The Inspector Dalton Files: Transition | Otherworld

Otherworld Image

Title: Otherworld

Series: The Inspector Dalton Files

Book #: 1

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: August 20, 2020

Formats:

eBook

OTHERWORLD

Book 1 of The Inspector Dalton Files

Investigating cases can be hard, especially when they involve another world.

Earth Ward Inspector Dalton Kingston’s cases have been getting harder since his arrival to this Earth six months ago. They’re taking a physical toll on him. Forming a team is not only a good idea, but it will help him address his next case.

A rash of murders and disappearances in Southern Ohio normally would not be something he investigated. However, when it’s the Tanner Pack, a vicious weregang, making the request for help, that’s another story.

Dealing with the case is one issue, but doing it with a new team is a challenge unto itself. They must navigate a powder keg of various factions and solve the case or risk losing a potential new Earth Ward ally. Dalton finds himself in a familiar role and providing what comes naturally to him—leadership.


Read the sample below!


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Series Note

This is intended as an introduction to Inspector Dalton Kingston and the formation of his team and their first case. There is a focus on exploring the interaction between the human and nonhuman world. The setting is in Waverly, Ohio, and it's a powder keg of factions such as the Ogben Coven (Witch, Warlock, shifters), Tanner Pack (Weregang), Faith Militia (Humans who hunt nonhumans), and the demonic Kaz Lodat. Dalton uses a high-tech approach to deal with fantastical beings. Although not critical, there is information related to Dalton's travels with Evaran and the gang in The Time Cube, Book 11 of The Evaran Chronicles.


SAMPLE

Chapter One

Chasing a demigod through the sewers of New York City was not how Inspector Dalton Kingston expected to spend his Saturday. Azua was hard to track and adept at keeping herself concealed. Unfortunately for her, Dalton had been assigned to bring her in for murder. All it took was him getting in range to use his cosmic senses to detect her, then it was a matter of apprehending her.

Evot, Dalton’s embedded AI, controlled two servbots, small disk-shaped objects, with a surrounding nanoswarm that morphed into various shapes. She flew in crow form through the sewer, and he appreciated the real-time visual feed he saw in his augmented reality interface, or ARI. She had retrieved the sewer layout and was hot on Azua’s tail.

He grimaced as he hustled through the round brick tunnels. The ground slanted on the sides, and a trickle of brown liquid ran down the middle. He did not need to lower his helmet to verify that it probably smelled rancid. It was dark, and rats and roaches scurried as he ran.

His nanotech provided him with a thin layer of nanobots that he controlled. At the moment, he had formed them into an advanced armored suit known as Scoutspectre mode. His helmet allowed him to see in low to no light and provided additional information on the inside faceplate.

The sewers were dangerous. He traveled in the domain of Beezlo, the wererat king. Thankfully, Dalton had not seen any signs of wererat patrols. The Earth Ward, his employer, had good relations with Beezlo, but Dalton did not think Beezlo would care for an unauthorized intrusion into his territory even if it was an Earth Ward inspector. Wererats did not like humans, evolved or otherwise.

Dalton focused his cosmic senses which caused everything around him to slow. He sensed Azua much more clearly now. Between that and Evot’s visual feeds, he would catch up to Azua shortly. He had concerns about her moving toward a known wererat checkpoint. It would be heavily guarded, and they would not hesitate to shoot him or her. Her plan remained a mystery, but perhaps she did not know the sewers or what lived in it.

“Azua has entered the checkpoint tunnel,” said Evot over comms. “The wererats have ordered her to stop and put her hands up.”

“Okay,” said Dalton. “I’m almost there.”

When he arrived at the end of the hallway, he surveyed the scene. Azua faced the wererats with her hands up, but she peeked back at him for a moment. She wore black clothing, and her bright-purple hat was hard to miss. Her tan skin was also difficult to see due to the orange bandanna across the lower half of her face. Her black combat boots glistened under the checkpoint’s spotlights.

At the other end of the corridor stood steel bars, a small guard post behind them. Several wererats pointed machine guns forward.

Dalton suspected they sensed what Azua was. She was a mix of human and Outsider, a class of dimensional beings that crossed over to Earth at some point. Although Outsiders in the past were worshiped as gods, like Odin and Zeus, they sometimes mated with humans and created demigods. Azua was the daughter of Serqet, the Egyptian goddess of scorpions.

One of the wererats stepped out with his gun aimed at her. “I’m Pachua, overguard for this checkpoint. Who are you?”

“I’m Azua, and I’m being hunted by a slayer!”

Pachua aimed at Dalton. “Are you a slayer?”

Dalton raised his hands. “Your senses should tell you I’m not. I’m Inspector Dalton Kingston, Earth Ward. Azua is wanted for several crimes.”

“Identification.”

Dalton lowered his hands.

“Slowly…” said Pachua.

“I understand,” said Dalton. He retrieved his badge wallet and held it out.

Pachua nodded at one of the wererats behind him.

The wererat used a device to shoot a beam at the badge wallet. “It’s valid.”

“Then this is easy,” said Pachua. He walked back behind the bars and closed them.

“What? You’re gonna leave me to him?” asked Azua.

Pachua shrugged. “We have a treaty with the Earth Ward. We don’t have a treaty with you, though. We could shoot you in the leg to make it easier.”

She glared at them.

“All yours, Inspector,” said Pachua.

Azua faced Dalton. “Why can’t you leave me alone?”

Dalton sighed. “Because you killed eight humans, carved them up, then sold them. Your spicy human rinds were in high demand. I wasn’t even looking for you specifically. I just followed where the facts led me, and they ended with you.”

“Why do you care so much about humans? They’re beneath us.”

“I’m an evolved human. Your father was human, but you definitely take after your mother.”

Azua scowled. “My father was weak. He got what all humans deserve. They’re just food.”

“No, they’re much more than that. Besides, you’re half human yourself and it seems a cannibal,” said Dalton. He raised a finger. “Your crimes were particularly heinous. You killed a family of three in their remote cabin. They tried to enjoy a short vacation. Instead, you tortured them, and you killed the boy’s parents in front of him before cutting off parts of him. That can’t stand, and the Earth Ward won’t allow it to.”

Azua shook her head. “You could let me go. I’ll promise to keep my hands clean.”

“That’s not how this works. You can plead your case to the Earth Ward.”

“You know what? I’m not afraid of you,” she said. Bone stingers emerged from her wrists. “You say you’re human? Oh, sorry, evolved human. Fine. Then die like one.”

She charged forward.

Dalton formed his nanoshield on his left forearm. In one continuous motion, he used his right hand to grab his multipurpose handle, or MH, and extended it to form a stun baton.

She jabbed at him.

He blocked and swung out with his baton.

She rolled to the side and jumped away.

Her speed surprised him.

“That all you got?” she asked.

Dalton rushed her.

Azua jumped over him, then pierced his back with one of her stingers.

He grimaced. Thankfully, his super cells would handle the paralyzing poison she injected, but the fight raged inside him. He focused and spun around, bashing her into the wall. With gritted teeth, he dashed forward and stunned her.

She stopped moving.

Dalton scrunched his face and leaned against the wall. Her jump-and-stab-from-behind maneuver had caught him by surprise. It would have been a very different outcome if he did not have his super cells. Apparently, she was not aware of that.

Instead of attacking him, she should have run. That would have given her a chance, but he had his retractable stun gun, or RSG, he used with his right hand. It formed on demand and created a blocky, rectangular structure that wrapped around his fingers. It had a button on top and a small extension in the front.

His stun baton had been set on medium, which used two charges. Light used one, and heavy, three. With one hundred charges on his baton, he had more than enough to deal with Azua.

Evot flew in as two crows and merged into one before morphing into her human form. “You’re hurt.”

“I’ll live. It’s her damn poison.”

“You said she wouldn’t hit you.”

Dalton frowned. “Well, I didn’t plan on her jumping over me. Plus, she’s much faster than her Earth Ward profile suggested.”

Evot glanced at Azua. “Not faster than you.”

“I know. All right, can you carry her?”

“Of course. The nearest exit topside is half a mile away. We should wait until your super cells have purged the poison. The amount she injected in you would have paralyzed a human for two hours. I calculate with your super cells, you will not be paralyzed, but you will suffer reduced ability for thirty minutes.”

Dalton nodded. “That’s why you’re doing the carrying.”

Evot scooped up Azua.

Dalton took a moment to catch his breath. He studied Pachua and his guards. They talked among themselves while pointing. Dalton suspected they were curious as to what was going on. Unfortunately for them, he did not want to be in the sewers any longer than necessary.

Scene Break

When he woke up the next day, Dalton stretched his aching body. Azua had been handed off to the local Earth Ward response team, and he still hurt from the poison she had injected. Although his super cells removed most of it, a portion lingered in his system. It was not hard to see how Azua abducted humans. One shot of her poison, and they would be paralyzed and vulnerable. He grimaced as he sat up. Evot was nowhere in sight.

“Evot?”

She bounded into the room in her gray cat form and jumped onto the bed. “I’m here. Are you feeling better?”

Dalton stretched his arms as he swung his legs to the side. “Well, I’m not dead, so that’s a good sign.”

She hopped into his lap and laid a paw on his chest. “I will not allow that.”

“Thanks,” he said, chuckling.

“Of course,” she said. She jumped down as he stood.

Dalton got his morning ritual in. He loved the fact he could brush his teeth and shower without worry of where his next meal came from or what might attack him. It had been six months since he arrived to this Earth, and he enjoyed every minute of it. His original Earth had turned into an irradiated wasteland with mutants, so he much preferred this one.

He moved to the balcony of his apartment and gazed below. Data labels from his ARI popped out around people hustling about. It was roughly 7:00 a.m., and the sun smiled at him. The fresh air and sounds of nearby traffic were consistent with what he had come to expect.

His eyes narrowed as he focused on a few people. Daedroulds. It amazed him that they walked in full view of the clueless humans moving around. He suspected most humans would barricade themselves in their houses if they truly understood what existed around them. On the other hand, some would come gunning for nonhumans.

In his first case, he had run into the Faith Militia and their slayers. Their goal was nothing short of the extermination of nonhumans. They had shot him, but thanks to his nanosuit, he survived. On the nonhuman side, he met Hammer, a powerful werebear enforcer, and his werewolf gang. Thankfully, Dalton was able to close the case with only one casualty, but it provided a glimpse into what he would face on this Earth.

Evot jumped up on a nearby table. “Did you want some coffee?”

“Sounds good.”

She morphed into her humanoid shell and exited the balcony.

Dalton loved having her around. She had been upgraded to a full AI before he arrived to this Earth, and she continued to learn to work with organics, as she called them. Her acclimation process remained ongoing, and her friendly and warm personality sometimes got her into trouble. As she found out the hard way, not all organics could be trusted.

She returned in her silver one-piece, formfitting suit. Her red hair and pale skin accentuated her green eyes. Although she normally had metallic skin and glowing yellow eyes, most humans would run at the sight of that. She had taken some time to choose a more pleasing appearance and even updated her cat and crow form to make them appear friendlier.

He was protective of her, and she had been his constant companion as an enhanced virtual intelligence for over seventy years. He would help her with whatever she needed in her new life as an AI.

“Did you not want your coffee?” asked Evot.

Dalton cleared his throat and accepted the cup. “Thank you.”

“Of course,” she said. She peered over the railing. “You like this city.”

Dalton smiled. “Yeah, I do. Dr. Snowden and Emily live around here. Plus, the regional Earth Ward command hub is here.”

Dalton enjoyed Columbus, Ohio, and he owed everything to Evaran, the space- and time- traveling cosmic being who saved him and brought him here. Dalton referred to his cosmic sensory ability as Evaran-sense since it mirrored Evaran’s ability. Dr. Albert Snowden and his niece, Emily, were Evaran’s traveling companions, as was V, an artificial intelligence with some cosmic energy who was also Evot’s mentor. Dalton possessed a sliver of cosmic energy, the strongest of all exotic ones, thanks to Evaran’s ship, the Torvatta. Reality was more bizarre than even Dalton had expected.

Evot nodded. “I like hanging out with Evaran and ‘the gang,’ as they call themselves.” She studied Dalton. “You’re in pain.”

He sighed. “A little. There’s still a trace of Azua’s poison in me.”

“I understand. It should leave your system today.”

“Let’s hope so.”

“I have an observation,” she said.

Dalton gestured at her. “Shoot.”

“Your cases would be easier with a team. When you traveled with Evaran and the gang, you assisted in taking down the Tenagrin Hegemony, an alien empire that spanned over a thousand systems. That was possible due to teamwork. In your time here, some cases were tougher than expected. I can only help so much, and I do not possess combat abilities. You should form your own gang.”

He rubbed his chin. “I’ve thought about it.”

“What about Brad Washington?”

Dalton eyed her. Brad possessed Wildborn energy, which created one-off mutations of humans. His ability manifested in a way that allowed him to talk to technology. An image of Brad with his dark skin and casual wear popped up in Dalton’s mind and made him smile.

“You miss talking to him,” he said.

She smiled. “He was fun to be around.”

He laughed. “So that’s your ulterior motive?”

“No, but if you did pick a team, he is one of the more qualified people to join.”

Dalton sighed. “I know. These cases aren’t getting any easier. My fear is one of your servbots could get smashed, and we’ve come close to that a few times.”

“You’re referring to that nasty dwarf who tried to smash me in cat form.”

“Yeah, that encounter did cross my mind.”

She faced him. “I have a list of qualified people you should vet. They complement the deficiencies exposed on these cases.”

“Deficiencies?”

Evot nodded. “I ran several simulations and calculated that you would function better with a team and you possess natural leadership abilities.”

She was right. He would be better with a team. Azua might have been taken down much easier and faster, not to mention safer. He wished he could poach some ancient vampires, such as Mikhail, Lord Vygon, and Lord Noskov, who all welcomed him to Earth and provided a safe place to stay until he got on his feet. They were busy with their own vampire stuff, although he knew they would be there for him if he really needed assistance.

“All right. Send me the list, and I’ll review it,” he said.

“Of course.”

He sipped his coffee. In order to have a team, he would need to get some things in place. He also needed to figure out what would have helped in the past, based on the various cases already completed. While most were not as difficult as his first one, some had been challenging even for someone with his abilities.

The Earth Ward possessed advanced stun weapons he did not use since he had his own, but having someone along with them would be beneficial. Evot was right that Brad would be an immense help as well. Although she usually handled all technological issues, he also used her in the field.

The other issue was how many people he should recruit. Brad was probably a given, assuming he would accept. Personality was important, and he easily fit in and then some. Dalton had worked on teams before where cohesion failed due to toxic personalities. That would need to be factored in. Availability was another concern. Even if Dalton found the right group, they might already be committed elsewhere.

He rubbed his temples. This would take some time, and as always, it took a blunt observation from Evot for him to take action. He had come to rely on her assessments since he knew she did it with good intentions. Outside of her, he was alone. Although he visited friends from time to time, he did not expect them to drop what they were doing to go out in the field. If he had a time-traveling ship like the Torvatta, where he could drop people off a minute after picking them up, then maybe, but he did not have anything like that.

A servbot jumped out of his upper left arm and formed a crow.

Dalton wrinkled his brow. “Going somewhere?”

Evot’s human form nodded. “I will fly around and perform my morning scan of the building exterior while my human form assists you with your team selection.”

“All right,” said Dalton.

Evot’s crow form took off.

He envied her being able to fly around. As a Scoutspectre on a former Earth, which was essentially a space inspector, he had access to advanced technology that approximated flying. He could not use tech like that on Earth unless he wanted to cause a disruption. Thankfully, he was allowed to use what he already possessed and what the Earth Ward had available, but that was it.

He nodded. “Let’s get to work forming a team, then.”