Note: this is a work of fiction, with all the usual stuff about copyright and permission. It’s also a work in progress and a way to develop my knowledge of the english language. So feel free to correct, debate, laugh, ask about it in the comments. Help appreciated.
You may find the index here.
King Harkoon was not stupid. Maybe he just read that chronicles about my predecessors on this planet, maybe he wanted to set up a little insurance policy against me. The next day he showed me a large cell, a few yards from my own in the dungeons of his castle. It was full of women and children, no less than twenty in total.
“They are prisoners, we get them in that so-called republic. If you try to run away once transformed or if you want to attack my army think about them. “
I was looking at them. That could be a trick but they were really scared, only the youngest took a glance at me. They never saw a black man before, not to mention a Terran monster. I was in a tricky situation for sure. Even if I managed to survive the battle against Halkan’s troops it was easy to understand that the king will have me killed as soon as possible. With those hostages there was no acceptable way out for me.
“That was unnecessary. I have more than enough issues with your son to stand here and fight by your side. By the way, how many days before his troops reach this castle?”
The hologram popped up again.
“My best esteem is four days from now, give or take eight hours. King Harkoon, you don’t really need to keep these poor people here. They have to be released as promised to the rebels after…”
“Shut up! Mine is the decision. Do your job, I will watch from the southern wall.”
That was interesting. It looked like there were talks between rebels and the king, a good move for both sides at the moment. The republic gained a bit of time, the king covered his back from any guerrilla action until the battle with Halkan was concluded.
“Follow me. We need to train you in order to get the best from your power.”
“If anybody sees me outside all the masquerade about my execution will be over in a second.”
“Prince Halkan already knows about it. That was for the common people, Terrans are knows as terrible monsters to them. King Harkoon wanted to show that he was in full control. Now follow me.”
I followed the hologram until we reached an opening, a little room with high walls and no ceiling. In a matter of seconds I transformed again, it was easier than before and less painful.
“Very well, I can see that you’re adjusting to Zeranta. Your first task is to punch an hole in that wall.”
I tried a fast right in the nearest wall. My fist penetrated for at least two feet, but the wall was thicker than that. Another blow was enough, my arm was almost all inside the hole.
“Do you feel any pain? Does it takes a real effort from you?”
“You already knows the answers. How many Terrans have you trained in the past?”
“You’re the subject number two-oh-oh-nine in this program. Now, try to jump on the top of this wall.”
More than two thousand? I wasn’t so surprised but that number spoke at length about how many years that tin can was in service. I jumped with no problem at the top of that wall. From there I could see that we were out of the main wall perimeter. For a mile or so there was a town all around the castle, the biggest buildings were three or four stores tall. There was a river about half a mile to my left and a lake about a mile to my right.
“Run as fast as you can to the river, then jump to the opposite side. There’s an army training ground there.”
I jumped down from the wall and started my run as soon as I touched the ground. A lot of people saw me, that was my first choice to look at common people. I was expecting a dark age situation but the city was clean and the most part of the people were in good shape. Maybe King Harkoon wasn’t that bad as a ruler. Once reached to river it took me a simple jump to go to the opposite bank.
“Very good. You’re one of the fastest Terran recorded.”
The hologram popped up again at the top of a small wooden platform. There was a small group of archers with him.
“One archer in ten will throw at you steel-tipped arrows. You have to move at your best to avoid as more arrows as possible. Remember that steel will pierce your skin, no matter how strong you’re feeling now. Shot!”
The archers started with a barrage of arrows, they were shooting at me as fast as they can. So I jumped here and there, trying to catch some of that arrows with my hands. It was like in that movies with bullet time sequences, if I got enough concentration on the task the arrows movement were slow for me. That drill ended when the archers run out of arrows, I was never hit.
“Impressive. You are really fast. Now go there.”
Another platform, this one was surrounded by a lot of roughly shaped rocks.
“You are familiar with the concept of artillery, aren’t you? Your task is to throw these rocks to the targets in that direction. Red marked rocks are within one hundred yards, yellow marked rocks are within five hundred yards and the green ones are within a mile. Start as soon as you can.”
It took me a while to adjust but when it came to the last ten rocks I was near perfection. Target zone were littered with debris.
“You have to remember that gravity here is different. Zeranta level is a tenth less than Earth’s own. Now move to the last platform.”
In front of that platform there was about one thousand big shields, each one with a lance on their right side leveled to my chest height. That stuff was deployed in rows of ten shields and after the last row there was a red flag.
“Now you have to run through this simulation of a regiment, catch the red flag and get it here. You have ten second to accomplish. Go!”
Once again I was running, smashing shields and lances like a brick through a windshield. There was some steel-tipped lance, a thing that Omniplan curiously forgot to tell me. The red flag was on a pole, all around there was a pit hidden with leather layers. No trouble for me, I was about flying when I picked that pole clear. Eight seconds later I was back on the platform.
The hologram was gone. What I found there was a tall blond warrior somewhat disguised as the hologram projection.
“Hello. I’m Keller.”
He slowly turned and exposed his neck to show me the same tattoo I’ve seen on Kellan.
“The king’s men can’t see us here. My fellow rebels are rescuing right now the hostages you’ve seen this morning. You’re free to go now.”
He gave a note, carefully written. Then he handed me a map.
“Here you will find all the information you may need to reach the next anomaly. You’re free to go home, if that’s what you really want.”
“What if I wonna stay?”
He smiled, a familiar echo of his sister’s expression.
“Then you can pick me up and jump in the northern direction as fast as you can. Kellan told me that you can almost fly!”
We jumped away. No man could stop me before I got the choice to see Kellan again.