Dressed as a Dark Elf with midnight blue body paint and a set of chainmail-and-leather armor, Josh Ingram feels more at home among his fellow gamers at the local gaming convention than he ever has anywhere else.
Faron Krius is an Ichthian detective on the hunt for a murder suspect. He tracks the fugitive to Earth and follows the man right into a local gathering of video game enthusiasts. Now Faron has to wade through throngs of people, including one young -- and very human -- man who greatly resembles Ichthia's most wanted murderer.
Is it a case of mistaken identity? Or is there a damn good reason why Josh has always felt out of place?
Praise for Chasing Secrets
LR Cafe's Best of 2015 Awards Nominee: Best Science Fiction/Futuristic Book
"If you like stories with some adventurous fun, an interspecies meeting of minds and very hot bodies, and if you're looking for a read that contains tension, a few dangerous moments, and some very hot man-on-alien action in the bedroom, then you might like this short story."
-- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
"Well written story. Good reality and background that adds to it. Well developed characters and relationships among them. Enjoyable."
-- 4 Stars from Ula, Amazon Review
"Short, hot, sexy read. I really enjoyed this... Definitely some insta-love going on here but the eroticism and steaminess made me not mind so much. I did have to chuckle at Faron's assessment of Earth and it's inhabitants (smelly and dirty). I feel that way myself, sometimes."
-- 4 Stars from Alias11, Amazon Review
"Amazing story. Faron, an Ichthian detective is sent to the Earth Con to catch a murderer. When he reaches Earth, he meets Josh who looks like the criminal. Josh is there to enjoy the Convention. But meeting Faron makes it more fun."
-- 5 Stars from Samina, Amazon Review
"I loved Chasing Secrets by Mychael Black. It's part of the Earth Con series. I loved Faron and Josh's short story. It had some action, hot scenes, and instant chemistry. Everything I'm looking for in a short story."
-- 5 Stars from Carrie Krogh, Amazon Review
"Great entry in the Earth Con series, it did everything that I was looking for in the series. I was engaged with the characters. It worked well overall and I'm glad I read this. I enjoyed how good everything was and it left me excited for more in the series."
-- 5 Stars from Kathryn, Amazon Review
"I enjoyed this book. It was an interesting quick read. I liked the setting of the convention and the characters. The search for the fugitive was suspenseful."
-- 4 Stars from Nina Diab, Amazon Review
"I loved Faron and Josh's short story. It had some action, hot scenes, and instant chemistry. Everything I'm looking for in a short story."
-- 5 Stars from Amber Krogh, Kobo Review
"Mychael Black does a great job of making the characters have a deep connection."
-- 5 Stars from Tina, Goodreads Review
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Chasing Secrets (Earth Con)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Mychael Black
"We've had reports of a stolen ship leaving orbit. A remote scan of the navigation system gave us the impression that Melek's headed for Earth."
Faron Krius groaned. "Lovely."
His boss, Chief Eron, nodded in agreement. "Believe me, I know. Get out there, Detective. Catch him."
"I will. Do we know where he's going?"
Eron slid a paper across the desk. "There's a convention happening in the United States. Here are the coordinates. If my intel is correct, then this is the perfect place for someone like us to hide. The majority of my Earth sources tell me a gathering like this includes humans dressed in costumes of all kinds. To them, an Ichthian is just another human in costume."
"Leave it to Melek to give us a run for our money," Faron muttered. He took the paper. "I'm heading out."
The chief nodded once. "Be careful, Detective. Melek's killed three officers already. Try not to be number four."
Faron left the precinct and headed straight for the shuttle port. He hated Earth. Hell, most of his kind did. It was too crowded, too smelly in most of the cities, and, as a general rule, he'd found most humans to be nothing but total assholes. It figured Ichthia's most wanted murderer would flee there.
The guard at the above-water shuttle port checked Faron's ID and waved him on. Faron dug his key from his pocket and slipped the microchipped band around his arm, the chip resting on his pulse point. When he reached his department shuttle, he flicked his wrist. The hatch opened, and the engines started. Faron climbed in and was buckled before the hatch even closed. He guided the shuttle out of the port and hit the stratosphere.
Ichthia was a small planet -- very small compared to Earth. There were no major cities, but the planet had its share of crime. The inhabited areas of the planet were divided into zones, with submersible shuttles providing transportation from one zone to another. Humans rarely came here due to the lack of land. Ninety-eight percent of Ichthia was aquatic, and many of the dwellings were situated below sea level. For Ichthians, it didn't pose a problem. For humans... Well, once here, very few ever stayed more than a few days. The enclosed walkways and buildings had air pumping through them from the surface, but not many humans enjoyed being underwater for long.
The trip to Earth didn't take long, at least as far as shuttles were concerned. Time flew by, and before he knew it, Faron entered Earth's atmosphere. Shuttles passed him on occasion, carrying various species to other planets in and out of the solar system. Faron punched in the coordinates Eron had given him, then sat back and let the ship's autopilot take him down into what he realized was Washington, DC.
"I need a fucking vacation."
* * *
Josh Ingram stepped out of the shuttlecab and grinned. He'd saved up all damn year for this convention. It was the only place where he felt like he belonged, among the other cosplayers and gamers.
"How much I owe you?" Josh asked, leaning down to the window.
He handed the driver his card. "Add another five."
The driver swiped the card, punched in the amount, then handed the card back. "Thanks, man."
When the shuttlecab pulled off, Josh turned back to the towering center behind him. He picked up his suitcase and started inside, the chainmail from his costume clinking against the hard plastic case. He'd brought his prop daggers, but hadn't put them on. They lay on top of his clothes in the suitcase. Other cosplayers passed by him, weapons and costumes more elaborate than he'd seen in past con pictures. His grin widening, Josh stepped through the double glass doors.
The convention center teemed with people -- not all of whom were actually human. EarthCon, as it had become affectionately known, was a regular destination for people who lived beyond Earth itself. Josh honestly didn't know if he'd ever be able to tell who was human and who wasn't. The huge lobby was packed with all manner of characters in every kind of costume imaginable.
A trio of women -- or were they men? -- strolled into the lobby from one of the large conference rooms. Each one was dressed in a different color scheme, from their towering platform boots to their ponytailed wigs. Pink, blue, and green, and their eyes were painted to look larger than normal -- as if they were supposed to be walking, real-life cartoons. They didn't carry weapons, but each one of them held a little wand, the star tips matching their respective outfit colors. Then one of the women licked her wand.
For some reason, it didn't surprise Josh to discover the wands were edible. He just shook his head and made his way to the front desk. The clerk looked remarkably bored, of all things.
"Welcome to The Stratosphere Resort," the young man droned. "Name?"
Could this guy get any more enthusiastic?
"Josh Ingram," Josh replied.
The clerk didn't do so much as nod. He entered Josh's name into the system and handed Josh a touchpad. "Fingerprint, signature, credit card."
Resisting the urge to smack the oh-so-bubbly ass on the head with the pad, Josh signed his name, pressed his thumb in the designated square, and then handed the pad and his credit card to the clerk.
The clerk finished up and returned Josh's credit card, along with the key card for his room. "728. Enjoy."
Josh smirked and didn't bother to say thanks. He started for the elevators when he glanced at the main entrance of the center. It was a good thing he'd stopped walking. His legs felt like fucking jelly.
A tall, muscular figure, with short black hair, strode through the lobby, jeans and T-shirt stretched tight around acres of muscles. Although the man appeared human in most respects, the telltale blue of his skin screamed unnatural. He wasn't from Earth. Hell, it didn't matter where he was from. He was fucking gorgeous. Eyes as blue as the deep ocean scanned the room before landing squarely on Josh.
Josh felt that stare down into the pit of his soul. Before he knew it, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Blue was headed his way. Unfortunately, the man's expression morphed into something dangerous -- and quite possibly pissed off.
Unsure if he'd done something to really get on the muscle-bound hunk's bad side, Josh ducked into the elevator the moment it opened. The doors shut seconds before the guy reached them. Josh punched the button for the seventh floor and leaned against the wall, grateful the elevator had been empty. He let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.