Warpmancer © Nicholas Woode-Smith 2017
Gangs of Galis
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Gangs of Galis
Gangs of Galis is a short story set in the Warpmancer Universe.
Visit: http://nicholaswoodesmith.com/ for more stories and novels set
in this epic science fiction world.
A pale red light flickered. Its audible click-click and hiss melded
with the flashing of its sanguine illumination upon the broken
concrete. Red sand seeped through cracks in the badly maintained
ground. The light, while pale, still managed to enhance the hue of
blood, steadily spreading across the tarmac, staining Michel Fulken’s
white dress shirt as he lay, splayed like a shrivelled insect, in one
of the many alleys of Galis City.
Marzio took a drag from his cigarette and then grimaced. He blew out
the acrid smoke and tossed the cigarette into the growing crimson
puddle. Galis hadn’t received a shipment from the Grengen tobacco
plantations in months. The lab-grown stuff was all there was left,
but it didn’t come close to the real thing.
Gorlea clicked his tongue in disgust as the cigarette was
extinguished in the blood.
necessary, Don? Best be honouring the dead.’
way to honour the dead is not to make so many of them,’ Danny
responded, surveying the scene.
stared blankly at his boss. He was sweating. The rotund man with the
balding pate always looked nervous, but his colleagues knew that was
never the case. Despite the moisture on his brow and beneath his
pits, Zito Gorlea was as unfeeling as a syn.
casings were scattered around the area. 9mm. Locally sourced metal.
Non-Corporate. Galis smiths.
lifted one of the scattered shells and sniffed it. Gunpowder. Not a
Trooper killing, then.
self-appointed law enforcement had been known to eliminate criminals
like Michel Fulken before. It could still just as well be them. They
would have had the motivation. Michel had been the one leaking the
Trooper patrol schedules. He was a professional spy, one of the best.
But even the best slipped up eventually. And, even so the Trooper’s
mainly used carbon and CC-rounds, many of the new recruits had to
utilise Galisian-smithed weapons, and cheap Galisian rounds. This
could be a Trooper killing – but Danny doubted that.
messy, but effective. Michel’s blood and bits were strewn around
the alley, a chunk of brain stuck to the aluminium door to Michel’s
home. A splinter of lead had split off and hit the red light,
damaging it. Troopers, even the new recruits, had better aim. They
didn’t spray. They summarily executed. A single-shot to the head.
Sometimes, they even had a trial. This wasn’t an execution. This
was an assassination – and the Trooper Order were not fond of such
face down in his juices, two holes in the head and five in the back.
say they heard rapid-fire, boss,’ Zito added, hands in his pockets
as he looked around, bored.
Zito agreed, uninterested. He preferred using guns to discussing
stood and took in the whole picture. Capo dead. His link to the
informers in the Troopers – gone. Danny rubbed his chin.
Not everyone else’s.
hot out, boss. Can we get back to the ‘butcher’?’
didn’t reply, but he did withdraw his fedora to wipe his forehead.
couldn’t have known about Michel, but the informers did. And
disloyalty was an informer’s business. Raise the bid, and the
snitch will cross the floor.
we’re going for a drive.’
blasting tonight, boss?’
laughed. ‘When are we not?’
his nonchalant jovialness, Danny was not pleased. Blasting was never
what he wanted to do. But he was good at it. So, despite other
preferences, Danny kicked down the door of the only informant he knew
– Mac “Machine Gun” Corvette. While Michel had maintained the
cover of his snitches well, Danny had happened across Mac’s
identity after a run-in with a corporation who had wanted him dead.
scrap-metal door fell off its hinges, a bullet drove itself into the
doorframe, clinking and ricocheting off the steel-frame into the
concrete floor. Danny fired once, hitting the assailant in the leg.
Zito followed through, tackling the gunman to the ground.
for not phoning ahead, dear Mac.’
sauntered towards the struggling man as he bled on his plastic-fibre
carpet. Danny didn’t pity him. The blood would wash out.
Skiting grako! Get off me!’ the man swore, wincing at the bullet in
squatted beside him, as Zito grunted.
no language to use… wait…’
looked closer. The man was a thug. Thick muscles. Tattoos. Green-dyed
vok is Mac? Get off me, grako!’
indicated to Zito to stand up. Zito grunted again, but stood up with
a feigned struggle, lifting the man’s gun with him, pocketing it.
offered a hand. The mohawked man sneered and lifted himself up,
wincing as he pulled himself up onto a nearby couch.
clean him up.’
man rolled his eyes and drew out a small first aid kit.
tell me. What you doing in Mac’s apartment?’
‘ere is my place,’ he replied, eyes angry but voice calm.
glanced around the room. The man hissed as Zito used a tool to pull
out the bullet and stitch the wound.
It was a
clean room – Spartan, except for the couch. Grey walls. No artwork.
A single, barred, window. There was a table and two chairs. Another
door, to the right of the entrance.
through there?’ Danny asked, indicating to the door with his thumb.
the thug replied, a little too fast.
raised his eye brow.
didn’t you need to go to the bathroom?’
grinned and drew his gun.
balked but noticed Danny’s gun pointed straight at him. Danny
smiled and brought his fingers to his lips.
sidled to the door, taking cover by the side. His hand drifted to the
burst open. The thug pounced. Danny fired as he jumped to his feet.
The thug fell to the ground. Mac came speeding out of the bathroom
towards the exit, meeting the butt of Danny’s gun along the way. He
fell to the floor with a harsh crunch and oomph.
well, Mac. First, you snitch on your handler,’ Danny squatted,
staring the man in his eyes as he blinked away the inevitable
concussion. ‘And then try to get your boss killed.’
I didn’t know it was you. I swear.’
is bad, Mac. Your bodyguard did too much of it and look at him now.’
gulped. A bloody lump was forming on his forehead.
dead.’ Danny was no longer smiling.
Mac stuttered. ‘No wonder he didn’t make the meet.’
was arranging meet-ups with all the informants. Said some changes
were gonna be made.’
know what these changes were?’
I went to meet him two hours ago. He didn’t show. When I left the
meeting place, a car started tailing me. Spooked me. So, I hired this
indicated the corpse.
protection. Come on, Don. I ain’t a bad snitch. I’m just a snitch
– but I snitch for you. I don’t know what’s going on. Really.’
do know some of the other informers?’
not supposed to…’
sighed. ‘Yeah. I know a guy. But he’s not one of us. He’s Galis
mercenary crew? How they afford an informer?’
been raking in notes, boss,’ Zito interjected. ‘They know what
nodded. ‘This guy I know has been their link to the patrol
schedules. They need the info to fulfil operations for their
aren’t on bad terms with the Blades,’ Danny thought, aloud.
‘Let’s go pay them a visit.’
wise, boss?’ Zito was concerned, but didn’t show it.
turned and grinned. ‘The Blades are professionals. I’m a
professional. This is just business.’
you say so, boss.’
hated and loved this city. He hated what it was. Its dirt. Its lack
of class. The greyness. He hated the desperation that could be smelt
in the form of sweat, blood and faeces. He hated how everything in
this city had to be a firefight. He hated that Zito glorified the
‘blasting’ that had become their nightly routine. While not
adverse to killing – Danny had done too much of it already for it
to affect him anymore – he did see it as a waste. Why kill the
denizens of this glorified slum when you could charge them? Why rob
them when you could sell to them?
is what Danny loved about Galis. The potential. In every grey window,
Danny saw a red light. Above every dingy drinking hole, a neon sign,
trucks filled with pleasure drugs and booze. Real tobacco, real
narcotics. Danny hated what this city was – a warzone – but loved
what he knew he could make out of it. A business. A utopia of vice,
pleasure and credits. Without a city charter or council like in Dead
Stone, there was nobody to stop him from turning this shanty sea into
empire, of glitz or grit, was easy. The Marzio Mafia, his gang,
dressed in the manner of his dream. From a small crew of fedora and
suit wearing gunslingers, he had grown his business. While the
Troopers failed to protect the people in the outer districts, the
Marzios reigned supreme, protecting businesses, households and
communities – at a price. Marzio turf was safe. But it wasn’t
good enough. Danny didn’t want to own Galis – far from it – but
he wanted to make Galis suitable for profit. Keeping the psychos in
line was part of the job.
employees was never good for any business. Losing a Capo, a trusted
officer, was disastrous. As such, Danny was forced to partake in what
he hated, but was so damn good at. With Zito, born killer that he
was, he went blasting. When a crew spited a client, Danny put a
bullet through their noggin. When some hoods tried to sling drugs in
his alleys, they either joined up or found themselves in a highway
ditch. He hated all of this, but even so, he did it all with a smile.
turned right. Danny jumped up in his seat as they hit a bump in the
road. Two hooligans were illuminated by the headlights and ran into
that associate of yours doing,’ Danny asked of Zito.
his test. Blew that scab’s head off.’
nodded. Zito didn’t continue. That was the end of the conversation.
pulled up by Galis Blade turf. While most of the gangs of Galis
maintained control over a wide area, tormenting or ‘protecting’
its residents, the Galis Blades conservatively utilised only a single
compound. Despite not being as large as Marzio turf, however, Danny
was impressed by the Blades’ fortress. Ten-metre high
steel-enforced concrete walls. Guard towers and kill holes at every
strategic location. Only a single noticeable gate. A dried-out canal
as a moat. This mercenary group could be so much more. Danny was
relieved that they didn’t want that.
pulled up by the bridge to the fortress. A man wearing a leather
jacket with Kevlar padding leaned in.
himself? You wanting to play dress up with us, then? Sorry, sport,
but we don’t have time for kiddie games.’
Jherad, right? You did a job for us awhile back. Despite your mouth,
you did a good job.’
nodded, then continued.
scratched his head with a sheathed knife.
can’t hurt. Come right in.’
smiled in thanks, as the gates opened and Zito drove right in. Past
the walls and fortress, the compound opened into its own community.
Men and women in similar uniforms to Jherad were socialising and
working, even at this late hour. Zito parked in an indicated bay, in
front of some Blades who were playing cards. They didn’t reach for
their guns. They felt safe behind their walls.
One of the
players looked at Danny and voicelessly indicated the door behind
him. Through the door, Danny found the leader of the Galis Blades –
had light chocolate skin, short-spiky hair and a well-shaved face. He
turned as the door opened and grinned.
Got a job for us?’
Immondo. But later. Here for information.’
leaned against the wall as Immondo indicated for Danny to take one of
the two seats.
the lack of pleasantries, Immondo. You know me. I’d love to chat,
but things are pressing.’
worries, Donny-don. This is Galis, eh? No time for pleasantries. What
snitch-master is dead. Only snitch of his I know only knows one of
your snitches. Not making accusations, but need to fish at any pond I
think Troopers did it?’
shook his head. ‘Too messy. And doesn’t make sense. Troopers
would have interrogated him somewhere else. There wasn’t any sign
of struggle. It was an assassination.’
nodded. ‘Gang killing. Got to be. This is odd, though. Only gangs
who’d want a piece of you don’t have informants – that we know
of. They rely on our information to dodge patrols.’
looked him in the eyes.
laughed, but then looked serious, meeting Danny’s gaze.
Blades don’t want any piece of your empire…’
We’re running a tight operation. You’re a good client, but you
might not always be. Got to have our own connections. But we aren’t
going to go around killing your guys. We make too much credit from
you. We are in different businesses, Donny-don. You don’t skite in
our canals, we don’t skite in yours.’
Danny whispered, all semblance of a smile gone, ‘there’s always
room to grow. And skiting in someone else’s pond may be risked when
the reward is great.’
enhanced his glare, hand slowly drifting to his front chest holster.
burst open. Immondo and Danny spun their heads to the new arrival.
Zito yawned and gave the young man a glance.
that they were not alone.
waved him out. As the door closed, he stood up and walked towards a
liquor cabinet. He started to pour some cheap brandy. He spilled a
glob onto the table top. Danny didn’t flinch as the Blades’ boss
tossed the glass at the wall, letting the glass collect in a shining
pile on the floor.
well, Immondo. Please accept my apology. It seems we’re both
and through gritted teeth, Immondo replied, bottle in hand.
seems so, Don. It may also seem that we may need to work together in
this. Someone is skiting in our canals, and I like clean canals.’
espionage operation between the Marzios and Galis Blades ensued.
Nothing like it had ever occurred in Galis City before. Business
faltered. Many a made-man and associate found themselves at the end
of Trooper justice due to the lack of informers. But investigation
found that the Troopers had not, indeed, had anything to do with the
killings. They were just as surprised as the rest of Galis’
underworld. Rather, a rat stationed within the Troopers knew a little
too much. The question was, whose rat?
home to many gangs of varying power, style and creed. What the
investigation found was that the ones who had spymasters, no longer
did. It was the same story every time. An individual, identity meant
to be a secret, was gunned down in one of the many alleys. Sometimes,
a car was reported speeding away. Other times, a cloaked figure.
Never anything substantive.
unknown, came uncertainty. With uncertainty, came fear. With fear,
came violence. The gangs of Galis found themselves in a war more
brutal than anything they had ever experienced before. But this
wasn’t over resources, or markets, or turf – it was over
suspicion. In Galis, very few thought before they acted. The Galis
Blades and the Marzios were two of the few who did. But the rest of
the mob were not helping this process, as both gangs had to defend
their borders with lead, which further heated up the conflict.
Mac gave a nervous bow. Danny waved him in.
He sat in
the back room of the ‘butcher’ – his headquarters. The room was
cool and classy. Red-velvet. Mozar leather. Artwork. Books. It was a
room that exuded wealth and culture. Danny, despite his profession,
was erudite. He wanted people to know it.
one of Michel’s informants…’
did he say?’
Dead in a canal.’
pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes to fight off a
shrugged. ‘Was told to tell you that business is getting tougher.
Troopers aren’t the problem no more. Syliths, the gang, not the
insect, are encroaching on our turf. We lost an entire block a few
hours ago. Three made-men dead. Capo got out.’
Mac. Last thing I want, or wanted, was a war. Didn’t even want an
empire. Too unwieldy. I just wanted to sell hookers and crank. Was
that too much to ask?’
the murderer isn’t even the problem no more. Ain’t it, Don? Could
just as well blame it on someone else. Just need to get them vowls to
stop eating each other.’
to leave when Danny jumped up, his rare wooden chair falling to the
scapegoat,’ Danny muttered to himself. ‘That’s what we need.
Michel is dead. Isn’t coming back, no matter if we catch his
killer. What matters is stopping this damn war.’
car around, Mac. I need to see Immondo.’
waited inside the domed hall in the Corporate District of Galis City.
The glass ceiling let in the natural light of Extos III, the star
which this planet revolved around, while stopping its heat. This was
a conference centre for inter-company deals, rentable by any party.
It was nestled in the shining corporate district, a zone which
existed long before the refugees came flooding in from Red Sand.
Here, the Troopers actually held power. And that is why Danny chose
this location. No gang, no matter how tough, would risk a war with
the Troopers. There would be peace here, for now.
Marzios and Blades had sent out missives and gossip-mongers around
the city. The message was the same for everyone. The Don had found
the real culprit of the informant killings. He wanted to expose them
in front of the entire underworld. It was made clear that any gang
who didn’t attend would be seen as guilty.
how drug-fuelled, insane or arrogant, all the underworld bosses knew
they couldn’t risk not being at this meeting. As such, a myriad of
vehicles lined the street outside the domed conference building.
Galis Blades arrived in an armoured car, Purgers walked, Syliths in
buggies. Tens more of cars arrived, bearing leaders of gangs that
Danny had never even heard of. The entirety of this gargantuan city’s
underworld was at his fingertips.
going to work?’ Danny heard Zito mutter.
on, Zito,’ Danny grinned. ‘It’s me.’
snorted. In amusement or doubt, Danny didn’t know.
leaders filed in, corporate security scanning them for weaponry. Many
of them balked at the treatment, but none left because of it. After
half an hour, the corporate security team had to bring in
reinforcements to carry the confiscated weapons to safety.
sorted themselves by alliance, forming a mish-mash of different
colours and uniforms. Immondo sat next to Danny. Corporate security
guarded the entrances with sub-machine guns.
final leader sat down, Danny left his seat and stood at the podium in
the centre of the gallery.
took in a deep breath and spoke.
enemies, gangsters – I’ve gathered you all here today to solve
our mutual problem.’
move on!’ a gangster from one of the south-side gangs shouted.
ignored him, and continued.
past weeks, our city and our enterprises have been burnt to the
ground, by one another. With our informants dead, we have lost our
eyes and ears. Troopers pick us off. We kill what’s left. All this
accomplishes is the death of our mutual interests.’
a man in the front row spat. ‘Galis ain’t big enough for all of
us. Can’t be mutual. We not gonna share.’
a fake smile.
contraire, dear Sylith. We can. Business is not a zero-sum game. We
can all do business in this city. None of us is big enough to control
it all. There is no reason to fight over it. If we stick to our
borders, we all profit.’
for you to say,’ the same man interrupted. ‘You got an entire
means nothing while we fight. None of us can conduct business as long
as we’re bombing each other. With this war, Sylith, none of us
you propose?’ Immondo asked, on cue.
propose that we form a Board.’
those suits down in Titan City? We ain’t corporates!’ a voice
came from the backrow.
government. A Board to ensure negotiation, peaceful allocation of
turf and aid us all in this industry we call crime. We rob blindly.
We step on each other’s toes. We intrude because we don’t know
who owns what. With this formal body, we can ensure that we all
maximise our potential profit. None of us are going to be empires if
we keep destroying one another. What we all can be, however, are
businesses. Together, with the Galisian Racketeering Board, we can
ensure the future of crime in Galis City.’
erupted in shouts. Some of the gangs who were in agreement started
arguing with those who were not. Danny put his hand up to halt the
agitated corporate guards.
Sylith in front boomed.
that is not why we are here!’
observant Sylith. And thank you for getting us back on point. We are
here to discuss our mutual enemy. An enemy which investigation has
shown to be in this room.
Danny raised his hand to silence the crowd.
that you’d encourage this topic, Sylith.’
stared the man in the eyes. He didn’t flinch.
turf is right by your headquarters, is it not?’
always a shame you couldn’t expand. A shame that a gang with dreams
of empire had to live next to such a colossus. A shame that could
easily be rectified with a bullet in the right man’s head. But why
stop there? Galis needs an emperor, doesn’t it? And all these pesky
gangs in your way. And bullets are so cheap on Zona Nox…’
are you getting at?’ The Sylith still wasn’t catching on.
didn’t lose their spymaster. The rest of us did. That is a little
bit suspicious. With only you able to dodge patrols, the rest of us
would be dead by a Trooper carbon round. Why do the dirty work when
the tin-men can do it for you?’
and his cronies jumped. ‘This is an outrage! Syliths do our own
that to the gallery.’
leader turned, sweating. Some of his neighbours began advancing
towards him. He reached for his jacket, and as Danny had planned,
pulled out a gun that he had managed to ‘sneak’ past the
guards opened fire. The bullets rended the Sylith leader and his
cronies. Danny didn’t flinch as blood splattered on his face and
bullets stopped, Danny continued.
our enemy gone, we can have peace. I now convene the first meeting of
the Galis Racketeering Board.’
were no objections.
dared to oppose the Marzio Mafia as they left the dome. Most of the
gangs who noticed the Corporate guards take off their armour to
reveal Marzio colours didn’t raise a ruckus. But some gangs did
resist their annexation. Danny eliminated them. The rest filed in. No
Trooper patrol happened by. Danny had their blessing. Uppity,
honourable, just – the Troopers were still subservient to credits.
gangs of Galis, they knew that it was too late to resist. This city
would be under Marzio control – for better or worse.
never wanted this type of empire, but it was a means to an end. The
gangs would comply. Soon, they would even come to accept the rule of
the Board. Even now, many a smaller gang had joined the Marzios,
solidifying his control over the entire slum district.
was a good day,’ Danny smiled, sincerely, as his driver drove in a
convoy of black cars back to the butcher. Along the highway,
previously alight with open warfare, Danny was pleased to see no
smoke on the horizon.
was sinking as they took an off-ramp into the Poor District. Much of
the convoy had arrived much earlier to ensure that the district would
be defended against reprisals. Danny had arrived at a much more
leisurely pace. This was his city now. He wanted to admire it. It
would be changing soon. Might as well take in a last look. This war
that had lasted so long, the pointless conflict, was over. There
would be empire now. Danny’s empire. It wasn’t exactly what he
wanted, but Danny was an optimist. You compromised. This was a
comfortable compromise for him. So what if he was an emperor? It
didn’t matter as long as he was also a businessman. Danny imagined
red lights flickering. They seemed so real.
getting dark as they turned into the butchery’s street. Danny
jolted in his seat as the driver hastily braked. Black cars were
arranged around the street haphazardly.
Danny swore, a rare feat.
unbuckled and left his seat. A crowd was assembled around the
building. Most were fellow gang members. Many had been at the dome.
He was able to pass through, easily. He almost gagged at the sight on
the other side.
Gorlea, who had been sent out to secure the turf hours before, was
impaled on the butchery sign. Where once a sign of a spitted pig was
hung, the enforcer was dripping his guts onto the sandy street below.
door behind him was wide open. Danny entered, side-stepping the
dripping blood and entrails.
butcher who manned the counter had met a similar fate. He was nailed
to the wall, hand-length nails splaying him like an artwork. In his
chest, written in his blood, was a rising sun.
choked down some bile, holding his mouth for good measure.
the noxious room and surveyed the crowd. Black-suits. Wide eyes.
Sweat. Not mere perspiration, like Zito. Nervous sweat. His empire.
His business. The red lights began to fade.
Danny stuttered, quietly, and then spoke clearly. ‘Reinforce the
turf. We’re going to war.’
days afterwards, Danny gave up on the red lights. The Rising Sun, a
warlord from the bandit town of Red City, had sabotaged the Galisian
underworld. In their fear and suspicion of one another, they had
allowed themselves to fall. The south-side fell in days. The gangs
who didn’t join the Zenites, found themselves hanging by their
realised that the war that had blighted Galis for so long before, was
not really war. It was business. With the Zenites, things changed.
The Zenites didn’t care about credits. They made enough taxing the
entire south-side. The Rising Sun wanted an empire. Not a glitzy,
casino and vice filled enterprise, but a blood-soaked nation to
dominate. Danny could not compete with that.
Galisian Racketeering Board still functioned. It established
organised black markets for thieves, unions for whores, and even a
court of territorial disputes. The latter became irrelevant, however,
as all the gangs that survived the Zenites joined with the Marzios,
excluding the Purgers of Filth, who decided to fight their own
crusade. The Galisian Blades changed sides, depending on the bid.
Nobody could accuse them of treachery. They were the best, and you
paid for the best.
a divided city. Marzios in the north, Purgers in the east, and
Zenites controlling the south. The Troopers could do nothing as alien
invaders, once again, began harassing their borders. It was up to the
gangs of Galis to protect the city, from thugs, from psychos, from
up on the red lights. He had to settle for barred, tinted windows. He
could ignore this from his armoured office inside the butchery, but
whenever he left, and examined the dusty, decrepit street of his
home, he was reminded of how much he hated this city.
If you enjoyed this short story and want to see what happens to
Danny, check out Fall of Zona Nox.
When a world is about to fall, can a criminal be mankind’s only
James is a master thief in the gang-dominated Galis City,
crime-ridden capital of the frontier world of Zona Nox. Warfare and
poverty have made all Zonians hard, but are they prepared for what is
Under siege, the iron will of humanity has stood strong, but even
iron eventually bends.
Forced to join the Troopers, a galactic alliance of human soldiers,
James is thrust into defending Zona Nox. But as the conflict
continues, James realises that this war is not as simple as it may
With everything at stake, can James save his world?