The Earthborn: Freelancing | Earthborn | Biogenesis

Freelancing Image

Title: Earthborn

Series: The Earthborn

Book #: 1

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: January 21, 2018

Formats:

eBook
Paperback

EARTHBORN

Book 1 Of The Earthborn

Don’t discount those from Earth

Two years of freelancing in the galactic bounty system has taken its toll on Blake Brown, a four-hundred-plus-year-old vampire exiled from Earth. Along with his partner in crime, Seth Williams, Blake decides to call it quits. However, a new opportunity arises, one that comes from the highest authority of Fredoria, the home world of human refugees that were abducted from Earth.

Forming a team to rise to this new challenge is one hurdle. Figuring out how to capture and retrieve Delkis, a known criminal, is another. To make matters worse, Delkis has a powerful crime syndicate backing him.

Blake and crew will show the galactic community what an Earthborn team can do when given the resources to do it.


Read the sample below!


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Series Note

This is the first mission for the team that Blake Brown forms. It introduces the crew he recruits, the ship they will be using, and various terminology and lore that will be used in the rest of the book.

SAMPLE

Chapter One

Blake Brown salivated at the smell of blood in the small elevator. He ran his tongue over his fangs while looking to his right at trembling, dark-skinned Seth Williams, Blake’s partner in crime. The gashes on Seth’s face were ringed with blood and the bruising on his body was highlighted by dark-purple patches. He had taken a punishing beatdown by the Trag mercenaries hot on their trail. If Blake had not come when he had, Seth might not be there. Three of the Trag mercs had met their end at Blake’s hand, and seven were on their tail. He clenched his jaw as he pulled out a cloth and handed it to Seth.

Seth licked his lips as he gingerly wiped his face.

Blake studied the elevator controls as the Trag race crossed his mind. Seven-foot-tall beige-skinned humanoids with bumpy skin, floppy ears, and heavy ridges on their heads. Physically tough, but not too bright. They were the bottom-feeders in the world of mercs. He had been looking forward to lunch, given that it was about 1:00 p.m. Earth time, but they were on Telagra, home world of the Almogran and a planet roughly thirty light-years from Earth and ten from Fredoria, his adopted home consisting of abduction refugees from Earth. Maybe he would drink a Trag dry, especially given that they considered vampires an abomination.

The elevator approached the top floor.

“We’re almost there,” said Blake.

Seth coughed. “Then what? There’s at least seven of those fuckers.”

“Leave that to me,” said Blake. “When we get there, find a spot away from the doors.” He handed his version forty Fredorian automatic light pistol to Seth. “Take my FLP-40. Anyone comes close, spray ’em.”

Seth sighed as he took the pistol. “And … you’re going to take all of them on?”

Blake glanced at Seth.

“I know, I know, you’re Blake Brown,” said Seth, shaking his head.

Blake laughed. “Never forget that. At least we finished the contract, so we’ll get paid. Just need to clean up these loose ends.”

“Yeah, loose ends that kicked the shit out of me,” said Seth, holding his side.

The elevator came to a halt and the doors opened.

Blake scanned the surrounding hallway of offices. He pointed at a large door down the hall. “Duck in there. Don’t come out until the screaming stops.”

Seth’s eyes widened. “You sure about this? They’re gonna come out with weapons blazing.”

“Oh, I know. I have a few … advantages that they might not be aware of.”

Seth shook his head and hobbled off.

Blake watched as Seth reached the door and shot the handle off to enter. Blake cursed at himself for allowing Seth to be captured. The contract was a simple placement of a locater beacon. Blake hated placement contracts because of the low pay, but given the repair costs they kept incurring, it was all they could do without a crew or larger ship. All Seth had to do was be the lookout. The situation turned sour when he was apprehended.

Blake’s blood boiled at the memory of seeing Seth on the ground, getting stomped. Several dead mercs later, Blake had retrieved Seth and entered an elevator. Now the remaining ones were after them, and they were about to come storming out. Blake pulled out a small square grappling device from his belt. It was attached by a cord that wound around his waist. Looking up, he aimed at a corner and then squeezed the device.

A cord shot out and attached to the ceiling.

With a quick tug, Blake verified it would hold him. He secured the device to the back of his belt and then squeezed the device again to reel him up. A nearby vent would obscure his thermal signature when he activated his camouflage shielding. Once positioned, he pulled a smoke grenade from his belt and then tossed it in front of the door the mercs were going to come through. As the smoke filled the area, he pulled out his version thirty-four Fredorian assault rifle, known as the FAR-34 striker. After tapping his belt to engage his camouflage shielding, he took aim and waited.

The elevator doors opened.

“Shit, smoke grenade,” said one of the Trag mercs in a deep, gravelly voice.

“Thermal vision,” said another Trag.

After a moment, the Trags in padded brown armor, green undersuits, and advanced-looking helmets began to file out of the elevator. They looked around and then advanced.

Blake waited until they were all fanned out. He calculated the firing arc he would need to hit them all. As his eyes swept across the Trag mercs, he paused on one of them. It was the leader of the group, one whom he had encountered in the past. He readjusted his firing arc to avoid the leader.

“Can’t see anything,” said one of them.

Blake opened fire, downing six. He tapped the grappling device, releasing him from the ceiling. The cord reeled back in. He rushed up to the leader and knocked him down with the butt of his striker. “I wouldn’t get up if I were you.”

“Blake Brown!”

“That’s my name,” said Blake as he slipped his striker onto his back. He pulled out one of the short energy blades on his back and pointed it at the merc. “Dosst, is it? I remember you. Get up, and move slowly down the hallway. Keep your hands out to the sides where I can see them.”

Dosst complied.

When they were out of range of the smoke grenade, Blake poked Dosst in the back. “Back against the wall.”

Dosst paused and then obeyed.

“Seth!” said Blake as he placed his blade against Dosst’s neck. “Come on out and check what I found.”

Seth limped out of the room he had been in and stood next to Blake. He narrowed his eyes at Dosst.

“This is the fucking guy who said he looked forward to our deaths at his hands after I whacked his bud Gaaulst’s crew,” said Blake.

“I remember him from Killikin. He wasn’t very successful at claiming our deaths,” said Seth.

“No … he was not,” said Blake. He tilted his head at Dosst. “Your race values honor, and dying in battle. Your boys back there just got taken out. They died in battle, but I’m not sure I’d call it an honorable death.”

Dosst grunted. “They hunted worthy prey.”

“Oh … well … flattery will get you everywhere with me,” said Blake with a smile, baring his fangs.

“Blake … ,” said Seth.

“Right. Back on topic. Seth, cover him.”

Seth aimed his FLP-40 at Dosst.

Blake wagged a finger as he took a step back and eyed Dosst. “I bet you’re asking yourself right now … Is Blake Brown going to drink me dry?”

Dosst furrowed his eyebrows.

“C’mon, Blake,” said Seth.

Blake laughed. “All right, all right. I wouldn’t drink Trag blood anyways, unless I needed to. It tastes like toilet water.” He ran his pale hand across the shaved side of his head, then across the short, upright jet-black hair on top. “Here’s how this is going to go down. I’m going to let you live. You don’t die, and you’ll live with this disgrace.”

Dosst clenched his jaw. “Kill me now then … if you’re really the Blake Brown that everyone speaks of.”

“I don’t think you want to die. Otherwise you wouldn’t just be standing there. No, I want you to live. There are Trags who’re just waiting to hear all about how you took me down. Won’t they be disappointed,” said Blake. He shook his head. “When they ask you what happened, you tell them Blake Brown made you his bitch.” With a quick motion, he pulled out a stun device that fit in his hand. A moment later, Dosst crumpled to the floor.

“Always gotta play,” said Seth.

“Of course. I’m Blake Brown.”

Seth shook his head. “What now?”

Blake put his left forearm in front of him and pressed a button on it. A small screen with various options popped out perpendicular to his forearm. “We let law enforcement clean … I mean, handle, this from here.” He ran his right finger through the options, stopping to press on the one that would call law enforcement in an emergency. After the screen notified him that law enforcement was on its way, he tapped at a button that caused the screen to slip back into his forearm device. He did a quick check on his black light-armor suit, then glanced at Seth. “We need to get you a better suit, or maybe some decent power armor.”

Seth sighed. “Maybe if I could stop getting my ass kicked on these contracts, that would be a good start.”

Blake eyed Seth for a moment and then nodded. “Let’s get out of here.”

Scene Break

An hour later, as they neared the spaceport where their ship was docked, Seth gestured at Blake. “I know I’ve asked this before … but you still wouldn’t go back to Earth if given a chance? Get away from all this mess?”

Blake shook his head. “What’s done is done. I was exiled for bullshit reasons, and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Waking up on that Seceltor slaver ship and drinking the crew dry was the beginning of my third life.”

“Well … you left the pilot alive. That at least got us to Fredoria,” said Seth.

“I know Fredoria gets a bad rap for how they treat Earthborn, but they’re human, just like us, well, more you than me. The only difference is time. Sure, some native-born Fredorians don’t like us, but I don’t think that’s universal. They were slaves at one point before being freed and sent to Fredoria,” said Blake. “Well, to be fair, though, Fredorians hate me since I’m a vampire, but that’s how it was on Earth too.”

Seth narrowed his eyes. “I still think it’s ridiculous that the Kreagans won’t let anyone who leaves Earth to go back.”

“The Kreagans own this galactic region and can do whatever the hell they want. Like any group that holds power, they make the rules, bullshit or not.”

Seth sighed. “I know. It’s just … sometimes I miss Earth is all. The culture, music, people, and even the language. I really miss being able to talk to people without requiring a damn translation device in my ear. It’s uncomfortable.”

Blake laughed. “I hear you on that.” He also found it comical since the translation device sometimes made communication funnier than he expected. “It hasn’t been that bad since we came to Fredoria. You got twenty years as a cargo pilot, and now two years as a freelancer under your belt. I got twenty years as an intelligence agent in the Fredorian Rangers, and the same two years of freelancing as you. That’s worth something, right?”

“I guess,” said Seth. “I did like visiting new spaceports and seeing new cultures.”

“And playing around with G1s,” said Blake with a grin. He recalled the various generation-one android women that Seth had been with. Their sex drive was insatiable, even by Blake’s standards.

“Yeah … that too.”

Blake paused to sniff the air when they reached the spaceport. Either something was being cooked, or his sense of smell had gone awry. He extended his arm out for a moment, causing Seth to pause. Blake picked up the odor of burned metal. It took him a moment to focus on the direction, and when he did, he gestured forward. “Something got lit up.”

Seth’s eyes searched the ground for a moment. He tilted his head at Blake. “You don’t think …”

“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” said Blake, tapping Seth on the chest with the back of his hand. “C’mon.”

They hustled across the open landing pads toward a group of Almogran gathered near a ship. They were putting out various fires and cordoning off the area.

“You gotta be shitting me,” said Seth.

A pit formed in Blake’s stomach. As he got close enough to see more detail, he surveyed the scene. Parts of their ship lay everywhere, and the parts of it that hit the other ships had set them ablaze. The Almogran were busy trying to contain it, with their two muscled legs under their meatball-like bodies. Their small arms always cracked him up, but this was not an occasion to do so. He sighed. “Well … damn.”

Seth put his head in his hands when they reached the perimeter of the cordoned-off area. “Tell me this isn’t happening.”

Blake laid a hand on Seth’s shoulder. “Look … we can regroup and—”

“Fuck that!” said Seth through gritted teeth while shaking off Blake’s hand.

Blake drew his lips flat.

“I’m so tired of this. Every step we take forward, we take two back. Every. Time. Nothing ever goes our way,” said Seth as he tossed a hand out in the air and shook his head.

Blake observed Seth as he contemplated how he got to this point. He understood Seth’s anger. After retiring from their jobs and spending two years freelancing, they did not have much to show for it. Contract after contract had one issue or another, but this was the first one where their ship could not be repaired. Given that Seth considered it his baby, Blake knew this was probably the last contract Seth would do. He waved over one of the gray-suited Almograns.

The Almogran strode over and blinked its large central eye at them.

Blake gestured at the carnage. “That was our ship.”

“Which one?” said the Almogran.

“The one lighting all the other ships on fire.”

“Oh … I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps you should have landed in a more secure area.”

Blake snorted. “All for the low, low price of five thousand credits, right? How about you secure the whole spaceport?”

The Almogran’s eye narrowed. “You willing to help fund that?”

Blake sighed. “Do you at least have any visual feeds? Or anything that could help us find who did this?”

The Almogran extended his tiny arm and tapped at a device on his wrist. After a moment, a projection shot up showing a pack of Trags shooting something at the ship, causing it to explode. The Trags then took off.

“At least we don’t have to worry about them anymore,” said Blake.

“You know of their location?” asked the Almogran.

“Yeah, and your law enforcement is already on its way there. One of those slimy Trags should be alive still.”

The Almogran’s eye widened.

Blake nodded. “Yeah. That happened.”

The Almogran backed up a bit, then hustled back to the other Almograns.

“C’mon. Not much we can do here,” said Blake.

“And go where exactly? We can’t even buy a small shuttle,” said Seth.

“No … but we can buy a few shots of whiskey and maybe lay up for a week until we decide our next step. I know … that this is probably it for you. I respect that. Let’s figure out how to get you where you need to go. We can at least celebrate two years of freelancing.”

Seth sighed. “I guess. If we had more crew and a bigger ship with better security measures, maybe we could make it work. I just don’t see any path where this ends well.”

Blake rubbed his chin. “No argument from me.”

“I’m not mad at you, it’s just … well … screw it. Let’s just get those shots.”

Blake nodded.

They left the space port area and headed to a nearby bar.

Blake noted the various aliens on their way there. Fredorians had a reputation for being violent and unpredictable. Killing nine Trags would just add to that when word got out. Ever since humanity had established itself among the stars, albeit as a refugee planet for the abducted, the urge to survive and fight led to some bad interactions with other aliens. He glanced at Seth. His unusual silence probably meant he was deep in thought. The usual witty banter between them was missing, and Blake could see that this hit Seth harder than expected. Blake ran his tongue over his fangs. “Hypothetical.”

Seth sighed. “About?”

“If you had the chance to get a bigger ship, and a crew, what would you get?” asked Blake. He knew this topic would take Seth’s mind off the moment.

Seth snorted. “Well, for starters, we would need something at least corvette class. It has to be fast and able to stealth, well, at least visually, not much you can do about the heat. Internally, it would need at least level-two replicators, maybe level three if we wanted sustained weapons and armor. Definitely would need to be packing drones, missiles, and various types of turrets. It’d need to be fusion powered and also have a condensed-space drive.”

“So not much is what you’re saying.”

Seth grinned. “I know what you’re doing, and I appreciate it.”

“What about crew?”

Seth rubbed his thumb over two fingers. “Hmm, not sure. Definitely need a ship operations expert. Probably an engineer, and most likely a technician. What about you?”

Blake smiled. “Oh, that’s easy. I would have an assault team and get a bruiser to start. Someone who can draw fire and take heat. After that, someone who can hack into systems, and maybe a sniper.”

“You think they got any of that in this place we’re going to?” asked Seth, pulling his lips to the right.

“Maybe not, but they have two shot glasses of whiskey with our names on ’em.”

“I can live with that,” said Seth. “I’ll need to take a few days to rest up starting tomorrow before we head out.”

“No problem.”

When they reached the entrance to the bar, two large reptilian humanoids stepped forward. One of them pointed at Blake and in a deep, guttural voice said, “No trouble. You trouble, I trouble.”

Blake tossed his hands out to the side. “Fellas. We’re not trouble, we just want a drink.”

The other reptilian scanned them with a device.

“I’m beginning to think your race was made to be bouncers,” said Blake, smiling and baring his fangs. He knew they were Kazarullians. Their planet had been enslaved, then freed. Now the Kazarullians were everywhere as security.

The Kazarullian scanning them jerked his head back. “What you?”

“Fredorian,” said Blake. “Well … actually Earthborn. Well … actually a vampire. I like to drink blood. You wanna be a donor?”

“Fredorian crazy,” said the Kazarullian.

The other Kazarullian pointed at his eye, then at Blake, then back at himself. “Eye, you, me.”

“Are you hitting on me?” asked Blake.

The Kazarullian growled.

Blake laughed as he and Seth entered the bar.