Chapter 13 A Rhoaku Reunion
“Larqek!” Disbelieving it seemed, Zurho moved closer in observation of the acclaimed brother of his, and held up his caved hands in shape of a hole, enframing Larqek’s face to his discernment.
“You are Larqek!” Zurho exclaimed, and moved a step closer, embracing his arms, “my, how you’ve grown over these twenty years. Back then you’re a little brat, but now I have before me a full-grown, handsome Tsoshyn! I’d had missed you if you didn’t acknowledge me!”
“I’m not a brat, mind you. I’m just a young Tsoshyn twenty years ago… and Bonj Zurho, you too look very different. How you’ve aged over the years! Have you been tired?”
“Yes, these endless wars had been getting me wearied. Makes me wish to return to the good old days. What’re you doing here, anyway?”
“Leading a little revolution, you might call it. We have with us human clones who will fight against their Arzankan counterparts, and a group of renegade Amorphos who came to realise the adversity of their pledge to Corlorn and the unsavoury trickery Kaz had been using, and changed sides. In short, we’re all against Deuntohc Kaz and his pet puppet Corlorn.
“Then we’re on same sides, Larqek!” Zurho said, and introduced Keith to him, “this is Keith Gunter, captain of our team. I’ve fought alongside with him throughout our journey in finding answers to some mysteries, and now we’re up against Kaz, in hope to stop all these bloodsheds once and for all.”
Keith stepped forward to Larqek, and extended a hand, “I salute you, Bonj Larqek. Since we’re on the same side, my team would offer any assistance you may require. Or maybe we can join in your war.”
Larqek grabbed the hand and humbly said, “it would be a pleasure, Shjrous Keith, but we’re not fighting a war against Deuntohc Kaz. Our situation here is quite different. Nevertheless, I’ll explain.”
Zurho was only too overjoyed to see yet another two of his long, separated brothers. One of them was the Lyzardine, whom Keith and Karl saw earlier, and the other a Ferallis, resembling much the mythical werewolves, but herbivorous in nature. The hulky reptilian was called Agond, and the wise-looking canine was Skarn, as introduced by Larqek.
“It’s a wonder how should I meet with all of you again, all here at this very place!” Zurho exclaimed.
Greetings exchanged between the newfound acquaintances, Larqek and the Rhoaku brothers organised a little excursion for the team down to a showcase of laboratory experiments. Amorphos scientists were seen busy preparing chemical solutions and testing them with sample organisms under microscopes. Vials and tubes of colourful liquids green, red and blue arrayed on the shelves were labelled with their respective names, some which they never heard or manage to read, and were waiting for future experiments.
“What’re they doing?” confounded Sarah asked.
Skarn, the third brother, replied, “they’re engineering a vaccine, hoping to find a cure for Kaz’s mutagen. But so far, all our researches are in vain.”
“Do you mean,” Keith interrupted, “that you’re finding a way to treat those who’re infected with the virus that mutates people into monsters?”
“Exactly,” Larqek replied, “this is what our whole operation is about, after coming across so many mutant life forms scattered in the galaxy. Kaz’s devious plan had been more destructive than the surface as it seems. We discovered that those mutants also carry active mutagens that can infect others as well. At this rate, if the virus is not eliminated, it’ll continue to spread and infect more and more people, until it eventually destroys a whole civilisation by turning every civilian into mindless beasts.”
“It’d be terrible!” said Reuban.
“I’ve seen your cages,” Karl suddenly spoke, “are they where you keep those mutants?”
“Yes,” said Agond with a gruff snort, “we’ve some of them quarantined and readily accessible for our experiments. Come, I’ll show you.”
Agond led them into the prison cells where they were exhibited the mutated creatures, pathetic and loathsome, making lots of noises. It could not be imagined what and who they were before being transformed and disfigured into those unsightly anatomy, bearing no resemblance to any life forms known to the universe. Skarn approached one of the cells, which contained a huge snake, and questioned, “anyone know who this was before he became like this?”
Gerard frowned as he studied the creature closely. Two large fulvid eyes, sharp fangs and a long, scaly body with red stripes all over only reminded him of a minority reptilian denizen he knew. “It’s hugely deformed,” mentioned he, “but if adding the extremities and a horn on the forehead, he could be a Slythern, the snake tribe of the Quesiane galaxy.”
“Then, guess again,” Agond snapped, “at first we thought the same, but after analysing his genes, we realised he isn’t. Instead, he belongs to the race of the long, sworn rival to the Slythern. He is an Icarius, the steel-beaked eaglelords of the Nestran worlds.”
“Surprising,” Reuban remarked, “the Icarius take pride of their formidable wings of steel, but this one lost them both altogether. What treachery is this?”
“It makes me wonder,” said Karl, “why don’t you just destroy them all instead of quarantine them and attempt so hard to produce a vaccine? Isn’t that a cleaner and more effective way to constrain the virus from spreading waywardly?”
“That,” said Skarn, “is often what bureaucrats do when facing an epidemic, kill and burn. But solving matters so easily by killing them all is very unethical to us Rhoaku. Besides, even after slaughtering them all, you might just miss one, and the vector might just unleash the virus to infect a thousand more people and create a thousand more mutants! Then all efforts are wasted. No, it’s best to find a cure rather than killing them, after all they’re only innocent people who never hoped to become monsters.”
With disgust and awe, the team continued their way down to more cells holding more mutated creatures in custody, where the creatures became more aggressive every section deeper into the dungeons, only to calm themselves when given their shots of tranquillisers by the wardens.
While they moved on, Keith fidgeted with agitation, extending and turning his head around anxiously checking every cage he passed by, looking for something. In the midst of restive search, he asked absent-mindedly, “Have you any Terran mutants kept in these cells?”
“Nope,” replied Skarn, looking surprised, “few Terran traverse so far to this part of the galaxy, you’re all among the scarce. Do you have a friend who met this tragic fate, Shjrous Keith?”
“She was his other-half of life,” Zurho said, softly and solemnly, “he had been very grievous to lose her to the devil she had become, but he still held hope in finding her.”
“She spoke to me in my dreams,” related Keith, “she wants me to save her and free her from the evil embodiment. She’s still alive out there.”
“Perhaps she is,” said Agond, “the mutants are versatile creatures and won’t perish so easily. What we have in our cages is only a small group of strays abandoned in deserted planets; the rest, I think, is within Kaz’s territory. Kaz has been amassing all the mutants he had created. A high chance your friend might be there somewhere.”
“Then that’s where I must go,” Keith declared, “and with all my strength, and all my prayers, I’ll destroy Kaz and terminate his foul plans forever.”
“I understand how you feel,” said Larqek, “your courage is commendable. But before doing anything rash, there’re still some things you should know.”
Larqek brought them back to the great hall, where each of them was seated at the conference table, together with the Rhoaku brothers. On his own high seat Larqek sat and gazed blankly at the walls, thinking of what should be said, preparing his speech. While the others waited with patience, finally he came round, and to them he spoke with great sobriety.
“As I’ve told you before, your arrival here is already anticipated, prophesised in my dreams. There was a person who spoke to me, and told me much about the past, present, and a dark future about to unfold. This same person beseeched my help to set up these facilities and conduct researches to cure the mutants from their sufferings. And lastly, he wanted revenge on Deuntohc Kaz, and end all evils that transpired from him.”
“Who’s he?” Zurho implored.
“It may sound strange, but it was our elder brother, Bonj Dethc Sorlovori, who spoke to me.”
“Elder brother?” Zurho was mystified, “he’s alive?”
“I’m not sure,” Larqek said, “but somehow he can communicate with me in my dreams.”
“No,” Gard suddenly stepped in, “he has long departed, together with my master. Yet, what hadn’t left was the discontented spirit that lingers for vengeance. A force that kept the spirons linked together until he was satisfied to leave forever.”
“You must be Gard,” Larqek assumed, “Dethc’s associate, Palov, told me about you. He once appeared in my dream, and warned me about going up against Kaz. He told me to wait for his disciple to appear, saying that he would reveal the best way to destroy Kaz’s legion for good. Have you any, Shjrous Gard?”
“I think I know what master meant,” Gard uttered slowly, “my master was a meticulous man, who trusted nobody but me. The time when he created the hybrid clones, he had a disturbing intuition of mutiny and betrayal. Thus, whatever he had created, he made sure there were means to destroy it as well. As for the clones….”
“Tell us, Gard,” urged Gerard eagerly, “how are we going to defeat a million savages with only a few of us?”
Gard cleared his throat, and said reluctantly, “there would be a sacrifice, and then there would be a resurrection.”
“What do you mean?” the others asked, again perplexed by another of his arcane metaphors.
“Remember what I told you about my venture into searching for Terran hybrid clones? I confess, that I haven’t told you everything. Actually, at that time, my master had already met me in my dreams. It was his instructions to find a clone for some purposes. Later, I found out that he was to become a sacrifice for a resurrection. Jghyncan was the first, but he expired halfway. Then I found you, Mr. Gunter.”
“What?” the team cried out startlingly, “Keith is going to be sacrificed for someone’s resurrection? Who’s going to be resurrected, Gard?”Gard squinted at them with his wistful eyes, and softly replied, “he may be the mightiest person of all times, and he killed a thousand million men alone. He is… Illian Greyor.”