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With Thorn still unconscious and the rest of the Psychic Knights arguing the merits of going back into the wormhole, their decision rested on what effects the Amuels in their possession had on them.
What was happening to Thorn’s mind that was gradually killing him? What awaited them in the Wormhole that threatened to end their search for the next Amuel and the very galaxy’s they travelled?
The Psychic Knights must find a way to help Thorn to keep their hope of collecting all of the Amuels alive. The need to work together as a team was needed more now than ever before.
Book seven in the Psychic Knights series
The shuttle settled on to the hard soil. There had been no rain for centuries on this part of Tulor. A dry and arid land, it had escaped the colonies and was an ideal location for privacy.
In fact the atmosphere was such that no known technology could penetrate it to read what the weather was let alone any communications that happened on the surface.
As the constant wind blew the loose soil against the foreign object, the seal broke and a ramp lowered itself to the surface. Large, worn boots began the short journey down to the ground and the owner inhaled the fresh air that he had not tasted in a month of space travel. It was cool, but not cold.
He stood there savouring the freshness, ignoring the dusty surroundings. Several minutes later the three spiked poles in his hands were thrust into the ground in a large triangular formation. Activating the ends of the poles the owner of the boots stood back and watched.
The air at the centre fizzed and popped and three purple lights joined at a point. An image grew from that point to touch the pole ends. It was Chorlook.
The owner of the boots looked at the disfigured head. It was hard to tell if any emotion crossed it, but the eyes told their own story.
‘You must destroy the Psychic Knights before they get to the next Amuel. They are in a vulnerable position now. Their leader is in a critical condition.’
Shriln had received word that Chorlook had wanted to meet with him about a week ago. Ever since the defeat by Thorn on Fallon Shriln had patiently waited for this opportunity. He was expecting the Knights to have been destroyed, robbing him of his chance of revenge, but these first words from Chorlook lifted the Leoneon’s heart.
‘They succeeded on Frenecia?’ Shriln asked already knowing the answer.
Chorlook ignored the question. The fiery eyes glowed brighter as a response.
‘The humans have a knack for survival. My powers are limited in your realm. Once you have eliminated them and retrieved the two Amuels our quest for the remaining Amuels will be unhindered. Your dominance over your own galaxy can begin.’
Shriln had tasted defeat under the humans and his revenge was not restricted to Thorn.
‘When I have Thorn’s head on my sword I want the power to slaughter every last human in their own galaxy.’
‘Leoneon. When you have Thorn’s head on your sword and all five of the Amuels are in my possession you can annihilate any race you wish. Then when you are done playing, your time is mine to avenge my incarceration.’
Shriln smiled a wide grin. His lipless mouth was now as dry as the desert he was standing in.
The scaly skin that covered his body was beginning to itch in the moist-less air and he wanted to return to the shuttle as soon as possible.
‘I will send you the location of the next Amuel. They must not get any more. They seem to have a connection with them that I have not seen before. Even in my own race. They have the potential to rip open a tear between our two realms that cannot happen.’
‘I will have their heads one way or another. The next time we speak I will have the two Amuels.’
Chorlook’s eyes bore into Shriln, but the Leoneon did not flinch. His return stare was that of a hardened warrior, blooded in the Syon and Norstern wars.
‘I am sending you something that will help. Guard it well and use it wisely.’
The last two Amuels locations were sent to Shriln’s mind and the image of Chorlook disappeared. As it did something replaced it. On the ground at the centre of the three poles a leather bag appeared. Shriln picked it up and peered inside. A smile spread across his face. As he retrieved the three poles he was already planning his attack on the humans.
The Montarian ship held its course. The location of the next Amuel had been entered into the computer, but the wormhole had yet to be created. There were two reasons. Thorn was in a stable, but critical condition and no one had any idea what effect jumping to the wormhole would have on him. Secondly, there was still the debate about what they were to do the next time they came across the Mind Subduer.
Their last encounter threw them out of the wormhole and almost destroyed the ship.
Yilnar was adamant that he could communicate with it. His attempts the last time were fruitless, but he felt there was potential for contact to be made.
“From what I remember it was when you contacted it that we were almost killed coming out of the wormhole,” said Ifor.
He was with the rest of the Psychic Knights in the tactics room above the control deck. The discussion had been going on for well over an hour and at times it was getting heated. More to the fact that it was overshadowed by the concern for Thorn.
“We were kicked out of the wormhole because of the shields not because of my trying to communicate with the Mind Subduer.”
“And what caused the shields to fail?” Ifor glared at Yilnar with an intenseness that would have made a bull back down.
“We don’t know that. There’s no evidence to show it was the Mind Subduer.”
“What else could it have been? There was nothing else out there.”
“That we know of.”
“Whatever the cause, we’re not going back in until we know Thorn’s ok,” interjected Akarn. The big man wanted to diffuse the situation. “Let’s take a break and get some refreshments. I know my mouth is dry with all this talking.”
“Good idea,” said Roman. His exoskeleton wheezed into action and made for the door. “I’m famished, too. Anyone else?”
Akarn and Yilnar nodded. Ifor shook his head.
“I’m gonna head over to the Savage Mind. See if there’s been any change.”
“Alisha said she’ll let us know as soon as there is. Come and have something to eat…” But it was too late. Ifor had walked passed Roman before he had finished the sentence.
“He’s taking it bad. He blames himself for what happened. He said he’d keep an eye on Thorn, but he couldn’t see what was going to happening,” said Akarn.
“Well, starving yourself is not going to help. I’ll take him something when we’ve finished.” They left feeling grateful for the break.
On the Savage Mind, Alisha, the medicae, was sitting next to Thorn. The monitoring equipment sat silently above his head as he lay on the bed, motionless. The signs were that his mind was repairing itself, but other parts of his mind were being damaged in some way. He had been like it ever since they left Frenecia a week ago. No noticeable change in his condition was evident and no indication on how long he would be like it had presented itself.
Ifor walked up to the bed and leaned over Thorn.
“Any signs of change?” he asked for the twentieth time. And for the twentieth time the answer was no. “Hey, Thorn. Come on mate. I know you can hear me. Give us a sign you’re still in there,” Ifor said softly. “Just a wiggle of a finger or a waggle of the nose.”
Ifor scanned Thorn’s body for a response and gave up after a minute. He slumped down on the chair next to Alisha.
“You take a break and go and get something to eat. I’ll keep the old boy company.”
“OK. I’ll only be gone for a short while.”
“Take you’re time. We’re going no where.”
Alisha left quietly as though unconsciously trying not to wake Thorn. As soon as they were alone Ifor began reminiscing about the old days and some of the rescue missions they had been on.
“You always knew best, didn’t you. Always had you’re plans, which, of course, we executed perfectly. I remember, though, when one of those plans didn’t quite work out and we had to get you out of the shit. Not for the first time, either. There was one time on Daros 6 where you were trapped by those female Terons after your Mag-Bike failed as a get away vehicle. Boy you should have seen the look on your face when they wanted to take you into their bedroom. Mind you, they…”
The stories went on for hours. Even after Alisha had returned and Roman had brought over some food for him.
It was a couple of days later that Porto, the captain, once again asked the Knights about their plans. They had been coasting for a while and the crew were showing signs of restlessness. It was a good months travel in the wormhole to get to their destination and he was worried that without direction they would become too restless. After all, they had been aboard for well over a month as it was.
“Might I suggest,” said Porto, “that we find a planet to stop off at until your plans are mapped out. Some fresh air would be beneficial to the crews well being.”
Ever since they had embarked on their journey in the Montarians ship, the Knights had been single-minded in their pursuit of the Amuels. Their thoughts hadn’t included the crew that had selflessly volunteered to join them on their quest.
“Porto, you are right,” said Roman. “We’re not used to working with a crew and it’s easy for us to forget those that have helped us get this far. Find the nearest suitable planet and let them have some free time to relax. And Porto.”
“Firstly, stop calling me Sir and secondly make sure you join them.”
The Pertruan smiled.
As the Knights watched Porto leave it was Akarn who voiced what everyone else was thinking.
“We gotta stop being selfish and start thinking of the people who are helping us.”
“Let’s get this plan of action sorted out, then,” said Ifor.
“The way I see it is we have only three options. Jump to the wormhole and try and communicate with the Mind Subduer, Jump to the wormhole and jump out again as soon as we come into contact with the Mind Subduer or stay out of the wormhole and travel at hyper-speed which will take us the best part of thirty years to get there.” Akarn said the last option with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Being realistic,” continued Roman, “we have two options. Jumping in and out of the wormhole, in my eyes is unrealistic. Apart from the fact I’m not sure how that would affect the ship it seems that it potentially could take almost as long as travelling by hyper-speed.”
“Then we have only one real option,” said Yilnar knowing it was the one Ifor disliked.
Ifor sat back in his chair with his hands on his head and staring at the ceiling. The rest of the Knights could see his mind working by the actions on his face. Eventually he broke his silence.
“If we do this I want you to go over everything you can remember about your last encounter. Try to figure out what else you can try and what we can do to defeat it.”
“I’ve thought about it every day since we left Frenecia. Already have a few things in mind.”
Ifor stared at Yilnar. Deep down he already knew he’d been thinking about it. He knew his friend too well not to know, but for some reason he felt the need to say it.
“Roman, you and me are going to go through the computers on this ship again and see if we can’t find a way to boost the shields or find some other way to protect us in the wormhole.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Roman.
“I’ll learn as much as I can about this place where the next Amuel is,” said Akarn. “See if I can’t come up with a plan of action for releasing it.”
Ifor sat up straight.
“Well gentlemen. We’ve been sitting on our backsides for long enough. Let’s get to work.
The Montarian ship reached a suitable planet within a day and a half and everyone vacated the ship except the Knights, Alisha and Seria.
Seria remained in the cabin she now shared with Akarn using what she learned from the Mind Subduer to better understand it. Her link to the natural world around her was thrown into turmoil when she encountered the Mind Subduer. It’s form and function she had never come across before. How the wormhole fits into the natural world she could not yet determine.
Alisha remained by Thorn’s side. Everything she had learned from Torst and by studying the Psychic Knights minds wasn’t enough for her to be able to treat him. He was physically stable, but there was a lot of activity going on in his mind and from what the monitoring equipment was telling her it was activity that could lead to Thorn being left in a vegetative state. The damaged area was out-pacing the repaired area.
Akarn’s labours were turning out to be fruitless to a degree. The little information he had gathered from the ships computers were cryptic at best and he was running his mind in circles trying to work out what they were getting themselves in to.
Likewise, Ifor and Roman were having minimal success boosting the ships shields. The technology remained confusing at times, but the information documented about the configuration of all the systems on board showed that they were tweaked to almost their maximum potential.
Yilnar was having some success. He’d spent some time with Seria practising meditation techniques that allowed him to see deeper into his own mind. To places that stored the information he had gathered during his encounter with the Mind Subduer that he couldn’t get to during consciousness. He was learning a lot.
On the third day orbiting Forsus the Knights were sitting down to a meal. One that had been prepared by Ifor. In all the time they had known him his friends had never seen him cook before and they sat down with an air of trepidation.
The first thing that came out of Roman’s mouth was,
“Since when can you cook?”
“I learned during those thirty odd years we were apart. Just wanted to take my mind away from ships schematics for an hour or two. I think sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees and thinking about something else helps to break that down. Be careful, big man. It’s a little spicy and I know you’re not too keen on hot spice, but I did tone it down a little just for you.”
The three men started before Ifor sat down and sounds of satisfaction rose from the table.
“You sure Porto didn’t arrange this and had it sent up from the surface?” said Yilnar through a mouth half full of food.
“You like? There’s plenty more where that came from.”
The table fell to silence until the last scrapings of food were cleared from the plates. Everyone sat back with a sigh.
“I don’t get many pleasant surprises, but that, Ifor, was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.”
Akarn and Roman nodded in agreement.
“You’ll make someone a good housewife one day.”
A chuckle sounded around the table.
Ifor got up and brought out some glasses and a bottle of rum. He filled them and passed them round the table. Raising his glass he said,
“Here’s to the recovery of our friend, Thorn. May his sometimes annoying manner plague us again soon.”
Everyone raised their glass and downed the drink in one. Ifor went round and refilled the glasses.
“How’s the meditation going, Yilnar?”
“Better than I had hoped. There’s a few parts of my memory I need to decipher, but I’m hopeful it can reveal a communication path to the Mind Subduer.”
Ifor nodded as he took a swig of his drink.
“How about ways to destroy the thing?”
Yilnar’s shoulders sunk low.
“I’m hoping it won’t come to that,” he said. “I’ve put all my efforts into trying to communicate with it.”
“Yilnar,” Ifor said, annoyed. “When it comes to it if you can’t talk to it then it’ll be us or it and I know which side I’m leaning towards. If we don’t have a back up of defeating it we might as well commit suicide.”
“There will be a way to communicate,” stressed Yilnar. “I know there will. I felt it the last time we were in the wormhole. I just need to decipher it’s language.”
Ifor had been down this road before with Yilnar and he was too subdued after the meal to get into a full blown argument again. He turned to Akarn.
“Big man. How’s your assignment going?”
“Slowly,” he replied. “There’s so little detail on the location it’s hard to figure out what’s needed to release the next Amuel. Makes me wonder if using the other Amuels is required.”
Yilnar jumped up.
“That’s it,” he yelled excitedly.
The sudden movement made Roman and Ifor jump.
“The other Amuels. That’s what’s missing. We’ve seen what Thorn can do when he holds one of the Amuels.”
“And we’ve seen what it’s done to him,” said Roman.
“But it doesn’t have that effect on all of us. I can hold it without incident. What if each Amuel has a different effect on each one of us. Maybe it reflects what’s inside us.”
“What, are you saying Thorn is a homicidal maniac ‘cause that’s what I saw in his eyes when that thing took over,” said Ifor.
“No, but maybe it reflected the rage he feels against the TechPsychers. After all they did take his family when he was a kid.”
Ifor thought on the proposition for a while. It did make some kind of sense to him. The way Thorn acted while in possession of the Amuel.
“So what are you suggesting?” he said after a while.
Yilnar leaned forward supporting himself on the table.
“I think we should see what effect the Amuels we’ve got has on each of us.”
There was a sudden silence around the room.
“Not sure I’m comfortable with that,” said Akarn. “I spent too long with something controlling me. Its not something I want to repeat.”
“That’s understandable, big man. How about you guys?”
Roman and Ifor looked at each other, unease spreading across their faces. When Ifor turned back to Yilnar he said,
“You’re really up for this?”
“I truly believe it can help us.”
Ifor could see the belief in Yilnar’s eyes. he looked back at Roman.
“Well I’m game.”
“How do you suggest we go about it?” asked Ifor.
“Well, we’re in orbit over an ideal testing ground. Lets take the Amuels down to a secluded spot and see what happens.”
“Sounds like some sort of plan. Let’s do it. Let’s find a spot and head down after we’ve had some rest.”