The 13th Kat

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Chapter 16

Mari checked again that nobody was watching her. She had crept out of her quarters at dawn and was following Nyneve’s directions to a place where she could find a radio transmitter, so she could start trying to contact Nadalia. She had managed to get what little information she could find about where her friend might be, and she hoped to be able to find out what Nads had been up to since the last time they spoke. She approached the dilapidated old hut and knocked.

“Who’s there?” a croaky voice called from inside.

“Mari. I’m here about the cookies,” Mari called through the door. Nyneve had told her the people inside would know what that meant.

The door opened. “Well, come in then.” Mari entered and found a very old cetacean waiting by a trapdoor. She was dressed in rags, but she had a bright sparkle in her eyes that suggested she did not usually live in these conditions. “Nyneve told us you were coming. The cookies are down here,” she said.

Mari went down the narrow staircase under the trapdoor. The tunnel she found had been dug recently, as the earth around her still looked fresh. She crawled along it until she found another staircase leading upwards, so she headed up and emerged in what looked like a wooden box, with no doors. She looked around and immediately saw three others in the room, sitting around a battered transmitter. The nearest one turned to greet her.

“Mari, yes? I’m Droxshanda, Alaric’s mother. This is Dzovag, my partner, and Korian’s sister Nazeli.” The other two nodded in greeting.

“It’s nice to meet you all,” Mari said. “I wanted to try and contact a friend of mine, Nadalia. Would it be possible to use your transmitter?”

Nazeli answered. “Of course. I suggest you use the frequency it’s already set to, she’s more likely to be tuned in to that one,” she said with a smirk.

With a quizzical look at the others, Mari walked across and looked at the transmitter. “216? That’s the Thirteenth Kat’s frequency, isn’t it?” She got no response beyond more odd-looking smiles, so she switched on the transmitter and sent out a quick message. “Nads, I don’t know if you’re listening, but it’s Mari. I’ve been sorting myself out, and I need to explain a few things. Can you get a message to me?”

“Now all we need to do is wait,” said Alaric’s dad. “She’ll be in touch soon.”

Valamir waited. He had finally coaxed a confession out of Noyemi, although it wasn’t exactly what he had hoped to hear. After securing her back on the table, he had returned to his boss, hoping to impress Saphrax enough to be given his job back. However, Saphrax seemed less than pleased to find out he had been operating independently. He was waiting outside the office while Saphrax discussed something with Melicia.

“Whatever you’re playing at, I refuse to get involved. Things were a lot simpler before you proposed on live broadcast,” Melicia said as she stormed out of the room. “And your screw-up enforcer is waiting out here,” she called over her shoulder.

Saphrax gave an aggravated sigh. “Fine, Valamir, you can come in.” He waited as the nervous enforcer crept into the room and approached the desk. “You say you’ve captured someone who you believe is the Thirteenth Kat?”

“I’m certain that she is, though she refuses to confess to it. She has confessed to being a rebel sympathiser though,” he said in an attempt to gain a little approval.

“Ignoring for a moment that you chose to arrest her without anyone’s authority, what exactly makes you think she is the Thirteenth Kat?” Saphrax asked. He knew Valamir’s prisoner wasn’t that particular rebel, since the rest of his enforcers were still tracing her transmissions.

Valamir thought hard. He couldn’t remember exactly what had made him think it, but he knew he was right. “She had a transmitter in her house, and it was set to frequency 207. I found other things too, a recording of some songs she uses in her broadcasts, and…”

Saphrax held up his hand. “Valamir, you have not caught the Thirteenth Kat. You may have caught yet another sympathiser, but we are wasting far too much time and effort on them. The frequency was wrong, the Kat uses 216, not 207. Recordings of songs are no proof of anything except that someone likes music. And the Kat is still transmitting, even though you think you have her tied up in your basement.”


“Yes, oh. So, now that is out the way, you can release this girl when you get back. Before you leave though,” he said, raising his voice as he spoke, “I want you to go down to the cells, find Grenilek, and have him flog you for a while. Because I do not appreciate people going against my orders and imprisoning random citizens for no reason! It ruins my image! Now get out of my sight and don’t come back here until I ask you to!”

Valamir turned tail and ran to the cells. Next time, he thought as he ran, I need to make sure I get the right person. And come in when he’s in a better mood.

While Mari and the others waited for Nadalia to reply, they chatted about what each of them had been doing to help the rebels.

“I’ve been helping Nyneve, letting prisoners escape and passing messages between cells,” Mari told the others. “Also, I’m assigned to research the rebel alliance between the Disciples, the Rowsers and the Kat, so I’ve been passing false information to Saphrax.”

“Nice work,” Nazeli said approvingly. “I’ve been helping the Rowsers mostly, my son’s a member…” the radio receiver interrupted her.

“Mari, are you there?” it said. Mari switched the transmitter back on and sent her reply.

“Hi Nads.” She paused for a moment, unsure how to continue. “It’s good to know you’re okay. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things since meeting you at the river, and there’s a few things I’d rather not explain over the radio, but I want you to know I’m alright now. I’ve been doing some things to help the rebels, and I’d really like to see you again. Also, could you explain why we’re using the Thirteenth Kat’s frequency?” she asked before signing off again to wait for a reply. Instead of a radio message though, her old personal communicator began beeping.

“Nads, that you?” she asked once she had answered it.

“It’s me. I thought it’d be better to talk on here than through the radio. You might have worked out that frequency is being monitored,” Nadalia said. “Anyway, I’m glad you’ve got yourself sorted out now. I’d like to see you, we can catch up on everything properly then. Whereabouts are you?”

Mari thought. “I’m somewhere in the purple district, Region Three. I’m not sure exactly where, I had to go through a sort of tunnel to get here. What about you?”

“Region Two, district borderline. So what were you trying to say last time I saw you?”

“That I was very confused, and I’d been working for Saphrax. I’ve worked it out now. He’s using visual transmissions to brainwash people, I saw a test transmission over a year ago and got –I don’t know, hypnotised or something. The effects have worn off now, but there’s something you need to know. He’s gone live, everyone got a visual receiver delivered to them. Nads, he’s trying to get everyone to look for you, and hand you in.”

Nadalia was silent for a few minutes. “Alright. Thanks for telling me, but I won’t worry too much. I’ve got a few friends here, if anyone comes to get me they’ll have trouble on their hands,” she said, and Mari could almost hear her winking.
“Really? Would some of these friends be inclined towards religion, by any chance?” Mari asked, finally beginning to work out why the Thirteenth Kat had sounded so familiar to her.

Nadalia said something away from the communicator. “Yes, a few of them are religious. And I think you’ve just worked out why we were using the Kat’s frequency,” she told Mari. “So, are we meeting up?”

“Definitely. Can you make it to Region Three blue district later today? I’ll meet you by that old carving of Rion, you know the one.”

“Sure, but won’t you get done for being in the wrong district?” Nadalia asked.

Mari smiled. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I’ll see you there,” she said, and disconnected. “Right then, I’d best head off to meet Nads. Thanks for letting me use your equipment,” she said to the others as she headed back through the tunnel to the old woman’s hut.

A while later, Mari was waiting by the carving for Nadalia. She was watching the nearby pool, expecting her friend to pop out of there, but she got a surprise when Nadalia came around the corner accompanied by a young, long-tailed primate and someone hiding under a long, dark cloak.

“Hello Mari. So how have you been?” she asked, smiling.

“Pretty good,” Mari replied, wondering who the person under the cloak was. “Who are your friends?” she asked.

“This is Loras,” she said, indicating the primate, “and my other friend would prefer to stay hidden for a while. Shall we head over to the white district? We’ll attract a bit less attention there,” Nadalia suggested, noticing the strange looks they were getting from passers-by.

They found a transport to the central district and went to the café the rebels had met at before. Loras, taking the cloaked stranger with him, ordered food and drinks while Nadalia and Mari went to find a secluded table.

“So, are you?” Mari asked, knowing Nadalia would understand the question.

Nadalia nodded. “Loras and his friends are helping me. So, you said you were working with Saphrax?”

“Yes. I’m not anymore, but he still thinks I am. It’s a bit complicated,” she said, and explained as best she could about what had been happening. “So I’m working with someone else, an enforcer called Nyneve, and we’ve been doing little things to try and destabilise him. We can help you and the others get in, when you’re ready,” she said as Loras and the other one sat down.

“So, you’re Mari? We’ve heard a bit about you, but not much,” Loras said. “Are you coming to join us?”

“Not exactly. She’s going to be our inside agent,” Nadalia said. “There’s someone else she’s working with, too. The enforcer Demile told us about, I think.”

Loras nodded. “Ah, right. So it turns out we didn’t need to bring Ryan, then?”

“I guess not. Better safe than sorry though, last time I came to meet you it was a trap,” Nadalia said to Mari.

Mari was puzzled. “Ryan? Who’s Ryan?” she asked. What an odd name, she thought.

Nadalia and Loras looked at each other. “She did ask,” Nadalia said. Loras spoke to the person in the cloak in a very strange language. He seemed to stumble on a few words, but the stranger obviously understood. He pulled his hood back a little so Mari could see his face. She jumped, nudging her chair backwards, eyes wide.

“Don’t panic, he’s not like the ones we learned about in history lectures,” Nadalia reassured her friend.

Mari stared, caught between anxiety and incredulity. “This has got to be some kind of trick. There’s no way…” Ryan covered his face again as the waiter came over with their food. “Okay Nads, please explain how you and the others managed to resurrect the hemsepans.”

Later that night, when Nadalia and the other two got back to the base, they found their two spies in the middle of reporting some news. Ryan took off his cloak and quietly headed upstairs, where David and Chris had been staying for a few days, while the other two stayed to listen.

“The first transmission went out a few days ago,” Parvona was saying. “From what we have seen so far, he is trying to make every person look for all of you. Perhaps he is even hoping some of you will see these messages yourselves and hand yourselves in.”

“Right, so we need to avoid anywhere with a visual receiver,” Nazar said. “Anything else you’ve found out?”

Antrias stepped forwards. “We are sorry to report a death. Your friend Yeranos, who was taken, he was tortured and killed. He did not tell them anything of importance before death. Saphrax was most frustrated.”

The Disciples made signs of respect. “Any other news?” Mihran asked after a moment of silence.

“Yes, one other thing has happened. There is a disgraced enforcer, called Valamir, who has been capturing people without Saphrax knowing,” Antrias told them. “He caught someone he thinks is the Thirteenth Kat, but he is wrong. His prisoner is called Noyemi, she is held but not killed yet. He is hoping to gain approval by catching her.”

Nadalia didn’t like the sound of that. “He’s holding someone he thinks is me? Did you find out where?” she asked. If I can find out where she’s being held, I can try and get her out somehow, she thought.

Parvona replied. “Sadly no, we did not hear that part. We will attempt to find out for you.”

“While you’re at it, could you find out something else for us?” Rehan asked. “We heard some rumours a few days ago, that Alaric had died. Can you let us know if it’s true?”

“Also, there may be someone there called Vasag. Could you tell us what his situation is?” asked Eznik.

“Yes, we will find these things out for you.” Parvona turned to Antrias. “We must now leave here to return there by next day, brother.”

Antrias agreed. “We must be going. We will report back in when we have more things to tell you,” the small insect said, and they both scuttled off through a gap under the door.

Everyone was quiet for a minute. Shakrem and Mihran went to make the Disciples’transmission, and Nazar suddenly remembered why Nadalia and Loras had been gone all day. “Hey, how did it go with Mari? Has she come to her senses yet?”

Nadalia looked at Loras. “I’ll explain to everyone else, if you want to finish talking with David and Ryan.” Loras nodded and disappeared upstairs. “Mari has come to her senses, as you put it,” she said, relaying what Mari had told her earlier. “So she’s going to be working against Saphrax from the inside, along with an enforcer called Nyneve.”

“That’s the one we told you about,” Demile interrupted. “The one who helped us escape.”

“I thought so, the name sounded familiar when Mari said it. Anyway, she’s agreed to help us get in, so we might need to modify our plan a bit. Have you had a chance to get a decision out of the hemsepans yet, Loras?” Nadalia asked, hearing someone come down the stairs.

Loras entered the room, followed by David, Ryan and the young female called Lucy. “They’ve agreed to help us,” he announced to the room at large. “And they’ve also agreed to work with us to learn about each other’s history when this is all over,” he said to Eznik and Ovsanna.

“Brilliant,” Xarmen exclaimed. “So what’s the refined plan, do we need to change much?”

Levon shook his head. “I don’t think so. It would be helpful if Mari and Nyneve could help us get into the complex, maybe you could talk to her Nads?”

“I can ask her, she said she’d be willing to help.”

“If they can get one of the gates clear of guards, then we wouldn’t need to distract them anywhere,” Levon continued. “That would leave more of us free to get down to the cells and free prisoners, or take out the surveillance equipment.”

Loras translated the plan for the hemsepans. ”Then we go ahead with what we already decided?” he asked.

“Yep. Since you’ve agreed to help us out with this,” Nazar said, looking at David, “it should all go pretty well. By the way, I’ve finished checking those weapons over. Most of them are in working condition, but there are a few I’m not sure about. I think I can repair them, but I might need some help. Do any of you know anything about them?”

The hemsepans listened to Loras’ translation, and replied. “Not really, but there might be some books about it somewhere in the caves, apparently. Ryan says he’ll go down and have a look tomorrow,” Loras said, stifling a yawn. “I’m off to bed. See you lot in the morning.”

Xarmen stood up and stretched. “Ovsanna, I’ve been meaning to ask you something for a while. Would you teach me to read those books? I’ve always wanted to learn but never found anyone willing to teach me,” she said, indicating the ancient books Ovsanna had brought up from the caves.

“Sure, we can start now if you’re not tired,” she responded, and the two of them retreated into a corner with some books.
Levon and Rehan disappeared upstairs together, and everyone else either went to find somewhere to sleep, or found something to do.

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