For the last couple of years a bunch of ideas have bumped around in my head. Some of them are extremely derivative or just one step beneath outright stolen from other works, the whole universe is jury rigged mess to make it all work, and a touch of Mary Sueism in there as well. Still, the ideas do seem to percolate and develop on their own and one might find them entertaining to read them for free. So, in a "what the hell" frame of mind, is a piece from my brain's slush pile.Table of ContentsVintar City
The Free Federation
"The Bloody Kiss" was a seedy bar in a city that hadn't been prosperous in over half a millenia. Shadowcatch, once the capital world of the Free Federation and the axis point of the Grand Alliance, was now a world, well actually a star system, in gentle decline. Every year its population decreased as more and more people emigrated to other worlds and real opportunities. Malcontents and would be hermits drifted here in smaller numbers, either finding homes in its crumbling cities or losing themselves in a wilderness that was slowly reclaiming the world.
Out in the black the great industries had mostly been destroyed by the war and there was no effort to rebuild. In fact, that was the last thing the government wanted. So instead Shadowcatch gradually wasted away, a victim of malign neglect.
Vorlar Kadril stepped into the bar and down the steps that took him into the sunken room. It was high ceilinged and red lit, as expected of a place that embraced a vampire motif. Chains and meat hooks hung from the ceilings. Dark clad and pale faced would be rebels, many of them cosmetically altered to resemble the long dead vampire lords that had once resided in Shadowcatch, awesomely powerful bioengineered warriors that were now mostly legend, sipped drinks in silence. More than a few stared at him. This was not a place a sick went in alone and yet here he was a sick not just alone but openly wearing a one piece suit of soft armour with Security Directorate badges and an overcommander's starbursts around his neck.
Vorlar acted like he wasn't committing suicide by coming into this place alone and strolled over to the bar, which was set up in a well at the center of the room. Holoprojectors on the bar painted portraits of dead and gone vampire lords who had honourably perished fighting the Slaver Lord Autarchs and thus not been branded traitors. A careful skirting of the law.
The bartender was dark for an inhabitant of Shadowcatch. Heavy set and muscular, without much fat. Silver augments replaced his eyes. He looked up at the pale skinned, dark haired security man and said bluntly "what do you want?"
"You know me, don't you?" said Kadril.
"Yeah, I know who you are. You've got the old time aug work and personal shields. Tear the place apart barehanded. I've seen you kill chain dog."
In another time, in another place, that insult would have been just this side of mortal. But that time and place were gone forever, just like Darkhold's vampire lords and Darkhold itself. Tourists still came to see the crater. Vorlar let the insult pass. Too few remembered anything from the old days, the glory days, for him to feel more anger than joy at finding someone who still clung to anything real from it. Besides, he was right in a way. "I'm looking for Evard Zarune. You know better than to lie to me."
"Yeah," said the bartender, "I know what you can see with IS's eyes." He turned and pointed. "He's the guy who is drinking the expensive corraise."
Vorlar advanced on the table. Corraise was only mildly acoholic, thick, and syrupy sweet. It was popular here because it wasn't the worst way to get drunk and it resembled human blood, which helped the losers and would be anarchist rebels maintain their vampire shtick.
There were three people at the table. One had gotten a very good biosculpt so he looked like Lamech, the second male was tall, wiry, and probably wired, and the woman was a pale, dark haired girl wearing leather and chrome. "Evard Zarune," Vorlar said.
"That would be me," the Lamech clone replied. He was a little less flashy than the original, wearing a black leather duster over a dark red silk shirt, and black slacks. Gold buttons gleamed on his shirt front. He was albino pale with cat-slit ice blue eyes and dead white hair.
"You others, leave." They hesitated, eyes flickering to the wannabee as if he really was the mighty Nazarian warlord from times gone by. Vorlar had seen Lamech in the flesh three times, once up close and the scuplt was an excellent piece of work. Of course, there existed so many images of Lamech to work from that posing as Lamech wasn't exactly a job requiring a Class Six Alpha infiltrator-assassin.
With a flick of his hand Zarune dismissed his lackies. "How may I assist you overcommander?" he asked in voice that was all sweetness and reason. Like Lamech when he toyed with prey.
"Your name has come up in an investigation."
"I confess, I don't like the current government. Won't be voting for them in the next election. I think that's it for my questionable activities."
"Do that again and you'll be in for hard interrogation." A flicker of fear ran over Evard's features. The punk talked tough and could act tough, but he knew where the real power lay. "Now, are you going to play nice?"
"Good. Your involvement with Jarune Riskol?"
"I met him. Have friends who bought recreationals from him. Lent them some money. That's all."
"You're lying. That was stupid." He seized the punk's wrist.
"Please!" he said in a high pitched whine. "Please no!"
"I wanted to score a deal with him. Make money. Just a little on the side. Nothing political! Just a black score!" Evard was just this side of crying.
"Alright," said Kadril. He jerked the little punk to his feet. "I don't give a flying fuck about the black market. But you drew my attention and now you get what you've been asking for ever since you got that fancy face scuplt. Trouble." He dragged Evard behind him as he headed for the stairs. No one barred his way. No one dared.
The streets were pretty quiet, but that was too be expected at this hour. In a half deserted city, only government workers and faux vampires were up this late. Everyone else was sensibly in bed, excepting the vice trade of course. He pulled Evard toward his flier.
The faux vampire slipped out of his grasp with shocking speed. Vorlar Kadril had received the best augments Free Federation science and sorcery could provide for Internal Security's slayer elite back in the day when the business of the state was total war. Evard was now gripping his wrist and slamming him into the side of a decaying and abandoned tenement.
"It occurs to me," said Lamech, "that Jarune really screwed things up. Any other chain dog I could just take, but your defences are too strong for me to reorder your thoughts, aren't they traitor? No need to answer."
Kadril drew his gun with his free hand and spun, his left wrist still held by Zarune. He could see the shields now active around Zarune. Merciless gods. He dropped the gun. No point, not against those shields. Forty lethal centimeters of orange-gold orichalcum slid out of his wrist, runes glowing with blue fire. Even those shields wouldn't repel the blade.
Kadril's shoulder exploded, bones knives flaying flesh. His heart rate slowed, auto injectors pumped healing agents and hypercoagulants into his blood stream. He slumped back. Evard let him go.
"Your weakness is disgusting," said the Eldest of All Dragons, Savior of Mankind, Waster of Worlds, Prince of the Night, Godslayer, and a host of other titles. He kicked Kadril away from him, cracking reinforced bones and causing the agent to bounce off the tenement wall. "Since when did Internal Security's best fail to fight merely because they lost an arm? Your masters have made you weak."
None of the old guard would use Lamech's features without his expressed permission, Kadril realized. Not unless they had changed radically in their long exile, but for the truly ancient what was five hundred years compared to millenia old habits? Kadril got to his feat. "Why now?" he asked.
"You know why already," said Lamech. "We are twice unfortunate that Jarune was sloppy enough to be caught and that of all their agents they sent you here. Well, they didn't really send you, did they? Overcommanders don't arrest minor subversives. You must truly love your job to go and play in the gutters pretending to be a real citizen of the state so often? Still feel you picked the right side?"
"Hurry up and kill me," said Kadril.
Lamech smiled. "What if I don't want to kill you fast and instead decide to kill you slow? How long before a force arrives that can even challenge me?"
"As you will," Vorlar replied wearily.
"You don't get off that easy," said Lamech. With a sound like broken glass a dark rent appeared in space before him. It swiftly expanded until it was almost three meters high. "Harbinger, let them now from this point on all their days are numbered. All the gods may be dead, but dead is not enough to overcome the corpse that walks."