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Chapter 27: Dark Knights

Chapter 27: Dark Knights

It was dark inside the big airship as it moved across the Arcadian plate toward Arcadopolis. The ship moved slowly because its holographic cloak disguised it as a cloud. And clouds do not move fast in calm air. And the air was still this night even as the political climate of the capital was stormy.

Kothar Khonn Jr sat in the observation blister in the airship’s belly and looked down at the ground that slid below the behemoth. It was night down there but the filters of the atmosphere dome that covered Arcadia were beginning to lighten. Dawn would be upon the ground in six hours and then the raid would begin.

Next to him sat Zacharias Sarkhon. Both men had arrived aboard the covert airship via jump connections. Kothar from a safe house in Arcadopolis and Zacharias from the space yacht Scarlet Shadow. Already aboard was a regiment of the Thuvian Rangers known as the Dark Knight Commando Group. Highly trained Special Forces operators who had been training for weeks to take down the Arcadia Tower prison.

The Dark Knights had sanitized all of their equipment from any Pangean involvement in the raid. All the weapons they carried had been purchased from Menorian arms merchants and the ship itself had been purchased from a Cenozoan mothball fleet. The soldiers themselves wore the uniforms of Cenozoan mercenaries.

No one carried any identification. If they were captured they would probably be put to death as spies. It was a risky mission and therefore failure was not an option.

Kothar knew that this mission violated the Guild Treaty and the laws of his native Pangean Empire that had been inspired by that treaty. But what else could they do under the circumstances?. They could not let Duke Nathaniel rot in prison because sooner or later the Wallaces would get up the courage to have him executed and once he was dead the anti-Wallace movement in Arcadia would lose its most powerful voice and its most potent symbol.

If all the plans were in place—and Kothar had spent weeks seeing that they were—Imperial agents would disrupt the power of the area surrounding the Tower. Then it would be a matter of landing troops and moving from room to room in the old dungeon cleaning out resistance.

The Emperor had authorized them to use deadly force. There was no other way that this operation could be done. The prison was guarded by elite members of the Wallace House guard and specially trained and armed officers of the RAMP. But if he and his team were captured then there would be hell to pay.

He was certain that Toreus I would come forward and admit that he had authorized the illegal operation—that was the kind of man he was. But the ramifications at home and across the Sphere would be terrible.

Zacharias came and sat beside him in the observation blister.

“We are calling down the lightning,” said the Time Sorcerer. “And with it will come the thunder.”

“Meaning that however this operation comes out there will be consequences.”

Zacahrias nodded. “There are always consequences to actions. That is what being a Time Sorcerer is all about. Cause and effect.”

“Meaning that everything that happens in the Cosmos has happed before and will happen again.”

“No,” the Sorcerer shook his head. “Things happen in all the universes in slightly different combinations and those combinations are what make the difference. And if we know what happened in—oh say—Worldline A we can go to—say—Worldline C—where it hasn’t happened yet—and make appropriate changes. It isn’t magic. it just seems that way to—“

“Us lesser beings,” finished Kothar

“Not lesser—less advanced but not lesser.”

“But Arenjun once told me that it was our lot who started calling you Temporum magi or Time Sorcerers. Doesn’t make us seem so smart.”

Zacharias smiled a broad grinning smile. “Actually we started calling ourselves that back on Ancient Atlantis—in the Old Universe. I think my cousin was just teasing you. He can be condescending at times—even to me.”

Kothar Junior laughed.

So did Zacharias.

They both stared at the landscape rolling below.

“We’re just fifty kilometers from the Akai Sea,” said Kothar. “That means we’re just about six hours from target.”

“Not too later to turn back,” said Zacahrias.

“Yes, it is,” said Kothar. “This needs to be done. There’s no not doing it—despite what people in the Parliament might think. Without a no-go order form the Emperor himself I intend to see this through.”

And they both knew that the Emperor Toreus I would give no such order.

“Even if we slip up and cause a war between Arcadia and Pangea?”

“If we slip up war between these two plates will be the least of our problem,” said the Ranger Colonel and number one son of the Supreme Marshal Kothar Khonn.

“True there will be a war the likes of which Terra Prime has not seen in centuries under the peace of the Guild Treaty.”

“You mean the false peace of the Guild Treaty. The Guild was never a good treaty and now it has become a means of exercising Sharitanis power over The Sphere. And more people have died in the Cold War that resulted from the Treaty than would have died in a shooting war.”

“Your Chancellor would argue otherwise.”

“Yes,” said Kothar. “The Chancellor is a pet of that dog Draco Sharitanis, President of the Guild and leader of House Sharitanis—may he rot in Tartaris.”

Zacahrias laughed at the joke. Tartaris was the Sharitanis Homeworld far out in space. Formerly a prison in a time before the Sphere War. One of the disservices that the Guild Treaty had done to the Cosmos was freeing the Sharitanis and giving them back their place in the Brotherhood of Time Sorcerers and the Atlantean Business Community.

Not that it could have happened any other way. The war started when the Shaits broke free of Tartaris with a quite large fleet and headed straight for Terra Prime.

“If we are lucky in these next years the Shaits will be either confined to Tartaris once again or they will be led by members of the family who are not so inclined to evil.”

“And who might that be?” asked Kothar,

Zacharias smiled. “There are good people everywhere. All they need to show it is a chance to stand in the light and survive the evil of their fellows.”

“And how often does that happen, sir?” asked the young Ranger leader.

“Not often enough,” admitted the Chronomancer. “But it does happen.”

“I hope that you are right.”

The airship pilot signaled Kothar.

“Khonn here.”

“Sir. We are headed into the outer defense perimeter of the capital. So far no sign we have been detected.”

“Thank you. Keep me informed.”

“So far so good,” said Zacharias.

“Let us hope it stays that way.”

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