Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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

Chapter 38 (v.1) - Chapter Thirty-Seven

Submitted: August 31, 2018

Reads: 62

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Submitted: August 31, 2018

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Fort Thaingor

 

An advancing band of soldiers halted at the site of a lone man armed with a sword charging toward their position. Aiming their weapons at the lone man, the soldiers waited until one of their number gave the order to fire. Teric ran hard and fast, drawing on every ounce of adrenaline that coursed through his veins, every ounce his body supplied, exhausting every muscle fiber to fatigue until he felt that familiar surge in his body, in his joints and muscles taking over infusing him with power and strength.  His increase in speed became effortless as he ran with his sword tilted downward in his grip.  He saw the soldiers ahead crouched in various positions but he did not decrease his speed.  Without the slightest hesitation he took a quick dash to the left entering the interior hallway.  The soldiers were startled at the quick shift in Teric’s advance and by the time they recovered and set up to fire, he had already crossed the gap and was out of sight down the hallway.  The soldiers quickly advanced toward the interior hallway in pursuit, firing their weapons as soon as they were able to view the empty hallway.  But Teric was gone, and already advancing around the maintenance corridor.  One of the soldiers withdrew a communication device while waving his men down the hall.

“We lost him, but he’s heading toward your position.”

----

Kore and Jasen opened the door to the access shaft amidst flashing lights as a walkway extended across towards the access ladder.  After climbing onto the ladder, the walkway retracted and the door to the access shaft closed.  Looking down the shaft, they couldn’t see its bottom, as it descended into darkness. Kore climbed down a few rungs on the ladder to make room for Jasen who positioned himself on the rungs holding on as securely as he could. Kore felt lightheaded as he looked down the shaft imagining the worst. They began to climb down and for some time had made rapid progress, however the fatigue and soreness in their hands and feet made the descent much more arduous. To nourish his will, Jasen imagined reaching the bottom of the shaft and finding the docking bay, he imagined himself and Kore finding a ship, entering it and waiting for Teric, who arrives and with him they escape, landing in Udin, picking up Wilhelm and escaping the planet.  As he climbed down, step after painful step, he rehearsed this scene over and over in his mind.

“Ow,” Kore screamed as Jasen stepped on his fingers.

Jasen quickly lifted his foot with an embarrassed apology to Kore for his absentmindedness. They paused for a moment while Kore nursed the pain from his fingers.  He was pleased for the moment of rest and desired to nurse it for as long as he could.

“How far down do you think we have to go,” Kore asked not really interested in the answer.
 
“Your guess would be as good as mine,” Jasen replied. 
 
“You think Teric will make it,” Kore asked.

“If anyone can, he will,” Jasen said and he really believed it.  In fact, he believed that Teric had a better chance to make it than they did.  It was part of the reason why he wanted to stay together. He felt confident with Teric in company.

“Yes, I agree,” Kore added, “and he has the sword of the Duma.”

Jasen was becoming increasingly irritated as Kore stalled, still nursing his fingers. Kore continued to rub his fingers glancing from time to time at Jasen.

“If we want to make it, we better keep going,” Jasen said with some irritation in his voice.

Kore got the message and he began again to descend without a word.

----

The echoes of blaster fire continued as Teric made his way around the maintenance corridor.  He was moving so fast that he was out pacing his thoughts. With his sword in hand and while he calculated his next move, he realized that he was nearing the next interior hallway.  While deciding what to do, a horde of armed soldiers emerged into the maintenance corridor directly in front of Teric.  He was running so fast that he couldn’t stop himself and he plowed into the initial group of soldiers knocking down a few of them.  Startled, the soldiers still in the interior hall, began to fire their blasters haphazardly out of shock, hitting some of their own companions while most of the laser bolts were pulled into Teric’s sword. Teric immediately began to spin as the blaster bolts trailed his blade, effectively causing a whirlwind of plasma streams impacting many of the soldiers before they could back away out of the cyclone of fire.  Many of the soldiers near Teric fell, and then he faced the others who had backed away down the interior hallway.

The soldiers that Teric had earlier encountered now arrived to see the fallen bodies in the corridor.  Sounds of battle led them down the interior hallway as they witnessed Teric’s attack on their comrades.  They immediately began to fire at Teric as he pursued the others.  One of the bolts hit Teric in the back and he fell to the ground dropping his sword. Subsequent bolts now diverted to the sword as it lay on the ground. The soldiers took confidence at Teric’s fall and plastered the hall with lasers.  Teric rolled on the ground to put out the small fire on his garment. Most of his garment had been burned through exposing the membrane that covered his body.  He stood in the immense light and smoke as the soldiers on both side of Teric continued to fire frantically toward Teric’s position.  The smoke was so thick that Teric was hidden from the view of the soldiers and they soon ceased their barrage and waited.  The soldiers remained in their positions, no one wanting to wade through the thick smoke to investigate.

Through the smoke, a glowing sword became discernable to the soldiers at Teric’s rear. He emerged from the smoke, his sword, dripping energy sparks on the ground.  The soldiers, shocked by the sight of this dead man with a glowing sword, began to quickly back away as some in their number, began retreating through the maintenance corridor.  Teric was a blur as he charged, swinging his blade as streaks of plasma spit out in every direction dropping every soldier not fast enough to get away. Teric’s mind was bent to one purpose, and he pursued every single soldier that tried to retreat.  As the smoke in the hall began to dissipate enough to see, the soldiers on that end of the interior hallway froze and did not pursue Teric, but they watched in horror at the carnage he had left behind.  But before they could even react, Teric was now in pursuit of them.  Immediately they began to retreat, some even dropping their weapons in flight, but it was of no use. Teric was on them like the unrelenting Manicle, whose membrane covered most of his body. He charged ahead and brought his sword down in an overhead strike, swinging left then right, spinning his sword, sending waves and arcs of plasma upon the retreating soldiers.  He was still in pursuit mode even though there were no more soldiers to pursue. He stood observing, his sword still dripping, listening for any approaching soldiers.  Teric senses were heightened to the point of extreme sensitivity as he jumped to the slightest sound or movement, wanting more. His nature had been overcome by the barbarian that inhabited him, the savage in his blood, his eyes spilt white streaks down his face, his hand throbbed under the white-knuckled grip with which he held his sword.  He fought for control and tried to calm his rapidly beating heart as he walked over countless bodies down the interior hallway, and into the corridor.

----

“What’s going on,” Anya asked to no one in particular.  Her mind was in a fog of confusion and fear.  The situation begged for an answer but she couldn’t find it or rather her mind would not let her name it.  She felt that she was in a nightmare and was being confronted with a riddle, a paradox that she had to solve. But, as simple as the answer might seem, it was out of reach in her mind.  As she looked on she felt that there was something dangerous in the simplicity of the situation.

The Duke stood close to Wilhelm examining his facial features as Wilhelm did the same.  A strange feeling came over Wilhelm that took him out of the moment, he could no longer feel the insistence of the pain of his injury. Something more important demanded his attention, demanded his full faculties as he wrestled with the quandary before him, staring at him. There was an awkward sense of familiarity about the Duke, which Wilhelm wanted to explore, but at the same time he feared to do so.  There was danger in the pursuit of it but he felt as if he was being irresistibly drawn toward its resolution.

The whole room fell silent as everyone observed the two men, the Duke and this imposter priest, who seemed to share the same face.  Although the Duke was older and there were some differences in them, the similarities were striking as if the Duke was looking into a mirror of his younger self. The Duke’s features were hardened by his years of hard experiences; however, the softness of the priest’s face was evident upon him.  The two men did not say a word as they observed each other, clearly aware of what was causing the stunned looks from the hall's occupants.

“Who are you,” the Duke asked, suspiciously curious about the young man in front of him. Wilhelm glanced over to Anya, unsure of what he should do.  He felt an uneasiness, a danger in his situation and he looked to Anya to help him to navigate this alien terrain.  Anya unconsciously nodded in the affirmative. She was aware of the perilous tension in the room, and the danger of exposing Wilhelm’s identity, but she wanted answers, she had to know despite the risks. Wilhelm had already been exposed and it would only be a matter of time before his true self would become known. What’s there to lose she reasoned.  Wilhelm, unnerved, turned toward the Duke.

“I am Prince Wilhelm Antilla of the United Kingdom of Akadia.”

The Duke’s eyes widened in astonishment as the whole room gasped.  He quickly turned around, searching for the eyes of his shadow, finding them, they shared in some private realization. He faced Wilhelm, no longer perplexed or confused.  He smiled, as his mind flooded with options. He studied the young man in front of him with contempt and with purpose.

“Who are you,” Wilhelm asked interrupting the Duke’s ruminations.  The Duke’s eyes narrowed, and he paused, letting the silence linger for some time. At the moment the advantage was his and he seriously considered letting Wilhelm’s answer die in the silence.  But there was something within him that overpowered his calculated decision.  For far too long he lived in the shadows, buried in the memories of his adversaries, but now, now it was time for him to emerge into the light, to serve notice, to invoke fear. 

“I am your brother.”

It was now Wilhelm’s eyes that widened, he quickly looked into Anya’s confused face unsure of what he had just heard.  Confusion was etched all over Anya's face as she covered her mouth with her fingers, stifling a cry that never gave voice.  He turned back towards the Duke, his face hardened, infused with incredulity.

“You’re not my brother, you’re a Myan,” Wilhelm said, stifling his rising fear.

“I am Akadian, and, I am your brother.”

The whole room was astonished at that news. The Myan officials certainly knew that the Duke was not Myan, nor was he a true son of the Emperor, but, no one knew his origin. One day he appeared at the Emperor’s side, he and his inauspicious companion. Simon and his comrade had led armies into the Emperor’s most intractable campaigns.  Those victories earned them special recognition from the Emperor, and for Simon, an imperial adoption.  But now the truth was out. He was Akadian royalty.

Anya was stunned, she didn’t believe that the Duke was Wilhelm’s brother. It was a trick, some manipulation she concluded. However, her eyes called her a liar and her heart reluctantly agreed, but it was her mind that couldn’t accept it. As she wrestled with this nugget of information, she was beginning to realized what had attracted her to this man she had never met.  She saw Wilhelm’s face in his, she sensed some of Wilhelm's mannerism in the Duke, the resonance in his voice.  It made sense to her now, but still, she didn’t want to believe it, she couldn’t accept it, she feared the consequences.

Wilhelm’s mind was racing for answers, he had only one brother and that brother was dead.  His brother was a traitor to his family and King. And, he had been executed for his role in the Senate Rebellion. There was no way, regardless of how much they resembled one another, that this man could be his brother.  Wilhelm's face hardened in anger at the Duke’s deception.

“I have only one brother, he was a traitor, and he is dead,” Wilhelm said firmly, suspicious of the Duke’s intentions.  Simon raised an eyebrow at the inflection in Wilhelm’s voice.  He smiled slyly.

“As you can see, I am not dead.  Our Father was weak and cowardly.  He could not bear to witness my execution, so he feigned my execution and banished me in an escape pod to the depths of space, so that I would perish, unseen by his eyes,” Simon laughed, “It was my Friend and companion,” Simon gestured toward his guard, “who saved me from that fate.”

Wilhelm listened intently and at the same time he hunted his memories for answers. He tried to remember the stories long forgotten, as a child would remember fables told to him at bedtime. But now he fought his mind and his memories to recover the truth in those tales.  His father had a son whose name was Hamlin, he was son of the Lady Elayna of the Palatia House.  Wilhelm remembered vaguely that for some reason Elayna and her son were exiled. But the reason for their exile escaped his mind. His father never talked of such things. But he knew that Hamlin was involved in the Senate Rebellion, that he was its purpose and rallying cry, as the rebellion attempted to set him up as King, replacing his father. He recalled being told how Woodson Hall was invaded by terrorists and how as a baby he had been kidnapped by them.  Wilhelm looked towards the Duke’s companion wondering what role he had played in those crimes.  He remembered being told that he was rescued by a Legion Knight named, Juno Highlord.  That name came to him like the revealing of a long-lost secret.  Wilhelm wondered if that Highlord, was somehow related to Teric.  As his memories revealed to him details regarding the brother he never knew, it did not fill him with a sense of longing.  Instead, if true, he was standing face to face with a nightmare. He wondered why his father never told him the truth about his brother.

“So, your name is not Simon,” Wilhelm asked, his mind now entertaining the possibility.

“It is who I am today, but in a former time, I was called Hamlin, son of Wilhelm and Elayna Antilla, heir of the Akadian throne.” Simon thought of his name, his real name, a name long forgotten, even by the bearer of it.  But soon, it will again become known.

As he stood in the presence of his older brother, Wilhelm wondered what his intentions were.  Why was he here? Was he here to claim the throne? Surely, he must feel it is his right.  Maybe he was here to seek revenge.

Anya felt worried for Wilhelm, this was surely no pleasant discovery, like finding a long lost relative, instead, it was just the opposite, finding a long-lost relative that was better long lost. 

Korah had by now reentered the reception hall and having been made aware of the situation, she approached and stood next to Yuri. She couldn’t believe it.  She had no idea that the man she had exposed was Prince Wilhelm, and that the Grand Duke from the Myan Empire was his brother. It didn't seem possible.

“I don’t believe it,” Korah stated, looking back and forth between Simon and Wilhelm.

“This is amazing,” Yuri said, trying to sound positive, but he sensed danger in this revelation.  He feared for this man who loved his daughter.

Hearing her father’s words, Anya turned to him.

“Father, this is not good," she whispered, "This, is not good.”

----

Jason and Kore sat on the floor of the access shaft, sore and exhausted from their long descent.  Not wanting to get up, craving rest, Jasen forced himself to his feet.  He held out his hand to Kore.

“Come, we need to keep moving,”

“Just a few minutes more,” Kore pleaded craving the relief his feet begged for.

“No,” Jasen nearly shouted, “Teric is risking his life to buy us time, let’s not waste it.”

Kore reached out and took Jasen’s hand, letting Jasen lift him.  As Kore stood up, Jasen grabbed the door.

“Are you ready,” Jasen asked.

“Seriously,” Kore replied.

Jasen ignored him and opened the access shaft door.  The small utility room they entered was empty, but outside the room they could hear a lot of activity.  Jasen walked over to the utility room door and cracked it open.  The hall was active with soldiers and other personnel walking and running through the hall in both directions. Jasen immediately closed the door.

“Ok, there is a lot of activity going on out there.  Its probably Teric's doing. Now, when we leave, we are going to have to blend in, we can’t look nervous or we'll draw attention to ourselves.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” Kore said dejectedly.

“Kore, we can do this.  You just have to walk about like you’re in control,” Jasen said.

“OK,” Kore said trying to psych himself up. “What rank am I,” he asked trying to look at the insignia on the uniform he wore.

“I don’t know,” Jasen replied.

“I think we’re specialist,” Kore said, “we’re not officers.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Jasen replied dismissing Kore's complaint.

“It does matter, Jasen, what if we are confronted by an officer.”

“Look, if we just move, like were busy fulfilling some order, maybe no one will bother us. Now this is our only way out of here, if you want to stay here, then that's your decision, but I'm getting out of here, are you coming?”

Despite his complaints, Kore was fully onboard with what they needed to do, he just needed an outlet for his fears.

"Sure, let’s do this," Kore added with resolve in his voice.

Jasen cracked opened the door and waited for Kore to stand behind him, as soon as he did, Jasen, then opened the door wide and entered the hall pulling Kore after him.


© Copyright 2019 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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