Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three) (9 page)

BOOK: Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)
5.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Without waiting, he took off and headed out to the part of
the ocean that had exploded. There was still a cloud over the spot, a giant
column of water, and the glowing orange craft was easy to see, even in the
distance. That would be the point he knew. Well, the color was just the one
that Orange was predisposed to like, but the glowing was all about being
visible, so that people would know who was there. Even from space.

Blinking he tried to work out how to hide his craft when
they left and thought he might have a plan. It would be hard to do, but he
thought he could pull it off, if he was alert enough.

At first he didn't know what he was supposed to do, since he
couldn't put down, not and do anything with the other craft, which was about
ten thousand feet up in the air. That was fixed rather handily, when the side
of the much bigger vehicle started to blink at him, going between orange and
silver, meaning it was a message for him, so that he noticed the hole that
formed. There was a large empty room inside, he noticed, as he approached,
barely letting his craft move at all. It was all gray inside, but there was a
circle on the floor, which he took to be a target, meant for him to try and
land on.

Slipping in wasn't hard, though he went slow, not being up
on exactly what the protocols were. If he had to stop and move away, he could
at any time. Nothing really happened, until he was in, and then the wall that
he'd entered through reformed behind him. It was just silver, to match the
color of the floor. Or, to be honest, a bland gray, that looked like someone
had wanted his favorite shade, but gotten too depressed to actually muster the
energy to make it shine.

Climbing out he took the little ship all the way down,
leaving a silver etched piece on a chain, which he slipped around his neck.
There was nothing inside of it, so it was just as convenient to carry it with
him. Then he tapped his chest, focusing on making certain his shield was in
place. It would turn on in case of danger, but only when he realized it was
there. Before that, it would stay off, so that he could move around more
easily. He just wasn't certain that Remy wasn't fast enough to kill him before
he was aware of what was happening, and didn't want to take chances that way.

True, he doubted that Remy Seventeen was on the ship, but it
was Remy
That sort of gave the impression that there might
well be more than one of them around, didn't it?

No one met him at the door, but as soon as he got into the
hallway it was clear which way he needed to walk. There was a line of orange
arrows on the floor, pointing the way. It still took a while to find the
pilot's area, because the thing was huge, but a short ten minutes later he was
with everyone else.

The scene was a bit distracted and strange, as he watched

Kolb was at an all black table that looked to be made of
focus stone off to the left, along with Tiera. They were looking at maps, and
had an array of magical items sitting next to the display that was in the
middle of it. It seemed to be an Austran design, but wasn't a little handheld
compact screen. The weapons master was dressed in weathered looking black
fighting leathers, and his sister, who was two years older than he was, still
wore simple student brown.

It was like she hadn't bothered to change or something.
Looking down he realized that he was dressed identically. It was the default
setting on the magical clothing.

They didn't see him. They were preoccupied, and Orange was
with Count Lairdgren in the center of the room, looking at other devices that
seemed to be telling them about the damage done to the world from the blast.
The space itself was huge. Like the largest dining room in the King's Palace,
if not a bit bigger. The ceiling was at least thirty feet over head and the
floor was made to look smooth and slightly shiny. It was in a deep red color
that reminded Tim of slightly dried blood. The rest of the space was bright and
cheery, done in copper, gold and orange colors.

Lairdgren pointed at something on the screen in front of him
and made a face. He sounded normal for him though, which meant bland. Almost

"The trace indicates that the Afrak uranium stores were
used for it. Not exactly unexpected, but confirmation never hurts."

Orange crossed her arms and shook her head hard enough that her
blonde braid swayed on her back. She was dressed in a tight outfit that was,
unsurprisingly, orange, and left very little to the imagination as far as what
was under it. Not that Timon was a prude, but sex was a complicated issue for
him, thanks to the torture he'd experienced. It was worse right now than it had
been, having just seen Countess Alan again. And her Cousin, Bethany.

"It doesn't help either. We know who's behind this and
don't have to prove it. What we need to do is find them and remove the problem.
If we can." She turned, not seeming shocked by Timon being there at all.
Then, he suspected that her senses weren't exactly normal. She'd probably known
he was coming for minutes before he got there.

"Tim, if you can manage it, try to collect any data you
can while getting Julie. She's the mission, but if you have a chance to safely
get any information for us, please do so."

That got Kolb to look up from his map and make a face. They
were a good ways away from each other, since, as Tiera had mentioned, they'd
fight if they were too close together for too long. Orange and the weapons
master would. Since they didn't have time for a giant and no doubt impressive,
battle of heroes right then, it was a good plan, those two standing away from
each other. The strange thing, as far as he knew, was that both of them thought
highly enough of the other and were even friends, after a fashion. They'd just
end up hitting each other after a while, if they were too close together.

"Timon, come and look at the map. This is the latest
out of Austra, taken about three hours ago. We can't count on it as far as
guard postings, but we have a rough idea of how many are inside. The satellite
shows that there are twenty-three human forms in the building. Most of them on
the top level. That means that Julie is most likely here." He pointed at a
single blob of red and orange that looked vaguely like a person sitting against
a wall. "It could be someone else, since we can't prove that Julie is on
our side at all. My best guess is that this is a prisoner however, or an
experimental subject that doesn't wish to be there. The size matches, so
there's that."

Then they went over the floor plan, which, as the older man
pointed out, was the only part of things that wouldn't change, most likely.

"We have to assume that this will be a real fight. If
there are others like Remy Seventeen left, then we'll die. We have to assume
that some of the people will be known to us, at least in form. Don't hesitate.
If you see someone you know, it won't be them. Kill them. It will be one less
person to try and take their place later, if nothing else. It's one of the
rules of clone combat. Do you understand?"

Timon did, but looked at his sister, who seemed awfully
unconcerned about what they were planning to do at all. She did speak though,
looking at the weapons master calmly.

"I do. We aren't to try and take prisoners then? What
if they surrender?"

That didn't seem likely to him, but Kolb sighed and seemed
to take the idea seriously.

"That's a real problem, isn't it? Strip them of weapons
carefully, clothing too, so it will be harder to hide anything on their person,
and then secure them in a cell, as soon as possible. Assume that it's a trick
the whole time. We need to question them, if we can, but the fact is that this
installation is probably the best defended place on the planet right now. Each
person there will be dangerous and some of them are clever enough to use guile
like masters. Or at least we have to assume so."

That made sense in a lot of ways to Tim.

"Because we can't be certain who it is we're dealing
with, can we? If another Kolb is there, it might be Gray, or Cordes, or even a
different copy of you, from a thousand years ago or more, back when you were a
dedicated killing machine that would hop to the commands of the right person
without question." He was teasing a bit, or trying to, but the large man,
who stood about six-six, nodded, as if to say it was just the case.

"Closer to three millennia ago, but there was a time
that was true. The same for almost everyone else that's possibly involved. If
the right version, a copy of the correct time in history, is put forth, then
even people you think of as friend now might be against us. So, in the main
kill them, if you can. They'll be trying to do that to you." He pointed to
the map again, and then the weapons arrayed next to it.

"This is our only real edge. We have enough firepower
here, and good enough shielding, that almost no one can stand against us. They
could set a Remy against us, or detonate nukes, but short of something on that
level, we have a very good chance of being successful, and they probably know
it. That means the most likely course of action will either be infiltration, by
substitution or surrender, or killing Julie before we can remove her, out of

Tiera nodded, her bland expression looking almost sweet and
innocent. Meditative.

"So this is probably part of a plan to kill us, isn't
it? We should get to her as fast as possible and escape, before they can
destroy us. That or kill them all ourselves. We could drop something on them
from space? It would sacrifice Julie." She didn't seem to be bothered by
the idea, but Kolb tilted his head and nodded.

"We could do that. It's probably the smartest idea
even. Take out some of the enemy forces without cost to ourselves."

That led to a real problem, Timon understood instantly. Kolb
didn't want to let Julie die, but would, since it was the best tactical move.
Tiera was normally much more emotionally driven than she seemed at the moment
and would have insisted they save her aunt, if possible. That left Timon, and
while he did vaguely want to have sex with the woman, since she was designed to
make everyone want her, all the time, he also didn't have a real stake in her
survival, even if she
called Aunt Julie. She wasn't related to him
after all.

Then, was family only made up of blood relations? He kind of
thought he might be rationalizing, to try and allow them to take the easy way
out. The safe way.

"It's a good plan, really, but not the right one. We
should focus on getting more information as well. Could we drive down the
hallways in Fast Craft? These are what," he pointed at the map tracing the
lines with his index finger. "Four feet across? I think we can do that. Some
of the walls might be dinged up a bit, but that gives us the ability to move
faster than most people can, and an extra layer of protection. Not that it will
help us if they use nuclear weapons."

That got Count Lairdgren to call out, his face blank, but
otherwise looking an awful lot like Tor. Probably shorter now, being only about
five-nine or so.

"Are you certain of that? If you run fast enough, it
should be survivable."

"I don't know, but I think the craft was in real
trouble earlier, the shaking we felt, that had to be something like space
itself warping. If it's stronger, closer to the blast itself, it might kill
everyone on board, even if the
is left safe and sound, after. We
had broken bones and bruises even being most of a hundred miles away when it
went off."

"I see. Perhaps the children shouldn't go?" The
man looked at Kolb, not Orange, but the bald man with his scared face shook his

"No. We can't protect them now. This is dangerous, but
we have a decent chance of success. They're nearly as good with their modern
weapons as anyone in the world right now, and neither freezes under pressure as
far as I've seen. I get your thinking, and the desire to protect them isn't
wrong, Burks, but these are the right people for this job. Besides our only
other real options are killing the person we're going to try and save, or
risking you and Alice. If we fail, or die doing this but succeed, we need
people that actually have a chance of fixing the overall problem left. No
offense kids, but I'd rather not have the fate of the planet rest in the hands
of people as young as you are. If we can help it."

Timon nearly let himself be offended anyway, then didn't
bother. There was sense to it and while he wasn't keen on the whole dying part
of things, that was something they might be able to avoid, if they were

"Right, so we hit fast and hard and run away directly
from the cell?"

That got a nod, and more talking at least. The plan was
initially simple enough, but it was pointed out by everyone except Tiera that
it wouldn't hold together on the ground.

What actually happened was a lot more impressive than what
Timon thought it sounded like. Alice had them get ready in a hold on the
underside of the vast ship. The space provided wasn't as large as the landing
area, but he wouldn't need that really, since the craft itself was made very
small. The others were with him, but sat directly behind him, in a single row.
Kolb's knees were pressed against the back of his seat. It was a bit annoying,
but the idea was to move from the larger ship directly into the building.

That would be done by going through an outside wall, not a
door. They still had to get it right, or they could cause a collapse, but Timon
had the positions they needed memorized. At least he hoped so.

Alice piloted them down, at speeds that would baffle the
minds of most people, ending up right over the building. Then she made the
floor disappear under them, and Tim slapped the control hand piece down. It was
covered in sweat already, his nerves betraying him just a bit, but they were at
ground level half a second later, the color of the vehicle being made to match
the area around them as well as he could manage.

BOOK: Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)
5.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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