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

Rimworlds Image

Title:Rimworlds

Series: The Earthborn

Book #: 3

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: February 16, 2019

Formats:

eBook

RIMWORLDS

Book 3 of the Earthborn

Never assume Earthborn are easy prey.

Citizens of rimworld cities have gone missing, and no one knows why. Blake and his crew are assigned to discover what is going on and who is behind the disappearances. Like previous missions, this will lead them to dangerous locations as they gather information and encounter new allies and enemies.

The Saskarin threat has escalated since Blake and the crew’s second mission at Hadrassus and the bounties on each crew member have gone up significantly.

Blake and his crew must navigate those dangers while trying to not only find the missing citizens but also to stop whoever is abducting them. Being Earthborn is not easy, and Blake and his crew will show what happens when you mess with them.


Read the sample below!


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Series Note

This book continues where Biogenesis, book 2 of the Earthborn left off. Blake and crew get another mission. The Saskarins have gotten bold, and Blake and crew will face their most serious threat to this point. The Android Resistance makes itself known, and The Covendrin are back.


SAMPLE

Chapter One

Blake just wanted to enjoy dinner instead of figuring out how to kick the shit out of someone. With him was his abductee brother, Seth Williams, and Ada, Seth’s android girlfriend and fellow crew member. At least the meal was finished, and although the ambiance had been relaxing up to that point, it now required a change of mind-set.

These situations could be dangerous because when Blake was relaxed, he did not always expect something to go off. He only relaxed when there were no obvious signs of danger that he could detect through his vampiric senses. A quick check at his wrist console showed it was a bit past 7:00 p.m. Earth time.

He sighed and motioned at Ada. “So you were contacted, via soft-connect, that Johan is outside.”

“Yes, and he has five others with him.”

Blake shook his head. Johan Crusche was the leader of a Fredorian Defense Force, or FDF, enforcer unit and had been responsible for beating Seth and Sarah Olson, another crew member, unconscious on the previous mission, which was two months ago.

The hypnotic bite Blake had used on the unit made them have a burning desire to smear shit on their faces for a month. With the effect having worn off, Blake was sure Johan had figured out what happened and was now out for revenge.

“Damn, the curse of me in bars has extended to restaurants,” said Seth, smirking.

Ada touched Seth’s arm. “I will not let them hurt you.”

Seth smiled. “I was kidding. Besides, I got two bodyguards with me. What do I have to worry about?”

“Damn right,” said Blake. He glanced at Ada. “Who was it that contacted you?”

“I was asked not to say the name until we’re in a less public place.”

“Mm-hmm. All right. Does this friend have any others with him?”

Ada nodded. “He does.”

“Have them meet us in the back alley, a bit away from the restaurant. We can meet with Johan and the other enforcers there, and if there’s trouble, maybe your friends can help. I assume they’re friendly if they’re giving us a heads-up.”

“They are friendly,” said Ada.

Blake studied her. “Then I think I have an idea of who our friends might be.” He looked around. “All right, let’s leave like nothing’s wrong and give Johan enough time to see us headed out the back way. I’m sure they got someone monitoring us if they’re out front.”

“Not looking forward to seeing that asshole again,” said Seth.

“I know. This time, though, the deck will be stacked against him.” Blake stood and exhaled from his mouth and, with a nod at the others, began to move toward the back door. Once they had left the building, he surveyed the dimly lit alleyway. On Earth, he was used to seeing garbage bins or docking bays behind businesses, but on Fredoria, all of that was handled underground. Movement ahead caught his eye.

Johan and five enforcers came into view and stopped in front of Blake and the others.

Blake scrutinized Johan. He looked the same from their last encounter, being burly and tall with a tough-looking, fair-skinned face. Johan’s group wore black tactical armor, and Blake suspected they expected a fight.

“Do I know you?” he asked.

Johan sneered. “Blake Brown.” He raised a finger. “Although I can’t seem to remember meeting you… I have heard you were present when we lost our memory for a very short period of time.”

“Lay off the drinking would be my suggestion.”

Johan nodded. “I also think you used your hypnotic suggestion ability on me and my unit.” He arced a hand out. “For some very strange reason, we smeared shit on our faces for a month, wrote an apology communication to Sarah and,” he said, pointing at Seth, “that bitch. We also knocked ourselves out to see who was the biggest bitch apparently. Now…why would we do that?”

Blake laughed. “I don’t know, but it sounds like you and your crew have some issues to work out.”

Johan stepped forward. “You think this is a laughing matter? We lost our enforcer status, and now we’re regular FDF.”

“Maybe that’s for the best. I don’t seem to recall meeting you,” said Blake, grinning and baring his fangs. “And I don’t think you want to do…whatever this is.”

“You’re going to explain everything, not just to me, but to the enforcers’ leadership.”

“I don’t think so. You don’t think I know you’re recording the audio of this conversation to be used later? That’s intelligence gathering 101,” said Blake. He raised his voice as he surveyed the alley. “For the official record, I know nothing of what happened to you.” He focused back on Johan. “There. That was easy. Why don’t you and your crew find out who’s the biggest bitch or something.”

Johan’s lips drew down as his eyes lit up. He glanced at his unit, who followed Johan’s movement of tapping at a device in one of their pockets. “Audio’s off. It’s time to beat the truth out of you.”

Several men and women appeared behind Johan’s unit.

Johan faced them. “Who the fuck are you supposed to be?”

A slim man in a formfitting light-blue suit with lightly padded armor stepped forward into the dim lighting. His black hair was slicked back over his tan-skinned head. “My born-again name is Q-Rhys. A name I chose.”

Johan’s eyes narrowed. “Android Resistance. We have no fight with you.”

Q-Rhys pointed at Ada. “One of our sisters is with Blake, and you were going to assault them.”

“Take her, then. Leave Blake and his bitch to us.”

Q-Rhys smiled as he glanced at Blake. “I’d like to curry favor with Blake.” He nodded at Ada. “And also talk with our sister and,” he said, gesturing at Seth, “meet one who has embraced one of our own.”

Blake knew he and Q-Rhys would get along fine. Q-Rhys was not unknown, and Blake had seen the name pop up in missions that involved androids. Usually it was an android who was kidnapped, although he suspected it was more the Android Resistance freeing an android. Blake knew from most of the reports that Q-Rhys did not harm innocents, despite what the official Fredorian media portrayed. Why he chose this moment to introduce himself was a mystery.

Johan growled as he peered back at his unit. “Fine. Then it seems we’re going to teach everyone a lesson. Get them!” He rushed toward Blake with another member as the other four went off to fight the androids.

Blake zipped up to Johan and threw him against the wall.

Johan kicked Blake back and then ran toward Seth.

Ada stepped in front of Seth and marched forward with her hand out. When she reached Johan, she grabbed him by the neck and raised him off the ground. “You hurt my boyfriend.”

Johan clawed at Ada’s hand around his neck as he struggled to breathe.

Blake grabbed the other unit member who had rushed in to help Johan. With a quick hit to the neck, the unit member went down. Q-Rhys and his androids had all but incapacitated Johan’s remaining four members. “Ada…we want him alive.”

Ada tilted her head as she stared at Johan. “Would Johan’s death prevent him from ever hurting Seth?”

Blake laid a hand on Ada’s arm. “Technically…yes, and normally I’d kill him. However…I have something else in mind. Please lower him.”

Ada’s eyes flicked toward Blake. She tossed Johan to the ground.

“Damn,” said Seth, laughing. He walked up and slid an arm around Ada’s waist. “I think I’m in love.”

Johan massaged his neck as he tried to regain normal breathing.

Q-Rhys approached Blake. “I hope this can be the beginning of a friendship.”

Blake extended a hand. “I like the way you think.”

They shook hands.

Blake knelt next to Johan.

Johan cried out when Blake sank his fangs into Johan’s neck. His eyes went blank.

Blake stood. “For the next month, you’re going to have a strong urge to dance when around your fellow FDF. It won’t be just any dance, though; it will be a sexy dance that will be completely inappropriate around others. You’ll remember this moment now as having come to this alley to see who was the best dancer. No one won, and you wore yourself out and fell asleep. Do you understand?”

Johan nodded.

“Good. Now, go to sleep.”

Johan complied.

Seth burst out laughing. “Smearing shit and now dancing. That’s hilarious.”

Blake nodded at Seth and then motioned at the rest of Johan’s crew. “I’ll need to do that with the others.”

Q-Rhys stepped to the side and bowed slightly with a flourish of his arm. “Of course. Be my guest.”

The other androids brought Johan’s crew forward.

Blake applied the same hypnotic bite on all of them. When he finished, he nodded at Q-Rhys. “I suspect we have a lot to talk about.”

“We do, but not here. Let’s go someplace…a bit more private.”

“Lead on.”

Scene Break

Seth studied the bright room. Q-Rhys had led them to a safe house, which apparently was a secure underground storage bay. The trip only took about twenty minutes. There was not much in the way of furniture in the room, with only a few tables, several consoles, and what looked like a cabinet with glass sliding doors. His gaze focused on the slab a bit farther back in the room. It seemed more like a quick pit stop in case an android needed repair or to access information.

“Welcome to one of our safe houses,” said Q-Rhys, waving his arm out in an arc.

“You’re putting a lot of trust in us to bring us to one of these, especially given my past,” said Blake.

Q-Rhys shrugged. “I think we have more in common than you might think.” He glanced at Ada. “Besides working with one of our sisters, your closest friend has an intimate bond with her. If you really were out for us, you wouldn’t allow any of that to happen.”

“Fair point. I don’t have any animosity toward the AR. I know of your record, and most of it reads like a justice hunter’s wet dream.”

Q-Rhys and the other two androids in the room laughed.

Ada tilted her head. “Your ease of communication is commendable. Is that due to being generation four?”

“Five, actually,” said Q-Rhys. He gestured at the other two androids. “They’re G5 as well.”

“I see. I’m a few models behind.”

Seth always wondered if Ada being a generation two model bothered her and if she would ever upgrade if given the chance. Maybe he would find out.

Q-Rhys smiled at Ada. “Doesn’t matter. You’re still incredibly special and should recognize that.”

“Thank you,” said Ada.

“I have a motive for helping out back there and bringing everyone here, but after this, if you want some upgrades, we’ll be more than happy to give them to you,” said Q-Rhys.

“Illegal ones…” said Seth.

“Illegal according to the Fredorian government, not so much outside of it.”

Ada smiled. “I wouldn’t mind perusing them afterward.”

Q-Rhys clasped his hands together. “Excellent, excellent. Now, to why we’re here.” One of the androids brought forth a medium-sized cylindrical container. The sides went transparent after he tapped at the side.

Seth grimaced at seeing the orange slime swirling around in a clear liquid.

Q-Rhys motioned at the container. “We’ve run into this organic thing that seems to have the unique ability to take over an android. All it needs is to get close, and then it slithers its way in and causes havoc.” He focused on Blake. “From what we’ve read, you seem to be one of the foremost experts on these slimes, despite the Fredorian government trying to silence the topic. Not only that, we’ve seen other colored slimes doing unusual things.”

“We’ve seen them before,” said Blake. His eyes narrowed. “I wasn’t aware that the AR was a target of these slimes.”

“We weren’t either. They came out of nowhere. We had infiltrated several organizations, and it seems even androids were not immune to the slimes.”

“So you want information?”

Q-Rhys nodded. “We do. There is a counter to the orange slimes that we’ve developed. However…with organics, that is an unknown quantity. They get slimed, and then we lose a brother or sister who was working with them. It’s a pattern that is beginning to show itself more and more.”

“What is the orange slime counter?” asked Ada.

“Specialized microbots. They can detect the chemical composition and then seek it out and bind to it. Every android in the resistance now has it. Unfortunately, we lost a lot before we developed it.”

Ada glanced at Blake. “Perhaps I should take these.”

Q-Rhys raised a finger. “They only work on G4s and G5s for now, but we could probably get it to work with G2s.”

Ada nodded.

Blake looked at her. “It would be good for you to have them. If Q-Rhys is willing to send you the specs, and you review it, then we’re better off.”

“That is acceptable if Q-Rhys will make the specs available,” said Ada.

Q-Rhys smiled. “I’ll forward you them. You can tweak it as needed, and you should be able to replicate the microbots at any level three or higher replicator.”

“Thank you.”

“So back to our request. We don’t know what we’re dealing with. Any information you could give would be very helpful. I know that’s a lot to ask, especially given the secrecy of the work that the presidential guard does.”

Blake nodded at Ada. “Give Q-Rhys everything we have on the Saskarins. I’ll leave it up to you to coordinate it.”

“It will be done,” said Ada.

Seth found it interesting that Blake would trust the AR, but they could prove to be a valuable ally, like the Covendrin.

Q-Rhys’s eyebrows rose. “You’ll truly do this for us?”

“Of course,” said Blake. He raised a finger in front of him. “And here’s why. I know you’re not a terrorist organization like the FDF portrays you to be. You just wanted to help androids after they got reclassified. Also, the Fredorian government is moving slow on this threat. I suspect the FDF has been compromised, and they seem hell-bent on shutting down any discussion on the topic, so spreading the knowledge around is a good counter to that.”

“You’re very wise,” said Q-Rhys.

“The Covendrin also have a mirror of our information. Any new developments we get we can share with you.”

“We’d appreciate that. The Covendrin are powerful allies to have,” said Q-Rhys. He grinned. “I think you’ll find that we can be just as valuable.”

Blake nodded. “Given the current climate, I think we’ll need all the help we can get. Anything else you wanted to cover?”

“We’re good for now. If we wanted to contact you, how should we do so?” asked Q-Rhys.

“Use a broker drop. They’ll notify me if you want to meet or do anything. Although I’m sure our secured channels are secure, it may be better to work through an intermediary for optic reasons.”

“Not a problem.”

Blake glanced at the others. “All right. We’ll be in touch.” He shook hands with Q-Rhys and the other two androids and then exited the building.

The group headed back to the ambassadorial compound.

“We’re racking up allies left and right,” said Seth.

“I figured something like this might occur,” said Blake.

“You did?”

Blake grinned. “Of course, I’m Blake Brown.”

“All right, man, cut the shit. How’d you know?”

“Well, based on the Fredorian government stonewalling everything, those groups who are impacted by the Saskarins will search out the one unit with authority in the Fredorian government that actually knows what the hell is going on. That happens to be us. I suspect before it’s all said and done, we’ll have more groups or individuals approach us.”

“Is it wise to share knowledge like we just did?” asked Ada.

Blake nodded. “Think of it as information backups. The more widespread it is, the harder it is to destroy. As a unit, we may get disbanded or destroyed, but the knowledge will live on. In the end, that’s what’s important.”

“I don’t want our group to be destroyed.”

Seth squeezed Ada’s hand. He understood her concern and suspected she was enjoying her new lease on life. Whatever made her happy, he would strive to provide it.

“Don’t worry,” said Blake. “I think we’re strong enough to handle anything that comes at us.”

Seth chuckled, recalling their previous mission. “Unless it’s Rogundans on a jungle planet.”

“We would have still won but maybe minus a few,” said Blake. “Nonetheless, let’s enjoy the rest of the night. I have to meet with Rakar tomorrow, and I think we’ll have a new mission. Let’s plan on meeting around 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.”

“About time,” said Seth. “I hate just sitting around, watching one political faction after another attack us for some bullshit reasons.”

Ada tilted her head. “The Hadrassus research facility’s destruction is linked to us. Is that what you’re referring to?”

“Yeah.”

“I have been monitoring all communication in that regard. Public sentiment is against us.”

Blake laughed. “Of course it is, and that makes our job harder. It’s easy for them to hate Earthborn. All right, enough doomsday talk. Ada, you said you’ve never done karaoke?”

“That is correct.”

Blake swatted Seth’s arm. “The night’s still young, so let’s check it out. Seth here is a natural at it.”

“Ahh man, you know I hate karaoke.”

Ada swiveled her head toward Seth. “If you hate it, we don’t need to go.”

Seth ran his thumb along her hand. “Nah, we’re going. If you want to experience it live, then that’s what we’re doing.”

Her eyes lit up as she smiled.