The Inspector Dalton Files: Transition | Otherworld | Lightville | Greekland | Shadowverse | The Inspector Dalton Files Box Set 1

Shadowverse Image

Title: Shadowverse

Series: The Inspector Dalton Files

Book #: 4

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: June 2, 2022

Formats:

eBook

SHADOWVERSE

Book 4 of The Inspector Dalton Files

Shadows are not always defined by light.

A periodic sweep of advanced technology on Earth has revealed unusual activity. The Earth Ward sends Dalton’s team to investigate, which leads them to the source. The problem is the source is in the Quadrangle, an area in southwestern Colorado that consists of four major cities and is a hotbed of nonhuman activity.

Another problem is dealing with the various nonhuman factions. Some have requested the team’s help, while others are outright hostile. Dalton and his team will need to navigate that as they perform their investigation.

Relations with the Earth Ward in the Quadrangle have been tenuous, and how the Earth Ward responds when multiple issues are on the line is in question. Dalton will show why he continues to be a top investigator, even when things don’t go his way, by displaying one of his core traits—tenacity.


Read the sample below!


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Series Note

Shadowverse has Dalton and team investigating the origin of advanced technology on Earth. They find a lot more than they expected. Kreagan Inspector Saldis Dru Kator assists in the investigation that involves psychotic dwarves, brutal shadow creatures, vampire politics, and even Prince Charming.

SAMPLE

Chapter One

Dalton had not planned to spend his Saturday night assaulting a compound with traces of advanced technology, deep inside a Virginian forest. He had enlisted V, a powerful AI in a formidable robot body and one of Dalton’s closest friends, and V had tracked the source of illegal items to this place. Dalton was glad V had accompanied him, and Dalton’s team had also come along in addition to several elite Earth Ward squads.

It would have been nice to have Evaran present, another one of Dalton’s close friends, one who had saved him from death long ago, but there was no timeline component. That would be one of the rare times Evaran would step in. As the detection of the illegal items was part of V’s planetwide sweep routine, he was allowed to participate, and Dalton was sure Evaran watched from afar through V.

Evot had already scanned the ground component of the compound and placed jammers around the perimeter. V had also shut down the compound’s network access to the outside world. Those actions had happened fast, and the idea was to catch the place off guard. All that remained was to breach the compound. The team was in place just out of sight of the main entry doors.

Brad Washington, Todd Armani, Rick Westmoreland, and Valerie Simmons all wore their official suits. Dalton sensed their anxiousness, and he smiled, thinking about their faces when they would see how tough V was. His shielding was impervious to many things, and he had density control so as not to be knocked around.

The Earth Ward squads had taken up position around the compound and had a ship nearby to chase anything that escaped through the air. Dalton had been impressed at their knowledge during planning. These were a new breed of response team due to the increased profile of the Earth Ward and the myriad of situations they were involved in. They had tougher armor, heavier weapons, and nonstop training.

“Analysis. Evot’s scans indicate they are attempting to lock down the compound,” said V.

“Then I think it’s time to move,” said Dalton. Over comms, he said, “We’re going in. V is leading the way. Out.” He motioned forward. “After you.”

V high-fived Dalton. “Acknowledged. Defense mode engaged.”

Dalton loved V’s quirks, and high-fiving others was one of the more endearing ones. If Dalton had to choose the personification of good, it would be Evaran and V. However, now was a time for fighting.

V marched forward, clearing brush out of the way as he went. His shiny body reflected the moonlight, and it would be hard to not hear him. He would be a good distraction, and that became evident when he reached the parking lot.

Guards opened fire with assault weapons, but their bullets bounced off V’s body shielding.

V extended two segmented tendrils from his shoulders and fired stun beams from them, which downed the guards. After a moment, he arrived at the sealed front door.

“Let’s go!” said Dalton.

“Damn, that was impressive,” said Rick, hustling after the others.

“V usually is,” said Evot over comms.

Although they knew V from the various cookouts hosted by Lord Noskov, an ancient vampire, and they had seen V in action in hologram display, this was their first time seeing it live. Dalton could tell they were impressed. It was hard not to be.

They reached V, who proceeded to tear the doors off and toss them away.

Gunfire erupted as bullets slammed into V’s shielding. He barged in and stunned the shooters.

“It is safe to enter,” said V.

The team moved in.

The dim lighting made the entry area look more ominous than it was. Dalton focused and used his Evaran-sense but did not detect anyone outside the team in the immediate area. A mini map popped up in his augmented reality interface, or ARI, thanks to Evot who flew ahead in swarm mode and mapped the area. The place they needed to reach was underground, so she searched for a way down.

V approached one of the computers behind a counter. He extended a finger, and small tendrils snaked their way out. They morphed into the correct input format, then plugged in.

Now Dalton had the layout of the facility, and Evot verified there was a set of elevators in a heavily secured room across the compound.

“Let’s see what they’re hiding,” said Dalton.

V nodded, then led the way toward the elevators.

Several guards tried to attack V, but their weapons were useless, and his stun response was accurate. He even punched through a wall to grab a man and shock him.

As powerful as V was, he also had some weaknesses. In some of the adventures V had been on, those stronger than him had just removed him from the battle. Others tangled him up so he could not move. Significant energy weapons could also puncture his shielding, but Dalton knew of nothing like that on Earth, unless the advanced technology they were about to find was that.

They reached the secured room.

Dalton raised his energy shield while Todd did the same. The rest of the team got behind them.

V interacted with the door console, and a moment later, the doors whooshed open. He entered and was immediately shot at, but he disabled the guards.

The team followed V to the elevator.

“Analysis. They have shut them down.”

“Well, that sucks,” said Brad. “How are we getting down?”

“Observe,” said V.

He pried the elevator doors slightly open, then tore them off. One of his segmented tendrils retracted into his shoulder, and another one with a strange pen-like end emerged. He dangled it over the empty space where the elevator would be. A liquid-like metal spewed out and formed a platform the size of the shaft.

V stepped in, shortening the length of his segmented tendril. “We can go down using a flying platform.”

“Are you kidding me?” asked Todd.

“I am not.”

Todd cracked up as he joined the others on the platform. “This is wild.”

“Acknowledged.”

The platform descended.

Dalton sensed everyone was anxious. He was sure they trusted V, but flying down an elevator shaft that had an unknown depth while using technology they had never seen before was certain to cause apprehension. V had performed so far as Dalton had expected, and he felt some nostalgia from working with V again.

V focused on Dalton. “I have heard you and Aphrodite have gotten closer.”

“Ooh, really?” asked Valerie.

Dalton cleared his throat. “Maybe we can discuss this later.”

“Acknowledged.”

The team laughed.

It was odd to be in a potentially dangerous situation yet have a lighthearted moment. That was not unusual with V around.

The platform came to a halt.

“Analysis. We are on top of the elevator. I will retract this platform, and we can break in through the roof.”

V pulled the platform back into his tendril in such a manner that everyone had time to step onto the elevator roof.

“My turn,” said Dalton.

He vibrated his right leg from the knee down and applied pressure. Once his foot had chewed through to the elevator open area, he made a large enough circle for the team to drop through. He hopped down, then helped the others. His next focus was the sliding doors. He concentrated, vibrating his whole body, then paused.

“There’s a squad at the end of a hallway that we exit into,” said Dalton. He studied V. “I’ll create a doorway but not all the way through. You can push it open then.”

“Acknowledged.”

Dalton vibrated his hand, then ate into the door until almost at the other side. He traced a doorway and stepped back.

V pushed the doorway out and rushed the squad, who had opened fire.

Dalton hurried out next with his energy shield, then Todd followed with his shield. Between the two of them, they had enough coverage, so the rest of the team did not get hit when coming out.

The attackers cried out as V stunned them.

The team caught up to him.

“Man, you’re like a terminator,” said Rick.

“I do not wish to terminate anyone,” said V.

Rick slapped him on the back. “You’re awesome, man.”

“Thank you.”

The place they needed to go to was close, and the few guards they encountered were no match for them. When they reached the sealed doors, V hacked the door console, and they entered.

Dalton’s eyes widened. It was like a warehouse with multiple lab stations set up. There was no doubt this was a research and development area, and the illegal advanced technology V had traced here was probably a big part of it.

“We got our work cut out for us,” said Todd. He ran his hand over his mouth.

“We do. It looks like there are only a few guards here but mainly employees,” said Dalton. “Let’s secure this area, then call in the response teams. These employees will need to be interrogated about what’s going on here. Todd, secure this exit with Valerie.”

Todd moved into position with his shield extended while Valerie slipped in behind him.

“Brad, Rick, and I will go left, and V will go right. Make sure to avoid stunning employees, but if they get in the way, then it is what it is,” said Dalton.

He did not think the few guards would pose any threat, but they might have unknown tech or do something unexpected. It was better to be safe and proceed slowly. Curiosity ate at him. Whoever ran this compound put in a lot of effort to hide it.

Scene Break

Brad was not surprised the remaining guards put down their weapons and surrendered. What surprised him was some of the employees cheered. One even had to be held back when she grabbed one of the assault rifles from the ground. Brad suspected most were forced to work in the research lab against their will.

V had gotten the elevator working, and Earth Ward response teams had moved in. There was a lot of cleanup to do between escorting the guards out and talking to employees. V perused their systems with Evot’s help.

Brad’s relationship with Evot had been going well, and she was a bright light in his life. She made every day feel special, and doing things with her excited him. She had recently been sleeping over in his room, and waking up to her every morning and having fun never got old.

Her intelligence was also something he appreciated. He could talk to her about anything, and the best types of relationships were those that came naturally and were easy to maintain, like theirs. Although Brad wanted to join her and V, Dalton had an employee who was willing to talk.

“I’m Inspector Dalton Kingston, Earth Ward,” he said, flashing his badge.

Brad showed his. “And I’m Associate Inspector Brad Washington.”

“Susan Corrin, lead researcher,” she said, holding up her lanyard.

Dalton looked around. “We know there’s some advanced tech here. What do you know about that?”

Susan frowned. “We don’t know where it came from, other than the Randump corporation brought it here for us to research.” She pointed at the woman who had picked up the weapon earlier. “Some against their will.”

“Saw that,” said Dalton. “What form did this technology come in?”

“Mainly pieces. We were to determine the composition of the material, run some tests on it, and then test it in some prototypes that Randump was creating.”

“Did they audit everything that came in?” asked Brad.

Susan crooked her thumb at a door on the opposite side of the room. “There’s a closed system there where someone manually enters data that’s classified as sensitive. Shipping logs is one of those classifications.”

Brad focused on the room. He could sense the tech, but there was no direct connection to it from the outside.

He faced Dalton. “Room is air-gapped. No wired or wireless connection. Beefy system and a lot of storage.”

“All right. We’ll check it out here shortly,” said Dalton.

V joined them. “Analysis. I have performed a review of the material brought in. I have checked it against the Torvatta database, and it is unknown. However, there are signs that it encountered stress consistent with atmospheric entry, and the material is not naturally found on Earth. I surmise this is from an alien object, most likely a ship.”

Susan stared at V. “Are you…an AI?”

“I am. Does this bother you?”

“I…I didn’t know they existed at this level.”

Brad tilted his head. “Wait. Are you wisened?”

“What’s that?” she asked.

Dalton puffed his cheeks. “All right, well, your next six months will be at the WildHaven Institute.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Typically yes for individuals. However, as this is a group, it will be handled as such.”

Susan sighed. “Guess I have no choice then. What’ll I learn there?”

“You’ll learn about the nonhuman world and AIs like V,” said Dalton.

“Nonhuman world?”

Dalton bobbed his head. “There’s a lot to learn there.” He faced V. “If the Torvatta doesn’t know what this tech is, that means this tech must have come from far away.”

“Probably far in the past too,” said Brad. “Otherwise, we would have heard something about it. The question then is…where is this alien ship at?”

“We can check that room out and see if it has any answers,” said Dalton. He motioned for an Earth Ward response team member to come over. “After standard debriefing protocol, make sure everyone in this room goes to the WildHaven Institute.”

The member nodded.

“Let’s check out that room.”

“Before you all leave and I have to go to this institute, I’d love to talk to you,” said Susan, gesturing at V.

He raised his hand for a high five. “Of course.”

She laughed as she returned it.

There would be a lot of minds blown in the coming weeks. Brad had watched many people come to grips with how diverse the world was. Learning about aliens always seemed to be the biggest shock, followed closely by learning that myths had truth to them. The Imperium also made their presence known, and having someone meet Thor or Hercules always impressed people.

They reached the room and entered.

It looked like someone had plucked a row of servers out of a data center and plopped it down, then put chairs and monitors all around it. The storage units were what took up the space, and data entry did not require a lot of processing power.

His eyes glowed blue as he focused on the servers. They used a proprietary database system to store all the data, and the Linux operating system was also custom. It was not as secure as the designers thought. He sensed V and Evot when they connected and began looking around.

The databases were glowing boxes to him, and he asked them where the alien tech came from. A set of data flew out and displayed in front of him.

“The data is denormalized, but I got an address,” said Brad.

“Impressive,” said V. “I just started processing everything.”

Brad grinned. “Just need to know the right question to ask.” He faced Dalton. “Looks like it’s a dwarven mining facility outside Rock City.”

“Southern Colorado, northwest of Durango,” said Dalton.

“Yeah, part of the Quadrangle. I’ve never been there.”

“It’s not quite what people expect.”

“Lot of nonhuman types you don’t really see anywhere else, especially in Faerington,” said Brad. “I take it that’s our next stop?”

Dalton rubbed his chin. “Most likely, but I’d like to do some research first on other cases in the area. That might illuminate something.” He gestured at the servers. “Retrieve all this data and get it to the Earth Ward for processing.”

Brad did a two-finger salute. “You got it.”

“Analysis. I have a connection to the Torvatta we can use as a router,” said V.

Dalton slapped him on the back. “That’s what I like to hear. I take it you can’t come with us?”

“Unfortunately not. It may cause unintended ripples in time.”

“I figured. Minimize your impact, but I’m glad you helped out here at least.”

“Acknowledged,” said V.

He high-fived Dalton, who cracked up.

Brad enjoyed being around V. They had become natural friends, and Brad had even been V’s organic interaction test subject several times, as he put it. V had been practicing his humor, and Brad liked seeing how he worked through it. It would have been nice to have V come along, but Brad understood that Evaran and V tried to minimize their presence, as it caused ripples wherever they went. V even doing this much was unusual.

Evot had been giddy with V around. He was her mentor, and they had a close bond. She had spilled details to V about her relationship with Brad. He did not mind. He might if it was someone else, but V was unique. If he really wanted to, he could travel up the timeline and observe undetected as it was.

“Before I leave, I have a new simulation I would like your input on,” said V. “Do you have time for me?”

Brad laid a hand on V’s shoulder. “Always. And if I don’t, I’ll make it.”

V’s lights glowed brighter.

Evot rested her hand on V’s other shoulder. “I will as well.”

Brad laughed at the awkward silence. Although it was probably not comedic for V and Evot, it would be for the rest of the team. He sat in a chair and smiled when Evot morphed into a cat and hopped in his lap. It was time to focus back on the data. It would take some time to get everything moved, and he wanted to do some data mining with his girlfriend and one of his closest friends.