- Author: Larry Correia
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Monster Hunter Bloodlines -eARC
Look for the final version on August 3, 2021
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Monster Hunter Bloodlines - eARC
IN A BUSINESS LIKE MONSTER HUNTING, IT’S ALL ABOUT SETTING PRIORITIES
The chaos god Asag has been quiet since the destruction of the City of Monsters, but Monster Hunter International knows that he is still out there, somewhere—plotting, waiting for his chance to unravel reality. When Owen and the MHI team discover that one of Isaac Newton’s Ward Stones is being auctioned off by Reptoids who live deep beneath Atlanta, they decide to steal the magical superweapon and use it to destroy Asag once and for all. But before the stone can be handed off, it is stolen by a mysterious thief with ties to MHI and the Vatican’s Secret Guard.
It’s a race against time, the Secret Guard, a spectral bounty hunter, and a whole bunch of monsters to acquire the Ward Stone and use it against Asag. For as dangerous as the chaos god is, there is something much older—and infinitely more evil—awakening deep in the jungles of South America.
Monster Hunter Bloodlines
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2021 by Larry Correia
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A Baen Books Original
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471
Cover art by Alan Pollack
First printing, August 2021
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data t/k
Electronic version by Baen Books
A couple years ago my company picked a fight with an ancient chaos demon. The last round had ended in a bloody draw. Nobody knew when our battle would kick off again, but when it did, we had a new strategy to put that immortal bastard down once and for all. My idea was to harness the power of Isaac Newton’s crazy space magic in order to kick some monster ass.
The only problem was alchemical super weapons don’t exactly grow on trees. We’d had one once but used it up obliterating a Great Old One. There were only a handful of Ward Stones left on Earth, and mankind had lost the secret of how to make new ones. Except we had just gotten word that one of the rare treasures was up for grabs. Which was why two teams from Monster Hunter International were currently staked out around an office park in Atlanta, waiting for a supernatural arms deal to go down, in the hope that we would be able to steal the arcane equivalent of a suitcase nuke from the forces of evil.
My name is Owen Zastava Pitt and I have the coolest job in the world.
* * *
“Z, anything on your side?” my boss asked over the radio. Earl was in a car parked at the end of the block.
I was sitting in the back of a nondescript work van parked down the street, watching the front of the building through a pair of binoculars.
“Nothing new, Earl. Just the same bunch of security guards standing around looking bored.” The muscle had been hired by the shady legal firm which had arranged this transaction, but as far as we knew the guards were regular human beings, who probably had no clue what they’d gotten involved in, which meant us hurting them would be illegal.
“Alright, keep your head on a swivel.”
Trip was sitting in the back of the van with me and checked his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes. “We’ve still got a little time before the mystery buyer is supposed to show.”
“And lunch hour traffic is terrible around here, especially with the convention in town, so don’t be surprised if he’s late,” said our driver. He was a new guy on Boone’s team named Hertzfeldt. “Who do you think the buyer is going to be anyway?”
“If this deal’s even real,” Hertzfeldt muttered. “We’re putting in a lot of effort over an anonymous tip.”
It had been Management who had notified us about this sale on the Dark Market. The billionaire dragon had tried to bid for the item himself, but apparently he didn’t have enough baby souls or whatever horrible thing it was these particular scumbag monsters had wanted in trade. But since most of the rank and file of MHI didn’t know of Management’s existence, we had to keep our tipster’s identity secret.
“Trust me, man. The info will be good,” I assured the Newbie. “And with the sellers being PUFF-applicable, we’ll still get a payday out of this no matter what.”
That didn’t seem to placate him much. Hertzfeldt had come out of the company’s last training class, so I barely knew him. He was still pretty new to all this weird stuff, but he knew his way around Atlanta, so he had been assigned to drive me and Trip around in the surveillance van. The local team had been divided up so that each of us out-of-towners had a guide who actually knew the area. Which was good, considering half the streets here seemed to be named Peachtree something for some baffling reason.
While we waited, Hertzfeldt tried to make small talk. “Hey, Pitt, if you don’t mind me asking, there’s this rumor going around about when you all went to that Russian island, that . . . well . . . ”
“Yeah?” But I already knew where this was going.
“It sounds nuts, but they told us in training that you got trapped on the other side for six months. But there’s no way that’s true, right?”
Get stuck in a dimension made out of hunger and nightmares for half a year one time, and everybody has to