Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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

Chapter 29 (v.1) - Chapter Twenty-Eight

Submitted: March 27, 2017

Reads: 86

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Submitted: March 27, 2017

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Mount Thaingor (Knome)


One word kept resounding in Kore’s mind like a persistent drumbeat, Stop.  He felt lightheaded from exhaustion. His muscles were sore and tight, his arms and legs were chafed. His fingers were tingling and his feet felt numb. His breathing was shallow and every attempt to take a deep breath pierced his side.  And yet, they kept running.  Teric had demanded that they kept to his pace, but Teric was superhuman, Kore thought.  Even Jasen wasn’t able to keep up.  Kore was pushing himself to his limit just to keep Teric in sight, at least, to keep the torch in sight. But the torch, was increasingly becoming more distant, as was Jasen.  Kore wanted to yell for them to stop but, he couldn’t get enough air into his lungs to scream the word.  Nor could he run, in fact, he was no longer running, instead, he was shuffling, pushing one leg in front of the other.  But now, he could no longer do even that, and he stopped.  He bent over, his lungs burning as he tried to catch a breath.  When he looked up, he could no longer see the torch, he could no longer see Jasen, he could no longer see, anything. The darkness was all encompassing, impenetrable, even sound seemed to be absorbed by it. But then, Kore held his breath, the hairs on the back of his neck prickled as he sensed movement in the dark.

“Wait,” Jasen yelled, as he fell to the ground breathing hard, his chest pounding. He could still see the torch dancing in the distance and he yelled again for Teric to stop.

Teric stopped at the sound of Jasen’s voice. He couldn’t make out what his friend had said, but, not seeing him or Kore nearby, he turned around and began searching for them.

“Teric,” Jasen called as the torch drew closer.  Teric ran to Jasen helping him up.

“Are you alright,” Teric asked.

“No,” Jasen replied seriously upset.  “We can’t keep up with you Teric.” Jasen bent over, trying to catch his breath.

“I’m sorry,” Teric added as he lifted the torch, moving it from side to side, looking for Kore.  “Where’s Kore,” Teric asked.

“I don’t know,” Jasen replied still bent over, still upset.

“We've got to find him,” Teric said while pulling on Jasen, impelling him to come. Reluctantly, Jasen stood up and began to follow.

Kore did not move, immobilized by his fear, he felt rooted to the spot. He couldn’t yell for help even if he wanted to, and he wanted to, desperately.  But his throat felt tight, strangling his attempt to voice his need for help.  However, the distress he felt in his body just moments ago, relented, and gave way to a sudden heightening of his senses, preparing his body for action. Now, he could hear the rhythmic breathing and the light scraping of claws from the hidden creature pursuing him. Kore had made up his mind to run but he was unsure of what direction to take. Then, almost suddenly, he heard the footsteps of something running in front of him, and at the same time he heard that familiar growl behind him. And then, something leapt over his head, knocking him to the ground.  From the ground he heard a burst of noises from a struggle taking place behind him.  He heard a voice straining, grunting and that familiar yelp from one of those beasts they had encountered earlier.  Kore got up and began to run as he saw the torch approaching him.  As he got closer to it, he could see Jasen carrying the torch and looking past him.  Kore turned around and in the dim light he saw Teric slashing and stabbing the creature with his sword.

“Are you alright,” Jasen asked Kore.

“Thanks to him,” Kore gestured toward Teric, in awe of his friend as Teric stood atop the beast his sword in hand. Teric placed his sword back into its scabbard and jumped off of the animal.

“Thanks, Teric,” Kore beamed grabbing Teric’s hand.  “Hey, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep up.”

“No, it was my fault," Teric confessed, "believe me, all I wanted to do was to get out of this place, and that’s all I was thinking." Teric grasped Kore's forearm, "Are you OK?"

"I'm good," Kore replied.

“Well, I say we get out of here," Jasen added.”

“Jasen, keep the torch, you take the lead, and I will take the rear,” Teric advised.

“How much longer do you think we have to go to get through to the interior,” Kore asked.

“Not much longer, we're very close. Just before I heard Jasen yell for me, I could see a faint light in the distance.”

That bit of news enthused Kore and Jasen who began to pick up their pace.  As they continued to advance through the cave, the faint light that Teric had mentioned became brighter and brighter illuminating their path.  Soon they no longer needed the torch so Jasen put it out.

“Hey, Teric," Kore called, "Earlier, I had the sensation of someone, leaping over me, was that you.”

“Yeah, it was me, I could barely make you out, but I could smell the stench of that creature from our last encounter and I just sensed that it was approaching you, so…”

“Wow, I wasn’t sure what was happening, I thought I was dead,” Kore confessed.

“Don’t worry Kore, I won’t let that happen.”

Kore was pleased to hear that, and he believed it.  He was glad Teric was on their side.

“Hey,” Jasen called, "I think this is the way out."

Kore and Teric began to run, catching up to Jasen.  The bright light shining into the cave was such a welcome sight they stopped to revel in it.

“Let’s get out of here,” Kore said as he exited the cave and went into the light.  Teric and Jasen began to follow.  After leaving the cave, Kore immediately ran back in, panting.

“What is it,” Jasen asked.

“A ship, several of them,” Kore whispered.

Teric went to the opening of the cave and peaked out.  He saw three ships flying to a distant location within the volcanic plains.  He continued to watch as the ships positioned themselves for a landing. As the first ship began to descend to the surface, it disappeared.  Teric watched as the second ship descended and it too disappeared from sight.

"Hey, hand me those mag viewers," Teric yelled without taking his eyes off of the third ship.  He felt the viewers pushed into his hand and he brought them up to his eyes and adjusted the focus just in time to see the third ship descending through an opening in the ground. Teric turned back into the cave.

“Are they still out there,” Kore asked.

“No, they landed in some underground base,” Teric replied, calculating scenarios.

“Well, that explains why these areas are restricted,” Jasen added.  “This is what that agent was trying to capture.”

“Right,’ Teric said still thinking.

“So, what now,” Kore asked.

“We stick to the original plan and find a way to alert Tannis,” Teric replied.  “We need to get to that entrance, but not now. Let’s wait till nightfall.”

Teric, Jasen and Kore took off their gear and threw them to the ground.  They all dropped to the ground now feeling the full effect of their exhaustion.

“Are you hungry,” Kore asked.

“What do you suppose we eat?” Jasen asked picking up an insect that was scurrying across his leg.

“Well, there is a perfectly good carcass wasting away in the cave, Teric added, “Anyone wants some meat?”

 

Maessa (Knome)
 
Krestlin Palace
 
A persistent sense of restless unease pervaded Anya’s thoughts as she stood near the Tamarisk tree at the center of Avar Gardens.  There were no longer any pleasant memories for her here, in these once beautiful surroundings. She would have never visited these grounds again had it not been for the note she had received from Yutiro.  He had requested that she meet him here and the request sounded urgent.  Had it been up to her however, she certainly would have suggested a different location to meet.  Anya tried to put the eroding conditions of the gardens out of her mind, it was just too depressing for her, she closed her eyes. She considered what could possibly be the reasons he needed to meet with her.  She didn't want to speculate on what Yutiro wanted to share with her.  She didn't want hope to mock her, to bait her frail emotions only to obliterate them.
 
At the sound of approaching footsteps, Anya roused herself, opened her eyes and turned around to face Yutiro. However, Yutiro was not the person she faced. Anya was alarmed and unnerved by the presence of her sister.  She immediately stiffened, anger and rage rising within her.
Korah’s face was unreadable as she approached her sister. She sensed contempt in Anya, recognizing it in her narrowed eyes and hard distinctive jaw line.
 
“What are you doing here,” Anya sneered.
 
“Am I not allowed to visit our gardens,” Korah sarcastically replied.
 
“I’ll leave you to it,” Anya replied as she began to walk away.
 
Korah stepped in front of Anya to prevent her from leaving.
 
“What are you doing, Korah, I know you don’t want to talk to me and I certainly don’t want to talk to you, now get out of my way,"
 
Korah did not move, raising her hand to stop her, “I sent you the note,” Korah quickly confessed.
 
Anya froze, she had not received a note from Korah.  “Get out of my way, Korah,” she cried.
 
“I sent you that note,” Korah repeated, gesturing toward the note Anya had in her hand.
 
Confused, Anya lifted and reread the note, wondering if she had missed something, but the note was signed by Yutiro.
 
“What are you talking about,” Anya replied now clearly annoyed by Korah’s ruse.
 
“The note, I sent it to you. I knew you would not meet with me if I were the requester on the note, so I added Yutiro's name to it."
 
Anya was appalled, Korah had deceived her. She looked at the note again, then she crumpled it into a ball and threw it at her sister. The crumpled note hit Korah on the cheek and fell to the ground.
 
“How dare you,” Anya yelled.
 
Korah did not react to the crumpled note being tossed at her, nor did she feel any shame for deceiving her sister.
 
Anya stepped away, enraged at her sister.  “And you’re right, I don’t want to talk to you. I have nothing to say to you, nor am I interested in anything you have to say to me.”  Anya again attempted to leave.
 
Korah grabbed Anya by her clothing and held on to her as Anya, surprised by Korah's actions, fought to free herself from Korah’s grip.
 
“You will listen to what I have to say,” Korah demanded. “You will listen to me!”
 
Korah held onto Anya until she refrained from struggling.  Only then, did Korah let her go and the two sisters stood silent for a moment, facing off each other.
 
“What are you going to do,” Korah asked breaking the silence.
 
“About what,” Anya reluctantly replied feigning ignorance of the intent of Korah’s question.
 
“About the marriage. Are you going to go through with it,” Korah demanded.
 
“Of what concern is that to you,” Anya asked.
 
“Anya, it’s of the utmost concern to me, to father, to the whole planet, don’t you understand that.” 
 
Anya turned away from her sister. She had no idea of what she was going to do.  At times, she felt that she should submit, that it was something she owed for the privileges that she had been able to enjoy all her life.  And yet, if she did, it would surely destroy her. 
 
“I don’t know,” Anya screamed, pained by her own indecision.
 
Korah grabbed Anya, spun her around so that they were facing each other.
 
“That’s not good enough Anya.  Father is sick with worry over your decision. He does not trust you, nor do I, and, given the immense benefits to our people that this marriage would bring, I don’t understand your hesitation.
 
“That’s easy for you to say, this burden does not hang above your head.” 
 
“Anya. I begged father for this burden, as you call it,” Korah confessed, her voice softening.
 
Anya was stunned by what she was hearing, she was moved momentarily, by Korah’s confession, moved by the vulnerability in her voice, but, she quickly recovered, suspicious of her sister’s honesty.
 
“I don’t believe you,” Anya stiffened.
 
“Ask father. For months, I pleaded with him, I begged him to let me do it. But, you are the firstborn, and that is the technicality, that burdens you, my sister. If I could, I would wrestle this burden from you, not for your sake, but for our people.”
 
Korah was truthful in her confession.  She wanted to make that sacrifice for her father, for her people.  She wanted praise that had never come her way.  Praise that always went to her sister.  While she volunteered in charities, bringing relief to her fellow citizens, Anya was in Akadia satisfying her own desires, indulging in the best that Akadia had to offer, paid for, with Knomen funds.  And yet Anya had only to return home for a visit and she was inundated with praise and attention, while Korah, suffered in silence.
 
Anya didn’t know how to respond to her sister’s admission. She looked away, feeling ashamed that her sister was so willing and so eager to take her place, to marry this Myan, out of love for their people. What is wrong with me, Anya thought.
 
“I don’t understand you Anya," Korah continued, “You are unable to commit to your people, yet, you are loyal to a people who have been the very cause of our misery."
 
“That’s not true,” Anya weakly protested.
 
"The Akadians are responsible for the deaths of millions of our people." Korah stressed. "Thousands of children die every day, millions suffer in poverty all due to the deceptions of the Akadians, you’ve seen the report.  And yet you are more loyal to our oppressors, than you are to our people.”
 
“That’s not true,” Anya repeated, too low to have been heard.
 
“Do you think your precious prince is unaware of his government’s crimes against us,” Korah asked.
 
Korah’s question pained Anya visibly, she flinched nervously and swallowed hard.  “I can’t believe he is aware of this,” she replied.
 
“And you accused me of being naïve.  You are so pathetic.  You have been living in a fantasy, protected from the stain, the stench of reality. You are as blind as the Akadian people are themselves.  They have been shielded from the atrocities committed by their own governments.  Their history journals are a joke, you would think that they granted us our independence, that they peacefully handed over the keys to our sovereignty. But they don't know about the massacres, the lynchings, the rapes, the theft of our resources, their support of terrorist factions, and I could go on and on dear sister. And they wonder why they are viewed with such contempt.”
 
Tears, flooded Anya’s eyes, she had no response to her sister’s words.  She searched in vain for words to defend her position, but there were none. She had to admit that what her sister said was true, and she did not know what to do about it, what to feel about it.  Did Wilhelm know, she wondered.
 
Korah, unmoved, watched the tears stream down her sister’s face, but, she refused to allow herself to feel sympathy for her. She hated her sister, she had reasons to hate her sister and Anya’s loyalty to the enemies of her people was truly disgusting.  She considered her sister to be a traitor.
 
Korah broke the long silence between them, “If something happened to you, I would gladly take your place.”
 
Anya’s tears continued to flow, but Korah’s words struck her. Something in Korah's words disturbed her deeply.
 
“Father said, that, if it wasn’t for you, I, would have this honor and since, you don’t consider this to be an honor, maybe you should withdraw.”
 
“What are you saying to me,” Anya pleaded. She couldn't just withdraw, the agreement hinged on her acceptance. "You know I can't withdraw," Anya replied.
 
Korah remained still and silent.  She considered her words carefully.
 
“There is a way, for you, to avoid this,” Korah replied lowering her eyes.
 
"Pray tell," Anya asked.
 
Korah remained silent, her eyes locked on her sister's eyes, trying to relate silently what she did not want to utter verbally.
 
Anya was crushed, she wondered if her sister was suggesting that she kill herself. Anya did not even want to confront Korah with her suspicion, lest it be true. Anya despaired. She had no value to her family, to her people.  She had no value to anyone.  She watched her sister and could not believe what she was suggesting.  She was a problem for her father.  And what was she to Wilhelm, she was a dirty, filthy maggot.  Anya could not speak over the lump in her throat and she nearly stumbled at the thought of her uselessness.
 
“There is, a way out for you,” Korah added, unmoved by Anya’s reaction.
 
“How can you say that to me,” Anya cried. She fell to the ground no longer able to fight against her weakened state.
 
Korah, was stung by her sister’s collapse, but she resisted her inward feelings and began to walk away.
 
“Korah,” Anya screamed, but Korah was gone, and she was alone, she had always been alone. She did not belong anywhere or to anyone.
 
 

Maessa (Knome)

 

The Trackor arrived at what Wilhelm concluded to be a major depot station.  He observed crowds of passengers waiting at various platforms. Crowds were exiting and entering Trackors, as they departed and arrived.  Wilhelm had never seen so many Knomens in one place since Canton station. Seeing how the Knomans reacted to him in his compartment, he felt uneasy about stepping into those crowds waiting on the platform. For most of the trek, he was approached over and over and by the same individuals for a blessing. He wondered what he would encounter in those crowds.

The Trackor came to a complete stop and the doors of his compartment opened, the Knomens flooded out as still more of them flooded in.  He stood and took his place behind the throng seeking to exit the compartment.  As others noticed him, cries of ‘Piya,’ became deafening.  Some pulled at his robes and he struggled to free himself.  As he stepped on to the platform, he was immediately surrounded as many called out for a blessing.  Wilhelm ignored their cries and continued to walk against the tide of devotees.

There were multiple stalls, and market stands on the platform. Most were selling food, while others were displaying various crafts and clothing. As he walked past the various stands, ignoring calls from sellers and hawkers, Wilhelm had a following of a hundred or more Knomens all shouting for a blessing. However, in his futile efforts to escape the crowds, he realized that he had no idea where he was going. He stopped, looked around and then pulled out his note pad and chalk.  He rewrote Krestlin Palace on the pad and then held it up to the crowds who, had also stopped and were observing his every move. Several persons tugged on his robe in an effort to lead him.  Wilhelm identified an intelligent looking man and exaggeratedly pointed to him so that the crowds could see.  Most of the crowd that had been following him had ceased in their effort for a blessing, especially after Wilhelm chose his candidate. The man Wilhelm had selected pulled on Wilhelm's robe, almost running as Wilhelm struggled to keep up.

They had left the station and were now on to the streets as the man walked a few steps away from Wilhelm and began calling to a number of four wheeled vehicles that were parked near their location. The man walked back over to Wilhelm pulled him away from a gathering crowd, leading him into the street.  As the man resumed his attempt to secure passage on one of the vehicles, he continued to yell, this time, pointing towards Wilhelm.  A number of vehicles stopped after catching sight of the holy man.  All of the vehicle operators who had stopped, quickly hopped out of their respective machines and began negotiating with Wilhelm's guide.

After a period of heated negotiations, several of the men walked back to their vehicles and departed, except for one.  Wilhelm’s guide gestured for Wilhelm to enter the waiting vehicle.  As Wilhelm did, he was stopped by the man.

“Piya, you did not bless me,” the man pleaded.

Wilhelm performed the act perfectly, having had plenty of practice.  He blessed the man several times and then he entered into the vehicle as his guide departed. The vehicle immediately sped away.  The cruiser soon merged onto a crowded gridlocked road. The roadway was broad, filled with cruisers, motorized bipeds, tripeds, animal and human pulled carriages, vehicles of various sizes, and thousands of pedestrians all moving in unorganized directions.  Wilhelm sat uneasy, stressed by the chaotic environment as his cruiser slowed to a crawl and vehicles and pedestrians weaved through the maze of congested traffic. Wilhelm’s spirits sank as his driver angrily spewed out curses in every direction and in no particular direction as well.  Wilhelm wondered how long his journey would take as they advanced millimeters at a time.  Pedestrians, were making more progress than they were, more progress than any of the vehicles on the road.  Wilhelm decided that the best thing for him to do would be to sleep, he was so exhausted and had no idea how long he had been awake, so he sat back, closed his eyes and rested, amid the chaotic clamor of Maessa traffic.

 


© Copyright 2018 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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