Chapter Twenty: Betrayed by a King
The end was near approaching.
They could all feel it but the end to what? That was the question the buzzed about in their minds. Karel felt his presence in the magic grow and grow but as he approached the planet Sharkell he could feel an odd familiar presence. He simply put it to the back of his mind suspecting that it was a familiarity associated with Vederan.
Sebastian knew what it was he was about to face, his former companions from the master realm. He had only been in their presence twice since their fall from grace. Once when Triesharn held him captive and the second when he cast them all from Eltheran.
Marcarus’ suspected his end would be soon although he had already been wrong about that. The disease, although restarted, was still very much present in his body and soul. There did not seem to be a time in his thoughts did not wonder back to his death. Soon he noticed he was becoming preoccupied by it. One thing distracted him from it though; the presence of the Commander. When he was in the coma he could remember thoughts and dreams of her.
Karel held his hand out and touched Mara’s. He smiled as she squeezed back although she did not turn to look at him. She concentrated on the stars that were flying past the ship. After a few seconds Karel could see the trouble brewing in her thoughts. It was the same look she had when the two had been reunited on Eltheran. The same look she had when she was upset and keeping the feelings locked away. “You have seen this place before?”
Mara still did not look at him; instead she squeezed his hand tighter looking for comfort in a hold. Karel stood up and manoeuvred her over to the side of the command deck out of the way of preying ears. “I’m fine Karel. It's just…”
“Where getting close to the place you dreamed of?” Mara started to cry as she realised what she had dreamt may have been something more as she had always suspected. Mara could almost feel the pain of her dreams as if they were real. Karel hugged her tight. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
The promise seemed almost empty. It wasn’t a reflection of Karel’s sincerity; in fact Mara knew that her husband would tear the universe in two to protect her. It was just the memory of the dream or the vision, which stuck in her mind.
Helena looked down at the sensor readings noticing the familiar scans which popped up on the display. It was a ship and it was goblin. “Captain, we have a ship on our sensors.”
Karel didn’t turn instantly to respond to Helena’s warning. Instead he hugged Mara tighter letting her know how important she was to him. In these times family was everything. After a few seconds he let go and he returned back to his seat. “What is it?”
“It’s a thing people use to fly through space sir?” The remark was said to ease the growing tension that had been spreading through the command deck. Helena and Karel often did this to allow the younger officers and crewmen feel more at ease in tense battle situations.
“Is it a big battle thing or a tiny I’ve got no weapons thing?”
“I think the second one sir.” Helena considered the readings once again and only then she made her final assessment to her captain. “Definitely not a battleship. I would say a high speed transport ship but sir I think its dead.”
“Yan bring us on an intercept course. Lets have a look at it?”
Sebastian felt the urge to say something, time was precious and this was not a safe place. “Are you sure this is such a good idea Karel?”
“If someone is hurt I can’t just let them die out here alone, even if they are goblin.”
Sebastian nodded in agreement seeing the same compassion in Karel’s eye that had always been so present in the youthful Vederan. Even in the torment of war Vederan held onto his humanity and compassion and now he saw it in Karel’s heart. “Mortals never cease to surprise me.”
The ship was as Helena suspected; it was lifeless. All the ship’s systems appeared to be offline but one thing seemed to be for certain there was a survivor. Helena was sure of it passing on the information to her Captain.
The Redstar’s scanners compiled a three-dimensional image of the ship pinpointing the location of the survivor. They couldn’t tell what state he was in but they were sure he or she was alive. Karel decided to leave the artificial image of the ship favouring to see the ship first hand. Karel walked into the pilot area hoping to see the real ship floating alone and lifeless. “What do you think Yan?”
Yan sloped his neck back and looked up towards Karel who and transferred his glance onto the lieutenant. “There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it to be dead.”
“A trap?” It may have sounded like a question but Karel had come to the conclusion himself. However, a few things didn’t seem to make sense. Why set up a trap in their own space? Why not just destroy us? They have the power to. The questions stuck in Karel’s mind yet the answers were far from him. “Helena, extend a docking arm, let’s have a look. I want a full security detail to go over. Bring the survivor back onboard.”
“Yes sir.” She tapped a few buttons on her screen then she walked towards the lift door pointing at two of the security guards to accompany her over to the goblin ship.
“Karel is it wise to spend so much time on this?” Sebastian enquired looking apprehensive that the Redstar was not continuing to Sharkell. He wasn’t questioning the Captain he just always liked to make sure there was a reason for everything. He was certain Karel knew what he was doing and his answer proved that to be so.
Karel pointed out two fine detailed peaces of equipment that had shown up on the unknown vessel’s system scans. “You see these; these are long range communication antennas. Similar to what we use in Naval vessels. I don’t want to leave that ship with any opportunity to contact any other goblin vessels and signal our presence.”
“A wise move Captain.”
The Redstar was positioned to the side of the unknown goblin vessel. Out of the side a docking arm extended grasping onto the side of the ship’s hull. The docking arm was a cylindrical projection, which allowed safe passage from one ship to another although at times like this it could be used to board other ships. It was like a pirate standoff in space. Helena waited patiently for the end of the dock to burst through to the other ship. She held a data pad that displayed the technical information of the other ship.
The arm burst through and the air of the other vessel was exposed to it. “The air is breathable. Let’s go.” Breathable did not mean it was a pleasant experience, the linger of a putrid decay hung on the air.
The group were well equipped for a raiding mission. All wore military combat uniform and were armed with laser riffles. The more experienced combat soldiers moved in first checking the surrounding area of the opening. They were not taking anything for granted. Helena moved in through the centre of the group. She was not a foot soldier and this was the safest way for her to accompany the group. She had basic combat training, as was essential for all naval officers, but there was always a group of Special Forces officers on naval ships for situations like this one. Usually the Special Forces personnel onboard provided the provision of security guards but it was times like these their talents were best used.
The human who lead the six-man group scanned the area cautiously but his assessment was that this area was secure. He signalled for his group to move on. The ship smelled started to affect them slightly, they all felt nocuous. The organic goblin computers still illuminated with data. The ship wasn’t totally dead. No one had ever stepped onboard a ship like this before. Helena was amazed by it all. The technology was so different from their own. The walls were covered with slim but it seemed like it served a purpose. “This is incredible. It looks like this organic ooze provides some kind of bioelectrical connection; almost as if the goblins joined with the ship. That’s why they are so fast, the ship responds to the pilot's thoughts.”
“How do you know?”
Helena had joined the navy after achieving many high science degrees. She was an accomplished scientist in her own right although she had always stayed away from research preferring to explore the galaxy and get a first hand experience of real life science. “Just an interest of mine lieutenant.”
They continued on.
It was not long before they found something. They had reached what they assumed was the pilot section of the ship and there in the seat was a figure. The only light in the room came from the torches attached to the riffles. Helena placed her own down and moved closer to the figure. It was defiantly a person, although their race could not be seen. Helena pulled out her communication phone and rang through to the Redstar. “Captain we have found someone.”
“Is it a goblin Helena?”
“I can’t tell sir, they are wearing some kind of body suit, and their head is in helmet. I would say they are injured sir, unconscious.”
“Bring them onboard take them straight to the hospital deck. I will inform Doctor Ir’vani and Mara.”
“Yes sir.” She folded the phone over and placed it back on her belt clip. “You heard the Captain, let's move them.”
They were quick to respond. One of them, an elf, passed his weapon to Helena and picked the unconscious stranger up in a complicated fireman’s lift. The bulk of the protection suit made the job difficult but he persevered. The others continued to monitor the surroundings just to be sure there was not going to be any surprises. Helena led the group back to the Redstar without any complications. They were certain the injured being was alone but the reason escaped them. They all wondered who he was each person drawing their own conclusion. It wasn’t a military ship so he must have been a civilian, perhaps a trader. Helena thought about the protection suit but she dismissed it, just thinking that it was perhaps what all goblins wore while in space.
The stranger was placed on a hospital bed and the older doctor, Ir’vani used every medical instrument she could to try and assess its condition but her efforts were futile. Mara tried all the medical scanners but even they could not penetrate the skin of the suit. Whoever was in it did not want their identity found out easily.
Karel ran into the room to see the stranger for himself. He had hopped his wife and Ir’vani would have had the answers he wanted but he was left with just a mystery. “Any ideas?”
“I think the only way we can remove the suit is by force but I won’t do that. It may be keeping him alive. Although he may be dead already.”
“No.” Karel was quick to respond. “He is still alive and definitely goblin. Security is not to leave this room. If he so much as twitches I want to be notified straight away.”
The goblin just lay there not moving. Karel could sense the life in the being but apart from that it was all a mystery. One that could not have time spent on it. Karel returned to his duties. They were nearing Sharkell and they were in the heart of goblin space, Karel’s place was on the command level. He had issued his orders, to continue on their route keeping the goblin ship in tow until a suitable place could be found to dispose of it.
Several hours passed without incident and the night shift had started. Ir’vani had retired to bed leaving Mara in charge of the hospital. Her patient remained still and silent and they still remained totally oblivious to his name. Two security guards stood at the top of his bed observing the patient guarding him against whatever he may do. The lights had been dimmed as was customary on naval ships. It allowed the crew to maintain a day and night situation onboard. The time of the ship tied in exactly with the time that it would be in Legantos.
Everything remained silent although Mara sat humming in her office, which sat off the main ward. She was reviewing medical journals, anything that could give any data regarding goblins.
His fingerer twitched but not enough to catch the attention of the guards. The suit responded to the twitch opening what appeared to be a compartment built into the leg. From it a sword shot out straight into the hand of the goblin and in one swift quick movement he flipped himself off the bed in a motion which severed the heads off the two guards. The move was conducted in the most proficient and cold silence. The only sound that was made was the heads bouncing off the ground. The two headless bodies flopped into each other and feel beside the hospital bed leaving a red pool of blood.
The attacker slowly looked round to Mara’s office smelling out his target. He pressed a button at the base of the helmet that caused the mask to unwind and disappear revealing the face of the enemy. It was the King. It was Holven.
He slowly prowled his way forward stepping slowly over the blue medical carpet taking each stride with the precision of a true hunter. In the room sat his prey.
Mara heard nothing.
He got closer.
He moved quietly behind her and removed a syringe from the same compartment that had housed his sword. In the last moment Mara turned around but she had no time to scream. Holven pushed the needle into her neck which took less than a second to work. Mara feel back in her seat, helpless, unconscious and at the mercy of the Goblin King. Holven used his sword and cut off some of her hair leaving it lying on her desk he then picked her up with some ease and threw her over his shoulder. “Tre Balana Transporterana.” The words were powerful incantation opening up a tear in the wall of the office which the Goblin stepped through.
“A relocation spell.” Sebastain shouted out in the middle of the command level feeling the magic that was performed in the lower deck of the ship. He turned back to Karel. “The hospital.”
Spells of that nature were used frequently in the Old World but their usage had almost disappeared, especially one which took as much skill to control as a relocation spell. Although only wizards and sorceress could control magic, others could use some spells if their mental discipline was strong.
Karel was unsure at first what Sebastian was talking about but it did not take him long to understand the look that was on his face. “Mara!” he shouted, as he left his chair and made his way down towards the hospital deck.
Suddenly all his fears were realised.
Karel, Sebastian and Marcarus ran onto the deck from the lift seeing the two security guards lying headless in their own blood. “The death was swift,” said Macarus.
Karel did not seem bothered by the bodies, he ran past them towards his wife’s office which was empty. Karel felt his stomach muscles squeezed tight and then a wave of despair ran through him. He walked towards the desk and noticed the hair that had been cut from her head and left as a mark. Karel took the hair in his hand and smelled it. When the scent of his wife entered his nose he soon became filled with rage and anger that was released in a crying scream and a fist, which he brought down on the table totally destroying it.
It was the first time his power was revealed to him. His strength was immense but it also seemed that his anger was too. Sebastian walked into the office to find Karel on his knees holding the locks of hair tight in his bleeding fist.
The Redstar shock from side to side.
Helena’s voice shouted out though the computer interface in the office. “Sir the goblin ship is breaking free.”
“Target her engines and disable her.”
There was a slight pause which Karel had hopped was used to stop the ship from escaping. “Sir the goblin ship has gone. It was to fast, we have lost her.”
He had lost his wife and he had failed in his promise to protect her. She had known something was bad. It did not take long for Karel to question himself. Why did I not pay attention to her, she knew something was wrong.
Sebastain brought the Captain to his feet. “This was planned; they were after your wife.”
“No,” Sebastian stated, he started to feel the responsibility for the loss. “The Overlords.” His eyes were filled with compassion and sorrow. Karel was silent, first his son and now his wife. He just stood still with a blanket empty expression which soon turned. His face began to screw with pain and anger, directed at himself, at Sebastian and at the world. “I know it s hard Captain but you must control your anger. If you respond with hate and pain it will only led you to destruction. Direct it and think. It is not too late. We can get your wife back.”
“Sharkell.” Karel composed himself and suppressed his anger and fear long enough to allow his decision making process the time to do the right thing. He now had the added incentive to succeed in his mission. He wanted to save Eltheran but most of all he did not want to be alone without his wife. He knew it was a selfish thought but it did not matter. He had lost his child he was not prepared to loose his wife to and he also remembered one thing, he promised he would protect her and he had never failed her yet.
Holven remained seated behind the controls of the ship. The damaged hull from the penetration of the Redstar’s docking arm did not affect the ships performance in the slightest. In fact things had transpired exactly as he had planned. He had her; the one that she wanted and now the wheels were set in motion for her return.
Mara remained unconscious lying in a bed at the back of the transport ship. The drug suppressed everything inducing a coma making her almost dead to the world.
The voice spoke to the King. “Bring her to me, the vessel will be mine.”
Holven did not speak but he responded to the order by increasing the power to the engines of the ship.
Behind them in the far distance the Redstar persuade but it would never catch up with this ship. It was designed for speed built to take them to Sharkell before their enemy cached up.