The 13th Kat

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Chapter 15

A few days later, Nadalia was on her way back to the base from the nearest pool. She was taking the back roads to avoid being spotted, so it was quite a surprise when someone jumped out from behind a tree.

“Do you know where I can find Ovsanna?” the stranger asked. She seemed uneasy about something, and Nadalia wondered if she was asking on behalf of someone else. “Only, someone told me that she’d be able to help us.”

“Who is ‘us’, if you don’t mind me asking?” Nadalia enquired.
“Myself and a friend. We’re looking for… shelter,” the mature reptile said.

Nadalia thought for a moment. The stranger seemed to be choosing her words very carefully, which probably meant she was looking for the rebels; either to join them, or to hand them over to the enforcers. “I know how to contact her. If you follow me, I’ll show you a safe place to wait. Then I’ll get her to come and meet you there.”

The stranger looked doubtful for a second, then nodded. “Should I bring my friend along? He’s waiting just over there.”

Nadalia nodded, and waited as the reptile went back into the trees to get her friend. She was a little shocked to see Aleyn, Ovsanna’s old band mate.

“I recognise you…” he said slowly. “ Nads, right? You brought your friend backstage to hang out with us at a gig last year.”

“That’s right. I’m surprised you remember though, you must meet a lot of fans,” Nadalia said, beginning to walk.

“Yes, but not many of them are cetaceans who gave swimming lessons to their feline friend,” Aleyn replied sardonically. “You two kind of stood out. What happened to Mari in the end, is she still with you?”

“No. I’m not entirely sure where she is, actually. I saw her a while ago, but she seemed very odd. Odder than usual, I mean.” Suddenly remembering something she had heard on the official news several weeks ago, she continued. “Hang on, you two were held captive, but you escaped. I heard it on the news. You’re Demile, yes?”

The reptile nodded. “I was captured at the same time as Aleyn here. After they’d finished questioning us, they put us both in the same cell.”

“They seemed to think I had information about where the Disciples were broadcasting from,” Aleyn said. “Since Ovsanna and I used to play together, I suppose they thought we’d be part of the same rebel group.”

“I was part of another group called the Blue Pad Bits, but we all got caught fairly quickly. I never did find out what happened to the rest of them,” Demile said sadly.

Nadalia had been planning to take them to a small park close to the house and have them wait there, but their stories made sense and fitted in with what she knew. “Slight change of plan, I’ll take you straight to the house. I’m sure Ovsanna will be delighted to see you again,” she told Aleyn.

Back at the house, Loras and Eznik were trying to work out how to mimic the hemsepans speech. It was proving a lot more difficult than they had anticipated.
“Well I thought it sounded alright.”
Eznik sighed in exasperation with the younger scholar.
“Obviously it wasn’t alright, since David didn’t understand anything you said. Let me try.”
David was attempting to work out what these creatures’strange language meant, and was trying to learn some of it so they could all communicate a little easier. He wasn’t having much luck. Thankfully, the two creatures he had met a few days ago seemed to be trying to learn some of his language too, so maybe they could work something out using the fragments of speech each side had picked up from the other.
“Pencil,” he said clearly, picking up the pencil they had on the floor.
“Pnnn- sell,” the lizard-like creature replied.
Better than before, David thought, smiling and nodding.

“We’ll be here forever if we carry on at this rate,” Loras said.

“At least what I said sounded a bit like what he said,” Eznik snapped back. They had been up since the crack of dawn doing this, and had been able to comprehensibly speak a total of four words of the hemsepans language in the eight hours since.

Nadalia walked in just in time to hear this less than friendly exchange. “Having problems, you two? You should probably take a break, you’ve been at this for hours.”

Loras sighed. “Maybe you’re right, Nads. I’ll go and make some lunch for everyone. Nazar and Levon are down in the caves, by the way. I think Ovsanna is upstairs somewhere,” he said, wandering off towards the kitchen.

“Great, I’ll go and find her. We’ve got some new friends, Eznik, they’re the two escaped prisoners who were on the news a few weeks ago.” Nadalia headed back to the front door, where Demile and Aleyn were waiting. “Come on, she’s upstairs somewhere,” she said, leading them up the narrow staircase.

She had asked them to wait by the door, partly because she didn’t want them to know too much until everyone was sure they could be completely trusted, but also because she had a feeling that the hemsepans would still be wandering about in the main rooms. She didn’t know how nervous the two newcomers would be, and walking into a room to see one of them was still quite unnerving for the rebels that lived there.
“Ovsanna,” Nadalia called when she reached the top of the stairs. “There’s someone here to see you.”

Ovsanna stuck her head out of the door on the right. “What… Aleyn! I didn’t expect to see you again so soon!” she gave her friend a hug. “And who’s this?”

Demile introduced herself. “We’ve come to join the resistance, if you’ll have us,” she said.

Ovsanna smiled. “Of course. We’re going to need all the help we can get.” She looked at Nadalia. “Have you introduced them to our extinct friends yet, Thirteen?”

“Not yet, I was going to wait until they’d settled in a bit,” Nadalia said before being interrupted by Demile.

“Thirteen? Hang on, I knew I recognised your voice! You’re the Thirteenth Kat!”

Melicia quieted the baby as Saphrax made the final few checks before switching on the transmitters. It had taken almost a year of work, but they were finally ready to begin visual transmissions to the public.

“Check receivers,” he said to one of his workers. “Aerials ok? Good. I think we’re ready to go. Melicia, would you care to join me for the first transmission?”

“Certainly,” Melicia replied. She put Viviane down on the floor and went to stand next to Saphrax. The cameras were ready to roll, the visual receivers had been distributed as ’free gifts’to the population, and all the transmitters were in place.

The reptile working the camera signalled they were transmitting. “Good evening citizens. I hope you’re all watching on your brand new visual receivers,” Saphrax began. “There are two very important things I’d like to talk to you about tonight, so I’ll start with the least pleasant topic.

“I know there are still some of you out there resisting the changes I have made. Now, I understand that some things will take a while to get used to, and it may seem unfair to begin with. But I have done all of these things for the greater good of the population of the planet as a whole, surely you can see that. So I am asking you now, give up this pointless rebellion. I promise to be lenient with all of you; in fact I will let you all go free if you give me the one calling herself the Thirteenth Kat. She is more than a rebel, she is a criminal. Hand her over to me, and everything will be forgiven.

“Now, to the second topic. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that Melicia and I have had a baby. I think it’s about time you all saw our beautiful daughter. Melicia, would you be kind enough to get her?”

Melicia fetched Viviane from the other side of the room and carried her back to the desk.

“Say hello to the people, Viviane,” Melicia said, lifting the girl’s arm and waving it gently towards the camera.

“May I introduce my daughter Viviane and my partner Melicia,” Saphrax said, putting his arm across Melicia’s shoulders and smiling at his child. Turning to Melicia, he continued, “my dear, we’ve been together a long time now. Would you like to make it official?”

Melicia looked at him with a strange expression. After a second’s hesitation, she replied. “Alright then,” she said, careful to keep her tone light. They had agreed when they first began their affair that neither of them would ask for any commitment. She wasn’t sure what her lover was up to, but she didn’t want to make waves on the air. She would talk to him later, when the cameras were out of the way.

Over the next few weeks, the rest of the group members slowly made their way to the base. Mihran and Shakrem, the two remaining Disciples, arrived first. They brought their transmitter, so both Nadalia and the Disciples could still make their broadcasts. Rehan and Ziazan were next, bringing some rather unpleasant rumours that had begun circulating.

“Have you heard the latest? Apparently Alaric’s died! Some prisoners escaped a couple of weeks ago, and they said he died in a cell,” Rehan exclaimed when she got to the base.

“That’s Korian’s old assistant, isn’t it? Any idea how it happened?” Levon asked.

Rehan shook her head. “I don’t know, I don’t even know if it’s really true. But there’s no way to find out, is there?”

“Actually, there might be,” Nadalia said. “We were going to wait until everyone was here, but we might as well tell you now. We have two spies inside Saphrax’s base. They’re a couple of ants, we found them living in the caves, and they agreed to help us.”
“Brilliant!” Ziazan cried. “So they’ll be able to find out whether Alaric’s alive, and tell us next time they talk to us.”

A few days after receiving this news, Niketas, Araksi and Xarmen arrived with the Rowsers broadcasting equipment. They also had some interesting news to report.

“You know the prisoners that escaped a while back? Apparently one of them was a member of your group,” Niketas said to Eznik. “Isolde, is she one of yours?”

“Yes, but she went missing along with Vasag several weeks ago. We assumed they had been caught,” Eznik replied. “They’ve escaped then?”

“Isolde has. And she’s been telling people something very strange. Vasag was the one who captured her, or so she says.”

Eznik frowned. “Really? We should try to contact her, find out what’s been going on.”

“If Vasag has switched sides, it would explain a lot,” Mihran chimed in. “Like how the enforcers always seemed to be watching our hideouts but never raided us.”

“It would,” Eznik agreed. “Let’s get the facts first before we jump to conclusions, though. We’ll send out a message to Isolde later tonight.”

While Eznik was greeting the new arrivals, Nadalia and the others were busy outlining the plan to infiltrate Saphrax’s base and overthrow his regime.

“So if we go in through this gate here,” Levon poked the map they had found in Korian’s office several months ago, “then create a diversion somehow, attract the guards’ attention, that should draw them away from the other gate over there.”

Rehan nodded. “That means we should be able to get in that gate and into the building complex,” she said. “Once we’re in we can start looking for… what are we taking out first?”

Nazar tapped the map. “Get the surveillance rooms. That way the rest of us can get in without having to worry about cameras or light bulbs, we can just avoid the enforcers and get down to the cells, start breaking people out.”

“After the cameras are down and Nazar’s group are at the cells, Drystan and I can head in with the hemsepans, assuming they agree to help. If everything has gone to plan, we shouldn’t run in to any guards until we reach Saphrax’s quarters,” Nadalia said.

Drystan cut in. “We should be able to hold there until you lot catch up with us.”

“Sounds like a good plan so far,” said Xarmen. “So what do we do once we’ve all met up outside Saphrax’s rooms?”

“We’re probably just going to wing it from there,” Levon replied. “We can’t guarantee that some of us won’t be caught, so we haven’t done any details. The basic idea is we get into his rooms, find Saphrax, and lock him up in one of his own cells. Exactly how we do it doesn’t matter.”

Eznik brought the three latest arrivals into the main room. “You’ve been formulating a plan, I see.”

Nadalia stood up and stretched. “Yeah, we’ve got a good idea of what we’re going to do now. There are a couple of things we need to clear with David and the others though, could you talk to them tomorrow?”

“Sure. We can sort that out in the morning,” he replied. “I think everyone’s here now, besides a couple from our group. Isolde has escaped, by the way,” Eznik said to the rest of the Disciples.
“Really? Any idea when?” Ovsanna enquired.

“Sometime last week,” Ziazan answered. “We heard about it on our way here.”

Mihran interrupted. “We were going to try and contact her later. Apparently there was a little more to her capture than we thought. Once we’ve found out what’s been going on we’ll tell everyone the facts rather than spreading more rumours.”

Levon nodded. “Fair enough. Anyway, Naz and I are going back down to the caves, we need to take a closer look at some of those old weapons.”

“I’ll head down with you,” Eznik said. “I’ve been studying some of the visual discs you found down there and they’ve given me an idea of how the hemsepans language sounded.” The three of them disappeared downstairs, and the others all wandered off to do their own thing.

“You fancy a late night swim, Nads?” Drystan asked.

“Sure, why not?” she replied, and they both headed out to the nearest pool.

Noyemi squirmed. “You’ve got the wrong person! Let me go!”

“You think I’m that stupid? Just admit that you’re the Thirteenth Kat! I know it’s you!” Valamir shouted. He had been tracking this young woman for a while, and was utterly convinced she was part of the rebel alliance. He was also getting a little desperate for results, so he could go back to Saphrax with a triumphant capture to show him.

“It’s not me!” she shouted back, straining against her bonds. Valamir had tied her to a table, quite firmly, and she had been arguing with him for the last hour. “I can prove I’m not her. Just bring a radio here and I’ll find her transmission. She usually does one about now, if I’ve got the time right.”

“And how do you know when she makes her transmissions? Listen to her often, do you?” he asked. Maybe I can at least get her to admit to something, he thought.

Noyemi wasn’t sure how to respond. She did listen to the rebel broadcasts, and more often than not she picked the Thirteenth Kat’s transmissions. Mostly because she liked the music she played. “I’ve listened to her a few times. Only because I’m interested in other points of view besides the official news,” she added hastily.

Valamir sighed. “I suppose I don’t have anything to lose. I’ll go and get a radio, then you can tell me which frequency to tune in to.” He went upstairs and got his radio receiver. As he walked back down the stairs to his basement he said “you realise these won’t be around much longer. Visual transmissions are back, and these are going to be obsolete within a few years. So, which frequency do I need?”

“Frequency 216,” Noyemi said, barely holding back a sigh of relief. Once this overzealous idiot hears the Kat’s broadcast on there, he’ll realise it can’t possibly be me doing it since I’m tied up down here. “You got it?”

Valamir fiddled with the dials on the radio. “ I’ve got the frequency, but I don’t hear anyone broadcasting.”

“What time is it? I know it’s her usual day, it’s mid-evening, right?” Noyemi asked, a note of panic creeping into her voice. What if she wasn’t transmitting today for some reason?
Valamir switched off the radio and glared at Noyemi. “You’re just trying to distract me, aren’t you? More water, I think,” he taunted, knowing the young feline would loathe being doused again.

“Don’t you dare!” she screamed, trying to break the ropes before the hose began spraying again. Too late. “I hate you, I hate you!” she yelled at Valamir as he turned his back and left her to get soaked for a while.

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