Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 22 (v.1) - Chapter Twenty One

Submitted: August 18, 2018

Reads: 15

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Submitted: August 18, 2018

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Tannis (Kessel)

RSC Chamber

 

After clearing multiple security checkpoints Kenton was given a tracking band and allowed to enter the RSC Chamber hall while the council was in session.  A tracking band recorded detailed information regarding the date and time as well as forensic information for non-RSC members who were granted access during a security session.  Tracking bands were a huge deterrence to leaking of classified information. This was actually the first time Kenton had had the experience, and it was all disconcerting to him.  The Chamber Hall was spacious with a dozen men and women from Akadia’s various intelligence agencies sitting around a circular conference table, each assigned a permanent seat. There were several seats behind the assigned member’s place where aides or guests were allowed to sit.  A long platform at the head of the chamber hosted a dozen chairs for the members of the Royal Security Council.  Kenton tried to, as silently as he could, make his way around the room to where Jak was seated.  As he moved around the room he tried to keep track of the discussion taking place.  From what he heard, nothing new had been discovered and the dialogue was simply a rehashing of what was already known.  Kenton remembered what Jak had said about the current series of meetings that were taking place to give the appearance of action being taken, for royal sensibilities. 

Kenton finally took a seat behind Jak in the AIA’s delegation area.  Jak who had his head in his hands had not noticed that Kenton had entered the hall.  The noise of movement behind him caused him to turn around just as Kenton took his seat.  Jak was knotted inside with anxiety waiting for news from the Enola. They traded glances and Kenton tried by his facial expression to indicate an urgent need to meet.  Whether Jak got the message or not he didn’t know, Jak however rose quickly from his seat, which caused some minor disruption to the meeting.  He and Kenton made their way around the conference table toward the Hall’s exit.

Outside the Chamber hall, Jak gestured to the band on Kenton’s forearm.  Kenton walked up to one of the guards who removed the band.  After walking silently for some time, Jak and Kenton exited the RSC complex to the outside. 

“OK, what is it?” Jak asked.

Kenton was nervous about revealing what he knew in an unsecured location.  He took out his handheld device.

“Sir, let me just express my concern about speaking outside of a secure area,” he added as he looked around for anything unusual.

“I understand your concern, I share them, however, this is as secure as we can get at the moment.  Now fill me in on what has occurred. Jak replied, irritated with the delay.

“We received a distressed communicae from the Enola. They confirmed visual contact with our team but, soon after, they came under attack.  The Enola’s vital stats were transmitted just before the information line became distorted. We’re interpreting that package now. However, we’ve received no further updates after that.  But as I mentioned, they did confirm visual contact.

“Nothing specific about Prince Wilhelm?” Jak asked.

“There were no individual confirmations, the message just reported a sighting of our team.

“Any information on the identity of the attackers.”

“No, sir. But once we’ve interpreted the Enola’s vitals we should be able to reconstruct the scene at the time of the snapshot.  We’ve also flooded every channel to make contact with the Enola, without reply.”

Kenton put away his handheld device. “Sir, I think this thing has expanded beyond the bounds of our control.  There are going to be inquiries regarding the Enola’s disappearance. We can’t contain this.”

“I Know.” Jak massaged his temples as if he wanted to rub them away. For the first time in his career as Director of Akadian Intelligence, Jak was scared. The life of the King’s son was in grave danger.  The Royal succession was at risk.  If Prince Wilhelm was dead.  Jak tried not to think about it.“Listen, Kenton, I’m going back to the Chamber hall, and, I’m going to inform the council about what we know.”

Kenton took a deep breath and sighed.

“Send whatever you have, and as quickly as you can, to my secure storage and be ready to pass it on to other agencies.” Jak took a deep breath and seemed to hold it in.

“This is going to expose our operations,” Kenton replied.

Jak exhaled. “Yes, I’m aware of that. At the moment, we have no choice. We need to get some official resources behind this effort.  Make it happen, I want access to everything by the time I take my seat.”

“You’ll have it, sir.

Jak watched as Kenton accessed his AI device and then he turned and made his way back into the RSC complex.

 

Udin (Knome)

 

The Hall was filled with noises and aromas, dozens of conversations, music and laughter.  The scent of roasted meat saturated the hall, mingling with the sweet fragrances of many confections, all of which blended into an intoxicating mixture that lightened the hearts of the attendees. Wine flowed freely into goblets, which flowed freely into mouths throats and bellies.  The Albians loved to feast, and any reason, was a reason, to gather in the well-used halls, to fire the cooking pits, to bring out the wine.  For the Albians no feast was impromptu, every detail of the affair was handled and expertly performed.  The hall was large and circular, every table had a chair and every chair had an occupant.  Lining the walls of the room, were what the Albians call, sunstones, a transparent rock, that when lit, burns inside producing a brilliant light.

In the center of the room, several men sat on benches playing instruments, as women, at various stages of intoxication, danced around them.  This was the atmosphere, that greeted Teric, Jasen, Core and Wilhelm, as they awakened from their daylong sleep, to the sights and sounds, of an Albian feast.  Teric and Jasen were seated at the main table to the right of Hoshushana and his son Hudus. Core and Wilhelm were at his left.  Hoshushana was explaining the food, music, customs, and the various dances to the group.  Everyone was so engrossed in the sheer enjoyment of the feast, that, no one noticed the arrival of Shushan, at the hall’s entrance. 

Shushan stood waiting, to be acknowledged, for this was no ordinary entrance.  She was dressed in the Kamall, the bridal garments, of an Albian woman.  It is the signal to all, that she has chosen her mate, and will dance, the Almah, an Albian maiden's dance of surrender.  A dance performed once in the lifetime of an Albian woman.The white silk garments, which covered her arms, chest and legs, glistened like milk in the light. Her shoulders, midsection, and feet, were bare, exposing her smooth and flawless skin. She was beauty and grace incarnate.  The noises of merriment, began to lessen, as one by one, the revelers, began to take notice of her.  There were blank stares, wide eyes and opened mouths, for all, all who knew her, were in shock.  Many had wondered if Shushan, would ever surrender herself, but here she was, dressed in the Kamall, waiting, to dance the Almah.  The music slowly, began to fade away, as the dancing women cleared the floor and the crowd began to make a path for Shushan.  For a moment, there was complete silence.And then, she began to move, the soft ring of tiny bells that hung around her waist and ankles, arms and shoulders accompanied each movement, the bells singing, telling, describing her every sway.Shushan was, the Almah, alluring, sensual, mesmerizing as the dance was meant to be.The Almah is accompanied by music, but the musicians were so caught up in the moment, that it was well within the dance, when they remembered, and began to play.With the music, and the bells, the dancing Shushan, became a drug.As she slowly danced around the hall, she looked at no man, her eyes, were only, for her chosen one.Many looked away, in order to guard themselves from the force of Shushan’s attraction.  Others hoped, and moved around the hall as she did, trying to will her, to look at them.But to Shushan, there was only, one man in the room, only one target for her allurement.

Doleg, could not contain himself, he stood up, his heart, bursting with emotion, as Shushan made her way around the hall, looking at no man, coming ever closer, to him. Everyone assumed, that when Shushan surrendered herself, it would be to Doleg.  He was her father’s choice, her father's wish, to succeed him. Hoshushana had made that, very clear to Shushan, always pointing out Doleg's leadership qualities, his skills and abilities.  Hoshushana had even made Doleg his closest adviser, his stand in, even above his own son.  For several years, Doleg pursued Shushan, trying to prove his worthiness to her. However, the choice was neither her father's, nor Doleg’s.  Albian women were free to choose their mate, it was considered a sacred choice.  As the daughter of the 'Lord of the Albians, Shushan’s surrender, would choose the Lord's successor. Shushan valued Doleg's friendship and she recognized him to be a good man and a qualified leader, and a great help to her father. But, she never felt inclined to surrender herself to him.  This was a great pain to Doleg.  On more than one occasion he begged her, pleading for her love and her trust in him. But in her gentle way she refused him, she always refused him.  But now, there was not a trace of that old pain, Doleg's heart began to race with anticipation.  As he watched her, he felt grateful for those years of longing, for they produced in him now the greatest joy.  He felt faint as if he was about to lose consciousness, but he fought it, and willed it, away, he would not, miss this moment. He looked around the hall, noticing the desire, in the eyes of other men.  But they, would never be put out of their misery.  Shushan, would not look at them, and she, was coming closer and closer to him, and he, was ready.

Teric also was affected, altered, by what he was witnessing.  He was giving full birth to feelings he had only been acquainted with.  The ache in his heart, the hunger in his being, robbed him of his composure as he watched Shushan and longed for her.  He tried to calm himself, as she moved ever closer to him.Her movements, were painful to him, and he felt conquered by them, he felt defeated before her, vulnerable before her.  Teric tasted the desperate pain of envy and the bitterness of jealousy as he watched the desire in the eyes of the men in the room following her.  He closed his own eyes, hoping to stop the rising tension he felt, only to reopen them, desperate to gaze upon her again, desperate for the pain and the misery of his longing.

Shushan was intoxicated with emotions, tears, dripping from her downcast eyes.  She was finding it difficult to catch her breath, not because of the dance, but because she was nearing her chosen one. She felt unsure, not of her choice, but, would he accept her, could she convince him to accept her. In her desperation for him she began to make slight missteps in the dance as her body was now trembling.  She could not explain her sudden need for him, she even tried to talk herself out of this provocative step, but she wanted him and she wanted him this day. For so long she had felt empty and unsettled, and despite, the tremendous pressure from her father, from her mother and brother, from Doleg, from her friends, from her people, but she did not give in, she could not, her dreams assured her that she would find fulfillment, that she would find love.  Never in her life had something felt so right, felt so good.  She would be complete, she would know the love of a man, that she, could love, deeply. She could barely contain her joy, and she let it flow out, through her, into the dance.

Shushan was near the Main table where Doleg sat, and his body movements, suggested confidence. He smiled, proudly looking around the room, sensing the envy of the men.  She, was now directly in front of Doleg, but nothing in her movements, suggested that she would stop.  She did not even look at him but continued passing him by.  Doleg was frozen, in shock, he then leaned forward, putting his hands on the table, to keep himself from falling.  In the hall, there was the sound, of a collective gasp, as Doleg was rejected, and all eyes, looked immediately down the table, as everyone, tried to figure out, who could possibly be in Shushan’s sight.

Doleg, observed the reaction of the crowd, and in that reaction, he felt exposed. He watched Shushan as she continued to dance and now her every movement was painful to him, insulting to him, his heart felt heavy, too heavy for him to bear, he slowly sat down in confusion.  He also felt angry, and it was slowly rising to the boiling point. Why would Shushan do this to him, in front of all of these people he thought as he strained to figure out what she was doing.  It seemed unreal to him, and then an idea entered his mind and comforted him with the thought, that she was going to go around the room again, but, that did not last long, as Shushan arrived, and stopped, in front of Teric.She lifted her water filled eyes, and rested them upon her chosen.  Not taking her eyes off of Teric, She, went to her knees, her eyes pleading with him, surrendering herself to him.The music stopped, not because the danced ended, but rather in disbelief.  A long silence ensued, not even the sound of breathing could be heard. Soon everyone began to recover, from the shock.Then, the hall broke out into a great commotion.  But, through the commotion, Shushan, sat silent and motionless, staring into the eyes of her chosen one.  She blossomed, right before him, her beauty, and essence, exposed, only for him.

Teric, was in a rush of emotion and confusion, his heart and his mind were in a desperate battle.  For a moment, he forgot who he was, and where he was, and he didn't care, only he, and Shushan, existed, only they, shared in this moment, of intimacy.He had never, experienced such want.  And yet he never experienced such peace, it was, as if, everything, in all of Moorbia, shifted, in to balance.  His life, so full of instability, made sense now, and he fell, completely for her. Nothing else mattered in all the worlds, in that moment he completely surrendered to her will.  Shushan sensed it, and her tears began anew.

As the commotion in the hall increased, Hoshushana sat in disbelief, he could not move, he watched his daughter, his heart melted for her, he could see that she was true. All her resistance against his efforts to lead her to Doleg, made sense to him now. He should have trusted her, she was true. He observed Teric and felt kin to this stranger, this foreigner.  He recognized the surrender that he himself had felt so many years ago, He was speechless, as he looked over the angry and shouting faces of those in the hall, as he tried to come up, with a response, but he felt, conflicted.  The shouts of foul, and angry cries, directed at Shushan, had no effect, on her, her eyes, were still, fixed, on Teric, watching his reactions, waiting for, and desperately, wanting, his acceptance.

Jasen however was concerned for his friend, many of those angry reactions were directed toward Teric, and he wanted to take his friend and depart.  He reached for Teric, shaking him out of his stupor. “I think we should get out of here” he remarked.  Teric said nothing, turning back towards Shushan.

Doleg’s voice was heard above the crowd, demanding silence.  He walked from behind the table, and took a position before Hoshushana, standing near the kneeling Shushan.  As the crowd acquiesced to Doleg's demands, as he stretched out his arms in a gesture that called for silence.  All eyes looked upon the man most injured by this foul act.

“This, is impossible my lord, she cannot surrender, to a foreigner” Doleg pleaded.

Other voices agreed, infusing Doleg, with the courage to continue, again he gestured for silence in which the crowd acquiesced. “My Lord, you cannot approve this, this is obscene.” he demanded!

Shushan and Teric were still emotionally embraced, they were still staring at one another, their faces saying more than any words could express at this moment.  Shushan was infused by this and she smiled causing Teric to smile in response. She began to tremble slightly at the thought that she, had him, that he, was hers.

Doleg, continued, "My Lord, I am not speaking out of a wounded spirit, though wounded, I am. Yes. I am speaking for our traditions, our ways.  How can this be, in one day, this foreigner, has garnered." Doleg stopped, pained at the thought, that, he had for years, courted Shushan, and in one day, she fell for a foreigner. But he could not say it, for the thought of it caused him tremendous pain.

Hoshushana stood up, still stunned, and still at a loss for words, but as he stood, the room became silent.  "I do not approve of this, I did not know nor expected this to occur and as I said, I do not approve, but, I have no say in this matter, it is not mine, to accept or to reject, the decision, is Shushan's, and hers, alone.  If we believe in our traditions, if we believe in the mother, then how can we deny Shushan, her right, her sacred choice.  Was she not guided, in this choice by the mother, what do you say?  Doleg?  If this is wrong, then we are all wrong, all we hold dear, is wrong. Can you not see this?  If you reject Shushan's choice, then it is the first stone to crumble in our traditions, and the rest, will fall, mark my words.  Nevertheless, this is certainly not my wish.  But I accept Shushan's right to choose as she is guided by the mother."

There was silence in the hall in response to Hoshushana’s words. 

Doleg's anger now began to surface at the prospect, that such an act, would be allowed, and he again felt the sting of Shushan's rejections.
“Can a foreigner, become 'Lord of the Albians'? he shouted breaking the silence. “What will that do to our traditions.” The crowd again began to find its voice in support of Doleg.

Hoshushana, understanding the hurt Doleg was feeling, spoke to him calmly.  "Doleg, my friend, I do not wish to contend with you, what you say is true."
Then, reject this, it cannot happen, Doleg shouted
.
Frustrated with this dilemma, Hoshushana shouted, ‘How can I?  She has made a sacred choice, no one can reject the choice she was guided to make.  As disappointed as I am in her choice, I cannot and will not, reject it, it is not my place.

“What of the succession? Someone in the crowd shouted.

“Do you propose to make this, foreigner, lord of the Albians? I for one will not submit to such a perversion,” Doleg challenged as the crowd agreed.

Shushan rose to her feet as the room fell to hushed conversations. She wiped her eyes and turned to her father.  “Father, I love you, and I am so sorry to put you in this position. Please forgive me. What I have done, I was compelled to do. And all you here, this day, You, are my witnesses, she paused as she again faced Teric.I, am vowing my heart, and my life, I am surrendering myself, to Teric Hi-lord of Akadia, if he will have me.”

Again, the room erupted with shouts of protest, and even a few objects were hurled in Shushan’s direction, prompting a quick response from Hoshushana’s guards as they pursued the offenders.

“Shushan, you can’t do this” Doleg spoke up! His voice again silencing the crowd. “You are the daughter of the Lord of the Albians, and by your surrender, you choose the next Lord, and he cannot, be a foreigner! You know this!”

Turning toward Doleg, Shushan moved near him, taking his hand, kissing it.

“Doleg, my friend, it is you, that I have most offended, but, it is not by my will, that you stand here offended. Have I not made it clear to you, and to my father, and to all who would listen to me, that I am not inclined towards you? I cannot surrender myself to you, and for that, I am truly sorry, for you are a good man.  And I have tried, Doleg, you know this. I must follow, as I am led. Or, shall I lie. Never! But, as you say, Doleg, I am aware of our code of succession, but, that, has not change my decision."

Again, the room erupted.

Shushan gestured for silence, raising her voice. “Please, listen to me. Please. let all hear me now." She again paused until the hall became completely silent.  "Listen, all of you.  I am aware of my inherited responsibilities, and it has played a very important factor in my decision.  Hear me please.  I, abdicate my rights as Lord maker.  Once again, a collective gasp reverberated through the crowd.  Again, shushan had to raise her voice above the crowd. "I declare my surrender, to Teric Highlord of Akadia.”  Once again, she knelt before Teric, amid the shock, and awe, of her people.

Hoshushana, sat in stunned disbelief.  Shushan's mother Dedra, rose from her seat and went to her daughter, she held her as Shushan cried in her arms.  Teric started to rise, he wanted to go to Shushan, but Jasen held him fast.  “Don’t do this Teric, think about this before you react.  I can see that she has affected you, but I beg you to consider the consequences if you go to her."  Teric slowly sat back down as he watched Shushan cry in her mother’s arms.

Doleg was also stunned into silence, he really did love Shushan, but now, his concern was the succession.

"My lord." Doleg, shouted above the noise of the crowd. "My Lord, what of the succession?"

The hall grew silent as this had been the topic of the commotion among the crowd after Shushan abdicated. Hoshushana stood up relieved. Shushan’s abdication resolved a volatile situation that he had no answer for.  Her abdication, put into his hands the choice of a successor.

Although Doleg asked the question, he knew the code, he knew that Hoshushana would now become lord maker, it was now his choice.  And this did not make Doleg feel settled regarding his prospects.  Even though he was Hoshushana stand in and even though Hoshushana had publicly communicated his desire for Doleg to succeed him.  It was never, Hoshushana’s decision.  That decision lay with Shushan, she, was the Lord Maker.  Doleg glanced at Hudus, Hoshushana’s first born, his only son.  It was that thought, which prompted, Doleg's question. Could Hoshushana choose him, over his own son, now, that the decision, was his, to make. 

Hoshushana rose to his feet. "With Shushan’s abdication of her rights as lord maker, that right becomes mine."

"Is that a decision you can make at this moment," Doleg asked with reserved anticipation?

Hoshushana looked at the eager faces in the crowd.  Because of Shushan’s refusal to surrender herself to anyone for so long, and with Hoshushana’s failing health, there was heightened anxiety among the Albians regarding the successor.

Hoshushana, turned toward his son. Taking his son's hand and raising it high he declared. " I name Hudus, my son, as my successor. Hudus and his father embraced to the wild delight of the crowd.

Doleg, however, rejected for the second time in one day, was not happy.  He seethed with resentment and anger as he watched the joy in the faces of father and son. Even the crowd, whom seemed to support him, now rejected him also, in favor of Hudus. Doleg immediately gathered his things and left the hall followed by his supporters.

Dedra, helped Shushan to her feet and led her out of the hall just as the music and merriment began anew.  Hudus turned toward Teric, lifting him to his feet.

“You must go to her,” Hudus pleaded.  Confused, Teric did not know what to do.  Hudus gestured to a guard, “Take him,” Hudus ordered.

Jasen stood, “Hudus, we can’t get involved in this, we have a mission to complete.”

Ignoring Jasen, Hudus looked directly at Teric, “do not humiliate my sister, you must go to her, accept her or reject her, that is your choice, but you must give her the right to plead.  Go to her.”

Teric cutoff Jasen before he could speak, “I will go.”

As Teric rose and left the hall with a guard, Jasen approach Hudus.

“What’s going to happen?”

They will be sequestered together, and she will convince,” Hudus laughed, “she will attempt to persuade him to submit, and, I can tell you, he will submit.” Hudus smiled slyly.  “If all goes well they will depart the chamber as man and wife.”  Again, Hudus laughed heartily, giving Jasen a goblet as he broke out in song along with the crowd.

Jasen, glanced at Core and Wilhelm with concern.

 

 


© Copyright 2018 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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