This is my NaNoWriMo 2009 novel. In preparation of NaNoWriMo 2014 I've added it to my website.
The robed and hooded figure stood silent at the center of large room. She was silent not because she wanted to be but because the mask covering her face prevented her from speaking. All around her in the lofted balconies sat her captors. She couldn’t make out their features because there were bright lights shining at her.
“Criminal Number 5638” said a deep voice which boomed out from the brightness. “You have been found guilty of using Class A Forbidden Technology. This is an inexcusable crime which must to punished.” Even if the women had something to say in her defense she was unable to speak. “For this and other crimes you are being sentenced to eternal imprisonment inside a Hexion Sphere.”
She stood there still upright as if unyielding to the horrible punishment that awaited her. They had determined she was too dangerous to even let die. She would be sealed away and cast into some unknown part of the galaxy, to be lost for all eternity. From the moment she had been captured she had know that there would be no other punishment which could have awaited her.
The voice continued to proclaim her punishment, more for the benefit of the other people watching her. “After the criminal is sealed in the Hexion Sphere it was be deposited in a unreachable part of the galaxy and the we will begin with Protocol 231, the permanent erasure of all knowledge related to the prisoner.” Not only would she be sealed away for ever but all records of her would be deleted and anyone who had ever know her would have their memories changed. Once it was over nobody would ever know she existed, not even the people who were punishing her right now… nobody.
Still she stood strong. She had done everything she could and some of it was very horrible. But it had needed to be done. They didn’t understand, couldn’t understand. They thought that imprisoning her and erasing her from the galaxy would fix everything, would stop her… They were wrong, even ANGEL can make mistakes.
Jeran Ortrott was on the run. He had abandoned he position as on of Myth’s elite soldiers and escaped with one of their new scout ships. No body would have expected the decorated solder Jeran Ortrott to betray them. In fact his betrayal was still being kept secret by the Myth government, it would be quiet a scandal if it was discovered that a hero like him had betrayed Myth.
The ship beeped to inform Jeran that they were approaching planet XJ453. It was an unnamed planet which had a thick atmosphere but no life. It wasn’t a very notable planet and since it was in a section of uninhabited space nobody had really been there. Yet it was this planet that was Jeran’s destination. He was still uncertain that it was this planet which contained what he was looking for.
All he really had to work on very decades old myths and years old rumors. This would be the sixth planet he had visited in search of the Null Crystal and he was beginning to become desperate. Jeran didn’t have much time left, only a couple of months, before it was too late. If he couldn’t find the Null Crystal on XJ453 then he didn’t know if he would be able to find it in time.
He brought his ship down into orbit around XJ453 and set his ship to begin scanning the planet for any unusual energy signals. He watched the readouts patiently for several hours before getting up to take a break. It was then that the computer beeped, showing a strange cavity beneath the planet’s surface. Jeran looked over the strange data. It seemed that there as a section of the planet that was shielded against his sensors. This that sort of thing was common on developed planets, it was virtually unheard of on an uninhabited planet like XJ453.
Jeran quickly became excited, this could be where the Null Crystal was hidden. He took a deep breath to calm himself. His experience had taught him not to get his hopes up there had been several hopeful planets before this one. He move to the pilot controls and brought his ship out of orbit and down onto the planet.
Jeran set the ship down slowly on the planet and as the dust settled he checked the readings on the planet. It seemed that the atmosphere on the planet was safe and that he would be able to breath. Jeran strapped on his gun and grabbed his mini-terminal. He didn’t know what sort of defenses might be guarded the Null Crystal and even if it wasn’t the Null Crystal here there still might be something dangerous.
The airlock to his hissed as it closed. He could feel the pressure change as the ships hatch open. The air was dense and dry and he had trouble breathing. His training had prepared him for all sorts of places but it was still uncomfortable. His ship had detected an entrance to a cave system beneath the planet that was near the unscanable location.
Jeran had landed nearby so it didn’t take him very long to reach the entrance. It was dark inside so he flipped on the light on his mini-terminal. He then moved slowly into the cave keeping to the walls and behind cover. He didn’t know for certain if there was any defense mechanisms here but habit and training told him to be careful.
As he moved deeper into the cave the air began to change in quality. It became warmer and the air began to become moist. Jeran thought that was strange, this planet wasn’t supposed to have and substantial source of water and it should be cooler underground. He checked his position on his mini-terminal and noticed that he was very close to the position of the unidentified zone.
As he continued it wasn’t very long until the caves began to light up, almost glowing with a light from an uncertain source. His flipped of the light on his mini-terminal and continued, growing more and more uncertain. It wasn’t too long until he stepped into a large cavern and he gasped in amazement.
The cavern was filled with large blue crystals that looked almost like ice. However he knew that is impossible for it to be ice. The cavern was warm, far too warm for the ice to exist. The crystals were also glowing with a bluish light. Was this the Null Crystal that he had been searching for or was this something else.
He wondered through the crystal field, relaxing his guard. Touching the crystal they were warm to the touch and seemed to pulse under his hand. He had never heard of anything like this before. What was the composition of these crystal. However his mini-terminal wasn’t able to provide any information about it. It seemed that it was the crystals which caused the scanners to malfunction and he wasn’t able to get a clear reading anywhere in the cavern.
It was then that he spotted her. Suspended inside a large crystal was a woman. Her body, clothes, and hair looked blue through the crystal and she was the most beautify people he had ever seem. She was almost impossibly perfect, even more perfect then the synthetic bodies that were produced for cyborgs and androids. Those had a cold beauty while this woman had a warm beauty.
He felt guilty for thinking that and trying to avoid thinking of his dead wife. He move closer to the woman in the crystal until he was almost close enough to touch her, if the crystal wasn’t in the way. She was wearing non-discript clothes but that didn’t diminish her beauty.
He couldn’t help but wonder who she was and what she was doing trapped in the crystal. She couldn’t possible still be alive in there, but he couldn’t help thinking of her as alive. It was like insects trapped in amber, frozen in death.
The warmth spread through his fingers as they lingered on the crystal. He withdrew his hand and broke his gaze from the woman's closed eyes. Jeran didn’t know if this place had the Null Crystal what he was looking for, but this was the strangest thing he had encountered in his journey. However because of the crystal’s interference he wouldn’t be able to discover if it was truly what he was looking for without better equipment from his ship.
It seemed much chillier then he remembered as he traveled back up to his ship. The air began to hurt his lungs again, was there something about the air down there that made it easier to breath. His scout ship had all kinds of portable surveillance equipment, it was one of the reasons that he had stolen this kind of ship. It was a tough to transport everything by himself because the ship was supposed to be crewed by three people.
As he lugged the equipment back to the crystal room he was in awe again as the strange sight. It felt brighter then it was before but he knew that was only a trick of his mind. It took him awhile to set up the equipment and get it working properly. After several hours of work everything was set up properly but it would take the instruments a long time to adjust to the interference that the crystals were giving off. It would probably take several days at least. Jeran didn’t want to waste the time but he knew that this was the best change he had at finding the Null Crystal.
The days passed slowly as the instruments slowly began the process of decrypting the interference. Jeran spent much of his time staring at the women in the crystal. It was strange watching her, he couldn’t help but wonder why she was there.
It was early morning and he was just getting out of bed when his mini-terminal beeped and told him that the decryption was complete. Jeran quickly made his way down to the crystal room, hoping that all this time would finally pay off. But when he finally got to the instruments he stared at them in surprise. He then glanced up at the woman and whispered beneath his breath, “That woman is still alive…”
The woman was still alive. Jeran’s brain had trouble processing this bit of information. That should be possible, couldn’t be possible, yet somehow it was true. She wasn’t breathing but she had a heartbeat, true it was almost undetectable but it was there never-the-less. Jeran grew excited as the watch the heart pulses. Now even if this crystal wasn’t the Null Crystal he would still be able to use it.
The reading where telling him that the woman was in some kind of suspended animation. It was beyond any form of suspended animation that he knew about, if he could only figure out how it worked then he might be able to replicate it and that would give him more time.
However for the major analysis he would need a small chunk of the blue crystal. He drew out a laser saw to slice off a small section of crystal. However as soon as the glowing red blade touched the crystal red light began to refract throughout the entire structure. Jeran jumped back in alarm. The crystal was now veined with red and the red was spreading through-out the structure.
Soon the entire crystal had changed to red and his sensor’s instruments were going crazy. He was focused of trying to figure out what happened when the entire large crystal began to melt, almost like it was made of water. He tried escaping from the streaming crystal, uncertain what effects it might have on his body. However the room and the crystal were too big and too big and his shoes quickly became soaked. He calmed down when there seemed to be no immediate effects on his body.
The crystal were shrinking at a rapid rate and the red liquid was beginning to pool up around the room it seemed that it didn’t have anywhere to drain. Jeran turned to the large crystal contain the woman and approached it. If the crystal was melting then the woman might leave her suspended animation. As the crystal melted around her Jeran stretched out his arms and grabbed her before she could fall.
For just a second her eyes were open and staring at him. Then he thought a slight glimmer of a smile before he eyes closed. Afterward he was still uncertain as to whether it had actually happened or not.
It wasn’t right for him to just leave her and and he didn’t know how say it was to stand ankle deep in the strange red crystal liquid. So instead he had to carry her all the way back to his ship. It was much easier then he had expected. The woman was surprisingly light, at least much lighter then the equipment he had dragged here days earlier.
However he was forced to leave his sensory equipment back in the room and would have to go back later. It grew chillier as he left the warm room and traveled back up to his ship. By the time he had reached the surface he was panting yet he managed to complete the journey without too much extra effort.
After reaching his ship he laid he down on one of the beds. Now he could finally get a closer look at her. Before the crystal had colored her blue but now she had a normal human hue. Her hair however was a marvel. He hadn’t noticed it while carrying her but he hair had a rainbow sheen to it, sparkling and glittering in the ship light. It was light nothing he had ever seen before. Jeran stood there enchanted before finally tearing himself away to each his mini-terminal.
According to the readings her breathing had stabilized and her heartbeat was now at a normal speed. Compared to the readings he had gotten while she was in the crystal this suspended animation recover was almost too quick. Cryogenic status usually took several weeks to awake from but she already seemed almost normal.
Still he was a man of action, not one to gawk for long at a strange sight. He needed to return to the cavern to see what had become of it. He returned to the cavern quickly knowing he had already spent too long looking after the woman. Who knows what had happened during the time that he was gone. However when he arrived he was greeting only by nothing. The room which had once been filled with multitude of blue crystals was now completely empty except for his sensory equipment. Even the warmth that had been in the room was quickly dissipating.
Disappointed he checked his instruments for there recordings and watched what had happened. After he had left the crystals had continued to melt, eventually flowing out of the room into who knows where. It was disheartening to watch his hope vanish like that, however he still had one ray of hope. The women had to know something about why she was there, maybe she knew something about the Null Crystal.
Now all he could do was pack up his instruments and begin the laborious task of transporting everything back to his ship. After he had returned to the ship he was not surprised, after everything that had happened over the last couple of days, to find the woman awake. She was staring at him as he entered the cabin.
“Ah, your awake.” Said Jeran, fumbling for words. He didn’t really know what to say to someone in a situation like this. “Are you feeling alright?” He paused for a moment and when she didn’t respond he continued. “Um… you were stuck in this crystal like thing in some sort of suspended animation and I managed to free you.”
Jeran was beginning to wonder if the woman understood Normaish. It was one of the common languages in the galaxy and the language spoken in Myth. He was about to try another language even though he wasn’t as good with them when she finally spoke.
“How did you find me?” Her Normaish sounded strange and archaic to Jeran’s ear. Her voice had a haunting musical quality to it and he didn’t think he would ever forget what it sounded like.
“I was looking for the Null Crystal. I followed old rumors and legends. I purchased this location of this planet from an old friend of mine and he had found it because of an old data disk which had found containing a local star-map and directions to this planet. However information only mentioned a giant crystal. I guess it must have meant the crystal you were stuck in.” Said Jeran.
“It was a Hexion Sphere” said the women as if correcting him. “Would you also tell me what year it is and where in the galaxy we are?” She was calm, much calmer the he thought he would be in her situation.
“We are on the planet XJ453 but since you might not know where that is, it is in Norma near coordinates 457.845@, -56.463@, at a distance of 94243 relative to the galactic meridian. “ Jeran was trying to be specific as he could be. He didn’t know how long this woman had been stuck in that crystal. “It is the year 1424 since the establishment of the new galactic peace. Let’s see… that would be the year 4756 according…”
The woman raised her had to prevent him from continuing. “That is fine. Your information is more then enough. Now I need to sleep. Recovering from status is slow and I need to recover my strength. However I can not thank you enough for rescuing me. I’m sure you have questions too, however those must wait until later.” She looked him in the eyes for another long moment before laying back down on the bed.
Jeran stumbled over his words. He wanted to ask her many questions but he didn’t want to ignore her request. However he wasn’t able to stop himself from saying, “Could I at least ask you what your name is?”
“Null” the woman whispered before closing her eyes and turning onto her side. ‘Null?’ wondered Jeran, was it just a coincidence that this woman had the same name as the crystal that he was searching for. He wasn’t certain how possible it was for that to be true. Either way she was all that would be found on this planet, it was high time for him to leave. He doubted that Null would have anything that she still wanted from this planet and Jeran wanted to make good use of what time he had before the deadline.
He lifted his ship off the planet and set the autopilot to head back toward civilized space. The journey would probably take several days, fairly quick really. His ship was one of the fastest models in production by the Myth military.
He headed to the kitchen to prepare some food. It had been a while since he had eaten and he was sure it must have been even longer for Null. Most of his food was freeze-dried pre-prepared food, stuff suitable for a long journey. He had grown used to it because of his many years of traveling in space. He tried to make the best of it that he could.
He left it in the warmer and went to check on Null. She was still sleeping where had had left her so he returned to the cockpit and flipped on the terminal to check the latest news. This far out in space all the information he received was from several days ago. I would take some time for him to receive the current news. His disappearance still hadn’t broken headlines even though it had been more then a month. The Myth military must been really trying to keep it under wraps.
Jeran composed a message to his friend Aben Ranabm telling him that he would be returning. Aben was basically an information broker who had helped Jeran locate the different planets he was searching. Jeran made sure that the message was encrypted before sending it
If Jeran hadn’t been an experienced solder he would have jumped out of his skin when he heard Null speak from behind him. “Where are we going?” Until she had spoken Jeran hadn’t heard anything, a normal person should have been able to sneak up on him like that, though he was forced to conclude that a woman with rainbow hair who had been frozen in a giant crystal was anything but normal.
“We are heading to Ark-Neon. It is a large space resort. I have a friend who works here and who helps be gather information. However it will take us several days to reach it.” Jeran said as he turned around to face Null.
“I see.” Null didn’t really seem like that chatting type thought Jeran. Her responses seemed to keep lacking any real substance to there.
Jeran stood up and motioned to the kitchen. “I was warming us up something to eat. I was thinking you might be hungry after… well everything that happened to you. I don’t really have very much so I hope you like reconstituted nutrition paste.”
Jeran tried to decipher her expression. Eventually he decided that is must be disappointment, he figured he might be disappointed too to discover that all he had to eat after being brought back from a state of suspended animation was reconstituted nutrition paste. He would have wanted a steak or something.
The warmer had managed to solidify the paste to a consistency similar to mashed potatoes. It really didn’t taste that bad, it was just… unsatisfying. Jeran scooped out a plate for him and Null and set them down at the table. After he sat down and motioned to her he said, “So, do you want to ask questions first or should I? Or would you rather wait until after eating?”
Null dipped her spoon in the paste for a second before setting it to the side. “You can ask me your questions, but there are some that I will not be able to answer.”
“Alright, I guess everyone has a right to their secrets. I guess my first question is how longer were you stuck in that crystal… what did you call it again?”
“It is a Hexion Sphere and I was inside it for 105 years and 57 days.” Said Null.
“That is a fairly precise figure.” Said Jeran, however it didn’t seem that Null was much one for expanding on what she said. “I was looking for the Null Crystal and since your name is so similar I wanted to know if you knew anything about it.”
Null appraised him quietly before responding, “Why are you seeking this Null Crystal? You don’t seem like the person who would search strange planets for material wealth. Is is for prestige, power, or for something more.” Null’s question probed deeply at Jeran. He hesitated, trying to decide whether to tell Null why he wanted to seek the Null Crystal.
Jeran uncountcously lowered his voice even though no body else would be able to hear them. “It is said that embedded in the Null Crystal is the information required to perform a low level DNA replacement.”
Null stared at him her expression unchanging. “That is illegal you know. If ANGEL ever found out that your were looking for forbidden technology then you wouldn’t stand a chance. It would be better if you gave up now.”
Jeran’s usually calm demeanor broke as he slammed his hand down of the table. The plates bounced across the table and clattered on the floor, leaving bits of paste smeared on the ground. “I refused to give up looking. If I don’t find the Null Crystal then my daughter is going to die!” He shouted at her.
“I see,” said Null and Jeran thought he could almost see a smile on Null’s face. “Had you answered differently I would leave you as soon as we arrived at Ark-Neon. However since your desire is honest I will help you achieve it. While I do not know how the story of the Null Crystal came to be I am certain that it is referring to me.
“You? You know forbidden technology? Is that why you were stuck in that blue crystal? But… wait… why should I believe you? Doesn’t it seem unlikely that I would just happen to free you, the person who claims to know the knowledge that I am seeking. How do I know that you really do know it.” Jeran had begun to become skeptical, sure she was trapped in that crystal but that didn’t mean she had access to forbidden technology.
“Yes I have have access to the forbidden technology and yes I was imprisoned inside the Hexion Sphere because of that knowledge. However if you want a demonstration then there is only so much I can do without turning your ship into scrap metal which would almost certainly kill you. Also without a supply of nano-machines I am limited to what I can accomplish. Right now I only have access to the knowledge in my mind and my body.”
“For now I’ll believe you.” Said Jeran, “at least until we arrive at Ark-Neon. Then before I stop looking for something to cure my daughter I will need to see some sort of proof. Not that I don’t trust you, but with something this important I can’t just leave it to words along.”
Null nodded, “I understand. There should be enough equipment at at Ark-Neon for me to give you a demonstration. However I still feel obliged to recommend that you leave me there. It would be better if you don’t become associated with forbidden technology.”
“Would you be able to make do without me. I mean you don’t have any money do you? I’m sure you could make money with the forbidden technology but you seem like you don’t want to use it for the wrong reasons. As admirable as that is it would make it have for you to make a living.” Said Jeran.
Null stiffened and said in a proud tone, “I’m sure everything would work out. I would be quiet capable of surviving by myself, thank you very much. I hardly need your help and was offering you mine as a token of gratitude. However if you don’t want it I can certainly take care of myself.”
Jeran raised his hand to stop her, “Yes, I’m sure you could.” It had been a while since he had dealt with someone with such pride. He normally tried to train the pride out of solders but Null wasn’t one of his trainees. “I want you to come with me and save my daughter. I wouldn’t care if it was forbidden technology or magic, all I want it to see her well again or I would never be able to forgive myself.”
“Very well then. I shall give you the pleasure of letting me accompany you. I could hardly leave you daughter in mortal peril, now could I?” Null had calmed down, soothed my Jeran’s words. He could tell that this might be a long trip. He bent down and picked up the plates that had fallen on the ground as a result of his outburst.
“I’m sorry for messing up dinner. If you still want more to eat the after I clean this up I can make some more.” Said Jeran as he grabbed a cloth to clean up the paste that had smeared itself over the floor. Jeran might have been annoying having to clean the floor but there was precious little to do when on a ship in the middle of space. Even scrubbing food paste could sound like an interesting activity out here.
“No,” responding Null, pointing her nose up in the air slightly. It was plain that the food paste was obviously not what she wanted to eat. Still she would need to eat it until they arrived at Ark-Neon. Jeran made a note that he would have to pick up something more to her taste once they docked. His daughter didn’t like the nutritional paste either no Jeran wasn’t completely unused to having real food aboard his ship, however it didn’t keep as well as nutritional paste so he didn’t bother when traveling alone.
The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful. After that meal Null haven’t wanted to answer any more questions so Jeran tried to spend the time by talking with her. She didn’t seem that interested but she at least she respectfully paid attention. Jeran tried telling her what happened since she had been trapped in the Hexion Sphere. However the galaxy is a big place and Jeran mainly just knew the history of major events and what had happened on Myth. Once he had run out of history to tell her he began to divert into telling her about his daughter.
Jeran spoke lively about his daughter and it was plain that he was proud of her. However behind all his words was a hint of sadness. With the possibility of his daughters death at stake it wasn’t surprising. His wife had died more then five years ago in an attack on Myth, long before their daughter was diagnosed with her condition. Null didn’t really ask questions but instead just listened to him talking. Maybe the reason that she listened to him was because there really wasn’t anything else to do while on the ship. Jeran hadn’t brought much with him to entertain others, after all he hadn’t expected to pick up a passenger.
When Jeran wasn’t talking Null was glued to the ship’s terminal reading what little information was available. The only information there was what Jeran had brought with him and updates he received at regular intervals. It was hard to get anything else because by the time any new requests were processed the ship would have already reached Ark-Neon which would have a much larger information bank for them to request information from.
Ark-Neon loomed up in front of them. The large space station would have seemed imposing if it wasn’t covered with glowing signs advertising and promoting various services. The brilliant lights and colors make it hard to look at. The station was large enough to house a around ten thousand people. Most of them would be visitors or staff. Not the biggest resort station by a long shot but fairly popular in this section of the galaxy.
Jeran requested permission to dock through his ship’s terminal and the approval was quickly granted. He slowly brought the ship into docking carefully avoiding many of the much larger ships docked there. After his ship was parked the prepared to disembark. He asked Null, “Do you want to come with me? This place can be a little much if you aren’t use to it.” It was the truth, Ark-Neon wasn’t were the rich people came relax it was more like a constant party for people looking for a wild time or to forget something.
However Null was already at his heals. “I’m fine. If I leave everything to you then we will be spending another week eating nutritional paste and reading days old news.” Jeran winced at the comment, although it was fairly close to being true. It was probably better to bring her along after all.
“Fine, but you should probably do something about your hair…” Jeran pause for a second remembering the sort of people who tended to vacation at Ark-Neon. “Actually you hair if fine. You don’t need to worry about it at all. However if anyone offers you an easy way of making money refuse them, it isn’t worth it.”
“I’m not stupid or naive. I know better then to do something like that. You don’t think this is my first time in a place like this do you?” Said Null. Jeran sighed and lead the way. He had been a father for long enough that he must had instinctively began warning her other things just like he would have with his daughter.
The space port was crowded, filled will all sorts of sorts of people. Most of them were human, but there were a few members of the other sentient races. In there galaxy there are four known sentient races, however they were all really different from each other so they tended not to interact too much. However there was always the strange individuals who became fascinated with the other species and visited them. Some places didn’t like visitors of other species but Ark-Neon didn’t care who or what you where as long as you didn’t cause too much trouble and had the money to pay.
“First we are going to go visit my friend Aben. I told him that we would be coming so he is expecting us. If there is anything usual that you will be wanting then he will be able to get it for you. You can trust him… more or less. I would suggest not mentioning anything about your knowledge of forbidden technology. Not that he would turn you in but he would try to use it in some sort of profit scheme.” Said Jeran as he lead Null through the crowd.
After a few minutes of traveling through the crowd they arrived at a small store stuck between two larger stores. It reputed to be a pawn shot and while Aden was willing to purchase something off you if you needed the money but Jeran know that it was only a front. Aden bought and sold all sorts of other things as well, including information. The door bell dings as Jeran and Null entered Aden’s store. It was disorganized, but not cluttered or dirty and Jeran was sure that Aden knew where everything was in his store.
“Hello. Aden are you there? It’s me Jeran.” Said Jeran in a loud voice. Aden was commonly in the back or doing something else so he wanted to do. There was some fumbling in the back and a well dress man stepped out from the back. He was a bit shorter the Jeran and a little bit chubby. Aden referred to his weight as a sign of the success of his business. It was just now that Jeran noticed that Null was almost at tall as he was and definitely taller then Aden.
“Oh, hello Jeran. You took longer to get back this time.” He looked over and Null and then back at Jeran. “But I can see why. You found yourself an interesting woman there, I didn’t know you were into that type.” Aden smiled in a friendly way like he was genuinely happy for Jeran. “I’m glad to see that you have finally gotten over the death of your wife. And about time if I might add.”
Jeran shook his head slightly, “Really it isn’t like that. It is purely a business relationship. Right?” He turned his head to Null in an attempt to get conformation but Null chose to remain silent.
Aden only smiled wider before saying, “Sure sure, if you say so. I know when not to talk about something. So instead lets get to business. Did you find anything interesting on XJ453? I have a few more leads of you want me to get you them.” Aden managed to play the friendly used ship dealer perfectly. He was everybody's friend and always seemed to have what you needed.
“Not right now. Currently I’m on to something but I need some supplies to make it happen. Some of it might be a little bit strange but I trust you will be able to acquire it.” Said Jeran and he motioned toward Null, “Can you tell him what we will be needing.” Null nodded and stepped aside with Aden to explain what she would be needing. After a few minuted the stepped apart of Aden walked back over to Jeran.
“This is some serious stuff you are wanting. You could get in trouble if anybody found out, but trouble. Are you sure that you are alright with that.” Said Aden in a warning voice. He always wanted his consumers to know what sort of trouble they would be in for before selling them anything. “I mean really, the information I sold you was one thing but this is something completely different.”
“Yes, I know Aden. However this is the best chance that I have. I can trust you to get me what I need right?” Said Jeran. Aden stiffened a little at the word trust, it was like a magic word against Aden. He couldn’t betray somebodies trust in him because that was the core foundation that he built his business on.
Aden slapped Jeran on the back and said, “Of course, when have I ever let you down. I can get you want you want and at good rates too. However even with my discount it won’t come cheap. Most of that stuff is black market material. It might also take me a couple of day to get it all. Why don’t you pay a trip into town with your woman there, you never spend enough time relaxing. It is always work, work, work for you.” He winked at Jeran before retreating to the back room before Jeran could insist that their relationship wasn’t like that.
“You friend is interesting. But he seems to place a lot of trust in you. I know I wouldn’t want to sell someone the material I wanted to get.” Said Null when Aden had left.
“Yeah, Aden places a lot of importance in trust. He used to be a spy working for Karzian, however he was betrayed by his partner on orders from Karzian and left to die. He almost didn’t make it out alive.” Jeran and Null walked out of Aden’s shop while he talked. “Aden doesn’t take well to betrayal and he refused to betray somebody else. You also shouldn’t take him lightly, I heard a rumor that his ex-partner is homeless, penniless, and wanted by the Karzian government.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. So are we going to do what Aden suggested and visit the city?” Said Null.
“Well, we still need to go shopping for food supplies, but that can happen later. First I was thinking of stopping to grab something to eat. I know that you wanted something to eat other then the nutritional paste that I had on the ship. They have a lot of interesting restaurants here. I hear they even have a Nitoian restaurant if you are looking for something that will almost kill you.” Said Jeran. He was joking about eating at a Nitoian restaurant, the Nitoians were one of the four sentient races and one of the things they were know for was eating things that were usually quiet fatal for human, on the plus side human food was the same for them.
“I think I will pass on the Nitoian restaurant. I didn’t get frozen for 107 years just to kill myself eating something there. Other then that I will leave the choice of restaurant up to you since I don’t know where anything is or how much food has changed in 107 years. However I will retain the power of veto if you bring me to a place which only serves nutritional paste, also no fast food.” Said Null. She seemed to be more talkative now then she had been on the entire ship ride. Maybe the liveliness of the space station was rubbing off on her.
“Well I know a restaurant that serves a nice array of alien meats and vegetables. We could eat there.” Said Jeran as he lead the way forward. Alien, especially related to food, usually meant non-sentient animals which had been found on various other planets. While sentient life was very rare in the galaxy, other forms of life were found scattered around the galaxy. Some of it had just been genetically engineered by humans, while others had just evolved on the planet after humans left it there, but the rest were genuinely alien and were usually edible
Null seemed to be content through all of dinner. They had finally chosen a normal restaurant at least to Null’s taste. It was a bit rich for Jeran who was used to nutritional paste and who preferred Mythian food better. The meal proceeded normally with Null occasionally asking questions about how things worked now. Some of them were various cultural things that Jeran didn’t know the answer too.
After eating Null wanted to go shopping for some new clothes. She didn’t want to continue to wear the clothes she was stuck in the Hexion Sphere and she was disturbed at Jeran’s suggestion that she could wear his clothes. Jeran really didn’t understand the desire to have lots of clothes and Null couldn’t understand not wanting lots of clothes. So in an attempt to reconcile this difference Null spent lots of Jeran’s money buying new clothes. Jeran paid reluctantly, not wanting to splurge to much of his saved money because he would still need to pay for the materials that they were buying from Aden.
Null seemed to become more alive while in Ark-Nean, the hubub seemed to have finally completely awakened her from her long slumber and Jeran didn’t seem to be able to keep her in rein. She would wonder off and Jeran would look for her for hours before finally finding her back on the ship. He found everything quiet tiring but Null told him that he shouldn’t keep treating her like his daughter and that she was more then capable of taking care of herself.
Had Jeran had the sole discretion of their activities he would have left the space station and spend the days in his ship until Aben contacted him that it was time to pick up the materials, however Null had made it quite clear that she would have none of that and that they would be staying at the space port the entire time.
Null enjoyed the relaxed freedom she was experiencing now. She realized, even if Jeran did not, that this time would be limited. Once she had received the equipment and created the nanomachines things would no longer be quite so relaxed. Null wanted to make the most of the freedom she had remaining before she was hunted again by ANGEL for knowing something that they thought she shouldn’t.
The days passed slowly for Jeran who didn’t spend to much time around and kept to the ship most of the time and passed to quickly for Null who didn’t want to let the time slip away in idle rest. One night Jeran found Null pounding on the ship door. After he let her in he found that she was clearly quite drunk. Null tried to tell him the story of what happened while he lead her to bed however it didn’t really make much sense. Apparently she had gotten into some kind of drinking contest and then drank enough alcohol to kill a person. Jeran doubted parts of her story, partly because she was still alive. However he was extremely frustrated in the morning when it appeared the Null didn’t even have the hints of a hangover.
He was worried that she would do it again the next night but Null thought better of it and came back sober this time. Jeran had to wonder if this was what it was like to have a teenager who wasn’t sick. His only consolation was that having a teenager like this would be better then having one that was nearly dying. Maybe he would have to bring his daughter here after she got better, however after a few moments of contemplating that he decided that it was still a bad idea.
Far off in the depths of space floating a man. He was without a space suit or ship and by all rights he should be dead. However he was surrounded with a translucent glowing bubble which seemed to keep him alive. He was busy, quite busy, always busy, however a holographic dialog appeared in his bubble he stopped to pay attention to it. At first he wasn’t sure what to make of it, it said that a class A criminal had escaped imprisonment, however he didn’t know that there were any imprisoned class A criminals. He quickly brought up another holographic dialog and searched the records, sure enough nothing showed up about any class A criminals. Strange, he looked back to the warning, it was encrypted and digitally signed correctly. It was an official automated notification so even if it was wrong he still needed to follow up on it.
He turned about and with just a gesture the bubble zipped off into space carrying him with it. It would only take a day to reach the site of the escape, much faster then any modern ship, working of ANGEL did have its perks. However the disadvantage was that he was basically on the job at all time, but sometimes justice came at a cost.
A day later he arrived at planet XJ453, it was out of the way and he didn’t know why somebody would be imprisoned here. Shouldn’t a class A criminal be imprisoned in some sort of proper facility, no just some backwater uninhabited planet. The bubble pierced the atmosphere and touched down on the planet before shimmering one final time and then disappearing.
However the holographic menus still hovered in the air around him. He followed their directions and walked down into the ground. He quickly arrived at a large cavern which was completely empty. As he walked into the room he glanced at his display, this is where it told him to go wasn’t it. There didn’t seem to be anything here, at least that he could see. He pulled up several menus and enabled the sensor functionality. A host of dialogs popped up around him giving him detailed information about the cavern.
They were detecting remnants of human activity, especially in the form of residual DNA which had been left at the scene. It was a man and he had been her around four or five days ago. He glanced back at the information about the criminal. The picture was definitely one of a woman and the record even confirmed that to be true. He looked back at his dialogs for more information. He squinted at the dialog for a moment, residual energy from a Hexion Sphere, why would there be a Hexion Sphere way out here. He took a double take of the criminal record, it wasn’t possible for the criminal to have been kept in the Hexion Sphere, was it? Any normal person would have died if they were trapped inside one, however the record said that she was imprisoned for using forbidden technology so it was possible her body had been altered enough that she would have been able to survive.
If that was the case he wouldn’t be able to waste any time. Whoever had been here had somehow managed to free the criminal, though whether it was deliberately or accidentally he wasn’t sure. He quickly sent out requests for more information from the main office and another requests to need by colonies and space stations for any spottings of the woman in the picture. If this woman really was using forbidden technology he had to stop her and quickly because she could quickly put the entire galaxy in danger with her knowledge.
Meanwhile back at Ark-Neon several days had passed and Jeran was starting to grow impatient. Aben should be getting back to him soon, was it really taking that long for him gather everything that they needed? Null had just left, presumable to go spend more of his money when he got a call in on his terminal. It was Aben and Jeran almost autably breathed a sigh of relief. However the quickly disappeared when he answered the call and heard Aben’s desperate voice on the other line.
“Jeran, you need to get out of there, fast. The… the Myth military are here. They somehow managed to track down that you were here and are looking for you. I lied to them but it won’t be too long before they convince Ark-Neon to let them access their port records and then they will know where you are.” Said Aben who was speaking as quickly as he possibly could.
“What?” Said Jeran in alarm, “The materials, do you have them? I can’t leave until I get them from you.” Said Jeran as he got up. He quickly grabbed his mini-terminal as he got up.
“The stuff, yeah I have it. I just got the last part earlier today. However the Myth military have been interrogating me and I have only now been able to call you. However I would suggest that you just leave now without it. You might not have another chance to escape if you don’t leave now.”
Jeran buckled one his electrical stun gun, using a more lethal weapon would be crazy inside a space station and he also didn’t want to kill people in the Myth military because some of them had been his friends. “I’m coming to you, make sure you have the stuff ready when I get there.” Said Jeran as he began heading out of the door and onto the dock deck.
“You’re crazy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Said Aben as the door slide closed behind Jeran.
Jeran had reached the edge of the docks when he heard the sounds of people approaching him. It was the Myth military, they must have gotten permission to search the docks faster then he anticipated. He looked around for some place to escape to when an arm reached out of an alleyway to pull him into it.
He had his gun out of his holster and pointed at the culprit before he had gone even a couple of feet before noticing the rainbow hair. “Shush, and follow me.” Said Null as she pulled him down the alleyway. “It seems that we have worn out are welcome. Since you leave the ship I can assume that Aben already has the stuff that we need.”
Jeran nodded as he followed Null down the alley. “Yes, but we have to get there quickly, the longer we spend the more likely they will find us and the harder it will be to escape Ark-Neon.”
While he had complained about it before, Jeran no longer had any complaints about the busyness of Ark-Neon. The crowded streets that had in-convinced him before were now perfect cover for hiding from the Myth military. However it as Null which he was most surprised by. She led him through alleyways and down streets that he didn’t even know existed. She pulled him through a bar and out the back entrance giving the barkeep a short node of her head.
“Where are you going? Are you sure this is the right way to Aben’s store?” asked Jeran as they passed one unfamiliar street after another. He was now completely lost and didn’t know where way they were going or which direction was which. It was like a laborynth that he didn’t even know existed inside the city.
Null nodded in response, “Yes, this is a shortcut that should keep us off the main streets and bring us to Aben’s store without getting noticed by the people who are chasing us.” She apologized to several cooks as they walked through a kitchen and out the front doors of a restaurant, it seemed that on Ark-Neon this sort of behavior was not entirely uncommon.
“Alright, but how do you know that. This is the first time you have been to Ark-Neon, I’ve been here many times but I didn’t even knew that this part of the space station even existed.” The two of the ducked beneath some pipes that crossed a narrow alleyway.
“Well, I would think that was obvious. You always spend your free time locked away on the ship so of course you don’t know anything about the city. If you had spend more time exploring or just walking about you would know more. I have spend the last couple of days enjoying myself and bar hopping. Most of the interesting things that go on in the station are done behind the scenes. Did you know that there is both a circus and a freak show here?”
Jeran fumbled his lines for a few seconds, suprised to see a side of Null that he had not realized even existed. He know she was coming back drunk but he really never imagined what that must have entailed. A Null going from bar to bar in the middle of the night surrounded with strange people seemed disconcerting to him. He wondered of the safely of such an activity.
“All right then, lead the way.” Said Jeran reluctantly. He didn’t like being lead about but it looked like he didn’t have much of a chance this time. This was the best way to Aben’s shop without getting cause and he wasn’t going to let that chance escape.
I wasn’t too long before Null stopped them and they peered around the corner. Aben’s store was just a little bit down the street, however there were two guards standing just outside the shop. The Myth military apparently didn’t trust Aben any more then Aben trusted them.
“We need to find another way in.” Whispered Null, “There might be a back door or some other way to get into the shop.”
Jeran shook his head, “No, those ways will almost certainly be guarded. You might know the good ways around the station but let me deal with this.” Jeran moved silently and quickly along the edge of the building toward the guards, by the time the two guards noticed him it was too late. He had already reached them and before they could even react he hit one and then the other with his stunner. The two men dropped down on the ground without even getting to scream a warning into their mic.
Jeran turned back to Null, “Alright, that is dealt with. However we will need to act fast while we are in here, it will only be a matter of time before they find out that these two are not responding in. We have to get in and out before the backup arrives. He then opened the door into Aben’s store and looked around. Aben was nowhere to be seen, maybe he had some sort of secret entrance which he had used to escape but Jeran didn’t know where it could be.
Instead in the back room there was an labeled box which said, “Use with care, you know where to deposit the money.” Jeran quickly picked up the box and began to head out. “Jeran, hurry up!” He could hear Null yelling, it seemed that the Myth reinforcements where arriving here quicker then he had anticipated.
“Alright, I have it.’ Said Jeran as he left the store. Then he could see why Null had been so impatient. There were Myth troopers coming from both directions at once and there were at least a dozen of them. They must have anticipated their coming and gotten reinforcements nearby earlier in case this happened. He handed the box the Null and said, “I don’t suppose you can do something with this box of tricks in thirty seconds because I don’t think we have any other option.” His eyes darted around for exits but he didn’t see any place that he could run that he could get to fast enough to escape from the Myth Military. They were well trained enough to foil any escape plan he could come up with, it almost made him a little proud.
“Surrender Jeran, you can not escape.” General Solvar himself stepped out of the troops and toward Jeran. Jeran had reported directly to General Solvar before Jeran had escaped and abandoned his duty. The fact that the General had come all the way out here himself to capture Jeran showed the severity of Jeran’s crime.
Jeran raised his hands in surender. He didn’t know if he would be able to escape from his current situation and even if he could it would almost certainly result in the deaths of many of the soldiers here, many of which had been the ones that reported directly to him and he didn’t think he would be able to do that.
“All right Solvar, you got me. Now what are you going to do with me.” Jeran was banking on being able to escape later when there were less people surrounding him. However what he was really worried about was Null and what would happen to the box of stuff that they had gone all this way to get. If that disappear then all his effort would be for nothing and he wouldn’t let that happen.
“I’m afraid we have to do this the hard way even though your surrendering. I know you better then anyone and without taking drastic measures I know you will try to escape once you have the advantage.” Solvar pulled out a stunner like the one Jeran had used. It was probably strong enough to knock him out for several hours. Damn, he wouldn’t be able to escape if that happened.
“Fine, if that is what you have to do but let the woman go, she is a mercenary hired by me and she was just following my orders. Once I am gone she won’t be any problem for you.” Jeran wasn’t sure if it was a bluff of not, he wanted Null to be able to escape but it would also have need good if she finished what she needed to do and would be able to rescue him… or something.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that Jeran. She is going to have to come with us too, at least until we can truly determine why she is with you.” Solvar’s voice was grim and cynical. He wouldn’t give Jeran any chance to escape and Jeran could see it. Soon there wouldn’t be anything Jeran could do except let him and Null be captured. At this point it seemed inevitable, however Jeran could not leave his daughter to die. He was about to do something crazy and dangerous when everything suddenly got a whole lot worse.
An alarm wen’t out across the entire space station. The piercing alarm warned everybody to enter their homes and stay inside until the alarm passed. People who had been watching the display with interest broke in fear and began locking themselves away in their houses. These sorts of alarms are usually ran when there was a chance of space combat and that could easily result in the penetration of the hull of the station. Then there would suddenly be no atmosphere and any still caught on the streets would die. This make for a very good reason for people to go inside.
The Myth military however didn’t even seem to notice the warning. They were trained soliders, used to dangerous situations and probably knew how to hold onto something before the emergency shutters closed the opening. Solvar however seemed to think this was some sort of plan by Jeran. “Did you thick that a simple emergency signal would be enough to give you time to escape? For a former Myth solider you sure sink low.”
Jeran was about to respond with what he though would be impressive comeback where there was a giant flash of light. Then as the light began to partially fade he began to see the source of it. There was a man floating in the air down the street and there was glowing light coming from behind him. Jeran barely had time to gasp when Null gripped him strongly by the arm and rushed him at the Myth guards in the other direction. Using the distraction caused by the man and the light they were able to break their way through them and into one of the alleyways. Once they were there they were able to keep running without looking back.
“What was that?” Asked Jeran as he continued to run back toward their ship.
Null seemed to be running as fast as her legs could carry her and was barely able to gasp out a word…
“ANGEL” said Null as they ran down alleyways back toward the ship docks. Her voice was almost a whisper, she was almost afraid to say the name out load even though she knew it wouldn’t make a difference.
Had they not been chased by the Myth military Jeran might have stopped in surprise. ANGEL was a peacekeeping organization in the galaxy. They helped mediate conflicts between different governments. However, more importantly, they also regulated forbidden technology. The problem was that in order to maintain their position many of their agents used forbidden technology.
Since they held that technology they were able to control it and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. However it also kept it out of the hands of the people who legitimately needed the technology, like Jeran’s daughter.
“Then does that mean that the person is also after us?” Asked Jeran. ANGEL was usually very busy and he had been trying to stay below their radar during his search for forbidden technology. He had hoped that he would not have been found out before he had managed to cure his daughter, he might have also wanted to escape before anyone discovered what he had done so that ANGEL would never have found out.
Null shook her head, “No, he isn’t after us, he is after me.” Null knew it was true, ANGEL only rarely came after small fry like Jeran, those types of people usually never uncovered any forbidden technology and even if they did it wasn’t hard for ANGEL to deal with them afterward. However Null was a different problem for them, she knew too much, enough to lock away forever. She wouldn’t let herself get caught again, however until she could complete her nanobots she would be almost defenseless against an agent of ANGEL.
So they ran because running was the only thing that they would be able to do. A member of ANGEL had access to technology that normal people couldn’t even understand but they were bound by certain rules and regulations which gave them a measure of protection. “One of the Angels has limited detection inside a space ship to protect the private of the individual, at least until how dangerous we are exceeds the required limits set by their regulation.” Said Null to Jeran as she tried to explain to him about ANGEL.
“That is good, isn’t it? However how will we escape the space station. Isn’t ANGEL supposed to have super fast ships which are impossible to escape from? I know my ship is good but I don’t think that it will be able to match one from ANGEL.”
“Actually, an Angel doesn’t need a ship. They can travel through space using a protection bubble. It allows them the ultimate freedom in space travel and is faster then any ship. However with the alarm going off you can bet that there will be other ships escaping and we should be able to escape with them.”
Jeran nodded as they rounded a bend and he was quickly required to knock out a couple of Myth soldiers which had been waiting for them. “Alright, sounds good…. But what if the Angel knows what ship we are traveling in.”
“Then we will just have to hope that he doesn’t know that.” Said Null who rushed past him while he was busy hiding the weapons for the soldiers that he had just knocked out.
“That doesn’t sound like a very good plan. Don’t you have any better ideas?”
“There are times for plans and times to think quickly. If you think this is one the former then please feel free to stop and mack a plan. I’m going to run and escape before anyone else can figure out what has happened.”
“Well if that is the way you put it.” Said Jeran, “Then it looks like we don’t really have a choice.” The battlefield was a constantly shifting foe which always had some new problem to throw at a soldier, so if it was time to think on his feet then he would have to do that.
They had been rushing so fast that even Jeran was a little winded by the time that they had reached the station docks. However when Jeran looked over at Null she seemed to be perfectly fine, not even a bead of sweat on her brow. What sort of body did that woman have to be able to recover to being drunk so fast and to be able to run so fast without even breaking a sweat. Jeran felt a little bit jealous at her ability.
They looked out to see that Jeran’s ship was surrounded by at least a dozen men. They had been running fast enough that these people must have been left here. How many people have Solvar brought with him to capture Jeran, it seemed like a bit of an overkill.
Jeran contimplated a good solution as he asked Null for advice, “Do you have any good ideas? I don’t know if I would be able to take them all out by myself. Maybe if I snuck around behind them but I don’t know if we have enough time to do that.”
Null pointed toward one of the towers inside the dock. They were there so that the staff could easily keep track of all the different ships in the dock and to make sure that nothing strange was happening. “If we knocked that down it would cause them to scatter, giving us enough time to get over to the ship and make our get away. Unless of course you have a better idea.”
Jeran shook his head, “Nope, not really. I guess knocking over the tower is what is going to happen.” They moved over to the tower, keeping out of the sight of the soldiers. Jeran pulled out his stunner and broke open the casing. When Null cocked an eyebrow at him he said, “The stunner had plenty of electricity in it and if I overload it then I could cause a small explosion. If placed correctly then that would cause the tower to collapse.”
He pulled a couple of the wires out of the stunner and removed their protective covering. Now he would have to be more careful. If he accendentilly touched one of the bare wires he might be knocked uncounsous for hours. He carefully touched the two wires together until the device started beeping errors at him then set it down delicately on a crucial beam of the tower. Then with Null following him he moved out of the way of the tower and closer to the ship. The explosion might scatter the guards but that would only give him a couple of minutes to get to the ship and take off. He wanted to move to the best position before the explosion went off.
There was a bang from behind him, sooner then he had wanted it to go off. The tower began tilting dangerously and he could hear shouts from the guards. There was almost a whisteling sound as the tower came crashing down. During the resulting spray of rubbish and cloud of dirt Jeran ran for the ship only looking back to make sure that Null was following him.
As he entered the ship he shouted behind him to Null, “Lock the door to make sure nobody else enters.” Then rushed to the cockpit before he discovered if she had even heard his command. He sat down and began flipping switches and pressing buttons and the ship began to give off a rumbling sound as it started up. He could here the sounds of gunfire outside, they must be really serious if they were using guns inside of a ship. However his ship would last a little bit against small arms, at least long enough for them to get away.
However his wishful thinking was soon shattered. There was a loud bang from outside and he looked outside to see what had caused it. They had an portable artillery out there shooting at them. That was bad, one or two good shots from that and their hull would start to look like swiss cheese. However ship still need a few more seconds to get ready and he wouldn’t be able to leave just year.
“Come on, come on, come on,” He kept repeating at the ship, hoping that it would be ready soon. He was glancing over the controls hoping there was some way to quicken it. His brow furrowed, why was the door to the ship still open, hadn’t Null shut it.
Null had shut the door however when she had heard the artillery sound he hadn’t wasted time. She grabbed one of Jeran’s guns and reopened the door to the ship. She didn’t want their chance to escape pass and she certainly didn’t want to be trapped in a Hexion Sphere again. Then using the door as cover she began shooting at the artillery unit. She wasn’t as good of a shot as Jeran was, however she was good enough to make it count. The people manning the artillery had to escape from her line of fire and as long as they were doing that the ship was safe from them. However as soon as she started shooting the other troops noticed her and began firing back.
However Null’s action had given the ship enough time for it to take off. Jeran slammed the ship forward, quickly getting out of the way of fire. He screamed back at Null, “Let’s good, shut the door!” However he didn’t have time to make sure she had done so. He needed to get out as quickly as possible.
He quickly keyed in the communication frequency for the port tower as the ship rushed toward the exit, “You had better open the gates unless you want more gunfire inside your space station, and this time I will promise that the hull will be pierced.”
There was blood everywhere. The door to the ship hissed closed and Null slumped against the wall of the ship. She had managed to keep off the artillery unit but she had been shot in the process. The pain throbbed through her and she could feel her blood seeping out, she needed to stop the bleeding soon but she was having some trouble moving. It was much more painful then she had imagined, had her nanomachines been working then this wouldn’t have been and problem and she could have had them fix her injuries. Now however all she could really do was bleed out over the floor and try not to die. She could only wait and hope that Jeran found her before she died. She tried calling out to him but her voice wasn’t working very well, she wondered if she had been shot someplace important. She couldn’t really tell. She couldn’t die here yet, she wasn’t done with that she wanted to do.
It wasn’t until Jeran had finished piloting out of the space station and was able to set the ship on autopilot that he returned to look for Null. However when he found here he gasped in horror. She was surrounding with a pool of blood and he desperately hoped that she was still alive. There was a bullet wound in her right shoulder, dangerously close to her throat. He rushed back into the ship’s storage room and grabbed the woefully underequiped medical bag that the ship had. It was supposed to be used to minor injures not gaping gunshot wounds but unless they returned to Ark-Neon then there wasn’t any hospitals to got to and the bag was the best they would have.
He lifted Null carefully and brought her onto one of the beds before setting her down equally as carefully. He examined the injury to find out what he could do about it. There was only one good thing about it, the bullet had gone all the way through and left her body so he wouldn’t have to attempt to remove it. He had some field medicine training but he had feared that removing a bullet would be beyond him. His bag didn’t have any skin grafts of other useful equipment to fix the wounds so he needed to find another way to stop the bleeding.
His best option was to close up the wound and then wrap it, with his equipment that was the best the he would be able to do. The first thing that he did was give her and injection of pain killer, he didn’t want to do his amateur surgery on a patient that could feel it. He put on some gloves and wiped some disinfectant over the wound before taking out a needle and thread to close the wound with. He hated to use such an old fashioned way to do this but desperate times called for desperate measures. He tried to close up the wound on both side and neatly as he could before wiping away what blood remained on Null and wrapping her shoulder with bandages to stop any remaining bleeding. He really hoped that any internal bleeding that she would experience wouldn’t be dangerous to her.
After that he took off his gloved and washed up. He didn’t think there was anything else that he could do for her other then monitor her life signs and take care of her. Now that the surgery was finished he felt helpless, unable to do anything. It was worse when her life signs continued to decreases, getting weaker and weaker. He needed to find her a real doctor, someone who knew what they were doing.
As the ship’s controls he pored over the maps for this area, there had to be someplace nearby that they could visit which would be safe. Preferable someplace that had a proper hospital. He scanned through the nearby planets, preferably someplace easy to hide from both ANGEL and Myth. Then there on the list was Zen, it was a low-key planet which didn’t have much, but even a small planet would have some kind of hospital, it was an advantage over space stations. Also Zen was a colony planet which recently earned its independence through fighting so he might be able to get medical care for Null without too many piercing questions.
The only problem was that Zen was still hours away and Null was continuing to get worse. However there was really nothing Jeran could do other then wait and worry. And that was primarily what Jeran did. He sat by Null’s side and watched her vital signs getting more and more worried as they continued to drop, he could only hope that they would last until they arrived at Zen. To Jeran the journey felt like it was taking forever even though it would only a couple of hours. It was a relief when they finally got close enough for him to hail the planet. After that it was a simple matter to get permission to land. He was also able to convince them to send and ambulance to the docks to pick up Null. He gave them an excuse that there had been a pirate raid on the space station that they had been staying at and the two of them had barely escaped with their lifes. Jeran sincerely hoped that they would buy his excuse.
He was able to land the ship successfully. Landing through a planet’s atmosphere was more difficult then parking in a space station but Jeran was a steady hand, even his worry about Null didn’t cause any landing problems although the autopilot was helping him more then he cared for. Zen only have a small space port so Jeran was greeting personally by much of the staff, they helped the ambulance staff get Null out of the ship and on to the ambulance. Then before Jeran could even wish Null good luck the ambulance was off.
Jeran was able to get a ride to the hospital from some of the shipyard staff for a little bit of money. They seemed very interested in him, they probably didn’t get many strange guests. His driver was a big burly man who made Jeran look small in comparison. “So, I hear you survived a tussle with some space pirates, you seem luckier then your companion.” Said the big man.
Jeran winced at his statement. “It was a mistake, I should have had her start the ship while I held off them only enough for the ship to start. It was a bloody amateurs mistake.” He cursed himself as he spoke, it had been something he had been trying not to think about. Null’s injury could have been prevented had he though enough ahead. With the ship’s autopilot Null would have been able to get it started.
“Sounds rough man. Since you say that it sounds like you have some experience with a gun.” Said the big man, “So do I, even though I might not look like it.” Jeran wanted to tell the big man the he really did look like it but he held his tongue. “You see, many of us helped earn our independence so there are a lot of people on the planet with combat experience. Now we are all just trying to deal with it.” There was a hint of a smile on the man’s face so Jeran could tell the man didn’t regret it.
“Yeah, I was a… security guard at the space station. We tried to stop the pirates the best we could but eventually the evacuation signal was given and we all had to pull out. The woman hadn’t been able to get out in time so I had to take her with me.” Said Jeran.
“Is that so… It looked and sounded to me like she meant an awful lot to you. You sure she is not your… you know.” The man said in a playful tone. Jeran could see that the man was grinning.
“How many times do I need to tell people that it isn’t like that. We are just friends, nothing more.” Protested Jeran as best as he could. However the man just laughed at his plight, why did people always do that.
“So you did know her before the attack. Maybe she was already in the ship when it happened?” The man laughed again much to Jeran’s dismay. “But it’s alright I won’t tell anyone.”
“Great… just what I need. Another person not saying anything about something that doesn’t exist. Now can you just please get me to the hospital, quickly.” Said Jeran in annoyance. Was there anybody in the universe who didn’t immidiately think that he and Null were any item. Wasn’t he supposed to be old enough that that wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. After all he had a daughter already didn’t he.
“Alright alright, we are here man. Don’t get upset. The woman is inside and should already be in treatment.” Said the man as they pulled up to the hospital. Jeran got out and rushed inside. He was greeting by the staff and was immediately told that he needed to wait outside of the emergency room. Jeran did so uncertainly. The time passed slowing and it was frustrating not to know what was happening inside there. Eventually the emergency light went off and the doctor come out.
“Your lucky man, if that woman hadn’t been made of such stern stuff she would be dead by now. But she is going to pull through.” Jeran breathed a sigh of relief as he heard the man speak. “But I’m suprised, when she came in I was almost certain that she wasn’t going to make it. If she hadn’t been tough as nails then she wouldn’t have made it, she should feel lucky to have a body like that.”
Jeran wasn’t certain how much luck had to do with it but he was glad that Null’s miraculous body had pulled through again.
“Thank you, I don’t know what to say for saving her.” Said Jeran as he thanked the doctor.
The doctor shook his head, “You should be thanking yourself too. Without your quick field dressing she almost certainly would have died. Though given how much she stuggled to stay alive I wouldn’t be surprised if she had survived even if you didn’t help her, well more surprised then I am that she survived in the first place.”
“That is all that matter’s isn’t it?” Said Jeran, not wanting any questions about her or her injury that he didn’t want to have to answer.
“Yes, I suppose it is. You should just be thankful. It will probably be several hours before she is counsous again so you might want to take a break, you look fairly exhausted.” Said the doctor. After he heard it Jeran realized that the doctor was correct, he hadn’t slept in ages and he must of ate sometime before everything happened because he certainly didn’t remember eating after that.
“I supposed I should get something to eat.” Admitted Jeran however the doctor wouldn’t let him go with just that.
“You will also be getting some sleep. You won’t be good to anyone and certainly not her if you don’t get something to eat. I’ll send a nurse down to make sure you follow the doctors orders.” The doctor left and Jeran waited outside the operating room in relief unless I nurse finally came down for him and usurer him into another room to make sure he got something to eat and had a place to sleep.
He wasn’t sure how many hours it was until somebody finally awakened him. He felt groggy so it must not have been that long. “Your friend had awakened and she wants to speak with you.” He heard somebody tell him, it was one of the nurses who have come to wake him up and if he remembered correctly the same one which had helped him get something to eat and find a bed.
“Oh good. I’ll be ready in a moment.” Said Jeran, however as he stood up he realized that there wasn’t anything for him to do to get ready. So he let himself get lead through the hospital, presumable to the room that Null was being kept in. When he entered the room he saw Null sitting up with her right arm in a sling. In her white surroundings her rainbow hair seemed even more impressive.
“Oh, good. I was almost worried that I was really captured and that they just healed me so that they could question me. Wouldn’t that be horrible, no offense meant.” Said Null, the last comment directed to the nurses. Null seemed to be joking but Jeran thought he could hear a real hint of fear in her statement. After being held in the Hexion Sphere being imprisoned might have seemed like the worse punishment in the world.
“Well, I’m just glad to see that you are well enough to be making jokes like that,” Said Jeran, he knew it would only hurt her pride if she found out that he knew what she was afraid of. “Next time you try something crazy like trying to fight off pirates I suggest that you think of the consquiences.”
“Right, pirates. They were a better shot then I anticipated, if I seem him I’m going to give a piece of my mind to their trainer. Pirates really shouldn’t be that good.” Said Null.
Jeran winced at that comment. He had been the trainer for many of the soldiers in Myth’s military and he suspected that Null knew that. It hurt to know that he was more than indirectly responsible for Null’s injuries. However she was going to be alright so he was able to forgive himself.
“Also,” continued Null, “I expect that we will be eating real food once we get back on the ship so I’m going to have to rely on you to get all the necessary supplies.”
“Now hold it there woman,” Came the voice of the doctor who was just entering. “I don’t care what sort of impervious body you might have but your wounds are far from healed. Your friend won’t need to be doing any shopping until your all healed. I’m going to make sure you stay here unless your completely better.”
Null seemed restless upon hearing that. Jeran knew that they couldn’t stay here too long or else his daughter might be in more trouble but he didn’t think that was why. Null probably didn’t enjoy being trapped in the hospitol and she probably wanted to be out of here as soon as possible. “How long do you think that will be?” Asked Null.
The doctor huffed and said, “It would take a normal person at least a month to recover from your injuries. Even if your body is as good at healing as it is at surviving it will take you at least two weeks to recover.”
Null’s face contorted and she stared at Jeran, “Listen to the doctor Null, if you aren’t careful it could be the death of you.” He said that but he knew that Null wouldn’t be content with it and neither was he. If he had to make a wager then Null would be making an escape attempt sometime later tonight. He would probably have to help her to prevent things from going out of hand. “I’m going to got explore town, you stay here and recover, I’ll come pay you a visit later tonight.” He could only hope she would wait that long.
Jeran left to go to town, he took the time he needed to purchase supplies for their journey. He tried to guess what sorts of food that Null wanted to take with them and he hoped he had gotten it right. He also got some spare bandages to that he would be able to change them during the journey. He also stopped to check how much money he had left using him mini-terminal. The number was starting to get depressingly low. After paying for the hospital visit and the space port fee he wouldn’t have much more to spend. He had to hope that would be enough and that there wouldn’t be any more unexpected side trips.
By the time he had finished shopping and brought everything to the ship it was starting to get late. Jeran began heading back over to the hospital, stopping only to grab some chocolate for Null, he though he remembered me mentioning that she liked it and after being stuck there all day she probably wan’t something to help her take her mind off it… also it might make her less grumpy when they smuggled her out.
When he arrived at her hospital room he say that her expression indicated exceptly what he had expected her to feel. She was annoyed and want to leave. Seeing her there he didn’t really know how she kept during long ship flights, maybe that was easier for her because it was something that she had chosen to do.
Jeran came in waving his chocolates toward her. “Now calm down, I brought you something that will hopefully make the stay a little more acceptable.” Once he got closer to her he tossed her the chocolates and with an annoyed face she began to unwrap them. Jeran smiled remembering that he daughter tended to do the same thing when he had visited her in the hospital. He wondered how much she would be like Null once she had gotten better and he wasn’t sure if he liked that idea.
Jeran glanced around to make sure there were no nurses listening before saying. “So are you planning on escaping tonight? We really can’t stay here the full two weeks. I don’t know if my daughter will last that long and we would certainly be found by either Myth or ANGEL if we stayed here that long. But we could probably stay here another day if you want to spend more time recovering.”
Null shook her head and have Jeran the answer he had been expecting, “No, I want to leave her as soon as possible. I really don’t like hospitals and if I can get my nano-machines working then I will be able to use them to heal the rest of my injuries.” She took a bit out of the chocolates before continuing, “Do you have any good plans for escaping. This place doesn’t seem well guarded so it should be easy to escape.”
“Don’t assume it will be that easy. This planet just won a war for independence and I heard that a long of people have combat experience. Instead we should take it easy and trick them into letting you go. I suspect I can convince them to let me take you our for a walk and then we can use that time to get back to our ship and leave before anybody in the hospital is aware of what has happened.”
Null nodded and she continued to eat, “Makes sense.” She pushed off the blankets and stood up. Jeran blushed and looked away when she noticed that she was only wearing underware.
“You get some clothes on and I’ll go tell the nurses what our plan in.” Said Jeran hastily as he exited the room. It wasn’t very difficult to convince the nurse to let him take Null outside for a walk. He mentioned that she didn’t like enclosed places or hospitals and they just let them go.
Once they had left the hospitol it was easy to call a taxi and since the drive didn’t know the doctor’s orders it was easy to convince him to drive them to the ship port. As they boarded their ship Jeran was thankful that for once everything was easy. It felt like a needed break… even though the reason they had come here wasn’t a happy one.
Everything went off smoothly. Their ship was able to take off without any troubles and Jeran send a message of apology to the hospital along with his bank account number. Even if they were escaping he still wanted to make sure they had gotten paid, they had saved Null’s life after all.
Null had been busy, she had locked herself in the storage room for the last couple of days, coming out only to eat. Jeran knew she was probably working on whatever it was that she needed to help his daughter but he was still worried. Sometimes he could hear strange sounds coming from the room and other times strange smells. Occasionally there was a small rumble across the ship, almost like one that would be caused by a small explosion. At those times he would rushed and knock on the door to make sure that Null was alright but each time she said, “I’m fine, don’t worry about it. That was supposed to happen.”
Jeran wasn’t certain how much of what she was doing as really safe but considering she was performing forbidden technology behind that door he didn’t think it was safe. To him however just that fact that she would be able to save his daughter with whatever she was doing was enough.
However as the days past and they got closer and closer to Quill, Jeran hoped that Null would be getting done soon. Jeran had left his daughter in the care of some people he trusted on Quill, away from any connection to Myth. However time was running out for Null to finish whatever it was she was doing because he didn’t know how long his daughter would last. According to the estimate that the doctor had given him before he had last left Quill his daughter would probably have a week left and Jeran desperately hoped that would be enough time.
However he fears were not realized. Around a day before they would have arrived at Quill, Null emerged from the room with her bandages removed. Jeran thought that she almost seemed to be glowing. “All right, I’m done.” Was all she said before turning and entering the kitchen.
Jeran followed her and began asking questions, “So you have finished with those nanomachines or whatever you called them? Does that mean that you will be able to save my daughter?”
Null noded as she grabbed some the remaining paste-less food. “Yes, but more then that it will also be easier to deal with ANGEL should they come after us again. I will however leave any of the Myth military who come after us to you because you probably don’t want them to die.” She took a few bits before continuing, “However now it is too late for you turn back. You have assisted me in creating a forbidden technology, ANGEL will now no longer be able to forgive you.”
Jeran joined her at the table and said, “I don’t care, I knew that was going to happen from the start because I knew that no legal technology would be able to save my daughter. If that wasn’t true then she would have already been saved.”
Null shook her head, “You might say that but… I really don’t think you understand what it is like to be pursued by ANGEL. They are relentless and heartless when they have to be. Even your daughter will be put in danger by them.”
Jeran looked Null in the eyes, “Even living a life hunted by ANGEL would be better then a life with my daughter dead. I’m sure we could go someplace beyond the reach of ANGEL and Myth. Maybe I could finally find some peace in my life.”
Null and Jeran ate in silence for a couple of minutes before Null asked, “I know why ANGEL would be following you but I don’t understand why Myth is. I know you were an important person in the military before you left but that doesn’t explain why they are chasing you so desperately. There must be some reason why they are doing that.”
Jeran looked up at the ceiling wanting to avoid the questions but after a minute returned to looking at Null. After all she had done for him she deserved an answer from him. He took a deep breath and then released it. “I’m a deserter and a high profile one. You might not know but Myth is poised on the brink of civil war. The two fractions are at each other’s throats. One of the fractions laid claim to me even though I didn’t want to fight against Myth. It was then that the doctors tell me that my daughter didn’t have long to live. I couldn’t quit the military to take care of her or even take leave so I… I ran away with my daughter.”
Null nodded slowly in understanding, “Sure that explains why they don’t like you and want you captured but why would they expend so much forces trying to capture a single deserter when they are on the brink of war, even if you are an important person.”
Jeran coughed lightly before saying, “I couldn’t see fellow Mythians fighting and killing each other so I… um…. Stole… the activation codes for all of Myth’s weapons of mass destruction.” Jeran seemed sort of embraced saying that.
Null’s eyebrows raised when she heard that, “I see, that would certainly explain why they would devote so much energy trying to stop you. But I never realized you were such an idealist. You were aware of how much trouble that would bring to your daughter and you when you did that didn’t you?”
Jeran nodded, “Yes, I knew that they wouldn’t like me for it and perhaps never forgive me for it but… I couldn’t stop the civil war and I felt so helpless. When I heard the news about my daughter that feeling got worse. I knew I couldn’t just leave Myth that close to war to run off into the galaxy to look for an impossible cure. So I stole the codes and fled, it was something I couldn’t have done if I had stayed on Myth but it accomplished to of my goals. I had leave to search for my daughter’s cure and it would probably save many lives. Even the people they devoted to looking for me couldn’t be used for killing people.”
“At least you knew what you were doing, even if you didn’t have a plan. It was stupid to do what you did… but brave.” Said Null, she seemed to be a little pleased about what he had done. “It seems I was right to help someone like you. You are far better then the people at ANGEL who only care about following the rules. They don’t care how many people get hurt as long as they follow their precious rules.”
“I used to think that the rules were the most important, orders are considered unbreakable in the military.” Said Jeran with a sigh. “That was a much easier life, not having to worry about whether what you were doing was right or wrong. Now everything is much more complicated. Using forbidden technology to save my daughter, stealing codes to save innocences at my own risk… now I am the one who needs to decide if those actions are right or wrong. Those sorts of decisions are difficult.”
“True,” Said Null with a nod, “But it is one of the things that makes life worth living. If you aren’t choosing your own path, deciding for yourself what you want and why then your life is just hollow.” She stood up and moved her plate from over to the sink. “We are getting close to Quill aren’t we? You should probably get anything you want ready. Our detour to Zen gave our pursuers extra time, they will almost certainly catch up to us soon. You should use the time you have now to prepare for what it coming.”
“Wait,” said Jeran as he stood up. “If things are going to get dangerous can you tell me what other things your nano-machines can do, it would be helpful if I know what they were capable of.”
“They allow me to reshape molecular structures, they are very efficient at close range and I doubt even ANGEL could stand up to them if I am close. However after a couple feet they can’t effect people so I need to get close to a target. At longer ranges I can just us them for reinforcement and repair so you no longer need to worry if I get shot. However larger weaponry can still be an issue for me because the damage will take me too long to repair from.” Said Null in explanation.
“Wow, it seems forbidden technology is worth it. I would be scared if I felt that you were the kind of person who would misuse your power, but I trust you and am glad to have you at my back.” Responded Jeran.
They walked to the cockpit and began finishing their preparations for landing. Earlier the next morning, by their time, they had gotten close enough to hail Quill and ask permission to land. Since the permission was granted quickly Jeran could only assume that Myth and ANGEL hadn’t gotten there yet but he assumed it would only be a matter of time.
Their ship passed through the atmosphere and landed without a hitch and Jeran fronted almost all of the rest of his money paying for the parking. He would have been thinking about he would be making money in the future if he hadn’t continued to be worried about his daughter. He might even of considered taking public transportation to the private hospital that he friend owned if his daughter’s life hadn’t been on the line. However as it was he continued using the very last of his money to pay for the taxi to bring them to the hospital.
Once there he rushed through the doors, not even stopping as he waved at the nurses at the front counter. Now that he was so close the evaluator seem too slow so he ran up the stairs to the third floor. He rushed toward the hospitol room and flung open the door only to feel the close metal of a gun barrel press into his chest and a voice say, “Hello Jeran, glad to see that your finally here.”
“General Solvar, what a pleasure it is to see you.” Said Jeran as he began to raise his hands. He could feel the metal barrel of the gun pressing into his stomach and knew that the general would be able to pull the trigger long before Jeran could do anything. “I take it you aren’t here to visit my daughter.” Jeran could see his daughter, Silvia, beyond General Solvar. The medical instruments around her still said that she was alive, which was a relief. Although currently she appeared to be unconscious.
“Very funny Jeran. However I hope you aren’t planning to get me to drop my gun in laughter.” Said Solvar with a humorless expression on his face. “Frankly I’m surprised that it took you so long to get here. We had arrived here several days ago expecting you to have already left. Imagine our surprise when we found that your daughter was still here.” The general smirked a little as he continued.
“I bet that you thought that we didn’t know where you were keeping your precious daughter did you? Sorry, but you can’t escape that easily. But it has all worked out well now hasn’t it. We are both here and your daughter will help ensure that you join us again and return what you have unrightfully stolen from us.”
Jeran didn’t have much to say. Where he was now didn’t give him much of an option. He would only give Null time enough to get close to General Solvar. He had to trust that she would have some way to get them out of this. Jeran had to keep Solvar distracted. “How did you find out that I was keeping her here?” Asked Jeran in an attempt to keep his attention.
“You are an excellent soldier Jeran but you aren’t much of a spy. There are plenty of ways to track somebody down who doesn’t want to be found. We tracked you down through your money. Once you were on the run it was easy to figure out where you were spending your money. Then we just needed to wait until you fell into a habit and lay a trap for you. Luckily for us you began to frequent Ark-Neon as your base of operations so we just needed to wait until you went there again and then trap you.”
Jaren frowned in annoyance. He had hoped that his bank would have kept his expenses secret. Myth must have either convinced his bank to release his information to them or they must have broken into their system and stole it. Either way Jeran had lost out on secrecy. “So now that you have me your going to force me to return and give you the codes I take it.”
“Oh, and more too. We are going to use you for publicity. Everybody loves a hero and we can use that to our advantage. You are even going to fight for our side. You are going to do it to protect your poor daughter who we will graciously take care of. And if you should somehow fall in battle fighting for what is right, well… everybody loves a myrtior.”
Jeran gritted his teeth in anger as he head Solvar speak. Had Mythians fallen so low that they would resort to blackmail to get there way or have General Solvar always been like this and Jeran had just never seen it. Jeran suspected that it was the later and before Solvar had just shown Jeran his nice face.
Jeran felt the nudge of Null’s shoe against him and he spoke again, “There is only one problem with your plan General Solvar.” Jeran tied to sound as smug as possible and he thought he succeeded fairly well.
The general only smiled at him, “Oh? And what would that be. If either of you try anything then you will be dead. And in a couple of minutes some more soldiers will be arriving so there will be even less that you can do. And even if you manage to escape it will be impossible for you to leave with your daughter. Who knows what fate will await your poor little girl if you run off from us again. I don’t think there is any problem with my plan.”
It was Null’s turn to speak this time. “Actually I would reconsider the gun part of your plan. It wouldn’t be a good idea to try and use it, who knows what could go wrong. Also for what you are threatening to do I think you deserve to be punished. Jeran, why don’t you give him a sock to the jaw.”
“With pleasure,” Jeran grinned a little bit before lifting his fist and directing it directly into General Solvar’s face. Solvar stood there is shock for a second before leveling the gun at Jeran and pulling the trigger. Null must have done something to Solvar’s gun because it exploding in his hands. Solvar screamed in pain and dropped to the floor, his hands covered to horrible burns. Jeran kicked him once before grabbing him and throwing him out the door. Jeran locked the door behind Solvar and turned to Null and Silvia. “Thanks Null, whatever you did he deserved it.”
With Solvar out of the way for the time being he went over to check on his daughter. Silvia was feverish and unconscious but still alive. He brushed he hair back with his hand. He was glad to see his daughter again because it had been a while. He then looked up and Null and asked, “What do you think? Will you be able to cure her?”
Null walked over beside him and stared at Silvia. Time crawled by and Jeran was about to say something when Null spoke, “Yes, I can save her. However, you were right about only forbidden technology being able to fix her. Any cure would basically be replacing most of her body. My nano-machines will able to accomplish that given enough time. However time is the probably. That man’s soldiers will certainly be here soon and a full recovery for your daughter will certainly take weeks.”
Null placed her hand on Silvia’s chest. There seemed to be a glow which left Null’s arm and then slowly seeped into Silvia. After Null removed her hand she said, “I’ve taking the initial steps. This should at least prevent her from dying of her illness and it will help her regain consciousness. However this is only a temporary measure. I will need to treat her fully back at the ship but we need to get out of here before that man’s allies come or else if will be very difficult.”
Jeran nodded, “I agree but I’m still uncertain how we are going to do that will being my daughter with us. I have some friends in the hospital who were taking care of her but I would rather not get any of them involved because Solvar will probably be quite angry at what happened.”
“I guess the window is our only real choice then.” Said Null as she moved over to it and looked out.
“The window? But that is crazy, this is the third floor. I mean I could probably climb down but there would be no way that I could do that while carrying my daughter. I would say that the same thing would apply to you.”
“Who said anything about climbing.” Said Null with a smile. “Now that my nanomachines are operating correctly I could certainly make a jump like that, even if I was carrying someone with me.”
Jeran stared at her for a couple of seconds in bewilderment, “Your serious, aren’t you? If anybody else had said it would have though that they were crazy, but you might be able to accomplish it. All right, I’ll let you do it but please be careful with my daughter, I didn’t come all this way just to have her die by trying some fool stunt.”
“Alright,” Said Null and then the two of the helped remove Silvia from the bed. They removed the various medical sensors and Null picked her up. Jeran opened the window and looked out, it was a long way down. Null stepped up onto the windowsill and Jeran closed his eyes just as she jumped off. He waited a second but not hearing any awful sound he looked out to see Null still carrying Silvia and safely on the ground.
Then Jeran stepped out of the window himself and began climbing down the wall. It was rough going and harder then he had expected it to be. By the time he had gotten town one floor he could hear shouts above them. It seemed that Solvar’s backup had gotten there. Jeran climbed a few more feet before dropping down to the ground and rolling.
“The Myth military almost certainly have some vehicles around here.” Said Jeran, “If we could take one of those it would make getting back to the ship much easier.”
Null nodded in agreement and together the ran to the front of the building where several cars were parked. Jeran was about to break one of the windows and try and hotwire the car when Null stopped him. He handed Silvia to him and the pressed her hand over the keyhole. There was a click and the door opened. Jeran was even more impressed when she was able to use the same trick to start the care. Her nano-machines were turning out to be more useful then he had initially though.
They arrived at the space port to find their ship to be unguarded. Solvar’s confidence had probably caused him to neglect to send people to guard his ship. Luckily because of that they were able to board without any issues. Jeran carried Silvia into the bunkroom and laid her down on one of the bed. “Please take care of her,” asked Jeran to Null as he headed to the cockpit and started the ship.
As the ship began taking off Jeran could see several of Solvar’s troop entering ships of their own. He had hoped to get off before they had arrived. It would have been nice to escape before they were able to follow. Now however it looked like a dog fight would be starting soon. Jeran knew that his only advantage was his speed and the fact that they his opponent wanted him alive so that they could get the activation codes from him.
Also he had a head-start so he wanted to take advantage of that the best he could. As he got into orbit around Quill he began moving around the planet, using the gravity of the planet to increase his speed. Some bigger ships that would be following him would have a harder time keeping up this way. The faster personal ships would have been able to do it but those had more trouble pulling out the planet’s atmosphere. Only light cruisers like his would be able to keep up with him.
Unfortunately, several of the ships that were following him were light cruisers and according to Jeran’s sensors they were equipped with magnetic pulse cannons which would be able to disable his ship without damaging it too much. Solvar must have specifically outfitted some of his light cruisers with them in cause they would need to chase down Jeran’s ship.
Jeran needed some way to shake his pursuers. He pulled up several star charts and began looking through them, all the while dodging blasts rome the MP cannons. Eventually Jeran nodded, this system had an astroid fields and if he was able to move through that he should be able to escape their sensor range and then make a break for it. His only other option was to evade the blasts long enough to escape from the solar system and then activate his faster than light drive, however the longer he kept avoiding it the more likely that they would get a lucky shot on him.
He dived into the astroid field and began maneuvers through the giant rocks. Normally people flew through them at much slower speeds or avoided them entirely. The astroid field helped provide sensor interference and forced the other ships to come into the field with him or risk losing him entirely. Jeran almost hoped that they would give up, he didn’t want anyone to accidentally die during this stunt, however they came in after him despite his hopes.
Now it was the time for the dangerous stunts which put the people in both ships are risk. It involved flying too close to the astroids and going between small gaps between astroids in hopes that the pursuing ships either gave up or crashed. Jeran winced as one of the blips on his scanner suddenly disappeared. Given the speed at which it had been moving it had almost certainly crashed into on of the astroids. It was sad to think that Jeran might have know the pilot of that ship.
It wasn’t much longer that the other ships disappeared too, although the the dangerous astroid fields even a short time felt like ages. After he piloted the ship out of the field and set it on autopilot he laid back in the pilot chair. He sat there for minutes wondering who those pilots might have been and if they had anybody important to them. It had been easier being a soldier when you didn’t know anything about who was on the other side. Maybe he was being to get to old of this sort of thing, that or he was beginning to think to much about what he was doing.
After a while longer he stood up and returned to the cabin where Null was. She was sitting there beside Silvia though it didn’t look like anything was happening. “So how is it going?” Asked Jeran as he sat down beside Null. “I just finished escaping our pursuers, for now. I’m sure they will find us again though if we get spotted.”
Null nodded, “Everything is going well now. I’ve started the generic reformat but it is going to take a while and I am going to need to check on the process ever couple of hours. It is sensitive and things could go wrong if left on its own for extended periods of time. Also your daughter should probably be waking up sometime in the next day or so.” She stood up and stretched a little bit, “So what are you planning on doing now. We have your daughter but we can’t really go back to anyplace. Do you have someplace safe to go or are we just going to fly around until we run out of gas and food and then make a quick stop someplace.”
“Well about that…” said Jeran as he scratched his head, “After everything that has happened my savings has almost been completely emptied and even if it wasn’t Solvar has been using my bank as a method of tracking me down. This means that we need to think about how we are going to afford anything now. Once my daughter is cured you could leave if you want and I’m sure I can find work someplace where Myth will never find me.”
Null looked over at Jeran and asked, “And do you know where I should go? Anywhere I got I put people at risk, ANGEL will come after me and there would be plenty of people who want my powers and most aren’t as kind as you are. Sure I can protect myself but people will get hurt if I try to protect myself. And you… ANGEL almost certainly knows that I have helped you, they won’t just leave you to go free. No, it would be better if I continued traveling with you, in case something happens and because I don’t have anywhere better to go.” Null passed by Jeran and patted him on the shoulder. “So don’t worry, you get to enjoy my company for a while longer.”
As Null left the room Jeran felt somewhat relieved. He had grown used to Null’s presence and would have been disappointed if she had left. He then sat down next to his daughter and waited for a while. He knew it still might be a while before she woke up but he wanted to wait be her side for a least a while.
I must have been a couple of hours before he finally got up and left. He had initially come to the room to ask Null about money but that had never gotten resolved. He found Null in the kitchen making something to eat. He decided to ask her a question about something that he found strange, “You seem to eat more then normal, is there a reason for that or is it just a way to pass the time?”
“Do you normally ask such question to women?” Asked Null though she really didn’t mind, “If you must know I eat because there are always tradeoffs. Using nano-machines I was able to improve my body but doing so makes it require more energy when a regular body so to deal with that I need to eat more then a normal person. I has gotten worse now that I have active nano-machines again because they require energy as well and it needs to come from somewhere. I just chose to use food as my energy source because it was convenient.”
“Ah, I see, I guess forbidden technology isn’t all powerful after all. It had more limits then I expected it too.” Replied Jeran.
“Everything has limits, even the power of forbidden technology and ANGEL. The only question is where the limits lie and how you deal with them. If something did not have limits it would cease to be technology and start to become magic.” Said Null matter a factly.
Jeran nodded in understand, “Now, back to what I was talking about earlier. Since you want to stay for a while we should figure out a method of making some money. There is always mercenary work but I would rather not do that, there is more then enough danger in my life as is and I’d rather not work for people who I didn’t know their true goal.”
“Yes, it terms of things that could make money but we would rather not do I am sure that there would be a lot of people who would be willing to use my nano-machines. Again, I don’t want to do that, for reasons other then that it makes it easier for ANGEL to find me.”
“ANGEL, they are a problem. If only there was a way to escape their grasp. Do you know of any places that are outside their reach and that they wouldn’t search for us?” Asked Jeran.
Null shrugged, “Not that I know, sure we can run but I their reach extends everywhere in the galaxy as far as I know. If there is a place they don’t go then I don’t know about it. Our best option is to stay on the move so that by the time they find where we are we will have already left. That is what I used to do… though last time I eventually got caught.”
“Well I guess we will have to do better this time now won’t we.” Said Jeran with a smile. Now that they had escape with his daughter and that she would be cured he felt fairly optimistic. Just protecting his daughter seemed like and easier task then looking for a cure that was said to be impossible, at least this way he had an easily decernable goal.
“After all that happened, why don’t we celebrate?” Asked Null as she pulled a bottle of wine out of the fridge. Jeran wondered where she had gotten that, he didn’t remember her picking it up but she must have somewhere.
“Well, why not? We deserve it don’t we?” Replied Jeran with a smile.
The man floated in space once more. While he had a name before he joined ANGEL, now he was only known as Zolurious. It his predecessor went by that name too and if he had a discipline then he too would be called Zolurious. Having names pass through from master to apprentice was standard among the ANGELs, it lead to a strong reputation which was important to having people follow the law.
However now he felt like he was bringing shame to his name. He had almost captured Criminal #5638 back in Ark-Neon but she had escaped. Zolurious hadn’t been able to chase them because of the civilians that might have been hurt in the process. But what had really harmed his efforts was the refusal of the Myth Military to aid him in his search. It seemed that the criminal had a companion, probably the person who had released her back on XJ453. The Mythians had said that the man’s name was Jeran Ortrott but Zolurious had yet to figure out why an illustrious Mythian hero would be assisting a criminal like #5638.
What was much more frustrating was that he hadn’t been able to track them down since they had fled from Ark-Neon. He had gotten reports of them on both Zen and Quill but in both cases they had left before he had been able to arrive there. They also seemed to be cloaking their faster than light drive signal, a common practice for criminals, which made them even harder to track.
Zolurious needed to figure out the criminal’s objective before she was able to make any more progress on it. With the amount of technology that her criminal records said she possessed he would need to capture her soon to prevent her from doing anything harmful. However she was still keeping a low profile and had so far avoiding using any detectable forbidden technology. Zolurious didn’t know if this was deliberate or not but he suspected that it was. The only two other options was that she had yet to acquire the materials that she would need or that she wasn’t as knowledgeable as her record indicate. However Zolurious couldn’t take a change that it wasn’t the latter so he needed to find her quickly.
A holographic window popped up in front of him and he rubbed his chin as he looked at it. It was a report he had requested from Quill. It seemed that Jeran had been keeping a daughter there, one who had been sick with an incurable disease. The report continued to explain how when he had left he must have taken his daughter with him. That explained something at least. Criminal #5638 must have convinced Jeran to help in exchange for healing his daughter. It was a commendable goal but that didn’t make the use of forbidden technology better or legal.
Zolurious concluded that the criminal must be using Jeran as a means of gathering the materials that she needed. It would also explain why there hadn’t been a blatant displace of her powers yet. Her records indicated that she had used her powers quite freely before she was captured. Now with Jeran’s daughter taken that must mean that the #5638 must have the materials or be close to acquiring them.
Zolurious decided that he would probably apply for Jeran in court and ask if they could give him a lighter sentence. He would still need to be punished but his noble desires should probably earn him some leniency. #5638 on the other hand should be severely punished, getting an noble person to break her out of her jail and then leading him about with his hopes up deserved nothing less. Now he just needed to find where the criminal was and where she was going. He open up a communication link with the General who was chasing Jeran, they didn’t want to assist him but he would have to give them not choice, after all things could get much worse if he didn’t act soon.
Back in Jeran’s ship Null woke Jeran to inform him that, “You daughter is waking up soon. I wanted to tell you because I thought that you would want to be there when it happened.”
Jeran rolled out of bed and landed on the floor. “Thanks.” Said Jeran as he walked over toward his daughter. It wasn’t a long trip because they were all in the bunk room which had three bunk-beds for a total of six beds. It was an efficient arrangement and just like many other military light cruisers. It only disadvantage was that it was a bit cramped.
He knelled down near the bed that Silvia was sleeping and and passed his hand across her forehead. He sat there waiting for her to wake up until eventually she began to rouse. She turned her head back and forth before opening her eyes. She looked up at the bottom of the top bunk for a moment before turning her head side to side. She stopped when she saw her father.
She smiled faintly and said, “Hey dad, how are you doing? I’m glad you came to see me once me before…” She stopped speaking as if not wanting to think about what she would be saying next.
Jeran reached out and clasped her hand, “It’s going to be all right Silvia, I managed to find a cure for you. You will be up and about in no time, I’m sure of it.”
Silvia smiled again, “You’re so nice to say that dad but you really shouldn’t lie, mother wouldn’t have liked it. I know you have been looking but it doesn’t really exist. But thanks for coming back before it was too late. Now I think I need some more sleep, you will stay by me when I sleep won’t you?” Silvia laid her head back down on the pillow.
“Sure I will and I’ll be here when you wake up again.” Said Jeran as Silvia drifted back to sleep. Once her breathing had returned to the steady rhythm of sleep Jeran turned back to Null, “I guess she didn’t believe me. I guess I won’t either after having the doctors tell me it was impossible and having my father run off in search of some fool cure.”
Null only wave her hand casually, “That is a worry for people who don’t have much time left. Your daughter will eventually be fine so she will have to believe that your succeeded. A father who went off on some impossible journey and returned empty handed to a dying daughter is a fool but one who returns with the impossible cure is a hero. You should just be glad your a hero instead of a fool, after that nothing else matters does it?”
“Well I have already shown I’m not much of a hero my deserting my country. I’ll prefer to think of myself as the fool who succeeded instead of the fool that failed. At least a fool knows that he is a fool while a hero continues to think he is one even if he had become a fool.” Replied Jeran.
“Quite so, then a fool you are and since I joined you I must be a fool as well. At least this way if we do something stupid we know it was expected of us. Also it is said that the clown’s job is a circus is more difficult then the lion tamer’s because a lion tamer makes the hard look easy but it takes real skill to make to make the easy stuff look hard.” Quipped Null back.
Jeran laughed. “Thank you, I don’t think I have enjoyed myself as much as I have since you started healing my daughter. It has been like a great load has been removed from my back.”
“You might have left the fire but the reason you feel cool is not because you are safe, it is because the oven is just beginning to warm up.” Said Null, “Sure I saved your daughter but how much time had that really bought her? We could be attacked by the Myth military and she might be hurt or kill. It could also be ANGEL who might be following us at this very minute. It could be someone who decided to threaten you to get me to do something for them.” Null took a deep breath and shrugged, “I always try to enjoy my now but I never know what is going to happen in the future. You should try to do the same and thank the stars if you manage to find a peaceful life after this. I think that is really all we can do at the moment.”
The communication link between was still open between Zolurious and General Solvar. “Thank you for your cooperation General Solvar. You assistance in the matter of capturing Criminal #5638 is greatly appreciated.”
General Solvar literally spat on the deck of his ship, “Help my ass. What your doing is nothing more then blackmail. Even if you did have the right to interfere with an investigation you have no right to interfere with the private activity on a planet.”
“Sure I do. Section 348, Article 72 of the Testament clearly states that I have the right to take over a government if that is necessary for the capture of a class A criminal. It would mearly be an unfortunate side effect that the other faction in your government would be the one to be in command after I finished the capture. If fact if you wanted to go up agienst a class A criminal alone then you would be lucky if any of our troop came out alive. You should be thankful that after your first encounter with them that one of your hands is still in useable condition and that you didn’t have to replace both of them with cybernetics.” Said Zolurious.
General Solvar grabbed his cybernetic hand with his real one. When the gun had exploded in his hand the damage had been so back that his medical staff had been forced to remove one of his hands. Luckily the other one had been in better condition and had been able to be fixed. It irked him that Jeran and that woman had managed to get away from his in that condition.
The General hurumphed and said, “Even though I agreed to cooperate that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you call all the shots. These people are my soldiers and I am the one who commands them. However, since you are a member of ANGEL I have agreed to listen to you and to assist you the best that I can. “
Zolurious gazed through the screen cooly and General Solvar couldn’t tell at all what the man was thinking. Even though he talked big he really couldn’t disobey ANGEL. Eventually Zolurious spoke, “I understand. I won’t interfere with your chain of command. I will simply take an advisory role and provide backup when needed. In return all you need to do is make sure I have all the information you acquire on the criminal.”
Solvar knew that even if the ANGEL said advisory role that really meant calling the shots. It was just from in the shadows instead of in front of everyone. Solvar would have liked to reject everything this man was offering but knew that that wasn’t an option. “Very well, I will forward you all the data that we have on them. Now as part of your advisory role is there any suggestions that you would care to offer.” It wasn’t really a question. He knew that Zolurious must have some sort of plan. Solvar just wanted to know what sort of plan it was.
Solvar though Zolurious smiled for a second but he wasn’t sure. “Yes, I do have a plan. It will only take a moment to explain but I would ask that you begin working on it immediately.” Then Zolurious began to explain his plan to Solvar who soon began to smile.
The ship drifted through space with no clear destination. Inside Jeran and Null were still waiting for Silvia to get better. However now that she had completed the primary treatment Null was begining to become restless. Eventually she asked Jeran, “Since you don’t have a destination I was wondering is there was a place that you could bring me.”
Jeran looked at her quizzically, “It is unusual for you to suggest something like that and weren’t you the one who suggested that we should lay low for a while. Either was, were was it that you wanted to go?” Said Jeran.
Null fidgeted a little bit before saying, “I want to visit the planet of Androst.” She then remained silent for a while not volunteering any more information.
Eventually Jeran spoke again, “Is there a particular reason you want to go there or do they just have a good selection of product this time of the year?” Null could tell that he was trying to get more information out of her.
“It is painful for me to say, and it is better for you to see it for yourself. Nothing I say will do it justice… though there might not be any justice in the galaxy for it.” Said Null regretfully. “However I will understand if you don’t want to bring me. It will most likely be dangerous and there is a good change that we will run into ANGEL, but it is still something that I have to do.”
“It is that important is it?” Asked Jeran and Null nodded in response. It was something important too her and she had delayed going there for longer then she had wanted. True there wasn’t much of a timeline, after a hundred years a few more weeks or months wouldn’t make much of a difference. Still if they waiting too long the ANGEL that was following them might learn about it and that would make everything more difficult.
Jeran went toward the cockpit and Null followed him, as they walked Jeran said, “Sure, I do own you after all. I might as well work to repay what I owe.” He sat down at the main ship terminal and pulled up some maps. He did not know where Androst was so he had to look it up. It took him longer then he thought it would to find Androst but he eventually located it. “This planet is fairly close to the galactic hub, it is fairly busy there and that means a larger chance of us being caught. Is that alright with out.”
Null nodded, “Yes, that is fine. I knew it would be dangerous going to Androst… but I still need to go there. Will you still help bring me there? And you don’t need to use my curing your daughter as an excuse, after all you resuced me from the Hexion Sphere, it should be me that is repaying you.”
“Alright, I’ll beginning plotting a course to Androst. It will take us a least a week to get there, will that be alright.” Asked Jeran as he began inputing the coordinates into the terminal.
“Yes, that will give me enough time to finish my treatment of your daughter. If you think she would be in too much danger in the ship she would probably even be in good enough condition to come with us when we get there.” Responded Null.
It was several days afterward the Silvia began to realize that she really was getting cured. She had been awake more and more in the days after she had first woken up. She had initially been confused as to where she was and to who Null had been. She had laughed at the explanation that Jeran and Null had given her saying that it was impossible. But as she began to feel better then she had in years she started to realize that they weren’t lying to her and they really have found a way to cure her. It was a shock to her at first, she had been so used to slowly dying that she hadn’t even thought it was possible for her to get better.
She began regain her life and dreams, although after so long without hope she wasn’t certain what to do with the life she was unprepared to live. She had begun to ask question about what happened while she was sick and she slowly got the story filled in for her. It logically should have scared her to know that ANGEL and the Myth military could be coming after them but that seemed to pale in the light of a near death experience.
With Silvia wake the ship became much more lively and crowded. Jeran was more of a silent type so he and Null hadn’t spent that much time talking, however with Silvia there more things were happening. Null was happy to have someone more lively then Jeran on board the ship and because he had been away from her for so long Jeran was getting dragged into the conversation too.
The days passed as they flew closer and closer to Androst. However for the moment the three of them were enjoying their lives.
“Are you sure they are going to be here?” Asked General Solvar. He was talking to Zolurious through the screen. Solvar didn’t know where Zolurious really was but presumably he was somewhere nearby so that he could come to their aid if the need arose.
“Oh yes, she will go there.” Said Zolurious, “There are no records indicating that she had been there since her release and records indication that she would likely go there. Besides they know that somebody is tracking them so they don’t have many places to go. They can not stay on a ship forever and you are positioned in the most likely place they will arrive at.”
Still Solvar didn’t like it. This place gave him the creeps and he didn’t know why anybody would want to come to a place like this. Zolurious had ‘advised’ him to come here however and things might go wrong if he didn’t follow that advice. “If you say so…. Still… I know I wouldn’t come here for a vacation.”
Days had passed and the ship with Null, Jeran, and Silvia was arriving at Androst. Jeran was looking at the records for the planet. It had once been quite populated but now it was almost abandoned. However according to the data there didn’t seem to be any real reason for it. People just seemed to be moving away and then nobody moved back to replace them. For a planet near the galactic hub that was unusual. However there didn’t seem to be anything else unusual about the planet.
As the approached the planet Jeran had to find parking outside the city because he didn’t have enough money to afford a real parking permit. He hailed the planet for premission to land and while he was doing that Null leaned over his shoulder. The voice come over the communication frequency. “Welcome to Androst, may be inquire as to what the nature of your visit is today?”
Before Jeran could speak Null responded for him, “We are mourners.” Jeran didn’t know what that meant but the person on the other side seemed to.
The man seemed to hold his breath for a second before responding back, “I see, You may have permission to land. I’ll get you permission to land over by the site. There are a couple other visitors so please mind them.” Then the com cut out and they were alone in the cockpit.
“What was that about?” Asked Jeran looking over his shoulder at Null. He then paused for several seconds in surprise. Null’s normally rainbow hair was now a standard shade of brown. Instead of letting her answer he previous question he asked another one, “What did you do to your hair? And why?”
The usually talkative Null just turned around and began walking away, “I changed it for today. It will be better this way. You will understand soon.” Jeran hoped he would understand soon because he certainly didn’t understand. Null had probably used her nano-machines to change her hair but he could only begin to speculate as to why she would do it.
He didn’t have the opportunity of go after her to find out more because he needed to land the ship on the planet. It was an unusual landing because the landing spot that he had been given seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. The only thing distinctive was that there was another ship parked there too. Jeran landed his ship next to the other one before getting up and going to look for Null and Silvia.
He found them talking in the bunk room, it seemed that Silvia was as confused as to what was happening and why Null had changed her hair as Jeran was. When Jeran entered Silvia turned to him and asked, “Hey dad, Null won’t tell me why we are here or why she changed her hair color. Don’t suppose you have any idea why.” Her tone was fairly informal and almost spunky and Jeran was happy to hear her sounding so normal.
Jeran shrugged, “Really, I have no idea either. Null is being unusually closed mouthed about it. All she keeps telling me is that I will understand when I see it but I don’t know what it is… though I probably will when I see it.” Silvia looked disappointed that she would have to wait to find out what everything was about but Jeran accepted that as part of life, maybe it was a sign of being older.
Null stood up and left without saying anything to them. Jeran and Silvia followed her assuming that was what they were supposed to be doing. Outside of the ship there was a small worn path that seemed to lead into the mountains. Null continued to lead them up into the mountains and the walk quickly turned into a hike. After about an hour Null raised a hand to stop them.
“We are almost there.” She said. “All I can do is ask you to remain calm and quiet. Please, for me.” Jeran and Silvia didn’t really know what it was they should remain calm about but they nodded in agreement anyway. “Alright,” continued Null, “This way.”
It was cold as the walked farther along the path. Eventually the trail opened up and they could see what was in front of them. There was a city in the mountains… a city made of glass. It wasn’t a very big city but it was still there. Jeran didn’t know what to say and just stood there in amazement. He walked closer to the buildings and saw it had marvelous detail. There were enormous glass buildings filled with glass furniture and even glass people inside them. They looked like they were going about their daily life except frozen in place. There were glass cars on the streets, some of them broken. In fact father off Jeran thought that one of the buildings had collapsed leaving piles of large shards of broken glass.
It was a surreal unbelievable sight. Null was right about having to see the city. But what was it that had made Null want to come and visit this city. They followed her as she made her way to the center of the city. There erected in the center was something that was not glass. It was a large stone obelisk. On it was inscribed words. Null had knelt down and pressed her hand on the stone. Jeran approached closer and read what the obelisk had to say.
‘This stands in memory of all that was lost when overwhelming power fell into the hands of one who could not control it. Let this stand as a reminder to those who still live.’
Jeran turned to Null and asked, “What does this mean?”
She looked at him with cold, sad eyes. “It is just like it looks like. There was once a city that stood here, yet one day a great power was released here which turned the entire city and all it’s residence into glass.”
Jeran had trouble comprehending what she was saying, that was impossible… wasn’t it. “But who did such a thing?”
Null turned away from Jeran and looked back at the stone before whispering, “I did.”
Jeran looked at Null in alarm, “You, what do you mean? How could you have possible done this?” Jeran looked out across the glass city. It should be impossible for a single person to so this even with the benifit of forbidden technology. This was on such a large scale that he couldn’t imagine what could turn an entire city and all its residents into glass.
Null only continued to stare at the monument. “But it is true. I used to live in this city, at least before everything happened here.” She took a deep breath and asked, “Do you want me to tell you a story? It was from a long time ago and I haven’t told anybody about it but if you want to hear it then I will tell you.” Silvia still looked confused like she was having a hard time understand the implications of what Null had been saying. “A story… I… sure, can you tell us your story. I want to know what happened here.” She was beginning to absorbed what Null had said and she sounded more uncertain. Silvia hadn’t experience as much time with Null as Jeran had so it was more understandable for her to be afraid.
“All right, I was born a hundred and fifty years ago on this planet, Androst. I was born in the city of Endira, the city that you now see around you.” Null began telling her story while Jeran and Silvia listened raptly.
Null was born to a wealthy family so she grew up in a nice household. Her parents were business owners who took good care of her. Even if they worked a lot they still made time to be with her. It was a happy childhood, more then any person could ask for. Null was also quite smart and she enjoyed going to some of the best schools in the city. However such a childhood could not last. When she was twelve her parents began to suffer from a financial collapse. As their business fell into ruin and their debts began to pile up the family began to fracture.
Her mother broke up with her father to avoid the growing debt. Null had to struggle through those times and was lucky to be able to earn a scholarship at a prestigious university. It was a relief to her to be able to earn education without have to deal with it. She began her education is science and she turned out to be a prodigy. She learned and discovered things, while still following the rules of ANGEL.
The problems began when she was approached by an man. He wore a black archaic suit and spoke with a strange accent. They wanted her assistance building a device, however when Null learned that it used forbidden technology she refused to help. However the man wouldn’t let her do that. The man was the holder of the debts that he parents owed and she learned that he had caused them as well. The man promised to cancel the debts if Null assisted him on his plan but threatening to force her parents to go to jail for not paying if she didn’t help.
Null didn’t feel like she had a choice and agreed to help the man with the construction. It was a difficult project which was the construction of nano-machines. They would grant the user considerable power by allowing reconstruction of physical objects according to the users thoughts. However much of the technology was illegal so Null had to discover the principles and craft the technologies herself.
It took her several years of research and development before the first nano-machines began to get created. However they were unstable and tended to destroy their host after several days. It was during the final stages of the research that she discovered some secret correspondents between the man who had recruited her and his trusted right hand man. It detail how he was supposed to kill Null and her parents after the nano-machines were finished to prevent anybody else from ever acquiring that power.
After learning this Null returned to her lab and began deleting all of the research she had been making over the years. If she and her parents were going to die anyway at least it would prevent her technology from falling into the hands of her captors. However she was discovered in the middle of her efforts and in an attempt to stop others from acquiring it she injected herself with her experimental nano-machines.
However something went wrong and the nano-machines began to reproduce uncontrollably. The quickly expanding nano-machines heading out from Null breaking apart everything they touched and converting it into glass. It was only a matter of hours before the entire city had been transformed, Null’s captors and parents included. Only Null was left unaffected by the nano-machines except that her hair had changed to a rainbow hue. When she regained control of her body, she had been conscious through the entire affair, she was horrified by what had happened. She had regained control of her nano-machines but it was impossible to reverse the damage that she had done to the city.
Her life then turned to a life on the run. The Androst government wanted her for what she had done to the city and ANGEL began to come after her to punish her for what she had done in Endira. There was much that she tried to do to escape but eventually she was cornered by ANGEL and was trapped within the Hexion Sphere. It was only by luck and Jeran’s action that she was freed from what was supposed to be eternal captivity.
Null finished her story. Jeran and Silvia was listening is in rapt awe. They never though that such a thing had been possible. Jeran had to put Null’s powers into a different perspective. He didn’t realize that they could be so powerful if they were to get out of her control. Silvia thought that the story was interesting but some of the magnitude of what Null’s story implied was probably lost on her. Jeran understood the true destructiveness of the nano-machines and was beginning to understand why ANGEL had made it illegal. While the power could be used for good, like when Null cured Silvia, in the wrong person’s hands it could become an incredible powerful weapon.
“What a beautiful story, in fact it almost brought a tear to my eye.” Came a voice from behind them. They turned to look and saw General Solvar accompanied by more then a dozen soldiers. “Really if it wasn’t for the pain in my hand I might have cried.” Solvar lifted up his cybernetic hand to show to them. “However I didn’t come here to listen to stories. Zolurious was right to get us to come here, you showed up exactly like he expected you to. I guess it is true that criminals always return to the scene of the crime. Though I must say that usually it is quicker then a hundred and fifty years.”
There were a dozen guns pointed at them and all the soldiers were being careful to stay far away from Null. Null almost gasped when she heard the name Zolurious spoken. That had been the name of the ANGEL that had captured her the first time. He had been one of the most respected and feared members of ANGEL. While this Zolurious couldn’t be the same person, ANGELs had the habit of passing on their name and experience. It was likely that this Zolurious had much of the same strength that the previous one did.
They need to escape quickly, before Zolurious arrived here himself. If they were lucky it would probably take Zolurious several minutes to get there, and if they were unlucky…. Then Null didn’t think that they stood much of a chance. However it was Jeran that took the initiative, “Oh, Solvar, I see that you are being an obedient dog by following the orders of ANGEL. I guess that it wasn’t enough for you to begin inciting a civil war on Myth but you have to become a galactic watchdog too.”
Solvar growled in anger before calming himself and saying, “I would watch what you are saying Jeran. If you get me too angry then I might start shooting people. Just because I can’t kill you doesn’t mean I can’t hurt you. Just think…” Solvar lifted his gun and pointed it at Silvia, “What would happen if I shot your little girl who you just managed to cure. I think that would hurt, do you want to give it a try.”
Jeran didn’t have anything to say. He couldn’t, not without putting his daughter at risk and he just couldn’t do that. However it was Null’s turn to step up to the plate. “Really, With the backing of ANGEL is petty threats the best that you can do. You did hear the story didn’t you? I turned this entire city to glass. The only thing stopping me from doing that now is that I would catch these two in it was well. But if you take away Silvia’s life and Jeran’s reason for living I’m sure he would be happy if you all died. You don’t want that do you?”
She could see the uncertainty in the soldiers. They weren’t prepared to deal with someone like her, nobody ever trains to deal with someone with forbidden technology, except ANGEL. They were afraid of her and that was the first step in escaping. People who were afraid made mistakes.
“Don’t be afraid men, at this range we will be able to kill her before she could do something like that. I also have the knowledge that doing something like that takes some buildup time and we would easily be able to escape if we know it is coming early enough.” Yelled Solvar trying to regain control of his soldiers.
“Maybe,” Said Null who didn’t want Solvar to call her bluff. It would take about five to ten minutes for the nano-machine to build up enough speed to outrun soldiers and she wasn’t certain how far their range would be. Her current nano-machines had more self limiting factors then her initial ones did. “But do you really want to risk it. Imagine what it would be like to be glass. On the plus side you would be a beautiful addition to this city.” Her bluff was still working but it wasn’t enough. They wouldn’t retreat at this rate and it would be too late of an ANGEL arrived and Null hadn’t had time to prepare.
Her main problem was that it was difficult to affect people with nano-machines at a distance. At long distances there was a much greater chance that Null would lose control of the nano-machines and they would act sporadically. Instead she sent her nano-machines into the air around her, Jeran, and Silvia. They were building a ultra thin, transparent wall which resembles a spider web. It would do a good job at stopping bullets, hopefully long enough for the three of them to escape. However a little more time was required before the web was big enough and strong enough to protect them.
Luckily Solvar tended to be a talker, “She is bluffing men. There is no way she could effect us with her nano-machines at this distance. Zolurious said that is the weakness of nano-machines. Now that we have them here we just need to wait until Zolurious arrives. However if they try to escape feel free to open fire. Zolurious said that the woman should be fine if we shoot her but avoid killing Jeran, he has information that we need. His daughter however is expendable and you can kill her if she tried to escape.” Jeran was fuming with barely contained anger and Solvar was essentially gloating at him because there was nothing that Jeran could do.
Null began to realize their disadvantage. She needed more time to weave the net so that they could escape but time was something they had little of. The general was also trying to pass time until Zolurious was able to arrive. The three of them would need to act the moment that Null was ready or else it would be too late.
Her net was almost done when she was able to catch a glint in the sky. It was too late to wait any longer, they needed to act now. She screamed, “RUN!” as she turned and began fleeing from the soldiers. As she did she brought the invisible net up and attached across the path that the soldiers would have to follow them through.
They could hear Solvar scream back, “Shoot them but make sure not to kill the guy” As they fled Null could only hope that the net she had made would be enough to stop the bullets and the people following them. She found that the first wasn’t complete when several bullets steamed passed them. It seemed that some of the bullets were making their way through the net and they needed to get out of the line of fire.
Jeran grabbed her hand and broke to the right, kicking in a glass door and entering the building. It was hard to escape in a glass city where it was possible to see through everything but the glass walls were thick enough that they protected, at least for now, against bullet fire.
Null directed Jeran through the buildings and streets out of the city. She was telling him and Silvia, “Zolurious is coming, we have to get out of the city and into the mountains before he gets here of else I won’t be able to stop him.” She knew that there were caves beneath the mountains from back when they were mined, those would be able to hide them from Zolurious and the close quarters would favor Null’s nano-machines. She could only hope that the entrances to the caves that she knew were still there.
It was tough work avoiding Solvar while keeping up a good pace. Silvia was soon breathing hard, because of her sickness she was incredibly out of shape and soon Jeran was forced to pick her up and carry her so that they would be able to keep running.
Null could still see the glint over her shoulder. Now she was certain that it was Zolurious that was approaching. He was moving fast, to fast for any normal unprotected human. The only consolation was that he couldn’t go as fast in the planet’s atmosphere as he could in space. Hopefully that would give them the time that they needed to get away from him.
Along the route Null had to deal with five of the Solvar’s soldiers just to make sure they were going the most optimal route. However she had to fight both of them alone. Jeran was carrying Silvia and wasn’t able to assist her. She was faster and stronger then the soldiers but that didn’t help much against gunfire. Had she not been able to protect herself from the majority of the bullets using her nano-machines she would have died.
As they continued their run toward the mountains Jeran asked, “You’re hurt. Will you be alright to continue running?”
“I will have to be won’t I. You can’t carry another person and who knows what might happen to us if we are caught. Don’t worry, my nano-machines will heal the wounds shortly, I should be better in a couple of hours at the most.” However the usually tireless Null was beginning to get winded. Her nano-machines pulled their energy from her body and her use of them was making her tired quicker then she usually got.
After what seemed like ages of running past eerie glass buildings they finally made it out into the mountains however it must have been much shorter because Zolurious hadn’t quite caught up with them. Null knew it would be any minute now although she was in too much of a hurry to risking looking back to see how much longer they had. It wouldn’t make a difference. However it seemed that luck was with them and they managed to arrive at a mine entrance before they were caught by Zolurious.
Null had to pry off the wood from the door into the mine but after that they were able to enter without problems. However they still needed to run. Null lead them through passageway after passageway and took fork after fork until she finally stopped. “This should be far enough, I don’t think that they will be able to find us here. At least not for a while.”
Jeran set Silvia down and sat down to begin catching his breath. He was a trained soldier but it was still difficult to carry someone for that long, “Are you sure the ANGEL won’t be able to get to us here? Couldn’t he track where we went by our residual heat signatures or by the evidence that we left as we ran?”
Null shook her head, “No, as we ran I used by nano-machines to conceal our path. He shouldn’t have any methods of tracking us other then an entire search of these tunnels. Although…” She pause for a second contemplating, “If given enough time then I am sure he will think of some clever method of tracking us.”
As Null spoke she realized that Silvia was clutching tight to Jeran’s arm. Null knelt down next to her and asked her, “Are you alright? You didn’t get hurt during all of that did you?”
Silvia shook her head and in a scared voice she said, “Those men were shooting at us. They were trying to kill us… kill me. I… I…” There were tears on her face, “I don’t know what to do. I have felt helpless in the face of death before but doing it again makes it feel worse. I was just as helpless this time as I was when I was sick. Dad and you helped save me again and I couldn’t do anything.” Silvia continued to cry and Jeran wrapped one of his arms around her.
Zelurious stood outside the cave next to General Solvar. Solvar seemed nervous as he spoke, “Are you sure there is no problem that they managed to escape?”
Zelurious didn’t turn as he responding, “Yes, it is fine. They are in these caves but they don’t have anywhere to escape to. Now I want you to personally take come of your troops and have them leave the planet with your ship, and Jeran’s ship. Have them stay in orbit until I make contact with them. Once you have done that return here and I will tell you what we are doing next.”
“Take there ship?” Solvar nodded in agreement. That sounding like a good idea. The last times Jeran had escaped it had always been on his ship. If they highjacked it and took it off the planet then Jeran wouldn’t be able to escape with it. Plus having Solvar’s ships leave too make sure Jeran couldn’t highjack one of those. With the ships gone the three escapees wouldn’t be able to leave. After all it must be hundreds of miles until the next city. They wouldn’t be able to walk their way out of this either. Eventually they would need to leave their hiding hole for food and then they would be captured.
Solvar headed off to follow Zelurious’ advice while Zelurious continued to stare into the darkness of the cave. He was having trouble tracking them. Various of the signals that he used to track people stopped cold at the cave entrance. The criminal must have done something to prevent him from tracking them. It showed her skill that she was able to mask the trail so well. No matter, Zelurious would eventually capture them. In the long term they had no place to escape to and could only hide in the caves. In the short term Zelurious was trying to figure out a better way of searching for them, cutting off their escape was all well and good but didn’t mean anything if they weren’t captured.
The three of them had finished catching their breath. The dark cave was lit only by a small light from Jeran’s mini-terminal. After several minutes of resting Null eventually stood up. She turned and began walking back the way that the had come. Jeran asked her, “Where are you going? Do you have a plan to escape?”
Null looked over her shoulder at them and Jeran just realized that Null’s hair had returned back to her normal rainbow hue. “I need to go prepare. It is doubtful that we will be able to run away. With an ANGEL out there we are unlikely to be able to get back to our ship and by foot there are no good escape routes. That means that we need to fight them and to do that I need to prepare some things.”
Jeran began to stand up before Null stopped him. She said, “No, you stay here with Silvia. I need to do this alone, your light would only cause us to draw attention of them. I’ll see you in a while.” As she spoke Jeran could swear that her eyes were glowing slightly in the dark. Then she turned her head and walked off into the darkness. When she was gone Jeran hoped that he would see her again soon and that nothing would happen.
Silvia asked, “What are we going to do now?” It was dark because they were only lit by the light coming from Jeran’s mini-terminal. However Jeran felt certain that Silvia was a little scared, Jeran would probably be scared too.
“We will just have to stay here and wait for her. I am almost completely lost so I don’t know anywhere we could go and Null told us to stay here. It would probably be a good time to get some rest because we don’t know the next time we will be able to rest.” Said Jeran.
“But, isn’t there anything that we can do to help Null? I don’t want to sit around doing nothing. I’m sick of doing nothing but wait for horrible things to happen. I wish that there was something I could do, Null has those useful nano-machines and you at least have a gun but there doesn’t seem like anything that I can do.” Said Silvia, she was disheartened. If she could do nothing it wasn’t any different then being stuck in a hospital bed.
“Well,…” Jeran began to say. It wasn’t like he didn’t understand what she was feeling but he didn’t know if he wanted her to stop being his child. He wanted to protect her and care for her and he felt like they would drift apart if he taught her how to do that herself. He shook his head, he couldn’t hold on to her forever. She needed to grow up and she was old enough now to take care of herself. He pulled out his spare gun and handed it too her, “Here, take this. You can use it to protect yourself if things get out of hand, but there are a few things that I should tell you about gun. There are four important rules that you should always remember. Always treat firearms as if they are loaded. Never point a gun at anything that you aren’t willing to destroy. Keep your finger off the trigger until the target is in your sights. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.”
Jeran began to instruct his daughter how to use a gun starting with gun safety. It was unlikely to help against the professional soldiers that were following them but her having the gun would help protect her. He just hoped that this wasn’t a bad idea.
Null crept through the dark tunnels of the mines. It was completely dark but that didn’t even seem to bother her. She had used her nano-machines to improve her eyes, however even that wouldn’t allow someone to see in pitch darkness so she had also added almost imperceptible glow rods in her eyes. This allowed her to see perfectly in the darkness in such a way that nobody else would be able to see.
Still she had to be quiet, she didn’t think any of the soldiers would be searching the mines but it was impossible to know for certain. She couldn’t see anything or hear anything but in caves like this that could change at any moment.
Null had a plan, it wasn’t much of one but it was all that she had to work on. She doubted that the three of them would be able to make it to the ship, if it was even there, so their best option was to lure their pursuers into the cave and capture them there. That would give them enough time to get to a ship and escape the planet. She didn’t have any doubt that she would be able to trick and capture the soldiers, however she wasn’t as confident about the ANGEL Zolurious. She believed that she would be able to defeat him in close combat where her nano-machines were the most effective, however anything father then that and Zolurious definately had the advantage.
Right now she was scouting the caves and trying to build a mental mind of where all the passageways and junctions were. That would be instrumental is using them as part of a trap. It took her several hours to scout the caves to her satisfaction. She had also found three other exits to the mines however they had all been guarded. She had been able to slip back into the caves without being noticed but she wouldn’t be able to leave that way and the soldiers would certain inform Zolurious if the three of them were spotted.
Null returned to find Jeran continuing to train Silvia in the use of a gun. The training had been slow going because of a couple of reasons. First it was dark and that really didn’t help, especially with aiming. The second Jeran had a limited supplied of bullets so he wanted to make every bullet that they used to practice count. Between each shot he had instructed her many times on what she did wrong and how to do it better. Jeran knew this wasn’t the optimal way of training but he had to consider the bullet supplies.
Jeran didn’t hear Null approach until she was right on top of him. He jumped slightly when he realized that she was there. “You are way too silent. You also took longer then I expected you too. Did you find anything interesting like a way to escape?”
Null shook her head, “There were three exits that I could besides the one that we entered through, however all of them are guarded and I’m sure they would cause an alarm if we tried to break through. However I have managed to figure out the layout for the mine and I want to try and draw people in to it and then ambush them. Hopefully I could even force Zolurious to enter and confront him in close quarters.”
“You speak about Zolurious fairly familiarly, do you know something about him that we don’t?” Asked Silvia. She managed to catch onto Null’s speech patterns quicker then Jeran.
“Oh, sort of,” Answered Null, “ANGELs typically pass their names down from master to apprentice. It keeps their reputation and legend up. Also since they pass along their knowledge too they tend to have similar styles. I know about Zolurious because it was Zolurious that captured me the first time, though it was a different Zolurious. I have to assume that the previous Zolurious left an alarm to his pupal in case I ever escaped, that is why he is the one tracking me down.”
“Does that mean that you have an edge because you know what sort of things he is best at doing?” Ask Jeran, he was interested knowing any weaknesses of their opponent. Anything at all would be useful.
“Not exactly. Although they are of the same name there might be enough differences that anything that I know might not be useful. Also he probably have some information on me then I do on him because I am the same person that his predecessor dealt with while he is a different person then the one I dealt with.” Null shrugged her shoulders. “Besides, ANGELs have much more access to forbidden technology then I do. He can probably do things that I don’t except while I only have my nano-machines which I believe are well documented by ANGEL. I am not even sure I can beat him at close range, but that is my only chance.”
“That isn’t very reassuring. Aren’t you supposed to be the miracle worker who tells us everything is going to be fine and that you can deal with everything yourself?” Said Jeran, his humor still not quite lost.
Null smiled, “Sure, just close your eyes and count to three and everything will be better.” Silvia giggled a little, “But seriously, I want you to listen to my plan. I have something that might work but I will need your help on it.”
Silvia spoke up, “Will you be needing my help too?” Null considered quickly, she only trusted that Jeran’s short training would be good enough.
“Sure, however you will need to help your father because I don’t want you two to be splitting up. Now here is the plan. I’m going to start a nano-machine reaction in the deeper parts of the mines to force Zolurious down here to deal with it. I need you away by then because if it is big enough to draw Zolurious’ attention it is big enough to be dangerous to you. Now I want the two of you to go to all three of the other exits and take out the guards there. It is important that all three are taken out so that they don’t know which exit we will leave by.”
Null asked Jeran for his mini-terminal, “I will put the map of the caves and directions to the exits in your mini-terminal so that you will be able to find your way to them. I’ll also mark some passageways I don’t want you to travel on. These will be the probably entrance paths of Zolurious and I want you to stay as far away from him as possible.”
“Once you’ve taken out all three exits I want you to come and meet me here again. Wait here until I arrive but if I don’t get here within thirty minutes assume that I was unable to defeat Zolurious and try and escape by yourself. Don’t do anything stupid, if I can’t beat Zolurious then there will be nothing that you would be able to do either.”
“Alright, is there any questions about the plan and what you need to do. It isn’t very complicated because I don’t have much to work with however it is the best shot that we are going to have to escape.”
Jeran asked, “After you defeat Zolurious,”
Null interrupted, “If I beat Zolurious.”
Jeran glared at her before starting over, “AFTER you defeat Zolurious which exit do you plan for us to use. The north one is probably the best on for getting to where are ship might be. However the western one is probably the least likely to be suspected.”
“I was planning on exiting the same way that we entered in. Going back through the glass city and trying to catch a ride with anybody who comes to morn is out best bet. The enemy will probably not guess that we would use that exit and since it is the exit that Zolurious guards it probably doesn’t have any ofter defense so you too don’t need to check it for guards.”
Jeran nodded in agreement, “That sounds like a good idea. Is there anything else we should know about this plan?”
Null hesitated for only a fraction of a second, Silvia didn’t noticed it but Jeran didn’t however he didn’t show it. “No, that is the entire plan. Is there anything else you want to know?” Said Null.
Jeran could tell that she was lying but he didn’t know why. What was she going to attempt which she could tell the two of them. He was worried about what might happen but there wasn’t much choice but to go along with the plan.
Null waited for a minute to ensure there were no more questions before said, “Alright, follow me. I’m going to lead you to where my part of the plan if going to take place.” Said Null as she began to walk off down a passageway. Jeran and Silvia followed her as she continued to speak, “When I give the signal I’m going to begin building up energy. That is when I want you to begin heading off to the different entrances. You should have about five minutes of safety before Zolurious detects what I am doing, make sure you don’t attack any of the guards before them.”
Null finally lead them to a large cavern underground. Jeran though it felt ominous because it looked similar to the cave that he had found Null trapped in. Null moved to the center of the room and looked up at the rocky roof while Jeran and Silvia stood near the entrance to the cavern.
She paused for what began as a moment and then stretched into several minutes. Silvia and Jeran just stood there watching her. Finally Null turned to the two of them and said, “I am going to start now. You should leave.” She paused for a another second before continuing, “Good Bye.”
“See you later,” said Jeran as he grabbed Silvia’s hand and began taking her through the tunnels. He didn’t like it that she had said ‘Good Bye’ and had wished he had said something else. It made the exchange seem more final then he had wanted and he was worried about what Null might do.
“Null will be alright won’t she?” Asked Silvia, she sounded a bit worried. She must have caught on the to strangeness of Null’s behavior as well. She was generally more perceptive then Jeran so it wasn’t a surprise.
“I am sure that she will be fine. She can handle herself and doubt she would make a plan like this if she didn’t think she could succeed.” Said Jeran doubtfully. He was a soldier and knew that this was exactly the type of plan someone would make if they didn’t think they could succeed. It involved sacrificing on person so that the others could escape and he didn’t like it a all. However all he could do was hope that it would succeed.
They arrive at the first entrance before the five minutes were up. Jeran waited around the corner so that the guards wouldn’t be able to see the light that his mini-terminal was giving off. He set it down on the floor and drew his gun. Turning to Silvia he asked, “Do you remember what I told you? This will be your first engagement so if at any time you don’t think you can continue head back.”
Silvia responded by drawing her own gun and said, “I think I can do it. I won’t stay helpless.” Jeran smiled, though Silvia couldn’t see it in the darkness.
“Alright then, while I would rather not kill these people we aren’t left with much of a choice. Just aim like I told you and you should be fine. Once they start shooting take cover. They are much more experienced then you so don’t take chances.”
Silvia nodded and Jeran continued, “Alright, Let’s go.”
Zolurious was waiting outside the cave for General Solvar to finish dealing with the ships when a holographic dialog popped up in front of him. He stared at it, it was detailing an energy signature that his sensors were detecting. It must be something that the criminal was doing but it was strange. The woman that had been so good at avoiding his detecting was now giving him a clear indication of where she was.
It must be some kind of trick. She probably planned to use the reading to get him to go in and then escape while he was distracted. She must not think very highly of him is she thought such a simple trick would distract him. So he ignored the reading and continued to wait for Solvar to come back.
However when his display started to beep in warning he looked back at it. It seemed that the energy signature was getting quite large, much larger then it would need to be to get his attention. Just what was she planning to do? He studied the energy signature for a little while, had she made it bigger to make sure he noticed it or was there some other plan that she had. There was a lot of built up energy down there and it was continuing to grow. With that much energy she could…
He paused for a second. She couldn’t really be planning to do something like that… could she. He looked back over his shoulder and the city of glass behind him. No, she was more then capable of doing something like that. Was it just wishful thinking on his part that she wouldn’t descend to such depths. If she did something like that, then… who knows how many casualties and injuries there would be.
He needed to stop her, and soon. He had already given her too much time as it was by ignoring the reading for so long. He ran inside the cave not longer worried if this was a distraction. Even if it was he couldn’t take that risk, not with so many lives at stake. It was easy to track the energy source through the mines, it was location fairly deep so it took him a few minutes to reach the source.
As he entered the large cavern it was illuminated by the light he had created and which shone behind him. He stared in awe at the thing in front of him. This woman was crazy, much more so then he had though. She was really planning to go through with it.
Null turned around as he entered, turning away from the large object that was now in the center of the room. “Hello Zolurious, it is good to see you again. I’m glad you have joined me for my little party. I do hope that you will enjoy yourself.” In the light cast by Zolurious, Null’s hair sparkled like a rainbow behind her and against the darkness her eyes were glowing.
“It has been five minutes,” Said Jeran to Silvia. “I’m going to go out there first and I want you to follow me.” Once Silvia nodded in agreement he moved up to the corner, around which the entrance and the guards waited. He took one last deep breath and ran around the corner. He brought up his gun to a shooting position.
Before the guards had even realized he was there he shot one in the arm and another in the leg. He wanted to avoid killing them if he had too. Silvia wasn’t good enough of a shot to avoid killing but he was so he wanted to take them out before Silvia got a shot at them.
The two men he shot collapsed onto the ground and he heard the shouting of a couple more guards. He was suprised that so many were guarding this entrance. He had shot the shoulder of the third guard then he heard the a shot from Silvia’s gun go off. He spun to fire a shot at the last guard only to find him writhing on the ground in pain.
The man had been shot in the chest on the left side. He was still alive but Jeran didn’t know for how much longer. Jeran glanced around to make sure that there were no more guards before disarming the guards that he had shot and moving them all to one side. They would probably survive but for now they wouldn’t be dangerous to him.
He then returned to the guard Silvia had shot. Silvia was empting her stomach on the ground a few feet away. He wanted to go and pat her on the back and tell her that it would be alright but this was something that she had to deal with herself. Instead he too the gun that man hand and disabled it before picking up the gun Silvia had dropped and turning on the safety. He knew what she must be going through was hard and when he was younger he had to go through it himself. It was tough to be a soldiers and he hoped that this discouraged her from wanting to do anything else.
He gripped Silvia on the shoulder and began to help her walk. “I’m going to bring you back to the meeting place before dealing with the other two entrances.” Said Jeran as they entered the mines again.
Silvia shook her head, “No, I’m coming with you. I can see be of some help.” She was still quivering a little bit, she had definitely not recovered.
This time is Jeran who shook his head, “No, your in no state to help anybody right now. I need you to stay at the meeting place while I deal with the other entrances and this time I am going to insist. Soldiers who aren’t calm are soldiers who die. You did good this time and you have learned a difficult lesson. You will recover but it will take a while.” He lead her back to the meeting place despite her protests before he headed off again to deal with another entrance.
Jeran was able to disable the guards at the other two entrances efficiently, though returning Silvia to the meeting place had delayed the plan. After he had dealt with the entrances he returned to Silvia. She seemed to have composed herself and was looking better then she had when he had left her there. Null wasn’t there yet but it was still a little while until the time they were supposed to leave.
“How are you holding up?” Jeran asked Silvia. She looked up at him and said, “It was dark, you should have at least left me a light.” Jeran decided with a comment like that she must be feeling a little better, though he didn’t know if she would become a soldier or not.
The two of the waited for Null in the darkness. Time slowly passed and Null continued to not be there. Eventually Jeran looked at his mini-terminal and stood up. “It is time, Null told us to leave if she didn’t arrive here in time.”
“But, that means,” Said Silvia with a look of horror on her face, “But that can’t happen, she will be here. We need to wait longer. She will be here.”
Jeran grimaced, he didn’t like it either but they had to leave. He tried to convince Silvia, “Since she is late we have to leave, if she is alright then she will expect us to leave and try and meet up with us at the entrance. Even if we wait here we won’t meet up with her. We have to go because that is what she want.” Said Jeran, it was basically a lie and he knew it. While what he said about meeting them at the entrance if she was alright was true, it was more then likely that Null wasn’t alright.
“Alright, but if she isn’t at the entrance then we will wait for her there.” Said Silvia in defiance. She didn’t want to leave Null behind any more the Jeran did but Jeran knew that that they probably didn’t have a choice in the matter.
“Agreed,” Said Jeran, however that was a lie. He knew that waiting at the enterence wouldn’t do anything. If Null wasn’t there then something horrible must have happened to her and waiting more wouldn’t help her and would bring the enemy to them.
They arrived at the entrance fairly quickly. Jeran glanced outside to ensure that there was nobody there. It was empty so he assumed that Null’s plan must have worked. She had forced Zolurious into the mines, but at what cost. As they left the caves they looked around for Null but she was nowhere to be found. Jeran knew she must still be in he caves… he didn’t want to think about what must have happened down there.
Jeran took a deep breath, he needed to harden himself for what he was about to do. “Silvia, Null isn’t here. She probably isn’t going to be here. Something must have happened in the cavern. We need to leave before anybody else arrives here.”
Silvia shook her head and yelled, “No, I’m not leaving Null behind, how can you want to. You have been together with her longer then I have but you want to just abandon her.”
“If there was a probable Null can’t deal with there would be nothing I could do to help. We need to find a ship and escape before it is too late. Here, take your gun back, you might need it.” He handed Silvia he gun he had taken from where after she had collapsed.
Silvia took is and then looked away, she was really angry at her dad. She couldn’t believe he would just abandon Null.
Jeran continued, “Once you find a ship, make sure to get out of the system as quickly as possible. It will be dangerous for you to stay here. I need you to obey me just this once. I want you to make it out of this alive. Good Luck” Silvia continued to ignore him while he spoke. Then suddenly she realized that he had been saying ‘you’ for the last few sentences. She looked back at her dad but he wasn’t there anymore.
She looked into the cave mouth, had he gone back in there after Null. She collapsed onto her knees, she had said those things to her dad about not caring about what happened to Null but she had been wrong. She wanted to go in there after them, but she didn’t have a light and so there was nothing that she could do.
Instead she was going to follow he dad’s last orders and escape. That was what he wanted her to do so she would do it. She stood up and was about to turn around when she heard a voice from behind her. “Lookie here, what have I found. A poor lost girl without her father. Now I wonder where he would have gone leaving you all alone.”
Silvia turned around slowly to see General Solvar standing a few feet away from her. He had just returned from dealing with the ships and was delited to find some so interesting outside the cave instead of Zolurious. He was also pointing a gun at Silvia.
“Not drop the gun little girl, we don’t want anyone to get hurt. It would be awful if the poor little hostage died.” Silvia dropped the gun onto the ground and slowly raised her hands. “Now little girl, I need you to tell me exactly where you father is because we are going to plan a special surprise party for him when he gets back.”
Silvia just glared at him in anger but she wasn’t able to do anything. She no longer had a gun and there was no way she could overpower Solvar. She felt so helpless again.
Jeran knew that what he was doing was stupid and that it ran counter to all of the training that he received. Going back to save the bait after they had been compromised was foolish and suicidal. He had lost men before after they had performed something like he was attempting to do right now. But, he felt like Silvia did, he couldn’t just leave Null back there, he couldn’t just abandon her. That wasn’t about completing the mission anymore, now it was about making sure that all three of them came out alive from this, nothing else mattered.
He ran as fast as he could down the tunnels toward the cavern that Null had waited in. He wasn’t too late, he couldn’t be too late. When he rounded the bend and saw into the cavern he knew that he was wrong, it was already too late. He didn’t know if there was anything that he could still do, but… he was going to try.
Not long before that Null had been waiting in the cavern alone. Her creation was slowly beginning to gather the necessary power. It was taking a little longer then anticipated because it had been a long time since she had done anything this large with her nano-machines. However that was fine because her plans involved more time then was necessary to create what she was intending. She suspected that Zolurious would take a while to respond and wouldn’t arrive until he realized the danger that was involved in not stopping her. Of course her plan would be ruined in Zolurious didn’t come and that could result in a lot of unnecessary destruction.
She waited and waited as the force continued to built. Then, almost right on schedule Zolurious burst into the cavern. There was a glow coming from him which lit the cavern. Null turned around as he entered, and said “Hello Zolurious, it is good to see you again. I’m glad you have joined me for my little party. I do hope that you will enjoy yourself.”
Zolurious looked up at the writhing mass of nano-machines that was starting to get large and then back at Null, “What are you planning #5638, you would gain nothing from completing what you are about to do. Can you even image what would happen if I didn’t come here to stop you?” He sounded furious, which was just what Null wanted.
However she glared at him with her own anger. “I do not liking being called that. I would prefer to be called by Null because that is the name that I have chosen.”
Zolurious laughed, “Null? You complain as being called your prisoner number but you choose a name which means nothing? Surely the irony does not escape you?”
Null continued to look at him with cold eyes, “At least it is a better name then one which is given to you. Do you never resent having to bare the name Zolurious? Would you not rather have a name of your own, something which can truly be called yours?” It was a piercing question.
Zolurious only shook his head, “I am proud to bare this name that has been given to me, but you tarnish that name by escaping and fleeing from capture. I will not allow this sinister plot that you are doing complete.”
“Sinister? Really, you ANGEL’s are all the same. The rules are all that matter to you. Do you think I do this because I hate you or because I am evil? Is that really what you think?” Null shook her head as she spoke, “No, I am really just like you. A person, one who wants to live their life. There might have been terrible things that I have done but I am sure you are no more innocent then myself. Surely you have had to harm others to follow your rules or protect those who were important to you.”
Zolurious pointing toward the mass of nano-machines in the cavern, “Your words say one thing but your actions are entirely different. That… thing could scour the life from half of this planet. Do you really think I could just forgive you or let you live your life when you are doing something like that.”
“Your wrong. I was never planning on using this on the planet. I am planning on using it on you. An ANGEL can not be taken out by any normal means. Even I am worried that I would not be able to defeat you normally. But this, this could surely defeat you.” Null smiled slightly, “But don’t worry, the nano-machine are set to disassemble once they have reached a certain range. You and me are the only ones that are going to be harmed by them when they are released.”
“Then… you are crazy. You are planning to take both of us out with that thing. And nano-machines are notoriously unstable, do you really think that none of these nano-machines will break from your instructions. With that many up there it would be a miracle if that happened.”
“Of course everything is going to be fine… because there is an ANGEL here who is going to cause a miracle.” Said Null, she plan was going smoothly so far now she just had to make sure that Zolurious acted like she excepted him to, “Now you just need to sacrifice yourself to protect all the innocent people on the planet. They are counting on you Zolurious, you don’t want to disappoint them.”
“You bastard,” Growled Zolurious. He was angry at the criminal, almost to the snapping point. She was using the lives of all the people on the planet as a hostage to defeat him. It shooting a bullet at an innocent to kill the police officer who jumped into the way. It was a despicable action and he couldn’t let her get away with it. He had to stop her and capture her.
Jeran stared in a sort of mute horror at what was in front of him. The walls, floor, and ceiling were covered in writhing darkness. Floating in the center of the room, lit with a dim light was Zolurious. While he still seemed to be alive he was covered in blood and he seemed to be unconscious. Jeran had never seen an ANGEL in show a state. When he looked around he couldn’t see Null anywhere. He knew she must be there somewhere.
Eventually his gaze drifted to a lump of pulsating nano-machines. It was larger then anything near it and Jeran didn’t remember anything like that being in the room when he was there earlier. Dispite his rational judgement he began wading through the pool of nano-machines toward her. As he did so his skin began to feel like it was burning. It was more painful then he could ever have imagined. However he gritted his teeth and finally arrived at the pile. He reached down into the pile and began searching around. He hands and arms began to scream in pain just like his legs. Soon he felt something in the mass and began to pull it out.
He drew out Null from the pile. She felt cold to his touch, at least he thought she did because it was hard to feel anything other then pain. She was limp and looked pale. She had to still be live though, Jeran knew it. Even with his hands out of the nano-machines he could still feel the pain. He tried to avoid looking at his arm in fear of what he would see. He began to walk back to the entry when he heard a voice from above him.
“Stop,” Said Zolurious. He sounded pained. Jeran glanced over his shoulder as he walked at Zolurious. The ANGEL was reaching out toward them with one hand, grasping at the air. The light surrounding him was fading in and out. There was a desperate look on Zolurious’ face, “Leave her here.”
Jeran stared coldly at him, “No.” He said and then looked back toward the entrance. Jeran didn’t care what happened, but after doing this to Null he didn’t care what that man wanted. Jeran was going to carry Null out of here no matter what Zoluriuos wanted. Zolurious gasped at him, “If you take her then you put other people at risk. If she leaves then this might happen again or there might be another city of glass. I don’t know what she might have told you but it is lies, you can’t trust her, she is evil.” Zolurious was trying to appeal with Jeran’s conscious. Zolurious knew this man still had some shred of justice left in him.
Jeran reached the edge of the cavern and set Null down outside of the nano-machine swarm. He turned back around to face Zolurious. “Everybody is the same to you aren’t they. You have nobody important to you, do you?” There were tears slowly falling down Jeran’s cheeks. “I pity you. However I am different, I have people I care about. Even if it means going against the country I care about or risking my life, I’m going to do everything that I can to protect them.” Jeran lifted up one of his arms to show Zolurious. It was raw and bleeding, there were parts where most of the skin seemed to be gone. Jeran could only guess how bad his legs must be. “You have so much power but you have no one to protect. I think that is the reason that even though you are more powerful then me I am going to leave and escape and you are going to be unable to stop me.”
Jeran turned again and picked up Null again. As he left the cavern he left Zolurious with one last line, “Maybe next time we meet you will have a reason to win.” And with that Jeran was gone. Zolurious continued to hand there in the air, his light still flickering. As he stayed there the masses of nano-machines began to slow down and then eventually stopped moving altogether.
Zolurious spoke aloud, almost like he was trying to speak to the long gone Jeran, “Why…. Why are you so adamant at protecting her. She is dangerous, why can you no see that.” He paused, “Maybe you do see that and yet you continue to want to protect her anyways. That… is too much of a risk. A risk, you don’t care about that do you. Is it because you trust her, because you trust yourself. How can you do something like that?” Zolurious seemed to wait for an answer, yet nobody spoke to him.
“How can I not do something like that…” Answered Zolurious to his own question, “Is there a time when I stopped understanding. Even criminal #56… Null seemed to understand, she spoke the same way. They both seemed so very… human.” Human, what a strange word. Even if they were doing the wrong thing they were both much more human then he was. Was there a point when he stopping being human and was only ANGEL. He wasn’t certain. Maybe that is why he lost, because he was no longer human.
Jeran had asked him who he was protecting, Zolurious wasn’t certain. Once upon a time he was protecting all people, maybe he still was but that seemed less real. Had he been distant from humans for so long that he no longer remember what it was like to be one. He had been human once, he had had a human name. Now however he couldn’t remember what it was for the life of him, maybe he had forgotten when he had become Zolurious.
The man, not the ANGEL, looked up at the ceiling of the cavern. “I wonder if the stars are out now. What was the last time I looked at the stars and thought how beautiful they were… I don’t remember.”
It was an impossible task carrying Null back up out of the mines. His legs and arms felt like they were on fire. Every step felt like he had ran a mile. Yet step by step he climbed up out of the cave and and into the starlight. Jeran was surprised how much time had passed since he had entered the mines, the return journey must have taken him much longer then he thought that it did. He just barely was able to set Null down outside before collapsing himself. He didn’t know how long he would last but he had to find a way to get the two of them to a hospitol.
However his pain seemed to vanish when he heard somebody yell, “Dad! Run!” Jeran scrambled to his feet. That was Silvia’s voice. He looked around trying to figure out where the voice came from when Solvar and Silvia walked into view from around a corner. General Solvar was pointing a gun at the back of Silvia’s head and her arms were tied up behind her. Silvia screamed when she saw her dad, his arms and legs looked horrible, like the flesh had melted away from them.
“Geez man, You look horrible.” Sneered Solvar. He kicked Silvia and threw her to the side. Jeran couldn’t possibly escape in the condition that he was in now so there was no need for him to have a hostage. Solvar kneeled down next to Jeran who had collapsed again in pain. “I know I haven’t been very nice to you, but you really haven’t given me much choice. You stole something from me and it was very important. If you just give it back then I’ll be nice and just let the three of you go. That sounds like a good plan doesn’t it?”
Jeran didn’t think that Solvar would ever keep his work. The man would either capture them to use as pawn or kill them after he had what he was looking for. “What about that ANGEL, certainly he wouldn’t like it if you just let us go free, wouldn’t he have a problem with that.”
General Solvar laughed softly, “I could care less about about what happens to that man and I care even less about following his orders. Also given that you both came out of the caves I am going to assume that he is no longer going to be a problem for me. I guess I have to thank you for that as well.”
Jeran took a few breaths, “How very nice for you but I regret to inform you that Zolurious was still clinging to life when I left with Null and he probably won’t be happy when you betray him.” Jeran tried to sound like he was gloating but it was just too painful.
“That is a problem isn’t it,” Said Solvar in a tone which made it sound like he had already taken that into account. “I guess then I will only be able to left you and your daughter go. I think I will need to keep the criminal, then he won’t care what I do too with the two of you.”
Jeran climbed slowly to his knees and looked Solvar directly in the eyes, “Well then, I must inform you that all your efforts have been in vain.” He would have laughed at Solvar if it wouldn’t have made him feel like his body was tairing apart. “You see I have already destroyed the activation codes for the weapons of mass destruction. In fact they have been destroyed from the very begining when I escaped with one of Myth’s military ships. Your whole quest has been hopeless from the very beginning.”
Solvar’s eyes began to widen as he realized what Jeran was telling him. Jeran was sure that he was totally mad, breaking point mad. That probably made their chances of survival fairly slim but Jeran didn’t see any way to escape. Solvar kicked Jeran and swore, “How dare you trick me like that. It is your fault I waste all my time.” Solvar continued to kick Jeran several times, though because of the pain in his arms and legs Jeran had didn’t know if he felt it.
Eventually Solvar stood back and drew his gun, “Well, this has been a waste. You had been a thorn in my side Jeran and I think it is finally time to put you out of your misery. A piety that all your work saving this woman will have been useless. Goodbye Jeran.” Solvar raised the gun and pointed it at Jeran.
Jeran continued to glare at Solvar. He would have tried to stop Solvar if he could even stand up. There was a ringing shot in his ear and he was surprised to still be alive. Solvar gurgled for a second before his gun clattered to the ground and he began to clutch his shoulder. Across from him holding a smoking gun was Silvia. She had managed to escape from her bonds and find the gun that she had dropped earlier.
Silvia stood there shaking, and as Jeran collapsed again and began to fall unconscious he whispered, “Silly, you where supposed to breath out before you shot. You’re lucky that shot hit.”
Silvia continued to break hard, it was only the second time that she had shot somebody and it was still a horrible experience. She didn’t know if it would ever be better and she wasn’t certain if she wanted it to. She looked down at Solvar who was writhing on the ground clutching his good shoulder. Silvia took a few steps closer, continuing to point her gun at him. She tried speaking in a tough voice but it probably sounded scared, “I want you to get somebody to bring a ship here for us to take. These two aren’t in any condition to leave by themselves so the ship had better be here soon or I will shot you again.” She hesitated slightly as she spoke but she was serious.
The general seemed angry, but he didn’t have anyway to protect himself. Silvia walked closer and picked up the gun that Solvar had dropped. She wasn’t about to make the same mistake that Solvar did. She also made sure that she had Jeran’s gun as well in case Solvar tried to take it from him. “Come on, call the ship. We are in a hurry.” She raise the gun and shot at the ground next to him to threaten him a little more.
The general glared at her before reaching to his belt and grabbing his communicator. He threw it toward her and said, “You do it, I’m sure you can manage that.” Silvia reached down and picked it up, wary that he might be trying something. She connected to one of the channels that she assumed must connect to his soldiers and spoke, “I am holding the General Solvar hostage. If you don’t want him to die then bring a ship to his location which is crewed by one unarmed person.”
She could hear some talking in the background, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying, before a voice talked back to her, “How can we be sure that he is alright?” Silvia held up the communicator and pointed it at Solvar.
“Come on, tell them.” She said to him while she wave her gun at him with her other hand.
“I’ve alive,” Said Solvar grudgingly, “I have been shot, but I am going to be fine if I get medical attention. Though the same might not be able to be said about her friends.” Silvia glared at him before bringing the comminator back to her eye.
“Is that good enough? Now send someone with the ship and quickly. If it isn’t here in ten minutes them I’m going to shot him again.” She was threatening the best that she could. She didn’t know how well she would be able to go through it and it was painful to even make the threat. But since the alternative with probably death for her, Jeran, and Null she was able to find the resolve to continue.
“Fine, it will be there. Just don’t shoot him. We will get the ship there as soon as possible.” Silvia didn’t trust the voice, Jeran had told her that governments usually had a non-negotiation policy with terrorists and she guessed they qualified for that currently. She waited for the ship while keeping an eye on Solvar, she wished she could do something if they were planning a trap but she wasn’t certain what she could do. It would be too dangerous for her to move Jeran and Null someplace in case Solvar tried something.
After waiting for around nine minutes a ship appeared and began to land. Silvia stood behind Solvar and kept her gun pointed at him. After the ship landed the doors open and a man walked out with his hands up. He didn’t seem to be armed but Silvia couldn’t be too careful. She pointed at Jeran and Null with her free hand and said, “I want you to carefully carry those two into the ship.” She waved her gun again, “And if I see anything strange I’m going to shot.”
The man looked at her and paused for a second as if wondering if a teenage girl would really carry through with her threat. He then walked over to Jeran and lifted him up carefully. It took him a couple of minutes to bring Jeran into the ship and then come out again. He picked up Null and asked Silvia, “Are you sure she is alive, she feels really cold.”
“Just do what I said.” Said Silvia though she was really worried. She really hoped that Null would be fine, but she was doing the best that she could. The man nodded and carried Null inside and then came back outside. Silvia asked, “Does that ship have an escape pod?”
The man said, “Yes, but why do you ask.” Silvia nodded at Solvar who had surprisingly remained silent and then said, “Because he is getting on the ship with me and once we are safely in orbit then we will eject the escape pod with him in it.
The man looked a little bit panicked, “But, that wasn’t part of the plan. You never said that you would do that.” Silvia felt a little bit relieved at his reaction. That he was worried mean that they were planning something. She had feared that they would shoot them out of the sky as they were leaving the atmosphere and this would protect them about that.
“To bad, I changed the plan. Now Solvar get into the ship, and you, stay back while I enter.” She let Solvar lead the way as she entered the ship. She sealed the door behind her and as the walked made sure to check each room in case there was another person on it. She didn’t see anybody so she lead Solvar to the cockpit and told him, “Fly this thing and get us off this planet.”
“So I guess there was another reason that you need me. You probably don’t know how to fly a ship do you?” Silvia remained silent but Solvar had gotten it right. She had relied on her dad to fly and didn’t know how to do it herself. Solvar grumbled a little before beginning the lift off process. The ship took off and began going into space. Through the viewport she could see the people that brought the ship saying something into his communicator. He was probably telling them about the change in plans.
It wasn’t too long before the ship had reached orbit. Solvar looked back at Silvia and asked, “Are you satisfied, can I go now or do you want me flap my arms for you.”
“I want you to set the ship onto autopilot. It should set to go to the nearest other inhabited planet.” Solvar shrugged and did as she said. She watched hum very closely as he did so, making sure to note exactly how he did it.
Once Solvar was done setting the autopilot Silvia said, “Alright, Let’s go to the escape pod. You want to get out of here don’t you?” She then lead him through the ship to the escape pod. He got in and she pointed the gun at him while she shut the door. She seal the door and waited.
After a minute she could hear Solvar yell, “What are you waiting for, eject me.” Now that she wasn’t pointing a gun at him he was able to show her the full measure of his anger. He continued to yell at her through the sealed doors. Silvia hadn’t primed the escape pod yet so he wasn’t able to eject by himself. She ignored his yelling for several minutes. Eventually she felt that they were far enough from the planet to be fairly safe. She pressed the button and the escape pod shot out from the ship and into empty space.
Silvia dropped the gun with a clatter and sank down the the ground. She felt so tense that she felt like she was going to explode. She lay there trying to recover for a while before finally climbing to her feet and walking back to the cockpit. She tried to remember how Solvar set the autopilot and did her best to set it to a different nearby planet. It would have been stupid to continue on a course charted by somebody that hated you but she needed him to do it so that she could watch how he did it. She only hoped that it was set up correctly.
She then looked around the ship. She didn’t know where the man had brought both Jeran and Null but she soon found them. They were both still unconscious and Silvia had to lean close and listen hard to find that Null was still alive. Silvia was thankful that she could still detect Null’s breathing and heartbeat even though they were faint. She didn’t know what was wrong with Null so she couldn’t do anything about it.
Jeran however was a different story. Silvia managed to find some bandages and water and tried to clean Jeran’s wounds and wrap them. It was a grousome task. His arms and legs were badly burned as if by acid. She did the best she could trying to remember how the nurses in the hospital did things. After a while she had covered his arms and legs in bandages and she only hoped those would help. She returned to the cockpit and looked around. Nothing was obviously wrong but she had little experience about this stuff. She scoured the room and eventually found the user operation guide to the ship. She began looking through it hoping it would help.
She continued reading and watching the panels on the ship until… until… She woke up suddenly, not realizing that she had been sleeping. She scrambled to check the instruments only to find that her dad was laying unconscious in the co-pilot’s chair and that she had a blanket draped over her. She got up and checked her dad, he seemed to be either unconscious or sleeping but otherwise he seemed fine.
She looked over the controls and saw that their course had been changed slightly. He dad must have corrected it while she was sleeping. Silvia then got up and went back into the ship to check on Null. She had been placed under the bed covers and several sheets had been laid over her. Silvia realized that her should have done with, with Null as cold as she had been this seemed like an obvious action.
After Silvia had finished checking on Null she decided to go exploring the ship. It was a different model then the one that they had been flying on previously. Unfortunately they had lost all their stuff on the other ship, however they had gotten away with their lives which was good. She managed to find the kitchen and began looking through the supplies. Unfortunately it was filled with all of the sorts of things that her dad might have chosen, did the military really like nutritional paste that much?
She prepared something to the best of her capability and then let a place next to both Jeran and Null. She knew that they would be hungry if they woke up. After then she brought the ship’s manual with her into the bunkroom and read that until she fell asleep again.
It was a little while later that Jeran woke up again. He had previously woken up to find himself on a strange ship next to Null. His arms and legs still felt like they were one fire but it seemed that somebody, probably Silvia, had bandaged them. They wrappings were badly done but he left them like they were. He took a couple of pain killers from the medical kit that was still sitting next to him and then just to be safe took a couple extra. That was a lot more then they recommended but if anyone needed extra painkiller it was him.
Then after slipping the bottle of painkiller into his pocket he check on Null. She was very cold but she seemed to still be breathing, if very shallow. While she was laying on a bed, Jeran thought it would be better to put her under some covers. After doing that he checked around the ship. He found Silvia asleep in the pilot’s chair with the ship’s manual in her lap. He placed his hand on her head for a second before returning to the bunkroom and grabbing another blanket.
After laying that on Silvia he check the ships course. It seemed that Silvia must have sent the autopilot. He looked over it and smiled to himself. For a beginner she had done fairly well. Jeran was proud of her for everything that she had done. He tweaked a few of the settings to ensure nothing happened during the journey. The painkillers were making him feel sort of drowsy, but on the plus side his arms and legs now only hurt a little bit. He sat down in the chair next to Silvia and fell asleep.
The second time that he woke up he found a plate for food next to him. He felt hungry but before he started to eat he had to take the painkillers out and take a few more of them. He knew that both him and Null needed real hospital attention but he didn’t know if they could really risk it. He was hunger however and quickly eat everything that Silvia had left for him. Afterward he left to check on Null again. There was a plate of food next to her but it was uneaten. While Jeran had more obvious wounds he feared that Null was hurt more then he was. Silvia was also in the room sleeping. She had taken the manual in with her. He made sure to move the book to the nearby table and that she was tucked in.
They needed to find a good place to recover, preferably some planet or space station which they wouldn’t be found at but which they could get the necessary medical attention. Some place they wouldn’t keep records about their visit so that they couldn’t be tracked. Jeran really didn’t like the sound of that, but considering they were basically considered criminals there weren’t very many other good choices.
Because of that Jeran began the time consuming process of clearing the ship’s records so that people wouldn’t be able to trace it back to the Mythian military or let the Mythian military trace it. He then began combing the ship to make sure that there weren’t any tracking devices on it. Luckly tracking devices that worked over long distances were fairly large so he would have been able to find any if they were there. By the time he had finished searching he limbs were beginning to pain him again because his pain killers must have begun to wear off.
He took some more pain killers before returning to the bunk room and laying down. He had to lay awake in the bed for a while before the pain began to dull and he was finally able to fall asleep.
Time passed on the ship and eventually Jeran and Silvia were awake at the same time. Jeran explained what had happened down in the tunnels when he went to rescue Null and Silvia told the story about how she managed to threaten Solvar into letting them have the ship. She of course left out all the parts about how nervous she was and how many times she though that she was going to fail. Jeran had been eating an unhealthy amount of pain killers and Silvia was worried, however Jeran didn’t think he would be able to function without that many of them.
While the ship flew to the course they had initially planned Jeran told Silvia that they needed to find a place with a hospital that would be able to keep them secret. There were several places that would do that for them but most of them were unsavory. Eventually Jeran suggested that they visit The End, it wasn’t a very nice place because there wasn’t much law there and it had a lot of crime, however they would be able to hide their visit because of that. The only problem that Jeran foresaw was what they were going to do about the hospital bill. Jeran had practically no money left and since he had learned that Myth had been tracking him through his bank account and he didn’t want to spend the money that he did have.
He guess that he could have to see this ship and use the money to pay for the medical bills. Then he would try to buy a smaller ship with the remaining money. However there was still the larger problem of how to afford things in the future. He guess they he would have to get a method of earning money. It was Silvia that suggested that since they planned on keeping moving that they should work as a transport. Jeran thought that was a good idea, space stations in particular were always needed supplies of some kind. The main problem was that if they downgraded the size of the ship then it probably wouldn’t be big enough to function as a transport.
Still they didn’t have many options. The End was their best option. It took them several days to reach it, during that time Null still wasn’t waking up and Jeran began to run dangerously low on pain killers. He knew his arms couldn’t be getting any better without treatment. When they arrived at the space station it was easy to convince them to let them land and get a parking spot. After they got off Jeran said to Silvia, “I’m going to go and try and find someone who is willing to buy the ship. I want you to try and find where the hospital is. I want us to meet up here in two hours, do you think that you can do that?”
Silvia nodded, “Yeah, I can do that dad.” Jeran nodded and let her go off by herself. He then headed off to find somebody to but they ship. It took him a while to find someone who was willing to buy, however the price was only half bad. However he needed a new bank account to take them money and by the time he gotten that opened it had been about two hours.
He was beginning to remove Null from the ship when Silvia came back. They didn’t have anything else left in the ship because it had all been in their old ship. Now they had enough money to pay for the hospital and maybe get another smaller ship, they hired a transport car to carry Null to the hospital.
When they arrived at the hospital they were able to get in fairly quickly. Jeran and Null were both brought in to be examined and treated. Silvia however was forced to stay in the waiting room while everything was being decided. After a while a nurse came out to Silvia to tell her that her father’s arms and were actually in very bad condition and that he shouldn’t have been using them as much as he did. They were cleaning and correctly taking care of his limbs how but he was also going to have to come in several times a week to get skin grafts to fix his limbs completely.
When Silvia asked about Null the nurse seemed nervous. The nurse said that they couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong with her other then the fact that her vital signs were all very low. The nurse told Silvia that it was similar to being in a coma but that they didn’t have any idea what the cause is or how to treat it. They were however giving her and IV because Null had started to become malnourished because she hadn’t eaten in several days. They would be able to hold her for several days but if she wasn’t getting better then they would need to find another place to keep her.
Silvia nodded in understanding. She knew that Jeran’s arms and legs had bothered him more then he let on. She knew he had been eating the pain killers like candy. She made sure that the nurse knew that but apparently Jeran had already told them that. She was more worried about Null, she hadn’t woken up or stirred since Silvia had seen her again. She could only hope that Null would get better.
Silvia waited in the lobby until they eventually released her dad. He was in a wheel chair and one of his arms was in a sling. His arms were also wrapped with fresh bandages. Silvia asked him, “How did you say you were doing?”
“Well, they can’t seemed to figure out what caused my injuries but they say I should eventually get better. However they are very angry that I have been using my limbs so much. They said I should never have been walking around with them in that condition. So I’m confined to this wheel chair until further notice. My arms were less damaged so I’m allowed to us them if I need to as long as I don’t lift anything heavy.” Said Jeran
“I heard something about you needing skin grafts dad.” Asked Silvia. He had probably also gotten for prescription pain killers which would be more useful they the bottle he had been taking before.
“Yeah, to really recover I need to get some skin grafts, otherwise my sense of touch will never come back. I didn’t realize that before because I only seemed to have a sense of pain. They took some skin samples from me however it is going to take them a while to grow me some replacement skin.” He smiled a little, “On the plus side this completely destroyed my fingerprints and replacement skin is going to have completely different ones.”
Silvia laughed dryly, “Sure, I’m sure you could have changed them for cheaper then burning off all the skin on your arms. But at least your going to be alright. It seems that Null still isn’t waking up and the doctors have no idea what is wrong or how to fix it.”
“That seems to be a common theme. Maybe it has something to do with nano-machines which none of them have had any experience dealing with.” Said Jeran.
“There is that and I guess we will have to trust in her nano-machines to be able to cure whatever is wrong with her. Do you have any idea about what Zolurious did to her.” Said Silvia.
“No,” said Jeran shaking his head. “By that time I had gotten there she was already like this. It might even have been caused by her own nano-machines. I really don’t know enough about them to be able to tell you what the cause is, even the doctors would know more then me.”
Silvia looked sad, “Well, I guess we will just have to wait then for her to get better.” Jeran only nodded in response. Then they asked the nurses where Null was being kept so that they could visit her. The nurse directed them to the third floor and they went up there to see had she was doing. They entered and found that she was sleeping in the bed connected to several medical instruments and an IV drip. They took a seat and watched her for maybe thirty minutes before getting up and leaving.
After leaving the hospital they began looked for a place to rent. They would be staying there for who knows how many weeks so it would be better to find a place to rent then stay in hotels. They searched around for several hours looking for a good place however nothing struck them as a good place so they stayed that night at a hotel. Silvia called the hospital and told them that they would be staying there until further notice and to contact them if Null showed any improvement.
It was a two bed hotel room with an attached kitchenette which would have to do until they found a good place to rent. After getting set up there Jeran and Silvia went out shopping. Since they had lost everything one the other ship they needed to get new clothes and supplies. Jeran tried to remember Null’s sizes while they were out shopping but Silvia dissuaded him and told him that they should bring Null shopping after she had gotten out of the hospital.
Jeran usually didn’t have many changes of clothes, something he had picked up while he was a soldier, but even he knew that he needed some clothes other then the one he was wearing. It was torn, stained, and missing the sleeves and legs. It was a retched thing and he was glad to get rid of it and pick up something new. However, because of having to use a wheelchair, Silvia had to help him change his clothes and pick out things. It was rather embarrassing to be treated like an infeable by his own child, that wasn’t supposed to happen for a least another fifty years.
After shopping for clothes Jeran and Silvia went out to eat. Most of the restaurants were full so they picked a street vender selling some kind of food that they couldn’t pronounce. It looked weird but it tasted fairly good so they didn’t complain. The grocery store was also nearby so Silvia went shopping food while he dad was forced to follow her and push the cart along. Silvia didn’t trust him with any sort of food selection so she did all the work.
By the time they were done shopping they were getting sort of tired. Time was mostly relative on a space station so it was still just as busy as ever but it had been a while since they landed to the two of the returned to the room. They headed back to the room and finally began the rest that they probably deserved for a long time.
Several days past with them going to the hospital every day to visit Null. She was still unconscious and they worried how long that might be for. Jeran also received further treatment for his wounds which the doctors seemed to have classified as a strange cases of sever burns. It was in the morning of the fourth day that they received a call from the hospital telling them that Null had woken up. They said she she was still very weak but she had requested to see them.
They rushed to the hospital as quickly as they could and headed up to her room. When they arrived they found that she was sleeping and feared she had fallen back into a coma. However she woke up when they shook her. She smiled weakly when she saw them and said, “Hello, I’m pleasantly surprised to see both of you again. I take it you ignored my orders and came back for me?”
Jeran nodded, “I’m to blame for that. I went by after you escaped are dragged you out of that black mess. And in return I need to stay confined to while wheel chair until some skin grafts are ready for me. Zolurious was not in any shape to able to stop me to at least you were able to do something right.”
“Idiot,” said Null as she turned away from him, “You didn’t have to hurt yourself to rescue me.” Plus if he hadn’t been disabled then he would have easily been able to beat you.” Silvia thought that Null sounded a little embaroused but her dad probably missed it.
“You don’t even know the whole of the story.” Said Jeran, “Because I went to rescue you Silvia got captured by General Solvar. Then after I had dragged you out of the mines he tried to kill me to get the weapon codes from me. You should have seen his face when I told him I had already destroyed them. But you should really thank Silvia, she is the one who managed to get us a ship and help us to escape. I was too wounded at that point to do it myself.”
Null looked at Silvia, “Really? Despite your father’s stupid actions you seem to be becoming a responsible adult. Jeran would probably kill himself if he was left on his own so try and take care of him until I’m better.”
Silvia nodded happily, “I will, though for right now we think we should be safe. It will probably take our followers a long time to find out where we are, hopefully enough time for both of you to get better again.“
“Well, at least some good has come out of my insane plan. However it will probably take me a while to get better. My nano-machines are extremely taxed and my body is close to falling apart. I would like to say that it is easy to fix but I currently have my hands full trying to fix all my bodies problems. I can honestly say though that I am glad that I got this IV, it helped immensely.”
Silvia asked, “Does that mean you were conscious during the time that you were in a coma?”
“Not really, I drifted in and out but I haven’t been able to do anything other then rest until I managed to do some basic repairs. Zolurious was more vicious then I thought he was going to be. I honestly didn’t expect him to be able to match me that much at close range while I had a built up nano-machine supply. Even with my advantage I only managed to make it a draw, and even then he did much better then I did with dealing with the fall out.”
Jeran said, “Well that was much better then either of us would be able to do. Your technology might be very dangerous but at least it is powerful enough to deal with an ANGEL, even if they do have an advantage. That is much more then I can say about anything that I could do.”
“True, and it lets you recover faster, the doctors didn’t know if you were ever recover but here you are awake after only a few days on an IV. That is also much better then either of us would be able to do.” Said Silvia.
“I suppose that is true, but it will still take me a couple of days to get out of the hospital. Much as I don’t like staying here it is the swiftest route to recovery so I should take it.” Said Null.
“Oh, yes, there was one other thing I wanted to take to you about.” Said Jeran, “Me and Silvia thought it would be good plan to try and make money as a transport ship. That way we can continue moving around without being caught. We also wanted to know if you want to join us. Since you are run too we thought it would be a good plan.”
Silvia kneed Jeran and said, “What he means that we want you to come will you. We would be bored without you and want you to join us on our money making endeavor.”
“I’ll think about it, I’m not sure if there is more trouble with me around or if you will be in more trouble if I am not around. However, it you want me to come with you then I might now have much choice.” Said Null who was hiding her smile. “But right now we should concentrate on recovering.”
“Darn right we won’t be giving you a choice,” Said Silvia. “We wouldn’t have a complete crew without you, and who would deal with all the villains with forbidden technology. We would be doomed without you.”
Null laughed, “You are talking about a transport ship and not a mercenary brigade right?”
Silvia paused, continuing the joke, “Right we did decide to do the transport ship instead of becoming mercenaries… But we will still need you. Jeran don’t like playing along with my jokes as much and I need somebody to help me with them.”
Null shrugged her shoulders in defeat, “Then I guess I don’t have much of a choice do I.”
“Another problem is that the doctors want both of us to stay around for at least a month to make sure that we have recovered sufficiently,” Said Jeran, “Since I didn’t want to stay in a hotel for that long we are looking for a place to rent. Me and Silvia should probably find a good place sometime today, we were to busy yesterday to find a place.”
“Well, I’ll leave that to you since I actually need to stay in the hospital for a while longer,” Said Null.
They talked for a little while longer about their future plans before Silvia and Jeran left to hospital to go and look for an apartment. Null watched them leave before looking up at the ceiling. It had been hard to lie to the two of them but it was something that she had to do. After she was certain that they had left she kicked off the sheets and stood up shakily. As she detached the medical sensors from her a nurse rushed in.
“What are you doing? You just woke up, you are in no condition to be doing anything. You must get back into bed immediately.” As the nurse rushed to her side Null placed her fingers on the nurse’s neck and a few seconds later the nuser began to wobble and Null helped the nurse collapse onto the bed. Null then reconnected the medical sensors to the nurse. That should give her a little time.
Null walked unsteadily to the door and whispered to herself as she shut it. “I’m sorry Jeran, I’m going to have to break my word.”
It was much later when Silvia was making dinner that Jeran recieved a call from the hospital. At first he didn’t understand what they were telling him, “What?” He asked in confusion.
“Your companion if gone. She must have ran away some time earlier today.”
“Gone? How could she possibly be gone? She wasn’t in any condition to walk, there is no way that she could possibly run away.” Yell Jeran. Silvia rushed over to him upon hearing this and stood right next to him trying to listen in on the conversation.
“We don’t know. She did something to one of the nurses and connected her to the medical sensors so that we didn’t figure out what she had left until just recently. Like you said she should have been able to even walk but she somehow managed to escape by herself.” Came the voice from the hospital.
“Are you sure she didn’t get kidnapped?” Asked Jeran desperately. Now he was incredibly worried. He almost hoped that it was kidnapping but he doubted it. He should have seen this coming after what had happened.
“We are fairly certain, we even examined the hospital recordings but the only video we have is of her leaving by herself. Somehow she managed to avoid all the guards and nurses. Even in the video she didn’t look very good so we are not sure how that happened.”
“When, when did she leave? If she was recorded then you must know when she left.”
“Yeah, it was around five hours ago. Since she knocked out the nurse which was supposed to care for her we didn’t realize that she had left until that nurse work up and told u what happened?”
There was a clatter and a pause. Eventually the person on the other line said, “Hello? Are you there?” Silvia picked up the phone and said, “Sorry, my dad can be a little rash sometimes. Thanks for telling us and please get back to us if you discover anything else.”
Silvia hung up the phone and then ran after her dad. However she had to stop soon because Jeran, even though he was in a wheel chair, moved much faster then her and she wasn’t able to keep up. Silvia knew that he was probably going to do something stupid like look for Null. Even Silvia knew that would be fruitless unless they did it intelligently.
She watch Jeran wheel off. She was worried about Null but unlike Jeran she didn’t really understand why Null ran off. Still SIlvia wanted to find Null as much as Jeran did but Null had at least a five hour head start. Even if she was injured that was more then enough time for her to find a good place it hide.
Silvia first began to head to the ship docks to check if any ships had departed recently. She was disappointed to find out that there had been a surprising amount of ships that had left during the five hours since Null had escape. She tried questioning some of the port staff but they were all reluctant to help her. Earlier she would have thought that was a good thing because it helped keep the three of them safe from people following them. Now it made it hard for them to find out if Null had left or not.
Silvia spent several hours asking around but found no leads. This could be considered a good thing because it might have meant that Null hadn’t been there and that she was still on the space station. She had hoped that was the case and she suspected that it was likely because Null wouldn’t have any money to spend to get a ship ride out of the space station.
Eventually Silvia return to the room, she didn’t think staying in the port any longer would lead to any more clues. They needed some sort of clue as to where Null might be heading to, but Silvia didn’t have any. Jeran was not at the room when she arrived that and he didn’t come back until much later.
Jeran was tired and dishearten. He had searched parts of the space station and asked lots of people questions to see if they had seen Null. He had thought she would be easy to find with her rainbow hair but nobody seemed to have seen her. Jeran suspected that she must have changed her hair color, he had seen her do it before when they visited the glass city.
He knew that they needed to find her before she left the space station, otherwise the chance of ever seeing her again was almost zero. The galaxy is a big place for somebody who didn’t want to be found. Even the mort powerful organizations like ANGEL could have trouble finding somebody who was in hiding.
It had been three weeks since Null escaped from the hospital when Jeran and Silvia found their first clue. Jeran had finally finished his skin graft procedure and was finally able to walk and more like normal. He would have celebrated but he was still depressed about not being able to find Null. It had been so long and there were no clues and he was beginning to worry that they would never find her.
He and Silvia were walking back to the apartment that they had rented. They walked in silence, they hadn’t talked with each over very much over the last couple of weeks. Null’s disappearance had hit both of them hard, they had not truly understood how much they had both cared about Null until she was gone. It was strange how somebody they had only known for less then a year had become so important to both of them.
They arrived at the apartment to find the door unlocked. Alarmed Jeran put his back to the wall and peeked into the apartment. It was dark inside and he couldn’t tell if anyone was in there. Was it a robber or something else. Some small part of his mind hoped that it was Null who decided to return and visit their apartment. That was very unlikely however so Jeran snuck quietly into his own apartment.
The living room light was on and Jeran began creeping to the room. However before he got there he heard a voice call out. “I know your there. No need to sneak up on me. You can come out because I am not here to hurt you.” It was a man’s voice and Jeran thought it sounded familiar but he couldn’t place his finger on it.
Jeran decided to obey the voice but stopped in the kitchen and opened one of the drawers and pulled out his gun. He kept it behind his back as he entered the living room. He stop immediately when he saw who was sitting on the living room couch. There was a clatter as he dropped the gun in surprise. It took a lot to surprise Jeran but seeing Zolurious sitting on his couch enjoying a cup of tea was enough to do it.
“What…. What are you doing here!” Said Jeran in a panicked voice. He had no idea what to do. He had already dropped his gun and he wouldn’t be able to pick it up again fast enough.
“I should think that if fairly obvious,” Said Zolurious as he took another sip of his tea. He seemed really calm, not like somebody who just broke into sombody’ house. “I am searching for a criminal. You of course must know who I am talking about.”
Silvia walked up next to Jeran and said, “Then why are you here. You should know that Null isn’t here. There is no use getting us to talk because we don’t know where she is either.”
“Of course I know that. The landlord told me that the two of you are the only ones that come here. Considering that you are usually gone all day I suspect that you have been searching for Null every day even though it is likely that she has already left this space station.” Said Zolurious.
Jeran glared at the man. He didn’t like Zolurious at all and seeing him relax in Jeran’s appartment made him angry. “They why are you here. Are you going to arrest us for assisting her or for taking advantage of her forbidden technology?”
Zolurious shook his head, “No, I am here to get you to help me search for Null. You see, because of my failure I have been punished by the Council of ANGELs. I’ve unfortunately had most of my access privileges revoked temporarily so it has been hard for me to search for Null myself. I somehow managed to find you two so I decided to ask for your assistance.”
“I could say that I am sorry about what happened to you, but I’m not.” Said Jeran, who walked across the room and sat down on one of the couched, “However I have no interest in helping you capture Null, now if you would please leave that would be most appreciated.”
Zolurious smiled slightly, “Oh, but you will help me. You will because you know that you will never find Null by yourself. Your only chance of finding her is if I help you. Then when we find her you are going to try to escape with her and I am going to try and stop you.”
“Wouldn’t it be better for Null if we just let her escape then if you let you have the chance of catching her again.” Said Jeran.
“Ah, but I’m going to go after her even if you don’t assist me. It might take me longer and I don’t know if I will succeed. But if I find her and you’re not with me then there will be nobody around who could stop me from capturing her.” Said Zolurious.
Jeran didn’t trust him. Jeran knew that there must be some kind of catch, some plan that Zolurious had. A person doesn’t just side with their enemy that easily. Jeran wasn’t certain what the ANGEL was planning but he knew that he had already been trapped.
It was Silvia that tried to come to Jeran’s rescue. “Supposing we agreed to help you. What would you expect from us? Surely you won’t just let us do whatever we want to. There must be some conditions to us joining you in searching for Null?”
“Well, of course there is. It is simple, you just need to obey any orders that I give you and if you don’t then I will assume that you have found Null before me and attempt to capture her from you. I am fine with this arrangement because I am far more likely to capture Null if I get your assistance then if I did it alone and you will have some chance to find her. That deal is good enough for both of you isn’t it.”
There was a moment of hesitation as Jeran and Silvia looked across the room into each other’s eyes. They both didn’t want Null to be captured by Zolurious but they also wanted to find Null. Then they both looked at Zolurious and said at the same time, “Alright, we agree.”
Zolurious smiled, “Good.”
“Alright then, since you decided to recruit us then you must have some sort of plan. We had been searching this space station since she escaped and we haven’t been able to find her. We suspect that she must have left the space station already but we don’t have any clues about where she might be heading.”
Zolurious nodded and said, “It would have been easier if she hadn’t changed her hair color. Luckily I was able to get a copy of the ship manifesto of all the outgoing ships. I went over the different passengers to look for anyone who matched Null’s description. Unfortunately there were three different people who looked sort of like her. Mainly I am having trouble because the three of them didn’t get caught completely on camera and I am working partly on descriptions that people have given me. I was hoping that you could help me figure out which one if the real Null. All of them are using different names and Null is certainly using a fake one.”
Zolurious pulled some pictures out of his shirt pocket and laid them on the table. Jeran and Silvia looked through the pictures of the three woman. They were all at strange angles and it was hard to make out exactly which was Null, at least it would be to somebody who wasn’t familiar with her.
Zolurious looked at them questioningly before motioning at the pictures. “So can you tell which one of them is Null? I though that since you were more familiar with her that would would be able to recognize which one of them was her.”
Jeran nodded and picked up one of the pictures, “Yes, this is definitely her. You can tell because of several reasons. The first is that she is deliberately avoiding the camera, not something a normal person would be doing. Second her stance is very Null. I would say that it is also because her hair is the same color as the last time Null changed her hair color but that could easily be a coincidence.”
Silvia also nodded in agreement, “Yes that is her. I would also add that she looks in a little bit worse condition then the other two. If I had to guess this was probably taken about two weeks ago, before Null had a chance to recover completely.”
“Good,” said Zolurious, “She was the one I suspected too. If I was forced to do this alone then she was the one I was going to go after. I’m glad that my decision was the right one. Also, I might have suspected something about your honesty if you had chosen one of the other ones.”
“Thanks for you confidence in us,” Said Jeran dryly.
“Think of it as a test. You managed to pass this time, but remember that I will be watching you. For course I expect you to be watching me too.” Zolurious picked up the pictures and put them back into his pocket. “Now, Silvia, you are right that that ship departed a while ago. However it was only a week ago, I can only assume that Null’s recovery is taking longer the you initially expected it too. Considering how much I exposed her too I guess that isn’t very surprising. I however expected her to take even longer to recover from it, when I attached her my objective was to disable her for as long as I possibly could. I guess her healing capability is greater then I initially expected it to be. I will have to adjust my estimates of her.”
“Great,” Said Jeran sarcastically, “Our opponent is learning things about Null because of our accidental comments. If we say too much then he will no longer have any use for us and then we will be kicked to the roadside and he will capture Null by himself.”
“See, you are catching on fairly fast,” Said Zolurious with a smirk.
“Enough!” Said Silvia loudly, “You are both acting like children. I’m the only one young enough here to do that so I expect you both to start acting like real adults and stop pocking fun at each other just because you think you might have the upper hand. Now, Zolurious, since you now know for certain which woman is Null would you mind telling us where that ship was headed and you plans for what we are doing next?”
The two men turned to stare at Silvia, neither of them had excepted her do say something like that. Zolurious coughed slightly before saying, “Alright, you are right that we should be concentrating on the purpose of our alliance and not the alliance itself. The ship that Null go on is heading toward the Galaxtic Core, which means there are several stops that she could be getting off on. Without knowing which stop it would be difficult to track her. Our best bet is to follow the planned route and then check each stop to see if she got off at it.”
Jeran paused for a second, “You mean the ship that she got on a was a regular passenger ship? That wasn’t the sort of escape method that I thought she would be doing. Anyway, how did she get enough money to afford to travel on that ship. She shouldn’t have had any money available to her.”
Zolurious shrugged, “I’m not certain about money, but it seems that she is traveling with several other people. It was strange, when I checked up on the identities of the people that she was traveling with I got unusually empty records. That means that those people are using aliases. If I had to make a guess then it would be that Null managed to convince some unsavory people that she possessed forbidden technology and that she would assist them with it if they took her with them. However that part is mostly speculation.”
Jeran’s brow furrowed, “That doesn’t sound like Null. She gave me a hard time about what I wanted to do with forbidden technology when I met her. It was like she was testing me to see if my cause was worthy of her. Is it possible that those people lied to Null about what they wanted to do with the forbidden technology and Null believed them.”
“Your impression of Null is different then mine. I do not find it strange that a criminal would take advance of her powers to escape. However I doubt that they could successfully lie to her. Given my knowledge of nano-machines I think she could function as a relatively accurate lie detector at close range if she wanted to.”
“I think such speculation at this point is useless,” Said Silvia, “It would be better for us to go after them and then find out the truth when we have access to real information. How are you planning to go after them Zolurious? Do you have a ship or are we going to catch a galactic core bound passenger ship so that we can reproduce her route and ensure that we stop at all the necessary stops.”
Zolurious nodded, “Yes, that was what I was planning on doing. I have already procured use three tickets on the next passenger ship which should be leaving tomorrow. And before you ask, yes I purchased three of them because I was confident that you would agree to my alliance.”
“I see,” said Jeran. “Well, I hope our search is fruitful but I’ll let you know now that I am planning on winning your little challenge and escaping with Null.”
She was uncertain. She stared up at the ceiling in the dark and continued to do that for a long while. It was only when the door slide open that she turned to look at who was there.
She could only see the tall silluete of a man standing there. “Lady Null, I hope that I didn’t wake you. It is just that Lord Zero has asked for you presence. Would you please come with me to his room now.”
Null slid silently out of bed. “Give me a moment.” She said, her voice lacking any sort of tone. She waited for the door to slide closed before changing her clothes in the bathroom. She stared at her reflection in the mirror. She had returned her hair to it’s rainbow hue but somehow it now seemed to be duller then it had been. She didn’t want to contemplate why that might be.
After a while she returned to the door and stepped outside. The tall man standing outside was wearing a black suit. Once Null stepped through the doorway the man motioned and said, “Lady Null, would you please come this way.” Before beginning to lead Null through the halls of the passenger ship. It wasn’t long before they reached the room of Lord Zero. Null had only meet him a a week and a half ago but the man seemed to know who she was.
The door slide open to reveal Lord Zero. He wasn’t quite as impressive at his name gave him credit for. He was short and a little bit pudgy. X, the tall man, always seemed to be a better fit for the name.
“Is there something that you want?” Asked Null, her voice still have the dead sound to it that it had earlier. She felt like something was missing, she also thought that she knew what it was but she didn’t want to think about it for fear that it would be the truth.
“Yes, we have almost arrived at our destination. I plan on beginning the operation soon after we arrive on Ongul. I hope that you are sufficiently recovered for you to lend us your assistance. We have already waited a long time for you, if you need more time to recover we might be able to wait a while longer.”
Null shook her head, “No, I have managed to recover almost completely. I will be able to assist you in any method that you need me for. Just…” Null paused for a few seconds.
Lord Zero asked, “Just… what? Is there something that you need. I would be honored to help you if there is something that I could do for you.”
Null eventually shook her head, “No, it is nothing. I am happy to assist you in any way that I can.” She certainly didn’t sound happy, she didn’t sound anything.
Lord Zero nodded, “Good, however if there is anything you can tell X and he will assist you as best as he can. After all, his entire life is dedicated to serving you. You may use him as you see fit.”
Without saying anything else Null left Lord Zero and began heading back to her room. X followed her silently. After she entered her room she looked back over her shoulder at X before saying, “What did he mean about your life being dedicated to serving me?”
“Just that. I am here only to serve you. I was raised to serve you, just like those who were called X before me. We have been awaiting your return. We knew that someday you were return to us and we have been waiting.” Said X.
“I see. However I fear that you might have been waiting for a false savior. I do not know if I will be able to accomplish what you think I am able to do. I am not as powerful as you think that I am. I fear the legends of my strength are now greater then it actually is.”
“But you have faced and ANGEL and live. Surely that must mean you are strong enough to succeed.” Said X.
“Barely, I was lucky to escape with my life. I am not the great person that you thing that I am… I am just a person and you need to accept that.” The pressed the button next to the bed and the door slid closed between them.
Null sighed softly before laying down on the bed. She had hardly expected these people to even exist. It had been a hundred years since she had vanished and all memories of her were supposed to have been erased. There must have been some people who escaped the ANGELs and kept knowledge of her alive. It seemed that her past was beginning to catch up with her.
It had been about a week since Jeran, Silvia, and Zolurious had boarded the passenger ship. The week had felt even longer then it should have with the three of them together. Jeran and Silvia didn’t get along well with Zolurious despite the agreement between them. They often argued about inconsequential things.
Ever time that the ship docked on some space station the three of them left to check the records of arrival at the port. They had to go over much of the record by hand just to make sure that they didn’t accidentally miss Null’s arrival in a port. As the ship continued to get closer and closer to it’s final destination Jeran feared that Null might have gotten off on a pervious stop and they just didn’t noticed it.
It was a breath of releaf when they arrived at the Ongul Orbital Station and found a departure record of Null. They even knew for certain that this was Null because she had returned her hair color to it’s normal rainbow color. It was Silvia that managed to find her while they were looking through the records but it was Zolurious who managed to get permission to watch the port recordings.
The recordings showed Null leaving the ship with a few of unknown people. She was followed by a tall well dressed man who Jeran thought must be there to prevent her from escaping. In front of her, surrounded by bodyguards, was a short chubby man, Jeran decided that that man must be the mastermind behind the operation. He must have lied to Null to convince her to come with them. Zolurious obviously had a different interpretation of who those people were but he didn’t voice it.
Silvia pointed at the two strange men in the recording and asked Zolurious, “Do you know who those two people are? I believe you said that they were using fake names for the boarding registration but to you have any real information about them?”
Zolurious shook his head, “No, it can be time consuming to find information about a particular person because of data transmission speeds and I am still under a certain probation so there is a limit to how I can search.”
“Well, you should figure it out.” Said Jeran impatiently. “We need to know who those people are to find out because that will help tell us there they have brought Null.”
Jeran checked the schedule for the orbital drop shuttles, “They would have had to stay here for at least seven hours before going down to the surface. Might I suggest that Zolurious begins the search for information about those people while me and Silvia ask around to see if there is any information about Null. A planet is a big place so we need to find out where their shuttle brought them to on the surface. Is that alright with you Zolurious?”
Zolurious thought for a minute before nodding, “Since I have to assume that this planet is their destination I should be able to find out something about who those people are. It is harder to hide information about yourself on a planet you live on. Remember to tell me anything that you find out about Null, even if you think it might be inconsequential.”
“Yes, we know.” Said Silvia. She wanted them to start soon before Zolurious and Jeran began to argue. One thing that Silvia had learned from spending more then a week with Zolurious was that he was a lot more human then she thought an ANGEL would be or at least a lot more annoying then she thought an ANGEL would be. It didn’t help that Jeran kept biting at Zolurious’ bait.
Silvia then grabbed her dad’s hand and lead him out of the room before something happened. Once they had left Silvia asked, “Do you have any good ideas about where to search for information about Null?”
Jeran nodded and the said, “Yes, but we are unfortunately going to have to split up. Some of the places that I’m going to search do not allow minor to enter. Instead, how about you check with the people working for the drop ships. Since Null changed her hair back they might remember somebody with rainbow hair. See if you can find out where she headed off to.”
Silvia pretended to gasp in horror, “You don’t mean you intend to go to one of those place do you? I didn’t think Null was into those sorts of things.” She waited for her dad’s face to contort and flush red. Then before he could reply she continued, “I’m joking. You don’t need to take me so seriously.”
Then Silvia turned and began to run off. She waved back at Jeran, “I’ll check the drop ships. Let us meet back up in the hotel in a few hours.” Then she was out of sight.
Jeran sighed deeply. He didn’t know what to do with that girl. One minute he though that he understood her and then next he had no idea what she was doing. Null was like that too. He paused, actually it had been like that for almost everybody that he knew well, it must be part of what it means to be human.
When he had been on Ark-Neon with Null she had visited many of the different bars and clubs in the space station. This small station wasn’t as big as Ark-Neon so it should be easier to search for the clubs and ask if any of them had seen Null.
For the next several hours Jeran went from bar to bar and from club to club seeing if anybody knew anything about Null. However at every place it was the same. Nobody remembered seeing a woman with rainbow hair a week ago. Normally he would have attributed that to memory but Null was fairly hard to forget.
Eventually he had visited all the bars and clubs in the space station, all fourteen of them. He was surprised there was that many in a space station that mainly functioned as a transport point for the planet. He was disappointed to find that nobody had heard or seen anything about Null.
He returned to the room and waited for Silvia who took another hour. As Silvia shut the door she asked, “Since you are here before me does that mean you didn’t have any success in finding Null.”
“Unfortunately not. When we were in Ark-Neon she spent a lot of her free time having fun but she didn’t do any of that here. It is strange. If she was just being tricked then she would have certainly visited at least one of them. However, since she didn’t that would probably that she is doing this against her will. But I don’t know how somebody could make Null do anything against her will.” Said Jeran.
There was the click of the door closing again, “You are forgetting another option.” Came the voice of Zolurious, “It could also be that the Null that you thought you knew wasn’t the real her and she was the one who was tricking you?” Zolurious walked into the room and while ignoring Jeran’s glare sat down on one of the chairs.
“She would have equally no reason to do that,” Said Silvia. “If I had to guess why she did not visit any bar it would be punishment.”
Zolurious nodded slightly and said, “Ah, I see.” However Jeran didn’t see so he asked, “Zolurious might understand but I certainly don’t. What do you mean that it might be punishment? Are you saying that those people with her are punishing her by preventing her from having fun?”
“No, she is the one who is punishing herself.” Said Silvia in explanation. “It is probably because a feeling of guilt. She probably thinks that she is responsible for what has happened to us and wants to punish herself. It could have been made worse by the people who are traveling with her though.”
“But…” Jeran began to protest. Then he stopped. Null shouldn’t have anything to feel guilty for but Jeran knew that people are not rational all of the time. With the power that Null had it was a burden that probably made her feel responsible for everything. “Your right, it is possible that Null is punishing herself.”
In an attempt to cheer Jeran up Silvia said, “On the bright side I found out which drop ship Null took and where it will be landing. The next shuttle is in two hours so we should probably get ready to go.” Then she turned to Zolurious, “So both of us have reported, is there anything that you have discovered.”
“I looked into the identities of the people who were traveling with Null. The short one’s real name is Malistar Friec. He as rich businessman whose company is one of the largest on Ongul. While much of the success is due to his grandfather he had kept the business running smoothly since he inherited it.”
“However there are no records of him leaving to planet recently, so his trip to pick up Null is total secret. While his bodyguards are simply his employees, I was unable to find any information about the tall person. He is an enigma and there don’t seem to be any records of him on the planet. The problem I’m having is that I can’t seem to find out what their motive is other then the power and wealth somebody with forbidden technology could bring them.” Continued Zolurious.
“And you find that strange because Malistar Friec already had plenty of power and wealth. If he got too much more then that could bring attention to him and the fact that he is using forbidden technology might get out.” Said Silvia, who was trying to puzzle through the events.
“Exactly,” Said Zolurious as he nodded.
“Well, we won’t figure out what the reason is if we stay here. We should go down to the planet and investigate further. We can’t really do any more while stuck in orbit around the planet.” Said Jeran, “Silvia, you said the shuttle is leaving in two hours right? Then we should make sure we have everything that we need.”
“Is there anything wrong?” Asked X. He was standing just inside the door to Null’s room. The lights were off and the blinds closed, the only light come from the lights beyond the door. Null was laying on her bed at an angle and was staring up at the ceiling.
“No.” Said Null. X continued to watch her for a couple minutes before speaking again, “It is just that you haven’t left your room all day and you have kept the lights off all day. “Normally this is not an activity that people do if nothing is wrong.”
“Can can see just fine with the lights off. To me it makes no difference if they are on or off, so you can see there is nothing wrong.” Relied Null.
“Still, while I have little experience with it, you look sad.” Said X. “Do you regret leaving those people?”
“No.” Said Null softly. There was a long pause where neither of them spoke. Then eventually Null spoke again, “X, why do you serve me?”
“Because I was born to serve you. I told you that before didn’t I?” Said X.
“Yes, I understand that part.” Said Null without even looking at him. “But why do you serve me? There must be a reason, something other then the fact that you were born into a certain family. There is the life one chooses and the life one doesn’t choose.”
X hesitated, like he didn’t want to answer Null’s question. Eventually he said, “Are you ordering me to tell you why I serve you?”
Null turned her head over to look at X for a moment. She stared into his eyes and then returned to staring at the ceiling. “No, it is not an order. I was simply interested. It is just that if you decide not to serve me then you can leave. I don’t really care one way or another.”
X stood there thinking for a while. Null remained silent until finally X spoke again, “Did you choose to be Null?” It was a strange question, even X didn’t know exactly what he meant by it.
“Yes,” Said Null, her voice quiet and flat, “I choose to become what I am although I didn’t know what that would mean until it was too late. My other option was to surrender, give in, and die. Instead I choose to fight for my life, even if that meant countless casualties.” There was a moment of silence before Null asked, “Tell me X, what is your life worth? If I ordered you to protect me with your life would you do it?”
X stood there quietly, not answering the question. Eventually Null spoke again, “I see. You do not have to answer. Even I am uncertain how to answer that question. Would I choose the same paths if I had to live my life again? I do not know. However in the end I keep risking the life that I sacrificed countless people to keep just to protect a single person. I could not keep doing that but I don’t think I would have been able to stop myself if I stayed with him. What is one of the reason I had to leave.”
“Why are you telling me this when I do not answer your questions?” Asked X. Null was telling him more then he had expected her to tell a simple servant.
“You might not realize it but we are similar. I do not think I would have been able to tell other people what I told you. I especially do not think I would have been able to tell him. What would he think of me if I expressed such sentiment to him.” Said Null.
“I do not know. I was trained to hide my feelings completely so that even if I feel something about what you are telling me I will not show anything.” Said X.
“I see. Then your world is like this room. The lights are off and the windows closed. My world is like that too because it is much too bright outside.” Said Null, “What do you think you happen if we went outside?”
“I don’t know if I can imagine that.” Said X.
“Neither can I. I caught a glimpse of it recently and it made me afraid. That is why I am staying in by dark room. Now if there isn’t anything else could you please leave me. I would like to stay alone in the dark a while longer.”
“Of course Lady Null.” Said X as he stepped back and closed the door. X looked at the closed door. Null was now alone in her dark room without even the light from the hall to illuminate her. Still X knew that there was more light in the room in her heart then in his. The light didn’t even manage to seep around the cracking in the door in his heart.
The descent down to the planet was painfully quiet. At least that is what Silvia thought. She sat between Jeran and Zolurious. They had to get adjacent seats because the shuttle was fairly packed. Silvia could feel the uneasy tension between the two of them and it was uncomfortable to sit between then. It was worse then it had been on the space ship because now they were getting closer to where Null was.
Even Silvia, who normally tried to make the tension by talking about something kept quiet. Instead she tried to pass the time by watching the planet approched through the window. Luckily it was Jeran who was sitting on that side of her so it was a little be less uncomfortable.
Eventually they reached the surface of the planet and Silvia could breath a sigh of relief. Even talking about the plan to find Null would be better then this eerie silence. They couldn’t talk about it on the shuttle flight because other people might be able to overhead them.
After going through the disembarking process they were finally able to step outside and breath the fresh planet air. Zolurious decided that they should set up their base of operations in a nearby hotel before starting the search attempt for Null.
After getting the hotel room they decided on how to search for Null.
“Malistar Friec owns a substantial about of property. I’m going to look into his different places and see if any off them is appropriate for keeping Null without being conspicuous. How are you going to look for Null?” Said Zolurious.
Jeran said, “This time I am not going to visit the bars and clubs, it is unlikely that the situation with Null will have chanced since she landed on the planet. I have a few different ideas about where to search for her but I frist need to get a feel for the city.”
“That sounds like you have no idea where to search and are just trying to cover that.” Said Zolurious skeptically.
“Either way,” Said Silvia, “I am going to try and pick up her trail from the shuttle stop and see if I can find where she went from there. Dad, might I suggest that you check illegal sources, since Null has forbidden technology the underground might have leads to her.”
“While I only have some knowledge of illegal works I think I will be able to find something. I must admin that most of my experience is from the other side of the law so I will do my best.” Said Jeran.
“Alright,” Said Silvia, who seemed to act as a coordinator between Jeran and Zolurious. “Let us each go looking and come back her in six hours. If you discover anything important before then contact the other two using your mini-terminal.” She smiled a little bit before continuing, “And if you find Null, only contact your allies.”
Then the three of the left the hotel to begin their separate searches for Null. Silvia returned to the shuttle stop and began questioning the employees about whether they had seen a rainbow haired woman about a week ago. However she only seemed to get lackluster results. Several of the employees remembered seeing her but they didn’t have any details about where she had gone. Her best report remembered that she got into a private vehicle with a tall man. However even learning that didn’t help her locate Null so Silvia decided that she needed a new method of search.
Meanwhile Jeran was looking for underground activity. For a stranger to the city this tended to be fairly hard, especially during the day. However Jeran did find someone who was willing to spill the beans, even though it did take the threat of bodily harm to convince them.
Once he had found several locations where illegal deals went down it was time to find an information seller. More of the deals took place in bars because it they were busy and tended to mind their business. He began visited the different places searching for information sellers, the people who’s business if was to buy and sell information. Aben was one of those people and he had given Jeran some advice about looking for people like him.
You never want to go to the one most people suggest. They are usually either corrupt or incompetent. The good information sellers like to keep hidden to prevent being found by the law. Eventually Jeran found somebody who fit the recommendations.
Before heading over there he jotted down a few test questions. Aben recommended having them the first time you went to a new information seller. They were usually questions that you already knew the answer to and you are testing the information seller to ensure that he is honest. Of course this costs more money so it also helps grease the social wheel to make the seller like you more.
He approached the store cautiously. Information dealers tended to work in stores because it gave them a place for people to visit them and provided some protection. Jeran walked in and began looking over the wears that were being sold. He picked out something that he thought Silvia might like before going over to the counter that the owner was at. “Is there anything else that you would like?” Asked the man. Jeran then began one of the standard rituals for dealing with information sellers.
“Yes, I was looking for some advice. I’m new to the city and was wondering if you knew anything about some of the interesting land marks.” Said Jeran and he paid for the item that he had purchases, he added a little bit extra to show that he was purchasing this information from the man.
The man nodded and began explaining a couple of things about the city. After a few more minutes of idle information exchange, Jeran began to press for more sensitive information. After around fifteen minutes of exchanging information and money Jeran finally began to move into the more pressing information, the stuff that he actually wanted to know.
“What do you know about Malistar Friec that he would want to hide?” Asked Jeran. It was the first step in learning about Null, something that other people might want to know.
The man paused for a second like he was considering the question, “That is dangerous information, I hope you know what you are getting yourself into.” Jeran furrowed his brow, he knew that Malistar must be doing something strange but he didn’t expect the dealer to be that worried. Information was normally a dangerous profession.
Jeran however just nodded, “I understand, you can add an extra fee.” It was common practice to add extra fees for dangerous or important information.
“Malistar Friec has a lot of secret holdings. He also has a hand in purchasing illegal weapons and supplies. He spends a lot of his money on constructing secret buildings and underground passageways.” Said the man.
“What has he been doing recently?” Asked Jeran. While what Malistar did previous be important to finding Null, Jeran cared about finding her more then what Malistar was planning to do with her.
“While it has been quite secret, Malistar has been off world recently. My informants says that he was fetching a scientist who knows forbidden technology. About a week ago they brought back a strange woman.”
“Forbidden technology?” Asked Jeran, who pretended to be surprised. “What does he plan to do with it and who is this woman he brought back.”
“I’m not exactly certain what he is planning to do with forbidden technology. His cleanup is quite thorough and those who would speak about it are silenced. However he is known to meet with a bunch of other people in some of his secret buildings. He as been doing so for many years and his father was doing it before him. As for the woman, not too much is known about her, my off world contacts have yet to give me any accurate reports about her. However I know she has strange rainbow hair and the servant who follows her calls her Lady Null.”
“I see. Since Malistar has several secret buildings, do you know which ones they are. Particularly where does he keep this woman?” Asked Jeran.
The old man smiled a little bit before punching in a number into the cash register. Jeran winced slightly when he saw it. It was large, really large, enough to pay for a lot of stuff. The man had figured out the information Jeran really cared about and was charging an arm and a leg for it. Jeran haggled over the price for a little bit before finally paying the slightly lower price.
Jeran left the shop with the information he was looking for, where Null was being kept. However his bank account was much emptier then it had been. Any ship he would have to get with his current amount would have to be older and smaller then he would have rather had.
Silvia decided to use the global network to look for information about Null. She found a quiet cyber cafe and began searching for information. While Silvia had been stuck in the hospital on Quill she had had plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of global networks. The one on Ongul was different then the one that she was used to but it didn’t take her very long to grow accustom to the differences.
Then she was able to start asking questions about the different things that have been happening on the planet. There was plenty of good information but Silvia wanted to find out specific information. She needed an inside source which usually took much longer to look for.
Several hours later Silvia stumbled upon something strange. An anonymous website that’s hosting was funded by the Friec Corporation. It had a completely blank page except for a login section and the words, ‘New World’. Silvia tried searching around for available credentials or a security weakness to the site, but there was nothing.
“Lady Null, there is something that I should tell you.” Said X through the door of Null’s room. Other then for the meetings that Lord Zero had called her too, Null had spent more of her time in that dark room.
When there was no answer from Null’s room so X opened the door and stepped into the room. It was dark in the room but Null was sitting on a chair reading a book. She seemed to have no problem reading the book in the dark. After a moment X finally asked, “Is the book interesting?”
Null shook her head, “I have no idea. It is in a language that I do not know. I am trying to figure out what it is saying but every word is mysterious. Just when I think I know something I learn that it isn’t true and just a trick of my imagination.”
“I see. I have come to tell you about a development. It seems that you have people that are following you.” Said X.
Null looked over at X, her eyes seemed to show emotion for the first time since he had meet her. However it soon died and Null returned to reading the book that she didn’t understand, “That doesn’t concern me any more. I joined you because this is the place that I really belong.”
“It seems that there are three people who are following you. A young girl and two men arrived on the planet today. Two of them seem to be the people who you left back in The End. The third however is somebody very interesting.”
“Oh.” Said Null who didn’t seem to be paying attention. She was already trying as hard as she could to stay silent and calm.
“The third person is the ANGEL Zolurious.” Null suddenly stiffened. X was somewhat happy to get a reaction out of her that was something more then indifference. She sat there staring at the page, not even her eyes were moving.
X spoke again, “We are uncertain why they are traveling together but they seem to be working together. Zolurious is also acting strangely. He has taken no measures to prevent us from discovering his identity and he is performing more standard investigation routines then is expected from an ANGEL.”
“He is probably being punished by ANGEL by not allowing him to use too much of his power. The fact that I managed to escape is probably a problem for ANGEL.” Said Null.
“Do you know why your friends are traveling with Zolurious,” Asked X. He didn’t know or care about the answer to that question but he wanted to see how Null would react.
“I could guess, but it shouldn’t matter to me anymore. ANGEL is my enemy, and that makes anyone who travels with them my enemy as well.” Said Null, however her declaration sounded half-hearted.
“Then do you want us to do anything about it? We would be able to deal with them swiftly if you wanted us to. Then you would never be bothered by them again.” Said X.
Null paused, “No,” She then continued to pause trying to think of a reason why that should be true that sounded logical. “Zolurious might be functioning at reduced power but if his life was in danger the he would almost certainly be able to use his full power. Maybe he is baiting us by not hiding his identity so that we attempt to attack him.”
“I see,” Said X. “That is an acceptable excuse. I will inform Lord Zero about your decision. Null looked at him, she seemed like she wanted to say something but she continued to delay and by the time she spoke the door had already shut and X was gone.
“Please don’t hurt them.”
X stood on the other side of the door. He was still able to hear the words, although Null didn’t know that. What was it about those two that made Lady Null like that, X did not understand. He had expected Lady Null to be more… aggressive, to be more of a leader. Was it those two that made Lady Null like that, that stole her fire, he had to know. So, for the first time even he decided to ignore his orders and find those that had done this to his lady and stop them, only he could keep Lady Null safe forever.
He began to leave the compound with a look of determination on his face, it was a look he had never had before. Many things had been new since he had met Lady Null and he would not let these people who were not good enough for her take it from him.