Chapter 20 - Resistance
The tunnel maze seemed never-ending, and while the Chrysallamans showed no outward signs of being bothered by the confining stone passageways, Doug, Becky, Miguel and Princess Peregrine were not enjoying the experience. The constant darkness and cloying humidity was making them depressed and sluggish.
After entering the tunnels through the alcove entrance, they’d traversed over a mile of twisting corridors, ramps and circular stairways. Twice they’d encountered a dead end with no apparent exit. Each time Cherree pushed a stone near the bottom of a side wall embedded with a glowing telepathic token shaped like a tiny circle with a dotted outline. Moments later, a doorway would grate open in the side wall permitting them to continue their trek.
Just as the psychological stress of feeling trapped in never ending, dark, dank passageways was becoming unbearable for Doug and his friends, they came upon a fifth dead end. A glowing telepathic token that looked like a cellphone touchpad was set in the side of the wall. Cherree punched in a seven-digit code and with a growling scrape of stone on stone, a doorway swung open toward them. Beyond was a brightly lit room which Cherree entered with confidence. After a moment of hesitation, the others followed her with the Princess and Miguel bringing up the rear. The thick stone doorway grated shut.
The words and tone of the next person they heard weren’t welcoming.
“What the hell is this, Cherree?” a gravelly, telepathic voice demanded.
“Give me a moment, General Dunnbull,” Cherree answered.
Blinking their eyes to adjust to the bright overhead lights, Doug, Becky and Miguel saw they were in a rectangular room painted light green. The walls were filmed with dirt and grease smeared and smudged over the years by countless reptilian hands. Four Chrysallaman males holding cutter ray pistols surrounded them. An elderly Chrysallaman female sat on a stone bench near some metal racks that held cardboard boxes, miscellaneous brushes, scrapers and bottles. A collection of mops and brooms leaned against a corner in the room combined with the smell of antiseptics could only mean one thing. They were in what passed for a Chrysallaman custodial closet.
Cherree walked over and sat on the stone bench. The older female had to be at least 90 years old. The pupils of her black eyes were ringed with a light yellowish-gray, and the corners of her mouth were deeply wrinkled. A well-worn tri-footed walking cane stood next to her, and she kept one hand on it as if she was afraid it would tip over.
Hoping for some flicker of understanding as the older female glared at her, Cherree said, “Mom, I know this looks strange but there was more going on in the torture chamber than simple questioning of prisoners.”
“Cherree Brookkss. I can’t believe you’d put us all in such danger! For Heaven’s sake, the Princess?”
“Brookkss?” Whatsit asked.
“Silence!” commanded the Chrysallaman who Cherree had called General Dunnbull.
The General was 6 feet 4 inches tall. His skin was the darkest green color the Humans had ever seen on a Chrysallaman. His standard combat vest was studded with many military badges and campaign ribbons. A Chrysallaman starburst medal dangled from a bright yellow cord tied around his neck. The other three Chrysallaman soldiers wore undecorated combat vests and held their weapons with a confidence indicating they were experienced commandos.
Whatsit turned toward Dunnbull and looked him up and down as if he was deciding whether the lizard was worth any attention. Deciding he didn’t care for the Christmas decoration look, Whatsit frowned. The General didn’t like the disrespect.
“I haven’t given you permission to look me in the eyes. Bow your head in due respect to your superior,” Dunnbull growled.
“Uh-oh,” GooYee muttered.
Cherree interrupted as she recognized a fight brewing.
“General, Whatsit isn’t from Chrysalis. He doesn’t understand our protocols.”
“Well he better learn if he wants to remain on my good side.” Shifting his gaze to Whatsit, he said, “I’ll accept your apology now.”
“Stuuuppidd,” GooYee muttered again as he backed away from the eye of the gathering storm.
Bemused by the General’s ridiculous demand, Whatsit turned toward Doug and Becky and with a half-smile said, “I’ve decided Becky is correct. They obviously start teaching flaming egotism to these Chrysallamans at an early age. I’d guess the Dumbass’ indoctrination began in kindergarten.”
Doug and Becky tried without success to stifle their reaction, but the best they could manage was choking back laughter. The poor attempts at hiding their amusement didn’t go unnoticed.
“How dare you insult the Supreme Leader of the Resistance,” exclaimed one of the Chrysallaman soldiers.
“You mean Fearless Leader don’t you, Natasha?” Becky answered in a bad German accent. It was now Whatsit’s turn to snicker as he caught the veiled reference to one of his favorite Saturday morning cartoon shows, ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’.
Incensed by the lack of respect from lower animal life forms and the oddly dressed Chrysallaman, General Dunnbull pointed at Whatsit and ordered, “I think a lesson in humility is warranted, Private Rakkrr. Please educate this hooligan.”
Miguel leaned over and whispered enthusiastically in Caroline’s ear, “You don’t want to miss what happens next.”
Stunned by the odd way the Humans and Whatsit reacted to danger, Caroline stared at him in wide-eyed disbelief. There was now no doubt in her mind Whatsit and his companions were insane. Instead of avoiding danger, they ran toward it at full speed. Despite her reservations, Caroline made no effort to separate from Miguel. She was feeling cold from their time in the dark passageways, and his body was pleasantly warm. He smelled good too.
Private Ezzcobar Rakkrr was a brutish-looking Chrysallaman. His brow bulged over his eyes and his forehead sloped backwards to a smaller than normal skull giving him a Neanderthal look. His arms were long and his chest heavily muscled. His legs were short in comparison to the rest of his torso, but he still stood 6 feet 5 inches tall. If Ezzcobar Rakkrr had been Human and not a native Chrysallaman, you might’ve guessed his appearance was the result of a bad gene pool and steroid use over a long period of time.
Removing his combat vest and laying his ray pistol aside, Rakkrr swung his arms and flexed his hands. It was apparent he’d easily won past fights and didn’t feel the least intimidated by the green-coated Chrysallaman wearing the odd wide-brimmed hat. Stepping forward in a fighting stance, Rakkrr raised his hands to chest level with his fingers shaped like claws aimed at Whatsit. Rolling his head so his neck bones popped and cracked like he was a bad-guy in a poorly written B-movie, Rakkrr waited for Whatsit to approach.
Whatsit was a half head shorter than Rakkrr and had at least a fifty pound weight disadvantage. The evil chuckles from the other Chrysallaman soldiers made it clear they’d seen Rakkrr easily defeat other opponents with bone crushing strength and merciless fists.
Whatsit lifted his sombrero off his head and let it hang on his back by its leather draw cord. When he did this, his Chrysallaman skull tie clasp centered itself under his chin. Moving to within three feet of the towering brute, Whatsit adopted a stance that would have made Bruce Lee proud. He even rolled and undulated his feet just as he’d seen Bruce Lee do in preparation for a karate fight in the movie ‘Enter the Dragon’. Narrowing his eyes and cocking his head, Whatsit motioned with his hand for Rakkrr to come nearer.
Rakkrr grinned with wicked greed as his eyes flicked to the Chrysallaman skull tie clasp with its diamond-faceted eyes. He’d drop this Chrysallaman with his fists and take the jeweled tie clasp as a souvenir. He hadn’t been ordered to let the lizard live and killing him would be most satisfying. The fight lasted all of 45 seconds.
Without warning, Rakkrr stepped forward and drove his left fist in a mighty jab straight at Whatsit’s chin. The jab was fast like a striking snake. As his left jab was on its way, Rakkrr swung his right shoulder forward and threw a haymaker at Whatsit’s left eye. There was no doubt in Rakkrr’s mind that one if not both blows would impact solidly and break bones in the Chrysallaman’s face.
Defending against the jab with his right forearm, Whatsit stepped in close to the big lizard. Bringing his left arm up strongly to block Rakkrr’s right hand punch, he swiveled his right hip forward and simultaneously drove the bottom of his right palm into the point of Rakkrr’s chin with all the strength he could muster. The power of the blow staggered the brute, and as his jaw snapped shut, one of his front teeth chipped. Stumbling back two steps, Rakkrr heard the click of his broken tooth as it bounced on the stone floor. Rakkrr was sure he heard a high pitched telepathic scream ‘Haaa Ja’ when Whatsit’s blow struck home.
“What the hell?” Rakkrr thought.
Shaking his head to clear the effects of the unexpected punch to his chin, Rakkrr became wary. He’d never been jolted by an opponent before. His tongue licked against the rough place where his front tooth had broken off, and anger raised his blood pressure. This was a new and unwelcome experience. Reaching to the small of his back, Rakkrr drew his combat knife from its hidden sheath.
Princess Peregrine covered her mouth and choked back a scream when she saw the knife. This was not going to end well for the Chrysallaman named Whatsit, and she couldn’t understand why Miguel appeared so unconcerned. His only reaction so far was a reassuring squeeze.
Whatsit’s eyes narrowed as he watched Rakkrr bring the double-edged combat knife into view. The black blade was six inches long and appeared razor sharp. It was obvious from the way Rakkrr handled the knife he was skilled in its use as a killing weapon. Any thoughts of going easy on the thug evaporated from Whatsit’s mind.
Rakkrr shifted his stance, and a sly smile curled his lips as he saw Whatsit’s eyes focus on the knife. Circling to the right, he inched toward Whatsit looking for an opportunity to strike. He kept hearing faint telepathic murmurs coming from Whatsit that sounded like he was purring every time he shifted his body.
The noise was distracting. Trying to draw the lizard into opening up his defenses, Rakkrr jabbed left-handed with the knife to draw Whatsit’s attention. As the knife flashed toward the lizard’s chest, Rakkrr twirled his body to the right and swung a powerful round house punch with his right fist at Whatsit’s head. The speed of the move was blinding.
With his attention focused on the knife, Whatsit didn’t notice the fist until it struck him in the side of his face. The impact cut his lip and threatened to revolve his head. It was fortunate Whatsit sparred with fully activated Humans like Tom and McPherson. Muscles and sinews strengthened by countless bouts with ultra-strong opponents paid off. Instead of a broken jaw, Whatsit’s head twisted from the blow. Refocusing on the grinning Rakkrr, Whatsit wiped the blood off his cut lip, tasted it and smiled.
“Time to end this scuffle,” Whatsit decided as he began shuffling his feet like a dancer.
Rakkrr was astonished. The round house blow was one of his best and strongest moves. No past opponent had survived the powerful impact, yet this upstart only seemed annoyed.
“And what was this dancing move?” he thought.
Deciding he needed to end the fight, Rakkrr inched toward the lizard and flipped the blade from his left to his right hand. The move was fast and designed to draw attention. Just as the knife landed in his right hand, Rakkrr plunged forward and sliced to his left. As his body gathered momentum, he swung his leg up in a powerful round house kick. The move was practiced and lightning fast.
Employing a tactic he’d seen Bruce Lee use in a fight scene with Chuck Norris, Whatsit avoided the blade with a quick sidestep, dropped low and swept his leg against Rakkrr’s planted foot. With one leg high in the air kicking through the empty space where Whatsit’s head had been and his other leg knocked out from under him, Rakkrr fell to the floor. An audible, bony crack echoed across the room as Rakkrr’s tail bone broke upon impact with the unforgiving stones. The heavy fall knocked the knife from Rakkrr’s hand, and it clattered out of reach as Whatsit kicked it away.
Struggling to his feet, thoroughly embarrassed and slit-eyed with anger, Rakkrr did the only thing his pain-numbed brain could think to do. Spreading his arms wide, he rushed Whatsit like a maddened bull, intent on spearing the odd Chrysallaman and driving him back into the stone wall. Whatsit saw the bum rush coming.
Instead of fighting the strength and weight of his opponent, he fell backward in a roll while simultaneously grabbing the wrists of Rakkrr’s outstretched arms. As he rolled, he brought his legs up into Rakkrr’s stomach and at just the right moment, straightened his knees. Rakkrr’s momentum worked against him. Instead of smashing into Whatsit as intended, Rakkrr found himself flying through the air in a somersault. The last thing he remembered hearing before his head hit the stone floor and he blacked out was ‘Ja Baaa’.
Standing up and looking back at the unconscious bully, Whatsit pulled his sombrero around where he could see it, dusted it off, made sure it didn’t have any crumpled places in its crown and placed it on his head. He picked up the broken tooth, looked at it like he was examining a diamond and then slipped it into his coat pocket.
Turning his attention back to Dunnbull, Whatsit said, “I didn’t mean to hurt him, General Dumbass. I assumed he was one of your best and knew how to fight. If I’d known he was such a novice, I might’ve tried to be a little gentler with him.”
Dunnbull was speechless, but he wasn’t a fool. His rise to power in the Rebel Underground was the result of intellect, cunning and no little amount of paranoia. Dunnbull used everyone and everything to further his ambitions, and this odd Chrysallaman named Whatsit was unpredictable and had to be controlled or killed. He decided controlling the lizard wasn’t possible.
“You are well skilled, Mr. Whatsit,” Dunnbull said. “However, you’re insubordinate and dangerous. The fact that one of your companions is the murderous Asiddian Princess is proof of your treachery.”
“Oh my, Dumbass he is,” GooYee whispered under his breath as he inched behind Doug and Becky.
Leveling his cutter ray pistol at Whatsit, Dunnbull ordered, “Men, eliminate this Chrysallaman and all his pet animals. Don’t harm the Princess. Her recorded screams as we torture her may weaken the resolve of the Asiddian invaders.”
Doug had heard enough. He was through being patient and playing nice with the Chrysallaman Rebel Underground.
Holding up his hand for dramatic effect, he said in a deep telepathic voice, “Hold!”
As commanded, every voluntary muscle in the General and his men froze. As the sheer power of Doug’s mind control swept over the Chrysallamans like a hot wind blowing across Death Valley, drool leaked from the corners of their mouths.
While Doug, Becky and Miguel restrained the General and his men with handcuffs they found in a soldier’s belt pouch, Whatsit walked over to the stone bench and dropped to one knee in front of the old Chrysallaman female.
“Would you mind if I sat next to you? I have a few questions.”
Startled by Whatsit’s calm demeanor and polite request, the old woman nodded. Just moments ago she’d witnessed this odd Chrysallaman defeat General Dunnbull’s most ruthless soldier in a fight to the death; yet now he was a picture of tranquility. Her curiosity had to be satisfied.
Motioning to Cherree to make room for him to sit down next to the old Chrysallaman she’d called Mom, Whatsit said, “My name is Whatsit. What’s your name?”
“May I ask how old you are?”
“I’m sorry to be so personal, but how many children do you have?”
Tears welled in Helleen’s eyes as she considered her answer. Dabbing at her cheeks with a cloth she pulled from a pocket, she smiled wistfully and replied, “I have two daughters. My oldest was forty when Emperor Horcunt enslaved her and fled from the invading horde of Asiddians. I don’t know what happened to her. Horcunt’s escape was over thirty years ago. There’s no telling where she is or what her fate might be.”
Ignoring the distracted look in Whatsit’s eyes, Helleen inclined her head toward Cherree and said, “My youngest daughter, Cherree, was 10 years old when the Asiddians invaded. She grew up hiding with the rebel resistance in the secret tunnels built within the Royal Palace. Her wisdom and faithfulness earned her an advisory position with the Inner Circle of the Resistance.”
Frowning at her daughter, Helleen said, “Cherree’s wisdom is now in question. Her rash decision to kidnap Princess Peregrine will undoubtedly bring a swift end to the Resistance and crush any hope of defeating the Asiddians.”
Looking at the spot where the hidden doorway led into the tunnel system, she continued, “I hate to be so pessimistic, but at this very moment I have no doubt General Harrier is tearing the very foundations out of the palace in his effort to rescue the Princess. For all I know, their disintegrator rays could melt through the wall any second.”
As if in response to her words, everyone felt a minute vibration in the stone floor and a fine mist of dust drifted down on them from cracks in the ceiling. GooYee reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic case that looked like it might be filled with drill bits. Opening it, he extracted a small cube-shaped device and stuck its probes into a crack in the stone wall.
When he saw the inquisitive look on Miguel’s face, he said, “Miniature seismographic sensor. It’ll give me some indication of how much time we have left before the Asiddians arrive.”
Princess Peregrine jerked free of Miguel’s grasp and slammed her fist down on the little sensor. Miguel seized her arm and got her back under control, but the damage had been done. One of the tiny metal probes on the back of the cube had broken off.
Glaring at the Princess whose hand was bleeding from the impact, GooYee said, “She broke it, but I managed to get a brief reading. The seismic disturbances are centered approximately 750 feet away from us. We don’t have much time left.”
Returning his attention to Helleen, Whatsit said rather than asked, “Your missing daughter’s name is Chellsee?”
Clutching her chest with one hand and grabbing Whatsit’s bandoleer with the other, Helleen demanded, “Tell me what you know.”
Whatsit was pounded sharply on the shoulder by Cherree. Turning to her, he was astounded by the combination of fear and barely concealed suspicion in her eyes. The cutter ray pistol in her hand was aimed unwaveringly at his head.
“If you’ve hurt my sister, I’ll slice your head off and ship it back to her with a note that says ‘He apologizes. Love, Sis’. Understand?”
Keeping his voice calm, Whatsit replied, “I need to show you and your mother something. It’s in my pocket. Just let me get it.”
Barely moving her head in agreement, Cherree said, “Be very slow and deliberate. I wouldn’t want to decapitate you because of an errant finger twitch.”
As instructed, Whatsit dipped his hand into his inner coat pocket and pulled out his cellphone. Holding his thumb over the touch ID button, he entered the main screen and tapped the Photos icon. Staring at the display, he selected a photo and enlarged it.
Turning the display towards Helleen, Whatsit looked confidently at Cherree. Helleen’s gasp was guttural, and her telepathic thoughts became chaotic.
Grabbing the cellphone from Whatsit’s hand, she whispered, “Chellsee!”
“Mom? What’s going on?” Cherree asked as she sidled around Whatsit. She kept the pistol trained on him, but her eyes kept wandering to the thin, metallic plate her mother was holding.
After a few seconds of silence, Helleen looked up at her. “Oh, put that silly pistol away and come look at this.”
Pushing Whatsit aside, Cherree sat down next to Helleen and stared at the picture. There was Chellsee holding hands with Whatsit. She was wearing a striking, red dress covered in glistening sequins. Whatsit and Chellsee wore matching sombreros, and her smile glowed with delight.
“Let me show you another one,” Whatsit said.
Reaching over Cherree, he touched the screen and swept his finger to the right. Another photo of Chellsee and him slid into view. Whatsit appeared to be holding the camera at arm’s length. Chellsee was nuzzling him on the cheek, and the smile on Whatsit’s face indicated he was enjoying the caress. There was no doubt from the way Chellsee’s eyes glittered that she was happy.
Tears of joy flowed down Helleen’s cheeks. Turning to Whatsit and looking him in the eyes, she asked, “Who are you?”
“I guess you could say I’m Chellsee’s boyfriend,” Whatsit replied.
Searching Helleen’s eyes for any sign of parental rejection, Whatsit was astounded when she handed the phone back to him and said, “Tell me everything.”
Suddenly a powerful vibration shook the stone chamber and clouds of dust fell on them from the ceiling. The vibrations were constant now. They didn’t need a seismic sensor to know the Asiddians were almost upon them.
“We have to move now!” Becky said.
“Whatsit,” Doug ordered. “You help Cherree with Helleen. I’ll take charge of the General. Becky, you and Gooey work on a way to map these tunnels. Miguel, you’re in charge of the Princess. Let’s go!”
They left the custodial room and entered a wide hallway with an arched ceiling. Ornate wooden doors led from the hallway into rooms whose purpose was unknown. Cherree trotted down the hallway for about 150 feet to a niche lined with shelves filled with miscellaneous gaudy trinkets. Reaching into the side of one of the shelves, she pushed a hidden button and the shelves moved backward into the wall to reveal a dark passageway. Motioning everyone into the tunnel, Cherree pulled a metal lever and the bookshelves ground back into place hiding the tunnel entrance.
Their escape was none too soon. A loud explosion reverberated down the hallway they had just exited as the Asiddians blew open the stone wall in the custodial chamber. Within moments, at least twenty Asiddian commandos came spewing through the newly formed entrance like locusts; each brandishing ominous black weapons that looked like SAR-21 assault rifles. They were fully prepared for search and destroy.
Their orders must have been to shoot first and ask questions later because several of them fired at anything that appeared suspicious. Deep holes appeared in the hallway walls and several pieces of furniture were blown to bits.
“Shhh,” Whatsit said to Cherree and Helleen with stern determination in his eyes. “Help is on the way. My friends won’t rest until they find us.”
“How many Chrysallamans are coming?” Cherree asked.
“Who said anything about Chrysallamans?”
Thank you so much for reading my book. I hope you enjoyed Dawn of Chrysalis, Book 2 of The Origin of F.O.R.C.E. series. Humans are coming to save Whatsit and his friends. General Hisspat Zeck and the Chrysallaman Emperor will join them but not voluntarily. The Asiddians are in for a shock. Stay tuned!
As an independently published author, I count on you to spread the word about my book. So if you enjoyed The Origin of F.O.R.C.E. and Dawn of Chrysalis, please tell your friends and family. Won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?
Thanks! Sam B. Miller II
ABOUT SAM B MILLER II
Sam B. Miller II holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance, and a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance, from the University of Tennessee. He has five children and lives with his wife, Susan, and their many dogs, in Northeast Tennessee. Dawn of Chrysalis is his second novel.
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