Mage Hunter (Lost Tales of Power Book 8), page 1
Lost Tales of Power: Volume VIII
Edited by Kristi Trigili
Edited by Elaine Kennedy
Edited by Robert Frazier
Cover Art by Cormar Covers
Time Line So Far
Also by Vincent Trigili
Also by Vincent Trigili
Copyright © 2017 by Vincent Trigili
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This ebook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The Lost Tales of Power is a collection of novels that describe an immense persistent multiverse. The books are a mixture of standalone and miniseries all set in the same universe with overlapping and intertwining storylines. While the books are a mixture of classic science fiction and pure fantasy, some effort is being made to keep the books in the realm of the possible, or at least theoretically possible given some basic assumptions.
Lost Tales of Power Series:
Volume I – The Enemy of an Enemy
Volume II – The Academy
Volume III – Rise of Shadows
Volume IV – Resurgence of Ancient Darkness
Volume V – The Sac’a’rith
Volume VI – Spectra’s Gambit
Volume VII – The Sac’a’rith: Rebirth
Volume VIII – Mage Hunter
Volume IX and beyond – TBA
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I hope you find as much enjoyment in reading these stories as I had living them. If you enjoy the books, please post a review and spread the word about them. As an independent author, word of mouth is the only marketing I can afford. Thanks!
Time Line So Far
IE = Imperial Era (similar to BC, counts backwards)
EM = Era of Magic
12/01/01 IE — Enemy of an Enemy starts
01/20/02 EM — Enemy of an Enemy ends
02/01/02 EM — The Academy starts
08/30/42 EM — The Academy ends
05/15/55 EM — Rise of Shadows starts
12/30/58 EM — Rise of Shadows ends
01/31/59 EM — Resurgence of Ancient Darkness starts
03/15/59 EM — The Sac’a’rith starts
08/11/62 EM — Spectra’s Gambit starts
10/31/62 EM — The Sac’a’rith ends
01/25/63 EM — Resurgence of Ancient Darkness ends
02/01/64 EM — Sac’a’rith: Rebirth starts
08/25/64 EM — Sac’a’rith: Rebirth ends
01/01/65 EM — Spectra’s Gambit ends
02/01/65 EM — Mage Hunter starts
07/06/67 EM — Mage Hunter ends
02-01-0065 — Lyshell
A tall, lanky man walked by without noticing me. Hunched over and wearing nondescript clothing, he shuffled his feet, stayed with crowds and spoke as little as possible. He passed through the security checkpoint without raising any suspicion. Few people noticed him, and anyone who did forgot him the moment he passed out of sight.
To the trained eye he was trying very hard not to stand out; to anyone else he was virtually invisible. To the trained purely organic eye that is. To my enhanced left eye, he was completely invisible. There was no trace of him on any wavelength; using enhanced vision, he simply did not exist.
A smile cracked my lips. Others told me I was a fool for fighting to keep one eye unenhanced, but they were wrong. For my line of work, there was no better instrument of detection than a pure organic eye. He could hide from sensors, security checkpoints and my enhanced eye, but a normal eye could see him without any problems.
I used the image from my organic eye and uploaded it into the Empire’s datanet. Within nanoseconds the facial reconciliation algorithms returned a positive hit. Another score for my normal eye.
“Renegade mage spotted. Suspect has cleared spaceport security and is heading towards gate 1225C. Suspect is considered highly dangerous,” I sent across the security network and included a recent photograph of the suspect.
“Understood. We’ll contain the area,” came the reply.
“Requesting assistance of any registered magi in the area for the capture,” I sent back and waited.
I was dressed as a maintenance worker, and no one paid me any heed as I walked right around security and into the spaceport. Had they stopped me my ID would have cleared, but security was lax here on the capital planet. One did not need to be a magus to bypass security, merely confident enough to walk around it.
When I was past the checkpoint, I followed the renegade through the station. Although he was still doing best to blend in, his heart rate was accelerating and he was looking around more frequently. Some internal instinct must have told him he was in trouble and given him that feeling of being watched or followed.
“Magi assistance is unavailable at this time,” came an automated message across datanet
“Explain,” I sent back.
“No resources are within range.”
I’d expected this, but I had to go through the proper procedure or risk disciplinary action. I had an automated script written for my response, which was to file a formal complaint about the lack of resources available. I fired it off and tried not to think about it too much. It would distract me, and that could be deadly when facing a mage.
I was confident I wouldn’t need assistance for this capture, but it served as yet another opportunity to point out the failings of the system. Hopefully, if enough complaints rolled in someone would do something about it. Unlikely, but it was all I could do.
As the renegade moved towards the back of the spaceport, port security was quietly emptying the area and securing the exits. A magus could teleport away, but only if he had line of sight. Windows were being shuttered and blinds were being erected. When he reached the gate, he’d know he was cornered; at that point he would became dangerous.
I stopped and stripped off my maintenance overalls, exposing my black Imperial security force uniform. The need for stealth had passed, and it was time to make a strong first impression. There was a chance that this wouldn’t end in a fight: a twenty-seven per cent chance. Not much, but one could hope.
Engage combat level one.
Instantly my vision changed, as a tactical combat display overlapped my field of view. My heart rate increased and low levels of stimulants were released into my bloodstream. Many agents stayed at level one at all times so that they could be ready for action, but that ran the risk of the body developing resistance to the stimulants, and the long-term risk of running at that heightened level was unclear.
I followed him around the final bend. When he was completely blocked off, I called out, “Citizen!”
He froze in place.
“Citizen, please present your identification for verification of compliance with the mandatory registration law,” I said. All citizens who were magi were required to register, in the same way as citizens who owned any weapons. There was widespread resistance to this law, and a good portion of my time was spent tracking down known offenders like this one and attempting to convince them to comply peacefully. There was no reasonable hope of compliance, but the law demanded he be given a fair chance, so he’d get it.
He turned to me and sneered. “I refuse to comply with forced registration.”
The chance of a peaceful resolution fell to thirteen percent.
“Citizen, you don’t have that option. All magi must register. Please come with me and I’ll escort you to a place of registration,” I responded. This was a pointless exercise, but procedures were procedures.
He spat and then cast a lightning bolt at me. I smiled. I had his profile, and I already knew everything he could do. The lightning hit my armored exoskeleton and dissipated. I activated the magnetic locks in my feet, firmly attaching myself to the floor in anticipation of his next attack.
“Citizen, this is your only warning. Stand down,” I ordered.
The chance of a peaceful resolution fell to three per cent.
He cursed and threw his hands forward. I felt a force slam into my chest as he attempted to throw me back with telekinesis. The magnetic locks held me in place, and he went flying back instead.
Magi could summon great power, but they were still forced to work in the natural world. This meant that if a push failed to move me and he didn’t have a good anchor, he was thrown back by the same force. It was no different from me pushing hard against a wall; either the wall moves or I do.
He was not prepared for my strength and lost his concentration as he flew backwards. Freed from the push, I disengaged my magnetic locks and chased him down the hall. He hit the floor hard but got to his feet before I reached him. His hand slipped inside his jacket and started to pull out a long, thin stick.
Wand, I realized. Before he could draw it out completely I reached him and fired off a side kick, hitting his hand with exactly the right amount of force to shatter all the bones. They could be regrown, but there’d probably be a complaint filed against me for excessive use of force. Again.
He fell back, screaming in pain. Good; maybe that’d encourage him to comply.
“Citizen, you have failed to comply with the mandatory registration law and have attacked an officer of the law. I am — ” Before I could finish my statement, something lifted me and threw me back.
I spun over in the air and hit the ground feet first. My nanotech-reinforced skeleton easily absorbed the shock, allowing me to land with grace. A primitive would probably have broken at least one leg.
Seven men in robes appeared around the fallen renegade with their backs to him, creating a wall. Each of them had a staff and took on a defensive posture. They moved with speed and precision in perfect formation.
Engage combat level four, I sent to my internal network. I came alive as stimulants pumped through my body and pain centers were shut down. A magnetic field pulsed around me and every sensor was on full. Data filled my screen, and my internal computer network was crunching combat scenarios using game theory to find the best plan of attack. I came alive. A powerful desire filled me to act, and act decisively.
“Red alert! Requesting emergency reinforcements! Seven trained magi are defending the suspect!” I sent over datanet.
“Help en route. ETA five minutes,” came the automated reply.
It was my turn to curse. Seven trained magi could do a lot of damage in five minutes. This wouldn’t end well. My processors crunched through millions of scenarios looking for one that limited collateral damage, but I knew that’d be fruitless. There was no way a battle involving this many magi would go well.
The port security rushed in carrying energy shields. They quickly set up and leveled blasters at the magi. Those personal energy shields were Class Five tech and should give them some protection. When the shooting started, men would die and the building would be severely damaged. I cursed under my breath and prepared for the worst.
I walked towards the magi. If I could get close, my superior speed should give me the advantage in close quarters. Perhaps I could contain the fight to a small area and keep the attention on myself. I could be repaired, but primitives that composed security forces were made of less sturdy stuff.
An eighth mage appeared in front of me and called out, “Halt!”
“Whoever you are, stand down. I have no quarrel with you,” I said. Lightning crackled around my body as my cybernetic implants prepared for attack. I did not know what kind of mage he was, but the most common were elementalists and fire was their most likely specialization. My cybernetic mind raced through millions of probabilities, but there was insufficient data to determine the best course of action.
“Officer, we have no wish to quarrel with you; we just came to collect this man, and now we’ll be on our way.”
“Why?” I asked. If I could keep him talking until help arrived, that might shift the balance enough to find a peaceful resolution. More likely the situation would explode as more magi arrived.
“He betrayed Master Henrick, but that is not your concern,” he said.
“Yes, it is. That man is a citizen of the Empire and therefore my responsibility. You must let me take him into my custody, and your Master Henrick can file an official complaint about him with my office.”
“That won’t happen,” he said. Then a gate opened in the center of the ring of magi; they broke the circle, picked up the renegade and charged through the gate.
I leapt into motion, moving ten times faster than any primitive, but it was not fast enough. The mage in front of me threw up some kind of field between us. I stopped my charge just before hitting it. It was some kind of energy barrier, and my sensors quickly surmised that even my enhanced strength wouldn’t break it. I’d need to disrupt its pattern to bring it down.
“Farewell, officer, and please don’t try to track us down. That would be unwise,” said the mage as he followed the l
Moments later another gate opened and three Imperial magi charged out.
“You’re too late; they took a hostage and left via a gate,” I snarled at them.
One of them sneered at me, but they turned around and went back out through the gate.
I used another automated script to fire off a complaint about the slow response time, and then one about the insubordination. This was getting very tiresome.
02-02-0065 — Lyshell
The next morning, I was summoned to the office of my commanding officer. I steeled myself to be reamed out over my failure to bring in the renegade, and the endangerment to citizens caused by the engagement with eight unknown magi. I knew there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome. I’d followed procedures to the letter of the law but had still failed to bring in the suspect, so I’d hear about it.
I made my way through the overcrowded corridors that were the only safe method of travel on the capital planet. If the planet had ever been habitable, it had long since ceased to be. The size and orbital position suggested it might have been, but the atmosphere was toxic to all known forms of life. Many people repeated stories of a much more hospitable planet, but the only life here was contained in massive biodomes linked by transit tubes.
The capital planet was still the center of power for the Empire, which occupied a much smaller section of the galaxy since the coming of the magi but still held most of the population. This led to massive overcrowding throughout the controlled space, and there were rumors that the Emperor would soon move to secure some contested space near its borders in an attempt to house its population. As it was, all immigration was halted.
Imperial policy dictated that all employees had to use mass transit to get around, unless there was a compelling reason not to. The citizens were also urged to use mass transit, but despite intense marketing campaigns many of them still preferred their private shuttles. Therefore government employees were supposed to set a visible example of the proper protocols. It was just another way in which policy made workers like myself more like second-class citizens than official representatives of the law. Of course, my opinion didn’t matter; rules were rules, so I rode mass transit, well aware that others were less adherent to the rules.
VINCENT TRIGILI SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Sac'a'rithThe Enemy of an Enemy ltop-1Glimpses
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