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The Antar Chronicles, Chapter 5: Dark of Night
Reply to Alex Parrish
Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list June 24, 2004
Darkness is no problem for me. Even with the dark goggles, my eyes are capable of seeing everything as though it is bright daylight. Ray's and Kuhn's eyes were not, meaning that their dark glasses had to come off. We hadn't thought of that. It turned out to be a error. In the grand scheme of the universe it was only a minuscule error, but it was an error nonetheless.
We didn't know it, but Ray and Kuhn had been spotted the moment we disembarked. Video had picked up the image, and someone in security was on Kivar's payroll. Only seconds later, Keir and his cronies knew that we had found them and were on our way. Of course, we had no way of knowing this, so we just went on acting as though we were futures-traders on a business trip.
We planned to take a taxi to the general vicinity where we expected the hostages to be, planning to walk the last portion of the trip to check out the situation as best we could. "Hostages," that's the word that Ray and Kuhn kept using, but for me they weren't just some generic commodity. It was Michael and Maria and, most of all, Max that I was rescuing.
We walked in pairs some distance apart, trying not to look like an invading army: first Ray and Kuhn, then Liz and me, with Jesse and Isabel bringing up the rear.
Out of the corner of my eye, Liz's movement caught my attention. At first, I didn't realize what she was doing, but in a moment or two I caught on that she was 'signing' to me. Geeze, it had been a while since our period of learning "ASL" (American Sign Language) and I wasn't sure how much I remembered. After a couple repetitions, I caught on that she was signing to me that she thought we were being followed. She also signed that she was signing because she didn't know if aliens or alien technology could hear us. I could of course simply have read her thoughts, but she could not read mine, so I decided to join her in signing so as not to confuse her. Smart woman. I thought she was a little paranoid about being heard, but I was seriously concerned about being followed.
I did at least have the good sense not to turn around to look. I caught a glance as we turned a corner and I agreed with her suspicion. There was an unlighted vehicle about 100 yards behind us and moving very slowly, quite obviously following us and not very discreetly.
As we turned the corner, I spotted a deep doorway for Liz and me to disappear into. Isabel and Jesse apparently caught-on, because as they turned the corner after us and passed by, neither even turned to look in, even though they must have at least been curious how we disappeared from right in front of them. They weren't that far behind us and turned the corner only moments after us and we were already hidden, so I was certain they knew, or at least guessed what was happening. I shifted gears from ASL to thought-reading and confirmed that Jesse, at least, was clued-in and on-the-ball. At that moment, Isabel was fretting about Max and not paying attention to us.
Soon after Isabel and Jesse passed, the dark vehicle passed and I was about to step back onto the street but Liz held me back for a moment. Good thing, too. There was a second vehicle, completely dark like the first one. I guess I just hadn't looked beyond the first one -- I surely could have seen it if I had tried. Even through the goggles and the darkened vehicle windows, I could see that each vehicle held 4 uniformed occupants. I looked more carefully before stepping onto the street again to make sure that there were no more following. Liz and I crept back onto the street, following the followers.
She signed, "What do we do now?"
She didn't need ASL or thought reading to understand my shrug. I confirmed to Liz that Jesse and Isabel knew we were being followed. We had discussed this possibility during our planning and had a contingency plan. When we were within sight of our destination, the groups would split into different directions to confuse the trail. We hadn't counted on two groups tailing us, but since Liz and I were now behind the second group, each of the suspicious vehicles could track one of our little groups and Liz and I would still be behind them -- not being followed (we hoped) .
We knew that because Isabel and Jesse realized they were being tailed, they would head away from our target. Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing whether Ray and Kuhn had caught on yet. I read each of their thoughts, but still couldn't tell if they knew what was going on behind them. Ray seemed to be concentrating on locating the address, and Kuhn was speculating on what they might find there in gruesome detail so awful that I just could not bear to think those thoughts with him, so I stopped reading him. They could be heading directly to our target and could soon find themselves in a trap and we had no way of warning them directly, but we hoped they would eventually notice that none of the humans was behind them and also head in another direction. We hoped.
It worked. Moving as stealthily as we could, we saw Ray and Kuhn turn a corner and head away from our target, and a few moments later Isabel and Jesse turned in another direction, again, away from our target. In yet another moment, we saw one vehicle turn to follow Ray and Kuhn and the other turn to follow Jesse and Isabel. Once they were all out of sight, Liz and I hurried to find the address at which we hoped to find Max. I wondered if I should try to do something about the ominous vehicles, but that was not part of the plan. Our four friends would have to deal with that problem. Our job was to continue to the target and find out what we could, make a plan, and free Michael, Maria and Max. That was the plan we agreed to, and we had promised to stick to it.
The building was creepy. It was built of a dark stone-like material, with smallish windows placed about eight or ten feet from the ground. Damn! Although my 'blowing-things-up,' 'force-field-creating' and 'changing-matter' skills were pretty-much up-to-par, we hadn't really anticipated the need for 'levitation,' and after my experience with Michael's clumsy use of this skill, I was not about to practice on Liz. I could see nothing to stand on, so we had to go with the old 'girl-on-the-shoulders' routine. I had occasionally helped out the cheerleaders in practice sessions back in High School, so I was pretty sure I could balance Liz on my shoulders and boost her up, but she had never done this before and her sense of balance was... well... lousy. She nearly tipped us over twice and almost cried out. She also managed to nearly wrench my shoulder out of the socket trying to get her balance. I bit my lip to keep from hollering. Finally, we were next to the wall and she was upright on my shoulders looking in.
"I can see a room. It's dark. I can't see anything."
I wondered what the chances were of the two of us trading places -- surely, I would be able to see -- but after a second thought, I kept that idea to myself.
"Wait! I can see someone now. It's Maria!"
I hoped her excited stage whisper couldn't be heard beyond the narrow passageway where we were skulking.
"She's in a chair. Her hands are behind her like she's tied-up or something, and there's something over her mouth. The door is closed and she's alone."
"OK, come down now." I began to slowly drop to crouching position, and this time Liz balanced herself on the wall to keep steady. My legs pulsed with pain. Even though I always practiced squats with the free-weights in the exercise room at the Lodge, I apparently hadn't been using exactly these muscles in exactly this way. My shoulder hurt like hell. When she was finally on her own two feet, I just wanted to collapse against the wall and cry, but I couldn't. Instead, I bit my lip deeper and stood up.
I needed put aside the pain and concentrate. I needed to put to use the powers that I had been practicing the last few days in the dream. I was terrified that the doubt which huddled in the corner of my mind would get in the way of my actually using the power. I had practiced and practiced, but this was not the dream-- this was real. I had to do it, that's all. I took a wrestler's stance, balancing my weight between both feet, and leaning slightly forward with both hands widely placed, palms to the wall. As I concentrated, the heavy air, the dark of night, the passageway, the wall, Liz, all disappeared and I formed an image in my mind.
Then I realized that Liz was speaking, still in a stage whisper, but I could hear her saying, "Kyle! You did it! You did it!"
I opened my eyes and found myself staring at a newly formed door-sized hole in the wall. I had made a door! Yippee! But this was no time for celebration -- we had only begun. I stuck my hand and arm into the space just to be sure it was really there. It was.
Tentatively, I led the way and Liz followed. Maria's back was to us, and she couldn't see us, but I could see that she was restrained by some weird kind of handcuffs. We moved in front of her but her eyes were closed. Liz couldn't restrain herself, and hugged her.
Maria immediately screamed as she opened her eyes. Fortunately, the gag in her mouth did a good job of muffling her screams. She didn't recognize me immediately because of the goggles and headgear, but when Liz pulled away from the hug, Maria knew her instantly. I tried to read her thoughts but they were coming so furiously fast that I couldn't really understand much. Finally, she took a deep breath (through her nose) and calmed a little. I took off the headgear and goggles so she could recognize me.
As she calmed, I began to understand that the kidnappers, as well as Max and Michael were in the next room, just beyond the door in front of her, and that she feared the kidnappers could return at any moment. I put my finger to my lips and when Maria nodded in agreement, I reached out and removed the gag. She took deep breaths, but quietly.
I signed, "How many?"
She looked at me puzzled. I tried again. Third time she got it. She held up 3 fingers, not realizing that it was unnecessary, I knew the moment she thought it.
I signed again, "You sure -- only three?"
She shook her head vigorously.
Liz signed to me, "Can you untie her?"
I moved behind her and concentrated on the weird 'cuffs,' fortunately catching them as they fell away and barely preventing a clatter to the floor. Maria shook her arms and rubbed her wrists.
"Is it Kier and Seed?" Liz signed.
Maria nodded, but her thoughts said, "But I'm not sure which side Seed is on. He and Kier and the other guy were arguing a while ago, and it seemed like Seed really did not want to go along with whatever they were planning."
I had scanned Seed's thoughts only a few days ago and immediately reached out with my mind to see if I could find him again. It was not difficult, I recognized him right away. I was stunned by what I heard him thinking.
His mind was reeling. "They're going to kill me. This is not how it was supposed to be. Kier was supposed be here and they promised to release him if I cooperated. I'm afraid he's dead. What have they done to my wife and children, Kier's wife and his son? Have they killed them all? I'm next. I've got to get out of here. They're going to kill me!" He was terrified, and I didn't sense that it was paranoia -- something was going on that made him really believe he was about to die.
I put my ear to the door for a moment and then replaced it with my hand and created a pinhole. I put my eye to it. Damn -- I can't get a break! I had hoped they were facing away from us, but we were off to their left side and they could see the door in peripheral vision for sure. I wondered if I could distract them.
I turned back to the women and signed, "I'm going to create a distraction on the other side of the room and then I'm going to rush them. You two follow me. I might need some help. I can take Kier but the third guy's big.
Liz immediately signed, "No, No! Three of them and three of us -- I can't take down a grown man, and I don't think Maria can either."
Maria was thinking "Just le'me at 'em!"
"I don't think there will be a problem with Seed -- I think he may be on our side -- he's afraid they are going to kill him. I think I can take Kier out with a voodoo slam." Liz couldn't understand my signing of 'voodoo slam' so I tried again just signing 'power.' "The other guy is pretty big, but I think I can take him if you both help." I knew that this was chancy; my shoulder was killing me.
Liz shook her head. "No, wait! We should wait for the others."
I thought about that for a moment, but realized that we were just as likely to be joined by the bad guys as the good guys. The odds might never be any better than right now.
I shook my head forcefully and continued signing, "We need to do it now before the others get here. They could be bringing help for Kier -- the ones that were following us. We have to do it now while we outnumber them."
Liz was not convinced. Furiously she signed, "No, please, Kyle. I'm not sure we can do it."
Just as furiously, I signed back, "We don't have a choice. I'm going for it. Help me or stay back out of the way."
Maria began signing. "I with K." Crude, but effective.
Liz scowled for a moment, then looked up at me and reluctantly nodded agreement. At the last moment. she touched my sore shoulder and signed, "Kyle, please be careful, please!"
I gave her a thumbs-up, closed my eyes and made a silent prayer to Buddha and the Granolith for help -- I wanted to cover all the bases. I steeled myself and prepared for the assault.
Continue to Chapter 6
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