A new day dawned at the picturesque village of Parohm.
Yet this was not going to be another day of leisure for the one the Triamese called ‘The laughing Pathman’ or ‘The Galt’ as he called himself
amid the cyberspace world known as the Nexus.
As Galt slowly stirred in his soft bed he reached out and felt the warm form of the girl he’d met the previous week, she warmed a little to his
touch and he felt the boozy fumes of the previous night’s indulgences fade away.
In his eye’s these were the glory days. Far from his home faction and answerable to no-one but himself he was master of all he surveyed. It was
still dark in the room. The second and third-floors external shutters, installed at some expense, kept out the morning daylight nicely.
The light armoured pick-up was the first to arrive two blocks distant and the Galt’s keen ear picked it up. Yet as he did so, as if with some
synchronicity his lady in the bed began responding to his earlier touch and soon his mind was on other things.
Meanwhile the pick-up truck containing several armed Triamese enforcers now debussed and lined the buildings along the river and faced the direction
of Galt’s workshop retreat.
Following the enforcer truck was an airborne trio of Fell Ryders, not allied to any faction but only to adventure, women and that which provided it,
gold. They travelled in no vehicles, but on portable flight unit’s that were about the size of a backpack which they wore to fly about in.
Similar to Watch Ryder’s but with a more base approach to all levels of life, they preferred a life without any rules and would sell their unique
abilities to the highest bidder. That bidder was no miser when it came to those he was patron to.
The three descended to near-ground level, but stayed lofty from the enforcers, knowing they were jealous and envied their equipments ability for
powered flight. They looked past them and watched as another land-based vehicle approached them.
This was their current master, a Caucus Zealander named Sten who hated Galt with a blazing intensity.
He too worked within the Nexus, writing as ‘Stenman.’ A Nex Warrior of some note and Galts sworn nemesis.
Over the course of many months the time had come for a showdown, with Galt as the besieged.
Sten was accompanied by another, a tough and veteran Istar warrior who was his personal bodyguard, confidant and sometime friend Merth.
Sten had felt insulted and humiliated at the stinging and barbed wordings from the Galt. They’d been spread around the Nexus by this one called
The Galt. Time and time again comments and entries were flooding onto his Nexus logs, read by many thousands, attacking him due to the Galt's
Initially Galt's allegations of corruption, foul-play and skulduggery were outrageous. First they were laughed at, then ignored, before finally
upsetting and annoying too many of Sten’s ally’s and contacts. Something had to be done. Many were starting to accuse and even desert his own
Nexus logsite now, even questioning his own stories and ways. This was unacceptable and now the whirlwind had arrived at Galt's base to tidy up his
mess once and for all. He was a senior Nexus writer after all!
There was even talk on the Nex boards that House Soliter would be severing its tentative ties. The loss of lucrative trade-mission’s that
exchanged data-chips for mono-atomic gold could not be risked. Some even claimed House Jade’s northern frontier would now be switching its
patronage to a less beleaguered Nexer.
This was the culmination of many months work. Locating and tracking down the Galt had taken time and resources, months of scouring the land of Triam
for clues and references. Narrowing down and prioritizing as the net drew tighter.
It was a random enquiry at a girly house that saw him directed to exactly to where Galt’s workshop was. He wasn’t sure what it made, some said
it was parts for two-wheeler signalling, other’s it was something else entirely.
One thing was for certain in Sten’s mind.
The playboy Pathfinder had made his last entry onto his Nex Log that many thousands were reading.
A sharp voice snapped Sten out of his thoughts.
“Well, make your call Stenman, we can’t wait any longer!” Trelt, one of the senior Ryders barked at Sten on the radio-net.
“Give the devil the dish then!” The Zealander said to him knowing that to tarry would allow Galt time to prepare, as it was he was likely to be
asleep and inside.
All three of the Fell Ryders now opened the throttle on their machine packs and launched themselves from the riverside towards the Pathfinders
workshop and home.
All three stopped and Trelt began the declaration that was required by Triamese Law.
“Galt the Pathfinder!” He addressed the building. Moving around it slowly as he spoke, scanning for body heat through the walls and
No Fell Ryder had equipment akin to artifact-level, but their flight-helms, at a pinch, could do the job of scanning buildings in this way.
The other two followed.
With a skill that Sten appreciated over the Radio-net Trelt progressing though the summons declaration. He’d well-memorised it, having jotted down
the key bits on his wrist slate; translated as it was from Triamese script the evening before.
“It is decreed that Galt the Pathfinder of this place shall be apprehended and brought to a court of law for the following offences.” Trelt
shouted the words with his flight-helm’s chin-piece and visor raised.
This was important for it meant no speech-modulators could affect the words, they had to be from a natural voice and Trelt made his full intent
Although mercenaries, he and his Fell Ryder’s were lukewarm allies to The Zealander’s fledgling faction of Nexer’s. Yet they relished the
justice due to this one, they too had been slandered and insulted by Galt. Trelt continued now describing the offences.
“Slanderment of a Triamese business, besmirching the good name and character of Sten Zealander along with several others whose names will be made
known to you. Whore-mongering and upsetting the natural order of the land.”
Of all the offences the first and last were the serious ones. Sten himself was an outlander and low on the pecking order for the most part. The
whoremongering charge was practically a mis-crime in Triam, such was the indulgence in it. Yet upsetting the order of the land along with slanderment
of Triamese business were less trivial. Galt's hasty words attacking a friend of Stenman's along with the Triamese business he worked for now
looked set to bring him down.
Galt wasn’t giving in easily to the onslaught. As far as he was concerned it was him against the world and destiny be damned!
It was only as the actual attack became underway that the true concept of his predicament dawned on him. Galt wasn’t going to be able to talk his
way out of this one or smooth things over with gifts and smiles.
He hastily donned his Serch Suit, grabbed his recoilless hand-gun and clipped his trans-helm to the integral harness of the Serch Suit.
The building thud-thudded again as another wave of attacks was unleashed and the aerial assault had him in a quandary of escape plans and schemes.
It seemed like every direction was covered and he was pinned down.
Turning on his surveillance monitors from sleep mode he grimly viewed the approaching forces.
The flying ones were few, but the Enforcer ground forces were many more than he could handle.
If they got in even his tricks and technology would be hard pressed to cope.
The airborne-force that hammered down high-velocity death was a real danger, his cold mind knew they had more than flight-equipment and carbines.
They could vaguely see him through the walls. It was futile to attempt to duel with them by opening the shutters.
He was certain that the outcome of vainly striving to gun down one would result in being cut down by the remaining two.
A bullet, aimed directly at the shutters without the angled attack that was mostly deflecting them previously now pierced through. Only by being
caught against one of his metal experiments was Galt unscathed. The flyers were getting bold now, they were not making passes and fly-pasts, but
hovering and moving in for the kill.
Galt wasn’t going down without a fight though and amid the shaking and rattling he began his last-ditch defensive. The pulse arrays were on three
sides of the building, but could only be fired off one-at-a-time.
It was meant in the unlikely event of a House Soliter or Vril attack, being attuned to their frequency of flight units. He gambled that these Fell
Ryder’s used similar ones, albeit with a noisier low-grade hydrax-fired engine.
Flicking the safety gate of the switch open he watched on the monitor as an airborne fighter who seemed to be concentrating on his workshop and living
quarters neared. With a shout he stabbed the red button.
The invisible pulse radiated outwards in a controlled south-westerly direction destroying the sophisticated control chip of an approaching Ryder. The
Galt at last had some comfort instead of being on the back foot.
He watched in raw glee as the throttle and rudder controls stuck open and sent the bewildered flyer into the hard side-walk around the building and
over towards the river. In a skidding, mangling jumble the crashed Ryder stopped sliding a few yards short of the river bank.
The incident gave him some breathing space and he made good use of it. He’d just formulated a complicated, potentially dangerous escape vector when
he heard the unmistakable shriek of metal shutters being opened downstairs!
He’d not noticed Lek, the pretty little companion he’d been with for the past week furtively getting dressed. She slipped out un-noticed with
the access keys to complete her mission. Hearing the noise Galt moved downstairs like a shambling man possessed, his helmet banging slightly as he
moved around a corner.
As he’d feared dawn light streamed in through the open shutter fatally exposing his defences. The girl was nowhere to be seen and his fears of
betrayal had become realised. What a fool he’d been, but she’d fooled him well at least. She was a real keeper that one, but not for him.
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