Here we are, once more, another week down, another week to go. We’re nearly to the end of Section Two and I’m still working on fleshing out Section Three. I believe I’m halfway through Section Three and should be done with it by the end of summer. That’s the hope, anyhow.
Remember to check out my Story Time With Tim released on Fridays, stick around for other blogposts from time to time, and stay tuned for more offerings coming up soon. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this next selection from Left of Midnight!
THOUGH AVERY SOUGHT high and low, Shōtō was not to be found and the weeks dragged by as Avery became more and more distraught over this fact. One benefit to his search was that he’d become more familiar with the layout of the cityscape. Or rather, city “scapes” as there were seven city states in which to investigate that made up Farediin proper. There was the prime and centralized metropolis of Farediin A gorgeous example of extravagance and ostentatious pride. Then there were the other, connective tissues, he considered, of the other species’ domains. Such as the Shoenden Primacy, ruled over by Nindemus himself. As well as: the Halik People’s Republic (the last refuge of a doomed civilization—something he felt rather sorry about); the Reicyn Dominion (where all those toad people thrived—which, incidentally, was a hellpit of humidity and somehow arid terrain); an area called Ch’nogus (that seemed to be ruled by little grey skinned, black eyed creatures so seldom seen that many people considered them phantoms and rumors); the Meritus Recompence (tall, lithe beings inhabited the place, and all of them thought they were owed something for their own survival); and lastly, but not leastly, the Haydin Resolute Framework (a region where pretty much every last unknown being left out of the politics of Farediin called home. Nobody there had any delusions about their situation in life and stayed out of the basic operations of the Farediin Federation as much as they could).
There was a lot of terrain to cover in Farediin, Avery discovered. So much that he knew there would be no way to investigate every city in any time less than half a decade. At the least. And there were far more species represented than the seven city states together implied. Something that he became more aware of the more he engaged with the populace and explored. In all honesty, it made him sad. These were people who had escaped the horrors of Midnight, of the Voija. And Earth had become their last refuge in uncertain times among galactic civilization. Even so, the thing that bugged him most, was that Shoenden was suddenly inaccessible and no matter what he did, he just couldn’t figure out a way inside of the second largest portion of the cities.
“I don’t care what your orders say,” Avery growled to the reptilian guard doing his best to look anywhere than directly at him. “Shoenden is supposed to be a freely accessible city just like the rest of Farediin! Why would it suddenly be closed off?”
“Sir, as I’ve already told you… multiple times… there is a gas leak in the lower levels and, for safety concerns, the inner corridors into the city have been temporarily closed until further notice. If you’d like to file a complaint, there is an information kiosk located in the communication terminals just across the platform.”
Avery placed his hands on his hips and glared at the ceiling high above. Lights built into its surface gleamed brightly in the otherwise dark recesses of the walls surrounding this particular entry port into Shoenden. A rampwell with a stairwell in its center rose up at a forty-five-degree angle behind him and back towards Farediin proper. To either side of the massive port, walkway corridors continued along the perimeter of the entryways to Shoenden all leading to closed off ports with surly officers refusing to budge even an inch. He looked back to the soldier who also stared up at the ceiling now as if Avery had just pointed out some really fascinating thing crawling along its surface.
“Listen you son of a—”
He twisted around, his finger up in the air and waggling at the man. Er’ra Zel was walking down the stairwell in the center of the ramp, her brows furrowed and the robe like shawl around her torso whipping out behind her.
“Hey, what are you doing down here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
She came to a stop beside him and glanced at the guard who had found something else to garner his attention.
“I was looking for Shōtō,” Avery grumbled. “However, apparently, all of Shoenden is in lockdown so I can’t search down there.”
Er’ra Zel cocked her head. “Shoenden is closed?”
“Yeah, an entire portion of the city cut off.”
She walked past him and towards the soldier, his eyes meeting hers the second she stood before him. “Why is this gateway closed, private?”
“Apologies, Adjudicant. Lord Nindemus has commanded—”
“‘Lord’ Nindemus?” Er’ra Zel cocked a brow and glared down at him.
“Urm, Prefect, ma’am… he, uh, Prefect Nindemus made the declaration two days ago. There was a gas leak—”
“A gas… leak? And why wasn’t the council informed of this matter? There are protocols that must be followed if there is a chance that the rest of Farediin should be affected by this ‘incident’.”
“Ma’am, my apologies. I only know my duties. I am forbidden to allow entry to anyone who isn’t apart of Lord… Prefect Nindemus’ personal entourage. Those were his direct orders.”
Er’ra Zel frowned and took a step back. She ran a hand across her chin and kept her gaze focused on the soldier who did everything in his power to not look intimidated but failing miserably.
After a moment, Er’ra Zel nodded. “Very well. Carry on, private.”
She turned and marched back up the stairwell. “Come on, Avery. We need to talk to the council.”
“I’ve been searching for Shōtō for weeks, Zella! He may be in there! We can’t just abandon him now!”
“We’re not abandoning him. If he is in there, he’s on his own. For now. In the interim, however, we must share this news with the council and do this the right way.”
“History is full of people doing things the right way only for everything to go south at the last moment.”
Er’ra Zel paused halfway up the stairs and looked down to him. She had a frown on her face but also a sympathetic expression. He tried not to flinch under the gaze. “History is also rife with those who refused to do the right thing only to arrive at the same failed results. There is nothing we can do here. Not yet. Unless you’d rather rant and rave at the guy doing his job some more. I would think you of all people would understand how any of this is supposed to work.”
She turned back up the stairs and continued upward. Avery shook his head and followed. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Join the club.”
THE LIGHTS WERE bright as Shōtō knelt before the dais, his eyes downcast and his new favorite associate at his side. Prush’e said nothing as he clasped his hands together and chanted the verse the priests on the dais led them all through. She’d been a blessing through the last month or so. He couldn’t say what the date was (nobody he talked to seemed to have any sort of understanding of what a calendar was) but it felt like sometime in the midst of July. Perhaps late June. The summer had flown by and now time was nearly meaningless as he spent his days becoming one with the True Word. And the truth was, he hadn’t felt such peace and happiness in all of his life. Certainly, he’d never had a companion as amiable as Prush’e before. Not even Avery had been able to serve as a balance point to his more vitriolic outbursts.
Yet, Prush’e had understood everything about him from the beginning. Like she’d been shown his soul and had accepted him immediately for who he was. No questions asked. Shōtō thought that he might actually love her. He didn’t even have to cast a sidelong glance towards her to know that every moment she spent was spent helping him be a better person. He could even feel her smile as she knelt beside him, both in prayer, both giving themselves to the Godhand and following the True Word that he espoused. Leading the prayers was a being Shōtō had initially viewed as evil. Untrustworthy. Someone that must be destroyed. He’d even gone to their fateful meeting with the intent to murder the man. Instead, he’d been invited into a sect of worshippers who saw life for what it was: chaotic and destructive.
He cast a quick glance towards Prush’e. She was a young woman. Possibly in her twenties. It was difficult to say for sure given the differences between species across all of the collective states called Farediin. She had horns that were similar to whatever the kind Adjudicant Er’ra Zel was. Only Prush’e’s horns didn’t curl as far back. Hers came to neat little points after a few inches of spiral. The wispy hair on her head the horns jutted out of was a bluish green and fell midway to her neck. Her features were fair (he found that a lot of those living in Farediin had fair features and flesh; a result of living under the surface of the planet for so many years and a good many of those he’d met had never even been to the surface itself) and her skin a pale whitish grey. Yet her eyes were a vivid green that he’d never seen before. She was kind, gentle, and understanding. Never once did he get a foul sense from her.
Unlike Prefect Nindemus. Though, Shōtō considered, that might just be because Nindemus was rather direct, to the point, and spared no quarter for feelings when he spoke. That was something else he’d come to learn in his time behind Shoenden’s walls. Nindemus was a stern teacher concerned about the well-being of all of those under his watch. Apparently, he’d been a soldier in the defense fleets that protected Earth from outside threats and defended the interior of the great cities from any sort of outside invader. That was years ago. Before he’d been prefect. And in his travels, he learned of the True Word that the Godhand spoke of and brought that knowledge back to his people.
Shōtō had learned to be in awe of that aspect of the man. And he was no longer as concerned about his allegiances as he once was. He now realized that he and Avery had been the intruders and Nindemus was only trying to defend his people. It was Adjudicant Er’ra Zel and the council that were the traitors, as well as the dangerous beings that dared call Farediin home.
“Hey,” he felt a poke on his shoulder and turned to his left to see Prush’e staring at him, her eyes shiny and her smile wide. “Get lost in your prayers? Services are over.”
Shōtō straightened up and looked around. Sure enough, the room was almost empty save for himself, Prush’e, Prefect Nindemus over in the far corner of the room speaking to two acolytes, and the priest, Eldinor Ramy wearing his long grey robes standing atop the dais waiting for everyone else to clear out of the room to perform whatever cleansing ritual he was want to make at the end of these sessions. Shōtō stood up then and Prush’e stood with him.
“Did you want to go grab a drink at Dinaly’s? I heard he whipped up a new brew that is to die for!”
Shōtō smiled. Dinaly’s was a bar located down in the sector seven lower quarters of Shoenden. There, the owner would create unusual fruity beverages that weren’t alcoholic, but certainly filled the drinker with a sense of peace and unconcern with the events of the world around him. Shōtō quite enjoyed the place and loved going there with Prush’e. Besides, their burgers were out of this world.
“That sounds great. What will we do afterwards?”
“Hey, what have I told you about making too many plans?”
“That planning is the bridge to corruption and a stalled life. Yeah, yeah,” Shōtō smiled. “However, knowing what we’re doing a little in advance isn’t such a bad thing, is it? Besides, I was thinking a moving picture down on the promenade wouldn’t be so much out of order, would it?”
“Oooh! And what would you have us see?”
“That film, ‘The Journey of Matrix Rede’ looked pretty interesting. I’ve never seen a moving picture before, you know. I’ve heard of them. And I know that somewhere in Tōkyō they exist. However… mom never had any sort of money for them let alone the time…”
His eyes dropped to the floor and his smile vanished. There was a welling pit of anguish building in his gut and he suddenly wanted to be anywhere else but there. Prush’e took his chin in her right hand and looked up into his face, smiling all the while.
“Don’t do that, love.”
He shook his head, “Do what?”
“You know what. Let those dark thoughts in. Your mother’s loss was a huge tragedy. But… it’s not your fault. It never has been and you punish yourself too willingly over it,” Prush’e ran her hands across his face. “You’re here now and I want you to appreciate the love and balance that you’ve received in our wake. She’s gone… but we have the future to look forward to. And you have films to watch that you’ve never seen.”
He smiled and nodded trying not to let the pain show through. “I know. And I’m trying. It isn’t easy, but I’m trying.”
“And that’s all any of us can do… just… try. Come on. Let’s get out of here and go enjoy life.”
“I’d like that.”
The two of them smiled towards one another and then turned towards the entrance. They made their way halfway across the broad room when Nindemus walked up, a gaping smile on his own face.
“Tell me, Shōtōsan, are you doing well?”
Shōtō paused for a second. An involuntary groan in his throat and a feeling of repulsion deep within his chest. Yet, he let those emotions fall away as he grinned broadly.
“I’m doing well, Master Nindemus. Prush’e and I were just about to head down to sector seven and get some fresh fruity beverages and let our minds ruminate on pleasant experiences.”
“Ah yes. Such indelible endeavors. I’m sure Adjutant Prush’e is showing you all the most wonderful aspects of our great city.”
His gaze fell on Prush’e who let a smile broaden on her own face. Shōtō however thought that it looked forced. Still, he said nothing as she nodded towards him.
“I’m doing my best and I think we’re making headway.”
“Excellent. The True Word guides our lives and makes us more complete individuals,” Nindemus let his eyes close and he smiled to himself. “I can still remember the first day I heard the good words of the Godhand. It filled me with such peace and understanding that there was nothing else I could think about. I hope you feel the same way, Shōtōsan. I hope you see the True Word for all the peace that it brings.”
Nindemus opened his eyes and stared down at Shōtō. He could only meet the gaze with his own appreciative compassion. “It has indeed, Master. I’ve never known such peace as this. The violence in my soul has been purged and I look forward to new experiences that await me on my path. There is no other way.”
“It pleases me to hear you say that,” Nindemus intoned, his eyes sharp across them both. “And when the day comes that we shall express those emotions to those above, I know that we will be among the righteous. And we will spread the righteous word to those ignorant of the Godhand’s will. It will be glorious.”
“Of course, Master,” Shōtō and Prush’e smiled and nodded an affirmation in unison.
Prefect Nindemus looked to Prush’e after offering up his own waning smile. “Adjutant, I require your attention on a certain matter. Follow me to my office now. I’m sure young Shōtōsan here can find his way to the promenades. I promise, I’ll only keep her away for a few short hours. Then she can come fetch you and continue showing you around all of the wonderful beacons of joy the city has to offer.”
Nindemus smiled briskly and turned to walk away. Prush’e let her right hand find his and squeezed his palm gently, her eyes staring intently into his. Though she was one of Er’ra Zel’s kind, he found that maybe he’d been mistaken about them. Maybe they weren’t the enemy trying to destroy humanity as he first thought. Were they? Surely not Prush’e even if so?
“I’ll try to be as fast as possible. I wonder what he wants?” she frowned and looked away slightly, her gaze drifting off into the ether. “Oh well. That’s the job of the Adjutant, isn’t it? Always concentrating on keeping the Prefect happy. There’s five of us, did you know that? I haven’t said before. I think I’ll have to share more with you when I get back. In the meantime, why don’t you head over to Braccha’s Dockside Amusements. There’s a lot to keep you occupied there while you wait. Unless you’d rather just go home?”
Her eyes sparkled as she held his gaze once more, the apology deep within them. He shook his head. “I can meet you at… Brah Cha’s, was it?”
She grinned and nodded quickly. “Close enough. I’ll see you there in hopefully two to three hours. If sooner, I’ll rush and find you.”
“There’s no rush,” Shōtō smiled and rested his other hand on top of hers. “Take your time. Do your job. I’ll be waiting for you.”
She let a light laugh fall out and released his hand to follow after Nindemus. Shōtō watched her swiftly walk up the walkway between rows of curved seating facing the raised dais in the center of the room. The carpeted walkway led up to a series of five steps heading up the dais and taking up a full third of the front portion. Nindemus stood to the back of the dais near a doorway. His eyes firmly affixed on Shōtō, and he got the distinct sense that the man (Master) didn’t much care for him as much as he would have him believe.
Prush’e arrived at the doorway and Nindemus guided her through. With one last glance at Shōtō, he entered behind her and the door slid shut. Shōtō frowned and bit his lower lip. An unsettling feeling hit him in the gut. It was nearly as powerful as what he’d experienced while surviving the island jungle. Nearly, but certainly less defined. Maybe that thought of his mother wasn’t so bad after all.
PRUSH’E STRUGGLED TO keep up with Nindemus as he marched down the long corridor leading behind the True Word Sanctuary and towards a complex of offices that weren’t the standard office. In Prush’e’s mind ‘war rooms’ were a more appropriate term as the various rooms were aligned in a crescent shaped pattern beyond the sanctuary. And if one were to look at the floor layout on some sort of schematic, they’d see a circular series of partitions with the sanctuary being the largest, widest, and most impressive. In the dead center of all of this, was a lift. And that lift went only in one direction. Down. And it was down Prush’e was fearful of. Above all else, she was terrified of down. She didn’t know what awaited them in the down universe, but from what she’d heard and seen, those who went down never came back up themselves.
Down was a place she fully intended on avoiding at all costs. In fact, it was the very threat of down that Prefect Nindemus had convinced her to make friends with Shōtō. This was a short and easy plan. Seek out this guy named Shōtō (that wasn’t so difficult, somehow someone somewhere and at sometime had convinced him to join Nindemus down in the bowels of Shoenden. Whatever they’d offered him, he came willing). And seek him out she did. She found him exploring the cavernous center of Shoenden itself. A place that was practically all city. Nothing but city. The buildings rose up from the ground and through the ceiling just like Farediin. But unlike in Farediin where it was a forest of spires rising upwards in golden splendor and speckled with ringed walkways elegantly placed like elegant circular leaves for a splendid golden copper forest—Shoenden was a dank nightmare.
She called it home, no doubt. Foolish enough to have run away from home at fourteen searching out freedoms she thought she’d been denied at home (silly girl, she often chided herself), only to discover a dark place that at once she found wondrous and exotic in spite of her best judgment.
Oh, it was full of lights and life.
Oh, it was full of splendor and excitement (like any seedy back alley one shouldn’t be walking through and experiencing those secret black market delights).
And, yes, while it held a vibrancy she could never have experienced in Farediin proper, there was a secret menace brewing in the depths. At least, she’d thought it was brewing at first. But, with time, she’d discovered it simmered with ancient hate. Rage, anguish, desire, fear, lust, sorrow, and malice were all the city had to offer and she never felt safe.
And yet she still found herself unable to swallow her pride and head home. Home to where the soft pillows and warm comforters awaited the wrapping of her body. Where there were three meals a day and (in spite of the tongue lashings her parents were often wont to express) the people—her family, her friends—were always a constant presence offering her support, love, and compassion. Something she had been bereft to notice when it was all there for her to soak in and underappreciate.
She would have given anything to have all of that back. In fact, she’d tried. Once. When she looked for a way out of Shoenden only to find herself face to face with several of the Cre’Nomanor offering her one chance to find sanctuary. They knew she had been there. She stuck out, of course. One of the only rhe’toran inhabiting disparate areas of the undercity. She could be one of them. Those following the True Word. Those who saw the sorrow that the overworld had cast them into. And she would know peace and prosperity.
And so, she had willingly accepted because she’d just wanted the pain and sorrow to stop. The constant wave of anger and rage to go away. When she’d gotten to the sanctuary and tasted the fruity refreshments offered to her… she felt at peace. Finally. Even more at peace than when she’d lived back home. Always enraged by her family’s treatment of her (though, thinking back on it, they really weren’t so bad, after all. They’d only had her best interests at heart and she’d tossed that to the side for her own heated need to escape—escape the faux happiness of a city always in motion, always in need of entertainment), always fearful of accomplishing nothing in the long scheme of things.
And so, she followed Nindemus. As she followed him now. For he was the one who gave her a new life. So, what was there to it to find one man and offer him salvation from the hatred steaming in every corner and percolating at every seam wherever one went throughout Shoenden? He would come to find the True Word, be at peace, and then she could move on to some other endeavor. Maybe even own her own home someday. Find a mate, have some offspring. Contribute to the batshit insane world that was living as a sentient and hope maybe someday those kidlets would make a difference and not continue to add ruin upon ruin as they went along.
Their footsteps echoed loudly off of the walls as they walked and Prush’e reflected. A deep-rooted fear took hold of her heart. They were fast approaching the lift that would lead to the down of Shoenden and so she made sure to hug the outer wall as the corridor flowed around that doorway that could be opened and could summon that heated vessel that would take the passenger straight down into Hades itself. She could already feel it as they rounded that place and she felt a heat in her head and a faint voice saying, ‘Is that the way it is to be? After everything we’ve given you, you want to throw it away for HIM!? Reckoning is upon us all, child…’
Tears streamed from her eyes as they moved beyond the lift tube striking a path straight through the Earth and deep into some evil cavity that no one in their right mind should hope to seek out. And, yet, there it was. A taunting reminder that she willingly came here. Came here to escape what exactly? A life? Love? Understanding? Compassion? Her tears came faster as she hesitated only briefly. And if Master Nindemus noticed, he was the best actor ever.
The truth was, Shōtō was someone she hadn’t expected. He was tense at first. Cautious.
‘Who are you?’ he’d said, his body indicating he’d try and take flight if she approached any closer. The massive clustered command of apartments and buildings so close together (like dwarves had built a city into the mountain itself and forgotten that there should be space between the windows, and the edges, and the ground, and the bases—yet had left this zig-zagging collection of corridors that looked up into massive alleys that dead-ended hundreds of feet above into sheer stone and lifeless browns and greys and bronzes) were claustrophobic. Which was why she preferred the promenades out by the bays. They were open. Full of life. Not some enclosed environment suffocating not just the air but the mind as well.
‘My name is Prush’e. Prush’e J’hollen. You look lost. Can I help you?’
The man, Shōtōsan—as Nindemus called him thinking himself clever—(she just liked Shōtō herself), took a step back, his eyes wide in the flickering lights of the southwest passage. ‘I am lost. I’ve been lost, I think. And am still lost. I thought I had a friend. But he found someone like you. Someone horned and demonic. I must find a way out of this nightmare.’
She let herself express shock. She wasn’t sure what he’d meant but it put her on an off footing. Was he calling her… ‘evil’?
‘I… I don’t understand you, sir. What do you mean?’
‘Don’t act surprised! Your horns, they give you away!’
‘My horns are a trait of my people, sir, the rhe’toran. I am really hurt that you’d think I mean you harm as a result. I just want to help you find where you need to be going.’
Anger brewed in her deeply but she pushed it down. She knew where the anger was coming from and refused to let it take her along its paths. If she were to have done that, she’d be just as lost as this man she’d been forced to find. In fact, she felt that it was that rampant hate that was making him so rude to begin with. Surely, he couldn’t be so spiteful when separated as far from the down as possible?
‘Hurt you? I hurt you?’
The man seemed genuinely surprised and she walked towards him to gently place an arm around his elbow. He didn’t try to stop her. And they looked into each other’s eyes then. He was only slightly taller than herself, but she saw something within him that made that dark hatred recoil in its own sort of surprise. A part of her wanted to laugh. Laugh at the audacity of the darkness. It had a plan, she knew right then, a plan to take this young man and make him its acolyte. In that one brief moment she knew she couldn’t let that happen no matter what Prefect Nindemus threatened her with.
‘Yes. You hurt me. You mean to say that my horns make me a bad person?’ a single tear drew a path down her cheek and he became less tense.
‘I… I am ashamed of myself. Why would I think such a thing? Why have I been thinking such things since arriving in this place? I never wanted to come here to begin with, you know?’
He looked to her earnestly and she sighed, not helping the smile crossing her face. She blinked once and met his eyes once more. ‘I know. Nobody wants to come here. We just end up coming here. I think most hope to find themselves. Instead, we find the worst parts just waiting to embarrass us and push us over the edge. Are you looking for the edge, Mr…?’
‘Shōtō… Ryūgawa… But you can call me Shōtō. Please.’
He rested a hand on hers as she guided them through the corridors. Suddenly, all that hate and rage and sorrow that was seeping out of the walls there no longer seemed so prescient to her. It was a nothing that could only feed off of the pain one holds deep within. And she let a laugh fall forth. He seemed puzzled.
‘I’m so pleased to meet you, Shōtō. I think I was supposed to find you… but I don’t think it is for the reason I first thought.’
‘I don’t understand you…’
‘Then, we’ll not understand one another together, is that good?’
He thought for a moment then smiled and nodded. ‘I think… that I would like that. There isn’t much I understand here. But, maybe you can help me with that…?’
She laughed again. ‘Prush’e! You can recall Prush’e can’t you?’
Shōtō had looked to her earnestly and smiled deeply. ‘I can. I just wasn’t listening before. Now, though, I think that I want to hear everything you have to say.’
There had been a roar then. Deep within the Earth. Shōtō hadn’t heard it, she realized. But it’d been deep and full of rage. Something didn’t like her instant connection to Shōtō and she had felt then, weeks earlier, that she was now standing over a precipice biding her time. Just as she was currently as she followed Nindemus around the lift and towards his personal war office. There was something not right with any of it, she felt. And it had to have something to do with her and Shōtō. They had been nearly inseparable since that first moment of meeting. As if their very survival depended on their ability to stay in close proximity to one another. They were separate now, though. And this filled her with a certain fear that she wanted to attribute to just the mission itself. Deep down she knew, she wasn’t going to give up Shōtō. Not in anyway. She never believed in love at first sight, yet there had been a connection there that went far beyond any of those trivial concepts. She needed to be with him just as he needed to be with her. They needed to walk out of Shoenden together and they’d spent the last several days trying to figure out how to do that. Now, Nindemus wanted her undivided attention and she was afraid of what that might mean.
They entered his office and he triggered the door shut behind them. Then made his way towards the oval table in the center of the room. On top of it, various papers and tablets were spread around in random intervals. She couldn’t read any of them from where she stood but they seemed important. Nindemus leaned against the table not meeting her eyes.
“The time is almost upon us. How is Shōtōsan coming along? Is he a willing disciple of the True Word as of yet?”
Prush’e nodded and folded her hands behind her back trying to keep her demeanor straight. However, her heart raced a thunderous beat. “Yes. I would say so. He’s given himself over to the True Word completely.”
“What about to you?”
His eyes met hers and she wanted to shirk away. The sudden repulsion heaving across her in waves made her want to vomit. But she held his gaze.
“I… would say that he is completely… devoted to me, sir.”
“Excellent,” Nindemus stood completely erect and let his arms drop to his sides. “Then we can begin. Fetch Shōtōsan and bring him back here. It is time that we introduce him to the Master himself.”
“Uh, I’m sorry, sir. What’s this now?”
“In fact,” Nindemus lifted his left hand into the air, the index finger there pointing to the ceiling. His face one of deep contemplation while his other hand gripped his right hip, “I believe it’s time to introduce you to the Master as well. No sense delaying any of that any longer.”
Panic gripped Prush’e’s chest. “Who, who’s the Master, sir?”
He held his arms out wide as if shocked she even had to ask. “Why, God himself, of course. Now, go fetch Shōtōsan. He is needed here.”
“I thought that… we were going to be busy for a few hours, sir?”
“We are. But there’s been a few changes in the plans,” he grumbled and walked around the table slowly, his gait suggesting he was heading in her direction. She took two steps back. “That American has been asking around. Looking for his little buddy. I’ve been forced to close down every entrance into Shoenden.”
She felt the panic grow and her eyes widen though she desperately struggled to keep that from being noticeable. Nindemus smiled and fixed her with his gaze once more.
“I’m afraid we’re stuck in here for the time being, adjutant. My hand has been forced. However, it’s only a matter of time before a certain councilor starts sticking her nose into our business. Best to have everything said and done before they get involved any further.”
“S, s, sounds reasonable, sir.”
“Are you alright, adjutant? You seem nervous?”
She fought to get her breathing under control and looked up at him as he came around the table. “I’m fine, Prefect. Just, there’s a lot happening so fast. I only hope I can perform my duties to your expectations.”
“Oh, you’ve been exemplary so far. Now, go bring me Shōtō. He’ll be expecting you in hours, not so soon.”
“Very well, sir,” Prush’e turned and made for the doorway. She had just reached for the panel on the wall when she heard the gravelly voice of Nindemus once more.
“Actually, there’s one more thing, adjutant.”
She paused and then let the door slide back shut as she turned around. “Yes, sir?”
He held a small device out towards her. She knew what it was immediately. A hidden syringe filled with the gods only knew what. However, she decided to feign ignorance hoping it really wasn’t what she suspected it to be.
“What’s that, Prefect?”
“A little guarantee. I don’t want him bolting. Inject him with this and he’ll be a mindless doll willing to follow your every whim,” he laughed then. “Relax. It’s not going to kill him. Just numb him up for a bit. You can do that for me, can’t you, adjutant? You do work for this complex, do you not?”
“No, sir,” she said and looked back at him. “I work for you. And what you command is what I do.”
She took the metallic tube holding the syringe from him and put it in her pocket. He straightened and nodded.
“Yes. You do. Now, get going. I’ll expect him back here within the hour.”
“Yes, sir. As you command.”
She turned and pressed the door panel once more. A mental sigh wracked her body. She had no idea how they were going to get out of this. But, with all the exits being shut down, she wasn’t sure how many options she really had. She was deeply in love with Shōtō. A silly sentiment, to be sure. But she knew she’d do anything for him. Even die leaping off of a building to defend him. But… would she really risk going down for him? That was something haunting her as she walked out of the office and towards the promenades.
We come to the end of another posting of micro-chapters from Left of Midnight. We’re three quarters of the week through the second section and I think it’s been going well. I hope you enjoyed. Read to you again next week, everyone. Take care.
~Timothy S Purvis
Since you’re here, why not hit up my author’s page on Amazon. You can get there really quick by just clicking on my name and allowing the link to take you straightaway to my page. –>Timothy S Purvis
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