Many thanks to Sue from Poetry, Prose and Mysteries for coming up with this story idea!


A new message flashed across the screen that the CS was sitting in front of. He sighed and glanced at it with no real interest.

Date: 26th June 2069

Location: Soho Square, London, England

Required course of action: Immediate termination/capture of all on the streets

CS Riccan smiled slowly.
Perhaps it was going to be a good day after all.

What, then, are the SKAN?
The best analogy anyone could come up with is that of a Neanderthal that has suddenly been transported forward to the 21st century, has no grasp of sophisticated technology, has no wish to learn and would rather stay in a freezing cold street or leaking, abandoned house, than come in out of the cold and stay with a substitute family who can give them food, shelter and warmth, thank you so very much.
All of which is completely inaccurate. Most SKAN have an excellent grasp of 'sophisticated technology', have no need to learn and as for the part about the street and the house...
Well, one out of three isn't bad.
The SKAN are simply another society coexisting with...the other...who they will have absolutely nothing to do with. They call them niarin, Outsiders and to deal with them, or even be suspected of dealing with them, is one of the most heinous crimes in SKAN society and-like a few other things-is punishable by death.
Outsiders, for some reason, seem to have got it into their heads that all SKAN would be far safer and happier in their society than their own.
Which is also completely inaccurate. If you were to capture a wild rabbit and lock it up in a hutch, it would be safe from foxes, cats, dogs and all other predators, but it would die faster there than in the wild.
SKAN, of course, do not rationalize as far as that. They just hate presumption of all kinds and that's one of the worst. The SKAN violently disagree with this policy of Outsiders (often literally) and will kill Outsiders who dare intrude on their ground (which is clearly marked) without due cause.
SKAN also have limited telekinetic/psychokinetic powers. Which of these they possess depends purely on the SKAN. All of them have one of these powers and a rare few have both.
Then there's the titles. There are ten of these-olix, irar, kerj, nas, syer, liraq, kiet, hol, rasur and vasari. These are attainable in any SKAN profession-lure, fighter, you name it.
But at a cost. A fighter will have to defeat another fighter of a higher title in order to win that title for themselves.
The only other title is cki (pronounced chai and is a slightly derogatory term for anyone without a rankscar.
Rankscars mark titles. The scar has to be self inflicted and runs from just beside the eye to the jawline on the opposite cheek to the i.t. The deeper the scar, the higher the rank.
I.t. stands for identifying tattoo and is the symbol(s) tattooed onto the SKAN at birth, telling other SKAN about their chosen profession and their trainer. SKAN have no say in their profession. It's chosen when they're conceived, as is their trainer. The only exception is if, for example, a lure shows an amazing aptitude for combat and not such an amazing aptitude for their job. In which case, they're transferred-but can rarely make it above nas as they have missed out on some training already.
Oh yes, and SKAN are dangerous.
Very dangerous.

The rasur Acheron studied her opponent closely, watching for the slightest error in his judgement.
This was it, then. Acheron had challenged the vasari Kanil to a fight for his title. Here, in a duel of this ferocity and magnitude, to lose often meant death.
Kanil feinted to the left and Acheron matched his movement perfectly. He leaned back slightly, ready to strike. Acheron saw his movement and leapt back out of danger. Not out of cowardice-more out of caution and respect for Kanil, who was probably the best fighter the SKAN had had in a long time.
"Coward!" Kanil spat contemptuously.
Acheron narrowed her eyes.
Coward, huh? she thought. Let's see how well you can taunt this off!
She reached down, seemingly examining a pulled muscle. Kanil watched her warily. No rasur worth their life would take a rest because of a simple injury like a pulled muscle! Broken bones, yes, that was acceptable, but not something as insignificant as that!
Acheron felt down the side of her calf for the knife she'd strapped to her leg. It was a trick she'd picked up from her close friend, Talhi, who worked as a lure. If you're going into a situation you're not sure about, or if a guy starts to push you too far, pull this out. It usually helps.
The rasur smiled inwardly. A lure giving advice about combat to a fighter? Still, she had to admit, Talhi had managed to stay alive and in SKAN so far by doing it.
She brought the knife out and sent it in a well practised underhand flick towards Kanil. The vasari saw it coming, but didn't have time to move even a fraction of an inch.
Acheron waited calmly until he stopped moving, then walked across and pulled her knife out delicately from Kanil's chest.
Looks like I'm the new vasari, she thought. Better do something about a new rankscar before I go back. Her face betraying no more emotion than it had when she'd killed Kanil, Acheron took out her knife again and brought it up towards the side of her face.

Book One