Chapter two - Lost Soul
Delhi, of all the places we could have been redirected to it had to be some place ridiculously hot. I had every fan in my room on but with my thick fur I was still overheated.
"You alive in there Sylver?" asked Mark as he stood in the door to my quarters.
"Just barely," I replied as laid flat on my bed trying not to move.
"Duncan was going to have a look around do you want to come along?"
"Is that some kind of cruel joke?"
"Kinda, I just wanted to see if youíd move" he smirked. With that in mind I was now going to simply ignore him until he left, which luckily didnít take long.
I still canít believe that the air traffic over North America was so bad we had to land here. I was okay with that, the problem was we werenít stuck here for just for a few hours but several days.
A few minutes later Lara came in with a pitcher of ice water and a couple glasses. Like me she wasnít much of a warm weather person and wore only a pair of shorts and her fur.
"You know you could just have your fur cut shorter," she said as she poured us both a glass of water.
"Where I come from thatís a bad idea at this time of year, it gets pretty cold up north."
"Well it couldnít hurt to have it a little shorter so you can actually get out and look around while youíre here."
"Maybe" I replied before chugging most of my drink. The small but fairly well built vixen took a seat beside my bed and looked at me in wonder.
"How is it that the temperatures in your mech that are just as bad if not worse than this donít even phase you and yet here you lay practically incapacitated?"
"I have more important things to worry about when Iím in a mech, like staying alive"
"Thatís true, well Iím gonna see if Ryan needs help, I want to get home as soon as possible," with that she started to leave.
"Might want to put something on though," I called after her,
"Are you kidding? Itís hotter in engineering than the rest of the ship, Ryanís probably to busy to notice anyway" she gave a playful grin then left.
"This placed is packed," said Mark as he and Duncan made their way though the crowded streets of the market place. All kinds of food, clothes, kitchenware and jewelry could be seen on either side of the street, with merchants trading and competing for business. The four lanes of traffic in the middle of the main street had come to a complete stand still in the midday rush.
Duncan wanted to do some site seeing while Mark was looking for a cantina so he could buy a drink and see if they had card tables in Delhi.
The two of them split up when Mark found a place that looked promising and Duncan spotted a cart that had tourist guides.
Duncan was in the process of finding some kind of street sign when he bumped into and almost tripped over someone he didnít see coming.
"Iím sorry I didnítÖseeÖyouÖ" Duncan couldnít seem to find whom he had run into.
"Thatís alright, Iím fine" said a voice from somewhere in the crowd. Duncan looked to where it came from and saw a young chakat getting up from the ground.
"Sorry I wasnít paying attention," shi said as shi dusted hirself off then looked up at huge wolf, "I most certainly should have seen you coming" shi smiled. Hir fur was a pale orange and hir stripes looked as though shi had a bucket of black paint dumped on hir back. There was also a distinctive broad black stripe running across hir muzzle. The only thing shi wore was a camo green vest that looked a little big for hir with a small leather tie at the front.
"Are you sure your okay?" Duncan asked,
"Yes Iím fine, but Iím a little lost. You wouldnít happen to know your way around would you?"
"Iím afraid not, Iím just visiting for a few days until our ship gets clearance to go back to North America. Iím doing a bit of sight seeing, while Iím here though if you want to come along."
"That sounds great, I have an afternoon to waste anyway" shi said then took Duncan's hand and the made their way through the busy streets.
"You are cheating American!" fumed the dealer as he pointed an accusing finger at Mark who sat with a rather smug look on his face. "You have won five games in a row, no one is that lucky."
"True," said Mark as his tail swung contently back and forth "but I am that good, and I donít intend to lose."
"I still think you are cheating,"
"How can I cheat? You deal the cards, not me, I just play the hand Iím given."
"Leave my table, Iíve lost enough on you,"
"Fine, Iím done here anyway," said Mark then took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer.
"Donít mind him," said the bartender as he returned with Marks drink "heís just not to fond of folks like you"
"You mean people that can fleece him at card games?" Mark asked the well-built man behind the counter.
"No, I mean he doesnít like you furry people, he thinks theyíre always doing something to cheat. Truth is heís not that great at cards, just thinks furs take advantage of him. You be careful there are quite a few people like him around, donít want tí see you get hurt on account of a game."
"I can take care of myself," said Mark as he drank casually from his mug.
"Why did we have to end up here, I know weíre not priority traffic, but how can things be so bad that we get redirected halfway around the world for three days?" I thought to myself while sitting at the helm, "I guess my party is going to have to be postponed." I looked out at the busy spaceport and started to think about the mission we had just got back form. My mind started drifting to how I could have done a better job of avoiding fire when the pirates were chasing us. Thinking about the pirates bought me to worry about the repercussions of letting those shuttles getting away. My thoughts continued to go in circles until they were interrupted by my second in command entering the bridge.
"Good to see you up and about Sylver" I said as I got up from my chair.
"Mmmhmm" was all he said, I couldnít blame him for being so worn out because of the heat, hell, if I lived in a place that was usually covered in snow Iíd want thick fur too.
"Donít worry, Iím trying to get us out of here as soon as possible, but in the mean time just try to make the best of it." Sylver just nodded then sat down at the tactical console and watched the ships land and takeoff outside. I thought it was best just to leave him there and see what Ryan thought of the repair job we got on Chakona.
"Iím gonna wring his neck when he gets down here! I told him a hundred times that this ship is old and beat up! They donít even make some of the replacement parts anymore!" Ryan was still angry about how close the ship came to falling apart on their last mission and Lara was doing her best to calm him down.
"Iím sure we can fix it, the people on Chakona did a good job we just have some patching up to do," she insisted.
"Patching up? Iím surprised the Eagle made it back to Earth much less landed. You see that over there?" he said as he pointed to a pile of burnt components on the floor "That is whatís left of our bloody matter shieldís power regulator system!" Ryan then caught sight of James who had just walked into the engineering,
"At what point did you forget you were flying a D-601 and not a blockade cruiser?" asked Ryan as he turned to James.
"Iím really sorry about ramming the other ship but I couldnít avoid it, we both ended up diving and I couldnít pull up."
"Fine but you had better be more careful or weíre going to die,"
"Thank you Iíll keep that in mind" said James calmly. Lara was glad that Ryan got that out of his system, now they might be able to get the Eagle back to 100% before they leave.
Duncan and the chakat who was named Sunflower were now taking a lovely trip though Delhi on the local tour bus. Sunflower kept awfully close to Duncan, he knew that chakats were pretty social but shi was very close indeed. Duncan was worried that shi, having most likely just come of age, was getting to intimate for hir own good. The tour came to an end as the bus returned to the market place on Main Street, and the two of them started back towards the spaceport. They where in the crowded mess of the market place when Sunflower finally spoke up,
"Well that was a lot of fun, Duncan. I must be going now though, maybe weíll see each other again before you leave" shi said and was starting to leave when Duncan realized that something was amiss. He put his hand on hir shoulder as shi turned to go and shi tensed a little, Duncan spoke with a calm but firm voice
"I much enjoyed you company as well young Sunflower. However Iím guessing that youíre not really a tourist and I would appreciate it if you returned my wallet and key cards to my ship to me." Sunflower stood stunned for a moment before shi pulled hir shoulder out of Duncanís grip and took off though the crowd. Duncan gave chase and was able to muscle his way though the crowd to keep up with Sunflower who was having a bit of trouble because of hir small size. The crowd started to thin a little and Duncan knew he couldnít keep up for much longer so he made his way into the stand still traffic in hopes that it might give him an edge. He kept low so as not to alert the chakat as to where he was and it worked to his advantage. Sunflower also made the dission to go into traffic but went from rooftop to rooftop rather than between them. Just as Shi was about to jump to the last line of cars Duncan reached up from between them, caught hir hind leg and pulled hir down. Sunflower struggled but Duncan soon had hir in an arm lock, with hir true arms held behind hir head with his right arm and hir handpaws held in place with his left. Duncanís strength advantage over the small chakat made the hold almost unbreakable and shi eventually gave up.
"I suppose youíre going to turn me in now right?" shi asked with a slightly depressed tone of voice.
"Maybe, to be quite honest Iím not sure yet," he replied.
"Until you decide can you let me go? My arms are really staring to hurt,"
"Are you going to run if I do?" Sunflower thought of hir chances of getting away for a moment, no one had caught hir before, and this guy had hir immobilized, shi didnít like the odds ant the moment.
"No," shi sighed, admitting defeat, Duncan loosened his grip and shi dropped to the ground. True to hir word shi made no attempt to get away and started to rub the soreness out of hir arms.
"So now what?" Asked Sunflower as shi and Duncan stood in the grid locked traffic.
"First I would like my stuff back, then we should get out of traffic and decide what weíre going to do with you," he said and started to lead the way back to the side of the road.
"Decide what heís going to do with me? The first person to catch me and Iím not even getting turned in? He is definitely not from around here".
I couldnít believe I got out of that one so easy, but this guy was the biggest morph Iíve ever seen and would probably have me again in an instant if I tried to get away. He kept me close as we went down the street then we found a small café and took a seat at an empty table.
"Do you want anything to drink?" he asked as we made ourselves comfortable.
"What?" I was totally lost, I had just stolen from him and now he was offering me a drink, do they treat all thieves like this where he comes from? That sounds like a place Iíd like to visit.
"A drink, itís hot out" he said again,
"Well if you donít want one I donít mind," he said an ordered a pitcher of water.
"I, I just donít get why your doing this, I mean, you are aware that I just stole from you right?"
"Yes, I was meaning to ask you, who is it your working for?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You didnít get like this on your own, who is holding your leash?"
"How do you know that?" I asked once again not entirely sure what was going on.
"I happen to know many chakats personally, and donít think any chakat would end up a thief without someone pushing them in that direction." This guy had to be some kind of psychologist, I was willing to bet he knew something I didnít that told him I wouldnít run as well.
"I canít tell you" I finally managed to say,
"Fair enough, is there any way I would be able to get you to?"
"I donít think so," I said as he offered me a glass of water.
"So what do people call you in you social circle, I doubt that ĎSunflowerí is your real name." "How does he do that? Am I being that obvious?"
"Most people call me Sher, around here it means tiger,"
"Do you mind if I call you that?"
"No, but I think my real name might be Nightfire though,"
"Why do you think that?" "Gah! Whyíd I do that?! He probably knows too much already, heís so calm, it just feels like I could tell him anything; why?"
"Uh, just intuition I guess," I very much wanted to change the subject right now so I started to ask him some questions.
"So are you like a Russian secret service agent or something?"
"Is my accent that bad?" he chuckled "No, Iím not but I am still a law enforcement officer" "I knew it, he had to be",
"So whom do you work for?"
"Iíll tell you when you tell me," he said as he leaned back in his chair. I did want to tell him, it might get me out of here, but reviling the other thieves might get me killed. He seemed like the right person to talk to, the only thing I could sense from him was patience and calmness.
"Maybe, but not yet, I have to think about it," it was almost like he could see my feelings, like he could tell that I was worried, it felt weird.
"Okay," he said and leaned forward again "if you go now would you meet me here tomorrow?" that completely threw me off, he was letting me go? Was this some kind of new catch and release program local law enforcement had going? I dug as deep as I could to see if he was hiding some thing, but he was completely sincere. I have never had this happen to me, usually people lie to me, I can tell when they do but itís a little depressing to know that everyone lies all the time. This looked like my best chance to get out of the group of criminals that I lived with for as long as I can remember and I wasnít going to pass it up.
"Can you help me?" I asked before let him know I was coming back,
"I will try,"
"Then I will see you tomorrow" I grinned, something I havenít done a lot of.
"I will be here as soon as my schedule allows," he called after me then I disappeared into the crowd.
"What are you doing?" asked Lara when she found Sylver laying in the open cockpit of his mech with his hat over his eyes.
"Well if I tolerate high temperatures better in here I figured it might help, I think itís working."
"Right, well Duncanís back if youíre interested, we donít know where Mark is though, we can only hope he hasnít gotten into too much trouble yet." Silver smirked
"Knowing him heís probably got half the casinos in Delhi after him, Iím sure heíll be fine though, if nothing else heís one hell of a fast runner." Lara laughed and continued on her way to her quarters.
Meanwhile in the conference room aboard the Eagle Duncan was telling James about his encounter.
"What do you mean we might have another passenger for the way home?" asked James, with a bit of concern about what Duncan had got himself into.
"Shi doesnít belong on the street, I just want to help hir and if it means that shi might come back with us I didnít want it to be too much of a surprise."
"Well itís not really my place to say what you can and canít do, but shiís your problem if shi does come along."
"Understood sir," Said Duncan with a nod then turned to leave.
"Donít call me sir, I canít stand it, weíre not in the military"
"Sorry," Duncan apologized then stopped in the doorway "sir."
It was getting later in the evening and Lara had just finished taking a refreshing shower. Still in only a pair of track shorts she made her rounds of the ship to make sure everything was in order. She was just passing by the main access ramp when she heard someone running at a dead sprint outside. She was just about to look outside when she was immediately tackled by Mark who came flying up the ramp without looking where he was going. Both of them were sprawled out in the hallway when Mark quickly got to his feet and retracted the ramp.
"What the heck is going on?" demanded Lara, who wasnít at all happy about the pain in her back.
"Is there anyone behind me?" asked Mark in a bit of a panic,
"I couldnít tell I was too busy being knocked on my ass. What did you get yourself into now?"
"It was just a game, just a bloody game!"
"A game Iím sure you were winning right up until they got fed up with you" Lara remarked sarcastically.
"Iím not cheating! I swear Iím not cheating! Theyíre just a bunch of poor losers"
"How much did you beat them out of?"
"Only 200 creditsÖ. give or take"
"Iím willing to bet you werenít a very gracious winner either, one of these days someone is going to kick you inside-out"
"Not so long as I can out-run them," he said with a cocky grin. Lara sighed then continued down the corridor, while Mark made a quick check outside before starting back towards his quarters.
Sher slipped quietly into a secluded alleyway under the cover of darkness, shi followed a well-traveled winding path with only hir night vision and sense of direction to guide hir. Shi soon came to a small wooden door in the side of a run-down building where an ever-watchful guard stood. Shi made hir presence know and upon recognition was allowed in. Shi then padded down a dim hallway that lead into a room that one wouldnít think would fit into that building. It was filled with rough-cut thieves and criminals, a paradise for those who donít want to be found. At the back of the room was an extravagantly dressed man with a female on either side of him. One human and the other a curiously colored wolf bitch that defiantly didnít want to be there.
"So you have returned my child," he said as he noticed Sher entering the room, "what have you brought me?"
"My apologies Shaman, I am afraid that Iím empty handed, too many watchful eyes guard the streets as of late," shi replied. Sher spoke much differently when addressing hir Ďmasterí, something shi was taught to do early in life.
"Yes, business has been slow, but do not worry, come here and we can make things better," he said with a sly grin.
"With respect, I wish to retire early tonight, my day has been difficult and I wish to regain my strength for tomorrow" as shi said this shi prayed that the man know as Shaman wouldnít force hir to do something as he often did.
"Very well, see that you do a better job tomorrow," he said and waved his hand to tell Sher that shi could leave.
After navigating another maze of narrow hallways shi came to the small room that was hir den. Sher had a pile of old pillows for a bed and only a few small candles to light the room. In a box beside hir bed were some books that shi had read about a hundred times each, but shi never got tired of them because it was one of the few luxuries shi had. Sher didnít feel much like reading right now, hir thoughts kept drifting back to Duncan and what he had offered hir. A chance to start over, or so it seemed; he was far different from everyone shi had ever met, and not just because of his unusual size. He was the most placid and sincerely caring person shi had ever met, although that wasnít surprising considering the company Sher usually kept. Still, shi would have to see him again tomorrow, but how could one person help hir out of something like this, even if he was huge? Wait, something about the name Duncan sounded familiar, maybe Rodrigo would know, he was a expert on just about every law enforcement officer in the system. Sher slipped out in to the hall and headed to his room without a sound. When shi arrived Rodrigo was looking over some star fleet reports that no one really knew how he got a hold of. He was a very thin man with a beard that had grown only because he never shaved, his skin was much paler than most other people because he didnít spend too much time outside.
"Good evening" said Sher, Rodrigo was startled by hir sudden appearance and almost dropped the paper he was holding.
"Oh, it just you," he said with a sigh of relief "donít sneak up on me, Iím paranoid enough as it is."
"Sorry, may I ask you a favor?"
"Of coarse, what can I do for you?"
"I need information on a law enforcement officer,"
"I thought as much seeing as that is my job, and the only reason that back-stabber Shaman hasnít thrown me out yet."
"I am sorry,"
"Donít apologize for something like that, lots of people forget why Iím here, now, who is it your looking for?"
"Duncan, I donít know his last name," replied Sher.
"Well, that might help" Rodrigo said as he turned on the only computer in the building. "Can you be more specific about how he looks?"
"Heís a wolf morph, uh, Russian I think, and he stands about 6í8" does that help"
"Finding someone else whoís that big would be difficult to do, I think I got him, does this look right?" he asked and showed hir the picture on the screen.
"Yes thatís him, heís bigger than I thought, 6í10"? Wow."
"Chances are he can also snap you in two, says here heís the close-combat expert for a special law enforcement unit. Echo Lance, I think they just broke up a pirate operation near Chakona." Sher was beginning to understand why Duncan was so laid back, according to his records he could be a match for a adult chakat let alone another biped.
"Can you find out who else is in that group?"
"Absolutely, but why are you so interested?"
"He was the one who was able to get back what I stole, he didnít get me though, and I wanted to know who he was and who else I should look out for." That of coarse was a lie, Sher had gotten good at it by listening to Shaman. Rodrigo gave me a stupefied look.
"Wait a minute, you mean you tried to steal from this guy? Are you nuts? Heís huge and we just found out that heís a law enforcement officer as well." I stared at the ground with a bit of embarrassment.
"I know. I screwed up, I donít need you to tell me that. Just tell me who else is involved."
"Alright, well, there are only five other members, all of them ranked damn near close to the top of their class in each of their preferred field of study. Letís see, thereís a weapons expert, a tactician, medic, pilot, engineer, and they can all pilot battlemechs, not something Iíd want to go up against." Sher took a good look at all the other members, all morphs, the weapons expert was the only other wolf, and the rest were foxes. At least shi knew the faces for when shi met them, hopefully they could help her.
"Come on Sylver, itíll be just fine" urged Duncan, who was trying to get Sylver to come along to met Sher.
"Iíll be just fine here too. I donít know why you want me to come along, I canít help with hir psychological problems," Sylver protested.
"I know, but it might help if you came along, there will be plenty of ice water there so you donít have to worry about the heat."
"Fine," Sylver finally relented "but I donít want to end in trouble because of your mercy mission."
"You wonít I promise," Duncan reassured him and they then got ready to leave.
"I hope he gets here soon," thought Sher as shi sat at the café and started to get a little fidgety. Shi soon breathed a sigh of relief when shi spotted Duncan making his way through the crowd. However hir relief started to wane when shi saw that he had someone with him, the teamís weapons expert if shi remembered correctly. He wore a style of hat that shi was not familiar with but it looked good for keeping the sun out of his eyes. The two of them finally got into the café and Sher became quite worried when shi saw the pistol that Duncanís companion had at his side.
"Hello again Sher, I hope my friend doesnít alarm you," said Duncan
"Uh, not at all, your name is?"
"Sylver, donít worry about this," Sylver introduced himself then motioned to his weapon "I try to avoid using it." Sher wasnít sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but at least he seemed friendly enough.
Once again Duncan had a calm, passive aura about him, but Sylver seemed like he didnít really want to be here and was just trying to be nice. I then realized why he wasnít too pleased to be outside, his fur was far to thick for temperatures like this, it made him look handsome but it must be horribly uncomfortable.
"So you must be fairly observant in order to be successful, what can you tell me about myself from what youíve seen?" asked Duncan for what seemed to be no reason in particular.
"Uh, not much why?" I was starting to question all he asked of me just to be safe.
"I just wanted to know a little about your skill level, thatís all"
"Uh, alright," I still wasnít sure what he planned to achieve but I saw no reason not to go along. "Well, Iím guessing your left handed, being able to restrain me that easily would mean you have some level of training and from that you most likely learned that your dominate arm is best used to hold my stronger fore legs. Your also probably from an elite group because you have more skill than your average officer, and you have key cards for a ship thatís not registered under Starfleet control." At that moment I felt a need to go a little further than just describing Duncan, I have no idea why. "Sylverís right handed because thatís the side his pistol is on. He is definitely from somewhere cold because no one in their right mind would have fur like that around here. Right about now Iím thinking you donít really want to be here," I said as I looked at Sylver who had his hat over his eyes.
"You are correct, Iím from Alberta, I am for the most part right handed, but I can shoot just as well with my left, not that it matters," he half mumbled from under his hat. I could tell that Duncan seemed a little embraced by his friendís behavior, but the feeling soon passed and he turned back to me.
"So, are you ready to tell me who your working for?" asked Duncan, who was trying to get to the point. I was hesitant again wondering if one of Shamanís men was watching me, no, it didnít matter if someone was listening, this was my chance and I was going to take it.
"I, um, I am part of a group of thieves that works for a man called Shaman,"
"You mean you were, right?" asked Duncan, who was hopeful I would end my loyalty to Shaman at that moment.
"IÖguess, are you sure this is okay?"
"It will be fine, but we must go to your local authorities for assistance," Duncan reassured me. However telling the authorities was not what I had in mind, if Shaman knew I was turning him in Iíd be dead in a heartbeat.
"But, I thought that you were a law enforcement officer canít you take care of it?" I asked trying to get him not to tell the police, or at least not yet.
"That depends, how powerful is this Shaman? Do many people work for him?"
"Iím not sure how many there are but I donít think itís that big a number,"
"I think we can handle anything under 20 if theyíre just common thieves," Sylver said as pulled his hat back from over his eyes.
"Maybe but if we are going in alone we should at least tell the police that we are doing so in case we need back-up," Duncan was starting to seem concerned.
"I suppose your right, Iím sure there are others that want to leave Shamans group as well, Iíll see who I can find tonight and inform them of our plan. UhÖwhat is our plan by the way?" I asked, Sylver was the first to speak up,
"What time of day would there be the most people there?"
"Usually late afternoon, when the merchants start to close up, but why would you want to go then?"
"In order to catch as many of them as possible," Replied Duncan who knew exactly what Sylver was planning.
"We will need you to get as many people and weapons as you can, but there will be no killing," he said, making sure that I understood.
"I will do what I can but I canít promise anything,"
"Whatever you can do will be enough," Sylver grinned, trying to make me feel better about the situation. The truth was, I canít remember ever being this scared.
"Whatís going on Sylver?" I demanded while he was getting some equipment together, it wasnít like him to keep stuff from others.
"If Duncan isnít going to tell you than neither am I, this is his mission and he asked me to come along. To tell you the truth Iím not even sure whatís going on."
"Can you at least tell me what you do know?"
"It has something to do with the chakat heís trying to help," He said while checking the contents of some ammo clips.
"It has to be something big if your bringing weapons, what is it?"
"Lara, I really donít have time for this, if you can manage to get something out of Duncan then go ahead but itís not my place to tell you what heís doing."
"Then what are you doing?"
"Helping my friend,"
"And what is he doing?"
"Iím not telling," I growled at Sylver's stubbornness. "Wolves," I thought to myself as I left, "always have to do things their own way."
Sher was lying on the pile of pillows that served as hir bed while thinking of people that might want to fight against Shaman. Unfortunately the list was rather short as shi wasnít sure who really would join hir and who would tell Shaman about hir plan. Sher was in deep thought when hir ears pricked up the sound of someone moving outside. Shi reached inside hir vest and pulled out one of the two daggers shi kept concealed inside it, then moved to the side of hir door. "No one is ever up and about this late, who cold that possibly be?" Shi thought as the intruder drew closer. The air was still and Sher wasnít able to catch the sent of the mystery person outside. A gray hand reached in the door and Sher immediately pulled whomever it was inside, grabbed their ankles with hir hand-paws then held the blade to their throat. The intruder gave a surprised yelp and Sher was quite surprised when shi discovered who shi had a hold of.
"Tess?" shi asked when shi recognized her sent. It was the wolf that was beside Shaman yesterday, the red highlights in her fur shimmered in the dim candlelight.
"What are you doing here at this time of night?"
"Iím sorry but I overheard you today while you were talking to those other wolves, I want very much to escape from here and Iím willing to help."
"How do I know I can trust you?"
"Canít you tell?" she asked, still making no attempt to break Sher's grip. Sher often trusted hir senses, but despite what they told hir something still didnít feel right. Still, Tess was far more trust worthy than most of the people around here and at least deserved a chance at freedom if that is what she really wanted. Sher released her,
"Alright, but you canít tell anyone, the operation happens tomorrow," shi informed Tess, who listened closely.
"What are you going to do?" asked Tess, with a great deal of interest.
"I got an offer from an elite law enforcement officer, he will help all who wish to leave Shaman. We will arrive tomorrow afternoon, and I will have gathered those loyal to our cause and weapons by then, but nothing must be said until they arrive." Tess nodded,
"Are you sure it will work?" Sher felt a glimmer of hope from Tess,
"Yes, Iím sure it will," Sher grinned. Tess was overjoyed that she would soon be able to leave and gave Sher a tight hug,
"Thank you," she whispered. Her happiness comforted Sher's doubts; it would work, shi was sure of it.
I had only been here three days and already I was about to be in a fight. I looked over at Sylver who was putting the last clips in his ammo bandolier, I was thankful that he was helping. I was still unsure how I was going to help this lost chakat but I hoped that the answer would present itself. I didnít want to tell the others, not that I donít trust them but I was afraid they might call the local authorities and that would mean punishment or death for Sher if Shaman found who turned against him. Iíd trust anyone on this ship with my life but this was something that Sylver and I had to do on our own. We got the rest of our equipment on and prepared to leave. I carried four throwing knives on my belt along with a short sword and a dagger on each boot, my guess was there would be several close combat fighters there. I was also prepared for ranged combat and had a blaster rifle slung over my shoulder. Sylver on the other hand carried two custom pistols loaded with tranquilizer darts, along with many other types of ammunition, and a pair of shredder class carbines on his back in case the fire fight got to intense. The only hand to hand weapons he had was a pair of hunting knifes that he had a way of making very effective.
I was going to be making arrangements with the DPD just before were to meet Sher. I wanted them to be ready to supply backup if we needed it but I also didnít want to travel through the allies with a full tactical squad behind us. It would be too obvious and might cause more trouble than itís worth, so we would instead have them track my come beacon if they were needed.
"Well this is it," he said as he put on a long brown leather jacket to conceal his weapons.
"Yes it is, best of luck and be careful"
"You too" and with that we went to meet Sher.
My god I was worried, I had only managed to find seven people that would help, Tess and Rodrigo were among them. I hoped that I had snuck enough weapons out of Shamanís armory. I was currently waiting at the end of the first ally we had to go through to get to Shamans hideout. The sun was starting to go down and the streets were bathed in a crimson glow as the shop keepers started to close their booths. My tail twitched nervously as I scanned the crowd for Duncan and Sylver. I detected an unusual sent on the light breeze, leather? No one around here wore that, at least not as much as I smelled. I followed the direction of the wind and saw what looked like a modern day cowboy walking towards me. The wind caught his jacket and I saw two bandoliers lined with ammo pockets, I knew almost immediately that it was Sylver, but where was Duncan? My question was answered when a large hand fell lightly on my shoulder, I turned to see the big morph grinning down at me.
"Now, we will see Shaman" he said confidently.
"But he wonít be happy to see us" Sylver smiled. The two of wolves looked impressive, the confidence I felt from them helped to reassure me that we would be okay.
"Follow me, and tread softly, unfriendly eyes watch these streets," I then motioned for them to follow and we made our way though the maze of allies. We were all very alert, with our ears investigating every sound, my nose to the wind and their eyes watching the rooftops for anyone who might be spying on us.
We came to the last corner before the entrance of the building and I held my hand up to tell them to stop.
"Around here is the door to Shamanís headquarters, there are two guards and we need to take them out quietly or this wonít work," I whispered to them.
"Consider it done," said Sylver as he drew his two pistols. He looked around the corner to assess his targets, then took careful aim with both weapons. I covered my ears but to my surprise the pistols barely made a sound when they were fired, both guards dropped to the ground almost immediately.
"Donít worry I use silenced guns, I have fairly sensitive hearing too," then Sylver put the pistols back in their holsters.
"I thought you werenít killing anyone,"
"I didnít kill anyone," protested Sylver. As we got closer I saw a small metal dart in the neck of each guard. Sylver pulled on out and showed it to me,
"Razor darts, potent enough to drop a quage in a second but safe enough that it wouldnít hurt a ten year old," he explained, "these two will be out for about five hours, but we should hurry." They then followed me into a smaller concealed room that was just outside of the main gathering area. There we found those that would be helping us,
"Iím so glad your okay," said Rodrigo as he hugged me tightly, "The guards didnít give you any trouble did they?"
"No, we were just fine, is everything prepared?" I asked.
"Yes but we donít know how you plan to do this, there are a few more than twenty people out there" replied Tess with a great deal of concern. Duncan looked over the assortment of blades and guns that were stashed in a closet, there wasnít much to work with but it would have to do.
"This should be enough, stay close to Sylver and I, we will get most of them but weíll need you to watch our backs," instructed Duncan as he handed out weapons.
"What if we fail? Shaman is no fool, he probably suspects an attack," said a boy who was about the same age as Sher.
"He knows nothing I am sure of it," Tess reassured him, she spent more time with Shaman than anyone else so everyone trusted her judgment. We did a quick mental prep before going to face Shaman and his men, I was nervous as hell, the slightest noise would have made me jump out of my fur. We entered the room and Shaman looked at us with a devilish grin on his face.
"So, you return, and youíve brought some friends with you, how nice," he said in his usual cold tone of voice. "Iíve been expecting this from you Sher, you chakats are to wrapped up in your morals to live a dishonest life," the smile disappeared form his face, "I donít know why I even bothered."
"So, you knew all along I would turn against you?"
"Yes, I figured it was only a matter of time, until you found the nerve to challenge me. But your struggle is in vain, you nor your companions shall leave here alive." With that he snapped his fingers and everyone in the room drew their arms. Sylver pulled out both pistols and started dropping the charging thieves like flies. Duncan knocked out or incapacitated all the attackers that got close enough to hit. The rest of the group was able to hold their own in the melee. I charged Shaman with my daggers but was stopped halfway by one of his henchmen. He took a swing at me with his scimitar but I caught it with my daggers and nailed him in the stomach with a hand paw and he dropped to the ground gasping for air.
"A valiant effort child, but I still hold all the cards!" he cried and pointed a concealed pistol right at my head.
Duncan had just knocked out another thug with the pummel of his short sword, and was now scanning the room for Sher. He was horrified to see hir staring down the barrel of Shamanís pistol,
"Sylver! Over there!" he called and motioned to the grinning criminal leader. Sylver dodged an attack then fired off a shot that took the gun right out of Shamanís hand. After being stunned for a split second, Shaman yelled an order in Punjabi and all the men started moving to the back of the room.
"Sher! Get back!" yelled Duncan as he saw one of the thieves open a gun cabinet on the other side of the room. Sylver upturned a row of card tables to make a barrier, all of the tables to his surprise had a steel plate bolted on the bottom and were intended for a purpose such as this. Soon bullets and blaster bolts were flying back and forth, Duncan had his rifle out and Sylver was using both carbines to tear apart the tables Shamans men were using. "We need to find some way to end this before it gets out of hand," thought Duncan as the firefight continued. He then realized how absent-minded he was and pulled the Unicom from his belt,
"What are you doing?" asked Sher as shi took cover from the hail of fire.
"Calling for back-up, the police can follow my tracker,"
"Good idea, I hope we can last that long,"
"So do I," said Duncan as he contacted DPD.
Things where not going well, Rodrigo had taken a shot to the shoulder and Tess was having trouble trying to stop the bleeding. David another boy who wanted to get away had a similar injury on his leg, but it was a blaster burn so it didnít bleed. Duncan kept in contact with the squad leader for the unit that was coming to assist them, but they where having trouble navigating the maze of alleyways. Then things got worse, Duncan was lining up a shot at on of Shamanís men when his Unicom got blasted right out of his hand.
"Not good," he said as he looked at the fried piece of equipment, there was a smoldering hole right through the center of it. "I think weíre in trouble now" Duncan had a grave tone of voice.
"Let me see it" said David, "I think I can fix it, I canít fight right now anyway." Duncan handed him the blasted Unicom, "Iíll need some tools this looks pretty bad," said David as he inspected the circuitry. Sylver reached into one of the bigger pockets of his jacket and pulled out a mini tool kit that he usually carried with him,
"Will this do?"
"That will do great, itís better that anything Iíve used before," exclaimed David and set to work.
Iím glad David was with us, there hasnít been anything he couldnít fix. But I was starting to worry, the two wolfs named Duncan and Sylver seemed to be losing confidence in our chances of winning. I wish I could help fight, but Iím not strong enough, but at least I could help the wounded.
"Tess, I think I need another bandage," said Rodrigo, and I tried to find another piece of cloth to dress his bullet wound.
"This isnít working," called Duncan "Sylver, do you have any hard hitting ammo?"
"I have heavy ex. rounds for my carbines and 35 cal. Rounds for my pistols," replied Sylver.
"That will work, hand out whatever youíre not using, we need more people in the action." Sylver started loading up all his weapons, he handed Sher a carbine and gave a pistol to me.
"I canít use this," I said and tried to give it back,
"Just point it at anything that moves and pull the trigger, but watch out for the kick back, those are high caliber rounds."
"Donít worry, so long as you hit their tables youíll be fine," he reassured me. I had never used a gun before, it was a bit heavy, I didnít have a strong build and wasnít sure if I could handle it. Sylver saw my concerned look and came over to try and help,
"Itís okay if you donít get it the first time, but we need you to try. The kick back suppression on it is pretty good, so you shouldnít have any trouble, just keep a tight grip. Iíll give you some cover fire and you come up and shoot the tables, okay?"
"Okay" I replied nervously. Both he and I got up close to the nearest table, Sylver got up on one knee and fired, I got up right after him and discharged my own weapon. My shot took a leg right of one of the tables and the force knocked me onto my back. Sylver pulled me back on my knees,
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, but I donít think I can do this,"
"Thatís fine," he said with a bit of disappointment "but at least you tried." We were brought back to attention when David spoke up,
"We have a problem, I donít have anything to reconnect the wires with. I need some kind of welder or it wonít work." I handed the gun back to Sylver and went over to David,
"I think I know what to do, I need you blaster." David handed it to me and I pulled out the power cell,
"What are you doing?"
"A trick I learned for sealing locks," I replied and pulled out my hair clips. "Wrap the wire you want welded to this," I said and handed him a clip. He quickly had the wires secured and then handed the Ďcom to me. "No, just hold it away from your face," I instructed then picked up the power cell. Sparks flew as I touched the power cell contacts to the hair clip, the clip melted and fused the wires together,
"Nice work!" exclaimed David and put an arm around my shoulder. "The communicator is gone but the beacon should still work," he said and switched it on.
"GET DOWN!" yelled Sylver, and David tackled me to the ground, there was a huge explosion as Sylver shot a hand grenade in mid flight. "Where the hell did they get grenades from!?"
"Are you okay?" asked David,
"Iím fineÖthank you" I replied, then gave him a kiss and rolled out from under him.
"What was that for?" he looked at me
"For caring" I smiled.
Duncan was crouched behind one of the tables and was in the process of reloading his blast rifle when he heard movement in the main entrance behind him. He finished loading the rifle then when to investigate. With his weapon aimed into the dark hallway he creped forward and was suddenly met by a young man in uniform,
"Iím Sergeant Sandu, we followed the beacon, whatís your situation?" Duncan was relived that they had finally arrived,
"We have some wounded, but theyíll be okay. There are about fifteen or twenty men on the other side of the room and ten of us, itís a good thing you got here when you did."
"Donít worry," said Sandu as he handed Duncan a box "put these on my team has knockout gas so this will be over quickly." Duncan did as he was instructed and handed out the gas masks as the tactical team moved in with the gas launchers. Sandu gave the order and canisters trailing smoke flew to the other side of the room and the thieves started to scatter. Despite their best efforts Shaman and his men quickly fell victim to the gas and the tactical squad moved in to put them under arrest.
The battle was over, we had won, I couldnít believe it at first but soon I was barely able to contain the joy I felt. All the other members of our Ďrebellioní were cheering as the police carted out all the thugs and criminals that had been knocked out. Once again I felt a soft hand and clam presence, I turned Duncan who was just as happy as me that this was over.
"Thank you so much!" I exclaimed and threw my arms and forelegs around him in as big a hug as I could give.
"Iím glad youíre all right," he said, returning the hug. After releasing each other we followed everyone else outside, where there were a number of police vehicles into which the unconscious men where being loaded.
"Iíd like to thank you for helping us arrest these people. But if you plan to do this again call us before trying to do things on your own," said sergeant Sandu while shaking Sylverís hand.
"Weíll try," smiled Sylver, then looked to Duncan who was being relentlessly hugged by Sher.
David limped over to one of the medical vehicles, Tess and Rodrigo were helping him along,
"So, now that weíre out what do you think youíll do Tess?" asked David. Tess thought for a moment,
"I donít know, I never actually thought of it," she admitted.
"Well, donít think about it too much yet. We still have the authorities to deal with first," said Rodrigo grimly. It was then that they realized that despite the fact that aided the police they too would have to face punishment for being a part of the gang to begin with. A feeling of depression started to make its way through the members of the rebellion as they started to wonder what would happen to them. The sudden change of atmosphere reached Sher and shi knew almost immediately what was on everyoneís mind.
"What is going to happen to us?" Shi asked Duncan, who didnít seem to didnít seem to have his good mood dimmed much by the question.
"I have already arranged for you all to be pardoned from most of your criminal offences, but youíll still need to do some community service before your free to go. Except you Sher, you wanted to come with me so youíve been placed under my custody." Sher was at a loss for words, but this didnít seem fair to the others,
"But why did you chose me? What about the rest of them?"
"Trust me when I tell you that you donít get it any easier than them, you will have to find a way to support yourself too. Youíre just coming with me to find work in the GNA instead." Although Sher felt better that shi wasnít getting an easy out, shi was still a bit scared of leaving, shi grew up here, everything shi ever knew was here. But just the presence of the two wolves helped sooth hir worries, Duncan was calm and patient, Sylver confident and strong. This was all shi needed to help hir along, as shi turned to the trio that stood behind hir,
"You will keep in touch right?" shi asked Tess, Rodrigo and David.
"Of coarse, we will" smiled Tess,
"Maybe you could come back and visit when youíre back on your feet," added Rodrigo.
"Everything is going to be alright," said David and the four of them shared a tight embrace. Duncan got down on one knee and put a hand on Sherís shoulder,
"Iím sorry but itís getting late and we leave in the morning, you need to get your things together." Shi reluctantly let go of hir companions and started to follow Sylver towards the spaceport.
"Donít you need to grab anything before your go?" asked Duncan.
"I wear all that I own, all thatís left in my room are some pillows and a box of broken books," Sher replied. With that they said their final goodbyes and left for the Echo Eagle, destined for Sherís new home.
Continued in chapter three.
Chakats and the Chakat Universe are the creations of Bernard Doove and are used with permission.
All else is copyright © 2004 to Dax.
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