Durban Chola – The Enigma

It would not be strictly accurate to say Durban Chola had been born on the primitive planet of Temsevar, but he started out there as a child. After a varied and dangerous career as a political intriguer, including a couple of years offworld in the notorious Starcity, Durban discovered some interesting details about his own past.

Now he wants to find Avilon and restore him to the man he once was. But tracing the ex-convict is not at all simple and Durban finds himself forced to seek assistance from the kind of individual he would normally avoid at all costs.

“We can co-operate, Blondie. Sure, You tell me what you are going to look at and I’ll keep elsewhere.” He finished with whatever he had been doing and turned back to Durban, the clear message of challenge in his dark eyes.

“That’s – helpful,” Durban observed, his tone mild. “How do you see this working out then?”

And the ‘City is a dangerous place to be even if you have allies

He saw three men approaching the main door in a wedge formation. The one at the front flanked a step behind on either side by the other two. Durban, who had a long, and often too close, acquaintance with ruthless killers, recognised the breed. He touched the arm of the man sitting with him, who seemed paralysed.

“You ought to go.”

The words unfroze the man who suddenly looked at Durban as if seeing him for the first time, his tongue darting out, snake-like, to moisten his lips.

“These people – I can’t – I mean, they’ll drop you.”

With such reluctant allies and overly many foes, even if Durban can survive long enough to find Avilon, there is no guarantee he can persuade the new persona to sacrifice itself for the old. In the meantime, he is forced back into his old trade of intriguer, but in a place where to do so is infinitely more dangerous than anything he has faced before.

Jazatar Baldrik – The Mercenary 

Charity Sweetling – The Freighter Pilot 

Avilon Revid – The Convicted Terrorist

 

Avilon Revid – The Convicted Terrorist

Avilon Revid knows he was once a terrorist and a mass murderer, but has no recollection of anything before the beginning of his sentence in the Special Legion. His first memory was of being on a military transport heading into a war zone.

 

With the help of Jaz Baldrik, a man from that unknown past, Avilon survived the five years needed to qualify for release. But first, he needs to convince the authorities that he should be discharged.

“I want to try civilian life. I have never known any other life than the Legion, sir.”

“Exactly. And many people might say that is an excellent reason for remaining with us – albeit in a less rigorous capacity. What would you say to them?”

“I do not think many people have lost their entire life history and woken to find themselves paying for crimes they cannot even recall. I would like to experience what those ‘many people’ would consider a normal productive life as I have not yet had the chance to do so. Sir.”

But even if he is released from the Special Legion he has nowhere to go except the ‘City, on a promise that might not be kept.

 

And what to do when that promise is broken?

 

“I just need to speak with Jazatar Baldrik. He is expecting me.”

The woman’s eyes swept up to his own again and the line of her mouth became a fraction tighter with some inner resolution.

“I told you, Jaz is gone. I don’t know where he is.”

She started rising and Avilon fought back his desperate need to grab her hand and make her sit, make her stay, make her tell him. But civilian rules of behaviour did not permitted that. It could count as assault and an assault charge would have him returned to the Specials without any appeal. So he let her stand and watched the emotions raw on her face, so personal and revealing she could have been standing naked before him. But one of the emotions looked like courage and another, maybe, compassion – or something as kind.

“If it is any help, I think he’s left the ‘City. You hear – things – sometimes. He made some people feel unhappy when he came back. I think he tried hard to keep legal – maybe too hard. Sometimes people don’t let you walk away from who you were.”

Alone in the ‘City, looking for Jaz, Avilon has to face up to who and what he was – and try and work out who he now wants to be.

 

Jazatar Baldrik – The Mercenary

Charity Sweetling – The Freighter Pilot

Durban Chola – The Enigma

Charity Sweetling – The Freighter Pilot

Charity Sweetling was rescued from a life of violence and abuse by a freetrader and taken onto the Coalition Protected Children Program for refugee children seeking asylum without their parents.

She was raised by a loving foster family in the rarefied high-tech enclave of Central and even undertook the military service required under the Program, before taking her pilot training into civilian life, flying huge freighters instead of military transports.

“The issue is, due to the Asylum For Children Legislation Amendments, you were granted asylum under Section D. That means unless you are employed in a reserved occupation, your status falls under the remit of the Security of Place and Persons Committee and it is their decision as to whether you should have leave to remain as a citizen of Central or not.”

Charis felt the confusion returning. It made no sense.

“I really do not understand what this is about.”

“Let me put it in plain words, Var Sweetling -”

“Oh please do, plainer the better – this is just sounding bizarre.”

“The Security of Place and Persons Committee has decided the term of your asylum is now over. The original conditions of it being in place – you being an unescorted minor in need of safety – no longer apply and the sole mitigation you held through working in reserved employment, is no longer valid. As a result, Var Sweetling I need to inform you that you are no longer a citizen of Central nor – since you were born outside it – of the Coalition either.”

Facing the chilling prospect of being deported back to the low-tech, barbaric, hell-hole of a planet she had been rescued from as a child, Charis was willing to do anything. She would clutch at any chance she was offered – even if it meant risking her life…

 

 

Whatever they were going to ask it would be dirty and dangerous. But they had been careful to push her to this point so it must also be something they needed her for and her in particular, no one else. Maybe there would be some small bit of room for manoeuvre.

“You may as well tell me what you want me to do, I know I don’t have any choice.”

“There is always a choice,” said the woman on the left, her expression sharpening for moment.

 

Jazatar Baldrik – The Mercenary

Avilon Revid – The Convicted Terrorist

Durban Chola – The Enigma

Jazatar Baldrik – The Mercenary

Check out ‘Doubled Spirit’ – a FREE Fortune’s Fools short story, that gives insight into Jaz’s experiences in the Special Legion. Sometimes the past comes hunting – and sometimes it finds you.

To most people, the ‘City is infamous for being the crime capital of the Coalition and Shame Cullen is the biggest Name amongst the criminal syndicates that dominate it’s skyline. To Jazatar Baldrik the ‘City is simply his home. Having survived five years of convict military service in the Special Legion, under the most brutal and savage conditions imaginable, Jaz just wants to rebuild whatever he can out of the shattered remnants of his life.

Life never gave Jaz any breaks. He started at the bottom and clawed his way up making his own. But then that’s how it is when you start life as a street kid in the most dangerous city in the civilised galaxy.  From the first, Jaz had to fight for everything he ever got out of life: the education he needed to qualify for the military, the promotions once he was accepted, and all the time fighting the prejudice of his origins.

In his prime, he was someone who commanded respect as a mercenary. Running with the finest units that were fighting corporate resource wars and making a name for himself as one of the elite in that challenging profession.

Apart from his career, the only thing that Jaz really cared about was his family – his partner and their two sons.

She always knew and accepted the dangers of his mercenary work, then she once did military service herself and knew just how good he was at it. It took him away from home for a cycle or more at a time – but also meant he could be around a lot between times and that worked well for them with the children.

Then he met Avilon Revid and discovered a friend he had not expected:

Avilon had few other real friends, if any, just followers and admirers. Jaz understood it. Within his organisation, The Legacy, there was no one Avilon could be at ease with. As the head of their Direct Action section – the general of their amateur army – he needed to stand apart. He had to be the legend they wanted him to be. And outside the Legacy he had nothing but enemies. And plenty enough of them.

They met more than a dozen years before, when Avilon pulled Jaz out of a bad place – saved his life. And to begin with, nothing more than the need to repay that debt made Jaz keep in contact. But somehow things shifted and a real friendship grew. Real trust.

Which was why when Avilon asked for his professional help in a strike that would cripple the Coalition, Jaz had accepted. He had no time for the Legacy and its political dreams and little more than contempt for its methods. Jaz took it on for his friend – his brother. The price of that was a sentence to serve in the Special Legion, a military convict unit which was designed to function as a deferred death penalty…

Check out this FREE short story that gives insight into Jaz’s experiences in the Special Legion.

Charity Sweetling – The Freighter Pilot

Avilon Revid – The Convicted Terrorist

Durban Chola – The Enigma