Shatterer of Worlds: A Novel

Tag: Outer Rim

The Outer Rim Part 13

by on Dec.21, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

After five full days on Regat, Dennethom was ready to leave. Real’c contacted him just once to let him know they were scrutinizing every ship that left the planet. Looking for signs of foul play became the official reason, but Dennethom knew that they were making sure none of the Chran family had managed to escape.

The news updated constantly on every new tidbit about the explosion, The picture Wydun and Lossepharr painted was there had been a problem with the main thrusters. Even though Wydun’s own people had worked on the thrusters and thought it was fixed, it fired too early, overheating and causing the ship to explode. Wydun had even found someone to take the blame. His chief engineer. He faced criminal charges. Dennethom wondered if the engineer was being paid off as well. Surely he was. Someone had to deliver the explosive device.

Eventually Dennethom gave the order to Jora to take off. There was no more searches of outgoing ships, and besides, their cover was solid enough. As they began to pull away from Regat’s orbit, Dennethom felt the heaviness in his heart only become greater. A frightening thought occurred to him. He had no idea where they would go from here. So he called a family meeting. Yasana declined, claiming she was unwell. But they all understood she mourned the loss of her old life. And so Arjuna and Arronanto gathered once more with their brother to make plans.

“We need to develop allies, or we have no hope of going home,” Arjuna said, flatly.

Dennethom nodded his head. “We have a few friends in the outer rim. Ninsun, for one. I also trust the stewards on Mandos, Indra and Veran. But of them all, only Ninsun knows we’re alive.” He hesitated. “I think we should keep it that way for now.”

“But how can we develop an army if they all believe we’re dead?” Arronanto asked. He wore an expression of incredulity.

Dennethom shook his head. “It’s too soon and far too dangerous. If we start telling the other stewards, word will get back to Lossepharr. Aside from the military bases on Mandos, we have no army.”

“So we need outside help,” Arjuna surmised.

“Yes,” Dennethom agreed.

“What about the Luzuviq? Zutival has always had a relationship with our family.”

“Maybe,” Dennethom muttered. “I trust Zutival, and he may be able to provide us with a few ships, but I don’t know that I trust the Luzuviq government.”

“You think they would make their own move against the Boentu system?”

“Between us and the Luzuviq, we’re the two biggest military forces in the galaxy. If they get a sniff that we’re somehow destabilized, they may want to make their own move.”

“So not the Luzuviq, then who? The Katai?” Arjuna asked. She looked sceptical. The katai were a powerful race, but they had their own problems and they didn’t exactly have the strongest ties with Boentu.

“What about the Arthema System?” Arronanto asked. He seemed hesitant.

Both his brother and sister looked at him questioningly.

“You already have a relationship with the Assembly. Besides, it might be a good way to get in touch with Mehar Renecke.”

Dennethom looked doubtful.

“We still trust the Mehar, don’t we?” Arronanto replied. He seemed disconcerted at the expressions on Arjuna and Dennethom’s faces.

“I just don’t want to do anything to risk our position. We can’t let Lossy get wind of this. He could have spies everywhere.”

Arjuna gently touched Dennethom’s shoulder. “It might not be a bad idea though. We could get better medical supplies for the ship. We can keep a low profile and try to see just how much sympathy there is to Lossepharr.”

Slowly, with reluctance, Dennethom agreed to his brother’s suggestion. They were going to Liono.

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The Outer Rim Part 12

by on Dec.19, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

They were watching an address by Katha. He looked worn out and in shock. His clothing appeared ruffled as though hurriedly put together. His eyes were red and hollow as he numbly announced the death of his kin. Briefly he mentioned the investigation that would take place on Regat to discover what went wrong. Dennethom wasn’t worried though. He already had Jora and Xien rig the ship so that if an explosive device did go off, they wouldn’t be able to recover any body parts. Katha then began to talk about his nephews and niece. His voice sounded raw. He spoke in a halting way, as though afraid he would break down in front of the entire star system.

Having stayed up all night, an exhausted Yasana decided to go take a nap. Though Dennethom was also tired, he and his siblings chose to stay awake, re-watching the broadcasts, particularly the one of Katha’s announcement.

It was clear that, at least for the time being, no one suspected they lived. They might make if off Regat alive. So why didn’t he feel happier? He had saved his family’s life. Mostly he felt confused, unsure what his next move should be.

Though he didn’t say anything to Arronanto and Arjuna, he knew in his heart that Katha couldn’t have been behind the plot to kill them. He seemed too shaken. Not even Katha could keep his emotions so well hidden.

Conversely Dennethom had little doubt of his cousin’s involvement. When Katha made it known that the title of future leader would now have to go to his eldest son, Lossepharr’s face was carefully blank. He didn’t look elated. But he didn’t seem visibly upset by the loss of so much family.

“I’m going to kill him,” Arjuna murmured, studying Lossepharr’s face as though he were a ballistic orbital bot.

“No,” Dennethom replied. “He will die once he is tried for his crimes.”

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The Outer Rim Part 11

by on Dec.17, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

Dennethom toured the ship with Jora, conducting a quick inspection, but the tour was unnecessary. Everything on-board the Aluen had been stowed. Supplies were stocked. The craft was ready to go. Jora and Xien had done a superb job.

He itched to take off right away, but they decided against it. In fact, they planned to spend two more days on Regat, albeit on-board the ship. For one thing, they needed to remote pilot the Boentu Atten which can only be accomplished while still in Regat’s orbit. For another, Dennethom thought they would be safer staying on Regat.

If Wydun suspected anything, he would check the logs of all ships that departed in the last few hours, or those about to leave. Ninsun’s cover would probably hold up to scrutiny, but Dennethom didn’t want to take that chance. Wydun would never believe they remained on Regat. Eventually security would have to lessen. It was a busy space-port, after all. But for now they stayed put.

Ultimately, Dennethom also wanted to make sure the Boentu Atten exploded. He needed to know Lossepharr really planned to kill him. There was still a part of him that simply could not fathom attempting to murder your own kin.

Eventually the time came for Jora to remote fly the Boentu Atten. They watched as he piloted the craft away from Wydun’s private landing strip and pulled up into the atmosphere, getting ready to break away from Regat’s orbit. And then they lost contact with the ship.

Arjuna and Arronanto sat upfront with Dennethom watching the proceedings. They all knew what this meant. Something had taken out the ship. Both Jora and Xien looked spooked. They obeyed Dennethom’s orders without question. When Dennethom told them about an attempt on his life, they took him seriously. It was their duty. But nobody had assassinated a Boentu leader in over a hundred cycles.

Arronanto fiddled with the Comms unit trying to pick up a news broadcast. It was chaotic. But message after message began broadcasting the same dire news: The Boentu Atten had exploded killing the future leader of Boentu and his family.

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The Outer Rim Part Ten

by on Dec.14, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim, Uncategorized

Despite being the middle of the night, the space port was bustling. The crowds were perfect for the four members of the Chran family, allowing them to easily blend in. They easily made their way to the craft Dennethom purchased through Ninsun, a brand new state of the art ship manufactured by the Lo’Kar Corporation.

The ship was built right there on Regat. The engines were as quiet and advanced as they came. The ship’s stealth capabilities made it the perfect craft for any high-ranking Boentu warrior. Up until this insanity occurred, Dennethom had considered a proposal to introduce this very craft to the Boentu home fleet. However, it was an expensive ship, not at all cost effective. But for a wealthy Boentu trying to sneak off a planet unseen, it was just right.

The craft, which Arronanto had dubbed the Aluen, was already warmed up, the engines purring by the time they arrived at the docking bay. Jora, the Boentu Atten’s pilot came down the ramp to greet the family. He was unable to hide his sheer relief as he helped Yasana up the ramp and assisted Arronanto and Arjuna with their overnight bags. What little belongings they had been able to take with them had already been loaded on the Aluen.

Dennethom turned to Real’c. “Real’c, what is your wife’s name?”

“Shalya.”

Dennethom smiled and repeated the name to himself. “Please thank Shalya for me. You both took such great risks in helping us. I cannot tell you how grateful I am,” Dennethom said, taking Realc’s hand in both of his. “Ninsun will have a payment waiting for-”

Real’c waved a hand. “I do not wish for payment, my liege. My wife and I are helping you because we believe you are the rightful leader of the Boentu people. And if a plot truly exists, then as a citizen I must help you. It is my duty.”

Dennethom was appreciative of his words and he bowed to Real’c. “Thank you. There are some that don’t recognise my claim as future leader. It means a lot to me that you do.”

Real’c’s expression darkened. “If I can find any proof at all that Wydun was behind this plot to kill you, I will make very sure the evidence gets into the right hands.”

Dennethom bowed once more. “I appreciate that.” He hesitated. “Real’c, you have already done so much for my family and yet there is one more thing I must ask of you.”

“You are the future leader of the Boentu, it would be an honour to aid you,” Realc responded, his expression grave.

“I will need to keep abreast of news in the Boentu System, particularly here on Regat. Especially if Wydun suspects anything.” Dennethom reached into his pocket and brought out a small handheld comms unit. “I’ve pre-programmed this link so you can contact me directly.” He opened the device. “This is how you can encrypt or decrypt messages.” He showed Real’c twice more before handing the device over to him. “If you hear anything- if my cousin Lossepharr arrives and has suspicions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

Real’c took the communications link, studying the device for a moment, practising the encryption and decryption function before placing it in his pocket. “It has been an honour,” he said, bowing to Dennethom.

Dennethom placed his right arm on the horticulturalist’s left shoulder and bowed his head once more. Real’c couldn’t hide his surprise. The gesture was reserved for those that warriors considered their equal. Without another word, Dennethom hurried up the ramp to join his family.

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The Outer Rim Part Nine

by on Dec.12, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

Real’c and the Chran family carried on in silence, staying close to the shadows. Only once did they have to duck out of the way when a guard walked by with a large metal carrier, presumably to capture the rogue badens. When the guard was out of sight they continued on.

Dennethom found himself wondering whether Wydun slept right now, knowing in the morning he would be woken with the news of their deaths. Would he be able to sleep? Or was he too anxious to sleep? Had he stayed up, hoping all went well and Lossepharr sticks to their agreement? Not that it mattered. The important thing right now is that they leave Regat alive.

Eventually they found themselves out in the night air. Real’c had left a ground vehicle parked outside the Steward’s house. The four members of the Chran family crammed into the back of the vehicle. Real’c instructed them to hide beneath a pile of plastic sheets.

“What about the gate guards?” Arjuna asked as she struggled for room in the cramped vehicle.

“We’re leaving. They won’t bother checking the vehicle.” Real’c wandered around for a moment, arranging the sheets here and there so the family was completely concealed, then he got in the driver’s seat and drove away.

Dennethom felt the vehicle stop, but the engine remained on. A strange voice could be heard.

“Leaving already? You just arrived.”

“I brought the wrong fertilizer. This stuff will kill all of the flowers. Lady La’Nar will not be happy.”

The guard chuckled. “We don’t want that. They say she spends a small fortune on these Arthemian imports.”

“Oh they’re expensive all right,” replied Real’c. “And difficult to grow. But they are pretty.”

Dennethom heard the guard chuckle again, and the vehicle began to move once more.

The next time the vehicle stopped, the engine shut off and Real’c helped them out. As he exited the vehicle, Dennethom saw tools scattered across the back.

“You’re a gardener,” he exclaimed.

“Horticulturist, yes,” Real’c affirmed. “Because of Lady La’Nar’s love of off-system plants, which need special care, I have access to the Steward’s residence day and night.”

Dennethom was stunned. When Ninsun had suggested Real’c, he never imagined it would be up to a simple gardener and his wife to save the line of Chran.

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The Outer Rim Part Seven

by on Dec.07, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

“The guards change shift soon,” said Real’c. “We must hurry. We only have a little while to get you off the Steward’s residence and to your waiting ship.”

“Any guards patrolling?” Arjuna asked, gazing past him.

“I haven’t spotted any save the usual security detail. As for them, I managed to create a disturbance which should keep them busy for a while.”

Dennethom frowned. In order for the plan to work, Wydun could not suspect they had somehow made it out alive. “What kind of disturbance?”

Real’c waved a hand in the air dismissively. “Nothing too unusual. I left a couple of baden cubs outside a window close to Wydun’s quarters.”

Dennethom smiled in appreciation. Baden’s were creatures not dissimilar to the Boentu. They had thicker fur which covered their entire bodies, and had four legs and a tail. But there were enough similarities in their DNA to prove the two species were related. Similarities such as their retractable claws and the shape of their ears. In the central planets, Dennethom hadn’t seen a baden outside a zoo enclosure. However, in the outer planets badens were everywhere. Though for the most part they were relatively harmless, they yowl, spit and generally made a nuisance of themselves. The worst of which was their tendency to mark their territory. The baden cubs would certainly be enough of a distraction to the guards without appearing out of the ordinary.

Dennethom helped Yasana gather up her things, while Arronanto grabbed the rest of their belongings. Slowly, quietly, they exited their sleeping quarters and crept on their way. At the end of the hall, Dennethom spotted a camera. He was surprised to see one. Not that there weren’t cameras throughout Boentu Palace, but never inside the private wing where the family slept. The Boentu Leader, unlike some other system’s politicians, had a fair amount of privacy. Unfortunately, Wydun’s residence seemed to be the exception. He held up a hand to the group to keep them back and pointed to the camera.

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The Outer Rim Part Six

by on Dec.05, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

La’Nar was thrilled to have Tsalu Dennethom and his family spending the night in her home. She, at least, seemed oblivious to her husband’s plans. She set them up in a stunning suite, with two bedrooms, one for Arjuna and her mother, and one for Arronanto and Dennethom. Even so, she was concerned with offending the future leader. “You really ought to have private rooms,” she apologised.

Dennethom smiled and patted her hand. “It is fine, really.” Actually he preferred it this way. He wanted to keep his family close together. He wished he had kept his engineer and pilot with them, but it would look too suspicious.

“What time should I have breakfast brought to you?” she asked, batting her lashes at him.

Dennethom shook his head. “I am afraid we may not be here for breakfast. I really do have a busy schedule. I must attend a meeting with the Arthemians tomorrow. We will probably be gone before first light.” It was true. If Wydun checked with his assistant, he would find the future leader very busy tomorrow and the next few days.

“Of course,” La’Nar replied with a gracious smile.

“Are we certain this will work?” Yasana asked. She sat on the edge of a lounge chair, her body erect, absentmindedly clawing at the soft cushion. They had the lights off, since they wanted to appear to be sleeping, but Arronanto had lit a small lantern so they were not sitting in total darkness.

“No,” Dennethom replied in hushed tones. “But the plan is in place. We have no choice, mother.”

“What I want to know is why we can trust this Real’c?” Arjuna said.

Dennethom shrugged. “Believe me, I pulled in a lot of favours to find someone like Real’c. He’s loyal to Ninsun. Loyal to our father.”

“And he’s certain about the security shift rotations?” Arronanto asked.

“Yes. Apparently someone close to him works in Wydun’s security.”

“So I suppose we wait,” Arjuna muttered. She had pulled out her kentarr and began polishing it. The act was almost as soothing to her nerves as meditation.

“Who will fly the Boentu Atten?” Yasana asked.

“Everything has already been arranged, mother. Jora and Xien have made arrangements to fly the Atten remotely,” Dennethom reassured her. The Boentu Atten, a title bestowed upon any ship carrying the Boentu Leader, or, in Dennethom’s case, the future Boentu leader, had an advanced autopilot function, in case all passengers were incapacitated. Still, it had taken money and expertise for Dennethom’s pilot and engineer to modify it to remote pilot.

“Where are Jora and Xien?” Yasana asked with concern.

“They’re meeting us there, mother,” Arronanto replied, and laid a shawl around her shoulders, because she looked cold.

As time drifted by, Dennethom began to pace, anxious to get things started. He hated feeling helpless.He was ready to give up the charade and leave. Arjuna and Arronanto stood, alert, waiting. It was almost time. Yasana lay, dozing on the lounge chair. She looked frail and exhausted.

A light tap sent Yasana bolting upright. She glanced fearfully at the door. Arronanto and Arjuna were already acting. They both held weapons as they flanked the entryway, just in case. Dennethom tapped a button and the doors slid apart to reveal a middle age Boentu. Dennethom recognized him from their brief communications. Real’c.

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The Outer Rim Part Five

by on Dec.03, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim, Uncategorized

Dinner was awkward. At least, it felt that way to Dennethom and his family. The meal itself was delicious. Aside from Wydun, who seemed preoccupied, the company was impeccable. La’Nar kept everybody at the table entertained with stories of her life growing up on Regat. The business owners Wydun had invited were all gracious and very eager to make a good impression with the future leader of Boentu. But still Dennethom felt stiff and anxious.

At one point in the conversation Arronanto kicked his brother under the table. At another, Arjuna leaned forward, pretending to have Dennethom check for an eyelash in her eye.

“It wouldn’t kill you to actually laugh at some of his jokes,” she murmured.

Dennethom glared at her, but took what she said into consideration and spent the rest of the evening acting as normal as he could. At times like this, he wished he were a regular Boentu warrior, and not the “future leader”. In war, you usually knew your enemy. If someone wanted to kill you they would do so with a volt cannon or some other obvious weapon. But this was different. The subterfuge. This is what his cousin Lossepharr thrived for.

After the course, Dennethom sent word to his pilot Jora, to have him and the engineer, Xien, prepare the ship. After dessert a messenger returned with a message about a problem with the ship’s thrusters. Dennethom silently cursed Wydun. Everything was going just as Enjawne had said it would. This was emphasized when Wydun insisted they spend the night at the Steward’s own residence.

“I’ll have my engineers work on it tonight. By morning, I’m sure your ship will be ready and you can return to Indra.”

Dennethom gave a polite nod of his head. “That’s very kind of you. I’m sure my people will appreciate the assistance.”

“Nonsense. You are the future leader after all. I’ll send my people right away. Don’t let your crew worry about a thing. In fact, let them rest, it’s a long flight to Indra. My people are the best. We don’t just build ships on Regat we live for spacecraft. We can replace the thrusters for you. You’ll be in good hands.”

“I really should get back as soon as possible,” Dennethom began. “I have meetings scheduled.”

“Take my ship,” Wydun replied. He seemed almost earnest. Had Enjawne been mistaken? But no, he was banking on Dennethom declining. To rig his own ship would be too dangerous. Too obvious. If Dennethom accepted the offer, he knew Wydun would find some other way to make him stay the night.

Dennethom could feel the tension emanating from the rest of his family. But he agreed to spend the night. If this was the way it was supposed to go, so be it. Besides, he was ready for the charade to be over.

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The Outer Rim Part Eleven

by on Dec.01, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim, Uncategorized

Dennethom toured the ship with Jora conducting a quick inspection, but the tour was unnecessary. Everything on-board the Aluen had been stowed. Supplies were stocked. The ship was ready to go. Jora and Xien had done a superb job.

He itched to take off right away, but they decided against it. In fact, they planned to spend two more days on Regat, albeit on-board the ship. For one thing, they needed to remote pilot the Boentu Atten which could only be accomplished while still in Regat’s orbit. For another, Dennethom thought they would be safer staying on Regat.

If Wydun suspected anything, he would check the logs of all ships that departed in the last few hours, or those about to leave. Ninsun’s cover would probably hold up to scrutiny, but Dennethom didn’t want to take that chance. Wydun would never believe they were still on Regat. Eventually security would have to lessen. It was a busy space-port after all. But for now they stayed put.

Ultimately, Dennethom also wanted to make sure the Boentu Atten exploded. He needed to know Lossepharr was really planning to kill him. There was still a part of him that simply could not fathom attempting to murder your own kin.

Eventually the time came for Jora to remote fly the Boentu Atten. They watched as he piloted the craft away from Wydun’s private landing strip and it pulled up into the atmosphere, getting ready to break away from Regat’s orbit. And then they lost contact with the Boentu Atten.

Arjuna and Arronanto sat upfront with Dennethom watching the proceedings. They all knew what this meant. Something had taken out the ship. Both Jora and Xien looked spooked. They obeyed Dennethom’s orders without question. When Dennethom told them about an attempt on his life, they took him seriously. It was their duty. But nobody had assassinated a Boentu leader in over a hundred cycles.

Arronanto fiddled with the Comms unit trying to pick up a news broadcast. It was chaotic. But message after message began broadcasting the same dire news: The Boentu Atten had exploded killing the future leader of Boentu and his family.

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The Outer Rim Part Four

by on Nov.30, 2012, under Chapter Eight: The Outer Rim

Regat was a dry, rocky planet. At least, the small part of the planet Dennethom had seen. Indra, for all its heat, got lots of rain, making it humid and perfect for agriculture. Regat was just plain hot.

Wydun met them on his private landing strip. He appeared short for a Boentu, Dennethom noticed. And his robes were rather luxurious for a Steward of the outer rim. Perhaps a gift from a benefactor. A pre-payment of sorts.

His mate, La-Nar, was also present. She greeted Yasana politely and offered to take her around the city, while the others played with military craft. Dennethom could tell his mother felt unhappy about the separation, but she didn’t show it as she La-Nar’s hand and they went on their way.

Wydun chatted with Dennethom amiably as they set off for Lo’kar Corporation headquarters. Despite the tension, Arronanto whooped with pleasure as he saw the small, sleek fighter glide towards him. When offered the chance to take the controls, Arronanto almost acted as though if he died today, he would be happy. Almost.

While Arronanto took off in the new generation shuttle, Arjuna went off with their guide to take a look at latest volt cannons.

“Have you had a chance to look over those military contracts, Tsalu?” Wydun politely inquired.

“Yes. It doesn’t seem to be too high an increase in production.”

Wydun shook his head sadly. “The problem is not with our end of the production line, Tsalu. It’s Adonis. Businesses here cannot produce the parts if they don’t have the materials. Meylan, the Steward, has put such tight controls on mining there is simply no way we can meet our obligations for the Boentu military.”

Dennethom nodded his head. “It is tricky. Meylan has concerns about pollutants. From what I read in the reports, he has every reason to be concerned. He feels if he increases the mining operations, it would take pollutants to dangerous levels.”

Wydun waived his hand dismissively. “In a hundred cycles, perhaps. But these are materials needed today. Meylan wants you to believe he is one extra load away from destroying the planet. It’s simply not true.”

Dennethom felt perplexed. Wydun looked genuinely concerned about the situation with the local manufacturers. What if there was no plot to assassinate the Chrans?

“I will speak with Steward Meylan, and see if there’s any way to change his production loads. Perhaps the palace could offer some assistance. In the meantime, I will see about getting the military quotas back to last cycle’s rates. We are the largest military force in the galaxy. There’s no reason these orders can’t wait.”

Wydun didn’t seem entirely happy with the resolution. Maybe it was the talk of reducing quotas, Dennethom suspected. The businesses on Regat were probably quite thrilled to have the increased activity. But whatever concerns Wydun had, he did not reveal them to the younger Boentu. Instead he said, “I hope you and your family will join us for dinner before you return to Indra tonight.”

Dennethom smiled, and shook his head. “I don’t know. It is quite the journey from Regat to Indra and I have several meetings to attend tomorrow.”

“But you have to come,” Wydun replied. “I invited the founder of Lo’Kar and a few other local business owners. I promised them they would get a chance to meet the future leader of our system. You can’t let me down now. You’ll make me a dishonourable liar.”

We wouldn’t want that, Dennethom thought to himself. You’re less a dishonourable liar and more just a dishonourable assassin. He nodded his head in consent and said, “in that case it would be my pleasure to attend.”

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