These still need a lot of work but I'll make some edit them up soon:
Ande streaked over a mountain range surfing through the air at breakneck speed as she was propelled by the currents that billowed against her two tachyon fields. She spotted her target as she rounded a tall spire of stone that stood above the ridge like a watchtower.
Down on a level field on the planets surface a flurry of activity was taking place. As she approached she could make out the shapes of a variety of ships and shuttles littered about like a small village. The makeshift streets were bustling with people, and other solar riders could be seen coasting through the skies on glowing sails like bees hovering about a hive.
She made her approach and landed just outside the busy camp. Many others outfitted in shard harnesses greeted her as she passed. Others kept close to their shuttles as they called out the value of their wares to anyone who might be listening. The rendezvous was like a mobile market catering to shard seekers such as her.
“Have you seen Tak?” she asked one of the more quiet shop keepers who sat with his chin propped in his hands.
“Ahh, Andromeda, good to see you’re still alive! Your a bit late you know the rendezvous started two weeks ago. I believe Tak arrived last week sometime. He set up shop on the east side,” the grubby old shop keeper commented.
“Thanks,” Andromeda replied turning toward the direction of his gesture.
“Oh, have you heard? Both Charles Gateway and Phalenx Co. have cut their rates by a third. The other buyers have cut by nearly twice that.” called out the trader as she walked.
“Damn,” she muttered as she continued walking without looking back.
She spent the rest of the day buying and trading. Her pod sold for a fair price, and with the addition of some of her savings she picked up a two-man pod with more cargo room and greater agility. She planned to be deepspace for a long time on her next voyage. She also gathered a number of other supplies to sustain her in the barren void.
Next, Andromeda stopped in to the Charles Gateway Trading booth to sell off her other shard crystals. She stood haggling with the dealer when a familiar voice interrupted from behind her.
“I thought we contracted you to find shards, Miss Cunningham,” the voice was smooth and cruel.
Andromeda turned around to face the man. He was clad in a clean new vapor suit with a blue cloak that hung from his shoulders. His finely groomed and curled mustache mirrored his wicked smile.
“From what I hear you’ve been gallivanting about the far reaches of the outer rim and only have a handful of shards to show for it.”
“I’ve done enough to fulfill my contract with you people. Charles Gateway doesn’t own me,” she had little patience for the company representative who knew nothing about star travel, shard collecting, or what it was like to lose a partner.
“A mere thirty shards just barely covers your contract. When we hired you I was under the impression that you were the best in the business.”
“Maybe you should spend less time listening to **** on the street and more time getting your hands dirty like the rest of us,” Andromeda retorted.
“Tsk’, tsk’, my dear, we all have our role to play, and mine is to make sure you mangy vagabonds bring your returns back to Charles Gateway,” the man approached the attendant to whom Ande’ had been dealing and inquired about the trade.
“Go to Hell Donnavan, I’m done here anyway,” Andromeda turned back to the glaring sands of the market.
“Not so fast Ande’” Donnavan called after her. His smile had faded; he was no longer interested in games. “You may have brought in enough shards to keep your contract, but that doesn’t fulfill all of your obligations with Charles Gateway.”
The younger woman stopped in her tracks and cursed under her breath.
“You haven’t yet taken an apprentice,” he continued.
“Not now Donnavan, I can’t have some wet behind the ears green-stick tagging along with me. I don’t have time for this,” she turned again and started to march away.
“Seven hundred credits is hardly enough to get you back to the rim, not to stay for any length of time anyway.” Donnavan’s devilish smile returned.
Again she paused. He was right. She had spent her savings on the new pod and the first part of her supplies, but it only bought her three weeks on the rim at best.
“You know I can adjust that for you. Let’s say I gave you full price on those shards you just sold us, forget about the cuts. That would buy you an extra four weeks at least.”
“What’s in it for you,” she scowled. Corporate traders like him were scheming bastards out to line their own wallets.
“I have a very special apprentice for you, my cousin Aaron here,” as he spoke a man approached him in a brand new shard harness. His equipment was top of the line, but didn’t fit him well, making him appear clumsy. It was immediately clear to Andromeda that he had never gathered a shard in his life.
“Go to Hell Donnavan,” Andromeda replied again as she walked away.
“What’s the matter dear, still mourning that poor sap you left behind out on the rim?” before Donnavan finished speaking he found himself racing backwards as a glowing energy field pushed him violently through the market. On the other side of the field the enraged Andromeda tightly gripped her tach-rod as they both sped through the crowds, knocking over tables and pushing aside small shuttles.
With a violent thud Donnavan’s back collided against the side of a massive cliff well outside the market. He could see the rage of the young woman through the glowing energy field that pushed against him, pinning him to the rock. Aaron few up from behind using a pair of short hand held tach-rods.
The glowing field disappeared. Donnavan looked up just in time to meet Andromeda’s fist as it collided with his face.
“Wait, wait,” he cowered. The rookie landed with a thud behind her and grabbed Andromeda’s arm as she readied for another blow. She threw the boy off with ease as his balance was poor in his oversized suit.
“Ande’ wait, lets make a deal,” Donnavan pleaded again.
“Why would I deal with an asshole like you?” she replied backing off slightly as her temper cooled. That first punch had felt really good.
“For one, this little outburst could cost you your contract, and another, I know how badly you want to get back out there. But I’m not letting you go off without fulfilling your obligations.”
“You’ve got five seconds,” she replied coldly glancing at the youthful amateur as he struggled to get back on his feet.
“What say we settle it the way you shard seekers do, with a friendly contest,” Donnavan rose to his feet still holding his bruised chest and checking his rapidly swelling eye, “I can’t compete with you, obviously, but I’ll provide someone who can. If you win you can trade your shards at full price plus a thousand credits and be on your way. If my man wins you get the same only you take the boy with you when you go.”
Andromeda glared at the man.
“Have your man meet me on the east plane at noon.”
As the sun began to reach its peak on the desert planet Andromeda made her way to the east end of the trading camp. She glared at the ground as she walked. There were many more important things she could be doing than a stupid duel, but if it got her out of the tight spot she found herself in, she would give it a shot.
On the plain several make shift stations had been set up for shard seekers to test their skills. She passed a rifle range where several men were showing off. Three men stood side by side holding rifles nearly as long as the men were tall. Their targets could not be seen in the distance but each concentrated as they aimed through the small scopes attached to each rifle.
A brief whir broke the silence followed by the deafening ring of de-atomized matter. The sound coincided with a brilliant flash at the muzzle of two of the rifles and two brilliant streams of energy that blazed into the distance.
“What the,” the third man shouted sounding somewhat inebriated.
“Helps if you turn your shard field on,” one of the others called to him chuckling as he loaded a steel bearing down the four rails of his rail-gun. He and his companion laughed while the misfiring drunk grumbled and checked his equipment.
“I’ll go check the targets, maybe he actually hit it with the bullet itself! HOLD FIRE!” the third man cackled and shouted as he charged his tach-fields and skimmed off down range.
“Morey, didn’t your A.I. tell you your field was off?” the remaining man asked the drunk.
Morey grumbled something about ‘turning the @&% A.I. off’ and continued to check his gun and shard harness for some imaginary defect.
The other key property of the fields that could be generated from the radiation of shards was the way in which they altered matter and energy. The tach fields, as they were called always faced the shards from which they originated. In a peculiar trick of physics energy moving into a field towards the shard would be absorbed and converted to matter. Conversely, matter pushed through a field away from the shard would be converted into pure energy. These were the fundamental principals by which all weaponry, both defensive and offensive, were based.
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