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Well, here is chapter 11 of The Dark Menace. Sorry all who have been waiting so long for it, but it takes quite a while to write one of these chapters, especially since I have a minimum chapter page limit for myself. Anyways, enough of my rambling on. Enjoy. 🙂
Date: Feb 8, 900 A.C.
Richard was called to the Assembly soon after Savantone himself had left, and it was with a foreboding heart that the young Defen went; for though his mission’s failure had not been directly his fault, he felt that there should have been something he could have done.
Richard had very high expectations of himself. The enormous responsibility thrown on his shoulders had made a man of him way before his time, and somewhere, he was always thinking that there was something he could have done better. He hated it when something he attempted failed, and always found himself dwelling on the past to determine what he could have done better.
So it was to Richard’s great relief when the Assembly members greeted him with smiles and congratulated him on a successful recovery of what could have turned into a terrible disaster. They did not see things in the same light as Richard did. All they saw was that an important senator had been saved by a young student whom they had high hopes for.
“You showed marvelous coolness considering the situation,” E An Por said quietly. “I congratulate you. It is not often that students are so capable in time of need.”
“I have had good teachers and plenty of experience sir,” Richard said with a respectful bow, though inside he was bursting with joy. This was the exact reverse of what he had expected, and he could not help but admit to himself that he was relieved.
“We believe we can trust in your discretion, which is why we have summoned you here,” Joh Probationor said, staring intently at Richard out of his brilliant blue eyes.
“I will do anything for the Assembly,” Richard confirmed, and he was surprised to realize that he meant what he said, and that indeed he was willing to do anything for this group of people who had quickly become so close to him. Just a month ago, he despised them, believing that all big organizations simply wished for more power and dominion. How enlightening that month had been.
“We thought as much,” Savantone said; he sounded meditative. “Now, we have our suspicions, but we need confirmation. After all, we are the highest of our order, and there are none who would not recognize us were we to go undercover.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“Your relations with your brother are strained are they not?” Joh asked.
“Yes– sir. But I do not see how that applies to the current situation.”
“It is very important Rich,” E An Por said gravely. “We have suspicions about And-Son. We believe– never mind what we believe. Tell me, has your brother been acting strange of late? Does he seem to be giving in to a darkness inside him? Had he seemed– angry, frustrated, and overall unusual?”
“Well–” Richard did not know how to answer this question. He had no wish to lie to the Assembly, yet he did not want to betray his brother, even though he knew that Ivan was in the wrong. Instantly his most recent fight with Ivan came to mind, and he vacillating between revealing what he knew, or keeping it to himself.
“Speak,” Joh said sternly.
“Whatever you tell us will be for the good of everyone as a whole,” Savantone told him encouragingly.
Despite these comments though, Richard had to recall his previous declaration of fealty to make his decision, and he spoke with forced words when he raised his voice again.
“My brother– he seems to harbor an anger against me. Yet I do not see the source of this feeling. I have done nothing in the past to harm him, yet he appears to compete with me in everything we undertake. I do not know why this is. And-Son, well, I am unsure if his influence with my brother is healthy.”
The Assembly exchanged knowing looks, and Richard wondered what he had said to cause such a disturbance. Even with his raw, little-trained mental abilities, he could feel the mood shift in the group as a whole. He waited, shifting his weight slightly, then realizing he was dismissed, left hurriedly.
As Richard travelled the numerous passageways to his room, he pondered upon this new development. So he was not the only one who had noticed Ivan’s behavior too. But what was this about And-Son, what could they suspect about him? Richard had noticed that And-Son was of the moody type. He seemed to be constantly brooding, but surely this was not unusual? There were many Defen who were naturally quiet. Richard finally resigned himself to the fact that the Assembly could see more than he could.
Then, as he rounded a corner, Richard bumped into somebody. His newly honed reflexes snapped into action as his sharp eyes caught a falling object. Instinctively he reached out mentally, and the descent of the object, which he now realized was a holo-projector, was stalled.
Lifting his eyes, Richard started to apologize profusely but was cut off.
“Why, it’s Rich Hom!” a merry voice exclaimed.
“Jenni– Senator Westerbridge,” Richard said formally, handing her the holo-projector. “How do you do?”
“I am perfectly well,” Jennifer said. “But you look like you’ve seen a ghost. What has happened?”
“Do I really look that bad?” Richard asked, rubbing his thumb along his jaw. Now that he thought about it, he certainly felt bad. His interview had left him unconsciously drained, for he had a natural instinct for honesty, and the fact that he had come so close to lying about his brother had sapped his resilience.
The two stood awkwardly in the hallway, then Richard moved to one side to let the Senator pass, but she stepped to the side also to let him pass, and they found themselves once again obstructing each other’s passage.
Jennifer laughed awkwardly, and Richard once again stepped to the side to allow her to pass. As Richard walked away, he sensed the Senator turn around, so he turned too.
“I’m glad you followed my advice, and I hope you save your planet,” Jennifer said sincerely.
“And I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for your advice,” Richard said, equally sincerely.
“I didn’t think my advice would be the means of saving myself from captivity,” Jennifer said with a small laugh, and Richard got the feeling she was talking to herself more than she was to him.
Richard stood uncertainly, feeling like he should say something, but he could not think of anything to talk about.
Fortunately for Richard, he was saved the trouble of thinking of something to say when alarms started blaring all throughout the complex.
“What’s happening?” the Senator asked worriedly, looking around as if the surroundings would shed some light on this new development.
Richard was doing his own looking around and did not answer. He hurried over to a panel on the wall. He keyed in a Defen channel and spoke into the intercom.
“What’s going on?”
“This is E An Por. And-Son has gone rogue. Repeat, And-Son has gone rogue.”
If Richard’s face was white before, then his face now was beyond white. His first thought was for the safety of his brother, then Jennifer brought him back to reality by saying, “What is it? What’s going on?”
“A Defen has gone rogue,” Richard said, tight-lipped. Just then, Jennifer’s holocell beeped. She activated it.
“Jennifer, a Defen has gone rogue!” It was Senator Shore. “You need to get to safety as soon as possible.”
“Ok. Where should I head?”
“SEP 5; hurry!”
“You’ll be alright?” the Senator asked as she returned her holocell to its rightful place.
Richard nodded and started off at a jog for the Assembly chambers, but after a few tense seconds, he burst into a run. He arrived in the chamber to find E An Por engaged in a duel with And-Son. Red flashed against green, and sparks flew as the enerblades cleaved into metal and fortisteel.
For a moment he was bewildered, then he drew his own enerblade and, igniting it, leaped into the fray. E An Por frowned slightly at Richard’s impulsive entrance, but he was not given long to meditate on it, for And-Son sent a console flying at his head. The Assembly member barely managed to dodge, leaving Richard to fight by himself for a moment. And-Son pressed his advantage, and with a flurry of three blows, pushed Richard back into a corner.
Richard swept his enerblade down to parry a low cut by And-Son, and the latter, seizing his chance, hit Richard on the head with a high kick. Then E An Por attacked And-Son, and Richard was for the moment forgotten.
Richard’s vision was swirling. Before, the enerblades had been blurs, but now the men themselves were slurred together. His hand instinctively switched his enerblade off as he sunk to the ground. He saw E An Por leap forward with a powerful lunge, and Richard’s heart leapt with him, but And-Son jumped to the side, and mercilessly hacked at the now open Defen.
E An Por threw himself to the right, away from And-Son, but he was not quick enough, and the tip of the fallen Defen’s enerblade seared the former’s side. Seeing the Defen wounded seemed to wake Richard from his stupor, and he stood up, albeit unsteadily, and reignited his enerblade.
And-Son paused for a moment to look at Richard, and E An Por took his chance with a quick lunge. But And-Son was ready, and once again sidestepping the wounded Defen’s blade, he swung his own enerblade down and decapitated his opponent. Richard stopped halfway through his stride as the head of E An Por rolled to a standstill at his feet.
Richard felt sick, as he looked down at the head of the fallen Assembly member, and he must have looked sick too, for And-Son laughed at him in disdain. Then, as the clomping of coms’ boots echoed down from a hallway, And-Son turned and ran off.
It took Richard a few seconds to recover from the shock, then anger took over, and he sped after And-Son. He could sense the presence of And-Son just around a corner and still moving. Richard had not been at the ACC for very long, but he had been there long enough to know his way around, and he soon realized which direction And-Son was heading; the senator quarters.
He put on a burst of speed and reignited his enerblade as he rounded another bend. In the distance, he caught sight of a corner of his quarry’s robe disappearing around the corner.
When he finally reached the twist in the hallway, he paused for fear of what he might see when he turned. But the pause was momentary, and he sped up almost instantly. His eyes quickly took in the fact that a door was open, and he dashed in, to find himself at the point of And-Son’s enerblade.
And-Son slowly rotated and Richard moved with him to avoid being cut by the blade. When And-Son finally stopped guiding Richard, the latter found himself standing next to Senator Shore and Jennifer.
At the slightly shocked expressions, which Richard and Jennifer both sought to conceal, And-Son said with a smile, “Yes, yes. Senator Westerbridge, meet Rich Hom, Rich Hom, meet the Senator. Oh– wait, you’ve already met haven’t you?” And his voice became savage, “When Rich saved you, Senator, from our clutches. But, no matter, we get what we want in the end.”
“Not if I have any say in it!” Jeremy Shore said, drawing from a hidden holster a small pistol. He fired, but there was a flash, and And-Son absorbed the energy bolt with his enerblade.
“I don’t need you,” And-Son said coldly to Jeremy, his weapon descending, only to be halted by its yellow counterpart.
“Not if I have any say in it,” Joh Probationor said quietly.
If And-Son had been hoping for as easy a victory against Joh as he had had against E An Por, he was disappointed greatly. E An Por had been a negotiator, and the skills he had gained with an enerblade were those required for a Defen. Joh Probationor on the other hand, had devoted as much of his education as a Defen as he could to the enerblade arts, and was a proficient master of that iconic weapon.
Ducking a high sweep from And-Son, Joh attacked with a low cut, which And-Son jumped over. However, Joh, surprisingly spry for his thirty-eight years, executed a whirlwind clothesline at And-Son’s legs, so that the evil Defen’s landing on the ground left much to be desired.
He scrambled to his feet, then assumed a brazen look as he faced his opponent. There was a bout of feinting and feeling on both sides, as they each tried to open the other up. Then Joh struck a series of rapid blows to the sides, shoulders and head of And-Son in quick succession. These the red-wielding Defen blocked, but they left his lower body open, and Joh struck at And-Son’s stomach with a mentally reinforced kick.
And-Son raised a knee to ward off the blow, but that didn’t stop him from shifting a few feet backwards. He gave an animalistic growl, then charged forward again. Joh stopped him midway with a mental shove that actually sent And-Son flying back. The Defen-turned-Vilth, realizing he was defeated, broke through a window to follow the emergency escape route that had been planned in case things did not go according to the Imperetor’s format.
Joh made as if to go after him, but apparently decided against it.
“Let him go,” he said to himself. “He can do no more harm than he has already caused.
“How are you kid?” Joh said gruffly to Richard.
“I’m fine sir,” Richard said, returning his enerblade to its rightful position. “What happened to– Ian?”
Joh chuckled. “Sleeping. Slept through it all. Had a hard day before I guess. Would you believe it? Sleeping, while a Defen rebelled. Sleeping. Just think about it.”