Chapter 1

Dead Man Lives

K'chee's time as Abbot of Healing at the Falor Clan Chee was nearly up. 10,000 years old and time to hand over to his sub-Abbot, who after 4,000 years of apprenticeship and mind transfer was ready to continue her work for the next 5,000 years. The first thing the new Abbot would have to do would be to appoint a new sub-Abbot, but that was her responsibility now. It was time for K'chee to take on a new role. It was time for his final walk, that of a Dead Man.

As he was preparing to leave, his comm-P'son flashed, a message from the Abbess, leader of the Abbots of the Falor. Teleporting to her Abbey, K'chee presented himself for admittance. The Abbess didn't keep him waiting, nobody asks someone who is on their final journey to wait.

"Come in please, K'chee. Sit and refresh yourself."

"Thank you Abbess. How can I help you in my last days?"

"There has been a change in protocol, people on last days now may take an option. We have agreed to host an Eldar Citadel on Falor, to help protect us from the coming of the Coalition of Species. Part of the agreement is that people on last days have a choice. You may continue your last days rites or travel to the Fendaril artefact of Olympus and attempt to find and join the Knights Eldar. If you are successful, then you will no longer need to finish the rites and may continue to live as an Eldar.

"You time with us is appreciated, and we realise you have prepared yourself for the final walk. The choice is yours. You are the first we have offered this to. It will be opened to all, but I feel many will not take it up and those who do will fail. I need your answer now. Transportation to Olympus will be available only 5 minutes."

"Abbess, I have served the Falor to the best of my ability for the last 5,000 years as an Abbot. I have trained my successor and handed over to her the mind imprint of the Abbey of Healing. I must admit however, I am not ready to end. I will take you offer and see if we can teach some of these Eldar a few things about the use of Psioncs they may not have realised, for all their age and power."

"Go with my blessing, K'chee. From now on, you must leave your name behind, and pick a new one."

"I will take a new one if I am accepted, until then I will remain Dead Man Walking."

Grinning the Abbess rose and gave the newly named Dead Man a warm embrace. "Give them hell my friend, and don't forget us."

"Farewell My Lady, your guidance and comfort has always held me well. Please be available for my new replacement. She will be like I was to start, very unsure of herself, even with a 4,000 year apprenticeship."

With that, K'chee, now Dead Man, turned and left the room. Outside was a Fendaril Starforce officer who handed him a crystal map P'son. "It is my understanding you can use this. Good luck. They will inform you of the rules of Olympus when you arrive."

Dead Man merged with the map and realised the destination point. Bringing the map to the new reality of his destination he cast his P'sense to the end point to check for matter in the way, locked in the start point for the teleport and jumped. This took longer to describe than do. To the Starforce officer it looked like he took the P'son, blinked and was gone. "I gotta learn how to do that, Talent sure can't".

The Abbess heard what the officer said and beckoned him over. "If you are serious and wish to learn Psionics, we can train you in a year. Some of our Abbeys can train you in being an Arch-Witch in two. Let me know your decision." She then teleported out, returning to her work.

Arriving in a busy star port on Olympus, Dead Man was met by another Fendaril officer. "Abbot K'chee, we were told you might be joining us..."

Dead Man raised a hand to stop her. "Abbot K'chee is dead. I am Dead Man Walking."

A quick double take and the officer continued "Of course, Dead Man Walking. We were told you might be joining us, we don't see many Falor on Olympus except as body guards If you will come with me, I will take you to the rest of your party, You are the only one at the moment to 'Take the Road' in search of a Citadel, but we would ask a favour of you and the rest of the party. All will be explained."

Following the officer to a diverse group of beings he found himself amongst 5 of the strangest people he had met. There were two Furmurr, giant earth tiger like beings, fierce and war like. There were 2 Humans, Terran from there dress and aloof mannerisms, and a humanoid, possibly Enhanced Humanoid, possibly on of the Fendaril base forms. Six fingers, pointed ears; Elandril base but heavily modified.

The Fendaril officer began: "Welcome gentle-beings. I am Major Smith. We have a small problem we would like you to attend to on your trip today. We will pay you the standard Mercenary rate, plus 50% for a Hazard Level 2 situation, plus the expenses you have incurred in getting here and while you attend to our little matter. We will also allow you to equip your selves from the level two armoury, civilian enhanced, within reason, and provide transportation while you are here.

"Please remember you are on Fendaril soil and Fendaril laws and regulations apply here. The exception is in various embassies, Terran, Furmurr, etc. and other sanctuaries you may find. I'll introduce you to the normal levels, and briefly describe your know racial and professional abilities. Person information, beyond use names, will be up to yourselves.

"On my left is Colonel, Sir Anthony, of the Fourth Terran Imperium, and his aide, Major Johansen behind him. These two gentleman are known standard Terran Humans, both of Military backgrounds functioning lately as Liaison to the Fendaril on Olympus

"Continuing, we have the Furmurr mated pair Brown. Brown is not their real clan name, but I'm not going to try and pronounce it, and it has no bearing here. They have a use name of Brown, and are referred to Brown and the Mate Brown. They are both excellent warriors of their nation and can be with your party for the next month. After that they have private and personal business that will take them away from you for a week. If necessary they can rejoin your party after that.

"We have Dead Man Walking, known as Dead Man in conversation. He is a fully qualified Healer of the Falor, licensed to treat all mammalian species and Fendaril, Terran, Commonwealth and Federation spaces. The Falor, for those who aren't aware, are a small, single planet species of high gravity. He is also trained as a fighter and communications expert.

"The reaming two, paired Fendaril L'hai from the clan L'hai. They have each served several tours with Starforce, attaining high non-commissioned ranks. They are not currently serving in the services. They are ground and air vehicle specialists.

"You task, beings, is to retrieve an object, the description and specifications are being loaded to your various Pads now. We will pay a bonus, to be distributed amongst survivors, of 3 Million Fendaril Trading Credits for it's safe and intact return. 2 Million for it's return, regardless of condition, and 1 Million for proof of destruction. Proof to be Truth-Verified by one of our truth sayers, as well as physical proof as far as possible.

"If these conditions and team members are acceptable to yourselves, then we will adjourn to a secure meeting room to discuss matters fully. A sum of 10,00 FTC will be credited to your accounts if you continue to the briefing. Your decision will be binding and an appropriate contract finalised if we proceed. When you decide, please join me in meeting room 2a by the coffee shop for the rest of the briefing and contract signing."

With that little speech out of the way, the Major "Smith" left us and headed to the coffee shop and then went through a door next to it.

"Well Monkey Boy," said one of the Furmurr, the male I think. "What brings you out this far, and why the name, couldn't you flea infested mother come up with a better name?"

"You're only jealous because my pelt is better than yours, you overgrown shag pile. My name is not a given, but a condition I find myself in. Do we need a litter tray for you while we are on the road, or will you be able to scratch over you leavings?"

With this they both started laughing. To the bewildered looks of the Fendaril and Humans, the other Furmurr explained. "There is no love lost between the Falor and the Furmurr. There is a Lore we are told of deadly fighting between our two races many years ago."

Dead Man continued; "Our histories hold nothing of the fighting, but our memory holds something else. The Council is said to know, but I'm only a Healer so it is outside of my areas of expertise. To prevent fighting and possible embarrassment to us all, we trade a few insults and continue as though we were both from civilised races."

With that comment, they burst out laughing again.

The other Furmurr spoke up, "My mate and I will be going. Much honour and adventure will be earned from this. Our Name will be enhanced by the attempt, much enhanced if we succeed."

The Human Colonel spoke up. "We have been informed by our government that we are required to go."

"Such enthusiasm" muttered one of the Fendaril. Which one could not be easily determined. The humans head nothing. The Furmurr and the Falor just grinned.

The first Furmurr spoke up again. "We may be referred to as Charlie and my mate may be referred to as Charlene. I hope this makes it easier to figure us out. Frankly I think you humans all look the same."

"I am known as Crystal L'hai, my pair mate is Gemma. If it rolls, flies, hovers or drags, we can fix it, drive it and if required, hot-wire it. We're in".

"I have nothing better to do, so I'm in. It will serve as the start of my quest."

Having spent some time on introductions and assessments, they all went to the coffee shop and got beverages of choice. The Furmurr opting for an Pink Arsenic brew, caffeine being a deadly poison to them. The others all went with coffee and soon entered the room.

Major Smith greeted them. "I'm glad you all decided to join. You fees are in your accounts and we will begin the briefing as soon as you are settled. The coffee shop will provide refills or replacements to your drinks along the way, as well as refreshments as required. Facilities are through the door behind me."

Everybody checked their pads, the details of the device, and the 10,000 FTC were showing up on the screens.

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