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Project Battle Royale: A Gamelit Survival Book

project battle royale book cover
Part of the Project Battle Royale series:
  • Project Battle Royale: A Gamelit Survival Book

Field and Goemon might be losers in the real world. In the hallowed online battleground game Project Battle Royale, though, they are...also losers. But this round is different. Seriously. This is the round of destiny.

The rules are simple. 100 players plunge out of a plane onto the virtual battlefield. 98 of them will exit in a body bag. The winning duo must survive an onslaught of guns, grenades and in-game glitches. Also, the ceaseless threat of the Blue Wall of Death, and the RNG gods, and a crumbling post-apocalyptic island where no dilapidated building is safe.

Guns will be modded. Enemies will be shot. Loot will be looted. Survivors will be shot again. Old friendships will be tested. New ones will be forged atop crates and corpses. Maybe it’s not the win, maybe it’s the friends you make along the way. Nah, that’s loser talk, it’s all about the win.

A gamelit novel inspired by battle royale games like PUBG and Fortnite.

Excerpt:

Dropping In

 

 

The seats of the plane were packed tighter than a twelve pack of Mountain Dew. The air transport sat four to a row with an aisle that split them down the middle. Goemon and I ended up somewhere in the middle, but positioning did not matter so much. Passengers on this ride had the power to leave whenever they wanted.

The cabin lights did little more than stop people from bumping into each other. It might have been nice to use the downtime to check the gear on the other players, to see who was spending their allowance on skins and who was saving up to buy a crate and a key. The lurch of the plane and the overall darkness made it too difficult, though. I just focused on the map and the flightpath of the transport instead.

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The cargo airliner appeared in the bottom left corner of the popped-up screen that was the map. It appeared to be headed at an almost exactly 45-degree angle across the map to the northwest. This meant nearly all of the First Island map was open for business- we could jump out and parachute far enough to make it anywhere. We called it First Island because it was the first island in the game and the real name was impossible to pronounce. In a few seconds, the plane would be over land.

The players onboard screamed and howled at each other in anticipation. The sound barely reached above the roar of the engines. Half the crowd failed to form words due to the sheer excitement, or possibly, stupidity. Some shouted general obscenities about each other’s moms, or proclamations like “China number one!” More tried to bait players into dropping at a high population area like Big Town- “Meet me at Big Town or you don’t have any balls,” was the preferred method of communicating that sentiment. The rest, including Goemon and I, sat mostly silent, contemplating and planning the round by ourselves.

“Where do you wanna drop?” I asked.

“I don’t know. The Spot?” Goemon said.

“We always hit The Spot. What if we mix it up?”

“Sure, why not? We can’t do any worse than this streak.”

“Alright. Here!” I said and placed a marker on the map for Goemon to see.

“Atlantis, huh? Risky, but I guess it’s not Big City or Gun Range. I like it.”

Amidst the yammering of players and the engines’ wail, the cargo door of the plane opened up to let in some fresh air. Players began to leap out the back of the plane, most of them likely headed to Windy Harbor below. Sometimes dropping with the a huge group off the plane was good for a laugh. The problem was you usually end up with nothing but a crowbar to go along with some shotgun shells without the actual shotgun. Meanwhile, everyone else already has a fully-kitted M4 trained on your uncovered head and the round is over as soon as it began.

About a third of the plane had emptied out the back and the marker on the map approached fast. “Let’s do this!” I yelled upon leaping out the back of the plane. Rather than take in the sights, I angled my body like a bullet straight down in order to maximize freefall speed. It worked in old secret agent spy movies and it worked here too. When I got oriented enough I looked back up for Goemon, who was not there.

“Where in the world are you going?” I screamed through the wind into the comlink.

“What? Oh, right,” Goemon said calmly. I could see nothing but his displayed name in the distance. I opened the map and saw my partner had missed the drop point. Not by much, just a measly few thousand feet.

“Great, guess I’m going to get there first,” I said while closing the map. Of course, that was wishful thinking. The parachutes of players who had dropped a few seconds sooner opened beneath me and filled the horizon. I would be the first of the duo to get there, sure, but I would be far from the first player to arrive at Atlantis.

To land in the middle of the city was suicide. First off, every building in the town had at least one window facing toward the center. This meant already equipped players just had to peek out of their respective houses for a free kill there first. Then there was the issue of a distinct lack of any serviceable weapons in the middle. To top it all off, the water ran deepest in the center, too. This caused a real issue with trying to actually move, and moving was a crucial part when it came to avoiding bullets.

My parachute deployed automatically once I fell close enough to ground level. With only a few seconds left before touching down, I tried to pinpoint where the closest threats would land. I counted six right off the bat, but had to stop when I realized where my landing trajectory was headed. The center of Atlantis, the big barrel of fish, sat right beneath. I banked left as fast as possible and smashed through the window of a building. It was not the most graceful landing, but it was better than ending up in that swamp.

Even though everyone else in the city knew where I was thanks to the crack of the shattered window, I opened the map one more time and marked the building for Goemon’s sake.

“Try and land on the roof here, hurry. There’s like ten people in this city. This was a terrible idea,” I said.

“Alright, just stay alive,” Goemon responded.

“Good advice.”

In the distance, the low burst of gunshots declared the official start of the round. It was always amazing how some players managed to not just land so quickly, but find, equip, load, and fire their weapons, too. At least the shots were far off- probably closer to Windy Harbor or The Big City- instead of in my humble home.

Speaking of a humble home, the first floor of my chosen building just so happened to be about three feet underwater. If there was any loot to pick up, I could not see it through the waist-high muck and did not want to waste any more time playing scrap diver. The first floor was a loss, but that was fine. There were two more floors to check just up the stairs.

Another duo was kind enough to tell me that they knew exactly where I was by launching hot lead through the broken window. They might have missed my body, but the jolt was enough to kick my heart into overdrive already. I ducked beneath the window and watched more bullets whiz overhead. Judging by the angle and the sound, they must be on the top floor across the way- better than being right outside the door.

“I picked a real bad house,” I said, just before taking a deep breath and bolting up the stairs. I checked my torso for a leak, but everything appeared intact for the moment.

“I’m about to land. Which building are you in?” Goemon said.

“The map! Look at the map!”

“The top building or the bottom building?”

“The top!”

Goemon landed on the roof of what he presumed to be the top building. Unfortunately, it was not the one currently occupied by me.

“You picked the wrong one!” I yelled.

“Oh, you meant the bottom one,” Goemon replied. “Holy smokes, there’s a ton of people here.” He was scampering around the rooftop.

“I told you. Just find a gun and get over here, this house sucks, I’ve got nothing.”

“There’s...there’s someone up here with me.”

“Get out of there!”

“No time. I’m gonna have to get my hands dirty.”

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Home » Books

The Hunter’s Den

Dead of Midnight Book 1

Book Cover: The Hunter's Den
Part of the Dead of Midnight series:
  • The Hunter's Den
Editions:Kindle
ISBN: 1234

Hollywood by night is soaked in as much blood as it is neon light. The streets and clubs exist as nothing more than hunting grounds for the vampires that reside within.

When the love of her life is ripped away by bloodsuckers, Jules swears an oath of vengeance. Now she is out for answers and some blood of her own.

The vampire hunter books got one thing right: the best defense against a vampire is a crossbow from a distance. But when things get close, this novice hunter and her alluring prey Morgan might have more in common than a lust for blood.

Taking inspiration from urban fantasy like Supernatural and books like Vampire Chronicles, The Hunter’s Den is a paranormal thriller/vampire romance.

Excerpt:

The heart in Jules’ chest needed to slow down. If it didn’t, it was liable to beat its way right out of her chest. Remember to breathe, she told herself. It’s all part of the process. Probably. No way worrying about the side effects could have any kind of positive effect. Maybe if she didn’t focus on it…only it was hard to focus on anything else.

The blood that Jules had drunk only a few seconds ago was hard at work inside of her. She could feel it and see it in her mind with clarity, and every thump of her chest seemed to push the sensation to the far reaches of her body. She knew she had to take control or it was going to take control of her. The first step was to open her eyes, which had forced themselves shut as soon as the blood hit her tongue. Her eyelids listened to her, so that meant the rest of her body would, too.

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The first thing Jules noticed was how the darkness of the street she had chosen now seemed so much less so. It was almost as if the full moon had lowered itself to where she stood. The lights that filtered in from Hollywood Boulevard were brighter, too, and their colors were so much more intense then she remembered them. OK, great, so it was working, and maybe she didn’t need to focus on her pounding heart.

Jules took a wobbly step, and the ground felt like it was going to slip out from under her. She forced one foot in front of the other, and then did it again, and again, and then the ground stopped moving. Now her feet felt good. Really good. She wanted to put them to good use so she started moving faster and faster until she realized she was practically sprinting with just a minimal effort. If anyone was watching her, she would have looked like an insane person who either took too much of her medication or not enough. Maybe that wasn’t too far off. Maybe she should have started with just a drop. There was no going back now.

Get it together, Jules thought. She pulled her compact mirror out of her pocket and examined her eyes. Still green, maybe a little more so than normal, but she didn’t spend too much time staring at her own eyes. The important thing was she didn’t look as different as she felt. She had everything under control, everything was fine, the blood is just doing its thing. No sense in sitting around thinking about it, and no time like the present. She took a few deep breaths and headed for the action.

Familiar crowds walked along both sides of the street. They didn’t look entirely different than on any other night. Sam never said it would make normal people look any different. Come to think of it, he also didn’t explain exactly how vamps would end up standing out to her. Maybe she would just know one when she saw one. The more she watched them, the more she could feel her vision adjusting to their presence. Each person seemed to have a physical aura about them. Jules could see it, and though some of them were slightly different sizes, for the most part they were all the same hazy shade of green. She looked at her own arms to see if she had one, but there was nothing there.

The blood was definitely working. That meant part one of her plan was, too. Now she just needed to find part two. Everywhere Jules looked, there were more green auras. They were becoming more pronounced- whether that meant the blood was becoming stronger or she was just becoming more sensitive to them, she couldn’t be sure. She peeked her head into bars, into shops, and saw nothing but green. No success yet, but at least it was more efficient than the hunt the day before. Besides, something about the blood had put her in an incredible mood.

Something in her gut told her she was headed in the right direction. It was either the blood or it was her intuition. Either way, she did her best to listen to it. It told her to press on, to the west, so she did. At first, she thought it might have been in her head. Eventually, Jules began to sense something different. The white noise of the city- the blaring horns, the chatter, the same DJ set that seemed to emanate from every bar- it all seemed to get a little bit quieter. She could still hear music, but this was different. It wasn’t bass hitting her over the head. This was more subdued, and unrefined, definitely a live band.

Jules moved toward the music and it grew louder, along with the voice inside of her. Her heart picked up the pace again. This time, she knew it wasn’t her body adjusting to the sudden influx of vamp blood. One of them was close. If Jules could feel the vampire’s presence, could the vampire feel hers? Or would she just blend in with all of the other humans in the crowd?

The door of the place was propped open, and that was lucky because it looked to be about two feet thick. Something from another era, another world. Her eyes needed only a moment to adjust from the glow of the outside, and when it did, they were drawn to one man, in the middle of a group and somehow alone.

His eyes were already focused intently on hers. Even at that distance, they stood out from the rest of the room. There was no glowing sign above him that read “vampire.” He had no aura, at least not one that was visible. But she could feel him in her heart. She had never seen a living creature so strikingly beautiful and had to remind herself that he was not living. Jules carried so much anger inside of her. She wanted nothing more than to unleash it on a hideous beast. But no amount of training, no amount of nights spent longing for this moment, could have prepared her for the sight of the beautiful monster that sat across the room from her. If there was evil in his gray eyes, he kept it hidden. Probably a defense mechanism.

Jules stared at him and he stared back, but his gaze was so intense that he seemed to be looking at an object through her. She fought the urge to turn around- she knew there was nothing there. Instead, she found the strength to break from his gaze. She began to glance around the room, acting like she was looking for someone. Yeah, that could work. Maybe if she acted like she was interested in everything but him, she could actually catch him off guard.

Part two of the plan was completed. Or maybe it was still in progress. She wanted to get the vampire out of there, maybe lure him to a back alley. She could play like a weak damsel, then turn the tables when he least expected it…but how was she going to get him out of there? Especially when he was with someone else that she hadn’t noticed before. A blonde in a red dress. She was human, judging by her aura. She was expensive, judging by her shoes, and probably cold judging by the cut of her dress and the temperature in that place. Was that the vamp’s mark for the night? Seemed pretty typical. That girl had no idea what she was in for, probably just picked the boy with the prettiest eyes and the best cheekbones in the room.

Jules watched out of the corner of her eye as the vampire leaned in close to the blonde girl. He whispered something in her ear, and with no change whatsoever, the girl stood from her seat and walked away. She watched Jules as she did so, but the lack of malice or any real emotion was all the more unsettling. Jules shifted her focus back to the threat himself, and he was still staring at her.

Then, he threw her even further off balance. She knew the side of his mouth wasn’t curling into half of a smile. She’d seen that kind of smug look before, but never on a creature of the night, of course. The vampire then lifted his hand with the least amount of effort possible and gestured towards the now open seat next to him.

This time, Jules had to check behind her to make sure she wasn’t staring at someone else. He wasn’t. She had to think quick. They were in a public place, not a battleground. She couldn't just shoot him or she'd cause more than a scene. Best case scenario she gets arrested. Worst case scenario, she gets an innocent person hurt or killed, and then she gets arrested. On the flip side, it's not like the vampire could really do anything to harm her in the bar. He would never risk the attention. This was just all part of the game.

She found her mind going back to Daniel. She must have fallen asleep during the part of the lecture where he went over what to do in the event a vampire wants to buy you a drink. He would have thought this was a terrible idea. Crazy, dangerous, he would have said. Ha! It was probably a good thing she left him behind. Besides, she would be fine as long as she kept the upper hand.

The guitars blared behind her and seemed to push her further forward. Jules listened, and she smoothly walked over to the table. Her courage was sky high, and that only added to the absurdity of the situation. It's crazy what a crossbow and a loaded pair of boots can do to a girl's self-confidence when they're mixed with a vamp blood cocktail. Still, this wasn't how she had pictured the hunt transpiring. For everyone else in the bar, the two of them might as well be on a blind date. That was fine, the fewer people that got involved, the better.

Jules sat down, and the candle on the table gave her a clearer look at her target. The dim light of the flame caused shadows to form under the man's razor-sharp cheekbones. Her heart pounded; some mixture of adrenaline, the fresh blood inside of her and a genuine curiosity to see how this was going to play out.

“I've never seen you in here before,” the vampire said with a voice that sounded as though it was made from warm velvet.

“Yeah, it's my first time,” Jules said, resisting the urge to look into his eyes. She could feel them burning into the side of her head.

“Can I get you something to drink?” he asked. His voice was barely above a whisper, but she could hear it so clearly above the music.

“No, I don't drink,” she lied, mostly. But she wanted to keep a clear head. At least as clear as it could be while it was full of vamp blood.

“Me neither,” he said, “but why, then, do you come to bars in Hollywood?”

“Why do you?” Jules asked. She stared at the band.

“Plenty of reasons. Like the music. I need to keep up on current trends. And, of course, the company.”

“Oh, are you meeting someone here?” she asked, playing dumb.

“I wasn’t planning on it until you walked in,” he hummed. She kept quiet. If she didn’t know any better, she might think she was getting hit on by the most attractive person she’d ever seen. Jules knew better, and this wasn’t a person.

“The name’s Morgan, although I suppose you already know that much. You could at least tell me yours,” he said. Jules cracked and looked at him, finally.

“How would I know that?” she asked, genuinely confused. Who did he think she was?

“You followed me in here, right? How did you find me?” his voice was still calm and cool, almost playful. Clearly, he knew that Jules wasn’t just an innocent bystander. Whether he knew about the crossbow in her jacket remained to be seen. Was this just a game to him?

“Sorry, I don’t recognize you. Are you an actor or something? I’m new in town,” Jules said, maybe laying the line on a little thick.

He actually laughed. “Your voice says you’re telling the truth. The knife in your boots says otherwise.” Her eyes went wide. Guess there was no reason for her to play dumb anymore. Apparently, she needed to work on her disguise for next time- if there was going to be a next time. “I think I can answer my own question. I can smell it on you…which, I’m sorry to say, I don’t care for. I like your natural perfume much better. There’s someone else in there with you, isn’t there?”

“Excuse me,” Jules blurted out, fearing the upper hand was already lost to her.

“I’m just saying,” Morgan continued, “it was clever of you to try it, but don’t you know drinking vampire blood has drastic long term effects on the human body? Besides, if you were really that curious, you could have just asked me, darling.”

“I'm not really the begging type,” she said, “and it's Julian.”

“I knew there was something I loved about you, even from a distance. It's that fire in your eyes. You're showing it much brighter now. And Julian, what a lovely name to match.”

Jules came close to blushing before she remembered who she was dealing with. She'd deflected advances like this before. “Yeah, well my dad really wanted a son.”

“Ha! Fortunately, he did not get his wish. I'm afraid I must ask you a personal question, Jules,” Morgan paused, waiting for her reaction. Normally, Jules would have never let some stranger at the bar start calling her by her nickname- let alone some vamp. It rolled so naturally off of his tongue, though. She couldn't bring herself to be mad, and in fact liked hearing it.

“You can ask it, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna answer it,” she quipped.

“Did you come here to kill me?” he asked without a hint of anger.

“Yeah,” Jules remarked simply. She felt a twinge of regret for something she hadn't even done yet. It must have been manufactured by the vampire, some side effect of the blood or his presence.

“I see. That's what I had gathered, but I just wanted to be sure. Well, should we get on with it then?” he asked.

Jules was thrown for a loop. “Here? In front of all these people?”

“Would you rather we take it outside?”

“Yeah, I would, actually.”

“Very well, after you,” Morgan whispered.

Jules might have been a rookie, but she wasn't stupid. “I'll follow you, Morgan,” she said and found herself liking how his name felt on her lips.

“Very well,” Morgan stood up and walked towards the back of the room. “There's a service exit over here, it shouldn't be too crowded out back.”

Jules followed behind him but stayed out of arm's reach. Daniel had made it clear how fast they could move, but the space made her feel more comfortable nonetheless. The door swung open to a back alley, full of garbage bags and not much else. On one side was a fence coated with barbed wire. A dead end. On the other, at the long end, was the street, escape. If she had to run, she'd never make it.

“Well, here we are,” Morgan raised his hands as though he was presenting the battleground. “Forgive me if I say that I'm a little disappointed at how our first meeting has turned out.” He walked towards the brick wall, and Jules took the opportunity to unholster the crossbow while his back was to her.

“I just thought maybe-”

Jules cut him off mid-sentence by pulling the trigger as he turned around. She hit him, though evidently not where she wanted to because he kept talking.

“Hey, you shot me! Ow!”

The wooden bolt was lodged firmly in the vampire's abdomen, about six inches off the mark. It wasn't her finest shot. Fortunately, it had gone clean through into the wall behind him, rendering Morgan immobile for the time being.

“You're just lucky I missed,” Jules growled as she pulled the knife from her boot and walked towards the vampire. He looked to be mostly disabled by immense pain. Jules guessed wood really did the trick. She'd never truly hurt someone before, at least physically, aside from sparring with Daniel and that one fight she had in elementary school. She had gotten herself this far, though. The pleasure was no longer there. But her resolve still was.

“And here I thought we were getting along so well.”

“Maybe you should just save it.”

“Don't I get one last request?”

“After what you did to me, I don't owe you anything.”

“Could you please at least elaborate for me what I have done to deserve your cruel brand of justice?”

“Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Unless maybe it was so meaningless you've forgotten. Well, I haven't.” She had practiced the speech in her head so many times in the past. There was always emotion there, mixed in with the memories and the desire for revenge. Now that the moment was here, it was magnified. She wouldn't cry this time.

“Trust me, I would remember meeting someone like you,” Morgan said, his voice wavering slightly, “so I'm afraid you might have me confused with someone else. Although I am a bit jealous he got your full attention.”

“Not me. The love of my life. You took him from me, and for a year I wished you would have just killed me instead. It took me so long to learn that it was you that deserves to die. You, not me. So this is for him.”

Jules’ hand shook as it clutched the knife. She moved closer to Morgan, who didn’t appear to be going anywhere other than the wall.  Could she really go through with it?

“I think you've got me mixed up, darling,” he said. “That’s a terrible story, but I didn’t kill your lover. Couldn’t have been me. I’m only just off the wagon, understand?”

“No…I don’t understand.”

“I know what it’s like to have your life taken away from you,” Morgan whispered, and Jules found herself staring into his gray eyes. “I know that the pain never really leaves, and I know that feeling that’s always lurking beneath the surface, just under the rest of your thoughts.”

Jules didn’t know why, but she believed this man. Perhaps she would have believed anything he said. She also wanted to know more, or maybe she just wanted to continue to hear his velour voice. It was the only thing she felt now. The energy coming off his body was magnetic and it pulled her closer, and his eyes gripped her tightly and kept her there. Somewhere in her mind, a small voice told her to stop, to resist. The rest of her body wouldn’t listen. It screamed with desire, and she was ready to give in.

“Let me be your remedy,” Morgan breathed into her ear, “and you can be mine.”

Morgan came off of the wall and left the arrow planted behind him. He ran his hand across her cheek and through her jet black hair, towards the back of her head. The chill of his touch made her skin tingle all over, and Jules felt his fingers in her hair, pulling her head back. In that moment she was helpless to him. He brought his lips close to hers and they hovered there for a breath or two and in that moment Jules thought if she had to wait any longer she was going to lose her mind. Unless, of course, she already had.

Then, Morgan kissed her. She closed her eyes and let the feeling envelop her. It was her first physical connection with anyone since she had been with Sam. Now, a wave of passion was breaking down a wall within her. It didn’t satisfy her. It only made her want more. Morgan, though, had other plans. He took his lips away from hers and moved them just beneath her ear. He tasted her, and the coolness of his tongue on her skin made Jules shiver lightly.

First, she felt his tongue move lower, then it stopped in the middle of her neck. She gasped gently as his teeth went into her, and the sensation would have made her go limp if Morgan wasn’t holding her. The two of them were locked together, and for a moment Jules felt complete, like her half had finally been made whole. She could feel the blood leaving her, but the pleasure that Morgan left behind was more than enough to make up for it. Besides, the pain was long gone, replaced by nothing but ecstasy and love for this beautiful creature.

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Home » Books

Side Quest Sideshow

Terra Reforma Book 2

Book Cover: Side Quest Sideshow
Part of the Terra Reforma series:

Phase Gannon and Kym Bit aren’t trapped in a video game, but they might as well be. There’s nothing left for either of them in the cyberpunk dystopia of real life Old SD.

Besides, the post-apocalyptic MMORPG game world of Terra Reforma still holds plenty of the comforts of the Old World. Take the still-mostly-standing WonderL@nd theme park, for instance. Sure, it needs a new coat of paint or two, but the sights are still worth a look so long as your armor is good enough. It’s also the only thing that stands between the fledgling Smuggler Phase, veteran Hacker Kym, and the land of opportunity that is Lost Angel City.

All they have to do is party up and fight their way through the four factions that reign over WonderL@nd. Maybe they would have been better off taking the long way around. Too late for that now- besides, more mobs mean more loot, right?

In this online amusement park, it’s not the cheap thrills that will kill you. It’s the locals that run the place.

Side Quest Sideshow is book 2 of the Terra Reforma LitRPG Series.

Excerpt:

“I’m not trying to get poisoned to death,” Phase told her.

“Neither am I,” she replied. “The poison would send us both to the Float. And Toxic Yellowjackets aren’t the kind of monster we have of a hope of outrunning.”

“Anything we have to worry about on the inland route besides raiders and a few gankers?”

The biggest obstacle of Option B stood in the middle of the Urban Sprawl. “Wonderl@nd. It’s the gateway from this side of the map into the next. We’ll have to go through it to get to the outskirts of LA City.”

“Wonderl@nd? That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“I’ve never been, so I can’t say for sure. But don’t expect it to be a walk in the park. Come on, we’ll have to backtrack a little bit to get on the right highway.”

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As much as Kym desired the shortest possible trip to Lost Angel City, she wasn’t exactly disappointed at skipping the poison path. She had encountered the Yellowjackets before once before. Once was enough. She survived the ordeal with nothing short of three different toxic stings. It took a bagful of chems to keep her heart pumping long enough to find a med center. The pain was so excruciating that the med drone opted to knock her out with tranquilizers for three days. In other words, it was not an experience she was looking to repeat.

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Terra Reforma

Book Cover: Terra Reforma
Part of the Terra Reforma series:
Editions:Kindle
ISBN: 1234
Paperback: $ 4.99
ISBN: 1234

Terra Reforma. The virtual game world set in the time period after humanity hit the reset button. A time after the bombs dropped, and before society was able to reform into the tech-driven megacities it consists of now. For many players, the grind of the game is more than just a brief escape from the real world. It’s the perfect drug. It’s their way into the next rung of society. It’s the answer to the question of life.

Phase Gannon and Kym Bit are both looking for their own answers. Even though their paths cross in the city of New San Diego, it’s Terra Reforma that holds vindication for the both of them.

Excerpt:

I was ready for the journey this time around. Although I didn’t have the buff of a potentially delicious desert chili, I did have a full bottle of water and enough ammo to shoot my way to the hell and back if I needed to. I checked the map and saw the marker for Palm City marked on my HUD.

Palm City looked like a much larger settlement on the map than the places that I had visited so far. I figured it must be the first major city that new players could get to. I wondered if there was anything else I could smuggle on my way there? I still had the room in my inventory and I was headed that direction anyhow. It was worth a shot.

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I wandered around the Rest Stop some more to see if I could find anyone that needed help. I didn’t feel much like talking to a bunch of strangers after Dalton had already done a number on my ears. There had to be someone...there! Headed away from me, away from town. I took off towards a green marker and the heavily-robed character underneath it.

The figure was just a few seconds out of town, already on the broken asphalt path towards Palm City. “Wait up!” I shouted after them. The man spun around, pistol in his hand, pointed at my chest. He was silent, his thumb on the hammer of the gun doing his talking for him. “Whoa, whoa,” I said as I put my hands in the air. “I thought you needed help.”

Cache Towns holstered his weapon and his name appeared. “Don’t come runnin’ up behind a trader, not unless you want to get your head blown off. Even if we are only a short trip outside Rest Stop. This is bandit country.” The NPC turned back towards Palm City and started walking.

“Sorry,” I offered, “I’m new to this thing.”

He laughed once. “You don’t say? I take it you don’t want to buy anything.” I followed after him.

“No, sorry, I just thought you needed help. I’m headed the same way.”

Without breaking his forward gaze, Cache Towns said, “Alright, I’ll tell you what. My go-to security didn’t show up today. I clearly don’t have time to wait. We get this payload to Palm City and you’re still alive, I’ll give you 100 credits.”

Quest Accepted: Protect the Cache.

Reward: 50 xp

100 Credits

50 Reputation

“Any other takers? All you need to do is shoot straight.” Cache posed the question to no one in particular. I looked around, seeing if there was anyone else he could have been talking to. Must have been the NPC programming, designed to try and make it easier to find the quest or something.

“I’m in!” The voice came from behind us. A bright-eyed Soldier was headed towards us, a large sledgehammer in his hands. “Anybody gets near us, I send ‘em into the ground,” he smacked the hammer into the palm of his hand.

Cache kept moving while he spoke. “Couple of new ones, but I guess you’re better than nothing. Keep moving.”

The Soldier was more heavily armored than I was, but his gear was by no means top of the line. It looked to be made from old, sewn-together scraps of thick leather. “Name’s Cee Fracture. You can just call me Cee,” he said. “I wanted just the letter, but it was taken.” Guess that made sense.

“Pleasure. I’m Phase. You new to this whole thing too?”

Cee whirled his hammer around in the air wildly. “Nah, no way, I’m a pro. I’m ready for action. Level 5, see?”

I guess our definitions of the word “pro” were a little different from one another. He was hardly a veteran. Still, he was a higher level than me, and I guess that made him even less green than I was. And I was pretty green.

“Quit yappin’. You hear that?” Cache had stopped moving for the first time this whole trip. I was silent, listening, and Cee wasn’t.

“Hear what? I don’t hear anything,” his voice bounced off the boulders around us, echoing into the hills. The landscape had changed. Our path was still there, but we were surrounded by stones, some of them massive, the size of buildings. They were smooth from millennia of rainwater or some long dried-up ocean. They looked like they were placed by some prehistoric titan.

“Shut up,” Cache snapped in an angry whisper.

I heard the wind blow, and I listened for more. A carrion bird in the distance, maybe. A crow or a vulture. Cache drew his gun and I raised mine.

“Let’s do this! HAHA!” Cee gave his best impression of a Herculean war cry and charged forward, hammer in the air. I didn’t see his target, and quite frankly I don’t think he did either- he must have been using some kind of intimidation skill. I only hope it worked.

“Idiot!” Cache muttered, “He’s going to get us all killed!”

Cee was a couple seconds’ run ahead of us when we heard a twang that could have been the string of a guitar breaking. Only it wasn’t. Poor Cee had enough time to look down, enough time to realize his mistake, and enough time to finish his battlecry. The ground underneath him exploded upwards, and unfortunately for Cee he did too. His hammer flew high up into the air one direction and he went the other way.

Cee Fracture has died!

It was a wire trap connected to a mine, one that Cee had so thoughtlessly sprung and saved us from. “Get ready!” Cache shouted. There were boulders on either side of us, and the bandits came from both of them. I activated my Deadeye talent and took aim at the first Bandit I saw. He appeared to slow down as I lined up the sights and I tried not to be distracted by his face. It was covered in blood- or maybe just red paint- in either case it achieved the desired effect of making my hand a little shaky. I pulled the trigger as fast as I could, and winged him with 3 of 4 shots but he still had 27 HP left.

Ding, ding, ding, miss and the Bandit showed no signs of slowing down. The only reason I wasn’t dead yet was because that Metal Pipe he wielded made him too slow to bash my head in. Then a small metal orb landed right in front of his feet.

“Get back!” Cache shouted. He had thrown a grenade! Hopefully it would be enough to take him out. The device exploded and I thought my ears were going to blow, too. I felt like my head was inside of a church bell being rung on all sides. It wasn’t enough to kill him, but he was staggered, and at 2 HP almost down for the count. I could barely see straight, but I could still lift my gun. I fired again…and missed. One bullet left before I had to reload! Had to make it count, and it did.

Bandit was killed.

+20 XP.

Pistols skill increased.

I was ready to celebrate, and I felt like getting a pat on the back. Instead, I got a club to the head. A critical hit by the feel of it, and one that knocked off 15 HP.

I staggered backwards, but I didn’t quite fall over. I had foolishly forgotten about the other Bandit, and he had closed the gap on me. I didn’t have any more bullets in my revolver, and I didn’t feel so hot. No time to reload, so it was time to resort to the backup plan. Cache kept him busy, taking away chunks of health with his revolver. I pulled out my Rusty Dagger.

“Come on, kid!” he yelled, “it’s now or never!” He was right- I was fighting for my life. The Bandit raised the Club into the air, ready to deliver the finishing blow, but I flung the knife out in front of me. I was rewarded with a crit for my effort, leaving my aggressor with only 4 HP left.

“You staggered him! Nice job!” I don’t know if it was luck or skill, but the Bandit stumbled backward. Cache’s pistol rang out one more time and the Bandit dropped his club and fell to the ground.

Bandit was killed. +20 XP.

One Handed Melee skill increased.

Level Up! You are now Level 3.

The dust settled and everything was silent again. I was ecstatic, both from my own survival and from the fact that I leveled up. Even the ringing in my ears was gone, no doubt due to my own level up. I took the down time to reload my revolver in case there was any more miscreants waiting down the road.

The feeling, though! I couldn’t help but let myself bask in the glow.

“Handled yourself pretty good right there,” Cache Towns told me as he reloaded his own pistol. “Too bad we can’t say the same for ol’ Cee.” I was so proud of myself I had forgotten about poor Cee. I walked over to his body, blown clear from the fight. Maybe there was something I could do? Towns seemed to know what I was thinking. “Unless you’re a voodoo doctor, not much you can do for that man. Medkit won’t help him. He’s too far gone.” At least he was still in one piece, I guess. “He learned a lesson today, one he’ll think about the whole time he’s in Float. Next time, maybe he’ll be more careful. Or maybe he won’t.”

COLLAPSE

Home » Books

Snakebit Finish

Book Cover: Snakebit Finish
Part of the Snakebit Finish series:
  • Snakebit Finish
Editions:Kindle: $ 2.99
ISBN: 1234

Every night, the same phone call. Time to rip another cursed soul out of a Los Angeles limbo and into the world of the damned. It could be worse. At least he’s the one holding the gun.

Excerpt:

A click from the other end and then a click from mine. Two jobs in one night was too many. Course, I didn’t like my other options. I was a puppet on strings, afraid to look up at my master. I had to do as I was told, I had to dance. If I didn’t, they’d cut the strings, and it was a long way down to nowhere. The lack of free will weighed heavy on my shoulders. A trip to the Void was worse.

The Void consumes all dead things. Probably the living ones, too, although I never did have a reason to throw a heartbeat down a portal. Sure, they got in the way sometimes. Still needed them to survive. Or what was inside of them, anyways. The problem was you couldn’t have one without the other, at least not yet. Besides, that wasn’t in my job description. Every time I picked up the phone, it was always the same voice on the other side. Always asking me to take care of some Cursed or two or three.

 

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