THE FOURTH HIDDEN ARTICLE
(SOME HIDDEN STUFF THAT RELAYER OF QX WROTE FOR THALION)
by Jurie Hornnnennnnmannnnn
We're actually quite proud, being able to offer this and all.
Jurie has hurled his talents at novel writing for Thalion,
therewith spreading the world of the Dutchies being good at
English. Hail, hail!
The above bit was, although you may think otherwise, not written
by Jurie himself. ED.
The year is 2189 : mankind has slowly ventured out of its small
corner in space. Planets were discovered, terraformed, colonised.
A new frontier was formed. Society changed itself, adapted to
life in space and on other planets. And from these other planets
came a new sport. It began as a rough battle between junked
gliders with mining lasers and old farming droids re-programmed
to fight. In just 30 years, it grew out to an organized sport,
spreading to all planets, even back to Earth. Arenas were built,
enemy droids designed. The sport was called Trex, it's players :
Axaro Mey, Trex Champion of Earth since 8 years, sat back in his
bubble chair and told his control terminal to show the Trex News
channel. It came up on the wall-to-wall TV screen. The Networks
were going to show a report on a new Trex Warrior tonight. He was
always interested in potential competition.
Jolani, his daughter, entered through a door on the other side
of the viewing room. Mey looked at her. Her blond hair was
sculpted in the latest fashion, her body was dressed in a stylish
moss green monomolecular kimono. She looks like her mother when
she was young. Mey looked back at the screen.
Jolani sat down and made a show of studying her hands.
"Daddy ?", she said after a while, examining her nails,
"there's... been a little accident."
Mey looked sharply at his daughter. "You're not pregnant, are
"No! Of course not," she said with fake shock in her voice.
"Good. I hate kids." Mey turned his eyes back to the screen and
"So what happened ?"
"Well, I umh... was on the freeway with my new sportglider, and
I was driving sort of fast, and then I crashed into someone
"Any damage ?"
"Well... the glider has some dents," Jolani said casually. "And
it doesnt't work any more."
Mey sighed, but didn't take his eyes off the screen.
"Stupid cow. What about the other glider ?" he asked.
Jolani flushed, and stammered : "It was damaged as well. The
driver was quite... upset."
"Have you got his number ?"
"Yes. He said he was going to report it."
"Hm. I'll have someone take care of it in the morning."
"Thanks Daddy," she said meekly.
Mey grunted something and turned up the volume.
"... A new Trex Warrior is battling his way through the Trex
The loud voice of the presenter blared through the room.
"Mando Quant, a brilliant new competitor, has just defeated the
Champion of Liang Wan! Here's a live interview with the victor!"
The screen switched to a tall, visibly exhausted man, dark hair
falling over his sweat-covered face. Mey moved forward in his
chair, his eyes narrowed. Jolani looked up.
"Mando, are you going to stay on as Champion of Liang Wan or are
you going on to Earth ?"
"I'm going to Earth," he replied wearily. Mey smiled. Really.
"So you think you can conquer the reigning Trex Champion, Axaro
Mey ? He has beaten every challenger in the last eight years."
Quant took a deep breath and looked into the camera. "I think I
can beat him." He walked off.
"Well! Some exciting news there ! Will he be able to do it ?
What does Axaro Mey think of this ? You'll see it soon on Trex
News! Now here's a compilation of some of the amazing victories
of Mando Quant."
Mey watched the replay of the Trex battles. This Quant wasn't
bad, not bad at all. A bit of an upstart though. He would have to
be taught who was the Trex Champion on Earth.
"Daddy ?", said Jolani, "why don't you invite that man to your
party tomorrow ?"
Mey thought about this. Not a bad idea. He would be able to
check him out, see what he's made of.
"Alright darling, if you'd like that. I'll send him an
"Oh, great! I'd love to meet him."
So would I, thought Mey.
"Hi Mando. Feeling rested ?", asked Tandis, looking up from her
"Yeah. Much better." Quant threw his jacket over a chair.
"You've got cooling fluid all over you."
"I know. I'm a mechanic. These things happen when you're a
mechanic." He smiled. She was a damned good mechanic, too. He
thought about the time when they had had a relationship. It
hadn't worked out. The memories weren't as painful as they used
to be. They had managed to sort of forget the fights, the
screaming. After some long talks, they could even work together
again, as friends. But there would always be this distance
"I've made some coffee," said Tandis from under a panel. "It's
in the thermos."
"Oh, great. How's Cath doing ?"
Tandis stood up and took a step back to look at the heavily
scratched glider she was repairing. It filled the garage for a
large part, it's rear end almost touching the large sliding
"Well, not bad, considering that you almost wrecked her
yesterday. Did you have to ram that guy ?"
"Hey, he was trying to kill me. What would you have done ?"
"I'd have tried to give your poor mechanic a break. It'll take a
lot of time and money to get that large dent out."
Quant poured himself a coffee and smelled. Almost like real
coffee. "Well, I got a nice prize. We can afford to have Cath
fixed up good."
"Hmpf. With some new equipment, sure. And in a larger space,
"Oh, stop that. You know I don't want to spend all of that money
yet. Anyway, we have to move all the stuff to Earth soon."
Tandis grunted something unintelligible, ran a dirty hand
through her short brown hair, then stuck her head back under the
panel. "By the way," she said from the depths of Cath's
propulsion systems, "there was some mail. It's next to the laser
drill, on the table."
Quant noticed the large envelope and picked it up. "Hey, this is
"Yeah. I thought it might be important."
He ripped open the envelope with his finger. There was a letter
inside, made from the same thick paper as the envelope.
After some minutes, Tandis looked up to see why Quant was so
"Hey, what's in the letter ?"
Quant looked up, looked back at the letter. "It's an
"From whom ?"
"From Axaro Mey. He's giving a party."
"Ah, Mr. Quant. How nice that you could come."
Mey smiled broadly and shook Quant's hand. "Did you have a good
flight to Earth ?"
"Yes, fine," said Quant. He felt a bit out of place in the
luxurious mansion. In the hills, too. This must have cost a
fortune. Did he earn so much as Trex Champion ?
Mey guided him into the huge living room and introduced him to
some of the other guests. Quant recognized some quite influential
people. This guy's got it made.
"Ahh... and this is my daughter, Jolani."
She looked her best : a sheet of real red silk delicately
wrapped around her body, accenting her curves, her hair in a
single braid falling over her left shoulder. She smiled at Quant.
"Hello, Mr. Quant. I'm so glad to meet you." She extended her
Quant smiled back and touched the offered hand with his lips.
"My pleasure entirely."
"Yes," said Mey, "well, I have to take care of some of the other
guests now. Just ask any of the servants if you need anything.
I'll join you later." He strode off.
"Would you like a tour of the mansion, Mr. Quant ?", Jolani
"Oh, yes, that would be great," said Quant, "and please call me
"Alright, Mando..." Jolani gave him her arm.
"Really, Mey, you're choice of guests always surprises me. That
man, walking away with your daughter, isn't he going to challenge
Mey laughed. "Well, if he gets through the 7 days in our Trex
arena, he might, yes. Actually, I invited him because I have a
nice surprise for him. I'm sure you'll like it, Your Honour."
"Hah! Well, you certainly made me curious now. You do have a
touch for surprises", said the portly judge.
Mey grinned. "I'll make sure you are warned before it begins."
Jolani gently dragged Quant up the stairs and down a hallway.
"Oh, you've just got to see this." Large plex doors moved open at
their approach. They walked onto a large balcony.
"See ? You can see the moon ! It's so beautiful !"
"Yes. It's very small." Quant looked out. "What is this sea
called again ?"
"The Mediterranee. You can even swim there, sometimes."
Jolani looked at Quant, who was staring at the sea. "Where were
you born, Mando ?" Quant turned towards her. "On Brand VI."
"Oh. That hasn't been colonized for very long yet, has it ?"
"No, the first craft landed 50 years ago. My grandparents were
among the first settlers."
Jolani frowned slightly, a lovely wrinkle forming above her
nose. "My father always makes jokes about people from Brand."
"A lot of people do, because they think we're primitive. They
should come take a look for themselves. It's very beautiful. If
you like desert, of course."
"I've been to the Sahara once. What's left of it. It was quite
Quant smiled. "You get used to it." They both turned to look at
the small moon and the sea.
Suddenly they were interrupted. "Ms. Mey ? Mr. Quant ?"
They both looked back, startled. A servant was standing
patiently behind them. "Mr. Mey would like for you both to join
him in the game room." Having said that, he moved off. Jolani
looked at Quant, suddenly quite serious "Come. We mustn't keep
father waiting." She walked away after the servant. Quant stood
for a moment, slightly confused, then followed her.
As they entered the game room, Quant noticed that most of the
other guests were there as well. Mey stood smiling in the middle
of the crowd, next to something big. He noticed Quant, and said
loudly : "Ah, Mr. Quant! There you are. I have a surprise for
you! Please, come over here." Some people sniggered at the word
Quant moved through the people until he had reached Mey and the
big object. Then he realized why this was called the game room.
Mey was standing next to a Trex simulator, a plaything only
affordable for the very rich. He looked at Mey, who was smiling
broadly. "Would you like to join me for a round, Mr. Quant ?"
Quant realized he could hardly deny such an invitation from the
man he was going to challenge soon. So, he wants to test me. "I'd
be glad to, Mr. Mey." Mey managed to grin even broader. "Good!
Good. Well, let's start then. After you."
Quant stepped into one of the seats, and adjusted it until it
was comfortable. Then he looked at Mey, who was seated opposite
him. Between them was a transparent sheet of optical plex, which
would soon turn opaque to project the view from their simulated
gliders around both players. "Ready, Mr. Quant ?" Quant breathed
deep. He noticed Jolani standing not far away. She smiled at him.
"Good," said Mey and flicked a switch. The lights went out and
the optical plex turned bright grey. Mey's finger hovered over
the beamdown button. He looked at Quant one more time, no longer
smiling. "Let's fight," he said. Then he pressed.
Dark orange letters came up on the screen. GENERATING RANDOM
ARENA. ALLOCATED GLIDERS : STANDARD. ARMAMENT : HI-NRG MK I.
The simulated arena emerged from the screen, and wrapped around
the two players. All outside sound was cut off.
Quant flew forward and quickly looked around the arena. Mey
beamed down next to him, already firing. Quant felt the shock of
the impact, and blasted off as fast as possible. He doesn't waste
any time. This glider didn't handle as smoothly as Cath, who had
customized control systems. It was going to be purely a matter of
skill and speed, no drones or missiles. Good. Quant radically
reversed his direction and turned towards Mey's glider. Flying in
front of him all the time he blasted away until his laser was too
hot. That must have hurt. Mey fired back, but Quant made a tight
turn and watched the bolts fly by in front of him. He continued
to go backwards so his laser could cool off. Damn. No
weaponcooler. Suddenly he felt the glider shake. Mey was shooting
again! He must have pulled that same stunt on me. Quant quickly
flew forwards again to evade Mey's shots, but Mey turned and kept
on firing. Damn! Then Mey's laser was overheated. Quant breathed
out explosively. He made a full stop, turned around and flew
straight at Mey, firing his laser like a madman.
Mey managed to answer the barrage of energy with a few blasts,
but his laser was too hot. At the last moment, Quant turned away
and shot past Mey, who turned around and immediately went into
pursuit. Quant had expected this response, and was now heading
for the damage-field he had noticed earlier. It was between two
walls, with only a very small area behind it. Now we'll see if
you're as clever as you think you are. The damage-field came up
in front of him. Mey was firing now, but he couldn't see what was
in front of Quant's glider. Quant roared over the damage-field,
accelerating all the time to compensate for the slowing effect.
Sirens blared and warning lights blinked, his shield energy went
down. Then Mey rammed him from behind. Quant was in the safe
area, but Mey didn't fit anymore. He tried to ram Quant further
away, realized it was impossible, then tried frantically to
reverse. But it was too late. His glider exploded.
Suddenly all the lights came back on, the optical plex sucked
it's views back and turned from grey back to transparent.
Everyone gasped, then started talking. Quant looked at Mey who
was staring at him, his face white with suppressed fury, then he
looked at Jolani. She was laughing happily, until Mey gazed at
"I want him out !!!" shouted Mey, "Completely disabled!
Deactivated! No longer functioning! Dead!" He stomped through the
sitting room. He was still furious about yesterday's humiliation.
That man has beaten me. After 8 years. He could do it again. He
"Of course, Mr. Mey. What do you want me to do ?"
Mey stopped pacing and turned towards the dark-clad man who was
sitting calmly in a bubble chair. "What I want you to do ? I want
you to make sure he loses that final match ! Is that so hard ?"
"But, Mr. Mey, he will very probably survive if he loses."
Mey walked up to the man and put his face quite close to his.
"Listen, Rottner," he said very quietly, "just make sure his
craft malfunctions at a crucial moment. Then I'll shoot him when
he's down, okay ?"
Rottner thought about this for a moment. "Hmm... nice," he said
approving, "But can you break the only rule in Trex ?"
"Of course, you fool!" said Mey, pacing again. "Do you think
they'll say something about me, the reigning Trex Champion ?
Besides," he added smiling, "I know the referee. I know him quite
"Good," said Rottner calmly, and thought. Mey stopped in front
of a holographic picture of his mansion. I could lose all this.
"What if he survives the explosion ?" asked Rottner.
"IF he survives, which isn't very likely, your man who will
drive the ambulance will make sure he dies along the way to the
"You seem to have thought of everything, Mr. Mey," said Rottner,
"but why so much trouble ? Why not simply kill him on the
"He must die in front of millions! He must be humiliated. No-one
must question my superiority."
As she heard her father walking towards the door, Jolani hurried
around a corner in the corridor. He can't do this! Not to Mando!
she thought. She couldn't help him herself. She had to send a
Tandis Mundevi closed the panel in Cath's side. Everything was
ready for tomorrow's final match. She shortly wondered if Mando
could defeat Mey. Of course, woman, she thought with her father's
voice she always reserved for self-admonishment, Mando will beat
him. At least Cath was as ready as she was ever going to be. She
wiped her hands on a piece of fabric, and walked to the small
side room next to the main garage space. Luckily Mando hadn't
rented a crummy garage like on Oceania. She stripped her overall
and underwear off, and stepped in the shower stall. Hot water
splashed down on her face in a short bursts. She washed off the
sweat and dirt, pressed for another burst of water, then
activated the dryer. She turned round and round in the stream of
hot air, loving to feel clean after a day's work. Then she
stepped out of the stall and opened her locker. "Hmmm... what
will I wear tonight ?" she said to herself, made a show of
choosing, then took the single garment from it's hanger and
slipped it over her head. She adjusted it's straps and ran a hand
through her hair. Ms. Mundevi, you look positively wonderful. She
gathered up her dirty clothes, stuffed them in a bag, and opened
the door to the garage. As she switched off the light in the side
room, she heard a small noise from her left, behind Cath. She
stood still in the dark. The only light came from the small
glowtube on the other side, over the door leading out. "Is anyone
there ?", she said. Her voice sounded strange. Silly girl,
thought her father, of course there's no one there. She walked to
where she had heard the noise. What if there is ? She took her
pocket beam out of her bag, and approached the end of Cath's
broad side. She flicked the beam on, and looked behind the
glider. Nothing. Realizing she had been holding her breath all
along, she breathed out. Foolish woman, thought her father. Shut
up, dad. She turned around and walked to the exit, closed the
door behind her and walked away.
After five minutes, a voice sounded in the dark of the garage.
"Fool! She almost saw us! We'd have had to get rid of her then!"
Someone else muttered : "Shut up! We have work to do."
Earth, the final day.
Quant waited for Mey to beam down, and wondered what kind of
weaponry he would be up against. I hope I can beat him... There
he is! Mey fired the moment he had beamed down. Just like in the
simulation. Quant flew off, watching his radar. He saw small
white dots coming from Mey's blue dot. Gundrones! He made a wide
turn along the arena's edge. All he could do now is evade the
gundrones and try to shoot Mey when he was in sight. There! Quant
let go a missile, but it was shot down by a gundrone. He fired
his laser. That got him. All the gundrones were gone. Mey started
dropping something else. Mini-mortars. Grenades were hurled
towards Quant and exploded all around him. He flew faster, but
some of them hit. He tried to get Mey in his sights again, but
had to keep flying and couldn't seek him out. After a while Quant
saw him. Mey was right on the other side of the arena. Quant flew
straight towards him. Cath slowed down. Quant accelerated. Cath
slowed down even more. What is this ? A blanket of grenades was
flying towards him, Mey was shooting like a madman.
Quant was hit again and again and again, explosions rocked
Cath's frame. Everything slowed down. Bright, blue energy sparked
in lazy arcs through the cockpit. Cath's kevlar structure bended,
creaking, slow but relentless. Red lights blinked, sirens wailed.
The armaplex window shattered. Shards flew towards Quant in
Quant's world had rotated through 90 degrees. Quant's world was
filled with pain. His body was filled with shards of armaplex. He
smelled something burning. He saw Mey's glider. It flew towards
him, still shooting.
He can't shoot. He's breaking the only rule! He's
The final match had just ended. Tandis was looking at the screen
in their room in the arena complex. She had been staring without
moving for five minutes. He lost. I can't believe it. And Mey
just kept on shooting. As the cameras switched from a close-up of
the wreckage, of Cath's remains, she started. Someone had chimed.
She forced herself to stand up and open the door. It was a
service droid. "A telegram for you, madam," it intoned and handed
her a folded piece of paper. She opened it and read the short
text. "Would you like to answer ?", asked the patient droid.
"Ehhh... no. No," said Tandis, suddenly agitated. She rushed back
into the room, and searched through Mando's trunk. The droid said
: "Thank you. Have a nice day" before it rolled off. Quickly!
Where did Mando keep his damned credit chips ? There! She held
the raw credit chip which held his prize for conquering Liang
Wan. Mando hadn't dumped it on his account yet. She ran out of
the room without looking back.
Axaro Mey filled her screen, a grave expression on his face.
"Mr. Mey, what happened ?" asked an eager reporter.
Mey started to speak, then shortly covered his eyes with his
hand. He began again : "It... was a horrible defect. My cannons
were locked, I simply couldn't stop them. I watched the bolts
flying towards Mr. Quant - I couldn't do anything about it. It
was so horrible."
"Yes, Mr. Mey, it was very tragic. However, against all odds, it
seems Mr.Quant may still be alive."
Mey looked genuinely hopeful. "Really ? Oh, I hope that he
survives! He must ! But the chances are slim, so slim..."
"Yes, well, at least you still won."
"The referee was fair, as always, and recognized that there was
no malign purpose. But was does that matter if Mr. Quant dies ?"
The covered stretcher was rolled into the back of the ambulance.
The driver closed the doors, and walked calmly to the front. As
he opened the door, he felt a hand grab him in the collar of his
overall and yank him backward. He fell down with a yell, and saw
a woman jumping over him, into the driver's cabin. He struggled
to get up, but she had already closed the door and before he
stood she had roared off. The driver cursed loudly, then ran to
warn his boss.
Tandis switched on the emergency signals and watched as the
traffic moved out of her way. She drove full speed to the city.
The text in the telegram was still in her mind : Axaro Mey has
sabotaged Mando Quant's glider. He has ensured that Mando will
die on the way to hospital. There is a private clinic at the
address below. It was signed A friend. She had no time to wonder
about who this friend was. After a time which seemed much too
long to her (not too late I mustn't be too late), she finally
arrived at the clinic. She ran around to the back of the
ambulance, threw open the doors and rolled the stretcher out. She
had already been noticed and two men helped her get the stretcher
to the clinic. As it was rolled away, she walked to the man
sitting behind the single desk in the reception hall and threw
down the raw credit chip. "That man who just came in is heavily
injured. This will pay for his medical care." The man looked
calmly at her. "Of course," he said. Tandis closed her eyes and
sighed. He's safe. Now she had to get away. They were surely
looking for her right now.
"What ?!! You say the ambulance was taken by some woman ?!" Mey
grabbed the driver's collar and hissed in his face : "Who...
WAS... that... woman ?!", shaking the poor man on every word.
"Maybe it was the mechanic," said Rottner, calmly sitting in a
chair. Mey let go of the man, who almost dropped to the floor,
and strode towards his control terminal. "Give me a picture of
Mando Quant's mechanic." The terminal system searched in it's
databanks. A picture came up on the screen. It showed a woman
with short brown hair. "TANDIS MUNDEVI" was written in bright
blue letters over the portrait, together with a list of data.
"Yeah, that's her!", said the ambulance driver. "Rottner," Mey
said through his teeth, "get her."
Tandis ran into the elevator and pressed her floor number. She
walked quickly down the corridor towards her rented appartment,
searching for her keycard. As she opened the door and stepped in,
she noticed the dark-clad man calmly sitting on her bed. She
opened her mouth and felt a sharp sting in her neck. The world
When she woke up, bright light filled her world. She couldn't
move. She was lying down, strapped tight. She felt something
cold, metallic... coming out the side of her head. She moved
frantically, in panic, but it had no effect, the straps didn't
budge an inch. Behind the plex sheet over her body she saw faces.
The dark-clad man. And Axaro Mey.
Mey turned towards Rottner. "Is she (conscious ?" Rottner
nodded. "Good," said Mey, "Can I talk to her ?" Rottner pointed
to a mike. "Just talk. She'll hear you." Mey looked back at
Tandis. "Hello, Ms. Mundevi. You've been a very silly girl. Do
you know where you are ? You are in a paintank. You will answer
my questions. If you don't, you will get hurt. You will not lose
consciousness, you will not die, although you'll wish you would.
Now, where did you bring Mr. Quant ?"
Tandis looked back up at him. She had trouble understanding. It
was this thing. In my head. She frowned, thought hard. Mustn't
tell mustn't tell. What had he said. Hurt ?
Mey looked at Rottner. "Switch it on. Grade 2." Rottner pressed
The pain hit her so fast she couldn't tell her body to scream.
She just felt PAIN PAIN and more PAIN a thousand dentist drills,
a million, gnawing away at her nerves everywhere and it hurt and
it hurt and it HURT and there was just PAIN oh please STOP
Rottner reached for the off switch, but Mey stopped his hand.
"No. Not yet. A bit longer." He looked back at the girl writhing
in her straps.
After 30 seconds, Rottner switched off. Mey looked up in anger.
"Why did you stop ? I didn't say.." Rottner interrupted him with
a hand gesture. "Mr. Mey, we must speak. Outside." Mey closed his
mouth and followed Rottner out the room.
"What is it ?" said Mey. Rottner coughed and said : "She won't
live if you make the sessions too long. It's better to use short
sessions. Now we must wait before we can go on."
Mey grumbled. "She won't live anyway. We can't remove that
"You want answers, don't you ?", Rottner said.
Mey stared at him. Then he said : "Let's have a drink while we
wait." They walked off, not noticing the person hiding around the
corner behind them.
Tandis felt the pain slowly ebbing away. Tears streamed down her
face, and for a long time she could not do or think anything.
Then she heard a door opening. Oh no they're back no. A dark
shape entered her field of view and bent over the plex.
Jolani looked at the girl in the paintank. She looked horrible,
like she'd been crying a lot.
Tandis looked into the person's eyes. She didn't understand. She
only understood the pain.
Jolani remembered what Mr. Rottner had said. The girl wouldn't
survive. She would only have more pain before she died. My father
will kill me if he finds out. She put her finger on the button
marked 'TERMINATE'. The girl looked at her, almost as if she knew
what was going on. Jolani pressed down.
Tandis saw the girl do something and looked at her. Then she
felt a click. The pain was gone.
Jolani saw the girl's eyes breaking. She turned away from the
tank with the corpse and walked out of the room.
I am dead.
Forever these memories. Again and again, my rise to fame, my
battles on the five worlds, the final battle, the final shot, my
own death. I cannot see, cannot hear, cannot feel. Do not know
where I am. I am dead. Some people do not fear death. They are
Suddenly, Quant saw something. The experience was so shocking
that he didn't react. Bright light blinded him. Something moved
into his line of sight, eyes looked into his. A hand was waved in
front of him. The eyes looked away. Lips moved. Just a sudden as
it appeared, his vision vanished. The familiar black void fills
him. Did I really see? No. Dead men don't see. It must have been
a memory. From when ? I don't remember it.
Many times he thought he was going mad. It was like standing on
a high building, hearing the void whisper and you want to jump
down. One step, and he'd be free. But every time he remembered
the light, the eyes, the hand, the lips. And remained on the
An eternity passed, then bright light returned. He waited,
didn't react. It will go away soon. He didn't know what cruel
twist in his mind caused him to see this, but he wouldn't react
like a man dying of thirst, running for a fata morgana in the
desert, only to feel dry sand slipping through his fingers. He
would be dead with dignity.
Perhaps this was hell.
The light stayed on.
After a while, he saw the face again. Eyes looked into his, the
lips moved. It was a female face with female lips. Beautiful. It
appeared to be talking to him. Is this hell? He felt tempted to
react, but couldn't. No senses. Then, like a majestic chord
rising up from silence, sound, smell and touch faded in. It was
like coming up after a long dive, all senses returning at once.
He was lying down, covered by a sheet. He couldn't do anything.
He just looked into the eyes in front of him. The woman reached
out, touched his cheek with her hand. It was wet, from tears. She
smiled and said : "Welcome back."
Over the next months, he slowly returned to life. He learned
that he was in a private clinic, and that he was entered here two
years ago, without any ID. The doctors had pronounced him
technically dead at first, but managed to revive his body. Then
they started repairing the damage. It took them two years. Most
of his limbs had been completely destroyed and had been
substituted by cybernetical prostheses. Transplantations gave him
new organs. His burnt heart had been cut out and replaced by a
pump. The major veins and arteries in his body were now
artificial, plastic. His left eye was a complex optical
It took many weeks of movement therapies and nerve-sync
adjustments before he was one with his new body. He could walk
again, he could see through his left eye and his right eye
wouldn't complain about it. The doctors said he was as healed as
he would ever be. They gave him what was left of the raw credits
which were used to pay for the two years of medical treatment. It
wasn't much. For the first time since a lifetime he stood
outside, in the open air. Where will I go ?
Mando Quant was truly dead. Every account, every possible
registration of his name has been erased. Tandis was registered
as a missing person. Only one name came to his mind. Jolani Mey.
He asked her number in a communication terminal, and called her.
As he was waiting, he remembered she probably didnn't know what
he looked like now. He didn't want to frighten her, so he
switched off the camera. Just then, a man's face filled the
screen. Quant recognized him. "This is Mey. Who is this ?" He
managed to say: "Can... can I speak to Jolani Mey, please ?" Mey
looked suspiciously, then grunted and said something to someone
off screen. There was a switch, and Quant saw Jolani's face. She
looks sad. "Hello? Who is this?" He started to say his name, but
his new voice couldn't pronounce it. He stammered, then said
"This is Mando Quant." Her eyes widened, she couldn't speak for a
second. "Liar!", she said, "that's... that's a sick, cruel joke!
You don't even sound like him! Who are you?! Show yourself!".
Quant hesitated, then switched the camera back on. Shock filled
her face. He said nothing. After a minute, she said very softly :
"Ohhh... it is you. You shouldn't have called." "Jolani, I...",
Quant started, but she interrupted. "Not here! I'll meet you in
the Hawkings Bar, in 15 minutes." "But.." "15 minutes, okay ?"
She broke the connection.
He saw her enter the bar, wearing shades and an anonymous robe.
She looked around, and noticed Quant in a the corner. Quickly she
walked to his table, sat down, and ordered a wine. "Mando, is it
you ? Is it really you ?" He leant forward. "It's me, Jolani,
it's really me. Look, I need help, I..." "I can't give you that.
I have done enough. I warned your mechanic. I..." Her face was
suddenly filled with grief.
"Jolani, what happened to Tandis ? She's missing."
She looked up. Why is she crying? "I killed her."
What? He said : "What? You? Why? How?..." She made a gesture.
Quant shut up. Her wine arrived. She took a sip, and started :
"Oh, it was so horrible. Your... Tandis had brought you to the
clinic. My Dad found out, and had her picked up. They... put her
in a paintank. And switched it on. Then they said she wouldn't
survive it anyway, would only have pain, but Dad wanted to know
where she'd brought you. But... I went into the room with the
paintank when they weren't looking... and, and she was in there,
and she looked so sad, and, and then I pressed the Terminate
Tandis. Cath. No. All dead. Jolani told on. He just listened.
"My Dad wanted to kill you because you were better than him and
he didn't want to lose all that he had gained. He... had your
glider sabotaged. Then he kept shooting when you were down, and
later he said it was a mechanical defect in the cannons. The
referee was bribed so Dad remained Champion."
He sat in silence. Axaro Mey. What you did to me... you took
everything. "Listen, Jolani, you must help me. I must... I..."
Jolani looked at him. "Mando, I cannot help you any more. My Dad
would kill me... like he killed you." She stood up, hesitated as
if she was going to say good-bye, then walked off. Quant didn't
The old glider sat on the runway as if it had done so for twenty
years. All that could be seen from the man inside was a single
red light where his left eye was. His face lit up when he struck
fire and lighted an old-fashioned cigarette. The man didn't care
about the tar. His name was Bolar. Riano Bolar. He remembered
being someone else. Quant. But that was long ago. Quant was dead.
Bolar turned off his lighter, and started his glider. He had to
go to war.
A job well done, Jurie, ED.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.