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Maveric Lion Productions presentsEdit

'3. '-a Tale of Terra-Prime.

'4. 'By Joseph Gilbert Thompson and Carl Edward. Thompson

'5. 'c. 2010 Maveric Lion Productions



Chapter 1: The FountainEdit

Toreus II Rhann came from a long line of fighters. His father was Toreus the Great or Toreus I, who united Pangea into the Pangean Empire and brought peace and prosperity to its kingdoms. Kingdoms that had not known such since the Trongoroth Infestation. Owing to this lineage it comes as no surprise that he became involved in the events of the Arcadian Civil war that led to so many changes all across the Great Sphere. It was not merely, as so many historians have cited, because the Taylors were cousins of his mother. Nor was it merely because he was a meddling adventurer. No Toreus the Junior was an activist Prince and as such he could no more not become involved that could he stop breathing. These events were his destiny, a part of him like his mighty arms and his ever present Capronean saber cat, Shakhorja.


The Book of Rhann: A Review of History in the Era Between the Great Wars.









Toreus Rhann was born in the Year of the Guild Treaty 5710 of Toreus I Rhann and his consort Empress Cassandra Rhann. At the age of ten he entered the ranks of the Lionmen of Thuvia and was bound to the Silver Lion Shakorja. He was always a large boy for his age and was said to be unaware of his own strength. But far from being a dolt he had a keen mind and an almost supernatural gift for strategy and tactics.


The Thuvian Chronicles.













It is quiet in space. Bores will tell you that. It’s one of those fun facts from the Net that everyone knows and no one cares about.

But it is never quiet inside a spaceship. The slightest noise reverberates inside the hull and even the air conditioning makes a racket. Space engineers have been trying to deal with this problem since the times of ancient Atlantis and Tauran—with little success.

Prince Toreus Rhann sat in his couch on the SunLiner and closed his eyes—meditating. He listened to the sounds of his fellow passengers aboard this shuttle bound for the Sunward Space Fountain of Arcadia plate. The steward bots serving meals and drinks. Elegant Tennysian models from Arcadia. Small and chrome plated. Luxury, art and servitude all in one unit.

He cast his hearing about and concentrated on bits of banal conversation. Someone was talking about how many kilometers of travel he’d done about the Great Sphere. The braggart felt that he must have circumnavigated the Sphere at least twice.

A woman was discussing her dream man. He sounded like right prancer to Toreus.

The chap behind Toreus was scratching busily on a data plate with a dull stylus. Business type, thought the Prince. Kind of man who did a lot of traveling each year ands little sight seeing. He’d probably die at his desk or in an Apollo’s coffee shop at some crowded terminal. Toreus himself wore the disguise of such, but that was a much as they had in common. He was a businessman, of sorts, but not the business of mere profit.

He glanced out the window and saw that the area around the Fountain Station was filled with squid like machines. The mysterious Lookers that popped up everywhere on Terra Prime where something was happening. Yes, that meant that things were happening in and around Arcadia and the Lookers were interested.

Imformation;You’re being observed, warrior, said the Guider in his mind’s voice. Toreus Rhann smiled and opened his eyes.

Ahead of him a child looked over the back seat. A big child of Jovian stock traveling with his big mother. Toreus smiled at him and the boy smiled back.

Children are dangerous when you are operating in enemy territory, said the Guider. A child will notice things that adults will not—and loudly point them out.

It’d just a child,” Toreus said to the voice.


Of course the Guider was usually right. And Toreus was not convinced that the proto-mask that covered his face and changed his features would stand up to the keen eyesight of a Jovian toddler.

The child continued to look at him--expectantly. Toreus liked Joves. They were excellent fighters. He liked children—they were, after all, the future. But he did not relish being stared at by anyone. The Guider’s wisdom had a way of destroying his comfortable delusion.

The covert Prince looked away and out the port by his couch. looked at the upturning horizon of the plates below, which dwindled into a brown, green, blue murk as they curved up toward the horizon to join the conjoining plates of the Sphere.

The Sphere. A great artificial world built by the Cosmic Engineers of Sidairia. Fabricated out of disassembled worlds, nebulae and asteroid belts. The place where they all lived—Terra Prime.

The pilot had slowed the ship to a parking orbit off the Fountain Station. From here they’d be able to tune the short range jump connection to these on the Fountain Station and the passengers would be able to walk from the Sunliner to the terminal. From there you could either catch an elevator pod or take a jump connection down through the dome of Arcadia to the surface of the plate.

The first officer, wearing her ornate white Sunlines uniform came down the aisle and stationed herself at the jump connection hatch. She was of Privateer stock, he was sure. Nice legs, very muscular. Privateer women tended to build up their lower body so as to not be crippled when they walked in high g environments. She was also tall, another giveaway of her spacer heritage.

She stood beside the jump port and cautioned the passengers to remain in their seats. Then she punched codes into the control panel and the jump hatch of the liner shook hands with one of those on the station. Then she adjusted the deck gravs so that the low grav of the Sunliner life system matched the higher grav of the Fountain Station. Toreus felt his stomach drop as gravity increased.

Starting at the back the passengers began to disembark one at a time. Finally it was Toreus turn. He took his carry on luggage in his hand and stepped into the jump connection. Stepped out the other side into the station.

The station was clean and neat and crowded with passengers. A lot of people looked like off plates that were leaving due to the unrest in the Arcadian government. The King—old Radu Wallace—had arrested the popular Duke Nathaniel Taylor. Not only that, he had suspended the parliament and declared martial law. Unless you were a mercenary or a freedom fighter this was a good time to leave Arcadia.

Statement;And yet you rush right into it, Warrior, said the Guider.

Toreus looked about the station, ignoring the Guider voice. There were lines at the jump connections leading down to Arcadia. Mostly tough looking men and hard women. Civil wars tended to attract mercenaries from all across the Sphere. Some of these wore expensive suits of Jurassican silk with much gold jewelry. These would be the inevitable arms merchants and intelligence brokers—security specialists. These would be the oiliest snakes of all.

It would be along wait for a jump. Toreus spotted an Apollo’s coffee shop. He’d get a cup of coffee whole he waited.

***



Toreus ordered an Akaiachino, a coffee drink favored in the Akaia highlands of Cretacea, and took a seat where he could watch the procession of hard cases through the jump gates. He saw a few faces that he recognized but was sure that with his proto-mask they would not recognize him.

A group of man-like creatures, wearing light body armor, entered the lounge. they were followed by three beings in a large black coats and wide brimmed hats. The trio’s faces were obscured by breath mask. Zatakhons—a mercenary species from another universe and another planet. They always traveled in threes and no doubt the armored bozos that they followed were their Kai’Vhan cyborg mercenary clients.

The Kai’Vhan Centurion walked at the head of his troops chanting a cadence in broken Priman. “von, to, tree, for, ve are the Kai’Vhan infantry.”

Idiots, thought the Prince.

Indeed warrior, said the Guider. So the Wallaces were hiring Kai’Vhan. They must really be desperate for personnel. That meant that the other mercs were heading down to work for the Resistance. No self respecting merc will work with Vhans.

Of course just because the Vhan were idiots did not necessarily render them harmless. Even on editor with a gun is dangerous. An army of them…

But it said much about Radu Wallace. He was not able to mobilize the citizenry of Arcadia to his side, so he hired off world shooters.

It was still depressing. In the end Radu would most likely lose, but million of people would die first. That was why he had to get in here and secure the Taylor family. Get them to safety. Because Nathaniel Taylor was the only man who could end this civil war and build Arcadia back into the Jewel of the Sphere it had been before the Wallaces rose to power.

Toreus turned away toward the holographic window that looked out over the Arcadian plate below.

Looked so peaceful from up here. Not like a land on the brink of civil war. The Fountain ran down through the dome that covered the plate, protected it from harsh radiation and regulated the day nigh cycle. The fountain itself was a part of the plate, a masterpiece of Sidairian technology more than ten thousand years old. It carried cargo via magnetic levitators at its centers and passengers via its jump connections. There were also elevator cars that ran along the sides. Luxury accommodations—like the Sunliners.

The plate had as much surface area as one of the Earths and was managed by the plate dwellers and by Mechan engineers. If the environment had been left to the devices of the Wallaces everyone here would have died long ago. The Wallaces were brutal bullies and not good managers.

The Taylors, on the other hand, were great statesmen and mangers. They cared about the people and were willing to hear the people’s will. That was why Toreus was here to rescue the family of Duke Nathaniel. And, if possible, rescue the Duke himself.

It was a mission close to Prince Toreus Rhann's heart. For Toreus Rhann considered himself a champion of justice and Duke Nathaniel Taylor was a cousin of the Rhanns—three times removed.

So it was family business from two angles—at least.

Nathaniel had stood up to Radu and been accused of Treason. They had placed him under arrest in the Grand Tower of Arcadopolis. Then the ass had suspended all the higher laws of the realm in the pretense of protecting the populace and the state. That was an old story. More genocide had been done in history to protect people from terrorists and to ensure national security than had been done to actually protect the people.

And that gave the King his excuse to go after the family of the Duke. But Baroness Lois had escaped with the ducal heirs, Nathan and Leonidus. Had gone into hiding. They were hiding out somewhere in the city. With a friend of the family. A priest of the High Church.

It would be Toreus first mission to find them and get them outside of Arcadia and to safety.

Seven days ago Toreus volunteered his services for this mission to Imperial Marshal Kothar Khonn, his father’s boyhood friend and chief military agent. Kothar’s son and namesake were running the operation.

Both Khonns were reticent about using the Crown Prince of Thuvia in this dangerous operation. But they knew better than to try and talk anyone with the name of Toreus Rhann out of participation in an errand of justice and mercy. Toreus was like his father—an activist and fighter. There was no way they cold keep him out.

So, failing that, they prepared him to be safe.

Of course Toreus would have liked nothing better than to bust into the Tower of Arcadian City and rescue Nathaniel. Lead of Force of Thuvian Rangers in there and leave dead Wallace guards strewn all over the place. But that was not to be. Politics stood in the way. The Chancellor Jhanis ''Gharvhan—the head of the government under his father’s empire, opposed all Pangean military involvement in Arcadia.

So his job would be to secure the two ducal heirs and the Duchess. Make sure that the King had nothing to hold over Nathaniel’s head.

Toreus was about to step into the battle field alone.

He downed his coffee and went to the lavatory, entering a private booth.

Time to check his armament.

He removed his coat and checked the CPS generators in their forearm units. He cold not wear a full Cold plasma Shield generator so, instead he settled for the arm guard units that required more skill to utilize effectively. Toreus was a master with these. He had been suing them since he was a child in the Thuvian Highlands.

Using Guider command he activated the shields and fell into a firing stance, arms in front of his face as he crouched. Fluid movements to put the shimmering plasma shields between him and an oncoming enemy.

Satisfied, he cut the shields and reached around behind him to the short fighting knife that he always carried, he drew the weapon and held it in his right hand, hefting it, feeling the balance. This was a new knife—fashioned of materials that would not show up on customs scanners. He felt comfortable with it. Good blade—excellent balance.

He resheifed the knife and drew the small pistol. It was a backup weapon—to be used only if all else failed. If, in the unlikely event, that his back was against the wall.

He reholstered the gun and put the jacket back on. Picked up his carry on bag and left the lavatory.

He joined the line before the jump connection. Stepped into the portal of the Quantum Entanglement Tunnel and stepped out of the other end on the ground. Stepped right into a riot.

***























==

Chapter 2: The Imperial Court==Edit

The lawyer reading his petition before the Great Court was droning on and on. It was a petition on Milk Price Supports. Which the emperor had not the slightest control over, since it was the province of the Ministry of Agriculture, which was under the Parliament and the Chancellor.


He supposed it was important. Farmers were looked on as the backbone of Pangean society. Don’t let them kid you, farming is the oldest profession not the other one.


Theoretically the Emperor could decree that there should be price supports on dairy products---but if he did that would launch of storm of protest from all the other segments of the farm industry. So it was best to let the Chancellor take care of it.


But that didn’t mean that the Emperor was not required to hear the petition read aloud in the Great Court. The rules required that the petitioner read it all and that the reading be entered into the record.


So the Emperor Toreus I Rhann sat on his throne in the center of the Great Court, in the palace of the Capital City of Karzhadnarr, and listened, as his Capronean lions sat to his right and left. But his mind and heart were elsewhere. Beside him sat the Chancellor—old weasel faced Jhanis Gharvhan. And opposite the Chancellor sat the Empress Cassandra—his wife and the mother of his eight children. Actually one of the two lions was hers. He never sat in court without the lions and his wife. She was his source of comfort and wisdom.


Not so much Gharvhan, the head of the government and scion of an old powerful family from the time before the empire. Translation: he really believed that he should be emperor and not Toreus.


Well, thought the elder Toreus. I did not fight to unite the kingdoms of Pangea only to have it all come a cropper at the hands of the men whose ancestors had screwed the pooch. His power might be severely truncated by a constitutional monarchy but he was not totally powerless.


But such was the business of government in Pangea. Most of it was handled by many little departments and courts. But the grand court—a carryover from ancient times—still remained because of its ceremony more than its usefulness as a tool of administration. It gave the people a chance to see their emperor at work and that was the main point.


Most of the people lining up here were lawyers. One really had to hirer a Doctor of law to read their petition before the court. It had been a long time since a common ordinary person could read a petition. Lawyers had a monopoly on government,


All around the room floated bot cams—little machines that recorded the pageantry for posterity and allowed the common man with any interest in government and politics to view what h=was happening on the nets.


The Emperor gave a hard sidewise look at the Chancellor. Gharvhan was a lawyer. Yes, of course he was.


Another reason that Gharvhan felt that he should be ruler Pangea.


None of this would have bothered the Emperor one jot had it not been for the problems brewing in Arcadia. Problems that he could not in good conscience ignore. And problems that he had to deal with in secret, using his own personal resources and that of volunteers and mercenaries.


If only this droning fool could get done with his petition. He was the last of the day.

These are the prices that we pay for the blessing of democracy, thought the Emperor. An absolute monarch can do anything that he wishes to do. And often they have been known to do the wrong thing—over and over again. A constitutional monarch must obey the will of the people and the people’s elected representatives. Even if they are fools like Gharvhan.

So the emperor settled down and waited—patiently.

Trying not to think of the grand violations of these principles that were occurring in Arcadia at this very moment. And about the seed of his loins who had volunteered to go and risk his life to try and put things right.

That was the hard part. Allowing one’s son—the heir to all this—to go into harms way. While he sat here and listened to a speech on milk price supports.

***

Eventually the court adjourned and the Emperor departed to attend his meeting with the Privy Council. He walked down the hall to the Privy Council chamber with Cassandra and the lions by his side.

He could tell that there was much on her mind and he could guess what was foremost. He had known this woman for a long time. She was like a part of him.

You concerned about Junior, he thought-cast to his wife.

And you are as well, my love, she cast back.

He’s a well trained warrior, the Emperor said, by way of denial. He can take care of himself.

She said nothing to that. She had been a warrior’s wife for too many years. She was used to it. Though not necessarily happy about it.

They entered the Privy Council Chamber and found the Council waiting for them. All looking grim. It was as if they had entered a funeral viewing.

Supreme Marshal Kothar Khonn, Chief Military Agent of the Empire, and the father of Kothar Khonn the junior, was there. Kothar was the emperor’s closest friend. The Khonn’s had been aligned with family Rhann for centuries. It was said that where there was a Rhann there was a Khonn. Always.

That relationship had been tested drug the Second Pangean War under Ulysses Rhann and the First War under Ulysseas father Odysseus. Trying times had tested harshly that alliance and proved it again and again.

And now might well be the beginning of such times again. Toreus knew he would need Kothar and his son and namesake at his side. And that his own namesake would be put into the center of the test of fire.

Next to Kothar Khonn sat David Greystone—namesake and descendant of the original General David Greystone. His ancestor had been a hero of the Trongoroth Incursion and David was the head of the Pangean Secret Service, known as The Lion Claw.

And next to Graystone sat Regis Dell, the chief of the Imperial Security Service and General Lucas Tull, of the Pangean Special Forces Command—a Thuvian Ranger whose great cat—Lineaus—sat by his side. A lion man is never far from his bond mate.Emperor Toreus enters the War Room where Imperial Marshal Kotharr Khonn awaits him.

With him are David Greystone-descendant to the legendary original General David Greystone-who fought in the Great Trongaroth Wars many centuries ago, the head of the Pangean Secret Service and Warlord Gharvan Rhaynarr, the head of the Imperial Security Service as well as General Darvinn Morningstar, the Chief of Pangean Special Forces—himself a Thuvian Ranger—and Doctor Arenjun Sarkhon, the Ronan Time Sorcerer. The ancient temporal wizard was holding his Burmese Atlantean Cat-Hecate in his arms-[we can change the cats name }a Time Sorcerers familiar -guide and spy, to help on their many missions through time and space. Sitting next the Emperor's seat, was his lovely wife the Empress Cassandra Rhann-not only his love, the mother of his four children, two sons Prince Toreus and Theaseus Rhann, plus the two daughters Princess Andromeda and Castria Rhann. This is the Emperor’s Privy Council, the closest advisors to the ruler of Pangaea. Empiror Toreus Rhann asks his Temporal Advisor to open the meeting.The rogue Chronomancer stands and brings forth his Time Sorcerer Cosmic Staff in his left hand toward the Great Circulal Holographic Round Table..He begins to consentrait and the crystal ball tip begins to glow as closes his eyes to consentrait on his so called mystical activety.His green Guider Gem Headband begins to glow,as telepathic and telepresence abilities forcus on the task at hand.With right other hand the sorcerer,begins to draw mystical holgraphic ruins in the air in front of his.Arenjun Sarkhon then close his eyes and utter a so called Mystical Spell.He utters I open my mind to Holospace,to see into the Great Book of Time..A light issues forthe from the table and transformes into a representation of the Great Temporal Grimoire-a kind of dark brown,computer lap top like book.It opens and Arenjun Sarkhon makes a few ruinic gesters-unlocking ancient Atlantean computer codes,to safeguard this data bases knowledge from enemy eyes.The Temporal Wizard command it,by way his Guider Gem.to Doctor Arenjun Sarkhon

As the Emperor entered a cloaked figure turned from the window and looked in his direction. Arenjun Sarkhon, the ronin time sorcerer, and one of Toreus’ oldest allies. A tall man with intense, piercing eyes,silver streaked jet black hair and beard.[Note;He should descipted looking like Doc Strange.] Even if they were you friends one never got used to time sorcerers. Like most Atlanteans they were a strange and eldritch breed of human—if indeed they could be considered human at all.

And according to the Guild Treaty that long ago ended the war over Terra Prime amongst the Elder Races no Time Sorcerer was to hold property or rank on the sphere. So everything that Arenjun did here was unofficial, off the record, clandestine. Officially he was a rogue member of House Sarkhon—a leaderless ronin. But who was to say how much truth that description truly held.

All Toreus knew was that the Time Sorcerer and some of his kin had often come through with valuable help for the House of Rhann,

“Welcome, Your Majesty,” said Kothar as the Emperor and his wife entered. Everyone stood, except Arenjun, who was already on his feet. Time Sorcerers did not seem to like to sit. Always in motion were the Sorcerers. Always on their feet. Men and women who were clearly aware that every action affects the future.

“Our agent has arrived in Arcadia,” continued the Supreme Marshal.

The Emperor and Cassandra exchanged looks but not thought casts. The agent was their eldest son.

They both had misgivings about their son putting his life in danger in this mission. But there was no stopping him. The younger Toreus had grown up admitting the adventures of his father. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Not just merely to succeed him as Emperors but to make a difference with his efforts. And the troubles in Arcadia ere the perfect opportunity to make a difference.

The Emperor took hi seat at the head of the table. Cassandra sat to his right and the lion took as divan behind them.

The time sorcerer took a seat at the opposite end of the table.

“Sir, David,’ said Kothar. “Would you begin the briefing?”

The head of the Secret Service stood, looking down at the PAD in front of him.

“As you know, several weeks ago, the Duke of Hardiman, Nathaniel Taylor, spoke out against the continued erosion of civil rights under the reign of Radu Wallace.”

Sir David waved his hand above the PAD and the image of a tall, handsome man in his forties materialized above the holostage in the center of the table. Duke Nathaniel.

“For his effort he was arrested and put in the Tower of Arcadopolis. Where he currently resides.”

He waved his hand again and a beautiful woman appeared with two young boys. They all had the almond eyes of Akaians—that south most continent of Arcadia plate.

“To add insult to injury, Radu put out arrest orders for the Duchess Lois and the ducal heirs, Nathan and Leonidus. Luckily a loyal servant of the Taylor Household was able to ferret them out of the ducal estate and hide them with an ally in the city.”

“Is there any chance of getting the Duke out of prison?” the Emperor asked.

Kothar shook his head. “Not without large scale military intervention. To Tower is in the most heavily policed and militarized part of the city. A Special Forces team could liberate the prison but they’d never get out without the help of larger regular forces.”

“And we cannot do that without permission from the Parliament,” said the Emperor. “Which is not forthcoming. There must be no overt Pangean military intervention in Arcadia. What does that leave us?”

“We think that we can get the Duke’s family out,” said Arenjun. Al heads at the table turned toward the Time Sorcerer. He smiled tightly and then and only then did they all notice that he had a cat on his lap. Sarkhon time sorcerers were seldom seen without their familiar. The Soul cat that kept a constant vigil over the upload of their persona.

“Then we get out the Taylors and hope that we can get the Duke out some other way,” said the Emperor. “As long as the heirs are alive then they can oppose Radu and his trash clan. I wish for once we were allowed to put our forces to a just cause. Not just police actions guarding trade—the only thing that the Chancellor and his crowd will not oppose.”

Arenjun smiled. “If we can get the Duchess here to Pangea perhaps she can put a word or two in the right ears. Drum up support for the Taylors and others who wish freedom and justice in Arcadia. That woman and those boys may be our best hope.”

“Those boys are not my greatest concern,” said the Emperor, patting his wife’s hand.

“Your son is capable of handling any situation he might encounter,’ said the Time Sorcerer.

“As long as he doesn’t get reckless,” said the elder Toreus.

“He has his father’s caution,” said Cassandra.

Was I so cautious at that age? The emperor thought cast to his wife.

No, she admitted. But he also has his mother’s wisdom.

“My son has much faith in the Prince of Thuvia,’ said Kothar. “And I have every faith in my own son’s judgment.”

“And what do you think, old friend?” asked the emperor of his Supreme Marshal.

“This is a dangerous enterprise no matter how you look at it,” said the old soldier, grimly. Then his face broke into a smile. “The kind of thing you and I used to get involved in—once upon a time.”

“yes, old friend,’ said the Emperor. “I still have scars to remind me of those adventures.”

His eyes met those of Arenjun and the Time Sorcerer smiled. He’s been involved in quite a few of those adventures himself. In fact he had been the architect of more than a few of them. Though it was doubtful he carried any physical scars.

“Very well,” said the elder Toreus. “We proceed with the mission to rescue the Taylor family. It is the least that we can do.”




***




































==

Chapter 3: Taxi!==

Arnie Vincenzo knew that things were getting rough.

He’d been sitting in his hack across from the station all morning, waiting for the friend of Sarkhon's that he was supposed to pick up.

He’d watched as the crowd began to gather, a tight lead ball in forming in his gut. He’d been in combat and he knew when trouble was brewing. This was trouble.

At first it looked like a bunch of college kids were gonna sound off and parade about with some signs. Same sort of thing that happen on most worldlines. They’d raise their voices and call the powers that be nasty names and then they would go away. That’s the way it was on more civilized worldlines.

But he was hacking in Arcadia on Terra Prime. If there was a fascist, goose-stepping center to the Cosmos this was it.

The cops showed up. Not Arcadian royal police—which would have been bad enough—but hired Kai’Vhan mercs. Vhan’s liked to stomp heads about as much as a rat likes to chew through cartons. Violence was programmed into them when they volunteered to be Vhans and had all of their humanity drained out. They were cyborg servants of the highest bidder and that highest bidder wanted the dirty nosed students quiet.

Okay, thought Arnie, not my concern. I’m not here to mix it up with the cops even if I’m in agreement with the kids. Was time for a change here. High time. Radu Wallace and his fam had to go and they had thrown the only dude capable of dong it in jail. Duke Nathaniel was the future and Radu and his retard nephews were the past.

Arnie was satisfied with his conclusion when his client stepped from the terminal. Oh, it was him all right. He was wearing a business suit and a holo-mask but there was no disguising the way he moved and the size of him. Arnie had known his dad and that’s the way Toreus the Slayer had moved in his prime. Like a cat. A big cat.

And this big cat was stepping right into the heart of the action.

The Cops were mixing it up with the kids. A big Jovian—like there was any other kind—in a rugger shirt picked a cop up and tossed him into his squaddies. It looked like a game of nine pins to Arnie. And it would have been funny had the Vhans not pulled lethals and taken aim.

They didn’t see Toreus fall into a crouch. Nor did they notice the shimmer of the plasma shields around his forearms. No knife but the shields could be formidable if someone pushed you with them. Cold plaz could deflect a bullet or bend an energy beam—mere people it could knock on their asses.

In quick succession the Prince knocked one cop after another down stunning them with the powerful wall of plasma.

Yeah, concluded Arnie, he was The Slayer’s son all right. He’s seen that kind of action before. It was signature.

***

Toreus sized up the situation quickly.

The Vhan riot police were armed with lethal weapons and they were going to use them on the Jovian rugby player. He could not just stand by and let that happen. It was against his nature not to get involved.

He activated his shields and waded in. no knife, this was not the time for him to use lethal violence. The Vhan might be like an army of flesh and blood bots but if you killed one of them every other Vhan on the plate would make it his life goal to hunt you down. That was they way they were. They were stupid cyborgs but nonetheless they were a cyborg brotherhood.

He plowed into the Vhan with the drawn gun and knocked him on his butt. Then he whirled to face a cop that had come up behind him and walloped him hard with the shield on his right sleeve.

Both victims were rendered unconscious. Getting hit with a Cold Plasma sheaf tends to shock one as well as knock him over.

But now he had become the focus of attention of the army of riot cops and they were all converging on his location to stomp him senseless.

That was when the taxi cab pulled between Toreus and the Vhans and stopped. And no sooner had it stopped when a plasma pulse erupted from its right side, barreling the angry Vhans over.

The gull wing door popped open and the grizzled driver called out. “Get in unless you want an ass kicking.”

Prince Toreus dove for the door and slide across the rear seat as the gull wing door slammed shut behind him.Arnies hover car,looked a battered old junk heap,with racing car spoilers in the back,power tubes running along the front end over the paragravity tires and an old lighted

***

Arnie’s hack was full of illegal goodies. That’s because it was not so much a cab as an undercover vehicle of the Doomwatch Society, the Intelligence wing of Sarkhon Enterprises.Doomwatchers,Inc. was the local undercover operation for the Sarkhon Family-part intelligence and scientific network,part resistance forces-if nessessary and thing else the locals could be help and act as a secret peacekeeping force,

There were the Cold Plasma shields and there were the levitation generators. Flying cars were outlawed in most cities and Arcadopolis was no exception. But sometimes you needed an edge to escape the bad guys.

So Arnie cut in the levitation drive and rose straight up as Vhan’s fired their pistols and carbines to no affect into the CPS of the vehicle.

He could see his passenger looking over the back of the seats with a surprised looks shortly being replaced by one of amusement.

Then the big guy was pushed back into the couches as Arnie hit the drive and the car zoomed forward.

***

The taxi had levitators, Toreus realized just before the force of acceleration punched him back into the seats.

This was no ordinary cab and the driver was no ordinary cabbie. He’s heard about the Vincenzos from his father. This had to be a Vincenzo and if it was he was among friends.

The vehicle came to a hover and settled to ground in an ally. The driver grinned at him from the front seat.

“Better lose that mask, Milord. I’m sure the Vhans got a good look at you and if they did they’ll be looking for you when they come around the corner back there.”

Toreus looked in the direction the cabbie had gestured. There was a street beyond the ally and no doubt there were searching Vhan cops on that street. He pulled the holo-mask off his head and tucked it inside his jacket.

The cabby’s hands flew over a panel beside his couch and the color of the vehicle changed from yellow to black. No doubt the registry plate and transponder signal had also changed.

Without a beat a team of cops rounded the corner, weapons drawn, eyes glassy as only a Vhan’s could be.

“Stay in sa car, citizens,” called the Centurion that led the team.

“No problem,” said the cabbie. “But you guys should follow the nut in the flyer that just zoomed over me down the ally.”

The Centurion looked in the direction that the Cabbie had gestured and the whole team trotted off down the alley in that direction.

“Dumb as fenceposts,” the Cabbie shook his head.

“Yeah,” agreed Toreus. “And that’s what makes them dangerous.”

“You sound just like your old man. My name's Arnold Vincenzo—friends and family call Arnie. And if you’re a Rhann that makes you a little bit of both.”

“Toreus Rhann, to be exact, Mr. Vincenzo.

“Arnie, Your lordship. Mr. Vincenzo lives a long ways from here and I call him Dad.”

Were you waiting for me or are you just a rare volunteer?’

“A little of both. I work for Doomwatch and my bosses sent me to make sure you got to your next destination safely.”

Bosses, mused the Prince. Was Arenjun Sarkhon involved in this?

Ask rather was there anything on Terra Prime that the Time Sorcerer was not involved in?

“Very well, Arnie. Take me to the shipping terminal and then you can report back to your bosses mission accomplished.”

Arnie nodded and put the car in drive. “Always a pleasure to work with a Rhann, Your Lordship.”

“Call me Toreus.”

***

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