The 13th Kat

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Chapter 12

When the four of them finally got back to the house they were using as a base, they found Nazar sitting by the basement door holding a pistol.

“I’m so glad you guys are back, there’s been loads of weird noises coming from down there,” he exclaimed when he saw Levon and Nadalia. “Who are these two?”

“This is Drystan and Ovsanna,” Levon said, indicating the other two. “What do you mean ‘weird noises’?”

Nazar stood up and nodded in greeting to the new residents. “I mean weird noises like someone moving around down there. I was looking around the cave with the discs in, trying to find something to access them,” he said, “and I could hear other people moving around too. So I came back up and sat here watching the entrance, in case anything came out. I think there’s other people down there, maybe someone lives down there!”

Levon was sceptical. “You probably just heard your own movements echoing around, that happens in caves.”

“I don’t know, maybe it was other people,” Drystan said. “If someone else has found the caves, maybe we should check it out.”

“I think he’s got a point,” Nadalia piped up. “Naz, you want to head down and see if we can find where these noises are coming from?”

Ovsanna stepped forward. “If you don’t mind, I’ll come down too. I can have a good look at these books you found.”

So the three of them headed into the caves, leaving Levon and Drystan to keep checking the radio upstairs. When they reached the passage leading to the books, Ovsanna left and Nazar led Nadalia on to the disc cave. They could hear some very strange sounds that seemed to be coming from below them. Some of it almost sounded like someone speaking.

“Sounds like it’s coming from deeper down. You want to try and find whatever’s making the noises?” Nadalia asked.

Nazar lit another candle. “Let’s go,” he said. They continued deeper into the cave system, following the sounds down the steeply sloping passage they had discovered before. As they walked slowly down the passage, they could hear the noises getting louder. The speaking noises stopped as they reached the big rock, but they could still hear something shuffling about.

Nazar and Nadalia stared at each other in open disbelief.
Nadalia was the first to speak. “You don’t think…? Could it…?” she whispered.

“It can’t be… It’s not possible, they all died out,” Nazar replied quietly.

“There have been theories,” Nadalia said, “but nobody seriously believed them, they were all disproved.”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” Nazar said with a sudden burst of courage, and he turned the handle to move the boulder aside. The rock rolled into its’ recess, and they peered into the cave beyond. At first, they could see what looked like the back of a young female primate, but when she turned round they could see the face was all wrong. Everyone stared at each other for a moment in silence, then the female screamed. Nazar turned and ran, Nadalia following half a step behind, neither of them stopping until they reached the basement.

While Nadalia and Nazar were off chasing noises, Ovsanna had been busy studying some of the ancient books in the cave. She had found a few thick, heavy volumes, which were quite complex, so she had decided to leave them until she had either better light or some help. Preferably both, she thought. If I’d known there would be this many I’d have got Mihran to come along too. She was quite enjoying going through ancient texts that weren’t faded, fragmented or otherwise ruined, though, and she had put a couple of books aside to take upstairs with her.

She was especially enjoying the books on a shelf marked ‘fiction’, and she assumed the unfamiliar word meant ‘made up story’, since some of them involved thoroughly unrealistic things like magic and demons. They made excellent reading though, and she was getting engrossed in a story about a pair of wizards who were on a quest to save a kingdom from an evil sorcerer. She had just got to what she thought would be the final showdown, when she heard Nadalia and Nazar running past screaming and yelling, so she picked up the book she was reading and ran after them.

They had reached the basement of the house and were about to close the trapdoor on her, so she called out. “Hey, what’s the rush? Don’t shut me in here.”

“Quick, hurry up!” Nazar called back. “It might be following us!”

Ovsanna climbed out, still clutching her book. “What might be following you? The thing making the noises you heard?”

Nazar nodded frantically. “It was… it couldn’t have been, but it was… I know what I saw!”

Nadalia was nodding in agreement with Nazar. Neither of them is making any sense, thought Ovsanna. “Let’s get upstairs, you can tell the other two as well then,” she said, hoping Levon would have some clue what his brother was on about.

“So mum said I should go and start a rebel group with my friends, try to overthrow Saphrax, and see if I could find out exactly why he had my uncle killed,” Drystan said. He had been explaining to Levon how the Rabble Rowsers had formed while everyone else was down in the caves.

“So the Rowsers is really your group?” Levon asked.

Drystan shrugged. “I guess. It doesn’t really make much difference though, since we’re all in it together. There are only six of us left now anyway, since Tsolag and Zenobia died.”
“So who’s left in your group?”

“There’s me, obviously, then there’s Rehan and Ziazan, you met them earlier. Loras you’re meeting tomorrow,” Drystan said. “Then we’ve got Niketas, he usually does our transmissions, and Xarmen. She’s interested in learning to read, I’ve got to remember to mention it to Ovsanna later.”

Levon was about to respond, when Nazar and Nadalia came rushing up the stairs, followed by Ovsanna. “What’s happened?” he asked, whatever he was going to say to Drystan completely forgotten.

“They found something down there, but I can’t make sense of what they’re saying,” Ovsanna said.

Nazar started to explain. “You remember I told you about the hemsepans remains? They’re not just remains, there was one of them alive down there. It looked at us and it screamed,” he said, close to panic. Everyone knew of the hemsepans predilection for violence and senseless killing, so it was understandable that a living one would inspire panic and fear.

“We followed the noises Naz heard, and they led us to the cave we told you about,” Nadalia said. “It sounded like someone talking until we got right up to the big rock.”

Ovsanna and Drystan were concerned, but Levon simply refused to believe it. “Living hemsepans? Rubbish. It was probably just flickering candle light, and your imaginations ran wild. Come on, I’ll go back down with you and show you there’s nothing down there except some bones and a lot of dust.”

Levon led the way back down to the caves. Ovsanna and Drystan had decided to stay upstairs by the radio, and to keep out the way of whatever was down there. The other three headed straight down to the deepest cave, and stopped when they reached the boulder.

“Well something was here. The rock’s been put back, we left it open,” Nazar said.

Levon sighed. “Let’s have a look, then we can all go back upstairs and stop panicking.” He turned the handle and the rock rolled aside to reveal a couple of chairs. “There, you see? Nothing here but a few bits of furniture. Now can you two please calm…”

“If there’s nothing in here, then what just moved in the corner?” Nadalia asked.

Levon stepped forward and held up the candle. “Who’s there?” he called.

Something shuffled forwards into the light. “Hi, erm, it’s okay, don’t worry.” It was a rat. “I’m Meb. I live down here with my family. Do you live down here too?”

Nazar was so relieved he almost started laughing. “No, we live upstairs. Were you in here earlier?”

Meb shook her head. “No, we don’t come in here much. It’s a bad place. I only came in because I heard something moving.”

Levon looked at the other two. “You realise you probably just heard Meb and her family scuffling about earlier, and then you came in here and started seeing things?” Without waiting for an answer, he turned back to Meb. “Do you want to come up with us?”

Meb frowned and looked at the floor. “I don’t know. We try to keep out the way of surface people, because we’re not very clever like you all are. We talk to the six legs people mostly,” she said.

“Six legs people… do you mean insects?” Levon asked incredulously. “I thought they were all sent back to Insectus when Saphrax took over.”

“They said they were amsba… abmasser… somethings, from there. They didn’t have a chance to get home before the bad man started being really mean,” Meb said. She couldn’t quite find the words for what she wanted to say, but she was trying her best to explain properly. “They might want to talk to you, if you like I can take you to them.”

“That would be great, Meb,” Levon said. “There’s something we’re doing that they might like to hear about. Maybe you and your family could help out, too.”


“Tell you what, I’ll explain on the way. You two,” Levon said, turning back to Nadalia and Nazar, “can head back up, and tell the other two that it’s safe to come down if they want to.”

Levon followed Meb down a very narrow tunnel, and Nadalia and Nazar went back upstairs. Once they got back up to the house, they told Ovsanna it was safe to go back down to the books, and she disappeared almost straight away. Drystan decided to go out and have a swim, so Nadalia and Nazar sat by the radio equipment and talked about what they had seen in the cave the first time.

“I know what I saw. It was definitely a hemsepans,” Nazar declared.

Nadalia wasn’t quite so sure. “Naz, you know that’s impossible. We saw something, something very weird, but it can’t have been one of them.”

“Who are you trying to convince, Nads? You saw the same thing I did.”

“Okay, so how did a member of an extinct species suddenly appear in a cave, scare the life out of us, then vanish when someone else went to look?”

“I don’t know how, but I know what it was. I think we should go back down later tonight and see if we can find it. This time, I’ll take some of those old weapons.”

“Nazar! What for?”

“In case it’s armed.”

Nadalia rolled her eyes. “Alright, I’ll come with you. Just to make sure you don’t do anything silly, like shoot one of Meb’s friends.”

They waited for a little while longer. Drystan got back just before Nadalia made her regular transmission, and Ovsanna came back from the caves just after. Levon took much longer to return, and Ovsanna thought it would be a constructive use of the time to teach the others to read a little bit of ancient writing, using the books she’d brought up. Levon eventually came back from the caves, just as everyone was thinking of going to sleep. He’d brought a few friends with him, too.

“Guys, we’ve got some help for the revolution. Naz, Nads, you already met Meb. These other two are Rup and Nim, they’ve said they can help with preparations and stuff. And we have some help from two ants. Meet our spies, Parvona and Antrias. They’ve agreed to sneak in to Saphrax’s base and report back about anything they find,” Levon said, stepping carefully to one side and allowing the two small insects to move forwards and greet everyone.

They were all pleased to have gained some more allies in their rebellion. “We’ve got a real revolution going on here now,” Nazar said.

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