Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 13 (v.1) - Chapter Twelve

Submitted: February 27, 2017

Reads: 113

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Submitted: February 27, 2017

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Upai Dunes (Knome)

 

The Dunes stretched out for miles, touching the horizon, a vast sea of sand as deadly as a sea of water, deceptively peaceful. As Teric, Kore, Jasen and a fully alert Wilhelm looked behind at the dunes they had just trekked through they all felt relief having come through the experience alive and well.  

“We would not have made it had it not been for these animals,” Kore volunteered, stroking the neck of his steed.  No one agreed verbally but everyone knew Kore spoke the truth.

Looking ahead, the horizon offered better prospects with the Thaingor Mountains dominating the northern view.  Teric, happy to be done with the dunes, he was uncertain about the unknowns that lie ahead.  He was in a quandary over Wilhelm. He knew they could not go on with the mission yet, they were in the thick of it, as more riders were bound to come.  How would he protect his future King? He rode silently, thinking of every possible scenario and how he would protect Wilhelm, it became his mission now.

Wilhelm rode with Teric, sitting behind him as silent as Teric was.  He was feeling much better after his injuries were treated and bandaged by Jasen.  Now his sorrows occupied his mind instead of his pain.  He could not get the image of Khewin falling to his death out of his mind.  It haunted him and accused him.  No matter how hard he tried to push it out of his head, it returned, over and over again, cursing him.  No one spoke to Wilhem, other than that needed in dealing with his injuries, or giving him some instruction.  He wanted to explain, not make excuses, he wanted to take full responsibility for his part in Khewin’s death, he wanted to apologize.  Yet he feared bringing it up, and reopening wounds.  

Jasen and Kore, riding next to each other were arguing about something.  They were too far behind for Teric to hear them, and he was actually happy about that.

“You still haven’t convinced me.” Jasen said as he tried to speed up to get away from Kore.

“Maybe my arguments are beyond your comprehension,” Kore insulted Jasen, oblivious of the insult.

Jasen almost stopped, slowing his animal, “I don’t get it, why is it that, when someone argues the superiority of one group over another, the person making the argument is always a part of the superior group?  It’s completely ridiculous.”

“Why would I argue, if I was of the inferior persuasion,” Kore asked.

“Precisely,” Jasen interrupted, “So stop arguing.”  Jasen sped up leaving Kore behind, catching up to Teric and Wilhelm.  

“Can’t we lose this guy,” Jasen asked Teric.  Teric laughed.

“Why do you let yourself get sucked into his crazy talk,” Teric asked.

“I don’t know, I’m trying to help him, I guess.”

“It’s not working,”

“You noticed,”

“He doesn’t talk that way to me,” Teric added.

“He’s scared of you,” Jasen laughed, just as Kore caught up with them.

“Would you like me to explain,” Kore asked.

“No,” came a firm answer from all of them, including Wilhelm.

Kore was surprised by the firm unified answer, as even Wilhelm chimed in.  

“I just don’t think you understood what I was saying,” Kore continued his argument.

“No, actually I did,” Jasen countered, “Nuemidians are the chosen people, they are the heirs of the father, I got all that, do I believe it, No. And you had your chance and you failed.”

“It was not a failure, it was a testing,” Kore replied.

Teric, kicked his heels into his steed as it galloped away from Kore and Jasen as they continued to argue.

“Thank you,” Wilhelm said, realizing he spoke out loud to Teric.  Teric said nothing.

After a long silence, Wilhelm decided to take a chance.

“Teric,” Wilhelm called.

There was silence.

“Teric, I am so deeply sorry about Khewin,” Wilhelm confessed as he watched Teric stiffen up.

“I can’t get the image of him…” Wilhelm paused.

“I’m, so sorry,”

“What do you want from me, forgiveness?” Teric finally spoke.

“No, No, I just want you to know, if I had a chance to…”

“What were you doing in our shuttle anyway,” Teric asked, cutting Wilhelm off.

Wilhelm breathed a sigh, “I wanted to get here, to Knome, without being noticed.”

“Well, you’re here, How do you like it,” Teric asked.

“I don’t, but it was not the planet itself, rather it was someone on the planet, that I wanted to see,”

“Who?”

“The Lady Anya Yemen,” Wilhem said, as his heart began to pound with the thought of her.

“She was on board the Corbellis,” 

“I know.”

“Your Prince Wilhelm, why did you have to hide, you can do whatever you want, go wherever you want,”

“You would think so, but it just isn’t that way,” Wilhelm lamented.

“Teric, Teric,” Jasen voice interrupted Teric and Wilhelm’s conversation, as his steed galloped alongside them. 

“Look just off to the left,” Jasen instructed.

“What is it,” Teric asked straining to look but not knowing what he was looking for.

“A house.”

“I see it,” Wilhelm spoke up.

“Yes,” Teric replied cautiously, not as excited as the others.

“There’s smoke rising above it,” Kore added, as his steed caught up with the others.

“Should we go there,” Jasen asked Teric.

Teric, was thinking, calculating all the possibilities.  “Maybe we should check it out, but I should go alone.  I’ll survey the place, and then, if it’s safe, I will signal to you.”

“Ok,” Jasen agreed.

Teric dismounted and walked over to Kore.  “I’m going to ride your animal, you ride with Wilhelm."  Kore dismounted and walked over to the steed Teric had ridden.

Teric mounted the animal and, digging in his heels, the steed began to gallop in the direction of the distant house. 

 

Tannis (Kessel)

Tamden Royal Palace

 

King Wilhelm held the holographic image in hand, his mind empty of every thought except one, his son. With each passing day, he fell deeper in despair, not wanting to think the worse, but being forced to consider it. He had the same desperate helpless feeling as he had so long ago, looking upon the near lifeless body of his wife. He was the King, he was powerful, but he could do nothing as she lay on the cold floor fighting to live.  


Young Wilhelm had always reminded him of his beautiful wife, his eyes, were hers.  His smile, was hers. Young Wilhelm was a soothing consolation to him, after her death.  She had loved him so much and he loved seeing baby Wilhelm in her arms. She was so overjoyed to be a mother, and she insisted on caring for him herself, and she did.  Tears flowed down the face of the King as he imagined the worst for his dear son.  He had lost the love of his life, and now he may lose his son, the last part of her. 

He now wished that he had made more time for his son, he wished he had listened to him.  His son was in love and he had dismissed it. He should have sensed the desperation in him.  King Wilhelm cursed himself, for he should have understood what his son was experiencing.  He could have been, more sympathetic to him.  The King remembered his own desperation, he recalled his own confession to his father. He had fallen in love with the Lady Amee of the Minor House of Wincelus and he wanted her to be his wife. She accepted when he asked her.  However, his father was not pleased.  His father ordered him to break off his engagement, known only to Amee and her family. It was the hardest thing he had ever done. But Amee made it less difficult than it could have been. She could sense how difficult it was for him and she hid her own emotional turmoil, for his sake.

In order to appease the growing opposition of the House of Palatia, the King’s father had arranged that he marry Lady Elayna, the daughter of Governor Kaspen Palatia of the planet Parthia. Wilhelm, complied with his father’s wishes and wedded the Lady Elayna.  He hated Elayna and her whole scheming clan of a family.  He knew what they wanted, another Governorship, if not the throne itself. He was not going to make it easy for them.

For thirteen years, Amee had remained unmarried and it was a constant threat to Elayna.  She did everything she could to humiliate Amee and her family.  Even having a child was not enough to appease Elayna, she became obsessed with this perceived threat to her family.  

It was difficult for the King to reexamine all the pain in his life, but there was an answer in it somewhere. Somewhere the reason for his suffering, lay in the past, and he is being made to atone for it.  Had it been the exile of Elayna and her child?  Had it been his aloofness to her?  But hadn’t he paid with the death of Amee, must his son also pay for his sins.

The King’s door chimed and he rose immediately, composing himself as Lord Havic Poul entered the King’s study.

“My Lord,” Havic feigned concern, “You really must get some rest.”

“No, I will not rest until my son walks through that doorway as clearly as you have.”

“If you want to be alive when he does, you must get some rest, I insist,” Havic scolded his King.

“No,” the King yelled firmly, “I can’t sleep anyway.”

“As you wish, My Lord.”  Havic stood close to the King, noticing his unsteadiness.

“What can you tell me Havic, please, do you have anything?”

“Please, my lord, sit down and I will tell you.” Havic held on to the King’s arm as he helped him sit down.

“Please, what news,” The King asked desperate for anything.

“I’m afraid the manifest from the Corbellis produced nothing actionable.  We are still going through captured port video.”

King Wilhelm rested his head in his hands.

“I am sorry My Lord, don’t despair, we will find him.”

King Wilhelm sat for some time with his head in his hands, Havic remained silent watching this mountain of a man breakdown, right in front of his eyes.  

“Havic,” The king finally spoke.

“Havic, do you think, I am being punished,” The King asked not looking up, although he dropped his hands.

“Whatever for, My Lord.” Havic, had never let his guard down in the King’s presence, but had the King looked up, in that moment, he would have witnessed a most inauspicious smile on the face of his most trusted advisor.  The King, however, did not look up. He was too fearful of the answer.

“Do you think, I am being punished, for Elayna and Hamlin.”

Havic seethed, as he looked down upon the King, he wanted to say, ‘Of course you are being punished you fool,’ instead, he knelt down at The Kings side as he hunted for words.  “My Lord, you must stop punishing yourself over this, it is in the past, let it stay in the past.”

“There must be a reason why tragedy hunts for me, Havic.”

“Let it stay in the past,” Havic replied reflectively. He did not know his Great Aunt Elayna very well, however, she was family.  When she was exiled along with her young son, and soon after, King Wilhelm divorced her and married the Lady Amee Wincelus, the King became a hated man within the House of Palatia, it was the spark that led to the Senate Rebellion.

“Let it stay in the Past, my Lord,” Havic repeated. 

“I am sorry, Havic. I wish I could do it all over again,” The King looked up at Havic, his eyes still overflowing with emotion.

“If only, my Lord, if only
 

 

Upai Plains (Knome)

 

Jasen, Kore and Wilhelm, watched the trail of dust tossed up in the wake of Teric’s ride towards the solitary structure in the distance. Jasen compelled his animal into a trot, following Teric.  Kore began to follow Jasen.

“Teric wanted us to wait for his signal,” Wilhelm nervously pleaded.

“If there were any Hostiles, I think we would know by now, they wouldn’t have let Teric get that close, “Jasen replied.

“He has dismounted,” Kore added, straining to keep watch on Teric.

“Do you see anyone else,” Jasen asked.

“No, wait a minute, someone is coming out of the house,” Kore replied.

Teric stood with one hand concealed, grasping the hilt of his sword. A young boy exited the house, he looked no older than sixteen, Teric thought, he released the hilt.  Just as he started to speak, he sensed, quicker than he saw it.  From around the corner of the house a much older man appeared, aiming his stun rifle directly at Teric.  Teric did not move, so as not to startle the pair.  He held his hands high.

“Keep your hands where I can see them,” The old man ordered, “Dru, take his weapon.”

As the young boy began to walk towards Teric, the old man also began to walk, holding his aim.

“I’m not going to let him take my weapon,” Teric called out.  The young boy froze and looked towards his father.

“Dru, take it,” the old man ordered, walking faster towards Teric.

“Listen,” Teric yelled, “Stop.”  In a split second, Teric’s hands were no longer in the air, grabbing the hilt of his sword, he drew it, breaking into a guarded defensive stance. The young boy didn’t even see Teric’s movement, he only heard the blast from his father’s stun rifle. Dru jump at the the sound of the impact the bolt had made with the blade of Teric’s sword. The boy stumbled, falling to the ground as a second bolt absorbed into Teric’s blade causing an ear-piercing sound.

Teric jumped from his guarded stance as the old man approached, his finger clutching the trigger, preparing to initiate another shot.  With one complete move Teric spun, jumping to the right of the old man, he raised his blade high into an arc, bringing the blade down on to the barrel of the old man’s rifle, slicing it just as a bolt attempted to exit the chamber, sparking with a loud crack. The old man fell to the ground screaming. Teric’s steed, disturbed, began to run away from the commotion. 

Jasen, Kore and Wilhelm halted their advance as the old man attacked Teric.  They were close enough to witness the bolts coming from the old man’s rifle and Teric’s defense.

“Stay here,” Jasen called out as he rode to help his friend.

“I think he can handle it,” Kore called out after Jasen.

“See, I told you,” Kore added to Wilhelm as they observed Teric taking control of the incident.

Jasen slowed down as he witnessed Teric’s counter attack.

Kore and Wilhelm caught up to Jasen.  

“Do you think it’s safe to approach now,” Kore asked.

“Yes, let’s go,” Jasen replied as they rode off.

The boy, still on the ground, was stunned into silence.  Teric’s blade was back in its scabbard, as he reached for the old man.  The old man began to quickly back away.

“I’m no threat to you, wait,” Teric stopped looking at the boy who was now cowering on the ground.  “I’m not going to hurt you, please,” Teric held up his hands.

The old man stood, hesitantly, he began to move toward his son, avoiding Teric.  

Teric kept his hands high, “I’m not, going to hurt you.”  

The old man reached his son, lifting him, they began to back away towards the house.  

“Wait, I need your help, please, Teric pleaded.

“You need our help,” the old man asked, surprised, after witnessing Teric’s incredible counter attack.

“Yes, I’m sorry, I couldn’t let you take my weapon. Believe me I could’ve done more than I did.”  Teric added.

The old man halted his retreat.  “Who are you?” he asked.

“My name is Teric, I’m from Akadia, my ship crashed here.”

The old man released his hold on his son.  

“My shipped crashed in the dunes, I could use your help,” Teric asked.

“That ja-rak, where did you get it?” the old man asked.  “It’s one of mine. I breed them.”

“I was attacked, and I had to defend myself."

“No need to explain, I can guess what happened.” The old man interrupted, as he walked cautiously toward Teric.  “My name is Pogo, this is my son Dru.”  Pogo looked past Teric to the riders slowly approaching them.

 “Are they with you?” Pogo asked, pointing to the others.

“Yes, they’re with me.”  Teric replied.

“Dru, see to the Ja-raks,” Pogo instructed.  Dru stepped forward just as the two ja-raks carrying Jasen, Kore and Wilhelm arrived.  They dismounted the animals and approached Teric.

“Pogo, these are my companions, Jasen, Koreleon and Wilhelm.” Pogo made a subtle bow.  Dru took up the ja-raks and led them around to the back of the house.

“We should step inside,” Pogo said, leading the men into his house.  “I appreciate you not killing me.”  He added.

“I had no intention of doing so,” Teric replied as he step into the small house.

“Well one can never be too sure anymore.” Pogo directed the group to various places to sit.

“My son and I, have been raising ja-raks here since he was a pup, no troubles, but now, things are different, I never had to even threaten to use that rifle, of course now, I can't even do that, thanks to you,” Pogo gestured toward Teric.

“I’m sorry for that.” Teric replied, like he had been scolded.

“No, don’t worry about it, we’re defenseless now, can’t be helped." Pogo continued on as he sat down on the only available place, a small chair table that he moved to the center of the group.

Dru walked into the room from a rear entrance.  “Did you kill those Surface Riders?” he asked Teric.

“Well,” Teric din’t know how to answer, but was interrupted.

“That was some incredible fighting, I would have never guessed a blade would be faster than a blaster.”  Dru added excitedly.

“You boys, hungry,” Pogo asked,  "thirsty, or Hungry and thirsty, which?

Teric, Kore and Jasen, nodded in agreement.

“Well, which is it, hungry, thirsty or hungry and thirsty,” Pogo asked again.

“Both,” they replied in unison.

“Dru,” Pogo called out. “Heat up a batch for our visitors.”

Pogo stood, “And I got something to drink that’ll clear your passage way of the sand dust.”  He walked out of the room to retrieve refreshments.

“So, what’s the plan,” Kore asked after Pogo left the room.

“I’m not sure yet,” Jasen said, “let’s just get at much information as we can, then we can decide what to do.”

“We need to find access to some type of communications system, we need to get him off world,” Teric added as he gestured toward Wilhelm.

“Wait a minute, I don’t want to leave here, I want to get to Maessa,” Wilhelm objected.

“You can’t go to Maessa, it’s not safe for you here,” Teric countered.

Pogo reentered the room, halting the groups conversation.  He was carrying a couple of bottles of some type of clear liquid.

“This will do the trick, this will do the trick,” Pogo almost sang as he sat the bottles on the table he had earlier sat on.

“Dru, bring a few glasses,” Pogo yelled.  

Dru entered the room with a few ceramic cups and sat the on the small table.  Pogo opened the bottle and began to pour the liquid into the cups.  Dru left the room to finish the dish he was preparing.  Pogo handed a cup to Jasen, Teric, Kore and Wilhelm.  

“Drink up,” Popo suggested.

The alcholic aroma of the liquid was very strong, making all hesitant to be the first to drink.  As everyone looked at each other, Pogo grabbed the bottle and began to drink. 

Kore was the first to drink and he immediately coughed it all up, causing Pogo to jump up and down laughing with delight.

“Too strong for you?” Pogo laughed.

“No,” Kore lied, cleary embarrassed, “Just unexpected.  It’s got a kick,” He warned the others.

“Wilhelm sat his cup down, Jasen sipped his, and Teric drank it straight down, to the amazement of the others, especially Pogo.

“It’s very good,” Teric said, putting the cup down on the table.

"It's my own mixture," Pogo added, slapping the bottle with satisfaction.

Dru entered the room carrying a tray with several steaming bowls on top.

“Here we are, place it here,” Pogo directed as he lifted the bottles, making room for the tray.

Pogo passed a bowl to each one, taking one for himself.  Dru took the last one and sat on the floor.  Pogo and Dru immediately began to eat as the other looked over the food, blowing on it, to cool it off.  

Teric took a bite and was impressed. “It’s good.”

The others began to dive in, eating, devouring real food for the first in some time. that they had been without for some time.

“Surface Riders,” Jasen spoke up, “You called them Surface Riders, who are they?”

“Rangers, they patrol the surfaces, I supply them with Ja-raks. I raised the ones you were riding.  

“This is really good,” Wilhelm interrupted, “What is it?”

“Ja-raks,” Pogo replied.

Wilhelm stopped eating and began to cough.

“Are you alright,” Pogo asked.

“This is the animals we were riding,”

“Not the exact ones you were riding,” Pogo chuckled. “We raise a few of them for meat.”

Wilhelm put his bowl down, picked up his cup took a drink and immediately vomited over the tray as the others jumped back to avoid being soiled.

“I’m sorry,” Wilhelm stood, quickly lifting the tray.  “I'm really sorry, where can I dump this?”

“Dru, take him outside.”  Dru stood up waving for Wilhelm to follow him.  They left the room.

The others sat back down after verifying that they escaped being soiled.  

“I’m sorry about your friend,” Pogo said.

“Actually, I’m glad he’s gone for the moment,” Teric replied.

Jasen and Kore looked at each other curious regarding Teric’s statement.

“Do you have any form of communication on your property?” Teric asked.

“No, we don’t,” Pogo replied.

“My friend, he is a very important person where we are from, and we need to get him back home.  We need a way to communicate this to our government,” Teric confessed.

“I’m sorry, we have no way of communicating to the next town, let alone, off world.”

“We need to find a means of communication, However we can't bring him with us, could our friend stay here with you, it would be safer for him than to travel with us,” Teric asked.

“Yes, we don’t want to put his life at risk,” Jasen added.

“Sure, he can stay here, if he wants,” Pogo added. “We had a man stay with us some months ago, he had been attacked by a Daegu near the Thaingor forest, we found him near our pens, he was in bad shape."

Jasen, Kore and Teric all looked at each other.

“Who was this man?” Teric asked.


© Copyright 2019 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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