Characters: Ryath Oaks
Ryath left Peter to his own devices, and quickly made her way further into the city. She didn’t know where she was headed, but kept on moving anyway. Still she found the few Centauri that were about at night ignored her; even the city guards paid her little attention. She wondered how it was that such an arrogant race had managed to survive for so long.
She turned the corner and stopped dead. She was facing the back entrance to the Palace prison. There were three guards, but none of them were really guarding the door. One, she could see even from this distance, was fast asleep sat on the floor leaning against the wall. Another seemed to be in a similar state, leaning against the door itself, and the third was relieving himself around the corner of the building.
She sidled over towards the door, as quietly as she could. The guard at the corner was so intent on what he was doing, he didn’t notice her at all.
Stepping over the guard against the door, Ryath reached the door and tried it. It was locked! Damn! she thought. Nothing for it….I’ll have to use magic and fight my way out if I’m detected.
She took a probe from a hidden pocket in the skirt of her dress, and placed it on the lock. Associating with it, she saw how the lock worked and simply sent out a small electric shock from the probe. The lock clicked, and she pushed it open just enough to slip inside.
It was dark inside, and she didn’t want to wait to be captured. She waved her right hand down over her eyes. She could see now that her eyes had night vision activated. Quickly and quietly she ran to the furthest part of the corridor. There were stairs that somehow she knew were there. She took them down as far as they went. She had past three other corridors just like the one she entered in.
Once again she found herself running. This time to find someone. A name was on the tip of her tongue. She looked into each cell. A lot were empty, but those with occupants had old Centauri males, or other species in them. Each time she found a Centauri able to talk, she asked what had happened to all those Centauri arrested for treason against Cartagia? But none knew. They had either been arrested long before then, or since. No-one had heard what had happened to them.
Ryath moved on to the next level up, re-tracing her steps. Again, few of the cells were occupied. Again she asked those she could. Again, no-one knew of what had happened to them. She was getting frustrated. This wasn’t her mission, she understood that now, but she was here and would find the answer.
She rounded a corner, and smelt ozone. Then there was a slight whine. A pulse rifle. She ducked back around the corner as the energy pulse struck the wall next to her, shattering the brick, and sending shards of brick in every direction. She had covered her face with her hands, and felt the sting of one of the shards across the back of her right hand. At that same moment she felt a searing pain in her right knee, as a shard of brick penetrated it. She fell to the floor with a thump, and lay there waiting. She heard the footsteps getting closer. Only one. This should be fun! she thought.
The guard had reached her. At first he just stood a looked, but when he figured she was either dead or unconscious he leaned down and grabbed her wrist. There was a strong smell of burning ozone, followed by another thump. The guard was out cold.
Ryath picked herself up and brushed the dirt from her dress. Her knee was throbbing even though the organelles were stopping the signal from the pain receptors in her knee. She sucked on the back of her right hand, the metallic taste strong in her mouth. “Damn!” she whispered. Her knee was bleeding well, so she sent a few organelles to stem the flow.
She didn’t know where the guard had come from, but what she did know that if she had been detected, they would have sent more than one guard.
She moved on. Her knee being re-opened with each step, and the organelles trying to catch up with the fresh damage. Ryath was slower, and found in some cells that there were in fact occupants. They had been covered with filthy blankets and were laying down. One cell had such an occupant. When Ryath quietly called in, an old Centauri appeared at the small barred window.
“What do you want?” he hissed.
“I’m looking for a family. They were taken by Cartagia’s guards for treason,” she replied.
“Ah! They’re all dead!” the old man said. his voice carried a hint of sadness.
“Oh!” She had failed in this too. “All of them?” she asked hopefully.
“Well….” the old man paused to think. “There were a few of the youngsters taken, but most of the parents were shot, or beheaded. Which House are you looking for?”
This was the question she had been asking herself. “Err…well…” then it came to her. “The House Tramina.”
“Ah, no.” the old mans’ eyes held a lot of sorrow and sympathy. “There was only one survivor of the House Tramina. A young man. But the rest of the House were executed.”
“But they promised! They promised to free them if I went with the dark ones!” she had spoken without knowing, and the old man gave her a strange look.
“Many promises were broken back then. Why do you think we’re all in here?” His anger was making his voice rise.
The probe in the fob of the watch she had given Peter had sent a signal. “Ryath. I’m ready for you.”
That didn’t take him long! she thought, then turned her thoughts back to the Centauri. “I’m sorry.” Ryath responded. “I must go.”
“Take care young one!” the old man shouted after her.
She turned and waved. It didn’t matter now if they knew she was here. She would soon be leaving Centauri Prime for ever. She conjured a flying platform beneath her and sped off towards the entrance of the prison, to meet Peter. Each dink and dive of the platform forcing the shard of brick further into her knee.
Now all the guards at the entrance were asleep. “If only the Emperor knew!” she hissed as she passed them.
Copyright (c) 2003 Niki Hipwood. All rights reserved.