up stories and illustrate them but as I got into high school and college, I began to veer toward visual arts as a creative outlet. It was only after I had been out of school for a few years that I decided to take a creative writing course out of curiosity. I figured I could write a story or novel as well as any of the authors I read, which included Ray Bradbury and Andre Norton! I’m not anywhere near their league, and never will be, but that kind of youthful arrogance was the impetus that allowed me to take that course. As a result, I fell in love with the process of creating different worlds and characters from words and haven’t regretted it since.
Do you have any hidden talents? *wink*
I used to play the accordion and can still read music and pick stuff out on the piano. The accordion is a much maligned instrument but is really very cool and not all that easy to play. Unlike the right side keyboard, the player can’t see the bass buttons on the left side of the accordion - all of that is done by feel. The “C” button has a tiny rhinestone raised on its surface so once you know where that button is, then you’re taught that F is below that and G is above that and B is two rows below it and so on. It’s pretty tricky at first but then becomes second nature.
What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?
I tend to include a lot of action in most of my work so action/adventure movies and old TV series in that vein inspire me. As do comic books of the super hero kind. A lot of my characters are undergoing some kind of transformation or metamorphosis which includes developing extraordinary powers of some kind and to some degree. I do get ideas from current events as well – a short horror piece I wrote (“About Face” published in the anthology, RAW TERROR, in 2009) concerned a character who had Prosopagnosia or Face Blindness, a very real neural condition which affects the recognition of facial features.
Are your characters based off real people, or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A little bit of both. I’ve written a couple of short stories where the main character was definitely me and there are some in other stories who possess some aspect of my personality. I tend to give certain quirks and tics that I’ve seen in real people to my characters as well. Most of my villains, though, are from my imagination. I don’t know anyone that evil!
Could you tell us a bit about your book and why it is a must-read?
THE SIXTH PRECEPT is an urban fantasy with science fiction and horror elements, part of it taking place in contemporary Pittsburgh, PA and part in 16th Century Japan. I call it my “kitchen sink novel” because of all the diverse elements in it such as time-travel, reincarnation, genetic manipulation and creatures out of Japanese myth. I think I’ve tied all the disparate parts together pretty well to create an exciting, fast-moving and interesting story. The ancient Japan sections of the book take place during a real part of Japanese history called the Muromachi or Warring States Period which was a time in feudal Japan where the warlords and samurai were battling it out for ultimate power. It turned out to be the perfect setting for the story I wanted to tell. My main protagonist, Kim Yoshima, is a very special character who is struggling to come to terms with her whole world being turned upside down in more ways than one. I like to think this is a different type of urban fantasy, one which the readers will find appealing on a number of different levels.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Creating something out of nothing. I look at my writing process as an “altered state.” I just love to reread what I’ve written and wonder where it all came from. Not me surely but some hidden muse who takes me over from time to time to write these wild stories!
And of course, do you have a particular favorite character? I know an author will love most if not all of the characters he/she creates, but I’m sure there must be a favorite of yours! So who is it, and why?
Kim Yoshima is my favorite. I wrote four short stories featuring her before I wrote the novel, which expanded her adventures. I didn’t really base her on anyone I knew specifically but imbued her with certain personality traits I admire – intelligence, loyalty, strength of character, a sense of humor and practitioner of tradition. She’s not perfect – she keeps her distance in relationships and tends to be a workaholic but that makes her more human to me, warts and all.
Will you tell us a little about your plans for the future, and maybe other books that are in the works? (Ideas thought out, perhaps even a rough draft?)
I’m writing the sequel to THE SIXTH PRECEPT right now. Working title: WARRIORS OF THE LIGHT. It picks up right where the first book left off and delves a little more deeply into the characters’ backgrounds and personalities. IFWG will be publishing my second novel next year titled MAGUS STAR RISING. It’s a futuristic science fiction story with noir and supernatural elements, taking place on a backwater rim world. And I’ve got about six partially done short stories that are in dire need of finishing!
And now, just some little random questions!
Cape May Point, New Jersey.
NEUROMANCER by William Gibson
Favorite genre? (and why, if you like)
Science Fiction just because the ideas and possibilities are endless in its
To end off, is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
I just want to thank them for their support and I hope to continue putting out books and short stories that will thrill and entertain.
Hmm, I think that should be about it for today! It was a pleasure to have you on the blog today! Wishing you all the best in your career! :D
My name's Victoria and I love to read! And I guess no matter how busy I am, I'll always find time to read because you can't stop a passion, can you? I love netball, especially shooting, there's just something so peaceful about it, isn't there?
I started blogging in 2011, around November. I've fallen in love with it. Blogging about books just is so fun. Of course, I haven't been the most active of bloggers due to school:( Hopefully that will change now that I'm finally free!
But above all, I love my Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior. I've put my trust in Him. Because I know that no matter what, He will never forsake me nor leave me.
If I have inadvertently used any of your material without proper linking, do contact me immediately and I will take it down at once/link the material to you, whichever you prefer. I do try my best not to use any copyrighted material (especially for photos) but sometimes I lack attribution due to ignorance.