Gabryl Tse Niyol
By Kammy Gaffney
"Gabryl Tse Niyol, mild-mannered programmer and all around tech geek by day... freedom-fighter and mad hacking fool by night...." The centaur's large fingers danced with surprising nimbleness over the keyboard as he muttered under his breath. "Almost there...."
"What? Oh, dammit!!" he growled, ears flattening, as Error: 53. Access denied. Please return to main page, enter security code and login, flashed onto the screen. He turned to shoot the interloper an exasperated look. "Patch, do you have any idea how long it took me to get that far?"
"Oh, c'mon, Gabe - that computer isn't going anywhere!" The skewbald centaur filly gave her head a toss, and then grabbed him by the arm. "Magnus is out there challenging you, do you want to look like a loser? Come on!"
"Magnus? Patch, that punk-ass ain't worth my time."
Patch let go of his arm, tossed her head again with a snort, flicking away the short wispy forelock that didn't quite cover the brown patch over her eye that won her the nickname, and retorted with, "Well, that's all fine and good, but you should see how the others are looking at him, the harlots. Personally, I think he's got an eye to get Trina back." She trotted lightly out of the room. "See ya outside, big guy."
Gabryl thought about that for a moment. Then he flung down his headset, shoved his forelock out of his eyes, and stomped out into the main room, swooshing his heavy black tail in annoyance. There was a small crowd of mares at the window. His harem. And Patch had fought her way back into the midst of them. Gabryl let out a warning rumble. "Get away from that window, before I knock allayour heads together." They parted like the Red Sea to let him through, and then ignoring his surly snarl, closed in around him, eyeing the centaur that was pacing in the garbage-strewn alley outside. Magnus.
The massive palomino was bigger even then Gabryl, and Gabryl was certainly no yearling. Wearing leather and metal, his hide marked with tattoos and brands, Magnus was the epitome of the stereotypical centaur street-punk, and the bane of Gabryl's existence. It's assholes like this guy who make it that much harder for the humans to accept us. For every step we take forward, there're so many others eagerly dragging us back into the Dark Ages. Gabryl thought.
"Wadaya want, nag?"
Magnus stopped pacing, and sneered. "'Bout time, G. I was startin' to think you was scared."
"Of a outlaw wanna-be like you? I don't think so."
"That new filly of yours. She looks kinda familiar."
Gabryl laughed, a great booming sound. "Hey, not my fault if she prefers the intellectual type to a guy that wants to play like he leads a war-band all day."
Magnus flattened his ears. "Not all of us are so beat down that we forgot what we are. If you want to play at being human, than fine. But I will live like the warlords! And this war-lord is challenging you, G."
"I am every bit the centaur and the stud you are, Mags, more even. But times have changed, and it's about time we caught up, don't you think?"
Magnus jerked his head to one side. "Trina, get your little rump out here. Last chance." He pulled a pack of cigarettes and a lighter out of the inside pocket of his leather vest.
Gabryl looked at Trina. The slender grulla buckskin filly cringed and shook her head. Gabe wondered for the hundredth time how a timid little creature like that ended up with something like Magnus in the first place.
"Sorry Maggie, it's a done deal. She's an official member of my harem already. You want her, you gotta get through me first."
Magnus smiled. "Sounds good to me." He squinted through the cigarette smoke. A switchblade flashed in his hand.
"You stay right there, mule-fucker," Gabe rumbled threateningly, and he stomped over to the garage door that served as the entry to their humble abode. Most of the centaurs in the city lived in the old deserted areas of the warehouse district, as the large open storage areas were ideally suited for them. A tall chestnut mare laid a hand on his arm.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"What does it look like, Zofie? I'm going out there to kick his big yellow trash-talkin' ass."
"Gabryl, Magnus is totally out of line. He has no business challenging you like this, and he knows it."
"Maybe not, but he also knows that I'm not a real shaman, Zofie. I might have the talent, I might have the power, but it does me no good if nobody's ever trained me to use it. That stud out there knows that I can no more call down lightning than I can wear pants. This ain't Faerie anymore. Nobody gives a damn about the old rules."
"Well, I do," Zofie said, and flattening her ears, she gave him a shove. "I do if it means that we can be attacked by punks like him. You can't beat him, Gabe; you're an elemental talent. Life means too much to you. You just don't have that killer instinct." Gabe bared his teeth at her, and tried to pass her again, but she moved again. "As Primata, I demand you listen to me, husband."
"Zofie, this isn't broodmare business, this is stud business - butt out."
She gave him a threatening glare. "As primata, I have now declared it my business. What happens to you directly affects what happens to my sister-wives. They're my responsibility, and so are you." Her eyes narrowed even more.
Gabryl rolled his eyes, and heaved a sigh. "What do you want me to do, Zofia?" His band was relatively new, formed mostly within the last two years, and frankly, he thought Zofie was taking this First Wife thing way too seriously. But he also knew that the reason that Zofie was First Wife was because she was perfectly willing to kick his teeth in if she felt he needed it. Not the sort of filly that you pissed off. Well, there was another reason she was primata, and that was the fact that she was the finest thing on four legs he'd ever seen. A rich warm dusky dark chestnut from head to rump, with flashy white socks all four feet, tall, graceful, and strong, with a patrician's face, and a flowing cream-colored mane and tail like a cloud. She looked like a queen. Carried herself like one too. And to top it off, she was every bit as practical and levelheaded as she was beautiful. Gabe counted himself damned lucky to have her.
"Let me handle this," Zofia snapped, and she flung the garage door open, and stepped out into the alley, her flowing tail dragging on the ground behind her. Gabe sighed again and followed her out, shaking his head.
"I demand to know why you dare challenge a shaman. If you're such an outstanding keeper of the old ways, than you should know that that is expressly forbidden. If anything, you should be offering him his choice of wives, in order to win his favor." Zofia's pale golden cloud of a tail lashed her sides in anger.
Magnus laughed. "Letting your mares do the fighting for you, G?"
Gabryl bristled, and took a stiff-legged step toward the other centaur. Magnus also bristled, and the two began circling. Zofia pawed the ground in frustration, and then finally stepped between them, raising her hands.
"This is ridiculous! Very well, if you two must have this pointless contest, let it at least be one in which no blood spilled."
Gabryl gave an amused rumble. "I do not think Magnus knows how to play chess, Zofie. How about a quick round of Quake?"
Zofia shot him an annoyed look, and then turned back to the palomino stallion. "Magnus, you will collect your team and play Gabryl a game of Seasamh agus Caitheamh, with Trina as the prize."
"What???" Gabryl's eyes went wide. "Zofie, I haven't played in ages, I don't even have a - "
"I accept," Magnus said, grinning.
"Good," said Zofie, grabbing her husband by the ear, and dragging him back to their shelter. "We will meet you at the playing field in an hour."
"I will be waiting." Magnus saluted and trotted away.
Gabryl just stood there, astonished, mouth open, while Zofia calmly drew down the garage door, and strode past him, her hooves clip-clopping on the concrete floor, until she got to the rough green indoor/outdoor stuff that carpeted most of the interior.
"Zofia... before you challenged Mags to this game, did you consider the fact that I don't even have a team!"
"Sure you do."
"What? I do not - oh, oh no, no. Fillies can't play Seasamh agus Caitheamh. You mares are not playing!"
"Um, yes, we are."
"Playing a damn ball game and using poor Trina as a prize? That's just, it's just wrong, it's downright barbaric!" Gabryl growled, shaking his head.
"Now is that more or less barbaric than you two smashing in each other's skulls in a back alley for the same reason?" Zofia asked him primly.
"Hey, I'm the head of this family, and I say you're not playing!" Gabryl stomped on hoof to add emphasis to his words.
"Lessee.... I think our team should be made up of me, you, Patch, Mel..." Zofia turned and scanned the bright and eager young faces before her. "And you."
"Uh...me?" Trina asked, cringing, ears flickering with uncertainly. "I don't think...."
"You've been tip-toeing around here like a timid little mouse the entire week you've been here. You have the most to gain or lose by this contest, so in my mind, that makes you obligated to play. I don't stand for that helpless little female crap in this harem. We all carry our own weight here. I want to see what you're made of." Zofia turned back to the other mares. "Let's get wrapped, ladies, we don't have all day!" The ones that aren't playing help the ones that are! And don't forget to tie up those tails and forelocks!"
Gabryl sighed and watched the explosion of sleek female flesh go thundering away in different directions. Mares. Twenty minutes later, they were nearly ready, legs wrapped, tails pulled up and tucked, and loosely knotted, to keep them from being stepped on and caught on the field. Their forelocks were braided or pulled back with clips, except for Patch's, which was too wispy and fine to do anything with. She had cropped her mane short for just that very reason. The brown and white filly was very tomboyish, incredibly energetic (she could barely stand still while her legs were being wrapped, bouncing around so much that even Talia the resident prankster was getting irritated with her,) and right now she was looking cute as hell, Gabe noted, with her blue leg wraps, and his battered cast-off elbow pads. She grinned at him, and he winked, and turned back to his own leg wraps. Another few minutes of frantic activity, and then they were ready to go. Zofie led the way, and they all fell in behind her, the hooves of seven centaur mares making quite a din on the pavement. Little Trina darted out last; not only were her legs wrapped, but she had rubber 'bells' around the pasterns of her front legs, just above her hooves.
"Sometimes I catch the back of my heels with my hind feet when I'm running. If I don't wear the bells, they get cut up pretty bad." Her eyes dropped a bit. "It always takes me a few minutes to get my feet all sorted out."
"With legs that long, I imagine so," Gabryl said, grinning. "I bet you run like a deer."
Trina blushed harder, giggled and bounded after the others. Gabryl flung back his head and bellowed, "Cleo!!! We're leaving!!!" His voice boomed through the empty house.
"ImcomingImcomingImcoming! I had to get my video camera! Wait for me!" The dapple gray filly shot through the door, already filming, and Gabryl slammed it shut, locked it, and broke into a slow pounding canter to catch up to the rest of the herd. All eight were now present and accounted for, all in order of rank, from Zofie down to little Trina. Cleo shot past everyone else to fall into place flanking Zofie, and Gabryl followed the entire group, instinctively keeping an eye out for trouble. Added bonus - with Trina's glossy black tail wrapped up and out of the way, he could more readily see the sway of her gleaming blue-gray hindquarters. She glanced back once, and Gabryl shot the latest addition to his harem a very lecherous grin. She blushed and turned back around. Gabryl rumbled in amusement. This wasn't all bad.
Magnus and his team were waiting for them when they rounded the last corner and jogged across the field. A few odd folk were hanging out on the sidelines already, a pair of swaybacked old timers, some young and rowdy bachelors, and even several humans that were fans of the game, and didn't seem to mind the rough neighborhood. There were a handful of other Seasamh agus Caitheamh fields scattered throughout the city. A number of them were in much better areas. Gabryl had seen those humans before, so unless they were rabid fans, it was more than likely that they lived nearby. Probably just didn't have the money to move out.
"Hey, G, where's your team?" called Magnus. "You didn't come all the way down here just to forfeit, didja?"
"You're lookin' at 'em, Alpo."
Magnus and the four studs with him burst out laughing. "You've come to match us, the Plague of the East Side, with a bunch of fillies?"
"Keep laughing, Maggie, you just keep right on...." Gabryl was looking over his competition. Two of his teammates were bay, like himself, although Gabryl had a rich deep fiery red to his coat, and theirs was a dark brown. They were brothers, if he remembered correctly. He couldn't remember either their handles or their real names. Number four had a leopard-spotted coat and went by the moniker of Fire Dogg. The fifth member of Magnus's team was a dark smudgy mottled gray. Ghost. He was an ugly son of a jackass, and taciturn to the point of being thought completely mute, but one hell of a player, Gabryl thought.
"Look out for the gray," Gabryl muttered to Zofia. She nodded.
"I remember him. I saw him play a couple of times."
"Then you have some idea of how friggin' screwed we are. You should've just let us fight it out."
"Hush, baby, we'll do fine." Zofia gave his flank a pat, as she strode past her mate to give the other mares instructions.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Gabryl Tse Niyol © 2002 by KL Gaffney
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