Chapter 12 Terran Incognito

On the screen the images turned into a noisy backdrop and after that blanked out totally. It was just before they had the opportunity to investigate the headquarters the Eye went into a mishap. A fine chance wasted.

Keith switched off the video and returned the screen back to its compartment, while the rest dispersed to the meeting table. A small conference took place, discussing about their next move. Sarah, who was not at all pleased, was first to bemoan.

“We’re so close to knowing their kick ass leader and this kind of calamity happens!”

Gerard, who was calm all the while, said, “let’s not fret over that, Sarah. At least we’ve some information about the cityscape, and we know they’re not very prepared on their guard. These factors certainly give us an advantage.”

“We’re to infiltrate the base, your meaning?” asked Zurho, and without waiting for a reply, proposed he, “then let’s get down there with all the firepower we have. We’ll take over their facilities in no time.”

“Let the leader decide,” advised Reuban.

Keith smiled, but sat reposed without a word. In his mind cropped up some odd ideas that amused him. At last, he announced, “no, I think there’s no need to set off the alarm so soon. We can still continue spying down there. However, only two of us can go.”

Keith turned and locked his gaze at Karl’s with a mischievous glare. Karl knew all along what he was implying. The rest caught the hint and agreed to the plan.

Since there were no radar systems operating, the team daringly landed Trekker V quietly at an open deserted land. From there, Keith briefed them each their own assignments. Keith and Karl would disguise themselves among the clones and investigate their activities, while the remaining team would send in backups should the duo did not return within the hour. Orders given, and they set off into the city in the gloom.

It was the first time Keith worked hand-in-hand with an Amorphos denizen. While putting away past differences between opposing races, he began to realise that Karl was surprisingly a good and competent partner to collaborate with. Seemingly that they were on a same wavelength, Keith noticed that every suggestion Karl gave during the operation was somewhat parallel to his own opinion. With a brain full of ingenious schemes, Karl no doubt proved himself to be yet another born leader, with some training he might perhaps one day lead his own people to a glorious civilisation in par with other strong civilisations of Generon.

Darkness herself was an advantage. And old, dilapidated structures hid them from sight whenever patrolling scouts passed by. From buildings to buildings they ran while moving every step closer into the heart of the capital. And by stroke of luck they stumbled upon a warehouse stocked with personnel uniforms. Into those outfits they changed, allowing more freedom for them to move around without detection.

There was a second-part of the disguise to complete. For Keith, it was never a problem because he was a clone like those of the enemies. Only Karl needed a face-lift, but for an Amorphos it was not a major concern. Having Keith as a model, Karl went into no trouble reconstituting his features into an exact duplicate, and by then it was already impossible to differentiate them altogether.

Things went on as smoothly as they had anticipated. They ushered into the crowd pretending to be common workers, following them around into stores and depots, checking the laboratories, and passing several sentry posts guarding the area without much impediment.

Interesting as it seemed that the truckloads the workers carried contained bottles of chemical concoction, or sometimes piles of revolting organs ready into the dump. The laboratories were on a large-scale research of various species, perhaps created, all sealed up in the cryogenics. Even more fascinating was the prison, which kept all kinds of mismatched species, perhaps captured from the wild and waiting to be analysed by the scientists.

From the cold laboratories yet again they walked out into the warmth, finding that they had already passed most of the security checkpoints. From a glance the main power plant stood not far away, just a distance run however with even tighter security. And the pattern of population changed – from the outposts, layman workers were largely clones, but in this particular sector, Amorphos scientists flocked the grounds. And some of the elite guards wore so elaborately like they were paid handsome wages. Some were even aliens from different races, a few they could spot and identify as Carsians and Zeulotorians. And there was one particular aggressive chief guard, standing tall on two hind feet of a reptilian body, and grunted through his long, crocodile snout. Lyzardines were seldom seen in this humanoid galaxy, but somehow this one must have quite a good reputation to be hired by the boss.

So near and yet still so far, Keith could not wait more to know the mysterious commander of the operation. He ushered along, however, held back by a reluctant partner. Karl refused to proceed. He was very disturbed.

“What’s wrong, friend?” asked Keith.

Karl looked around him, and shrank to a corner, observing the passers-by. “No,” very softly, he whispered, “no, I can’t go on. They will find out for sure.”

“They? Who do you mean by they?”

“My kinsmen, of course,” Karl explained, “no matter how well I can disguise myself, I won’t be running undetected by my Amorphos kind. We Amorphos are bred through from the same ancestors, so we know each other very well through our special Amorphos senses. Telepathy, you can put it that way. In short, if I walk out there, they will see through my disguise, definitely. No, I can’t go any further, it’s too risky. You’ll have to carry on alone, Keith. Sorry.”

It was an obvious decision. Keith set off into the hostile traffic, leaving Karl behind to take care of other matters. It seemed somewhat diffident having suddenly to lose a company, nevertheless pressed on his search. The two gigantic Golkan guards armed with Torlasic rifles guarding the big doors seemed intimidating enough that he trembled a little while walking past them through the vestibule, and it was sheer luck that a common worker got past them without questions. Like a midget he felt when moving along with other patrolling Golkan giants, and only relieving when seeing a few Amorphos scientists, which were much smaller built than he was. But after a few rounds of walking, he found himself lost within the endless corridors.

There was no one around. Not a single soul except for a solitary huge Golkan guard standing at a vault entrance. Forced by circumstances, Keith braved himself to approach the giant, and enquired an audience with the lord of the house.

“You want to see our employer? Follow me then, this way, sir.”

Much to his astonishment, the Golkan seemed awfully polite. Not like anything he heard of brutish imperial guards trying to exert power and authority over common folk. A bit suspicious, but he followed anyway. They entered the vault and went out the other end to another long hallway, and until the end they walked and arrive at a pair of hinged doors, which the guard opened to a large hall with a huge round table seated by a few officials in a currently held meeting.

“Larqek, you have a visitor,” the guard announced.

Sitting on the high sofa, Larqek, a Tsoshyn, and the master of his underlings, turned his attention towards the duo standing at the doorway. “Ah!” he interjected, and arose from his seat, “so, finally, you did arrive. I’ve been expecting you!”

Keith immediately sensed an uncanny notion the moment Larqek said that. Almost simultaneously, a wailing siren rang from outside into the hall. “And I suppose they are your friends too?” Larqek insinuated.

Several lesser Amorphos guards marched in, having Keith surrounded at gunpoint, while others positioned themselves in front of the door. And the worst of Keith’s nightmares eventuated – six persons, all formed a line, and being escorted in by Golkan guards. Apparently, it was a seriously foiled plan to rescue him from enemy grounds.

“I’m sorry, Keith,” said Karl who stood opposite to him, “we tried our best, but we must have misjudged their capabilities.”

“Surprise, surprise!” exclaimed Larqek as he approached the captives, “what’s all this?”

“Master Larqek,” a Golkan guard stepped up to the lanky Tsoshyn, “they’re the trespassing intruders, sir. We caught them entering our facilities, with hostile intentions, apparently.”

Larqek turned away, pacing back to his seat, not looking worried at all. “Down your weapons, my men. They’re not trespassers, they’re my guests! I’d already told you that I’ve been expecting their arrival these few days.”

It was too unusual to see the enemy overseer speaking in favour of them, as if he did not even consider them as foes. Perhaps there were underlying intentions; it was too early to tell. The guards, as he ordered them to, lowered their rifles and stepped back from their captives. The team eased themselves and regrouped, facing the boss. Larqek then continued.

“To mistake the guests as the enemies and to mistake the host as an opponent, ha! What a fine joke played, and luckily no harm done. You’re all welcome here, my friends. And I’d like to apologise for any discomfort or hurt feelings prior to this little miscommunication.”

“What makes you think we’re your friends?” demanded Keith, who did not trust the overseer very much, “and on what reasons should we believe that you’re a friend?”

“Well, it would be difficult to tell a long story short, but I can surely explain everything, that is, provided you would listen. Anyways, I know you’re friends, because someone told me so. And to see a long time old brother among you just settled any doubts that might have been. Yes, it’s been a very long time, Bonj Zurho Kalari.”

Zurho jolted from his composure as Larqek mentioned his name. As he observed the overseer, suddenly, some memories of the person returned to his mind.

“You are…” Zurho paused, unsure of whether he recognised the right person, “you are… if I’m not mistaken, are you the little brother whom I once knew, Bonj Larqek Enzarki?”

“You do still remember me, my beloved brother. Yes, I’m Larqek Enzarki, fifth brother of the Rhoaku!” he replied.

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