Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have a new sci fi/space opera book out, Virasana Empire: Dr. Laurent Book 1: “The PV-3 Mutagen.”
As a history scholar and courier for the secretive Circle of Thales, Rene Laurent is a man of many talents – none of them lending themselves much to a life of adventure.
But when a chance meeting with a young, idealistic Belligra priest drags him into a wild quest to keep a dangerous mutagen off the streets of Floor, his curiosity gets the better of him. Between monsters both human and man-made, he realises that maybe fieldwork is more of his game than he had ever thought possible…
Written by Rainbow-Award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, ‘The PV-3 Mutagen’ is a colourful non-romance sci-fi adventure set in the wildly diverse ‘Virasana Empire’, and the first novel of the ‘Doctor Laurent’ series.
Warnings: Not a romance. Harsh setting, but hopeful.
The office entrances were designed in tastefully opaque, green glass, and consisted of the door and one large panel showing the tenant’s company name on an embedded display.
Brother Riccardo quickly studied the display on the door to Silver Lining News before he pushed open the door and stomped inside. Rene followed, making sure he stayed well covered by the Belligra’s bulk.
The room they entered was a typical reception area, set up with a desk opposite the door, a small waiting area with three cheap plastic chairs and a fake potted plant. It also had a receptionist with dyed purple hair and too much make up. Currently doing her nails, she was trying hard to present the perfect stereotype. Her expression quickly switched from annoyance at being disturbed to genuine terror when she noticed Brother Riccardo.
“I’m here to see Mister Whitmoore,” he stated calmly, hand on the hilt of his sword. Rene inwardly shook his head. How could a guy that age have a voice that … commanding?
The receptionist wordlessly pointed to one of the two doors leading deeper into the office. She looked like a brainless bimbo, but from the way she acted, it was clear that it was a carefully crafted facade, at least in part. Nobody on Floor got to a position as reasonably safe and stable as hers if they didn’t know what they were doing – there were too many others fighting to crawl up the steps behind you.
“Thank you,” Brother Riccardo said and headed straight for the door, opening it without knocking.
“Now would probably be a good time to take your lunch break,” Rene kindly told the receptionist when he passed her desk. By the time he had followed Riccardo through the door, she had already grabbed her clutch from behind the desk and was leaving very quietly.
The only thing luxurious about the office behind the door was that it was spacious. There were no windows, the walls and floor where the same muted grey as the corridor outside. Rene recognised the furniture from the ever-present ads the biggest cheap self-assembly company was constantly running on holo displays all over the planet.
The man sitting behind the desk had been about to bite into a huge sandwich dripping with sauce, which now hung forgotten between his fingers as he tried to comprehend why a Belligra was invading his sanctum. In his late forties, he looked reasonably well groomed with a small moustache and a suit that had been last year’s height of fashion. At least according to the magazines Rene’s youngest sister left lying around from her culture studies.
“Mister Whitmoore?” Brother Riccardo asked.
For a moment, the man looked like he would deny his identity, but then nodded and very slowly put down the sandwich as if it could be mistaken for some sort of weapon and he didn’t want to give the religious fanatic in front of him a reason to attack.
“It has come to my attention that you are harassing a fellow info broker’s customers, simply because he is charitable towards the poor. This behaviour will stop.”
Talk about not making small talk. Of course, the ‘being charitable’ bit was only a very minor part of the turf war going on, but it gave the priest an excellent reason for getting involved.
Whitmoore stared at Brother Riccardo with understandable confusion. “What?”
“Being charitable is encouraged by the Church and it is good for the soul,” the priest explained, “It would behoove you well to try it yourself.”
Rene’s trivia memory instantly provided a suitable quote from a religious text he had read at some point. “As Saint Mathilda said in her Alfakia Lectures: ‘He who gives his worldly riches freely will in turn receive spiritual wisdom manifold’.”
Riccardo nodded along as Whitmoore took notice of Rene for the first time and blinked at him in even greater confusion. After being mugged by the hired thugs, Rene had been prepared for some kind of dramatic confrontation, but this was clearly a man unused to being exposed to violence. Arguing with a Belligra was never a good idea and Whitmoore, despite being confused, was obviously well aware of the fact and keen on avoiding any kind of confrontation – dramatic or not.
“I’m not sure I understand,” he ventured very cautiously.
“You will stop harassing that other info broker,” Brother Riccardo repeated with a deepening scowl.
“Hank’s Beehive,” Rene supplied the answer to Whitmoore’s unspoken question.
“Oh!” Whitmoore’s face lit up with understanding. He looked thrilled at finally knowing how to appease the angry Belligra. “Well, I guess…” he started but was immediately interrupted by Brother Riccardo.
“You will also hand over any additional data of water sources and pay a fine for your transgressions.”
“Oh,” Whitmoore repeated, his face now changing to a sly expression. Rene could easily read his mind without being a telepath. The man thought that this was just a regular shakedown like they happened a million times in offices all over Floor. “Yes, of course, that can be arranged. How about … a donation of 500 Herons?”
For a bribe, it was a generous offer. For a donation meant to do poor people any good, it was ridiculously low. Rene quickly calculated what Whitmoore was probably making in a month, how much he could easily afford and how much would hurt enough that he would remember the lesson. “10,000 would be appropriate,” he said before Riccardo could agree to the 500. The priest glanced at him a little doubtfully, while Whitmoore winced exactly as much as Rene had hoped. Noticing that, Riccardo instantly fell back into his role.
“Indeed, 10,000 it is,” he stated. “And you will cease all hostilities immediately.”
Whitmoore’s smile looked decidedly forced, but he nodded eagerly enough. “I could write out a money order for you right now…?”
Which he could cancel any time. Which would be foolish because this Belligra would be a lot angrier on his next visit. It wasn’t a risk Rene was going to take. He pulled a cash-stick from the depth of his cardigan pockets and placed it on Whitmoore’s desk.
Again Riccardo glanced at Rene in confusion. Didn’t he know what a cash-stick was? Where had this righteous hunk of a man come from? Not that it was his business.
“Of course,” Whitmoore repeated, focused on the threatening cash-stick and unaware of the Belligra’s confusion. He grabbed the stick with two fingers as if it might bite him and slotted it to the appropriate port on his desk, transferring the money.
Rene accepted it back and quickly checked the amount before he nodded to Riccardo and gave him the cash-stick.
“And the water sources,” the priest reminded Whitmoore.
Handing a datastick with the information over didn’t pain the info broker as much. After all, they wouldn’t remain valid for very long and the company running the water distribution system in this quadrant paid very little for information on leaks. They always found them after a while, anyway. It dawned on Rene that Riccardo probably had no clue that these water sources were in fact leaks of the pipe system carrying clean water and that the poor were stealing it from a local company. Then again, he probably wouldn’t care too much. He also didn’t have a problem extorting money for the poor from Whitmoore.
Indeed, Riccardo sure looked satisfied with his success.
We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.
Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.
An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.
An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.
Author Website: http://www.brackhaus.com/
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