The Earthborn: Freelancing | Earthborn | Biogenesis | Rimworlds | Rogue

Rimworlds Image

Title:Rogue

Series: The Earthborn

Book #: 4

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: September 3, 2019

Formats:

eBook

Rogue

Book 4 of the Earthborn

Underestimate Earthborn at your own peril.

The Exceltion crew has been tasked with finding Bothan, a presidential guard commander, and his crew. The problem is that Blake Brown is missing.

To make matters worse, the Saskarin-controlled Shulon fleet has abandoned their empire to protect the remote Jeezarus system. Not only does the Exceltion crew need to find out what’s going on there, but they also need to find Blake.

The crew will have to adapt to new roles to locate Bothan and Blake while dealing with the Saskarins. One thing is for sure: never underestimate Earthborn.


Read the sample below!


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Series Note

This book continues where Rimworlds, book 3 of the Earthborn left off. The Saskarins are making bold moves and the Exceltion crew is split. This is the first book in the series that explicitly mentions Evaran.


SAMPLE

Chapter One

Blake Brown had not planned on creating a secret lair to convert others into vampires anytime soon. Yet, for the last month, he had been checking out what the information broker had set up. The trip to the remote, unmapped system took a week in condensed space to get there, but it was worth it.

The underground base resided on a planet that had a mix of climates, but a massive swamp covered a third of it. Anyone trying to find the base from above would be stymied. Vicious creatures roamed above, so it would be good hunting grounds and a defensive layer. The service and defense robots were also a nice touch.

Blake sighed as he looked around the packed bar he sat in. It was 7:00 p.m. Earth time, with daylight outside still, and the bar was in a neighboring system near the area where two of his friends from the old days hung out. They had joined up with Blake and Jarvis long ago, and Blake was excited to see them. He figured he might as well contact them since he was so far out. He focused on getting back to Fredoria. Although he had told Rakar and the others he would be gone for a while, going dark for this long made him anxious.

He grinned, baring his fangs, when Tykor and Garaka entered the bar. Tykor was an Umbran, a large, muscular humanoid race that stood around nine feet tall. His brown bark-like skin peeked out from the gray light armor he wore. Garaka was a Chilian, a three-foot-tall race. They cracked Blake up since their legs reminded him of chicken thighs. The rest of the body resembled a square cut of meatloaf. A trunk, four eyes, and a long, thin mouth resided on the front, while two beefy arms hung off the side. Chilians were one of the weirder alien races he had encountered, but they were ferocious combatants.

“Laurel and Hardy,” said Blake.

Tykor grunted. “You choose the oddest nicknames.”

“That he does,” said Garaka in a high-pitched voice.

Blake laughed. “You know I love you two.” He gestured for them to sit at his table.

They complied.

“I guess you heard about Jarvis.”

“We did,” said Tykor in a deep voice. “He was one tough bastard. I hope you avenged him.”

“Yeah, I think I did, but the damage is done. I still miss his wisecracking ass.”

Garaka let out a shrill noise. “We’ll visit his grave soon.”

Blake nodded. “All right. It’s been a while since you two have been near Fredoria.”

“For good reason,” said Tykor. “The FDF thinks we’re terrorists.”

“They didn’t think that when you helped me and Jarvis take down that Drodalian merc group that commandeered an FDF outpost.”

“They have a funny way of saying thanks,” said Tykor.

Blake never understood why the FDF made Tykor and Garaka out to be terrorists due to their past. Their history included a long list of merc activities, but almost all of them did not involve the FDF.

“So what’re you doing out here?” asked Garaka as he perused the menu on the table screen.

“Oh, you know. Classified stuff.”

“Ever the intelligence agent,” said Tykor. “It doesn’t involve us, does it?”

Blake laughed. “No, not at all. It’s been a while since I’ve been out this far, and I wanted to keep in touch. Besides, you two were one of the few who worked with Jarvis.”

A tall, dumpy humanoid walked over to the table.

Blake’s eyes narrowed. It was an Edool, a race that had a pyramid-shaped body with lots of loose skin. Their faces looked like someone applied a swirl effect to it. Edools were tough and tended to take the tougher bounties.

“Blake. Brown,” said the Edool.

“And you are…?” asked Blake.

“Gimyu Jin Grawlt.”

Blake sighed. “What do you want?”

“You. Tokara.”

The mere mention of Tokara made Blake tighten his muscles. Tokara was a specialized underground prison on an ice world. A hole through the ice served as the only way there, and people payed to torture those who had been kidnapped or abducted.

“You want me to take you there? I’m kinda busy,” he said.

“No. I take you.”

Blake laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think so.” He waved in a dismissive manner. “Why don’t you go do…whatever it is Edools do.”

Gimyu pulled out a shotgun-like weapon and pointed it at Blake. “You. Come.”

Blake stood and raised his hands while winking at Tykor and Garaka. “All right. Looks like you got me.” He stepped away from the table and, in one quick motion, pulled out his blade and pushed Gimyu’s arm away before slicing it off. In another move, he decapitated Gimyu.

The bar became silent as the crowd focused on the dead Edool, then they resumed their activities.

“Fast as always,” said Tykor.

Blake nodded and flagged down one of the servers. “Cleanup in aisle six.” He took his seat and put his blade away.

Tykor and Garaka pulled out their weapons.

“Looks like some others have the same idea as Gimyu,” said Tykor.

Blake counted six patrons who had stood and now approached. He sighed. Even trying to have a drink with old friends in peace was too much to ask.

An explosion rocked the bar entrance, sending shrapnel everywhere.

Blake and the others flew back into the wall.

Garaka stood and aimed forward.

A blade flew through the air and pierced Garaka’s face. He dropped his weapon and collapsed.

“No!” said Blake, scrambling to get up.

Tykor bellowed as he stood in front of Blake. “Get out of here!”

Another blade pierced Tykor through the chest. He crumpled to the ground.

Blake tried to make sense of what happened, but the mist dulled his senses. With all the chaos and everyone running around, it made it difficult to determine who the threat was. He pulled out a blade and his FLP-40.

A net flew toward him.

He sliced it in half. As he tried to focus, a metallic device hit his calf, then wrapped itself around. He shuddered as an electric pulse shot through him.

“Well, well,” said an approaching alien in red armor.

Blake focused on the female humanoid. He fired his FLP-40 at her.

The projectiles passed through the hologram.

A device hit him on the chest, then wrapped around him, forcing his arms to the side. Another object hit his quads and did the same thing, causing him to crash to the ground.

“The great Blake Brown,” said the female in red armor. “If I had known it would be this easy, I would have done this much earlier.”

Blake grunted as he tried to break free from the restraints. The woman was a member of the Jenga Sisters, a ruthless assassin group made up of twenty-five Darakians. They were a matriarchal society known for their brutality, and the Jenga Sisters embraced that. Although humanoid, Darakians were stronger and faster than humans and had no males in their society. Their red eyes stood in stark contrast to their pale skin and white hair. Elegant bone protrusions wound around the outskirts of their faces.

“What the fuck do you want?” he asked.

“Oh…introductions first. I’m Zah, the first.”

Blake closed his eyes. The Jenga Sisters gave themselves numbers to represent their position in the group. The lower the number, the tougher they were.

“You disappeared for a while…but like any good hunter, you only needed patience. And here you are,” said Zah, walking through her hologram.

Several Jenga Sisters surrounded Blake.

“I’ve met your group before,” said Blake.

“Yes…you killed sixteen and twenty-four.”

“They weren’t up to the task. Now I’m guessing you want to take me to Tokara,” said Blake.

Zah nodded. “And we would have earlier if Jul, the fourth, had been competent,” she said, looking at one of the sisters. She focused back on Blake. “Nonetheless, you have a three-year schedule already set up of people wanting to torture you to the brink of death. One of them paid ten million credits to be the first. I wonder who that was.”

“I have a lot of enemies.” Blake growled. “Don’t think I’ll forget that you killed Tykor and Garaka. For that, I’m going to kill you and then all of your sisters. Remember this moment.”

The sisters laughed.

Zah straddled Blake. “Ahh…is the Daedrould angry? You know, it took a lot of time to create a mist to dull your senses. The restraints and stun device were also calibrated to your unique physiology. It was time intensive and not cheap. It’s too bad… What was his name…? Seth, yes. It’s too bad he isn’t here for me to kill.”

Blake struggled to break the restraints.

Zah pulled out a syringe from a waist pouch. “This was also made just for you. I wasn’t aware you could heal as fast as they said you could.” She scooted back and reached between his legs. “I would have enjoyed taking you down with seduction. Humans possess such odd reproductive organs.”

The sisters laughed again.

She slid up to his stomach. “Unfortunately, you need to be out for this next part. I’ll see you when you awaken.”

Blake knew what was coming. Going to Tokara was a nightmare come true, and the torture would be brutal. His breathing increased as Zah stabbed him in the neck with her syringe. He growled.

Everything went black.

Scene Break

Seth eased back into the comfortable chair in his ambassadorial compound suite. A smile crept onto his dark-skinned face when he flexed his hand. He had a heads-up display on his eyes that displayed metrics from anything nearby due to the continuous scanning done from his eye augment. A date and time label showed it to be 8:00 a.m., and it also showed not only Earth time but times from several other places if he wanted to see them. It had been only a few days since he had fully recovered from his upgrade, and he felt like a new man.

His strength was off the charts, and he moved much faster. In addition to that, the training course he used at the android facility where he had been upgraded allowed him to show off his ability to move and jump with ease.

With the continuous scan, he was always aware of things around him due to the additional augments in the back and sides of his head. It made him dizzy at first, but he had adjusted. The other augment he enjoyed required Ada to test with, and she had no complaints. She was at the Exceltion with Doc, and Seth looked forward to seeing her later.

His advanced hearing picked up someone approaching the door, and the footstep vibrations were easy to detect. He smiled as he wondered if this was how Blake sensed things.

Seth’s smile wound down. Blake not showing up to welcome Seth back seemed unusual. He had tried to reach Rakar, but he was busy as always. A dark thought flashed through Seth’s mind that something had happened to Blake. He had never gone silent for this long without checking in.

Two knocks rang out.

Seth moved his hand in the air and activated the open door command from his augmented reality menu. “Come in.”

Rakar entered the room. “Seth! You’re looking good.”

They shook hands, then sat.

“I’m much better than, well, you know.”

Rakar nodded. “That’s good to hear.” He looked around. “I take it Ada is off somewhere?”

“Yeah, she’s helping Doc out.”

“Good. Has Blake been in contact with you?”

Seth shook his head. “I thought he was busy doing something with you.”

“Unfortunately, I was wrapped up in political stuff. I meant to respond to your call earlier.”

“It’s okay,” said Seth. His eyes narrowed. “Has Blake been gone since our last mission?”

Rakar nodded. “He said he had to attend to something and would be back in three weeks, perhaps a bit longer. It’s now been a little over a month.”

Seth scooted to the edge of his chair. “That doesn’t sound good, and he knew I was coming back around this time.”

“Yeah. On top of that, Bothan has gone missing, but his location is known. I had planned to send your crew out to investigate that.”

“Always something.” Seth sighed. “What do you want to do?”

“The mission to check on Bothan is too small for the FDF, and the rangers won’t help the presidential guard due to politics. Although we have new units forming, none are at the level of your crew.”

Seth nodded. “It sounds like we need to go out there.” He looked around. “Well, the rest of the crew can. I’m going to find Blake.”

“Your call,” said Rakar. He smiled. “You’re Blake’s second.”

Seth shrugged. “The crew might not feel that way after the last mission.”

Rakar eyed Seth. “I don’t think they blame you, and in my eyes, it’s your call.”

“All right. Where did Bothan go, and what was he doing?”

Rakar pulled out a small, triangular device and placed it on the table. He interacted with his forearm interface.

A projection shot up of the local galactic region with one system outlined in green.

“I sent Bothan’s crew to the Gartal system. It’s on the edge of Fredorian space. Apparently, two FDF ships broke from the defense fleet there and disappeared in that system. The FDF says they can’t find them.”

Seth’s eyes narrowed. “And now Bothan isn’t responding. I doubt that’s a coincidence. You don’t think…?”

“Let’s hope not. That was a week ago,” said Rakar. He tapped at his forearm.

The projection zoomed in on the Gartal system.

“There are fourteen planets there with a lot of moons. However, only three planets and two moons are inhabitable, at least by human standards.”

The projection homed in to an Earth-like planet.

“This is Tenzaria, and that is where Bothan last sent a communication from prior to landing. The Exceltion is fast and light and should be able to locate Bothan and maybe determine what happened to the two FDF ships,” said Rakar.

Seth rubbed his chin. “The crew could handle that. Sarah would be in command while Ada and I go try to find Blake.”

“As I said before, your call. Would Blake want you to come find him during the mission?”

Seth laughed. “Hell no, he wouldn’t.”

“I figured as much. Whatever you decide, keep me apprised. It’s not like Bothan or Blake to disappear. They would be considered high-value targets to the Saskarins. I’ll send you the mission information and verification codes to the Exceltion’s CID.”

“Okay,” said Seth. He exhaled from his nose. “I’ll assemble the crew and update you once we decide on what we’re going to do.”

Rakar smiled as he stood. “That’s good to hear. And…it’s good to see you’re doing well. I mean it.”

Seth stood and escorted Rakar to the door. “I’m glad to be where I am now. If anything, I’m ready for another round with the Saskarins. They won’t like what’s coming to them.”

Rakar stood outside Seth’s door. “I have no doubt about that. Good luck.”

Searching for Blake would not be a controversial call with the crew, but it was a decision Seth knew Blake would hate. Seth’s gut told him something was amiss. Blake was precise and sometimes predictable in terms of staying in contact. From what Seth had read about Bothan, he and Blake shared the same communication approach when keeping in touch.

Seth opened a communication channel and sent a message for everyone to meet at the Exceltion the next day. There would be a lot of questions, and he still had many himself. Nonetheless, if either Blake or Bothan was in trouble, then Seth would do everything to ensure their safety.