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The family owned spaceship is the backbone of interstellar and inter-worldline commerce. Though many spaceships are owned by major corporations more often that not those ships are crewed by multigenerational crews of the same family. The Privateer Fleet is the biggest community of family owned and crewed space vessel but there are literally millions of many smaller family ships.The Largest of them,being known as the Free Federation of Space.

They generally consist of a huge Mothership,several smaller multi purpose tramp freighters and smaller,multi purpose cargo ships.All jury rigger all over MacGyver Style and armed to the teeth.

Some, equipped only with sub-light engines operate only in the inside of systems or inside and around the Great Spheres of Terra Prime and Atlantis Prime. Others, equipped with both Space Warp Engines and Hyperspace Drives operate almost anywhere in the Cosmos where their drives and the wormhole network can take them. It is these ships that are most dependant on the family crew for in the depths of the Cosmos there is no group that will stick closer and help each other closer than a family.

From the log of Captain Carter Tauran of the SS Gypsy Queen

Starships Logs.Corvaillian Tramp Freighter.

Colonial Alliances of Space-the out rim of the Terran Federation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince Toreus Rhann and the Thuvian Rangers

Chapter 8: Scarlet Shadow Rachel O’Brien was efficient,as she was beautiful. That was the second thing that anyone noticed about her.

               The first was that she was a looker. Tall and slim with long black hair and sapphire eyes. She turned heads when she walked down a street. Or when she stood at command on the bridge of a ship.In other reality,she might have mistaken for a wonderous warrior woman,of the Imperial Spartainean Mercenary Coprse.

But she had never rested on her laurels with that asset. She had also developed her brain and her skills with aircraft and spacecraft.

               Today she sat in the captain’s couch at the center of the command blister of the starship that was co-owned by her, her husband, Colin, and their business partner Zachariah Sarkhon and his spouse, Ivhanna. Sat there looking at the displays in front of her.Holo images danced upon the screen,giving out star ship data,about the ships engine performance,in the Engineering Bridge behind the Command Bridge. Rachel O’Brien,sat among the circular bridge,with the Astrogator behind her and several command stations,scattered around the central Command Stations.Helm,Navigation,Tactical,Enginnering,Mission Operation and so on.Huge cables,hung over the Astrogation station,connecting various critical systems,some by way of Seraphean Isolinear Power tubes,booted legger by Zacheriah Sarkhon some time ago,on the Zatikhon Black Market,while others were of Seraphean Isolinear Data tubes were data storage devices utilized in various forms of technology.

The Scarlet Shadow was a big ellipsoid shaped Kallidan space yacht and she was in stationary orbit over the Arcadian plate.

The hull was painted white with red trimmings that gave the vessel its name.This was a left over,from it’s days as a Kalladonean Pirate Ship and Tramp Freighter,when it was owned and operated by Captain Kurgann MacKhann –it’s former owner,who operated out among the Colonial Alliance.The Big Kalladon lost it in a fight with a Darkhonean by the name of Marghuss Kang.Eventually Kang lost it and the ship passed from one owner to another,until it became the property of it’s current owners-The O’Briens and the Sarkhons. Its crew was made up of the families of the members of Colin’s Away Team. They were like one big family and had been together for many years and many adventures-here on Terra-Prime and beyond. She felt more at home and amongst kin with these people than she did with her own family back home in Thuvia. This was her place, her people. This was where she belonged.

               Rachel had grown up the daughter of a wealthy Thuvian merchant Steven Carter and had had all the privileges that went along with that status. But she had not liked the life of a spoiled wealthy brat and had eschewed it as much as possible. She wanted to work on the great ships and be a respected member of the Merchant Space Fleet—a noble profession that stretched back along the corridors of time to Old Atlantis and Sidairis Prime—the earliest known birth places of all space travel.Her mother Lynda Shatterstarr*,had of the Imperial Spartainean Mercenary class and Rachel wanted to trained as such.The few,the proud,the Spartain,forever loyal was their motto.The Spartains,cousins to the Great Alpha Omega Warriors,could trace their traditions back the ancient Spartans of the Terran Greek,the United States Marines and the Omega Warriors afterwards,found upon many worlds-many time lines.

               She had obtained her pilots license by the age of sixteen standard years—the youngest age possible-- and her merchant spacer’s papers by twenty-two. She was well on her way to a career in the Pangean Merchant Space Fleet when a happy disaster occurred.

               One night in a pub in Fountain Town, in Lankmearia City,Rachel Carter had fallen in love with a big, burly Thuvian Ranger and her whole life had turned upside down.Colin O’Brien,was simply walking his big,grey Jovian Warhound Brutus that warm,summer night,when ran into her coming out of Fin MacQuines Inn.She was surprised by a big,grey,muscular canine and haltede suddenly.He looked down at her,fearing he scared this most beautiful lass while walking his great dog.The Thuvian Ranger said "I'm Colin O’Brien ….sorry if we frightened you. Brutus and me are out for a nightly stroll,he told her.Brutus likes this place,so I’m forced,as you can understand,to go in and buy me and him something to drink.After all it wouldn’t right to just hand about without being a paying costumer.Rachel Carter laughted and the two spent the rest of the night becoming good freinds and time much more to each other.Still,Colin O’Brien had to keep certain things from her.One thing was he was currently working with the Doomwatchers,Inc.organization-the local undercover network of spies,who kept a look out for anysort of sign of potentional trouble.He told her,as was his cover currently,was an ex-Thuvian Ranger,who was working as a mercenary,to track down some outlaws known to robbing the Rhadmall Markets in Fountain City.was only partially true.O’Brien was actually working with local Doomwatchers,and Thuvian Rangers.The Gredgharin Bandits were working in association Hydropangean undersea TyKhainean pirates to sell solin items such as drugs,supplies and weapons on the Pangean Black Market,along with his other O’Brien brothers was only partially trueUnfortunately,she had conmittments as well,working as a shuttle pilot for the local Thuvian Rangers.When his business,was over among the Sunburn outlands of the New Lankmearia province,they’d meet again.Unfortunately,for one reason or another,the two kept on missing each others meeting other again and again.

               Colin O’Brien had, of course, had only been pretending to be an ex-Thuvian Ranger turned merc—one of the first of many tall tales he had told her.

               In actuality he worked undercover for Doomwatch, the intelligence wing of House Sarkhon. But he couldn’t very well tell that to some gal he’d met in a bar now—could he?

               Months later when an alert went out for flyers to evacuate some troops off a hilltop surrounded by pirates in Hydropangea, she found out the truth.

She had volunteered, partially out of patriotism and partially out of her thirst for adventure. No Thuvian pilot worth his or her salt would have turned down the chance to help.

               She had flown a shuttle to the hill and waited while the troops boarded and then flew off to safety.

               It was not until she had landed that she realized that one of the troopers was none other than her mystery soldier, Colin O’Brien.

               And though Rachel did not like to be lied to she understood because she had fallen madly in love with the big, loud soldier. So she gave him just that one lie. For that reason and no other—or so she told herself.

But mainly it was because it allowed them to be together. And together is where they both wanted to be.

 Unfortunately Colin was often a stranger to the truth and she had to keep an eye on him to make sure he did not harm himself and their relationship along with it.

               Of course her father had not liked Colin. Nor had her mother. They didn’t understand why she was going to marry a grounder—a pejorative term for an infantry soldier. If she was going to marry a military type then why not marry someone in the Imperial Fleet?

To her wealthy parents Colin had two major defects. He was poor and he was infantry. No matter how esteemed the Rangers were to the world at large to the rich they were just infantry—ground soldiers. People who crawled around in the mud and ate snakes. Paid killers for the crown with little civilian application for their trade outside of security and law enforcement.

               Oh they didn’t mind that the Empire had a strong army or even that the Emperor himself was a lion man—a wild man from the mountains of Thuvian who cavorted with cats. But they did not want their precious child to marry one.

               Colin had weathered this well. He had grown up with four older brothers and knew how to fend off being ganged up on by family. And Colin’s brothers were all tough guys, all soldiers. Just to get in line for the bathroom at the O’Brien household had been a challenge and a contest. Or so Colin always said and she saw no reason to doubt him on that. She had met the O’Brien brothers-Alex.William,Daniel,Steven and Adam.Colin being the runt of the clan and youngest,at 6.2,tall,muscular,loud and mean-made one wonder what the rest of the O’Briens looked like.

               Rachel’s family tried every trick in the book and some outside of it to break the couple up.

Dad tried to buy him off. That had not gone well. Rachel would never be sure but she thought that Colin, or one of his four beefy, older brothers, had threatened her father and that was why the old man fell silent on the subject and never interfered again.

               Ma was another matter. She took every encounter with her son-in-law as an opportunity to insult and demean him.She felt Rachel had married someone not up to her standards.A rude,crud bum,not a warrior of honor and standards. Much to his credit Colin took it well. Though she, Rachel, knew it hurt his feelings. Her husband tended to be loud and bombastic but he still was, aside from all the bluster, a little boy who wanted to look like a success to the world at large.

               But despite the family interference they staid together and married and they had been married ever since.

               Ahead of her, in the Helm couch, sat the pilot/navigator of the Shadow, Pindar Mor, a blue skinned Rhandarean and the mate of the team’s Quartermaster, Shiv Mor, a human.

Pindar was, as are all Rhandars, a sentient artificial life form. Which made her relationship with the human Shiv an interspecies romance, even though religious people swore that Rhandars and other Mechans were not truly species at all.

               Rachel often wondered what her class conscious parents would have made of that. Not that the Mors would have cared. Love was all that mattered in the end. Love and the companionship of two sentient beings that cared for one another.

               That was a lesson that many humans needed to learn and so few did.

               Her parents had little trouble with her and Colin’s partners in ownership of the Shadow. Zacharias and Ivhanna were members of the Legion of  Time Sorcerers—Atlanteans—and like many conservatives her parents looked on their race as gods. The fact that Rachel knew the couple and realized how human they were gave her a reason to smirk at her parents’ conventional wisdom and prejudices.

               “How is she holding, Helm?” Rachel asked the tall, blue humanoid at the helm. Pindar was female. It was not just cosmetic the way it would have been on an android bot. The Rhandars were sexually reproducing machines more organic than mechanical. Their creators had had the wisdom to make sure that they were self replicating. Though the process was much more complicated, Rachel was sure, than that of organic beings. Of course her relationship with Shiv was childless. Love could do many things but it could not cross the barrier between ALF and human. At least not yet.

               This reminded Rachel of her own childless marriage. She and Colin were always too busy to make time for kids. Or so she kept telling herself.

               “Holding position,” said Pindar. “I was concerned about the new monopole anchors but they seem to be functioning with peak efficiency.”

               “Good,” replied Rachel. The Shadow, like most Kallidan ships, was war surplus having once belonged to a Kallidan Captain whose property had been auctioned off after his fall from grace with the High Command and subsequent imprisonment.

               Doctor Zachariah Sarkhon had managed to get it at a steal, helped with the acquisition from both Carter Tauran and Kothar Khonn. Not to mention Toreus Rhann and his Imperial father. They had worked with Toreus many times but had never actually met that handsome Thuvian Prince. A fact that Colin appreciated since he had a low opinion of rich people in general and royalty in particular. He was also jealous of Rachel’s pin-up boy admiration for Toreus.

               Gods, Colin, she thought. I’m not into younger men.

               And now here we are on another mission assisting the Prince.

               The ship floated off the Fountain station with many other vessels. Just one of the fleet that came and went to Arcadia Fountain carrying passengers and cargo from all around the inside of the Sphere. The only difference between the Shadow and all of the others, as far as she knew, was that it was the only one equipped as a troop carrier/ mission support site. As well as one of the few that was outfitted with a hyperspace engine as well as a warp drive. Most ships maneuvering through the Inner Sphere space didn’t require hyperspace. In fact use of it inside the Sphere was illegal. The hyperspace shadow inside the Sphere was simply not big enough for starships to maneuver safely—hyperspace being a small universe in point to point congruence with normal space.

               You could use warp drive within the Sphere though killing the field before you approached a plate was recommended. This was  why jump tunnels and sub-light were the basic means of transport inside the Great Sphere of Terra Prime. And why the Sphere girdling sub-shuttles and airship trains were still very popular.

               “Skipper,” called out Kenya Mathin, the communications/intelligence officer. “Just received a signal from the package in Arcadia. The subject has departed for his meeting.”

               That meant that Prince Toreus had left the cargo module forward base and was headed for his rendezvous with his contacts.

               “Good,” she said. “Give me the jump phone to Colonel O’Brien.”

               “Yes, ma’am.”

               The jump phone was a Casimir effect communications system that allowed communications between two paired units. One was here aboard the Shadow and the other was with Colin down in Arcadopolis. It was the most secure means of communicating ever developed by sentient kind. There was no way a third party could listen in on the message. And the jump connection could be expanded to make an emergency escape route if the mobile end had fully charged Zero Point batteries.

               If they had to pullout of an ambush there was enough energy to keep a big jump point open long enough to get the whole team away—but barely. That didn’t included rescued personnel or additional operatives.

               That was why they had to be really careful or her husband, the Prince, the team and the precious cargo would all end up in RAMP custody.

               “Connection attained,” said Mathin.

***

Colin and his 12 man team were already in position.

               Four of them, including the chief himself, were in a parked van on the street in front of the mercenary pub not four blocks from the Fountain’s base.

               The rest of the team was stationed behind and to the sides of the pub, including a scout/sniper team on the roof across the street. Earlier some of his men had painted smart dust on the walls and intersections around the pub to increase their yield of intelligence. They had the whole site covered.

               Colin heard the pulsing from the box in a pouch on his belt. He pulled it out and flipped open the lid to reveal the interior.

               “O’Brien here,” he spoke into the opening of the jump phone.

               “Coll, it’s your wife,” came the voice from the amplification and containment unit for the jump point. It was small and portable because the ZPBs were on the ship’s end of the connection. Zero Points tended to be big.

               “What’s up, hon?”

               “Just got the signal. He’s on his way.”

               “Okay,” Colin frowned. “Pretty boy finally got his butt in gear.”

               “Colin,” Rachel replied. “Don’t forget that as a loyal Pangean subjects we owe that young man our allegiance and respect.”

               “Sure love,” said Colin. “As long as his money is good and none of my folks get killed saving his ass he has my undying respect. Does that suit ya, babe?”

               “One of these days, Coll, you’re gonna get overheard saying stuff like that by some loyal patriot and they’re gonna knock you on your butt.”

               “Loyal patriots aren’t out here helping his royalness save the worlds. They’re sitting back home trying to find a way to replace the Empire with a Republic.”

               “At least try to show a little courtesy, Coll.”

               “Don’t worry, baby. If I ever meet the Prince face to face I’ll courtesy and kiss his ring like any peasant.”

               “Fair enough, Colin. Just don’t insult the guy whose father writes our checks.”

               “I promise.”

               Their marriage was based on promises. Many of them still unfulfilled. Not that he didn’t try very hard to live up to them. Both of them did. Especially Rachel. Colin would never admit it out loud but he knew that his wife was long suffering and he wanted nothing more than to give her all that she deserved. Nothing would make him happier.

               “Boss, this is Cobb,” came the voice of one of his troopers in his earpiece. “Vehicle and rider approaching from down-spin.”

               “Gotta go, hon,” he said to Rachel. “Things are beginning to heat up here. Love you. Touch base as soon as we know what’s happening.”

               “Right, Colin. Love you.”

               “Back at ya, babe.”

               He closed the box and turned his attention to the team net. “Okay, report.”

               “Look at the bird up on the cupola across the street, boss,” said his Top Sergeant, Frank Pym.

               Colin scanned with his spy glasses toward the cupola. There perched a hawk. “See him. So?”

               “Try him on thermal image.”

               Colin adjusted his glasses to thermal scan. The bird should have glowed hot but instead it was just slightly warmer than the environment.

               “Avianoid,” he said. “That will belong to his nibs. Aerial surveillance. He’s spotted us before we spotted him.”

               “Man on a sky bike coming up the alley—with a big-ass cat in a sidecar, boss.”

               Colin frowned. “That will be his Grace. Only he would bring a cat to a gunfight.”

               That was a cheap shot, Colin had to admit quietly to himself. Modern shield fighting made gunfights all but impractical and that cat was a mighty weapon for close in fighting. He’d once seen a saber cat reach through a shield and decapitate a man.

               Colin punched a number on his phone. A voice answered.

               “Your boy is here,’ he said.

               “Thank you,” answered the voice.

***

*The Shatterstarrs are an imfamous Spartainean Clan,some related to Imperial House Clans of Sarkhon.

 Prince Toreus and Shakhonja,the Silver Lion were now situated a safehouse in the Bridgeford Square area of Arcadopolis City,secured by Colonel Kotharr Khonn,some weeks before,to be used as one of many Doomwatchers ,Inc.operations locations.It was somewhere after noon,around 4.P.M-standard Arcadian Eastern Seaboard Time.The worlds plated artificial dusky skies were about give into night,as the Thuvian Prince could the roar of distant artificial thunder in the Great Hills beyond the Central City landscape . Being a Royal, Toreus did not have to take a dorm room on campus.  We had a nice little Arcadian house near school.  A house guarded by Vanarian robots since Toreus refused a detachment of Rangers as his personal security detail.  He considered it cowardly and a waste of good fighting men and women.  His father had agreed.  I said they were much alike.

Prince Toreus Rhann’s own Thuvian Snow Falcon-Ulyseas-named after his great grand father, was perched upon, his Falconer’s stand-great green eyes kept surveillance of the Thuvian Prince.  Like Shakhorja-the falcon, had a telepathic link to the Thuvian and often-helped hunt prey, in the Great Thuvian Highlands of

            Toreus went up to his bedroom and showered.  I flopped myself down on the big bed and groomed my claws.  I could smell the scent of female humans on the mattress.  Not an unpleasant smell but not the smell of a lioness.

            The Prince emerged from the bathroom and took off his robe, beginning to dress.  Instantly I knew we were in for trouble.

 He put on the underskin that is worn under rugby suits in the rough brand of that ancient sport played by Arcadians—or under nanotech battle armor.  He dressed in bloused uniform slacks.  The tan uniform pants appeared at first to be similar to the traditional buckskinned pants of the warriors, of Northern Almerhand, back home, but with more high tech and modern type of stitching.The Combat armor was temperature resistant to a degree and provided limited protection from any hostile threat forces,by way it’s Atlantean Atlantium Kryventorium Kelvar fibers,woven into it’s design and manuefacture.

Next, he put on a twill fatigue shirt and armor bracelets and the biomed armband, with its medical biorecorder to collect all physical body function for later medical data collection and the nanotech armor belt—that many soldiers of the world, used to defend against many of the advanced technological military weapons of war.  Prince Rhann, put on his Utility Belt, which held various devices, such as needed in the combat field, tools to fix Spike or smart speeder bike, many Thuvian Rangers used, a Sarkhon Technologies Utility Belt Hand Comlink, equipped a universal translator, surveillance sensor and link spy remote technology, that hung the right side of the web belt.  On the other side, hung an ammo pouch-a long, leather case with several zipper containers, which held various small circular, plastic vile, filled coins of various countries, emergency medical supplies, such as medicines, for minor injuries, and odds and ends of stuff, spare battery packs and so for the.  Toreus Rhann then strapped his secondary utility belt-often called a sword belt even though it is not used to carry a sword, he carried the standard Thuvian Short Sword, not as big and frightful as the large Thuvian long, Broad Sword, but it would have to do for now.

He put on a headband that continued more of the nanotech armor but not the skullcap that would protect the top of his head.  He preferred not to wear it, as he preferred his enemies to see his long, warrior's hair.  In Thuvia, warriors wear their hair long.  Among soldiers, long locks are a sign of his warrior strength.  Off-plate fools often laugh and ask Toreus Rhann if he's a woman or a man.  Toreus Rhann has often answered with a fist, which has caused the Diplomatic Corps much chagrin as they pay off nitwits with big mouths and long hospital bills                    Inset in the headband was an emerald jewel that sparkled when the light hit it.  This was Toreus Rhann's Guider Gem.--an ancient Atlantean device, that gave a worthy warrior knowledge and guidance.  If one were willing to listen—and Toreus Rhann was not always willing to do so—the Guider contained much of the knowledge and wisdom of the ages.  It was more than just a mere computer peripheral—much much more.It also acted as a kind of masking device to block out anyone with any type of telepathic abilities and detection equiptment,by intervereing outside transmissions,by way of it’s stealthy chamouflage abilities

            "I see you have decided to wear me," said the voice of the Guider that only Toreus Rhann and I could hear via neural radio link.

            "Do not get excited, gem," said Toreus.  "It's for show."

            "Your enemies surround you and you dress for battle.  Hardly a show."

            "Battle is not my plan.  Not directly, anyway."

Two feathers from a Thuvian Snow Falcon, also hung adorned the headband, hanging from the left side—the traditional heart side—and just behind the ear.  These were a warrior's prize, won in a contest in the Thuvian Highlands when the Prince was ten.  Boys and girls in Thuvia engaged in such contest to prove their worthiness as warriors and as future citizens.

            Toreus Rhann donned his standard Thuvian Rangers combat utility vest and inserted his Paxton Ripper 12mm pistol in its shoulder rig and his Thuvian fighting knife in its scabbard. Situated in his right hip holster, was his Paxton Ripper model 347-blaster pistol, a special handgun, that was designed to handle to different kinds of ammo-standard 12mm rounds, special armor piercing, Atlantium tipped rounds and could if needed switch to electro magnetic plasma pulse rounds, which pierce through Khy’Vhann battle armor, if needed. A second Thuvian Survival knife was shoved into a scabbard, strapped his right leg.  Opposite, was an Atlantean stun baton-a non-lethal weapon, once used before the time of the Starkillers, to control prisoners, rioting crowds, and enemies of the state?  Some think this weapon could from the time of Thrull Khonn’s Great Second Golden Age, before the Great Cataclysmic Era, of the Trongaroth Wars, upon the Shattered Pangean Lands, whiles feel it dates even further-even ancient intergalactic history, before this universe began and other seemingly ended.

            "Pistol is loaded and functional," said Guider.  "Are you sure this is not a battle?"

            "Yes."

 Finally, he draped a large scarlet and gold amulet about his neck, with an engraved image of a lion face upon, accompanied by two sabers like toothed claws.  It was his Lord of Lions symbol-given to him, for achieving the honor of hunting and surviving among my species, when we were young.  He usually only wore it before going into battle or at ceremonial gatherings of the clan.  My guess was that the clan was not coming here to Arcadia for a shindig.

Guider, in its wisdom, saw this too and commented on it.  "No fight?"

            "No, we are going to surrender forcing the Wallaces to commit an act of war against the Empire."

            He put on his long, leather coat leaving it unbuttoned for easy access to his weapons.  Not the action of a man about to surrender.

            "You don't surrender," said the Guider.

            "There's a first time for everything," said the Prince.

            "Not surrendering.  Not for you.  Your first time will be your last and most likely the last time that any enemy hears you say I surrender."

            Before he could answer, we heard the sound of military vehicles in the road.  It took no genius to guess that the Ki'Vhan, the mercenary hirelings of the Wallaces, had arrived.

‘’Thrull’s Demons-it seems fates had chosen for us.’  Prince Toreus Rhann cursed, as his keen ultra sensitive hears hear sounds of Khy’Vhann soldiers and Armored Personnel Carriers moving toward his private Arcadian residence.  Huge foot soldiers were already moving out among the city streets, moving about the dark, stygian alleys and doorways, in search of the possible Arcadian Resistance Forces.  The hulking shape an APC savagely moved in front of the Bridgeford Square home.  Some Khy’Vhann Squad commander shouted something his native tongue.

‘’Shi- Shoult!’ Shi- Shoult! .Versbein Ock .Khai Nhi. '  ’ ’’Guider Translation from Khy’Vhann to Thuvian English.’  Halt!  Halt!  Move Out.  Now’’.  Several Khy’Vhann could be heard by our sensitive ears, moving into the sidewalk and green, freshly cut lawn. Heavy booted foot falls thudded onto hard concrete and into soft grasses outside, coming toward the location of Armond Street ,which was where Toreus Rhann, was currently living.The Thuvian Prince,doned,his Scarlet cape,the sign of royalty-also bullet proof,to a degree-composed of Atlantium Clothe and charged various microdeflection generators-a another gift,left by the Atlanteans,found within the New Genisis Bunkers,re-discovered by the ancient Starkiller Clan.It would the Thuvian Prince a bit of cover from enemy fire,as he moved out into the combat area.It also,combined the other personal equiptment,the Atlantean Replicator Arm Band-also of Atlantean origin,a bit of resisance to wear and tair,the Chamouflage network woven into it’s fibers,limited stealth shielsing from long range sensory detection equiptment.

Prince Toreus Rhann,reached out his gloved right hand and Ulyseas,hopped onto his wrist area with single thought and command.

‘’Come on,Old friend-Shakhorja and me are going.’’the Thuvian Prince stated.’’We don’t want to be caught with our pants down –as my father always said.’’

‘’Do tell.’’Ulyseas thought telepathically.The Thuvian Snow Falcon,slightly hopped and flew toward the First Son of Thuvia’s armored shoulder pad.Digging this bird claws into the Cathairian Leatherlike armor,Ulyseas turned around,as usual,to gain a better view of what was in front of him.

Prince Toreus Rhann,commanded the daylight overhead light to be lowered dimmer and waited.He with drew both of his pistols from,it’s right side,leather holster ,plus his shoulder holster and stold in the middle of the darken room.The Thuvian Ranger waited for the Khy’Vhann soldiers to enter into the darken room.Two Khy’Vhann solders kicked open the door violently and stold for a few seconds stairing at the tall dark Thuvian,dressed his Thuvian Ranger gear.For a split they hestitated and failed to fire their weapons.

The first Khy’Vhann command. - 'Shi-Shoult! 'Shi-Shoult! Nacht bvowgun.`’’Guider translated Eastern Gravh’arian Province Khy’Vhann into Terran English ‘’’Halt halt-Don’t move.’’

Toreus answered with two round in each chest.Special ammo,Atlantium Steel jacked bullets,designed to pentatrait Khy’Vhann Kryventorium Kevlar armor and their body armored deflection shielding,at close range.The two zombie soldier fell,like dead sacks of weat.Their pasty blue white faces,went more emotionless,as scarlet eyes fell dead-the light of even their dimwiited intelligence,gone forever.

Outside,other Khy’Vhann troops began riddle the Arcadian Townhouse with bullets.The buildings red brick and plaster out wall gave restistance to the gun fire,but the inner lining composed of layers of Kryventorium ceramics –a kind of Atlantean plastic material of super strong and energy restistance ability,bonded other super fibers,restisted and held the bullets from pentatraiting into the building interior.Bullets cracked and formed small blisters into the transpastisteel windows.Most Arcadian Buildings were not only earthquake proof,but reinforced with special super materials,to pretect the inhabitants of any city from any external threat forces,as many other advanced worlds,upon the sphere,had used advancements,found with either the New Genisis-Bunkers or brought to this upon Corvaillian and Norvaillian Tramp freighter,for untold years now.

The Khy’Vhann Troopers,now heard enemy gun fire,coming out of several darken windows of other near by buildings.Pockets of Arcadian Restance members,obviously gaining access to this section of the city,by way of the stygian subterrainian catacomb like matrix of tunnels beneath the city,began rain down fire upon the alien zombie’s position.Special ammo,sparkled off Khy’Vhann body deflectors,weakening and enentually pentatraiting the force shielding.Khy’Vhann Warriors began fall-dancing around like idiot ragmen,pulled by and forth by an unseen puppet master.Some began,those had higher intelligence,like Squade Commanders began to dive behind the armored carriers,hoping to protect themselves from enemy fire.

Prince Rhann,quickly dived out the side door of his Arcadian home,opening the residences huge,light wooded oak partition violently. Shorkhorja  fallowed after.The Thuvian Warrior Prince,produced a small device,off his utilty combat belt-a small ignition control and activated it.Hidden,within the bushed,was a huge,dark smart speeder bike or Spike,called Ebony-his personal two wheeled motorcycle like transport.Twine scarlet eyes,began to light eirilly,like some evil demon horse from hell.A low,roar of it’s engines followed.

‘’Ingition,Ebony.’’Prince Toreus Rhann commanded’’Engage.’’

The Thuvian Warrior,hopped upon the jet black metallic horse.A huge,brown leather riding saddle,was set atop the spike’s artificial back.Behind,two his left,was his Vhentuckian long rifle.Paxton Ripper model rk19,set within a long,leather holster,with Gemonesse leather braids and Thuvian Hunting Falcon feathers.Two leather saddle bags,were found behind that to each side-four in all,filled various emergency rasions-RRI’s,field equiptment,tools,spair ammo clips,water cantines,some filled various fruite juices.A sidecar,was fited to Ebony,with the Capronean Lion Shakhonrja to ride behind the Thuvian Ranger.

Both Prince Toreus and Shakhorja took their positions upon the spike-the Thuvian upon the drivers saddle and the Siver Lion beside him.

Toreus Rhann,grasped the right and left spike handle bars.the brake in his right and ignition handle to his left.His keen,green eyes scanned the back wall.Quickly,he drove his spike backward,as to get a good jumping start and hoped the cycles limited,ground effects repulsor drive,would carry himself and the bike over,more that three feet off the ground.The Thuvian Prince,dug his booted heels into the Spike sterip like,feet peedled,firmly grasped the left ignition grip and gunned the engine.Khy’Vhann soldiers,just having heard the direction of the load noise appeared in outside garden area and aimed their rifle.Toreus.Rhann,drove his spike Ebony forward and

Jumped his hover bike over the 5 foot high wall that devided his property from the next door neighbors.

 Prince Toreus jumped the Speeder bike over the high wall.Khy’Vhann soldiers shooting into the vacant area,where we once were.Prince Toreus Rhann,turned his spike around as he saw something huge appear in front of his path.He turn and drove in the other direction of Arbory  Road as the armored personnel carriers full of Khy’Vhann pulled up at the end of the street,stopping to see if any acitivety was moving up or down this cross section.A Khy’Vhann looked about nearly missing a man on a spike and a white lion running beside him,turning around a deserted alleyway between two high residences..He looked again,thinking he saw a ghost or something else,like the white bed sheet blowing in the wind,once attached one of the homes clothe lines..Nothing moved-save us in the shadows of what was left of this Arcadian neighborhood.

Prince Toreus crossed a road known as Bellers Way and the three ,tried move in and out of parked debris of burning cars,armored carriers,blasted down walls,twisted wreckage of street lamps and so forth,as the Khy’Vhann forces moved upon this section of the city.Bridgeford Square was devoid of anyone save Khy’Vhann and plus one Thuvian Prince,his platinum haired lion and black and white falcon companions.

            The Khy’Vhann troops began to flood out and kick down doors.I could call them zombie like move about the street,silently patrolling the remnants of this once ancient Arcadian neighborhood.  Toreus Rhann slowly moved down the road toward them his hands raised-the spike controlled by the vehicles artificial brain alone.  The armored mercs look at him no doubt with puzzled expressions on their faces.  Though that was difficult to determine through their combat visors,now switched night vision,to see in the darken streets of the Arcadian city,the Khy’Vhann could not exactly understand what a lone figure,with a Thuvian Hunting Falcon on his hover bike,accompanied by a silver haired lion .

            Khy’Vhann do not have a wide range of facial expressions anyway.  They are wired up mercenaries.  Men from various worlds who joined the Khy’Vhann because they had nothing better to do or else were grown in test tubes and raised to be—or so they think—the ultimate soldier.The Khy’Vhann troops followed the commands of the Squade Leader,who directed then to advance upon this strange,outlander.

shi-shoult! outlandar'shi-shoult! nacht bvowgun’the Zombie Trooper shouted

 

‘’This ain’t going to be easy,pal.’’the Thuvian commented to Lion Capanion.Shakhorja grawled a return reply.

 

 

              

       

The family owned spaceship is the backbone of interstellar and inter-worldline commerce. Though many spaceships are owned by major corporations more often that not those ships are crewed by multigenerational crews of the same family. The Privateer Fleet is the biggest community of family owned and crewed space vessel but there are literally millions of many smaller family ships.The Largest of them,being known as the Free Federation of Space.

They generally consist of a huge Mothership,several smaller multi purpose tramp freighters and smaller,multi purpose cargo ships.All jury rigger all over MacGyver Style and armed to the teeth.

Some, equipped only with sub-light engines operate only in the inside of systems or inside and around the Great Spheres of Terra Prime and Atlantis Prime. Others, equipped with both Space Warp Engines and Hyperspace Drives operate almost anywhere in the Cosmos where their drives and the wormhole network can take them. It is these ships that are most dependant on the family crew for in the depths of the Cosmos there is no group that will stick closer and help each other closer than a family.

From the log of Captain Carter Tauran of the SS Gypsy Queen

Starships Logs.Corvaillian Tramp Freighter.

Colonial Alliances of Space-the out rim of the Terran Federation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince Toreus Rhann and the Thuvian Rangers

Chapter 8: Scarlet Shadow Rachel O’Brien was efficient,as she was beautiful. That was the second thing that anyone noticed about her.

               The first was that she was a looker. Tall and slim with long black hair and sapphire eyes. She turned heads when she walked down a street. Or when she stood at command on the bridge of a ship.In other reality,she might have mistaken for a wonderous warrior woman,of the Imperial Spartainean Mercenary Coprse.

But she had never rested on her laurels with that asset. She had also developed her brain and her skills with aircraft and spacecraft.

               Today she sat in the captain’s couch at the center of the command blister of the starship that was co-owned by her, her husband, Colin, and their business partner Zachariah Sarkhon and his spouse, Ivhanna. Sat there looking at the displays in front of her.Holo images danced upon the screen,giving out star ship data,about the ships engine performance,in the Engineering Bridge behind the Command Bridge. Rachel O’Brien,sat among the circular bridge,with the Astrogator behind her and several command stations,scattered around the central Command Stations.Helm,Navigation,Tactical,Enginnering,Mission Operation and so on.Huge cables,hung over the Astrogation station,connecting various critical systems,some by way of Seraphean Isolinear Power tubes,booted legger by Zacheriah Sarkhon some time ago,on the Zatikhon Black Market,while others were of Seraphean Isolinear Data tubes were data storage devices utilized in various forms of technology.

The Scarlet Shadow was a big ellipsoid shaped Kallidan space yacht and she was in stationary orbit over the Arcadian plate.

The hull was painted white with red trimmings that gave the vessel its name.This was a left over,from it’s days as a Kalladonean Pirate Ship and Tramp Freighter,when it was owned and operated by Captain Kurgann MacKhann –it’s former owner,who operated out among the Colonial Alliance.The Big Kalladon lost it in a fight with a Darkhonean by the name of Marghuss Kang.Eventually Kang lost it and the ship passed from one owner to another,until it became the property of it’s current owners-The O’Briens and the Sarkhons. Its crew was made up of the families of the members of Colin’s Away Team. They were like one big family and had been together for many years and many adventures-here on Terra-Prime and beyond. She felt more at home and amongst kin with these people than she did with her own family back home in Thuvia. This was her place, her people. This was where she belonged.

               Rachel had grown up the daughter of a wealthy Thuvian merchant Steven Carter and had had all the privileges that went along with that status. But she had not liked the life of a spoiled wealthy brat and had eschewed it as much as possible. She wanted to work on the great ships and be a respected member of the Merchant Space Fleet—a noble profession that stretched back along the corridors of time to Old Atlantis and Sidairis Prime—the earliest known birth places of all space travel.Her mother Lynda Shatterstarr*,had of the Imperial Spartainean Mercenary class and Rachel wanted to trained as such.The few,the proud,the Spartain,forever loyal was their motto.The Spartains,cousins to the Great Alpha Omega Warriors,could trace their traditions back the ancient Spartans of the Terran Greek,the United States Marines and the Omega Warriors afterwards,found upon many worlds-many time lines.

               She had obtained her pilots license by the age of sixteen standard years—the youngest age possible-- and her merchant spacer’s papers by twenty-two. She was well on her way to a career in the Pangean Merchant Space Fleet when a happy disaster occurred.

               One night in a pub in Fountain Town, in Lankmearia City,Rachel Carter had fallen in love with a big, burly Thuvian Ranger and her whole life had turned upside down.Colin O’Brien,was simply walking his big,grey Jovian Warhound Brutus that warm,summer night,when ran into her coming out of Fin MacQuines Inn.She was surprised by a big,grey,muscular canine and haltede suddenly.He looked down at her,fearing he scared this most beautiful lass while walking his great dog.The Thuvian Ranger said "I'm Colin O’Brien ….sorry if we frightened you. Brutus and me are out for a nightly stroll,he told her.Brutus likes this place,so I’m forced,as you can understand,to go in and buy me and him something to drink.After all it wouldn’t right to just hand about without being a paying costumer.Rachel Carter laughted and the two spent the rest of the night becoming good freinds and time much more to each other.Still,Colin O’Brien had to keep certain things from her.One thing was he was currently working with the Doomwatchers,Inc.organization-the local undercover network of spies,who kept a look out for anysort of sign of potentional trouble.He told her,as was his cover currently,was an ex-Thuvian Ranger,who was working as a mercenary,to track down some outlaws known to robbing the Rhadmall Markets in Fountain City.was only partially true.O’Brien was actually working with local Doomwatchers,and Thuvian Rangers.The Gredgharin Bandits were working in association Hydropangean undersea TyKhainean pirates to sell solin items such as drugs,supplies and weapons on the Pangean Black Market,along with his other O’Brien brothers was only partially trueUnfortunately,she had conmittments as well,working as a shuttle pilot for the local Thuvian Rangers.When his business,was over among the Sunburn outlands of the New Lankmearia province,they’d meet again.Unfortunately,for one reason or another,the two kept on missing each others meeting other again and again.

               Colin O’Brien had, of course, had only been pretending to be an ex-Thuvian Ranger turned merc—one of the first of many tall tales he had told her.

               In actuality he worked undercover for Doomwatch, the intelligence wing of House Sarkhon. But he couldn’t very well tell that to some gal he’d met in a bar now—could he?

               Months later when an alert went out for flyers to evacuate some troops off a hilltop surrounded by pirates in Hydropangea, she found out the truth.

She had volunteered, partially out of patriotism and partially out of her thirst for adventure. No Thuvian pilot worth his or her salt would have turned down the chance to help.

               She had flown a shuttle to the hill and waited while the troops boarded and then flew off to safety.

               It was not until she had landed that she realized that one of the troopers was none other than her mystery soldier, Colin O’Brien.

               And though Rachel did not like to be lied to she understood because she had fallen madly in love with the big, loud soldier. So she gave him just that one lie. For that reason and no other—or so she told herself.

But mainly it was because it allowed them to be together. And together is where they both wanted to be.

 Unfortunately Colin was often a stranger to the truth and she had to keep an eye on him to make sure he did not harm himself and their relationship along with it.

               Of course her father had not liked Colin. Nor had her mother. They didn’t understand why she was going to marry a grounder—a pejorative term for an infantry soldier. If she was going to marry a military type then why not marry someone in the Imperial Fleet?

To her wealthy parents Colin had two major defects. He was poor and he was infantry. No matter how esteemed the Rangers were to the world at large to the rich they were just infantry—ground soldiers. People who crawled around in the mud and ate snakes. Paid killers for the crown with little civilian application for their trade outside of security and law enforcement.

               Oh they didn’t mind that the Empire had a strong army or even that the Emperor himself was a lion man—a wild man from the mountains of Thuvian who cavorted with cats. But they did not want their precious child to marry one.

               Colin had weathered this well. He had grown up with four older brothers and knew how to fend off being ganged up on by family. And Colin’s brothers were all tough guys, all soldiers. Just to get in line for the bathroom at the O’Brien household had been a challenge and a contest. Or so Colin always said and she saw no reason to doubt him on that. She had met the O’Brien brothers-Alex.William,Daniel,Steven and Adam.Colin being the runt of the clan and youngest,at 6.2,tall,muscular,loud and mean-made one wonder what the rest of the O’Briens looked like.

               Rachel’s family tried every trick in the book and some outside of it to break the couple up.

Dad tried to buy him off. That had not gone well. Rachel would never be sure but she thought that Colin, or one of his four beefy, older brothers, had threatened her father and that was why the old man fell silent on the subject and never interfered again.

               Ma was another matter. She took every encounter with her son-in-law as an opportunity to insult and demean him.She felt Rachel had married someone not up to her standards.A rude,crud bum,not a warrior of honor and standards. Much to his credit Colin took it well. Though she, Rachel, knew it hurt his feelings. Her husband tended to be loud and bombastic but he still was, aside from all the bluster, a little boy who wanted to look like a success to the world at large.

               But despite the family interference they staid together and married and they had been married ever since.

               Ahead of her, in the Helm couch, sat the pilot/navigator of the Shadow, Pindar Mor, a blue skinned Rhandarean and the mate of the team’s Quartermaster, Shiv Mor, a human.

Pindar was, as are all Rhandars, a sentient artificial life form. Which made her relationship with the human Shiv an interspecies romance, even though religious people swore that Rhandars and other Mechans were not truly species at all.

               Rachel often wondered what her class conscious parents would have made of that. Not that the Mors would have cared. Love was all that mattered in the end. Love and the companionship of two sentient beings that cared for one another.

               That was a lesson that many humans needed to learn and so few did.

               Her parents had little trouble with her and Colin’s partners in ownership of the Shadow. Zacharias and Ivhanna were members of the Legion of  Time Sorcerers—Atlanteans—and like many conservatives her parents looked on their race as gods. The fact that Rachel knew the couple and realized how human they were gave her a reason to smirk at her parents’ conventional wisdom and prejudices.

               “How is she holding, Helm?” Rachel asked the tall, blue humanoid at the helm. Pindar was female. It was not just cosmetic the way it would have been on an android bot. The Rhandars were sexually reproducing machines more organic than mechanical. Their creators had had the wisdom to make sure that they were self replicating. Though the process was much more complicated, Rachel was sure, than that of organic beings. Of course her relationship with Shiv was childless. Love could do many things but it could not cross the barrier between ALF and human. At least not yet.

               This reminded Rachel of her own childless marriage. She and Colin were always too busy to make time for kids. Or so she kept telling herself.

               “Holding position,” said Pindar. “I was concerned about the new monopole anchors but they seem to be functioning with peak efficiency.”

               “Good,” replied Rachel. The Shadow, like most Kallidan ships, was war surplus having once belonged to a Kallidan Captain whose property had been auctioned off after his fall from grace with the High Command and subsequent imprisonment.

               Doctor Zachariah Sarkhon had managed to get it at a steal, helped with the acquisition from both Carter Tauran and Kothar Khonn. Not to mention Toreus Rhann and his Imperial father. They had worked with Toreus many times but had never actually met that handsome Thuvian Prince. A fact that Colin appreciated since he had a low opinion of rich people in general and royalty in particular. He was also jealous of Rachel’s pin-up boy admiration for Toreus.

               Gods, Colin, she thought. I’m not into younger men.

               And now here we are on another mission assisting the Prince.

               The ship floated off the Fountain station with many other vessels. Just one of the fleet that came and went to Arcadia Fountain carrying passengers and cargo from all around the inside of the Sphere. The only difference between the Shadow and all of the others, as far as she knew, was that it was the only one equipped as a troop carrier/ mission support site. As well as one of the few that was outfitted with a hyperspace engine as well as a warp drive. Most ships maneuvering through the Inner Sphere space didn’t require hyperspace. In fact use of it inside the Sphere was illegal. The hyperspace shadow inside the Sphere was simply not big enough for starships to maneuver safely—hyperspace being a small universe in point to point congruence with normal space.

               You could use warp drive within the Sphere though killing the field before you approached a plate was recommended. This was  why jump tunnels and sub-light were the basic means of transport inside the Great Sphere of Terra Prime. And why the Sphere girdling sub-shuttles and airship trains were still very popular.

               “Skipper,” called out Kenya Mathin, the communications/intelligence officer. “Just received a signal from the package in Arcadia. The subject has departed for his meeting.”

               That meant that Prince Toreus had left the cargo module forward base and was headed for his rendezvous with his contacts.

               “Good,” she said. “Give me the jump phone to Colonel O’Brien.”

               “Yes, ma’am.”

               The jump phone was a Casimir effect communications system that allowed communications between two paired units. One was here aboard the Shadow and the other was with Colin down in Arcadopolis. It was the most secure means of communicating ever developed by sentient kind. There was no way a third party could listen in on the message. And the jump connection could be expanded to make an emergency escape route if the mobile end had fully charged Zero Point batteries.

               If they had to pullout of an ambush there was enough energy to keep a big jump point open long enough to get the whole team away—but barely. That didn’t included rescued personnel or additional operatives.

               That was why they had to be really careful or her husband, the Prince, the team and the precious cargo would all end up in RAMP custody.

               “Connection attained,” said Mathin.

***

Colin and his 12 man team were already in position.

               Four of them, including the chief himself, were in a parked van on the street in front of the mercenary pub not four blocks from the Fountain’s base.

               The rest of the team was stationed behind and to the sides of the pub, including a scout/sniper team on the roof across the street. Earlier some of his men had painted smart dust on the walls and intersections around the pub to increase their yield of intelligence. They had the whole site covered.

               Colin heard the pulsing from the box in a pouch on his belt. He pulled it out and flipped open the lid to reveal the interior.

               “O’Brien here,” he spoke into the opening of the jump phone.

               “Coll, it’s your wife,” came the voice from the amplification and containment unit for the jump point. It was small and portable because the ZPBs were on the ship’s end of the connection. Zero Points tended to be big.

               “What’s up, hon?”

               “Just got the signal. He’s on his way.”

               “Okay,” Colin frowned. “Pretty boy finally got his butt in gear.”

               “Colin,” Rachel replied. “Don’t forget that as a loyal Pangean subjects we owe that young man our allegiance and respect.”

               “Sure love,” said Colin. “As long as his money is good and none of my folks get killed saving his ass he has my undying respect. Does that suit ya, babe?”

               “One of these days, Coll, you’re gonna get overheard saying stuff like that by some loyal patriot and they’re gonna knock you on your butt.”

               “Loyal patriots aren’t out here helping his royalness save the worlds. They’re sitting back home trying to find a way to replace the Empire with a Republic.”

               “At least try to show a little courtesy, Coll.”

               “Don’t worry, baby. If I ever meet the Prince face to face I’ll courtesy and kiss his ring like any peasant.”

               “Fair enough, Colin. Just don’t insult the guy whose father writes our checks.”

               “I promise.”

               Their marriage was based on promises. Many of them still unfulfilled. Not that he didn’t try very hard to live up to them. Both of them did. Especially Rachel. Colin would never admit it out loud but he knew that his wife was long suffering and he wanted nothing more than to give her all that she deserved. Nothing would make him happier.

               “Boss, this is Cobb,” came the voice of one of his troopers in his earpiece. “Vehicle and rider approaching from down-spin.”

               “Gotta go, hon,” he said to Rachel. “Things are beginning to heat up here. Love you. Touch base as soon as we know what’s happening.”

               “Right, Colin. Love you.”

               “Back at ya, babe.”

               He closed the box and turned his attention to the team net. “Okay, report.”

               “Look at the bird up on the cupola across the street, boss,” said his Top Sergeant, Frank Pym.

               Colin scanned with his spy glasses toward the cupola. There perched a hawk. “See him. So?”

               “Try him on thermal image.”

               Colin adjusted his glasses to thermal scan. The bird should have glowed hot but instead it was just slightly warmer than the environment.

               “Avianoid,” he said. “That will belong to his nibs. Aerial surveillance. He’s spotted us before we spotted him.”

               “Man on a sky bike coming up the alley—with a big-ass cat in a sidecar, boss.”

               Colin frowned. “That will be his Grace. Only he would bring a cat to a gunfight.”

               That was a cheap shot, Colin had to admit quietly to himself. Modern shield fighting made gunfights all but impractical and that cat was a mighty weapon for close in fighting. He’d once seen a saber cat reach through a shield and decapitate a man.

               Colin punched a number on his phone. A voice answered.

               “Your boy is here,’ he said.

               “Thank you,” answered the voice.

***

*The Shatterstarrs are an imfamous Spartainean Clan,some related to Imperial House Clans of Sarkhon.

 Prince Toreus and Shakhonja,the Silver Lion were now situated a safehouse in the Bridgeford Square area of Arcadopolis City,secured by Colonel Kotharr Khonn,some weeks before,to be used as one of many Doomwatchers ,Inc.operations locations.It was somewhere after noon,around 4.P.M-standard Arcadian Eastern Seaboard Time.The worlds plated artificial dusky skies were about give into night,as the Thuvian Prince could the roar of distant artificial thunder in the Great Hills beyond the Central City landscape . Being a Royal, Toreus did not have to take a dorm room on campus.  We had a nice little Arcadian house near school.  A house guarded by Vanarian robots since Toreus refused a detachment of Rangers as his personal security detail.  He considered it cowardly and a waste of good fighting men and women.  His father had agreed.  I said they were much alike.

Prince Toreus Rhann’s own Thuvian Snow Falcon-Ulyseas-named after his great grand father, was perched upon, his Falconer’s stand-great green eyes kept surveillance of the Thuvian Prince.  Like Shakhorja-the falcon, had a telepathic link to the Thuvian and often-helped hunt prey, in the Great Thuvian Highlands of

            Toreus went up to his bedroom and showered.  I flopped myself down on the big bed and groomed my claws.  I could smell the scent of female humans on the mattress.  Not an unpleasant smell but not the smell of a lioness.

            The Prince emerged from the bathroom and took off his robe, beginning to dress.  Instantly I knew we were in for trouble.

 He put on the underskin that is worn under rugby suits in the rough brand of that ancient sport played by Arcadians—or under nanotech battle armor.  He dressed in bloused uniform slacks.  The tan uniform pants appeared at first to be similar to the traditional buckskinned pants of the warriors, of Northern Almerhand, back home, but with more high tech and modern type of stitching.The Combat armor was temperature resistant to a degree and provided limited protection from any hostile threat forces,by way it’s Atlantean Atlantium Kryventorium Kelvar fibers,woven into it’s design and manuefacture.

Next, he put on a twill fatigue shirt and armor bracelets and the biomed armband, with its medical biorecorder to collect all physical body function for later medical data collection and the nanotech armor belt—that many soldiers of the world, used to defend against many of the advanced technological military weapons of war.  Prince Rhann, put on his Utility Belt, which held various devices, such as needed in the combat field, tools to fix Spike or smart speeder bike, many Thuvian Rangers used, a Sarkhon Technologies Utility Belt Hand Comlink, equipped a universal translator, surveillance sensor and link spy remote technology, that hung the right side of the web belt.  On the other side, hung an ammo pouch-a long, leather case with several zipper containers, which held various small circular, plastic vile, filled coins of various countries, emergency medical supplies, such as medicines, for minor injuries, and odds and ends of stuff, spare battery packs and so for the.  Toreus Rhann then strapped his secondary utility belt-often called a sword belt even though it is not used to carry a sword, he carried the standard Thuvian Short Sword, not as big and frightful as the large Thuvian long, Broad Sword, but it would have to do for now.

He put on a headband that continued more of the nanotech armor but not the skullcap that would protect the top of his head.  He preferred not to wear it, as he preferred his enemies to see his long, warrior's hair.  In Thuvia, warriors wear their hair long.  Among soldiers, long locks are a sign of his warrior strength.  Off-plate fools often laugh and ask Toreus Rhann if he's a woman or a man.  Toreus Rhann has often answered with a fist, which has caused the Diplomatic Corps much chagrin as they pay off nitwits with big mouths and long hospital bills                    Inset in the headband was an emerald jewel that sparkled when the light hit it.  This was Toreus Rhann's Guider Gem.--an ancient Atlantean device, that gave a worthy warrior knowledge and guidance.  If one were willing to listen—and Toreus Rhann was not always willing to do so—the Guider contained much of the knowledge and wisdom of the ages.  It was more than just a mere computer peripheral—much much more.It also acted as a kind of masking device to block out anyone with any type of telepathic abilities and detection equiptment,by intervereing outside transmissions,by way of it’s stealthy chamouflage abilities

            "I see you have decided to wear me," said the voice of the Guider that only Toreus Rhann and I could hear via neural radio link.

            "Do not get excited, gem," said Toreus.  "It's for show."

            "Your enemies surround you and you dress for battle.  Hardly a show."

            "Battle is not my plan.  Not directly, anyway."

Two feathers from a Thuvian Snow Falcon, also hung adorned the headband, hanging from the left side—the traditional heart side—and just behind the ear.  These were a warrior's prize, won in a contest in the Thuvian Highlands when the Prince was ten.  Boys and girls in Thuvia engaged in such contest to prove their worthiness as warriors and as future citizens.

            Toreus Rhann donned his standard Thuvian Rangers combat utility vest and inserted his Paxton Ripper 12mm pistol in its shoulder rig and his Thuvian fighting knife in its scabbard. Situated in his right hip holster, was his Paxton Ripper model 347-blaster pistol, a special handgun, that was designed to handle to different kinds of ammo-standard 12mm rounds, special armor piercing, Atlantium tipped rounds and could if needed switch to electro magnetic plasma pulse rounds, which pierce through Khy’Vhann battle armor, if needed. A second Thuvian Survival knife was shoved into a scabbard, strapped his right leg.  Opposite, was an Atlantean stun baton-a non-lethal weapon, once used before the time of the Starkillers, to control prisoners, rioting crowds, and enemies of the state?  Some think this weapon could from the time of Thrull Khonn’s Great Second Golden Age, before the Great Cataclysmic Era, of the Trongaroth Wars, upon the Shattered Pangean Lands, whiles feel it dates even further-even ancient intergalactic history, before this universe began and other seemingly ended.

            "Pistol is loaded and functional," said Guider.  "Are you sure this is not a battle?"

            "Yes."

 Finally, he draped a large scarlet and gold amulet about his neck, with an engraved image of a lion face upon, accompanied by two sabers like toothed claws.  It was his Lord of Lions symbol-given to him, for achieving the honor of hunting and surviving among my species, when we were young.  He usually only wore it before going into battle or at ceremonial gatherings of the clan.  My guess was that the clan was not coming here to Arcadia for a shindig.

Guider, in its wisdom, saw this too and commented on it.  "No fight?"

            "No, we are going to surrender forcing the Wallaces to commit an act of war against the Empire."

            He put on his long, leather coat leaving it unbuttoned for easy access to his weapons.  Not the action of a man about to surrender.

            "You don't surrender," said the Guider.

            "There's a first time for everything," said the Prince.

            "Not surrendering.  Not for you.  Your first time will be your last and most likely the last time that any enemy hears you say I surrender."

            Before he could answer, we heard the sound of military vehicles in the road.  It took no genius to guess that the Ki'Vhan, the mercenary hirelings of the Wallaces, had arrived.

‘’Thrull’s Demons-it seems fates had chosen for us.’  Prince Toreus Rhann cursed, as his keen ultra sensitive hears hear sounds of Khy’Vhann soldiers and Armored Personnel Carriers moving toward his private Arcadian residence.  Huge foot soldiers were already moving out among the city streets, moving about the dark, stygian alleys and doorways, in search of the possible Arcadian Resistance Forces.  The hulking shape an APC savagely moved in front of the Bridgeford Square home.  Some Khy’Vhann Squad commander shouted something his native tongue.

‘’Shi- Shoult!’ Shi- Shoult! .Versbein Ock .Khai Nhi. '  ’ ’’Guider Translation from Khy’Vhann to Thuvian English.’  Halt!  Halt!  Move Out.  Now’’.  Several Khy’Vhann could be heard by our sensitive ears, moving into the sidewalk and green, freshly cut lawn. Heavy booted foot falls thudded onto hard concrete and into soft grasses outside, coming toward the location of Armond Street ,which was where Toreus Rhann, was currently living.The Thuvian Prince,doned,his Scarlet cape,the sign of royalty-also bullet proof,to a degree-composed of Atlantium Clothe and charged various microdeflection generators-a another gift,left by the Atlanteans,found within the New Genisis Bunkers,re-discovered by the ancient Starkiller Clan.It would the Thuvian Prince a bit of cover from enemy fire,as he moved out into the combat area.It also,combined the other personal equiptment,the Atlantean Replicator Arm Band-also of Atlantean origin,a bit of resisance to wear and tair,the Chamouflage network woven into it’s fibers,limited stealth shielsing from long range sensory detection equiptment.

Prince Toreus Rhann,reached out his gloved right hand and Ulyseas,hopped onto his wrist area with single thought and command.

‘’Come on,Old friend-Shakhorja and me are going.’’the Thuvian Prince stated.’’We don’t want to be caught with our pants down –as my father always said.’’

‘’Do tell.’’Ulyseas thought telepathically.The Thuvian Snow Falcon,slightly hopped and flew toward the First Son of Thuvia’s armored shoulder pad.Digging this bird claws into the Cathairian Leatherlike armor,Ulyseas turned around,as usual,to gain a better view of what was in front of him.

Prince Toreus Rhann,commanded the daylight overhead light to be lowered dimmer and waited.He with drew both of his pistols from,it’s right side,leather holster ,plus his shoulder holster and stold in the middle of the darken room.The Thuvian Ranger waited for the Khy’Vhann soldiers to enter into the darken room.Two Khy’Vhann solders kicked open the door violently and stold for a few seconds stairing at the tall dark Thuvian,dressed his Thuvian Ranger gear.For a split they hestitated and failed to fire their weapons.

The first Khy’Vhann command. - 'Shi-Shoult! 'Shi-Shoult! Nacht bvowgun.`’’Guider translated Eastern Gravh’arian Province Khy’Vhann into Terran English ‘’’Halt halt-Don’t move.’’

Toreus answered with two round in each chest.Special ammo,Atlantium Steel jacked bullets,designed to pentatrait Khy’Vhann Kryventorium Kevlar armor and their body armored deflection shielding,at close range.The two zombie soldier fell,like dead sacks of weat.Their pasty blue white faces,went more emotionless,as scarlet eyes fell dead-the light of even their dimwiited intelligence,gone forever.

Outside,other Khy’Vhann troops began riddle the Arcadian Townhouse with bullets.The buildings red brick and plaster out wall gave restistance to the gun fire,but the inner lining composed of layers of Kryventorium ceramics –a kind of Atlantean plastic material of super strong and energy restistance ability,bonded other super fibers,restisted and held the bullets from pentatraiting into the building interior.Bullets cracked and formed small blisters into the transpastisteel windows.Most Arcadian Buildings were not only earthquake proof,but reinforced with special super materials,to pretect the inhabitants of any city from any external threat forces,as many other advanced worlds,upon the sphere,had used advancements,found with either the New Genisis-Bunkers or brought to this upon Corvaillian and Norvaillian Tramp freighter,for untold years now.

The Khy’Vhann Troopers,now heard enemy gun fire,coming out of several darken windows of other near by buildings.Pockets of Arcadian Restance members,obviously gaining access to this section of the city,by way of the stygian subterrainian catacomb like matrix of tunnels beneath the city,began rain down fire upon the alien zombie’s position.Special ammo,sparkled off Khy’Vhann body deflectors,weakening and enentually pentatraiting the force shielding.Khy’Vhann Warriors began fall-dancing around like idiot ragmen,pulled by and forth by an unseen puppet master.Some began,those had higher intelligence,like Squade Commanders began to dive behind the armored carriers,hoping to protect themselves from enemy fire.

Prince Rhann,quickly dived out the side door of his Arcadian home,opening the residences huge,light wooded oak partition violently. Shorkhorja  fallowed after.The Thuvian Warrior Prince,produced a small device,off his utilty combat belt-a small ignition control and activated it.Hidden,within the bushed,was a huge,dark smart speeder bike or Spike,called Ebony-his personal two wheeled motorcycle like transport.Twine scarlet eyes,began to light eirilly,like some evil demon horse from hell.A low,roar of it’s engines followed.

‘’Ingition,Ebony.’’Prince Toreus Rhann commanded’’Engage.’’

The Thuvian Warrior,hopped upon the jet black metallic horse.A huge,brown leather riding saddle,was set atop the spike’s artificial back.Behind,two his left,was his Vhentuckian long rifle.Paxton Ripper model rk19,set within a long,leather holster,with Gemonesse leather braids and Thuvian Hunting Falcon feathers.Two leather saddle bags,were found behind that to each side-four in all,filled various emergency rasions-RRI’s,field equiptment,tools,spair ammo clips,water cantines,some filled various fruite juices.A sidecar,was fited to Ebony,with the Capronean Lion Shakhonrja to ride behind the Thuvian Ranger.

Both Prince Toreus and Shakhorja took their positions upon the spike-the Thuvian upon the drivers saddle and the Siver Lion beside him.

Toreus Rhann,grasped the right and left spike handle bars.the brake in his right and ignition handle to his left.His keen,green eyes scanned the back wall.Quickly,he drove his spike backward,as to get a good jumping start and hoped the cycles limited,ground effects repulsor drive,would carry himself and the bike over,more that three feet off the ground.The Thuvian Prince,dug his booted heels into the Spike sterip like,feet peedled,firmly grasped the left ignition grip and gunned the engine.Khy’Vhann soldiers,just having heard the direction of the load noise appeared in outside garden area and aimed their rifle.Toreus.Rhann,drove his spike Ebony forward and

Jumped his hover bike over the 5 foot high wall that devided his property from the next door neighbors.

 Prince Toreus jumped the Speeder bike over the high wall.Khy’Vhann soldiers shooting into the vacant area,where we once were.Prince Toreus Rhann,turned his spike around as he saw something huge appear in front of his path.He turn and drove in the other direction of Arbory  Road as the armored personnel carriers full of Khy’Vhann pulled up at the end of the street,stopping to see if any acitivety was moving up or down this cross section.A Khy’Vhann looked about nearly missing a man on a spike and a white lion running beside him,turning around a deserted alleyway between two high residences..He looked again,thinking he saw a ghost or something else,like the white bed sheet blowing in the wind,once attached one of the homes clothe lines..Nothing moved-save us in the shadows of what was left of this Arcadian neighborhood.

Prince Toreus crossed a road known as Bellers Way and the three ,tried move in and out of parked debris of burning cars,armored carriers,blasted down walls,twisted wreckage of street lamps and so forth,as the Khy’Vhann forces moved upon this section of the city.Bridgeford Square was devoid of anyone save Khy’Vhann and plus one Thuvian Prince,his platinum haired lion and black and white falcon companions.

            The Khy’Vhann troops began to flood out and kick down doors.I could call them zombie like move about the street,silently patrolling the remnants of this once ancient Arcadian neighborhood.  Toreus Rhann slowly moved down the road toward them his hands raised-the spike controlled by the vehicles artificial brain alone.  The armored mercs look at him no doubt with puzzled expressions on their faces.  Though that was difficult to determine through their combat visors,now switched night vision,to see in the darken streets of the Arcadian city,the Khy’Vhann could not exactly understand what a lone figure,with a Thuvian Hunting Falcon on his hover bike,accompanied by a silver haired lion .

            Khy’Vhann do not have a wide range of facial expressions anyway.  They are wired up mercenaries.  Men from various worlds who joined the Khy’Vhann because they had nothing better to do or else were grown in test tubes and raised to be—or so they think—the ultimate soldier.The Khy’Vhann troops followed the commands of the Squade Leader,who directed then to advance upon this strange,outlander.

shi-shoult! outlandar'shi-shoult! nacht bvowgun’the Zombie Trooper shouted

 

‘’This ain’t going to be easy,pal.’’the Thuvian commented to Lion Capanion.Shakhorja grawled a return reply.

 

 

              

     

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