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Note from the Author
About the Author
Books in the Series
Copyright © 2016 Adair Hart
All rights are reserved to the author. No part of this ebook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Editing done by Laura Petrella
Cover done by Tom Edwards
Interior Design done by Colleen Sheehan
Proofread by Red Adept Publishing
Published by Quantum Edge Publishing
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“If I get out of here, you’re all dead,” said Dolgus Kree.
Warden Borox shifted in his seat behind his desk as he eyed Dolgus. Dolgus was a Bilaxian, like him, and stood around seven feet tall with blue skin, a bald head, and a set of facial tattoos indicating the clan he came from.
Borox nodded at the two prison guards escorting Dolgus.
The guards tightened Dolgus’s restraints and stepped back.
Borox knew Dolgus was tough, and Dolgus’s clan, the Gillor, was known for its brutality. They occupied a planet on the outer edges of the Bilaxian Empire, a star-spanning civilization in the Andromeda galaxy, and were a consistent thorn in the empire’s side. How the heir to such a powerful clan came to be before him was not so much a puzzle as who brought him in.
Borox adjusted his shirt. “Number three, Dolgus Kree. It has a certain ring to it.”
“I should be number one,” said Dolgus.
“I don’t think so.” Borox smirked. “You just don’t have … what it takes to be number one.” He signaled to the guards.
“We’ll see. Your little prison can’t hold me. And since when did you hire mercenaries?”
Borox chuckled. “I didn’t. Seems like you just had some bad luck being number three in the most-wanted list this month.”
The guards spun Dolgus around toward the door.
As Dolgus was exiting, he turned his head. “To Evaran, this prison, and especially you. Mark my words. You screwed with the wrong clan this time.”
Borox shook his head. “If I’m lucky, they might join you.”
Dolgus snorted as the guards led him out into the hallway.
Another guard walked into the room. He raised his left arm at a ninety-degree angle and folded his thumb across his palm. “Evaran is out front.”
Borox gestured at the guard. “Bring him in.”
After a few moments, the guard escorted Evaran into the room.
Borox studied Evaran. Evaran was an enigma to him. He had thought Evaran was a Dalrun, due to his humanoid appearance, fair skin, and dirty-blond hair, but Evaran had insisted he was not a Dalrun.
Evaran had appeared on their doorstep out of the blue with the number one criminal on the most-wanted list. No questions were asked, and he provided evidence that identified the criminal.
Borox had granted Evaran a bounty license. Evaran then brought in number two. And now number three. The light-gray one-piece suit with highlights of orange, silver, white, and blue was unique to Evaran. Advanced technology, far superior to what the Bilaxians had, was used in the criminals’ capture from what Borox had read. He had also never seen anything like Evaran’s second layer of boots, forearms, neck guard, and utility belt. Maybe they possessed some of that advanced technology. He shook his head with a smile and gestured at the chair in front of his desk. “Evaran. Good to see you again. You’ve been busy, I see.”
“I have. Dolgus Kree was a bit more difficult to obtain.” Evaran laid a device on the desk as he took a seat. “You will find incriminating evidence on Dolgus Kree on that device.”
Borox picked up the device and scrutinized it. “We’ve verified it’s Dolgus Kree and already have evidence against him in our system.”
“Yes, but there is more there.”
Evaran nodded. “He is also responsible for the deaths of several individuals. It took some effort, but the evidence for his involvement is there.”
Borox stared at Evaran for a moment, then burst out laughing. “You walked into the capital city, on the capital planet of the Gillor Clan, and extracted someone who they said they couldn’t find. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t just seen ’im.” He exhaled through his nose. “You never answered why you’re going after these guys.”
“I have not.” Evaran narrowed his eyes. “However, I will now give you my reason. They hurt my friends.”
Borox jerked his head back. He had not expected an answer, but he would take it. “Which friends would that be?”
“Any planet that is not evolved enough to be a member of your empire and that I have visited. These individuals have performed criminal activities on some of those planets.”
Borox looked down at the screen on his desk. He slid his finger across the cool glass, bringing up the list of crimes attributed to the number one and two criminals. It listed out various rim worlds that had been attacked. Out of the seventy or so worlds, seven had major incidents. The number one and two criminals were responsible for four of them, the other three were by unknown assailants. “Well, by that criteria, there are three worlds where we don’t know who was responsible, Neoparene, Haladintorin, and Fezzi. I’m willing to bet that criminals four through seven are involved with those.”
“The Bloodbores, correct?”
“Yeah. You going to go after them next? Heard the Rybox Clan is involved in some way.”
Evaran shook his head. “Their involvement has not been confirmed. However, that is not why I have given you my reason. I am leaving and wanted you to know why I did what I did before I left.”
“I appreciate that … but uhh … where you headed?”
Evaran extended his left hand. A holographic projection showing the Andromeda galaxy shot up from his ring. A red dot appeared in the lower-left quadrant. “We are here now.” He tapped his ring with his thumb, and the projection changed to the Milky Way galaxy, or Wendago galaxy as it was known by the Bilaxians, with a red dot roughly twenty light-years from Earth. “I am going here.”
Borox studied the projection. “The Wendago galaxy. May I ask why?”
“I would be surprised if you did not.” Evaran tapped at his ring with his thumb, and a projection of a human shot up. “I have searched for a long time across this galaxy for this species. I do not believe it is here.”
Borox scrutinized the human. “That’s a Dalrun.”
“I thought so too at first. However, this species’ home world has a specific configuration. Daltorus did not have it from what I have researched.”
Borox tilted his head. “Specific configuration like …”
“Anomalies in the genetic makeup of the species.”
“All advanced civilizations are genetically engineered to a certain degree.”
“This is a bit different. These are individuals that are hybrids of regular and exotic matter. Genetic engineering is irrelevant in that regard.”
Borox drew his lips flat as he eased back into his chair and laced his fingers. He enjoyed the brief discussions he had with Evaran, and knew he would miss them. There was always some piece of the discussion that would make him wonder for days. This discussion was one of them. “Hybrid … like number one Tolkus Gare?”
“Yes. He was what is termed a Wildborn, a mixture of an exotic energy type I refer to as wild energy and regular matter,” said Evaran. “They are exceedingly rare, and only seem to appear on a specific humanoid type. I am unsure as to why that is. Tolkus Gare was Dalrun, and the Dalrun meet the wild energy hybrid requirement. However, there were only two others I found on their planet. The home world I seek should have hundreds, if not thousands. Tolkus Gare’s Wildborn ability was to camouflage himself in any environment, and he did not require technology, he could do it by just thinking it.”
Borox ran his hand over his mouth. “Yeah, you mentioned that when you brought him in. Well, the camouflage part anyways, not the Wildborn part.” He smirked and gestured at Evaran. “He has tried using his abilities here, but we’re a bit more advanced in our detection than that low-tech world he infiltrated and … did what he did.”
“I have repaired that situation to the best of my ability. However, it is time for me to go. I may be back one day.”
“I hope so. Be quiet without you around,” said Borox. “How’re you going to get out there? Intergalactic travel’s never been done before. You going into cryo or something?”
“Not exactly. My ship is unique, and travel will be only a few seconds.”
Borox’s eyes widened. “Pretty advanced ship. I suppose you aren’t going to enlighten me on the technology used.”
Evaran half grinned.
Borox extended his hands outward, palms up. “Well, worth a shot. You’re always welcome here. Just based on the discussions we’ve had, I suspect I could learn a lot from you. I’ll keep the local information network updated, usually a lag time of a few days, but it’ll be relayed to all sensor probes throughout the empire. Just fly in range, and you’ll be updated.”
Evaran nodded. “Noted.” He stood up and raised his left arm at a ninety-degree angle with his folded thumb across his palm. “I appreciate your help and have deposited half the bounty credits into your account. I have given the other half to your prison for upgrades.”
Borox wrinkled his eyebrows as he stood up and returned Evaran’s salute. His heartbeat ramped up and his mouth went dry. “Uhh … that’s almost five lifetimes of work for me. And you’re giving it to me and the prison?”
“Yes. You are a good person. I can see that. I have no use of credits.”
Borox ran his hand along his chin as he scrutinized Evaran. He had a hard time believing anyone would give up that type of financial security, especially to a warden and his prison. “Thanks hardly seems adequate.”
Evaran nodded and turned to head to the door.
Borox extended a hand. “Wait! You don’t want anything in return?”
Evaran paused, and then pivoted around. “I may have need of your services should I find someone needing incarceration.”
Borox snorted. “Just bring ’em in. Any evidence you provide is good enough for me. It’s the least I can do. I’ll keep your identity private like I did with the others.”
Evaran nodded again and then exited the room.
Borox sat in his chair and eased back. He chuckled as he thought of the criminals who had no idea what was about to arrive.
Jake Melkins did not want to go to a breeding camp. Going directly into slavery was not high on his list either.
His head rested on his left hand as he sat in a dining booth. He looked out the window of the floating space station turned rest stop named Jells, after his foster dad. The stars in the distance looked so peaceful and serene, like the empty and quiet dining room he was in. He imagined one of the stars going supernova, and compared it to what was coming on his twenty-first birthday in a few months.
His athletic build, fair skin, jet-black hair, and blue eyes were highly prized by the Seceltor Empire, and they controlled his fate. A brief thought of standing up and saying no to them crossed his mind. It exited as fast as it came. Death was always an option. Being free and in control of his life seemed so far out of reach. He sighed as he exited the booth and grabbed the broom that rested nearby. Time to get back to work. At least there was a cargo run coming up in a few days. It gave him a chance to interact with others, even if they were not human.
Jells walked into the room. “Daydreaming again?”
Jake glanced at Jells. It had taken him a while back when he was six to get used to Jells’s bug-like face. Large, oval-shaped black eyes and two slits for a nose sat on a four-foot-tall, gray-skinned, plump humanoid body. Small eyebrows ringed the top of the eyes. A small mouth and two big elephant-like ears that could flap rounded out the face. The ears gave Jells superior hearing, something quite useful in a rest stop. “Nah. Just thinking is all.”
“About your upcoming birthday, I suppose.”
“Well, if we had working robots, you could think about it while not having to sweep the floor.”
Jake sighed as he looked at the broken-down cleaning robot at the far end of the room. It had served them faithfully for a long time, but they could not keep up on the maintenance. Most of the manual work had to be done by him now, between flying cargo routes.
At least he did not have to be around when those damned slavers stopped in. They were rowdy and disruptive and never paid for the damage they did. Challenging them was out of the question.
Jake shook his head. It was just him, Jells, and a small army of service robots that were slowly beginning to fail. What would happen if they could not keep the place going? Jake wondered if Jells would ever sell. Jells had run this station for almost thirty years now, and when Jake left, how would Jells maintain it? The thought of leaving all of this for Jells to handle filled Jake with dread. He sat down on a bar stool and looked around the large rectangular room. He was going to miss it.
Jells studied Jake. “Is something else bothering you?”
“Was just thinking about … my fate.”
“I understand. It’s the system, though. I hate it.”
“Yeah, I know. There’s nothing that can be done. The day will come, and I’ll be gone. I won’t go to a breeding farm, though, and I don’t think I will be a good slave either,” said Jake with a raised voice.
Jells sighed and put a hand on Jake’s shoulder. “You know I’ll try my best to get you out once you’re in the system.”
“I know,” said Jake, nodding. He gritted his teeth. “Why do they get to choose my fate for me? Why can’t they just leave me the hell alone?” He slipped his head into his hands and sighed.
“Why don’t you take the rest of the day off. I’ll … take care of this room.”
Jake slid off the stool and hugged a startled Jells. “Thanks, Dad.”
Although Jells was officially a caretaker, he was all Jake knew growing up after six. Jells was patient with him, taught him how to do many things, and, more importantly, treated him like a son. A lump formed in Jake’s throat as he stepped back.
“Go,” said Jells, pointing off toward the room entrance.