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Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:35 pm
  

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Yeah, The Publisher Guy

Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2004 5:18 pm
Posts: 1113
Hey folks,

I promised some excerpts from the Rifts Coalition Manhunters sourcebook. Well, what follows in a few paragraphs is the opening to the book. I will post a number of other teasers and snippets in the days ahead.

I seldom write a book from front to finish, and CS Manhunters is no exception. I usually start where inspiration takes me. In the case of this book, it began with my writing the story to a black and white comic strip created by Nick Bradshaw that inspired the creation of this sourcebook. I had been kicking around ideas for CS Manhunters for some time. It spun out of my ideas and writing for The Disavowed and CS Arsenal (also coming in the months ahead after Rifts Bestiary Volume 2 and Rifts Titan Robotics) -- but something about Nick's comic strip made all the pieces fall into place and suddenly I had CS Manhunters in my head ready to hit the pages. This color piece as the opening to the book was the second thing I wrote for the book. The third is also part of the book's opening. Another color piece that I will post tomorrow or the next day. After that, I began to get into the nitty-gritty of the sourcebook material hopping back and forth between the new CS O.C.C.s, the new and expanded psionic abilities, and how the Minion War coming to Rifts Earth via the invasion by the demon and Deevil hordes has had a profound impact om psychics everywhere, the Manhunters, Dog Boys, Kill Hounds, and Psi-Stalkers in particular. The next thing I knew, I was off to the races writing.

Coalition Manhunters was supposed to be a quick release. BTS Creature Feature too. But then Covid-19 struck and everything changed. I kept working away, but there was now even more on my plate. New issues and new challenges to be addressed, and things to do. I am happy to say, so far the Palladium crew and I have managed to stay safe and stay virus free. Of course other things hit, like my simultaneous kidney stones, one in each kidney, threatening to block my plumbing and putting me in immediate jeopardy and requiring immediate surgery. It was the week long debilitating pain and unexpected side-effects of a particular medication that sidelined me for a while. The doctor managed to remove one stone completely and dislodge the other and broke it down, but the damn thing won't pass so I will need a second procedure. However, with Covid-19, getting non-life and death procedures scheduled is tricky business, so I am only getting the second procedure done in a couple of weeks. Thankfully, the pain and discomfort has been minimal these past three months, but I am looking forward to the surgery that will get me back to normal.

Happy to say that overall, we have all been hanging tough, being safe, wearing masks, and keeping isolated. Thanks to you, online sales surged. So did digital sales (PDF books on DriveThruRPG.com). Both of which enabled Palladium to pay its bills and keep afloat where other companies have struggled mightily. Thank you for that. Your love, kind words, and continuing support means the world to us all, both emotionally as well as financially. It helps fuel my imagination and inspires me and the crew to press forward through thick and thin. I'm happy to say a few books are finally reaching the final stages of production which will help even more. I'm glad so many of you are enjoying the Rifts Primer & Adventures, Rifts Novel 3: Treacherous Awakenings and the new resin Glitter Boy miniature. More good stuff is coming. Starting with Rifts Coalition Manhunters, followed by the Rifts Lazlo Raw Preview, and BTS Creature Feature sourcebook. Enjoy the opening to Manhunters, below. Another tidbit coming Monday or Tuesday. -- Kevin

The Coalition Boogeyman
© Copyright 2020 Palladium Books -- written by Kevin Siembieda

“Santos? I thought you’d be hidin’ under a rock.” said the big, burly Greot Hunter as the two men stood and leaned into each other to shake hands in this unexpected tavern encounter.
“What do you mean?” snickered a jovial Santos, a renowned Tolkeen Retributionist operating in the Midwest and Pecos Empire since the fall of Tolkeen.
“I heard the CS is gunnin’ for you.”
“They’ve been looking for me long before the fall of Tolkeen and they haven’t caught me yet.”
“Yeah, that’s why I hear they put Coalition Manhunters on your tail.”
“Coalition Manhunters? What’s that?” chuckled the ex-Coalition Power Armor Pilot turned traitor and rebel.
“Hell, man, you should know better than me. You’re the one who used to be a SAMAS pilot before you went AWOL an’ joined Tolkeen to fight against your own.”
“Well, I have never heard of Coalition Manhunters, so what does that tell you?”
“That you ain’t half as smart as you think you are. Rumor has it they are nasty and don’t stop till they get their man. They make people vanish, permanent like. As in, nobody will ever find your remains. You just up and vanish.”
“Just another Coalition boogeyman conjured up to keep the Boys in Black in line.” laughed Santos. “You know, to prevent desertion and betrayal.”
“You sure? Because that’s exactly what you done, so it makes sense they’d sic their dogs on you, brother.”
“All smoke and mirrors, my friend. Just like rumors about The Disavowed who bend all the rules to get the job done for some shadow part of the CS elite. So secret, even the Emperor doesn’t know about them. If you can believe that garbage. They supposedly even recruit mages and D-Bees like you, and travel the Rifts doing all kinds of things the Emperor would never allow.”
“Never heard nothin’ about no Disavowed,” said Throk the Greot Hunter. “An’ I don’t wanna know. Talk like that is what’s gonna get you killed. Nobody heard of no Disavowed. Maybe that’s exactly why them Manhunters are on your tail, brother? You talk too much.
“It’s all rubbish, Throk. Fairy-tales and boogeymen so everyone behaves like good little soldiers, no questions asked. Until they wise up.”
“Like you wised up?”
“Exactly.”
“But I have been hearing stories about Manhunters from Bounty Hunters who swear they are real, Santos. Stories that have been circulating since ...”
“The start of the Tolkeen campaign, I know.” said Santos, finishing the Greot’s sentence as he signaled the barkeep to pour him and his large friend another round. “Like I’ve been saying, Throk, it’s all lies meant to put fear into the troops to prevent desertion and crimes against the Coalition States. With Prosek’s War Campaign on two or three fronts, they had to invent a new boogeyman to keep the sheep in line.”
“But I know a guy ...” protested Throk.
“I’m sure you do.” said the ex-Coalition SAMAS pilot. A man renowned for not just deserting, but taking a truck full of Super-SAMAS with him and selling them to the enemy. A man whose reputation has grown across the Tolkeen front and down into the Pecos Empire for his daring stunts and exploits against the CS.
“No, Santos, listen to me. I’m serious. I now a guy who says they be real. And bad news. As bad as they get, brother. They never give up. They use high-powered psychics to find you. Precogs track you down. Psi-Stalkers, Dog Boys, and Killhounds chase you out into the open. Then a CS Mind Melter fries your freakin’ brain or short-circuits your heart, or a sniper puts a slug in your head, and it’s adios muchacho. Or you just disappear, like you never was.”
“Wow, I have never seen you spooked like this, Throk. It’s a nice story, but I’m telling you it’s all rumor and horse manure.”
“I think you’re wrong on this. My buddy was scared. Spooked real bad. Said he seen some serious **** go down that he still couldn’t wrap his head around. Santos, I shouldn’t even be seen talking about this to you. They took him, Santos. Them Manhunters took my buddy and did things to him he couldn’t even talk about. This is big Roxtal I’m talkin’ about. Roxtal the Lanotaur. Never thought nobody could ever break a Lanotaur like that, let alone Roxtal. You know what a stone-cold killer that bad ass is. You ever think you’d see him tremble like a frightened child? I never would have, but there he was, tremblin’ as he recounted what they done to him. Couldn’t even get it all out. He broke down sobbin’ and shakin’ like a beaten dog. Said he couldn’t believe they finally just let him go when they was done with him. They just turned their backs on him and walked away. Told him to keep his mouth shut an’ he would only ever see them again in his nightmares. The experience made him quit the trade. The toughest mother that you or I have ever known, and he just ups and leaves the trade. Planned to head down into South America where the CS don’t have much presence.”
“You’d be surprised.” chuckled Santos.
“Damn it! That’s the kind of **** you say all the time an’ it’s what’s gonna to get you noticed an’ killed! An’ me with you. You’ve got a loose tongue, brother. An’ more guts than brains. Always have.”
“If you’re going to keep lecturing me, ‘daddy,’ you need to buy me another shot and a beer, because your crap is getting old.”
The Greot Hunter grabbed Santos by the arm, leaned in close, and growled in a soft whisper, “I’m tryin’ to save yer dumb ass. Them Manhunters was interrogatin’ Roxtal about you an’ your whereabouts. They learned you ran with his gang for a while. Said he was the last to see your skinny ass an’ they wanted to know where they could find you. They broke the biggest, meanest, sum-of-a-bitch this side of the Mississippi, to find you, Santos. You. These guys mean business. An’ right now, you is their business.”
“Right, so tough that ol’ Roxy is going off to hide in a South American jungle somewhere?”
“No, he ain’t. He never made it. A day after he told me about the CS Manhunters, he was dead. Me and my crew happened upon what was left of him an’ his Pecos Raiders two days ride from here. Wouldn’t have even known it was him ‘cept for his boots and his robot horse. He always wore them red an’ black leather cowboy boots, with that big gold star on the side, remember? Said they made him feel like some old famous bandit from Earth’s Old West he’d seen in some video. Who was it? Billy something? Anyway, we come across his robo-horse, gear, an’ his boots – his feet still in them, Santos. The rest of him misted. Vaped by heavy ordnance like what’s used by the CS. The rest of the gang suffered the same fate. As far as we could tell, none of ‘em survived.”
The Greot mercenary stared into Santos’ eyes searching to find some glimmer of understanding and concern, but was met with disappointment.
“People get bushwhacked and robbed every day out here and the Pecos Empire.” grumbled Santos. “Doesn’t mean a thing. Coincidence.”
“‘Cept them attackers didn’t take nothin’. Not a damn thing.”
“So?”
“I don’t know no single bandit, merc, or adventurer who would ambush an’ wipe out a whole band of experienced Pecos Raiders an’ just leave behind everything where it fell. Do you? An’ I mean vehicles, weapons, contraband. Musta been more than two million credits’ worth of crap just sitting out in the sun.”
“Sounds to me like you and your crew had an easy payday.”
“Sounds like you’re dumber than I ever realized.” snarled the barrel-chested lizard man.
Santos took umbrage at the insult. Stood up and considered throwing down with his old riding partner. The Greot responded in kind. Both men glared at the other for a long moment, their hands on their weapons. Finally, a slow smirk crawled across Santos’ face and he sat back down at the bar and took a swig of warm beer.
“Look,” said Santos with a forced laugh, the booze giving him the warm buzz he had been working toward. “I appreciate your concern, buddy. I really do. I ... I just didn’t know I meant so much to you, Darlin’.”
The Greot snorted and scowled. Santos straightened up and stopped with the jokes.
“Okay, I hear you.” said a stone-faced Santos. “All I’m saying is the Coalition States spins a lot of garbage that’s not true. Has never been true. They do it to scare people and keep them in line. Hell, until we went to war against Tolkeen I thought Greots and most D-Bees were savage monsters who would eat my children if given half the chance. None of what they taught us about nonhumans was true ... except maybe in your case.”
The attempt at humor fell flat and did nothing to lighten the Greot Hunter’s disposition.
“Listen to me good, Santos. What happened to my friend went down only two days ago, just south of here. That means them Manhunters or whatever boogeymen looking for you are close. Real close. An’ it sounds like you’re their next target. I can see why. You’re a damn loudmouth deserter gone rogue to help the enemy an’ cash in on your knowledge about the CS. You haven’t stopped shooting off your mouth about CS business since the day you left. If I was them I would want to mist you out of existence too, an’ I like you. Though god only knows why. If I was you, I’d be leaving town right fast and layin’ low in some dark hole for as long as your money allows. Maybe lose yourself in No Where. You hear me? Roxtal told them everything he knew about you, Santos. Them Manhunters you say don’t exist, they’re comin’ for you. Might have eyes on you, right now. You’d never know in a crowd like this. Be smart for once in your life an’ listen to someone tryin’ to save yer hide.”
“Alright. Alright! Message received loud and clear, Throk. I’ll head out right after the soiree tonight. Here, let me buy you another damn drink. You look like you could use one. I know I need one.”
“No thanks, brother. We only come to town to resupply an’ we is out of here while we still can. Don’t need that CS boogie-man you don’t believe in decidin’ me an’ my boys might know somethin’ we don’t, an’ take us down with you for good measure. No. We is heading out in a few minutes.”
“Geezus, Throk, I’ve never seen you like this.”
“Maybe that should tell you somethin’, dumb ass.”
Santos drank and danced the night away with two of the local barmaids, but couldn’t gets Throk’s warning out of his. That made him mad. Ruined what should have been a carefree night of fun. Finally, Santos staggered out of the saloon to make his way back to the boarding house where he had a little room with a cosy bed and a bottle of whiskey waiting for him. The ladies were to meet up with him tomorrow at noon, before he left town.
Santos never showed. An investigation into his disappearance revealed his boarding room was paid for through the end of the week. His lonely belongings still waiting for his return. Nobody has seen or heard of Santos since. Missing. Gone in the wind without a trace.
Upon learning about the disappearance of Santos, Throk and his crew decided to follow Roxtal’s plan and see what opportunities South America might hold for them. He has never spoken about Coalition Manhunters or Santos ever again.

**********
More to follow ...


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