The Inspector Dalton Files: Transition | Otherworld | Lightville

Lightville Image

Title: Lightville

Series: The Inspector Dalton Files

Book #: 2

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: March 31, 2021

Formats:

eBook

LIGHTVILLE

Book 2 of The Inspector Dalton Files

Killing Dalton’s friend is not the way to get his attention.

Strange events bring Earth Ward Inspector Dalton Kingston and his team to southern Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Unfortunately, it’s to investigate the murder of his friend: Earth Ward Inspector Sean Chalmers and his team.

One concern is that everything points to Lightville, a lightmire stronghold. Lightmires are nonhumans who eat diseases and heal people, are natural enemies of vampires, and typically do not involve themselves in events. Now they’re at the center of a murder investigation.

Another issue is that Sean’s team had been investigating strange occurrences, and his notes on the case were stolen.

The nonhuman world’s eyes are on Dalton’s team, and the Earth Ward’s reputation is at stake. Dalton will do what he’s always done and rise to the occasion, displaying one of his core attributes—resilience.


Read the sample below!


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Series Note

This book introduces the team’s new base and takes them to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This case takes place a month after their last one. Rick Westmoreland is added to the team, which adds a great dynamic. A major faction is introduced in the lightmires. They have always been around, but they try to avoid interaction with powerful factions when they can.

SAMPLE

Chapter One

Inspector Dalton Kingston despised necromancers, especially those who preyed on teenagers and holed up in an abandoned insane asylum. Although he normally took challenging cases, he sometimes did nearby local missions. This one was just north of Columbus, Ohio. It was near the regional Earth Ward center, so he made use of that by bringing their response team. He stood in the asylum’s overgrown parking lot and enjoyed the midday cool breeze.

Next to him stood Brad Washington, Valerie Simmons, Emily Snowden, and Evot in humanoid form. Her crow scouted the surrounding area. Having Emily along had made Dalton’s day despite the task ahead of them. He trained with her on Tuesdays in the Torvatta’s holo room, but he had to cancel due to this case popping up.

It was 1:00 p.m. on August 24, 2013, just two weeks after Emily had completed an outing with Evaran. Something to do with a giant, cosmic plant being. She wanted to come along today, which was in line with her fierce yet kind personality. Her advanced survival suit, Personal Support Device—or PSD—and sliver of cosmic energy made her a formidable ally. Evot had been all smiles at working with Emily again.

Dalton gestured at a team of four Earth Ward agents. “Cover the back side. Evot will show you where.”

“Yes, sir,” said one of the men before taking off.

Dalton pointed at another group. “Don’t let anything escape through those front doors.”

The agents moved into position behind their bulletproof SUV, which was parked parallel to the entrance.

Dalton commanded two more groups to move, then faced his team. “All right. Nothing’s going to escape, and now all that’s left is to go in and grab Sidrual. He won’t be much of a fight, but his minions will.”

“Necromancers,” said Brad, shaking his head. “I read some on them, but what are we expecting?”

Dalton nodded. “They use Displaced as scouts, zombies as guards, and vampires for retrieval of corpses. Necromancers are Daedrould, and they are classified as linkers, meaning they can extend a Daedrould tendril to the head of a dead body and control it.”

“And, of course, we can’t see the tendril,” said Brad.

“You can sense it but not see it.”

“All we have to do is slice off the head,” said Emily, smiling.

Valerie crooked a thumb at her. “I like the sound of that.”

“Wait…you said Displaced were used as scouts?” Brad looked around. “Any out now?”

Emily pointed ahead. “Two near the entrance, but they’ll leave when we approach.”

“That’s…great,” he said.

Dalton chuckled. This retrieval was good experience for Brad and Valerie, and Dalton made sure to take the opportunity for live training. He wished Todd had been around, but he had been at home when the call for the case came in. Although he was on his way, this case was time sensitive, as there were reports Sidrual might be moving. Emily made up for that and then some. She had been Dalton’s partner in crime when fighting the immune system of a sentient dimension. He had no worries about her ability to handle herself. He waved forward.

“Let’s do this!” said Emily.

“Yes, we will!” said Evot.

The group laughed.

Dalton loved that Evot interacted more with organics, as she called them. Emily had been one of the first faces Evot saw when she became an AI. He grinned when Emily’s PSD formed a baton. It could shoot stun, repulsion, heat, and mist beams as well as sticky globules. Her survival suit was highly advanced—designed by Evaran himself—and she had cosmic senses.

Valerie had on her new Earth Ward suit. On her back were a blade and a stun baton. Her left thigh had a holster for her SP-8, which was used for stunning, and her other thigh held a pistol in case things got lethal.

However, it was Brad whom Dalton had his eye on. In addition to Brad’s new suit, he had Gizmo, a hunter drone, that roamed the area. Brad also had been provided with twenty stickbots. When folded up, they resembled a thin, rectangular bar that fit onto his belt, and when expanded, they formed a stick figure. It was a small swarm that could be tactically used.

Brad and Valerie also had headsets and miniature earpieces. Advanced contact lenses allowed them to use an augmented reality interface, or ARI, and they could view a heads-up display, or HUD, and information from Dalton or Evot.

The group paused at the entrance.

“That’s odd,” said Emily. She looked at Brad, then Dalton. “I think the Displaced are scared of Brad.”

“Huh?” asked Brad.

“I see it too,” said Dalton.

The two Displaced out front looked like they had been in a car accident, as parts of their body were missing. Bones, blood, and guts were on prominent display.

Dalton interacted with his ARI. “Relaying what I see in regard to the Displaced.”

“Now, that’s cool,” said Valerie, staring ahead.

“Are you kidding me?” asked Brad, stepping back. “I think you got the whole scared thing flipped around.”

Dalton smiled. “Take two steps forward.”

Brad sighed. “Sure, step toward the disembodied floating corpses.” He took a step. “Wow, they’re retreating. They really do fear me. How about that?”

“Brad can be quite scary,” said Evot.

He laughed. “Thanks.”

Dalton scrutinized the Displaced’s bizarre behavior. From what he understood, they did not feel much of anything other than some malevolence and not wanting to be purged. They must have seen Brad as someone who could purge them. That gave Dalton an idea of how strong Brad’s Wildborn energy was. He was not a conduit—someone with more Wildborn energy than flesh—but he was close to that line. Dalton planned to review the footage in detail later.

The group entered the asylum.

Dalton had the layout already thanks to Evot’s scouting around. Sidrual was on the lower levels, but the elevator was out of commission, so they needed to take the stairs. That was where he expected the fight to begin. The trip there did not take long. Despite the dirty hallways, lack of light, and strange noises, the ten-minute walk had been uneventful.

As they went two levels down, groans and moans filled the air.

Emily formed a bladed staff from her PSD. “They’re coming!”

Dalton sensed six zombies approaching. They moved slowly, and although they might prove a challenge to a normal human, he was evolved. He activated his Scoutspectre mode, which gave him an armored suit. His nanoshield spawned on his left forearm, and with his right hand, he grabbed his multipurpose handle, or MH, and formed a blade.

The zombies approached in a horizontal line, then charged.

Emily spun into two of them and decapitated them.

Dalton dashed forward and, in one motion, sliced the heads off the next two.

Valerie jumped ahead and took care of the last two zombies.

Brad looked at Evot. “I guess we’ll just observe. With that said, time to test these stickbots out.” He tapped his belt.

The folded stickbots fell to the ground, then transformed into stick figures.

“Awesome,” said Emily.

Brad smiled. “Yeah, and this is my first real run with them.”

“You’ll get a test soon. I’m sensing a lot more zombies ahead. Let’s go,” said Dalton.

The group advanced past a few undead until they reached a long hallway. A large octagonal room sat at the end, and on the sides were multiple open doorways.

Dalton counted thirty-three zombies, four vampires, and Sidrual. The zombies cluttered the hallway ahead, with some in the side rooms. The vampires and Sidrual were not in his line of sight, but Dalton suspected they were in the room at the end.

“All right. I’m gonna charge through. Once Sidrual is down, the zombies will be too. Emily, you’ve got the rear. Valerie, you’ll be behind me and behind her, Brad and Evot. Brad, you can test out your stickbots.”

Gizmo beeped at Dalton.

“You can protect Brad.”

Gizmo vibrated.

“Here we go,” said Dalton.

He lowered his shield and charged into the zombies that faced the group. The ones in his way were easy to bowl over. Valerie made quick work of them. As they moved past the doorways, some zombies lurched out.

Emily handled the ones closest to her, but one zombie grabbed Brad by the neck and slammed him into the wall.

His stickbots swarmed the zombie but had little effect.

Gizmo hopped up and tried to yank the hands off Brad’s neck to no avail.

Evot grabbed the zombie’s wrists and vibrated her hands to chew through. Once Brad was free, she gripped the zombie’s neck, then tossed it into a side room.

Although Dalton could have stopped and gone back to help, he trusted his team to deal with it.

The group burst into the large room at the end of the hallway. Emily turned and fired a repulsion beam, which cleared out any remaining zombies.

The four vampires rushed forward, but a stun volley from Dalton, Brad, Valerie, and Gizmo took them down.

“No!” said Sidrual, pointing at Dalton. “You can’t do this!”

Valerie smirked. “I’m pretty sure he can.”

Sidrual pulled out a gun and fired.

Dalton’s kinetic shield lit up. He raised his nanoshield.

Sidrual backpedaled and shot a few more times.

“Enough,” said Dalton. He rushed over and tapped Sidrual with his stun baton.

He collapsed.

“Mission complete.”

“A decent workout,” said Emily. She glanced at Valerie. “You’re quite tough.”

Valerie winked. “You’re not so bad yourself.” She gestured at Evot. “That vibrating hands thing worked. It looked just like when Dalton does it.”

Emily swatted Dalton’s arm. “I see you’re passing on some tricks learned from traveling with us.”

“Sure did,” said Dalton. He looked over at Brad. “I guess stickbots are only effective against living opponents.”

“Yeah,” said Brad. “Gizmo tried as well. At least I have an idea of what it might be like to fight a living opponent that could shrug those attacks off.”

“We can upgrade your stickbots,” said Evot.

Brad nodded.

Dalton surveyed the scene. Sidrual was out, as were a lot of corpses that needed to be cleaned up. The four vampires would go to the local Earth Ward center. Although Dalton never doubted the outcome of the mission, it provided him with some insights.

While Brad’s stickbots might have been useless against zombies, with some tweaks, they could be more capable. Evot’s using the vibrating hands approach surprised Dalton. It was a last resort move, and he suspected that Brad being harmed made her choose an action she might not have otherwise.

It was good to work with Emily again, and Dalton would miss her when she went home. She was one of his closest friends, and he felt better knowing she was around. Now that the mission was over, he would head back to the team’s new base. Todd would be arriving soon, and although he had missed coming along with them, Dalton was sure the others would be eager to fill him in.

He picked up Sidrual. “Good job, everyone. Let’s get out of here.”

Scene Break

Brad placed his hands on the wooden railing of the platform out back of the team’s new base. It was 7:30 a.m., and he had gotten a cup of coffee. He stared out at the forest that had a slight mist rolling around it. The fresh air and sounds of animal activity embraced him. Definitely a far cry from the zombie mess he had seen yesterday.

His throat constricted. He never imagined he would be able to see something like this. Life in an underground city on his former world was brutal. Living in a trash-infested living area with the smell of piss or rotting corpses was ingrained in his mind. He welcomed every day on this Earth as a gift. Waking up in a comfortable bed, getting a cup of coffee, then standing outside and gazing at nature without fear of being hunted was more than he could ever ask for.

A squirrel caught his eye. It roamed around and paused to look at him. It reminded him of a crat—an extremely aggressive rodent the size of a cat. They were known to attack anything out in the open on his world. Sometimes they would invade poorly built shacks or housing and wreak havoc. Sentcom, the AI collective, let them exist to keep humans in a state of disarray. The squirrel would run for its life if a crat were present.

He connected to the domain awareness system Columbus, Ohio had. With closed-circuit TVs, or CCTVs; drones; and platform-based monitoring such as cars, phones, laptops, and the like, he could see everything going on in the city. The only places that showed as black dots were Earth Ward facilities like the one he was in and other sensitive, high-security government areas. On his world, this would be a treasure trove ripe for plundering by Sentcom.

Thankfully, this Earth had protections against rogue AIs. V, the AI who traveled with Evaran, did periodic sweeps with Evot. Although this Earth’s AIs were primitive, there had been a few incidents where an AI became more aware than it should. Brad had watched V decimate an AI that tried to get into a missile defense system. Evot did not participate, but she watched. V was ruthless, and he not only boxed in the AI with himself, but he also destroyed both its digital and physical footprint. His red orb was like a wrecking ball. Afterward, an Earth Ward response team visited the facility the AI originated in.

Despite that, Brad liked perusing the city. He respected others’ privacy unless they were doing something criminal or being assholes. Most people would probably riot if they understood how much data was gathered on them. The data points for any individual blew him away when he first arrived. He had kept his ability hidden since he had sensed an AI presence. That turned out to be U4, another AI companion of Evaran’s and also V’s predecessor.

AIs on this Earth seemed restricted to Evaran’s approval. Brad had gone to a recent cookout where he had met another version of Evaran called Sivaran, who had an AI companion named Q. Unlike V or Evot, who both had some form of organic interface, Q was a pure AI. Brad appreciated talking about Sentcom with Q and understood some of its decision-making from Q’s insights.

Brad recalled when he had stumbled into this Earth in a state of confusion. After gathering his senses, he found an ATM and got some cash. No terminators had come to exterminate him. That was when he knew he was somewhere else. The sun, fresh air, and lack of people wearing armor also helped paint a picture that this Earth was vastly different than the one he arrived from.

He turned his head as footsteps approached.

Valerie joined him. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

She took a deep breath. “It’s nice out here. You’ve been out here every day since we moved in three weeks ago.”

Brad chuckled. “I’m just soaking it in. I love this place. It’s northwest of Columbus but not too far, is surrounded by a forest for privacy, and has a landing pad we can use as necessary.”

“And a support staff that provides security and food.”

He smiled. “That too.” He eyed her. “This is the first time I’ve seen you out here this early.”

She shrugged. “I went to bed early; now I’m wide awake. I checked the calendar and saw we have a meeting later this morning for a new case.”

“Yeah, saw that,” said Brad. He sipped his coffee. “What do you think it’s about?”

“Not sure, but Lord Vygon and Hermes are coming over to present it, so it must be important.”

He nodded. “How are you getting along with the ancient vampires now?”

Valerie grinned. “Surprisingly well. I talk a lot with Mikhail.”

“Oh really?” asked Brad with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s nothing like that, although it could be, and we’d both be okay with that. He wouldn’t break down and get puppy dog eyes after one encounter.”

Brad laughed at the thought of Mikhail, a beefy ancient vampire, having softened eyes when looking at Valerie. He was tough, and with his speed and strength, few could handle him.

“I heard Rick is coming today,” she said.

“Really?”

“Yeah. I don’t know why, and neither does Todd. Maybe Rick will be joining us on this next mission.”

Brad nodded. “No problems with that. I like Rick.”

“Me too.”

They stared off into the forest.

“This is nice,” said Valerie. “I should do this more often.”

Brad gestured at some concrete tables. “We could probably get something a bit more comfortable to sit on.”

“Yeah,” she said.

Their first case together had brought them closer, even if they were split up for about half of it. Over the last three weeks, Brad had gotten to know her better. While she could kill at a moment’s notice by using whatever was around her, she had a very easygoing personality. If she were human, she would probably be labeled a sociopath. From what he had learned, Zikarians processed emotions differently. To others, it might seem like she had a death wish, but she truly did not fear death.

Another aspect that surprised him was that she did have a softer side. She placed a strong emphasis on her friends, and to be included in that circle was an honor. That extended to animals too, dogs in particular, which seemed out of place for someone who could ruthlessly slaughter another person. She was complex, and he looked forward to learning more about her.

Lord Vygon coming to give a case was a first. Brad liked him, and they had become good friends. Lord Vygon sometimes sent Brad a text for technical help for a trivial issue. He did not mind, and through that constant communication, he had come to learn more about Lord Vygon. Sometimes they chatted via phone, or Brad connected to the system at Lord Noskov’s base.

On Evaran’s last outing, the ancient vampire origins had been revealed, and Brad was honored to have been included in that knowledge. Like him, they originated from someplace else, although he arrived from another timeline and they from another universe.

Hermes would be someone new from the Greek pantheon. After some research and poking around in the Earth Ward logs, it turned out he was also close with Evaran. Hermes had also assisted Lord Vygon in the past, so his involvement in presenting a case was not as strange as it sounded. Perhaps Hermes had an insight that went beyond data.

Brad sipped his coffee. It was going to be an interesting day.