Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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

Chapter 34 (v.1) - Chapter Thirty-Three

Submitted: April 06, 2017

Reads: 113

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Submitted: April 06, 2017

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Fort Thaingor (Knome)

 

A tangled maze of pipes and structural beams jutting from the walls and ceiling, made it difficult for Teric, Jason and Kore to make quick progress in finding access to the base’s interior.  Deciding against using the maintenance deck to avoid discovery, the arduousness of their journey was giving them second thoughts about avoiding the easier path. They crawled, walked, pushed, pulled and jumped along the structural spines as carefully as they could, expending much energy in the effort.  After some time, they came across an access shaft that descended to a considerable depth.  The shaft was narrow with an unobservable end.  Looking ahead at the endless and complexing view of pipes and beams, Teric made a decision and grabbed onto the top rung of the shaft, stepping down through the access opening.

“I think this is our best way in,” Teric said as he descended down the ladder.

“How far down do you think it goes,” Kore asked.

“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” Jason replied as he lowered himself down the access shaft following Teric.

Kore hesitated, dreading the unknown, but, after repeated calls from Jason, he relented and followed them down the shaft.  The climb down was slow and difficult, and after a while, they had no light by which to see.  Teric stopped and called out to take a break for the sake of his friends, after enduring an increase in the frequency of cries and moans, from Jason and Kore.  After a short period of time, they started again since, even resting upon the rungs was painful.  However, it wasn’t long before they finally reached the bottom of the shaft.  It was still so dark that Teric began to feel across the wall, trying to find an exit. Finding what felt like a hatch, Teric slowly and as quietly as possible began to lift the hatch.  Jason and Kore were still hanging and standing on rungs, fidgeting to relieve the pain.

“Don’t make a sound,” Teric said as he lifted the hatch until it clicked.  He pushed on the door as a sliver of light shone into the shaft.  He paused to listen through the crack.  Hearing nothing, he continued to push on the door.  Soon the opening was wide enough that he stuck his head through and looked around.  The room was empty, so, he opened the door wider and then called foe Jason and Kore to come down.

 After entering the small room, Teric immediately walked to the door on the opposite side of the room.  Jason and Teric came in to the room and sat on the floor to rest.  Teric touch the handle of the door and was startled by the sound of someone trying to access the door from the outside.  Jason and Kore, rose quickly as Teric waved for them to stand on the opposite side of the door.  Teric drew his blaster, aiming it at the door. And then the door opened.

---

Only the most senior of the Myan and Knomen delegations were ushered into Fort Thaingor’s main conference room. The conference room had been transformed into a reception room. It was reasonably large, large enough to accommodate the more than three dozen bodies that filled it. It was tastefully decorated, brightly lit and arranged in a formal setting befitting the importance of the event that was to take place there.  Refreshments were available and offered to all.  Yuri observed the mingling crowd nervously, as the guest of honor, was not present.  He had made multiple attempts to locate his daughters without success.  He knew that it was only a matter of time before the absence of his eldest daughter would become apparent to all.  He racked his brain for the best excuse he could devise, but every one he thought of was woefully insufficient. He watched as the Grand Duke walked through the crowd dismissing anyone who approached and attempted to converse with him.  He noticed that the Duke was heading in his direction.

“So, what do you think of this place,” Simon asked after arriving.

“I’m more than pleased, I’m amazed,” Yuri replied his expressions matching his words.

“I’m relieved to hear that,” Simon smiled. "This place is more advanced than anything we have back at home."

Yuri's eyebrows rose in surprised to that remark. 

"Yes, really," Simon replied in response to Yuri's reaction, "The Emperor is keenly interested in the success of this alliance."

"As am I," Yuri responded.

Yuri tried hard not to stare at the Duke.  He had imagined the Duke, a much older man, closer to his age, but comparatively, he was much younger. He was very handsome and distinguished with impeccable manners.  He was the model of a man. At least Anya would not be horrified Yuri thought.  But there was something different about him.  Yuri had met many Myans over the years, spent hours, days in negotiations with them.  The Duke however, had none of the physical traits that he had come to identify as Myan, nor did he exhibit their accent. 

“Where is your daughter?”

Yuri was taken aback by the sudden and direct question from the Duke.  He stumbled initially over his words.

“She will be here shortly, you know women. She must make a grand entrance,” Yuri replied without thinking, rolling his eyes and regretting the false characterization of his daughter.

“I am anxious to meet her. Is she as beautiful as rumored,” Simon asked, as he downed the glass of Xion wine that had been handed to him.

“I’m afraid I'm biased my lord,” Yuri chuckled. “I believe you will have to make your own judgment."

Simon’s shadow guard had walked up and stood by him and immediately Yuri felt intimidated by the man.

“Let me introduce you to my friend,” Simon said acknowledging the guard’s arrival. “This is General Bothan Khan, my most trusted friend and colleague.”

Yuri reached out his hand, which was ignored by Bothan, who instead, bowed slightly without a word.  Yuri, embarrassed, withdrew his hand.

“It is an honor to meet you,” Yuri lied.

Yuri remained unnerved as long as Bothan remained at Simon’s side.  Other than the Kossacks, who stationed themselves on either side of the conference room’s entrance, no one looked more other worldly than Simon’s General.  The man was tall with long white hair streaming down past his shoulders.  His olive face was as chiseled as a marble statue, harden. Every muscle was visible in his face with each movement of it.  He was a head above the tallest person in the room and though he was clothed in some uniform, it was evident that the man was rugged.

Ambassador Etian appeared, taking away Simon’s attention.

“My Lord, if you have a moment,” Etian asked.

“Please, excuse me,” Simon said grabbing Yuri’s hand.

As Simon began to follow the Ambassador, he halted, turning back towards Yuri.

"When are we to expect your daughter," Simon asked.

"very soon I'm sure," Yuri replied quite unsure whether his daughter will even arrive.

Simon hesitated for a moment and then he turned and began to follow Etian.

As the Ambassador and Simon walked away, Bothan followed.  Yuri was relieved to be rid of that giant of a man.  Now his thoughts went back to his children.  He walked over to a more private area of the room so that he could make another attempt to contact his daughters.

---

With his left hand Teric grabbed onto the man that appeared in the opened door.  He pulled the man into the room while placing his left foot in the man’s path, causing him to fall forward.  Using the man’s momentum, Teric flipped the man over, pulling him to the floor. Jason and Kore closed the door immediately after the man was through the door.  By that time Teric was straddling on top of the man’s chest thrusting his blaster into the man’s cheek.

The suddenness of the attack upon the man gave him little time to react or even think.  He lay on the floor with a gun impressed firmly on his cheek.  He couldn’t scream and he could barely breathe with Teric’s weight on top of him.

“Stay quiet,” Teric threatened.

The man nodded his head in answer to Teric’s threat while trying desperately to take in a breath.  Teric slowly relaxed the pressure on the man, withdrawing his blaster slightly, allowing the man to breathe.

“Who are you,” Teric asked.

“Maintenance,” the man quickly uttered without hesitation.  “I’m with maintenance.”

Teric had concluded as much after noting the man’s one-piece outfit.  The man was Knomen and very young. 

“Please don’t kill me,” the young man pleaded.

“That depends on the answers you give me,” Teric replied, thrusting his blaster against the young man’s cheek.

“Please,” the young man screamed.

“Quiet,” Teric demanded.

“Yes, sir, please sir.”

Teric rose off of the man and grabbing his lose clothing he pulled the man up to his feet.

“Now, I want some answers,” Teric said while holding his blaster near the young man’s stomach.

“Yes, whatever you want, just don’t kill me, please. I have a wife and child,” the man pleaded.

“Listen.  What kind of work do you do,” Teric asked.

“I’m with the Inspection team."

Jason walked the few steps away from the door and stood next to Teric.

“What is your name,” Jason asked the man.

The young man was surprised by the conciliatory tone in Jason’s voice.  He hesitated, breathing a sigh of relief.

“Naaku, sir,” the young man replied.

Teric slowly returned his blaster to its holster.

“Naaku,” Jason repeated. “Naaku, we are looking for a Comm station, can you tell me the nearest one to our location.”

Naaku’s forehead creased as he glanced between the two men.  Teric noticed the man’s hesitation and placed his hand back on his blaster.

“The command center is several floors above this one,” Naaku responded.

“That would be the main communications facility,” Teric replied, “We need to locate a sub-station, do you understand?”

Naaku nodded.  “There are several Intercom ports on every floor. There are only a few External comm stations that I’m aware of. There's the command center, sub-command, and engineering.”

“Can you tell me which of those locations are manned by the least number of individuals,” Jason asked.

“Engineering,” Naaku quickly replied, “most of the time the station is not even being used.”

Teric and Jason glanced at each other, agreeing without a word.

“How do we reach engineering without being notice,” Teric asked.

Naaku took a quick look at each of the strangers holding him hostage.  “You won’t,” Naaku admitted. “There are thousands of Myan troops on this base and every area is being monitored.” Naaku paused and quickly glanced toward the ceiling.

Teric, Kore and Jason followed Naaku’s glance toward the ceiling.

“Are we being monitored,” Kore asked.

“I don’t know, I don’t see a focal lens,” he admitted.

“I imagine if we were, there would be troops breaking down this door right now,” Jason replied.

“So, how do we get to engineering,” Teric asked again.

“Engineering is eight floors below this one at the far end of the base,” Naaku explained, “but as I said, you won’t escape this floor without being caught.”

Teric, Jason and Korah huddled together away from Naaku to discuss their options.

Naaku again glanced toward the ceiling, looking around the room.  Kore followed Naaku’s survey of the room and met Naaku’s eyes when he was done.

“Find anything,” Kore asked him.

“No,” Naaku admitted, his disappointment clearly evident in his voice.

Teric moved closer to Naaku after concluding his discussion with Jason and Kore.

“Do you think we would escape notice if we were clothed in your maintenance garments,” Teric asked.

The question caused Naaku to hesitate.  There were hundreds of Knomens employed on the base as maintenance workers. He realized that the Myan’s wouldn’t give anyone a second look if he was fitted with one of the dark grey maintenance uniforms. Naaku debated with himself whether to admit to Teric’s question.

“Well,” Kore impatiently asked.

“Yes,” Naaku admitted, “I believe that would work.”

“Are there maintenance corridors on this base,” Jason asked.

“Yes,” Naaku admitted after a slight hesitation.

“How do we acquire maintenance uniforms,” Kore asked.

“Back at the maintenance hold,” Naaku replied.

“Ok, we have a plan. We just need to find a way out of here,” Jason stressed.

“The maintenance shaft,” Naaku pointed, but, after noticing the puzzled look on his captor’s faces, he realized that he had just volunteered information that they were not aware of.

“Show us,” Teric said, putting his hand on his blaster.

---

The Satcha gently touched down on the landing platform within the crowded hangar. There was barely any space for the mid-size vessel, and it took skill and close direction from the landing crew to avoid crashing into another ship, but the ship landed without incident.  Two black-cladded guards and two Myan envoys stood outside the Satcha waiting for its ramp to descend. Anya and her Priest had released their harnesses and stood as soon as the ship touched down. As quietly as they could and employing Wilhelm’s pad and writing instrument, they had devised a plan to commandeer the Satcha and as before escape the planet and contact Akadia. But first they had to get everyone to leave the ship. The ship's hatch slid open and with a hiss and the swirling of hydraulics the ship's ramp descended to the flawless surface of the hangar deck.

Korah’s Guards unharnessed themselves and two of their number rose and departed down the ramp, while the remaining two stood at the ship’s entrance. Korah, who had been seated on the ship's bridge, entered the Passenger's compartment and called for Anya. After the guards had left, Anya quickly entered in to the rear of the ship.  Korah surveyed the Passenger compartment finding only the Priest.

“Where has she gone,” Korah said mostly to herself. She intently watched the Priest as if she was waiting for him to answer, but he said nothing.  There wasn’t even a physical response from him. He stood like one of the fixtures in the compartment.

“Anya,” Korah yelled as she left the passenger compartment and began heading for the hallway.

“I’m alright,” she called out from some hidden location. “Korah, please go without me, I will catch up to you.”

Korah paused at the sound of Anya’s voice. Something struck her immediately after Anya's request.  It was sudden and Korah had no reason for the feeling, nor could she identify the source that prompted it.  But she stood near the entrance of the hallway trying to figure it out.  She turned sensing the Priest’s eyes upon and tried to recall what Anya had said. Then she realized that it wasn't anything that Anya had said that prompted her unease, it was how she said it.  There was far too much sanguinity in her voice and it was such a foreign feeling to their relationship that it immediately provoked her suspicion.  Korah again turned to watch the Priest.  She then walked up close to him, so close, that Wilhelm almost reacted by stepping back.  He didn't move and as he recovered Korah bumped into him.

“What are you planning,” she whispered to the Priest, trying to temper her anger.

Wilhelm’s disposition immediately sank. He had been sure that their plan would have work, but now he was unsure. Korah walked away departing the passenger compartment for the bridge.  Soon after the three flight crew members exited the bridge and departed down the ramp.  Korah spoke to one of her guards standing at the Hatch entrance, and soon after, he began to walk towards Wilhelm’s direction.

“It’s time for you to go,” the guard demanded, taking Wilhelm by his arm and forcing him to move. Wilhelm tried to resist but the guard was so much stronger than he was and Wilhelm was still much too weak to put up even a weak defense.  He allowed the guard to maneuver him toward the ship’s ramp.

“We are leaving, Anya. We will wait for you outside,” Korah yelled, pleased that she interrupted whatever her sister was planning.

Wilhelm with one of the guards following him walked down the ramp followed by Korah and the last guard.

Anya departed from her hidden location and entered the passenger compartment in a panic. The ship was vacant.

“Wilhelm,” she called.  But there was no answer.  “Wilhelm.”  Anya began to search the ship.  As she passed by the open hatch she glanced out seeing Wilhelm standing at the end of the ramp.  He was standing very close to one of Korah's guards who had a hand wrapped very securely around Wilhelm’s arm and next of him, a smiling Korah.  Anya felt dejected. She stood at the top of the ramp desperate for a plan to escape her current predicament. She thought about calling out to Wilhelm to run back, but she knew there was no way he would be able to escape from that guard.  Anya lowered her head and slowly began to descend down the ramp.

Reaching the ground, she observed the gloating look on her sister’s face and it sickened her.  She then imagined slapping that gloating look completely from her face, which caused her to laugh.

Korah's face swiftly changed as if Anya had actually slapped her gloat away.

“What’s so funny,” Korah demanded.

Anya did not answer as she was immediately greeted by the two Myan envoys.

“You must be the Lady Anya Yemen,” one of the envoys voiced.  He did not touch her but gestured for her to follow them. Anya did not immediately follow, she first walked over to Wilhelm, grabbed on to his arm through his robe, pulling on him to accompany her. The guard that had been holding him, released him. The two envoys glanced at each other each with a puzzled look.  Anya and Wilhelm then proceeded to follow them. Korah followed right behind Anya and the Priest, accompanied by her guards.

Once they had reached the entrance to the Conference room, two Imperial Guards monitoring the entrance, stopped them from entering.  The two Myan envoys that were leading the group spoke quietly with the guards whom, after their discussion stepped to the side to allow the group to enter. As they entered the conference room, the envoys first, followed by Anya and her Priest, then Korah and her guards, all eyes seemed to turn toward immediately to the newcomers.  A wave of people, like magnets, were drawn towards Anya.  She was overwhelmed by all of the attention she received from people she did not even know.  Wilhelm quickly stepped back out of the fray or rather, he was pushed back by the growing number of individuals trying to meet the Lady Anya.

Korah seethe with resentment as once again she was treated as if she didn’t exist. The situation churned up many painful experiences she had had to endure growing up in the shadow of the ‘blessed.’ She didn’t see the Priest near Anya, and so, she began to look for him.  Walking around the hoard of people worshipping her sister, she found the Priest standing against a wall.  But before she could walk towards him, she felt a hand upon her shoulder and she paused.

“It’s about time,” Yuri complained as cordially as he could, “What happened.”

Korah did not speak, instead she pointed in Wilhelm’s direction. “That, happened,”

Yuri did not follow her as her finger still hung in the air, “What are you talking about,” Yuri asked.

Korah pointed again with emphasis, “There, father, the Talian Priest.”

Yuri finally saw the man that Korah had been pointing out and he wonder why a Talian Priest was present at this high level gathering. 

“I found him with Anya,” Korah beamed, “in her room and she was half dressed.”

Yuri listened to his daughter with some skepticism, he was well aware of his youngest daughter’s constant opposition to her sister.  And it was certainly not the first time that she had relayed some malicious gossip about her sister that later turned out to be untrue.

“Korah, I don’t have time for your petty accusations,” Yuri replied.

“It’s true, but, take her side as usual.”

“Korah, you really must get over this rancor you have for your sister,”

Yuri wanted to escape Korah’s poisonous attitude, but she held on to his arm.

“I'm telling you the truth, she has an attachment to that priest.  And I believe they were going to take the Satcha after we departed it, but I scuttled that plan.”

Yuri paused and began to take his daughter a little more seriously. He glanced at the Priest as Korah explained it all to him.  He then turned to look at his eldest daughter who was still inundated with admirers. But before he could make a move, Yuri felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned around to face the Myan Ambassador and the Grand Duke who stood close by.

“I see that your beautiful daughter has finally arrived,” Etian said, "and as I once said she is well worth the wait."

“Thank you for your kind words, but I must apologize for her delay,” Yuri said as he turned glancing at his eldest.

"Ease your mind, my friend," the Duke replied, his eyes fixed on Anya.

Korah stood among her father, the ambassador and the Duke, but they did not even acknowledge her presence, as if she didn't exist. Nor had their slight escape her notice, but she knew that the Ambassador was not speaking of her, she was not the beautiful daughter, if they even knew he had a second daughter. Her rage increased with every minute that they continued to ignore her.

“The Duke is very anxious to meet her,” Etian informed.

Yuri turned toward the Duke and gestured for him to follow.  Yuri approached the crowd and as politely as he could, yet with firmness he pushed his way through the crowd.  However, upon seeing the Duke, one and all stepped back to allow the two men through.

Anya tried not to let her countenance fall when she saw her father approaching, but as he did, she took his hand as gracefully and respectfully as she always had. Anya’s attention however was diverted to the man that approached with her father.  The man was very handsome with a pleasant countenance. The man’s eyes were fixed on her and they seemed to draw her in.  She tried to look away but kept returning to them.  She smiled naturally in reaction to the man.

“Father,” she said after releasing his hand.

“I want you to meet the Grand Duke Simon Sa’dah,” Yuri said as the Duke approached her taking her hand and kissing it.  A flicker of something stirred inside of Anya, something pleasant but unexpected and unwelcomed and yet, she had no control over it. The revulsion she expected to have in the presence of the Duke, was absent. Still holding on to her hand, he caressed it. 

“I can’t tell you how much I longed for this day,” the Duke said. 

Anya felt embarrassed by her reaction although no one knew what was going on inside of her.  She turned to look for Wilhelm out of guilt and found him, knowing that he was watching.  But there was something about this man that drew her, that pulled her in and it frightened her. She tried to control it but failed.

“I am very pleased to meet you,” Anya replied.

Yuri was pleased with the interaction between the Duke and his daughter, he had feared this day, because he was unsure how Anya would react to the Duke considering her protestations and her bias against Myans.  But he sensed a pleasantness in his daughter, something that had been missing from her for a long time. 

Korah looked on surprised by her sister’s reaction and she could see that Anya was not faking it.  She turned to look at the Priest against the wall wondering, if he sensed it too.

Simon held on to Anya’s hand and began to lead her away from the crowd toward a less populated area of the room.  Anya followed at first, hesitantly, unsure of what lay ahead.  She turned back to find Wilhelm and she held her hand out waving for him to approach.

Wilhelm seemed to go unnoticed by everyone in the conference room and he wanted it to remain that way. However, Anya was calling for him and as much as he wanted to go to her side, he feared that doing so would prompt discussion or a reaction from the attendees.  However, it was the desperateness in her face that finally caused him to advance.

Korah observed Anya’s gesture toward the Priest and watched as the Priest began to step away from the wall.  Korah waved to her guards and stood directly in front of Wilhelm causing him to halt.  Soon two of Korah’s guards were flanking him.

Anya watched in horror, fearing what Korah was about to do.  The Duke noticed her hesitancy and stopped.

“Are you alright,” he asked soothingly.

“I’m sorry,” she paused, “My Priest, she said pointing in his direction, I want him with me, please.”

“Whatever you want,” Simon said waving to his own guards who immediately approached the Duke.

“That man in the robes, bring him here,”

The guards immediately approached Wilhelm, and wedging Korah’s guards out of the way, they took Wilhelm and walked him over to where the Duke and Anya were standing.

Korah was furious at the slight and she paused as those who had witnessed the incident continued to watch her.  Korah called to her guards and left the room.

Yuri looked on, now becoming curious about the Talian Priest and recalling what Korah had said about him. He watched as the priest stood close to Anya, even taking her hand.  Yuri then, departed the conference room in search for his youngest daughter.

 


© Copyright 2019 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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