The Dark Empire, Page 116-120 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 116-120
“The bone beneath?” asked Rotathian.
The boy was drenched in sweat and his face red from running. “It’s not broken, but the armor is crimped around my arm, my hand is going numb.”
“See what your experiment has done,” shouted Tarlock Malic. “He could have been killed.”
“Calm down, Priest,” said Rotathian, still inspecting the armor. “Prying a Knight out of crushed armor is a common occurrence. We’ve learned a great deal here that will save lives later.”
Squire Toluth glanced at the Tarlock. “I tripped, but it only clipped my arm.”
Malic’s eyes swirled red with anger. “And what if it had stepped on you instead of just your arm?”
“When I tripped and it stepped on my arm, my arm sunk into the sand,” explained Toluth.
Rotathian nodded. “And that is the valuable lesson we learned. Titan’s must only be engaged in soft soil so their weight pushes the knight into the ground, and the rest is up to our armor. Our armor is made from cut-up dead Titans, with some reinforcing we can ensure a knight survives the encounter.”
“There’s a problem with that, my Lord,” said Toluth. “My armor was almost too heavy to be able to run away. If we had to fight a long battle, we’d wear out pretty quick.”
“Yes, I noticed you were starting to slow down,” said Rotathian. “We’ll need to redesign the armor specifically for fighting Titans. I think we can cut away all the unneeded armor and reinforce key sections.”
“I’d be faster if I didn’t have so much armor to carry around, maybe cut away here and here,” said Toluth, pointing along sections of the armor.
“Good idea,” agreed Rotathian. “We leave reinforced sections along the bone and joint lines.”
Tarlock Malic made a clicking sound and whipped his tail back and forth, causing the cubs and hatchlings watching to move further back. Rotathian added that to his growing list of reptilian words. Of course, they weren’t words, but sounds and gestures. Rotathian had seen the Malic and Zil several times facing each other and making intricate movements with their tails. It hadn’t taken long to figure out the reptilians had their own language – a silent language of body movements. Now it would just be a matter of time and finding the associations to those movements with spoken words for him to know what they were saying.
“The thing you are describing we already have,” said Malic, “it’s called an exoskeleton utility unit. They’re used by cargo handlers to lift heavy crates and other supplies aboard fleet ships and space stations.”
Rotathian lifted a brow. “Are there any here?”
Malic frowned. “There are. I saw a dozen of them in the hanger bay when we moved the train.”
“That’s convenient, the Jinn have thought of everything.” Rotathian smiled innocently. He wasn’t going to let on that he had already seen the exoskeletons yesterday and that had given him the idea for the new armor, but he needed to know if Toluth would be able to outrun the Titans first. “What do you say we go find Master Seth and get the boy pried out of this armor first, then we can go see our new Titan armor?”
“We don’t have time, if his hand is numb we need to get it off now before there is nerve damage,” said Malic. “Give me your arm.”
Toluth held his arm out and Malic inspect the armor. “My tail-barb is too large to get safely under the armor.” Malic made a subtle motion with his tail. Rotathian logged it in his brain that the motion meant, come here. Zil quickly trotted over to the larger reptilian. “Be very careful of the arm beneath, but see if you can cut away the metal with your tail-barb,” instructed Malic.
Zil whipped his tail around and slipped the barb under the armor at the wrist. He slowly pushed the sharp edge of the barb until the metal began to slice apart, just as a sharp pair of metal shears might have done. Zil slipped his claws between the sliced armor and pried the metal apart.
Rotathian unbuckled the straps holding the arm piece to the shoulder piece and gently pulled the arm armor off.
“That’s better, thanks,” said Toluth, shaking his arm and hand to get the circulation flowing again.
Rotathian sat at the desk in the guest quarters reading a technical manual someone had left behind in the dining hall. He would return it soon, and he wasn’t so much reading as he was looking at the diagrams and pictures. He recognized the language the book had been written in as the long dead language of the ancient Jinn. Nobody could speak or read that language anymore, and he was fairly certain that this new generation of Jinn wasn’t able to read it either.
He looked up from the book and out the window at the island. The Titans were still working, they never stopped. The day’s experiments with the exoskeletons had gone well. Toluth spent the remainder of the day getting used to wearing the machine. Tomorrow they would test it against the Titans.
Rotathian looked back down at the book. It was the picture on the front cover that drawn his attention. It was one of the many long dead and rusted vehicles that littered the forests. He recognized the vehicle as one that was nearly covered in weeds not far from the gates of his castle. Many parts had been stripped from the vehicle and reused for other purposes, but he had always wondered what the vehicle’s original purpose had been.
Most of the book appeared to be instructions on how to fix the vehicle, it was towards the back of the book he found the answer. He stared at the picture for a long time, trying to imagine the crew that must have worked with this fantastic machine. The vehicle built roads – the ancient roads of long ago. Very few of those roads still existed. The Santi still possessed the knowledge to repair some of the roads, but the materials it required took a long time to make.
He set the book aside. For the Jinn to have bothered pulling this book out of whatever place such books were stored in the Crystal Palace, meant there must be one of these machines stored here somewhere. The Jinn were planning to build a road – but where?
He stood, grabbed the book and headed across the hall to put the book back where he’d found it. The dining hall was empty, it was far too late for anyone to still be awake. Even his squire was fast asleep. He tossed the book on the table where it had been and headed back to his quarters. A light from the room where the floating planets were caught his attention. Lights in the Crystal Palace turned themselves off whenever you left the room. Who was still awake so late?
Rotathian walked down to the planet room and looked inside. A man stood at the long flat table inspecting pieces floating in the air. He hadn’t seen this man before. The man looked a bit like the Raven Jinn, but much larger, and older. The man looked to be around his age, in his early forties.
“Hello, I haven’t met you, I’m Lord Rotathian,” he said, stepping into the room.
“No, I suppose you haven’t,” said the man, not looking up.
“Might I ask your name, Sir,” said Rotathian, casually crossing his arms so the dagger strapped to his forearm was within easy grasp.
The man lifted one of the half-built planets and turned it in his hands. “She hasn’t discovered yet that matching modules are not necessarily the key to a viable planet. See here, she’s left no room for an inner planetary ocean, and that is very much a requirement for a stable world.”
Rotathian’s hand grasped the hilt of his dagger.
The man still didn’t look up. “That dagger would do you no good if I had intended you harm. I possess weapons that could have turned you to ash the moment you stepped into the room.”
Rotathian heard the door shut behind him. He didn’t turn to look, but kept his eyes on the man. “You’re the Jinn King, I thought you were dead.”
The man finally looked up. “I am, and I am not.”
“Are you a ghost?” asked Rotathian.
“A very poor question,” said Master Aestar. “Try again.”
Rotathian thought for a moment of all he’d learned so far. The Jinn weren’t actually the mythological creatures the legends made them out to be, but that hardly mattered, they possessed the power of the gods.”
“Where are you from?”
“Still a very poor question,” repeated Master Aestar. “Try again.”
Rotathian’s face grew red with anger. “Perhaps you think me one of your Jinn children that you speak to me so.”
“Not a question,” said Master Aestar. “Try again.”
Rotathian had his dagger half drawn when a thought occurred. The Jinn had told him to seek the truth, and of all the truths, there was only one truth that stood above all others. He unfolded his arms and asked, “Who am I?”
“There it is, the ultimate truth, the desire to know one’s true self,” said Master Aestar. “We are a superior species called the Aiden; the Universe knows us as the Creators.”
“A bit arrogant, don’t you think?” said Rotathian.
“A simple truth, though not through anything special we did to become so,” said Master Aestar, walking around the table to face Rotathian. “Every species evolves some advantage in order to survive and become the dominant species on their planet.”
“And what is the Aiden’s advantage?” asked Rotathian.
“The average species brain can process fifty bits of information per second, the Aiden’s brain can process two million bits of information per second.” Master Aestar ice blue eyes locked with Lord Rotathian’s. “We are a superior species that no other can stand against, we are the masters of the universe. We have created planets, and suns, and even entire universes.”
“What happened on my world?” asked Rotathian.
“This isn’t your world, this is your prison,” replied Aestar.