Knome: The Forbidden Zone

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

Chapter 39 (v.1) - Chapter Thirty-eight

Submitted: September 28, 2018

Reads: 18

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Submitted: September 28, 2018

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Fort Thaingor


A small detachment of troops entered the reception hall in a rush, drawing attention away from the awkward family reunion taking place within.  The base commander peeled himself away from the scene to meet his officers near the center of the hall.  The Duke's attention was also diverted as he curiously observed the excited conversation among the base commander and his officers.  The base commander stepped away from his officers and nervously approached the Duke.

“My lord, it seems that the situation has deteriorated. We have a very serious problem on our hands.” The base commander was thoroughly embarrassed to make an appeal to the Duke for assistance. He felt that he had the experience, the skill and the resources to handle anything that arose under his jurisdiction, especially, after informing the Duke that the problem would be resolved as only one intruder had been discovered.

“I’m listening,” Simon replied.

The commander hesitated for a moment glancing around at all the eyes in the hall fixed on him. He was trying to think of a way to relate the information that had been told to him, while, holding back some of the wild details that he himself had a hard time believing.

“My lord, we have been unable to capture the discovered intruder. He has repelled every effort we have mobilized against him, and, we have suffered dozens in losses in our initiative.”

The Duke reflexively lifted one eyebrow.  “One man?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes, my lord, he is but one man, but I am told that he carriers a sword…”

“A sword,” the Duke interrupted, “Are you telling me that a man with a sword, bested the heavily armed and armored forces placed under your command?”

“Yes, My Lord, but, his sword is of an unusual nature.” The commander paused, trying to formulate words that would not come, words that were woefully inadequate.

Wilhelm's eyes widened at the mention of a sword.  He suspected at once who the intruder must be, and having seen Teric’s handiwork in person, he had no doubt that it was Teric.  He turned to face Anya with a glimmer of hope in his eyes, but he was met by her confused response to his hopeful look.  He then realized that only one intruder was mentioned, and he began to wonder what may have happened to Jasen and Kore.

The Duke was irritated by the base commander’s hesitation, so he turned his back to him, and signaled to his guard. 

With an eager gait in his step, the guard approached the Duke.

“General Bothan, see to this,” Simon said.  And with that he dismissed the base commander, who backed away toward his officers.

Bothan began walking toward the hall's entrance, as he did, he raised his hand and gestured toward the commander of the Imperial shock troops. The IST commander immediately spoke into his comm device as he approached and fell behind the General.  As Bothan reached the reception hall's doorway he stopped and uttered an imperceptible word to his Kossik guards stationed there.  The Kossiks immediately fell behind the IST commander, and the three left the hall and advanced down the hallway.  Bothan watched them through the doorway as a platoon of shock troops met up with, and fell in step behind their commander and the two Kossik guards.  Satisfied, Bothan returned and stood next to Simon.

Yuri had a bad feeling regarding the heightened activity taking place without any consultation with him.  He thought of the massacre of his people at Udin and he felt sick to his stomach. Where were these troops going, what are they being told to do and against whom? Yuri felt like he had to exert some control over matters taking place within his realm. He wanted to know exactly what was being done and he wanted to give approval for the action or halt any proposed operation.

“What’s going on,” Yuri asked.

“There is no need to worry, it will be resolved,” the Duke replied, waving a hand dismissively.  Simon was growing impatient with all of the distractions and he wanted them to end. There was still an itch in the back of his mind that he intended to scratch. He again faced his younger brother.

The Duke’s dismissive wave, angered Yuri deeply.  The muscles in his jaw knotted, as every muscle in his body tensed. He, was the ruler of Knome, he was not one of the Duke’s minions, to be called or dismissed according to his whims.  The more Yuri thought about it the angrier he became.  At first, he tried to control the rage building within himself, but after recalling the images he had seen of Udin, he offered no resistance to the fury building inside of him.

Korah could see the rising tension building in her father and it worried her. It reminded her of the day when he had destroyed his meditation room after the report of Akadia’s secret crimes had been revealed.  She watched him trying to control his rage and then, a sense of dread flooded over her. As the Duke began to walk towards Wilhelm, Yuri followed. Korah tried to reach her father as he approached Simon. 

“Father,” Korah called out hoping to stop his approach, but either he didn’t hear her or he just ignored her.

Yuri grabbed onto Simon’s shoulder nearly spinning him around, and in the action, he nearly ripped off the Duke's cloak.

“I said what’s going on,” Yuri demanded, his anger still rising.

Bothan’s reaction was swift and menacing, and although he stopped short of acting against Yuri, he hovered over him with his hand grasping at an unseen weapon under his robes. Yuri quickly stepped back out of the guard’s shadow, noticing the guard’s hand hidden within his cloak. Yuri’s guards had quickly upholstered their own weapons, and stood ready to defend their leader to the death if they had to.Instinctively Anya quickly approached her father, as did Korah.  Simon raised his hand, to calm the situation.

“It’s Ok, my friend,” Simon replied to his guard.  Simon was clearly irritated by Yuri’s action and glared at him for a moment, but then he quickly relaxed, not wanting to aggravate the situation.  He lifted both hands patting the air in an effort to deescalate the tension in the hall.  He then readjusted his cloak and stepped towards Yuri.

“You must be more careful,” Simon told Yuri as if speaking to a child. “Next time, I may be unable to restrain him.”

“How dare you threaten my father,” Anya shouted.

“Please, I meant it as no threat,” the Duke said while still glaring at Yuri.

Korah pushed herself between Yuri and the Duke, her gaze solidly fixed on Simon.

“It sounded like a threat to me,” Korah replied without an ounce of fear.

Bothan now inserted himself between his Duke and Korah, pushing her with his body back into Yuri.  Again, there was a great commotion as Korah’s guards reacted, prompting a reciprocal reaction from the Myan troops, and, Yuri's guards.

“Stand down,” Simon called out to his troops, “Stand down.”

The Myans did as they were directed, but Korah’s guards did not receive a word from her, and so they remained at the ready. Simon squared himself with Korah in an effort to intimidate her. But Korah never flinched. Simon was impressed at the young soft female before him, her face hardened like steel and without fear.  There weren’t many men with courage enough to stand up to him. Yet, here was this girl who seemed quite ready and willing to act. He smiled out of a slight nervousness.

Korah waved her hand after a short pause causing her guards to put away their weapons.  Many of the guest in the reception hall began to leave, or were being escorted out by the Myan base soldiers.

“Father,” Anya called, almost pleading as she approached her father. This is exactly what Anya feared, despite all of the reassurances she had been given by her father and sister, all the promises and dreamlike predictions, this is what she most feared. They are Myans, she thought.  The deep suspicion that she had felt about them, may have emanated from her Akadian bias, but it didn't make her suspicions wrong.  It seemed to her, that their conduct this day, confirmed all her fears.  She approached Yuri taking his arm.

“It’s ok child,” Yuri replied speaking to both of his daughters.  His heart was racing as a sliver of doubt crept into his mind. He waved his hand in the air commanding his own soldiers to stand down.

“My apologies,” Yuri said as he bowed slightly before Simon.

Simon bowed in kind before Yuri, taking a step away, hoping to distil some of the tension in the room. 

But the tension remained as Simon once again turned his attention to Wilhelm.

Anya leaned in close to her father, “Father, we have to send Wilhelm back to Akadia.  The Akadian’s suspected that he was here, right? We need to send him back.” Anya was worried for Wilhelm and even though it meant that they would be apart she wanted him to be safe.

“Excuse me,” Yuri called out.  “The Akadians contacted me some time ago, because they had a suspicion that young Wilhelm here, may have acquired transportation to Krestlin.  At the time we had no evidence to confirm their query.  It seems we do now.  I will inform the Akadian government that young Wilhelm is here and we will see to it that he is safely delivered back to them.”

The room remained silent for some time as Simon quietly considered Yuri’s statement.  He stroked his beard, gazing upon his brother as he strategized. Simon was not about to give away a prize he had once had within his grasp so long ago. He took a few slow steps toward Wilhelm.

“Let’s delay that option for the moment,” Simon replied breaking the long silence.

“I don’t see a reason to delay,” Yuri uttered and he waved over his prime minister.  As his prime minister began to approach, Simon raised his hand to halt his advance.  The prime minister hesitated considering whom to obey, and then, he stopped.

“Lord Yuri, I repeat, we will delay that option for the moment, believe me, I will see that young Wilhelm is delivered to his father in due time.”

“You have no authority here,” Anya shouted, “It is not your decision to make.”

Simon looked down and sighed.

“I am growing weary of this exercise,” he said as he faced his guard.

Anya ran to Wilhelm and embraced him. Wilhelm held her, kissing and stroking her hair.  Yuri felt trapped as he watched Wilhelm and his daughter. He wondered, after all of the posturing by the Myan and Knomen troops, what would happened if he asserted his authority and took Wilhelm into his custody.

“My lord, I must insist,” Yuri almost begged.

Korah felt shame for her father, to see him, Knome’s ruler, begging a foreigner, a guest, to bend to his request.  It was too humiliating to watch.  She turned away not wanting to be there to witness her father’s eventual capitulation.

“Take young Wilhelm to my ship,” Simon directed, ignoring Yuri’s plea.

“No!” Anya screamed and she held on to Wilhelm tighter.  “No, Father,” she cried out.

Korah turned and ran from the reception hall followed by her guards.  Several Myan soldiers started to pursue her but Simon stopped them.

“Let her go,” he ordered.  Two soldiers came forward and began to take Wilhelm, wrestling with Anya to take hold of him.

“Father no, they’re going to hurt him, you must stop this,” she pleaded.  She fought with the soldiers prompting another soldier to come and restrain her.

“Don’t hurt her,” Yuri cried.  Yuri’s guards stood in place as several dozens of Simon's shock troops entered the hall.

After Anya had been restrained, Wilhelm was accosted and taken into custody by a couple of Myan base soldiers.  He was escorted out of the reception hall.

Anya relented in her opposition and was released. She stood in shock, staring at her father and she began to cry.

“This is not what I agreed to, bring him back,” Yuri yelled angrily toward Simon. 

Simon ignored Yuri and approached his guard.

“Send for the garrison,” he whispered.

----

No one noticed or even glanced toward Jasen and Kore as they quickly walked along Fort Thaingor’s main port level hallway. The hallway was buzzing with activity as soldiers and various personnel trekked up and down the concourse.  Jasen looked at his prox device identifying the strongest signal as belonging to Kore.  The signal that identified Teric was so faint that upon first glance his signal didn’t appear to be registering.  But then he saw it, barely, indicating that they were a great distance apart.

“Where is he,” Kore asked quietly.

“I don’t know, but he’s not close.”

“Hey look,” Kore said as he observed a large contingent of troops advancing towards them.  They were led by the two Kossik guards that they had identified earlier.  Everyone stepped out of the way to make room for the Kossiks and the platoon of shock troops that followed behind them.  As they passed by, Jasen and Kore stepped to the side with their heads down.

Fear invaded Jasen's mind as he watched the troops pass by.  A closer look at the Kossiks sent a chill straight through him.  The Kossiks were so thin, that they seemed at first glance to be malnourished, however, upon closer inspection, the Kossik warriors were all muscle, sinew, ligament and joints, with the thinnest layer of skin, tightened over their skeletal frame.  Death walking, Jason thought as he observed their gaunt faces.  They were heavily armed and carried a fierce looking sword attached on their backs.  The shock troops that followed them were hidden behind their gear as they perfectly marched down the hall.  They seemed armed with various weapons most of which Jasen could not identify.  Jasen felt concerned for Teric. He felt confident in his friend but, after observing those troops and the Kossiks, he felt fearful for his friend.

“They’re after Teric,” Jasen said somberly, “I feel like we need to help him.

“He wanted it this way,” Kore said as they continued to watch the troops advance down the hallway.

“Do you have somewhere to be.”

Startled by a voice behind them, Jasen and Kore turned around to face a base officer.

“Yes, sir, sorry sir,” Jasen said quickly.

“On your way then,” the officer replied.

Jasen and Kore quickly turned around and proceeded down the hallway as the officer watched them. 

“Is he still watching us,” Kore asked after walking for some time.  Taking a quick glance behind, Jasen breathed a sigh of relief.

“No, he’s gone.” Jasen replied.

Relieved Kore began to pick up his pace which Jasen was happy to match. They continued on taking note of signs that indicated that they were heading in the right direction.

The large rectangular opening of the docking bay came into view as they rounded a corner, which excited them both. The outlines of various ships could be seen within the opening of the bay doors.

As they moved ahead, their attention was diverted by the emergence of a couple of soldiers escorting a man out of a doorway to their left.

“Jasen, that’s Wilhelm,” Kore said almost too loud.  Jasen started to gesture for Kore to speak quietly when he looked as directed by Kore.

Jasen was shocked, the man being held resembled Wilhelm, but it took a couple of glances to confirm Kore's suspicion.  Wilhelm was dressed in some kind of robe, so only his face was discernable, but it was enough.  He looked as if he had been injured in some way.  There was a bandaged at his neck and blood stained the robe he wore.  Jasen was puzzled. Wilhelm should be safe and secure among the Albians.  If this was Wilhelm, he wondered how he got here.

Both Jasen and Kore had stopped out of sheer disbelief.  They watched as the soldiers began to lead him toward the entrance of the Docking bay.

"We have to do something," Jasen said.

"What can we do," Kore replied alarmed by Jasen suggestion.

"We can't let them take him, besides it's just two of them."

Kore felt disheartened, they were so close to escaping, but, if they tried to rescue Wilhelm...

Suddenly, there was a huge explosion.

----

As Teric rounded the maintenance corridor he found an entrance that led into the maintenance hold.  He entered the room quickly and closed the door behind him.  With a quick glance he verified that no one was in the room, but it appeared as if the room had been recently evacuated in haste.  He took a more measured inspection around the room examining every area. There were various diagrams and floor plans that hung on the walls of the maintenance hold. Teric stopped in front of several of them taking note of where he was, and the general outline of the base.  He stopped in front of one wall and examined a floor plan that contained various descriptions of rooms and their purposes within the base.  Teric stood there, making calculation as he examined the diagram on the wall. He confirmed that he was on the eighth level and noticed that below the first level in the under structure, the fuel reservoir for the base were contained.  Teric searched the map for an ordnance store, finding one two floors below, in one of the rooms in the inner ring.  He mapped out a plan in his mind. He would take the lift in the Maintenance hold, descend two levels, find the ordnance store, take enough explosives to the under structure and blow the fuel reservoir.

Teric carefully pulled back the manicle membrane on his wrist to reveal his prox device, but as he examined it, he did not discern the signals for Jasen and Kore.  He covered it back up hoping that his friends were able to escape. As he approached the lift, he heard the lift’s gears engaging.  He stopped and searched for an area to conceal himself.  He advanced around the hold until he found a door which he slipped into just as the lift came to a stop.  The doors opened as four armor cladded soldiers stepped out of the lift with their blasters drawn.  They dispersed in different directions throughout the hold searching and opening doors, clearing the room.  Teric went deeper into what appeared to be a change room.  He heard the door of the change room open and he quickly drew his sword.

A lone soldier entered the change room and walked past Teric who had concealed himself in a closet.  As soon as the soldier walked past his location, with one upward stroke of his sword, Teric dropped the soldier and he immediately grabbed him, to ease his body to the ground.  There were muffled calls from outside the room.  Teric advanced to the door running, he jumped up kicking the door open and slamming into a startled soldier who hit the ground before he had time to scream.  A laser bolt zipped past Teric and he immediately raised his sword as the bolt slammed into is blade with a clang, which he brought down on the fallen soldier.  He turned around as multiple bolts bent into his sword and he swung down at the soldier on the ground ending his agony, and then, he spun around leaping in the air, advancing on the two remaining soldiers.  While one of the soldiers continued to fire his blaster, the other began retreating to the lift while pressing an alert device on his chest. Teric struck as the attacking soldier backed away, his upward strike severed the soldier’s blaster sending sparks and plasma streaks in every direction striking the soldier in his face and he fell to the ground screaming.  Teric ignored the fallen soldier who was writhing on the ground in pain and covering his face and he went after the other soldier who managed to get into the lift.  Teric thrusted his sword into the lift as the door began to close.  The door stopped hard against the edge of Teric’s sword. Quickly he drew his blaster and pointed the barrel up in the small opening and pulled back hard engaging the second trigger, spitting a barrage of laser bolts within the lift compartment ricocheting plasma in every direction and finally into his blade.  After hearing the body of the soldier drop, Teric holstered his blaster and removed his sword with some effort out of the lift.  He placed his sword in its scabbard and placed the scabbard on his back as he dashed past the soldier who was still writhing on the floor and clutching his eyes. Teric stepped up to the maintenance hold door, cracked it open and then crossed the maintenance corridor into the interior hallway.

Running as fast as he could through the hallway, searching for a lift, Teric pushed through his fatigue and quickened his pace at the sound of distant boot steps ahead.  Teric had accidentally passed by the lift, so he stopped and doubled back and, after reaching the lift he placed his hand on the access panel, trying to activate the lift, without success. The sound of several soldiers entering the hallway caused Teric to draw his sword as he hid himself within the threshold of the lift entrance. As the soldiers neared Teric's position, he tightened his grip on his sword and then, he jumped out of the threshold thrusting his sword upwards slicing through the barrel of the blaster carried by the soldier closest to him.  Startled, the three soldiers backed away while firing their weapons.  However, Teric advanced quickly on the retreating soldiers.  He stopped his upward swing in motion and quickly struck his sword downward, slicing through the second blaster just as a bolt attempted to exit the barrel, absorbing into Teric's blade.  Teric spun around swinging his sword, sending an arc of energy toward the second and third soldiers, dropping them both.  Reversing his swing he brought the blade back against the first soldier, cutting off his hand and then, plunging the tip of the blade into the soldier who fell to the ground.

Teric quickly picked up the hand and held it against the lift panel activating it and causing the doors to slide open.  Once inside he again used the hand to initiate the inside panel.  He selected the floor number and dropped the hand to the floor.  After the lift stopped at the level he selected, he stood to one side as the lift door opened. After taking a quick glance outside the lift he picked up the hand and entered the hallway, turning right, towards the maintenance hold.  Before reaching the corridor, he stopped in front of a doorway that from his memory should have been the door to the ordnance depot.  Using the hand again he placed it against the panel, however, the door did not open.  Teric threw the hand away and struck the door with his blade several times against the locking mechanism.  As the door broke open, a siren began blaring.  Teric quickly entered the room and began scanning the locked cages in the room, finding the one he wanted, he began striking his sword against the caged door.  Once it gave way, he entered the cage placing his sword on his back.  He began inspecting several containers and finding the one he needed, he began to grab several of the time detonators.  He took a nearby bag and after dumping its contents he began filling the bag with about a dozen detonators.  He closed the bag, threw it over his shoulder and then he dashed out of the cage and out of the ordnance room, running down the hallway towards the lift.  Stopping abruptly, he doubled back and picked up the hand and then ran toward the lift.

Teric used the severed hand to gain access to the lift and selected the main level. He didn’t see a selection for the fuel reservoir but noticed some kind of access keyhole.  Since he didn’t have a key, he realized that he had to find another way to reach the under structure. Before the lift reached the main level, Teric began to climb up the side of the lift and he accessed the escape trap on the lift ceiling. He pulled himself up through the access onto the top of the lift.  He rode atop the lift as it came to a complete stop at the main level. Teric jumped onto the counterweight cable in the lift shaft and climbed down for some time past the main level toward the under-structure.  He stepped between the lift's guide rails and looked up, hoping no one would activate that key access, sending the lift down on his head.  He quickly drew his sword and pried open the shaft doors.  Deafening noises and waves of heat bombarded him as he slipped through the door allowing them to close behind him.  The noise was almost unbearable as he put his hands to his ears.  Teric stepped onto a metal meshed floor that in one direction, led to a maze of walkways that spanned around gigantic enclosed fuel tanks. The ceiling was a maze of hundreds of various sizes of piping, zigzagging in every direction.  The other direction led to the door of a walled off room.  Through a small window in the door, Teric could see several individuals within the room. He took the bag of detonators off of his shoulders and immediately headed toward the maze of walkways, straining under the oppressive sensory overload.  After walking for some distance, he was ambushed from behind by a lone assailant who jumped on his back, knocking him to the ground.  The bag of detonators hit the meshed flooring sliding some distance away from Teric’s reach.  The man on his back was big, heavy and strong and he managed to hold Teric down under his weight.  The man attempted to pull Teric’s sword from its scabbard but was unable.  Just as Teric had managed to roll the big man off of his back, another man jumped on him.  Now both men began to punch and kick at him, connecting with the back of his head and his ribs, as Teric winced with each blow.  The men began dragging Teric to the edge of walkway which only had a hand rail but no fencing.  From the edge the drop down below was endless into the cavern of a dead volcano.

As they struggled near the edge Teric managed to kick hard against one of the men who lost his balance and fell over the edge.  His loud scream was silenced only by the widening distance as he fell.  Startled by the fall of his comrade the other man paused for just a moment, and in that moment, Teric had drawn his sword, kicked the man, who stumbled backward against the rail.  Teric then stood bearing down on the man, striking near him against the rail.  As the rail split apart the weight of the man caused him to fall through the broken rail down the endless cavern.  As Teric turned around he had to immediately duck as a third man confronted him swinging a large metal tool.  As the momentum of the weight of the tool turned the man around, Teric swung upward against the man’s back. The man screamed and fell hard against the meshed floor.

Teric stood on guard watching and waiting for more, but no one came.  He took a deep breath, rested for a moment and placed his sword back in its scabbard.  He then picked up the bag of detonators and headed for the maze.


© Copyright 2018 James Washington. All rights reserved.

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