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Thorn has found the first member of the fractured Psychic Knights. Ifor joined him after thirty years as a mercenary. Now their quest to destroy the Techpsychers is back on. They just need to find the other members.
Their journey takes them to Krakol. A mostly desolate world owned by one man and used as a pleasure world for the most depraved of any society from around the local star system.
At the centre of this depravity is the fighting arena. Used by mega rich individuals to display their own trained fighters in bouts to the death. Contests with multi million credit bets on the line.
Can they find their friend in such a despicable place? If so, how is he involved in such barbarism?
Book two in the Psychic Knights series.
Reformation – Part 2
“They must be found. I don’t care how many worlds you have to destroy. They cannot get away with this blasphemy.” The head priest of the Terrulian order was raging. Not only had two of his protectors been destroyed, but worst of all the Amuel had been taken from its resting place. This had never happened before in the history of the Order. What would the Inner Sanctum say? He would likely be tortured by the Terrulian Serperus before being sacrificed.
The priest, Brother Freen, sat in the Ioneon ship having been told of the fate of the Amuel. His host, Tylas Gorn stood over him. Tylas Gorn stood at six foot five inches and was solid to the touch. His long scraggly hair snaked its way down his back ending in the customary braids and bones that befits an Ioneon warrior from the High family of Scrool. He wore Teliom skin clothing that was strong enough to withstand most weapon attacks. His face was hard. Covered in a thin lining of felt like fur, as are all Ioneons, and carrying scars like medals of honour. The typical wide yellow eyes narrowed and his top lip lifted slightly revealing two rows of sharpened teeth.
“What concerns me is how they defeated the two demons and removed the Amuel from its deathly hold.” The warrior paced up and down contemplating a new foe.
“It doesn’t matter how they did it, just get me the Amuel back.”
Tylas turned to the priest with a look that froze his blood.
“Of course it matters you fool. You don’t confront a foe without having some knowledge of its capabilities.” His voice had risen suddenly. Catching himself he calmed his anger. Though the priest was indeed a weak and sad excuse for an Ioneon, the pact between the Priesthood and Tylas’s family was very tenuous and he needed to hold his tongue. He needed the priesthood more that they needed him. There were other families who were eager to be in his position and the Priesthood could very easily change loyalties.
“Of course we will retrieve it as soon as we can. I just like to prepare myself for battle by gaining as much information as I can. After all, it’s not many who can best one of your demonic children let alone two. As soon as my warriors have finished gaining what we need we will give chase. One of my ships has just left in pursuit, but only to monitor where they are going. Have no fear Brother Freen; we will retrieve the precious Amuel.”
Krakol was a dark planet. Nothing but bare rock filled the landscape. Once home to an army over two hundred years ago that never saw combat it was taken over by a wealthy Platinum magnet. Fed up with laws that prevented him from satisfying his insatiable lust for the darker side of human nature, he bought this planet for a mere twenty thousand Credits, the price of a modest dwelling back on Earth. Soon a great entertainment complex grew that attracted the worst of the worst from worlds as far as the Gamma System. Not only a great entertainment centre, but also a base for the trafficking of all forms of intelligent life, an unexpected sideline for the owner. Life was just another way to make a profit and gain influential friends.
One of this man’s many vices was hosting the biggest fighting den known. He would pit alien against alien, man against man, man against alien. Numerous varieties of beasts that littered the galaxy would entertain the paying crowd. This was the fate of Akarn. Ever since he had recovered from the neural bomb, he’d been enslaved and made to fight. A head band implanted in his skull subdued any psychic activity. This alone wouldn’t normally stop him, but his enslaver was in partnership with a woman known only as the Mystic.
Not much was known about her. She was from a colony that survived on a planet found somewhere at the dark edges of the Beta System. It was said her mystical powers came from a spring found at the northern most tip of the planet. To this day this was unconfirmed. Numerous expeditions had been undertaken, but no sighting of the planet had been recorded. It had eluded explorers for centuries.
Ludo Maruda was a lump of a man. Standing at five feet ten inches he was sixteen stone dead. Years of debauchery had taken its toll on his body and the aches and pains would constantly nag at his limbs if it wasn’t for the recreational drug he frequently indulged in.
He sat in his office groping the female on his knee while taking a business meeting.
“Fellow off-worlders, I have a fresh batch coming in a couple of weeks. All of high quality and varied in their genetic make up. I’m sure there will be something for everyone. Please, in the meantime, be my guests. Take in the many pleasures I can offer you. As you know I have the Great Circus beginning in just over a week culminating in the biggest fight to the death I have ever held. I know some of you have fighters fighting as a side spectacle and I’m sure there will be some substantially sized bets along the way. If there is anything,” he leaned forward and studiously stared into each and everyone one of the onlookers eyes, “and I mean anything that you would like to either try or have, please don’t hesitate to ask. As you know there is very little that cannot be had here for a price.”
A wide grin spread across his face that infected everyone in the room and soon the air filled with the sound of lust induced cackles. Ludo pushed another sweet tasting morsel into his mouth that came from the local planet of Tertia. A morsel that was still alive until sharp teeth bit down hard severing it in two.
The room slowly emptied leaving Ludo alone with his woman. He pushed her to her knees and undid his trousers leaving her to get on with her job. He pulled up a Holo-Screen to his chief of staff.
“Get me the Mystic. Tell her I need her in my office now.”
“Yes sir,” came the reply.
Ten minutes later there was a knock on the door and in entered the Mystic. Tall with long white hair, a trait of all from her planet, she glided as she moved, her flowing dark dress sweeping the floor. Her smooth features hid the terrible things that she could do. Things that Ludo made good use of.
“You called for me,” she said softly.
The slurping noise from the woman on her knees was something the Mystic had become used to no matter how distasteful it was.
“Yes, I need you to weave your magic on one of my guests, but I don’t want them to act until during the Great Circus. I need plenty of witnesses when he kills the Tertian High Noble. I’ll arrange access to his quarters in the next few days. Don’t disappear anywhere until you have completed your job.” He leant back into his chair and put his hands behind his head.
“Very well. If that is all I will tend to my children and await your call.”
Ludo waved a hand to dismiss the Mystic and she left leaving him panting on his chair.
The Shafian dropped out of Hyperspace and began its final leg of the month long journey. A short two days and it would be in orbit around Krakol.
During the journey he had let his hair grow to shoulder length. The fringe and sides of his hair framed his hard face.
Keeping his body in shape was easy for him. Training with Ifor and Akarn kept him sharp and his six foot two inch frame strong. It was his mind that he struggled with.
Thorn was preparing himself for another mind sweep. He’d spent some time developing the stamina, but only had the Shafian to practice on. However, he felt he was able to withstand the stresses of the sweep now with the training program he had created.
“Do we have any idea where he might be?” asked Ifor as he was eating at the captain’s table. He, too was a strong man with a similar build to Thorn. There were just two differences between the two friends. Ifor had shaved his head completely now, disguising the fact he was going bald and he was a lot darker in skin colour, coming from a mixed race family.
Everyone had sat down for only the third time since they had all been together.
“There’s only one area on the planet that is populated. We’ll find somewhere to stay and I’ll try searching for him from there.”
Enyar, the Shafian’s captain, had decided to offer his services after all. The incentive of another thirty thousand credits helped him change his mind, but deep down he had a feeling about his new employers. There was something…good in them. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but it just seemed right. Besides, the Pertruan’s main job, hauling and disposing of waste from around the systems had dried up for the time being.
“Are you sure you don’t want the services of my crew to help with the search? They could cover a lot more ground a lot quicker.” Enyar was eager to help. His hairless, ape-like features showed the excitement of a young Pertruan about to embark on his first starship voyage.
“No, not this time. We need to be cautious. I don’t want anyone to know why we are here. This is not the sort of place Akarn would be seen dead in. None of us would. Which can only mean he is being held here against his will.”
Enyar chose his next words carefully.
“Are you sure he hasn’t…changed. Maybe the effects on his mind was drastically different to that of yours. Maybe he is now the sort of person who would come to this place.”
Thorn shook his head.
“No! I don’t believe that would happen.” He looked over to Ifor. “Deep down we are still the same people we were thirty years ago.”
A smile fell across Enyar’s lips.
“I’m sure you are right my friend. Let us drink to the goodness in us all.”
The dark rock that is Krakol appeared on the viewer. It revolved around one yellow sun that was far in the distance and afforded the planet only a meagre source of light and warmth. Its three moons criss-crossed each other’s path, only the intricate gravitational relationship between them, Krakol and the system’s satellite prevented any collisions.
Once again Enyar made the arrangements for docking and sought out some accommodation for Thorn and Ifor. Krakol was unique among all the planets Enyar had ever visited. No mild interrogation about where you have been or where you are going. Just pay your docking fee and that’s it. Everyone knows why you are here and they don’ care who you are,
Thorn sat with Saul and Tianu, the two Naturals he’d rescued at the space port where he found Enyar. The young men were eager to help, but understood the reasons they had to stay behind.
“While we’re down on the planet I need you to try and contact Torst for me. His last known place was somewhere in this System so you should be able to get hold of him via the ships long range communicators. I’ve programmed in all of the details I have. Tell him we need him here with us. I’ve a feeling I’m going to need his help once all of my men are together.”
“OK.” Said Tianu. Tianu was a skinny, freckle faced young man with blonde hair and a dislike of the sun. Saul was almost the exact opposite with dark hair, thick, dark eyebrows and a chunky body without being obese. He stood three inches taller than Tianu at five feet eleven inches. “What do you think you’ll find down there?” Tianu continued.
“I’m not sure. Thirty years ago we heard a lot of rumours about what was going on here. And none of them good.”
“But I thought it was supposed to be an entertainment world,” said Saul.
“It is, but only for those with a dark side to their nature. There are no laws here, so pretty much anything goes. If your pleasure is torturing and mutilating living beings, there’s nothing to stop you fulfilling that pleasure.”
The two young men were glad they weren’t going now. The comfort and safety of the Shafian sounded a better alternative.
Dragool was a Teliun diplomat with a secret. His trips to Krakol were never spoken about. They were always under the guise of diplomatic trips. No one ever found out.
He was asleep in his quarters after a quick acting drug had been slipped into his drink in the lobby bar. His quarters were in the upper echelons of the great castle that Ludo reserved for his more important guests.
His door silently slid open and in walked the Mystic. Under her arm she carried a bag made from a thousand rock worms that could only be found in the volcanic rocks on the southernmost tip of her planet. She carefully knelt by Dragool’s bed keeping a close eye on his sleeping form. Purposefully she removed four figurines and seven small round candles. The figurines were of the four acolytes of eternity.
Each candle she placed very carefully in a pattern around the figurines that she had arranged on the floor, and in turn lit them. Then in a long forgotten tongue she spoke the Incantation of Possession. A sultry, hypnotic language that would influence anyone within earshot. Towards the end the flames of the candles grew until the tips merged into one and a greenish smoke weaved its way upwards and then towards Dragool. It entered his nostrils causing him to shift slightly in his dreamy state.
This lasted for a moment until the smoke receded and the flames died back eventually extinguishing themselves. The Mystic collected the candles and figurines and placed them back in her bag and then disappeared from the room as quietly as she had arrived. Dragool slept on.
Thorn and Ifor set down on the planet’s surface around midday. The murky light was improved by the Hydra lamps protruding from the buildings and walls that filled this part of the city. These same buildings and walls created a maze of alleyways that continually confused new visitors and didn’t get much easier to master no matter how many times they returned.
They found themselves in the very centre of the city. In the hustle and bustle of a community that grew up against the backdrop of a hedonistic lifestyle. This was an area that catered for the general, mainly human pleasures of the flesh. Massage parlours, prostitutes, gambling and drugs all had their own predefined areas that didn’t encroach on any other businesses. That’s not to say that the pleasures didn’t mix.
To the edges of the city were the Habs that looked out onto the Flats. These were the specialist areas. The streets were forever stained with blood and littered with body parts and organs that were only cleared away once a week. Fights to the death were a way of life around here. Often attracting small crowds and big bets. These fighters would use the streets as a training area with a hope of one day making it to the Arena.
The Maruda Arena, a colossal building stood as a monument to the Greek gladiatorial arenas from Earth’s history. Columns rose to the sky dominating the surrounding buildings, holding the many floors that ran around its circumference. Rows and rows of seats looked down onto the fighting area. It ran for a hundred and fifty metres on its longest edge and seventy five metres on the shorter edges. At one end of the arena was the only means of entry to the fighting area and only means of escape. A single ramp led down to the holding area for the fighters. Hugging the edges of the ramp were two caged tunnels that took the fighters up along the front row seats where spectators paid extra to hurl stones and abuse at the fighters on their journey to death or glory.
The arena was the main draw for the wealthier visitors to Krakol. They brought their prized fighting animals, which were collected from all over the galaxy, to fight. Not only for credits, but for the bragging rights and power it would bring in that wealthy community.
Up to this point there was one man who owned the reigning champion over the last twenty five years. That was Ludo Maruda. His human fighting machine had overcome all beasts big and small. In the fighting world he was known as the Dark Prince of Fighters. To his friends he was Akarn.