Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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

Chapter 28 (v.1) - Chapter Twenty-seven

Submitted: March 24, 2017

Reads: 86

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Submitted: March 24, 2017

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Tannis (Knome)

Krestlin Palace

 

Anya sat emotionally defeated on her divan, in her reception room, as she waited for the Myan Ambassador to arrive.  He had requested to meet with her, but Anya had ignored his repeated requests.  However, due to the Ambassador’s persistence, Anya found herself waiting for a meeting she did not want, with a man she had no interest in meeting with. She felt unstable and on the verge of falling apart.  She knew she could not take another upset, which was why she kept to herself, awaiting her fate.  She no longer allowed herself to hope, for the effort to do so was greatly outweighed by the despair that relentlessly followed, and it was breaking her. 

Her obsession for Wilhelm immobilized and weakened her, leaving her numb.  She didn’t have the strength to give her usual attention to her adornment.  She feared how she might appear before the Ambassador, but she didn’t have the desire to even check her appearance or to make the needed adjustments if required.

A chime sounded that indicated a visitor was present, so Anya rose to open her door.  Ambassador Etian was struck momentarily by Anya’s appearance.  He tried quickly to stifle his reaction, but Anya had noticed, but, she didn’t care.  She invited the Ambassador into her reception room gesturing for him to take a seat.

“Please forgive my appearance, I’m afraid that I’m not feeling well, as you can probably tell,” Anya said, her eyes cast downward.  She took her seat, trying to still her trembling hands.

Etian had noticed her hands and he was truly struck with concern for Anya, he rose to his feet.

“I am sorry, maybe this was not a good idea,” he replied his face contorted with anguish.

“No, please,” Anya rose putting a hand on his shoulder to stopped him. “I am well enough to hear what you have to say, please,” she gestured for him to sit back down.

Hesitantly Etian sat back down. His concern for Anya clouded his mind, edging out his whole purpose in wanting to meet with her, he was heartbroken over her condition.

“My lady, please forgive my persistence, had I known…”

Anya did not want to discuss her condition, she just wanted him to make his statement and go away. She interrupted him.

“Mr. Ambassador, if you would please,” she begged, sincerely.

“Oh, yes,” Etian paused struggling to sideline his anguish for Anya and trying to remember what he wanted to see her about.  After the pause extended uncomfortably long, it came to him. “My lady, after the reception dinner, I felt horrible for the upset I caused you.”

“Please, it was nothing to do with you, ease your mind on that account.”

“Yes, thank you.  I must admit that I was just struck that you had not been aware of those arrangements,” Etian asked.

“I’m sorry, that was not fair to you. My father…” Anya paused, she did not want to get into a discussion about her father, especially one that would be disparaging of him.  “Have you talked with my father on this matter,” Anya asked.

“Oh yes, we spoke of it,” now Etian paused trying to determine how to proceed. “My Lady, it is you that I am concerned with. I have no interest in forcing you to do something against your will, nor would my Lord I assure you.  Your reluctance, is your right, my lady.  Gone are the days when a pretty young maiden is sacrificed in behalf of the state.  At least I hope they are long past.”

Anya perked up at that bit of information, she watched the concerned look on Etian face and she believed him. Something tingled inside of her, she didn’t know what it was, but it caused her to look for the first time into the Ambassador’s eyes.

“My lady,” Etian continued, pleased to see her emerald eyes.  “This must be something that you willingly and wholeheartedly agree to.  Is this the case?” He asked.

Anya waited before answering, she had a feeling that Etian was genuinely concerned for her. However, her father had not changed in what he was demanding of her.  Then she began to wonder what it would mean for her people if she made her true wishes known. 

“Is my father aware that you are visiting me,” Anya cautiously asked.

“He is not.  My lady, I do not mean to come between you and your father, but he has assured me that you are in agreement, that you are willing to enter into a marriage contract with my lord.  His word would be enough for me had I not observed your genuine shock at the idea.  Even now, forgive me, but you do not seem as you were when we first met.  Clearly something is wrong.”

Anya rose from her seat and slowly paced the floor as she wrestled with the options rushing through her mind. Here was an opportunity to cheat her fate, yet she realized as she mulled over the consequences of the options before her. She began to realize as if for the first time, that, there truly were no options for her. In this matter her fate was sealed.  It was either her, or her people!

“My lady,” Etian called out.

Anya stepped back over to her divan and sat down.  She smiled at Etian.  “Etian, I truly thank you for your concern, you don’t know how much I needed that.  I will let my father have the final word in this matter, please, erase your concerns. I will do what he decides is in the best interest of our people.”

Etian stood, mostly reassured by Anya’s words.  “I am glad to hear that, please forgive the intrusion.”
As he turned to leave, he hesitated. “My lady, I want to assure you that my lord is a kindly man, and, might I add, he is very handsome.  I truly believe that you would find comfort in him.”

Anya ignored his last statement, but she was truly pleased by Etian's visit, she saw a concerned face for her interest and it was soothing to her.

“Thank you for coming, I mean that,” she added gently caressing his forearm.

Etian walked with Anya to the door, pleased to see her beautiful smile again.  As the door opened he turned and kissed her on the cheek and left.

As the door closed, Anya fell to her knees in tears.  She had seen genuine concern in the face of another person and the sad thing was that, it was not in the face of her father, nor had she felt it in her mother and of course it was totally absent in her sister.  Instead it was in a foreigner, a Myan, someone she had met only once before. But what truly weighed on her now, was the resolution of her fate.  She had no choice in this, there really was no way out.  She thought of Wilhelm and their very first kiss. She imagined his strong hands on her, pulling her closer to him, their bodies embracing, needing to be together.  She recalled his insistence to find her lips. His lips were so warm she thought, remembering how he felt, how he tasted.  She wanted that moment, to last forever. He felt so strong, so comforting to her.  Her heart seemed to skip a beat as she remembered how he looked into her eyes, piercing her, making everything right, with that one look.  She saw the love in his face, in his eyes, and she wanted his love to envelope her. A moan escaped her lips. She loved him. But, she had to let him die, in her mind, she had to mourn him.

Anya sat there, on her knees, crying, mourning Wilhelm, and pondering, her immutable fate.

 

Udin (Knome)

 

Knome’s crescent moon casted thousands of shadows on the scorched ground of Thaingor forest as black-cladded soldiers infiltrated the lifeless apocalyptic landscape of splintered trees and charred stumps that was once a living thriving ecosystem.  Now Thaingor forest was reduced to a blackened hollow of what it once was.  Billows of black and grey smoke hovered above as embers and ash flittered aimlessly in the air.  Charred craters meters deep littered the forest, unnatural craters created by a hidden weapon above the planet.  Hordes of soldiers descended through the craters to the caverns below.  Pushing through the caverns, they took up positions within the ruins, traversing over bodies of dead Albians.  An occasional battle would ensue, only to be quickly snuffed out as the soldiers advanced, taking no prisoners, silencing the wounded. 

Thunderous blasts from excavator equipment broke up fallen rocks and stones within the caverns and caves of Udin as the soldiers continued to advance.Reaching the throne room, not a living soul was found.  Bodies of the dead were gathered and piled up near the throne as soldiers without armor, but attired in black uniforms entered, carrying and setting up equipment in the center of the hall. 

Another soldier, decked in a dark grey uniform, entered the throne room followed by a dozen more outfitted as he was.  All the other soldiers in the hall stopped their activity and, stood at attention as the group entered.

“This will do,” the lead officer uttered with satisfaction.

One of the officers, led him to a recently erected structure that contained a map of the portion of the caverns that they had discovered.

Commander Izkan Doomaz studied the map for a moment.  “How long will it take to secure the whole complex,” he asked to no one in particular.

“Sir, we are making good progress, maybe by star rise,” one of the officers answered.

“Very good.” Commander Izkan inspected the pile of bodies near the throne, he lifted a finger to his nose.  “Remove these bodies, and bring me some prisoners, alive.”

 

Mount Thaingor (Knome)


 A rush of air greeted Teric as he entered the cave’s entrance.  He turned around to look behind at the sound of Jasen and Kore straining to lift themselves over the ledge.  Teric went back to assist, pulling up Jasen and then Kore.  Both men discarded their packs and laid flat on the surface, exhausted from the steep climb.  The air rushing out of the cave was refreshing to them as they lay, hoping Teric would give them a minute’s rest.

“Hey, we need to keep moving,” Teric implored as he cautiously searched the sky.  “Let’s go.”

Jasen and Kore rose slowly, gathering their packs, and, began to follow Teric, who had already disappeared into the cave.  After entering the cave Jasen stood in the breeze and came to realize what the blowing winds meant.

“Hey, the winds,” Jasen blurted out as he grabbed onto Kore's clothing.

“In here,” echoed Teric’s voice from deeper inside the cave.

Jasen and Kore, hurried inside the cave. They were blinded by the sheer darkness as they made their way deeper inside, listening for Teric’s voice as a guide.  After making a turn, they could discern a light ahead and, they made for it.  Teric had a torch in hand as he waited for Jasen and Kore to reach him.

“Do you feel that,” Teric asked, regarding the winds as they reached him.  “I think this one goes through,”

“I hope you’re right this time,” Kore pleaded.

Teric led the way holding the torch, the winds, whipping the flame violently.  As they continued on they detected a slight descent of the path, which was unwelcomed to their sore calves.  The air was also turning fouler the further they advanced.  Walking now without thinking they soon came into a large cavern.  Echoes of dripping water could be heard. However, the sound of that water was driven out of their consciousness by the unbearable stench that assaulted them, causing each of them to cover or hold their noses.  Kore gagged several times, paralyzed by his body's reflexes.

Teric suddenly halted, dropping the torch as the flame went out and then, slowly, he took a couple of steps back.

“What is it,” Jasen asked unable to see.

“Stay there,” Teric ordered.

“What happened,” Kore cried out concerned.

“I stepped in some…” Teric nearly uttered the word of the substance he stepped in, and then he realized that something had to create that substance.  He immediately stooped down to search for the torch.

“What is it, Teric” Jasen called out again.

“Quiet, Teric whispered as loudly as he could.  He stopped searching for the torch and stood up, drawing his sword, from its scabbard. “Come closer,” he whispered.

Jasen and Kore began to advance toward the position they saw Teric last, before the torch went out. They suddenly stopped at the sound of a deep low growl.  In the echo of the cave, the guttural growl seemed to come from all around them.

“Teric,” Kore called out.

“Quiet!” Teric replied.  He was trying to detect where the sound was coming from.  He sensed the movement of something big, and he could hear the movement of, paws, he suspected.  He was slowly stepping back to where Jasen and Kore were located.

As he listened to the growl, detecting that it was getting closer, he realized that the echo of the cave deceived him, for there was another growl behind him, closer to Jasen and Kore, he calculated.

“Hey, come towards the sound of my voice, slowly but quickly,” Teric called out to Jasen and Kore.

Teric sensed the body heat of Jasen and Kore. He reached out and, touching a shoulder, he tried to force it to the ground. 

“Get down,” Teric whispered as he forced a body to the ground.

A rancid odor, accompanied by a mist of warm air reached Teric as he sensed the heat of an approaching creature.  Teric took out his blaster, while holding his sword in his right hand.  He aimed the pistol toward the rancid odor and fired.  The flash of light momentarily lit the room, illuminated the two beasts that were approaching them from two sides.  The blast, hit one of the creatures in the face, burning the long fur that draped over its head as it yelped in pain.  No sooner had the flash dissipated, Teric had swung his blade around himself to connect with flesh to his rear.  He could feel the blade pass through the creature.  He again pulled the trigger of his blaster, connecting with the creature he had just sliced open.  The flash displayed the damage done by Teric’s sword as the creature backed away, spilling it’s insides on the ground as it fled.  Teric had in the wake of his second blast, managed to fire off two more rounds at the first creature which had also backed away.  Teric then shot a bolt into the ceiling of the cavern, which caused a brilliant ripple effect as the blast dissipated along the ceiling and walls of the cavern.  The effect gave Teric enough light and time to find the torch. He lit the torch, illuminating the cavern and the creatures that had backed away into crevasses to nurse wounds or die.

“Get up, let’s go,” Teric called out.

Jasen quickly complied and stood up, Kore, weakened by fright rose a little more slowly.  Teric led them across the expanse of the cavern to a cave opening on the far side.  They passed by the creature Teric had split open and were amazed at its size.

A loud roar startled them all, as the creature that Teric shot at several times was in a mad rush towards them.  Teric quickly handed the torch to Jasen and gave his blaster to Kore.  He waved them to fall behind him with his hand and he stepped up holding his sword high.

"Fire the blaster," he called out to Kore who immediately pressed the trigger, holding it down, sending out multiple laser bolts which bent into Teric's sword.  The rushing creature was large, galloping on all fours, but as it got closer it stood up on its hind legs, running like a human.  It took a surprising leap toward Teric in an attempt to crush Teric with its weight.  Teric ran, meeting the creature in the air, slashing downward, the sword, followed by an arc of energy, separated the creatures head from its body which landed with a thud.  Teric landed on top of the body and drove the blade and the remaining crack of energy into the creature's back.  The headless body twisted violently throwing Teric off, flinging him against the wall of the cavern.  He dashed away as the body flailed against the wall nearly pinning him against it.

Teric ran over to Jasen and Kore as they watch the gyrations of the creature die out.

"What were those things," Kore asked.

"I don't know, and I don't care to know," Teric replied as he placed his sword back into its scabbard. "And I can guarantee you that they're not the last of their kind. So how about we clear out of this place as fast as we can."

There were no objections from Jasen and Kore.  Kore handed Teric his blaster, which he holstered.

Reaching the cave opening they ran into it and continued to run as fast as their legs would let them.

 

Chakata corridor (Knome)

 

Wilhelm was exhausted, hungry and sore.  It was all that dominated his mind during his longer than expected trek.  Not even memories of Anya were able to breach his persistent and discouraging thoughts.  But as he stood at a crossroad, those thoughts began to fade.  Intersecting tunnels confronted him, and the fact that the tunnel crossing his path had a three-rail track embedded in the surface, began to excite his emotions.  He stepped onto one of the rails and peered down one end of the track, then turning, he looked down the other end, both extending as far as he could see.  He wanted to take off the robe to get a better look but decided against it fearing that he would somehow be discovered.  Still he was stirred by the prospect of being able to complete his journey faster and arriving in Maessa much sooner.  He stepped off of the track and sat down against the tunnel wall to wait.  But as soon as he sat down, he felt a low rumble on the ground reminiscent of the pre-shocks of a land quake.  Puzzled by the tremor at first, he soon jumped to his feet when he realized that a vehicle was the source of that rumble.  He stepped up onto the track, looking down both sides, but although he saw no sign of a vehicle, he could definitely hear the roar of an approaching engine and the distinctive metallic shrieks of a primitive track bound vehicle. 

As he continued to look down the tunnel that was the source of that growing turbulence, he saw an approaching light that filled him with so much excitement that he started to pace along the length of the track. Wilhelm's heart began to pound as he imagined a surprised Anya submitting to his passions upon seeing her.  His anticipation was palpable, causing him to feel light headed and weak kneed.  He could now clearly discern the large vehicle approaching.  The loud screech from the vehicle's brakes signaled that it was slowing down.  Wilhelm stopped pacing, trying to calm himself as he struggled to remember Tukka’s instructions to him. The large lumbering vehicle slowed and then came to a complete stop in front of him. Doors on the vehicle's side opened to him and after hesitating for a minute to wrestle down his emotions, he stepped into the vehicle.  As he entered he noticed that there were no other individuals in the compartment, the benches on each side of the compartment were empty. Wilhelm chose the closest bench next to him and sat down.  He waited for some time but the vehicle did not move, nor had the doors closed.  Impatient to get moving, Wilhelm stood, trying to see if anyone was in the attached vehicle in front of his.  Suddenly the door at the front of the compartment opened and a old pale, thin uniformed man came through it.  He noticed Wilhelm standing and seemed surprised.  Wilhelm nearly spoke out of fright, but managed to hold it in.

“Excuse me, Piya, I had no idea anyone was in here,” the old man said after recovering from his shock.  “We don’t get many patrons at this hop.”  The old man walked past Wilhelm and stood next to the opened door.  He kicked the door several times and then he held the door and began to shake it, then, after a loud clank, the doors began to slowly close. “Rusty door,” the old man added with contempt, kicking the door again as soon as it closed.

The old man walked over to Wilhelm and began looking him over.  “Well, I suppose you don’t have a ticket, or wickets,” the old man asked holding out his hand.  Wilhelm reached into the pocket of the robe and drew out the writing pad and chalk, but before he could write anything on the pad, the man waved his hands.

“Don’t give me a sermon Piya, I’ll record it.” The old man started to walk away but paused after a few steps, he turned looking Wilhelm over once more. “Predators,” he spewed out at Wilhelm with the same amount of contempt as he had for the door.  “You better have a seat.”

Wilhelm sat down as the old man left through the door he had arrived from.  Wilhelm felt disconcerted and somewhat fearful after his experience with the old man.  He sensed that the old man had, not have an ounce of reverence for him, and he worried how others would view him or if they would even help him. With a jerk, the vehicle began to move, slowly at first but then as the trackor began to pick up speed Wilhelm had to hold on to one of the nearby bars to keep from being thrown about.

The trackor had not been moving long, when it emerged out of the tunnel into a vast, large cavern illuminated from a high source that Wilhelm could not detect. If it wasn't for the sound and vibration of the trackor's wheels, Wilhelm would have thought that the vehicle was flying.  When he looked down he began to hyperventilate from the view, he could not see the surface of the cavern and the trackor was more than three hundred meters high, it sent shivers through his body.  They had emerged out of the tunnel and on to a high narrow bridge.  As the trackor turned slightly to the left, Wilhelm could see out of the window on his side, in the distance, he could see the lights of a city, which filled him with hope, until, he sensed that the right side to the trackor, left the rail, momentarily. Wilhelm grabbed on to the bar with both hands standing to get a better view as the vehicle leveled off.  The trackor began descending, which relieved Wilhelm, as he sat back down. He stood up again, excited that he could now see people below and various structures, vehicles and roads.  Wilhelm eagerly took in all that was new around him, he was amazed that he was in a cavern, because it felt like he was on the outside in the open air, in the prime light.

The trackor was now on the cavern's surface which gave Wilhelm a closer look at all the activity of the city.  He could feel the trackor stopping and as he looked out he saw dozens of Knomens through the windows, waiting, for the trackor doors to open.  As the trackor came to a complete stop, Wilhelm stood, and as the doors opened people rushed in, and immediately surrounded him.  They were all speaking at once and pushing in on him and one another.  Startled Wilhelm froze, he didn't know what to do.  As the devotees became more insistent Wilhelm held up his hand trying to remember what Tukka had taught him to do.  The doors of the trackor closed and Wilhelm started to panic. He wanted to get out of the trackor but, he could not get through the crowd that had just entered, or the fanatics that were now noticeably upset at something he was not doing.  And then he remembered…

“That, is how you issue a blessing to anyone who fulfills your request,” Tukka had said.  Wilhelm touched his forehead and then he touched the forehead of the Knoman nearest to him, a woman who, after the act, began to cry and to kiss Wilhelm’s robe covered hand. He repeated the gesture for several others who, satisfied, began to move away, giving him some breathing room.  The trackor began to move again.  Wilhelm frantically took out the writing pad and wrote out Maessa on the pad.  He held it up to the remaining Knomens waiting for a blessing.  One of their number, a man took the pad from Wilhelm, tugging on it and on Wilhelm as the pad was still attached to his robe.  The man smiled and pointed straight ahead.

“This trackor is going to Maessa,” the man said expectantly.

Relieved that he was where he needed to be, Wilhelm obliged the man and touched his own forehead and then he touched the man’s forehead, repeating the gesture several times, which thoroughly satisfied the man. The other devotees followed suit, pointing straight ahead, expecting, a blessing.

 


© Copyright 2018 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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