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Authors: Timothy L. Cerepaka

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Reunification

BOOK: Reunification
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Reunification

Two Worlds Book
#1

By Timothy L.
Cerepaka

Published by Annulus
Publishing

Copyright © Timothy L.
Cerepaka 2015. All rights reserved.

Formatting by Timothy L.
Cerepaka

Contact:
[email protected]

Cover design by Elaina Lee
of
For the Muse Design
(http://www.forthemusedesign.com/)

No part of this
publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other
electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written
permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses
permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, send an email
to the above contact.

***

 

Chapter
One

 

H
ow different the city of Xeeon was
from the city of Ra-Dela back home from whence I came. The sun
shining above was harsh and unyielding, like the open oven of a
baker, whilst large telescreens blared such raucous advertisements
for things such as some useless toothpaste that made me wish to
plug mine ears and never hear another sound in my life. Even the
news reports—one of which currently showed footage of some
monster-like robot with a gaping maw attacking another group of
robots on the border between the city and the Dead Lands—were so
loud and boisterous that I had no idea what they were trying to
show me. That I could not read the words on the screen, either,
made my stay here that much less enjoyable.

And the loud engines and exhaust ports of
the Spear hover vehicles flying above to and fro like busy bees
assaulted mine ears at every turn. 'Twas madness, I tell ye;
madness!

That was not even counting the hundreds
and hundreds of people in the streets, all speaking in Modern
Xeeonish, an ugly, practical language that I understood not one
word of. They bustled along the crowded streets, talking and
laughing and joking, shoving aside strangers without so much as an
'Excuse me' or 'Sorry,' and discarding their garbage everywhere.
Their collective stench was like oil and concrete, a combination
that made me wish to vomit, though I held it down, for I had
nowhere to puke it.

The children were the worst; whereas
Delanian children were as meek and quiet as the music of the Old
Gods, Xeeonite children were loud and dirty, crossing the streets
at random, causing vehicles to blare their horns when they got in
their paths, even mocking the robotic law enforcers that protected
this city from crime. Where were their parents? Did all Xeeonite
parents abdicate their parental responsibility once their children
reached a certain age? Mine own parents certainly would not have
tolerated such rudeness.

Not that my opinion of the robotic law
enforcers themselves was much higher. As I sat in a pathetic wobbly
chair outside the Crossways Cafe, a ram-shackled cafe that was
somehow still in business (despite their main product, what they
referred to as 'genuine' South Delanian tea, which tasted more like
dwarf piss), I kept a careful eye on the J Series Law Enforcement
Robots. Only two such robots were out in this part of the city
today (at least that I could see), overseeing the hundreds of
scurrying people with those cold mechanical eyes that reminded me
of Sir Alart's replacement eye.

In particular, the robots seemed to be
focusing on me, likely because my dress—a simple brown tunic, with
humble green pants I had bought from a kind old seamstress back in
Ra-Dela prior to coming here, and rough leather shoes that were as
good as I could afford based on the wages I made—pegged me as a
Delanian. Though Dela and Xeeo had not been at war for over a
century now, still there existed animosity between the peoples of
both worlds. Most of the Xeeonites passing in the street before me
paid little attention to I, but every time one glanced at me, I saw
disgust and distrust in their eyes, whether they were human or
Rathonian or some other Xeeonite species.

No doubt the clickers looked upon me as a
possible threat, even though their records ought to show that I was
Rii, a Knight of Se-Dela. The Knights of Se-Dela had worked with
the J Series Law Enforcement Robots many times over the years, yet
I would be telling stories if I were to say that I trusted any of
those dead machines with so much as a cup of water.

Look at them. Cold eyes, with no sign of
emotion or a soul within them … metallic skin, freezing to the
touch and reflecting the light of the sun in a way that hurt the
eyes … and the way they watched over the people like predatory
birds, ready to eat up any lawbreakers their eyes fell upon. Oh!
How cruel they can be to any they deem worthy of their attention!
Even the Knights of Se-Dela, as ruthless as we are toward
criminals, barely come close to meeting the sheer brutality of the
J series robots.

Yet I would admit, though without any
happiness, that the bots were indeed effective. Whispers through
the Portals asserted that the low crime rate of Xeeo and its many
countries was due to the widespread adoption of these machines, and
certain whisperers even suggested that King Waran-Una and the
Mystical Alliance of Dela were thinking of replacing us Knights
with these automatons.

What a disgusting thought. True, 'twas
only a whisper, one which none of us Knights believed, but 'twas a
whisper which popped up every so often. It was such a regular
occurrence that at times I believed King Waran-Una himself was the
source of these whispers, simply to keep us Knights on our feet.
Whatever their origin, I pushed them out of mine mind for the time
being because today, I had more urgent matters to worry about.

My eyes flew over the crowds, searching
for the Jikorian merchant who had agreed to meet with me on this
day. The seller of goods had said, in his letter written in rough
Delan to me, that he had the knowledge I sought, but would only
meet me in a public place. He had specified the Crossways Cafe, but
I had been sitting here for half an hour already and yet the
merchant was still nowhere to be seen.

My tongue grew dry with thirst, yet I was
loathe to drink my 'genuine' South Delanian tea. It tasted nothing
at all like actual South Delanian tea, but when I complained to the
waitress—a young bald woman, an ugly style that was apparently
popular among the young women of this city—about it, she brushed
off my complaint like I was nothing more than an annoying bug
buzzing in her ear.

Looking at the tea more closely, I
wondered how anyone with working eyes (or mechanical eyes, in the
case of many of these Xeeonites) could mistake this for the real
tea. True South Delanian tea was a rich, deep brown, like the bark
of a sama tree in full bloom. This was a muddy, ugly brown, and it
smelled like a dead rat.

I considered asking for water, because the
other drinks they offered on their menu—among them something called
'mechanic's delight,' whatever that meant—sounded as appealing as
dwarfish beer, but then decided against it. If the owner of this
restaurant served such terrible, deceptively-named tea in the first
place, their water was likely fit only for the dregs of society, if
even that.

Where was the merchant? I did not know. I
kept glancing at my watch, which ticked as steadily as the rising
and setting of the sun every day, and wondered when the merchant
would get here. I did not have all the time in the world to sit and
wait; today was my only day off this week and I would have to leave
before sunset, because by the time the sun set here, it would be
morning in Dela and I would be expected to show up for duty at
first light.

Though no matter what time I left, I would
not be in a good mood. Whilst Dela and Xeeo were similar in some
ways, the two had different time zones. When the sun was high in
Dela, it was midnight at Xeeo; when the sun was shining merrily
over Xeeo, Dela was ruled by the night.

To wit, I was tired and more irritable
than usual. To make this trip, I had had to disrupt my normal sleep
schedule. That meant getting up in the middle of Dela's night.
'Twas hard on me; being a Knight of Se-Dela was a herculean task,
thanks in no small part to having to lug around a heavy suit of
metalligick armor and a skyras sword all day. I valued mine sleep
highly, but I valued the information that this merchant promised me
even more, though as he still seemed unlikely to show up, I began
to wonder if I had made a foolish sacrifice.

Mine thoughts were interrupted when a
shrill, annoying voice croaked, “Hi!”

I looked up from my disgusting drink to
see who had spoken to me. Striding up to my table from the street
was a being I had never seen before in my life. He was humanoid in
appearance, but his head was much larger than any human's, with a
massive forehead to go with it. His skin was a light green, almost
appearing painted-on, though if the stories about the Jikorians
were true, this was his natural skin color.

The newcomer also wore a loose leather
jacket, which looked as old as the foundations of Castle Una, and
by his side was strapped one of those silly laser guns carried by
almost all citizens of Xeeon. Slung over his shoulder was a large
white sack, perhaps carrying his goods, though secretly I hoped it
would instead contain the knowledge I sought from him.

Without thinking, I stood up and extended
one hand in his direction. The newcomer stopped and reached over
the table, grasping my hand with his own. His hand felt slimy and
sticky, like mud in a swamp, and an awful stink of wet grass flowed
from his body into my nostrils. I would have gagged and declared
that I had not smelled such a terrible stink in all my years, but I
did not wish to offend the merchant, so I kept my silence.

We sat at the table, opposite each other.
The merchant rested his bag on the ground near his chair, which
wobbled under his weight, and he then clicked his fingers. Not
snapped; nay, that was not the right word. The merchant's
fingernails were long and sharp, allowing him to click them
together like the chirping of a cricket.

'Twas not a second after he clicked them
that the disrespectful waitress from before appeared, like a spirit
summoned by the gods. She held in her hands one of those strange
tiny little handheld computers, a stylus in her other hand, the
stylus's tip hovering over the screen of the computer as if she was
a scribe recording the Revelations of Waran-Una.


What da ya want, sir?”
the waitress said.

The merchant smiled at her, revealing
blunt, short bluish teeth that looked like candy. “Whatever my
associate here is having, miss.”

'Twould have rolled mine eyes at the use
of the word 'miss' to describe this woman, because I could think of
no women less of a mistress than she. Wench, perhaps, or whore, for
I suspected she slept with many men, based on how she initially
flirted with me before I made it clear I have zero interest in
romance or sex at the moment.

The wench simply noted that order in the
computer and was gone again, the back of her red shirt disappearing
through the Cafe's front doors.

I shook mine head and said, “Brother
merchant, I would have advised against this 'genuine' South
Delanian tea. It is a mockery of the true concoction, a deceptive
advertising ploy.”


But I like it,” the
merchant said. He sniffled loudly, like he was taking in all of the
smells around us. “It smells so good. Besides, what does it matter
if it's the real thing or not? Taste and smell are the only things
that matter to me.”

Under ordinary circumstances, I would have
berated the merchant for continuing to support such deceptive
business practices. His attitude toward the subject confirmed what
I had suspected about the decadent Xeeonites; so long as they got
their fill, they were happy, like pigs in a pen.

But now was not the time to discuss this.
I leaned forward 'cross the table and said, “Now, brother merchant,
the letter ye gave me said you know something about my missing
sister, Kiriah. Correct?”

The merchant leaned back in his chair and
folded his hands behind his head. 'Twas an annoying thing, what he
did, because it seemed highly disrespectful to me, but Jikorians
were said to be an easy people, so I tried not to take offense.


Yep,” said the
Jikorian, nodding. “That's right. When your friend showed me those
pictures of your sister with that man, I recognized her. That's
pretty good for me, because all you humans look the same to me. Not
trying to be a bigot or anything; I just don't think you humans are
very distinct.”

I should have taken offense to that, but I
cared not for his own nonchalance, for there were more urgent
matters to attend to. Perhaps before this was all over, however, I
would chide him for his inability to distinguish betwixt us
humans.

BOOK: Reunification
4.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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