New Friends, New Enemies

Part 1

By Chris Van Deelen


The bright spring sun shone down upon the forest, warming the frost ridden ground. A young woman shrugs off a small back pack and then a doe skin leather jacket, revealing a well formed, shapely body, barely hidden by a white tank top and faded khaki pants. The slight nip in the morning air causes her nipples to become erect, pushing against the cotton fabric of her shirt.

She stops briefly to tie her hip length glossy black hair, using a red checkered bandana. She glances up at the sun, its powerful rays reflecting off her light amber eyes, causing the irises to contract to the size of pinpoints. She smiles breaths in the cool, fresh forest air deeply. She then takes her jacket, wraps it around her waist, making sure that it doesn't cover the butt of her Detonics Scoremaster pistol. She re-places her small pack on her back

She resumes her casual pace, keeping just to the west of the battered black top highway. She is a wanderer, living up to her adopted name of Gitana, which means Gypsy in Spanish. For as long as she can remember she has been consumed by an insatiable wanderlust. From her earliest memories she has always loved to travel, to see new sights, even in the deadly environment that is the Deathlands.

Her petite size of only five foot three does well to hide the cold killer that lies just below the surface. Like many of the people in the Deathlands, appearances can and are deceiving. Her adoptive parents taught her to use hand blasters and rifles proficiently. She also spent many hours honing her knife and unarmed fighting skills at the gentle mercies of her aunt, Rosa. Some of the scars from her lessons are only now beginning to fade. She reaches around to the small of her back and with a deft flick of her wrist, she not only removes but opens the Filipino butterfly knife that was given to her by her aunt. She uses it carefully to trim the nails on her fingers, keeping them nice and short. She uses the very tip of the blade to clean the tiny specs of dirt from beneath the nails.

Only a few days ago she was in the frontier ville of Kramer, on the border of what used to be Indiana. After talking to the locals, she heard rumors of an actual jungle that was supposed to be located in the middle of Minnesota. It's been many a long year since she has seen a jungle. The last time was in her teen years when she headed south of the now non-existent border into Central America. Her insatiable curiosity got the best of her and she immediately set out to see if the rumors she heard were true or not. Before she left, the locals warned her to take triple care, as a band of slavers have been hunting the area for several weeks now, and she would be a prime target for their hunters. With a carefree laugh and wave of her tiny hand, she gathered her pack and hit the faded blacktop.

The sound of the forest is music to her ears. The trees are alive with the songs of birds. Robins, Sparrow, Blue Jays and a many other species cry out, declaring their territories, or calling for potential mates. Far overhead she catches the piercing cry of an eagle as it spots its next meal. Her smile widens because she knows that if danger was near, the forest would be as silent as a hundred year old grave.

Her mind wanders as she travels down the lonely stretch of cracked black top, back to her days with the gypsy's she was raised by. Could it be from them that she inherited her wanderlust? She doesn't know. Her fondest memories are of the times they spent in some of the villes down in Mexico and Central America. The folks, even though suspicious of outlanders, knew how to live. Many times they would arrive just as a local festival was occurring, and they would join in, Dancing, trading, and generally making things even more lively. It was during these days she learned her skills as a pickpocket and thief. Few people have ever managed to come close to her skill in both subterfuge and sleight of hand. These skills have proven their worth on more than one occasion during her twenty-seven years.

She pauses, watching a fiery streak cross the horizon. Yet another piece of space junk returning to the planet of its birth. She remembers tales from her adoptive parents, telling her how during the first few decades after the skydark, phenomena's such as what she is witnessing happened almost on an hourly basis. But, as the years wore on, the booster engines, nuclear missile platforms, and dud weapons became less and less, until now only the occasional man made meteor would enter the atmosphere and blaze it's way across the sky. A small gasp of wonder slips out of her mouth as it explodes into a million shards of multi colored light.

Unbeknownst to her, two other groups are watching the spectacular light show, both less than two miles from her current position.


* * *


"Whatcha see?"

"A prime piece of outlander ass, ripe for the picking." Answers a filthy man, dressed in a torn denim jacket, and blue jeans so filthy they shone in the bright morning sun. He lets a battered pair of zeiss binoculars hang loose from their strap around his neck. His face contorts into a lusty grin. "We be pushing some triple good pussy tonight."

The first speaker, a tall man standing four inches over six foot feet in height ignores the filthy man and pulls out his own binocs. Placing them to his blue eyes he zooms in on the distant figure, just over a mile and a half away. Without taking his sight off the small figure, he issues orders to the twenty men in his small band. "Gan, get the troops into position. Make fucking sure that they have the prods fully charged and the nets secured. I want four men to push the wag off the road into the trees, near the base of the hill." Still holding the binoculars he glares at the filthy man. "And make fucking sure that none of these triple stupe's make a single nuke shitting sound. If anyone gives away our position before I say so, they'll find themselves on the auction block in either Shytown, the hole, or Newyork. That clear?"

"Crystal clear Jim, crystal clear." The man known as Gan jogs away, issuing the orders he was given in a conversational tone. He doesn't dare shout the orders, knowing that even though they are deep in the forest, she still might be able to hear them. Jim's orders are carried out to the letter, and within three minutes everyone is hidden away. The only one left standing in the open is the leader.

He pulls out a battered but functioning hand held wide band radio. He sends out a triple click over the waveband, and waits for the forward scouts to respond. Two long clicks from each scout, confirms that they are in place, waiting for the woman to pass. They are the last line in the unlikely event that the woman is able to slip past the capture teams.

He turns around very slowly, covering a full three hundred sixty degrees, carefully searching the surrounding trees for any sign of his people. He cannot see anyone. Not a single sign that up until only a few minutes ago, nearly two dozen men had occupied this lonely stretch of highway. The only thing that does catch his attention are the marks left in the dirt by his wag. But by the time their target spots them, it will be far to late for her.

With an air of supreme confidence he slips into the forest, pausing only long enough to watch a spectacular re-entry of a century old piece of space hardware. Soon, very soon they will have another outlander to help line their pockets, and by the looks of her, keep his bed warm at night.


* * *


The unusual pair stand at the crossroads. Directly ahead of them they see that the highway disappeared sometime in the past one hundred years. A deep canyon, at least two hundred feet deep and nearly forty feet across cuts across the land like a scythe. The man turns towards his smaller companion, a female mutant.

"Looks like we've got no choice but to turn to the south. Hopefully we can find another highway going west before to long."

The small woman doesn't bother to answer. Instead she simply nods her head and smiles. She re-adjusts her large pack, straightening the straps so they are no longer cutting into her shoulders.

The pair left the redoubt only six days before and has been skirting the great lake. Two days before they crossed the border and entered Indiana. They stayed away from the main route of I-90, travelling along highway 6. The road less traveled is usually the safest, when you're traveling with a mutant. Maverick knows they are only about a day and a half away from the ruins of Chicago, and know for a fact that they should do their best to skirt it. Major ville's even though they had been heavily damaged during the nukecaust, still held far too many dangers for even a seasoned survivalist like Maverick to worry about. And the fact that he is with a mutant like Gedoena wouldn't be well looked upon by any locals. Hatred from the mutant wars of 68 still run deep in many parts of the Deathlands.

The young mutant woman sniffs the air, her face contorting in disgust at the odor she detects. "Maverick, I smell gas. More to the point, I smell badly burned gas."

In the Deathlands, many barons in Texas, as well as in parts of Canada, especially in what used to be Alberta and part of Saskatchewan control large pre nuke oil fields and refineries. However the quality of gasoline they produce is nothing close to what it was like before the long winters occurred. The locally produced fuel tends to burn poorly and leaves a distinctive smell. He takes a deep breath. Sure enough, he can just detect the smell of this crudely refined, badly burned concoction.

The fact that there is little wind means that a wag passed by the area, probably no more than half an hour before. He kneels down and inspects the blacktop. After only a few moments searching he detects the tell tale marks of a large vehicle in the dirt covering sections of the ruined highway.

"Looks like a military wag, probably a truck, or mebbe a semi wag."

The woman kneels beside him. "How can you tell?"

He points out to a particularly long stretch of dirt, in which can be seen a clear pair of tracks, side by side. "Two tires, right beside each other. Only big wags like military trucks, or semi's usually have double wheels like that. And from the size of the tread marks, I'd guess that we're looking at duce and a half's. We usually had a large number of them in the convoy, especially towards the end."

They both stand. She brushes the dirt off her pants, while Maverick un-slings the SPAS 15 shot gun. He pops the magazine, making sure that there are six rounds in, then slides back the cocking mechanism, checking to see that a seventh round is chambered.

"Yellow or Red?" Gedoena asks, snapping open the flap on her holster.

"Yellow." He turns and heads towards the tree line. They both glance skyward as a fiery piece of pre skydark hardware returns to the planet of its birth.


* * *

Some where off in the distance, the glowing object smashes to the earth. Even at this great distance, Gitana can feel the vibrations rumbling through the ground. What ever it was, it must have been carrying nuke weapons, or was incredibly huge. Even now, nearly a century since the great megaculling, the earth is still suffering from the remnants of that final battle.

The distant impact causes the forest to become silent. She can just make out the rumbling roar of the explosion. Stopping, she looks around. Odd she thinks. Something like that really shouldn't have caused such a silence. If it had been a lot closer, yes, but it has to be at least a hundred miles away. Just to be on the safe side, she pulls the automatic pistol out of its worn holster, clicking off the safety.

A sharp, repugnant odor catches her attention. She breaths in deeply, using her full sense to try and determine what the odor is. It reminds her of some of the more powerful baronies she and her adoptive family traded with down in Texas and New Mexico. Gasoline! Poorly refined gasoline. A wag must have passed by here only a short while ago. But where did it come from? Nothing passed her, and she didn't hear anything since she started on her journey that morning.

She studies her surroundings. Nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. No tire marks on the ground, no foot prints. About three hundred yards ahead of her, the road makes a sharp turn to the west. That could be where the wag is she thinks. Maybe it's someone who stopped for the night. She angles towards the tree line, planning to use it as cover. No one approaches strangers in the Deathlands without some degree of caution.

She reaches the curve and studies the terrain. A hill, is about half a mile away. The odor is non existent from where she is standing, probably because of the slight wind that is blowing in from the west. She continues down the tree line.

As she reaches the half way point, she finally notices something that has been nagging her, ever since she rounded the bend. It's been several minutes since the piece of space debris hit the earth, and the forest is still silent. She stays at the tree line and stops. She concentrates, opening her ears to the forest, trying her hardest to try and detect the slightest sound. She is quite certain that she can hear smaller noises. A twig snapping, the sound of a branch being rustled. A breath. A breath?

"Shit." She whispers to herself. Without hesitation, she turns and powers it back the way she came.


* * *


Jim barely even registers the impact of the ancient piece of high tech equipment, miles off in the distance. He is intent on the capture of that lovely outlander they spotted only minutes ago. From where he is kneeling, he can see her perfectly. A powerful lust fills his groin as he watches the lithe woman walk along towards him. He firm breasts, barely concealed by the white shirt are about the finest he's seen in many a long month. He can just imagine how she would feel as would drive himself into her. He dearly hopes that she is a fighter. Those who resist always make the act so much more pleasurable for him. He found that his best orgasms are when he kills the woman he rapes.

He lifts the hand held to his lips, waiting as she moves closer. She is just about to reach the half way mark. There will be no escaping for this one. There are men strung out in intervals along both sides of the ruined blacktop. She might be able to run, but she certainly won't get very far.

He is rather surprised to see that she is carrying an automatic pistol in her small hand. He is unable to determine it's exact make from the distance, but she is holding it, barrel pointed towards the floor of the forest. Teeth bared, he growls, the noise barely audible to his own ears. Some fucker is going to pay. Somehow, she sensed that there may be danger lurking in the trees around her.

He can actually see her mouth the word 'shit'.

The radio still firmly in his grip, he lifts it to his lips and whispers into it. "Take Her."


* * *


Maverick and Gedoena are climbing the hill just as the man made meteor hits the earth, somewhere far away. They both glance in the direction as the ground rumbles slightly beneath their feet.

"Dark night! That was pretty close, or that was one hell of a big piece of machinery that just landed. The wonder and curiosity are evident in his voice. He turns towards the impact site, not surprised to see a thick, black cloud rising into the sky.

Gedoena raises one talon, motioning for him to be quite. She crouches and climbs the rest of the way up the small hill until she reaches the crest. Without waiting, she lays flat on her belly, her gaze taking in the details below. Maverick joins her, immediately spotting what she sees.

Several hundred yards away they both watch a young woman walking cautiously towards the hill. From the distance he can tell she is holding some sort of weapon in her hand, some sort of automatic blaster, but without pulling out his binoculars, he would not be able to tell the model. After all, J.B. Dix was the weapons expert, not him.

Gedoena places her hand on his shoulder, getting his attention. She points with a single claw towards the trees, just at the bottom of the hill. He follows her claw and almost immediately spots what caught her attention. A large military duce and a half truck is hidden in the trees. The entire truck is covered by series of forest camouflage nets, making it all but impossible to be seen. The only reason he saw it so quickly was that a guard is standing at the rear of the truck, holding what appears to be either an M-16 or AR 15 rifle. The guard is restless, constantly moving about. That is what gave away his position.

"Looks like a trap."

Maverick grunts, nodding his head. He frowns, making his face look all that much more fierce, the scars more livid. "My first guess is slavers."

"What are we going to do?"

He watches the scene begin to unfold below him for several seconds. "Nothing. Not our fight. 'Sides, can't afford to waste the ammo."

"Your just going to let them take her?" Her voice full of surprise and shock.

Turning, he glares. She actually pulls away from him. "Listen up Gedoena, and listen good. "He hisses through clenched teeth. "I've got to get you home. I promised to do that, and I am a man of my word. If I get chilled, or badly wounded, you'll never make it without me." He points down the hill at the woman. "I don't know her, and I don't fucking want to know her. She's just another stupe outlander who's going to find herself on the auction block."

It's obvious she wants to argue with him, but to keep silent, she bites the inside of her cheek, her sharp fangs drawing a thread of blood. She concentrates on the slight pain, trying to make herself agree with what her protector is saying, because deep down she knows he's right.

Maverick is about to turn around and head back the way they came when the woman reaches the half way mark. Suddenly, she spins around on her heels and begins to run back the way she came.

"Looks like she's spotted the ambush." Maverick states.


* * *


Her bloodstream fills with adrenaline as she races towards the bend in the highway. All around she can hear shouts and movement as the men who were hiding break cover to try and stop her. A thrill of pure terror threatens to whisk away all rational thought as she spots six men step out from the trees, three immediately to her front, and three on the opposite side of the road. In only a few seconds she spots the trade mark whips, nets, and cattle prods, identifying her attackers as slavers.

She was never the greatest shot with a blaster, but tries none the less. She stabs the scoremaster at the nearest of the slavers and squeezes the trigger twice. The first round misses, impacting the trunk of a tree just behind him. The second shot hits the man in the left leg, passing through the fleshy part of the thigh. It's not a fatal wound, but it drops him out of the fight.

"Fucking outlander bitch! Stop her." A rough male voice screams out.

A weapon rattles, and a three round burst hits the ground just to her left, missing only by a scant yard. The impact of the burst throws chunks of dirt into the air. One round, having hit a rock, ricochets into the cloudless sky.

Somehow, even though it doesn't seem possible, she increases her speed as the near miss intensifies her terror. The second slaver, a woman, leaps out at her, trying to tackle her. She misses by scant inches, only managing to snag on arm of Gitana's jacket. The jacket tears free, nearly causing Gitana to fall over. She barely manages to maintain her footing, giving credit to her natural agility. She can see two of the other slavers trying to catch up with her from the opposite side of the roadway. The near miss of the slaver woman cost her precious time.

The two slavers are trying to push her into the waiting net of the third. She switches tactics. Instead of trying to run away from them, she turns towards them. She is somehow able to push through her terror and fires twice more, both shots missing, but causing the slavers to dive out of the way.

The man with the net tosses it, and it hits Gitana, knocking her over. She screams, long and shrill, venting her terror and rage. She struggles to get to her feet, knowing that if she is captured by the slavers, she can expect a brutal rape at the best, then life as a slave for some baron. At worst, she'll be dead. Tears of frustration and fear stream down her cheek as several slavers run towards her.

She gives up trying to escape. So instead, she raises her pistol and pulls the trigger, emptying the clip. Most of the shots miss, but one hits, catching one of the slavers in the throat. The heavy .45 round smashes his Adams apple, driving directly through the bone of his neck. Immediately his lungs begin to fill with blood and he drops to the ground, slamming face first into the highway, breaking his jaw and causing him to bite his own tongue right in half.. The shot paralyzed him from the neck down. Luckily for the slaver, the shot killed him instantly.

Two more nets land on top of her. She struggles, screaming at the top of her lungs. The rage has given away entirely to terror. She isn't even aware of her surroundings as she struggles hopelessly at the restraining bonds of the nets.

The female slaver crouches down beside the struggling woman. Her long, black hair tied in a pony tale hangs over one shoulder as she casually reaches to her belt and removes a long, heavy cattle prod. "Hold the gutter slut still." She orders to the men with her.

The slavers grab hold of her, somehow managing to get her arms and legs even though Gitana is struggling like a wildcat. The force her to the ground, spread eagle. The female slaver smiles viscously and rams the point of the cattle prod into her neck. There is a tremendous spark, and Gitana goes limp.

"Feisty little bitch, eh boys?" She turns around and walks away, heading towards the trees, where Jim Greaves waits for her.


* * *


"One dead, one wounded."

"Have the chilled stripped and dumped. Means a bigger share for the rest of us." Greaves hauls the unconscious woman to her feet as his men begin the painstaking task of untangling her from the nets. He begins to search her pockets, looking for hold out weapons. After all, he doesn't want his prize killing any more of his men. The only thing he finds other than a handful of Jack is a butterfly knife, and a beautiful one at that. He pockets it. He hands the woman off to one of the guards and walks over to where she dropped her pack and jacket.

"Hey, Marty, take the bitches pack to my tent back at the camp. I want to go through it carefully later on. Now is not the time."

The woman who stunned Gitana grabs the tossed pack with ease. She slings it over her shoulder and waits for further instructions.

A groan catches her attention. It appears as if Gitana is coming around. Both she, and Greaves turn and walk up to her. Two of his guards have her held securely, with little chance of her breaking loose.

"Well, you put up a pretty good fight outlander. But, it was for nothing." Jim gloats, placing a hand against her chin, holding her steady with a casual strength. Gitana glares at him, then spits in his face.

"Fucking chill me and get it over with bastard." She screams.

Slowly, he lets go of her face and reaches up with his hand. He wipes the spittle off his face and then licks his hand clean. "I'm going to enjoy you."

Try as she might, she can't hide the fear that comes unbidden to her face. She knows exactly what he means to do her. She cringes and tries to pull away as he roughly grabs her shirt, tearing it clear from her body, exposing her breasts. "Please, don't…." She whispers, her voice cracking. Tears stream down her face.

"Strip her."

Her scream is long and full of anguish.


* * *


"Maverick, what are you doing?"

"While the slavers are busy with the outlander, I'm going to try and get that truck." Maverick shrugs the pack off his shoulder and lets it slip to the ground. He kneels down and rummages through it, grinning triumphantly as he pulls out his small tool kit. Pocketing it, he hands Gedoena the HK MP5. "Considering the fight the woman is putting up, it'll provide the distraction I need to chill the guard and grab the wag."

"What if they have the keys?" Gedoena points out, worried at what Maverick is about to do.

"No big deal. I've hot-wired more than a few wags in my days. Besides…" He says with a grin, patting the pocket that he just placed the tools into. "A wag will mean our travel time is cut down."

He leaves quickly, making his way down the slope towards the wag hidden below. He moves as quietly as someone his size can, using the large tree trunks to hide his progress. He stops and watches as a woman just misses tackling the other, pulling the jacket from around her waste. The other woman nearly falls over from the near miss. He watches, his emotions reeling as she tries to fend off her attackers. Her screams of rage and fear cut to his very soul, but he is determined not to get involved.

He makes it all the way to the bottom of the hill without being spotted. The slavers, so intent on watching the capture take place, that no one notices the scarred man make his way towards the wag. The guard at the wag is leaning on the hood, his arms folded in front of him. The AR 15 is resting against the wheel well.

Using an old trick taught to him by his father, Maverick concentrates on the scene unfolding down the highway, ignoring the guard. His father told him that humans have sort of a sixth sense. One that lets them know if someone is watching them. He told him that if you concentrate on someone your trying to sneak up on, they will notice it. But, if you concentrate on something else, say a rock or a tree, anything except your target, the odds of you getting in close are greatly improved. So far, it has yet to fail him.

With just the slightest whisper of sound he draws the blade from its sheath. Holding in with the blade running down his forearm, he slips up behind the guard. The guard, so intent on the capture, is taken completely by surprise. Maverick clamps his free hand over the guards mouth and drives the blade deep into his kidney, tearing it up and across, causing horrifying damage. With a savage twist he rips the blade free and drags the mortally wounded guard away from the wag. Once there is enough room, he rams the blade into the mans chest, feeling it grate past the rib cage and ripping into the wall of the heart.

The guards corpse slumps to the ground, tearing the blade from Mavericks hand, as it got trapped in the rib cage. He pauses for only a moment, making sure that he has not been noticed. The other guards are still riveted to the capture taking place.

Try as he might, he can't pull the blade from the guards chest. Angered, he gives the hilt a savage kick, causing the hilt to snap off, leaving the blade firmly imbedded in the guards chest. "Fuck, fireblasted fuck, fuck, fuck! Piece of shit triple stupe fucking blade."

Still cursing, he slips around to the rear of the wag. Maverick peers into the cab of the military truck. All he can see are a couple of crates, and a few piles of rope, blankets and nets lying on the floor. Satisfied that no one is going to sneak up on him, he quietly makes his way back to the cab.

Maverick peeks over the window. As he figured there are no keys in the ignition, so he's going to have to hot wire it. To him, that's no big deal, as he has been forced to do this on more than one occasion in the past. Opening the door, he reaches in under the dash and pulls out the tools from his pocket. Only a moment passes before he has the ignition switch exposed. Tearing a couple of wires loose, he gets ready to try and start up the wag. Peering over the dash of the truck, he watches as the slavers hold the woman upright, while someone, a man he figures is the leader, grabs the woman's shirt and tears if off. Her anguished scream rips right through him.

He pulls himself fully into the cab and carefully closes the door. Touching the wires together, there is a spark, but the engine doesn't catch. Three more attempts and the engine roars to life, spewing thick bluish black smoke out the tail pipe. The cab is filled with the stench of improperly refined gasoline. This gets the full attention of the slavers. Without hesitation, he throws the gear shift into first and pulls out of the trees.

He reaches the road and is about to turn towards the hill, and the waiting Gedoena, when the young woman screams once again, this time louder if it is at all possible. The cries cut right to his very heart. His decision made the time span of a single heart-beat. Cursing himself for being such a rad blasted idiot, he fights the wheel and turns the wag towards the main body of the slavers. He hopes that the distraction of the theft will help the girl to either run off, or, if he can get close enough, her to jump on and he'll drive the both of them to safety.

He leans the SPAS 15 against the edge of the window and pulls the trigger. The shot doesn't even come close to being effective, but it keeps the slavers heads down. One tries to stop him by standing in front of the truck. It was a fatal mistake on his part. Maverick doesn't even bat an eye as he rams into the slaver, feeling a slight bump as the huge tires ride over the body. He turns the vehicle and heads towards the main body of the slavers, surrounding the captured woman.


* * *


High above Gedoena watches the drama unfold. She waits patiently as Maverick approaches the wag. She has to turn her head as he kills the guard, as even though she has killed, watching a person die sickens her physically. She knows that the deed will be over in moments, and when she looks, the guard is slumped on the ground, a pool of blood spreading out from his rapidly cooling body.

She smiles as Maverick enters the cab of the wag, knowing that it will only be a few minutes more before they are on their way. The screams of the woman tear her eyes off Maverick and the wag. She watches as the brutish leader of the slavers tears her shirt off, exposing her to the rest of the members of his little capture team.

The sound of the wag breaks the spell of the rape and she pulls her eyes away from it. She watches as the old rebuilt military truck pulls out from the trees, leaving the camouflage netting behind. To her amazement, the wag turns not towards her, but towards the concentration of slavers, surrounding the half-naked woman. A mixed bag of emotions burst open. She is quite pleased that Maverick changed his mind and is obviously going to try and help the woman, but she fears for his life, as the slavers outnumber him twenty to one. She also curses his stupidity for taking such an unnecessary risk. Unconsciously her grip tightens on the butt of the Desert Eagle and the metal squeals in her grip. She relaxes her hand, not wanting to damage the blaster, as Maverick would have a litter of kittens if she did.

She hears the roar of his high tech shot gun, but not a single slaver is hit, even though several of them drop to the ground. Luckily for Maverick, only a hand full of the slavers have automatic weapons. The rest are carrying Saturday night specials, knives, nets, and large cattle prods. After all, it doesn't make any sense for the slavers to carry assault weapons, as they would kill far more people than they would capture.

The sight of Maverick ramming into the one male slaver nearly causes her to be sick on the spot. She has to close her eyes and concentrate, forcing the bile back down her throat into her stomach. When she opens her eyes, she is horrified to see that the slaver is somehow still alive, moving weakly. Even from her position she can see that his back has been crushed. She becomes violently ill, unable to contain it any longer. All the while she wishes that Maverick wouldn't be so 'messy' when he chills.

She looks up just in time to see a figure climbing out of the rear of the truck, and make his way carefully along the side, hanging onto the worn canvas. He is in little danger of falling off, as Maverick is barely going over fifteen miles an hour. She wants to scream out a warning, but knows it would be a futile act. Not only would she not warn Maverick to the potential danger, but she would expose herself. The very thoughts of the slavers touching her send a shiver of terror up her spine. A wave of Goosebumps crawl they're way over her arms and she hugs herself tightly, trying to shake off the thoughts.

"Please check your sides Maverick, please…" She whispers.


* * *


Gitana's mind goes into over ride. She doesn't even realize that she is screaming. Terror fed Adrenaline surges through her veins. The guards find themselves holding a wild cat. She struggles so violently that one of the guards is unable to hold her any longer. She lashes out with her hand and rakes her fingernails across the face of the other guard. Four deep valleys appear and he lets go, the pain too much for him. If her swipe had been only a inch higher, she would have destroyed his left eye.

Striking like a cobra, her foot catches the woman slaver in the foreleg, just below the knee. The blow does little damage, but the pain is nearly unbearable and the slaver drops her cattle prod to clutch at her leg.

Even with her mind in fight/flight mode, she notes the slaver wag ram into another one of the slavers. Behind the wheel she can see the visage of a heavily scarred man, one hand in a death grip on the wheel, the other holding a nasty looking shot gun, firing out the opposite side of the cab. The distraction of seeing the wag costs her dearly.

Jim Greaves lands a solid left across the side of her face, rocking her world. Try as she might, for the second time in less than fifteen minutes she is unable to maintain her hold on the conscious world and she feels herself slipping into the waiting arms of the fathomless night.


* * *


Grasping his aching knuckles, Jim Greaves turns around and swears to himself as he watches their wag quickly gathering speed as it moves down the blacktop towards them. He can make out the scarred man behind the wheel and a small bell of recognition begins to ring in the back of his mind. He knows the driver from somewhere, but at the moment, he doesn't have the time to figure it out.

"Would one of you limp dicked pieces of mutie shit stop him before he steals our fucking wag?" He screams as he draws a pair of gold plated colt .45 automatics from his shoulder holsters. Leveling the weapons, he is about to pull the triggers as he notices that one of the men, Gan, to be exact, is climbing along side of the truck towards the cab. The various guards scramble to get into position to try and stop the wag, without destroying it.

He smiles. If Gan pulls this off, he may actually allow the filthy slaver have a turn with the little hellion he just cold cocked.

"Fucking bitch!" Marty curses as she picks up her cattle prod. She drives a viscous kick into the stomach of the unconscious woman lying on the ground, getting a cry of pain as a reward.

"Marty, don't damage the merchandise any more than she has been already. Every bruise, every busted bone will cost us Jack. If you cost us Jack, it'll come out of your share, got it?"

Glaring, she hawks up a wad of phlegm and spits in Gitana's face. "It'll be worth it."

Blood streams from between the fingers of the stricken guard. He pulls out his battered .32 revolver and aims it at the form lying on the ground. The gun shakes in his hand, a combination of the anger and pain he feels.

"Pull that trigger and I'll chill you so fast you'll be in hell five minutes before you even know your dead Kent. His voice as cold as sierra melt water, the tone making it obvious that it isn't a threat, it's a promise.

All the while, the wag being driven by Maverick gets closer and closer.


* * *


The engine is running rough, and Maverick finds himself having a difficult time trying to hold the shotgun and shift at the same time. Dropping the blaster, he fights with the gear shifter and finally manages to get it into third.

His eyes lock with the hazel eyes of the young woman the slavers captured. He mouths a silent no as the leader of the slavers, a brutish man, hits her and knocks her to the ground. The man turns around and they lock gazes for a fraction of a second. However, that fraction is all it took for him to realize that he knows the leader from somewhere. Probably had encountered him during his time riding with Trader.

He shoves the gas pedal to the floor, trying to coax a little more speed out of the ancient wag. There is a violent shudder as the transmission slips out of third, and he nearly loses control of the wag, even though he is going just over twenty miles an hour. He struggles with the wheel, trying to keep it on the road. Several of the slavers are running towards the moving truck, their intention of trying to board it obvious. He hopes that he can squeeze just a few more RPM out of the engine, as even at this speed, trying to board would be dangerous, but not impossible.

He grabs the SPAS 15 from the seat and shoves it out the driver side window. He pulls the trigger, causing no damage, but forcing several of the slavers to abandon their attempt to board the wag. With a violent jerk of the wheel, he aims the truck at the slavers coming at him form the opposite side of the road. As with the slavers he shot at, these figure discretion is the better part of valor and dive out of the way.

He smiles, stretching the scars on his face, making him appear far more hideous than he really is. A noise causes him to glance out the passenger window just in time to see a combat boot fly right at his face.


* * *


The sound of the engine beginning to turn over awakens the filthy man from a restful sleep. After issuing Jim's orders he helped the others push the wag into the bushes. Once they had the netting over the wag, he slipped into the back, below the canvas to steal a few minutes sleep. The entire capture takes place and he slept through it.

Gan sits up and looks around, trying to force the sleep from his eyes. No matter how much time he spends sleeping, he never seems to get enough. The engine turns twice more before finally catching. He lifts up the side of the canvas and peers out. He does a classic double take when he sees his friend Pete, lying on the ground in a huge pool of blood.

The vehicle jerks into motion, nearly throwing Gan to the deck. He reaches out, managing to grab hold of the side. The vehicle quickly gains speed as he carefully makes his way to the back. Looking out, he can see the surprised looks on the faces of his fellow slavers as their main wag rumbles by. He holds onto the side and the gate of the wag, and swings his leg over the edge. That nearly cost him his life.

There is a slight thump, and another, stronger, more pronounced bump nearly causes him to slip off the back. He spots what caused the thump. Who ever is driving the wag ran over one of his friends! The slaver is clearly alive, but wounded so badly, the only thing anyone can do is put a bullet through the man's forehead, sending him across the dark river.

He manages to get out of the back of the truck and works his way along the side, moving hand over hand, slowly, gripping the canvas in a death grip. Looking up and ahead he sees that the other slavers are trying to get out of the way as the driver angles the multi-tonned behemoth on a collision course with them.

He finally ends his nightmarish journey and reaches the cab. The window is open, and a idea forms. Peering in, he notices the heavily muscled, scarred man behind the wheel. An unusual blaster, unlike anything he has ever seen before is in the drivers left hand and he has just finished shooting out the drivers side window. He hopes that if he can pull it off, that Jim will allow him to keep the blaster for his very own.

In a swift motion, he grabs the handle of the door and rips it open, swinging inside, his combat booted foot aimed at the side of the drivers face. The driver turns and has no chance to bring his weapon to bear as the boot connects, nearly breaking the drivers cheek bone.

The impact is so strong that the driver hits the door, causing it to pop open. Unable to check his momentum, the driver slips out of the cab. Somehow, by pure luck, he was able to hold onto the SPAS 15 sling, bringing the weapon with him.

As the driver hits the road, Gan is quite disappointed to see that he is still holding the weapon. The truck is rapidly losing speed as Gan slips behind the wheel, pulling it back onto the road just as it is about to ram head first into a swath of trees. He hits the brakes and brings the wag to a full stop.


* * *


The impact of the combat boot nearly causes Maverick to black out. A shower of stars explodes in his field of vision as he is slammed into the door and it pops open. Somehow, he manages to keep a grip on the shotgun as he flies out of the cab.

He lands on the hard surface of the road, rolling as he hits to minimize the damage. He has the wind knocked out of him, but that is about the worst that happens. He rolls for nearly thirty feet before finally coming to a stop. He lies still, trying to force air back into his lungs. He can hear the sound of booted feet pounding on the pavement moving towards him. He forces himself into a kneeling position and raises the blaster. Two slavers are nearly on top of him as he squeezes the trigger of the scatter gun, two rapid pulls which send a wall of 12 gauge ball Berings flying at supersonic speeds towards both slavers.

The first blast catches the lead slaver in the arm which was holding a battered AR 15 Carbine, a weapon based on the traditional infantry weapon of the united states military, the M-16. The shot literally severs the arm from the rest of the body between the wrist and the elbow. The AR 15 is severely damaged from the shot. The hand, still gripping the weapon lands in the dirt nearly thirty feet away from the slaver. The shot doesn't end there however. Most of the shot continues right through the ruined arm to tear into the slavers chest, shattering the rib cage and puncturing the mans lung. The impact knocks him off his feet and he lands on his back, staring up into the morning sun.

The second blast catches the following slaver directly in the solar plexus. The blast literally rips open his stomach and chest. Loops of gray and pink intestines spill to the ground, surrounded by a halo of red, the mans blood. This man was also armed with an AR 15 carbine.

Both Attackers downed, Maverick gets unsteadily to his feet. He knows that he has only three more rounds in his shot gun, but the slavers don't know that. From his current position, he can see the majority of the slavers, most still surrounding the body of the woman.

Taking in everything he can, he realizes that he is in deep, deep trouble. So much for managing to rescue the woman and make good their escape. He will need a fireblasted miracle to escape this one. But, he might be able to bluff his way out of it, if he's careful. Holding the shotgun at hip level, he really wishes that he would have brought the HK with him. The automatic would have ensured that he, as well as the young woman, could high tail it away in relative saftey.

Maverick slowly advances on the main group of slavers. "All right fuckheads. Hands in the sky. I see anyone reaching for a blaster and you'll find yourself staring into the sun."

Reluctantly the slavers raise their hands, including the slaver leader, Jim. One of the slavers suddenly tosses his right arm forward, triggering the quick release of a small .22 caliber hold out weapon. As the slaver closes his hand around the tiny blaster, Maverick swivels the SPAS 15 and fires. The round catches the slaver full in the face, blowing the head apart, showering those around him for a distance of fifteen feet. The headless corpse, still gripping the hold out blaster in its now lifeless hand, slowly falls to its knees, then backwards. A huge pool of bright red blood seeps out of the corpse into the ground.

The blaster smoking, Maverick gives the group a feral grin. "Anyone want to join this stupe?"

The surviving slavers stay perfectly still, not one of them wish to join the others on the last train to the coast. "What the fuck do you want outlander? Snarls Jim Greaves, very pissed off that not only have they been delayed in capturing the woman, but he has lost no less than three more men to this well armed stranger.

"Let the woman go, and keep your hands in the air, where I can see them." Maverick slowly turns around, keeping his eyes open, making sure that none of the slavers tries to do anything. He steps up close Jim, but not close enough to open himself to a surprise attack. The woman quickly regains consciousness.

His eyes blazing with hatred, Jim takes a step forward. Maverick swings the muzzle of the blaster so it is aimed right at Jim Greaves groin. "One more step, and you'll be singing soprano."

"Your gonna pay for this, long and hard. I promise you that you will be days in dying, Brett."

Hearing the slaver call him by his first name catches Maverick totally off guard. He figured that he'd seen the slaver before, but still hasn't been able to place the man's face. He does his best to conceal the surprise he feels. "Talk is cheap, action costs. I wouldn't make a threat like that if I was in your position." Maverick takes another step back and glances around, making sure that he didn't miss any slavers. The man who knocked him has just stopped the engine and is getting out, a small blaster in his hand. When he sees Maverick he stops, the weapon still gripped in his hand.

Jim takes another step forward, breaking Mavericks attention on the driver. "Oh, believe me Brett, it isn't a threat. It's a fucking promise." He relaxes slightly, letting his arms slip down a few inches. Maverick catches the movement and glares. "So, tell me Brett. How's trader these days?"

The mentioning of trader sheds some light on where he met the man before. It is quite possible that Trader had dealings with this man. Might even be where he'd obtained the AR 15's and the wag. Knowing that Jim is probably trying to distract him, and being angry at himself for nearly allowing the slaver to succeed, he ignores the question. Out of the corner of his eye he spots movement. He swings the blaster around, seeing yet another slaver trying to sneak up on him. He hesitates, not wanting to blow off one of his two last shots. "Get over with the rest of them asshole." The slaver, hardly believing his luck, complies.

The woman has managed to get to her feet and is looking over the situation, obviously quite confused, probably from being knocked out twice in such a short period of time. Her breasts and torso are covered in speckles of blood and bits flesh from being to close to one of the slavers Maverick killed only a few minutes before.

Maverick does a quick mental calculation. There has to be at least fifteen slavers around him. He has only 2 rounds left in the scattergun and the odds are stacked heavily against him. His mind racing, he tries to figure out what he's going to do.

"Go on lady, get your shit and head to the wag. Get that greasy looking fucker to start it up and wait for me. I'll be right on your heels."

"Gracious Amigo." Answers the Gitana in her soft, lilting voice. He notices that it is cracking slightly, probably from a combination of the screaming and fear. She grabs her jacket and is about to reach for the weapons that Jim took off from her when suddenly, an unexpected shot rings out from the forest. She spins around to face the direction the sound came from, and sees a spray of blood erupt from Maverick's shoulder. The impact of the round spins him around, and the SPAS 15 flies from his hands. Two more shots are fired, and she can clearly see the impact of both on his torso. One on the rib cage just beside the heart, the other in his back. He topples to the ground, landing on his chest, without a sound.

The slaver responsible for the attack steps out from the trees, a smoking AR 15 in his hands. She doesn't hesitate. She runs for it. She knows that she can't go for the wag, so she angles for the trees instead. Unfortunately for her, Jim Greaves was expecting this to happen and snags her arm. Several of the other slavers react to the sudden capture and jump in, forcing her to the ground and pinning her there. She can't even struggle so she begins to scream at the top of her lungs again.

Greaves walks over to the man lying on the ground. He bends over and pulls the shotgun from his limp fingers. Slinging the weapon, he flips the body over onto its back. He's quite surprised to see that the man is still alive. "What the fuck?" Greaves grips the mans jacket and pulls it open. Sure enough, there is the entry hole from the shot, but no blood. He tears open the shirt and smiles at his find. Maverick is wearing a bullet proof vest! He pulls the flattened round off the vest and inspects it. The vest is still fully intact. "Guess what boys, this outlander is still breathing! We're going to have some fun with him after all!" He is about to stand up when he spots the hat Maverick was wearing. He picks it up, and places it on his head.

He walks back to the group holding the woman down. "Strip her. I don't want to see a single scrap of clothing left on her body when your done." He bares his teeth in a parody of a grin.

"I'm going to use her then the rest of you can have her."

Gitana screams, and screams, and screams until her voice breaks and she can't scream any longer. The rape is incredibly savage and brutal. The young woman closes her mind off during the attack and slips into a state not unlike a coma. It is the only thing that saves her from going over the edge.


* * *


Far up above the scene Gedoena is weeping uncontrollably.


End of Part One.

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