Chapter 21 - I Need The Codes
Sankt was more then angry at himself. How long had it taken to get the boy? All this time for a simple droid to get the kill-shot. A droid was the one to take Taylor Hanson down and out. He smiled grimly, remembering a strange feeling when the boy had nearly died on their way back to his ship, almost sadness. It seemed that his own poison and the tranquilizer from the droid had mingled in an unhealthy way, shutting the human's heart and lungs down. Luckily, the stupid crew he had brought along had a moment of intelligence and brought a medical droid along for his own use. Instead it was wasted on the Terran to save his life. Sankt had yet to get what he wanted from Taylor. But once that was done? He would be easy to dispose of and that would be done with a great amount of satisfaction.
Before he had gone out to deal with the boy he had decided he would just leave Taylor's family to their own devices. Let them stew in their juices of misery at never having found out what happened to their son. But now? Now he was incensed. He had already sent a transmission to his fastest cruiser to get to that planet and to the farmhouse where the family lived. From there the beings onboard were to do whatever they pleased to be sure that family suffered a slow and painful death. Dealing with them now, especially the two brothers he had seen, would make dealing with it later obsolete. No way for them to develop a sudden urge for revenge.
A guard came to the door of his quarters, keeping his eyes on the floor, before being noticed, "Yes?"
"The medical droid alerted us that the prisoner is now awake but not yet alert. Do you wish to speak with him yet?"
Sankt waved his hand, "I have waited five days...what is a few more hours? Leave now."
The guard nodded and quickly exited the room. It was an ordeal to have to be ordered around by such a crabby boss.
Sankt looked down at the plasti-papers littering his desk. He had to quell the urge to scatter them across the room. They would leave the next morning. This planet was beginning to wear on his body but he had no recovered the last of the destroyed droid. He would not leave behind evidence of what had transpired here. Nobody needed to know. Especially the Union Officers and their blasted officials. They knew Sankt was a smuggler...they just didn't have any physical evidence. But once the last bit of droid was found they would be gone.
Melinda looked up from her digging, "No, Zac. You don't just yank the plant up. You need to dig the roots out or it'll only grow back."
Zac looked at his aunt and frowned, "But this is easier." He complained.
She nodded, "Right now it is. But in a couple of days that weed will be back just as it was a second ago. By taking out the roots you ensure that it takes weeks to grow back and not just days."
Zac looked over at Isaac's pile of weeds, all containing the entire plant, and looked back to his own, "Ok, I'll do that then."
Isaac smirked at him. Zac glared. The bastard. He did that just to get Zac bitched at and Zac knew it. He sighed to himself and went back to his work.
The novelty of a garden that grew in dirt had quickly worn off for both of the young men. Dirt held one's interest for only so long and after that it quickly became a chore. On top of that though were Zac's worries for his older brother. Taylor hadn't contacted them for quite some time. He was a lot more worried then Isaac was. But Isaac just kept saying. 'He didn't call for how long? You think a couple days is gonna matter to him?' And to that, Zac had no answer. But the burden of worrying only added to the seemingly endless amount of weeding that had to be done.
A loud but dull popping roar caught their attention. It sounded like a ship entering the atmosphere. But why would it be coming in over an area like this? Lowland farms. All the trading posts were in the main city. They all looked at each other curiously, Zac and Isaac forcing a smile to keep itself at bay. It couldn't be Taylor. He said he would call before he arrived. Zac's portable viewer suddenly came to life. He allowed his grin to spread across his face as he quickly hit the button that would let him accept the message.
He frowned when there was a voice but nobody at the screen.
"Greetings from The Clepsydra. I am asking for permission to land nearby and for directions as to wear I should set myself down."
Isaac's mouth was gaping over but he just looked to Melinda to answer.
"Ehm...by the house would be the best place. We have a landing pad there..." She trailed off, her shock more then evident.
"My thanks for your cooperation." The viewer went blank.
"Maybe he got hurt or something." Zac offered.
Isaac shook his head, "But...no, she'd've said something."
Melinda gave them both a cursory look over, "I'd better get some answers soon. I'm going inside to spruce up a bit before they, whoever they are, get here." She left them then.
Zac wiped a dirty hand across his forehead, craning his neck so he was looking up at the harsh sun, hoping for some sort of sign of where the ship could be. Suddenly the sun glinted blindingly off the side of a star craft's hull and Zac and Isaac knew they'd get their answers soon.
Soon enough they heard the more distinct sound of engines slowing and thrusters being used to correct the pitch of the ship. The large craft was quickly coming into view and was behaving more reckless then they'd ever seen Taylor before. It wasn't long before the brothers' hair was being blasted away from their faces as Clepsydra maneuvered herself into a landing position. Her thrusters sighed as the starcraft came to a soft, though abrupt, stop. Zac and Isaac exchanged glances, waiting for Taylor to come barging out or more directions from the ship.
When nothing happened, they slowly began walking towards the great hulk of metal. As they got closer , they noticed a light, sort of filmy look of dulled plastic glowing around the entire hull of the ship. Zac looked to Isaac for an answer to his unasked question.
A female voice answered them in a cool tone, "Yes."
Zac's jaw gaped when he realized the sound came from the ship itself, "Whoa...that's awesome."
Isaac gave a half grin for his brother's enthusiasm, "You're...Clep right?"
"The Clepsydra, sir."
Isaac nodded, "Yeah...uh, do I just...just talk to you like I'd talk to a normal person or how does this work?"
"Speak to me as though you were speaking to your mother. I am programmed to take in sapient body language, tone fluctuation, words, different languages, body temperature-."
"Ok, yeah...we got it. Where's Tay?"
The voice didn't answer for a moment, "Tay?" It questioned.
"Taylor. Taylor Hanson, our brother."
The ship suddenly came to life. The door closest to them shot open and the shields that protected the ship were turned off completely, "Please. Come inside. It is important that you watch something and learn of your brother's fate."
Zac, "No way. Sankt didn't get him. How?" He was seconds away from panic.
"Come on, lets just watch and get this done...come on, Zac."
Isaac looked over Zac's motionless body, held up high by the medical-bay table. While reviewing the ship's log of Taylor's last hours alive, as far as they knew, Zac hadn't been able to take it and fainted straight away. Isaac shook his head in disbelief. Only Taylor could have dug himself into a hole this deep and expect to be pulled out from it. He felt grief taking a tight grip on his chest and his breathing began to become more of a challenge. He had to do something to get his mind away, if only for a moment.
He looked to the ceiling, "How'd he....how'd he die, Clepsydra? That little dart was all it took?"
The female voice that answered him sounded shocked, "Die? Taylor sir did not die! He was sedated and taken away, Isaac sir."
"Yes, Isaac sir."
"And he's still alive?"
"Yes, Isaac sir."
Isaac Hanson gave a whoop of joy, wanting very much to get Zac awake so he could share his happiness with him. But that was out of the question at the moment. He then realized that, though Taylor was alive, he was still in Sankt's powerful hands.
"God damn...why didn't you tell us?"
"You did not ask, Isaac sir."
Isaac blinked a couple times. "Fair enough."
"Well...then how'd you know how to get here? Tay said he didn't let anybody have that sorta information."
"I am not human. I am not anybody. I am a computer with artificial intelligence that can nearly always predict what an owner's needs are and fulfill them as told. Nothing more. Taylor sir hid the coordinates to your families and their farm houses. I traced your viewers to find you both, Isaac sir."
"Alright. That explains that. But what's the point of you coming here? Are we gonna try to get Tay back? I mean...we have to, but how?"
"I do not know, Isaac sir. I was just told to come here and let you know what had happened to Taylor sir if he did not return to the ship or was captured."
Isaac just nodded, more to himself than to the ship, and continued to think. There was no way they would leave Taylor behind. All that mattered to him was getting his little brother back. He paced around the table that held Zac, all the while thinking of possibilities for Taylor's recovery.
There was no way just he and Zac could go. What did they know of faring in space? Or fighting? Or not getting things lifted from the ship or themselves? They were just farm boys scraping by with their family's farm. Sankt had the entire universe at his hands it seemed like. What did they have? Their brother's ship and a general idea of where their brother was taken from. That was it. They couldn't get their family involved. Risking themselves to get Taylor back was one thing but when their brothers and sisters relied on their parents for survival, each parent for entirely different reasons, neither of them could be spared. Who did that leave besides a few young cousins and idiot friends with no ship or any know-how of what they would have to deal with? Not many. Isaac snorted. Nobody came to mind actually.
He was broken away from his train of thought when Zac's breathing became a little more hurried and a soft moan passed through his lips. The gel patch on his forehead would be taking away most of the pain from where he'd smacked his forehead on the way down when he fell, so why was he making sounds of pain?
"What's wrong with him?"
"He is just disoriented, Isaac sir. As he wakes further that will pass."
Isaac nodded unsurely. Melinda had run to the nearby market to get something to add to dinner when she saw the size of the ship. She thought she would have to feed a small army. Isaac couldn't go to her for reassurance. He'd have to trust the ship for now.
He began to think again.. Who did they know that had a ship? And on top of that, who did they know that would be (willing) to pilot that ship away from a safe life in to one wrought of danger? Again, nobody he knew. Maybe there was somebody they could find in the market they could hire out and-.
Isaac slammed his brain to a halt. The market. They had talked to Sammie in the market. Sammie's dad had a starship! One that worked. Sammie would do anything to help Taylor out and Isaac knew it.
Now all he had to do was wait for Zac to wake up so they could both try and remember Sammie's viewer code.
He was startled out of his thoughts when Clepsydra began talking, "Is there anything I can help you with, Isaac sir?"
Isaac nodded, "Yeah...uh, I need codes to uh...to a friend's viewer..."
"I can search my databank for them. Taylor sir added many peoples' names as soon as he bought me."
Isaac smiled, "Yeah....let's do that."
Zac was awake.
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