The age following the Guild Treaty was a halcyon era for mercenary soldiers and pirates throughout the Great Sphere. Gangs, armies and corporations of hired guns were available for the hiring and cheaply. There was not a major port town or Fountain Base that did not have a pub or bar that doubled as a mercenary hiring hall. During the early days of the Arcadian Civil War MacKeans in Arcadopolis was the place for the elite of military and covert operations specialist to meet. It was a dive with an unsavory clientele and in those days especially it was raided by the RAMP at least every other night. I rather liked it.
For The Duke: A history of the Arcadian Civil War by Kothar Khonn Jr.
Warning Warrior Prince--two individuals ahead The guider shouted out telepathically to the Thuvian Prince,Shakhorjah,Ebony-his hoverbike and Ulyseas the Hunting Falcon
Prince Toreus responded in his usual hard graditude.
Rendezvous Toreus Rhann settled his bike to the ground in the alley beside the bar and sued his visor to scan the area.The spikes engines died down,as the sentient creature winded like it's flesh and blood counterpart,known as a common horse.It's dark scarlet eyes scan the same locations,as it's master Prince toreus did,linking itself up the Guider Communication Network,that surrounded the Thuvian ,his silver lion companion Shakhorja,Ulyseas and Ebony-his hover bike.
Two civilians lurked in the alley next to the dumpster. A small hulking,canine creature was also sniffing around the dumpster.They were raggedly dressed and had dead, staring eyes. One was routing through trashbags,looking food,clothing or whatever.This one wore two or three covercoates,in weather colder that the one the year.The other dressed similar,but with far to many missmatching belts,usefull to him.Toreus’ keen sense of smell could sense them from a block away and his combat alertness came up.Edit
Stupidol addicts transmitted Shakorja. I can smell it on them. And they always smell as if they slept in their own dung.Edit
Most likely they have, replied Toreus.
He could smell the drug too. Stupidol was a mixture of several drugs including cocaine base that virtually robbed the long term user of any of his higher mental functions. Turned them into zombies for all practical purposes.
There was an epidemic of Stupidol use through the Sphere and beyond. Organized crime—mostly Zatakhan-- fueled entire empires on the profits of it.It was an evil concoction,originally created during one of the last Tauron Wars,hoped by used as some sort biological weapon to knock out Atlantean troops.It failed as a weapon,but was quickly turned into a usefull and profitable drug by the Zatakhon Hygemony and often their compedators.
Toreus found it hard to believe that people used such a dangerous concoction—especially since just about every one knew that its long term effects were permanent and eventually led to death. And that the long term users already seemed pretty much dead.
There are also men in a van across the street and positioned on the rooftop and in the local buildings said the Saber cat sniffing the air. Nervous men. Armed, nervous men.
Toreus nodded. That could be RAMP agents or a security detail for Kothar’s people. We will soon know.
'Let’s get a report from Ulysses, the Prince transmitted. Via Guider interface he accessed the memory of the scout hawk.
From the point of view of his bird he could see that the streets were deserted this time of night. No pedestrians. Well, considering that there were stupidol zombies around one might be taking one’s life in their hands if they wandered these streets unarmed and unaccompanied. Some of the zombies were known to be violent—those with enough memory left to be familiar with violence. And those in the early stage of the addiction, unable to work, were given to robbery as a means of self support.
Radu Wallace had all but eliminated all social welfare programs from his budget. He believed the poor, sick and unemployed should die and wanted to do all he could to promote that. Even though the tower farms and unlimited sun power of Arcadia could support one hundred times the current populace.
Toreus could see the men in the van. He recognized the face of the big guy in the front shotgun seat. That would be one of the O’Brien brothers—the youngest one, Colin. That meant that the meeting was being backstopped by Colin O’s team. Good. They were reliable and effective.
Toreus instructed Ulysses to stay on station and to warn him via Guider link if anything in the situation changed.
I suppose I will remain here, said Shakorja.
“I need someone to watch the bike, pal,” said the prince. “I’m going to link it to your control in case it needs to move. Are you up to it?”
'If there is no other choice.'
Ebony;Tactical mode on.the Prince commanded.
The metallic horse like hover bike winded,and it's scarlet electronic eyes flash in unison,giving Toreus Rhann it's usual response to his commands.Various defensive system around the spike activated-long range sensor sweeping systems,linked the Guider Tactical net lite up,mini guns,grenade bays and so forth became alive ready for action.
Toreus knew that the cat did not like to drive vehicles but that, with the help of his computer implants, he could do so very easily. The bike was a smart machine and could very well fly itself. All it needed was someone to tell it where to go.
Besides-- Shakhorja answered as the Thuvian Prince began walking away from the Silver Lion and Ebony,toward the center of the Stupital Zombies. who needs to watch the spike.After all Ebony can take care of himself.
'Right.Ok.'Toreus Rhann responded 'I need you two as back up here,like I need Ulyseas up in the sky.Remember Shakhorjah,were a team-not a solo act.We work together-not alone.'
'And this from Mister Walks alone in the battle zone ? Shakhorjah sarcastically commented.
''I'm taking point Prince Toreus Rhann returned.By Thrull Khonn's Blood-must I tell you guys everything ?'
'Who me ?I'm just a dum animal.'
'Shakhorjah ? Prince Toreus cut in
'Yes,master'the Silver Lion answered
'Shut up'the Thuvian Prince commanded 'And take care of the spike'
He started off down the alley past the Stupidol zombies. They did not acknowledge his presence. Not just because they had absolutely no interest in anything that went on around them except the drug but because his camouflage blended his hulking frame in with the alley gloom.
Some of the Stubatol Zombies were walking around half remembering words and fraizes the once used in the semi addicted life,when they once visitted the local soup kitkhens such as Chicken Brians,Father Johns Rescue Mission and the Arche Street Mission,that served a hot meat-three times a day ,plus gave a bed to sleep at night,before the Wallace Family desided helping the homeless was a charity to costly for the taxes payer to bare.Better to let them roam the street day and night,than take care of the lamb and indigent.
'When do ..we feed 'One shoutted
''Got some salt Another responded just barely
''Don't step in front of line.''the other stated
''Got hash ?''
'Cover your mouth'
"Wheres the grub,bub"
One of the Stupitol Zombies hiding in a nearby alley appeared.He drunkenly grabbed up a small Jovian Pitbull dog running away from one of the dumpsters and scarried up an alley,screaming like a madman.'I got you little piggie.I got you..The zombie dissappeared into the stygean darkness of the ill lite alley beyond,kicking trash debris out of his way and spashing through the cities badly kept suadge system.
"''For Thrull's Sakewas the only command Toreus could respond to what the Thuvian Warriors eyes just witnessed."You Shakhorjah,back my native Thuvia,we don't let our sick and homeless walk the streets,like dirty,smelling walking corpses.'
'No,'The Silver Lion thought back.'we don't.'
'But then,Shakhorjah,my lands not as civilized as these barbarians,who call themselves the Wallaces.'Prince Toreus Rhann grunted sarcastically.'Real great party guest I bet.'
'I bet they whip their asses with their tongues.'Shakhorjah interupted.
'Wait.Isn't that what you felines do ?'the prince shot back jokingly.
'Yes,but we do it with style. the lion answered
With that Toreus Rhann simply laughed as he walk by the two dumpster divers.He did not pay much attention to the zombies in return. If necessary it would take him a tenth of a second to kill both.
.His mind was ahead of him, focused on the meeting that was going to happen inside the pub. He had not come here to fight people who had given up on life. He had come here to help rescue the future.