CHAPTER THIRTY THREE
Silus Flax paced the length of the Council of Elders’ chamber as he stated his terms for the surrender of the Tallmens’ city to himself, its new Emperor. The Elders sat in a nervous silence as Flax spelled out his conditions.
The Tallmen who had survived the bloody capture of the Towers would continue to run their machines in accordance with his instructions while he ran the rest of Dubh in its entirety Flax informed them. He would, by using his special talents as a Hall Engineer, increase the Hall of Machines present output and stabilise the deteriorating condition of the field walls. At the same time the Tallmen engineers would teach his High Hat technicians how to use the field expanders. Then Flax would allow the Tallmen to vacate his realm by any exit or means they chose. His terms where not long and complicated, it was a very simple choice, comply or suffer the consequences.
The leader of the Council of Elders could do no more than nod his agreement. The self-proclaimed Emperor Flax’s conditions where not unreasonable in these circumstances he decided. Their conqueror had even suggested that the Tallmen might, time and co- operation permitting, be able to construct all the equipment they needed when leaving the Dubh.
Consequently the Elder agreed to a state of affairs other than his death, yet as he nodded, an alternative solution to this intolerable state of affairs began to take shape in his mind. “There is, however, one pressing matter which has to be resolved” the Elder concluded. Flax’s eyes narrowed expecting objection. “The rebels have a machine which might, in conjunction with a missing energy reservoir, threaten our Field Walls. You, Emperor Flax” he almost spat,”… you, must resolve this problem before our treaty has any substance. We cannot hope to stabilise the Field Walls until both the machine and the power reservoir are retrieved.”
Flax stood silent for a moment and sighed to hide the shock of the unexpected, Dubh was not yet his, someone else, and he knew who, had its destiny and his almost litterally in their hands. He felt desperately uneasy. He spoke.
“But you have a rebel prisoner do you not” he asked bemused. “Will he not disclose the position of these devices?”
“He has stated that he will co-operate” the Elder replied. “But we cannot trust him.”
Flax shivered as he heard the howling from the lower city penetrate the Elders’ chamber walls. He shivered involuntarily, the hairs on his neck standing on end. What was going on out there he thought, for a moment distracted from the task in hand.
“These rebels - are they all of your race? “he queried, a trace of concern in the question. Abruptly, he began to pace the chamber in an attempt to dissipate the nervous energy building in his body and subdue the glimmer of realisation now born in his mind.
The Tallmen Elder leaned back in his chair causally and could not hide the amusement in his voice. “I cannot see a Tallman and human alliance here being possible, no human could threaten us.” His voiced trailed off as his realised what he had foolishly said. With renewed vigour the wailing from the depths of the Lower City invaded Flax’s soul as the dark spirit of corruption urging its physical partner into action to dispel its dis-ease. Flax turned his attention back to the Tallman Elder.
“But I am human!” he half laughed, half growled. The ancient Tallman trembled slightly as Flax’s abyssal eyes bore into him, afraid he had insulted this crazed, yet powerful, lower form of life.
“But you are different.” he responded attempting to retrieve the situation.
Flax went strangely silent, all colour and expression drained from his face. He moaned quietly, then roared with a triumphant laughter.
“And so is he!” he howled, becoming increasingly agitated, and hurled a chair at the Council of Elders’ leader. “Can you not hear its unease! Can you not feel the presence! He is there, he’s doing it!” Flax thought out loud as he countered the lingering disbelief, the unacceptable fear that Jonathon could be doing this despite all that he knew. His face was now twisted in a grimace of pure hatred, tears of final revelation welling up in his darkening eyes.
Now Flax was sure. The ‘boy’ was here, not dead, his presence starkly contrasted against the deepening tide of evil which surged from the deepest labyrinths of the Dubhian Underworld and raised its depthless shadow over the Lower City and advanced towards the Tallmens’ Towers.
He Silus Flax, was failing in his part of this alliance. Soon It would act and the consequences for him were dire. Its unfettered desire for corruption and destruction would shatter his dream also, untempered by the consensus It accepted in an alliance union with him. But he felt himself failing in this compact and now moved fuelled on the despair generated by the collapse of all order in the city.
“So close.” he blubbered to himself. And Flax had both times been denied, there would be not third time. He threw back his head.
“NO,NO,NO! ” he shrieked as old nightmares crept into his consciousness. He remembered the innocent waif he had beheld on the street all those years ago.
Now his imagination ran away with him. He imagined Jonathon and this ‘machine’ which could destroy Dubh, poised smirking, as he threatened to throw the switch which would end his ambitions.
Flax screamed in horror and confusion.
“But WHY? Why? Why? WHY!?” he snarled, not realising he was directing his questions to the Tallman in front of him who quaked with fear as the howling from the city intensified as Flax grew more distressed. “Revenge.” said a soft voice as if out of thin air.
Flax became instantly silent, then burst out into an incredulous laughter. “Reeeevenge!” he guffawed, what did I ever do to him? I never even touched him.” He quietened and his eyes momentarily glazed before they drfited to Ben Santiago. Santiago stodd in the dooorway grey hair in wild disarray, his handsome Latin face streaked in with dirt and blood. Yet he was
relaxed, his own lust for violence and destruction having been sated in this alien city where he felt younger and stronger and perhaps immortal.
Here in Dubh he more was at home than he ever had in his Manhattan apartments. True he had been in the midst of war and rebellion before, yet here he felt no fear. Here his conscience was silent and his eyes smouldered with the gift he had received here, the city had taken away his soul and his conscience and now the windows of that soul showed no light at all. Flax stared at him and Santiago continued his explanation. “Revenge is the most likely motive. You must have crossed him sometime in the past Silus. He seems deranged to me, no-one in their right mind contemplates the destruction of a whole world, contemplates genocide, especially if they’re in it” he chortled softly and paused for a while, watching Flax scowl. “But if it is revenge, he’ll have to see you suffer first or it’ll take away the satisfaction. Give him time and he’ll come to us before he attempts to blow this place.” he finished confidently. “This thing is personal.”
Flax shook his head.
“You may be right, but we don’t have time! Don’t you understand! This world is tottering on the brink of destruction!” he shook his head angrily and turned to Santiago.” He will not deny me what is mine!”
He turned to the Elder who had watched fearfully as the mad human leader’s composure had begun to disintegrate.
“Where is this rebel? He will lead me to the boy and this score will be settled forever” he growled impatiently. The Tallman Elder rose nervously to his feet and indicated that the conqueror of his world should follow him.