How is the miasma treating you? How many times has your party been torn apart by the corruption?
Eldritch Century is a vast universe for which we have many plans. Among the products that are now available for digital retail, is the first ever Eldritch Century novel The Depths. The story follows Héctor Ingram, a rather obsessive private investigator from the Atlantean Alliance. Héctor is a survivor of a Miasmic burst, where he met a member of the Torres de Rivera family. As time moved on, he became closer to them, but lately things have been strange with Don Pedro.
The novel explores daily life in the Atlantean Alliance during the sixties. It has been years since the last miasmic expansion and things seem to have reached a new lull. The papers call it a new peace, but everybody knows that since the Great War, peace no longer exists. Not really.
You can purchase the novel here
The following is a sample from the novel.
La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz had seen her first growth spurt long before the English nobles had a thought of leaving their kingdom. As the revolutionary power-heads turned coat once and again, the “Cinturón del Golfo” had remained a complicated bastion to hold for communists. When the dust settled, the gulf itself became a favorite place for the English, being so close to their Caribbean haven of New Albion. The discovery of what would be called Atlantis off the coast of Coatzacoalcos only served for the booming port-city to skyrocket into modernity.
The seaside avenue of Heróico Juan Galt extends from Coatzacoalcos all the way to Chachalacas beach, where it merges with the highway. The West is a sea of colors, architecture and Atlantean Atomics. A short drive allows one to see Rand Studios, where the greatest flicks are produced, shot and cut. Nearby is the Grace Rodriguez Market, the air filled with smells one can taste, the bitterness of smoke, vapors and cut paper. Then, a little ways down, is Rand Ludens Paradise, a seven-story palace full of fun games and lively shows. The ocean to the east is powerless to reflect the lights of the city, which is the pride and majesty of enterprise.
Héctor’s eyes were glued to the ocean structure that promised to become capital of the Atlantean Alliance. Beside him in the back seat, Susana was one of the few people who knew of the extent of his deal with Don Pedro and the Torres de Rivera family. Whenever things got hairy for one of them–mostly Edelberto–Héctor would intervene, protecting their reputation and bringing their innocence to light. He had reduced Edelberto’s sentences greatly, to the great cost of his sleep schedule and liver capacities, stress-induced and otherwise.
His notes sat on his lap, useless. As the city crawled by, all he had to do was listen to Susana, as she filled him in on the situation. The task proved easier said than done, after hearing about Edelberto’s involvement and arrest, the rest was boilerplate: finding the weak spots in Edelberto’s and the police’s statements and alibis to his advantage, often greasing the wheels with the magic oil of money. Héctor had to get back in his investigator’s mindset and, time willing, sober down.
The streets grew darker the second the patrol car turned to the left and into the city. Any sense of calm dissolved as downtown disappeared behind them.
“Did you bring your gun?” Susana pulled her purse closed as she looked outside the window.
“There should be no need if the police are there. Besides, I can’t just whip it out whenever.”
To any old bystander, the streets off downtown were calm and easy, except for the Southern Laguna Real neighborhood, proud owner of the most assault and robbery reports of Veracruz. To Héctor, the true danger was quiet and insidious. It was true before the Miasma, and it was true in the later half of 1963.
The location was a local diner. No more than seven tables and a kitchen. Tacos Yeni stood proud and resilient between a warehouse lot and decrepit apartment complex. Héctor had a hard time distinguishing which of the diner’s neighbors was older. As the location came into view, Héctor pieced together the information he was sure he wasn’t receiving.
“At about eight tonight,” Susana read off her notebook, “the restaurant’s Rand Alert went off. It’s hooked up to the front and back door, with the trickiest sensor placed on the back because it doesn’t lead to the grated fence.”
“Not that it would do anything.” Héctor looked out the window, trying to look for alternative ways to get any access despite the presence of the police. The fence of which Susana spoke covered the windows to the side of the restaurant and stopped just shy of the back alley.
“Fear rarely cares. The police sent a car, but they called back soon to say everything was in order. Malone and Corcuera were in the car. Get this, the alarm was tripped, but the doors were still locked from the inside.”
“Don’t Rand Alert systems give you like ten seconds to power them off?” Héctor brought out his own notepad, battered and dirty with ink. He quickly opened to the latter pages.
“They do. Isn’t that enough time to lock and power off the system?”
“Sure, but why would you want to lock yourself into the place you just broke into?”
“It seems like they didn’t either. The inside was untouched. They even called Yeni into the scene to confirm. They eventually gave it up and left.” Susana flipped through her pages. “Then at ten forty three, the precinct got a call claiming gunfire. Guess from where.”
Héctor grunted in response. The five cops at the scene were covering most of the restaurant, their orbit was locked to the front. Nothing out back?
“Officers Carlota Herrera and Victor Conelly were the first to arrive. They went straight to the restaurant, but when they found nothing they moved to the building next door.”
“That one?” Héctor signaled to an apartment building next door to the restaurant.
“I think so. They talked to a Mrs. Powell and her husband, who had filed the report. The testimony was confused, as were they apparently. They had only one thing for certain: the noise came from under Tacos Yeni. The neighbors confirmed the testimony…”
Héctor turned to his friend, frowning in concern. Susana flipped her pages once more and then flipped back to where she left off.
“So this is weird. When Conelly and Herrera arrived, they saw nothing new about the restaurant. Still locked, system still armed.
“But?” Héctor scanned the area, but couldn’t find Edelberto anywhere. Did they already take him away?
“But when they came down from the apartment complex both doors had been burst open wide.”
“What about the alarm system?” Héctor fixed his gaze on the front door which seemed stuck in its open position.
Silence, irrupted only by Héctor’s pen tapping on the surface.
“Cops thought it was an inside job at first,” Susana said, scanning through her notes. Something didn’t quite add up, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Well, of course they did.” Héctor replied sarcastically as he opened the door.
The yellow tape enveloped a rather peaceful block of an otherwise hectic neighborhood. A second had barely passed before Héctor and Susana split ways. Susana had interviews with police officers to fill and Héctor had to get a jump on his angle to save Edelberto once more. The restaurant itself, now on a closer look, had a second residential building as a back-door neighbor, which Héctor quickly noted. He needed to wait for the police to leave, but nothing stopped him from reading the scene from a distance and collecting whatever information he could.
He spotted Edelberto when he got closer to the yellow tape. He slouched at the restaurant’s entrance, his eyes fixed on the pavement under his feet, hands cuffed behind his back. Héctor approached the yellow tape and eyed him from the distance.
“Breakin’ and enterin’. Nothin’ to see here,” the police officer standing at the yellow tape waved along.
“A restaurant?” Héctor brought out a notepad, where he had already written down a few notes from Susana’s report. “Is it a front for something?”
“Wait until the press release, buddy”
“A press release?” Héctor chuckled. “For this? Come on, I’m running research.”
The officer ogled at Héctor’s notepad and eyed Héctor, before adding: “The perp is a local nobody. There really is nothing to see here.”
But Héctor knew the truth. The detainee was tall and slim, his skin showed evidence of a lifetime of fistfights and more than enough time in the big house and youth centers. Héctor required no introduction. He knew the family well enough to locate the relentless black sheep.
Edelberto Torres y Juárez had first been detained at twelve years of age when he held up a local shop in Western Chicago, IL. He spent a year in juvie at fourteen after a guilty charge of armed robbery in Austin, TX. It was all a long time coming after his actions forced his parents to move from city to city to keep the boy safe. When he came out of juvie, his parents were gone. The only person who had ever given him a chance was uncle Pedro. Many of his kin deemed him foolish, but Don Pedro was certain that the boy, then the man, could be reformed.
“Has he said anything?” Héctor couldn’t drive his eyes away from Edelberto. He had learned to expect a certain behavior from him, and he was not getting his due. He hasn’t even seen me.
“Nothing that makes too much sense”
“He’s just taunting you.”
“Then it’s the worst taunt in history. From everything we can gather he’s too hooked up on bath salts or some other drug. We can hardly understand him as it is, but what little we get is apologies and slobbering and of course, the whole I’m not guilty gist.”
Slobbering? Héctor looked at Edelberto, frowning in confusion. Is he slouching? Héctor thought, astonished. And where is that petulant glare of his? What really threw him off were his hands: they were rubbing at one another, not at the handcuffs, as they usually did. Of all attitudes he had learned to expect from Edelberto, self-soothing was never one of them.
“Kid’s plastered,” scoffed the cop. “Hasn’t said a thing all night. The look on his face, man. He’s out of it.”
Playing innocent? Héctor mused . I’d get that if he had used it ten years ago, but now? Gotta give it to him, he never runs out of ideas.
“Front door or back door?” Héctor mumbled.
“Look, I’ve said enough. I’m already not supposed to be talking to anyone. If you know this guy, you can learn more later at the precinct. I wouldn’t stay here too long either. This part of town can get dangerous.”
Héctor made a point to look at the young man often as he moved to the residential building left of the restaurant. As long as the police are there, I need to build a new angle.
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