Because even in the 26th century, the little guys need a hero…
Black Ocean: Mercy for Hire follows the exploits of a pair of do-gooder bounty hunters who care more about saving the day than securing a payday. It builds on the rich Black Ocean universe, following a couple of fan favorites, and introduces a colorful cast for new and returning readers alike. Fans of vigilante justice and heroes who exemplify the word will love this series.
Mercy for Hire Mission Pack 1: Missions 1-4
Esper is a vigilante Samaritian with more moral fiber than business sense. Any bounty hunter worth the title knows three rules:
Collect half the money up front.
Never get emotionally attached.
Don’t ask nosy questions.
But with a heart of gold and her companion Kubu by her side, Esper sets out to make the galaxy a better place, preferably making enough money to pay for the fuel to get from one job to the next. But just because she’s not cut out to be ruthless doesn’t mean the galaxy is going to eat her alive.
After all, Esper is also a wizard.
Mercy for Hire Mission Pack 2: Missions 5-8
Someone has taken an ancient Earth religion and rebranded it for the 26th Century. Multi-stellar, multi-species, the Cult of Ra has an answer for everything...
Except a wizard who's sick of them preying on innocent people.
Mercy for Hire Mission Pack 3: Missions 9-12
For years, Esper has been holding in her mind the knowledge of ancient demons. Ever since reading that forbidden tome, a darkness has dwelt, gnawing at the edges of her sanity and wheedling to gain control.
When a mission to a blockaded planet goes awry, Esper finally can't hold back the darkness any longer. The darkness within gains an annoying conscience and the body of a powerful wizard.
Multiple battles ensue. First, Esper must fight alongside her crew without letting on that she's no longer the Esper they once knew. But also there's an internal struggle going on for control, influence, and the fate of everyone Esper cares about.
Who can hold back the darkness when its main enemy takes command of the fight?
Wayward Saint: Mission 1
Esper is the galaxy’s worst bounty hunter.
Maybe she dresses the part. She has her own ship. She even carries a blaster—not that she ever uses it. But she violates the cardinal rule of the galaxy’s most cold-blooded profession: get paid. At least she's not alone. Her partner Kubu is an alien who gets mistaken for a dog.
One is a wizard on the run from her past. The other is a lovable eating machine. Between them, they haven’t got a ruthless bone in their bodies.
But when a client hires them, they’ll do whatever it takes to bring a target home safely. This time, it’s a teenage kidnapping victim, and Esper and Kubu will crisscross the galaxy to track her down and make sure she’s safe.
Because the galaxy’s worst bounty hunter just might be its most relentless hero.
Behind Blue Skies: Mission 2
Esper and Kubu take an outlaw vacation to a remote planet whose tiny colony seems idyllic. It’s far enough for the Convocation wizards dogging them to lose their trail. The plan is simple: stay out of trouble, let the heat die down, and slink back quietly to civilized space. But these two aren’t good at keeping out of trouble.
Before long, they’re exposed to the rotten core beneath this purported Utopia. Bitter feuds lurk just below the surface. Feigned friendships mask deadly rivalries. Cliques control what passes for a government on the colony. And when a good man finds himself in the crosshairs of a conspiracy to run him off the planet...
...well, you’ve probably guessed it by now.
Esper steps in and takes a stand. Because what good is vigilante justice if it’s left to amateurs?
House of the Orion Sun: Mission 3
Rigel IV glistens beneath a giant, blue-white sun. Its vast surface is covered in tall cities shining like hope itself. Law enforcement protects the people. Or at least… most of the people. Because even core worlds have a seedy side.
Esper finds a home of sorts among the endangered, the unprotected, the ones that the law turns a blind eye toward. And when one of her protectees gets kidnapped, Esper will stop at nothing to bring her home. Well, almost nothing. Because Esper’s work has pushed her to the edge of a moral precipice. She’s clinging by the last of her willpower to avoid the easy path, the one that might lead her to damnation and turn her into the sort of person she’s been battling all along.
And the voice in her head keeps egging her on.
Break the Chain: Mission 4
As Esper has tried to save the galaxy’s wayward children, she’s done it with the looming threat of the Convocation dogging her steps. She knows why they’re after her, even if she can’t remember the events.
She’s shaken them across a dozen star systems. She’s bested their hunters the few times they’ve caught up. Now, Esper is about to face her greatest fear: the truth about what she’s done.
This latest pair of Convocation bounty hunters is a cut above the previous failures who tried to catch her. They’re more resourceful, closer on her trail, and have one advantage that NONE of the others could boast. The help of an old associate who sold Esper out.
Sunshine of Your Cult: Mission 5
When a client hires Esper and Kubu to find a missing holovid costar, they stumble onto a recruiting effort for an ancient cult with a new look. The Cult of Ra died out in Egypt before the Iron Age, but it's been rebranded for the Interstellar Age. More suns for the sun god! Those crazy gods weren't animals but aliens after all.
Tracking the cult to a lunar theme park, Esper will have to take on an entrenched corporate machine built up over a veneer of affordable fun for the whole family. With Kubu and Tiffany in tow, Esper will have to protect them while getting dragged along by an overzealous client who thinks he's the kind of action hero he plays in the holovids.
An innocent man's life is on the line, but without her magic to protect them all, Esper may have taken on more than she can handle.
Walk Like a Magician: Mission 6
Esper tracks the Cult of Ra to an arms factory on a grimy colony world. With limited magical resources, they're reduced to doing their vigilante act the old fashioned way. But when their best efforts fall short, Esper is forced to make an impossible choice.
In the aftermath, Esper is going to have to reevaluate her priorities and rediscover what magic means to her. With her powers returned, so has the dark voice that haunts her day and night. A reckoning is coming, and the only way to get out alive is to give in and be the wizard she's always had inside her.
Hotel Caledonia: Mission 7
Esper has a rendezvous with a mysterious contact aboard an undersea luxury cruise ship, an exclusive submarine hotel for a cozy five-day getaway. She's going to get all the intel she needs to cut off the head of the Cult of Ra—at least that's the plan.
When she first meets her contact, it's at the scene of his murder.
Then someone sinks the cruise ship, trapping Esper and the other passengers with the killer.
Now, Esper has to discover the killer's identity, recover any stolen intel the victim might have had on him, and keep the other passengers alive. Because it's a luxury liner, help from the mainland is on the way. Rich people don't stay in trouble long, so Esper has to act fast, otherwise, her best chance to put an end to the Cult of Ra just might sink along with the ship.
You can check out a copy any time you like...
Eye of the Pharaoh: Mission 8
Esper made that promise. Now it's time to make good. The Cult of Ra has a flagship, and thanks to a turncoat in their ranks, Esper and her friends know where it's going to be. Better yet, they know that Pharaoh Ramesses XIII will be aboard. It's time to cut the head off the cult.
The cult knows they're coming.
Two problems, actually...
The Poet Fleet knows where they are, too, and have sent a team to make Esper pay for humiliating their admiral.
What comes next is a battle of trap and counter-trap, deception and betrayal. Who is worthy of trust? Redemption? And will our heroes be able to win the day without crossing the gooey red line into villainy themselves?
It's a thrilling showdown between the forces of evil and the forces of fed up with evil.
Ship With No Name: Mission 9
With the capture of the Eye of Ra, Esper and her friends discover that small problems have started looking too small. When a plague breaks out on the occupied planet of Meyang, she decides it's time to see what her new ship and crew are capable of.
However, the situation is more complicated than they counted on. Not only does the occupying force not want them there, the azrin living on Meyang are none too keen on interference from outsiders. But never let it be said that Esper wasn't willing to help those who refused to be helped.
No More Mr. Nice Girl: Mission 10
In the constant war against her darker side, Esper was forced to win a daily battle for control. One loss was all it took for the roles of warden and prisoner to switch. Now, with her friends as hostages, this new Esper relies on advice from her better half to keep up the illusion that this is still the Esper they know and love.
When their newly acquired base of operations gets hijacked, Esper has to balance between maintaining her cover and doing what she knows it's going to take to get her ship back.
Magic’s Little Helper: Mission 11
With Esper neglecting her duties as magical teacher, Tiffany takes her education into her own hands. Struggling with self-esteem and credibility with the universe, she resorts to trying a magical performance-enhancing drug.
Of course, Esper has problems of her own. Unbeknownst to her, a crack squad of assassins is hot on her trail, and this time they're bringing twice the number of wizard-hunters along. It would be a great time for a fully-trained and capable apprentice to have her back.
Mortanian Rhapsody: Mission 12
Tiffany knows what happened. Esper has fallen to the darkness within her. Rather than fleeing to safety, she escapes the presence of Dark Esper to find a way to bring back the woman she thinks of as a mother. But before she can drag Esper down the road to redemption, she'll first have to wade into hell to find her.
Meanwhile, Esper is being hunted by the latest in a long string of bounty hunters and assassins looking to collect the astronomical price on her head. What makes this one think she's got any better chance than all the rest that have tried and failed?
This one looks like an old friend.
The Girls Are Back in Town: Mission 13
Tanny and Esper may have grown apart, but they've joined forces to overthrow the Rucker Syndicate. Tanny's father has crossed too many lines, and now it's time for new leadership of the galaxy's most expansive criminal enterprise. But to topple a crime lord, they must first take away all the leverage that he might use against them; they need to get their loved ones out of harm's way before they become hostages and bargaining chips.
But what if it was already too late. Esper's apprentice has already been compromised. Her estranged family was taken prisoner by the Ruckers. Now, it's a moral choice. Can she turn her back on family—even family she hates? And can Esper and Tanny allow her to walk into a trap to save them?
Stuck in the Astral with You: Mission 14
Tanny and Esper’s rebel syndicate needs to hit the Ruckers hard and where it hurts: in the finances. They decide on a target, one that most of the galaxy is blissfully unaware is owned by a vicious criminal gang: Friendli Foods. Purveyors of the Milky Way’s favorite junk foods, they make shipments to Earth on a megafreighter large enough to feed billions. Tanny has a plan to hijack it.
Meanwhile, Esper embarks on a mission to ensure that the rebels aren’t blamed for the hijacking. They need a patsy, and what better way to set one up than to replace a mid-level lieutenant in the Rucker organization with a mole. It’ll be up to Esper to convince a bunch of hardened killers that she’s one of them—and to turn them against their own people.
Esper, Kubu, and the rest of the Mercy for Hire crew have been taking a well-deserved break after their latest escapades, and have returned with a sprint to the finish. The series wraps up with Mission 16 later in 2020.
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Looking for swag?
Wish you could live in the Black Ocean world? I can't promise you'll win an argument with the universe, but you CAN wear your own wizard hoodie (complete with Convocation medallion), disguise your boring soda or beer with the Earth's Preferred can cooler, or fly the Poet Fleet Jolly Roger.