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Akarn’s search for revenge now finally over after catching up with Ludo Maruda on Fallon, the Psychic Knights set off in the Montarians ship with volunteers from the Shafian after deciding to hunt down the remaining Amuels. To get to their first destination they must travel through a wormhole, an experience neither the Psychic Knights or their new crew have ever faced before.
Book six in the Psychic Knights series
The Needle of Chorlook
The dagger cut through the blue flesh and passed the rib cage with the skill of an experienced hand. The screams of the restrained victim rang out across the bare landscape that surrounded three quarters of the giant structure under which the sacrifice was taking part.
Pulling down on the handle the ribs split asunder, parting way.
The screams of the willing victim was believed to reach the Almighty Being that watched over them. The blood and heart an offering of complete obedience.
The dais overlooked the audience of expectant Frenecians with heads bowed in prayer. It was bathed in the shadow of the structure as were the praying Frenecians, a condition of the ritual.
Shonder’s skill with the dagger had been relayed through generations of Frenecians, a tradition’s beginning that had been lost in the mists of time. The beginnings may have been lost, but the skill lived on.
The separating tool was inserted and spread the ribs open. The silver liquid of life oozed from the body’s openings and pooled around Shonder’s bare feet. He pushed his hand into the cavity and surrounded the still beating heart with his fingers. Carefully slicing away its restraints, he pulled the organ from its home.
The victim was now silent and the praying Frenecians looked up knowing the deed had been done.
Shonder held the heart into the air towards the structure.
“We present the heart of the sacrifice in payment for future relief of the disease that has plagued this land from the beginning of time. We are forever your servants.”
Shonder dropped the heart into the pit at the base of the structure. The heart joined the pile of Frenecian hearts that had accumulated there since the very first sacrifice. The onlookers screamed in ecstatic jubilation and a time of celebration began that lasted into the night.
The swirling colours whizzed by as Ifor looked out of the window. The look of amazement had been plastered to his face for the last hour.
He had sat at this same window for an hour every day for the last two months. They were the first humans to experience a Wormhole and the view out into it never got tired for him.
The other four Psychic Knights had lost interest after a few days, but not him. It was like a massage to the mind. It soothed him and invigorated his senses at the same time, to the point that he found the best time for his training was straight after coming from the window. His movements were a lot sharper and his mental control a lot more focused.
At the beginning of their journey he and Roman had difficulties in getting the Montarian’s ship’s engines to create the Wormhole. It didn’t exactly come with instructions and what information they had in the ships computers they had to translate. But through perseverance and the combined years of experience the two men had in engineering, they managed to figure it out in a day.
‘Training time,’ came Thorn’s message into Ifor’s mind.
‘Be there in a minute,’ he replied.
He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as he rose from the bench. Breaking his gaze from the window he began a gentle jog to the hold that had been converted into a makeshift training arena.
When he arrived the rest of the Knights were already there. Thorn, Akarn, Roman and Yilnar. Ifor’s brothers in arms and metaphorical brothers in life too. They all wore the same loose clothing as Ifor, a white cotton based fabric formed into a short sleeved top and ankle length trousers, except Roman who was nestled into his exoskeleton of his own design that supported his withered body.
The training area was large. Big enough to hold four land transporters which they had moved into the larger hold that held the Savage Mind, the Psychic Knights own ship.
Over at the far end of the hold were a series of heavy objects that were to exercise their mental control. To the right some exercise equipment for the body and to the left was a target practice area to maintain their high levels of weaponry skill.
“Nice of you to join us,” said Yilnar with a smile. “I gather the colours are very pretty out there today.”
Ifor smiled at the remark and replied,
“Almost as pretty as your eyes, now, where do we start?”
“You start with the big man today,” said Thorn.
Ifor looked at Akarn and groaned. He wasn’t called the big man for nothing. He stood at six feet eight inches, a full six inches taller than Ifor himself, but the powerfully built frame and toned muscles made him almost twice as wide as Ifor. Akarn had tried to grow his hair back since finally getting his revenge on Ludo Maruda, the man who held him captive for nearly thirty years, but it never quite covered his head properly. Especially where the neural controller, that Ludo had used to control him, had pierced the skull. Now he kept his head bald with the scares of the controller showing. His jet black skin glowed in the holds lights.
“I’ll be sparring with Roman and Yilnar will be honing his mind at the back. Let’s go and loosen up, guys.”
Ifor turned back to his friends. Each one as individual as the next. Thorn, the palest of the five of them. Same height as Ifor himself and similar build, but his facial features took on a hardened look as though he’d been through five hard lives, and in many ways he had. His hair was short and brown.
Yilnar, of Mediterranean descent, was a little shorter and smaller in build, but just as fierce in battle. His dark hair flowed to shoulder length. Roman’s skin colour was a shade between himself and Akarn. His afro was coming on nicely and was always immaculate. His withered body was now housed in the exoskeleton, a little unfair in training as it gave him the strength of ten men.
He was leaving his first regeneration until the last minute as he quite liked the suit he’d created.
Everyone began their warm up routines to loosen their limbs and warm up their muscles. While out in the field the body suits they wore would perform this task throughout the day, but while in training it was done the old fashioned way.
As soon as the warm up period had finished Akarn was on Ifor in a flash and almost had him pinned down, but Ifor was slippery and a little more agile than Akarn.
“Hey, not fair. I wasn’t ready,” complained Ifor.
“You should always be ready. First rule of the Psychic Knights,” said Akarn with a cheeky smile as he rolled away as soon as Ifor had escaped him.
“There are no rules of the Psychic Knights. You’re making it up. You just know I’m gonna beat you and are trying to gain an advantage. Well it’s not going to work, big man. My superior mind will outwit you once again.”
Akarn laughed out loud. As he did Ifor moved forward with a barrage of attacks that put Akarn on the back foot as he defended himself. Hands and feet were almost a blur as they aimed for the points on the head and body that would put Akarn down. Ifor’s mind and body were one and the results would have seen a normal opponent laying flat on the floor either unconscious or dead.
But Akarn was not a normal opponent. His mind and body were also as one and his mind was moving his arms and legs to block everything that was coming at him.
This continued for almost thirty minutes. Neither man giving ground. As soon as Ifor eased back on the attacks to preserve his energy then Akarn would push forward with his own attacks. And on it continued, until…
As Akarn was pressing forward and Ifor was blocking, Ifor reached out with his mind and pulled down Akarn’s trousers. This caught the big man by surprise and knocked him slightly off balance as the trousers trapped his legs.
Ifor forced the issue and spun round, low, with an extended leg and swept Akarn off his feet and onto his back.
The rest of the Knights had stopped to watch and burst out laughing at the scene before them.
“Hey, not fair,” said Akarn.
“You should always be ready,” said Thorn. “First rule of the Psychic Knights, remember.”
The laughter continued as Akarn got up and pulled his trousers up. He couldn’t help himself and joined in the laughter.
The Knights all met up later that day in what Roman had dubbed the tactics room. It was a section of the ship that sat over the control deck and had a view out into space at the front. A large table sat in the centre that had eight semi circular cut outs from the edge for someone to stand in as they had a meeting around the table.
In the middle of the table was a multi faced console that was aligned with each cut out. Roman had blackened out the view ahead to prevent Ifor falling into a mesmerising trance. Each of the Knights were positioned in a cut out.
“What updates do you have for us?” asked Thorn.
Roman moved his hand across his screen and moved his mechanical fingers to manipulate the information on it. The results displayed on the other screens.
“From what we’ve translated in the computers, the next Amuel is just off-world of a planet called Frenecia.”
“How off-world is it?” asked Yilnar.
Roman pulled up an image of a sun.
“This is the sun that Frenecia revolves around. Somewhere in there is the Amuel.”
Every eyebrow in the room raised, except Roman’s, as they heard the answer.
“You’re kidding, right?” said Ifor.
Roman shook his head.
“How the hell are we s’posed to get in there?”
“I’m guessing the answer is we don’t,” said Thorn.
“You got it. Frenecia has some sort of structure, like a giant needle, that is always pointing at the sun. When a psychic force is applied to the structure a beam is sent from it directly to the Amuel which releases it from its prison. Then it’s just a matter of collecting it from space.”
“Sounds simple,” said Akarn. “Four of us use our minds down on the planet to apply the psychic force and the other one pilots the Savage Mind to collect the Amuel.”
Roman shook his head.
“Unfortunately not. There are two factions that have been engaged in a war for centuries. There’s no information on what the wars are about and no information on what kind of technology that’s down there so we’d be going in blind. Seems there’s a problem with their atmosphere that prevents any scans reaching the surface.”
“Why is nothing ever simple,” moaned Ifor. “What ever happened to the old days when you could land on a deserted planet and get what you want without any hassles.”
Everyone looked at him.
“There were no days like that,” said Yilnar.
“I know, but in my mind there were and I just wanted to have a moan.”
They all focused back on the screens.
“At the edge of the suns gravitational pull there’s an asteroid belt. Two, in fact. They have formed a weird, almost cage-like effect around the sun and planet. It’s nothing like anybody has seen before. Almost unnatural, formed by an external force other than the natural order of the universe.”
“Could it be a defence mechanism created by the planets inhabitants?” said Thorn.
“If it is then we have bigger problems than we realise. Any technology that could do that makes our technology seem like cavemen would to us. However, the Montarians didn’t think it was created by any of the inhabitants on the surface. They’ve witnessed no space travel from them or intercepted any communications via any known carriers.”
“Chances are, then, that it would have been produced by whoever put the Amuel in the sun.” Thorn turned away from his screen. He scratched the side of his head. His mind ached a little. Something about the screens that affected him. He didn’t need to be at the table as he saw everything with his mind now, but felt it would be rude not to be amongst his friends during the planning phase. “The question is, are they still close to the Amuel?”
“Going by what we’ve experienced with the other Amuels, I’d guess not. Though this Chorlook character may be around.”
Akarn was talking about the terrifying creature that had appeared twice before. From the information gathered from the Montarians computers, Chorlook, as it was called, was from another dimension, another realm that existed outside of the one the Psychic Knights lived in.
Ifor was sceptical, but reading through the information, though not totally convincing him, it did give him pause for thought.
“That is a possibility and we must prepare for it. Is there any information on how to control Chorlook?” Thorn was clutching at straws for he knew deep down nothing could control it. He had experienced the power first hand the first time they had seen it. A proposition that was put to him that would have given him power to destroy worlds if he wanted. A proposition he had turned down.
Roman shook his head.
“No. Chorlook doesn’t have physical presence in our realm. It seems all contact is psychically and Brishkern had managed to capture that psychic feed through the machine he built.”
“How long before we exit the wormhole?” Thorn’s mind was beginning to ease after he disconnected his concentration on the screen.
“We’re about five days out. I’m no expert with this ships engines and where we end up is a calculated guess, but I’m pretty confident.”
Ifor rolled his eyes.
“Great! So we could end up in the sun itself.”
Roman looked at Ifor.
“If we did then maybe it would stop your moaning. No we won’t end up in the sun. Just not sure how close we’ll be. The calculations are a little tricky. The Montarians must have a system to make them, but I haven’t worked it out yet.”
Thorn stood by the viewing window. His mind touched the worm hole outside the ship and he was captivated for a second. He understood exactly how Ifor felt when he sat and watched it. Pulling back he focused on the matter in hand.
“So until we’re there to assess the planet our best plan is Akarn’s suggestion.”
“Thank you,” said Akarn as he took a comical bow.
“Well done, big man. Your genius has finally been recognised.” Ifor began to clap sarcastically. Roman and Yilnar joined in.
“Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here for autographs for another hour and then I must leave for my genius party.”
Thorn used to be a stickler for tactics. Always planning to the minutest detail how rescue missions were going to play out back when the Psychic Knights were rescuing Naturals. The playing around that was going on would have annoyed him then, but ever since his group had reformed very little had gone to plan and he found that it was quite liberating to wing it in some situations. He began to join in with the clapping.
Suddenly the lighting turned to an amber colour and the communicator broke in.
“Thorn! There’s something outside the ship.”
It was Porto, one of a handful of crew members that came with the Knights from the Shafian, the ship of their great friend Enyar.
The clapping stopped and a confused look replaced the smiles on the Knights faces.
“We’re on our way,” said Thorn.