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It is so easy to tell yourself you need to do something, start doing it, get interrupted, then completely forget about it. Well, I’m sorry to say, that’s exactly what happened with this. So, that’s why it is one day late. Also, I am stopping the Cuthbert Armistice series because it’s kind of a work overload for me. 😦 In this chapter, we finally meet our protagonist. Also, chapter four is in the old chapter one post. I made the mistake of editing the old chapter 1 post instead of deleting it, so if you were wondering where that had gone, there it is. Anyway, here is chapter five, enjoy. 🙂
Welcome to Darthamoor
Date: Jan 4, 900 A.C.
Their guards threw them into a dingy hut and slammed the door shut. Commander Grennet heard the bolt slide and knew that there was no way for them to escape. Any such attempt and they would have been shot. Commander Grennet rolled over onto his side to whisper to Caddie:
“Any idea where Master Savantone is?”
“Got a plan to get us out of here?”
“Not really, we’ll just have to wait, I guess.” Caddie replied, shifting herself into a more comfortable position.
“No chance of getting these force restraints off that’s for sure,” Commander Grennet grunted as he raised himself.
“Silence in there!” A guard shouted. “Go to sleep. The boss’ll see you in the morning.”
“I’ve had a long enough sleep already,” Commander Grennet muttered.
“We may as well take his advice.” Caddie said, rolling over and closing her eyes. “Something tells me that we’re goin’ to have a tough day tomorrow.”
Commander Grennet grunted and shoved himself up against a wall. He sat there, listening to the regular pacing of their guard, and gradually, his bare head dipped down onto his armored chest, and he fell asleep.
Commander Grennet murmured sleepily as somebody prodded him, not over gently. Then he heard Caddie’s voice whispering urgently in his ear:
“Come on, Commander, get up, we’re going!”
In an instant Commander Grennet’s eyes were open. He got to his feet and stood there for a while, allowing the blood to circulate through his body. The first thing he noticed, after moving around for awhile, was that the force restraints were gone. One of the guards motioned for both of them to follow and as they did so, two other guards fell in step behind them. The five coms were left behind.
Studying the guard in front of him, the Commander noted his handcrafted shoulder plates, knee plates, bullet proof vest, and helmet. Then his eyes shifted to the blaster that the guard carried. It was old and unruly, but still capable of damage.
“So much for the people we came to help.” Commander Grennet said sarcastically to Caddie, rolling his eyes at the same time. “They were doing well enough before we came here, and now that we’re here, they throw us in prison without even a word as to our purpose.”
Caddie ignored the irritable commander. She followed the guard silently, looking at her surroundings. She was inside a hidden base. It was fairly well fortified. Nothing compared to any of the forts found on Gorthormer, but still impressive, considering the limited resources. Caddie could hear a humming and guessed that it was a shield generator.
As they rounded a corner, their guard motioned upwards with his hand to a commanding figure standing on a broken pylon that stuck out from the ground at a crazy angle. Caddie caught one word that the guard said: “Richard,” and was then mesmerized by the man as he turned around to face her. His eyes drifted from their guards, to Commander Grennet, and then back to her, and he gave her a piercing stare. His face remained expressionless as he hopped down from the pylon.
He walked over towards them and Caddie noticed for the first time that his eyes seemed to twinkle, but the rest of his face was contorted into an deadpan demeanor. It was not long before his long strides took him to them. He stood, towering in front of Caddie, ignoring the smart salutes that his subordinates made.
“What have you come here for?” He said, addressing Caddie.
“We’re here to help you,” Commander Grennet cut in.
“What makes you think we need it?” Richard said, piercing Commander Grennet through and through with his eyes. The bluff commander was forced to lower his face under Richard’s stoical gaze. Turning to Caddie, Richard repeated. “What have you come here for?”
Caddie could tell that he had a deeper meaning behind his words, that he was probing for what he knew was there, but could not discern what it was. She would have to be cautious in her answers, yet this stern faced youth, for he was barely more than that, seemed to have an attractive personality and Caddie felt herself captivated by him, despite the fact that he was keeping them prisoners.
“Like the commander said, we came here to help you, but…”
Caddie was forced to break off at Richard’s inquisitive gaze. He seemed to read her thoughts.
“The weak are conquered by the strong, and the crafty take advantage of the naive.” He said bitterly. “Whilst one conquers by force, the other conquers by deception. Tell me, which is the foe greater to be feared?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Caddie said blandly. She knew that she was telling a straight lie, but how could she tell this stern faced protector that after the Galactic Regime had chased off their unknown enemy, it planned to take Darthamoor under its rule?
Richard looked at her keenly, but his expressionless face was unreadable, and she was unable to tell whether he had detected her lie. His next statement put all end to her doubts. “You claim to be here to help, yet you are here to rule. You have found a new threat to your power, and in order to stop it, you are trying to rule over more. Your “regime” seeks more power, you are trying to rule the entire galaxy. You want all power.”
“Stop associating me with that bunch of overstuffed politicians!” Commander Grennet broke in irritably. “We received a call for help. If you don’t want our help, fine, we’ll leave, why stop here for all the formal ceremonies?”
“It was the treacherous south who gave out the call for help.” Richard’s voice was definitely bitter now. “They called for help, then surrendered everything. Everything…” Richard dwelled on each syllable. “Now, if I let you return, how will I know, that you will not come back here, in force to destroy us. I saw the guns you brought. You planned to arm the citizens of the south and use them against us.” Richard’s voice was totally level now, but Caddie thought she detected a strong undercurrent of emotion.
“No, you have us all wrong,” Caddie put in. “We came here with guns to arm your people so that you may fight back against your invaders.”
“How can I believe you? You lied to me once, what if you are lying to me again? For all I know, you may be an undercover spy, sent by the very invaders you are promising to help me destroy.”
Caddie could feel she was losing ground. This man had turned every piece of evidence she had against her. She was left wordless.
“Very good,” Richard seemed to congratulate her. “You finally stopped talking. Now, what do you ask in return for those blasters in your ship’s hold?”
“What, you’re taking us up on our offer?” Commander Grennet asked excitedly. Even Caddie was surprised. All that Richard had said seemed to betray that his intentions were to keep them prisoners on Darthamoor, yet now he actually seemed like he was going to agree with them.
“Our freedom,” Caddie said simply. “That’s all we require, our freedom.”
“Well, then, don’t lie to me again. It does not benefit somebody who is to be trusted. Which is why I never trust politicians,” Richard said, with a sort of smile in the direction of the Commander.
“I suppose you’ve had experience with these kinds of enemies,” Richard said, as he led the two of them along.
“Well, we’ve had experience with the units the use, mechanoids they’re called, but some of these new types are unfamiliar to us. We also have no idea who or what this new power is, that is capable of possessing such a large army. I am therefore unfamiliar with their tactics or anything of that sort.” Caddie said, cautiously.
“So far, we’ve been able to hold off, their spacecruisers just waiting there in space have not done anything except act as bases. No heavy artillery have been brought up to the base and I think they are waiting for somebody. But here, this is what I wanted you to see, have you ever seen this?” Richard’s hand swung towards two men, encased in flames and writhing in agony.
“Why aren’t you doing anything about them?” The impetuous Commander said, rushing forward to grab a bucket of water.
“It’s no use, Commander,” Richard said. “They’ve been like this for days. Burning, but not burning up, and the fire that holds them in bondage is unquenchable.”
Commander Grennet dropped his bucket of water in shock. Caddie too, was amazed.
“I have never seen any type of mech that could do this,” the Commander gasped.
“It was not what you call, a “mechanoid” that did this,” Richard said. “It was a creature, swathed in dark robes with a hood pulled over his face. Arcane fire just leaped from his palm and burned these two when they charged at him. Then he drew something from inside his robe, a cylinder, and when he ignited it, a blade materialized. It absorbed all the blaster bolts shot at him. In fact, it attracted them, then he pointed it at a group of our men and a powerful blast emerged from its tip, killing all of them.
“He marched in among my men and using that as a sort of sword, cut them all down. There was nothing that could stand against him. Then, just yesterday, when your spaceship crashed on Darthamoor, he left us. Before that, we detected a signal he sent out, we managed to partially unscramble the code. It said:
“‘…all Admiral Branko Neven Dragovic no…’
“At least, that was what we managed to unscramble, the rest was lost. That is the other point that is backing up the idea that they are waiting for somebody.”
Caddie and the Commander were both stunned at this news.
“Well, hurry it up then,” the brusque Commander said, striding off in the direction of their crashed spaceship. “You free my coms, I’ll get the blasters and serve them out. They’ll do much more damage than these rusted things you’ve got.”
Caddie bit her tongue, afraid of Richard’s reaction, but he just smiled wistfully. “Yes, I always wished that my men could have better blasters, and armor too. I’ll go now, and free your, coms, was it? You get your blasters.”
Turning, Richard strode off into the distance. When he returned, he found that Caddie and the Commander had not wasted their time and that all the blasters had been removed from the wreck of the spaceship. Richard soon called an assembly of his best men and then personally handed each of them a blaster.
Suddenly, all of them heard a violent explosion coming from the sky. They all looked up and caught sight of a spaceship rocketing through the sky, its afterburners flaming. One of Richard’s men immediately handed him some binoculars, which he hurriedly raised to his eyes.
“It’s dad!” Richard exclaimed through gritted teeth.
“Who’s dad?” Commander Grennet asked one of the men standing next to him.
“He’s Richard’s father, the best pilot in our organization, also the most reckless.”
At this, the freedom fighter turned, and shading his eyes, followed the path of the smoking spaceship.
“Hey, where are you going?” Commander Grennet called after the retreating figures of Caddie and Richard.
“We’re heading to the control room,” Caddie called back. “Coming?”
“If I come, it will only be to keep you alive!” Commander Grennet said, as he reflexively jerked his head away from a burst of blaster fire as it hit the shield.
Soon they were all inside the control room, with Richard calmly standing, hands behind his back as he gazed out the large viewscreen. He had opened the shield partially. His head did not turn as the speaker next to him crackled, but with an almost imperceptible motion of his hand, he flicked a switch, letting the incoming communication through.
“This is Delta 1, checkin’ in. Velocity: 600 m/h 38º-f-N. Mark my position. Requesting permission to land.”
“Request acknowledged. Delta 1, your position is marked. Prepare for fifty degrees left bank in eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.”
“Acknowledged: fifty degrees left bank, mark my position.”
“Excellent. Prepare for twenty-two degrees right bank in three, two, one.”
“Acknowledged: twenty-two degrees right bank. Mark my position, and awaiting further orders.”
“Begin decent: angle, twenty degrees down, maintain speed.”
“Descending. Angle: twenty degrees down, maintained speed.”
“Reduce speed to 300 m/h. Maintain vector.”
“Acknowledged. Velocity: 300 m/h 33º-f-NW.”
“Steady now, maintain speed, maintain speed. Repeat: Delta 1, maintain speed. You are going too slow. Repeat: Delta 1, you are going too slow. Either raise angle to ten degrees or increase speed; immediately.”
“This is Delta 1, reporting in on emergency contingency. Throttle cable has been cut by enemy fire, all control of engines is lost. Attempting plan B. Angle, increase to ten degrees.”
Everybody in the command station watched tensely as the battered spaceship eased itself up. Then a random blaster bolt, flying out from nowhere, caught the descending spaceship on one of its ailerons. In ordinary cases, with the rotatable thrusters, this would not have been a problem, but as all control of the engines had been lost, this posed a serious threat to the safety of the aircraft, and its pilot.
“Delta 1, emergency contingency report: My aileron has been hit and angle of descent is no longer controllable. Request permission to activate emergency countermeasures.”
“Permission granted. Delta 1, activate emergency countermeasures.”
Everybody watched as the doomed spaceship eased itself into a nosedive. All knew that inside the cockpit, the pilot was desperately doing what he could to save the spaceship; before it was too late. Suddenly, Richard’s voice cut through the air like a chainsaw cutting through butter.
“Delta 1, your trajectory is too low. Repeat, your trajectory is too low. Raise nose immediately or eject.”
“Communications – argh! Jammed. Cannot communicate – Attempting to raise nose.”
“Delta 1! Respond! Abort, abort! Eject!” Richard slammed his balled up hands on the control panels as the spaceship smashed into the ground, a few feet before the runway, and exploded.
Meanwhile, Savantone had trudged along through the deserted pathways. He did not know where he was going, or how he would get there, but he did know, that sooner or later, he would find what he was looking for. At least, that’s what he expected. What he did not expect, was for what he was looking for to find him.
“Ho now old man,” a spite-filled voice called after Savantone. “Where do you think you’re going? I know, looking for your pupil right? If you’re as good as him, I’ll strangle you with my bare hands. Yar!”
At this outburst, Savantone heard a rushing sound and footsteps pounding on the floor. In an instant, his enerblade was in his hand and he ignited it, rolling to the left as he did so and flinging his gnarled cane at the charging figure. Savantone did not know how it happened, but at that same instant, an ignited yellow colored enerblade also appeared in the hand of his opponent and his cane was sliced neatly in half.
“Ahh, old man, I see that you are better than your student. How much better is something for me to find out!” And the cloaked figure sliced in Savantone’s direction. The spry old man was on his feet in a second and he parried his opponent’s blow, the familiar snap fizz sound coming as the two enerblades came into contact with each other; first the cores, hitting each other with a dull metallic snap, then the energy produced reacting violently with a sharp fizz.
Savantone could feel something welling up inside him, a sort of hidden anger he knew that he should not let out. Somehow he knew, that if he released the anger welled up inside him, he would instantly be taken advantage of, and killed.
Gradually they fought until Savantone had forced the mysterious stranger up against a house wall. Swiping a deadly stroke at Savantone’s head, the hooded figure flipped back into a window. Savantone followed suit, and leaped through the window.
He found the stranger standing on the opposite side of the room, his enerblade readied. Closing his eyes, Savantone called out mentally and suddenly, numerous cracks stretched themselves across the roof as the ceiling began to collapse. Even in this desperate moment, the cloaked man did not lose his presence of mind and stabbed his enerblade into the collapsing shards. Calmly he warded the falling masonry off; the exact same thing that Savantone was doing, and when the roof had stopped falling, both of them remained unhurt.
“You’re a Defen aren’t you?” The hooded man said, blocking a flying chop from Savantone. “I can feel your feelings of pain; anger; loss; sorrow; and revenge. Isn’t it against the rules of your ‘order’ to want revenge? It is only for revenge that you are fighting me now. I thought that Defen were supposed to be defenders of peace, not stirrers of anger.”
Savantone was driven back as he realized the truth of this cloaked figure’s words. He jumped over a sweeping cut at his legs and searched his mind for the true reason he had come. Yes, it had been for revenge hadn’t it? Savantone barely dodged a cut at his head as he felt his resolve weaken, or was this all a ruse on the part of his enemy?
“How do you know what a Defen is?” Savantone asked, stabbing at his opponent with the tip of his enerblade, trying to reach past his enemy’s weak point, wherever that was, and disable him.
The hooded figure did not answer, instead, stepping back from Savantone’s sweeping cut, he sheathed his enerblade, threw back his hood, and revealed his face. Savantone stepped back in astonishment.
“A Vilth!” He cried out in surprise.
“Yes, you thought you had destroyed us long ago, didn’t you? That you had exterminated our faction? Well, it turns out that there were some faithful followers that survived. Now you die!” With his voice filled with hatred, the Vilth launched his deadly fire from his fingertips. The purplish arcane fire lashed out in the direction of Savantone, who was unable to dodge in time.
Standing fully in the path of it, Savantone released himself, mentally pushing up a barrier in front of him, he stood there with his eyes closed. It hit him like a blow, and Savantone was thrown backwards, but he was unharmed, and not a hair of his head had been singed.
Now it was the Vilth’s turn to be shocked. This was the first man he had ever seen who could stand against the death-bringing fire that surged forth from his fingers. Mentally, he connected with his master. ‘Go,’ his master said. ‘There is one greater than us all. He must be killed at all costs.’ The Vilth cast one last look at the fallen Defen, then turned and ran off.
Savantone slowly got to his feet and stood up wearily. His enerblade, its blade now extinguished, lay in a corner where he had flung it at impact. The sensors inside the enerblade had sensed the shock as it hit the ground, and sensing that it was no longer in its master’s hand, it had automatically extinguished itself so it would do no damage to anything.
Savantone felt even older and weaker than before, and approaching the two pieces of his cane he put them together. Then he slid his hand to where the two pieces met and tightened his grip ever so slightly. When he took his hand away, the cane was whole again and, leaning heavily on it, he walked to his enerblade and picked it up.
He could not believe what he had just learned, the Vilth had returned!
******End of Chapter 5******
Hope you enjoyed! 🙂
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne
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