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Fantasticoe 1995

Encounter
Matt Dahm


     Diles looked up suddenly from the data pad that he was reading as a laser bolt exploded with a thunderous crash outside his doorway. Diles, moving quickly and smoothly in spite of his age, ran up the couple of steps leading up to the street, and looked out the doorway. He saw a young man lying sideways on the dusty ground right in front of his store with a frantically surprised look on his face. He was scrambling madly to get up and run, but he looked as if he had not yet gotten over the fear that came from almost being killed. He had not yet regained his wits.

     Stupid kid, Diles thought as he grabbed the young man by the back of his shirt and yanked him over the steps, down into the store. He landed with a thud on the smooth floor, three or four feet from the street. The kid looked at Diles with the same dumbly amazed look that he had out in the street. He was surprised that this seemingly old and gentle man possessed the strength to pick him up and yank him in the air.

     The kid mumbled a thank you to the old man. The old man just laughed quietly, and shook his head.

     "Looks like you got in over your head" Diles said

     "Yeah, well, I" the kid responded, but was suddenly cut off as two big, rough looking gunman burst into the store.

     "There's the little drazalpat!" yelled the biggest gunman. He had on a large, bulky tunic-like over coat that was wrinkled and dusty. It covered his large upper body and flowed freely down to the Rodarian's thin knees. It made his movements awkward and inflexible as he gestured wildly in the air with his thick arms. Across his chest was a string of thin, shiny troko cylinders, and his large, heavy sonicon hold-out blaster was drawn.

      "Gonna blow you into a million pieces and feed your carcass to my drode." The Rodarian's thick, lime green lips curled slowly into a snarl to reveal two small tusks in the front followed by many rows of pointy shaped, although blunt teeth. The thick, dirty hair that was on the top and back of his head and around his snout began to stiffen as he slowly raised his gun.

      "No, you're not. Get out of my store." Diles said casually.

      The creature swung around to point his blaster directly into the old man's face. Diles didn't flinch, move or even blink. He stood like a statue, calmly looking directly into the Rodarian's large, bright yellow eyes.

      "What your old, tired, human ass gonna do 'bout anything, huh?"

      Diles didn't have a chance to respond.

      "Libb," the other gunman hissed,"What the hell you doing, you tryn' to get us fried or something'?"

      The Rodarian turned his thick, heavy head in the second gunman's direction while still keeping his blaster barrel leveled directly in front of Diles's nose.

      "Show dis skinny old man to respect, he get crazy things in head from many years." replied the creature as he turned back to face Diles."Now old man, sink to da knees!"

      "Put that thing away" said the human gunman" That old man is Quick bolt Flynn!"

      "Quick bolt Flynn!" gasped the Rodarian, looking over at his partner.

      "Quick bolt Flynn!" echoed the young man, looking at Diles.

      The human gunman's fat skin underneath his jaw shook as he nodded excitedly. The wrinkled skin under the Rodarian's mouth rippled smoothly down into his thinly armor plated chest, and an audible click sounded loudly when the creature swallowed.

      "Please leave" Diles requested politely as the two gunman hurriedly ran up the steps and out the doorway.

     "Of course I stole a lot of their food supplies, what was I supposed to do, starve to death? I'm new in town with not many credits, well, actually not many that I'm willing to spend on food, any way, so I didn't exactly have a lot of options. Besides, I only stole about four or five containers, he shouldn't have been so mad, don't ya think?" The kid brushed his sandy-brown bangs from his eyes as he talked. He was a nice looking young man, although scruffy. He had smooth, light blue eyes and a three day old beard. He was of average height, yet with a good build. He had pretty wide shoulders and arms. He looked like a farmhand who had just walked out off the duragain fields on Minos. His bright eyes gleamed with an enthusiasm that Diles recognized. It came with having not enough brains and too much guts.

     Diles shook his head and rubbed his temple with his hand.

The kid had been hanging around for about half an hour, explaining to Diles how it hadn't been his fault that the vessel he stole from was a Rodarian one. He was beginning to get on Diles's nerves.

     "Anyway, as soon as I buy some fancy clothes, I'm going to straight to the Gabrillo tables, I can win a fortune at that game, I mean, I'm real good at it. So anyway, then I'll get enough to come back here and get a real good gun, unless you want to loan one to me," Diles shook his head slowly as the young man continued,"guess not, oh well, when I do get one, then I can start my career. What do ya think? Sound good? Huh? Come on, what do ya think?"

      "I think you're a moron, gunslinging ain't no career and you ain't got no business runnin' around with a gun." Diles responded.

      "Ah come on, you haven't even seen me shoot. I've killed five men already that tried to cheat me at the tables. I'm quick, I got a good aim too."

      "What planet did you kill them on, kid, Prendes?" Diles asked sarcastically.

      "No, for your information, they weren't. I killed three on Suntras and two on Frahayne." said the kid, naming two planets that were only slightly farther away from the civilized stability of the galactic core.

      "Oh jeez" Diles laughed as he shook his head "And you would have scorched those two who were after you if you would only have had a gun.

      "Exactly!" said the kid enthusiastically,"I had to sell my Kyroback special to pay for the passage out here."

      "You wasted your money, kid, these glips out here will fry your ass and won't think a second about it. You're on the galactic frontier now. It's different rules out here. Everyone's quicker, meaner, tougher. You'd do good to pack up your bags and fly back closer to the core."

      "No, way, I want it all. Once I get a good name out here, kill a few men, then I'll go back to the core and get sponsored by some rich glip who's fascinated by my crazy lifestyle. He'll outfit me with clothes, credits, guns, whatever. Then I'll come back out to the frontier, and every time I waste some zoid, he'll get his name spread around because they'll know he's my sponsor and I'm loyal to him. It'll also give him something to talk about during the social season at the core. Oh sure, I'll come back to the core every once in a while so he can show me off to his friends, but after a while, I'll get hired as a professional by the big corporate alliances, and they'll have to buy my contract out from my sponsor, and that's when I'll start to get really rich. Then I'll-"

     "Shut up, will you? Jeez, I know how it works. Shit, I've seen so many young punks like you walk in and out of this store with those same dreams." Diles interrupted, not being able to take it anymore.

     "Do you swear that you are not Quick bolt Flynn?" the kid asked, barely even hearing what Diles had just said.

     "Damnit! For the last time, NO! I just tell that to the locals so I don't have any trouble from them. People say that I look like him so, I use it to my advantage. Now if you're not going to listen to what I say, then you might as well get the hell out of here, O.K.?"

     "Alright, sorry grumpy" the kid joked,"Hey listen, anyway, Uh, well, Uh."

     "You're welcome, now scram."

     "I'm gonna pay you back, you'll see. Once I get enough for implants, then I won't have to worry about zoids like that Rodarian any more. Oh, well, thanks again, gotta go."

     Diles paused "Kid, wait a second. Did you say you were going to get implants?" Diles asked the young man waiting on the stairs.

     "Yeah, as soon as I get enough-"

     Diles cut him off. "Kid sit down here at the counter." The kid came over and sat down across from Diles.

     "You decided to loan me that fancy new blaster on the wall?" the kid asked, pointing to the shiny metallic weapon hung on the wall above the counter.

      "NO! Damnit, I want to tell you a story. Now don't go thinkn' that I'm Quick bolt Flynn, or anything, but I was there when he made his first kill."

      "Wow, Kref dey Opps, you were there? It must have been awesome to see such a famous battle. Quick bolt getting the drop on a cyborg that already had sixty or more kills, not counting the ones he did for the cooperates for money. Quick bolt must have been deadly fast to beat a man with implants!"

      "Yeah, well sit down and let me tell you this story, you see implants don't make the man." Diles then began to let his mind slip deeply into the narrative. The memory of that event that happened so many years ago was still fresh in his mind.
 

     Flynn galloped down the landing ramp and on to the rocky, dusty, ground. Sure am long way from Veda, Flynn thought to himself as he looked at the distant mountains on the horizon. The sky was a dull, yellow as it was right before sundown, and it reminded Flynn of the way the blue sky could look right before a huge electrical storm back on Veda. It gave everything on the planet a slightly yellow shade. Sure am a long way from Veda, Flynn thought again.

     The shuttle that had brought them down to the planet had taken off to rejoin the huge cruiser that had carried Flynn this far out into the frontier. Flynn was tired from the long journey on the cruiser. He decided to get a room for the night and hire a rover to take him to his uncle's wernock ranch in the morning. Flynn looked across the landing pad to see the lights of a town in the distance. Flynn smiled, he was on the frontier now.

      Flynn walked down the main street of the town, where all the bars were. He had heard about all the easy women on the frontier, but he was not prepared for this. Drunken pilots, herders, smugglers, dropers, farm workers all mingled together on the street as they thought about which woman they would like to choose for the evening. Woman of all shapes and sizes lined the streets in skimpy clothing, talking and flirting with the men. There were all types of alien races that fit in and carried on perfectly with the humans. This would be unthought of, back home on Veda, Flynn thought to himself.

      An extremely tall Betazine woman looked down at him as he crossed over on to the sidewalk. "You, sure are cute, why don't you come and talk to me?" Flynn smiled in spite of himself at her blue skin and walked on.

      Flynn walked down into a bar and was amazed at how big it was. The structure outside was only about twelve feet high, but the bar inside was enormous. Everything must be built into the ground, Flynn thought, that's why the buildings are so short.

      Flynn walked up to the bar and found a seat next to a pretty young lady who was chatting with the bartender.

     "Two whiper ales please," Flynn said, laying his money down on the counter." You do drink whiper ale, don't you" Flynn asked the lady. She picked up her glass and downed it quickly, before Flynn could even take a sip.

     "Does that answer your question?" She smiled back."You better buy me another."

     Flynn saw the twinkle in her eye and knew that she liked him. He bought her another drink.

     "So, pretty boy, what's you name, where you from and all that." the lady asked

     "I'm from the House of Flynn on Veda" Flynn answered

     The woman laughed,"Well you sure are a long way from the "House of Flynn" now aren't you sweetheart?"

     Flynn laughed too realizing how silly he must have sounded. Although easily recognized nearer to the core, what house he was from didn't mean crap out here on the frontier.

     "How'd your mother let her precious little darling get so far away from her?" asked the woman.

     "She didn't like the fact that I had friends in the lower city. She said I was becoming the black sheep of the family. She thought that I shouldn't associate with the lower class proles. You see, I live in Fran Maidias, and it's built into a huge ravine. The rich people live on the top of the city and the lower you get the-"

      "I know, I've been to Fran Maidias. Silly as it sounds." the woman interrupted.

      "You have?"

      "Yes, when I was a little girl." the young woman usually didn't open up to people like this, but their was something about the kid that made her feel safe and reassured. He was very easy to talk to."My father used to take me there when he had to go there on business. They have the most beautiful dancing troupe." the young girl reflected,"He's dead now. Blown away by some hired gun in a corporate struggle."

      "I'm sorry" Flynn said

      "Then my mom ran away with another one of the big corporate glips, so I had to fend for myself."

      "I must be rough" Flynn said sincerely, feeling guilty of his family's wealth.

      "Are you kiddin', I can handle myself. Probably be able to whip your scrawny butt anyway." the young woman joked.

      Flynn smiled. He liked a woman that could talk some smack. She was prettier than what Flynn first thought she was. She was about 5'8'', but she still looked petite. She had a slim, athletic body with firm breasts. Her long, smooth hair was a real light, almost glowing, brown and had and orangish tint. Her skin was a very light tannish red and her eyes were a sensational deep, lavish maroon. He thought that the woman was probably half Saran, a race that was know for their beauty and grace.

     "Probably. You know, I never did catch your name." Flynn said.

     The woman never got a chance to answer as Flynn was grabbed from behind and spun around so that he was face to face with an ugly, bald man. The man had a metallic plate on the upper left part of his head, and it extended down to cover his eye. A thin, metallic disk with a red, glowing dot in the center made up his left eye. The man's body was short and thick. He wore a thick, blanket like cloth that was pinned up to his left shoulder, and flowed freely down his back and chest until it got tucked into by his thick belt. The excess hung freely at his side and gave him a slightly fashionable look. He had a string of power canisters strung across his chest, his belt contained many small gadgets and weapons. He had two small armor plates on his shoulders, and the sleeves covering his arms tightly fit into place, tucked in under the implants on his forearms. His implants were thick metallic plates that contained many dials, buttons, circuitry, and wires.

     "That's my girl you're messin' with." snarled the cyborg.

     "Don't look like it to me, big rud" Flynn responded smuggly.

     "I wouldn't be with you for all the credits on the planet, now get your rusty ass-" the woman was silenced by a back hand slap to the face from the cyborg.

     "Listen kid, you must not know who I am, so I'm going to give you a second chance to get the hell outta here so I can talk to the lady."

     "I don't care who you are. You don't know how to treat a lady and you can go fuck yourself." said Flynn as the barrel of the cyborg's wrist laser was shoved up directly under his chin. He heard a gasp from the other people in the bar right after he said it.

     "You don't talk that way to Kref dey Opps, son, now say your sorry so I don't have to end your puny little life before you have a chance to lose your virginity."

     "Now Kref, come on, he's just a kid", said the bartender nervously.

     "Shut up or you're next," Kref responded.

     "I'm sorry." Flynn muttered as the laser gun was released from his throat."Sorry I don't have a gun with me so I could waste your ass right now!" Flynn then turned around again as he walked up the stairs toward the street. "I'm coming back with a gun, and when I do, I'm going to kill you." Flynn stated matter of fatly as he walked up on to the street.

     Kref turned back to the woman he had slapped,"Guess you'll never see your boyfriend again," Kref giggled.

     "Don't count on it."
 

     Flynn walked through the doorway of the bar and quickly began to size the man up. It was a talent that Flynn had. He was a quick, observant thinker. He could instantly look at a man and start to find out things about him. His skills, although young and not yet thoroughly tested, had gotten him out of more than a few tight positions, even at the tender age of 19. This, however, was a long way from the street fights that he would constantly get in when he would make his occasional excursions from the rich, airy, upper class platforms of Frey Maidaius City down into the sleazy lower levels where the proles lived.

     Right now he was focusing on the possible strengths and weaknesses of the person standing at the far end of the room, in front of a small counter on which were placed several clear containers of a bright, aqua-blue liquid. The man was short, solid and controlled. Flynn was a fighter, and he instinctively sized up the man's ability to brawl. Flynn noted by the way he stood that he had a lot of strength in his back and legs. The man looked to have solid balance and Flynn sensed good defensive posture that would be useful in a fight. It would probably take a lot more strength that Flynn possessed to hurt this man very badly if he had the sense to not get over-extended in a scrap. A man who had this look would probably wait for a chance to get close to his opponent, confident in the fact that it would be hard to get overpowered early in a fight.

     Flynn then began to look for weaknesses. He noticed that the man's joints were not extremely flexible and probably couldn't provide deadly velocity unless they had the momentum and support of his body close behind them. The man didn't have good leverage because of his stature. It would be hard for this man to reach very far out and extend himself while striking with any success.

     Flynn then looked at the man's wrists. They were thick and strong like the rest of the man's body, but without the flexibility and snap in them to move with lighting speed. This, however, did not necessarily mean that the man was not fast on the draw. Flynn had heard about men that could draw remarkably fast, but only had mediocre speed in their hands and wrists. If this man were fast on the draw, and Flynn assumed that he was incredibly fast, then his draw would come from his shoulders, and the muscles in his back. It would be a lightning quick, yet smooth draw that could be just as quick and deadly as the alternative wild snap technique which relied on the wrists and forearms for it's speed and accuracy.

     Fear and reason could not be allowed to enter into this contest. Flynn knew that gunslinging was a complete submission to the unconscious. It was your skills against somebody else's and the only thing that you could do besides run away like a coward was to let your instinctive reactions do their work. If you have any regrets, any doubts, any fears, or even any thoughts at the moment of truth then you will die. If your opponent's skills and instincts are sharper than yours, then you will die. It was something that could be measured in the eyes. Flynn knew that the eyes were very important.

      He looked directly into the man's eye as all sound in the bar ceased immediately.

      "You surprise me, I didn't think you'd come back....Ya little druzsclute." said the man right after he downed a large, half full cup of draconian ale.

      "Damn right I'm back you son of a bitch." replied Flynn coolly.

      This bold comment made the man's head snap around in Flynn's direction. There was a cold determination in Flynn's eye that the man didn't like. Perhaps he had underestimated this kid, he thought as he calmly set his drink down and pressed one of the levers hooked to the machinery that made up his forearms. Maybe he couldn't just causally blow this kid away like he had done to countless other unexperienced gunfighters who he had bullied into being stupid enough to fight. With this one, he thought, I may have to do it right.

      The man's krybotic implants on his arms began to purr slightly as they quickly filtered the alcohol out of the part of Kref dey Opp's body that was still organic. His mind instantly cleared and he could feel his wrist guns' power packs charging up automatically as a result of it's sensors monitoring a slight rise in the adrenaline level in Kref's blood stream. The targeting apparatus that covered Kref's left eye began feeding statistical information into his iris and then down into his guns about the density of the target, the distances, and the atmosphere involved in the shot. This was to insure a perfect shot that would instantly kill the person, yet leaving the body standing up momentarily with it's sensual neurons firing wildly, trying in vain to connect to a suddenly dead brain. This would allow Kref to taunt the victim for a few more seconds before he hit the ground. This was a nice effect that would make him look supremely skillful and deadly ,as it inevitably spread his reputation as a top gunslinger even further across the galaxy.

     People began to move slowly away from the combatants giving them plenty of room in case they made a bad shot.

     An experienced gunslinger would have told Flynn to draw as soon as possible in a fight with a man who has krybotic implants. This would make the opponent have to rely more on his natural, organic senses than on that of his krybotic ones. The more time that one waited to start firing in a duel against a man with implants, the more time the krybotic sensors had to gain information about the shot. If krybotic sensors are given a full minute to charge up, then it would be almost impossible for the person who has them to miss. The implants, given this amount of time, would also send out timely electric shocks to guide the muscles and insure a smooth, fast, and efficient drawing of the gun. Diles was not yet an experienced gunslinger.

     Diles knew that he was over matched, but he had no fear. He was too caught up with his anger. It was an anger that produced an excitement, a heightening of the senses, a euphoria. It was a feeling that he just now realized that he loved. He was aware that he was the center of attention for many people and he loved it. He felt like he was the center of the universe. Nothing else mattered right now except him and the man standing 30 feet away. This is how he felt when he had burst through the doorway. Now, after several seconds, he was done sizing the man up. Now, when he knew that a fight was unavoidable, he naturally slipped into the distant, unthinking zone that born gunslingers possess and hide in the back of their mind until they need it.

     About ten seconds went by since Kref's implants had been activated as the two men stared each other down.

     "Well you sure are a persistent little glitch, I'll give you that. Too bad, kid, you've got too much guts and not enough brains. You're playing with the big glips now, son. You ain't just shootn' holograms in your reladeck chamber back home. I", Kref said as he pointed at his chest,"Shoot back, and I'm going to smear your prissy little ass into a laser stain on the floor, how do you feel about that?"

     Another twenty seconds went by.

      "We'll have to see about that" replied Diles,"You see, I have a hard time being scared of a man who needs chunks of machinery stuffed into his body to be a man. Without that kyrbotic crap, I bet you couldn't even get it up for the ladies. You piece wernock shit!"

      Ten more seconds had passed.

     Kref was enraged and he felt like wasting Diles right now, but he realized that he still had ten seconds to go until his implants would be at their peak performance. He was so intent on keeping his temper so he could fire at the exact moment when his sensors were ready that he failed to notice the young woman that he had assaulted earlier come sneaking on him from behind. Kref stood there fuming, barely able to keep himself in check. This was the longest twenty seconds of his life. Suddenly the young woman quickly reached her slender arm around the side of Kref's thick body from behind. Her finger darted to a set of buttons and dials on his forearm and she managed to turn one of the biggest dials before Kref looked back and saw her. He shoved her to the floor and spoke to Diles.

      "O.K. we will see, won't we. I'll even let you draw fir-" Kref never finished the sentence as a his implants let out a low electric pulse that let Kref know they were ready. He smoothly brought out his gun in mid-sentence so quickly that Diles barely even saw him draw at all. Two laser bolts whizzed extremely close by Diles's left temple and exploded with a thunderous crash into the wall behind him. This gave Diles time to whip out his own gun and fire before the immense cloud of debris and dust crumpled down on him as the wall behind him collapsed.

     Diles pulled himself out from under a pile of shiny, light brown, nyflon sheet pieces that used to make up the wall. There was a crowd of people standing around Kref dey Opp's body. The whole left side of his head had been ripped through by a laser bolt, and it was singed black. Diles breathed a sigh of relief.      The young lady ran over to Flynn's side to see if he was O.K. "Are you alright?" she asked

     "Yeah, I think," Diles said, regaining his wits. "Wow!, he whipped out that pistol so fast, I thought I was dead." Diles said as he got to his feet and brushed himself off.

     "You would have been if it weren't for me. That piece of shit would have killed you. Those implants never miss if they're given enough time to charge up, which they were, since you were standing around talking with him like an idiot child, trying to impress his girlfriend." she said smiling, hoping that he would catch her little joke and respond to it.

     "Maybe that's what I was trying to do." Diles joked,"You know, I never did catch your name."

     "It's Daytana" she informed him

     "Pretty" Flynn said.

     "In Saran it means "savior."

      Flynn smiled, then paused. "Wait a second, if those things don't ever miss, why am I not a pile of ashes right now?" Diles asked, suddenly remembering seeing her come up behind Kef right before he fired.

     "Because I reached around and changed the setting of his guns. He was expecting a short, quick laser burst, but what he got was a higher setting and a stronger, more destructive burst. His kyrbotic sensors didn't have time to compensate and it threw his aim off just barely enough." the girl explained.

     "Thank you." Diles said sincerely."You certainly lived up to your name today." He looked into her eyes and she looked up into his. Flynn put his arm around her and they walked out of the bar.
 

     Diles blinked. It had taken him nearly an hour to tell his story. The kid had sat in awed silence the whole time. He had told Diles thanks for everything and then had left to play at the Gabrillo tables. It was impossible to tell if he had gotten through to the kid or not. He hoped that the kid wouldn't get implants. Diles knew that those things were real bad for a person. Even though the kid had been annoying, Diles felt a certain kinship with him. He reminded him of someone he knew when he was much, much younger. All of this talking about the past got him to thinking. He switched on the data pad in front of him. He tapped into the planet's historical archives, punched a few keys and began to read.

OFFICIAL FILE# 6748476447463 Diles "QUICK-BOLT" FLYNN-BORN 1234234.90 DIED- :::BORN ON VEDA, FLYNN WAS THE BLACK SHEEP OF A NOBLE FAMILY THAT....

Diles read the whole thing, finally coming to the end of the file which read:WHEREABOUTS AT PRESENT TIME: UNKNOWN. Diles scolded himself for getting caught up in the past. He closed up his gun shop and started walking home. Daytana would have supper waiting.


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