A chill invaded the cave, as roaming lights drifted from the jungle and headed towards them.
‘Come, we must leave this area, guards have been searching this area during the day. We shall enter the camp the same way as to how we discovered each other, and gain entry from the bank. We hope that the Emparians will be away within their dreams, we gain entry to the camp... come,’ Mantine said slipping himself into the pooling water before the cave.
Coldness set within Louisa’s extremities, and her fingers became numb the further she swam with Mantine and Nevis whose breath vaporised into the air. Through dark murky waters did they swim, under the glare of stars and buzzing insects that lit their way to the banks and shadows of weeds that travelled the direction of the wind, low whistles filled the air.
Mantine was the first to emerge from the weeds and onto the sandy banks where his feet sunk, Nevis was the second out both scanned their surroundings and pulled Louisa out of the coldness. To immediate warmth as Mantine placed a pair of glowing hands that draw all water away from her and her clothing to a collection of water that pooled beneath her and streamed its way back to the river. Nevis did the same and Mantine soon followed so they were no longer under the cold clasps of the night.
Soft footsteps set off amongst the shadows of bushes, trees and shelters, they looked upon forty soldiers scattered into small groups that massed round small fires. To laughter and chatter, with fellow guards joining. Footsteps sounded behind them, and a firm hand pulled Louisa down to ground level, as a dozen guards walk pass all dressed in black one piece uniforms.
‘Askans,’ Louisa whispered and turned her face, a grey Askan face mere inches away.
‘Sush! It’s us Mantine and Nevis, this disguise shall help us if caught, and seeing the numbers we are bound to at some stage. Now come, we shall go around the parameters of the camp to get an idea as to where they keep their shuttles.’ A grey Askan said to her with the soft voice of Mantine’s baring the same yellow eyes.
With a firm grasp of her hand, Louisa followed behind and stalked from tent to tent. A loud voice behind sounded.
Louisa hidden behind Mantine and Nevis, three Askan guards came up to them.
‘Oh sorry mate, thought you were someone else,’
‘Don’t worry; sure he was not put on guard duty?’
‘No, unless he volunteered for overtime,’
‘I did hear they were after a few guards to cover the flying zone, perhaps he’ll be there.’
Nodding in agreement, the three guards dwindled back into the night. Louisa caught up in arm lock between Nevis and Mantine. They followed the path the Askans took. Three shuttles launched and directed their search lights towards the river as they floated up.
‘They discovered human DNA by the river, less than an hour old, Louisa must be using the river to find food and water, we have been ordered to send a search party along each bank. Hopefully, we can return to our normal lives when we give the Gladovians what they want.’ A pair of Askans muttered passing a fair distance from them as they too walked the same direction as many others.
‘Lucky we left when we did, your DNA trail will lead them to your cave. Come we must catch up with the other guards if we have any chance at evading any security checks,’ Mantine said as they approached a gathering of guards.
‘The Gladovians have not taken responsibility for the attack on the prison ship; they have respected the judgment even though they do not agree with it,’
‘Even so... doesn’t stop them from taking the matter into their own hands, no other member of the Institute have claimed responsibility for the attack, and the fleet was unmarked and unknown.’ Another guard said joining the conversation.
‘Trienz, I thought you said you were off tonight?’
‘Afraid not called in last minute. Centyl, I’ll see you tomorrow sometime.’
‘They are going to see me!’ Louisa whispered.
‘No, we are deflecting the light rays around you making you invisible to them, but let me concentrate whilst you Louisa, follow Nevis.’ Mantine said pushing Louisa forward into the massing crowds of guards.
Onto an area dry land flooded with light a dozen ships parked, guards went off to relieve others and stood at their post. To the far right-hand corner, there was a collection of small shuttles, with that sight the three of them marched the parameter of the field and reached the shuttles where four guards stood guard over the three shuttles grouped together, another group of guards guarded another three shuttles a little distance away.
‘I’m afraid we have already taken guard duty here for the night, I would go back to control, to see if you were given the wrong guard duty.’
‘Hmmm,’ Mantine said maintaining his guise as Nevis held Louisa’s arm in a tight grip and dragged her towards the far corner where the third shuttle rested.
‘Hey did you not hear me, you both need to go back to control, neither of you have any business being here.’
‘That my friend is where you are wrong,’ Mantine said and in a flash of yellow light transformed into his original self and blasted off several waves of bright light from a hand that left the guards unconscious.
We have less than five minutes before people reach us. I say we make do with this shuttle. And get the hell off of this moon, so we can find where the Ascorts are hiding,′ Nevis said climbing into the shuttle with Louisa following.
‘Let’s,’ Mantine said as the shuttle’s door closed. Gun fire echoed beneath the ship and alarms rang. Blasts came from the engines and the ship levitated up into the air and shot off with a trail of other shuttles and ships following.
Purple clouds amassed and turbulence rocked the shuttle, as it escaped the moons’ atmosphere. A tail of ships followed behind which created a colourful laser display that on occasion sent shock waves through the shuttle’s body work. The shuttle shivered with every impact but held tight and strong on its direction for freedom.
Yet, the tail of mere shuttles chasing behind were joined by other vehicles of space. Ships built for war soon came into vision, and communication channels were starting to come through to the shuttle.
‘Let’s give this lot something to talk about,’ Mantine said and draw a hand up and scrunched it into a tight fist. Space before them ruptured and a black hole appeared drawing the shuttle in with even greater turbulence as their predators formed attacking alignments and launched all weapons upon them.
‘How are we going to escape this madness?’ Louisa asked as each tremor filtered to her bones.
‘A simple light deflection is all that is needed for a disappearing act,’ Nevis laughed smiling as he played with a number of buttons on several control panels. The worm hole swallowed the shuttle with one gulp, and sent them through blazing tunnels, hypnotising to the eyes.
‘Do you think Systea has made contact with the Ascorts?’ Mantine asked.
‘I doubt it. We would have had help by now,’ Nevis said.
‘Where do you think the Ascorts will be?’ Louisa asked focusing on the controls as she tried to lose the double vision she was experiencing.
‘We’ll that’s the problem – the Ascorts are dimensional beings, they exist between time and space itself. We can only find them when they decide to... well... show up,’ Nevis said.
‘Oh, so what happens, if we cannot find them?’
‘We’ll have to take you back to a member of the Federation, well not to the Emparians,’ Mantine said.
‘Do you know how much longer we are going to travel like this?’ Louisa asked as she battled with a migraine that banged in her forehead.
‘When this wormhole finishes, we will be spat out, I don’t think it will be that much longer now, you never know, we may be out of the Institutes’ space. Then we would have more time to play with.′ Mantine said.
‘Is there any chance you guys could return me home?’ Louisa asked, as the spiralling vision slowed down and rested with a black parchment covered with specs of colours.
‘I doubt we could get you home with this shuttle, but let’s see where we are,’ Nevis said, as the shuttle began to scan star correlations near to where the shuttle had exited the wormhole.
‘Are we invisible still?’ Louisa asked noticing a vague outline of a ship in the far distance.
‘No we have no need. Our entourage would not have been able to follow us, they do not have our capabilities,’ Mantine said.
‘Are you sure?’ Louisa asked with a gulp, as a black hole appeared near to the ship in the distance.
‘Shit, our entourage had a few Emparians. Well that’s spoilt our effort, now all we need are the Ascorts to show up and then we are sorted, if not, we will have to get back to our drawing boards and come back for you Louisa,’ Nevis said studying some displays on a few panels before him.
‘Huh, you’re going to leave me?’ Louisa said feeling her heart drop a beat, nausea setting in.
‘We will have little choice, but with Systea on your case. The recent wormhole travel would gain the attention of the Federation. You will not be alone for much longer,’ Nevis said planting both his hands upon her shoulders.
With a curt nod, Louisa swallowed a gulp and watched Mantine play with the controls, but a look of doubt glossed over. With an eventual shake of his head, he looked to the screen, where three mother ships flashed into their sights of the screen surrounding the shuttle.
‘Can’t we worm hole travel again to lose this lot?’ Louisa asked with dread pumping through her body.′
‘The Emparians will tamper with this shuttle, to disable our efforts for wormhole travel. They are there in the background but have their deflector shields on. Making them invisible to those they want to be invisible to and visible to others, and that includes those three wormholes,’ Mantine replied pointing to space splitting in an array of colours.
‘So the other ships from the Institute – those war ships, for instance, they can’t see the Emparian ships coming out of the black holes?’
‘No, they are completely oblivious to them, and to the situation, they are facing. They have one agenda on their mind and that is you, Louisa. Now we are in Gladovian space, they will gain jurisdiction over you. They will retrial you; it will give us time to get help. So keep positive Louisa, we will be back with help,’ Nevis said squeezing her shoulders again, whilst Mantine tapped her cheek. They both transformed into bright orbs and flew through the ship disappearing into space.
‘Keep positive Louisa,’ Mantine voice echoed through her mind.
A communication channel opened, ‘Ah here you are! Nice attempt. I see you have learnt quite a lot about telepathy and telekinetic abilities. The Askans and other members of the Institute of Planets nearly fainted, when they watched a black hole develop before your shuttle. Now, I and my other Emparian colleagues have sensed that you had some sort of help. I suppose that the Ascorts came to visit you and tried a rescue mission. Well, you obviously cannot be too important to them, if they only sent two Ascorts and even then they left you,’ Joive replied in his Askan appearance gradually changing into his Emparian appearance of a small, grey, big headed humanoid figure. With two giant black round eyes, two tiny slits in the centre of the face for a nose and a tiny thin mouth.
‘Decided to abstain from your Askan duty? That is a shame, I do think you make a far better Askan than Emparian, Joive. The same advice goes to your four colleagues,’ Louisa replied as she saw more ships gather in the space surrounding her.
‘Careful now with what you say, it is up to us what happens to you now, and death seems very appealing. You know the Askans and many other members of that Institute of Planets, are crying out for a public death sentence. Death on that moon would have been a ... kinder death. But, that’s for them to decide, we better get you back to their ship – I believe the Gladiovians have demanded your custody since you are in their space. But, between us, the Emparians are ready for a full-scale invasion of every planet with the Institute of Planets. I wonder whether they will ever realise what use you could have been to them.’ Joive asked with a nasty grin developing on his face, looking towards his other three colleagues who now transfigured into Askan appearance.
Within seconds a beam hit the shuttle and began to pull it towards a mother ship that had tiny ships roaming around like busy bees.
‘I think it’s time for us to say goodbye, but I shall see you in a little while, since the ship you are going to has taken me aboard as a guest, and wanting me to preside over your case,’ Joive said with a smirk as he disappeared along with his colleagues. Within minutes the shuttle landed the ship’s door automatically opened. A loud blast sounded, as a weapon fired towards Louisa making her unconscious.