The Dark Empire, Page 144-154 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 144-154
“We have to find my boy,” said Seth.
Rotathian shook his head slightly. “He might be hiding with the Governor, it is best we leave them where they are until we know more about these soldiers intent.”
King Madious glanced at the reptilian soldiers standing guard at the door. “I was down at that hanger bay inspecting several small boats they have stored when the soldiers arrived. It was that reptilian boy that let them in.”
“I believe that we have misunderstood the purpose of Prince Zil, a foolish mistake,” said Rotathian. “I believe now he may be the Knight Defender of the Realm and secret agent to the Emperor.”
King Madious nodded. “It would stand to reason the Emperor would have assigned a Lord Protectorate to guard his heir’s interests.”
“I think we’ve done something that triggered a pre-arranged set of instructions from the Emperor to the Prince Consort to call out the Imperial Guard,” said Rotathian.
Madious held a hand up. “It wasn’t me, I was only looking at the boats. They look to be designed more for pleasure than fishing, but I was thinking they might be pressed into service as fishing boats.” Madious spread his hands out. “You know, you did take over their Palace.”
“If that was the trigger they would have been here before this, and the offer was made unsolicited to me. I did not broach the subject of taking any position here.” said Rotathian.
“Maybe I did something to offend them,” offered Seth.
Rotathian shook his head. “No, Master Farmer, you did nothing. There is no guile in the heart of any Mekan, we all know that to be fact. Even the Mekan King, if he’s still alive in the dungeon the Geoggs have been holding him, is as politically naïve as any of his farmers.”
The guards at the door moving aside caught Lord Rotathian’s attention. “They’re bringing someone else in.”
Governor Santi appeared at the door being led by four guards in front of him and four guards behind him. The Governor had chains wrapped around his wrists and ankles, and the state of his clothing, and the cuts and bruises on his face made it clear he had been in a brutal fight.
Lord Rotathian jumped to his feet. “This is unacceptable treatment of a prisoner of war, I demand to speak with your Commander immediately.”
The guard that appeared to be in charge looked at Lord Rotathian while the others pulled a chair out and shoved Governor Santi down. The Mathor soldier tossed a key on the table. “You may unchain him, but you will remain in this room.” The soldier turned and walked away without another word. The soldiers guarding the door resumed their positions.
King Madious of the Medo picked the key up and unlocked the Governor’s shackles. “I take it you resisted? You look like you tried to fight their entire army.”
Governor Santi wiped the blood from his lip and grinned. “It took eight of them to put me down, strong little crawlers they are, those tails pack quite a punch.”
“Why did you resist?” asked Lord Rotathian, couldn’t you see who they were.
“In fact, no I couldn’t,” said Santi. “I was downstairs in the second docking bay with Little Seth looking for a part, and there’s no lights down there. All I could see was a bunch of soldiers yelling for me to surrender.”
Farmer Seth leaned forward. “Where’s my son?”
“He’s safe. When I heard them coming I knew something was wrong and hid the boy inside a crate. I didn’t know the soldiers were the same species as the Prince Consort. I thought maybe that Sherata Kingdom had found some allies and was attacking.”
“We think they are the Imperial Guard. I saw the Prince Consort let them in,” said Madious.
The Governor poked at his swollen lip.
“Stop that,” scolded the farmer’s wife. “I’ll make a poultice for you.” The woman rose and left the table.
“We think there was a trigger that caused the Prince Consort to call the Guard,” said Rotathian. He glanced down at his hand lying on the table. He had felt a tremor. “Did anyone feel that?”
“I didn’t feel anything,” said King Madious.
“So, pre-arranged instructions to call the guard in the event of some danger or…maybe some other event,” said Governor Santi.
“What did you do?” asked Rotathian.
Governor Santi sighed. “I helped Little Seth fix the door and we went in to explore. We found some more of those silver chariots, the boy got excited and used that talk device to call Prince Raen. The Ravens misinterpreted the message and arrived with weapons drawn, thinking I was hurting the boy.”
“And?” prodded Rotathian.
Governor Santi shrugged. “I may have suggested that if I was made the Titan Commander, I’d be grateful and may have alluded to not speaking of the incident if they did so.”
Rotathian frowned. “Damn it, Santi, you blackmailed and manipulated a lesser species; that’s the very thing the Emperor took our magic and imprisoned our world for doing.”
A sudden tremor running through the building caused them all to grab the edge of the table. A moment later the lights went out. Farmer Seth jumped up from his chair and ran to the Mathor guards blocking the door. “That was the hydrogen reactor, something’s wrong,” he told the guards.
“We have people that will check the reactor,” the guard replied.
“I know you’re folks probably know more about reactors than me, but our maintenance bots already know where the problems are, we need to move fast on this,” insisted Seth.
“Please go back to your seat,” said the guard.
Rotathian got up and went to stand next to Seth. “It’s probably too late to fix it, look.”
Seth looked beyond the guards at eight Mathors carrying a clear crystal box with the outline of a body inside. “Is that the Emperor?”
“I believe it is,” said Rotathian. “Whatever is wrong is serious enough for them to take the Emperor out of here.”
The Mathor that gave them the key to remove Governor Santi’s chains returned with several more of soldiers. “We’re evacuating the island, you’ll be escorted to the gate and taken to the mainland.”
“I have to go find my boy,” said Seth.
“Where is he?” asked the guard.
“He’s hiding down in the Titan’s docking bay,” replied Seth.
The guard’s tail whipped back and forth. “There won’t be time to find him. The hydrogen reactor has had a containment breech and will go critical in twelve minutes. I am sorry, but we must save who we can. Go with these guards now.”
Governor Santi surprised the guards by charging into them like a mad bull. The Governor was a big man and the startled guards weren’t prepared for the unexpected attack. “I’ll find the boy, you get to the gate,” shouted the Governor as he fled down the hall.
One of the guards lifted a weapon that looked similar to the rifles Rotathian had seen in the storage room. He lashed out with a kick and knocked the weapon aside to give the Governor enough time to make it to the stairs. The guards pulled their tails back to strike at Rotathian.
“You can fight us, or you can let us help you save lives,” said Rotathian. “My Squire and Driver Daniel are still missing, and there are children and cubs all over the Palace, let us help.”
The guard leveled a glare at the large knight, then lowered his tail. “Master Aestar’s train will depart in ten minutes and we will close the gate behind it. We cannot allow the devastating blast from the explosion to go through to the mainland. You are free to act of your own accord.”
The guards turned and walked away, leaving Rotathian and the other Aiden alone. Rotathian turned to Seth. “You take your wife and check the second level for children and cubs, I’ll take the third level, and Madious can check this level. We’ll meet in the hanger bay, hurry.”
King Madious left the others and started checking the rooms on the first level. The computer room with the long flat table had a hole in the wall where they had taken the entire sleep chamber Aestar had been in. He checked the other rooms and found them all empty. He was about to head towards the stairs where the others had gone when a sliver of light at the end of the dark hall caught his attention.
It was a long hall and there wasn’t much time, he paused at the stairs for a moment. There wasn’t much time to get down to the hanger bay where the gate was, and he didn’t owe these Jinn any special favors, why should risk himself for them. He was already down to the first landing when he stopped. “I’m going to regret this,” he mumbled to himself and ran back up the stairs.
Madious ran towards the light at the end of the hall. He found the source of the light was coming from the hatch they said went out to the island; it had been left open just a crack. He hadn’t been outside on the island yet, but it had been on his list of things to visit. He pushed the door open and found a room with a ladder. He was about to turn around and head back to the stairs when he heard a noise. He poked his head around the door and found a group of children and tigers huddled against the far wall. Squire Toluth was standing in front of the children with his sword drawn.
“Well, there you are. Lord Rotathian has been wondering where you got off to,” said Madious.
Squire Toluth sheathed his sword. “My Lord, when those soldiers invaded I took the kids that were with me and we hid here. I thought this might be a place they wouldn’t look.”
“That was very brave of you, Squire,” praised King Madious. “We think the soldiers are the Emperor’s Imperial Guard. They’ve taken his body away and said the hydro-jinn raktor is going to explode. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds serious.”
One of the boys stepped forward. “Seriously? We have to get off the island, fast. An atomic explosion will vaporize everything for miles. I’ve seen videos of when Darai had its nuclear war, this is really really bad.”
“They’re evacuating to the mainland. Squire, take the rear and make sure we don’t lose anyone.” Madious jumped back through the hatch and waited long enough to make sure everyone was moving. He set off on a brisk pace, which was a full run for the children. They were nearly to the stairs when a loud alarm started blaring and red lights began flashing along the walls. A moment later metal doors slammed down over every doorway, to include the entrance to the stairs.
Madious put his shoulder to the door and tried pushing, but the door wouldn’t budge. He turned around to look at the frightened faces of the children. He looked at the boy that had spoken before. “What’s your name, son,” he asked.
“Tomaes,” said the boy.
“Is there any way to get this door open?”
“I doubt it,” said Tomaes. “It’s like on a spaceship during an emergency. The doors shut automatically to try to protect as much of the ship as possible, but it won’t work this time. A nuclear blast is going to vaporize everything instantly.”
“I’m not liking the Jinn’s technology much right now,” said Madious. “I’ve never had a good old fashion candle vaporize my castle before. Is there any other way to the hanger bay?”
Tomaes shook his head. “No, Sir, every door in the whole Palace will be locked shut.”
Madious looked past the boy to the end of the hall, the hatch to the outside was still open. “No sense in standing here and having that alarm blare in our ears.”
He led the children back the way they came and out through the hatch. He was a little surprised that the tigers were able to climb the ladder faster than their partners. Once they were assembled outside he led them on another brisk walk until they reached the beach and could no longer hear the alarm blaring inside the Palace.
Madious looked up and down the beach.
“Sir, what are we doing?” asked Squire Toluth.
“This is the land of magic, boy, we’re waiting for dragons,” replied Madious.
Toluth scratched his head. “Huh?”
Lord Rotathian had the bottom level to search and was closest to the hanger bay. He found a group of children and cubs hiding in one of the maintenance rooms and got them to the hanger bay just as the doors shut behind them. He ordered the group he found to go through the gate and ran to the Mathor soldier that appeared to be in charge.
“We need to get those doors back open, we’ve still got people in there.”
“I’m sorry, those doors seal automatically during an emergency, there is nothing I can do,” replied the Mathor soldier, turning towards the train. Zil was standing on rear engine platform. “Everyone get on the train, we’re leaving now. Zil, get the train moving through the gate.”
Rotathian shouted at Zil. “Do not obey that order.”
“Lord Rotathian, if you attempt to interfere again, you will be restrained,” said the soldier. “Zil, get that train moving.”
Lord Rotathian ignored the solder. “Zil, there’s canons on that thing, isn’t there?”
“Use them to knock the doors down,” shouted Rotathian.
“Guards, restrain the Aiden,” shouted the Mathor soldier.
Jasai came out onto the platform with Zil.
“Jasai, there’s people trapped behind those doors, go tell them to get back. Zil, use the canons,” shouted Rotathian, then turned and swung an armored fist at the Mathor soldier. The Mathor got his tail up just in time to block the punch, then Rotathian felt a teeth rattling blow against his armor and he staggered forward as several Mathors jumped on him from behind. He saw Jasai run past as he was still grappling with the Mathor soldiers, then then a deafening blast from the train knocked the solders off him.
Rotathian pushed himself to his feet and threw a Mathor off him. Another of the soldiers, now angry, lashed out with the barb of his tail. The barb sliced the outer edge of his breast armor, but was sufficient to protect him from being impaled. He whispered a grateful thanks to the blacksmith that had made his armor and jumped back. The Mathor soldiers surrounded him and leveled their weapons at the armored knight.
Farmer Seth and his wife led a large group of children and cubs into the hanger bay.
“Get on the train, we’re leaving now,” shouted Jasai, then ran over to the guards surrounding Rotathian. “Let him go.”
“This Aiden is under arrest and will be tried in a Mathor court,” said the Mathor soldier.
“You are not in charge here, I am,” said Jasai. “Now let him go.”
“Your Body Protector called us here because the Aiden were out of control,” said the soldier.
“We needed your help to balance the situation, not get people killed,” replied Jasai.
“Jasai, I’ll go with them, we can sort it out after we get everyone to safety,” said Rotathian.
“What about King Madious and Governor Santi?” asked Jasai.
“We’ve done all we can, but don’t count them out yet,” said Rotathian.
Governor Santi made it to the second docking bay before the doors sealed shut. “Boy, where are you,” he shouted. He continued to shout and just reached the stairs down to the warehouse when a small distant voice shouted back.
“Governor Santi? Is that you?”
The voice was coming from above him. He looked up and saw a light coming from an open hatch in the side of the Titan’s head. He could just make out a small figure leaning out of the hatch.
“We have to leave the island, the hydro-jinn raktor is damaged, it’s going to blow up,” Santi shouted up at the boy.
“I’ll come down,” shouted Little Seth.
“No, stay there, I’ll come up to you,” shouted Santi. “All the doors shut and locked on their own, we’ll take the Titan out of here. How do I get up there?”
“There’s stairs inside the Titan, but that takes forever, stand back.”
Governor Santi ran to the side wall as the Titan folded down on its knees, then bent at the waist until the head was flush with the floor. He ran across to the open hatch as Little Seth reappeared in the door.
“Can you open those doors up there?” asked Santi, pointing up at the docking bay doors that opened out to the island.
“I’ve been trying, they won’t open,” said Little Seth.
“The doors probably sealed to protect the rest of the palace, but I don’t think it’s going to work. About two hundred years ago one of mini raktors on a Crawler blew up, but luckily it was out in the forest when it happened. There’s a poisonous lake now in the crater the explosion made. I’m guessing the Palace raktor is a lot bigger and going to make a very big hole in the ocean.”
“How do we get out of here?” asked Little Seth.
The Governor shooed Little Seth back inside the Titan and pulled the hatch shut. “I’m guessing this Titan is pretty strong, let’s punch them doors open and climb out, then we’ll make a run for it.”
Little Seth grinned and jumped into a chair. “Okay!”
The Titan stood back up again while Santi explored the control room. “There’s not as much room in here as I thought there would be.”
“The passenger rooms are down that ladder,” said Little Seth pointing.
Governor Santi peered down the hatch and wondered how the room remained upright when the Titan bent over. A loud bang from outside made him turn around and look out the window, which he just realized were the Titan’s eyes – but if the eyes were just windows, how did the Titan see when it was sent out alone? He shook his head; that was a mystery for another time.
“Sorry, I missed and hit the wall,” said Little Seth. “It’s really hard to control the Titan from this position.”
“There is another pilot seat?” asked Santi.
“No, I mean this chair is the backup controls, the main controls are there,” the boy pointed at a raised platform in front of the chair he was sitting, “but I’m too small and the Titan wobbles around, that’s how I broke the foot on the other Titan, it tripped and fell over.”
Little Seth took another swipe at the doors above the Titan’s head and again missed. Governor Santi looked at the platform the boy had pointed out. “How does the main controls work?”
“You put on those boots, gloves, and helmet, and you become the Titan. It’s really awesome, but I’m too small.”
“But I’m not too small,” said Santi, pulling his boots off and slipping into the Titan boots.
Little Seth’s shoulders slumped. “Yes, Sir.”
“I’m not going to steal your Titan,” said Santi. “I would no more take a Crawler from the man that puts all his love and time into keeping it working than I would take this machine from you, but right now we are out of time.” Governor Santi pulled the gloves and helmet on. The helmet covered his eyes and he couldn’t see anything, yet.
The helmet activated and the sensation startled Santi for a moment and he stepped back, and with it the Titan stepped back. He could feel something just got crushed under the Titan’s heel. He could feel everything as if he were the Titan, and the docking bay was no longer dark; he could see everything perfectly.”
“You have to pretend you’re the Titan, the platform will move under you as you walk,” said Little Seth.
Governor Santi lifted his hand, and the Titan lifted its hand. He made a fist, and the Titan made a fist. “Okay, I’ve got the idea.” He looked up at the docking bay doors, then drove his fist upward. He had thought he might have to punch several times, but the Titan was far stronger than he imagined. The doors crumpled and separated from their hinges and flew away.
“Wow, that was awesome!” shouted Little Seth.
Santi bent at the knees and jumped up, grabbed the edge of the docking bay and pulled himself and the Titan out onto the sand. In the back of his mind he marveled at how this machine of the ancients was tricking his body into thinking he was actually climb out of the docking bay instead of the Titan.
“Look!” shouted Little Seth. “There’s people on the beach!”
“I see them,” said Santi. “That’s King Madious. I guess the man isn’t as stupid as I thought he was.”
“He must have been searching for the children on the first floor when the doors sealed shut and trapped them. He realized I would use the Titan to escape and brought the kids out here to wait for me.”
“Oh, that’s pretty smart,” said Little Seth.
Santi knelt and laid his head flat on the platform, and with it the Titan’s head on the sand. “Open the door, hurry.”
Little Seth opened the hatch and a moment later King Madious stuck his head inside. “Well, isn’t this interesting.”
“Shut up and get in, this is a very undignified position,” said Santi, “and if you ever speak of it to anyone it will be the last thing you ever speak.”
King Madious laughed and jumped inside. “Come on, kids, hurry up.”
“Go through there,” Little Seth pointed at a hatch against what was now the back wall. “That’s for passengers, there’s chairs to strap into. I guess you’ll just have to hold your tigers.”
Little Seth got everyone ushered into the passenger room, then pulled the outer hatch shut. “We can go now.”
Santi rose to his feet and set off at a run. He reached the end of the island and made it several steps into the ocean when a blinding flash of light and a searing heat struck the Titan’s back. The pain was too much and he ripped the helmet off his head. The Titan was tumbling through the air now and the interior of the control room was on fire. He reached out for Little Seth, but the boy’s burned body was already mercifully lifeless. The Titan’s armor was prolonging his own death and he had just long enough to understand he had failed to protect the boy. He knew in that moment left to him it had been his arrogance that caused all of this. If he hadn’t manipulated the Raven Jinn into giving him Command of the Titans, the Mathor soldiers wouldn’t have come, and they wouldn’t have wasted time locking them in the dining hall. The Mekan man might have been able to repair the Raktor before everything was lost. He had doomed his world for petty power.
Governor Santi opened his eyes and remembered where he was. He turned his head and saw the Raven Jinn standing against the wall, and the Jinn children, and their tigers were also there. He turned his head the other direction and saw Farmer Seth, his wife, and Little Seth. The Mathor soldiers were also there, everyone in the Crystal Palace was gathered around him.
He sat up. A long table was in front of him with twelve Mathors dressed in long black robes sitting behind the table. Another Mathor, dressed in a blue robe stood in front of the table.
“The defendant will rise,” said the Mathor in the blue robes.
Governor Santi swung his feet over the edge of the couch and stood. It had all been an illusion, he was on trial for using his abilities as an Aiden to manipulate a lesser species for his own personal gain. The Governor dropped his head, he was no better than his ancestors had been.
The Mathor in the blue robe stepped forward. “We have witnessed the defendant’s crime, past and future, guided by his own mind. Governor Santi of the Aiden, how do you plead?”
Governor Santi raised his head. “I plead guilty.”