Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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

Chapter 15 (v.1) - Chapter Fourteen

Submitted: March 03, 2017

Reads: 111

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Submitted: March 03, 2017

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Tannis (Kessel)

Akadian Intelligence Agency 

 

The investigation into the disappearance of Prince Wilhelm was now being handled by dozens of agencies and commissions, it was the top priority of every government office, with each frantically seeking to discover the key that would lead to Wilhelm’s discovery, and garner favor with the Royal House.  For the lead investigatory agency, it was becoming difficult to respond to every request for information, from individuals and groups, most of whom were without the required clearance to even review the information the Agency possessed.   Even without the AIA’s portfolio, much of what the Agency knew, was now common knowledge.  Wilhelm’s visit to the residence of Blake Marcoon, his visit to the Knomen Embassy Residence Hall in disguise seeking the Lady Anya Yemen, his visit to Canton Port and the incident involving a member of the Kore. All of this was well known.  It was also discovered that Wilhelm was seeking to acquire transport to the planet Knome, in pursuit of the Lady Anya Yemen. What was, unknown, and known, only to the Agency, was that, Wilhelm, had acquired transport on a Shuttle, secretly obtained by the Agency for a mission to Knome in violation of a Royal Executive Order.  The Royal Security Council, had the manifest from the Corbellis, they also had the incident report involving the Shuttle Vulton, but, they had not yet connected the incident, with Wilhelm.  The missing link, was still in the possession of the agency, video footage of Wilhelm entering Bay 50, which housed the Shuttle Vulton.  The Agency removed this information from the record and withheld it.

Kenton waited through the fifth interruption of his conversation with Director Jak, another department head to head call with a request for information, information selectively given by Jak.  When the call ended, Jak suspended all calls, to give his undivided attention to his Section Chief.  

“I’m sorry Kenton, please start again.”

“Yes, sir.”  Kenton wanted to meet at their usual clean location to discuss the latest information regarding the mission and Wilhelm’s disappearance, however it was becoming increasingly impossible for Jak to get away.  So, they had to have a scrubbed conversation in the Director’s office.

Kenton, paused to formulate his thoughts.  “Sir, zero communications, not even a ping.  It’s not looking good sir.  In fact, sir, I’m suggesting, because of the sensitivity of the issue, open contact.”

Jak, sat silent, considering Kenton’s suggestion. “What time frame for initiating open contact?”

“Actually sir, we have an asset in the area.”

“What asset?

Kenton gestured with his finger reminding Jak that he couldn’t reveal that information in an unclean environment. “Let’s just say that our asset will reduce our time frame by seventy-five percent, however, we will have to trigger this operation soon, and, we will have to disclose some sensitive information to initiate this task.”

Jak rose from his seat and gestured for Kenton to follow him into the hall.  They walked into the hall, and opened a nearby door that led into a stairwell, they walked down one flight of stairs and stopped on the landing.

“What’s the asset? Jak asked in a low tone.

“A PTV was also on board the Corbellis, destined for Bog,” Kenton replied, in an equally low tone. “Coles Miso, is Captain of the Enola, he is also an AIA asset.  If we can get him to make a diversion to Knome, or at least, dispatch a shuttle to the Volton’s last known heading, we could glean some much-needed information.”

“You said we will have to make a disclosure?”

“Yes, the Enola is scheduled for a return voyage on the Dardossa, if we employ him, he will need some excuse for his superiors and, let’s just say, there are going to be questions.”

“It’s strange that we’ve had no communication from the Volton, not even its beacon,” Jak said rubbing his forehead, trying to rub out the throbbing pain in his head.

“That’s why we have to do something, sir, Wilhelm was aboard that ship.”

Jak stood for some time silently considering the ramifications of the very few options left to him.  He knew he had no choice, the life of their future King was at stake.

“Ok, let’s go with it, but, I want to approve, any information, that we relay to an asset, or to any entity.  Is that clear.”

“Yes sir, I will contact the Enola and let you know as soon as I hear anything.  Do you want to be in on the call?"

Jak considered for a moment.  "No, too risky.  Just keep me informed."

"Will do sir."  Kenton turned, walked up the stairs, and out of the stairwell, as Jak remained, rubbing his forehead.

 

Upai Plains (Knome)

Pogo’s Ranch

 

Wilhelm woke up screaming, his heart, pounding so hard he stood up clutching his chest, only to fall back down as a wave of dizziness enveloped him.  He began taking deep breaths, trying to force his body to calmness. As the wave of disorientation relented, his panic also began to dissipate. Looking around the room, he was curious why no one was coming to his aid. The reason became clear, there was no one in the room with him.  He rose and began to search for his companions.  The house was small with only four rooms, so if anyone was in the house they should have been able to hear his screams.  He searched all four rooms and found no one. Wilhelm's stress level was beginning to rise as he recalled Jasen's desire to leave him there at Pogo's ranch.  He walked out of the front of the house, looked around, surveying the horizon in every direction, but he saw no one.  He walked around to the back of the house, hoping to see his friends there, again, he saw no one, only the ja-raks, trotting around undisturbed in their fenced in pen.  Again, he surveyed the horizon, seeing no one.

“They're gone,” came a voice from behind him.  He turned around as Pogo approached him riding on a ja-rak.

“They left before twilight,” Pogo added as he dismounted the animal.

Wilhelm felt totally defeated, how would he get to Maessa now, he thought.  His mind raced for options as Pogo watched him, waiting, for a response to his statement.

Their attention was diverted to Dru as he walked out of a shed attached to the back of the house.

“You finally up,” Dru said as he approached.

“Which way did they go,” Wilhelm asked turning his attention back to Pogo.

“They asked me not to tell you. I guess they anticipated that you would try to follow them. You really are much safer here.”

“I can't stay here,” Wilhelm said as he considered confessing his real motives.  He approached Pogo, grasping his shoulders.

“Look Pogo, I am trying to get to Maessa, to Krestlin Palace, I have to contact someone there,” Wilhelm pleaded.  "Can you help me!"

Pogo was surprised by Wilhelm's insistence, he stepped back out of Wilhelm's grasp.

"I was told, that you are someone very important, and that it was vital for you to remain here and wait for transportation that would take you back to Akadia.  So, who are you?”

Wilhelm felt reluctant about revealing too many details, "It is true what you were told, but I came here of my own free will, I need to get to Krestlin Palace, will you help?

“Who are you looking for?” Dru asked.

Wilhelm considered.  “The Lady Anya Yemen.”

Pogo and Dru were surprised.

“The Lady Ann,” Dru asked.  “Do you know her?”

“Yes, I knew her, very well,”  

“How do you know her?” Pogo asked somewhat skeptical.

“We went to the Academy together, in fact she tutored me for some time.  Pogo, she would want to see me, she would be grateful for any assistance you offered to me.”

Pogo paused as he weighed Wilhelm’s claims.

“Pa, I think we should help him,” Dru added.

“Hush boy, Let me think,” Pogo waved his hand cutting off Dru.

Pogo seemed to be considering Wilhelm’s request.  Then Wilhelm saw Pogo's eyes widen as Pogo looked past him.  Wilhelm turned around to see a cloud of dust in the distance.  He felt a tug on his arm as Pogo pulled on him.

"Come on, I've got to hide you,” Pogo said in a panic. “Dru, inside, help me.”

“What is it,” Wilhelm asked, again turning around, looking at the approaching cloud of dust.

“Surface Riders,” Dru screamed.

“Surface Riders,” Pogo uttered, pulling forcefully on Wilhelm as he gave way in the direction of Pogo's tug.

Wilhelm, Dru and Pogo ran into the house.  Dru began moving furniture. 

“No, not here, they know about this one,” Pogo said regarding the shelter under their common room.  “In the sleeproom.”

They literally pulled Wilhelm through the house and into the sleep room.  Dru began moving the cot from the floor. Then he removed the rug under the cot. Pogo began to lift a cut out on the floor, revealing an entrance to an underground room.  "Get in," Pogo insisted.

Wilhelm was reluctant to enter the underground room, needing some explanation about what was happening.

“Please, get in,” Pogo insisted this time more forcefully, “You'll never reach Maessa if you don't get in there,” Pogo added.

Wilhelm entered, feeling the wooden cutout hitting his head as Pogo hurriedly closed the secret door, replacing the rug and the cot. Just as Pogo and Dru replaced the furniture in the sleeproom, the light in the house darkened as men entered from the front and rear entrances.  Wilhelm could hear the sounds of heavy footsteps above.

Pogo counted about half a dozen men as they entered his home. They were dressed in a dark garb from head to toe, wearing heavy boots, and leather straps around their arms and hands, the garb of Surface Riders.  He also noticed through the windows about a dozen more Surface Riders, which was the largest number of Surface Riders he had ever seen at one time. They were also heavily armed. 

The rangers who entered through his front entrance, began to step to one side to make room for one ranger, who entered and walked right up to Pogo.

Dru stepped just out of the common room and into the cookery.

"You had men here, where are they,” the ranger asked.  Pogo recognized the man. They had visited previously, even enjoying friendly conversations in the past, but this time there was no recognition in the man's eyes, no friendly manner.

“Babous, what's going on.” Pogo asked, using the ranger’s name hoping to rekindle memories of friendlier times.

Babous turned to the men behind him, giving them an order.  The other rangers began overturning the house and began searching the rooms.  Babous stamped his heavy boot on the floor of the common room and the Rangers began moving items away from the common room floor.  They began to lift the floor panel revealing the shelter’s entrance.  A couple of Ranges entered and searched the shelter, finding no one. Turning back to Pogo, Babous asked more sternly.  "Where are the men?

"What men?” Pogo asked raising his arms.  Immediately Pogo was struck, hard in his abdomen.  Dru jumped into the common room to assist his father, however he was stopped immediately as one of the Rangers grabbed Dru on the back of his neck, preventing his advance.  Dru screamed.  Pogo doubled over groaning in pain.

"I will ask you again and it will be for the last time, where are the men?”

Wilhelm, could only hear muffled voices, but could hear furniture being thrown around, but when he heard Pogo groaning, he began to panic, as the danger, now became very clear to him.  

"They left yesterday, I don't know who they were, or where they were going,” Pogo confessed writhing in pain.

“Take him,” Babous ordered.

“Leave him alone,” Dru screamed, while being held by the Ranger.

The Rangers grabbed Pogo, dragging him on the floor and out the front entrance, throwing him down to the ground out side.

Wilhelm could hear Pogo's muffled cries as he sensed that Pogo was being beaten.

Pogo screamed under the assault that he received, he was being punched and kicked by several of Babous' men, the beating was relentless.  Pogo was losing consciousness as Babous called for a halt to his torture.  Pogo was lifted and brought up closer to Babous.

“Do you want to tell me now? Your friends, where are they?” 

Pogo was barely able to stand, leaning heavily onto the rangers that were holding him up. Pogo weakly pointed in the direction that the men had departed earlier that day.  Babous then ordered the men to let Pogo drop, and he fell to the ground.  Babous whistled loudly as four Rangers, mounted on ja-raks, appeared.  He ordered the four to pursue Wilhelm’s friends by pointing in the direction in which Pogo indicated. The four riders rode off furiously disappearing in a cloud of dust. 

Dru had stopped fighting the Ranger’s grip and thought about reaching for the blaster in the Ranger’s holster. He decided against it, because there were just too many of them. Then suddenly, all, but a couple of Rangers exited the house.  Dru decided to take advantage of his more favorable odds. He, kicked back as hard as he could against the Ranger’s kneecap, hearing and feeling a crunch.  It was enough to cause the Ranger to release his grip on Dru.  The Ranger began to fall, screaming in pain as Dru managed to pull the blaster from the Ranger’s holster.  As soon as the blaster cleared the holster Dru pulled the trigger.  The bolt hit the Ranger in his abdomen. The close range of the blast was messy but sure, as the Ranger fell to the ground.  Dru pulled the trigger a second time reflexively, spitting another bolt into the lifeless body of the fallen Ranger.  The second Ranger in the house darted into the common room firing his blaster, but missing Dru as Dru fell to the floor in expectation of a counter attack.  Dru pulled the trigger towards the second Ranger, the bolt hitting him squarely in the face and the Ranger fell immediately. 

The Rangers outside of the House fell to the ground in reaction to the blaster exchange coming from inside the house. Babous remained on his feet.  “Take care of that,” he ordered, angered by the reaction of his men.  “Now!”

Dru stayed low on the ground and crawled towards the front door.  “Pa!” he yelled. “Pa!”  He began firing indiscriminately.

Pogo could hear his son calling for him but his replies were too weak for Dru to hear him.  He laid on the ground watching as the Rangers stormed into the house firing relentlessly.  He could hear Dru screaming and then, there was silence. The Rangers came out of the house dragging Dru’s lifeless body, dropping him next to Pogo.  Pogo began to cry and lament loudly as he watched his son’s lifeless body, still smoking from dozens of laser burns, the smell of his son’s burning flesh, gagging him.

“Burn it down,” Babous ordered. He then walked over to Pogo who was now kneeling over his dead son, Babous drew his weapon, pointing it towards Pogo, he fired, several times and stood there, watching Pogo writhing in pain, watching until he breathed his last breath and died. 

The Rangers, meanwhile, were firing away at the house, as areas of the structure, began to ignite and burn.  Soon the structure became engulfed in flames, as the rangers mounted their ja-raks, and galloped away in a cloud of dust and sand.

Wilhelm began to smell smoke.  He couldn’t see in the darken bunker, but, he was aware that it was filling with smoke.  He began to cough, covering his mouth.  He tried to push open the panel entrance with his hands, but it was too difficult with the rug and cot on top of it. He began to use his back and pushed hard against the panel, dislodging the cot and lifting the rug. He was then able to push the panel away from the opening, as he did a wave of flames and smoke rushed into the opening, burning his face.  He quickly bent over, letting the panel door drop as he grabbed his face where the flames licked him, grimacing over the pain.  Wilhelm was now beginning to panic, wondering if he was going to die.  He fell to the ground, coughing, feeling for anything on the ground.  

The house was now completely engulfed in flames, the roar of the inferno was deafening.  Weakened areas of the structure began caving in.

Wilhelm found a large container of liquid, it had a terrible smell, but lifting it, he poured it all over on himself. He then took off his shirt and covered his face with it.  As he rose to his feet, he tripped over a large blanket on the ground. He began pulling it up, from the ground.  He placed it over himself, and he approached the entrance coughing violently from the smothering smoke. He felt as if he was going to pass out, however, knowing that this was possibly his last chance to make it out, he ignored his lightheadedness.  He had to make it out, this time, no matter the cost or pain.  He took a deep breath, coughing violently once more, and again using his shoulder, this time wrapped in the blanket, soaked in what he believed was water, he began lifting the door, pushing as hard as he could, sliding the panel away from the entrance. He created enough space to crawl out still wrapped in the blanket, feeling the intense heat from the flames. He quickly crawled out, sensing that the blanket was now on fire. He then managed to escape from the burning blanket, as he felt the flames burning his skin. Through the wet shirt over his face he could see daylight in front of him.  He made a mad dash for the light, tripping a couple of times over some fallen object, burning his hands in the process.  He got to his feet, and began to run as fast as he could straight for the light, finally reaching outside. He then began rolling on the ground trying to put out the remaining flames that were charring his body.  As he managed to do so, he stood up, cowering in expectation of a shot that never came.  He looked around but saw no Rangers in sight.  With that danger gone, the pain from his injuries increased significantly, his face, hands, feet, his whole body felt like they were still burning. He fought against the tremendous pain and began to walk. 

He turned towards the house as he heard it collapsing and realized how close he was, to never escaping that inferno.  He watched for a moment while what was left of the house, burned away.  He then saw the body of Pogo and Dru and he went to them.  Wilhelm checked Pogo for a pulse even though he realized that the man was dead.  He then surveyed his surroundings, looking to the horizon.  Still in much pain, he walked around to the stalls behind the house.  Most all the ja-raks were gone, except a couple.  He hurried and ran, to close the open gate to the stall, to keep the last two ja-raks, from escaping.  

As he approached the nervous ja-raks, he maneuvered one of the ja-raks to the back of one of the pens.  He closed the pen's gate behind him and began to stroke the ja-rak, trying to calm it down.  He slowly mounted the ja-rak, stroking it, as he grabbed the reins.  He sat for some time, letting the ja-rak calm down, letting it get used to him.  Then pulling the reins, he guided the ja-rak closer to the pen's gate which he kicked open and pulled the reins as the ja-rak now began to gallop toward the stall gate.  He kicked at the stall gate over and over, not wanting to dismount the animal, to open it, fearing that his ja-rak might run away, so he continued to kick at it, until it finally opened.   He then back kicked into the ja-rak urging the it into a gallop, and then into a sprint.  Wilhelm put his head down, as the ja-rak began to sprint in the direction of the distant mountains.


© Copyright 2019 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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