most dangerous enemy you have
is the one whose skills you
Martial Arts Training – 1989
great-grandma used to say:
"Close your eyes and think
I use to say:
"Close his eyes and
The modern version is better.
checked her weaponry as usual before she left her ship. This
planet might lay at the ass-end of the universe but she wouldn't
underestimate its possible dangers. She hadn't survived this long
in her profession by being careless.
the muscle tension activated spurs in the heels of her boots were
adjusted; throwing knives, boot shaft knife, palm laser, and the
energy cells of her blasters were ok. Good. She glanced at the
chrono: 08:11 local time. Now let's see if the offered job is
really that good. She put her hat on and tossed her red hair
back. "DON, seal the ship after I leave, and standard
Boss.= The AI answered immediately. =But may I mention that local
law forbid the scanning of intercom transmissions on this planet
that is included in the standard proc–=
it anyway, DON! I'll be back ASAP." She attached her cape to
her belt. "And don't call me Boss!"
board-integrated AI made the electronic equivalent of a sigh
after its 'Boss', Daisy O'Mega was gone. It was always the same:
if there were any regulations in the way she ordered it to ignore
DON produced another
electronic sigh. It liked its boss somehow, despite the fact that
the first thing she did after she took over the vessel in which
it was originally integrated was to rename it: its real name had
been DONALD, but because of some obscure comic books from a
hundred years ago she refused to own an AI named DONALD. So she
called it DON.
But even though
the vessel it originally was integrated in was long gone,
replaced by another, faster one, which was replaced again, and
again, she always loaded it into her new ship, keeping her old
AI, DON. And DON took care of its boss who didn't want to be
It opened the
intercom lines and connected the receiver with the wavelength
monitor and an automated descrambler...
most of the free, uncontrolled landing fields on non-League
planets this one was crowded with vessels of all kinds: from top
modern space yachts, worth a short excursion into piracy down to
an outdated, poorly maintained thing that even had rust on its
hull. O'Mega kept her hand on her blaster, prepared to shoot
immediately should something happen. More than one of her
employers so far had tested her skills by paying some local
hotshot to shoot at her on her way to get the job. Every one of
those bastards had regretted having taken the money!
faint plop was the only sound. Something stung her shoulder. She
looked down and saw the bright red blowpipe needle. She grabbed
for it, but the anaesthetic drug had already entered her system.
"NO!" As she yelled, she collapsed onto the permacrete,
into the darkness...
regained consciousness abruptly. A hint that one of those
expensive artificial narcotics had been used on her. She lay on
her belly. The gutter's edge pressed into her hip. Her limbs were
numb – must have been a damn high dose that she'd got. A
throbbing headache accompanied her effort to push herself up into
a sitting position with hands propped in the dirt. What–
At least she was alive and relatively unharmed and
showed up, reporting injuries she hadn't noticed so far: dull
throbbing in her cheeks. Shit. Someone's gonna pay for this!
But she had been hit in the face before. Burning areas on her
skin. Welts. Only one non removable scar and– The
sharp pain in her abdomen and between her legs stopped
For the first time, she
began to shiver. She ignored the throbbing headache, looked down
on herself, noticed the tattered, bloodied, incomplete clothes,
the dark and red bruises on the skin visible below them and the
slimy substance that mixed with her blood down there.
O'Mega, one of the best shootists on either side of the law,
leaned down and vomited till only acid ran burning over her torn
on, she couldn't say for sure how she made it back to her ship.
The next thing she could remember clearly was the electronic
voice of her AI insisting that she turn down the US-shower since
maximum intensity ultrasonics caused skin damage when applied
longer than two minutes. She ignored it, tore the soiled clothes
off and yearned for flooding water... water to clean her again,
water to wash off the– She curled up inside the activated
shower cabin, screaming, sobbing, hiding herself behind her bare
legs and below her arms slung around her head, without naming
The safety functions of the
stolen high class AI finally took effect and DON deactivated the
had passed before she managed to get out of the cabin, and
stumbled to her bed, arms folded against the pain around her
lower body. "How long..." The voice asked out of a
away from the ship more than ten hours, Boss.= The AI
The scratchy voice repeated the AI's statement. "Somebody
had ten hours of me..." The voice was hers and again acid
burned in her throat. She increased the pressure around her
abdomen. "I have to get out of here... Maybe he wants to
finish me..." She swallowed and the pain of her wounded lips
sent unpleasant images of what could had happen into her mind. In
a choked voice, she commanded, "Start...
=You aren't in
any condition to fly, Boss.=
She pulled herself up, stumbled with shaking legs towards the
cockpit. "Start the engines."
need a destination.=
field..." She swallowed again, bent forward in pain and felt
the acid reaching her tongue, when the rough cloth of the pilot's
seat touched her bare skin. "Random choice... Don't
shadow crept again between her legs into her body, ate from her,
expanded in her... Again there was no escape, no hiding place, no
She woke up with
a cry when the light in her ship's cabin reached an almost
painful brilliance and needed some moments to get back into
reality. "Thanks, DON."
should really consider getting professional help, Boss.= Her AI
sounded really worried. =Your condition hasn't improved during
the last six weeks. You can't hide for the rest of your
"Spare me your
preaching!" she snapped, shuddering from her nightmare. To
have no face to hate, no enemy to attack, only the feeling of
being weak, being vulnerable, being soiled... and the knowledge
that someone out there knew exactly what happened in those ten
hours she couldn't remember... in those ten hours that her mind
filled with more and more horrible images of what had been done
with her... that was the worst.
had to pick up supplies twice since then and whenever she was
confronted with people she felt like they were staring at her,
whispering behind her back about her, about that soiled woman...
and the pain in her abdomen wasn't gone, had grown instead into a
permanent companion which made her feel sick to the stomach
almost all day. She was used to acting, not to reacting, used to
attacking or standing and fighting, and all she was able to do
now was run and hide from a faceless enemy that had started to
grow into a giant. She couldn't eat, didn't want to eat, either.
DON got on her nerves by insisting that she pay attention to her
physical condition. Sometimes, she came close to deleting its
=We can reach League
space within a day, Boss. Their medical facilities–=
coddling me!" She snapped. "What the Hell were you
designed for originally? A nurse?!"
was the personal guardian of a High Senator's daughter when he
was on election campaign with his vessel.= The AI sounded
She looked up, for a
moment distracted from her physical condition. "You mean
you're a high class AI?"
must include an order to contact your owner ASAP if you're
stolen. Why didn't you do that?"
Senator's daughter was the most unpleasant girl I've ever
=At least, you
don't play Rock'n'Roll clips all day long.= DON managed an
electronic snort. =Some months ago I received a tri-D-clip in
which this senator's brat was performing in a rock music clip
herself at Tortuna City. I'm glad I don't have to take care for
Daisy leaned back, trying
unsuccessfully to release the tension in her lower body. "DON,
you surprise me."
now follow your nurse's order to go to a doctor?=
it, Zero-bit! It will heal on its own!" And when it 's
healed maybe I can start living again.
and a half months later she realized that it wouldn't do that.
milled the ergot she'd collected from abandoned fields on Osage
and stirred it in a mixture of wormwood tea and brandy to enhance
With her hairs cut
short and dyed black and an iris coloration she'd used before she
appeared now exactly like the cover identity she kept always
valid and up-to-date in case she had to disappear sometime. She
looked into the mirror, saw the dark shadows under her eyes and
two scars where someone's teeth had cut her lips, but... except
of one detail she was Denise O'Rourke now, trader in space. And
that detail she was going to correct now! She dropped her clothes
and wrapped herself in a big bath towel. There was nothing more
to lose. Facing it squarely, she swallowed her mixture.
waves of pain started an hour later, hot and burning, then
tearing her. She whimpered, started to scream when the
convulsions increased. Her heart thundered in her chest, too fast
to maintain proper circulation any longer. She felt liquid
between her legs and stumbled for the shower cabin but collapsed
before reaching it. Blood poured over her legs, forming a puddle
After its boss had
lost consciousness DON activated the engines and set course to
the nearest place with extensive medical facilities. When
reaching the perimeter of Andor the AI opened a line to space
control and called for medical emergency.
O'Rourke. Miss O'Rourke, are you awake?"
friendly student nurse looking down on her with a caring smile
was obviously an Andorian. Andorian? What the Hell–
O'Rourke. Are you feeling better now?" She kept talking and
talking. "You were in a very bad condition when they brought
you in and—"
please, don't talk. You must recover first
smile disappeared and the face above her became very sad. "Maybe
you should talk later with the doctor, Miss. I can't–"
happened to the baby!"
young nurse nearly cried. "I'm so sorry for you, but we
couldn't do anything. It was too late to save..." Her voice
died when she noticed the satisfied look in the eyes of the other
you must know that an analysis is necessary if something like
this happened." The doctor spoke very firmly. "And
normally we don't mention the whole procedure to the mother since
she's punished enough with losing her child, but," he
searched for words, "the results we got are very disturbing.
In addition to a couple of abortive substances in your blood
there's something with the fetus itself. Did you participate in
some genetic experiments?"
experiments?" She frowned. "What do you
"The DNA of
your fetus... it's partly artificial."
If her body hadn't hurt so much and her limbs weren't still numb
because of the high blood loss she'd have jumped out of bed at
that. "Say that again!"
'father''s genetic code was constructed, Miss. And..."
lay back, clenching her hands in the blanket. A trail! This
whole shit gives me a trail to track him down! She closed her
eyes while the thoughts chased through her mind. You made a
goddamn mistake, asshole! You left a trace
The doctor touched
her arm and she started. "Miss, do you understand
absolutely no idea how something like that happened. The father
is a good friend of mine who lives outside League
have to talk to him about this."
not possible, Doctor." She managed a very sad face, even
with tears in her eyes. "He died some weeks ago."
That's going to be the truth very soon! "I was
returning from his funeral when..." She let her voice die
and sobbed faintly. I'm on my way to his funeral as
long as these bastards don't accuse me of illegal
O'Rourke, please, you mustn't get upset."
what will happen to me now?" she sobbed.
doctor sighed. "We're not monsters. I can't believe you'd
have taken the abortive substances on purpose."
bet on it, idiot!
you've suffered enough. Stay a few days in the hospital till
you've recovered and if you like our personnel will help you with
arranging the funeral."
It's a nearly five months fetus after all."
I'll take care for the funeral on my own." Because this
brat will track down my enemy!
lay calm after the doctor had left. Thoughts rushed through her
mind... Artificial DNA... artificial... She'd dealt only
with two men carrying artificial DNA and one of... No. He
won't. Never... But the other...
narrowed her eyes while collecting the horrible memories. The
drug... its effects on her... the sudden wake-up... that stuff is
really expensive... The whole shit was well planned. Too well
planned for that stupid bastard, but he works for... and I've
refused to work for the Queen any longer...
the whole thing made sense to her. That bitch sent her dog to
teach me that I need the protection of the empire to do my
business, since my jobs lead me to such dangerous worlds.
Daisy snorted. But I bet Queenie hadn't specified how I should
be taught! That was his decision. He'll pay for that!!! And later
I'll make sure that Queenie will be sorry... She stiffened
against another wave of dull pain that flew through her womb and
ground her teeth. First the dog, then the keeper!
O'Rourke." Captain Fox sighed in sorrow, pressing his palms
on the glass top of their table at the hotel restaurant on Andor.
"I wished we could do anything for you, but as you said, the
man who did that to you is outside League space. To hunt someone
down out there we need an official wanted file from the
government or at least a trial request form. If you could give
any proof of it – but it's hard to prove something that
happened five months ago."
dark brown eyes in the woman's pale face suddenly flashed green
as she abruptly raised her head.
noticed Goose stiffen beside her, watching Ms. O'Rourke with
telling me that Ryker Killbane isn't your business?!" she
snapped furiously. "All around the League it's told that the
Galaxy Rangers have to bring those like him back to Earth
wherever they are! Is that a lie!?"
Miss." Fox said, very calm. "But the League's safety
from the Crown comes first. I don't have to tell you that the
League's forces are reduced by the battle of Tarkon and that the
Board of World Leaders doesn't want to mess with the Queen in the
next six months. We are ordered not to provoke her."
does that include Killbane?!" she snapped sourly.
works for the Queen, more or less." Doc said sadly. "We
can't pursue him at the moment."
lips of the black haired woman trembled. "So you won't do
anything, right? Okay then," she hardened her chin, "I'm
not working for the League. Tell me how to kill him!"
was taken aback, staring at her. "You don't mean that
seriously, do you? Miss, you can't expect us to help you commit
"It won't be
one, if you give me the needed information."
can't assault a Super Trooper!"
was a goddamn man when he–" she cut herself off,
looked aside in discomfort.
O'Rourke, you've absolutely no idea what an ST can do– What
you have to expect–"
interrupted him, speaking for the first time: "Expect
someone who's able to jump at least seven meters from a resting
position, make the hundred meters in less than thirty seconds,
with a reaction time of a fifth of a second, who adapts
instantaneously to any weapon fired at him." Shane's voice
was cold, his narrowed eyes still fixed on the woman. He spoke
fast and didn't give Zachary the chance to interrupt. "If
you don't eliminate at least half of his body within his reaction
time you'll be dead if you're lucky! That's exactly what you've
Fox intervened straightly. "That information is–"
want to deter Ms. O'Rourke from her plan, Captain. Is there
something wrong with that?" He played with the menu card on
the table, scanning through the contents.
sighed. "Right idea, wrong way." He turned for Denise.
"Miss, you have to see there's no weaponry available for you
to win a battle like the one you have in mind. I'm sad for you
but you're alive. Please, don't let him win in the end by giving
him the chance to kill you."
don't understand, Captain." Denise O'Rourke's lips trembled.
"You can't, none of you, you're men
Gooseman stared at the menu. "Antimatter in a
talk nonsense!" Doc grabbed the card, had a look at the
contents and laughed: "That's Anlemallen, a very sweet berry
from Kirwin. Are you going to need glasses, my Gooseman, or is it
your reduced brain activity that causes you problems with
reading?" He grinned.
shrugged, eyes fixed on the black haired woman, who got up from
the table, meeting his eyes shortly before she left.
Gooseman! I'm talking with you."
Doc. Was a long flight. We old men sometimes just need some
sleep. I'll go upstairs now."
and Hartford stared at him when he left. "Strange. Even for
him." Doc said finally.
sighed. "I wished Niko wasn't transferred for disciplinary
reasons. Sometimes, she seems to be the only person able to deal
informants said you're good and won't ask anything." She
snapped. "Don't make liars out of them."
overweight middle aged man in the white laboratory coat raised
his hands in a gesture of refusal. "Of course not, Ma'am.
But you've ordered a pretty difficult – and I mean
difficult – piece of work. That's expensive. I want to be
sure that I'll be paid for it!"
threw a clear plastic bag with credit chips onto the desk.
"That's half, you'll get the rest when the work's
The gentech rapidly
counted the credits. "Okay. So to be sure: You want me to
separate the foreign artificial DNA from yours in this fetus and
to program a trigger device with the foreign
this guy really must have annoyed you! If ya wanna be that sure
to hit the right one."
up, bastard. Do your job! Now! Or do you wanna be top on my list
of things to finish?"
looked at the blaster that suddenly pointed right between his
eyes, at the red blinking LED at its side indicating the deadly
energy level, and swallowed. "Lady... please..." He
gulped, concentrated on his job. "I need a DNA sample of
yours." He pushed a retort over his desk towards her. "A
bit of saliva should–" He stopped. The woman in front
of him had already pulled a knife across her lower arm and poured
dark red blood into his glass.
should do it! Begin! I've got to do some additional shopping
be a very dead pedulant, if this package isn't delivered
to the man I described." The woman with the short black hair
played impressively easy with a high-energy blaster. "I'll
find you and—"
Ma'am Humming..." The pedulant stuttered. "I can't say
it's from her Highness... Her Highness will psychocrystallize me
Highness isn't here. There's a chance she won't know. I
am here. I know. And I will splatter your rotten
remnants throughout the galaxy right now if you don't do
what I pay for!"
gave that crazy pedulant a kick in the backside that it flew out
the door and tore open the dark purple paper to reveal a
cylindrical glass container. Something fleshy flooded in a pale
red liquid. A note was taped to the lid. He made out the
handwritten word: Your brat, bastard!
contacts implanted in the lid and as fine silvery lines in the
glass detected the DNA fragments included in the humidity of
living skin, sent them as an electronic code to the tiny chip
that controlled the sound and transmission device and the stasis
field inside the thick black lid.
faint buzz was audible when the vid sender got activated and
protected by one of the most expensive force field generators
available. Suddenly O'Mega's voice filled the dirty room: "I
always collect my debts, Killbane!"
stasis field collapsed.
watched the bright bloom of blue white energy grow in midst of
Sorry End's slums through the cockpit window of her vessel in
orbit. Her console crackled faintly, recording the transmitted
two crystal copies of the data, DON."
blinding ball of light collapsed finally, leaving a darkened
crater behind where a wooden house had stood. That was the
dog. And for the keeper... She leaned back, propped her feet
on the console. Queenie put me through hell because I didn't
want to work for her any longer. A cruel smile appeared
around her mouth, slightly distorted by the two scars Killbane's
fangs had left behind. Let's see how she copes with me working
against her. She called some files to her display. Notes and
orders of the jobs she'd carried out for the Queen over the last
years. The cruel smile deepened, became an almost wolfish grin.
BETA is going to get some very interesting mail... But first
I've got to send a parcel. She loaded one of the data
crystals DON had created a moment ago into her console and did
some editing on it...
image went white as the tiny forcefield generator couldn't
produce a field strong enough to withstand the annihilation
energy of the recombining matter-antimatter-explosion any longer.
The images repeated in front of his inner eye and calmed down the
memories... of what had happened back then at Wolf Den when he
had been eleven, before his bio defenses were active, and
Goose still stared
at the screen when the white was replaced by a screenshot of the
recording he saw before: Ryker Killbane in midst of his
disintegration arcing in the sudden agony of annihilation. A line
of text appeared below it: "Thanks. I owe you."
line was still on the screen when he took out the data crystal
and clenched his fist around it.
owe me nothing, Daisy. Nothing at all!" he whispered.
to S. 'Trivia' Blank for editing.