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[1]Science Fiction,comics and other related entertainment medea.books,cartoons,tv-whatever.



Friday, September 16, 2011Edit

Chapter 3:Edit

Chapter 3:




There is no such thing as a grassroots movement. Any time a bunch of folks =get together to raise a stink there is someone with money and power behind it.


Arenjun Sarkhon, Memoirs of Doctor Arenjun Sarkhon,Volume 13.Chapter 2.




The Doomwatch was an organization that could trace its existence back to the Old Universe where it had been formed as an Intelligence Branch of Sarkhon Enterprises. Legend had it that it was chartered by the legendary Harlan Sarkhon in the days before House Sarkhon left the planet Atlantis and the Old Universe. The Doomwatch is so named because its agents were tasked with looking out for coming calamities and informing their bosses about them. They were also often asked to carry out covert operations that would prevent the very Dooms they were looking out for.


Spies and Master Assassins by Landru Thomas the Third






















2011


Maveric Lion Entertainment Group




Guest Account







[TOREUS RHANN AND THE THUVIAN RANGERS-CHAPTER THREE;TAXI]


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Toreus Rhann and the Thuvian Rangers-Chapter Three;Taxi!





Chapter 3: Taxi!




An old neon sign flashed on and off,saying ‘’Eat at Sperue’s Restuarant-over five trillion million sold’’ as it spun about slowly above the Univercity of Arcadia’s westside campus,on Farnsworth Mall.




“Things are getting bad,” said Pinkston Tam in the left hand seat of the yellow taxi. Arnie Venchenzo knew that things were getting badly.




He’d and witholding it from his partner would never work.Pinkston Tann,although some people though he was dum,wasn’t.He just saw things in his piculiar way.Both could see crowds gathering al about-uphead,beginning to create a stir.Venchenzo often wonder if Kotharr Khonn and the local Doomwatchers went around stirring up things-writing internut phanphets on just how bad the Wallace Clan had ruined things in Arcadia.Replicator repair trash strikes.Labor strikes of all kinds.Corruption from the lowest levels of politics to the highest levels-all put up on the Arcadian Freedom of Speech holo network.




Venchenzo’s yellow cab 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.A tall silver haired figure,dressed in a green and yellow cape,approached his,coming out of the crown and walked over the yellow Venchenzo Metro Yellow Cab hoping to get a ride to some important meeting.Before the tall fellow,could grab the back seat doors and enter into the vehicle,Arnie punched up a series of buttons on the dashboard and a red sign began to be projected upon the front view screen.It flashed ‘’Off duty’’.The gentlemen,wearing a Mister Brick button,walked away angery and disappointed toward another near by hack.




Arnie thought,besides he had a Mister Brick botton on his lapel.Makes him a moron anyday,in the Book of Venchenzo Universal Wisdom.Especially during National Moron Week in Arcadia.Who created that crap anyway ?Mammoth Comics or Mammoth Studios,he thought.If it’s not big,it’s Mammoth was their saying or it If it’s Big,it’s Mammoth.Maybe it was,If it’s Big,It’s not Mammoth.It should be,if it’s crap,it’s Mammoth.Only they would have nerve to create shit Mister Brick or Sperue and keep it going centuries past it’s incept date.God dammed Trekkies,Arnie thought-always keeping some fandom alive too long.I bet the Wallaces and the Zatikhon had something to do that stuff making it’s across the infinite gulf of temporal space toward the Great Sphere.




Up ahead,Arnie Zinchenzo was awakened out of his mental rant.




He’d watched as the crowd began to gather, a tight lead ball forming in


‘’Hey,Arnie.’’Pinky commented ‘’Wake up.Crowds formin up the street.’’




Up ahead,Arnie Zinchenzo was awakened out of his mental rant by Pinky’s suddend comments.Already


Pinky Tam was—as his name suggested—pink. His father had been a Red Jovian and his mother a Shavian woman. When he was seventeen standards old he joined the Thuvian Army and then the Rangers. He wore a tattoo of the Thuvian Rangers on his left arm an arm that was always bare when he wore shoulder strapped smart armor over his bare chest like today. His forearms were covered by shield cuffs and he had an Ezekhiel 350 assault rifle cradled across his lap. The Zeke was an imported weapon from a faraway worldline and a favorite of Pinky’s.


Pinky’s hair was shaved into a thin crest and was shiny black.


Pinky had quit the Rangers five years ago at an invitation to join Doomwatch. The Watch had sent him to Arcadia to work with the Venchenzo Cab Company branch there. He worked as a Mechanic though in actuality he was a Doomwatch Outrider—a swordsman for the Watch and a bodyguard for the Venchenzo employees.


He liked Arnie Venchenzo and keen insight into people,he casually encountered on the spot.And Arnie liked Pinky.He trusted the big guy and trusted his judgments of things not obvious to most observers. A full blooded Jove would not have fit in the taxi but pinky did and he had as much punch and power as any of his people in his two meter tall compact frame..


They’d been sitting in the hack across from the station all morning, waiting for the friend of Sarkhon's that they were supposed to pick up.A bunch of preist from the Church of the Swirling One,had moved out of the nearby jump point terminal station.The Swirling One Order, or the Swirling One or Swirling One Eye are an offshoot order of the Molavīyeh- a Sufi order of ancient Turkey,who founder witnessed the use of godlike Elder Beings moving out of an ancient Stargate,upon his Earth worldline. They are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr -remembrance of God .This branched off splinter sect,was founded a Dervish follower,who witnessed,what he thought was the Gods of the Well of Worlds,visitting his worldline).The swirling one preist,often showing up at any college campus,to recruite new members to their cause began sping about,as their Estapaid tall,white hats-formed holographic colors-resembling those created by a stargate way.




‘’One is all-all is one with the one,true gate to the gods.’’they began to speak,in unison.


‘’Holy Sarkhon.’’Arnie spatt ‘’Those nutty guys in the chief hats arrived.’’


‘’Why do they spin around like that ?’’Pinky asked ‘’Are they goofy ?’’


‘’Cause their a bunch nutty fruitecakes,whose founder misinterporated what wormholes are for.’’Arnie Venchenzo commented back.’’They think the gods-our buddies the Atlanteans and such is gonna give em grace and gravy,in the afterworld,if they keep spinning about dizzy.’’


‘’You ask me..’’Pinky added ‘’Their dizzy,like those mime guys.’’


‘’Like a guy drinking too much Constipated Lemon Juice.’’Arnie joked,which was something,the cabbie used joke about with the gang back in Brooklyn,New York.Earth 1803,where he originally came from.We had our troubles there,but luckilly,time sorcerers of the Imperial House Clan of Thuzan Thune Sarkhon saved that Earth time line again and again,like the Legion did upon many other worlds and worldlanes.


Arnie Venchenzo and Pinky sat like cops,a bit tense,maybe a bit unedged,but patiently waiting for something to happen.They’d watched as the crowd began to gather, a tight lead ball forming in Arnie’s 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.




And eventually the college kids were being supplemented by more middle class types. Workers mostly. Union members who were unhappy with the fact that the monarchy had outlawed collective bargaining rights.




And soon young hoodlums joined the fray. The kind of kids who showed up looking for action and were not above tossing the odd rock and Molotov to set it off.




And here he was, in his cab, waiting for his fare and not at liberty to go anywhere else.


Behind the dirvish preist,were still spinning about more eradically,unaware of the commotion about to begin.





Sergent Arnie Venchenzo-warrior from another worldline sat eying he spectacle up front.He puffed his Brunello brand cigar,he watched the commission on the street ahead.


And here he was, in his cab, waiting for his fare and not at liberty to go anywhere else. He thanked whatever god there might be that he had the Outrider with him. And that his cab,was what it was,modified by the Doomwatchers,Inc.Section VIII: Research and Development devision.Arnie Venchenzo’s yellow cab was armeda low slung model with a large passenger compartment and armored,who are the secret organzation’s armory devision.


His cab was a low slung model with a large passenger compartment and gull wing doors. Tonight it bore yellow livery with check borders, but a flip of a switch could change that. The Venchenzo Metro Yellow cab company had no official livery. They were a Gyptian cab company anywhere they operated.Anywhere their a Venchenzo family.Arnies father-Barney once claimed that Venchenzos had biggest cab company not only across Terra-Prime,but anywhere across temporal space. And they operated just about anywhere that the Doomwatch – secret spy network handled by the locals,for the lords of light –otherwise known as the Atlanteans and other Elder races operated. And that was just about anywhere they were needed.




Arnie gave the foam dice that hung from the rear view scanner in the middle of the windshield a punch for good luck and sat back.




The cops showed up. Not Royal Arcadian Mounted Police—which would have been bad enough “Could be that it’s all just some big trekkie convention,” Arne said.


Pinky’s eyebrows went up in question.


Arnie laughed. “On worldlines where they don’t have starships yet the folks love a vid show about a starship and her crew. You’d like it. You got some things in common with one of the characters.”


“I have never been much for fandom.”Pinky shot back


“Live long and prosper, my friend.”Arnie Venchenzo commented.Pinky raised his left eyebrow,being bewildered and not understanding his freinds statement.Arnie looked over and simply laughed,as only he held a private joke between himself and no one else.


Someone threw a rock at a window.


The rock bounced off and hit someone who howled like a banshee.


“Naw, second thought,” said Arne. “Not a trekkie convention. Unless there are a lot of Klingons at this one.””


“Do we know what this guy we’re waiting for will look like? He’ll be disguised.”


Arne nodded. “He’ll be big. Not as big as you but big for a homo sap. I’ll recognize him.”


“Trouble,” said Pinky pointing at the column of Khai’Vhann that matched up to the other side of the square across from the station entrance. They wore standard Vhan battle gear but with armbands that idented them as police auxiliaries. And true to Vhan form they carried lethal weapons. Bullet firing rifles and machine pistols and some lasguns.


‘’They’ll set half the town afire with those lasers’’, observed Arnie.’’Tair up the crowd with the rest.’’ ‘’Only a Khai’Vhan would bring a gamma ray laser to a knife fight.’’Pinky added


“Pinheads,” swore Arne shaking his head.


More Vhan cops marched around the corner two blocks down. No showed up. Not Royal Arcadian Mounted Police,——which would have been bad enough, in sight


Khai Vhann were violence junkies. TheyNot Royal Arcadian Mounted Police—which would have been bad enough—but hired Khai’Vhannn mercs. Vhann’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 Khai-Vhann Soldiers.Vhanns and had all of their humanity drained out by that cyborg pin they had inserted in their heads. 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 Venchenzo was satisfied with this 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 andThe Khai Vhann brutally stormed passed a group of tall,men in white glowns,with tall,paper tube hats,spinning about upon the sidewalk behind the students.They were of the The Swirling One Order-who something called Eschopaid Hat,that represented to wormholes-for to them



Okay,” said , thought Arnie, “not our my concern. We’reI’m not here to mix it up with the cops even if we’reI’m in agreement with the kids. It’sWas time for a change here. High time. Radu Wallace and his fam have had to go and they havehad thrown the only dude capable of dong it in jail. Duke Nathaniel iswas the future and Radu and his retard nephews are were the past.”.




Arnie Venchenzo and Pinky was satisfied with this conclusion when their his client stepped from the terminal.


A group of tough looking characters Oh, it was him all right. He was wearing spacer colors moved by. Among them was a tall balding man who wore a black and white checkered shirt under his cut. Arnie recognized him. So did Pinky.


“Well, I’ll be damned,” swore the Pink warrior.


“Probably, if you hang out with me. Well if it isn’t Speedrow Wilson of the Star Kings SC all the way from Ridge.”


“And that’s Lucy Lamb and Hank Berhn with him,” said Pinky. “The president, vice-president and treasurer of the Star Kings club. Why are they here?”


“Could be they’re just on tour.”


“Not bloody likely,” said Pinky. “Speedrow likes the maglev car racing circuit these days. And Arcadia is not a venue. He also likes to hit people.”


“Yeah, dirty deeds done dirt cheap, I’d say,” nodded Arnie, his yellow leather cabbie cap bobbing in the instrument illuminated compartment like the skippers cap of some sea ship.


“Someone must be buttering the bread thick to get those lads all the way from Ridge in 3261,” said Pinky.


“Sounds like Watch business,” nodded Arnie.


A tall man with white hair wearing a long black cape walked by. For a minute Arnie thought that it might be Lazar Sarkhon, the time sorcerer who had recruited one branch of the Venchenzos mob for Doomwatch,within the Terran Federation. But it wasn’t. Just someone who dressed similar. There were guys who favored Chronomancer like garb for the effect. Like the men who wore cowboy sombreros on other worldlines.A Tenneson Spy Droid was hovering behind him,thinking,that he was the real deal.Arnie watched the fake temporal mage,dissappear up an alleyway,as a holographic traffic light flashed ‘’cross now’’ over and over.A pack of Mimmean Krishnas,danced across the street,with their white right side face greasepaint,contrasting their dark left side make up.Their most striking feature is that thier skin greasepaint is half black and half white, the two halves split perfectly down the center of the face.Their business suites corresponded opposite,the Mimmean facial colors below.


‘Korrey Korrey Lokie.’’The Mimmeans sang ‘’Horey Kishna.Horey Bael.’’


‘’Who the feck are these guys ?’’Pinky cursed in wonderment


‘’Nobody.’’Arnie Venchenzo returned ‘’B


Arnie and his family had been with the Watch for a long time now. Since Lazar Sarkhon had recruited his brother Bernie on one of the worldlines.Bernie Venchenzo,was just a long line of Bernies ,Earnies ,Leos,Lou’s ,Tony’s or Archies recruited by time sorcerers like Professor Thuzan Thune Sarkhon,Professor Gideon Sarkhon and other branches of the Imperial House of Sarkhon,work as a mobile Doomwatch Agent,in the feild.Some were undercover,whether they knew so or not,working for the Watch..Long story-time for some that other day,Arnie thought.




Arnie stretched and slumped back in his couch looking up at he big holoscreen that fronted the Fountain terminal. The face of a man with curly hair and a long, handlebar moustache—much the rage among Arcadian aristocracy -- flashed in the screen. The logo that inched across it said:


Jonny Tripod in Speru and the Seraphian Stone—A Mammoth Production—if it ain’t Mammoth it ain’t big.Holy Crap.That was it and it’s more of that Sperue garbage.


Jonny Tripod, thought Arnie. Me and mine aren’t the only refugees from other worldlines. When is Jim Glimmis and his oversized company gonna get done with those awful Speru stories?


Unlike Pinky Arnie was into fandom and he hated Speru—with a passion.


Another man,dressed like a Time Sorcerer walked.Silver Haired,bearded with white eyepatch,resempling what Arnie thought looked a shabby knock off of Gideon Sarkhon’s look.Was Kotharr Khonn sending living decoys of Time Sorcerers to fool the Wallace Homeland Security Network ?A robot spy droid began to follow him down the street,just like the previous one had.


‘’I’m hungary.’’Pinky suddenly shot out.


‘’Your always hungary.’’Arnie responded


‘’Wanna get one of those Sperue’s Happy Chili Corndog Surprise meals?It comes with a free superduper sized Big Gulp Sweet Tea.’’


‘’Sperue-ahgg.Rather it throw up.Food prepared by Saturnian Primatives.’’Arnie grumbled ‘’How can you eat crap made by the Jovians mosted hated enemies.’’


‘’First,Saturnians are only one of our most hated enemies-the others are the Grey skinned Jovians and the Darkhoneans.Second,most these guys,working Sperues Restuarant is only half Saturnian.’’Pinky defended himself ‘’And Third,they make a pretty mean Chili Dog.




‘’Made from ground up,replicated Dinomeat and soylent bean filler.Turns my stomuch.’’Arnie counted with own comments.Actually,the dogs weren’t so bad.Infact,Arnie Venchenzo liked.He just hated to eat anything made by a company,owned by Mammoth Studios. ‘’I’d rather eat Thunderbeat dung.’’


‘’Thats what they sell at the Empyrean Cafe.’’Pinky added ‘’To each his own.’’


‘’Only a Jovian or rather half Jovian would drink a wastepaper basket sized paper tea cup.’’Arnie Zenchenzo sarcastically remarked.‘’That’s why their giving em away.Nobody wants that much tea.’’


Pinky first gave Arnie Venchenzo a dirty look and realized that the Terran was full of Cherea crap and laughed.


Arnie rubbed his eyes and looked down at the doors of the terminal. A big man in a rugger shirt came out.


“How about him?” asked Pinky.


The man Pinky pointed to was blonde and heavy set suit and a holo-mask but there was no disguising the way he moved. and the size of him. Arnie had known the father his dad and that wasArnie 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.


Some of the spacers were already scuffling with some of the students and a man in a Mr. Brick jacket tossed a flaming bottle full of flammable liquid at a parked car.


Leave it to an ass who’s a Mr. Brick fan, thought Arnie. Arnie really hated that cartoon. A talking brick with a high pitched squeaky voice. Those people have got bricks for brains.


The Cops were mixing it up with the kids. now. The Mr. Brick guy went down and cracked his head on the pavement waylaid by the butt of a Vhan rifle..


. A big Jovian—like there was any other kind—in a rugger shirt that was a shade lighter than his green complexion, 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.Vhanns not raised their pulled lethals and taken aim.


The cops


They didn’t see Toreus Rhann fall into a crouch. Nor did they notice the shimmer of the plasma shields around his forearms.—like big wavering haloes.. 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 ***


arses. 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.




‘’Back my homeland,the Thuvian Prince shouted ‘’we lock Ky’VhannnKhy’VhannKy’Vhannn turd outside the citygates,so they don’t stick the streets up with their pooh stink.’’




The Ky’VhannnKhy’VhannKy’Vhannn hardly noticed,who was cursing them out.Without orders of the Ky’VhannnKhy’VhannKy’Vhannn High Command military structure,many of the lower Infantry Ky’VhannnKhy’VhannKy’Vhannn were little more near brain dead warriors,used carry of the fight for the higher intelligent Ky’VhannnKhy’VhannKy’Vhannn leader classes glory and furtune.




In quick succession the Prince knocked one cop after another down stunning them with the powerful wall of plasma. that flashed each time it made contact with their personal shields and armor...




Yeah, concluded Arnie, he was The Slayer’s son all right. He’s seen that kind of action before. It was signature. The kind of catlike agility and fighting style that lion men learned from childhood.


“Lets roll,” he said and cut in the engine.


Pinky activated the power cell in the caseless ammo loaded machine gun.


*


**


***




*


**


***




Toreus sized up the situation quickly.


The Vhann 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 knocking cops right and left like a humanoid triceratops. This.. No knife, this was not the time for him to use lethal violence. The VhannVhanVhannVhann might be like an army of flesh and blood bots but if you killed one of them,especially a Khy’VhannnKhy’VhannKhy’Vhannn Squade Commander or one of the Khy’VhannnKhy’VhannKhy’Vhannn High Command every other KhyVhanKhyKhy-Vhann on the plate would make it his life goal to hunt you down. That was the way they were. They were stupid pinhead cyborgs but nonetheless they were a pinhead cyborg brotherhood.


He plowed into a squade of Khai-Vhans as they stood in the VhannstreetVhann with a the drawn gunsidearmgungun and knocked him onover atop the wounded man in theonon his butt. Mr. Brick jacket.


. 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.


There was an electrical discharge when the plasma hit metal or human ungrounded flesh.




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 VhannsVhansVhannsVhanns and stopped. AndA pink Jovian with an automatic weapon emerged from the shotgun seat and fired wildly at the Vhans, bullets striking their armor with little orAndAnd no harmful effect. The bullets were frangibles that broke up on contact with the shields and armor. Not lethal to anyone using a shield but causing a barrage of blinding flashes to the wearer blanking out their visors and putting blobs of color in their field of vision. Like a hail of tiny flashbang grenades.


“In the car, sir,’ said the pink Jove


The back gull wing door of the yellow taxi flew open and the pink man pushed Toreus into it.


Now sooner hadwere they inside thanhadhad it stopped when a plasma pulse erupted from its right side, barreling the angry VhannsVhansVhannsVhanns over.


The gull wing door poppedThe pulse threw out a wall of cold plasma in a widening bubble on that side of the vehicle. It moved down anyone whose shield had not activated and immobilized anyone whose had.


The gull wing door closedpoppedpopped open and the grizzled driver called out. “Welcome, Your Grace,.”


“Ernie Venchenzo as I live and breath,” laughed Toreus.


“No,” said the driver. “His brother Arnie. Common mistake.”


“Are “Get in unless you Toreus Rhann?” asked the pink man. He was not a full blooded Jovian, Toreus could see that now. He was a hybrid—probably part Cro Mag.want an ass kicking.”


“Let me introduce you to Pinkston Tam, my outrider.”


Toreus removed the holomask. “Yes, I am.”


*


**


*** Toreus dove for the door and slid across the rear seat as the gull wing door slammed shut behind him.




*


**


***




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.


There were the Cold Plasma shields and there were the levitation generators—both magnetic and dark energy anti grav.. High altitude flying.. Flying cars were outlawed in most cities or limited to low hover. and Arcadopolis was no exception. But sometimes you needed an edge to escape the bad guys.Arnie Venchenzo saw a squade of Khy’Vhann troopers moved toward his cab,in great numbers.He thought,we’ll need clear out some room.Above the Yellow cabs roof,with the holographic display sign,offen used many cab companies to advertise all sorts of things from holo movies to local plays.For reason,nobody could explain,not a Venchenzo,all their cabs displayed ‘’Showgirls the Musical-based on some forgotten movies,on other temporal worldline-mostlikely something we could thank the Zatiknonn for.


Arnie,flipped open the top of his cars stick shift and pushed a small red botten inside.A top,the Showgirls sign slip apart to reveal an M1 20 plasma pulse cannon.Arnie then adjusted one of the other smaller levers near the stick shift.A small target holo dial,began project the macroscope of the cannon above.The cannon began to move about and point itself toward the oncoming Vhann troops,who were mindlessly unaware of what was about the happen.The cabbie,then pushed the bottens next the stick shift rod and the cannon spoke twice.Two bolts of superheated gases shot out of the barrel,hitting into the middle of the Khy’Vhann soldiers.


‘’The best mercenary troopers,money can buy on a budget.’’Arnie laughed’’Only thing as my Aunt Murdle might tell cheaper,isn’t always better or smarter.’’


So Arnie cut in the paragravity levitation drive and rose straight up as Vhann’sVhan’sVhann’sVhann’s fired their pistols and carbines to no affect into the CPS of the vehicle.The Startarin tubing fixed around the vehicles front section,toward the aft end of the cab began light up,with extra power.The cabs twine hover rammers-two wheel like projection pods,affront of the cab,also began light up.Dust from the street began gather under the yellow cab,as paragravity repulsor drive kicked-lighting the vehicle up into the air above.Arnie turned the steering wheel and cab began move around heading away from the crowd and the remaing Khy’Vhann police.


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


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


*


**


***




*


**


***




The taxi had levitatorsantigravitylevitatorslevitators, Toreus realized just before the force of acceleration punched him back into the seats.The vehicles gravity harnesses began compensate for the cars quick acceleration,as the big Thuvian began relax again in his back seat.Arnie in front,chomping his Paruuvian stoogie,simply smiled as piloted the cab towards it’s ultimate destimation.


This was no ordinary cab and the driver was no ordinary cabbie. He’d met Arnie’s brother Ernie a while ago.He’d heard about the Venchenzos from his father. This hadfellow could have been his twin, save that he did look a little youngerhadhad to be a Venchenzo and if it was he was among friends.


The vehicle came to a hover and settled to ground in an ally. It was a dark quiet ally far from the riot at the Fountain base.


The driver grinned at him from the front seat.


”one more gag, boss.”


Arnie put the vehicle in drive and rushed toward a wall covered by an old fashioned billboard the billboard showed two women kissing in some long forgotten add for a sex club. . Just before the car would have struck the wall it slid open separating the lovers and the hack entered a big garage. The door slide closed behind it and bioloom globes unmasked shedding light over a line of parked vehicles—several of them cabs.


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


Prince Toreus looked in the direction the cabbie had gestured. There was a street beyond the ally and no doubt there were searching Khy’Vhann 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.


“This is a Watch safe house,” said Pinky.


“Yeah we should be safe here,” said Arnie as he opened the door of the cab and got out, stretching his portly frame. He took his yellow peaked cap off his head and scratched his balding pate and grinned an impish grin in a mouth lined with big teeth..


“It’s good to be at the service of Within a beat a team of cops rounded the corner, weapons drawn, eyes glassy as only a Vhann’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,even dumber” agreed Toreus. “And that’s what makes them dangerous.”


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


“Toreus Rhann, to be exact, Mr. Venchenzo.’’Toreus Rhann stated firmy and direct.’’Prince Toreus Rhann.’’


“Call me


“Arnie,Prince Rhann-practically everyone does.’’Arnie returned,peering into the upper rear veiw mirror.’’ Mr. Your Grace. Mr. I’ve worked with your pop. You look a lot like Venchenzo lives a long ways from here and I call him Dad.”


“Family resemblance,” laughed Toreus as he and Pinky sat quiet.Nerviously next to Arnie Venchenzo.


‘’The big Pink guy here Pinky.’’The Brooklyn born cabbie stated


‘’Pinkston Tann at your service,’’Pinky firmly stated-only half looking got out of the back atofat the big,Thuvian Ranger.


hack. ”My brother, Theseus looks more like him only shorter.




“Were you two waiting for me or are you guys just a rare volunteer?”Prince Toreus responded




“A little of both,Prince Rhann’’Arnie Venchenzo told the Thuvian Prince,glancing unto the road ahead . WeIl,me and back into the mirror.’’ We Pink here work for Doomwatch and my bosses sent me and Pink on survailance and pick missions all the time mostly.They wanted to make sure you got to your next destination safely.”


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


Or was it some other Time Sorcerer?


If the Doomwatcher Squades were on the case and network of spies,who all over the city,you can bet Arenjun and other Lords of Light were secretly involved secretly.Prince Toreus did like all sneaking around and covert nonescence.He prefered to be upfront.But this a Doomwatch Operation and he had to play it their way.Intelligence cutouts.Secret meetig


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


‘’I’m also a freind of your pal,Sarkhon.’’Arnie Venchenzo said.’’Old Arenjun,when he can contacts us,via holographs and such.’’


‘’Arenjun Sarkhon ?’’Prince Toreus responded uncertain’’I wasn’t told he was here.I was led to believe he was back home,in Pangea still.’’


‘’Sorry,your highness.’’Pinky added ‘’But he felt you need not know at this time-for security reasons.You understand.’’


‘’This Wallace business..well one need to keep things on the downlow.’’Arnie Venchenzo butted in.’’Never know where we have spies,who could blow an time agents cover.’’




Prince Toreus hated all this secrecy.He prefered a more direct approuch,but he also understood that field agents like Kotharr Khonn and Arenjun need to deep cover operatives,secret codes ,cutt out operatives and drop points.Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge were names of this game.After all,this wasn’t some rugby match or game of pool or even chess-all things the Thuvian enjoyed to play in his time.


“Very well, Arnie. Take me to the bosses mission accomplished.”


Arnie nodded and put the car in drive.He was a bit nervious-hoping he did offend not the First Son of Thuvia in someway.Arnie being Brooklyn born was not always up on the correct language to use on royalty.“Always a pleasure to work with one of high quality Mr.Rhann...I mean Your Grace.”


“Call me Toreus.”the Thuvian Ranger responded ‘’Everyone does.’’


.


Ask rather was there anything on Terra Prime that the Sarkhons were Time Sorcerer was not involved in? Despite Guild restrictions to the contrary.


For the first time since volunteering for this mission Toreus was beginning to realize how deep he was in and how big the stakes were. He wasn’t just here to rescue two kids and a woman. He was in the middle of a civil war and that someone—no doubt one of his family’s allies—was manipulating the hatred and resentment already neck deep in Arcadian society.


What are we into here, Dad. Do you even know?


Kothar junior was charged with covert operations for the privy council. He was not required to report all his actions to the Emperor—for the Emperor’s protection.


If worse came to worse it would be Kothar Khonn junior who fell and not the Emperor and his councilors. That was the way that things worked in the secret world. Good people were paid to do bad things and then fall on their swords if they failed.


A bit of sadness for his boyhood friend washed through the Lion Prince and he quickly shook it off.Although he hated all secrecy,he undestood the need for secrecy.


I’m behind enemy lines now and there was no turning back. I will save the Taylors and then find out just what my father’s privy council and the Doomwatch are up to here.


“Very well, Arnie. Take me to the nearest jump point shipping terminal and then you can report back to your boss’sbosses mission accomplished.”


“We should wait until the hunt for my hack cools off,” said Arnie. “Meanwhile we can get you a change of Idents and clothes and have a cuppa. Then we’ll use the hack disguised as a limo—as you can see—to take yez where you’re goin’


“Sounds good,” said the Prince of Lions. “Lead on.”




Arnie nodded and led them to an elevator that took them two floors up to an apartment behind the Venchenzo Cab Company office.


“Sorry none of the family are here right now. Business is blooming across Arcadia and that means that the local wing of the Venchenzo clan are busy.”


“Yes, I can see that,” said Toreus.


Several bright flashes lit the sky beyond the window and there was the staccato sound of automatic weapons firing and the single pops of rifle shot.


The first shots of a civil war, thought Toreus. By morning it will be a full out fracas.


“The Crown has declared martial law and a curfew,” said Pinky. “That means that they’ll be putting robo-snipers in high places around town and the hell with anyone who didn’t get the word to stay off the streets.”


“Nice folks those Wallaces,” said Toreus.


.“put the car in drive. “Always a pleasure to work with a Rhann, Your Grace.”


“Call me Toreus.”


10:58 AM [2][3]

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