The Hero From Meridell: Part Four
Also by bestpet21
Zamrin choked. On what, he wasn't sure, but he coughed inexorably for at least half of a minute, he was sure. “I'm sorry?” he said, finally regaining his ability to breathe.
“Oh, yes, I know, it was quite forward of me to take you up like this without any pretense, but had my assistant left you the proper message, we would have briefed you in Meridell... in the middle of the village... somewhere where you would have felt more comfortable.”
“But I'm not...” Zamrin tried to explain the Commander's awful mistake, but the Lupe wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise.
“Aw, yes. I see you don't have your sword with you. Well, that can be remedied. We have a few swords prepared for you in your cabin. They might not be what you're used to, but they're sturdy, light, and quite effective.”
“I--” Zamrin tried again, but the Lupe was not tolerant of interruptions and simply continued to speak.
“And when you do this for us, Zamrin, you'll be known everywhere as a hero. Your name will go down in history. This is the kind of opportunity that only a fool would let pass by.” Rylar saw his surprise simply as hesitation. It wouldn't take long to work past that layer of emotion, he thought. He pressed a button to call the Cybunny back into the room, and she arrived in mere seconds.
“Yes, Commander Rylar?”
“Show Zamrin to his cabin and get him acquainted.”
“Yes, Sir. Right away, Sir.” She then turned to Zamrin and gestured to him to follow, all the while smiling widely and without rest.
Zamrin followed her, not knowing what else he could do. The Commander was not going to listen to his complaints. Besides, the thought of being a hero was appealing to Zamrin. He would never have to scrimp and save ever again. And it wasn't really a hard job, was it? If the Grundos wouldn't see him coming anyway, he just might be able to do it quite easily. Satisfied with his self-persuasion, he arrived in his cabin which appeared quite comfortable and charming. It was nearly identical to his house in Meri Acres, save the long, jagged swords hanging from the wall in one corner.
“This is your room, Sir,” said the Cybunny with significance, almost as if she was announcing his victory over the Grundos already.
“Thank you, Miss,” he said in as deep of a voice as he could manage.
“You're quite welcome. Would you like anything to make your stay more comfortable? Are you hungry perhaps?”
“Yes,” he admitted, “Very hungry. Do you happen to have any normal food?” he asked almost in a whisper.
The Cybunny giggled merrily. “All of our food is normal. One large Grundo toe with lint side order, coming up!”
“Oh no, no, that's all right. I'm not that hungry, really,” Zamrin insisted, horrified with the idea.
The Cybunny chuckled again. Zamrin didn't think anything was very funny. “I was just joking, silly. We eat normal food here. It's probably just like what you eat in Meridell. Let me go get you something.” The Cybunny disappeared.
Zamrin held his breath as he was waiting for her to return, expecting the worst. Everything on the ship was so foreign to him. He didn't expect the food to be any different. A couple minutes later the Cybunny came through the door with a steaming plate. She set it down beside him. “Baked potato, corn on the cob, and some delicious sniddberries,” she announced.
Zamrin exhaled. “Thank you,” he said with relief and tried to refrain himself from eating like a starved kitten.
“We will be arriving at the station in just a few minutes, Sir, so I would suggest you prepare for the slight turbulence as we come in.”
The Kacheek nodded, barely hearing a word. This was the best meal he had had in months. He jumped in surprise and dropped his fork when the room began to shake.
“I assure you, it's nothing to worry about at all. We're simply being brought into the dock,” the Cybunny said. She clapped her hands twice and the walls of Zamrin's cabin retracted down into the floor, revealing the large window behind each of them. “See?”
The mortified Kacheek looked out and saw a pair of robotic arms gently ushering their ship next to the station. “Wow,” he said under his breath.
“Commander Rylar will be laying out our plan to retake the territory in the meeting hall shortly. I suggest you be there,” the Cybunny said as she scurried away.
Zamrin finished his meal and timidly made his way to the other side of the room where the swords hung in an impressive array. He carefully took one down and laid it on the cot nearby. It was heavy, but less so than Zamrin had expected. One time a friend of his had let him hold his sword, and he had nearly fallen over trying to keep it above his knees. He would be able to manage this one, but he wasn't sure how effective he would be with it.
Zamrin strapped the sword around his back for safe keeping and easy carrying. He opened the door to his cabin and was overcome by a rush of cooks, custodians, and various maintenance workers, all hurrying about to prepare the ship for its next flight. He pressed and shoved his way against the current, following the long line of station-dwellers to the exit of the ship.
His mouth gaped in awe at the sheer size of the station. Every ceiling was high, every room was wide, everything was bigger than it had ever been. He wandered aimlessly through the massive rooms for he knew not how long until a blue Poogle pulled him aside and asked him if he was lost. Zamrin nodded an affirmative, and the Poogle took him to the meeting hall—his destination.
Rylar cleared his throat as Zamrin entered. “I'm glad you're here. Now we can begin.” He nodded to one of his assistants, and a large map of the dark side of Kreludor was soon spread over the table. “You all have heard one version or another of our strategy, but I will reiterate it one more time to be sure that it is understood by all parties.”
He paused for a moment, clasping his hands behind his back and strolling about the room. He examined each soldier in the eye as he passed them and judged their confidence and bravery. Rylar was satisfied with the troops he had gathered for this mission, so he continued. “Our swordsman, Zamrin, will be dropped off near the Grundos' base. His duty is to sneak inside and make sure that none of the commanding officers, strategists, or leaders interfere when we send our army in. At precisely four hundred hours, Neopian Standard Time, we will send strike team one on the left flank and strike team two on the right. We will not wait for confirmation from our swordsman that he has completed his task. We do not have time to spare, you see. We cannot be certain that the Grundos are not planning an attack on our station as we speak.”
The Commander continued, filling in every little detail until there were no more questions to be asked. Everyone knew what his assigned duty was, and everyone was ready to carry it out. All of them appeared bold, unafraid, courageous. Rylar was proud. He dismissed the entire audience, requesting that Zamrin remain.
Zamrin stood up as tall as he could when the Lupe approached him. “I assume you are very clear on what your mission is?”
The Kacheek nodded.
Commander Rylar nodded in return, not expecting any different answer. He handed Zamrin a electronic wrist device. “This contains all the data on the important officers you need to defeat. They only need to be unconscious when we send in the army, so be aware of that.” The Lupe gave him some quick, simple instructions on how to work the strange technology. Zamrin was a quick learner and was able to pick up the idea with decent speed. Within a few minutes, he proclaimed himself ready to go, despite his chattering teeth and knocking knees. He in no way knew how to use a sword, but there was no way to back out of this, especially not now.
“There's one more thing that I think you need to know,” the Commander said in a business-like tone.
“What's that?” the Kacheek asked, forcing himself to look as brave as he could muster.
“We found a stowaway on the ship... she was hiding in one of the storage compartments in the west wing,” he said, leading him through a series of hallways until they arrived in a small room. He turned the dim lights on to reveal the offender at hand. “She wouldn't give us her name, but we think you might know her.”
Zamrin edged his way toward the unexpected visitor. “Kade?”
To be continued...