Author: Omnipotent Shrew PM
A political leader fouls up interplanetary relations and the planet is going to be destroyed.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Suspense - Words: 3,678 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 12-04-07 - Status: Complete - id: 2446674
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
How could something like this happen? It wasn't as if they hadn't tried their hardest. Now, the world was literally coming to an end. The people of Aminad were all going to die at the hands of their foes.
Joshua Kilden sat in his office wondering what should be done about the circumstances. It wasn't all that long ago when he had blundered and started this war. At the time, people had praised him for his courage to stand up to the dratted Mincans but now they rebuked him and called him a fool. It was always like that, though. At times when things were going great, people loved you. The second things went amiss, you were loathed with a passion.
Two hours ago, the news had come to them that the people of Minca had developed a new weapon; a weapon so powerful, it could destroy an entire planet. The news that they were en route to Aminad had followed it. Once the leaders had heard the news that it was made, it did not take them long to work out that they would be the first targets.
They needed a way to get the civilians off the planet. It had to be a safe way. If they could not get any one off, their whole culture would vanish from existence. Rubbing a hand through his hair, Joshua called for his artificial intelligence unit, AIU, to come to him.
"Yes sir? What do you need for me to do?" Osiris said in his normal chipper way. His voice sounded much like that of a human, but the emotions seemed far away and forced. He was male, Joshua liked to assume, but the vocal pitch was neither that solely of a man or a woman. He did not fully have a physical form. It was more of an aura. One could vaguely make out the outline in the swirling mist of colors, but nothing more.
"I need you to find out where every available ship is, war and passenger and set a rally point. Set the alarm that all civilians are to proceed immediately to be evacuated. Contact the other AIU's in the area and tell them to inform their humans to meet me in my office," Joshua said with more surety than he felt.
"Alright," the AIU paused for a second, "Everything is done as you requested. Twenty seven space ships are on their way here immediately. The closest one will be here in roughly six hours. I estimate that the one that is farthest away will take six days."
"Only twenty seven?" Joshua asked. "We will need twice that many to get everyone off." He stood up and walked over to a wall. He stared at it absently, willing his mind to work faster on an idea, but none would come. It was not long before someone knocked on the door.
"Advisor Kilden, what do you want? We are all trying to solve this little crisis that you somehow managed to get us into with the Mincans. Would you care to have your grieving time by yourself instead of dragging the rest of us into yet another of your personal disputes?" The tallest of his visitors said haughtily.
The advisor looked up at them feeling heaviness weigh in on his heart. No one would trust him, and it was completely understandable. He had fouled up the relations with the other planet and now… Now everyone that he was in charge of was going to die.
"I just thought that I should inform you that there are only twenty seven ships available to help evacuate the planet. Some of them will not be able to make it back in time," he said in as firm of a voice as he could manage.
"Oh, you honestly did not think that we knew that? Your AIU is not hack proof. And she communicates with the rest of our units, so really the purpose of this meeting is nonexistent. You should go back to playing make-believe that everything is going to be fine," one of the women in the group sneered at Joshua. With a mirthless laugh, they all left.
He turned back to his desk and let out a small groan of dismay.
The insufferable, witless buffoon had cost the people of Aminad too much. First he had fouled up relations with Minca and now they were all going to die. Well, they would all die if it wasn't for the phenomenal leading of Advisor Beveren. He had summoned all of the ships back to the ports and had initiated the evacuation. Without him, no one would have even thought of a way. Everyone on the planet was deeply indebted to him, but something needed to be done about Kilden.
Timothy Caterege was finishing the preparations for his family. His three children were all labeled and ready to be placed on the ship with his wife. An idea was slowly creeping into his mind.
"I will see you all on the ship in a little while, ok?" he told his children.
He left the area and walked to where he knew an outpost was. A plan was slowly forming in his head. That man needed to pay for what he had done. Perhaps it was Timothy's destiny to be the instrument of the divine. Perhaps it was he who would make that insufferable idiot die for what he had done. It was no punishment to die of swift incineration. Why should he be given the same death as the people he had doomed? No he needed a more special end: one that would deter others in the future from making the same mistake.
Timothy slowly made his way around the hanger and slipped up a side passage. No one paid any heed to him. There were far more important matters than one civilian. He did not know exactly where he was going. The leaders always made sure that the people did not know the exact locations of their offices. The man knew, though, that they were somewhere to the east in the capital city. Logically, they would be in one of the plain, unmarked buildings. Once he was there, he could destroy Kilden in the painful way that he so deserved. He would be in his office. It was already announced that he would not be permitted to evacuate.
Joshua sat staring into nothingness. I would not be long, now, before the end would come. He would die with the people that they were unable to save. An estimated two million souls would not make it off the planet in their corporeal forms.
"Osiris, please show me all of the data we have of the Mincan weapon," he said sadly. No response came.
Of course, he thought, they took away my status and in turn took the AIU. Joshua felt lonely. There was no one to speak with. Waiting for death to come was one thing, but waiting for it alone was even worse. He had known that he would die on the planet the moment the message had some through that the enemy had a weapon capable of destroying them. He had not thought that they would take away Osiris and all means of contact. He was stuck in an underground office and no one but the other Chosen knew where he was.
Kilden slowly pushed his head against the papers lying on his desk. He could remember everything from that report. A large, spherical weapon with thousands of lazars that, when concentrated together, would incinerate a planet. He had memorized the way it looked. A great orb with an angry green eye glowing and pulsing with an angry light was how it had looked when Osiris had shown it to him.
There was no way to deflect it, and no way to plead with the Mincans to forgive that one fateful mistake.
Twenty years ago, Kilden had been in charge of interplanetary relations. He had been good at his job and had always been able to avoid conflicts. However, that one day proved to be the downfall of both him and the rest of the Aminadians.
Joshua felt ill and did not want to go to the conferences with the other leaders. The (Name) were a touchy people to deal with at the best of times, and there was already a considerable amount of tension between the two planets. The people of Minca were a very democratic people and detested the strict caste system that the people of Aminad used. This had caused friction in the past, but they had always been able to diplomatically avoid problems.
They sat across from each other at a long, black wood table. The Mincans sat with austere expressions on their faces and their long fingered hands resting on top of each other.
"We are only trying to suggest that we be allowed to speak with the everyday man from your planet," the so-called leader said softly. What gall they possessed. Letting a farmer, or whatever he was, represent the entire planet.
"As I have said I am sure countless times, we do not see it fitting to let commoners represent us in such important matters as interplanetary relations," Kilden said with a forced smile. "I represent them in this. You can trust that my opinions are those of the ones I stand for."
So the conversation went. Kilden tried to keep his head clear as he spoke with the leaders, but his culture, mixed with the headache and general ache of the rest of his body, led him to be curt and impolite.
The ambassadors from Minca were deeply offended and left half way through the meeting. Two days later a declaration of war was announced and Kilden was transferred to the Chosen of war. He was skilled in this but the people of Minca were far superior in will and technology.
That was all in the past. The present was bleak and the future would not be. Joshua slowly lifted his eyes and stared at a spot on his wall.
Caterage could see a vehicle setting silently beside a rock. It would do. He would ride it to the capital. Once there, he would search for life. The city should be abandoned by now, and the only place with life would be where Kilden was. Slowly, Timothy slipped out of his hiding place and hopped into the driver's seat.
Dirt and ashes, he thought with anger. Even though no one was concerned that about anything but getting as many people off of the planet as they could, some habits refused to die. The owner of the car had taken the keys with them. He began to lift the panels apart to get at the motor.
"What are you doing?" The question sliced through the air like water through a canyon. Timothy whirled around to see a soldier standing beside the rock. He was holding a night stick and watching Caterage with an unblinking stare.
"I am not doing anything," he stammered back, "just looking for something that I left in my car."
He looked at the soldier, praying that he bought the story.
"I highly doubt that that is why you are here," was the cold response.
Timothy began to feel desperate. This soldier was going to stop him. Maybe he would even report him. At the moment all wrong doers were being placed in holding cells to await the coming destruction. There was no hope of life for any of them. Granted, he didn't think that he would be able to return to the hangers in time to leave, but this way he would be able to serve a purpose first.
"Do you know why," the soldier continued, "I doubt your explanation? No? Well this happens to be my car that you are trying to steal. Now tell me, why are you leaving the evacuation zone, little worker? Speak truthfully now. If I think you are lying I can make the truth come out of you."
Caterage took several deep breaths. Falsehoods would not get him very far. If he spoke the truth, he would be thrown into holding, and if he lied, the same end would come about.
"I was trying to steal this car so that I could go to capital city, find Kilden, and make him suffer for the fate of this planet that he caused," he said in one breath.
The soldier looked at him curiously.
"What is your name?" he asked in an almost kind way.
"Timothy Caterage," he responded.
"Well, Caterage, we have the same purpose in mind. I seek vengeance against him because all but a select few soldiers are going to die because of his mistake. That means the all of my brothers and friends are going to die within the next few days."
Only one more day until the end, Joshua thought dismally. The clock hands moved slowly, mocking him as he sat at his desk. Nothing that he did would make a difference. All actions were absolutely meaningless. Despair was beginning to settle around his heart.
The enemy weapon will arrive at approximately 5:26 in the afternoon on Wednesday. Now it was 5:27 on Tuesday. One minute less than a day to go, now. He settled his head back onto his arms.
Timothy sat beside the soldier as the bumped along the deserted highways. There was not even one law enforcer to stop them. He felt the car thump over a mattress that had fallen from someone's truck. Marcus, the soldier, had his eyes fixed upon the rode. His jaw was set in a way that suggested no conversation was wanted.
A head of them, the capital was beginning to loom. Its many arched entrances stood proudly guarding the roads. Caterage could feel excitement growing in him. They would soon be able to find their way to the government buildings and from there; from there they would find their goal. The bungler would be brought to face his mistakes. He would suffer slowly. Timothy sat back in his seat and began to think about what he and Marcus would do.
7:32 in the morning. It was less than twelve hours away now. Kilden began to wonder if the other Chosen had told the people when the time of destruction was. It didn't really matter, but were they expecting it to be at any moment? All of those that could be saved would have been by now. The rest were just waiting for death to come for them.
Slowly he got up and walked to the door. He turned the knob but it still resisted. It was right. He deserved to be on the planet when it was incinerated. He could only feel somewhat lucky that they had not found it in their callous hearts to throw him into a holding cell with other prisoners. They, especially the ones that would have been released soon, would have ripped him to shreds. They would have made sure that he felt every second of his death.
7:45, perhaps even that was preferable to all of the waiting.
Timothy and Marcus drove through the middle of the central plaza. Large statues of the ancestors stood in front of various buildings and served as the decoy offices. The real ones, or so Marcus said, were in the next district.
The streets were empty except for the occasional dog or cat. Besides the empty feeling of this ghost town, everything seemed peaceful, not at all like it was all going to disappear in a matter of…. What? Was it days, hours, or minutes? They had not been told which.
"Here," Marcus said gruffly. Timothy looked at the building that they stood outside of. There was absolutely nothing about it that even suggested that it was the offices of the chosen leaders. It was a rundown warehouse, albeit a large one. Some of the window panes were broken and the pavement was cracked and broken. The cohorts got out of the car and began to walk towards the door. Nothing was there to hinder the progress. It was not long at all before they stood in what could best be described as a lobby.
"So, Marcus, how do we get to the offices?" Timothy asked. He was beginning to doubt whether his companion knew where they were going.
"This way," Marcus said while walking towards the back office of the warehouse.
With a sigh, Timothy followed him. Inside of the little room there was nothing out of place. Everything looked like it belonged in a warehouse office. It was nothing more than a rundown warehouse. Timothy was getting ready to say this when he noticed that the desk was slightly too big for all practical purposes. Marcus walked over to the desk and moved it forward. Underneath it was a small set of spiral stairs. They led down into darkness.
"Be careful not to step on me," Marcus instructed Timothy, and he led the way down into the black pit.
4:33 in the afternoon. It was now less than an hour away. It would take the construct about ten minutes to charge up and begin its work. Kilden began to hum an old nursery song. It was somewhat comforting, but not wholly. He only got to the second verse before his voice faltered and stopped. It was pointless, like everything else that he had done. It was funny how one mistake had killed him.
"What are those for?" Caterage asked as he looked upon a vast system of mazes and teleporters.
"Those?" Marcus replied. "They are for the chosen ones to come and leave. You didn't think that they lived down here, did you? Coming in through the main gate would be like having a sign that announced that this was the real building."
5:00. the wait was growing ever shorter. It had seemed like it was a long time at the beginning, but now there wasn't enough time. His last hour of life was running out fast. The solitude was the worst part of it.
Which was better, he wondered, knowing the hour or not?
"This is the door," Marcus said, pointing to a door that looked exactly like all of the others in the hall way. It was plain but well made. The soldier opened it without any problems.
"I thought it was going to be locked," Caterage whispered as the stepped into a large room. It was very luxurious. It was nothing like anything they had seen in the rest of the building.
"This is just the door to the reception room. The door over there is where he is," Marcus said. His eyes were looking around the room now. "Do you see anything that we could use to unlock the door?"
Timothy began to help look and eventually the two found the key. They put it in the key hole and slowly turned it. The faint click as the door cam unlocked seemed to reverberate around the room. The two comrades looked at each other. Marcus nodded his head and swung the door open.
Their target sat behind the desk. His dark eyes looked up when the two entered the room. He looked worn and exhausted.
"So two of the people have come to execute me. I was wondering if anyone would before it was too late, but it is almost late now," he was muttering to himself. "It's 5:20 now. They have ten minutes to do their deed and then they will join me. Funny how slow they were, I would have thought it would have taken them much less time. Maybe they got lost or maybe…."
"Shut your mouth, old man," Marcus shouted.
"What do you mean? You know when it's going end? How could you know?" Timothy asked frantically.
"The artificial intelligence constructs gave all of the chosen the information. The Mincans will be here at 5:26. They will gain enough power in about ten minutes from then. At 5:36, the planet will be incinerated. So," Kilden said as he slowly rose to his feet, "what are you going to do to me? Are you going to end my suffering? Will you destroy me before the Mincans arrive? I really makes no difference to me. In less than ten minutes we will have met essentially the same end. I am now prepared, are you?"
He had made his way around the desk as he spoke. His dark eyes were focused and clear. It was clear that he spoke the truth. Timothy nervously looked at Marcus for leadership. He was watching Joshua's movements with a fixed stare.
"Not going to do anything? It seems you coming here was a waste of time, then," Kilden said as he slipped onto his desk. He perched there watching the intruders with an almost impudent look on his face. Marcus bolted forward and bent the old mans arm behind his back. A sharp cracking noise could be heard as the bones began to crack. Kilden screamed in pain.
"No," Marcus hissed, "you will suffer, and then you will die with the rest of us."
Slowly and in an almost systematic way, Timothy and Marcus began to break Joshua's bones. Screams punctured the air as they tortured him. It did not last forever though. When they had finished with breaking all of the bones in his fingers, Timothy began to notice the temperature rising at an abnormally fast pace. He glanced at his companion and saw his jaw set in a grim line. He felt his skin become hot and his blood begin to boil. The heat grew to the point that breathing became unbearable. He fell to the ground gasping for breath. The world slowly became hazy and then nothing more.