Book 0.5: In The Storm
Book 1: Inglorious Resurrection
Book 1.5: Lost Souls
Book 2: The Phantom's Gambit
Release: Feb 2, 2023
Release: July 5, 2022
Release: Q2 2023
Book 1: Inglorious Resurrection
"These burning hearts are too stubborn to die."
Phoenix Company is a passionate, ongoing, character-focused series set in the fantasy sci-fi galaxy of Aesteria. These books chronicle the journey of a band of misfits and outcasts who find a family in each other. Bonded in battle, then left for dead, they now fight tooth and claw to pursue their dream of starting a mercenary company together.
After a long string of disastrous jobs that leave their cohesion teetering on the brink, they get one last chance to come up with a win. A disgraced PAX knight, his bright-eyed armiger, an urchin from the megacity slums and a wanderer searching for his family will need to find the strength in themselves and each other to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
In the struggle to forge their destinies together, they need to contend with vicious criminals, sadistic rebels, a horde of flame-spewing, mutant psychos and other hidden adversaries. Can Seth, Loren, Rhaz and Zee sync up as a team and get the job done amid planet-wide civil unrest, personal strife and the machinations of powerful figures lurking in the shadows?
A story for those who feel like they've never quite fit in, Phoenix Company is a lovingly crafted and unique tale inspired by franchises such as Final Fantasy VII, Starcraft, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, Outlaw Star and more.
"This is what I call an inspiring and breathtaking sci-fi story."
1st Amazon Review
Phoenix Company's Founding Four
Second son of a prominent duke, 28-year-old Sir Seth Steele always marched to the beat of his own drum. A powerful warrior, he was trained from birth to wear a Powered Armour eXosuit or PAX that made him a titan on the battlefield. When some shady politics landed him in command of a penal company, he made the best of it and led his reluctant soldiers through hell and back. One disastrous mission left the company shattered, his reputation in tatters and his psyche scarred. Now without his PAX, his wealth and his station, the former lord captain finds himself on the streets of Rax City leading his band of mercenaries who survived Angel Wing Gorge. Though his PAX spared his body the worst of what happened on that fateful day, the flames and hissing artillery still haunt the previously unflappable warrior.
Loren Oriah always wanted one thing for as long as he could remember: to be a hero. Just like the PAX Paladins and others he watched on the holos. The day the bullied, junior justicar ran into Sir Seth Steele, Loren saw his path become crystal clear. After fast-tracking his education to become Sir Seth's armiger or squire. Even after the disaster at Angel Wing Gorge, the loyal teenager stuck by his knight. Now, the optimistic, noble wannabe-knight with black and white ideas is out of his bubble and exposed to the wide world and all its colours, both bright and ugly. Can the young lad's fantasies survive the realities of growing up?
Rhazsana "Rhaz" Nira
Fate didn't do Rhazsana Nira any favours. A feline humanoid known as Ra'Shasi, Rhaz was born into a forgotten district buried in the megacity slums called the Deep Six. Destitute and orphaned, she was invariably funneled into a life of crime. When she almost succumbed to a painful medical condition at a young age, she was given illicit substances to manage it. Her life took an unexpected turn when she wound up in Rakuur Penal Battalion 13 - D Company, the Deadmaws. When the company disbanded, the determined woman refused to let it all fall apart. Rhaz convinced Seth, Loren and her scout-sniper partner, Zee, to embark on an adventure as mercenaries together. Her burning heart drives her forward but she needs to conquer the monsters in her head before she can truly fly.
Fokazi "Zee" Kain
Fokazi Kain has lost every family that he's had. His quaint childhood was turned upside down when a clash between bandits and nobles killed his father and burned his village down. 10-year-old Fokazi and his mother were saved by a mysterious group of elven rangers. After living with them and learning their ways through his teenage years, they vanished one night without a trace, Zee wandered the wilds trying to find them. After a working every job under the sun, his first love led him down the path of rebellion and ultimately, into the chains of the authorities. Zee narrowly dodged the firing squad by opting to join a penal battalion where he distinguished himself as an eagle-eyed sniper. With a body bearing the tattoos of his storied life so far, the cautious nomad now faces a choice to stick it out with his friends or continue wandering the galaxy.
Chapter 1: Prologue
As dawn broke on the rocky, red planet of Rakuur, the Wheeljack's final assault on the Guard's venerable fort began. Mutant priests prophesized this day would be a righteous feast for the Great Burning Wheel In The Sky. An epic confrontation to determine if this side of the continent would be ravaged by raiders or not.
Tracer fire, flak and laser beams filled the early morning sky. Mutants strapped to gliders dive-bombed the mustering yards. VTOL gunships rained particle fire to thin the horde of ramshackle vehicles outside. Raiders mounted on wyverns tackled the gunships' tails.
The cannons bristling the fort's walls gave it the bearing of an angry, well-armed turtle. They blasted away at the dune buggies and monster trucks that hurled themselves at the high walls. The wreckage of raider vehicles created a ramp for those that followed.
Spotters sounded the alarm as buggies carrying long-lost but still active, alien torpedoes approached. The commander on the walls shouted to direct their fire.
On the ground outside the fort, an older woman with a deeply scarred face held her position. Wearing ornate, powered armour, she cried out and raised a staff in defiance of the deadly tide.
Beside her stood a younger, diminutive, tattooed woman with a shaved head. She wore an oversized uniform bearing the mark of a blue phoenix on its shoulder. Together, they evoked the magical powers of the Great Aether to lift and crush two vehicles together.
Despite their efforts, one of the bomb buggies zipped through the flames and smoke. A deluge of automatic weapon fire peppered the vehicle. It rushed up the ramp of wreckage to deliver the torpedo straight into the wall of the fort.
The Xelarian anti-matter torpedo did not approve of being detonated in atmosphere. It expressed that displeasure by utterly obliterating that whole section of the wall. Chunks of ferasteel and plascrete flew sky-high along with many of the defenders posted on the battlements.
A few kilometres away, a ruined estate nestled on a nearby cliff overlooked the area surrounding the fort. A Jacker priest with burned-out eyes felt the explosion and gave praise to the Great Burning Wheel In The Sky. Victory here marked the first, great gear shift in their crusade toward greatness. Other priests surrounding him wailed on electric guitars. The drums were punctuated by the earth-shaking thud of a massive howitzer. The Wheeljack commander's super-heavy tank hammered the fort's defences from afar.
The imposing Wheeljack leader, Warhog, revelled in the devastation of his masterful plan coming together. The dawn's light glinted off the armoured tusks protruding out of his porcine face. It was only a matter of time before they would finally occupy that accursed fort. Breaking Rakuur's Guard here would bring even more raiders under his banner. Soon, his glorious conquest would consume the whole planet.
Little did he know, a force of brave defenders advanced on his position. Rakuur's soon-to-be premier mercenary company embarked on its first, real claim to fame.
Cursing in her ancestral tongue, Rhaz Nira whispered into their comm channel, "This is Phoenix3, moving in. Zsavé. Filthy Jackers and their stink. Hard to get a sense of where they are."
"Hold up, Phoenix3. I'm in position, got eyes on. Two sentries. Back patio by the servant's entrance," said Fokazi Kain, commonly referred to as Zee, from his perch on the rocks behind the estate.
Rhaz replied, "Copy, Phoenix4. Pick your target, I'll drop the other on your mark."
"Stay hidden, I can get both of them," Zee declared.
The company's lord commander, Sir Seth Steele, got on the horn and said, "I like the confidence but a little early to be taking chances, don't you think, Phoenix4?"
Zee said, "Please, Phoenix actual. I never miss."
"We believe in you, Lieutenant Kain. The team's got your back no matter what." Loren Oriah, Seth's armiger or squire, braved the comms to offer his inimitable brand of unwavering optimism.
Zee set the charge on his beam rifle, an Alathan light lance, to 50%. Hand-crafted many centuries ago by elves, it was a priceless work of art and an heirloom from his lost, adopted family. He was human, but an elven ranger gifted him the rifle all the same. He calibrated the sophisticated optics, lined up his shots and steadied his breathing.
On the back patio near the servant's entrance, a raider regaled his partner with a joke. Gesticulating wildly, he said, "And for my third wish... I want my head to be a giant pumpkin!"
The second raider stared at him, unblinking. The metaphorical gears turning in his head tried desperately to understand. A beam of golden light burned a hole through his skull, cutting the process short.
"Oh, fuck off! The joke wasn't that bad. You just don't get it. STUPID!" said the first sentry right before another beam bored through his chest.
Back up on his perch, Zee smiled and went to work replacing the charge pack on his rifle. He said, "See? Smooth as butter."
A third sentry rounded the corner, pulling up his pants after taking a leak. Zee cursed. The raider looked at the bodies of his comrades, then up to where the sniper was positioned.
"Well shit in a bag and squash it," said the raider.
He took a deep breath to yell in alarm, but a vibra-knife buzzed through the air and lodged in his neck. He motioned to raise his weapon and fire, but Rhaz leaped from the bushes nearby and finished him off before he could pull the trigger. Her furry, teal-tipped, feline tail waved in the air behind her as she pounced on him.
As the company's recon specialist finished her work, she said, "Ha! Thought I smelled something. Can't hide from me, chuvatch."
Seth, Loren and the rest of the company advanced up to Rhaz's position at the servant's entrance. Zee joined them as they all checked their weapons and kit. They finally looked like the outfit they had dreamed of when they embarked on this great adventure together. No longer equipped with a piece-meal mishmash of whatever they could afford, scrounge or steal. They had uniforms, armour, gear and quality weaponry customized to their roles.
All emblazoned with the blue phoenix of the company. Their company.
Seth clapped Zee on the shoulder, "How are you feeling, mate? You okay? Need a moment?" The handsome, clean-cut, noble officer couldn't help but make jokes.
Zee shook his head, avoiding eye contact with his compatriots. "Don't want to talk about it."
Following the lead of his mentor, knight and friend, Loren put a hand on Zee's other shoulder. "Well, you didn't miss at least, Lt. Zee."
Zee closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath. He patted the well-meaning knight-in-training's hand.
Rhaz said, "Think of it this way, we're founding members of the company. It's important to show off every now and then to let everyone know why we're the ones in charge." She flashed a devilish smirk, poking fun at her old, scout-sniper companion.
Another earth-shaking thud echoed out from the raider howitzer. The reverberations rattled everyone's bones. Their smiles faded.
Stone-faced, Zee said, "Focus up. There's still a war going on."
Seth clapped his hands together and got on the comms. "Alright, Phoenix Company. The orchestra's warmed up and they're playing our tune. Those brave soldiers back at the fort are fighting with all they've got to buy us time. If we fail and the fort falls, then the millions of people on this side of the continent are the next to go.
"The odds are stacked against us but that's when we do our best work. We're gonna cut the head off the pig, shut that damn tank up, win this bloody war and go home as big, damn heroes. Kowa Huwa, let's do this!"
He gave more direct orders to the various fireteams who moved with purpose. One of the last people still close to him, Rhaz, smiled to herself.
"What are you grinning about?" Seth asked with a curious, raised eyebrow.
She shook her head. "Just remembering where we started, and everything that's happened in between."
Seth glanced over his shoulder to check if anyone was within earshot. "I keep telling myself that we've been through worse and survived, but my memory's failing to conjure up an example. Too many hits to the head most likely." He chuckled.
She said, "Well, either way, there's nowhere else I'd rather be." The two war buddies who'd been through so much together closed their eyes and pressed their heads together for a few breaths.
The calls came in as the fireteams got into position. The commander reached a hand to his earpiece and counted down to his mark. Phoenix Company went to work.
Enough time had passed that the raiders wondered why their backline had gotten so quiet. Vibra-blades and the hiss of suppressed weapons silenced the patrols they diverted to investigate.
Then the time came to go loud. The door-kickers on the team breached and cleared through the ruined manor. Where the doors were heavily guarded, the larger members of the company knocked down a wall.
They fought their way through to the front side of the building, sending the opposition running. As they took up firing positions overlooking the courtyard, they saw a troubling sight. The raider elites moved to set up on the opposite end of the estate grounds. They were Warhog's disciplined, large and in charge force called the Battle Boars. Fierce warriors who had the bearing of those who got to the top of the pile by eating those that stood in their way.
Phoenix Company poured fire and light artillery in their direction. The enemy hill became obfuscated by plumes of smoke, dust and the occasional body part.
Loren reported that he had a bad feeling. Those with keen senses detected some more disturbances in the ground around them. From his elevated position, Zee shifted the advanced optics on his rifle to see through the smoke. That's when he saw the turret of their tank turning in the company's direction.
The sniper called out its position. Seth hollered for everyone to take cover. The blast from the tank's main gun struck the foyer, sending mercenaries flying. Their worlds temporarily cut to black.
This was a critical make-or-break moment in Phoenix Company's tale. A major test of their resolve. But it wasn't the first. The answer to the question of will they or won't they succeed here was elusive. Sometimes, we must peer into the future to appreciate where our heroes have been and what they had to do to get to that point.
There was a time when they weren't on the edge of glory. A time when they were at the bottom of the barrel, fighting tooth and claw just to survive. This band of outcasts who dared to chase a dream. A dream of defying the hands they'd been dealt in life and reaching for more. A dream of forging their destinies together and proudly proclaiming to the galaxy that this is who they are.
Some phoenixes are reborn with brilliant, fiery wings spread in a blinding blaze of triumph. Others find themselves time and again crawling out of the pile of their ashes. Blood-soaked, burned, battered and bruised. Too stubborn to die.