Tales From the Rim
Twenty five years after the events of The Fifth Circle, Titus Dragonmaster has fled the leadership burden of his Circle for deeply personal reasons and has become a Rimstalker—a solo fighter, mercenary, and adventurer who lives out on the Rim, a lawless and most decidedly strange place at the edge of the galaxy. He has reluctantly allowed Jaka, a twenty year-old orphan with no place to go, to travel with him. Over the course of a few years, they have become a legendary team, seeking their fortune on the Rim, while exploring, discovering, and protecting the Domains. Titus lives under constant threat from the Fifth Circle, who desperately seeks to return him so he can take up his place again as their Dragonmaster. But between Jaka, Savadaan, a battle-scarred Rimstalker who knows Titus better than he lets on, and a host of weird and wonderful denizens of the Rim, Titus continues to fight the good fight with a Mostar rifle in one hand and an IPA in the other.
The tales presented here are non-linear by design, although there can be overlap between them and the events of The Fifth Circle. Please enjoy the excerpts and an occasional complete Tale From the Rim.
New! Titus and Jaka’s First Full-Length Book
Well, Titus and Jaka have done such a good job cleaning up the Rim, they have now been awarded their own book, The Girl, The Rimstalker, and Everything. In their first extended adventure,
After a couple of well-paying—but perilous—jobs, it’s time for a nice vacay where the sun is hot, the water is warm, and the drinks are cool. But their road trip in the heavily armed luxury trimaran Beats Working hasn’t gone very far when they are waylaid by old dossier mates of Titus from his military service in Diplomatic Corps. Kell and his band of Special Circumstances exos—dirty tricksters—introduce him to an the exotic, three meters tall Tzadkielian named Dara who blackmails Titus into another dangerous job: extract her younger sister, viceroy Hanae ap ya Soorat, one of the most powerful politicians in the Domains—and an ex flame of Titus from his days in Diplomatic Corps.
Titus and Hanae have no choice to let their romance bloom again, even if for a short time before he can return her to her home world. She tells Titus that her race is gathering for an event—other beings entering the Multiverse from outside—an act that may destroy it.
Jaka, on the other hand, sees this relationship as a threat to her and Titus’s working partnership. As they prosecute the extraction, Hanae’s captors slowly close a net around the viceroy and her rescuers and Kell and his crew eventually have to break them out in their inimitable way with a lot of violence and explosions.
In their mad escape to the Beats Working, Jaka is severely injured, and Titus is conflicted. Now branded through out the domains as the viceroy's kidnapper, setting foot in any Health Services facility meant instant incarceration and a quick return to the Fifth Circle, so Titus decides to track down Savadaan near the rim at an old pirate enclave. Miraculously, he does find Savadaan and he and one of Kell’s crew are able to revive Jaka from her coma, but two subsequent blackouts proves the head trauma is far from healed.
As they travel toward Hanae’s home world, they are blocked by Dara’s massive solar sail flagship, armed with exotic weaponry that Beats Working, Savadaan’s ship, and Kell’s small flotilla cannot hope to match. But they are on the clock: Hanae ha only a short time to return to her home word to participate in the event and thus potentially save the Multiverse. At wits end, Titus puts in a call to Here’s Fleet Admiral Olatanthus to see if there are any Task force 9 units she can bring to bear. After explaining that even if just Hanae’s home world is destroyed, and the mutual aid treaty with Here rendered null and void, half the Great Stripe would be defenseless against political incursions and Here’s military would not be able to operate in all necessary theaters.
Because of the nature of the TF 9 Torturer-class dreadnaughts, crews are redacted prior to and post-mission, a process that takes time. But there is one unit in war games, testing the first-ever use of matter transference for installing payloads directly into enemy ships. She agrees to send it, but because its so far on the other side of the Domains and needs to be kept secret, even with quantum jumps it will take some time—time Titus and Hanae may not have.
Without waiting around for the fleet unit to show, Titus devises a scheme to infiltrate Dara’s enormous flagship to disable it’s exotic gravity wave gun—a weapon that could take out an entire armada with one shot, In the hour before deployment, Hanae and Jaka bury the hatchet and Jaka realizes that whatever happens, it’s on her to make it work, not complaining about things she has no control over.
Hanae and Jaka also insist being part of the stealth team to go aboard Dara’s ship. Titus isn’t sure, because of Jaka’s injury might get worse and Hanae, as a respected politician, is hardly an experienced soldier of fortune. But she is Tzadkielian, and can buy them time and get information, while Jaka tells Titus that if they fail and the Multiverse ends, what good would she do sitting on a shelf?
They launch the stealth operation but quickly find there are oddities about the flag ship they did not anticipate, and have a rough slog trying to find the weapon and its mount. Plus they have to fight strange cyborgs as they go. Just as they reach the weapon, Titus is notified that the Fleet ship is coming in range and will soon be a sitting duck for annihilation and Hanae is reminded she needs to be on the planet’s surface immediately for the event. Finally they locate the weapon and start to disable it when they are confronted by Dara and a troop of cyborgs, and a furious firefight ensues. The fleet ship finally arrives and starts engaging the flag ship as Titus is at last able to fully disable the weapon, but at a tragic cost. As the deck starts to give way, he and Jaka rescue Dara and, access cut off from any escape as the ship burns, they are transported aboard the Fleet ship—the first animals ever to do so.
In the aftermath, the Tzadkielian leader appears of the Beats Working to explain why he and his race are part of the event and will be gone from the Multiverse. He disappears and takes a chastened Dara with him, leaving Titus to wonder if it was all worth it. Jaka, on the other hand, realizes that it is up to her to make her own life, instead of relying on Titus and their working relationship.
How She Got Her Name
“How She Got Her Name” recounts when Titus and Jaka first meet on a forlorn forward station while Beats Working gets her yearly maintenance. Anxious to have Titus take her out to the Rim, Jaka—known then only as “The Girl”—keeps getting pushback from Titus. Instead, he tells her stories he insists are true, but seem to have no point. As time ticks down for Titus’ departure, The Girl learns more than she bargains for about how stories really do end, just as Titus realizes he’s not the only one with a sorrowful past. Read an excerpt here.
Bad Day At The Office
Even Rimstalkers have their off moments. When Titus and Jaka botch a vivisection rescue, they're lucky to get out in one piece. But when Jaka starts questioning their livelihood--and even her desire to stay on the Rim with Titus--urgency and circumstance presents an even more complex operation. As Jaka seeks answers and Titus is unable to answer her existential questions, he finds he must go into the heart of a deadly conspiracy with an unmotivated partner. Will one bad day at the office cost them their friendship and perhaps both their lives? Available shortly.