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Prince  Toreus Rhann  and the Thuvian Rangers

Chapter 20: The Hard Easy Way Out

They hid the spikes in the same garage and made their way back to the church. There was no sing of cops on the street and the power was still out.

But there was the flash and thunder of battle from all corners of Arcadopolis. The town was coming apart at the seams and the authorities might have much much more to concern themselves with than the Taylor clan.

Lois led the way. Returning here was her idea. She had a hunch on a way that they could escape. Prince Toreus Rhann and Colin O'Brien agreed to it after a little bit of argument.

Father Phil was in the church when they entered, kneeling at the altar praying. He turned to face them.

“Duchess!” he ran to Lois Taylor. “What is wrong? Why are you back?”

“The path to the Fountain is blocked by soldiers,Carter Tauron could get them out” she said. “It is time to take the route we discussed earlier.”

He nodded.

They followed Lois and the priest back into the depths of the church. They stopped near a statue that looked like a Randarite/human hybrid wearing a robe.

“St Algernon, the patron saint of clear spaceways,” said Father Phil. He pushed three stars on the celestial globe atop which Algernon stood. The statue slide forward to reveal a doorway behind it.

Prince Toreus Rhann stepped through the doorway and peered into the glow globe lit space.

“The underground,” he said.

Lois nodded up at him. “The underground is the last place that the Wallaces will search and the last place where they will station troops.”

Colin O'Brien looked down into the stairwell. “Lot of walking.”

“Not up to it, Ranger?” Prince Toreus Rhann smiled.

“Up to it if you are Prince.”

“But you have misgivings,” said Prince Toreus Rhann.

“There’s a reason why the police don’t patrol the underground,” said the Ranger. “I heard they once tried to clean out the plate dwellers. Sent regiments of their best soldiers down under. Lots of them didn’t come back. Those that did were mental wrecks or dead bodies. The underground takes care of itself and the surface takes care of itself. And no one is arguing about it.”

“Is that the common wisdom?” asked Prince Toreus Rhann. “Don’t go there because the monsters will eat you.”

“Among the military and police of most plates,” said Colin O'Brien. “Tell me your Dad’s government handles it any other way.”

Prince Toreus Rhann couldn’t tell him that because it was true. The underground had been left alone and un-interfered with by the surface world since the days of the Trongoroth and Metron incursions ages ago. The gravity generators kept running and the plats staid on course and no one complained. The plate dwellers tend to the underside of the world and surface people just jump connected through it to the other side where the outer spaceports and launchers were. No one saw a reason to fool with a tried and true system that ran the world.

“I met plate dwellers earlier,” said Prince Toreus Rhann. “They didn’t seem unduly hostile to me—or to the people who were with them.”

Colin O'Brien shook his head. “There are always outlaw types who drop out of surface life or are running from the law who plunge into the underworld—and like the undercover cops who are foolish enough to pursue them no one ever sees them again.”

“This girl was a mercenary—like you. She was part of the crowd in the Den most of whom were hired—I am sure—by Kotharr Khonn to protect our mission. She didn’t seem crazy, nor did she seem to be an outlaw. She, in fact, talked in a Thuvian accent. And there was a Thulian with her. He might have been insane—hard to tell with a Thulian—but I don’t think that he was.”

“So we’re going down in the wainscoting,” said Colin O'Brien, using the seldom used nickname for the underworld.

“Unless you choose to go your own way.”

Just then sirens blared in the street outside and search beams flashed across the buildings.

“The time for decisions is already made,” said Lois.

“Let’s go,” said Prince Toreus Rhann.

They entered the stairway, Prince Toreus Rhann last. Father Phil hung back in the church.

“I think you should come with us, father,” said the Prince. “If you stay here you will be arrested and probably tortured.

“But I have to stay here and tend to this church.”

“It could mean your life.”

“This church is my life.” The priest gently pushed the warrior prince inside and closed the door. Prince Toreus Rhann stared at the blank wall, touched by the sacrifice of the man.

He then turned to face the others. “We all have to make hard decisions. Let’s go.”

They started down the stairs into the underworld.

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