The Hero From Meridell: Part Three
Also by bestpet21
Zamrin ducked back around the corner when he saw the space ship. Why were they here? Did they mean to hurt him? He didn't know, and it was a risk he couldn't take. He hurried to the well a few yards off and crouched down to hide behind it.
With a burst of steam, a ramp opened up from the bottom of the space ship, deploying a solitary yellow Lupe clad in full armor down to the earth below. He certainly looked ready for war. Zamrin shifted down lower behind the well and held back a whimper as the Lupe turned his high-held head this way and that, looking for something... or someone.
The Lupe spoke to the open air. “You did not come. I assume you didn't get my message.” He knew Zamrin was nearby. He just didn't know where. “Please, come out and show yourself. I mean you no harm.” His speech was formal and clearly enunciated, making it evident to the frightened, yet observant Kacheek that he was an officer of some importance.
“All right, then,” the Lupe said when no response had been made. He gave a curt, barely visible nod, and an army of Buzzes burst out of the ship and scattered in all directions. It took them only a fraction of a second to find Zamrin in his wide-open hiding spot. Two of them lifted him up by the arms and dropped him directly in front of their commander.
“Why were you hiding?” he asked, apparently oblivious to the shock that came with seeing a spaceship for the first time.
Zamrin took several moments to compose himself and spoke when he was ready, “I've never seen a spaceship before. It was very alarming...”
The Lupe cleared his throat.
“...Sir,” Zamrin finished.
Satisfied on being given the proper amount of respect, the Lupe responded, “I suppose that is an acceptable answer.” He strolled in a circle around the Kacheek who was having trouble keeping himself from shaking nervously. “I would also be led to presume that you did not receive the message we left for you in the field, considering your visible lack of expectancy to see us.”
“No, sir, I saw it this morning, but I wasn't able to understand its meaning.”
The Lupe raised an eyebrow. “They told me you were literate.” He cast a menacing glance back at one of his assistants, who only shrank behind the ship's ramp in fear.
“We apparently don't use the same writing system that you do on the Space Station,” Zamrin said. “Sir.”
“Is that so? My apologies for that oversight on my assistant's part.” Again he peered back in the poor brown Ogrin's direction, nearly burning a hole in the ramp with his gaze.
“May I ask what it is you want with me... sir?” Zamrin grew quite tired of using the title so redundantly, but the Lupe wouldn't allow him to go a sentence without it.
The commander smiled, and it seemed that his normally stiff and unfeeling face would nearly shatter. “Why don't I tell you about it on the way to the station?”
Zamrin felt his heart jump. “You want me to go to the station with you?”
“Certainly,” he said, gesturing for him to follow up the ramp. “And you can call me Commander Rylar if you ever get tired of sir.” Another potentially catastrophic smile spread over his face.
Zamrin followed him up the ramp, finding it difficult to keep his mouth closed as he marveled at the fascinating technology that the spaceship consisted of. He followed Rylar through a series of corridors until they reached a large open room and Rylar offered him a seat next to a wide glass window.
After Zamrin had seated himself, the Commander began to speak, getting right to the gist of the matter at hand. “Recently, we've had a... difference of opinion with the Kreludan colonists regarding a piece of territory located on the dark side of Kreludor.” He pointed to the three-dimensional globe of Kreludor on his left to indicate the location. “Yes, normally this would be a completely uninhabitable area, but for reasons that I am not permitted to disclose, it is of vital importance to the Space Station's mission.”
Zamrin nodded. He was following, but he in no way understood how this concerned a failing potato farmer from Meri Acres.
“Not long ago, we officially laid claim to this territory and placed our flag and some of our ships there. Kreludor didn't say anything for a while, but a few weeks ago, they stormed our newly-setup base and took it over for themselves. They now have a considerably large army stationed around the proximity as well as in the base itself. They aren't letting anyone in or out, save their own soldiers. They claim they have the right to possession of the territory, because they were the first to settle on Kreludor. This argument doesn't hold any water with intergalactic policies, and they know it. Unfortunately, they have the brute strength to enforce it, whether it is technically legal or not.”
A green female Cybunny appeared in the room with two tall glasses. “Coffee, Commander Rylar?” she asked.
“Aw... yes, thank you. Just set it over there.” He indicated a small end table next to the chair he was seated in.
“And you?” she said, facing Zamrin.
“Oh, no thanks,” he answered, unsure of what to expect from space coffee. Unbeknownst to him, it was perfectly normal and quite delicious, but he was still retaining his usual cautious manner.
The commander mumbled something to the extent of, “Suit yourself,” and preceded to take quite a generous sip from his own glass. He hadn't slept in days, and he couldn't allow his crewmen to see fatigue in his disposition. He smacked his lips and swallowed loudly. Despite his overbearing politeness, he was still quite lacking in basic table manners. “Now... we are considering a different approach to retaking this territory,” he said while placing the glass back on the table. “We wanted to do something that would... catch them unaware. Something they wouldn't expect.” He paused and patted his chin to remove the stray bits of coffee in his fur.
“Like what...” Zamrin asked. The Lupe gave him a cold look. “...Commander?”
Rylar appeared pleased and relaxed his position in his chair. “Well, normally they would expect us to send in troops, all armed with the latest standard version of X78 blaster ray and perhaps a small percentage of soldiers carrying more heavy weaponry. That's the way we've always done it. That's the way they do it. And that's the way they think we're going to do it.” He leaned forward. “But we have different plans in mind.”
Zamrin was quite frustrated that he was still not addressing the question, and he still didn't know his reason for being there, but he didn't allow this to show, lest the Commander would stare him in two. “I see, sir,” he said patiently.
“We're planning to send one skillful and stealthy warrior in who can fight with a sword. He will neutralize all of their leading officers, generals, etc. whom they can't afford to do without. The Grundos' armor is not built to withstand blades, but only the specific harmful energy that is fired from the X78. They'll be completely defenseless.”
Rylar looked at Zamrin expectantly, and he nodded in approval.
“Once we have executed that phase of the plan, we will send in the usual army that they would have expected, but they won't be equipped to defend against us, because all their brilliant strategists will be immobilized. We should be able to take back that which is rightfully ours in a matter of hours. If it is as large of a win as I am planning, they won't bother us again, and we will be free to do what we want with the land, which, as previously stated, I am not at liberty to discuss.”
“But I don't understand why you are telling this to me,” Zamrin finally posed the question that had been weighing down on his mind ever since he and Kade had discovered the symbols in his field that morning.
The Lupe gave a slight chuckle. “We've heard a lot about the Meridell warriors and their skill with a sword. Many people have told us that if we want a man for this job, that's the place to go to. You see, none of our soldiers are trained in the use of a sword. So, I sent one of my spies to see who would be the best warrior for us to contact. He overheard much and, after doing so, he settled on Meri Acres as the spot with the best potential. So he began scouting out there, eavesdropping on what conversations he could...”
It was obvious to Zamrin now that their spy had been as dreadfully misinformed as the Commander's assistant had been when he ordered the message to be left in the Space Station's writing system.
“We decided that you are the perfect warrior for the job, Zamrin.”
To be continued...